Darkness Beckons


I'm Urthwild and I read and review horror, dark fantasy, urban fantasy, science fiction, bizarro and Steampunk books. Reviews are posted on Goodreads and Amazon and my website www.darknessbeckons.com/


Ethriel: Blood Bonds

Ethriel: Blood Bonds - Joe   Walker This copy was received for an honest review.

Everything and anything is possible in fantasy, it is what makes the genre so versatile.

There is more than a hint of both 'Lord of the Rings', and 'Game of Thrones' in this story, but the same could be said for any near epic fantasy since 'GOT' became a phenomenon.

In Ethriel, author Joe Walker has created four believable fantasy characters, blue skinned warrior Elf Princess Elenei; light-green skinned Half-Orc Ogen, the true Iron King; escaped human slaves, Van, who despite being a captive since he was just five years old still has secrets to keep; and the older Tuttos with his secret royal connections.

This first book is apparently registered on Amazon as 265 pages, my PDF copy was just 117 pages, so I do not know if that means that there are extra scenes in the final edition or any significant changes. However, I did feel that certain scenes felt quite short and that the main hero was a little too perfect in my shorter edition.

Epic fantasy stories often have an expectation of a built in long-term commitment, something many other genres do not, often a series can run to double figures, difficult for the casual reader to dip in and out of. Despite this added pressure, Ethriel: Bood Bonds gives the reader a good solid start, with traditional likeable good guys and boo-able bad guys, and of course the door is left ajar for the next edition.

My cover rating is based on the cover displayed on Amazon and Goodreads, as my copy did not come with a cover.

The ebook is currently available for free on Amazon.

(My edition also credits the author as just Joe Walker).


The Steampunk Trilogy

The Steampunk Trilogy - Paul Di Filippo This is actually a collection of three novellas, 'Victoria', 'Hottentots' and 'Walt and Emily'.

In 'Victoria', we find ourselves firstly in 1838 in the company of Cosmo Cowperthwait a hit and miss inventor. Cowperthwait should by rights be dictating his story from a death row prison cell as such are the enormity of his crimes against humanity, his parents, newts and womankind. He is an odious little man, with very few redeeming features. His greatest invention is a hybrid human-newt that he has named Victoria and ensconced as a prostitute in a brothel. Our faux human just happens to look like the yet to be crowned queen of England, and is called upon to step in when the real one goes off to get a life. Cosmo spends most of his story pointlessly scuttling around London looking for the real queen. He faces a shadowy nemesis and attempts on his life, but by his side at almost all times is his faithful manservant, Nails McGroaty, the only albeit dim light in a dull story.

In 'Hottentots', we have our main focus on Swiss scientist Louis Agassiz an odious virulently racist philandering little twerp, again with no redeeming features. Leaving his wife and children behind he heads off to America to give the populace the benefit of his combined wisdom in medicine, paleontology, ichthyology and zoology, amongst other subjects. He tells us not once, but several times his loathsome feelings on miscegenation. You can therefore understand his chagrin when a white South-African and his black Hottentot wife ask for his help in regaining a magical artifact, only when he realizes that there might be something in it for him does he readily agree. What then follows is a romp searching for a 3ft African witch doctor, before he can cast a much dreaded spell. Being as we have been so focused on Agassiz's racism, it should come as no shock that it will be used against him as the story progresses. If both he and the reader were meant to learn something worthwhile as a result, the test failed spectacularly for this reader.

The worst crime in this novella, the speech patterns of the South African character Jacob Cezar,'You know chust vhere der nearest Ztation ist?' Given that Mr Cezar did a lot of talking let me tell you that it was a zucking painz in der arse.

Finally, 'Walt and Emily', instead of an odious little man we get an odious little woman as our lead. Was real life poet Emily Dickinson really that bad?

All three were over long, containing far too much filler and might have made a better impression if they had been sharpened down to short story length.

If many of the supporting casts had been allowed to develop, they would have provided better foils for the three unpleasant leads.

My plea, do not let this volume put you off reading other works by Di Filippo.

My verdict disappointing.

(I have been asked by the publisher to review Cosmocopia due for release Sept, by Paul Di Filippo).

Received from the publisher for an honest review.


13: 24: A Story of Faith and Obsession

13: 24: A Story of Faith and Obsession - M Dolon Hickmon 13:24 - a story of faith and obsession, at its' heart is a novel about revenge, a revenge exacted by a victim of physical and mental abuse. This is not a novel written to praise or attack any particular religion, although many anti-religion advocates could so easily find plenty of ammunition.

The cover is a little misleading as whilst two of the major characters are a rock fan and the cult rock star who is the focus of his adulation, and whose lyrics and motivations are examined in some detail, this is not the story of that band.

Our third major character is cop, Detective William Hursel as well as finding his main suspect 14 year old Chris Pesner, he needs to determine exactly what is the motivation behind the murders.

This is not so much a whodunnit, the book opens with the killer on his way to commit his second murder, and in fact we find ourselves watching in horrid fascination as he does the deed, instead we are concerned with the why?

The rock fan, Chris and the lead singer of the rock band Rehoboam Josh Sebala have made contact with one another long before 13:24's opening paragraph, and it is obvious to Detective Hursel from the offset that this is not a typical fanboy relationship. Why would the leader of a cult rock band with thousands of fans reply personally to just one fan? It is this connection that Hursel needs to understand and unravel in order to catch his killer before it is too late.

The abuse here is the use of belts and other instruments to beat children, it is not blatant child sexual abuse, although there are hints that the ultimate villain may indeed be so inclined. Certainly he is not opposed to kidnapping, child trafficking and murder to reach his ultimate goal.

Sadly, so many aspects of this novel mirror reality. Why has it been so easy to convince followers of certain religions that the brutal disciplining of very young children is the right thing to do? How does regularly beating a child down until you break them make you a better parent? There is a fairly big jump from spanking a naughty child, to beating a child and leaving them covered in bruises, or worse.

I am fairly conversant with the majority of strange fetishes and possible forms of abuse that human beings can inflict on one another and even knowing that this was a work of fiction, M Dolon Hickmon succeeded in unnerving me with this dark, disturbing tale of serial child abuse and the resultant trauma. Can I say that I was rooting for our killer all the way through this book?

This is M Dolon Hickmon's first novel, and that is somewhat surprising, an incredibly well written and researched book.

There is absolutely no reference in this book to the book penned by Michael and Debi Pearl,'To Train Up a Child', but it does not take a genius to see the correlations. The Pearl book advocates beating children into submission, beating children until you break their will, and then perhaps beating them some more to be certain. It states that you can pull your baby's hair as a disciplinary measure and even advocates that you start beating your child from the age of 4 months old. There are people who have used the Pearl book as their child-rearing bible, a few of these people have beaten their children to death.

To Train Up a Child is widely available, unfortunately.

This copy of 13:24 was received from the publisher for an honest review.

Recommended, it should spark an internal debate, especially for a parent.

Welfy Q. Deederhoth: Meat Purveryor, World Savior

Welfy Q. Deederhoth: Meat Purveryor, World Savior - Eric Laster, Max Graenitz Welfy is an orphan failed by the welfare system, who runs away to live in the big apple, New York City, but don't let that put you off.

He decides to relocate and leaves his various children's and foster homes behind to make his own way in the world. I don't think most of us could blame a boy who had lived in 31 homes in 2 years for trying another solution. Bargaining his work skills in exchange for food might not exactly be an ideal way to live his extremely young life, our hero doesn't know it yet, but he is about to embark on a dangerous adventure with Baloney.

Welfy, meets young Harlan, who lives under a bridge and they soon become firm friends. Harlan shows him the ropes and helps him adapt to life on the streets and in exchange Welfy shows Harlan how to dodge deadly missiles which look remarkably like ketchup in an alternate universe.

Aimed at everyone aged over 9 who likes reading about heroes, or even meat products.

I may not be in the target age group that the author was aiming for, but that certainly never stopped me before.

An enjoyable adventure with lots of death and action, I see no reason why this book cannot be enjoyed by both genders of Junior school age. There is a fitting end, but plenty of scope exists if the author decides to give young Welfy another outing, and I hope he does.

Great Fun.

This copy was received from the publisher for an honest review.


Restoration - Greg F. Gifune This is not really a review.

Admittedly, I was expecting a novel, however 'Restoration', is actually a short story, accompanied by a much longer 3 chapter excerpt of a book from Greg F Gifune's 'The Bleeding Season'. After a quick Goodreads search it appears that I am not the only one who was a little confused, the table of contents being placed on the very last page did not help.

I enjoyed the short story, however the synopsis does not leave anything to the imagination all, I do not think it would take any readers' latent psychic ability to figure why the little boy returns to the land of the living, there is no twisty ending. Having said that I have nothing particularly bad to say.

This is essentially just a taster, promoting Greg F Gifune's work which I am sure I will check out in detail at some later date; job done.

Received as a gift from the publisher DarkFuse for subscribing to their club. (It took me 3 days to remember that, it was just there on my Kindle, I had thought I had been sleep-shoplifting or something).


Sanctuary 12 (Fallen Gods Saga)

Sanctuary 12 (Fallen Gods Saga) - T.W. Malpass, Kate Dunn, Michael Buxton We have 9 heroes, amongst them are the artistic, the agoraphobic, and those with physical disability, the violent, the reckless, murderers, thieves and a dog. They know each other well; yet they are all complete strangers. Brought together by Celeste, an entity that some of them can hear or see and others can only sense, but all are compelled to follow, however reluctantly.

Sanctuary 12 concerns itself with the journey, that each of these individuals must make to reach each other. They are summoned to meet Celeste and learn that they all share a common enemy, not just the mundane earthly forces of law and order, in some cases; and ultimately they find out who they really are, where they come from and what is required of them as a collective.

Sanctuary 12, is the first book in the 'Fallen Gods Saga', a character driven dark fantasy & a horror trilogy with a smattering of science fiction. It may start slowly, but in this story that is a good thing because when the horrors came undulating in this reader's direction they left her completely unnerved and with total conviction that the whole thing was almost happening around her.

Four of the group are also fleeing earthly enemies, Martha the thief has to leave behind her beloveds, her kid brother, her girlfriend and one other, in a dusty American trailer park to escape the law; Vladimir is fleeing his mother and the deadly Duma in Russia and America; Heven, his interfering father, the FBI and a small town Sheriff; and Jerrico in the UK, the violent and suspicious death of his friends and those who believe he might be responsible and his deepest fear, Clover.

Evelyn has to leave her house, an almost insurmountable task, but she also commands the unkindness; Barnes guides Stuart along the journey; Stuart leaves his over protective parents; Josie is blind, but wants to flee her all-seeing touch; Kaleb the artist is also a saviour, finding Jose at just the right time; All have a special gift.

Each leading character, the good, the bad and the downright evil are beautifully and richly drawn. I have to single out the repellent Charles Cradleworth who made me shiver from his very first not entirely welcome appearance.

We are shown a hint of the battles to come and just how much the enemy is relishing the inevitable war; the fight with each of our heroes. They learn that they have to battle not just for themselves or even humanity but for all of creation.

I did not read any reviews prior to reading the novel, I never do if a review is actually requested and I have to say that I am more than pleasantly surprised by the quality of this book. I was mindful that I was reading part one of a series, so any unanswered questions or dangling ends I expect to be tied up, loosely or not within the next 2 volumes.

A proper horror story, modern and classic at the same time, and Lovecraftian in parts, and yes, I could also see Clive Barker's strong influence.

T. W. Malpass has a great strong voice.

Copy received from the author for an honest review.

First published on Darkness Beckons


The Heart of the Beast Hardcover

The Heart of the Beast Hardcover - Dean Motter, Judith Dupre, Sean Phillips This graphic novel was originally published in 1998 by Vertigo and is to be re-released in hardcover on 05th August 2014.

Sandra meets Victor (Frankenstein), whilst bar-tending at an art exhibition and immediately invites him to her off Broadway show, she is also a part time actress. It is inevitable that Sandra is going to fall head over heels for the mysterious stranger.

There is no horror here at all and I struggled to find a story. I found Sandra's character too insipid and Victor was barely a character at all.

The art style reminded me of the photo stories that were quite popular in teen magazines in the 80's, and that extremely popular a-ha video, you know the one, photos mixed with paint & charcoal drawings, mixed media.

I did not like the art at all in this graphic novel, and I am not certain that I would have liked it sixteen* years ago either, on the whole it just wasn't for me, on top of which I found the story to be tedious and melodramatic. If this novel was critically acclaimed several decades ago, I am not certain that it has withstood the passage of time.

* The edition published by Vertigo in 1998 is the only other edition I could find, I assume as 2014 is the 20th anniversary that there is another.

I received an ARC from the publishers for an honest review.


I Was the Cat

I Was the Cat - Paul Tobin Allison Breaking, American blogging goddess calls her blog, 'Breaking News', (Guffaw, guffaw, guffaw); regardless she is still in demand. Mysterious new client Burma, offers her $45000 to write his memoirs and knowing nothing about him whatsoever, apart from the fact his appearance might cause alarm, she flies half way across the world to London.

Burma it turns out, is not only the worlds only talking cat, but he is also gifted with reincarnation. He spends the book telling Allison and her pointless friend Reggie the juicy details, ruling a cat and butler mafia from his lair, and tucking into a tuna fish sandwich.

This cat is paradoxically nice and nasty, a complete megalomaniac, not unlike the purr box staring at you from that comfy chair opposite right now. Over the centuries Burma has attempted and failed miserably to take over the world. He has used his wiles to meet and manipulate various famous and powerful people throughout history, Elizabeth I, Napoleon, erm Audrey Hepburn, but to no avail, he is on his 9th and last life, it is time to come clean.

I think a few important elements of the story were missing, like an ending for instance, a couple of personalities for the main humans involved and a solid story.

The graphics, well, I cannot draw a straight line myself, so therefore anyone who can draw a recognizable face gets a wow from me.

ARC received from the publisher for an honest review.


The Medea Complex

The Medea Complex - Rachel Florence Roberts This book was received from the author for an honest review.

Honestly, I found it difficult to write the review of this particular book without giving away the plot.

Our novel begins in the then seemingly inauspicious surroundings of the Royal Bethlem hospital, a real psychiatric hospital based in London, UK and founded in 1247. Historically notorious this is the institution for which the word bedlam was first derived, 'bedlam' being a corruption of the name Bethlem, (which itself comes from the name Bethlehem). Whilst the hospital in its present incarnation bares little resemblance to the pre-19th century institution, and not just because the hospital has moved destinations three or four times over the centuries.

The Medea Complex is a first person, multi-character viewpoint novel set during the Victorian era 1885-1886. Our first and subsequently most important character is Anne, Lady Stanbury, the novel starts as she wakes alone and afraid in a darkened room, she tells us that she does not know where she is and how she came to be there; and indeed she believes herself kidnapped for ransom from her wealthy parent. Anne has amnesia, she remembers both her father and her maid Beatrix, but not her husband or her baby son. In fact, we later find out that not only she has murdered her 8-week old baby John in the most brutal way and is apparently suffering from 'Puerperal Mania' as diagnosed by eminent psychiatrist Dr. George Savage, but that her father the Lord Damsbridge has used his not insurmountable influence to get her committed to bedlam rather than prison, where she would most certainly have been hanged.

In many ways Anne's psychiatrist Dr. George Savage is the 2nd most important person in the novel and we spend a great deal of time in his company. We see him meet and interact with the main protagonist and the other leading and pivotal characters in turn. He becomes an unwitting contributor to the tangled drama. Some may find that his internal monologues, conversations, and diary notes quite shockingly misogynistic and even primitive if we judge them by our 21st century sensibilities. Indeed, it would be easy to dismiss some of the dialogue attributed to him in the novel as unrealistic, but Dr. Savage was actually a real person and a psychiatrist, or alienist as they were known, working at the Royal and many of his notes have been preserved.

Our third character is Edgar Stanbury, Anne's husband and the grieving father of baby John. It was Edgar, who discovered his wife at home covered in blood, clutching a knife with the remains of the baby she had butchered. Naturally traumatized by the memory of this scene, it plagues his thoughts day and night, and his mind turns to revenge, but yet he continually tells himself that he loves his wife still.

Our fourth character of note is Beatrix, a lady's maid, and lifelong companion to Anne, she is prepared to do anything for her mistress, whatever the cost.

You would think that I would obviously and automatically direct my sympathies to Edgar, and certainly I did just that for a short time, but I struggled to empathize with any one character during the last two thirds of the book. If have to ask yourself how likeable can a man be when a dozen servants have more sympathy for a baby's proven killer than they do for the father of the child?

Every aspect of society portrayed appears to barbarous, policemen arrest on a whim; Prisoners are kept in deplorable conditions, lawyers are corrupt or incompetent; Treatment of mental patients evidently appears to employ some sort of water boarding techniques, and children are forced into work at a young age.Of course this happens in real life, but we are in book world here.

There were one or two threads that I wished had been developed further, and a few scenarios I found just a stretch too far, and a seemingly endless list of corrupt, unlikeable characters. I was not alive in 1885, so I am not an expert on the common lingo of the time, regional or otherwise in England, but I was not one hundred percent certain that some of the words used would have been in use at the time, now this may seem unfair, and possibly go unnoticed by the majority of readers, but it caused me to pause far too many times. Also a few minor characters happened to have strong regional dialects, which is absolutely fine, but it may have been easier for the reader to declare that, or show it in one or two sentences instead of writing dialogue for them that was barely comprehensible.

The Medea is not a horror, yes a horrific incident, the killing of a young baby takes place off-screen, and is referred to throughout, but rather it is a psychological conspiracy thriller set in the Victorian era.

It might suit lovers of historical conspiracy thrillers.

I believe that the author is writing a sequel. Hopefully this will show the three victims getting some form of moral recompense, because the victors had it way, way too easy.



Dot - Araminta Hall I received a copy of the uncorrected proofs for an honest review from the publisher.

Much as I love horror and other speculative fiction, I do enjoy taking a deliberate saunter down a different genre path. I was attracted by the synopsis and took a chance, which I am glad I did because I found Dot to be an engaging, well written and quite an absorbing diversion. This is a serious novel featuring two disconnected families, with seven flawed characters who show bad judgement throughout, you would struggle to find a redeeming feature amongst them.

Lack of internal communication en la familia becomes an art-form in this multi-viewpoint story. The only person it seems the characters will 'speak' to in any great depth is the reader, whom they let in on their secrets, big and small. I was not quite certain that I wanted to know, but I felt compelled to watch, like a rubbernecker at a car crash.

Araminta Hall makes effective use of flashback, letters, first person, and I will say it here, she is a very good writer.

There was some the humour, so it did not totally turn into the book you would want to slit your wrists to.

I must admit I was (assuming) hoping that we were heading towards a different conclusion, probably more to do with my zombie novel upbringing more than anything else. Regardless, I am afraid the end got the old eye roll from my corner of the sofa.

Whilst I enjoyed it, it is not going on the read again pile.



Dot - Araminta Hall I received a copy of the uncorrected proofs for an honest review from the publisher.

Much as I love horror and other speculative fiction, I do enjoy taking a deliberate saunter down a different genre path. I was attracted by the synopsis and took a chance, which I am glad I did because I found Dot to be an engaging, well written and quite an absorbing diversion. This is a serious novel featuring two disconnected families, with seven flawed characters who show bad judgement throughout, you would struggle to find a redeeming feature amongst them.

Lack of internal communication en la familia becomes an art-form in this multi-viewpoint story. The only person it seems the characters will 'speak' to in any great depth is the reader, whom they let in on their secrets, big and small. I was not quite certain that I wanted to know, but I felt compelled to watch, like a rubbernecker at a car crash.

Araminta Hall makes effective use of flashback, letters, first person, and I will say it here, she is a very good writer.

There was some the humour, so it did not totally turn into the book you would want to slit your wrists to.

I must admit I was (assuming) hoping that we were heading towards a different conclusion, probably more to do with my zombie novel upbringing more than anything else. Regardless, I am afraid the end got the old eye roll from my corner of the sofa.

Whilst I enjoyed it, it is not going on the read again pile.


Blue Flame

Blue Flame - Charles Denton, Blaine Garrett, Joe Lipscomb Arc provided by the publisher for an honest review.

Blue Flame is a graphic novella, with the promise of a gruesome horrifying tale with a touch of Lovecraftian mythopoeia and a little bit of bizarre thrown in. Set in Kausia a city you don't want to visit, inhabited by a race of people you don't want to meet, not even in daylight, worst of all is the strange shadow walker Shuffle.

Despite being a collaborative effort the story and the illustrations fit together rather well, with macabre visuals conjured up to match and extend the narrative, this is a good old fashioned horror story.

If a strange fearsome creature whom you suspect might be slightly demonic, not your ex, asks you to find the flame of everlasting life, it is probably wise to just drop everything else and start an immediate search.

You need to give the creature something, and your soul should be the very last thing you have to give up.

It is a little short, but this is not the end of the story, more books are planned.

The sequel, Blue Flame: Extinguish was recently been published in April 2014.


The Night Wanderer: A Graphic Novel

The Night Wanderer: A Graphic Novel - Drew Taylor, Mike Wyatt, Alison Kooistra I received this arc from the publisher for an honest review.

Pierre L'Errant is a vampire and was an Anishinabe man, he has come home, back to the Otter Lake Reserve after an absence of some 300 years. Tiffany Hunter is an Ojibway teen, and has spent her entire sixteen years of life living in the Otter Lake Reserve. It is inevitable that their paths will cross, not least because Pierre has chosen to lodge with the Hunter family for the duration of his stay.

The native American Hunter family has experienced a relatively recent upheaval with Tiffany's mother having abandoned the family the year before, leaving her living with her father and grandmother. Tiffany's mother left the reservation with a white boyfriend and Tiffany's new boyfriend Tony is white and whilst he does not come out and say it plainly, we are led to assume that this is behind her father's antipathy towards Tony, result more grief for Tiffany.

Tiffany is a native American and lives on a reservation, but aside from that I did not see what made her so particularly extra-special. She appears to be a typical teenager, going through a typical teenage phase. Pierre does a of of moping and lurking about, visits a few old haunts, terrifies the locals and tells a tale or two.

Pierre was a bored teenager and longed to go and explore the wider world, and off he went, Tiffany is a bored, angry teenager and naturally assumes the grass is greener elsewhere.

This is a novel in which the graphics are either black, white or red, chosen to enhance rather than detract from the story, however, whilst I have no complaints about the technique used internally, I found the cover art a little basic. It did not immediately appeal to me as a book I would want to read.

I felt that the use of flashback was extremely effective to tell Pierre's story of how he came to leave the village, this aspect of the story was engaging but much too short.

The original novel is apparently 215 pages long, so it is plainly obvious that a great deal of information was not transferred over to this graphic novel.

I do not know how the original play or the novel addresses the character of an adult Pierre, but aside from an incident on a baseball field, I thought much more could have been added. Apart from being moody, old and liking blood who was Pierre? Apart from being moody, angry and ditching her friends for her boyfriend who was Tiffany?

Engaging, but empty and over too soon.


Eaters: Dark Journey

Eaters: Dark Journey - Michelle DePaepe I must admit to completely forgetting that I had not read this book, I am going to blame someone else entirely for this, because how many times are we going to see that same woman peering over the covers on a zombie novel cover, get another artist, or pay the one you have already got, please!

Colour me confused, I have no idea when or where I received this book. If I bought it which I am certain I did, I would not be able to tell you how much it cost or even when it was purchased. If it was ever on Amazon it does not appear to be now, any external links on Goodreads result in an error. The ASIN is B004YWKD7U, so it is obvious it was on Amazon at one point, but has been removed for some reason. It is quite probable that that books one and two have been republished in one volume as 'Eaters' by Permuted Press, but this is only my assumption.

Halfway through chapter one I thought 'meh', half way through chapter two, and my thoughts had turned to 'yeah'.

We are following Cheryl on her journey through Golden, Colorado. She's lonely, she's tired, she's hungry, she's grieving and she is scared out of her wits, but she does everything in her fragile power to keep it together. She finds refuge, only to discover that she has jumped out of the frying pan into the proverbial fire.

It is not perfect, and events in the book are fairly routine to be honest, nothing happens in Eaters: Dark Journey that has not happened with hundreds of other zombies afflicted books and in reality I am not certain I would want Cheryl Malone watching my back.

I did like the character treatment and development of Cheryl, she certainly felt reasonably authentic, we are not talking John McClane from 'Die Hard', but a hint of a real person with all the normal flaws. We certainly expect a lot from our heroes and heroines, but most of us would not, or could not save the day given the same situation, we would be chow real quick, and so would the people with us.

It is relatively short and quick read, but you have action, you have a motorbike, you have acrobatic ninja skills on that motorbike, you have guns and the main character gets tongued by a zombie, what more could you want. If you are a zombie lover it is worth the download, if you can find it.

At the end of the book, the writer indicates that there will be a sequel, called Eaters: Destination, however a glimpse of her twitter feed in May 2014 indicates that she is 80% of her way through Eaters: Resurrection. Either way I have my sweaty hands on the prequel, Eaters: The Beginning already which I will read that in time. (It was published in 2012).

NB: I am fairly certain after checking online that Eaters: Dark Journey & Eaters: The Beginning are now contained in one volume simply called Eaters.


For Those Who Dream Monsters

For Those Who Dream Monsters - Anna Taborska For Those Who Dream of Monsters, is a collection of short stories by Anna Taborska, and illustrated in turn by artist Reggie Oliver, who also provides the introduction.

(Incidentally, the illustrated prints accompanying each story are available to purchase from the publisher's website.

It is clear from the offset that Anna possesses an eye for rich cinematic composition and it is not surprising that she has a dual career in film as a director, script writer and as a short story writer. Each piece is evocative, conjuring up some fairly vivid visual imagery. Not content with keeping us in the same location Anna takes us on a seesaw tour around the world and through the centuries, from the London tube to a small village in a war torn country in Africa. From Poland during World War 2, to modern Poland and medieval England.

This collection of 18 stories contains death, revenge, sadness and betrayal, despair, also loss, madness, companionship, longing, fear, abandonment, and just pure evil. Whilst all of the stories have some degree of darkness in common, they are not all horror stories.

'Your mother sucks cocks in hell', a quote from the film the exorcist, is probably one of the most unfriendly things you could ever learn to say when mastering a new language, but it does not stop Pierre the stubborn blacksmith. In, 'Buy A Goat For Christmas' when his tiny African village is gifted a werewolf, stubborn Pierre's flair for languages may just come in handy.

In 'Fish', Harry Tomlinson's fear is quickly banished and he is remarkably accepting of his new predicament, which is beyond horrific, with surprising stoicism and schadenfreude, when he realizes just what he is now capable of.

'The Coffin', and 'The Creaking', and 'A Tale of Two Sisters: Rusalka', are three excellent tales in the vein of terrifying traditional fairy tales, with foreshadowing, premonition and ghostly embraces.

I thought that the very first story in the collection, 'Schrodinger's Human', was the sort of story that would have been filmed by the iconic British film studio Hammer, if they were still in existence. Nonchalant and superior, cats often have the upper paw in their dealings with humans and Schrodinger is not different to any other cat in that respect. However, unlike other cats, he is not a fan of the normal processed fare available to domestic felines.

Schrodinger, might have found a friend in, 'Underbelly', which was compellingly macabre, and terrifying at the same time. Just how far would you go to take away the pain?

My favourite story by far was in fact the previously unpublished, 'Dirty Dybbuk', a non-horror, (depending on which character you are), horror tale, in which a young woman is possessed by the spirit of her late aunt. Filled with wry humour this story caught hold of and rigorously, but delightfully shook my funny bone and for me it ended all too soon. Whilst all of the stories were excellent I would have loved to have seen this particular one develop into a novella.

A special mention to the incredibly sad, 'The Girl in the Blue Coat'.

The book's guest introduction was spot on, wow she's good.

When I grow up I am going to write just like Anna Taborska, (of course I am already over 100 years young).

The book was provided by the publisher Mortbury Press in exchange for an honest review.


The Murder of Crows

The Murder of Crows - David H. Sharp Despite any contact between the author and myself, this is a fair and honest review, I take no prisoners.

571 pages are a lot of books. 571 pages comes from an author who has seriously got a great deal to say. A significant amount of the action in this book is raw and in your face. Let's just say children and animals don't mix, (I know a bird is not an animal - pedants).
I do find myself eye rolling like 'Mad Eye Mooney' when authors drop love stories into books that do not need them; however, there is a love story in this book, but I am glad to say I felt it developed naturally, suited the plot and it did not feel forced.
As previously stated this book is 571 pages, (525 in my edition - according to Goodreads), this might be considered to be superfluous by some, but there were parts of this book that I did not want to end, and I did indeed re-read whole chapters more than once, so I have no arguments with the length, the pacing or the plot.
There are a couple of real evil bastards in this book, and a great many unfortunate innocents. I like to come across an evil bastard now and again in a story, at arm's length obviously. Characterization stood out, it was extremely well done even the most minor of actors were given a story and drawn with an incredible realism. For me that gives David H. Sharpe an incredible edge, and it is the most Stephen King like trait, elicit sympathy from your readers for even the most minor of characters, give them time to show the reader the sequence of events from their point of view.
This may be a debut novel, but David H. Sharpe has shown me that he can 'do action', gut wrenching, blood letting, rip roaring, (I'm not going to say action again); The late James Herbert would have been proud, rats from, 'The Rats, the Lair and the Domain', have taken to the skies and are causing havoc in the Brecon Beacons.
I have just mentioned two of horrors greatest writers during this review, oh yes I did. 'The Murder of Crows' is as good as Herbert's 'The Rats'.
The Brecon Beacons maybe only a train ride away, but since reading this book I have given many an innocent pigeon a suspicious glance, so I cannot see myself getting on that train any time soon.
Now I am not going to skip over it, the edition that I read had a great many formatting issues, and it can be seen that some readers of this book understandably rated it accordingly, and I was aware of their comments prior to purchase. The author assures me that these issues have been fixed and the book has been reissued and he is to be applauded for both acknowledging this and rectifying the issue. I can always 'work around' formatting issues and in truth it did not spoil my enjoyment of this great book.
With these issues sorted I really do hope a great many readers discover this book which I believe needs a paperback edition.
I look forward to reading The Dust Book One - Bloodlust.


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