Archive for December, 2017

Calendark: The Infernal Almanac by David Shakes and Stephanie Ellis

December 31, 2017 - 2:30 pm No Comments

Calendark: The Infernal Almanac by David Shakes and Stephanie Ellis
Published by The Infernal Clock on 28th November 2017
214 pages
Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

Having read last year’s anthology to do with time, this year’s book intrigued me as what could the authors do with the holidays we celebrate. Well I was surprised, whilst some were popular holidays, some of the stories were about holidays I had never heard off . With 16 stories each featuring a different holiday this book will take you through the year. Here is a pick of my favourite holidays.
Lord of Misrule by Christine Dalcher: We all have heard of Twelfth night the night of the 5th/6th January, but have you heard of the Twelfth Night supper. Professor Jeremy Stone had, and when an invitation arrived for him to join The Saturn Society a prestige group he didn’t know whether it was a prank or not. Through out this story there are hints to the things that Jeremy had done in his former life. He had an evil streak to him which he put down to as fun even though people got hurt. The build up to the supper kept you wondering what was going to happen.
Last Laugh by Marie McKay: April fools is always a day of laughter, but April takes it one step further. Bullied at school and always being laughed at, April had an unhealthy fixation with the sound of laughter. April was a strange girl, and the bullying didn’t help. When she bumped into the old crowd, I did wonder if it was planned or just by chance, but as the story continued you could imagine April’s mind ticking over and how to get revenge. Loved the strange weapon of choice and very apt to the story.
Revels with the Devil by Sal Page: This is one holiday I have not heard off. Held on the 30th April, Walpurgis Night is the night that witches gather on a hilltop to dance with the Devil. Toby, Sasha and Beth love to dress up and party, bored waiting for Halloween, Toby finds this apt holiday for them to party. What goes on that night effects them all. Whilst reading this story, you get to learn more about Walpurgis night. The way the author told this story you could sense the creepy atmosphere of the gathering. The escalation of violence as the party climaxed was graphic. A good story and an interesting holiday.
Neon Hearts by Chris Milam: Winter solstice or the shortest day of the year, the night when the Wild Hunt ride. The town of Lancaster get a visit from the hunt every year and on that night, they need to make a decision that affects everyone. The rules were simple: Pick a person who has done some type of bad deed, or screwed folks over or never contributed to the community. However, whilst reading this story, it is amazing how people can be so petty when it’s their choice. A good story that shows how humans can be a much of a monster as a demon coming to the town.
Before each story there is either a quote or an explanation of the holiday, which was an added touch and in some cases explained the holiday, if you had not heard of it. A good collection of stories that showcases new authors to me. The team has done time and holidays and I wonder where they will take this next year. Another good anthology which horror lovers will enjoy.

Dueling Kings (The Twelve Kingdoms Book 1) by Bree Pierce

December 28, 2017 - 12:45 am No Comments

Dueling Kings (The Twelve Kingdoms Book 1) by Bree Pierce
Published on 1st November 2016
154 pages
Reviewed by Yvonne Davies
Have 12 kings ruling 12 kingdoms could get messy but the annual peace treaty held in Oselma helps keep things peaceful. However, when 2 kings see something that took their fancy. Neso knew that peace could soon end all due to a woman.
Anastacia was a woman of mystery, not many knew her secret. Living in Oselma, she was used to staying in the shadows. What drew the two kings to her was her unusual hair and eye colouring. As you get further into the book, you really get to know Anastacia, whilst she is caring and humble, she has a stubborn streak to her. When she went to Tyberia, she felt free for the first time in ages. The two kings were complete opposites, whilst King Dejen was loving and a great Ruler, King Carlos ruled his kingdom with a rod.
Each of the minor character’s stories were told in detail and one of my favourite characters was Theta, a maid at the castle. I loved her feistiness and could see that she was a true friend to Anastacia
As there are 12 kingdoms, the author took time in describing each one, and it was interesting to see how different each land was whether it was the inhabitants or the weather climate. Anastacia’s back story explaining her secret and the magical element added depth to the story. The pace picked up as more people found out her secret and you had a sense that something bad was going to happen. Whilst there is a touch of romance, this does not detract from the action. The tension builds in the second half of the book and you will want to carry on reading to find out what happens. A complete story so you do not have to worry about a cliff-hanger.
I am interested to see where the author will go with this series as I would like to learn more about the other kingdoms. A good start to this series

The Ghost Club: Newly Found Tales of Victorian Terror by William Meikle

December 26, 2017 - 10:23 pm No Comments

The Ghost Club: Newly Found Tales of Victorian Terror by William Meikle
Published by Crystal Lake Publishing on 9th December 2017
189 pages
Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

If you were asked living or dead, which authors you would pick to have at a dinner party, I can guarantee at least one of the great Victorian writers would be on your list. Masters of storytelling, their written stories are still read today.
An old Victorian manuscript is found in a derelict building. Penned by Arthur Conan Doyle, it captures 14 stories regaled to him, Henry James and Bram Stoker when other authors are invited to dine with them.
Before I review this book, there is a disclaimer, I have not read some of these author’s original works. However, after I read this book, I did google these authors to see what works they wrote.
So, with all these stories, there is a lot of choice and for this review I will write about my favourites.
The Immortal Memory: Leo Tolstoy: When Empress Yekaterina Alexeyevna requested a Scottish poet, who could narrate Burn’s in Russian, Captain Marsh knew he had his work cut out. The story is very descriptive of living in Russia, and how certain people suffered to survive. A tragic ending which has an impact on others.
To the Manor Born: Margaret Oliphant: Young Agnus Leckie, was the new maid at the Manor. Trading jobs, she soon gets introduced to the lady of the house. Throughout this story you can feel the love that the master had for his family. A harrowing ghost story that is beautifully written and with a poetic ending.
The Angry Ghost: Oscar Wilde: Tom had always been told by his Aunt Agatha that there were no such things as ghost. Aunt Agatha was a bitter woman who always thought she was right and reminded me of Oscar Wilde’s character Lady Bracknell in the Importance of Being Ernest. This was a comical read with a fitting ending.
The Curious Affair on the Embankment: Arthur Conan Doyle: Inspector Lestrade has been brought into a case of a missing lady. The only stipulation from the powers at be, is that he cannot involve Sherlock Holmes. Lestrade is drawn into the paranormal and must keep his cool when evil prevails. When I have read Sherlock Holmes stories, I have always felt that Lestrade was a bit of an idiot, so this was a refreshing change. Lestrade was very methodical as if he used Holmes powers of deduction. A paranormal mystery which will keep you gripped.
If you have read Songs of the Dreaming Gods, you will find 3 further stories of interest. The High Bungalow: Rudyard Kipling, In the House of the Dead: Bram Stoker and The Scrimshaw Set: Henry James. All three have elements of this book in them and I enjoyed the merging of the author’s work.
The introduction to each story gives it a personal touch and sets the scene for what’s to come. This is book showcases the author’s talents of writing in numerous styles. A great read that spirits you away to Victorian times.

First Contact (Haunts for Sale Series Book 1) by Kat Green

December 23, 2017 - 7:12 pm No Comments

First Contact (Haunts for Sale Series Book 1) by Kat Green
Published by The Wild Rose Press Inc on 1st June 2016
180 pages
Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

After her fiancé, Michael died, Sloane Osborne knew she had to see him again. With her love of paranormal and her job of selling haunted houses, she knew that one day she would meet him again. When a job came up a year and a day to his death she knew that this was the best time to get her wish. Travelling to Wisconsin to visit the house, she gets more than she bargains, but even after being warned can she stay away.
Throughout this book you could feel Sloane’s grief, you could sense that she really missed Michael. When her life was in danger, she showed how brave she was, however every now and again her vulnerability would peak through and you knew she just wanted to curl up and die. When she knew she needed help, there was only one person she calls, Jonah, Michael’s best friend and a FBI agent. The connection between Sloane and Jonah was strong and as the story progressed you learn more about their friendship. Thanks to Jonah’s gift of seeing dead people, he was handy to have around. When Sloane is introduced to the ghosts, its not pretty. Each girl relives their death and you understand how much pain they were in at the end.
The author has a gift for taking you in the wrong direction and builds the story to a dramatic climax making it a page turner. A good ending and I am eager to read the 2nd book Second Sight to see how much more trouble Sloane can get into

Unknown by Phil Price

December 17, 2017 - 9:07 am No Comments

Unknown by Phil Price
Published 1st July 2015
400 pages
Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

What if there are other worlds and the only way to go there is by portal? Jake a former Police officer now a PI gets embroiled in a paranormal investigation which takes him to places he could never imagine. The start sets the scene to the story, two vampiric brothers battle to the death and their supporters are using any means to revive them to finally win the battle. Confronting vampires, and getting help from the most unlikely of creatures, a simple missing person case just got complicated.
We first meet Jake when he was grieving, this helped his decision to give up his career and work for himself. He was a likable character, a man of principles who gave 100% with everything he did. Throughout the story, I could not believe how much bad luck he had, but this just made him focused to get the answers.
Kathleen was sweet natured and can be only described as a home maker. Still, she quickly adapts to everything she confronted to. I enjoyed reading her reactions to things we take for granted i.e. having a shower, drinking a bottle of wine.
At the beginning I was a bit confused as the story jumped from place to place, however, stick with it as these scenes set the story for a great read. The style of writing makes the story a page turner and you will not want to put it down. The use of portals enables the author to use his imagination to create descriptive worlds and some great characters, one of my favourites was Uncle Wilf, an aged man who always stepped up to the challenge. As a fellow Brummie, it was great to read about places in Birmingham and it is not often you read about Dogpool lane. Due to my reading speed, I did have to re-read one scene again as I misread it and was shocked when Jake took Kathleen to Next and handed over a £20. I was going to let the author know that you could not even buy a jumper for £20 let a lone a complete wardrobe, then I realised Jake had tipped the £20 to the cashier to help Kathleen pick her clothes.
If you like your traditional vampires, then pick up this book. Whilst it is paranormal, it has a thriller feel to it which makes it an exciting read. Although it has no cliff-hanger, it leads nicely into book 2. As a first book this is a great read and I could see it being adapted into a TV series, with Jake using the portals to investigate paranormal events.