Posts Tagged ‘A Horror Anthology’

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.

Maximus Shock: Collected Tales of Madness and Terror

December 2, 2017 - 1:17 pm No Comments

Maximus Shock: Collected Tales of Madness and Terror
Published by Optimus Maximus Publishing on 10th February 2017
342 pages
Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

Having read quite a few books published by Optimus Maximus Publishing, I knew what to expect from some of the authors. However, this anthology gave me the chance to read stories from some of their other authors. Having 16 short stories, with various degrees of horror, helped me spend a pleasant couple of hours reading. Here are a few to entice you.
Starting off this review is Monkeys in the Palace by Chris Garson: Having enjoyed his novel Perk Noir, I was looking forward to reading this short story. The main protagonist narrates his story whilst a prison riot is occurring. The bloodshed and graphic death scenes are constant throughout and the narrator reminds me of Hannibal. A big shock is the reveal of the narrator.
After School Special by Maura Atkinson Butler: Sunshine or Sunny to her peers, was your typical high school student. Her daily mission was to avoid the “Stepford Girls” and their cronies. An easy target for their bullying, her sadistic imagination got her through the day. However, when she was drawn into a plan of revenge, it all goes terrible wrong. The author’s storytelling had me feeling sorry for Sunny, and I did will her to stop the bullying anyway she could. Although the ending was a surprise.
Bites by Leon Brown: Set after the zombie apocalypse, this is the story about a small community and their encounter with the zombies. The story revolves around Sam and how he played his part. I enjoyed that this story told it how the zombie apocalypse would probably be like, a lot of sitting around. Sam as a character was genuine and like most young men had the eye for the pretty ladies. When the zombies attacked it was quick and this story just shows you to be careful who you trust.
In Death the Spirit Calls by Emir Skalonja: Set in World War II Russia, the German and Russians are battling in the trenches, but they are not alone. This story is well descriptive of the evils of war whether it be demon or human intervention.
Mannequin by Matt Hay: Christmas Eve and Brian is cashing up at MacDougall’s Department Store. As shop manager is was under a lot of pressure with his home and work life. What happens this fatal night would change his life for ever. The story had was filled with suspense and blend the horror with an everyday item gave this a creepy feel. This has given me a taste for Matt’s up and coming novel.
Scouts Honour by Ricky Fleet: A scout camp is not a camp with the scary campfire story and this camp was no different. Toby a scout leader tells his troop the story about Lavina and her terror over Helston. Reading this story, you could imagine sitting there being creeped out. Knowing this author from his Zombie Series Hellspawn, I know that he can tell a story. However, this story was so different to his usual work, it had a chilling feel to it from the start, with a mixture of the scouts’ reaction and the story itself, the author leads you to a shocking ending.
I could write about every story in this anthology as I loved each and everyone, but my review would go onto well over 1000 words. If you are looking for your next horror anthology, then look no further.

Collected Halloween Horror Shorts: Trick ‘r Treat

October 31, 2017 - 8:02 pm No Comments

Collected Halloween Horror Shorts: Trick ‘r Treat
Published by KJK Publication on 1st October 2017
304 pages
Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

With a title like this, I knew that this was a must read for Halloween. A collection of 16 short stories all with the Halloween theme. This anthology was a treat to read, whilst I was familiar with quite a few of the authors, I did not know what to expect from this book.
A few stories that jumped out at me were as follows:

Black Widow by Christina Bergling: One of the enjoyments of Halloween is “what costume to wear” Dane only had one enjoyment, to see how many girls he could sleep with to tick off his costume bucket list. He knew that his look was in, when he got an invitation. Attending the party, he saw Charlotte dressed as a spider, and the next one on his bucket list. But was it a night of passion. This story reels you in, Charlotte comes across as a sweet girl and you could see why Dane would zone in on her. The twist at the end shows just what a sweet girl she is.

Girlfriend by Andrew Lennon: Simon had finished just broken up with his girlfriend Susan. She was a bit of a control freak, so he was looking at getting his life back together. After a fatal phone call, was his life ever going to get back on track. I felt sorry for Simon, you could tell that Susan wore the trousers in the relationship and when they broke up, it was like a new start for him. I could not put this story down as I just wanted to know what happened next. If this book was made into a film, it would be riddled with jump scares. A ghost story, where there are no winners.

The Coffin Man by Mark Lukens: Every little village has its own urban legend, and the little village when Dennis and Kara were staying was no different. Living in Kara’s grandma’s house while she stays on one of the adult day care centers, Dennis is soon bought up to speed with the legend. Whatever you do, do not look out the window if you hear noises, just in case the Coffin Man sees you. The telling of the legend, made this a creepier story, but the ending was a surprise.

Don’t Fear the Reaper by Steven Stacy: If you have watched Halloween, then you would have heard of the surname Strode, but what if Laurie died and her younger brother Tommy was in an asylum for her murder. Amber her other sister still hated Halloween, but this year she had a plan to draw out the real killer, but on this Halloween, is the real killer revealed. This story is a real slasher story, the tension is built up to Halloween night. The death scenes are bloody and intense read.

Halloweenland by Kevin J Kennedy: What Halloween book is not complete without a scary carnival story, and I was not disappointed. Both lovers of Halloween, Zak and Wendy were really excited as Halloweenland was coming to their town. On the day of the carnival they both got up early, so they could enjoy the whole day, but as the night draws in, the carnival becomes darker and the trip through the funhouse had an unexpected ending. As soon as Zak and Wendy exit the funhouse, the action starts with killer pumpkin clowns and strange dog creatures, you can imagine Zak and Wendy fighting for their lives. Although this is a horror story it is also a coming of age and the relationship between Zak and Wendy was so sweet and innocent.

I loved this book and whilst I have only reviewed a few of the stories, I can honestly say I loved them all. I have one question what holiday anthology will Kevin Kennedy come up with next. A great horror read.

The Anatomy of Monsters: VOL 1 by Lisa Vasquez, Ramsey Campbell, Gary McMahon, Nicholas Vince, Brian Hodge, Carl Jennings, Donelle Pardee Whiting, Josh Malerman, Steven Chapman, Greg Chapman, Robert Teun

July 25, 2017 - 10:35 pm No Comments

The Anatomy of Monsters: VOL 1 by Lisa Vasquez, Ramsey Campbell, Gary McMahon, Nicholas Vince, Brian Hodge, Carl Jennings, Donelle Pardee Whiting, Josh Malerman, Steven Chapman, Greg Chapman, Robert Teun

Published by Stitched Smile Publications on 7th July 2017

334 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

Monsters have always played a big role in storytelling. This anthology has 19 stories some monsters you will recognise straight away. Every story is different and for this review I am going to list my favourites.

I Know I Promised You a Story by Gary McMahon: When an editor receives a biographical story from an author, he learns more about the author than he wants to. At the start of the story you can imagine the editor just sitting thinking he is reading a work of fiction involving the imagination of a young boy, but as the story progress you realise that this is more serious and that lives could be in danger.

Family Tree by Nicholas Vince: When Bryan receives an email from his twin brother Adrian, who he had not seen for over 20 years, what starts out as a family union soon results in a secret that will affect him and his family. Whilst I had an idea what the secret was I could not imagine how Bryan felt when Adrian asked for the favour and the twist at the end with the locket.

Whitechapel by Alisha Jordan: Whilst an old lady is dying she reminisces about her past. We all know what happen in Whitechapel but with a feminine twist and the reasons behind the murders makes this more believable than all the speculation at the time.

Le Mort Vivant by Steven Chapman: A story about a young boy, who believed he was a monster due to his mother. Whilst reading this story I was actually thinking of another monster and it was not till the end that I realised who this story was about. The story was more heart breaking and it shows that monsters are usually created by the intervention of others. As a mom, I could not think of doing this my children and putting them through this trauma.

Nightswimming by Laura Mauro: When a survivor of Katrina, is a victim of domestic violence, she gets her revenge in a unique way. Thanks to Disney this creature has been tamed but this author takes it back to its true form, a scary eerie creature.

To Walk in Midnight’s Realm by Simon Bestwick: Written as a letter, this story explains what happened to John leading up to his death and the task he wants Matt to do. Reading this story, it feels like you are with John on his journey, when he meets the creatures the graphic way his friends died added intensity to the story as you could sense what danger John was in. However, this story was more than a horror story this was a story about love and regret.

With each story, I was trying to guess who the monster was and whilst some are identifiable a lot came from the authors imagination. Set over different time frames, each story took you are a different journey. Whatever type of monster you like I am sure that you will find a story or 2 to enjoy. With some great authors, this book is a must read for horror lovers and whilst I don’t judge a book by its cover, the art work by Greg Chapman is gorgeous

The Infernal clock curated by David Shakes and Stephanie Ellis

April 15, 2017 - 2:16 pm No Comments

The Infernal clock curated by David Shakes and Stephanie Ellis

Published on 31st March 2017

306 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

I borrowed this book on Kindle Unlimited, as the blurb got my interest. 24 stories each a different hour, counting down time till the clock strikes no more.  Not having prior knowledge of any of the participating authors, I did not know what to expect, but as a lover of horror and from page one I knew I had made a good choice. There were so many stories I enjoyed some just for the true horror whilst others made you think on the situation of the story. Here are a few of my favourites:

Highland Game by Karen Gray: Set in the Scottish Highland a visitor to a scout camp tells the story of a Kelpie an old folklore creature, around the camp fire, but by midnight it all end in tragedy for one scout leader.  If you know old folklore you know that Kelpies are Scottish creature living in lochs and as this story was based on the original beliefs. A well-paced quick read.

The Graveyard Shift by Stephanie Ellis: Set in a sleep clinic, we follow Joseph the night security guard on his final hour of his shift between 3am-4am. It was a pleasant change to read a story not sent in a mental asylum, and whilst there were patients there that would be a home in one, this was centred around the guard and not what crimes they did. With the help of a Danish Nurse, Joseph was made to confront what he had done to previous patients. Yet another story using folklore, although I had not heard of this one. I enjoyed reading about this creature and how the author tied it together with night terrors and missing people made it a good read.

Tartarus by Tim Kimber: At 5am Jaclyn and Oscar were leaving a rave, high on drugs they decide to go to an after rave party. With the grief of their brother still raw, they use this time to get closer together, but when the guests at the party are not what they seem, Jaclyn knows that she has to be the big sister and save Oscar.  From the moment, they walked into the party, you have the sense that something was going to happen. For a short story this book is full if suspense and one story that you do not want to put down. Although this a horror story this a story about grief and 2 siblings coming to terms with their brother’s death.

Always Protect the Ones you love: Bart Van Goetham: It’s 7pm and Belinda is home from work and listening to the news. With terrorism, serial killers, Belinda worries for her new daughter, but the length that’s she goes to, to protect her is extreme.  As a parent, you do worry about world the that your children are going up in, but I couldn’t believe what Belinda did to her family. A chilling story about a mother’s love.

Whispers by Stephanie Ellis: A family living in a house with a gruesome reputation. That little voice you hear telling you to do things. The family that live in the house have a lot of secrets, and the malignant spirit knows, a few quiet words whispered in their ears and he gets what he wants. This story was about human nature, the spirit knew exactly how to play people. The spirit came out to play at 8pm.

Watershed by Stella Turner: Harriet was a collector. Like her mom before her, but unlike most people who collected the likes of dolls, teddy bears, thimbles etc. Harriet had quite a macabre taste. At 9pm the watershed, when British TV can show scenes not for children’s eyes, Harriet decided to share her collection with her boyfriend Leon. This story builds up to 9pm and you can feel the apprehension in Harriot why she is waiting to share her collection, and whilst you are wandering what Leon’s reaction will be the author adds a twist that you never seen coming and the graphic ending puts Harriot’s collection to a whole new level.

Although the stories count down from Midnight you can read them in any order. This book had a good collection of stories that kept me entertained. What showcased the authors talents was that they only had an hour for the timeline of their story, and with some I could not get over how much action, suspense and horror they managed to fit in. A good anthology