Posts Tagged ‘Crystal Lake Publishing’

Tales from the Lake Vol4: The Horror Anthology

October 30, 2017 - 11:22 pm No Comments

Tales from the Lake Vol4: The Horror Anthology
Published by Crystal Lake Publishing on 27th October 2017
266 pages
Reviewed by Yvonne Davies


If you want something to read this Halloween, then you can’t go wrong with this anthology. 24 tales of horror, suspense and mystery that will feed your addiction of horror.
With so many stories to choose from, I found it hard to choose my favourites, but I will give it a go.
When the Dead Come Home by Jennifer Loring: Trevor and Kate needed a fresh start after losing their child. Whilst Trevor was trying to move on, Kate was suffering with severe depression. As the story progressed you could feel Kate’s guilt getting worse, and she felt that the whole world was against her. This was a harrowing story about grief and was written with so much compassion, even after I finished the story, it was still thinking about it.
Whenever You Exhale, I Inhale by Max Booth III: Tom and Michael were young lovers, it did not bother anyone except Michael’s dad, a bully when he had a drink. This story is about the fatal night that Michael’s grandma died. This story had me gripped from the start, Michael’s dad was dying to fight someone, and you knew something bad was going to happen. It was magical read and was beautifully written.
Grave Secrets by JG Faherty: Eric was chasing ghosts, 25 years ago his brother Wade went missing in Rocky Point. Now Eric and his son Arthur were going back there to find out what happened. This was full of mystery and suspense as whilst you knew something had happened to Wade. Following Eric’s footsteps, you find out what happened to Wade.
End of the Hall by Hunter Liguire: Davey was being visited by a lady in red, but her visits helped tell a story. I loved this traditional ghost story, Davey was a lovely boy, who became the hero.
The Story of Jessie and Me by Timothy Johnson: A post-apocalyptic story of a young lad and his friend Jessie. What I am still amazed at, was how much went into this short story. The story spanned over years and told of their survival against the military, dangerous men and nature. Action packed from the start.
Dust Devils by Mark Cassell: When a driving instructor went to pick up his last leaner, he did not expect to get involved in a mystical monster attack. Having read other work by this author I was not disappointed with the story. An ancient monster, a deranged man and bloody death scenes, all things that I love in a story.
With every anthology that I read from Crystal Lake, I still find more new authors to read. This is a must read for horror fans. Another great publication and looking forward to the book 5.

Quiet Places: A Novella of Cosmic Folk Horror by Jasper Bark

September 29, 2017 - 4:41 pm No Comments

Quiet Places: A Novella of Cosmic Folk Horror by Jasper Bark
Published by Crystal Lake Publishing on 29th September 2017
123 pages
Reviewed by Yvonne Davies


We first come across Sally caring for the folk of Dunballan, who are in a comatosed state. Following the past events, you get to find out what happened in the little town. David is the last of the McCavendish line, suffers from an ancient curse. Stalked by a beast and suffering dark depressive incidents. With only a creepy voice in the hedgerow to help Sally, can she break the curse and get her David back.
Whilst Sally is researching the beast, you get to learn more about David’s heritage and the aftermath of his ancestor’s dabbling with ancient folklore. Told through Matthew’s journals, the scenes with Matthew meeting had a mystical feel to it and you have a sense that something will go wrong.
Usually when I read any of Jasper Bark’s books, I am reading it with a grimace on my face, but this book was so different. This played more with my mind. The repetitive voice sounded sinister and for me Hettie was more horrific than the beast as it certainly knew how to play Sally. Whilst reading the scenes in the forest I had goosebumps and you could sense that it was leading up to a final showdown. The suspense carried throughout the story, but even I could not predict the outcome. You could feel the desperation in Sally and the need to help David and his dark moods.
I read a shortened version in the Green and Pleasant land anthology, and this new revised version had more depth. It felt more intense and as it is a novella a quick read. Another great story from Jasper Bark

 

Ugly Little Things by Todd Keisling

September 15, 2017 - 6:46 pm No Comments

Ugly Little Things by Todd Keisling
Published by Crystal Lake Publishing on 15th September 2017
287 pages
Reviewed by Yvonne Davies


Having not read anything by Todd Keisling, I didn’t know what to expect, but with titles like House of Nettle and Thorn and Saving Granny from the Devil, I wanted to find out. With 11 short stories to read you will encounter creepy dolls, an imaginary friend called Harvey and even a group of up and coming rock stars.
A Man in your Garden: Written from the 1st person POV, about a resident, that thinks there is a man in their garden. This story captured the person emotions after something catches their eye, ranging from doubt, anger, drunken ramblings and more. A gentle start to the book.
Show me where the Waters fill your grave: Jonathon spends his time watching the weather channel, waiting for news of a large rain storm. A widower of 4 years, he really misses his wife, but what happens when the land begins to flood. Throughout this story you can really feel Jonathon’s grief and the love he had for his wife and whilst the story concentrates on the current rainstorm, you learn more about their romance and the incident after Jonathon’s wife death. Throughout this story you know something is going on and that Jonathon is waiting for something to happen but what went on is not what I expected.
Radio Free Nowhere: Conrad and Ashley were on a road trip and like most of families cannot agree on the music for the journey. However; when Ashley hears a song, she cannot get out of her mind, it takes on an unexpected journey. Reading this story, I felt that Conrad was a bit of control freak, and on this journey Ashley found smalls way to defy him. When she heard the song for the 1st time, it reminded me of sailors hearing the sirens sing.
The Otherland Express: Gregory was running away after finally having enough of his abusive father. Meeting John Doe, he learns the secret of being invisible to others. Gregory teenage life was so sad and I could understand why he ran away and why he wanted to board the coach with John Doe. How he became invisible had an alien feel to it and it just shows how brave Gregory is.
Saving Granny from The Devil: Toddy’s best friend was his great grandma, spending most of his time with her, he would do anything for her. When Harvey a mysterious man rescues Toddy from bullies, it takes time for Toddy to realise who he is and when Toddy’s grandma falls ill, the deal he makes shapes his life. This was one of my favourite stories, and I enjoyed how a short story catalogued most of Toddy’s life, how he grew up, what he became and his regrets all because he loved his grandma and made a deal with Harvey.
The Darkness Between Dead Stars: Written by a member of the committee, this story tells us what really happened to Maxwell Foster on his one-man expedition in space. This story had the feel of a dying man’s confession and you could feel how guilty he was sending Maxwell into space. Reading how Maxwell was cracking up, I did keep wondering what was causing him to lose his mind.
Human Resources: Written in the style of an email, this is Alex’s resignation. The 1st paragraph was not what I was expecting for his reason for his resignation and I had to admit I did have a snigger when I read this. As he goes on explaining what else he had done, he does sound like a man possessed. The ending had me believe he was in some sort of cult and that he had gone mad. A different style of short story.
House of Nettle and Thorn: Jim and Nick have been invited to a party at a sorority house by a girl Jim had me online. They were typical hormonal lads, especially when they saw the girls at the house, think the brides of Dracula. Even when Nick sensed he was in danger he ignored it for a good time. Whilst there were hints on the identity of the girls from the start, their true form was not revealed till later into the story, this added suspense to the story and when it was discovered why they really wanted the boys, you just knew that Nick and Jim had no chance. A chilling story.
When Karen Met Her Mountain: Karen and Martin journey home soon turns into a matter of life and death. The story charts Karen’s recovery from depression, and whilst she was with Martin was vulnerable and relied heavily on him for support. However, when her life was in danger, she was a different person, strong, resourceful and focused on her task. I was surprised at how violent she could be and the unexpected twist at the end was graphic an a just ending.
The Harbinger: Felix a reporter for Toys in the Attic had an interview with the Miss Maggie Eloquence, a doll manufacturer. Renowned for their dolls, people travel far and wide to visit the town called Dalton. From the moment Felix arrived in the town, he knew something was wrong, a rancid smell and creepy dolls.
Porcelain dolls are one thing that creeps some people out and this story plays on those fears. The story had a slow build, a slight movement out of the corner of your eye, a head turned to watch, this really played on Felix’s mind and through all this was a terrible smell of pigs. The story intensified when Felix met Maggie. I had an admiration for Felix as with everything that happened to him, he never once turned back to alcohol. One of favourite scenes was when Felix fought against Noah and all I could think of was Chucky. This is one story I would like to know what happened when Felix drove away.
The last story is the novella The Final Reconciliation, previously released in February, this tells the story of an up and coming rock band The Yellow Kings. Johnny, Aidan, Hank and Bobby, all friends with a love of music. Embarking on a small tour, they quickly built up a dedicated fan base. After one gig they met Camilla, and from that first meeting, she took the band to a horrific high.
The story was written from Aidan’s POV as he gave an interview to a reporter 30 year after the tragic event. Reading this story, you could see how loyal Aidan was to his friends. Whilst he did not like the direction that Johnny was taking the band, he still stuck with them. Throughout the story there were hints to what Camilla is, but it was not until Aidan started having his dreams and the band started to record their album, that things start to get macabre. The secret gig was savage and a gory and when Aidan thought he had closure the reporter told him something that would make him lose his mind.
Whilst this story was gory in parts, the descriptive writing, made you live Aidan’s story. Carcosa even though a horrific place also had a beauty to it. The smaller details like the Chapter list, listed as song titles on an Album, and the reference to heavy metal made this a must read for horror and metal lovers. A great novella.
This is another book published by Crystal Lake that did not disappoint. Another great read

Behold!: Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders

July 29, 2017 - 3:07 pm No Comments

Behold!: Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders by Clive Barker , Neil Gaiman , Ramsey Campbell, Lisa Morton, Brian Kirk, Stephanie M. Wytovich, John Langan, Brian Hodge, Richard Thomas and Lucy A. Snyder

Published by Crystal Lake Publishing 28th June 2017

288 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

One thing that Crystal Lake Publishing can do well is put together some amazing anthologies and this is another example of their work. This anthology has a mixture of stories and poems that will play with your imagination. Old photos, ash monsters, gnomes and even the Holy Grail all play their part in the stories. For this review; I will pick a few that I enjoyed.

The Baker of Millepoix by Hal Bodner: To get over the death of his husband, Henri decides to move to Millepoix. To help occupy his mind Henri became the local baker, but after a freak accident, his pastries did more than stop the hunger. At the start, you could sense Henri’s grief and even with his new venture you knew that he still had not moved on. Whilst he tried to fit in, it was not until the freak accident that he felt wanted and this story showed just how compassionate he was. Whilst there is a supernatural feel to this story, this was a story about grief and acceptance.

Madame Painte: For Sale by John Langan: A gnome is for sale and with it comes a warning Must keep outside. The story told by the shopkeeper was very similar to the instructions given to keep a gremlin, although the consequences were deadlier. A creepy story that ended all too soon.

Chivalry by Neil Gaiman: When Mrs Whitaker finds the Holy Grail in a charity shop, she does expect the visitor that arrives soon afterwards.  If you like rummaging in junk shops this is everyone’s dream and to have the mysterious visitor is most women’s dream. Mrs Whitaker was a lovely OAP who was happy with what she got. I loved the way she looked forward to the visitor and even the simple things like making him a sandwich gave her pleasure, although I did laugh when she used him to move all the heavy furniture on one of his visits and the ending how could she be so lucky.

The Wakeful by Kristi DeMeester: The story is about the relationship between Charlotte and her pupil Edith. This story had an eerie feel to it mainly due to the descriptive way author described what was happening to Charlotte. Whilst you do not know what Edith is or the power she has over Charlotte, you can let your imagination run loose.

This anthology is a good example of the weird and the wonderful. This will also suit readers that are not horror lovers as there is such a mixture. It’s a book that you can curl up with and forget the world. Whilst I am not a poetry lover the 2 poems in this book fitted in perfectly. Thank you Crystal Lake you have not let me down.

Whispered Echoes by Paul F Olson

June 23, 2017 - 6:36 pm No Comments

Whispered Echoes by Paul F Olson

Published by Crystal Lake Publishing on 23rd June 2017

275 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

Having only read Indie authors for just over a year I had not had the pleasure of reading any of the author’s work. However, when I was offered the chance to read a collection of his dark horror stories in one book and being a lover of short stories, how could I say no.

Before I even got to the stories I found the introduction by Paul F Olson fascinating, how he explained the history behind the creation of some of the stories and the lengths he had go to, to get these stories to the format we all know. It shows my age as I remember floppy discs.

For this review, I am going to pick a couple of my favourites, but with 11 short stories and a novella I was spoilt for a choice.

Homecoming:  Beckett was having a relaxing drink in a rundown bar, when he noticed a teenager having a drink, having a son the same age, he thought he may be in trouble. Having offered to take him home, he did not expect what he found. This story lulls you into a false sense of security however the further you read the creepier is gets. Whilst you know something is not right, you don’t expect the ending, then it hits you.

The More Things Change: Elvin lives in a town that nothing stays the same, it gets more surreal over time. The animals talk, the sky is green at the moment but can change every day structures change shape and texture and my favourite; bears riding Harleys, this is only a few things that are affecting this town and whilst at the start the residents find it quite fun, over time, the cracks start to appear and they are looking for someone to blame. Written from Elvin’s POV, this story is showing an apocalyptic at its funniest and whilst it is humorous, there was a serious side showing the mob culture, when they want changes.

Faith and Henry Gustafson:  Henry Gustafson gets a call in the dead of night about a murder at a disused summer camp, but when he gets there he is in for a surprise. This story reminded me a lot of those slasher movies set in the woods. This story was full of suspense and not knowing what to expect made it a really quick read.

Bloodybones: Amy loves life, an action junkie, who lives in a lighthouse. This story follows her on a regular journey home and the aftermath of that fatal Saturday afternoon. This story is intense from the start, starting with the race against the storm, you can feel Amy’s concerns and fears. The story then changes to her boyfriend’s POV we follow each step of his investigation. Reading from his POV makes the story more harrowing as you can feel his loss and when Amy’s sister comes to visit, you get the feeling that he thinks he is losing his mind. The more they investigate Amy, the more sinister the story gets, as they come across a creature called Bloodybones, who reminds me of Slenderman, created by adults to scare their children. A great story with a dramatic ending

This a great selection of short stories that will have looking over your shoulder whilst you read it. Now I have read Paul F Olson’s work I will look out for more