Posts Tagged ‘Crystal Lake Publishing’

Beyond Night by Eric S Brown and Steven L Shrewsbury

February 4, 2018 - 10:31 pm No Comments

Beyond Night by Eric S Brown and Steven L Shrewsbury
Published by Crystal Lake Publishing on 26th January 2018
272 pages
Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

We all know that the Romans invaded Britain. Not without trying the Pictdom fight back. With Greyman and ancient magic, have the Romans got a chance.
With Armies of thousands, there were quite a few characters that had their story to tell. August in charge of a troop, a German born who had moved up the ranks of the Legion, Rufus, August’s slave who whilst admire August hated the situation. Porcius, a spartan that loved to fight, General Malitus, whilst he liked a good drink, he still knew how to wield a sword. Fighting against the Romans were Drust, an aging wizard that could control the Greyman and Gonar his apprentice, the Weaver another powerful wizard who resurrected Queen Tancorix back to help the Pict defeat the Romans.
Whilst I knew how violent the Romans were (yes, I did watch Gladiators), the way these authors told this story was dark and gruesome. The graphic vivid description of the battles will please any horror fan. I have not read any of these authors work before and I found that the story flowed seamlessly. The story was told from both perspectives, the Romans and the Picts and whilst I am British I did find a few of the Romans fascinating and one of my favourite characters was Porcius, a soldier who took no nonsence.
Looking at all the categories that this book falls into, I can honestly say it ticks all the boxes. Reading this has made me curious in reading more of the authors work. A gore filled read

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.

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