Posts Tagged ‘Short Stories’

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

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

13 Déjà Vu (Thirteen Series book 2) by Bradon Nave, Elizabeth Roderick, Carissa Ann Lynch, Sara Schoen, Marissa Farrar, Thomas S. Flowers, S. Valentine, Erin Lee, Jackie Sonnenberg, Samie Sands, Luke Swanson, D.A. Roach, Taylor Henderson.

June 20, 2017 - 9:45 pm 1 Comment

13 Déjà Vu (Thirteen Series book 2) by Bradon Nave, Elizabeth Roderick, Carissa Ann Lynch, Sara Schoen, Marissa Farrar, Thomas S. Flowers, S. Valentine, Erin Lee, Jackie Sonnenberg, Samie Sands, Luke Swanson, D.A. Roach, Taylor Henderson.

Published by Limitless Publishing LLC on 20th June 2017

410 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

Having read 13 I knew that I had to get this and pre-ordered it so it arrived on my kindle today. Knowing all the authors I knew that I would be in for a great read and I was not disappointed.

Caved in by Jackie Sonnenberg: When Fay wanted to protect her unborn baby, she knew that she needed to talk to the witch that lived in the cave. As I began this story I thought I knew what was going to happen but I was completely wrong. How the author came up with this idea of saving the baby is beyond me and I loved the graphic bloody ending.

Grave Beginnings by Sara Schoen: Three friends, an abandoned prison and a Ouija board, what could go wrong. It was a pleasant change to read a story that was not set in an asylum. Set in a prison added to the suspense and you are aware that the people who had dies there had all been convicted of evil crimes, so when a Ouija board was added you knew that something evil would emerge. This story was full of suspense and kept you guessing to the end.

Myopia by Samie Sands: Mia was blind, due to her disability, she did not make friends easy. Whilst her mom was called into work due to a medical emergency, Mia has to fend for herself and tries to learn what has happened. Only hearing what was going on in the town made it hard for Mia to grasp how serious the situation was. Whilst it would be worrying be left alone, losing one of your senses makes it even more scary and you can understand all of Mia’s emotions. The ending made me want to know more about her survival and I felt really sorry for her as yet again she was classed as a burden. The only good thing was she could not see the devastation happening, although I am sure her imagination made it worse.

Room 249 by Thomas S Flower: The story follows Andy as he goes on a crime and killing spree and ends up in a motel in room 249. Andy is the type of criminal that blames everyone else for his mistakes, and even when he was killing he always justified his actions. When he gets to the motel he does not suspect anything is wrong with the place and the author has a talent of concealing the horror that is soon to happen. When it happened; I was in shock as never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the creature that was lurking in room 249.

Sacrifice by Luke Swanson: Detective Flynn is renowned for investigating the evil of cases. Roger has retired to LA, but when a murdered child is found their meeting is not what was expected. The start of the story is an introduction to Roger, but after the child is found the story changes to Flynn’s investigation and you had the sense that Flynn as at breaking point. The author tied up the investigation neatly and I would enjoy to read more about Detective Flynn.

See you on the Flip Side by Carissa Ann Lynch: If you have read 13 then you will recognise the place where this story is set. Going back to Adventure Town we follow Donna as she goes on a camping trip with her boyfriend and family. The author has a way of playing on your fears and if you have a phobia of bugs then this story will definitely make you skin crawl. I loved the twist at the end when you think Donna has lost her mind and I could see a series about Adventure town.

Sinister by Taylor Henderson:  This story is a build up to a killer’s first murder. The story is about Karen, her neighbours Nate and Natalie and her best friend Marty. There are hints in this story that there is a potential serial killer when animals go missing and whilst Karen has her suspicions it is not till the end that we get to know who the murderer is.

Six Lie Broken by Brandon Nave: A group of men abducting a teenager, Savannah rescuing a young boy and with her best friend Vanessa throwing a party called the Harvest. This story had graphic scenes throughout and when you find the identity of the victims you do not have any sympathy for them. A unique story and I have learnt a new use for a hot spoon.

The Bad Man by Marissa Farrar: Sophie lived in a tunnel with 4 other children after being captured by the bad man. Why are they down there and who is scratching in the dark? Whilst reading this story you don’t know if the bad man is actually bad or if he saved the children. However; these children were living in squalor and would the outside world be better for them. The further you read the scratching noises are explained and the ending left me wanting to know more.

The Inheritance by DA Roach: Niki has just inherited a factory from her dad, believing it to be a curse, he did not want anything to do with it. This story follows Niki and her friends whilst they investigate the building. The story is full of suspense and has the feel that you are following the group as they go around the factory. The twist in the story involving Rya a demon who collects souls adds to this.

Under Mama’s Roof by Elizabeth Roderick: Tara had always had a mother ruling her life, but when she died she thought it was over. When things start happening around her home Tara suspected it was the ghost of her mother, but she did not expect it to get so out of control. A good ghost story with added twist.

Wicked Intentions by Sophia Valentine: April is due to give birth and without a job and a home, she turns to the father of her baby to help. But is he after her baby? Whilst I was reading this story I was on April’s side as the author wants you to believe that she is in danger. The story builds to a dramatic climax and you are left wandering who the real victim was.

Widow’s Prey by Erin Lee: There has always been something wrong with Tendra. She has never cried and has never showed emotion. Whilst you have an idea of what type of child she is, it is not until she is in college and gets her claws into Colby that you find out exactly what she is like. Tendra is one evil girl, only thinks of herself and what she wants she gets. This story reminds of a cat playing with its prey wearing them down until the killer blow, and the ending of the story is one of the most evil scenes that I have read in a while.

Another great anthology from Limitless.

The Painting of Martel by L Bachman and Put on a Happy Face by Terry M West. 2 short stories that will give you a fright

June 9, 2017 - 7:44 pm No Comments

The Painting of Martel: A Short Story by L Bachman

Published on 1st May 2017

14 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

People have always had a fascination of serial killers; some go one step further and try and own memorabilia. Damon was one of these people, after coming across a book about clown serial killer James Martel, his interest soon becomes an obsession when he finds out that Martel’s final painting is up for sale and Damon wants to own it regardless of the consequences.

With a lot of people scared of clowns, this story will play on their fears. From start to finish this book will put you on edge. The style of writing has you feel that something is about to happen but you don’t know when. Although this is a short story there is so much going on and you get to know about Martel and his victims whilst Damon is doing his research. At the start, I did feel sorry for Kenneth as Damon’s fascination was looking to be getting out of control, but the twist at the end soon gets rid of those feelings.

A short scary read which will keep thinking about the painting even after you have finished it. A must read for horror lovers

 

Put on a Happy Face: A Short Horror Story by Terry M West

Published by Pleasant Storm Entertainment on 9th March 2014

82 Pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

Living in an old large house Susie Monroe only had her older brother Billy for company. Used to her own company, she only had the abandon toys to play with. One of her favourite items was an old record player which she played her favourite song “Put on a Happy Face”. She only saw her brother whilst he was wearing a mask, he had a different mask for every emotion. Although what secrets was Billy keeping, why didn’t their visitors eat breakfast with them and why were they in hiding.

A sweet and innocent girl Susie never asks questions of her brother. With the help of the masks worn by her brother, Susie always understood his moods and always tried to please him.

From the start of the story, you have the sense something is not right, but as the story progress, you get to know more of their story. There is something creepy about people wearing masks and Terry M West captures this with his writing.  The apprehensiveness I felt whilst reading this made it a quick read as I wanted to know more about this unusual family. If you have a spare ½ hour for a scare than get this book and put on a happy face.

Twice upon an Apocalypse: Lovecraftian Fairy Tales

May 30, 2017 - 5:24 pm No Comments

Twice upon an Apocalypse: Lovecraftian Fairy Tales edited by Rachel Kenley and Scott T Goudsward: Authors: Armand Rosamilia, William Meikle, Bracken MacLeodPeter N. DudarMorgan SylviaDon D’AmmassaMichael KampWinifred BurnistonZach ShephardGary A. Braunbeck (Introduction)

Published by Crystal Lake Publishing on 30th May 2017

284 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

Like most people I grew up with fairy tales, and have always loved it when authors put their own twist to them. Each story is a different tale but have one thing in common, they all had a Lovecraftian theme.

With 21 stories to capture your imagination, you be hard pressed to find a story that you don’t like. For this review, I am going to pick my favourites.

Little Maiden of the Sea by David Bernard: Using the story of The Little Mermaid, the author tells the story of a female Deep one, who wants to live with humans. Reading this story, I had the feeling that both main characters used each other to get what they wanted in life. The added twist at the end left me wondering if the plan worked.

The Horror of Hatchet Point by Zach Shephard: Based on Rumpelstiltskin and sticking very close to the original this story tells how Rumpelstiltskin uses the Queen to enable him to call forth Father Dagon. Whilst the character of Rumpelstiltskin is a hated child abductor, the author puts a spin on this character and explains the reasons behind his plan.

Let Me Come In by Simon Yee: If you have read The Three Little Pigs, the wolf is the bad guy, however in this story, the wolf has just survived The Great War against the humans and is looking for food. His meeting with the three little pigs and a mysterious white symbol tells the story in a whole new light. It was different to read it from the point of view of the wolf and I did find it funny to hear the pigs swearing, as I am used to the original fairy tale. I liked how the wolf did not use his breath to destroy the houses.

The Little Match Mi-Go by Michael Kamp: After the Old ones were released and destroyed the earth, it was left to the smallest of the Mi-Go to save the earth. This story follows this creature whilst it tries and find Ghatanothoa. Throughout this story I felt sorry for the little Mi-Go as I sensed the quest was hopeless, and I was willing it to survive.

Writing this review, I found it hard to pick my favourites as every story was good. Not having read any of these authors previous works, I did not know what to expect but I have now added more authors to my list to read. I have not read any of HP Lovecraft, but this did not stop me enjoying this book. Lovecraft’s characters suited these fairy tales and returned them to the dark tales before Disney got hold of them. If you like your fairy tales dark or just a fan of Lovecraft then this is a great book to buy.