Char's Horror Corner

 Welcome to my Corner! I specialize in Dark Fiction reviews including Horror, Dark Fantasy, Splatterpunk, Horror of the 70's & 80's, and Graphic Novels. I also read and review classics, true crime, thrillers and audio books of all genres except Romance.

 

 

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#FridayReads 9.4.2020

 

LAST CASE AT A BAGGAGE AUCTION by Eric J. Guignard

Last Case at a Baggage Auction - Eric Guignard

LAST CASE AT A BAGGAGE AUCTION is a killer novella of quiet horror and it's a blast!

 

Set in Detroit in the sixties, Charlie and his buddy Ray make a living scrounging about, making bets, and by buying baggage at auctions. Apparently this was a thing back then. Similar to the storage lockers of today, they bid on each bag-but they aren't allowed to look inside them. After getting home with their booty, they have fun discovering what's inside. Ray goes last and opens his big case, and discovers a gramophone with some old records. Charlie and Ray listen, struggling to understand what is being said. They became uneasy with it and so did I! What were the people on the wax disc saying? Why does it make both men uncomfortable? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

I'm not going to get too far into the plot, but I thought these characters were deftly drawn and I could easily relate to all of them, most especially Charlie. He's not a bad guy and is struggling a little bit to find his place in life. A better friend would be hard to find.

 

As the tale progresses, things change drastically and in the second half we learn more about the gramophone and its owner. Towards the end, I felt a distinct cosmic horror vibe, even though this really wasn't a novella of cosmic horror. That might've just been me, but I'd be happy to discuss with you after you're done reading!

 

Highly recommended!

 

Get your copy here: LAST CASE AT A BAGGAGE AUCTION

 

*Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the e-ARC of this novella in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

#FridayReads 08.28.20

 

THE APOCALYPSE STRAIN by Jason Parent

The Apocalypse Strain - Jason  Parent

This horror/sci-fi mashup was fun as all get out!

 

At an isolated lab facility in Siberia a group of scientists are studying a material they nicknamed "Molli." Of course, everything is not as it seems on the surface, and not everyone at this lab is here to study. As with any new discovery, many creative uses for this new substance can be found, but what if it falls into the wrong hands? Is that what happened here? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

This isn't about a pandemic, just to be clear. Mr. Parent did not jump on that bandwagon. I chose to read this book as an homage to John Carpenter's The Thing, as well as, maybe, Alien. In that regard, as an homage, you really couldn't get much better than this.

 

THE APOCALYPSE STRAIN evokes all the emotions and feels that those two films did, plus some. With a diverse cast of characters, there's a certain point where everything takes off, however, the start is a little slow to get going. The second half of this revealed itself to my brain as a film.

 

There were a few things that didn't quite make sense, (the protestors outside a remote Siberian lab? What?), but I let them roll off because, hey-this is supposed to be fun! I'm sure some will say this is derivative of the films I've mentioned and other things too, and maybe it is. For me, reading it as an homage, it worked!

 

I had a lot of fun reading this, especially in the second half where everything really takes off. Recommended, especially to fans of The Thing and/or Alien!

 

Get your copy here: THE APOCALYPSE STRAIN

 

*Thank you to Flame Tree Press and to NetGalley for the ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!* 

MALORIE by Josh Malerman, narrated by Cassandra Campbell

Malorie - Josh Malerman

Beginning at the same place we left off in BIRD BOX only a few years later at the school for the blind, MALORIE takes us on another wild ride!

 

As with everything in the BIRD BOX world, the school does not remain safe for long. Once again, Malorie goes on the road and discovers a safe place to raise her family, all still living by the fold. They are comfortable for many years, (Olympia and Tom are now 16), until a man arrives are their camp. He says he's from the census, and has printed papers with news of the world. Of course Malorie will not look at them and doesn't trust him, (she lives by the fold), but Tom does- and finds the names of Malorie's parents on a list of survivors. Are they really still alive? Is this census thing for real? You'll have to read it to find out!

 

I don't want to say anything more about the plot, because there's a lot going on here that you deserve to find out on your own. I will say, however, that I thought there was a lot of repetition along the way, when we're inside Malorie's or the teens' heads. Sometimes I got a little bogged down while listening to that. Also? I felt like the ending came abruptly and I wanted to know about more about the circumstances in which Malorie and her family found themselves.

 

Those are the only, (slightly), negative things I have to say, because otherwise, I loved this book. I was glad to see Malorie again, tough as nails and handling things like a boss.

 

Cassandra Campbell is one hell of a narrator and I enjoyed her performance.

 

MALORIE is an engaging tale and an even more engaging character. I recommend that all fans of BIRD BOX get to it and get to it quickly!

 

Get your copy here: MALORIE

 

*I bought this audiobook with my hard earned cash.*

#FridayReads 08.21.20

 

Buzz Book Expo!

This is an online event in which publishers from all over the world talk about the upcoming year in horror, dark fantasy, supernatural and paranormal releases! 

How exciting is that?!

Featuring publishers: Silver Shamrock, Grindhouse, Crystal Lake and more!

 

Click this link to find the schedule: Who is speaking and when?

If you want to watch this awesome event live, click this link and BEHOLD!

 

 

BOOK BUZZ EXPO

 

DIABOLICA BRITANNICA edited by Keith Anthony Baird

Diabolica Britannica - Keith Anthony Baird

DIABOLICA BRITANNICA is an anthology of stories put together to benefit COVID19 research in the U.K. When one of the authors contacted me about reviewing the book, I jumped on the chance, (and then I bought a copy too.) These tales do not have a connecting theme, but damn! This was a great bunch of stories.

 

Among my favorites were:

 

The Conductor by Arthur M. Harper: A man is waiting on the platform just before the midnight hour when the conductor appears. I'm not saying any more about it, but I LOVED this tale!

 

Footsteps by Janine Pipe: Just...wow! Loved this short tale complete with its prologue. I have a fondness for stories that start off going in one direction and then end in a completely different one. Bravo!

 

The Flow by Tim Lebbon: This author's tales are always good, but The Flow was EXTRA good because of the themes involved-domestic violence being one of them.

 

We Plough the Fields and Scatter by Stephanie Ellis: I love folk horror tales or stories where local rituals are followed. It's time to harvest and some rituals are still in place in those small, dark, farming towns.

 

Linger by John Leonard: This one is part of Leonard's Dead Boxes Archive. The tale itself is an age old one in the horror genre: A man inherits a house/mansion from a man he never met. These types of stories are excellent when done well and this one definitely is.

 

The Hole by Sarah Budd. It's always hard on the children when a widowed parent remarries. This one made me chuckle because it was so dark. (I'm obviously a terrible person.)

 

Scripted in Shadows by Morgan K. Tanner. Where did this author come from? WOW, this story was super fun and sick all at once. A seemingly normal woman is having problems tearing herself away from her book. To the point of not working, not shopping, not eating. Hehehe, that's all I'm going to say. This was my favorite story of the collection.

 

With a formidable introduction by the legendary Ramsey Campbell, this anthology is sure to please and all proceeds go to to Covid research in the U.K. It's a win-win situation!

 

Get your copy here: DIABOLICA BRITANNICA

 

*I was provided an e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. Then I bought my own copy as well.*

CROSSROADS by Laurel Hightower

Crossroads - Laurel HIghtower

Bursting with grief that is almost palpable, this book is about our journey with Chris through the recent loss of her son.

 

Losing a child is something unfathomable to my mind. If I even try to think about it, my mind sort of skitters away. I don't want to face something that bad, even if it is only in my imagination. But Chris, the main character in Crossroads, lives with it for every minute of every day. Then, the seed of a possibility, the merest breath of a thought that maybe, just maybe, she could do something about it. Does she? (Would you?) You'll have to read this to find out!

 

Keeping this short and sweet, this novella was phenomenal. In such a small amount of pages, Ms. Hightower wraps us up in Chris' grief and her hopes and we are rooting for before we even realized what happened. It's the power and clarity of the writing that does it. It settles around us in a dark cloak and before we know it, we're surround by it, immersed in it. Those are always the best stories, don't you think?

 

My highest recommendation!

 

Get your copy here: Crossroads

 

*I bought this novella with my hard earned cash. So should you.*

#FridayReads 8.14.20

 

NIGHT OF THE MANNEQUINS by (THE AWESOME) Stephen Graham Jones

Night of the Mannequins - Stephen Graham Jones

A night at the movies, a prank gone wrong and a town turned on its head. I never know what to expect from Stephen Graham Jones, and this novella is no exception!

 

Told in the first person, Sawyer explains how his group of friends found an old mannequin in the mud near the river and how they dug him out, dressed him up and put him in a bunch of different situations. They named him Manny. As teenagers often do, they quickly tired of him and now he, (it?), resides on top of Sawyer's dad's old motorcycle, parked in their garage. Manny is resurrected though, to play a prank on a movie theater manager. A prank that, tragically, goes wrong and now Sawyer has to right that wrong-and soon. Will he be successful? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

It's really hard to discuss this tale without spoilers, but, as usual, Stephen Graham Jones threw me a curveball. Everything I thought this story was about was wrong. What I thought was going to happen? I was wrong. What I thought Sawyer would do? He didn't. Why? I can't tell you, you'll just have to read it.

 

Easily read in an hour or two, I've often mentioned that I think the novella form is one of the best ways to present a horror story. Every word has to count, every action leads to the next. It's tight, it doesn't waste time, and when it's done well? It's a perfect little package of darkness that leaves you thinking for days. Bravo, once again to Stephen Graham Jones!

 

Highly recommended!

 

Available on September 1st, but you can pre-order here: NIGHT OF THE MANNEQUINS

 

*Thank you to NetGalley and Tor for the e-ARC of this novella in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

STOKER'S WILDE WEST by Steven Hopstaken and Melissa Prusi

Stoker's Wilde West - Stephen Hopstaken, Melissa Prusi

STOKER'S WILDE WEST is a follow-up to last year's STOKER'S WILDE. I think this book is even better than the first.

 

Bram Stoker is about to take the theatrical group he manages for Henry Irving to play NYC. He plans to bring his wife Florence and their new son, Noel, along for the ride. Oscar Wilde has recently returned from touring the states and has developed a bit of fame there. When Stoker is asked by Robert Roosevelt to help the Americans in sussing out a nest of vampires, Wilde joins him and we're off for a Wilde ride!

 

Like Dracula, this book is in epistolary form, which I love. Culled from the characters' journals, reports to the White Worm Society, (a group which formed to investigate the occult, among other things), and diary entries, we are treated to different viewpoints of several events. These are really what makes the book, because these entries are often hilarious as Stoker and Wilde do not really care for each other.

 

All kinds of famous people from that time in history show up or are otherwise mentioned. Personalities such as Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, the Roosevelt family, and Arthur Conan Doyle, to name just a few. All of which contribute to make this book as funny and interesting as it is.

 

The historical fiction, a respect for the original works of these authors, and a great sense of humor all combine with some amazing storytelling in this fun wild west story. Highly recommended!

 

Available today, here: STOKER'S WILDE WEST

 

*Thank you to NetGalley and Flame Tree Press for the ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

#FridayReads 8.7.20

 

THE LIVING DEAD by George Romero and Daniel Kraus

The Living Dead - George Romero, Daniel Kraus

in this truly epic novel, we follow a variety of different characters as they deal with this new version of zombies. What a trip!

 

From a young, black woman in a trailer park to a Japanese officer on an American navy boat; from a woman who inputs medical information into a national database, to a Spanish medical examiner and his assistant, Charlene; (hey, that's my name!), we travel all across the nation over the span of 15 years or so. What's different about these zombies? Why isn't this the same old zombie story, that Romero himself invented? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

What made this different for me, (and Romero did this in his films too,) was the focus on consumption and the American need to have everything, to have the best, to be better than the next. There was also a bit of climate change commentary in here. In fact, there was a good amount of philosophy within these pages. Does Mother Nature reach out to protect herself when she's used and abused? Does the world, or our environment, do the same? Does humanity need a reset button at times, to get things back to an even keel? Has this happened in the past? Will it happen the future? All valid questions to be sure.

 

Combine all these philosophical issues with a cast of characters that is truly memorable and you have yourself the nearly perfect novel that is THE LIVING DEAD. I found myself thinking about THE STAND quite a bit-there are some similarities: a large cast of characters to start, all in different places and situations across the United States. Of course the cast eventually come together and over the course of more than a decade we see how they've changed or not, as the case may be.

 

Another thing these books have in common is that they both made this black heart cry. (Acocella will always have a place in my heart.) And never again will I hear about the La Brea Tar Pits and not shed a tear. The only issue I had with this novel is that it is so long. Not that that's a bad thing, but I think a tiny bit could have been cut without damaging the story as a whole. For that I deducted half a star.

 

So, let's wrap up here! A novel of epic proportions? Check! A novel filled with characters that feel real and that the reader cares for? Check! Major differences in these zombies from the zombies populating so much of American culture? BIG check! A novel in which you can immerse yourself until you emerge, battered, but stronger for it? Check! I really loved this novel if you couldn't tell by now and I give it my highest recommendation!

 

Available everywhere tomorrow, or you can pre-order here: THE LIVING DEAD

 

*Thank you to TOR for the paperback in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

#FridayReads 7.31.20

 

THE HOLLOW ONES by Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan, narrated by Brittany Pressley

The Hollow Ones - Chuck Hogan, Brittany Pressley, Guillermo del Toro

Reminiscent of THE THING or perhaps FALLING ANGEL, THE HOLLOW ONES was a good time!

 

We follow a young female FBI agent named Odessa Hardwicke, as she is temporarily suspended for an officer involved shooting, wherein her partner was the victim and she the perpetrator. She ends up taking a desk job until everything is sorted out. She takes over the desk of an agent on medical leave and for...spoiler-ific reasons, she goes to meet him. He then tells her to mail a letter, which she does and then, POOF! We meet Hugo Blackwood, Occult Detective. Why did she shoot her own partner? How is Blackwood going to help her? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

I absolutely love the idea of an occult detective and this one being named Mr. Blackwood, is, (I'm guessing), an homage to Algernon. I need to know more about him and the Hollow Ones. Being a man who has lived for a long, long time there could be many more stories about him and his history. I want to read them.

 

Brittany Pressley is the narrator and she's completely new to me. I thought her voicing performance was pretty good. (I think Ray Porter has spoiled me as far as narrators go, he is so great at changing voices.)

 

I'm being totally honest here, this book did not knock my socks off. It did pique my interest, though, and I enjoyed the finale quite a bit-enough to continue on with the series. I hope that Mr. Blackwood will be an integral part of it, as I found him to be infinitely more interesting than Odessa.

 

Recommended!

 

*Thank to the publisher and NetGalley for the audio download provided in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

Currently reading

Clown in A Cornfield by Adam Cesare
A Collection of Dreamscapes by Christina Sng
Progress: 75/170pages
Come Join Us By The Fire by Nicholas Kaufman, Cassandra Khaw, Alyssa Wong, Gwendolyn Kiste, Kat Howard, Kristi DeMeester, Carmen Maria Machado, Michael Wehunt, Brooke Bolander, Kary English, Priya Sharma, Sam J. Miller, Nadia Bulkin, Molly Tanzer, Livia Llewellyn, Simon Strantzas, Robert Levy, Paul
Progress: 15%

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Horror Aficionados
Horror Aficionados 11358 members
If you love horror literature, movies, and culture, you're in the right place. Whether it's vampi...

Books we've read

The Stand
Dread in the Beast
The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Tales
Horror Library, Volume 1
Butcher Shop Quartet
Family Inheritance
'Salem's Lot
A Treasury of American Horror Stories
Heart-Shaped Box
20th Century Ghosts
The Revelation
Lowland Rider
Off Season
Neither the Sea Nor the Sand
The House Next Door
The Ceremonies
Nazareth Hill
The Light at the End
Ghoul
Billy


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