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 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!*

THE MERCY OF THE TIDE by Keith Rosson, narrated by Joshua Saxon

The Mercy of the Tide - Keith Rosson

Set in the Pacific Northwest in the early 80's, THE MERCY OF THE TIDE brought home a robust sense of time and place.

 

In a small Oregon town, tragedy strikes in the form of a drunk driver. In towns like this, with an event like this, nearly everyone is affected as the ramifications ripple outward. Then, other things start happening. Dead, mutilated birds appear on people's doorsteps. A skeleton is found in a local park. One deputy thinks he knows what's happening: it's related to an old native American legend. Can the goings-on in town be attributed to the legend, or are they attributable to humanity? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

I very much related to the characters in this book. There's one named Toad, (a nickname for Todd), and I knew a Toad when I was growing up, which was about the same time period as in this book. I also remember being afraid of the Russians and nuclear war. There's a young girl in this book who is obsessed with nuclear annihilation. The music mentioned: Motorhead, The Ramones, and others-they formed the soundtrack of my teen years. I remember Ronald Reagan being shot as well-so all these things were perfectly drawn as far as I'm concerned.

 

The writing here was very good, especially the character development. The powerful themes of guilt and grief abound, and the reader cannot help but feel for these people. However, I did have a few issues. I can't get too deeply into what those issues were because SPOILERS, but I can say I felt let down regarding the native American legend portion. I wanted more! I thought the denouement was perfect though-it shocked the hell out of me, but it also made me so mad I'm gritting my teeth just thinking about it.

 

Overall, I was impressed with this author and the book. The narration was excellent, as I've come to learn-Joshua Saxon's work always is. I recommend this book-especially to those readers who came of age during this time period in American history. If you're like me, you will feel the powerful rise of fond nostalgia.

 

 

*I received an audio version from Meerkat Press in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

MURDER BALLADS AND OTHER HORRIFIC TALES by John Hornor Jacobs

Murder Ballads and Other Ballads - John Hornor Jacobs

MURDER BALLADS AND OTHER HORRIFIC TALES is an excellent example of how wide and varied short stories can be, while still being compelling reading for genre readers.

 

Here, we have stories that are so far apart from each other: Viking women and southern bluesmen, from dog-fighting (that was a hard one) to creating artificial intelligence, how could anyone be bored? The humanity that binds us all as storytellers and story readers is still here.

 

I have started getting back to my love of science fiction tales lately and Single, Singularity is one of the best I've ever read, bar none. Seriously now, I was lounging outdoors on a ninety degree day and this tale gave me the shivers something fierce. It was that. Good.

 

Ithaca was about a man, miraculously surviving war, only to return home to find his wife missing.

Verrata was another sci-fi tale about a smart watch and other fabulous sounding technologies that, of course, turn out to be dangerous.

El Dorado was a nasty little story that had a noir feel to it. It also did not feature even one likable character.

 

I really dug the last tale, the sequel to SOUTHERN GODS. Having owned that book since I don't when, and still not having read it, (I'm ashamed), Murder Ballads struck a chord with me. I found myself traveling with another American bluesman, just as I did in A LUSH AND SEETHING HELL, and I loved every minute of it. However, I know I would have perceived a lot more depth had I read SOUTHERN GODS first. I will rectify that soon and then I'll have myself a reread of this great story.

 

John Hornor Jacobs is a relatively new discovery to me. I've become familiar with his name due to my fellow reviewers, whose opinions I trust. I have several books of his to read and I'm looking forward to them even more now. John Hornor Jacobs is the real deal folks. You need to climb aboard his train and do it right now.

 

*Thank you to the author for the eARC in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

THE BONE MOTHER by David Demchuk

The Bone Mother - David Demchuk

I can sum this one up in two words: LOVED IT!

 

Told as a series of short stories, I adored the way THE BONE MOTHER was presented. Each tale was preceded by a photograph and I found that those photos gave a face to the characters in each vignette. 

 

The tales themselves were very dark. They all came together,( mostly), at the end, to tell a story of pure evil. Told from Ukranian/Romanian points of view, these characters named horrors that I admittedly know little about: The Holodomor, for instance. Easily over 3 million dead, yet most Americans I've met know nothing about it. Why? References to Kristallnacht, and other horrific events in history also appear, all of which add to the darkness of this volume.

 

In some ways, though, these tales do have a lighter side to them-isn't it often the darkest of times that bring out the best in people? These characters sacrificed and loved each other, despite the often miserable lives and events they faced. In that way, this book SHINES. 

 

The writing was gorgeous and descriptive without being overly wordy. The presentation just blew me away. The photographs, the stories, the horror, the love and finally the darkness of it all-combined they make THE BONE MOTHER. 

 

My HIGHEST recommendation!

 

*I received this paperback from the author with no strings attached. I read it, loved it and here we are!*

 

 

 

Attention: Booklikes

To the ghostly or non existent person behind Booklikes.

 

I have been here for years now, as well as on many other book related sites. 

What you have here in this community is very special. 

Why, oh why, are you wasting it by doing nothing? 

 

You answer no requests for help here or on Facebook. 

 

You ignore the spammers joining this site by the hundreds, every single day, thousands per month. This is not an exaggeration.

 

Some of those spammers are posting ads for escorts and other goods and services that are not legal in the U.S. and at the very least, are distasteful. 

 

The community here is dying and you have no one to blame but yourselves.

 

I'm officially giving up on Booklikesopoly because I don't have all day to wait for posts to load. It took 5 minutes for this new text post to load up, for God's sake. That's longer than it's taking for me to type it!

 

I will keep posting reviews here, if I am able, until my site is up and running, which I don't expect to do until the fall, at the very least. At that point, I will abandon this place altogether.  

 

I hope your advertisers sell a lot of product to all of your spammer accounts:

keto diets, prostitutes, escorts and generic substitutes for Viagra. There soon will be no one left here other than them. If that's what you were shooting for? Well done!

 

Well fucking done. 

Tigus??

Has anyone seen Tigus around lately? 

I haven't seen him, but I haven't been able to scroll down very far. 

Every day I can only go so far down my feed and no further.

I tried searching my messages because we exchanged a few a year or two ago, 

and I can't find him there either.

Maybe it's a Booklikes glitch, (one of the freaking many), 

which is why I'm asking you all.

ABADDON'S GATE by S.A. Corey, narrated by Jefferson Mays

Abaddon's Gate  - James S.A. Corey, Jefferson Mays

So many people have already reviewed this, so there's nothing new I can add.

 

I enjoyed it, but not as much as the first two volumes. This still rated 4 stars with me, so I will be continuing on with the series.

 

*I downloaded this audio FREE from my local library system. Libraries RULE!

Booklikes-opoly Roll!

Nightblood - T. Chris Martindale

I finished NIGHTBLOOD

 

Nightblood - T. Chris Martindale 

At 328 pages, I earned $3.00.

 

Total Bank:$41.00

 

Dice Roller

You rolled 2 dice:

6 5

Timestamp: 2020-06-27 22:31:34 UTC

 

I think I've got one for this!

 

NIGHTBLOOD by T. Chris Martindale

Nightblood - T. Chris Martindale

3.5/5 stars!

 

This was total 80's, cheesy, horror fun. Uzis and vampires in a small town. There's so many horror tropes involved I don't know where to begin, so I think I'll just leave it at that.

 

My complaints mostly focus on the fact that the book is a bit too long. If you don't take things too seriously, and you enjoy that fun, silly Rambo-like type of horror, than this is for you!

 

 

Recommended!

#FridayReads 6.26.20

Nightblood - T. Chris Martindale Murder Ballads and Other Ballads - John Hornor Jacobs A Collection of Dreamscapes - Christina Sng

 

Currently reading

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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