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 Classic Horror. I also read and review classics, true crime, thrillers and audio books of all genres except Romance.




Charlene’s quotes





Dark Gods by T.E.D. Klein

Dark Gods - T.E.D. Klein


First, I would like to say thank you to my friend Ryan Cagle for so kindly sending me a copy of this book. Thanks, Ryan!


Second, this collection of 4 novellas was a find example of literary horror fiction. The stories were well written, dripping with creepy atmosphere, and thought provoking. There were some Lovecraftian references that I enjoyed, as well as a few shudder provoking scenes; most especially with the first novella, Children of the Kingdom. Well done!


Highly recommend for fans of literary horror fiction and fans of Lovecraft!


Buddy Read of Stephen King's "It" in Horror Aficionados at Goodreads, Oct 1st!

It - Stephen King


I thought I would put this out there for anyone looking to fill their "Read With Booklikes Friends" spot on their Halloween Bingo Cards. Since I already had a re-read planned with my friend Chris for the first of October, and Cody mentioned that he wanted to read it too, I started a buddy read thread over in the Horror Aficionados group at Goodreads. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about as far as Halloween Bingo, visit Moonlight Murder's blog here: Moonlight Murder.)


Here is a link: Buddy Read of It




I would have been happy to do the buddy read here, but the functionality and dependability at Goodreads is so much better, and who wants to wait 10  minutes for the page to load up so they can add their comments? No one. (We love you BL, but you need to get on this stuff.)


For those not familiar, I am one of the co-mods of the HA group. We are closing in on the 12,000 members mark. It's a fun place, it's free to join,  and Pennywise and I sure would love to see you there. Either way, happy reading and best of luck with your Halloween Bingo! 



You Don't Belong Here by Tim Major

You Don't Belong Here - Tim Major

You Don't Belong Here is a story that is very difficult to categorize. It's a time travel/mystery/psychological mind game. How's that?


The premise is a good one: a man, Daniel Faint, steals a time machine. He doesn't know anything about it, (like how to operate the thing, for instance), and to learn, he needs to find a safe place to set it up and experiment. The solution presents itself when he obtains a job as a house sitter at a large manor. Daniel is a strange man, with no friends, and a mysterious brother named William, that he thinks about often.


The story progresses with time machine experiments, though not exactly scientfic in nature, and Daniel does figure out a few things. My problems with the story began here; I thought the pacing was too slow. When things did happen, the descriptions became rather vague, and my understanding of the events became a little hazy. Turns out there were reasons for this, but for me, it was too long of a wait for the reveal. Another thing that bothered me was that I didn't like any of the characters in the story. I know that I can enjoy a book with no likable characters whatsover, but the tale has to be outstanding for me to do so, and unfortunately that was not the case here.


Overall, I did enjoy this book. I thought it was well written and had an excellent premise. It was just the reasons I listed above that caused me to give this rating. I do recommend it to those that find the premise intriguing, because your mileage may vary.


*I received a free e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

Halloween Book Bingo-Possible Entries

Chills - Mary SanGiovanni It - Stephen King The Apartment: A Horror Story (Blumhouse Books) - S L Grey Everything Under the Moon: A Novel - Jeff Johnson The Black Cat - Edgar Allan Poe


All the rest of my reading year is booked up with reads to review and ARCS, so I'm trying to match up some of them to the Halloween Bingo Card! If you haven't seen it, check out Moonlight Reader's post: HERE. A big thanks goes out to Moonlight and to Obsidian for coming up with this insanely awesome bingo card and for offering the super cool prizes!


The books I've listed above I think will fit the following categories:


Chills by Mary San Giovanni-Scary Women (Authors)


It by Stephen King-Reads with Booklikes Friends(I have a scheduled re-ead/buddy read)


The Apartment by S.L. Grey (Ghost Stories and Haunted Houses)



Which would leave me with the YA Horror, (maybe I could re-read The Graveyard Book?) and Diverse Authors Can Be Spooky Fun categories to fill for that row. 


Then again, if I go down the Black Cat row on the right, I could use:


Everything Under the Moon by Jeff Johnson for the Full Moon category. 


The Black Cat by Edgar Allen Poe For the Black Cat category. 


I could still use the buddy read of IT for Reads with Booklikes Friends spot.


Then I would need something for the Set on Halloween and Creepy Crawlies categories. 


Hmmm, decisions decisions. Plus, I still have to find an icon to use for my "Read" bingo spots and figure out how to paste them in there. (This is my first time EVER playing any kind of reading Bingo. So, YAY me! If I can figure it out.)


This is kind of fun! I'll be back when I think of some more options to fill up these bingo rows.





The Tao of Bill Murray: Real Life Stories of Joy, Enlightenment, and Party Crashing by Gavin Edwards

The Tao of Bill Murray: Real-Life Stories of Joy, Enlightenment, and Party Crashing - Gavin Edwards

This book was everything that I hoped it would be, plus some!


If you're like me, you have a fondness for Bill Murray. You've probably also heard stories about how Bill crashes weddings, or photo bombs people's engagement pictures, things like that. It's true, he does. That's his way. (Which is what Tao means.)


The Tao of Bill Murray contains all your basic biographical information, (William James Murray was born on September 21, 1950 in Illinois. He was the fifth of nine children. He loves baseball and adores the game of golf. It covers briefly his formative years and his time with SNL. He has a bunch of sons and he was involved in their lives as they grew up. 


Apparently, Bill can be difficult to get a hold of. He has an 800 number and if you want him to act in a movie or participate in any kind of event, you call it and leave a message. If he's interested, he'll contact you. It might not be for weeks or months, or it might not even happen at all, but that's how it works. For instance, the movies Little Miss Sunshine and The Squid and the Whale were both written with him in mind, but he just didn't care. Quote:


I just really only want to work when I want to work. Life is really hard, and it's the only one you have. I mean, I like doing what I do, and I know I'm supposed to do it, but I don't have anything to bring to it if I don't live my life. 



Which brings us to the Tao of Bill. Basically there are a set of 10 principles by which Bill tries to live. I'm not going to list them all out here but it seems to me that Bill tries to improve himself and the lives of others by following this "philosophy." This does not mean that he is a perfect guy, because he isn't, and this book does touch on a few unpleasant incidents-it's not ALL fun and games.


However, this book does generally focus on the fun things and what a blast Bill can be. He loves to tell people that no one will believe them. For instance, coming up behind someone on the street and covering their eyes and asking "Guess who?"And once they turn around? "No one will believe you, you know." Going to a bar after a golf tournament at St. Andrews, chatting up some students and then going with them to a party after the bar closed. Once Bill realized it was basically a college house, (read: a mess), he decided to wash all the dishes. Bill says:


"You can't just walk in and walk out, that feels strange. But if you walk into someone's house, do all the dishes and leave, then you feel like you've made a contribution."


Each chapter after the opening goes into each of the 10 principles of Bill's philosophy and then the last portion of the book briefly touches on each movie in which Bill Murray has appeared. It turns out there are quite a few of them I've never seen. Now I plan to do so. Along with a description of Bill's role in each movie, there are tidbits about the shooting of the film, (sometimes including comments from other cast members), and a brief review of the film.


This is not a complete biography with all the dates of this, that and the other thing all dryly listed. Instead this book was exactly what I was looking for which was an honest look at Bill's real life, with most of the focus on the fun stuff. That was exactly what I got. It was entertaining and enlightening and it gave me some ideas as to how I can make my life better, while at the same time doing the same for other people. For these reasons, I highly recommend this book!


You can pre-order a copy here: The Tao of Bill Murray


*Thanks to Net Galley and to Random House for the free e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

Still Born: A Short Horror Story by The Behrg

Still Born: A Short Horror Story - The Behrg, Clayton Behrg

Grief is always a solid basis for a horror story, and what's more grief inducing than a stillbirth?


This was a super creepy short tale which caused me to look at baby monitors in an entirely new way. Recommended!


Also, it's free on Amazon permanently, so go get yourself a copy. Just don't blame me if the baby's crying keeps you awake. Go Here

The Angel and the King of Cruel by W.T. Shad

The Angel and the King of Cruel (Nayenezgani Book 1) - W.T. Shad, Barbara Kindness

Lilac City. A place where the corruption runs as deep as the hell the city represents for so many. Certainly for Stevie, the prostitute, junkie, protagonist of this story.


It's hard to define this book. It's hardcore, it's gory, it features torture and rape; yet it does rise above the grittiness due to its beautiful use of poetic language. However, the language was a double-edged sword in my humble opinion. While it did elevate the story to become so much more than your run-of-the-mill horror/gore fest, it was also sometimes so dense it got in the way. What I mean by that is, at times, I thought that it interfered with the pacing of the story. Where the plot was urging me to move forward quickly, the density of the prose was insisting that I slow down. There were a few times where I think the narrative would have been better served by prose that was less dense and easier to devour more rapidly.


That's the only negative thing I can say about this book, and it's not really that negative. (The prose is too beautiful? LOL) Normally, this story would be out of my likability range, (torture is NOT my thing), but in this case, the language and the "moral" of the story, kept me going. That, the depth, and the characters. Stevie was such a messed up woman, but I couldn't help but root for her, since everything was stacked against her from a young age. There are psychological aspects here that I think the author represented in a genuine way. The results of child abuse on the very young, for example, and how the effects of that change a maturing psyche.


There are also some political elements at play here in the Lilac City. These were not fully explored and I expect the sequel to build on those issues a bit more. (While not exactly the same situation, I found myself thinking of the water problems in Flint, Michigan while I was reading.) Along with the psychological aspects of the story, these political aspects helped add yet another level to this already deep story.


Recommending this book is tricky but I'm going to go ahead and do it anyway. If you think you can deal with the torture and rape story lines, I think the prose and this story itself will reward you as it did me. If you can't, (and no one could blame you), it's probably best you skip this one, because it's an unflinching look at them both.


*I received a free hardcover from Mr. Shad in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

Shock Totem Magazine Issue#: 10

Shock Totem 10 - Roger Lovelace, D. K. Wayrd, Trace Conger, Barry Lee Dejasu, Edmond,  Laurence Manning,  Sidney Patzer,  A. Fedor,  H. Hasse,  James D. Perry,  Carl Jacobi,  Frank R. Paul,  and J. Harvey Haggard) (HAMILTON, Sara O. Moss;Ernestine Cobern Beyer;Mabel Harmer;Sarah L. Jo

Shock Totem is a magazine which features interviews, both fiction and non fiction offerings, as well as poetry and even flash fiction. I've discovered some phenomenal new-to-me authors through it also, which is why I was saddened to learn that this will probably be the last issue for a while. They will still be publishing books though, so all is not lost, and hopefully they'll be returning to the magazines at some point in the future. So with that business out of the way, this issue was a kick-ass example of all that Shock Totem Magazine can be.


First off, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that awesome cover by Mikio Murakami. As a piece of artwork it inspires me because I can't help myself from thinking what is its purpose?


Barry Lee DeJasu has a few pieces in this issue that I enjoyed-an essay regarding the haunting of his college and an interview with horror author T.E.D. Klein. The man is not very prolific but what he has written is legendary in the genre, and the interview was enlightening. (So much so, that I'm reading Dark Gods by T.E.D. Klein now.)



My favorite story in this edition has to be the first, The Henson Curse by Paul Hamilton. I can't exactly put my finger on why it appealed to me so much, but it did. Perhaps it's just the somewhat whimsical idea behind it-purple fur blowing in the breeze. ( I know this because at the end of the book, there's a chapter where the authors briefly discussed how their stories were inspired.)



Three Years Ago This May by Trace Conger was one of my favorite types of short stories-the "punch you in the gut" style. Turns out, this is one of his favorite types of short stories too, so it's no wonder that we're both tickled as hell at this one. (And after reading his explanation about the inspiration for this story, I've added Jack Ketchum's The Box to my reading list.)


Wasps by Thana Niveau gave me a serious case of the creeps. Something about evil little girls always makes me uneasy. As do, you know, wasps.


Bloodstains & Blue Suede Shoes, Part 8 was a non fiction entry. It's a column that I've enjoyed in the past and that hasn't changed. The mid 90's music scene is the focus of this piece and it brought up all kinds of memories.


I've always enjoyed reading Shock Totem and I plan to pick up the few issues I've missed. There are always a wide variety of articles and stories in which to bury yourself and even if all of the stories don't work for you, the ones that do are well worth the low price of admission. Highly recommended!



You can get a copy here: Shock Totem 10


*This issue was provided by Shock Totem in exchange for my honest review. This is it!*

Pre-Order Now: The Late Breakfasters and Other Strange Stories by Robert Aickman

Reblogged from Valancourt Books:

Now available for pre-order!


One of our most exciting October Horror Month releases, an omnibus collection of the master of weird fiction, Robert Aickman, is now up for preorder! This hefty 430-page volume contains the complete text of the novel THE LATE BREAKFASTERS, as well as six of Aickman's rarest 'strange stories', plus a new intro by Philip Challinor.


Pre-order available in the US and CA only. Visit our website for links.







HOAX-A Short Film Based on a Story By Greg Gifune

For only the second time, I'm reviewing something other than a book.


 My husband is away, so I took advantage of the opportunity to watch a short film, (12 minutes), that has been on my radar.  Hoax is based on a short story, written by one of my favorite authors, Greg Gifune. Even though the film is extremely short, as always where Greg is concerned, it was powerful and gut wrenching. Sylistically, it was beautifully shot and I dug the music too. Hoax was directed by Eric Shapiro and it was marvelous. You can stream it from Amazon here: HOAX




Blighters (Invaders From Beyond!) by Tim Major

Blighters (Invaders From Beyond!) - Tim Major


Suppose you're just hanging out and then all of a sudden, giant slugs, (Blighters), start falling from the sky. Freaky, right? But what happens if when people get close to said slugs, they begin to experience the happiest, most contented feelings they've ever felt in their whole lives? So happy, in fact, they'd be willing to kill, just to feel that way again? You'll have to read this novella to find out!


Young Becky Stone likes to drink and listen to her father's old records while she mourns the passing of both her parents. She sees her friend Gail fall under the happy spell of a Blighter, but Becky suspects that something is not right. Now all Gail wants to do is return to the Blighter's "circle of calm", but Becky knows that Gail is in danger and she sets out to protect her friend.


This is the funny, strange, science-fiction-y, label-defying scenario that Tim Major dropped me into, so I went with it. There's so much going on here than just a fun, creature-feature. There's a mystery, (more than one, really), there's friendships and maybe even a moral to the story. (In this respect, Blighters reminded me a bit of the old sci-fi mags and even early Star Trek episodes where there were morals thinly disguised in the plots-though I think Blighters did a better job of the disguising.)


And then! Then after the very satisfying end of the story, we learn that Invaders From Beyond! is going to be a novella series from Abaddon Books. Not necessarily about Blighters, but other types of Invaders. This feels to me like the old magazines I read as teen with stories of giant insects, Martians and whatnot. In other words, this sounds like a blast! I'm not sure when the next one is being released or what it will even be about, but I can tell you, if it's anywhere close to being as good a book as this was, I'm all over that series like a miserable human on a Blighter!


This was a fun, meaty novella that was a creature feature, but SO much more. Highly recommended-especially to fans of the old Sci-Fi/Fantasy stories and magazines!


*A free e-copy was provided to Horror After Dark in exchange for an honest review. This is it!*


Find this review and others like it at

A Time of Torment by John Connolly

A Time of Torment: A Charlie Parker Thriller - John Connolly

With a decidedly darker bent than the previous books in this series, Charlie Parker rolls on.


Beginning with the story of Jerome Burnel and ending with the story of an isolated area of West Virginia called the Cut, John Connolly deftly weaves this story of the Dead King. Despite the fact that Angel and Louis are again here, A Time of Torment lacks the often humorous slant those two bring. This is a very dark book, indeed.


Even though this story took its time, I never found myself bored. In fact, I adored the slow build of atmosphere and the depth of the characters. However, I had hoped to learn more about Charlie's daughters, and I did, just not as much as I had hoped. The end of this book, though, gave me such a case of the chills I could barely hold my Kindle. I'm not sure that I can tell where John Connolly is going to take Charlie and his daughters in the future, but I think it's going to be an even darker place than any we've visited so far. His story is winding down now; he's aging and showing the signs of all his various battles, both mental and physical. Never a super hero- Charlie is human, and as such, there's only so much his mind and body can take. I think his journeys are coming to and end now, but with so many unanswered questions, I fail to see how he's going to get to the finale or what that will consist of, exactly.


I feel no need to worry though. I trust John Connolly is going to make Charlie's last adventures worthy of our time. I only worry that my heart might not be able to take the final outcome.



My highest recommendation to fans of Charlie Parker and John Connolly!


*Thank you to Net Galley and Atria for the advance reader copy in exchange for my honest review. This is it.* 

Year's Best Hardcore Horror Volume 1, ed. by Randy Chandler & Cherly Mullenax, narrated by Joe Hempel

Year's Best Hardcore Horror, Volume 1 - Comet Press, Jack Bantry, Joe Hempel, Kristopher Triana, Adam Cesare, Clare de Lune, Adam Howe, Robert Essig, David James Keaton, Cheryl Mullenax, Monica J. O'Rourke, Jeff Strand, Randy Chandler

 Normally, I'm more of an atmospheric horror gal than a gore lover, however, I do believe there's room for both in the horror genre of today. I picked up this volume when it first came out, but it was the offer of the free audio, (in exchange for my honest review), that made it possible for me to read it now rather than some time in 2017. This was my first book narrated by Joe Hempel and I think he did a fine job, especially considering the often shocking subject matter.



There were a few "new to me" authors here and my favorite among them was The Behrg and his story, Reborn. THIS, this is the reason people don't leave babies on the steps of churches anymore. Reborn is my favorite type of short horror story-no messing around, BAM!! It hits you right in the face! The Behrg has been on my radar for awhile and now I have to finally acknowledge him. (You were right, Kimberly!)


The Most Important Miracle by Scott Emerson. Now, seriously, who the hell is this guy? From what kind of sick brain did this story emerge? More importantly, are there more stories in there?


There were a couple of tales from authors I am already familiar with that I really liked-Adam Howe's Cleanup On Aisle 3 was one of them. It's a BADASS turning of the tables type story that had me cringing and laughing at the same time.


Jeff Strand's contribution,  Awakening,   had me laughing so hard I almost fell out of my chair. Rarely are suicide pacts THIS funny!


Lastly, Jason Parent's Eleanor knocked my socks off. Boot-i-ful?? Yep, you bet! Sick, twisted and beautiful.


Overall, this was an above average collection that lost nothing in the translation to audio. Most of these tales are brutal, gory and shocking though, so prepare yourself before you go wading in. It gets deep and rather slimy the further you go.


Highly recommended to fans of hardcore horror!


*Thanks to Joe Hempel and Audiobook BOOM! for the free copy in exchange for my honest review.*

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle

The Ballad of Black Tom - Victor LaValle

“Nobody ever thinks of himself as a villain, does he? Even monsters hold high opinions of themselves.”


In The Ballad of Black Tom we have a Lovecraftian novella, written by a phenomenal black writer. It's set in the 20's which was not exactly the best time to be a black person in this country.


LaValle has taken the Lovecraft story "The Horror at Red Hook" and turned it on its head. To that I say, Bravo!!


(As a blues fan, I'll add an extra BRAVO for the Son House lyrics. "Don't you mind people grinning in your face?" Why, yes. As a matter of fact, I do.)


My highest recommendation!

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Dark Matter: A Novel - Blake Crouch

What a whirlwind of a ride!


Jason Dessen is a college professor at a small school in Chicago. After giving up his dream of working in the field of quantum physics, he has settled nicely into his life with a wife and son. He does sometimes dream about what might have happened if he had made different choices in life, but does that mean he's not happy with this one? What about you? If you had a chance to go back and change certain things in your life, would you? It's certainly an interesting question, right?


So: quantum physics. Yeah. Not the easiest of subjects to deal with, and as such, it's almost impossible to go further into this plot without spoilers. At first, I thought the author was going to ignore what I thought was the biggest problem with his scenario, but he did end up facing it head on. Kudos to Mr. Crouch for not trying to dodge it. However, because of what I felt was an "over the top" premise, I did deduct 1 star.


That said, I thought the characterization here was top notch. I totally felt for Jason and was rooting for him the entire time. I though his thoughts and actions all jived perfectly with how a guy in such a situation would act. He felt guilty for sometimes wishing his life had turned out differently, but no one deserves what happened to Jason. No one.


At breakneck pace, and as a constant parade of challenges and difficulties are presented, Jason goes about trying to solve these quantum physics puzzles. Will he finally be able to solve the problem at the center of Dark Matter, or will he be lost in the darkness forever? You will have to read Dark Matter to find out!


Highly recommended for fans of suspenseful, mystery, thrillers!


You can buy your copy here: Dark Matter


*Thanks to Crown and to Net Galley for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

Currently reading

The Wrath of Concrete and Steel by John Claude Smith
Progress: 67%
Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch, Michael Page
Progress: 43%
20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill, Christopher Golden
Progress: 30%



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Horror Aficionados
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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

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