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.

 

Char’s quotes


 


 

 

 

 

Updated Halloween Bingo Card

 

BINGO CALLS

 Ghost

Cozy Mystery

In the Dark, Dark Woods

Horror

 Locked Room Mystery

Murder Most Foul

Witches

Werewolves

Modern Masters of Horror

Terrifying Women

 

Called & Read: (Jack O'Lantern)

Carter & Lovecraft - Genre: Horror 

The Lightning Men: Murder Most Foul

Twisted and Gnarled, (Dark Screams Eight) by Billy Sue Mosiman-Terrifying Women  

 

Read But Not Yet Called: (Ghost)

My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Farris-Monsters 

Haven by Tom Deady, (narrated by Matt Godfrey)-Terror in a Small Town

Turn of the Screw by Henry James-Classic Horror  

 

Called But Not Yet Read: (Black Cat)

In the Dark Dark Woods

Werewolves

Modern Masters of Horror

 

Reading in Progress: 

 

Go Down Together: The True Untold Story of Bonnie & Clyde Serial/Spree Killer

The Jersey Devil Modern Masters of Horror

 

Reading progress update: I've read 50%

Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde - Recorded Books LLC, Jeff Guinn, Jonathan Hogan

These must be the most inept criminals I've ever read about in my life. They're constantly getting caught, jailed, breaking out and doing it all over again. 

 

The last time they got into a car chase/gun fight, their car was wrecked. The battery was damaged and all the acid leaked out of it- right onto Bonnie's bare leg-from hip to ankle. At some points, it was said, the bone could actually be seen. 

 

Lightning Men by Thomas Mullen

Lightning Men: A Novel - Thomas Mullen

 

Atlanta in 1950 was a crowded place. The war was over and housing was scarce. Racial tensions were brewing, neighborhood lines were being redrawn,  and not everyone was happy about that. Even the fact that black policemen now served in the Negro areas of Atlanta didn't mean these officers had the respect of white officers nor that of the residents. When a white man gets beaten down by the Klan and then a Negro beaten down a few days later, tensions threaten to erupt. What happens next? You'll have to read Lightning Men to find out!

 

I was excited when I discovered there was a sequel to last year's Darktown. I was surprised at what I learned from that novel and I learned a lot from this one as well. For instance, I'd never heard of the Columbians before. Apparently, this group of neo-Nazis formed, (and so soon after the war in what must have felt like a direct insult to the soldiers and survivors now living in Atlanta), to unite their hatred of both Jews and Negroes. They even dressed similarly to the SS officers in Germany, hence their nickname: lightning men. 

 

I also learned a lot about how the neighborhoods changed during that less than peaceful time in American history. It's often painful to read about, but it's interesting to see events from several different points of view. Rake, Boggs, Smith and MacInnis are well rounded characters and even now, after a second novel, I think they all still have some secrets in reserve. None of them are perfect and they are all struggling to find their place in this new world, their new police station, (even if it is in the basement of the YMCA), and in their new neighborhoods. Social change doesn't come easy and I think all of these characters recognize and respect that in their behavior, which made them believable to me and maybe a little lovable too.

 

Lightning Men is scary in a way, because it's easy to recognize some of the behaviors from this story on the nightly news today. It's also sad that so much good can begin to be undone by just a few hateful people in high places. Not only is this story a good one, but it reminded me that America always has to remain vigilant,  so that everything we have worked so hard for as a people, is not undone by only a powerful few. 

 

Highly recommended! You can get your copy here: Lightning Men

 

*Thank you to NetGalley & Atria for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

Dark Screams Volume Eight

Dark Screams: Volume Eight - Bentley Little, Kealan Patrick Burke, Richard Chizmar, Frank Darabont, Brian James Freeman

 

Another entry in the, (overall), excellent DARK SCREAMS series is here, this time with a few surprising authors. I've listed what I thought were the standout tales below.

 

My favorite story in this volume has to be WALPUSKI’S TYPEWRITER from Frank Darabont. Known for his work directing movies like The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption, I had no idea the man wrote stories. This one was dedicated to Stephen King and it even has that SK vibe to it-reminding me a lot of King's early story THE MANGLER . In this case, the machine gone-wild is a typewriter and Darabont doesn't hold back. I LOVED this tale!

 

Coming in a close second for me though, was Kealan Patrick Burke's THE PALAVER. Those of you who have read Kealan's work in the past may already be familiar with the town of Milestone and be as happy as I was to return. There is something about human hair that creeps me out and Kealan takes that creep factor and amps it up to eleven. Just thinking about it makes me shiver, (and a little bit ill)!

 

I enjoyed THE TUMOR by Benjamin Percy as well. I believe this is the first story I've read from this author and I'm going to have to track down some more.

 

DARK SCREAMS 8 delivers the goods once again. Not all the stories resonated with me, but that's not unusual. The ones that did resonated deeply and that's what keeps me coming back to this series again and again.

 

Recommended!

 

Available on Halloween! Pre-order yours here: Dark Screams Volume Eight

 

 *An e-ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories: Volume Two

Available this October from Valancourt Books! 

 

I was SO VERY EXCITED to find this in my mailbox the other day!

 

There's a Michael McDowell in here I haven't yet read, as well as a Stephen Gregory and a Bernard Taylor. I ask you: Who's a happy Char??

 

 

Valancourt Books has earned a reputation as one of the foremost publishers of lost and rediscovered classics, reissuing more than 400 unjustly neglected works from the late 18th century all the way to the early 21st. In this second volume of rare horror stories, the editors of Valancourt Books have selected fourteen tales – all by Valancourt authors – for this new collection spanning two centuries of horror. This volume features a previously unpublished ghost story by Nevil Shute, a brand-new tale by award-winning author Stephen Gregory, and twelve other tales that have never or seldom been reprinted. 

 

Features stories by: Mary Elizabeth Braddon • John Buchan • R. Chetwynd-Hayes • Isabel Colegate • Basil Copper • Thomas De Quincey • Stephen Gregory • Michael McDowell • John Metcalfe • Beverley Nichols • Nevil Shute • Bernard Taylor • Russell Thorndike • Robert Westall

 

Haven by Tom Deady, narrated by Matt Godfrey

Haven - Greymore Publishing, Matt Godfrey, Tom Deady

 

Haven is a coming of age story, set in a small town in Massachusetts. Narrated beautifully by Matt Godfrey, and set in a such a perfect place, how could the story itself not be fabulous? Truth is though, it's just okay.

 

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it and as I said the narration was excellent. However, I didn't find that this book added anything original to the genre. 80's horror nostalgia is a big thing now and that may have soured my opinion a little. I recently saw the movie of Stephen King's "It" and I just don't think it's possible to compare the two without having Haven come up short. I'm also not sure that it's possible to NOT compare the two- which may be my whole problem.

 

 

There are some differences, but at its heart, this is a very similar story. We have our plucky kids going up against a mysterious monster, while they're getting bullied at every turn, and Denny's mom is in just about the same state as were Bill Denbrough's parents from IT. There's even a chance that the monster will return in the future. Sound familiar? The only thing that's really different is the origin of this creature and I won't spoil that here.

 

(show spoiler)

 

This is an engaging "coming of age"/"evil in a small town story", it's just that I didn't find the writing or the story itself to be outstanding. Good? Yes, definitely! And who knows? You may enjoy it a lot more than I did. So, if this sounds interesting to you, I say give it a shot.

 

Recommended!

 

*I received this audiobook free from the narrator, in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Farris

My Favorite Thing Is Monsters - Emil Ferris

 

My Favorite Thing is Monsters is a gorgeously illustrated graphic novel. Karen Reyes is a young girl coming of age in 1968 Chicago when her neighbor is murdered, her mother is diagnosed with breast cancer, Martin Luther King is shot and the local mob boss goes to jail.

 

Peppered in between all that are Karen's notebook drawings of all kinds of things-her neighborhood, her brother and mom, and the covers of pulp magazines. She also likes to draw her version of popular paintings which her brother takes her to see at the local museums. All of her drawings are on lined notebook paper and all I can say about them is that they are stunning. All in pen, but not all in color-each and every drawing is so detailed you can stare at them for a long while and continue to find new things.

 

       

 

  Never let anyone's darkness provoke you into your own midnight.

 

 

Tackling subjects like racism, homosexuality, the Holocaust and so much more, this graphic novel adds up to more than the sum of its parts. Highly recommended!

"It" was AWESOME.

 

That is all!

 

Carter & Lovecraft by Jonathan L. Howard

Carter & Lovecraft - Jonathan L. Howard

 

Carter & Lovecraft is an imaginative novel based on characters that are the descendants of H.P. Lovecraft, (real author), and Randolph Carter, (a fictional character created by Lovecraft.)  I liked it!

 

I read this as a buddy read and this story makes for a lot of fun discussion. There were some intriguing character deaths that kept the reader engaged and there were also quite a few mysteries to puzzle out. 

 

My one complaint is the cliffhanger ending-I hate that! Plus, not only did it leave the plot of this story unresolved, it also opened up all kinds of new questions and now, of course, I need to read the next book! 

 

Overall, this novel was fun and you don't have to be a walking encyclopedia of Lovecraft knowledge to understand or enjoy the story. However, I think a rudimentary knowledge of the man himself might not hurt. Recommended to fans of horror and of Lovecraft!

Halloween Bingo Book Update-Murder Most Foul

Lightning Men: A Novel - Thomas Mullen

This book is the sequel to last year's most excellent:

 

Darktown: A Novel - Thomas Mullen

This was a novel about the first black police officers in the city of Atlanta. It takes an unflinching look at racism in the south around the 1950's.

 

I'm planning to use Lightning Men this for this square:

 

 

 

Synopsis:  Officer Denny Rakestraw, “Negro Officers” Lucius Boggs and Tommy Smith, and Sergeant McInnis have their hands full in an overcrowded and rapidly changing Atlanta. It’s 1950 and color lines are shifting and racial tensions are simmering. Black families—including Smith’s sister and brother-in-law—are moving into Rake’s formerly all-white neighborhood, leading some residents to raise money to buy them out, while others advocate a more violent solution. Rake’s brother-in-law, Dale, a proud Klansman, launches a scheme to rally his fellow Kluxers to save their neighborhood. When those efforts spiral out of control and leave a man dead, Rake is forced to choose between loyalty to family or the law.

He isn’t the only one with family troubles. Boggs has outraged his preacher father by courting a domestic, and now her ex-boyfriend has been released from prison. As Boggs, Smith, and their all-black precinct contend with violent drug dealers fighting for turf in new territory, their personal dramas draw them closer to the fires that threaten to consume Atlanta once again.

Haunted Nights edited by Ellen Datlow and Lisa Morton

Haunted Nights - Lisa Morton, Ellen Datlow

 

Haunted Nights collects several previously unpublished stories from an array of excellent authors-with the bonus that they're all connected- by Halloween. It may not be exactly the Halloween that we as Americans are used to, but the seeds are still the same-whether they're sown in Scotland or Ohio. I found quite a few stories to shine for me in this anthology and here are a few of them:

 

John Langan's Lost in the Dark is one of my favorite types of haunting tales-the disconcerting kind. That House of Leaves eeriness combined with a cool framing device and several stories within a story all equal out to a very satisfied Char.

 

With Graveyard Weeds and Wolfbane Seeds by Seanan McGuire was impressive and convinced me that I need to give more of her work a try. Always remember that those Halloween tricks can get you into trouble-especially if you trick the wrong person.

 

A Small Taste of the Old Country by Jonathan Maberry. This one was predictable, but man, I just wanted it to happen so badly. When it did, I couldn't have been happier.

 

The Seventeen Year Itch by Garth Nix would have made one hell of a Twilight Zone episode. This story put me in mind of those old horror and sci-mags back in the day. There is a lot of punch, (and scratching!), packed into this short story.

 

A Flicker of Light on Devil's Night by Kate Jonez is a downer of a tale, but I can't deny how powerfully it was written to make me feel that way.

 

All Through the Night by Elise Forier Edie. What another sad, sad tale! Halloween is not all fun and games and neither is the horror genre. Sometimes it's fun and imaginative, (see The Seventeen Year Itch), but sometimes it's all too realistic. Often it's those hard to look at stories, the ones about the lives of real people and the hardships they go through, that are the most horrific of all.

 

The Turn by Paul Kane. This is the perfect title-because it's exactly what you want-NO-are compelled to do when you hear footsteps behind you on a dark street. But what if you would be okay, if only you didn't turn. Would you be able not to?

 

John Little's The First Lunar Halloween and Jeffrey Ford's Witch Hazel rounded out my favorites in this collection.

 

I loved the fact that ALL of these stories were new and I adored the connection they had to Halloween. I've previously been disappointed in collections where I've discovered, (too late!), that I'd already read many of the stories within. These were fresh tales and featured some fresh, (at least to me), authors, as well as some tried and true. It is my excited opinion that this anthology belongs on any horror lover's shelves-but especially to those of us that have a love of all things Halloween!

 

Highly recommended!

 

Get your copy here: Haunted Nights 

 

 *Thanks to the publisher and to NetGalley for this e-ARC in exchange for my honest review. This is it.* 

Batman: Volume 3 I Am Bane

Batman Vol. 3: I Am Bane (Rebirth) - Tom King, David Finch

 

In a volume where the opposite of some of the events in Batman: I Am Suicide occur, Bane has to run a gauntlet of enemies to get to Batman. Where this didn't work well for me in the that volume, in this one it worked just fine!

 

I adored the tongue in cheek of the opening scenes in the restaurant BATBURGER! between Batman and the Robins. "Do you want to Joker up your fries?" The restaurant even had Batsuits in special cases. 

 

I also thought the comparison panels between Bruce and Bane and all the similarities that made them who they both became were brilliant. 

 

Ace the Bat-Hound has his own brief little story-mostly involving the unflappable Alfred training him while  Bruce then reaps the benefits and complains about his Christmas present. 

 

Lastly though, OMG with Catwoman! What will happen as we progress further down that road? Will it ever really take place? (I'm trying to talk about it, without spoiling it.) I am not familiar enough with the Batman series to know, and I'm not sure that people who are familiar with it would know for sure either, but that was most definitely a surprising event.

 

Overall, this has been my favorite volume of the Batman Rebirth series by Tom King. I'm so glad I stuck with it and I'm very much looking forward to the next volume!

 

*I received an e-ARC of this volume from DC Comics via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This is it.* 

August 2017 Round Up!

The Suicide Motor Club - Christopher Buehlman The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story - Douglas Preston Marvel 1602 - Neil Gaiman, Richard Ianove, Andy Kubert Mass Hysteria - Michael Patrick Hicks Through A Glass Darkly - Donald Allen Kirch The Lesser Dead - Christopher Buehlman Batman Vol. 3: I Am Bane (Rebirth) - Tom King, David Finch Dreamwalker - James Russell Lowell The Daily Show (The Book): An Oral History as Told by Jon Stewart, the Correspondents, Staff and Guests - Chris Smith, Jon  Stewart The Talented Mr. Ripley -  Patricia Highsmith

I read 15 books In August

 

 

Graphic Novels:

 

Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman

The Lost Boys Volume 1 by Tim Seeley

The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three-Lady of Shadows by Robin Furth

The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three-Bitter Medicine

Batman: Volume 3 I am Bane by Tom King

 

Total: 5

 

Audio Books:

 

The Lesser Dead by Christopher Buehlman

Song of Susannah by Stephen King

The Daily Show The Book: An Oral History

The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story by Douglas Preston

 

Total: 4

 

ARCS:

 

Mass Hysteria by Michael Patrick Hicks

Spungunion by John Boden (not yet available)

 

Total: 2

 

Random Books:

 

The Suicide Motor Club by Christopher Buehlman

Through a Glass Darkly by Donald Kirch

The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

Dreamwalker by Russell James

 

Total: 4

 

 

 

 

READING CHALLENGES

 

Horror Aficionados Mount TBR Challenge: 

(Horror Aficionados Group on Goodreads)

Goal: Read 40 books I already own in 2017

 

January Count: 1

February Count: 2 

March and April Count: 0

May: 2 (Boo! and The Well)

June & July: 0

August: 1-The Talented Mr. Ripley

Running Count: 6

 

Graphic Novel Challenge:

(Paced Reading Group on GR)

Goal: Read 25 Graphic novels in 2017 

 

January count: 5

February count: 2

March count: 5

April count: 5

May count: 3

June count: 4

July count: 4

August count: 5

 

Running Count: 33! Challenge Met!

 

 

 

Paperbacks from Hell: A History of Horror Fiction From the 70's and 80's by Grady Hendrix

Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction - Grady Hendrix

 

A book about the period of time when the horror genre ruled the paperback racks at the bookstore? A book about the period of time in my life, (about Carrie's age, in fact), when I felt like an outsider, and horror made me feel included? Sign me up! Luckily, Quirk books and NetGalley did just that, and here we are.

 

This book is a reference book, a guide to life and times in the United States in the 70's and 80's. Things going on in the world and in society always affect our fiction and those times were no different. Paperbacks from Hell puts it all into perspective in an easy to read and humorous way. All the while vividly punctuated with those freaking AWESOME horror book covers of that time!

 

I bet you remember those covers too. The Sentinel with the priest looking out at you; Flowers in the Attic with those children looking out at you...and ALL those children from the John Saul books, (though at least one was blind and was NOT looking at you.) I had a mad grin on my face the entire time I was reading this, and with its funny chapter titles like "What to Expect When You're Expecting (a Hell Baby)," and its funny observations about life back then, how could I not? I'd wager that you'll have a mad grin on your face too.

 

 

 

Contributing a great deal to this book was Will Errickson and his blog, Too Much Horror Fiction. You can and should (!) find it here: Too Much Horror Fiction

 

Paperbacks From Hell gets my highest recommendation! Period. You can pre-order your copy here. (I did!): Paperbacks From Hell

 

 

*Thanks to NetGalley and Quirk books for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest review. This is it. *

Audrey Rose by Frank De Felitta, narrated by Matt Godfrey

Audrey Rose - Frank De Felitta, Matt Godfrey

 

Back in the late 70's I guess, maybe the early 80's, I read this book and I loved it. I was very excited when I saw that Valancourt Books was bringing it back into print, but I had trouble working it into my reading schedule. When I was offered a chance to review the audiobook, I jumped at it and I'm glad I did.

 

It turns out that I had forgotten a lot of this story. Not only that-I think a lot of its social commentary went over my head because I was only a young teen at the time and didn't know half the things I thought I did.

 

Janice and Bill Templeton have a young daughter, Ivy, who has bouts of severe nightmares. Asleep, she runs about in a panic, yelling for her parents and screaming "Hot, hot, hot." The first time the nightmares occurred, a psychiatrist seemed to help the situation. This time around nothing seems to help.

 

Meanwhile, a strange man is spotted recently hanging around Ivy's school and standing nearby the beautiful apartment building where the Templetons live. How is this man related to Ivy and her nightmares? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

This story takes place in the 70's with all that that entails. Scientology and other cults are becoming popular. Hypnotism and psychology fascinate the general public. Casual sex, (before AIDS), is becoming a thing and the social fabric of life in the US is changing. Bill and Janice Templeton seem to want to change with the times, (they get sex manuals and try to keep things fresh, for instance), but in other respects, Bill especially is set in his ways. His world view is not flexible and anything that challenges it cannot be tolerated. If only for a slightly more adaptable point of view, much of what happened later might have been prevented.

 

Audrey Rose held up for me, after all these years. There was much I didn't remember so it seemed almost like an entirely new story. Some of it is dated, of course, (remember looking for a working payphone?), but its observations of human behavior are still spot on and sharp. This isn't a perfect story and perhaps the courtroom drama could have been trimmed a bit, but I never lost interest.

 

The narration by Matt Godfrey was also spot on and helped to cement some scenes clearly in my mind. "Mommy, daddy, hot, hot, hot..." gave me a serious case of the creeps every time I heard it.

 

I'm glad this story from the golden time of horror held up and maybe even exceeded my vague memory of it. This tale supports the idea that you should always appreciate fully what you have, but you should also keep an open mind. Don't be so stubborn that you allow no room for the unexplained. You may avoid a lot of heartache and tragedy if you can do that-just ask Bill Templeton.

 

Highly recommended, especially for fans of 70's and 80's horror!

 

 

You can find your copy here: Audrey Rose

 

*I received a free review copy of this audio in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

Halloween Bingo 2017-Updates

BINGO CALLS

 

Ghost

Cozy Mystery

 

Called but not read

     Read but not called

 

     Both Called and Read

 

I just realized I don't have either square! So I have nothing to mark!

 

Currently reading

The Jersey Devil by Hunter Shea
Progress: 25%
The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories: Volume Two by Nevil Shute, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Michael P. Kube-McDowell
Progress: 40%
Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde by Recorded Books LLC, Jeff Guinn, Jonathan Hogan
Progress: 50%

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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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