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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IN THE NIGHT WOOD by Dale Bailey

In the Night Wood - Dale Bailey

 

IN THE NIGHT WOOD was my first novel by Dale Bailey but I'm sure it won't be my last!

 

Within the pages of this dark fiction narrative is a fairy-tale like story, but no "happily ever after" ending is promised. A couple inherits an old manor located in the countryside of England, on the edge of a large, dark wood. Amidst the grief and guilt they feel due to a recent family tragedy, Charles and Erin feel like a move might be the very thing they need. But of course, in true fairy tale fashion, things go horribly awry. Will they be able to start the new life they needed? You'll have to read this to find out.

 

I'm trying not to give too much away while attempting to impart to you how much I enjoyed this book. There's a mystery about an old tome, (IN THE NIGHT WOOD) and its author. There's a mystery regarding the caretaker, whose job contract binds him to the house itself, not to the people in it. Lastly, (of course!), there's a mystery regarding the deep, dark wood and the creatures that may or may not live there.

 

While hoping to unravel all of these mysteries, the threads of guilt and grief remain and are woven throughout the fabric of this narrative. At times, the level of grief is so deep it seems like it will drown the lives of Charles and Erin completely.

 

Lastly, I need to mention the language and beauty of the writing. There are all kinds of literary references, some I picked up on and some I did not. The best part of which is you don't need to be familiar with all of the literary allusions to enjoy this gorgeously written story.

 

IN THE NIGHT WOOD is a slow burn of a mysterious, Gothic, fairy tale and one I enjoyed immensely.

 

Recommended!

 

You can get your copy here: IN THE NIGHT WOOD

 

*I received an e-ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

WINTER'S BONE by Daniel Woodrell, narrated by Emma Galvin

Winter's Bone: A Novel (Audio) - Daniel Woodrell, Emma Galvin

I'm not feeling like a full review today so I'll limit this to only a few comments.

 

*The Ozarks in which this book takes place seem to have nothing in common with the OZARK Netflix show.

 

*I have no doubt in my mind that life in some areas of the Ozarks is as brutal as it's depicted in this book. Poverty, drug use, tight family units, and long-held multi-generational grudges are just part of the miserable lives examined here.

 

*I couldn't help but feel for 16 year old Ree who just wanted to join the army and get the hell out of there. Due to her mother's mental illness and her two young siblings, her hands were tied. It's hard to escape family.

 

*I thought this book was savage with sharp, vivid prose-sometimes so sharp it stabbed me right in the heart.

 

*I enjoyed WINTER'S BONE, as much as one can enjoy a story this violent and merciless. I look forward to sampling more of Daniel Woodrell's work in the future.

 

*Recommended for those with the wherewithal to stomach the brutalities of this rural, mountain life. You have been warned!

#FridayReads 12.14.18

 

BECOMING written and narrated by Michelle Obama

Becoming - Michelle Obama, Michelle Obama, Penguin Books

 

I don't know what to say about this book other than the following:

 

I found Michelle Obama to be an impressive and an interesting person.

 

She's classy, (she could have said a lot more unflattering things about many people. She didn't.)

 

She's a great narrator.

 

She loves her husband and kids with all of heart and shows it with her actions.

 

Political campaigns cost even more than I thought. (And I still can't help but think that money could be put to better uses across this country.)

 

I found it to be such an inspiring read I'm not ashamed to say it brought tears to my eyes more than once. At the same time, this book unintentionally made me nostalgic and sad. It is my opinion that a lot of the good accomplished by the Obama administration has now been undone. (The Paris Climate Change Agreement, among many other things.)

 

I highly recommend this book to those who want to know more about Michelle Obama, (whether or not your admire her), from her own mouth.

 

*Comments and/or questions regarding this BOOK or this somewhat of a REVIEW are more than welcome, positive or negative.*

 

**Comments regarding political views not associated with this book or review will be deleted.**

THE VALANCOURT BOOK OF HORROR STORIES VOL. 3 ed. by James Jenkins and Ryan Cagle

The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories, Volume Three - Charles Beaumont, J.B. Priestley, James Purdy

THE VALANCOURT BOOK OF HORROR STORIES: VOLUME THREE is the latest entry in Valancourt Books' excellent anthology series. I certainly hope they continue this outstanding tradition next year!

 

What I like best about all of these anthologies is the fact that I haven't read any of the stories before. Introducing me to new authors, some I enjoy, some not so much, Valancourt has expanded my reading horizons and for that, I will always be grateful.

 

I can't get into all of the stories but I will mention those that had the biggest effect on me:

 

THE PARTS MAN by Steve Rasnic Tem. This man is a legend and he's a national treasure as far I'm concerned. This short story had wonder and grief all mixed together and I thought it was somehow both beautiful and sad. BRAVO! (This story is original to this collection.)

 

DON'T GO UP THEM STAIRS by R. Chetwynd Hayes. I loved the tone of this tale so much I bought one of his other books from Valancourt as soon as I was done.

 

THE FACE IN THE MIRROR by Helen Mathers. A terrific little ghost story wherein the lady saves the day!

 

THE LIFE OF THE PARTY by Charles Beaumont. A sad tale of an acne-ridden boy at a school dance. The introduction to this one states that it's partly autobiographical.

 

BLOOD OF THE KAPU TIKI by Eric C. Higgs. A creepy little story with an ending that made me chuckle.

 

THE BOTTLE OF 1912 by Simon Raven. A man returns home after WWII after serving as a spy. He returns with the hope of seeing his family again and celebrating with a special bottle of wine.

 

BEELZEBUB by Robert Westall. Next to THE PARTS MAN , this was my favorite story in the collection. Robert Westall was super talented and I wish he had written more tales in the dark fiction vein because I've loved every one of them I've read.

 

Once again, Valancourt Books knocks it out of the park! Consistently full of rare stories that offer up a diverse range of horrors-this anthology has something for everyone. This, the third in a series of anthologies containing authors that Valancourt has already published, is as much of a MUST-READ as the first two.

 

THE VALANCOURT BOOK OF HORROR STORIES: VOLUME 3 receives my highest recommendation!

 

You can order it and other fine books directly from Valancourt here, with FREE shipping from now until the end of 2018: VALANCOURT BOOKS 

 

 *I received an e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.* 13 likes

THE SEA DREAMS IT IS THE SKY by John Hornor Jacobs

The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky: A Novella of Cosmic Horror - John Hornor Jacobs

 

"Misery is a condition that we are all promised."

 

THE SEA DREAMS IT IS THE SKY is a beautifully written novella with rich, layered characters and an unfamiliar landscape.

 

Two ex-pats develop a friendship between them. Isabel, an educator and Avendano, a poet, have both escaped a political coup in their home country of (the fictional) Magera. As their friendship deepens, Isabel learns more about Avendano's reputation and his past. When he asks her to watch his apartment so that he may return to Magera, she does so willingly. While so doing, she reads a few of the manuscripts he left behind. It's in these manuscripts that the true horror lies. Will Avendano ever return home? If he does will he find Isabel there waiting for him? You'll have to read this novella to find out!

 

I loved this book and that's mostly because the characters of Avendano and Isabel are so deep and well drawn. I did not expect to develop such complicated feelings for characters in "A Novella of Cosmic Horror." But develop them I did-especially for Avendano. I disliked him quite a bit when the story began, but I empathized with what he went through later, (or actually, before), and my feelings for him changed dramatically.

 

Whenever I see or hear the term "cosmic horror" lately, I find myself thinking of tentacles. But cosmic horror runs much deeper than that, and in this book it plays a small but certainly disturbing part of the narrative. When the miasma becomes so thick you can almost cut through it, watch out. There are things in that stinking fog, things existing just beyond the limits our visibility, but all too alive just the same.

 

The real horrors here are executed by humans and they make tentacles and Cthulhu look downright silly. It's easy to overlook coups in other countries, easy to overlook the human rights violations and the often abominable acts. We don't seem them on our daily news, so to us they seem foreign and distant. But for the people living under military rule or the rule of dictators or religious leaders? They see these horrors every day and sadly, they are now just part of life. When anyone dares to look more closely, like Avendano for instance, who knows what horrors will befall them as a result? They may take the form of torture, they may take the form of torturing those you love, they can even make you torture yourself, and that's the worst torture of all. 

 

"The pain becomes an offering and sacrifice becomes a beacon."

 

 

 

A beacon to what? That is the question.

 

I've tried hard to impart to you the gravity as well as the beauty hidden behind that oh so lovely cover. I've tried to do it without spoiling anything, but I'm not sure I've succeeded. The writing is sublime and I got lost a few times, just ruminating on the beauty of the language. That doesn't happen often these days, but it happened several times within the pages of this beautiful, scary, depressing, lovely novella and for that reason I highly recommend this book.

 

Get your copy here: THE SEA DREAMS IT IS THE SKY

 

*I received a Kindle copy of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.* 

Super Cool Bookmarks!

My friend Andi and I get together every few months and have dinner. This time we exchanged a few gifts. She gave me these cool bookmarks!

 

It's not the greatest picture, (I'm terrible at taking photos!), but you can see them pretty well. Aren't they fun? 

Anyway, there are all kinds of bookmarks and they change all the time. Here's a link to their Etsy site: A Stranger Dream

 

#FridayReads 12.7.18

 

THE TRAVELING VAMPIRE SHOW by Richard Laymon

The Traveling Vampire Show - Richard Laymon

As I was listening to this, I came to realize that I've read it before. A few things, like the name Julian Striker and one of the character's sisters rang a bell with me. Other than that, because I have a mind like a steel sieve, the rest of the story seemed new, so I went with it. Now that's it over, I am glad that I read it while at the same time I wish I ditched it. As you can see, I'm torn.

 

What I liked: The beginning. The coming of age portion-kids walking around and learning about the town, popping into each of their houses...these things I enjoyed. Unfortunately, they were a very small portion of the book. I did enjoy the narrator, though the quality of the recording itself didn't seem as good as others I've listened to recently.

 

What I didn't like: The sexy-times coming of age portions. One or two would have been fine, but at times, it seemed like the majority of the book was talking about hard-ons and breasts. Especially breasts. Every single woman in this book had time dedicated to her breasts. I mean, I HAVE breasts. I LIKE them. But J.H.C.- enough already!

 

Ahem. Okay-what I didn't like (continued): This entire book took place in one day, which was fine. However, it seemed like out of 404 pages, 325 were taken up just getting TO THE SHOW. Lastly, once they got there the situation spiraled out of control and became completely unbelievable. There's just....no way. I understand I'm reading a book about vampires, but believe me when I say there are believable stories about them and this one isn't it. (Kelli Owen's TEETH perhaps, or Yvonne Navarro's AFTERAGE for example.) I can disregard the realism factor if the book is intriguing or interesting in other areas. This one is not.

 

I rated THE TRAVELING VAMPIRE SHOW 2.5 stars, because I do feel it is representative of horror being written at that time, (2000-2001), and in a way, it is often thought of as a classic of the horror genre. I wanted to rate it higher than that, but I'm sorry to say that this tale didn't earn it.

 

I can't say that I recommend this, but I AM glad that I finally read it, (or re-read it, as the case may be), because I would forever be wondering about it, if I hadn't.

 

Source: I bought this audiobook with my hard earned cash.

November 2018-That's A Wrap!

Exorcist Falls: Includes the Novella Exorcist Road - Matt Godfrey, Jonathan Janz, Jonathan Janz Teeth - Kelli Owen Agent to the Stars - John Scalzi Bird Box - Josh Malerman Exit Strategy - Martha Wells Welcome to the Show: 17 Horror Stories – One Legendary Venue - Somer Canon, Rachel Autumn Deering, Brian Keene, Jeff Strand, Matt Hayward, Glenn Rolfe, Patrick Lacey, Matt Serafini, Adam Cesare, Jonathan Janz, Kelli Owen, Doug Murano, Mary SanGiovanni, Robert Ford, Bryan Smith, Booth Tarkington, John Skipp, Alan M. Clark The Freak Show Murders - Fredric Brown Greatest Love Story Ever Told, The - Megan Mullally, Nick Offerman The Mirror of the Nameless - Leesa Wallace, Graeme Parker, Luke Walker The Book of Etta (The Road to Nowhere 2) - Meg Elison

I read 10 books this month!

 

Audiobooks

 

 

Exorcist Falls by Jonathan Janz, narrated by Matt Godfrey 4.5*

Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi, narrated by Wil Wheaton 4.5*

The Greatest Love Story Ever Told by Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman 3*

The Book of Etta by Meg Elison, narrated by  Adenrele Ojo 4*

 

Total: 4

 

ARCS/Reads for Review

 

Teeth by Kelli Owen 4*

The Mirror of the Nameless by Luke Walker 5*

 

Total: 2

 

RANDOM READS

 

Bird Box by Josh Malerman 4*

The Freak Show Murders and Other Stories by Fredric Brown 4*

Welcome to the Show edited by Doug Murano 4.5*

Exit Strategy Martha Wells 5*

 

 

 

 

 

Horror Aficionados Mount TBR Challenge:

Challenge: Read 40 Books Already on my TBR

 

(I'm failing miserably)

 

1. City of the Dead by Brian Keene

2. The Warblers by Amber Fallon

3. October by Michael Rowe

4. It's A Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad World by Curtis Lawson

5. Bad Pennies by John Leonard

6. Cold in July by Joe Lansdale

7. Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill

8. Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

9. Hex by Thomas Heuvelt

10. Bird Box by Josh Malerman

 

Running Total: 144

Total Goal: 150

 

SCAPEGOAT by Adam Howe and James Newman

Scapegoat - Adam Howe, James R. Newman

 

 

Set to a rock n roll soundtrack in the 1980's, SCAPEGOAT should appeal to any fan of 80's horror, and 80's hair/metal bands. If these things are your bag, you should just buy  

this book now and get to reading!

 

 

Lonnie, the barely-dressed Cindy, Mike, and Pork Chop are on a road trip in Lonnie's R.V. heading to Wrestlemania 3. Since the guys were in a band,(Wrathbone), together they've drifted apart. Mike has a wife and child now and couldn't be happier. He's only on this trip for a brief vacation and to see some wrestling. Both Lonnie and the kilt-wearing Pork Chop seem to be the same people they were in high school and Mike realizes he doesn't have much in common with them anymore. Just as he's beginning to regret his decision to come with, something runs in front of their camper and gets hit. What was it? Will our group ever make it to Wrestlemania 3? You'll have to read this book to find out!

 

I've read the work of both of these authors before, so the quality and depth of this book did not surprise me. What did surprise me was the way this tale played out. Being a horror fan, I've read many, many books about cults, both fiction and non, because if Jim Jones isn't a real life horror story, I don't know what is. I've also read tales about dark religions and hillbillies, and very few of them had the courage to take the route that this story took. (One or two of the true stories did, to be honest, because real life is horrific, isn't it?)

 

The other thing about this book that makes it special is the characters. I developed true feelings for all of them, though my feelings often changed throughout. Thing is, I knew all these people at some point during high school. At first, Cindy reminded me a bit of myself. (But then that changed.) I loathed Lonnie for quite a while and I thought Pork Chop was the biggest loser ever, and then those feelings changed too. There are no flat characters here-they seemed real to me, they had depth and they were more complicated than I originally thought. I love when that happens!

 

The only issue I had was that the denouement went a little too quickly for me. I would have liked to have learned a bit more about the cult and the town in which it flourished. Perhaps that would have slowed the story down too much and that's why the authors wrapped it up the way they did? I'm not sure, but this was a damn good story either way.

 

Adam Howe and James Newman are both authors to watch. Anytime either of them puts out something new, it's automatically added to my "To Be Read" list. But this? A novel with both of them writing together? Just the thought of it put a smile on my face and the fact that the novel is actually fun, fast paced, intriguing, and creative? That's just the icing on the cake.

 

Highly recommended!

 

*I received an e-ARC of this book, in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

 

**During the month of December, 2018 both of these authors are joining in a group read at Horror Aficionados, a Goodreads group I help to moderate. They will be available to answer your questions and comments about SCAPEGOAT. Please come join us here: 

Horror Aficionados Group Read of SCAPEGOAT

 

We'd love to have you!**

#FridayReads 11.30.18

 

THE MIRROR OF THE NAMELESS by Luke Walker

The Mirror of the Nameless - Leesa Wallace, Graeme Parker, Luke Walker

 

Within this book, an entertaining and creative tale awaits you! It was so entertaining for me, I read it twice!

 

In THE MIRROR OF THE NAMELESS, Luke Walker has created a world where the Gods have returned-but not the God of Catholicism or even Buddha. These are Gods unlike anything you have seen before. For instance: Naz Yaah, the giant white worm that leaves noxious trails of slime in its wake. Or perhaps the giant zombie, Segoth? It sheds burning, acidic pieces of itself willy-nilly, while sucking people into itself at the same time. Lastly, there is Gatur: spreader of the green mist which causes people to hurt the ones they love. And when the mist disperses? Most are so horrified by what they've done they kill themselves. All of these creatures appear and disappear at will. Humanity is supposed to be happy about them and view their deaths as a necessary sacrifice. To speak out against them in any way is considered blasphemous and likely to be punished by death. In this midst of this monstrous world, Dave is trying to get to his daughter, Ashley.

 

His potential son-in-law Tom warns Dave that his daughter is getting herself into trouble. She is doing illegal research regarding these Gods because she believes that they may not belong to this world, or that perhaps humans can escape to another world? All of this via the use of a special mirror which she sets out to locate. Dave and Tom head off cross country to find her, all the while trying to avoid the various Gods as they pop up , as well as the cults and crazies who dedicate their lives to these creatures. Will Dave, Tom and Ashley survive this crazy world? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

I first read THE MIRROR OF THE NAMELESS when it was originally released at the beginning of 2014. I know I enjoyed it back then because I wrote a review. Unfortunately, that publisher has since closed, leaving the book out of print. Luckily, Kensington Gore recognized the excellence of this novella and brought it back. Even though I've read it before, I only had a vague memory of it, (I've read hundreds of books since then), so I was excited to check it out again this time around.

 

Yesterday afternoon when I finished, I rated this 4.5/5 stars, but after thinking about it overnight, I decided to give it ALL THE STARS, because I cannot think of one thing that could have been done better. THE MIRROR OF THE NAMELESS is a compelling, creative read and you won't find anything else out there quite like it. For that reason, I give it my highest recommendation!

 

You can get your copy here: THE MIRROR OF THE NAMELESS

 

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

EXIT STRATEGY (MURDERBOT #4) by Martha Wells

Exit Strategy - Martha Wells

 

This, the last entry of the MURDERBOT DIARIES, was the best entry of the series, in my opinion.

 

It made me laugh, it made me tear up at times and in this book, Murderbot really comes into its own.

 

I will be on the lookout for a full length Murderbot novel in the future, as it is more human than some humans I actually know.

 

*Thank you to my public library for the loan of this novella. Libraries RULE!*

#FridayReads 11.23.18

 

THE GREATEST LOVE STORY EVER TOLD by Megan Mullally & Nick Offerman

Greatest Love Story Ever Told, The - Megan Mullally, Nick Offerman

 

Confession time: I don't watch, and have never watched, Will & Grace or Parks and Rec. I'm not sure why, exactly, because I thought I liked Megan Mullally and I DO enjoy Amy Poehler. Anyway, I thought I'd give this audio book a go and it ended up being just okay.

 

Someone who watches these shows or has a real fangirl thing going on for Nick Offerman and/or Megan M. might get more out of this book than I did. Megan and Nick talk about their pasts, how they met, their careers, how they manage to keep things fresh, and how they like to do jigsaw puzzles and listen to audiobooks while they do so.

 

To be honest, this book reminded me why I don't read romances and why I love horror. These two are cute, but after only a little while, they became too cute for me and I would have loved to see them, (or in this case, hear them), die horrible and painful deaths. Well, not really, but they were just too....sappy. I don't like sappy.

 

So there you have it. I thought this book was okay, but if you're a big Megan Mullally or Nick Offerman fan you're likely to get a lot more out of this too cute, sickeningly sweet book.

 

*Thank you to my awesome public library for the free loan of this audiobook. Libraries RULE!*

Currently reading

Husk by J. Kent Messum
The Queen: Aretha Franklin by Mikal Gilmore, Adenrele Ojo
Progress: 30/228minutes
A Deep Horror That Was Very Nearly Awe by J.R. Hamantaschen
Progress: 13/314pages
Mourning Jewelry by Stephanie M. Wytovich
Progress: 60%
Detours by Dean Koontz, Michael Koryta, Clive Barker, Stephen King, Kelley Armstrong, David Morrell, Michael Marshall Smith, Michael Marshall Smith, Owen King, William Peter Blatty, Mark Stewart, Chet Williamson, Poppy Z. Brite, Brian James Freeman, Peter Straub
Progress: 125/400pages

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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
Ghoul
Billy


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