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


 
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RED RAIN by Dean Koontz, narrated by Edouardo Ballerini

Red Rain - Dean Koontz

 

More of the same, but I've invested too much time now to not finish the series.

ON DARK WINGS by Stephen Gregory

On Dark Wings: Stories - Stephen Gregory

Stephen Gregory knocked me off my feet with his novel,THE CORMORANT.  Since that time I've tried to read everything he's written. Valancourt Books has been the sole reason I discovered this author. For that, and many other reasons, I am grateful to them.

 

These stories have one thing in common and that is winged creatures. Be they cormorants, (the seed for that novel is a short story in this volume), moths, sparrows or crows, they're all here. Not all of these stories are horror or dark fiction either. Some of these tales are light hearted, some just quick literary vignettes and others, like THE BOY WHO WOULDN'T WAKE UP are beautifully written and almost brutally poignant, (it was my favorite story in this collection)

 

THE PROGRESS OF JOHN ARTHUR CRABBE, THE DREAMING PIG, THE DROWNING OF COLIN HENDERSON, and THE BLACKBIRD'S SONG were my other favorites, but to be honest, all of the stories were good.

 

ON DARK WINGS is an elegant, exquisitely written collection of tales. There is something about Gregory's descriptive talents that pulls me in, each and every time I read his work. A wide range of tales, not all horror, and some not dark at all, but all involving the wings of...something. Here it's Gregory's writing that soars.  At this point, I would read his grocery list.

 

My highest recommendation!

 

Get your copy here: ON DARK WINGS

 

*Thanks to Valancourt Books for the e-ARC of this collection in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

THE PRAYING MANTIS BRIDE by Dean Koontz, narrated by Edouardo Ballerini

The Praying Mantis Bride - Dean Koontz

The villains are female in this one, so that was a nice change. 

 

I'm starting to question Nameless' mission. When does it stop being poetic justice and turn into vigilantism? Yes, the bad guys, (and gals now), are nasty people, but when you have a mysterious, rich, secret and powerful group, (like those who fund and guide Nameless), they can do whatever they want to whomever they want and whenever they want. I think that's a dangerous road to follow.

 

The narration is excellent throughout this series and even though it's not knocking my socks off, it was a free series, (with Prime) and I am interested enough to continue.

IN THE HEART OF THE FIRE by Dean Koontz, narrated by Edoardo Ballerini

In the Heart of the Fire - Dean Koontz

I was expecting a dog, a good guy and a bad guy. I got all 3, but in spite of that, I liked this short story.

 

The above is the reason I quit reading Koontz in the first place. It seemed to me that all of his books were the same. After WATCHERS and a few other Koontz books made me fall quickly in love with him, the re-use of that same formula over and over again made me fall out of love with him just as quickly.

 

I like the mystery surrounding Nameless, and I'm in to see what happens next.

THE NIGHTMARE ROOM by Chris Sorensen

The Nightmare Room - Chris Sorensen

THE NIGHTMARE ROOM starts off as a great haunted house tale but then evolves into something else altogether. I loved it!

 

Peter and his wife Hannah return to Peter's hometown after a family tragedy. A fresh start in Maple City is just what they needed. Moving into an old farmhouse, disturbing things begin to happen, (as they often do in these types of tales), and from there, hang on tight because it's a crazy ride!

 

Fast paced with characters I could really root for, I found it difficult to put this book down. I know everyone says that, and I know that the week it took me to read this book doesn't seem that fast. However, with everything I had going on in real life over the last 2 weeks, it truly is a miracle I was able to read anything at all. This is a testament to the quality and pace of the writing.

 

Will Peter and his wife get to the bottom of what is going on in their old farmhouse? Will they survive it if they do? You'll have to read this to find out! This was my first read from author Chris Sorensen and I'm starting part 2 in THE MESSY MAN series today. That should be another indicator of how much fun I had with this book!

 

Highly recommended!

 

Get your copy here: THE NIGHTMARE ROOM

 

*Thanks to the author for the signed paperback copy he sent in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

 

**I apologize that it took so long to read this book. I regret it!**

 

***I had already purchased the Kindle copy of this book when the author contacted me, which is why my review on Amazon shows as a verified purchase.***

GHOST TRAIN by Stephen Laws, narrated by Hannibal Hills

Ghost Train - Hannibal Hills, Valancourt Books, Stephen Laws

GHOST TRAIN was a blast from the past!

 

Originally written in the 80's, when I first read the synopsis of this book I knew I had to have it. It appeared on offer from the folks at AUDIOBOOK BOOM in exchange for my honest feedback and here it is:

 

I loved the story-it had all the excitement, that awesome over the top 80's cheese, gory deaths, and excellent characters. (That last one is something that a lot of horror from that time period lacked.) I loved almost everything about it, except for that weird, kind of out of place exorcism, but that was easily overlooked amidst all the action.

 

I must admit that this narrator didn't quite do it for me. The book was fast paced and fun, but at those exciting moments, a few of the character voices grated on my nerves. Other than that though, this novel was a heck of a lot of 80's horror fun and I recommend it!

 

Recommended-especially to fans of bloody, fast-paced 80's horror!

 

 

Get your copy here: GHOST TRAIN

 

*Thanks to Audiobook Boom and the narrator for the Audible code, in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

PHOTOGRAPHING THE DEAD by Dean Koontz, narrated by Edoardo Ballerini

Photographing the Dead - Dean Koontz

This was not quite as good as the first. However, I'm still interested in Nameless' background and I shall continue on.

BUNNY by Mona Awad

Bunny - Mona Awad

 Topping off my trio of weird reads this weekend is BUNNY. I'm not even sure that I understood everything that occurred in this book. In that regard, it was like a train wreck. The characters were so awesomely terrible, I couldn't look away! (Maybe hear away? Whatever.)

 

This was the story of a woman, Samantha Mackey, (or Smackey as her friend calls her), studying as a post graduate in a snooty New England college. It's also about this ultra-annoying group of women, (who come off more as high school girls), that form a clique than no one, (read everyone), wants to join. And then Samantha gets an invite to "Smut Salon," and IT'S on. What THAT is? Still not sure!

 

“Behold the lavish tent under which the overeducated mingle, well versed in every art but the one of conversation.”

 

As for all the rest? Bunnies, weird dudes with axes tattooed on their necks, an outsider named Ava, snooty female professors, faintly lecherous male professors and one sweet, sweet guy who of course, is ignored.

 

That's it, that's all I'm saying. I'm considering downloading and listening to this book again. That should tell you all you need to know.

 

"I love you, Bunny."

 

Recommended, especially on audio! *Thanks to my local library for the free audio download. Libraries RULE!*

BRIDES OF HANOVER BLOCK by Gregor Xane

Brides of Hanover Block (The Hanover Quartet Book 2) - Gregor Xane

BRIDES OF HANOVER BLOCK can be summarized in two words: Messed. Up. !!!!!

 

Messed up is not really my first choice of phrasing, but it's one that Goodreads and Amazon will both allow. BRIDES picks up months after the events in HANOVER BLOCK. Where that book focused on the men in a certain neighborhood and their weird backyard appearances, this one focuses on the women in a certain neighborhood and their weird INDOOR appearances.

 

What is it that appears, exactly? All I can say is look at the covers of both books. Done?

Now you know as much I do..          

What can I say without spoiling anything? These books are strange, erotic, and strangely erotic. They are sick and weird and did I mention erotic? Ok then-sick, weird, and (one more time!) erotic. These books are not for the fainthearted. After all the strange erotica, then come some murders, some guys in weird uniforms with gas masks, and a dude with some kind of industrial fog machine in a truck. (I told you it was weird.)

 

That said, halfway through this quartet of books we have been led through a compelling, intriguing, weird tale and I just cannot wait for the next one!

 

My HIGHEST recommendation!

 

Get your copy here: BRIDES OF HANOVER

 

*Many thanks to the author for the signed paperback he sent me, in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

A Sick Gray Laugh by Nicole Cushing

A Sick Gray Laugh - Nicole Cushing

WTH did I just read? I don't even know!

 

I can say that I liked it, that it was literary and that it was beautifully written. There were deep, dark, and gray ideas explored. If I had to put labels on it, (which is difficult to do), I'd use these:

 

metafiction

dark humor

weird tales

somewhat nihilistic

dense

 

 

 

After reading a few other reviews once I was finished, it seems that my favorite part was the least favorite part of others, and that was the middle. The first and third portions were more involved with Noelle's, (Nicole's?), life, discoveries, and aspirations whereas the second portion focused on a cult-like veil-wearing group traveling to the U.S. by ship and then onward towards the Midwest. The New Moses and his group made for fascinating reading and I was sorry when the author moved on.

 

Overall, I did enjoy this compelling piece of fiction, but I will admit to the fact that my mind did wander a bit, especially during the first and third parts. Did I like it? YES! Do I recommend it? YES! Was it my favorite work of fiction from Nicole Cushing, no-but that's ok.

 

I never know what to expect when I read her work, but I ALWAYS know that it's going to be original, well written, and that it will make me think.

 

As I said above: Recommended! Get your copy here: A SICK GRAY LAUGH

 

*Thank you to Nicole Cushing for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

#FridayReads 11.29.19

A Sick Gray Laugh - Nicole Cushing Brides of Hanover Block (The Hanover Quartet Book 2) - Gregor Xane Bunny - Mona Awad

KILL SWITCH by Jonathan Maberry, narrated by Ray Porter

Kill Switch: A Joe Ledger Novel - Jonathan Maberry

I know I’ve said this about previous books in this series, but this is my favorite entry as of now. 

 

 Having the advantage of starting a series once it’s already finished-I know Joe will make it through. Everyone else though? I genuinely was afraid for Top, Bunny, Church, and the gang. 

 

I enjoyed the references to Lovecraft and other pulp fiction writers and combined with the real tension I felt for these characters- I feel this volume surpassed the others. 

 

Bring on the next book! 

 

* I downloaded the audio of this book free from my local library. Libraries RULE! *

** Listening to these free library downloads has hooked me on this series. As such, I’ve rejoined Audible so I don’t have to wait for library holds to arrive. So, attention publishers! Free access to books and audiobooks at local libraries can and does lead to actual sales. **

MIDNIGHT IN THE GRAVEYARD edited by Kenneth Cain

Midnight in the Graveyard - Jeremy Hepler, Chad Lutzke, Kenneth W. Cain, Jonathan Janz, Kealan Patrick Burke, John Everson, Elizabeth Massie, William Meikle, Thomas F. Monteleone, Robert R. McCammon

MIDNIGHT IN THE GRAVEYARD is an above average anthology, comprised of ghost stories-all kinds and varieties. I had a blast seeing what each author came up with.

 

For me, some of the standouts were:

 

DEVIL'S DIP by Shannon Felton. What a great tale to start off this collection! I've never read anything by this author before, but now I'll be following her career closely. (Love when this happens.)

 

TUG O WAR by Chad Lutzke. A terribly sad tale that morphed into....something else entirely, (and even sadder!)

 

DOG DAYS by Kenneth Cain. LOVED LOVED LOVED this! Dogs are involved.

 

COOL FOR CATS by William Meikle. I loved this one too! (Cats are involved. Surprise!)

 

THE GLIMMER GIRLS by Ken McKinley. Terribly, terribly, sad. I think the fact that we all knew how it was going to end only added to the poignancy of it.

 

THE CEMETERY MAN by John Everson. Everson's unique style of mixing the erotic with the horrific is on display here.

 

HAUNTED WORLD by Robert McCammon. It's McCammon. 'Nuff said.

 

GHOST BLOOD by Kelli Owen. Imagine if you could see blood anywhere it has ever been spilled. From shaving cuts to mass murders-you see it all. How ghastly!

 

LAST CALL AT THE SUDDEN DEATH SALOON by Allan Leverone. An abandoned sanitarium in a haunted town-who wouldn't want a drink before going there?

 

THE PUTPOCKET by Alan M. Clark. This might have been my favorite tale. (I know, it surprised me too!) I felt an almost...Dickensian vibe with this and I really got down with the story and its narrator.

 

PORTRAIT by Kealan Patrick Burke. Another poignant story from a master.

 

SWAMP VENGEANCE by Brian Moreland. Unexpected, but fun just the same.

 

I'm going to leave it off here because I liked just about every story in here, but I can't mention them all. My only nitpicking complaint is that perhaps this anthology was a bit too long.

 

I consider myself lucky to have had the pleasure of interacting with all of the authors in a group read in the Horror Aficionados group. The book and the experience were both a heck of a good time!

 

Highly recommended!

 

Get your copy here: MIDNIGHT IN THE GRAVEYARD

 

*I received an e-ARC of this anthology from the publisher in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it! Further, I am one of the moderators of the HA group mentioned above. The fact that this was a group read did not affect my opinion of the contents of the book.*

#FridayReads 11.22.19

A Sick Gray Laugh - Nicole Cushing Kill Switch: A Joe Ledger Novel - Jonathan Maberry Midnight in the Graveyard - Jeremy Hepler, Chad Lutzke, Kenneth W. Cain, Jonathan Janz, Kealan Patrick Burke, John Everson, Elizabeth Massie, William Meikle, Thomas F. Monteleone, Robert R. McCammon

#FridayReads Today, I'm reading A SICK GRAY LAUGH by @NicoleCushing. I plan to finish MIDNIGHT IN THE GRAVEYARD edited by @KennethWCain over the weekend. Lastly, I'm listening to KILL SWITCH by @JonathanMaberry, narrated by @Ray__Porter. What are you reading? pic.twitter.com/n7rdwgxX5W

— Char's Horror Corner

Pre-Black Friday Sale! US Only

Reblogged from Valancourt Books:

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SKINWRAPPER by Stephen Kozeniewski

Skinwrapper - Stephen Kozeniewski

Science-Fiction stories have been rocking my boat this year and SKINWRAPPER is no exception!

 

A teenager is starting yet another day listening to her parents calmly argue while she is busy texting her best friend. Then, in only one second, her entire life changes forever. Her family's ship is attacked by Skinwrappers, (which vaguely reminded me of the Reavers from that show Firefly), and her only mission now is to keep herself alive. Will she accomplish that? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

Even though I read and loved Kozeniewski's BRAINEATER JONES, I haven't yet had a chance to get back to his work. At the time I was offered a digital ARC of this book, I didn't realize it was a companion piece to THE HEMATOPHAGES. That said, I didn't feel lost and this was perfectly fine as a stand alone novella.

 

I felt for the protagonist and I felt that the tension regarding her situation was an honest, human portrayal. In this world of Kozeniewski's creation, health care is so expensive that hardly anyone can afford to go to the doctor, never mind being able to afford treatment. He has taken an issue important to so many Americans, (and maybe all human beings?), and then set it down in outer space. (I may be viewing this incorrectly, not having read the other book, but this is my take on his world as of this moment.)

 

As I said above, I've only read two of his books so far, and even though SKINWRAPPER was novella length, I think he has improved his skill as a writer and as a world-builder. Now I need to get to reading THE HEMATOPHAGES!

 

Recommended, especially to readers of dark science fiction!

 

Get your copy here: SKINWRAPPER

 

*Thanks to the author for the e-book of this novella in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

Currently reading

Resisting Madness by Wesley Southard
Progress: 23/291pages
The Hungry Ones by Chris Sorensen
Progress: 45/315pages

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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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