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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The Night Child by Anna Quinn

The Night Child: A Novel - Anna Quinn

THE NIGHT CHILD is the dark and moving debut novel from Anna Quinn. I feel like I should include a trigger warning, but on the other hand, a trigger warning gives you a heads up as to what is going to happen and I think it's best to let the author tell the story as she intended. Just be aware that there are very disturbing elements within.

 

I'm not going to run down the entire plot for you, but it begins with Nora, a high school English teacher, seeing an hallucination of a face with startling blue eyes. Here begins Nora's decline. Whose face is it and what does it mean? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

Being a seasoned reader of dark fiction, I pretty much knew where this story was going as soon as I began reading. Anna Quinn does a good job at depicting all the different psychological aspects of this situation, including the reactions of other family members and coworkers. My only problem was this: I didn't care for any of the characters. I felt pity for Nora and for her immediate family, but maybe that's what the author intended? Perhaps Nora's coldness was yet another symptom of her underlying issues and partially the result of her husband being such a jerk?

 

That said, this was a touching and disturbing story dealing with heartbreaking situations and I believe that it deals with mental illness, (or coming to terms with difficult, horrendous circumstances) in a stark, but believable way. For that reason, I recommend this book to those who think they can handle the worst of humanity.

 

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

January 2018-That's a Wrap!

The Warblers - Amber Fallon You: A Novel - Caroline Kepnes Hidden Bodies - Caroline Kepnes City of the Dead - Brian Keene, Joe Hempel The Complete Maus - Art Spiegelman My Best Friend's Exorcism - Grady Hendrix Splatterpunk Fighting Back - Jack Bantry, Tim Curran, Glenn Rolfe, Bracken MacLeod, Kristopher Rufty, Adam Millard, John Boden, Matt Shaw, W.D. Gagliani, Elizabeth Power The Conversationalist: Horrorstruck Novella One - Justin Richards If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?: My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating (Random House Large Print) - Alan Alda Wylding Hall - Elizabeth Hand

I've started the year off by reading 18 books in January.

 

Graphic Novels

The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman 5*

Bitch Planet Volume One: Extraordinary Machine by Kellie Sue DeConnick 4*

The Walking Dead: Book 14 by Robert Kirkman 4*

Total: 3

 

Novellas

The Warblers by Amber Fallon 4*

Infestation by William Meikle 3.5*

The Conversationalist by Justin Bog 4*

Wylding Hall by Elizabeth Hand 4*

Total: 4

 

Audiobooks

You and Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes, narrated by Santino Fontana BOTH-5*

City of the Dead by Brian Keene, narrated by Joe Hempel 3.5*

Seriously...I'm Kidding written and narrated by Ellen DeGeneres 3*

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, narrated by Rob McQuay 3*

If I Understood You...written and narrated by Alan Alda 4*

Total: 6

 

ARCS

After the End of the World by Jonathan L. Howard 3*

Dark Screams Volume Nine (Anthology) 4*

Hardened Hearts (Anthology) 4.5*

Total: 3

 

Random Reads

My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix 4*

Splatterpunk Fighting Back (An anthology benefiting the fight against cancer) 4.5*

Total: 2

 

 

Horror Aficionados Mount TBR Challenge:

Challenge: Read 40 Books Already on my TBR

1. City of the Dead by Brian Keene

2. The Warblers by Amber Fallon

Status: 2/40

 

Wylding Hall by Elizabeth Hand

Wylding Hall - Elizabeth Hand

2.1.18-I've been thinking about this book since I finished it and because of that I've decided to change my rating to the full 5 out of 5 stars!

 

WYLDING HALL is a fun novella that doesn't neatly fit into any single category other than, perhaps, dark fiction.

 

A thousand other people have already written reviews so I'll just say: this is a beautifully written example of a quiet horror story with building tension and dread.

 

WYLDING HALL is my second reading of Hand's work, the first being her collection SAFFRON AND BRIMSTONE, which I also enjoyed. I'm looking forward to reading more from her and I think I'll do that starting with BLACK LIGHT.

 

Highly recommended!

 

You can get a copy here: WYLDING HALL

 

*I bought this book with my hard earned money and this is my honest opinion.*

Dark Screams: Volume Nine

Dark Screams: Volume Nine - Kelley Armstrong, Richard Chizmar, Stewart O'Nan, Brian James Freeman, Peter Straub

DARK SCREAMS: VOLUME NINE was a ton of fun! I was most especially impressed with the last entry TORN by Lee Thomas.

 

I'm not even going to get into what TORN was about because I think it should be related exactly as the author intended. I will say that even though this is a longer story than I usually care for in an anthology, it kept me riveted, it was original and I LOVED it!

 

THE DEAD YEARS by Taylor Grant was another original entry and this one had a science fiction bent to it that I enjoyed. I would love to see this idea expanded to a full length novel.

 

SUMMER OF 07 by Stewart O'Nan. A super short story that reminded me of Ted Bundy.

 

THE BLACKOUT by Jonathan Moore was an unsettling tale mostly set at the morgue.

 

INVITATION TO THE GAME by Kelly Armstrong. This was another tale that had a science fiction bent to it, in my view. It's about a corporation that controls, (or attempts to control?) all aspects of its employees lives. When they send you an invitation, it is unwise to decline.

 

Lastly, there was a story from Peter Straub: VARIATIONS ON A THEME FROM SEINFELD. I admit that the reason I requested an ARC of this book was due to Straub. I have such love for him and for Seinfeld, for that matter, but this story didn't do much for me.

 

Overall, I had fun with this volume, (most especially the story TORN!), and I recommend it to dark fiction and science fiction lovers everywhere!

 

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

If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on my Face? Written and Narrated by Alan Alda

If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?: My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating - Alan Alda

Alan Alda is a joy to listen to and he's a good writer. This book, despite its fun title, is a serious tome-focused on getting across how important it is to communicate clearly and effectively. Examples are cited, and exercises and games are detailed to help you do exactly that.

 

Focusing on the other person in a conversation, (not just waiting for your turn to speak), and noting their facial expressions and body language are key. According to Alda, if you are not willing to be changed by a person/conversation then you are NOT really open and listening.

 

It turns out that empathy is really important in effective communication. One of the exercises in this book mentions watching a person's face during a conversation and specifically noting and NAMING, (silently), the emotions you see on their face. This will sometimes tell you what they are going to say or do next. It tells you if they're understanding what you're saying, or if instead they are bored or confused. At times and with practice, it will sometimes seem to people that you can read minds, but what you're really doing is truly LISTENING.

 

Because Alan Alda has such a warm, comfortable style I learned a lot from what in less capable hands could have been a very boring book. It also might be due to the fact that Alda is an extremely effective communicator. I have already started to put some of these games and exercises into practice and I believe they have already helped me in certain areas of my life.

 

If you are open, (read: WILLING TO BE CHANGED), then I highly recommend this book!

 

*I borrowed this audiobook from my awesome public library. Libraries RULE!*

I've read 17% and I’m done!

Sing, Unburied, Sing: A Novel - Jesmyn Ward

 I tried to stick with this because it seemed like everyone was raving about it. I even came back to it after talking a week or so off.  It’s still not working for me and I think that 17% is more than a fair shot. 

 

*Thanks to NetGalley and to the publisher for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This it it.*

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, narrated by Rob McQuay

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail - Deutschland Random House Audio, Mike McQuay, Bill Bryson

A WALK IN THE WOODS was okay.

 

The author and his friend did not get to hike the entire trail as they had originally intended, which was not only disappointing for them but for me as well.

 

I learned about the history of the trail and how the whole thing works. I previously had no idea that the trail sometimes crosses roads and rivers and whatnot-I had this picture of a pristine wilderness in my head and while some parts are just that, others are not at all.

 

I thought there would be a bit more humor than there actually was and on top of that, there were no actual bears, (see that one on the cover there?), unless you count the night something was heard just outside of their tent.

 

Overall this was fun and I learned some things, so 3 stars it is.

 

Thanks to my local library for the loan of this audiobook. Libraries RULE!

The Conversationalist by Justin Bog

The Conversationalist: Horrorstruck Novella One - Justin Richards

Patrick doesn't seem to have one normal relationship in his entire life. He's a teacher and he deals with his students as necessary, but he and his sister don't get along very well and other than his coworker Margo, there's no one else in his life. So when he goes out on a date with Wendy, I had high hopes for him-but alas. It goes so poorly that Patrick leaves while Wendy's in the ladies room. Why? You'll have to read this novella to find out!

 

As many of you already know, I think that the novella is the perfect size for a horror tale. The length helps keeps the word count down by making every word count. In this story, it took a little while for Patrick's secrets to be revealed-maybe a bit too long. There wasn't a lot of action, but there was a lot of tension and atmosphere and those are the types of dark fiction stories that usually appeal to me the most.

 

Being an avid, experienced reader of horror, I found the denouement to be poignant, but tame. I also found the author's writing style took a little getting to used to. That said, it did grow on me and towards the end I was enjoying it immensely. (Except for the world "yearning." That one appeared a lot for such a short story.)

 

This novella was a dark and intriguing read with a distinct style that I enjoyed!

 

Recommended, especially for those new to dark fiction/horror stories and to those who don't like their horror too bloody!

 

You can grab a copy here: The Conversationalist: Horrorstruck Novella One

 

*Justin Bog was kind enough to send me a paperback of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it.* 

Splatterpunk Fighting Back

Splatterpunk Fighting Back - Dave Benton, Jack Bantry, Tim Curran, Rich Hawkins, Duncan Ralston, Glenn Rolfe, Bracken MacLeod, Kristopher Rufty, Adam Millard, John Boden, Matt Shaw, W.D. Gagliani, George Daniel, Elizabeth Power

 For me, this anthology was nearly perfect. Almost every single story hit home with me, and the fact that the purchase of this anthology benefits the fight against cancer makes it that much sweeter.

 

Without further ado-these are the stories that affected me most, in the order in which they knocked off my socks:

 

MOLLY by Glenn Rolfe. I have read a number of Glenn's works now and it's my opinion that he's an author to watch. With this story, he has arrived! A killer doll, a hotel, sexy women and weak men-add them all together and what have you got? Molly. 5*

 

LIMB MEMORY by Tim Curran. It sucks to lose an arm. Turns out that it also sucks when the arm comes back! 5*

 

THE GOING RATE by John Boden. A super short, shocking story! LOVED. IT. 5*

 

EXTINCTION THERAPY by Bracken MacLeod. Beautifully written with one of those punch-in-the-gut endings that I adore. 5*

 

THEY SWIM BY NIGHT by Adam Millard. Who doesn't love a good story about sirens? (Not like on police cars, but like in ancient mythology.) You have to ignore those singing ladies, or they'll get you every time. 4*

 

THE PASSION OF THE ROBERTSONS by Duncan Ralston. This was gross, funny and messed up all at once. 4*

 

FEAST OF CONSEQUENCES by W.D. Gagliani and Dave Benton. This story was a constant stream of Oh No! Followed by YES! I 'll let you guess upon which of those the story ended. 4*

 

DARLA'S PROBLEM by Kristofer Rufty. This being my first Rufty story, I wonder why I've waited so long to check him out. When Darla comes to you with a problem-take her seriously.

 

SPLATTERPUNK FIGHTING BACK was an anthology that totally worked for me, and I'm guessing even though it's only January, this will be included in my best anthologies of the year.

 

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

 

You can buy a copy here, (remember-proceeds go towards fighting cancer):

Splatterpunk Fighting Back 

The Walking Dead: Book Fourteen (Issues #157-#168) by Robert Kirkman

The Walking Dead, Book Fourteen - Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn, Stefano Gaudiano

I read this entire volume in one day!

 

We lost a favorite character of mine and one of my most hated characters of all time continues to live...and grow. If he didn't, I might have grown bored, but he has and that continues to make things interesting.  I'm almost all caught up!

 

Thanks to my local library for the loan of the hardcover graphic novel. Libraries RULE!

Infestation by William Meikle

Infestation - William Meikle

A group of soldiers is sent to investigate reports of Russians drilling in cold, Canadian waters. Once the troop arrives though, nary a Russian can be found and their ship shows signs of a bloody battle. What were the Russians doing and where are they now? You'll have to read this novella to find out!

 

Infestation is fast paced creature-feature containing all that you would hope for in such a read. There's not a real lot of character development, or descriptions of scenery, and that's fine with me. There's a lot of bloody battles where you're rooting for the troop to win and I liked that too-it's what I look for in this type of book.

 

The one thing I didn't care for was the ending. It just stopped! I'm all for the gut punch ending, but this wasn't that. It just stopped. I just discovered there is a sequel to this and I most likely will read it, when I get over being mad about this ending!

 

Recommended for fans of creature-features!

The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin

The City of Mirrors: The Passage Trilogy, Book Three - Deutschland Random House Audio, Justin Cronin, Scott Brick

I am throwing in the towel around 15%.

 

I was so excited when I was approved for the ARC of this book! But now some time has gone by and the long and short of it is I just don't care anymore.

 

My apologies to NetGalley and to the publisher.

My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

My Best Friend's Exorcism - Grady Hendrix

Steeped in 80's nostalgia, I thought this book was a blast!

 

It was never really scary, and I'm not sure that it was meant to be. My instincts tell me this book was written as an homage to the 80's and the silly fun that the horror genre provided at that time. Sure, there were crazy Satanism scares, Geraldo and diet fads but there were also great music videos, Blockbuster stores and a horror book boom to beat all booms. A lot of them were just like this...about young people, influenced by culture and cliques, just trying to fit in. Carrie, Audrina, and all those kids from the covers of John Saul novels know what I'm talking about it.

 

If YOU know what I'm talking about and if you're smiling at those memories as I am, then I recommend this book. It was made for you!

 

*I bought MY BEST FRIEND'S EXORCISM with my own hard earned money. It's the enhanced version and it's a lot fun, especially those flies crawling on the cover!*

Hardened Hearts edited by Eddie Generous

Hardened Hearts - Eddie Generous, Somer Canon, Calvin Demmer, Gwendolyn Kiste, Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, Meg Elison, Theresa Braun, Laura Blackwell, John Boden, Kathleen W. Deady, James R. Newman

 

HARDENED HEARTS contains dark fiction stories connected by the theme of love-all kinds of love. This book's strength is in its diversity. It covers so many facets of the subject, there's something here for everyone.

 

The tales that stood out for me were:

 

Calvin Demmer's story WHAT IS LOVE. This story knocked my socks off and I will be tracking down more from this author!

 

THE HEART OF THE ORCHARD by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi. This read almost like a warped fairy tale, and as we all know, fairy tales can often be quite grim.

 

PINK BALLOON by Tom Deady was my favorite story in the book. It totally broke my heart.

 

HEIRLOOM by Theresa Braun. I love tales about mirrors and this was an excellent example of why. This was my first experience with Theresa Braun's work and we are off to a good start.

 

THE RECLUSE by John Boden. Short and sweet, Boden always impresses me.

 

ClASS OF 2000 by Robert Dean. I guess the moral of this tale is not to mess with someone that can throw a baseball at 100 mph. It seems like common sense to me.

 

BURNING SAMANTHA by Scott Hallum. I had never previously heard of Scott, but he's on my radar now.

 

50 WAYS TO LEAVE YOUR MONSTER LOVER by Gwendolyn Kiste. Here is another author that I haven't had any experience with but whose story was impressive.

 

Lastly, IT'S MY PARTY AND I'LL CRY IF I WANT TO by J.L. Knight. A heartbreaking story about love and loss. Poignant and dark all at the same time.

 

 

9 of the 17 tales resonated deeply with me and that's above average, so I rounded up my original rating from 3 to 4 stars. I have some new authors to follow and I think they are offering up original work which only improves the genre. Bravo!

 

Recommended for fans of diverse dark fiction!

 

*Thanks to John Boden for providing an e-ARC of this anthology in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

 

Reading progress update: I've read 100 out of 336 pages.

My Best Friend's Exorcism - Grady Hendrix

I thought this got off to a bit of a slow start, but now around 100 pages in or so, it's shaping up nicely.

 

The only other thing I've read by this author was PAPERBACKS FROM HELL, which was one of my favorite books of 2017. There was a lot of humor in that, but it wasn't exactly a narrative-more like the recounting and relating of a time period in our history. 

 

MY BEST FRIEND'S EXORCISM is showing some of that humor which I appreciate, just not as much of it as I would like. I am enjoying the nostalgic feel of it, and in my ENHANCED copy there are cool extras...like flies crawling across the cover and things like that. 

 

Onward I go...

Seriously, I'm Kidding written and read by Ellen DeGeneres

Seriously... I'm Kidding - Ellen DeGeneres

SERIOUSLY, I'M KIDDING was disappointing. 

 

It was funny and entertaining at times, but I didn't learn much about Ellen, other than she is allergic to penicillin. While I enjoy being entertained and I enjoy Ellen's sense of humor, I wanted to learn more about her. This is not the book for that.

 

I'll have to look into her previous books.

Currently reading

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
Deadfall Hotel by Matt Godfrey, Steve Rasnic Tem, Steve Rasnic Tem
Progress: 50%
Edging by Michael Schutz, Michelle.Thompson
Progress: 70%
Daytripper Deluxe Edition by Gabriel Bá, Fábio Moon
Progress: 118/256pages

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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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