Where Wolves Run – Jason Parent

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Jason Parent is kicking out some very impressive material here lately and Where Wolves Run is absolutely phenomenal. Set in the old country, young Konrad watches from the hiding place under the Bavarian cottage floor as his mother is torn apart by unknown hairy beasts. Trapped and unable to see exactly what happened, his father rescues and enlightens him about the events that unfolded. Werewolves. Unknown to Konrad, his father has been hunting them for years and it’s time to train his son to help avenge his dead mother.

Where Wolves Run has the feel of the Lon Chaney Jr classics from the Universal Days. I loved the setting of old Bavaria and I didn’t want the story to end. Parent does a great job at taking something old and giving us something new. Grab this quick read and experience it for yourself.

 

5 Silver Daggers out of 5

 

This ARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

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With Fury in Hand – Lee Thompson

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The mean streets of Flint, Michigan have been known to chew up many an innocent soul and spit it out. For five individuals, change is in the air like a breeze of desperation. Unknown to them, their lives will intertwine in a chaotic storm of death.

With Fury in Hand is a gritty tale that oozes with despair and locks it’s icy grip onto your throat taking your breath away. No matter how much you struggle, you can’t change what’s unfolding in front of you. This is my first story by Thompson and I’m impressed at his realistic characters and his ability to ratchet up the dread. You can see what’s happening, but you’re helpless to do anything about it. My only criticism, and it’s a small one, is that the story felt a little too convenient in how it wraps around full circle.

4 Bullet Holes out of 5

 

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The Translators – Gord Rollo

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When John Taylor was a boy, he and his father were out riding a motorcycle when they were abducted by aliens. John was returned with a fuzzy memory of what happened and strange voices in his head that tell him things. His father wasn’t so lucky. He disappeared without a trace. Left to grow up without a father and the constant chatter inside his brain that the doctors think is schizophrenia, which John is able to keep at bay by taking psych meds. That is, except for once a month when he uses the voices to tell him the winning numbers at the roulette table in Atlantic City. He thinks that no one is the wiser until his wife is trying to get a promotion at the local radio station and uses John to come on and tell his story of the Translators in his head. Little did John know that the government has been watching him and his special abilities and now they need to cash in on his expertise to be able to translate any language through the voices in his head. You see, the end of the world is coming and it’s not going to be from global warming, nuclear war, or genocide. It’s going to be coming from outer space and the aliens that abducted John when he was little and the government needs his help. Will it be too late to save man kind?

The Translator is a unique Apocalyptic tale from Gord Rollo, the man that brought us the gems The Jigsaw Man and Valley of the Scarecrow. He uses his imaginative vision to carve out the approaching end of the world using everything from Area 51 and Roswell, NM to the Loch Ness Monster, Manchu Pichu, and his take on the Bible’s Revelations. John is a three-dimensional character that you soon feel for and I love the take on the whole Area 51 and Mayan end of the world calendars. However, I wasn’t crazy with the biblical battle at the end. It seemed a tad hokey and had the “what’s the point?”factor going on. But, that’s a small complaint for great characters and crisp writing. Rollo has been MIA the past couple of years and that’s sad to see. He is definitely a talent that I have come to know and love and hope that he’s able to get back into kicking out more works of his imagination on a more regular basis.

4 Horseman of the Apocolypse out of 5 (or was it 4?)

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The Queen of Bedlam – Robert McCammon

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McCammon is simply amazing. The man takes a decade off from writing in the prime years of his life when many authors hit their stride. You’d think when he came back there would be some rust he’d have to knock off the wheels. Nah, he comes out of the gate with a fury and a vengeance and the first slab of goodness he throws on the table is Speaks the Nightbird. Speaks is so unique in that it provides us with such a wonderful story and characters in a setting that isn’t typically done by the masters of horror. The setting is late 17th century in the Carolina colonies and we’re introduced to a young lad with a penchant for questioning everything. A curious teenage colonial Sherlock Holmes, if you will. I won’t get into the details of Speaks. By now, you should’ve already read it. If not, get your butt off this review and go read it…immediately!

Now, for the rest of you. If you loved Speaks the Nightbird, as much as I did, then you will not be disappointed with Queen of Bedlam. We find Matthew a little bit older, a little bit wiser, and in a new setting. New York City circa 1690s. A town with 5000 inhabitant, all with dreams and aspirations for wealth and prosperity in the new world. But, not all is well in the fledgling colony. A murderer is loose and carving up his victims, one by one, while leaving his calling card, the shape of a diamond carved around the eyes of the murdered. The constables are clueless, but what would you expect from the unqualified blow hards that were appointed by their friends in high places? Matthew, now a clerk for a local magistrate, stumbles across one of the victims moments after he was butchered by The Masker, the name the killer has received from the local start up news sheet. He is plunged head long into the mystery of identifying the unseen murderer. Matthew’s “problem solving” skills are also noticed by Katherine Herrald, the head of a newly started detective agency that has come from London to NYC. Matthew accepts the invitation to join the agency and must pass certain tests to show that he is worthy of the position. What he finds is that there are many mysteries floating around, including the identity of the Queen of Bedlam, an unknown woman who was dropped off at a progressive asylum with the instructions to never try and discover who she really is. For Matthew, all paths seem to lead back to this mysterious woman who is locked up in her own mind. Who is the Masker and is she connected to the murders somehow? Will our young detective get to the bottom of this or will he find himself on the business end of a blade?

The Queen of Bedlam is a wonderful roller coaster ride through the historical world McCammon has created. Matthew is such an engaging character. You constantly root for him around every twist and turn. You cringe and hide your eyes when he’s thrust in harm’s way. I can’t express how good McCammon is at building this colonial world of mystery. One of the questions I do get is “but is it horror?” If you’ve ever read McCammon’s earlier works that put him on the horror map during the 1980s, you know that his “horror stories” all had horrific elements in them, yet they were so much more. The same is true with the Matthew Corbett series. Don’t get caught up in being able to pigeonhole the tales into a nice, neat category. Simply read it. I can’t make it any more plain than that!
5 Carving Knives out of 5
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Exorcist Falls – Jonathan Janz

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Janz has done it again. I’ve been crowing about how great Exorcist Road was ever since I turned the last page two years ago. Much to my delight, Janz is continuing where he left off with Father Jason Crowder exercising young Casey Hartman’s demon from his teenage body. Unfortuanately, the demon didn’t go away. Neither did the Sweet Sixteen Killer. Now it’s up to Father Crowder to finish what he started and bring the killer to justice and dispose of the demon once and for all.

Exorcist Falls also contains the first story, Exorcist Road, between it’s covers. This makes it convenient for those that haven’t read it yet or who would like to reacquaint themselves with it since it’s original publisher, Samhain Publishing, closed it’s horror doors earlier this year. Janz’s writing is superb and you’ll find yourself amazed at the vocabulary this guy has. I’m not too proud to admit that I used the DEFINE feature on Kindle many times and I’d like to think of myself as well read. Not only is his word choices spot on, but his characters really make the story come to life. Danny Hartman is as despicable as they come and the demon, Malephar, is no cherub. I also enjoyed how the story had me guessing the whole way as it’s evolution was revealed one page at a time. And lets not forget the red stuff because Janz sure didn’t. There are definitely some scenes that will make even the strongest constitution weaken and cringe. All in all, an absolute blast to read and I’m happy to find out from the man himself that there will be a third installment in the Exorcist series. I’m all ready to hit the pre-order button just as soon as it pops up on Amazon.

5 Demons Controlling a Razor Blade out of 5
This ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.
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Take The Long Way Home – Brian Keene

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During rush hour traffic, a loud trumpet sound blats across the landscape with ear-deafening volume. Auto accidents, plane crashes, and fires ensue. For a carpooling foursome, they end up as one of the casualties and after the dust settles, they find their driver with half his head missing due to a length of pipe from the truck ahead of them poking through the windshield and shearing off his cranium. Now Steve, Charlie, and Frank are trying to shake off the shock of what happened and make their way home. They discover that, when the trumpet sounded, people all across the world disappeared. Where they went, no one knows, but many different rumors are being circulated. As the trio attempts to stumble home, they learn about the duality of man’s behavior during a crisis in an up front and personal way.

Take The Long Way Home is Keene’s version of a what might happen on Judgement Day. It blends King’s The Long Walk with the Bible and makes for an enjoyable read. As always with Keene, it’s about the characters, and he drafts very personable ones. The journey is worth the price of admission here and the unsettling feeling of nervousness of what is lurking around the next mile marker is thick, making this a real pager turner.

4 Guardian Angels out of 5
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Blue Demon – David Bernstein

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The Blue Demon is a cartoon character that Dan used to watch when he was a child. The cartoon only lasted three years, but when he stumbled upon the series many years later, he immediately wanted to share it with his son, Cal. Cal loved it and this became something that father and son could bond over. The Blue Demon exacted revenge on the enemies of those it protected, at least that’s how story goes. The rumor has it that the Blue Demon legend was around long before the cartoon came out. So, when Dan happens to find a limited edition Blue Demon action figure from back in the day, little did he know how true the legend was.

Bernstein’s story reads like an episode of Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories from back in the Eighties, except this one has teeth…and claws. He does a nice job keeping the story moving without becoming too hokey. The plight of Cal growing up is one that’ll tug on your heart strings and that breathes life into a story that you can figure out fairly easy what the outcome will be. With Bernstein’s wonderful characterization, you won’t care because the fun was in the journey and not the destination.

4 Amputations out of 5

This ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.
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