Savages – Greg Gifune

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Greg Gifune has outdone himself yet again. He has established himself firmly as one of the finest horror authors out there and anyone that has read my reviews knows that he’s definitely one of my favorites. Simply put, I have yet to read anything mediocre by him. If he has a clunker in his catalog, it hasn’t passed my eyes yet. And that brings me to Savages which, in my opinion, is an absolute masterpiece.

A group go sailing in the remote South Pacific when a storm sinks the boat they were on. Drifting for days, one of the crew dead, a passenger missing, and the captain along with another passenger badly injured, they fight dehydration, the scorching sun, and hungry sharks to finally drift onto an uninhabited and uncharted island that no one even knew existed. With no supplies, no tools, no food, and barely any clothing on, the harsh reality of their bleak situation hits home like a ton of bricks. Just when they thought that things couldn’t get any worse, they discover that their deserted island isn’t so deserted and it’s inhabitant isn’t happy to see them.

The strength in Ginfune’s tale is it’s realistic characters and the way he ratchets up the dread as the story goes along. I’m not joking. You could literally cut the tension in this book with a knife. He also adds some fantastic top secret WWII setting in here. Damn this was so good. I’m going to stop drooling all over this one and give it to you straight – quit reading reading reviews trying to decide what book you want to buy next. Your search is now officially over. Immediately grab this one and start reading!

5 Hidden Tunnels out of 5
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Ghoul – Marc Alexander

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Ghoul was originally published in 1980 under the name Mark Ronson. Fast forward to 2016 and the same story is published under the name Marc Alexander. Why? I have no clue. But what I do know is that Ghoul one of the better pulp horror to come out of the early 1980s. It reminds me greatly of the type of slow-burn horror that J.N. Williamson or Charles Grant used to write and there are days that I miss that style. So, if you’re one that likes that kind of horror…

In the fictitious Middle Eastern country of Abu Sabbah, Julia Sword is an archeologist that discovers a sealed tomb after a landslide uncovers it in the Valley of the Jinn. Sound spooky? It’s supposed to. It seems that this valley was named after King Solomon had a problem with an evil Jinn and had the power to seal it away so that it wouldn’t cause any more trouble. Add a few thousand years and Julia is on the brink of busting open this hidden tomb thinking that it contains an unknown Egyptian mummy. Her rich father is the bankroll for this expedition and Julia has an admirer in the King of Abu Sabbah, King Hamid. It all plays like a female Howard Carter scenario. In fact, Carter is mentioned a couple of times throughout the telling. Now, throw in the Middle Eastern version of The Spy Who Loved Me James Bond type, Israeli Head of Intelligence, Moshe Leohr and the Arabian spy love interest, Leliah, as well as the evil uncle hell bent on taking over, Sheikh Ahmid. If that wasn’t enough, we have a tall drink of water love interest for Julia, named Andrew, and a Manson-like cult hanging out in the valley just waiting for shit to go down with the opening of the tomb. Last, but certainly not least, we have an attempt by the bad guy uncle to extract information out of the Israeli by hooking up a set of jumper cables to his balls. Yes, that would make me sing like a canary and throw my own mother under the bus, if that was what was needed to bring that particular torture to a stop.

While my description does sound a bit hokey, it actually works better than what you’d think. The story really does have a nice slow burn to it with a decent payoff at the end. Yes, the King is unlike anything you’d hear about in the Middle East on CNN today (or in 1980, for that matter). Things are a little too liberal and friendly to the English to be believable, but it is a fun, pulpy horror offering that screams I’m From The Eighties. Pop some popcorn, don’t think too much about the holes, and enjoy the ride!

4 Hidden Tombs out of 5

*This ARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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The Night Parade – Ronald Malfi

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There are writers and then there is Ronald Malfi. From the first chapter of The Night Parade, it was evident that Malfi’s caliber of writing was a notch above what I’m used to seeing from the genre. The verbiage and imagery raised the writing into something majestic. It makes me want to throw away my laptop and quit pretending that I could ever write something of this quality. OK, maybe that’s a bit harsh, but you get where I’m going with this.

The Night Parade starts out with David and his daughter Ellie on the run from the government. There’s an illness going around called Wanderer’s Folly and it makes people hallucinate and bleed out of their noses before they either drop dead, kill themselves or kill someone else. The CDC doesn’t know if it’s spread by air or contact or if it’s somehow imbedded in our DNA and something has caused it to turn on in some people. All they know is David’s wife, Kathy, was immune before they killed her off testing her to death and that Ellie is also immune…and they want her.

The story has a nice slow build up that ratchets the tension to the breaking point. Malfi also uses a series of flashbacks that slowly unravel the past slowly before our eyes. It’s extremely effective in teasing the reader with just enough information that only leads to a whole slew of more questions that need answering. The characters are vivid and masterfully three-dimensional where you can literally feel the tension and exhaustion that David is going through in your bones. The Night Parade has shades of Firestarter, Swan Song, and The Dead Zone all mixed within, yet at no time does it feel derivative. It has everything that I look for in a great story – strong characters, realistic dialogue, a slow build up of tension that leads to a climactic ending, and a lasting impact that keeps you thinking about the story long after you’ve closed the cover.

5 Oriole Eggs out of 5
* I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
You can also read my other reviews and author interviews at:

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The Night Parade by Ronald Malfi
Kensington Horror
Media Kit
Publicist/Marketing: Erin Al-Mehairi
Contact: hookofabook@hotmail.com

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Follow along the tour with these hashtags: #TheNightParade #WanderersFolly #apocalyptichorror
The Night Parade, Synopsis

• File Size: 1261 KB
• Print Length: 384 pages
• Publisher: Kensington (July 26, 2016)
• Publication Date: July 26, 2016
• Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services

First the birds disappeared.
Then the insects took over.
Then the madness began . . .

They call it Wanderer’s Folly–a disease of delusions, of daydreams and nightmares. A plague threatening to wipe out the human race.

After two years of creeping decay, David Arlen woke up one morning thinking that the worst was over. By midnight, he’s bleeding and terrified, his wife is dead, and he’s on the run in a stolen car with his eight-year-old daughter, who may be the key to a cure.

Ellie is a special girl. Deep. Insightful. And she knows David is lying to her. Lying about her mother. Lying about what they’re running from. And lying about what he sees when he takes his eyes off the road . . .

Ronald Malfi, Biography

Ronald Malfi is an award-winning author of many novels and novellas in the horror, mystery, and thriller categories from various publishers, including The Night Parade, this summer’s 2016 release from Kensington.

In 2009, his crime drama, Shamrock Alley, won a Silver IPPY Award. In 2011, his ghost story/mystery novel, Floating Staircase, was a finalist for the Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Award for best novel, a Gold IPPY Award for best horror novel, and the Vincent Preis International Horror Award. His novel Cradle Lake garnered him the Benjamin Franklin Independent Book Award (silver) in 2014. December Park, his epic childhood story, won the Beverly Hills International Book Award for suspense in 2015.

Most recognized for his haunting, literary style and memorable characters, Malfi’s dark fiction has gained acceptance among readers of all genres.

He was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1977, and eventually relocated to the Chesapeake Bay area, where he currently resides with his wife and two children.

Visit with Ronald Malfi on Facebook, Twitter (@RonaldMalfi), or at http://www.ronmalfi.com.

Praise for Ronald Malfi

“I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The setting, the words, the ending. Color me impressed.” –Melissa Reads on The Night Parade

“The Night Parade has a creepy vibe and some genuinely terrifying moments. I even teared up a time or two. It’s everything I look for in a great read.” – Frank Errington on The Night Parade

“One cannot help but think of writers like Peter Straub and Stephen King.”
—FearNet

“Malfi is a skillful storyteller.”—New York Journal of Books

“A complex and chilling tale….terrifying.”—Robert McCammon

“Malfi’s lyrical prose creates an atmosphere of eerie claustrophobia…haunting.”—Publishers Weekly

“A thrilling, edge-of-your-seat ride that should not be missed.”
—Suspense Magazine

Purchase Links

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
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If you are a blogger, author, or member of the media and you would like to feature The Night Parade or Ronald Malfi in a review or interview, please contact Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at hookofabook@hotmail.com. Thanks!

 

Resurrection – Tim Curran

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The rain kept falling and falling and falling…and like the rain, the story kept going and going and…well, you get the idea. This one ran the gamut with me, good and bad. Resurrection is listed as a Zombie Epic and you better believe it when they say epic. The problem was that it was too epic. You may wonder, “is that even possible?”and the answer is yes. Resurrection needed editing in the worst way. It suffers from a bloated mass of verbiage. If an editor had come along and slashed a good 300 pages from this tome, the story would’ve been a much tighter and fun read. Now, don’t get me wrong. There is some really good stuff in Resurrection, but the reader was constantly assaulted by the same descriptions of the constant rain falling and the smell of the zombies. I bet the reference to something being “putrid” was used at least 50 times. After a while, it begins to feel like you’ve read it before and you want to scream “I get it! They fucking stunk to high heaven. Now get on with the damn story!!” The other thing that kept becoming a sore spot with Resurrection was all of the grammatical errors. Usually, I’m pretty forgiving for a misspelled word here and awkward sentence structure there. If you’ve ever read any of my reviews, I can be a little light on the proofreading at times. But, this was so often that it became quite distracting. So, yes, an editor was sorely needed for Resurrection.

OK. Let’s get on with the review. In the river valley of a small Wisconsin town, it begins to rain endlessly for days on end. Within this rainy period, there comes a few mysterious showers that are yellow and anyone that gets caught in the dreaded yellow rains gets eaten away and dissolved as if it was pure hydrochloride acid. With the endless torrential rains, the river breaks its banks and the town is flooded. So much so, that the local graveyard, located on a hill, is washed away like a sand castle during high tide. And wouldn’t you know it, there’s something about the rain that makes all of those people, that have been laid to rest, get up and start coming after the town folks that haven’t evacuated the flooded city. Enter our likable heroes, Mitch and Tommy. A couple of regular Joes that you instantly feel like you know. Mitch is looking for his daughter, Chrissy, who went off to the mall and hasn’t come home yet. As you can imagine, the shit hits the fan and the zombies start doing what zombies do. But Curran’s zombies are a little bit different. There are some that are mindless killers, while others seem to have some intelligence (and speed). Another trait that I liked was that bullets to the head didn’t take these guys out, but they discover that salt does. Kinda cool. It also seems that our heroes figure that the explosion at the nearby military base is responsible for all the mayhem. Now it’s up to Mitch and Tommy to save the town.

Resurrection has some great ideas inside it. Curran knows how to develop realistic characters that are easily identifiable. Along the way, Resurrection felt quite a bit like the bastard child of Stephen King’s It and The Stand. The biological weapon gone wrong and threatening to destroy mankind. Also, the main antagonist was an evil clown that I couldn’t help but compare with Pennywise. How could you not? One more thing – the salt. Our heros discover that salt is the key to killing the walking dead, not guns. So, you’d think they’d be smart and use what works. Nope. They kept shooting and blasting away throughout the story even though they knew that guns were pretty much ineffective. Again, I had a hard time not screaming at the pages when I would read this. Use the damn salt, you dumbasses!

So, to paraphrase Dickens, It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. And that’s pretty much Resurrection in a nutshell. There’s some really good stuff, but oh what it could’ve been if only there was an editor.

3 putrid corpses out of 5
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In Perpetuity – Tim Lebbon

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The latest from Tim Lebbon, In Perpetuity, is a murky fantasy tale cloaked with shades of horror. A father and his son, Sammy, enter a strange store that they’ve never seen before. Inside, Sammy is taken away by a man that goes by the moniker, The Keeper, and demands that the father go out and find him proof of love, if he ever wants his son back. The Keeper has a strange collection in his mysterious store – a saber-toothed tiger pacing in a cage, Kennedy’s smashed skull, Hitler’s testicle, etc – and he want to add to it by forcing people to go out and bring him whatever rare oddity he desires.

In what sounds like a promising premise, is anything but. In a feigned attempt at trying to create a profound story about how a father’s love knows no boundaries when it comes to saving his son, Lebbon delivers a half-baked fantasy tale that comes across as muddy, unclear, and hard to swallow. On top of it all, this one needs some serious editing because there are grammatical errors all over the place. I’ve enjoyed other Lebbon stories. Unfortunately, I can’t put In Perpetuity among them.

2 Green Men out of 5
* I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
You can also read my other reviews and author interviews at:

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