Wrathbone and Other Stories – Jason Parent

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This is my second read of Jason’s and this one is a short story collection. Without further ado, here we go:

Wrathbone-

The “title track” of this collection and it’s an eerie display of watching a man sink deeper and deeper into madness. What makes this story even more unsettling is that it’s based of true historical facts. Henry Rathbone was indeed a major in the Union army. He, and his wife Clara, were the guests of President Lincoln and his wife attending the play at the Ford theater where Lincoln was fatally shot. Rathbone did suffer from extreme guilt and eventually went mad from not being able to prevent the assassination of the president. This is Parent’s imagining of what went on in Rathbone’s mind after that fateful night. Impressive.

4 out of 5 stars
The Only Good Lawyer –

Bradley is a scum bag lawyer. A damn good one and he defends other scum bags for obscene amounts of money with no conscience hampering his ability to defend these lowlives. He gets a taste of his own medicine when a victim’s father takes the stand. A fun ride that you know where it is leading, but still love the ride.

5 out of 5 stars
Dorian’s Mirror –

What if your looks were what made you a success and defined you? What if every mirror you now gazed in reflected you as hideous and aging more every time you looked into it? For Dorian, the mirror was his best friend. Now it is his enemy.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars
For The Birds –

Nev’s parrot has a peculiar craving. One warped story that is guaranteed to make you cringe!

4 out of 5 stars
Revenge is a Dish –

Maurice is hired to be a chef aboard a private yacht. Everything was going great until Maurice gets caught sampling the owner’s wife’s goodies. Oops. So what do you do with a guy when you’re out in the middle of a vast ocean and days away from any land? Well, for Maurice, he gets tossed in the drink wearing nothing but his skivvies in shark infested waters. Needless to say, Maurice isn’t in good mood after he’s been floating on life ring for days fighting for his life. The only thing that keeps him going is his burning desire to enact revenge. Pass the salt, please.

5 out of 5 stars

Parent keeps getting better and better. There were 3 absolute gems out of this collection and, overall, there wasn’t a clunker in the batch. That’s saying a lot. His writing style is fluid and easy to read with an impressive vocabulary without being pretentious. I’m a reader and I read many books. It’s been a month since I finished Wrathbone and these stories are still clearly tattooed in my brain. That’s the sign of a good writer.
Overall – 4 1/2 President’s Friends with Blood on their Clothes out of 5

 

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https://kenmckinley.wordpress.com

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Renovation – Sara Brooke

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The Brennier family have moved from their Miami digs to small town, northern Florida hamlet of Oak Shade. Soon after Mikey and his wife Barbara move into their new house, it starts raining and the roof starts leaking. Ah, the joys of being a new homeowner. As Mikey is out looking up at his roof, a construction van stops by and two greasy, non-assuming guys hop out and offer their services. Mikey, not wanting the damage to get worse, takes the guys up on their offer. Guess he should’ve checked some references first. All hell breaks loose as soon as the guys start work. The leaks get worse, mold is found, cockroaches, and Barbara starts acting funny and smelling like the stinky construction guys. Not good.

Renovation is my first read of Sara Brooke and it comes off as the bastard child of John Saul and a bad Lifetime movie. The beginning was so painful to read that I almost quit a few chapters in. Then it started getting better to only get ridiculous at the end. In fact, the story should’ve ended at 90%, but then it started all over again for no apparent reason. The dialogue was clunky and amateurish, especially when Brooke tried to ladle on the numerous sex scenes. In, what I take was her attempt at titillation, came out embarrassing to read. The same way it’s embarrassing listening to someone that thinks they’re a great singer and they end up sounding like a cat yowling on a fence.

It’s really too bad that I can’t give a better review. There’s actually a good premise here. The story had the makings of a horror tale out of the 80’s, like what J.N. Williamson used to write, and thats a good thing. Unfortunately, instead of fleshed out characters, we were given paper-thin ones that were amazingly unrealistic, bad dialogue, and horrible descriptions of sex scenes.
2 1/2 Goat-headed Devils out of 5
You can also follow my reviews at the following links:

https://kenmckinley.wordpress.com

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The Jack in the Green – Frazer Lee

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Mild-mannered Tom McRae keeps having the same night terrors over and over. He keeps reliving that horrific morning when he was six and his parents were brutally murdered. His wife isn’t able to provide any relief. She’s trying to recover from her own nightmare of having a miscarriage and is in a semi-catatonic state from all of the meds she’s on. Tom’s boss sends him to Scotland to secure a large tract of land to be used in extracting biofuels. The small village of Douglass isn’t too keen on the idea of someone coming in and hacking down all of their trees. They still cling to pagan rituals and celebrate their holidays, such as Samhain. On top of that, a group of hippy protestors also have a beef with the whole thing. Last, but certainly not least, Tom is stuck with his overbearing and obnoxious co-worker, Dieter along for the ride. Tom’s nightmares begin to spill over into his time in Douglass when he’s not sleeping and he begins to question his sanity. Is Douglass more than it appears or is Tom losing his mind?

Frazer Lee slowly unravels this tale with a sophisticated voice and a nice vocabulary. Tom seems like a sad sack that you can’t quite put your finger on whats going on. This was turning out to be a solid 4-star read before it ground to a halt towards the end and then the “tie-it-all-together” ending felt too rushed to me. Almost as if the story ran out and there wasn’t a better way to explain things, so lets just throw all our cards down and show you our hand. Or, I wonder if this story suffered from the dreaded editors knife in an attempt to keep it under so many words for the publisher. This dropped it down to a 3 1/2 stars for me. Other than that, Lee can write his ass off. I have no doubt I’ll be reading much more from the Brit. Theres a reason he was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award. In The Jack in the Green, you can see why.

3 1/2 Jack and Jills out of 5
You can also follow my reviews at the following links:

https://kenmckinley.wordpress.com

http://intothemacabre.booklikes.com

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5919799-ken-mckinley