Infestation – William Meikle

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Meikle really is a maestro of fear. He knows how to add just the right notes, when to increase the tempo, when to crescendo to a furious pace, all while captivating his audience with a perfect production. Infestation has everything I love in a read. A tight plot. Interesting and believable characters. Realistic dialogue that flows easily without feeling forced. All the right notes.

A Russian ship is reported being in the Arctic in waters where it’s not supposed to be. A Scottish special force unit is deployed to investigate. What they find is more horrific than they can imagine. Big beastie isopods have been released from the depths below…and they are hungry. They’ll eat through wood, metal, and FLESH!

Infestation is a fun, quick romp that you’ll furiously turn page after delicious page. Big beastie horror seems to be all the rage right now. Unfortunately, very few authors seem to know how to do it right. They need to take lessons from Meikle. He’s at the top of his class.

 

4 1/2 Fluorescent Green Veins out of 5

 

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Halloween Carnival Volume Three

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The third installment in the Halloween Carnival series. McBride’s is the anchor in this installment, but newcomers, Armstrong and Grant, give nice little additions as well. Let’s get right into them:

 

The Way Lost – Kelley Armstrong

Every year, in the town of Franklin, a child disappears. No one talks about it and everyone goes about their business. Dale Tucker knows what happens. Or does he?
A fun tale of small town legend meets reality.

4.5 out of 5 stars

 

La Calavera – Kate Maruyama

A roommate is a little too obsessive over her friend getting a boyfriend and moving on with her life. An okay story that you knew how it was going to end long before it did.

3 out of 5 stars

 

The Devil’s Due – Michael McBride

The small town of Pine Springs, CO has enjoyed over a century of prosperity. On Halloween, it’s time to pay for that prosperity. But this Halloween, Thom isn’t willing to pay the price. Great story telling that only McBride can do.

5 out of 5 stars

 

A Thousand Rooms of Darkness – Taylor Grant

Anne suffers from a debilitating phobia of Halloween. Her family members were killed in freak accidents, all on the October 31st. She decides to move to Colorado for a fresh start, but the holiday is fast approaching. Bad stuff starts happening and Anne is slowly consumed with dread. The story seemed slow until the ending which brought a whole new light to the tale. Loved it’s uniqueness.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

 

The Last Night of October – Greg Chapman

An elderly invalid anxiously awaits the nightmare from his past to visit his door on Halloween. Oh where to start with this one? Let me start by saying that I think this was a decent story. It had many elements that I would’ve enjoyed a whole lot more if the delivery was better. Let me explain. First, Chapman didn’t do his homework with his dates. If you’re going to do a flashback to a bygone era, get the information right. When he goes back to set up how Gerald’s loathing of Halloween came to be, he uses the year 1952. He then goes on to describe Gerald’s new friend wearing a Minnesota Twins hat. The old Washington Senators didn’t relocate to Minnesota and become the Twins until 1961. He then describes how the neighbor boys talked back and forth between their bedrooms with walkie talkies. Those types of wireless walkie talkies weren’t available until the 1960s. The ones from the early 1950s had wires that connected to them and didn’t use antennas. If it were only those two items, I’d still think the story was sloppy, but I could still overlook it. What I can’t overlook is the dialogue between the characters. In the beginning, Gerald and Kelli were at each other’s throats. Gerald was the crotchety old man that just wanted her out of the house. Then, once they’re trapped, he immediately calms down and begins talking completely calm to her which leads into him spilling his guts to let the reader in on the backstory. Again, sloppy delivery. There was such an abrupt shift in his disposition that my suspension of disbelief crashed and it could never get back on track. This was only one example of the many times this happened and it made what had the makings of a really fun story. To me, a story like this that has so much potential but doesn’t deliver is much more frustrating than a story that completely stinks with very little redeeming qualities.

2 out of 5 stars

 

Overall, a decent collection marred by a couple of clunkers. Still worth picking up, if only for McBride’s tale.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

 

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The Girl Next Door – Jack Ketchum

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Ketchum was a man way ahead of his time. In 1989, he wrote The Girl Next Door. There was nothing on the shelves remotely like it by other authors. There was nothing as brutal, as gut-wrenching, or emotionally draining as The Girl Next Door. This kind of fiction wouldn’t see the light of day for another 10-20 years and no one has done it as well as Ketchum did almost 30 years ago.

Meg and her sister Susan’s parents are killed in an automobile accident. They come to live next door to 12-year old David. Ruth, a single-mom whose rough-around-the-edges demeanor always made her home inviting to David and his peers. You could sneak a beer, take a drag off a cigarette and she wouldn’t care. When the girls move in, David begins to have a crush on Meg. But as time passes, it is apparent that all is not well in the household. Meg begins to confide in David of Ruth abusing her. David can’t believe it. Ruth? The mom that was so fun to be around? Soon David discovers that the stories are true and they’re only the beginning of a long, downward spiral into horrific abuse and madness, and all he can do is watch it unfold in front of his very eyes.

The Girl Next Door is loosely based off a true story that took place in 1965. Just knowing that makes the world seem like a darker place. These types of stories weren’t told on the news back then like they are now. This was a time where skeletons were kept in the closet and people turned a blind eye from things they deemed to be “none of their business”. Ketchum’s story has a twisted, Lord of the Flies quality to it. Adults were trusted by children to always be right and do the right thing back then. Watching the children join in on Ruth’s madness towards the girls twists your guts with a chef’s knife. You can’t look away and just when you think it can’t get any worse…well, I’m sure you can finish that sentence yourself. The Girl Next Door is a story that will haunt me for the rest of my life. It’s that powerful.

 

5 Steel Doored Torture Chambers out of 5

 

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Episodes of Violence – David Bernstein

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I absolutely blew through Bernstein’s Episodes of Violence. I literally couldn’t put it down. There was just something about this tale that sickened me and rocked me to my core. After taking some time between finishing it and writing this review, I believe it’s simply that the story of these teenage losers going around and systematically killing for fun felt way too real. We all know kids like this. No, not necessarily first-hand knowledge that the scumbags across the street are offing random people. It’s more like that you could see these kids fly under the radar because people don’t necessarily notice them. They’re undesirables, loners, not someone that the masses pay attention to. Bernstein uses this to his advantage and paints a picture that hits a little too close to home. A little too real. A little too believable. That’s the beauty of Episodes of Violence. Be prepared to be uncomfortable when you read EoV. Be prepared to look at your neighbor kids across the street with a little more scrutiny. Are they just a bunch of misfit potheads that raise a little hell or is there more too them? You might want to make sure the doors are locked, just to be on the safe side.

 

5 Bashed Mailboxes out of 5

 

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Something Violent – Kristopher Rufty

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Dr Phil meets Natural Born Killers. Sound like an odd combination? It totally works in Rufty’s Something Violent. When Jody and Seth are out on their killing sprees, they are all business. But their marriage has hit the rocks. Where do the serial killers turn to when they can’t fix their marriage on their own? They kidnap the famous marriage counselor to the stars, Ron McClure. Ron isn’t the first man to fall victim to Jody flaunting her lucious body in public. Too bad he didn’t see the taser she had hidden under her skirt. No he finds himself knocked unconscious, shoved in a trunk, and wakes up ducttaped to a chair in some unknown basement. When you counsel Hollywood’s elite, you come across some crazy clientele. But nothing could have prepared him for Seth and Jody.

Something Violent worked for me. The premise is just crazy enough to make you shake your head, but Rufty plays the whole thing straight and makes the streaks of black comedy work. As the demented couple unfurl their story to the counselor, the human element comes through. Sure they’re warped as it gets, but in a very odd way, you start to feel for them, care about them. That’s what makes the whole thing work. If all they are is monsters kidnapping a doctor, all you would have is the shock value without any substance. Rufty shows how nutcase like Seth and Jody can be three dimensional. Brilliant. Kudos to Rufty for making this a fun, page-turner.

 

4.5 Purple Wigs out of 5

 

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