Category Archives: Horror Review

Relic of Death – David Bernstein

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When two mafia hit men have their luxury SUV breakdown in rural upstate NY after disposing of a body, they come upon a house on a dirt lane. They beat on the door to no avail. No one is home. The door is reinforced and won’t budge. They try to shoot their way in. No dice. They end up bludgening the door open with the blunt end of a splitting maul. Once inside, they find a safe that is just begging to be cracked. Inside, they find only a briefcase. However, this briefcase is full of diamonds. What the hit men thought was their lucky day only turns out to be the beginning of death and destruction for all who possess the briefcase.

Bernstein takes us down a rabbit hole where the naughty briefcase goes from person to person in a roller coaster ride of mayhem that will remind you of shades of the Twilight Zone, Tales From the Darkside, and Friday the 13th the Series. Great story and highly recommended.

4 1/2 Temptations out of 5.
You can also follow my reviews at the following links:

https://kenmckinley.wordpress.com

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Vicki Beautiful – Somer Canon

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Brynn and Sasha, along with their spouses, head to Vicki’s beautiful home to celebrate, with her and her husband, Vicki’s 40th birthday and that she’s cancer free. The house is immaculate, the table is set flawlessly, the food is done to perfection. All of this is to be expected. Vicki is known for her never ending quest for all thing in her life to be beautiful. What is it expected is her announcement that her cancer is back and that she doesn’t have very long to live. Even worse is what she asking her friends to do for her after she is gone.

Vicki Beautiful is the debut novel from Somer Canon and she shows promise in what could be a very nice writing career for her. With Vicki Beautiful, she seems to have carved out a story that could very well described as Glamour magazine meets American Psycho. I literally was gagging as Brynn and Sasha were struggling to honor their friend’s last wishes. My advice is to give the story a try and stick with it. The journey ends up being the shining star of the story and not necessarily the destination.

3 1/2 Leg of Vicki out of 5
** This ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review
You can also follow my reviews at the following links:

https://kenmckinley.wordpress.com

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

Nothing Lasting – Glen Krisch

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In 1984, Noah Berkley moves into his grandfather’s old house with his father following his parent’s divorce. Noah’s memories are clipped and fuzzy of the times he spent here while his grandfather was alive. He vaguely remembers Derek, the older boy that lives next door and whose mother is now dating Noah’s father. Noah is angry and spiteful over his father dragging him off to live here and now dating this other woman. His father his a firefighter who works various 24 hour shifts and one night while his father was at work, Derek pops in like him and Noah are best friends and whisks him away for what turns out to be a little nighttime mischief. With Derek as the ringleader, Noah winds up being along for the ride as Derek breaks into the neighbor’s house and trashes it. Witnessing Derek’s sudden transformation from average adolescent high jinx to out of control psycho plants the first seeds of loathing for him in Noah. Noah also meets Jenny Sparrow, the free-spirited girl next door, and love begins to blossom. All the while, children are going missing in the small town and paranoia starts to run deep amongst the residents as the police have no clue who is responsible. While Noah is going through this turbulent time in his life where his emotions are up and down like a never ending roller coaster, he also finds himself caught smack dab in the middle of a much darker and sinister events that will forever change his life.

Nothing Lasting is a wonderful coming-of-age story in the vein of Boy’s Life and The Body. Krisch excels at bringing you back to what it’s like to see with the eyes of a 12-year-old boy in 1984. The language, the setting, the feel of 1984 is spot on. We forget in today’s world what it was like to be a latch-key kid. Krisch reminds us perfectly. Nothing lasting has a nice, slow build-up reminiscent of Charles Grant’s work, too. This isn’t a story meant to bludgeon you over the head with non-stop horror with little substance. Oh contrare, the exact opposite. Krisch builds us up making us feel as if we’re in Noah’s shoes and by the time he drops the bomb on him, it feels as if we’re the ones caught in the crossfire. Highly recommended.

4 1/2 Juvenile Delinquints out of 5
** This ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review
You can also follow my reviews at the following links:

https://kenmckinley.wordpress.com

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

Blood Sacrifices -Brian Moreland

 

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Blood Sacrifices is my first introduction to Moreland’s work and what an introduction it was. Plain and simple, Blood Sacrifices is the best read I’ve read in years. It’s that good. Influences of McCammon and King drip from the pages. Moreland’s style is so easy and smooth to get immersed in. The characterization is impeccable. The dialogue is completely believable. The settings are layed out so vividly, you’d swear you were looking over the characters shoulders. Blood Sacrifices is comprised of a short story and three novellas. The short story, The Girl From The Blood Coven is actually a prelude into his novella The Witching House. Here’s my synopsis of each one:

The Girl From The Blood Coven –

The Girl from the Blood Coven is a short story prelude to Moreland’s excellent The Witching House and, in my opinion, should be read as such. Sure, you can read it on it’s own, but then you’d be missing out on a fantastic continuation that The Girl from the Blood Coven started. Why have just the appetizer when you can have the 7 course meal??
In 1972, a girl walks into a East Texas roadhouse bar covered in blood claiming that everyone in the hippy commune she was living in has been slaughtered. What the sheriff and his deputies find at the Blevins House is more horrific than they could ever have imagined.

Taste the hors d’oeurves and don’t stop there.

4 Blood-stained Tie Dyes out of 5
The Witching House –

Sarah has been dating Dean for 9 months now and it’s been nothing but one adventure after another. Dean and his friends are adrenaline junkies. This is all new to Sarah, but so far she’s been able to keep up. Now Dean and is friends are taking her on another action-packed weekend in the middle of nowhere East Texas. She learns that their latest adventure will be exploring the boarded up Blevins House. In 1972, the Blevins House was a hippy commune where a massacre occurred one night, killing almost thirty people under strange circumstances. The murders were never solved and the house has been vacant ever since. Dean has hooked up with a local named Ronnie online who has set the expedition up for them. The Blevins House is rumored to be haunted. But what lurks behind the walls isn’t what you would see on Ghost Hunters. Not even close.

Moreland creates a pulse-pounding read without falling into the old trappings of so many other stories that have young people in peril while being in an old house. The characters are three-dimensional and never feel cliched. The Witching House delivers the goods. Highly recommended.

5 Hanging Corpses out of 5
Darkness Rising –

Marty has been abused and ridiculed his whole life. His father murdered his mother when he was young. As a result, Marty was bounced around from foster home to foster home. Abused at each stop, Marty is a wreck emotionally and unable to share his true feelings. His only solace is in the poetry he composes in his journal, a present from his mother long ago. Working as a custodian at the local college, Marty meets Jennifer in one of the dorms that he cleans and offers his assistance when he discovers that she is struggling in Poetry and Literature. A friendship blossoms but Marty is too afraid to share his true feelings for Jennifer. Instead, he writes poems and goes to a desolate shore of one of the nearby lakes where he has pleasant memories of his mother bringing him there when he was a child. This becomes his special place where he can truly express his feelings and read his poems outloud to the empty lake. Then one day, he is attacked by three assailants who have gruesome plans for him. What they don’t know is that Marty has something special in store for them too.

Another great tale by Moreland who has quickly become my favorite discovery of 2016. He does a really nice job developing Marty into being a likable character without drifting into making him appear pathetic. The setting is vividly laid out so that you feel like you can see the lake, smell the air, and hear the screams. Highly recommended.

4 1/2 Snuff Films out of 5
The Vagrants –

I have quickly become a believer in Brian Moreland. The Vagrants is the final novella in his excellent collection, Blood Sacrifices. I’ll review The Vagrant’s here on it’s own merit and then in Blood Sacrifices as a whole with the other stories.

Daniel is a recent journalism grad from Dartmouth who wants to make a difference in the world. He assimilates himself among a camp of homeless underneath a bridge in Boston. With aspirations to understand them better and gather source material to write a book, Daniel is with them for six months. When a stranger named Mordecai enters the other side of the camp with tattoos all over his head and body preaching about the end being near, many in the camp are recruited to be his followers by what appears some sort of brainwashing. Mordecai attempts to “recruit” Daniel into his following and Daniel is only able to resist at the last second. He returns to his normal life, writes his book, and puts his past behind him. But his past isn’t done with Daniel. They have other plans for him.
Moreland writes a gripping tale that uses unique and seedy locations in Boston along with wonderfully lifelike characters that you care about to pull you in completely. The Vagrants is wildly imaginative with shades of Lovecraft that enhance an already wonderful story. Highly recommended reading.

5 All-Seeing Pineal Glands out of 5
All in all, pound for pound, you won’t find a better collection of tales out there. I rank this one right up there in the same hallowed ground as The Night Shift. Run, don’t walk, and get Blood Sacrifices now!

** This ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review

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

The Witching House – Brian Moreland

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Sarah has been dating Dean for 9 months now and it’s been nothing but one adventure after another. Dean and his friends are adrenaline junkies. This is all new to Sarah, but so far she’s been able to keep up. Now Dean and is friends are taking her on another action-packed weekend in the middle of nowhere East Texas. She learns that their latest adventure will be exploring the boarded up Blevins House. In 1972, the Blevins House was a hippy commune where a massacre occurred one night, killing almost thirty people under strange circumstances. The murders were never solved and the house has been vacant ever since. Dean has hooked up with a local named Ronnie online who has set the expedition up for them. The Blevins House is rumored to be haunted. But what lurks behind the walls isn’t what you would see on Ghost Hunters. Not even close.

Moreland creates a pulse-pounding read without falling into the old trappings of so many other stories that have young people in peril while being in an old house. The characters are three-dimensional and never feel cliched. The Witching House delivers the goods. Highly recommended.
5 Hanging Corpses out of 5
** This ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review
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

Darkness Rising – Brian Moreland

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Marty has been abused and ridiculed his whole life. His father murdered his mother when he was young. As a result, Marty was bounced around from foster home to foster home. Abused at each stop, Marty is a wreck emotionally and unable to share his true feelings. His only solace is in the poetry he composes in his journal, a present from his mother long ago. Working as a custodian at the local college, Marty meets Jennifer in one of the dorms that he cleans and offers his assistance when he discovers that she is struggling in Poetry and Literature. A friendship blossoms but Marty is too afraid to share his true feelings for Jennifer. Instead, he writes poems and goes to a desolate shore of one of the nearby lakes where he has pleasant memories of his mother bringing him there when he was a child. This becomes his special place where he can truly express his feelings and read his poems outloud to the empty lake. Then one day, he is attacked by three assailants who have gruesome plans for him. What they don’t know is that Marty has something special in store for them too.

Another great tale by Moreland who has quickly become my favorite discovery of 2016. He does a really nice job developing Marty into being a likable character without drifting into making him appear pathetic. The setting is vividly laid out so that you feel like you can see the lake, smell the air, and hear the screams. Highly recommended.

4 1/2 Snuff Films out of 5
** This ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review
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

The Vagrants – Brian Moreland

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I have quickly become a believer in Brian Moreland. The Vagrants is the final novella in his excellent collection, Blood Sacrifices. I’ll review The Vagrant’s here on it’s own merit and then in Blood Sacrifices as a whole with the other stories.

Daniel is a recent journalism grad from Dartmouth who wants to make a difference in the world. He assimilates himself among a camp of homeless underneath a bridge in Boston. With aspirations to understand them better and gather source material to write a book, Daniel is with them for six months. When a stranger named Mordecai enters the other side of the camp with tattoos all over his head and body preaching about the end being near, many in the camp are recruited to be his followers by what appears some sort of brainwashing. Mordecai attempts to “recruit” Daniel into his following and Daniel is only able to resist at the last second. He returns to his normal life, writes his book, and puts his past behind him. But his past isn’t done with Daniel. They have other plans for him.

Moreland writes a gripping tale that uses unique and seedy locations in Boston along with wonderfully lifelike characters that you care about to pull you in completely. The Vagrants is wildly imaginative with shades of Lovecraft that enhance an already wonderful story. Highly recommended reading.

5 All-Seeing Pineal Glands out of 5
** This ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review
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