Tag Archives: Horror Fiction Review

Exorcist Falls – Jonathan Janz

IMG_0417

 

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.
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

Emerging (Book Two, Subdue series) – Thomas S. Flowers

IMG_0414

 

Book 2 of the Subdue series, Emerging, picks up where Dwelling (book 1) left off. The remaning members of the Suicide Squad are holding on by a thread. Johnathan is still haunted by his dead friend and has turned to the bottle to cope with it all while his marriage crumbles. Jake is losing his faith and is about to lose his job as a priest. Bobby is still homeless running away from the evil that he becomes every 30 days when the moon is full. And Maggie, poor sweet Maggie. For reasons unkown to her, she is compelled to purchase a house in Jotham that her and the other members of the Suicide Squad visited when they were kids. Also unknown to her, and the rest of the Squad, is why they all can’t remember the horrors that happened to them when they entered the house so many years ago. With every member’s sanity teetering on the edge, Maggie gets ahold of them and requests that they all come visit her at the Jotham house. Unfortunately, the evil that they can’t seem to remember still resides in that house on top of the hill and it’s waiting.

Emerging is more of the same good formula that made Dwelling such a page turner. The characters are realistic and flawed. Flowers’ descriptive storytelling has me feeling like I’m the sixth member of the Suicide Squad, but I’m stuck watching the horror unfold and there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it to warn the others. That’s good stuff. The slow burn writing style reminds me of Charles L. Grant, and that’s not a bad thing. Some might say that the story bogs down in the middle with not much going on and they wouldn’t be completely wrong, but I’m ok with it. Again, I like how Flowers builds things up in anticipation of the payday at the end. Also, some might say that Emerging can be read by itself without reading book one, Dwelling, and I would disagree. Sure, you COULD do it, but why would you want to? This is a three-part story and you’d be coming in at the middle without fully knowing what happened to lead up to book two. No thank. I’m fully vested in this series and you should be too. If you haven’t read book one, do it. And once you’re done, grab Emerging and keep immersed in the horrors that the Suicide Squad have fallen into.
4 1/2 Red Eyed Demon Cicadas out of 5
I received this ARC 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

Highwayman – Craig Saunders

img_0409

 

I admit it. When it comes to my reading, I’m a completionist. For better or for worse, I finish what I start. I can’t remember the last time that my little idiosyncrasy has bitten me in the butt as hard as it did when I read Craig Saunder’s Highwayman. So many times I wanted to quit this mismashed bore of a story. But no. I trudged on through the mud of staccato bursts of sentences, multiple points of view storytelling that seemed to lead to nowhere, and a hazy plot that was about as entertaining as watching metal rust. Was it all bad? Not totally, but close. There were, indeed, parts where he’d get the ball rolling and I’d start to get into it only to come to a screeching halt and a new chapter of mundane happenings would be in front of me. I’m sure there’s a decent story somewhere in Highwayman. Maybe I don’t get what Saunders was trying to create. But, what I read a tedious lesson in patience with no payout for my troubles. Sorry, but I can’t recommend Highwayman to anyone.

2 Talking Deer out of 5
This ARC was provided by NetGalley 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 Lost – Jack Ketchum

img_0384

Right off the bat, The Lost starts with a bang (pardon the pun). Ray was a nutcase when he was a teenager and blew two girls away that were camping. His two friends, Tim and Jennifer, were sheep when they watched him do it and just stood there with their mouths open. They didn’t turn him in. They didn’t try to stop him. Nothing. Why did he do it? Just to see how it felt. Four years later, Ray is still just as big of a nutcase. The only difference is that he hasn’t killed anyone in those four years since. Tim and Jennifer are still the loyal sheep that follow Ray’s every move without question. The police were unable to pin the murders on Ray, but the officers on duty, Charlie and Ed, knew damn well that Ray did it. However, they didn’t have the proof the bust him. So, for 4 years, he walked a free man. But four years is a long time and Ray has never had anyone push his buttons to see what he would really do if his temper reached critical mass…until now.

The Lost is a fantastic tale told in Ketchum’s patented straight-forward way. He captures small town America. The characters are amazingly realistic and feel like you know someone exactly like them. When I say Ray is a nutcase, I mean it. On the surface, to the people that don’t really know him, he only seems like a harmless hood. But his evil is constantly simmering under a lid that is barely on and just waiting to go flying off. Those are the scariest kind of monsters. Realistic and unassuming until one day…BLAM! Ketchum does an amazing job ratcheting up the dread until the final act. If you haven’t read Ketchum yet, this one isn’t a bad one to start off with. Pick it up. You won’t be disappointed.

 

4 1/2 Bullets through the Eye 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

Savages – Greg Gifune

image

 

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
You can also follow my reviews at the following links:

https://kenmckinley.wordpress.com

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

http://www.amazon.com/gp/profile/A2J1JOKW56F2YT

Resurrection – Tim Curran

image

 

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
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

In Perpetuity – Tim Lebbon

image

 

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:

https://kenmckinley.wordpress.com

http://intothemacabre.booklikes.com

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