Tag Archives: Horror

Exorcist Falls – Jonathan Janz

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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:

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Take The Long Way Home – Brian Keene

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During rush hour traffic, a loud trumpet sound blats across the landscape with ear-deafening volume. Auto accidents, plane crashes, and fires ensue. For a carpooling foursome, they end up as one of the casualties and after the dust settles, they find their driver with half his head missing due to a length of pipe from the truck ahead of them poking through the windshield and shearing off his cranium. Now Steve, Charlie, and Frank are trying to shake off the shock of what happened and make their way home. They discover that, when the trumpet sounded, people all across the world disappeared. Where they went, no one knows, but many different rumors are being circulated. As the trio attempts to stumble home, they learn about the duality of man’s behavior during a crisis in an up front and personal way.

Take The Long Way Home is Keene’s version of a what might happen on Judgement Day. It blends King’s The Long Walk with the Bible and makes for an enjoyable read. As always with Keene, it’s about the characters, and he drafts very personable ones. The journey is worth the price of admission here and the unsettling feeling of nervousness of what is lurking around the next mile marker is thick, making this a real pager turner.

4 Guardian Angels out of 5
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Blue Demon – David Bernstein

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The Blue Demon is a cartoon character that Dan used to watch when he was a child. The cartoon only lasted three years, but when he stumbled upon the series many years later, he immediately wanted to share it with his son, Cal. Cal loved it and this became something that father and son could bond over. The Blue Demon exacted revenge on the enemies of those it protected, at least that’s how story goes. The rumor has it that the Blue Demon legend was around long before the cartoon came out. So, when Dan happens to find a limited edition Blue Demon action figure from back in the day, little did he know how true the legend was.

Bernstein’s story reads like an episode of Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories from back in the Eighties, except this one has teeth…and claws. He does a nice job keeping the story moving without becoming too hokey. The plight of Cal growing up is one that’ll tug on your heart strings and that breathes life into a story that you can figure out fairly easy what the outcome will be. With Bernstein’s wonderful characterization, you won’t care because the fun was in the journey and not the destination.

4 Amputations out of 5

This ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.
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Emerging (Book Two, Subdue series) – Thomas S. Flowers

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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.

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Interview with Kristin Dearborn

In the last year, Kristin Dearborn has quickly climbed up my horror ladder and now resides with some pretty impressive distinguished authors. Her residence in the horror penthouse is well deserved. Whispers and Stolen Away were two of my favorite reads of 2016 and this year looks like she won’t be letting off the throttle. Thats great news for us horror fans. If you haven’t had the pleasure to read any of her spine-tinglers, here’s your invitation. Kristin brings her stories to life with some of the most amazingly realistic characters you’ll ever come across on the written page. Dearborn doesn’t give you perfectly chiseled “super-hero” types who don’t have a care in the world. Hers are flawed, gritty, and multi-faceted, just like how life is, and it makes her stories come alive. When I had the opportunity to interview this amazing, up-and-coming talent, I couldn’t resist. Here she is…Kristin Dearborn.

Lets get the vitals out of the way –

Name: Kristin Dearborn
DOB: August 3, 1982
Birthplace: Augusta Maine
City of Residence: Burlington, VT
Marital Status: Lone Wolf
Children: One spoiled white furry dog
Pets: See above

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Into The Macabre: When did you first start writing?

Kristin Dearborn: Before I could write, I would dictate stories to my mother, then illustrate them. As a kid I dabbled in sequels to my favorite animated movies (All Dogs go to Heaven II). From there, I moved on to my own works.

ITM: What drew you to horror? What/Who were your inspirations?

KD: My parents had a fair number of horror novels around the house growing up. In 1990, for Christmas, my Mom bought my Dad a copy of Jurassic Park and I devoured first that, then most of the rest of what Crichton had written at the time. From there, I graduated to Dean Koontz, and once I’d chewed through most of his catalog, Stephen King. I was pretty young when I got an adult library card, and although my folks were pretty strict on what movies I could watch, books were fair game.

ITM: Describe the process it took for you to become published.

KD: In 2008 I started the masters program at Seton Hill University, and there I really learned the nuts and bolts of what it takes to polish a story. From there I was able to look at markets with a more critical eye, and make my first short story sale. I firmly believe who you know is 60% of the publication process, so remember that and always be nice to everyone in the genre.

ITM: If you could turn back the hands of time and go back, what about the publishing process would you do differently?

KD: Hmmm…interesting question. I’d say nothing, because it’s all gotten me where I am. I will say it’s time for me to get serious about looking for a literary agent.

ITM: They say its not about what you know but who you know. Would you agree with this statement? Who helped you along the way and what did they do?

KD: The connections I made at Seton Hill University have been invaluable. In that program students are matched with two mentors who are writers working in their genre. One of my mentors connected my thesis novel with a publisher, and it became my first novel released. Another sale came as a result of a drunken 2am conversation at World Horror Convention. An author I admired introduced me to his publisher, who liked the idea of my book, and the rest was history.

ITM: What would you say are the biggest challenges you face today as a writer?

KD: Time management, for sure. It’s hard to keep the bills paid and play as much as I like to and still write books. I feel like it comes and goes, sometimes I feel like I have a handle on it, other times, not so much.

ITM: What role has social media played in your successes?

KD: I think it’s helped. Working with a publicist who is actually social media savvy has been huge. My social media strategy is basically just to be nice to everyone and to not talk a lot about my books—probably I should do it more than I do. For all its downfalls, it’s a great place to stay connected to the writer tribe, many are scattered across the country and the globe.

ITM: Many readers are introduced to new authors through sites such as Goodreads. Have you explored Goodreads and what would you say is your level of interaction on there?

KD: I used to do a lot more with it than I do now. I’ll occasionally pop over to say hi, but haven’t been really locked in with it as of late.

ITM: Your latest, Whispers, is a gripping read that blends nicely the Lovecraft foundation with realistic and modern characters. How did this story come about?

KD: I think HPL has great ideas, but I often find his execution falls flat (except for “Color Out of Space,” which I think is his best work). I’ve been drawn to “Whisperer in Darkness” because it’s set here in Vermont. During my most recent read-through, I got thinking about the very destructive flooding that came about after hurricane Irene in 2011, the heroin epidemic which has taken root in Vermont, and GLBTQ rights. I wanted to make it more than just a story about a shut in and the Mi-Go, but something that pulled in issues that are very real to my adopted home state today.

ITM: One of the things that I’ve noticed with Whispers, as well as your previous story, Stolen Away, is that you use gritty characters that don’t have a lot going for them and you make them rise up to the challenges that face them. Is this a conscious effort on your part?

KD: Heroic heroes like Superman don’t interest me. I like a little grit to them, more along the lines of the Losers Club from It or Lehane’s Patrick Kenzie. Flaws make the character, and watching these types power through being dealt a crummy hand and come out victorious on the other side makes for a much more rewarding read. It’s a problem I’ve had with Dean Koontz’s books…his heroes are so squeaky clean. There’s no meat on those bones. I feel like one of the most fantastic character arcs in pop culture, and one that inspired Whispers and Stolen Away both is that of Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad. Over five seasons we watched him go from entitled little shit to becoming a person we could admire (if we admire drug lords—which, you know, sometimes you do).

ITM: You’re starting to rack up an impressive catalogue of books. I know it’s like asking which one of your children is your favorite, so I’ll try to do it in a different way. Which story of yours do you recommend to someone that has never read your work and why?

KD: I’m going to give a TOTAL cheat answer and say my favorite is a novelette called “Jackson House” which isn’t out yet but likely will be in 2017. As for a recommendation of where to start, I think my winter tale Woman in White is a great starting place. There’s a monster, a fun cast of characters, and a blizzard.

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ITM: Some writers have to follow a strict routine and can only create while writing in their special designated area on a set schedule. Others drag a laptop around with them and take advantage of any free moment their day may present.. Give me a breakdown of your day and how you create the next Kristin Dearborn masterpiece.

KD: I like to write first thing in the morning, but as of late, that’s not been happening. If I don’t get it out of the way first thing, the need to write hangs over me like a little dark storm cloud, and on days when it doesn’t happen, I feel guilty and crappy. If I don’t kick it off first thing, either in bed or from my desk, always on a laptop, then I wind up trying to shoehorn it in later in the day.

ITM: Stephen King has the spooky house in Bangor surrounded by the wrought iron fence with gargoyles on it. Do you have anything crazy at your house that makes your neighbors clutch their children when they see you coming?

KD: Here’s a little corner of my kitchen: I have a knife block that is shaped like a person and the knives are all impaling him. There are also pictures of Cthulhu and ravens on the wall.

ITM: Nice! I love the knife block. I need to get me one of those! What are you reading these days?

KD: I’m on a bit of a sci fi kick these days. I’m almost done both the 6th book in James S. A. Corey’s Expanse series, Babylon’s Ashes, and the Star Wars novel Bloodline by Claudia Gray. Bloodline is a Leia-centric story which is bittersweet to read after Carrie Fisher’s death. The Expanse is a kick ass Space Opera series with some fantastic characters and settings. Highly recommend.

ITM: Your Top 5 horror movies?

KD: This is such a fun question… Alien, The Thing, Rosemary’s Baby, Blair Witch Project, The Loved Ones and one more bonus on, the French Romanian film Them(Ils)

ITM: Do you do horror conventions? What’s your thoughts on those?

KD: I do a good number of horror conventions. My favorite is NECON, which is less like a horror convention and more like summer camp with some people who happen to write horror. The horror community is a wonderful, tightly knit group of people, especially at NECON, and each time I arrive in Bristol, RI, it’s like I’m at a family reunion. I’ve gone to many World Horror Conventions, and made some fantastic connections there. I love getting to see different cities in different parts of the country, and exploring them with my horror friends. I attended the first ever StokerCon in Las Vegas last year, which was a great con, but for me totally overshadowed by LAS VEGAS! I think there’s a lot of valuable networking that happens at horror cons, the sense of community is huge and affirming, and they almost always stoke my creative fires. However I’m awful at getting out beyond my little cliques and meeting new people, because I’m so excited to see the folks I only see once or twice a year. You can treat them like a horror themed vacation, or a real working event, and to do the latter one must be pretty deliberate and intentional. I try for a blend, sometimes I do better than others.

ITM: What can us fans expect coming down the pike in 2017 and beyond?

KD: More horror! The aforementioned “Jackson House” should be coming out this year, as well as a few short stories. I have a few completed first drafts tucked up my sleeve and am working on a novella about a haunted woman. Y’all haven’t seen the last of me yet!

ITM: I’m really looking forward to your new one coming out. Thanks again. I really appreciate you letting me grill you for my blog and look forward to chatting with you in the future. Take care, my friend.

Highwayman – Craig Saunders

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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.
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Dwelling (Book One of the Subdue series) – Thomas Flowers

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The Suicide Squad is the name a group of adolescents from the 90’s gave themselves after getting their hands on the comic book of the same name. Ricky, Maggie, Bobby, Jonathan, and Jake’s lives were changed forever that September morning when terrorists rammed their jetliners into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. Ignited by patriotic fever, the boy’s enlisted to go fight in the desert. Their lives would never be the same. Ricky is killed in combat, leaving his now wife, Maggie, all alone. Jonathan lost a leg in the same attack that killed Ricky and suffers from PTSD and guilt for not being able to save his friend. Heavy drinking doesn’t seem to help the PTSD or the haunting vision of the dark creature he saw just before rocket was fired at their Humvee. Bobby is now a homeless vet that brought back more than haunting memories, and it rears its ugly head when the moon is full. Jake is a minister that has lost his faith due to the nightmares that followed him back from Iraq. The war has shattered all of their lives and they can’t seem to deal with it on their own. But the remaining members of the Suicide Squad are being called back to a mysterious house on a remote Texas prairie in the small town of Jotham. Do the answers they seek to rid themselves of their nightmares reside in the house, or are their current nightmares just the tip of the iceberg to whats about to come?

First and foremost, Dwelling is Book One of a trilogy and it reads as such. If you’re trying to decide whether or not to give Dwelling a try based off of reviews like this one, keep that little nugget in mind. I’ve read a handful of reviews from people bitching that the writing was good but nothing was solved or wrapped up by the end of the book, therefore they hate the story. People, people. Do a little research. Yes, Dwelling is open ended. Yes, you’ll have to continue to read the rest of the series to find out what happens. That’s why they call it a trilogy. Why am I ranting here? Because, I think that Flower’s has received some very unfair (and very silly) criticism for the way he wrote Dwelling. Look. It’s a very good book. The writing and pacing is amazingly mature for a newer author. The characters are well fleshed out and their problems that center around PTSD and loss from the war makes for a compelling read. The fact that Flowers is a vet himself comes through nicely in his writing. It adds that dose of realism that many authors lack when they write about a place that they’ve never been to. Dwelling is shadowy and haunting that feels all to real when you’re reading it. Yeah, there’s some shades of Stephen King’s It permeating through the story, but show me a chilling, coming-of-age tale that you can’t compare to It? There’s definitely a nod to King, but Dwelling is definitely it’s own monster. I’m looking forward to jumping into Book 2 – Emerging – and continuing the saga of The Suicide Squad. Won’t you join me?
4 1/2 Rocket Launchers 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

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