<![CDATA[Ginger Nuts of Horror - BOOK REVIEWS]]>Fri, 22 Sep 2017 08:06:54 +0100Weebly<![CDATA[FICTION REVIEW SHRAPNEL APARTMENTS BY CHRIS KELSO]]>Fri, 22 Sep 2017 05:02:13 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/book-reviews/fiction-review-shrapnel-apartments-by-chris-kelsoBy Jim Mcleod 
Marillion once asked 

"Where are the prophets, where are the visionaries, where are the poets
To breach the dawn of the sentimental mercenary."

We live in a world  where, as the song title suggests, has gone totally FUGAZI . As consumers of art we  have fallen into the trap of settling for the safe and secure, a world where vanilla and magnolia artists are hailed as geniuses.  It is also a world where some of us strive instant fame no matter what the cost is.  Where are  the successors to Brett Easton Ellis, Irvine Welsh, Chuck Palanhuik, and Hunter S Thompson. Where are the writers who make us, as readers, challenge ourselves while they dissect the human condition, and the failings of a modern throw away pop culture, and instant fame-obsessed mentality?  

In a world where extreme ideologies sit side by side on the news with the vacuous modern celebrity culture, we need our prophets, poets and visionaries more than ever, luckily for us, we have writers like Chris Kelso ready to take up the mantle.  

Shrapnel Apartments  is the follow up to Kelso's excellent Unger House Radicals, which ended up being my top read of 2016.  Where Unger House Radicals challenged us to examine what we considered art with the use of his Ultra-Realism art movement of the two central protagonists, Shrapnel Apartments takes this one stage further and forces us to examine the almost animalistic urge for some of us to seek fame no matter what the cost to our souls will be.  Are we evil for desiring it, are we evil for watching others in their quest for it, or is the media who enable it evil?  

As with Unger House Radicals,  Shrapnel Apartments  has a complex and at times challenging narrative style.  This isn't a novel that you can read while something else is going on in the background.  And this is in no way meant as a criticism, as this is a book that rewards the reader who pays it full attention.  Narratively speaking it is as though Kelso has let off a literary grenade and allowed some of the shrapnel to embed itself onto the pages of this novel.  The fractured nature of the story unfolds from multiple personal stories, and while at first, they may seem unconnected and somewhat disorientating,  they entwine around each other with a brutal and majestic beauty to reveal a twisted tapestry of human nature.  

There are three main narrative threads in Shrapnel Apartments
Bobby Reilly, a corrupt cop who is even viler than the child-killer Beau Carson that he is relentlessly chasing.  Rielly is the pure distillation of every corrupt cop from Joe Cooper to the Bad Lieutenant himself, Rielly actions and appetites are so repugnant that you almost end up rooting for Carson.  

Then there is the neverending struggle of Florence Coffey, an eternal victim, destined to be used abused and tossed aside for all eternity.  It is here that Kelso's used of the shrapnel narrative shines the brightest, told from various first-person viewpoints while also throwing in such things as coroner reports, police statements and various other clever techniques.  It is as bold as it is brash, and it could so easily have come across as more style over substance. However in Kelso's more than capable hands this narrative thread becomes the main thrust of the stories look at the disposable nature of fame and lengths at which those who seek it will go to grab it is heartbreaking in its intensity.  

Finally, we have an almost humorous account of the fight between a pair of critics/ writers Gottlieb and Mancuso.  This section of the story is a darkly humorous look at the pointlessness of feuds, vendettas, and how media and those who we think of as friends can so easily manipulate the course of events.  In a genre that doesn't seem capable of going one day without some feud breaking out, Kelso looks at the futility of this will raise a sly chuckle on may a reader.  

Tying all of these shrapnel threads together is Black Cap and his apprentice King Misery, two possible supernatural or cosmic entities whose surreptitious machinations are behind everything that goes on in the book.  You can see Black Cap's  fingerprints all over the individual pieces of shrapnel, manipulating the lives of everyone for his own sneering entertainment.  Blackcaps disdain for humanity and his view that we are all insignificant is a perfect metaphor for the uncaring world around us.  As we strive to be noticed, endeavour to find fame and adulation, Black Cap and the world at large just views us like ants, completely insignificant, and worthless to those in charge.  

Shrapnel Apartments is a triumphant return to the world of Unger House Radicals, Kelso as carried over many of the themes and narrative styles that made the first book such a success and turned then up to eleven.  Kelso dares to make us step out of our comfort zone, dares us to pay attention for fear of missing a vital tidbit, and dares us to be repulsed at the dark nature that resides in all of us.  

Kelso forces us to lift our heads up and take a look at   "the Time-Life-Guardians in their conscience bubbles,  Cast adrift as their side-show, peepshow, we are drowning in the reel. He is a prophet and a visionary for our times.  

The limited hard cover of Shrapnel Apartments has sold out.  We will bring you full details of when the paperback and e-book are available .  In the meantime we highly recommend that you pick up unger housae radicals by clicking here 

related posts 

fiction review: unger house radicals by chris kelso 

THE DEATH NOTEBOOKS WOMEN'S IMPACT ON THE BLACK DOG EATS THE CITY BY  CHRIS KELSO

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<![CDATA[HORROR FICTION REVIEW: THE WARBLERS BY AMBER FALLON]]>Wed, 20 Sep 2017 03:33:22 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/book-reviews/horror-fiction-review-the-warblers-by-amber-fallonBY JOHN BODEN
Young Dell McDale has a problem, well a few. The biggest is the warblers that have made his family's shed their roost. What are Warblers,you ask, well they're nasty nuisance critters with wings and teeth.  His family is poor and they're under a lot of strain. Dell is walking that awkward line between childhood and manhood.  When his Pa makes a decision to get rid of the Warblers, Dell stays behind to help and things take a violent turn.  There are lessons in this short book. But what really makes it enjoyable is the voice.

I have read a lot of work from Amber Fallon, liked nearly all of it, but this book in particular is breakthrough. The voice she hits on and rides out is one of an emotional honesty that is on par with the best of the coming-of-age reads around. It harkens to early King or Lansdale, stippled in Bradbury and Jerome Bixby.  I adored it.  The mildly bizarro aspects of the story are well-handled and did nothing to jar the narrative.   I look forward to the next book from Amber, I think she's on the rise, and if she keeps the quality as high as she delivered here, I am positive she's a name we'll keep on hearing.

The Warblers is available from Eraserhead Press.
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After the sun would go down, I’d hear them out there, back by the shed, shrieking their twisted warbling cries out there in the night, followed by squeals of whatever prey they’d managed to hunt down.

When his rural farm becomes overrun with terrifying beasts called Warblers capable of eating livestock, dogs, and even people, 14-year-old Dell McDale’s life is torn asunder. He watches through the eyes of a boy on the verge of becoming a man as his father is forced to go to awful lengths to rid the family home of the infestation, culminating in a confrontation between Dell and a local bully-turned-soldier on a night that will change everyone involved, forever.

The Warblers is a mysterious tale of a young man learning what fear can do to people and what happens, when in order to fight monsters, one must side with another monster.

"Amber Fallon is a force to be reckoned with, delivering kickass action and intense emotion in generous measures!" - Christine Morgan

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<![CDATA[BOOK REVIEW: THE DIE-FI EXPERIMENT BY M.R.TAPIA]]>Mon, 18 Sep 2017 23:00:00 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/book-reviews/book-review-the-die-fi-experiment-by-mrtapiaBY GAVIN KENDALL 
“I would like to welcome the world to The Die-Fi Experiment. Please join us in the fun that is the deterioration of the world by means of social media.”


The Die-Fi Experiment is the tale of newly wed Marie, who with her husband, travels to Japan. They have both suffered emotional trauma and feel that getting away from everything will give them the time to heal. No-one knows where they are, the couple even ban themselves from using social media to prevent detection. They don't want to be found.

In a believable twist, whilst trying to earn themselves a free phone the young couple find themselves forced to take part in 'The Die-Fi Experiment', a game show live streamed on the internet where contestants compete with each other to the death.

There's a lot packed into this novellas concise 74 pages, we have a damning critique of social media and the power of the internet, an incredibly violent horror story, made all the more abhorrent as the faceless game show hosts are fuelled by 'likes' and other digital interaction whilst at the stories heart, for me anyway, a love story. Love itself is an incredibly powerful weapon, what would you do on a loved ones behalf to prevent them pain?

I'll be honest, the violence in The Die-Fi Experiment was bordering on too much for me. I'm not a fan of extreme violence in fiction, but M.R. Tapia has been skillful in giving the reader breathing time. Here chapters alternate between the horrors of the game show and the unnamed husband relaying the story of how he met Marie, their romance and how they ended up in Japan. In doing this you understand how strong a relationship they have, I felt fully invested in their lives, this juxtaposition from normality to utter carnage worked incredibly well. Had it just been constant violence it would have been too much, here I was completely in the husbands head, the utter terror about his own mortality beaten only by his determination to save his wife.

The Die-Fi Experiment is an incredibly powerful, well written emotional rollercoaster of a novella. This is the second release I've read by M.R. Tapia, and certainly won't be the last. I'm looking forward to reading his debut novel 'Sugar  Skulls' which is out November 2017.

Oh, and if you see an offer for a free iPhone-X...walk away!
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<![CDATA[HORROR BOOK REVIEW: NEW FEARS, EDITED BY MARK MORRIS]]>Wed, 13 Sep 2017 23:00:00 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/book-reviews/horror-book-review-new-fears-edited-by-mark-morrisBy Tony Jones 

“A supreme range of unsettling experiences are on offer

Horror anthologies are a dime-a-dozen these days, but don’t let that put you off experiencing “New Fears” edited by Mark Morris and published by Titan Books this September. This nineteen story collection oozes quality from an eclectic range of leading writers from the world or horror and dark fiction. The strength of this particular collection lies in the diversity and depth of its parts, ironically, it could easily have been called “Old Fears” as there is little to date many of the superb tales it features. In his enlightening introduction Morris nostalgically recalls the classic horror anthologies of his childhood and how he hoped to recreate a book with the same type of kick.  “New Fears” succeeds on every level and no two tales have even the remotest similarities, use a lucky dip as a starting point, you’re not going to be disappointed in what you read.

The beauty of starting a short story from the point of view of a reader is that, unlike a novel, often we know nothing of where the next 20-30 pages is going to take us. That lack of knowing is a real thrill and “New Fears” is just great for the unexpected. Morris points out that unlike many recent anthologies there is no theme, however, I will enlighten you slightly… there are no vampires, werewolves, zombies, only one demon, a few ghosts and lots of other general unconnected strangeness. So open the book and expect the unexpected, which is what the best of these types of collections should do.

I don’t have time to mention all nineteen stories individually, so am going to cherry-pick around ten of them. My absolute favourite was Kathryn Ptacek’sDollies” which was a sixteen page knockout, which delivers its killer blow in the final two paragraphs. For budding writers curious on how to craft a truly masterful short story, look no further… A little girl believes her doll, called Elizabeth, catches smallpox and dies. Her parents buy her replacement dolls, which also catch smallpox, the girl names all the dolls ‘Elizabeth 2’, or ‘Elizabeth 3’ and so on, depending on how many have succumbed to this mystery illness. The girl is a very unreliable narrator, her parents have secrets, the plot jumps a few years forward and her dolls are still dying off as we head towards the shocking conclusion. This story was so good I gave it to give it to all the English teachers at work for possible use in class. Stunning.

Josh Malerman can do no wrong at the moment, and “The House of the Head” is another example of the scope of his unique and unhinged imagination. A little girl believes her doll house is haunted, as the little boy model in the house’s bedroom often looks terrified, hiding in his bed with the covers pulled up to his nose. Elvie is an intelligent little girl and wants to help her doll family, so she buys a policeman doll and inserts it into the house hoping the policeman will sort out the problem. It most certainly does not and this story shows further that Malerman is totally at ease writing fiction of any length, novel, novella and short stories. He hits the ball out of the park every time and I cannot wait to read his Halloween release “Goblin” when I get the chance.

Alison LittlewoodThe Boggle Hole” and Christopher Golden’sThe Abduction Door” are two terrific stories also seen through the eyes of children. If you’ve ever read Robin Jarvis’s classic kid’s series “The Whitby Witches” you may well have come across Boggles before, small creatures who live in the sea caves in the north east of England where “The Boggle Hole” is set. It’s a deeply melancholic tale of a little boy holidaying with his lonely grandfather over the summer, when they visit the beach his grandfather reveals to him of the myths of Boggles and his imagination begins to run riot in this terrific study of loss. You’ll never use a lift again after reading the stunning “Abduction Door” a small boy asks a concierge why his lift has a little three foot door (do lifts really have these Christopher?) and the concierge scares the boy with a story of how there are creatures in the lift which steal children. This tale has such an impact on the little boy he has a phobia against lifts well into adulthood and has never forgotten this story which, of course, comes back to haunt him. Prepare yourself for a truly horrific ending, but what lengths would you go to save your child?

Mark Morris also notes in his introduction that the short story format allows writers to experiment with darker fiction, particularly the endings. This is very true of this collection, which includes very few cheery endings (any?) and several very ambiguous ones.  Brady Goldon’sThe Family Car” reveals a lot in its final few pages, perhaps too much, up until then it was a deeply psychological tale that gripped the reader by the throat. Eight years earlier sixteen year old Lindsay had an argument with her parents, they grounded her, then drove a short distance to visit her grandmother. They never arrived and vanished without a trace. Eight years later we pick up the plot, with psychologically damaged Lindsay believing she is being stalked by her father’s old station-wagon, a car she would recognise anywhere. In eighteen brief pages Goldon really sucks the reader in balancing psychology with the supernatural with fine effect.   

I loved Stephen Gallagher’sShepherds’ Business” as for much of the tale the darker element of the story was enticingly hidden beneath the drudgery of a locum doctor on a remote Scottish island. However, after a baby dies in childbirth there are horrific consequences. “Succulents” by Conrad Williams also expertly shrouds the horror right until the freaky ending, Graham is on a foreign holiday with his wife and son and is harangued into eating an unpleasant looking plant whilst on a cliff walk by a local guide. “The Swan Dive” by Stephen Laws is a dark meditation with a disturbed husband about to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge, however, before the moment of death something else, even worse, awaits…

Considering Ramsey Campbell is the elder statesman of the collection, he is the only author to use any form of modern technology and that’s only a humble mobile phone! In “Speaking Still” Daniel believes he is receiving messages from his dead wife on his phone and becomes more disturbed as the frequency increases. The story is seen from the point of view of his old friend Bill whom Daniel meets once a week for drinks and most of the action is revealed through these meetings as Bill becomes increasingly concerned for his friend’s mental wellbeing. I do love a Ramsey Campbell story, receiving messages from the dead is nothing new in horror fiction, but it’s the way you tell the story that counts. 

From one giant of British horror to another… Join Adam Nevill on a trip to a long since abandoned Victorian zoo, which is not exactly first choice for Jason in his surprise first date with the gorgeous Electra. However, in “Eumenides [The Benevolent Ladies]” Nevill does what he does best and takes the reader on a dark and unsettling journey through the crumbling and deeply unpleasant zoo. Soaked with atmosphere, unpleasant imagery and gnashing of teeth, you just know things are going to end badly for poor Jason who never really had a chance of getting his leg over with saucy Electra.

There were some great turns in the other nine stories including:  “Four Abstracts” by Nina Allan (sneaky story of a freaky artist), “Departures” by AK Benedict (life after death in an airport bar), “The Salter Collection” by Brian Lillie (no collection is complete without a story set in a library!) “Roundabout” by Muriel Gray (did you ever wonder what lives in the undergrowth of a traffic roundabout?) “Sheltered in Place” by Brian Keene (terrorism from the other side), “The Embarrassment of Dead Grandmothers” by Sarah Lotz (black comedy piece about dropping dead in the theatre) and three others by Carole Johnstone, Chaz Brenchley and Angela Slatter.

I enjoyed this collection tremendously, I had read many of the authors before exploring and discovering authors that were new to me  was just extremely fulfilling. I’m not sure how the author went about deciding how to select the final nineteen stories, or whether others ended up on the cutting floor?  New Fears  strength lies in the variety of stylers present in the anthology.  It is  also worth pointing out there was very little blood, gore, violence, sex or sensationalism. when you have an anthology packed with such great writers as these, ands stories that match their reputation, you don't need to resort to basic tropes and cheap thrills.  

Tony Jones
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<![CDATA[BOOK REVIEW: MACABRE NOTIONS BY AARON WHITE]]>Mon, 11 Sep 2017 23:00:00 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/book-reviews/book-review-macabre-notions-by-aaron-whiteBY GAVIN KENDALL 
The lack of word count certainly doesn't hinder these stories, with six tales of the supernatural expertly covering just 60 pages. Macabre Notions is a thoroughly enjoyable quick read that should earn Aaron White quite a few fans.
Kicking off this delightful collection is A Bad Dream, a tale of guilt and paranoia built around a late night knock at the door and a horrifying revelation. For me, the revelation would have been enough in a perfect Tales Of The Unexpected type finale. For the story to then carry on seemed unnecessary, lessening the gut punch revelation. Evolved focuses on a killer that uses his psychic abilities to find victims, but what if the tables were turned? This was my second favourite tale in the collection. A very interesting premise that I could see being expanded into a full length novel. Bereavement and loss are the central themes of An Impression Of Grief. Having recently lost his wife in an accident, an artist seeks to ease his grief and find answers through his art. The Farmhouse is the true gem of this collection, a haunted house story told in three parts. White here seems to of found his comfort zone, the phrasing and descriptive passages were wonderful to read. Easily my favourite story, with part two having a really strong Hammer Horror vibe and a twist that had me smiling and eager to push on towards part three.

Macabre Notions succeeds in highlighting that Aaron White knows how to tell story. All four tales had their moments but it was The Farmhouse that stood out for me. Showing that although White is more than capable at the short story, being able to spread his wings and having more room to breath and tell a story may be where the author finds his true calling.
MACABRE NOTIONS BY AARON WHITE
“I lay there in the sunlight with my mind turning over wild thoughts. I was confused and relieved but still frightened. My eye caught the upstairs bedroom window and staring down, face pressed against the glass, the man watched me, eyes glaring, anger etched on his face." From vengeful ghosts and haunting grief to telepathic psychosis and the realisation of nightmares, this collection of short stories will take you into the darkness and refuse to let you go.

purchase a copy here
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<![CDATA[BOOK REVIEW:  MEDDLING KIDS BY EDGAR CANTERO]]>Sun, 10 Sep 2017 23:00:00 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/book-reviews/book-review-meddling-kids-by-edgar-canteroBY GAVIN KENDALL 
Thirteen years after the Blyton Summer Detective Club solved their greatest case by revealing who the The Sleepy Lake Monster was at the  Deboën Mansion, Andy (Andrea) Rodriguez decides to get the gang back together. Andy is running away from her past and trying to forge a future with Kerri, who works in a bar although a scientist. Together they helped form the BSDC alongside Peter, who despite being incredibly successful, took his own life and Nate who still, bizarrely, talks to Peter and often admits himself to the local asylum. Completing the group is Tim, a dog that is the offspring of the original clubs dog, Sean. The BSDC are all now troubled young adults, they saw something else that day back in 1977 and it's now time to return to Blyton Hills to face their demons.


The premise for the book had me genuinely excited, Scooby Doo was (and probably still is) one of my favourite cartoons. The characterisation is different enough to avoid a lawsuit, but this novel is essentially grown up Scooby Doo. The core storyline is great fun with all the tropes you would expect from the Hanna Barbera classic but seen from more mature eyes all tied off with a Cthulu bow. Yes, that's right, Cthulu! There's some weird stuff going on in and around the Deboën Mansion. No wonder the BSDC have scars that won't heal.

This book could have been a solid 5/5 had it not been for several choices by the author that I found quite surprising and at times, irritating. I went into this book expecting an interesting juxtaposition between the zany kids story of '77 with it's rubber masked villains, to the current day tale of troubled young adults facing very real dangers. And that's exactly what we had for the first third of the book, that is until *minor spoiler* the gang break Nate out of the asylum. I'm not sure Scooby Doo in its prime would come up with such a comedic way of breaking someone out. I've gone from developing a relationship with these 'real' characters for them to morph into cartoon caricatures. If I had known this was Canteros intention I would have approached the book from a very different angle. From that moment on, it was difficult to take the characters often angst ridden woes seriously, for me, the story would have worked so much better had it kept its comedic mask on all the time. Don't get me wrong. the characters are great, but they work better for me as the characters from a cartoon. I don't need to know that Fred is desperately in love with Daphne, who in turn is in love with Velma. Or that Shaggy came from a broken home and that Scooby only went along as they were all feeding his crack habit. Obviously they aren't spoilers but you get my point.

The prose is all over the place in Meddling Kids, it switches from second to third person and even moves to a script format (with stage directions). I found it quite off-putting, taking me out of the book at times, additionally a lot of the exposition seemed to have one sentence too many, which made for a sticky reading experience. I know that Canteros first books were not written in English, it did make me wonder if Meddling Kids had also been written in Spanish and then translated poorly. And if that doesn't make you scratch your head, Cantero also throws made up words into the equation! These certainly took me out of the book, I had to reread, even google some of them to decide if I misunderstood something.

Meddling Kids made for a frustrating reading experience. There is a great story here, with fantastic set pieces and plenty of action. I'd ordinarily recommend you give it a go, but with the issues I've highlighted, although not book ruining, do make the book a challenge. Which is a real shame as this could have easily been Scooby Doos greatest adventure!
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<![CDATA[BOOK REVIEW: SAMSON & DENIAL /RING OF FIRE BY BOB FORD]]>Wed, 06 Sep 2017 23:00:00 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/book-reviews/book-review-samson-denial-ring-of-fire-by-bob-fordby John Boden 
Bob Ford is one of those writers that not nearly enough of you are reading. I mean, his world-weary and wise protagonists and everyday situations the swerve into absolutely batshit territory t the drop of a dime, are just a little bit of what makes him such a treasure.  I count him among the writers that inspire me most. 

Samson & Denial , first published in 2011, was the first Ford book I had read. And it was not at all what I was expecting.  We first meet Samson Gallows as he is about to close his pawn shop in downtown Philly.  He's tired and feeling less than charitable when the crack head comes in to sell him the head.  A mummified head.  Not having it to do, Samson gives the chump twenty beans for it and tells him to haul ass.  Samson then prepares to go to his little brothers and take care of some other business, counting the take from their lucrative side line of pill dealing.    From this point this go from zero to shitstorm, as Samson finds his world not only ripped apart at the seams but he finds that he can't trust anyone or anything...and that the biggest ally he has is a flaky thousand year old head in a bowling bag. 

This short novelette is good. It's Lansdale good with everything from double crossing drug dealers and Russian mobsters to modern witch cults, magic and then there's that head.   Ford writes in a seamless banter that makes it easy to picture the man just sitting across from you at the bar and regaling you with this tale as though it really happened to him. He's a master.
 
When Bob told me he had a new novella coming this year, I was ecstatic.  When he said it was in the same universe as Samson & Denial, I damn near peed my pants.  After seeing him read the opening chapter at this summer's Scares That Care weekend.  I bought it immediately.   Ford loves the underdog...sometimes the poor bastard that lies even lower than the underdog.   In Ring Of Fire, Murph Wildasin is having a shitty day. His girlfriend has drained his bank account, is stepping out on him with the local septic-tank sucker and  his meth-head pal, Weasel is always trying to rope him into his current scam agenda.  Something as simple as trying to overcome all of this by getting in shape can't even go Murph's way. When he sets out jog a little of the anger and stress away, things go pear-shaped.  It begins when Haddon, the septic fellow chases him in his shit tanker and just ratchets weirder and weirder--I'm talking witches and murder and perhaps a swamp monster. 
Every bit as charming and fun as the other book. I greatly enjoyed the characters and the odd twists that Ford threw out.  I hope that he continues putting out these slivers of this world, hell, I'd read volumes of them.  I'll read anything this man writes.  I strongly urge you to follow suit.
 
Samson & Denial  as well as Ring Of Fire are available from Amazon and possibly via contacting the author.
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<![CDATA[KILL ALL ANGELS BY ROBERT BROCKWAY]]>Mon, 04 Sep 2017 23:00:00 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/book-reviews/kill-all-angels-by-robert-brockwayby Steve Wetherell 
What if Lovecraft’s protagonists- instead of wussing out and descending into madness- had decided to lace up a sturdy pair of Doc Martin’s and kick Cthulhu in the dick? Well,  Brockway’s Vicious Circuit series is what you’d get.

Aged punk Carey is back again where his only super power his frankly astonishing lack of fucks to give. So too is Kaitlin, a woman whose innate pragmatism is terribly at odds with her destiny as a slayer of impossible beasts. Also returning are their enemies, a motley assortment of freaks that might knife you in a back alley, or might erase your very essence to fuel the machinery of the universe.

Shifting from busted-knuckle violence to bad-trip existential dread with nary a blink, Brockway tells a tale with high stakes, lovable characters and wry humour. And let’s not forget just how wonderfully original it all is. Brockway builds a cornucopia of supernatural horror that’d make Pinhead smile, and he does it with an admirable determination not to rummage through the usual pseudo-spiritual detritus from which many horror authors pick their bricks.

I’ve gushed before about the ambition of Brockway’s horror mythos, how it pile-drives us into the visceral before punting us into the aether, but it is not just the sheer scale of this mythos that impresses, but rather the neatness of it. He never falls into the familiar genre ground of presenting the unsettling just for the joy of it, and then shrugging when pressed for explanations. His abominations, processed as they are through the view points of his extremely down-to-earth protagonists, are presented as strangely logical. Every impossible freak that comes along has a distinct rhyme and reason, fitting neatly into the weird evolution of Brockway’s nightmare world.

But please don’t think I’m engaging in some artsy-fartsy pseudo intellectual wankery here. The Vicious Cycle series is devoid of pretension, almost aggressively so. No hipster handbook this, though it will certainly appeal to that ilk. Brockway keeps us firmly in the mud while cursing loudly at the stars.

There’s action. Tons of action. Riding-a-roller-coaster-and-punting-the-heads-off-your-enemies action. A book like this is crying out for a screen adaptation because the pace is relentless and it’s crammed with effortless cool. But there’s enough heart and smarts that you never feel like you’re reading a fleshed out b-movie script. It’s like ordering a drive-thru burger and finding prime steak between the buns. Delicious, gooey, and guilty as sin, but of undoubtable quality.

I’ve followed the development of this series since Brockway first touted his ‘punks vs math’ concept, and it’s gone from strength to strength. It’s rare that the third instalment of a trilogy surpasses its forebears, but here we are. Reading this series was that rare delight of finding something that is wholly its own while scratching itches you didn't even realise you had.

Related Articles: Reviews of PArt 1 and 2 of the Vicious Circuit Trilogy.

 THE UNNOTICAEABLES  BY  ROBERT BROCKWAY 

THE EMPTY ONES BY ROBERT BROCKWAY 


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Carey and Randall are in early 80s LA. A young Chinese girl with silver hair is the Empty One that seems to run things there, and her ex-lover, an Empty One named Zang, has turned against them and may or may not be onCarey's side. In modern times, Kaitlyn and company have also returned to LA - her powers are growing, and she's been having visions telling her how to kill the angels. The downside being that they have to find a new one, first.

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​Steve Wetherell
is a novelist and humour writer from the English midlands, with articles published at Cracked, Maxim and Man Cave Daily. He also plays Brandon Thighmaster on the Authors & Dragons podcast.
SHOOT the DEAD is his love letter to b-movie action horror, but if you prefer hilarious horror hi-jinks, why not check out Hell’s Titties?
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<![CDATA[BOOK REVIEW: GOBLIN BY JOSH MALERMAN]]>Sun, 03 Sep 2017 23:00:00 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/book-reviews/book-review-goblin-by-josh-malermanBY GAVIN KENDALL 
Josh Malerman invites you to take a walk through the rain-sodden streets of Goblin, a City populated by the weird and the wonderful. A City with stories to tell, stories that will captivate you, make you laugh, chill you to the bone, make you want to pull a loved one closer.
Goblin, the third novel from Josh Malerman, is a limited edition publication from Earthling (Pre-order information is at the bottom of this review) that consists of 6 novellas that for me perfectly echo the classic TV anthology shows I used to watch as a kid. From the horrors of Creepshow and Tales From The Crypt to the wonders of the Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits.

Each story works individually but together they're linked, sharing characters and locations. Events in one story, although slight have a knock on effect to another. Goblin is a living, breathing City. No word is wasted in creating Goblin and it's inhabitants. The people of Goblin are, mostly, very human. Normal people like you, or I, living with the understanding that the fantastique is part of their normality. In Goblin, people can be just as monstrous as whatever's rumoured to live in the North Woods.

An unusual friendship is the centrepiece of A Man In Slices, an incredibly dark tale that sparked with some very amusing dialogue. The swim camp sequence was fantastically written that escalated the darkness superbly till the satisfying, although not entirely surprising ending. A man so terrified of being scared to death by a ghost is the premise of Kamp.  Walter Kamp goes to extreme lengths so that nothing can creep up on him in his apartment. How I've never though of Malerman's answer to the 'monster under the bed' is beyond me. Such a simple idea, genius! Big game hunter Neal Nash is celebrating his 60th Birthday in Happy Birthday, Hunter. Nash has killed a lot but still has animals on his hunting wish list, one of which is the protected Goblin Great Owl. Seems it's a good idea to go try to bag one whilst drunk with some of his friends, at night, in the middle of the North Woods...what could possibly go wrong? Presto is a wonderful tale about a boy finally having the opportunity to see his favourite magician, Roman Emporer. Other magicians on the circuit don't like Roman, they suspect him of practising 'dirty magic'. The audience is in for one hell of a performance at the midnight performance in the Goblin Domino Theatre. There's plenty going on in this story but it's Pete and his open-eyed wonder that I enjoyed the most. Next we follow Dirk Rogers' descent into madness whilst alternating jobs at both the Goblin Slaughterhouse and the Goblin Zoo.  A Mix-Up At The Zoo has a different writing style to anything else in the book. It's a fantastic piece, with some stunning imagery, although for me it didn't fit as neatly into the concept as the other tales. The last story from Goblin sees a girl get to the end of Goblin's biggest maze, a tourist attraction known as The Hedges. No-one has ever done it before, so when she reports what she finds at the end of the maze to the Goblin Police, the attractions creator goes on the run...and ultimately ends up in the North Woods. Malerman writes kids very well, Margot is a delight. She's a little madam but as the story progresses she displays an innocence that's wonderful to read. I'd be very interested to hear the authors thinking behind the Goblin Police, they're referred to a lot throughout the book, mostly with a sense of fear. So when Margot gets to the Police Station and we finally get to see them, it's...wonderfully...bizarre! Either side of these six novellas a Prologue/Epilogue that bookend Goblin perfectly, with the Prologue giving a very strong Creepshow vibe.

Josh Malerman has not only written the best book I've read this year, with Goblin he's written the best book I've read in the last few years. The pages couldn't be turned quickly enough, I was completely under his spell, so much so I was upset once I had finished reading. There must be a multitude of stories waiting to be told, I genuinely hope that Malerman has more planned.

Goblin is an absolute triumph, wonderful characters, fantastic stories and in Goblin, a place you will want to return to again and again.


Firstly, I'd like to thank Paul Miller at Earthling Publications for sending me an advance copy of Goblin.

Secondly, to Josh Malerman who has written a story that has utterly reignited my passion for reading...Thank you!


Goblin is to be released as an extra special book to celebrate the 13th year of Earthling's Halloween Series. It's only going to be available via Earthling Publications and will be limited to 500 numbered and 15 lettered signed by Josh Malerman.

Please go to www.earthlingpub.com for preorders which should be live from the 14th August. 
Praise for Goblin

Goblin should be listed on every horror reader’s itinerary of places to visit, with the lights turned low and the night breeze creeping into the room. An incredible Halloween find for all.” –Dave Simms, Cemetery Dance Online

Goblin is a mesmerizing, terrifying tight-rope walk.” –Clive Barker

“Malerman has created a Derry for a new generation.” –Sarah Pinborough

Goblin is another triumph from Josh Malerman.” --Christopher Golden

“A perfectly-realized universe that’s sometimes hilarious, and often horrifying.” --Mark Alan Miller

Goblin’s charm will beckon you, its citizens will dance like ghosts in your mind.”--James Henry Hall

Goblin proves what I’ve been saying for the last few years: Malerman is becoming one of the true greats in weird fiction. He is the genre’s new dark prince!” --Jonathan Maberry
purchase a copy here
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<![CDATA[BOOK REVIEW: ANGLER IN DARKNESS BY EDWARD M. ERDELAC]]>Wed, 30 Aug 2017 23:00:00 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/book-reviews/book-review-angler-in-darkness-by-edward-m-erdelacBY WILLIAM TEA 
Despite what the cover art would have you believe, Angler in Darkness, the first short story collection from Edward M. Erdelac (author of such novels as AndersonvilleMonstrumführerTerovolas, and the Merkabah Rider series), contains approximately zero razor-toothed mega-fish snacking on grizzled old sailors. The title of this collection, and the image on its face, instead refers to Erdelac’s philosophy of storytelling: That is, he fancies himself something of a mariner, trawling the briny murk of his imagination for whatever prizes he’s lucky enough to catch.
Sure enough, sometimes Erdelac lands a big meaty marlin. Others times it’s a dinky li’l minnow. Not everything in this collection is a five-star seafood dinner, but props to Erdelac for wading out there in the water time and time again, ever ready to cast his net. And fret not, Monster Kids; there may not be any jumbo-sized carnivorous sea creatures, but there’s still plenty of mountain-dwelling kaiju beasties, subterranean blood-sucking tendrils, sex-crazed ape-men, and even colon-slurping killer toilets!

Boasting a similar range of diversity are Erdelac’s settings. Angler in Darkness’ conflicts play out against backgrounds as varied as pre-Columbian America all the way on up to near-future Japan. Notably, at least half of the tales here could be classified as Weird Westerns. The decision to order them chronologically according to time period is an odd one, and, if the collection is read through from start to finish, it results in a feeling of redundancy as similar pieces begin to blur together (two different tales of Native-American vampirism back-to-back, really?). The resulting effect makes it so that Angler in Darkness is one of those rare collections where jumping around randomly from story to story is actually recommended.

Still, anchoring his tales with an immersive, meticulous attention to detail, as well as liberal splashes of tongue-in-cheek humor and thoughtful nods to real-world mythology and folklore, Erdelac displays great strength in the vivid evocation of time and place. Sure, more than a few stories drag—sometimes because they feel needlessly padded in the middle, other times because they don’t know when to end—but Erdelac is clearly having a blast indulging himself throughout this collection. That indulgence doesn’t always translate into a blast for his readers, though, so it’s a give and take: The leisurely, detail-oriented style enhances the sense of setting and mood, but it comes at the cost of immediacy and drive. Individual mileage may vary.

More broadly drawn than Erdelac’s settings are his characters, sometimes to a problematic degree. In fact, an unfortunate number feel like caricatures, complete with ill-advised dialogue which, at times, treads dangerously close to racial stereotyping.

At its best, Erdelac’s reliance on trope-driven characterization lends his stories a mythic resonance—witness the namesake Texas Ranger from “Bigfoot Walsh,” a taciturn mountain of a man tracking a clan of all-too-familiar missing-link monstrosities who’ve been massacring the locals, and who may have more in common with him than he’d like to admit. At its worst, devices which Erdelac probably assumes enhance verisimilitude just come across as cringe-worthy—witness the ebonics-spewing drug-dealers in the otherwise exceptional “Conviction,” a magical-realist revenge fable about a sensitive inner-city misfit cleaning up Chicago’s notorious Cabrini Green projects with reality-warping superpowers.

Despite this, there is an attitude of playful exuberance throughout Erdelac’s work which makes his misfires arguably forgivable; whenever he stumbles into a sore spot it never feels malicious. As with any fisherman’s haul, there are a few duds here that should probably get thrown back into the wine-dark sea from whence they came, and, granted, even the tastiest catches could benefit from a quick wash and a thorough deboning, but readers with an appetite for those specific delicacies which constitute Erdelac’s specialty (i.e. pulpy creature-features couched in well-realized historical settings) will find Angler in Darkness a satisfying feast indeed.
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EDWARD M. ERDELAC, Author of Andersonville, Monstrumführer, The Van Helsing Papers, and The Merkabah Rider series presents his first collection of short fiction, spanning nearly a decade of fishing in the sunless depths of the imagination, some brought to light here for the first time. A frontiersman of bizarre pedigree is peculiarly suited to tracking down a group of creatures rampaging across the settlements of the Texas Hill Country….. A great white hunter is shaken to his core by a quarry he cannot conceive of…. A bullied inner city kid finds the power to strike back against his tormentors and finds he can’t stop using it…. Outraged plumbing plots its revenge…. Here Blackfoot Indians hunt the undead, the fate of nations is decided by colossal monsters, a salaryman learns the price of abandoning his own life, and even the Angel of Death tells his story. EIGHTEEN 'CATCHES' FROM AN ANGLER IN DARKNESS

PURCHASE A COPY HERE
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