<![CDATA[Ginger Nuts of Horror - BOOK REVIEWS]]>Wed, 25 Apr 2018 10:58:42 +0100Weebly<![CDATA[​THE ATROCITIES BY JEREMY C. SHIPP]]>Sun, 22 Apr 2018 23:00:00 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/fiction-reviews/the-atrocities-by-jeremy-c-shippBy Tony Jones 

“A school governess meets the strangest of tutees…”

Jeremy C. Shipp has a fair bit of horror and dark fiction to his name on the market and has been published in a significant number of quality horror magazines, but for whatever reason this was my first foray into his work. I was immediately immersed into this neat 112-page novella, published by Tor, and had a lot of fun in the swift couple of hours it took me to race through it.
Gothic in style, this haunting (maybe) ghost story had many fine moments and gleefully led the reader up the garden path with its dark haunting descriptions, ominous atmosphere, morbid setting, restrained (and nutty) characters with a quality central plot thrust which (almost) keeps it going to the end.
The novella opens with the Ms Danna Valdez on her way to Stockton House a remote country estate, where she is to be employed as the new governess to a little girl called Isabella. The blub gives away too many facts to my liking (avoid reading it if possible), but we quickly realise Isabella may not be a normal child. I don’t want to give away any more spoilers than that. I read the novella knowing very little about the plot and was all the better for starting it relatively cold.
Expect strangeness straight from the start… Ms Valdez finds a wallet whilst approaching Stockton House and honestly gives it to her hosts, unknowingly this is a test of her character and is part of her final job ‘interview’ process! This is a very weird family. Her bosses Mr and Mrs Evers are an odd couple, Mrs Evers neurotic, nervous and protective of Isabelle, and her husband a reclusive painter who gives off odd vibes, hiding himself away most of the time. Throw into the mix a housekeeper who expects Ms Valdez not to see out her first day you have an intriguing premise which will have you rapidly turning the pages.
The setting of Stockton House is particularly effective and the ‘Atrocities’ of the title are grotesque figures and misshapen statues which dominate the buildings and surroundings. They are so unpleasant they even seem to even seep into the unconscious psych. To the extent that the housekeeper tells Ms Valdez to watch light comedy before bed, that way nightmares involving the Atrocities are less likely to invade your dreams. It’s not surprising as many of these grotesques depict humans suffering creatively appalling deaths and Mr Evers seems to revel in their dark vibes.
The novella has some great sequences as Valdez begins to fracture, the Evers get odder, and strange surreal occurrences seem to be normal in the house. Shipp has crafted a tightly constructed tale that uses every page and image for maximum impact and is an excellent take on the classic haunted house story. Because it is so short, some of the events are deliberately questionable on what was real and what was not, another aspect which worked well.
The weak link of the novel was unfortunately the ending which was weak, happened too abruptly, and killed a fair bit of the atmosphere from earlier in the story. It had this great build up which seemed to run out of steam in the last ten percent with a “Is that it?” type of ending. I will be surprised if many readers find the ending satisfactory. The fact that the novella concluded at 94% of my Kindle only added an extra grumble as I was gearing up for a big finish which never happened. In such a short piece of fiction a great ending is crucial and ultimately this very entertaining novella was deflated by a failure to close out a tale which it has carefully developed in the first 100 pages.
Tony Jones


<![CDATA[BOOK REVIEW: YESTERDAY WHEN WE DIED BY CHAD A CLARK]]>Tue, 17 Apr 2018 23:00:00 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/fiction-reviews/book-review-yesterday-when-we-died-by-chad-a-clarkBY TONY JONES 

Haunted houses and dead ex-girlfriends really don’t mix

Chad Clark's latest novella Winward is released today from ​Shadow Work Publishing and to mark the launch of Winward we are having a Chad A. Clark day Ginger Nuts off Horror.  With this review from Tony Jones for Yesterday, When We Died and my review for Winward which can be read by clicking 
 I have frequently hard Chad Clark mentioned in horror chat circles, but this was my introduction to his fiction, and if 2017’s “Yesterday When We Died” is anything to go by I’ll certainly look into his other work. This piece reads as a long novella, and the author notes in his afterword that an altered version previously appeared in an earlier 2014 short story collection.
Seen initially from the points of view of three best friends, Kyle, Grant and Shannon who are on a trip to visit an isolated cabin to chill, let their hair down and drink some beer. Kyle is initially the main driver of the story, but he has alternative motives in choosing this cabin for their holiday jaunt. Struggling to come to terms with the suicide of his ex-girlfriend Cheryl the previous year, he discovered she had visited the cabin in the period leading up to her death. He suspects it had something to do with instigating her downward spiral and eventual collapse. Why? He isn’t sure, except for an itch he has to scratch.
Grant and Shannon are initially pissed off their old friend has dragged them to this dump, which is a bit of a wreck, and doesn’t look like it has been inhabited for years. Equally so, they have become tired of Kyle moping around over a failed relationship and don’t believe he should feel guilty about anything. When he broke up with Cheryl their relationship was already dead and buried.
Before long the story spirals into familiar haunted house territory, but Chad Clark throws plenty of sneaky curve-balls to keep the reader on their toes. Firstly, the triple first person POV works exceptionally well in this story, as the house plays around with them and messes with their perspectives and senses supremely well, with the three men being affected in different ways.
Although Grant and Shannon are good friends, even they begin to struggle as Kyle continues to go off at the deep-end and they begin to turn on each other as they misread situations. Before long, someone or something trashes all the furniture, a weird guy appears in the distance and they begin to realise it’s perhaps safer to sleep outside than inside. But is this a house they will ever be able to leave? Once the big reveal comes you will not be disappointed.
I thought it had a particularly strong final 25% and the book bobbed and weaved into a direction which crossed pollinated rather coolly into another genre. Heading into the final few chapters is a bit of a mind-bender, but I loved the brutality of the ending which the author provides further details on in his endnotes. The title of the work and the eventual appearance of the dead Cheryl will perhaps give you a few clues on where the story is heading.  That’s the beauty of novella length fiction, you can end it with much darker conclusions than you might do with a full-length novel without an editor bitching for some sunshine closure. On another day an editor may have pushed for something happier, but fair play to Chad Clark for keeping it real.
The Kindle version I read also had a short story called “To Expunge” which is not a sequel to the main work but is set in the same location and is a continuation of sorts as the house returns. It is also worth a look if you enjoyed “Yesterday When We Died” but don’t expect a happy ending!
Tony Jones


<![CDATA[BOOK REVIEW: WINWARD BY CHAD A. CLARK]]>Tue, 17 Apr 2018 23:00:00 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/fiction-reviews/book-review-winward-by-chad-a-clarkBY JIM MCLEOD 
​Chad A Clark's latest novella Winward is unleashed on the world today and to mark this we have a review of both Winward and Yesterday, When We Died a previous novella from Chad.  (click here to read Tony Jones' review of it).

There is something special about the USA, its vast size and diverse demographics make it perfect for the great outdoors, let's go on a vacation, horror story.  The sense of isolation and otherworldliness that places like the US bring  is hard to imagine in a smaller country.  The vast tracks of land between towns lend a certain sense of dread to a novel set in the magnificent wilderness.  This sense of isolation is something that Chad A Clark uses to great effect in this punchy fast-paced thriller.  

When Wendy and Rubin decide to take a weekend trip to Winward Colorado to visit some old friends, they would never have imagined that they would be thrown headlong into a nightmare trip that will see them fighting for their very survival in a disturbing journey into the hellish dark heart of Colorado

Chad A. Clark's novella is a whirlwind tale that refuses to let up.  Clark wastes no time in dropping Wendy, Rubin and the reader into the action, and your feet will barely touch the floor during the course of this taut tale of terror.  

While the characters of Wendy and Rubin, may not be the most thoroughly rounded and developed of characters, Clark imbues them with enough solidity and believability to carry the story.  This results in the reader not so much feeling for the characters. Instead, the reader in a way becomes the characters; you end up with a very empathic reading experience, you almost slip under their skin and feel the pain, trauma and sense of desperation from a sort of first-person experience.  It adds an extra layer of tension that drives you and the narrative forward with unstoppable momentum.  

However, the real star of this novel is Sheriff Daniels, I dare you to read Winward and not picture Clancy Brown in the lead role.  Sheriff Daniels is a masterful piece of characterisations and delivery.  More akin to a force of nature than a human being.  Some characters live and breath on the page, he rips free of the page and haunts your living world.  

Clark uses the setting of Winward effectively and for once actually, addresses the use of mobile and landline telephones logically and believable manner, adding the brilliant claustrophobic nature of the narrative. 

Winward is a brutal tale, but Clark never pushes it so far that the narrative becomes over the top or unbelievable, with a spectacular final set piece Clark ensures that Winward is an unyielding thriller that packs one hell of a hell of a punch.  

Taught, Thrilling and disturbing Winward does for Colorado what Deliverance did for Georgia.


<![CDATA[AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: CLIVE BARKER'S HELLBOUND HEART]]>Sun, 15 Apr 2018 23:00:00 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/fiction-reviews/audiobook-review-clive-barkers-hellbound-heart
​Some stories become etched into the psyche of a horror fan, forming a pantheon of horror that stands as a list for all other stories to be held up against.  Clive Barker's The Hellbound heart is one such story, the novella that spawned the who Hellraiser franchise and formed the basis of the first film, this classic tale of pleasure and pain has a gravitas attached to it the likes of which hasn't been seen in far too long.  

However, with that gravitas. There is also a danger that its impact and power can become lessened and forgotten as a result of countless spin-offs and sequels. Sadly this has been the case with The Hellbound Heart; its importance in the history of horror has become sullied by a series of never-ending sequels and spin-offs, some of which were reportedly written by Barker himself, (I still maintain he had very little to with the Scarlet Gospels).  So much so that many new fans to the genre are not aware of this classic and fundamental piece of horror literature.  

When it was first announced that Bafflegab Productions were doing a new audio drama version of the novella adapted by Paul Kane, I must admit I was somewhat wary about the idea.  Not that I felt Bafflegab Productions weren't so much up to the task, they have a great history of audio dramas. From The Bakers End series of comic tales, The Scarifyers series of adventures is a must listen to the excellent Hammer Chillers collection of short stories, they can indeed produce first-class audio dramas.  Nor was I worried by Paul Kane's involvement, he is an excellent writer and more importantly a massive fan of the Hellraiser franchise.  My fears came from the fact that after Hellraiser: The Toll, Hellraiser: Judgement and The Scarlet Gospels, it felt that it was time to lay the franchise to bed and let it die a dignified death.  Anything less than an almost perfect adaptation would be a devastating disappointment. 

After listening to this audio drama, I can safely say that this is the best thing across all entertainment mediums to exist in the Hellraiser universe.  This is as close to perfection as you can get.  

Obviously, with this being an audio drama, there is a lot of Barker's beautiful and elegant prose is missing, gone are the descriptive passages, leaving us with just the dialogue.  While this may sound off-putting, and akin to the story losing some of its power, the experience of listing to this is not diminished in any way.  This is mostly in part to the compelling and genuinely creepy musical score from Edwin Sykes and on point sound effects and design from Simon Robinson.   These work seamlessly together to create a disturbing base layer of dread from which the actors can build on.  

Simon Barnard, the producer and director, has assembled a cast manages to do the unthinkable and makes you forget about the film adaptation.  Sean Chapman and Claire Higgens performances as Frank and Julia are branded into our brains, as an on-screen "couple" they were perfect together.  It's a performance that would almost seem impossible to surpass, and yet Tom Meeten and Neve McIntosh's performance of Frank and Julia is sublime, within minutes you forget everything that has gone before, they aren't just playing the roles they become the roles.  Frank is as nasty and driven as ever, and Julia is as cold and alluring as she could ever be.  

Alice Lowe continues to cement her reputation as one of the country's finest actors, with her turn as Kirsty.  While Kirsty was probably the easiest of all the roles to take over, as the original performance was exactly the best, Lowe's depiction of Kirsty is nothing short of exceptional.  Lowe performance allows the full range of Kirsty's character to shine through, the wide-eyed girl, the frightened girl, and the girl filled with grit and determination to escape the hell she is tricked into; all come across in an engrossing delivery.  
However the ultimate high point has to be the portrayal of the Prince of Pain himself, stepping into the role of Pinhead, or cenobite One as it should be named must have been a daunting task, Doug Bradley, despite others playing the character will always be Pinhead.  However, there has always been contention with Doug as Pinhead, as he doesn't quite fit the description of the character in the novella.  When I first heard Evie Dawnay, deliver the first line of dialogue I was, for a minute somewhat confused, and when it sunk in a huge smile spread across my face.  This is the lead Cenobite I have been waiting to hear for nearly thirty years.  And boy does Evie deliver; this isn't just a marketing gimmick this is the leading cenobite as it should be, ethereal, angelic, and apathetic to the pleas of us mere mortals. Dawnay is exceptional, and if there are any further dramatisations of the franchise, it would be a crime not to have her reprise this role.  

Having Nicholas Vince appear as cenobite four, and the businessman was a nice touch, serving to link this production to the history of the story, and Nicholas doesn't disappoint in either of his two roles.  

Paul Kane's adaptation of the story is assured and hits the mark.  His keen eye retains the essential elements that make the story work while updating some of the terms to make it more relevant to modern age such as the use of emails and mobiles phones.  This must have been a daunting task, but Kane has more than stepped up to the plate. 

The Hellbound Heart had a lot of history and baggage to deal with, but this production has done the impossible and surpassed the original adaptation.  You may shout heresy, but the combination of first-class acting, more faithful respect to the source material and a perfect soundscape makes this a superior adaptation.  You may think you know this story, but you haven't even heard the half of it until you have listened to this. 

You can purchase a copy of The Hellbound Heart direct from Bafflegab Productions by clicking here, or from amazon by clicking the button below


<![CDATA[TRIPLE TERROR:THREE TERRIFIC HORROR NOVELS RECENTLY PUBLISHED BY BLACK ROSE WRITING]]>Wed, 11 Apr 2018 23:00:00 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/fiction-reviews/triple-terrorthree-terrific-horror-novels-recently-published-by-black-rose-writingBY TONY JONES 
Fans of the horror genre have been justifiably saddened by the disappearance of several small horror presses over the last couple of years. However, if you’re a horror fan or writer looking for a loving home for your next masterpiece then have a close look at Black Rose Writing. I have been aware of them for a while, but they recently caught my eye big-time after I read John Hunt’s superb supernatural horror novel “The Tracker”, and after a brief correspondence with Black Rose Writing founder Reagan Rothe, he sent me “The Fear” by Rae Louise to check out. What a recommendation!  Raegan was spot on with a classy and clever haunted house novel set in the British suburbs. Backtracking, I returned to John Hunt and his debut “Doll House” (and on this occasion this reviewer paid for this one!) which kept me biting my nails until 99% on my Kindle.  Short reviews of all three books are below my introduction.
Black Rose Writing will publish over 200 novels this year, not bad going, with between 10-20 in the horror genre. I read three of their horror novels in less than two weeks and have been mightily impressed, so although they publish in multiple genres they clearly have a great eye for identifying quality horror talent. I wonder why they haven’t got more of a reputation within the genre? Most likely their horror titles are swamped within their huge output.  Neither do I see their titles reviewed much within the wider horror genre. If you’re an author and have a book without a home, send it to these guys to have a look, you never know, they might be interested.
Reagan Rothe, an author himself, told me he took his personal experience of working with many different publishing houses when he set up Black Rose Publishing in 2009. Since then the business has continued to grow yearly since then with healthy 60% (physical) to 40% (e-book) book sales. Reagan believes part of their success comes from the fact that they publish in genres that are of interest to all their staff. I would suggest that whoever their resident horror ‘expert’ is really knows their stuff, as the three reviews below will testify to. ‘The Tracker’ is brand new and the other two published in the last year or so.

The Tracker by John Hunt

Right from the start I would like to say that I never want to hear mention of bolt-cutters, a live rat and a bucket in the same sentence again. EVER. Once you get to the final 5% of this brutal supernatural horror novel you will know exactly what I mean. I started this book on a Saturday and finished it on Sunday. Can I give a book higher praise?
I’m going to deliberately limit the plot details as it is too easy to give unnecessary spoilers. The best way forward is to approach it the way I did, and that’s by diving in totally blind. The novel opens with a guy called Taylor walking into a police station to hand himself over to the law, as he knows the police are hunting him. During his interrogation it is revealed he is the chief suspect for four brutal murders. Much of the first half of the book is told via the interrogation between the detective Owen and prime suspect Taylor, who of course, claims he did not commit the killings. He does admit he was present when all four occurred and to the police looks guilty as sin. The book then enters flash-back mode and Taylor’s retelling begins right after the recent death of his mother when a sinister shadow begins to stalk him. Once the shadow takes form a terrifying game of cat and mouse between this supernatural being and Taylor. Of course, nobody believes him.
To say anything more specific about the plot would ruin the surprises, and there are plenty of those on offer. It really is a book of two halves, both of which are equally great, I thought I knew where the second stanza was heading but was completely wrong footed. Although the violence is sporadic some of the kill scenes were particularly brutal, realistic and handled beautifully by the author without any kind of unnecessary glorification.
The Tracker” is a very easy and addictive novel to read, and I’m sure in the right hands could be turned into a terrific low budget film. It’s neither deep, long, or over-complicated and in its 182 pages throws the kitchen sink at the bruised reader with plenty of fun twists along the way. You’re not going to have to think too much, but I still enjoyed the ambiguity on offer as it hurtled towards its conclusion, and that’s the beauty of this type of page-turning entertainment.

The Fear by Rae Louise

From one brutal knock-out to another… You’re not going to come across many better suburban terror novels than Rae Louise’s debut novel “The Fear”. Strapped for cash, Mia moves into the house previously owned by her recently deceased uncle with her younger sister, seventeen-year-old Jamie, and her own young daughter Louisa. This is supposed to be a fresh start for the family, but right from the start there is tension in the family dynamics which shape the progression of the novel. On one level it’s a haunted house story, but on the second it’s a family drama. Both are great, mixed together are terrific.
Mia herself is only 26, and so struggles to control her younger sister who has dropped out of school after failing her A-Levels. In the background their own mother is suffering from Alzheimer’s and is a brooding presence in the background of the novel. Also, in the background is Nathan, the father of Louisa and ex-partner of Mia, who has married someone else and is adopting her children. So even before anything supernatural happens Rae Louise paints a picture of a family with a lot of issues, problems and baggage and does so exceptionally well.
Things start going bump in the night quickly, but what makes this story different from most ghost stories of this type is the sheer ordinariness of it all. It’s a quiet street, not much going on, nosy neighbours and a bog-standard house. But we find out quickly that the house has a history. Before long Louise begins to be disturbed, thinks she is being watched in her sleep and starts wetting the bed. Teenage Jamie is also graphically targeted by the entity in some very powerful sexual scenes and soon things really spiral out of control.
I loved the down to earth nature of this beautifully told horror novel. Why didn’t they just leave the house you might ask? They had no money and nowhere to go! Rae Louise shows that great haunted house novels don’t need to be set in windswept mansions, dark lighthouses or cabins hidden in the forest, they can be equally effective in a council house which you or I could be living in. Terrific stuff from an author to watch out for.

Doll House by John Hunt

After loving “The Tracker” I was desperate to see what John Hunt’s other novel “Doll House” had to offer and I am delighted to say it delivered on every level. First up, this is as much thriller as it is horror, as there are no supernatural elements in this one. It has some incredibly powerful chapter jumps right at the start of the novel, one-minute Olivia is moving to a nearby town to start university, having been brought up by her single parent father. On her first day she is snatched by two masked men and held captive, her father never hearing from her again, descends into alcoholism, until out of the blue, after five years he gets a call from her, screaming down the phone. All this happens very quickly. I don’t really want to say much more about the plot, as it has a lot of clever twists and moves between time sequences.
First up it’s particularly brutal and graphic. I’m not a fan of exploitative horror, and although it’s explicit I never found it glorifying in the rape, violence, toe-snipping and other torture which form a key element of the book. Olivia goes from being a bubbly eighteen year with her life in front of her to a sex slave in the space of a few pages, it’s savage stuff, but incredibly well written. If you’re thinking the whole novel is set in some dungeon, it’s not, half-way through it cleverly heads in another direction and you really will have your fingers, toes and everything else crossed for Olivia. She’s a brilliant character, broken, but trying to survive on her terms. It has so many killer emotional sequences, including my favourite when she buys the dog, if you ever read it, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
The two masked torturers are amongst the most unpleasant characters I’ve come across in a long-time and this novel may be too strong for many tastes, but personally I thought it had a superb balance and was compelling to the end. I don’t want to say too much about the ending, which I was dreading, as I was pretty sure I knew what was going to happen, but hey ho, I was delighted to be proved wrong, and I wasn’t sure of that until I hit 99% on the Kindle. With this novel John Hunt shows he is as good with non-supernatural horror as he is with monsters, another author to seriously look out for. 
All three books can be read on Kindle Unlimited.  You can get in touch with Reagan here Creator@blackrosewriting.com or check out their website here www.blackrosewriting.com

by Tony Jones


<![CDATA[fiction review: Corpsepaint by David Peak]]>Tue, 10 Apr 2018 02:38:16 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/fiction-reviews/fiction-review-corpsepaint-by-david-peakREVIEW BY WILLIAM TEA 
For a subculture so frequently concerned with purity and with being “true,” black metal sure does mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people.

For some, it is a spear in the side of the messiah, a gleefully Satanic rejection of Judeo-Christian morality and all its virtuous, vacuous, turn-the-other-cheek propriety. For others, it is a pagan communion, a ritual through which man’s animal spirit may reunite with those dark primordial forces of untamed nature that lurk beyond the metropolitan monoliths of civilized society. For others still, it is a warlike call to arms, a justification for hideous indulgences in Aryan supremacy and terroristic acts of right-wing violence.

For struggling session musician Roland, though, black metal is just a job. A high school dropout with a chip on his shoulder, Roland thinks he might finally be on the cusp of respectability—and, more importantly, financial stability—when he’s hired to plays drums on the eagerly anticipated comeback album of fading black metal legend Max (a.k.a. Strigoi).

Of course, art always requires sacrifice. In Roland’s case, that means not only weathering the unpredictable mood swings of the unstable and heroin-addicted Max, but also making a long, arduous trek far from home, to the almost alien landscape of post-Soviet Eastern Europe. There, Roland and Max will record their album at the estate of Wisdom of Silenius, an eccentric band made up of cosmic-nihilist militants and mystics. In the process, Roland and Max will finally learn the real meaning of black metal from those for whom it is more than just music, those for whom it may very well be the key to ultimately negating the aberration known as mankind once and for all.

It would’ve been all too easy for David Peak’s new novel Corpsepaint to resort to camp, or even to fall into it unintentionally. Taking as its inspiration a genre of music that is simultaneously so damn silly yet so damn self-serious, the danger of characters being reduced to mere caricatures is very real. Likewise, there is also the danger of the story’s more overt supernatural elements coming off as hokey or cliché when put into the context of an artistic subculture that already makes rather un-subtle use of horror imagery.

Peak, however, navigates these pitfalls deftly, crafting a narrative that achieves, in prose, the same effects which only the very best black metal groups have managed in music. What’s more, Peak pulls off something equally impressive, successfully commenting on the genre’s most absurd excesses without making a joke out of them. Quite the contrary, Peak’s vision of the black metal and its fans is disturbing not in spite of the macabre pageantry of it all, but because of it; all the spiked gauntlets and rambling talk of death-worship is cheesy only so long as you don’t think about the implications of what it might means for those who really, genuinely believe in it.

Or, as Max himself observes at one point, “Black metal doesn’t exactly attract well-adjusted people. Hard drugs and corpsepaint were symptoms of the same disease.”

That said, an encyclopedic knowledge of an admittedly niche genre of music is far from a prerequisite to enjoying Corpsepaint. Sure, leather-jacketed headbangers will no doubt find their dedication amply rewarded with the nods to Mayhem vocalist Maniac, Wacken Open Air, the Dissection-affiliated Misanthropic Luciferian Order, and the infamous con-artist antics of Nachtmystium’s Blake Judd. But take such insider allusions away and something special still remains: a bleak, bestial behemoth of horror which taps not only into the philosophically driven weird fiction of authors H.P. Lovecraft, Algernon Blackwood, and Thomas Ligotti, but also into the real-world atrocities of AK-toting doomsday cults like the Branch Davidians and Aum Shinrikyo.

An icy hymn to apocalypses both cosmic and personal, David Peak’s novel is as savage and grim as the music of Darkthrone, but also as intricate and otherworldly as that of Emperor. A black metal masterpiece all its own, Corpsepaint is the literary equivalent of Mayhem’s De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas.

Translation for all you non-metalheads out there: Get your hands on this book, pronto!


<![CDATA[BOOK REVIEW: ​YES TRESPASSING BY ERIK T. JOHNSON]]>Sun, 01 Apr 2018 23:00:00 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/fiction-reviews/book-review-yes-trespassing-by-erik-t-johnsonBY JOHN BODEN 
Before going down the rabbit hole that is the collection, I had never read anything by Erik T. Johnson. And as much as I loved this book, I'm not entirely sure it's for everyone.  I'm not at all certain as to how to sell it to the masses or even accurately try and explain what it holds.

Stories? Yes, around 20 (without looking) some long and some short--al of them worthy of your attention.  "The Leaf" is a fantastic excursion, with an almost Appalachian feel to it, about a man on the run from ghosts, real and figurative.  It was also my favorite of the bunch.  "The Depopulation Syndrome" starts of as self-imposed Aspergery exposition that veers into terrifying science and bees.  Yeah. This is weird fiction at its gonzo best. "Pool Day" is a bizarro story of a man who wakes in an empty pool, shrouded in mystery and pursued by even worse.

"The Purple Word" is one of the most original and strangely tragic stories that involve them what are not quite dead as  I have ever read.  It also has cats in it.  Writers dig cats.

If I'm honest, I almost feel that a large portion of these stories were lost on me, that maybe I'm just not the kind of fellow to get things that deep, however the language and the way it is used is so gloriously beautiful that I forgot about that, nearly every time. There are stories about murder and motivations, sadness and sanity (varying degrees).  Some have creatures and demons and some just have regular folks dealing with irregular scenarios. 

Imagine a sober William Burroughs writing dark fiction. Almost.  Or Mark Twain as possessed by the future spirit of Harlan Ellison. Those descriptors are both close to on the nose while also being as far away from what this is as I can confess.  Johnson has an unmistakable voice and a keen eye for the off-kilter. He peoples his tales with realistic characters and earthy observations.  A tree pulp road littered with the drying carcasses of pop culture references and literary hallmarks.  By the light of the moon, he drags these things into the woods to erect massive altars to jabbering gods of book and tale. I imagine that is how these sorts of things come to be. Brilliance unfettered and unscarred by convention.   I love things I don't understand, I love things that keep me coming back, like a scab that screams for a fingernail.   Erik's book, while offering as sure an invitation as it can from the divine artwork (which is all encompassing, from the cover to the inner doodles and scribbles and notations) it clearing reminds you that what you're doing is indeed trespassing.

Yes Trespassing is available from Written Backwards Books


<![CDATA[​KNOCK AND YOU WILL SEE ME BY ANDREW CULL]]>Mon, 26 Mar 2018 23:00:00 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/fiction-reviews/knock-and-you-will-see-me-by-andrew-cullBY MICHAEL SIEBER
“We buried Dad in the winter. It wasn’t until the spring that we heard from him again.”

That’s one of the best opening lines to a story I’ve read in awhile and happens to be the opening line to Andrew Cull’s novella, Knock and You Will See Me.

This novella tells the story of a single mother, Ellie, whose father recently died. The two of them were very close, and as a young girl she nearly drowned but was resuscitated by her father, so she naturally is distraught over the loss. But having three boys to care for, she presses on. At the burial, Ellie is sure she hears a noise like a thud and voices coming from the casket. As the days go by, she finds strange notes like WHY DID YOU LEAVE ME? — presumably written by her dead father — being left around the house suggesting that dad might not be dead after all — at least as far as Ellie’s concerned.

Because of her near-death experience as a child, she’s gained a sixth sense; the ability to see what others cannot see. This ESP is important to the story because Cull does a masterful job of leaving it up to the reader to wonder if the events happening to Ellie are real, in her mind, or maybe a combination of both. That mystery and the tension Cull creates as he leads you down this rabbit hole of a distraught person losing her grip make this a thrilling read.

The story moves along well thanks to Cull’s pacing, but it doesn’t feel rushed and gives you enough time to ponder the state of Ellie’s mind as it builds up to the finale, which seems to be controversial among some reviewers.

Without going into spoilers, I felt the ending betrayed the rest of the story if it happened in the physical world and wasn’t something that Ellie’s mind concocted as it finally reached its breaking point. It’s certainly not where I thought the story was headed. It makes it tough to pigeonhole this into being a ghost story, a monster story, or a psychological thriller, which could be Cull’s intention.

Cull’s imagery and his prose do all the heavy lifting here, and he’s a master of his craft. Images of maggots, decay, and a literal stench of death wafting through the house are peppered throughout the story. His descriptions are vivid and paint the grim picture of dread, fear, and suffering this family undergoes.

While you’ll likely have some lingering questions after the first read, I suspect that there’s more within the pages than meets the eye. If you put on your thinking cap and do a little digging, you may find that Cull has planted some nuggets in the story that will give you answers, but don’t let that stop you from picking up what is otherwise a well-written, fast-paced spooky tale.


<![CDATA[BOOK REVIEW: THE CALL 2: THE INVASION BY ​PEADAR Ó GUILÍN]]>Sun, 25 Mar 2018 23:00:00 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/fiction-reviews/book-review-the-call-2-the-invasion-by-peadar-o-guilinBY TONY JONES

A welcome and brutal return to the Grey Lands in a YA masterpiecE

Today we review Peadar Ó Guilín’sThe Call 2: The Invasion” one of the finest YA novels we have read in ages, and in early March arrived in the bookshops. Ginger Nuts of Horror is particularly excited about this cracker, as it brutally concludes ‘The Grey Lands’ duology with the author mercurially avoiding the YA trap of adding sequel upon unnecessary sequel. Exactly twelve months ago we lamented how on earth ‘the powers that be’ who run the YA section of the Stoker Award could have neglected to nominate “The Call” for their prestigious award?  Ginger Nuts called it right, since then we have given the first amazing novel steady online coverage, and the outstanding reviews have continued to pile up in the wider press.

If you have a child glued 24/7 to their mobile phone, a niece or nephew who cannot detach themselves from their tablet or you simply want to do a favour for an old friend with kids, then buy them “The Call”. This word of mouth smash continues to build up momentum and I know of many kids desperate to get their teeth into “The Call 2: The Invasion”. As was I. The wait for me is finally over, and the sequel does not disappoint, and may even top the original. Is that even possible? Oh yes, it is.

First up, don’t bother reading book 2 unless you’ve read “The Call”, they are intrinsically linked, so we’re going to recap the original before reviewing the mouth-watering sequel to end all YA duologies. Yes, it was that good. It was fantastic.

“The Call” a recap on book 1

You simply will not read a better fusion of fantasy, horror and mythology than in this amazing tale of the ancient fairy folk (the Sídhe) from Old Ireland. To take revenge for an ancient curse the fairy folk rip teenagers out of time for three minutes and four seconds (‘The Call’ of the title) transporting them to the land where they have been banished for eternity, known as ‘The Grey Lands’. Most of the teenagers are killed, tortured, or maimed in horrible ways and returned to Ireland disgustingly disfigured or worse. But our heroine (who has Polio and very weak legs) is simply too spunky and too tough to roll over and die, even though nobody else gives her a spit’s chance of surviving her own ‘call’. Fourteen-year-old Nessa is one of the finest characters created in recent YA fiction and you will be shouting from the roof tops for her when she is eventually forced to fight for her life.

Nobody can escape their personal date with ‘The Call’ which has been plaguing Ireland for 25 years and the author does a truly amazing job in creating a world where everything is geared towards helping children survive their deadly three minutes. Nobody can escape from Ireland because of a weird supernatural barrier which isolates Ireland from the rest of the world, creating almost a unique type of dystopia. Three minutes and four seconds is not long, but in the alternative ‘Grey World’ reality this is over 24 hours and plenty of torture time for the brutal fairy folk. ‘The Call’ had a terrific ending and did not necessarily need a sequel, but such was the interest in the original Peadar Ó Guilín’s takes us greedy readers back for more…

The Call 2: The Invasion

If you check out our accompanying interview Peadar states that he did not write the original novel with a sequel in mind, this is probably one of the major factors which contribute to a supremely fresh and original book two. On one level it flows seamlessly from novel to novel, but on a second there is stacks of new stuff going on and outstanding plot twists. Perhaps even better, the author vividly fills in many details of what has become of Ireland in the 25 years its teenagers have been routinely murdered by the Sídhe, a lot of what was only hinted at in the original book.

I’m going to try and avoid spoilers when possible and will be vague regarding the plot. Obviously, Nessa survived her ‘Call’ and has returned to Ireland, but she is changed somewhat. Because she is different she is presumed to be a traitor and sold her metaphorical soul to the Sídhe, as is a spy, or something even worse. There is a particularly nasty policeman/torturer who weeds out the so-called traitors, effectively everyone he interrogates! After all, the torturer thinks, how could a weak fourteen-year-old girl with Polio survive a ‘Call’? Nessa is ridiculed.  The author really puts this terrific character through the wringer, but she is such a fighter, with astonishing spirit. Any teenager reader is going to be pulled 100% into Nessa’s world.

When Nessa gets throw in prison, we see the novel from several other points of view, including the love of Nessa’s life, who also survived his ‘Call’ but came back with a large deformed arm in book one. He has a cool role in the book, as Ireland and the Grey World edge closer together, more of their magic is infiltrating into our world and he joins a government extermination squad aimed at wiping the offending mutations out. This leads to many fantastic action, and very violent, sequences and the introduction of strong support characters.

Lots of questions are asked (and sometimes answered): can a person be Called twice? Why is there one 25-year-old woman who has never been Called? Why does Ireland still have one prison? Within the context of a very fast paced novel, the level of world-building is superb, for example along the way we find out handicapped children are offered poison instead of facing the painful death of ‘The Call’ or that Ireland now only has one radio station! It’s YA writing of the highest order.     

Book two revisits the battle school which was the focus of book one and of course we all know Nessa is going to return to the Grey Lands sooner rather than later. I don’t want to say anymore about the plot of this truly brilliant book. Peadar Ó Guilín has created a fantasy horror novel for the ages, and I have a sneaky feeling this book is going to find a much bigger audience. I read books for children and teens all the time, I have a knack whereupon I can read them very quickly. I did not do that with “The Call 2: The Invasion” I savoured it and read it slowly like I would one of my favourite adult writers. I frequently come across adult horror fans who come across as very snobby about YA horror, if that’s you, then this is the book to chance your mind. Absolutely fantastic.

If you’re looking to buy a book for a child aged between eleven and fifteen buy them both “Call” books, you could give them no finer gift.

Make sure you check out our accompanying interview with the brilliant Peadar Ó Guilín.

Tony Jones



<![CDATA[FICTION REVIEW: GLIMPSE BY JONATHAN MABERRY]]>Wed, 21 Mar 2018 00:00:00 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/fiction-reviews/fiction-review-glimpse-by-jonathan-maberryBy Amber Fallon 
 Glimpse is the kind of book you finish and immediately want to read again. As soon as that last page is turned, there’s this kind of desperation, this feeling of “What if I missed something?” that might just be me making excuses for the fact that what I actually missed were some of the characters that I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to just yet…

If you’re familiar with Maberry’s work, you know that he’s a talented author and that his way of crafting dynamic action scenes, powerful storylines, and kick-you-in-the-teeth endings is second to none. While those things are present in this book, it’s also something completely different. Fans of his Joe Ledger series will definitely find something to enjoy here, as will fans of the Pine Deep series, but Glimpse is also something completely new and entirely unique.

 I absolutely loved Glimpse, and if I had to pick just one favorite thing about it, creepy broken watch to my head… I’d say it’s the truly brilliant way the author manages to make things in the book seem simultaneously familiar and also brand spanking new, and he does this again and again and again and to great effect. Perhaps the best illustration of this is the book’s villain, Doctor Nine. Doctor Nine is, in a word, CREEPY. He’s absolutely terrifying, and fairly unique among horror antagonists… however there’s this edge of familiarity to him that’s juuuuust enough to convince me that I KNOW that guy! After he makes his first appearance, I set the book down struggling to remember whether or not I’d had a nightmare about that very thing myself at some point, which is an awful concept that immediately drew me deeper into the book itself and brought it alive like nothing else could have.

Glimpse is the tale of Rain Thomas, a young woman with a dark past. She’s a former addict that gave her baby up for adoption after his father died in Iraq without even knowing Rain was pregnant. It’s the kind of thing that might drive anyone a little over the edge. After succumbing to drug addiction as a way to escape guilt over what she’d done for a period of years, Rain is now clean and doing her best to live her life. She’s been abandoned by her family, struggled to find a job, and has built a life for herself in New York. Everything starts to come apart for her one day when… well, when one day just disappears. That’s only the beginning of this unique, dazzling thriller that features one of my favorite settings of all time, a world I’d love to visit known as The Fire Zone.

Rain is my favorite kind of protagonist; deeply flawed, heartbreakingly real, and relatable. She’s human, and the things she does and the decisions she makes when presented with horrible events makes her feel like someone I know, someone I could be friends with, maybe even just someone a bit like me.

The book is populated by a host of memorable characters, vivid settings, and gut wrenching twists and turns that will keep you flipping the pages well into the night… and leaving all the lights on after you’ve gone to bed.

If I have a criticism, it’s that my favorite character and, perhaps the most interesting character in the book (which is saying something) isn’t introduced right away. He comes in somewhere around halfway through and while I understand the decision to hold off on his introduction, I was left wanting more, more, more of him in specific.

If you like supernatural thrillers, if you dig stories that put you into the heart of the action and make you wonder what you’d do when faced with events beyond your control, or if you just really like a masterfully crafted tale, I recommend Glimpse highly.