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‘Dead Woman Scorned’ by Michael Clark – Review

*Disclaimer – I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

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As strange as it sounds, Mildred Wells committed suicide in an attempt to reconcile with her son. 

Her thinking was that if they were kindred spirits, the healing could begin… or at least that was the idea.

The horrible truth that she wanted to ignore, however, was that any sort of reconciliation with Elmer would not be easy. He did not want her. Every time he saw her, he ran away. He was rightfully afraid of Mildred, but even so, she hoped deep down he could someday forgive her. 

 

Synopsis –

She’s back, and they’ll regret what they’ve done. Mildred Wells had a miserable life that carried over to a lonesome death. In the end, they betrayed her–played her the fool. She was the last to know, but there’s still time to catch up. She’ll formulate her painful plan as they live their lives in blissful ignorance. With no more family, only vengeance drives her; in fact, it’s all she has anymore. She would rather have rested in peace, but for Mildred, dying isn’t so easy.

 

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Thoughts –

Dead Woman Scorned is the second in Michael Clark’s series and a step up from the first book. Maybe I just need to appreciate a romance more, but book two focused less on Holly and Tim’s burning love life and more on how Mildred Well’s came to be the infamous Mildred Well’s, which was a much more compelling and unsettling story for me.

Set directly after the first book as new homeowner Tim is busy redecorating and trying to forget the dangerous and dead woman who refuses to leave him alone, or stop throwing hatchets at him. Dead Woman Scorned takes the reader back to the young life of Mary, and her mother and sister, as she starts on a path that will eventually lead her to become a walking corpse that violently haunts a small New Hampshire property. A series of unfortunate and tragic events in her early life plant the seed of darkness and rage in her young heart, the knowledge of otherworldly magic cultivating this seed into a seething mass of roots that over time rot and infect her soul.

A terrifying and mysterious figure in Book One (you can find my review of book one here) Dead Woman Scorned manages to clear away some of the flies that swarm around Mildred and somehow make her even more terrifying. Tim and Hollie do make an appearance in this book, lulled into a sense of security in thinking that Mildred is finally gone, they soon realise that not only is she still stalking the property, but it seems like everyone in town is now learning her name and eager to get a look at the house of this local legend.

 

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A solid addition to the series, this one will wet your appetite for the darkness to come in Book 3.

 

About the Author –

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Michael Clark was raised in New Hampshire and lived in the house The Patience of a Dead Man is based on. He now lives in Massachusetts with his wife Josi and his dog Bubba. The Patience of a Dead Man is his first novel, and Dead Woman Scorned is his second. Stay tuned.

 

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‘Sequelland: A Story of Dreams and Screams’ by Jay Slayton-Joslin – Review

*Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

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My book Kicking Prose was a collection of sad poems about girls and growing up and not knowing how, it is about how we are falling apart and making it seem like we have it together. This book, I think, is a continuation of that theme— how through everything as creators, we continue and create.

 

Synopsis –

In the back alley of HOLLYWOOD lies SEQUELLAND, where directors and creatives get the chance to do what they love, not necessarily in the conditions that they love. Jay Slayton-Joslin, a writer and horror fan, experiencing his own existential crisis takes a direct approach exploring his childhood filled with direct to DVD horror sequels, interviewing those who created the sequels to iconic franchises feel upon looking back on them. The story of people who tried to do what they loved, filled with pride, regret, and resolution.It’s… SEQUELLAND: A STORY OF DREAMS AND SCREAMS.

 

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Thoughts –

Sequelland: A Story of Dreams and Screams takes a dive into the murky waters of horror movie sequels. Whether you hate them or love them, they aren’t going anywhere and between the movie makers who bend over backwards to please fans or the movie executives who go through script writers like toilet paper for one extra buck, there’s a lot more than fictional struggles to learn from here.

Slayton-Joslin asks pointed questions of the directors of sequels from Saw to The Leprechaun, from Carrie to Bloodrayne, delving into the unglamourous side of the movie making business. He speaks to directors who were pulled in after another director was kicked off a project, and directors who fought to get a title because they were such avid fans of the franchise themselves. Unlike with a fresh idea and screenplay, making a sequel has the added pressure of a lower budget, a higher expectation of return, a lore that must be abided by, giving the fans what they expect and yet still surprising them – the list goes on and so does the list of sequels that just don’t cut the mark.
Interspersed between these interviews, Slayton-Joslin takes a look at his own foray into a writing career. He examines his own expectations of what a story-telling career should look like and where he already feels like he has failed even before he’s fully started. There are writers and directors of all kinds who work on one project and stop there, and there are also those pigeon-holed into only making sequels, or unable to break into other genres because of the stigma of horror.
Slayton-Joslin ends the book on a hopeful note for all creative types – that there are as many paths as you are able to imagine in your story-telling mind, and there is no set track pulling you towards validation – you decide when you have succeeded and you decide what direction you want to go in if and when you do.

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Sequelland: A Story of Dreams and Screams is a non-fiction horror book that gives insight into the opportunities and pitfalls of horror movie sequels – and how all creatives can learn from those who make them.

 

About the Author –

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Jay Slayton-Joslin is the author of Sequelland: A Story of Dreams and Screams (Clash Books, 2020) and Kicking Prose (KUBOA, 2014). Jay graduated with a BA in American Literature with Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia and a MA in Creative Writing from the University of Surrey. He lives in Leeds, England.

Twitter: twitter.com/jaythecool
Instagram: instagram.com/50shadesofjaysj

 

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‘Bad Parts’ by Brandon McNulty – Review

*Disclaimer: this book was given to me for free in exchange for an honest review*

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No. Please, no.

Mac thought about the past twenty years and what little he’d done with them. He’d traded his kidneys so he could quit dialysis and enjoy life. Instead, he became hostage to the town while his family had left him behind. More recently, when Alzheimer’s had set in, he’d traded his hippocampus to keep from forgetting them. 

Heat rolled through his brain now, as though flaming coals had been dumped down his ear canal. Already the memories were vanishing. He tried to recall his seventieth birthday, but it left him like smoke through an open window. 

Desperately, he clawed after visions of his birthday. He remembered the picnic table where they’d served his red velvet birthday cake. Remembered his wife, his daughter, and the plastic forks they teasingly poked into his sides. Remembered the laughter in his ears. The smell of their herbal shampoos. The smiles on their faces. 

He had them. 

Then he began to lose them. 

 

Synopsis –

When rock guitarist Ash Hudson suffers a career-ending hand injury, she seeks out the only thing that can heal it–her hometown’s darkest secret.

For decades the residents of Hollow Hills, Pennsylvania, have offered their diseased and injured body parts to a creek demon named Snare. In return, Snare rewards its Traders with healthy replacement parts. There’s only one catch: if Traders leave town, their new parts vanish forever.

Ash wants a new hand, but living in Hollow Hills isn’t an option. Not when her band is one gig away from hitting the big time. Desperate, she bargains with Snare, promising to help the demon complete its organ collection in exchange for both a new hand and the freedom for everyone to leave town.

But bargaining with a creek demon can only end badly…

 

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Thoughts –

Bad Parts is a supernatural horror that will tear the heart right out of you – and it won’t offer a replacement. With a town chocked full of back stabbing individuals balanced on a knife edge, it’s not so much Ash Hudson and her anarchist ways that tip them one way or the other, but the strain of holding onto so many secrets for so long. Trading rotten body parts with a mysterious creek demon who ties you to the land for evermore, will do that to you though.

 

Ash Hudson as a main protagonist is a selfish, egotistical, passionate, and driven woman – so your standard rock musician really. Moulded by a tough childhood, she feels that she is nothing without her musical ability and so her motive to regain her hand, and in time for the biggest gig of her bands ( aptly named Bad Parts) career in a few days, is a damn believable one. But as the story drives on, Ash is shown to be a little less selfish and her motives move from just getting onto that stage, to saving everyone she is only now realising she loves. It’s just a shame that almost everyone in Hollow Hills has their own agenda, and will do anything to keep themselves at the top of the food chain. She’s in it for herself – until she isn’t.

 

McNulty’s visceral prose will definitely make you more aware of your internal organs, and with each page, more and more grateful that your lungs are not full of dirty creek water, or that your neighbours are eyeing up your body parts like ravenous zombies. Though the ‘ending’ begins near the middle of the book, the ‘final boss battle’ seeming to twist and turn like a never ending highway, there isn’t a second to catch your breath as more and more casualties pile up. Bad Parts could have benefited from a few more steadfast characters and a more compact ending, it was a novel that I couldn’t even imagine putting down.

 

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Bad Parts is a tumultuous novel where each characters motive is ever shifting and ever more gore inducing. Secrets, lies, and deception abound in the town of Hollow Hills, and they may just be worse than the demon that instigated them.

 

About the Author –

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Brandon McNulty grew up loving monsters, demons, and the thrill of a great scare. Now he writes supernatural thrillers, horror, and other dark fiction. He is a graduate of Taos Toolbox Writers Workshop and a winner of both Pitch Wars and RevPit. He writes from Pennsylvania. You can find him on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, Goodreads, and Bookbub.

 

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‘After the Fall: Children of the Nephilim’ by Paul Freeman – Review

*Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

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He hawked and spat as stomach acid burned inside his chest. It was time. The first one appeared, a shadowy figure emerging from the trees. He could make out its hideous face as it moved into the clearing, appearing to float on the mist. It hissed and snarled at him, a grotesque smile of fangs. Slowly he unslung the shotgun from his back. His heart beat a steady rhythm as his hands only shook a little. He brought the weapon up all the while his eyes darted about the clearing, squinting in the shadowy twilight. There was never just one. 

 

Synopsis –

Twenty years after the Fall and what’s left of mankind is eking out an existence in a post-apocalyptic world. With much of the Earth now a nuclear wasteland, civilization has been knocked back two hundred years. By day the remnants of humanity gather together in small groups drawing from the land what they can in their new technological wasteland. By night they hide behind walls and bank up fires in an attempt to ward off the evil stalking the land during the hours of darkness.

The world needs a savior. A hero unafraid to face his own fears and terror of the vampires. An ex-preacher disillusioned by the world and his god is not that man… or so he says.

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Thoughts –

Set 20 years into the vampire apocalypse that has plunged the world into darkness, After the Fall paints a grim picture of one small town struggling to eke out an existence while fighting off the monsters that stalk their nights. But not only this, the group also have to protect themselves from the worst opportunistic scum of humanity – raiders.

Freeman’s storytelling strengths lie in the authentic tone of his characters and their rich lives. He creates sympathetic characters from courageous town leaders to horny and misguided teenagers, who’s bad luck genuinely pulls at the readers heart strings – characters that you can’t help but root for.

After the Fall‘s main hero is Preacher, a former man of God who lost faith in his leader when he saw his congregation torn to pieces in front of his eyes, turned after death into soulless monsters intent on pulling others down with them. Motivated by his hatred of these demons and fearless against their onslaught, Preacher also has the burden of leading the town of ‘Colony’, a group that looks to him for strength, guidance, and hope, a burden that gets heavier by the day, highlighting the struggles and vulnerabilities we so rarely see in our heroes.

 

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After the Fall: Children of the Nephilim is a post apocalyptic novel that pits faith against evil, takes no prisoners, and is dripping with darkness.

 

About the Author –

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Paul Freeman is from Dublin, Ireland, where he now works, plays and writes. In the past he has lived in Germany and America but is now content to keep his roaming to the worlds he creates and writes about. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook, or on his website here.

Tribesman is his first published novel, an epic fantasy with hints of Celtic myth. He has also published a short story in the steampunk anthology, Strange Tales From the Scriptorium Vaults. Season of the Dead is a novel about the zombie apocalypse, told from four different perspectives by four different authors and published by Spore Press. Book 2 in the Tribesman series, Warrior is now available.

 

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‘Dark Divinations’ Anthology edited by Naching T. Kassa

*Disclaimer – I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

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Alexandria, Virginia, 1872

I did not know how long I had been unconscious, but when I opened my eyes, I saw… Nothing. Surrounded by a blackness darker than the Virginia woods on a cloudy night, I could feel the closeness of the space around me and smell the stale air. It took me a few moments to realize I was lying in a coffin. I groped the sides of the box, then pressed against the lid only inches from my face. (The Bell by Jon O’Bergh)

 

Synopsis –

It’s the height of Queen Victoria’s rule. Fog swirls in the gas-lit streets, while in the parlor, hands are linked. Pale and expectant faces gaze upon a woman, her eyes closed and shoulders slumped. The medium speaks, her tone hollow and inhuman. The seance has begun. Join us as we explore fourteen frightening tales of Victorian horror, each centered around a method of divination. Can the reading of tea leaves influence the future? Can dreams keep a soldier from death in the Crimea? Can a pocket watch foretell a deadly family curse? From entrail reading and fortune-telling machines to prophetic spiders and voodoo spells, sometimes the future is better left unknown. Choose your fate. Choose your DARK DIVINATION.

 

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Thoughts –

An anthology pried from the cold, dead, ghostly hands of the Victorian era, Dark Divinations leads the reader down a trail of blood chilling seances, ominous tea leaves, and curses that echo through the ages.

From a stellar list of writers including Jon O’Bergh, Hannah Hulbert, and the editor themselves Naching T. Kassa, this is an anthology chocked full of atmosphere, tension, and a building dread. From the blood curdling dreams of the doting wife Jennie in Ash Hartwell’s Copper and Cordite, to the ominous appearance of a fortune telling automaton bearing only grave news in Stephanie Ellis’s Romany Rose, Dark Divinations spans a century of Victorian characters and the perils that lie within attempting to see, or even change, ones own fate.

With a strength in tone and immersive atmosphere, this is a collection of story for the historically leaning, and for anyone who loves a good old bewitching tale of the unchangeable tapestry of destiny. There are methods for every enthusiast in this anthology, and you will not be disappointed by the variety.

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Grab your bustle, keep your pocket watch wound, and settle in for fourteen gothic tales of future telling. Recommended to be read by candlelight as a storm rages outside.

 

All the Authors –

Power and Shadow by Hannah Hulbert

Copper and Cordite by Ash Hartwell

Damnation in Venice by Joe L. Murr

The Pocket Watch by Emerian Rich

They Wound Like Worms by Naching T. Kassa

Miroir de Vaugnac by Michael Fassbender

The Bell by Jon O’Bergh

Romany Rose by Stephanie Ellis

Miss Mae’s Prayers by H.R.R. Gorman

Breaking Bad by R.L. Merrill

Broken Crystal by Rie Sheridan Rose

Ghost of St. John Lane by Daphne Strasert

The Moat House Cob by Alan Fisher

Of Blood and Bones by Jeremy Megargee

 

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