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‘666 Gable Way’ by Dani Lamia & Frederick H. Crook – Review

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

***

The lone residence of Gable Way, as the Pyncheon named their path upon the home’s completion in the year 1887, had at first been regarded by the residents of White Lake, Michigan, as elegant, perhaps even decadent. The Pyncheons were well educated, successful, and well bred. However, in the short few years following their arrival, some of the people of White Lake incurred inexplicable tragedies, many in the form of family members gone missing or strange illnesses that doctors could not diagnose nor affect. Some of these sicknesses abated, while others ended tragically. There were accidents involving carriages, of which some were fatal. Homes or barns would spontaneously combust without apparent cause, and cases of accidental firearm discharge became common.

Synopsis –

Something evil hides within the House of Seven Gables… Phoebe Pyncheon hasn’t had an easy life. Alone and out of work, she does her best to make ends meet while she finishes her debut novel. But when even the monthly rent becomes too much for the struggling young writer to afford, she is forced to move in to her Great Aunt Hester’s boarding house. Known as the House of Seven Gables, this Victorian mansion is a maze of decrepit halls, musty old furniture, and faded glamour. At first, Phoebe feels at home in the strange, quirky old house.

But soon she senses a presence lurking in the shadows, just out of sight. She hears it breathing in the darkness, feels its cold touch on her skin at night. Then the police knock on her door with news of a dead body found nearby. And Phoebe discovers the terrifying truth… The House of Seven Gables is a temple to an ancient evil, a terrifying power unleashed by Hester and her coven of friends. This dark entity haunts the stones of the old mansion, plotting its revenge upon the living. But a secret power hides within Phoebe as well. And releasing it may be her only chance to survive the terror that awaits her…

Thoughts –

666 Gable Way is a perfect intersection of Victorian values and witchy séances, and a modern nihilistic attitude. Our millennial protagonist, Phoebe, is down on her luck and just trying to get her fantasy adventure novel written but clashes hard with her great aunt Hester and her witchy ways. A perfect combination of traditional witch characters with a more modern twist, 666 Gable Way is a dark and mysterious novel with a cast of intriguing and beguiling characters that is difficult to put down. A stuffy trio of palm readers, an artist who’s blood splattered works line the walls of every room, a witty Englishman who seems to have his own secrets, and now a young and cantankerous woman ready to rock the boat if needed.

Set in the backdrop of an ancient house that holds many secrets in its walls, readers are treated to a gothic styled mystery with modern characters and events, but where you still need to dress well for dinner. Shocking violence and violation are mixed surprisingly well with humour and tenacity. There is something for everyone in this book, and it is a testament to Dani Lamia and Frederick H. Crook’s writing, that everything is blended so well. It’s almost like witchcraft. Spells, hexes, séances, ghosts, possessions, and so much more take place in this boarding house slash psychic reading office, and it is only the strength, stubbornness, and passion of Phoebe that will get you through this book alive.

If you are looking for a modern witchy read I would highly recommend spending some time with Phoebe at 666 Gable Way and exploring the mysteries of the ancient and every watching house, and the secrets of the Pyncheon family.

About the Author –

Dani Lamia has accepted the curse of a warped mind that bends reality, rending the fabric between the real and the unreal. Perhaps a form of schizophrenia, Dani prefers to think of it as wonderful inspiration for some deeply creepy but strangely intellectual horror stories that are pulled from those nightmarish visions. A student of the great horror writers (and filmmakers), Dani has turned a passion for twisted tales that unlock deep truths about humanity into a career focused on scaring the pants off readers. You can find Dani Lamia on Instagram here.

Born in Chicago, Frederick lives with his wife, Rae and their dachshunds, Moxie, Luke, and Parker. He writes dystopian sci-fi, but has written a ghost story and recently a thriller.

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‘Horrors & Wonders’ by Scott Hughes – Review

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

***

Will thought Derek was screwing with him. He was about to say, Yeah right, when he trained his Eveready on the same spot as Derek’s. Yes, there it was. Well, there was box made of bones. Will was still sceptical that it was – or hopeful that it wasn’t – the Bone Box. This had to be something Shawn had glued together using the leftovers from a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Come one, Shawn, Will thought. Get this over with, for Christ’s sake. Jump out and make us shit our pants and do whatever else it is y’all are planning to do to us.

But no Shawn. No other teenagers, period. Will and Derek were alone in the outskirts of the Okefenokee with a couple of one-dollar flashlights and a knife with a Bic lighter in the handle.

‘The Bone Box’

Synopsis –

Two friends search a Georgia swamp at night for a local legend said to call forth death itself… A self-aware hoard tells the story of its creation… A boy in a secluded village is visited by a traveler with a strange bottle… A teacher stumbles upon an alien monstrosity in an abandoned locker room… After his wife leaves him, a man discovers he has a unique power tied to his dreams…Horrors & Wonders is a collection of these tales and many more—stories of horror and fantasy and science fiction that capture what makes this world, and all others, both frightening and wondrous.

Thoughts –

(If you would like to see my review of Hughes’ other collection, ‘The Last Book You’ll Ever Read’, you can find it here.) Another stellar short story collection from Scott Hughes, Horrors & Wonders is a set of stories, and a poem, that hold darkness and light in equal measure. Not all of the stories are straight forward horrifying tales, some are more inclined towards hope and fascination, but, as with life, it is not always easy to tell which is which when you dive in.

‘Songcaster and Little Dune’ was a particularly wonderful story that I think perfectly represents the wonder section of this collection. A fantasy story set in a barren world held in the grip of a fanatic religion, where ‘heathens’ can weave spells through music and a little girl has the ability to grow lush green vegetation in a desolate desert with just a single drop of blood. There is still horror in the events of the story, but there is also hope and a sprawling universe that could be explored. I would have happily dived into a novel about this world. Another story that struck me was ‘Dreamcatch’ which tells of the unfortunate evening that a man discovers his wife has left him. He drinks, and he dreams, and when he wakes the dreams have somehow followed him into the real world. A story that teeters on the knife edge between horror and wonder until the very last line, it was the perfect story to end with.

Horrors & Wonders if the perfect blend of hope and darkness, of terrifying events and undaunted characters. Yet another unforgettable collection from Hughes.

About the Author –

Scott Hughes is a Georgia writer who graduated from Mercer University and then received an MFA in creative writing from Georgia College & State University.

His fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared in such publications as CrazyhorseOne Sentence PoemsEntropyDeep MagicCarbon Culture ReviewRedividerRedheaded StepchildPopMattersStrange HorizonsOdd Tales of Wonder, and Compaso: Journal of Comparative Research in Anthropology and Sociology.

His collection of horror short stories, The Last Book You’ll Ever Read , is available from Sinister Stoat Press, an imprint of Weasel Press. His poetry collection, The Universe You Swallowed Whole , is available from Finishing Line Press. His latest fiction collection, Horrors & Wonders , is available now.

For more information you can find writescott.com

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‘The Easton Falls Massacre: Bigfoot’s Revenge’ by Holly Rae Garcia & Ryan Prentice Garcia – Review

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

***

Kellen Tsosie crouched in the thick underbrush twenty yards away from the thirsty animal and tried to ignore the thorns scratching his legs. There had been rumors around town of strange sightings in the area, but the reports were inconsistent. Some said the thing had to be the biggest grizzly they had ever seen, others swore it looked like a gorilla, forgetting that the Pacific Northwest had never been home to any gorillas. Others swore it was the Dzunukwa, from the legends of the Kwakiutl tribe. Some called it ‘Bigfoot’, or ‘Sasquatch’. Kellen had hoped the sightings were none of those things, but couldn’t deny what was right in front of him. An ancient creature who knew their kind wasn’t allowed to be so close to the stream. Forbidden, even, to leave the foothills at all. Yet there it was in front of him, shattering a centuries-old alliance between Tsosie elders and the Bigfoot clan.

Synopsis –

US Army Veteran Henry Miller embarks on a hunt at the edge of the Black Forest, but strays from the path and finds himself too close to the East Cascade Mountain Range.

Something lurks in the forest on the other side of those mountains. An ancient race of Bigfoot that have kept to themselves for centuries, until one of them defies the warnings and roams too far from the safety of their home.

When these two intersect, alliances are broken and events set in motion that will leave residents of the town of Easton Falls, Washington, fighting for their lives.

Thoughts –

The Easton Fall’s Massacre: Bigfoot’s Revenge is a short and gruesome story of exactly what it sounds like; Bigfoot enacting revenge on the humans that have wronged them. But this is not a singular Bigfoot, this is a tribe (Bigfeet?) and when one of them is harmed inadvertently by a distracted hunter, they are not about to slink back into the shadows and forget about it. The story ramps up from uncomfortable to frantic in slow and steady steps – but they are pretty big steps.

The writing from husband and wife pair Rae Garcia and Prentice Garcia, is well crafted and you get more than just humanoid violence in this novella. The characters of the town are, for the most part, well fleshed out even in as little words as there are, with back stories and past traumas, yet this doesn’t entirely leave you feeling that Bigfoot is the villain for the entire story; as with any good story, it turns out it’s probably man.

I would have liked to get to know the Native American tribe a little better. These are the people who help protect the ‘Bigfeet’ and to keep things from the tragedy that happens here from ever occurring, but this time they failed. It would have been a great inclusion to have more of them interacting with the story and to learn how exactly this strange alliance came about. But overall, The Easton Fall’s Massacre: Bigfoot’s Revenge does exactly what it says on the tin and with an ending that is shocking, you will not be disappointed.

If you are looking for a revenge story with a twist or just more of the legendary Bigfoot in your library, The Easton Fall’s Massacre: Bigfoot’s Revenge is a must have novella for your collection.

About the Authors –

In her own writing, Holly Rae Garcia leans toward the thriller, horror, sci-fi, and dystopian genres.

She live on the Texas Coast with her family and five dogs.

* COME JOIN THE MURDER
Debut novel, a psychological thriller with horrific elements.

* EASTON FALLS MASSACRE: BIG FOOT’S REVENGE
Horror novella written with Ryan Prentice Garcia

More information can be found on her website: www.HollyRaeGarcia.com

Ryan Prentice Garcia is currently working on two projects: His first solo novel, a gruesome tale that involves poker, the devil, and revenge, and a sequel to his debut novella with his wife and fellow author, Holly Rae Garcia. He currently resides on the Texas Coast with his family.

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‘The Instrument’ by Ivan Radev – Review

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

***

“Well, only thirty-one to go.”

I don’t know how I got myself into this mess. All I remember is me and my buddy Josh talking over a Scotch on a Friday night about how he had rented a run-down utility building around the city centre. He told me he wants to make it a nice, cozy pub, much like the one we frequent. Next thing I know I get a call the following morning where he tells me I could earn the easiest hundred-fifty bucks of my life.

“It’s not going to take you long mate. Tuning a piano is easier than it sounds.”

His sweet lies came just two days after my rent’s due date, so well… I agreed. I was a music major in college, I’ve seen how they do the job before and watching a couple of Youtube videos gave me confidence that it really wouldn’t be too hard. It didn’t take me long to realise how freaking wrong I was.

Synopsis –

On a searing summer afternoon, the silence is softly broken by the beautiful melody of a strange instrument. A man finds love at first sight with the one who plays it, soon to be engulfed by the strange curse her family bears. On a star-lit stage, the two dance as death draws near, pulled in by the mystical music of the countless constellations. The relentless rhythm lusts for blood, unless the malicious puzzle is solved.

Thoughts –

A twist on the usual fairytale style story, The Instrument follows a young man named Tim as he falls in love with a beautiful woman and her strange musical instrument only to discover that said instrument is the key to an ancient curse that is plaguing her family. Albert, the butler and servant to the family who is less a companion and more a helpful yet unsettling creature that instills fear terror in Tim, is also more involved in this than first thought, and Tim must learn from this strange and silent man in order to save the one he loves.

The narrative tone of the story changes from quite a modern one, to a more classical style as the story progresses, reflecting the timelessness of the events. The year is no longer a marker for these characters and as such, the tone changes too. The story is quickly lifted from a physical setting and seems to be more in the realms of the imagination, the creative mind of our narrative, and the world slowly passing him by. The Instrument is a story that takes you on a journey from a very ordinary young man forced to tune a piano when he has no idea how to, to one who is love obsessed and determined to pick out the melody of time itself in order to save this woman.

As the story focuses on our male protagonist, the ending was a little out of left feel for me. Without giving away any spoilers, I just wasn’t expecting our female character and the object of his love to turn out the way that she did, this wasn’t inferred anywhere else in the story and though it lends a bitter sweet ending, it didn’t feel altogether natural. Still, The Instrument is a unique story and one that explores obsession, madness, and the lengths some people will go for the one that they love – regardless of anything else.

A dark tale with even darker imagery, The Instrument is a love story you will not expect.

About the Author –

Ivan Radev was born in Bulgaria in the year 1990 and throughout his childhood he always had a keen interest in The Arts. In tenth grade they became the driving force for him to quit school, study at home and spend every waking hour practicing the piano, painting in oils and writing. His literary journey began with sociological essays, to which he later added fictional and romance elements. He dabbled in poetry and comic writing, soon to find a new passion – horror. The macabre is the perfect stage for the poetic, after all, and so, “The Instrument” was born.

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‘Ambrosia’ by Madison Wheatley – Review

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

***

Fat pig. Fat pig. Fat pig.

I let Jace’s ugly words roll around in my head while I try to tear myself away from the bathroom mirror. They echo throughout my mind, waking up feelings of self-hatred and disgust. I feel my soul sinking the longer I stare at the hideous figure in the toothpaste splattered mirror, but I can’t make myself look away.

Can’t seem to shut off the voices from the past.

I came home from work early, only to find someone else’s lithe arms coiled around his chest like a white snake. Upon seeing me in the doorway, her arms slithered off his skin as she sprang off the bed.

He rose, half-dressed. Stood next to her in solidarity. The fear in her eyes was absent from his defiant glare.

Normally, I’m able to weaponize my destructive thoughts, normally able to use them as some sick form of ‘motivation’ to drag myself to the gym every morning.

But today is August 3rd. The Anniversary

Synopsis –

Two words have haunted Crystal for years: fat pig.

So when a handsome and athletic stranger promises that his gym will change her life, how can she say no? With its cutting-edge facilities, beyond-friendly staff, and endless free samples of Ambrosia, their signature energizing sports drink, Mount Olympus seems too perfect to be real—and maybe it is. Crystal needs it all, but is she willing to lose more than just weight?

Thoughts –

Ambrosia is a stark tale of self-hatred, guilt, regret, and body image that follows the story of Crystal, a woman who has long struggled with her weight and loving herself. Predisposed to believe that she deserves to be punished and hurt, Mount Olympus, the new and exotic gym in town that have graciously slashed their prices just for her, is primed to draw her in. As Crystal becomes more and more obsessed with working out, she also starts to see that she is not the only one spending every waking hour in the gym. Having pushed away any family or friends she had, there is no one around to pull her out of her addiction, so when she begins to lose a lot more than bodyweight, she has to pull herself out of this hell hole.

A novel that tackles difficult events and emotions, Ambrosia is a story that I think most can relate to, if not at least most women. The pressure to lose weight, to work harder, to repress unpleasant memories and focus on ‘goals’ on the ‘hussle’ of our new lives is a constant pressure. To always be better, stronger, and more in control. Crystal, our protagonist, falls fast, but it’s a fall we can all recognise. Her past and her struggles are universally tragic as well as the buttons pressed to pull her into this well-crafted business of despair.

Wheatley’s writing is in the moment, it is honest and raw, and gives an urgency to Crystal’s muddled brain that brings a realism to the surreal events that are happening. Wheatley uses her writing to confront the irony of a complete body overhaul, only to find out that your mind is still the same. You can’t wipe away a traumatising past with any amount of treadmill miles.

Using imagined horrors to reflect the true horrors of our daily lives, Ambrosia will have you running a fine tooth comb through every gym membership contract you see.

About the Author –

Madison Wheatley is a poet and speculative young adult/new adult writer from Jackson, TN. Since her graduation from Harding University in 2014, she has been teaching middle school and high school English Language Arts. Her poetry has been published in Seltzer (2014) and Cave Region Review (2014), and she is a contributing author in Seven Deadly Sins, A YA Anthology: Avarice (2018) and Secrets in Our Cities (2018). Her debut novel Ambrosia, a new adult paranormal thriller, was released by Authors 4 Authors Publishing on October 13, 2019. You can find her through her Twitter or Instagram.

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