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‘The Merging of Shadows’ by the Price Girls – Review (YA Horror)

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

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I was told by an early age, around the time I convinced myself that the silhouette of the witch with the pointy hat who resided in the corner of my room every once in a blue moon – supposedly cast from the merging of shadows from the surrounding of furniture – was definitely going to get me, that I shouldn’t go looking for things that aren’t there, to just ignore it. So I did. I ignored or more or less hid under the covers from the witch who magically reappeared by the closest even after Mama and Papa had rearranged all my bedroom furniture and had announced that there were no such things as witches, monster, or ghosts before having turned off the light and leaving me alone. I didn’t go looking for the thing lurking in the dark. In fact, it came looking for me.

And it all started in that damn house. 

 

Synopsis –

Sixteen-year-old Marimar Utterson has just found herself living in a small southern town’s notoriously haunted house when she meets Sage Sterling. A handsome hazel-green eyed boy who is not only captivated by Marimar’s petite beauty and fiery disposition, but by her home’s mysterious past. Unfortunately, his fascination with her house turns perilous when he manages to infuriate the spirit who in turn lashes out against Marimar.

Together, they must set off to uncover the spirit’s dark secret in hopes of finally laying it to rest. For with each encounter the malicious presence diminishes Marimar’s grasp on her sanity and odds of survival.

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*Minor spoiler alert a ahead*

The Merging of Shadows is apparently a paranormal romance and the individual elements do add up to something close to it. A teenage girl moves to a new town and meets a handsome boy in a park. He’s surprisingly familiar with her new address, as is everyone in town, as it’s the resident haunted house with a dark history. Our MC must battle with her feelings for this new boy while her life and sanity are threatened at home by the ghost that haunts her. Sounds great right?

 

Love

Unfortunately the execution is less than exciting. The budding romance I was hoping to journey through was more ‘manipulative married couple’ than ‘awkward teen infatuation’. I had high hopes for a novel written by three women but was sadly let down by toxic sexist tropes and straight up abuse at times. Mar, our MC, is introduced as a loving sister and daughter but as soon a she meets her love interest, Sage, while they take their respective little siblings to the park, she turns into a conniving and manipulative girl. There’s no ‘will they, won’t they’, it just feels like they’ve started dating from their first meeting. Mar goes out of her way to demean Sage for not meeting her masculine standards and then laments the fact that he isn’t making a move, flying off the handle at every turn and jumping right in with jealousy without even hearing a word about ex-girlfriends or having had a history of relationships herself. It all comes out of the blue with the young couple bickering and pushing each other’s buttons so they can claim ‘she’s so hot when she’s angry’ or ‘he’s so cute when he’s upset’. It was an uncomfortable read.
The manipulation and once even physical hitting was bizarre especially as the readers sympathies are tugged on constantly for Sage having an abusive step-father and a neglectful farm life. The step-father doesn’t show up until the last chapter and what does Mar do? Intentionally starts an argument with him so that Sage has to jump in and get hit. Add this to the fact that her cutesy, loving, joking father turns into a threatening abusive man when boys are mentioned. He meets her boyfriend with a rifle on his knee and all she does is roll her eyes, likes it’s normal for a father to try and control his teenage daughter’s social life. The whole thing was uncomfortable for me and just left me feeling sorry for Sage entirely.

The Ghosts
And then we get to the ghosts. The paranormal activity in The Merging of Shadows starts off pretty tame; cold spots, insects that are there and then not there, disembodied voices. To be honest the paranormal stuff sort of takes a back seat to the relationship between Sage and Mar, which would have been fine if that were in anyway interesting, but as it stands just comes off as ‘Oh yeah! I forgot about the haunted house!” Later on some paranormal investigators state very clearly that ghosts cannot kill you, because they can’t override God or something (?) and yet when they confront this ghosts is starts slamming people’s heads off walls. The ghost is also apparently a small boy yet when he speaks it’s like a middle aged rapist, again not explained.

The Goths
So this is one of the oddest things I’ve ever read in a novel and I was thoroughly confused. It did remind me of the metal heads in Neville’s ‘The Ritual‘ which I wasn’t too fond of either but at least they had character. Over halfway through the book Mar goes shopping with her mother. While there, Mar notices some goths who are following her, to which she alerts her mother and they both get out of there pretty fast. You then learn that this has been happening since she was a baby. (I wish I was kidding) Goths have been following her and menacing her in some way since she was a kid and later she finds a van following her with an AC/DC sticker (THE HORROR!) In the end you find out that she has a positive energy and that people with negative energies, i.e goths, are attracted to her because they want to stamp out her energy. The book makes out that goths are these mindless violent zombies. Some of the happiest people I know wear nothing but black so this was the weakest part of the plot for me. Even if it had been seeded just a little at the beginning or any mention of the MC not liking goths had been made but no – it was a weak afterthought with no development.

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My experience of The Merging of Shadows was partly influenced by my expectation of the authors and the genre, but I still think the themes and tropes could have been handled much better. This paranormal romance/horror didn’t leave me nostalgic for my teenage loves or particularly scared except maybe of evil goth zombies.

 

About the Authors –

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(Bio taken  from Goodreads) PRICE GIRLS is the collective pen name of three sisters Marité, Sheníe, and Taís Price. The three of them live in the urban city of Olympia, Washington, where they are hard at work writing during the day and conjuring scary ideas during the night. The Merging of Shadows is their first novel.

For more information about their upcoming novels, visit them online at threepricegirls.blogspot.com

 

Links to Buy and Review –

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Goodreads.com

 

What do you think about books written by siblings? Would you ever start a project with your adult siblings? Should YA romance depict abusive relationships?

‘Metas’ by Rae Louise – Review

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

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The absinthe seared the back of Violet’s throat, setting her tastes buds alight. She felt it rushing like acid down her gullet and into her empty stomach. 

“Whoo!” Violet slammed the shot glass onto the bar, signalling the tender to bring over a second one. 

“Steady on, Vi, it’s still early,” Lucy cautioned, in her light-hearted manner. 

It may have only just gone 9 p.m., but it was Friday night and Cherry’s Bar was filling up fast. Piss-cheap beer, along with the free-shot-with-any-cocktail deal, made it a popular venue for university students; especially those psyching themselves up for Derby City Centre’s bigger pubs and clubs. Although the cocktails themselves were more juice than alcohol, and Violet had learned from experience that once you got over the excitement of free booze, it was fairly counterproductive. 

“Where after this?” she yelled, over the thudding beat of chart hits. “I’m in the mood for some serious boogying tonight!” 

“Carry on the way you’re going and you won’t be able to stand up, let alone dance around your handbag.” Another admonishment from Lucy.

A fresh shot glass filled with slime-green liquid was plonked on the bar in front of Violet, along with a milky-looking cocktail.

“I didn’t order this,” Violet told the barman. 

He pointed behind them to the seating zone that ran alongside the main window. Violet was only able to identify the mystery man because he was sitting alone. Slouched in a chair, one elbow draped over the back of it in a lackadaisical fashion, a dark-haired stranger had them in his sight. His face rippled with colour beneath the disco lights, which cast surfing rainbows over his black shirt. The scene induced a hallucinogenic kind of dizziness, and in the end Violet had to look away. 

“He bought this? For me?” she asked the barman, who clarified with a nod. She offered him some change to pay for the shot, but he waved a dismissive hand. 

“Call it a freebie with the cocktail,” he said. 

“What cocktail is it?” 

“Er, Screaming Orgasm.” 

Violet and Lucy glanced back at the stranger, then at each other. They erupted into unrestrained giggles. 

 

Synsopsis –

After the strange and unsolved death of her younger sister, Violet is spiraling into a pit of self-destruction. Not only is she drinking, but she’s started to black out and forget things, started to get an urge for violence that she never had before. So, when a group of strange individuals come offering answers not only to her lost nights, but also to what really happened to her sister, she follows gladly. But there’s something inside her that’s trying to get out. Can she push the darkness back, or will she use it to avenge her sister?

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Though not a classic ‘werewolf’ story, Metas is the reinvention of the struggle to contain and harness the animal within. An urban tale of heightened senses, mysterious groups hellbent on eradicating the problem, and a hunger that cannot be denied. Through broken friendships, stifled lovers, and secrets that would drive anyone insane, Louise brings the reader on a roller-coaster ride through the life of protagonist Violet

Violet is not a perfect hero – she gets her hands dirty on numerous occasions, a morally conflicted woman who was never given the tools to make the right decisions. She may be the least ‘human’ of all the characters in the book but she certainly has the complicated emotions and motivations of a human. She can brave, cowardly, kind to strangers, mean to those she loves, secretive and irrational and this is what makes the story so easy to get through. It was never a difficult task to turn to the next page. Metas gives you plenty to chew on.

I found Metas to be a visceral and multi-faceted story that wouldn’t be amiss on the big screen. The female monster story needs to come back to the forefront and this is a good place to start. Violet is an imperfect main character and one that you can’t always agree with, but you certainly can’t look away from. It’s bloody, it’s messy, there is no perfectly sculpted happy ending here, but plenty of bite.

 

About the Author –

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Rae Louise is a horror writer from the UK. Cultivating a love of darker stories from a young age, she studied movie makeup and prosthetics, as well as creating and selling gothic art. You can find her on GoodreadsInstagram and Facebook.

 

Links to Buy and Review –

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Goodreads

 

What’s your favourite werewolf-esque horror story? Do we need more female werewolves? Who’s your favourite UK horror writer?

‘Worship Me’ by Craig Stewart

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

 

Kneeling at the base of the structure was a man with his eyes turned up to meet the highest point of the temple, his hands stretched put in unabashed praise. A terrible tremor had taken hold of his body; he was no older than thirty, yet he looked hardened by a life of heavy labour.

His complete nakedness, save for a light layer of dirt coating his unwashed body, revealed the intricate scars that patterned his skin. They spread from the base of his neck, covering every inch of him like tally marks. They traced down his back and across his shoulders wrapped around his arms and chest, cutting into the crevices of his armpits before continuing down his torso. Even the sensitive flesh of his groin was not spared the meticulous and mysterious documentation. The only blank canvas left was his face, but that was mostly hidden by a wild beard.

The oddest thing of all was his expression of bliss. A gleeful smile stretched across his face in joyous defiance against gloom. It was pure adulation that poured out of him: not sorrow, not terror. Kneeling in front of the imposing structure, he could offer only love and worship – his whole body tingled with it.

He fixated on the dark opening like a dead thing glimpsing Heaven for the first time. Thoughts drifted through the light blue of his eyes, and although his pupils remained pinned in place, his irises toiled and drifted just as the clouds above. In the oblivion gaping before him, he found completeness and order. He seemed to feast on it, as if it was something he hungered for.

The man with spectral eyes was waiting for his master. Then, from deep within the Burward Forest, something stirred.

 

Synopsis-

St Paul’s United Church has a small and close congregation, so when one of their own, a husband and father, disappears without a trace, they pray avidly for his safe return. But their lost sheep has found a new house of worship in the forest behind their Church, and a new God too. He wants them to join him in worshiping this new God, locking the doors of their sanctuary and giving them two nights to choose – their God that they have never seen, heard, or experienced, or the creature he has found that can perform real, tangible miracles. Who will get on their knees and pray to the Behemoth and who will die for their faith?

 

My Thoughts

Worship Me is, at times, a gruesome and violent story of faith, religion, and the desperate need to believe in something, even when you know it’s not right. There are a lot of deep questions posed and some answers given for these topics and some real deep thinking behind what the characters fear and the facades that they put up in order to interact with each other and seem worthy of being a part of their church. Growing going to church every single Sunday until I turned eighteen, I found the setting to be perfectly described. I could almost smell the dust in the carpet, feel the polished wood of the pews, and roll my eyes at the hypocrisy of some of those well to do Church elders.

The cast of characters are introduced slowly and methodically, easing the reader into their backgrounds and personalities and setting them each up in a solid stance so you can’t get mixed up. It’s difficult when dealing with so many points of view and characters to keep everything straight but I very rarely felt confused in this story. And you’re drip fed the details that unravel secret after secret, shining a glaring light on this communities sinful ways. It doesn’t take long for the story, for a cheerful church picnic, to turn inexplicably dark and for everything once held sacred to these people to be turned to vile ash – at times literally. To see the carefully constructed and pristine image of their community and their faith brought down around them, makes the story a visceral read. Stewart pulls no punches when describing the violence, the body horror, and the cruelty enacted by these ‘good christians’ or the man and the monster that are tormenting them. In the end there’s not much difference between the three.

One point of confusion for me in the story was when the main antagonist shows up to bring the monster to the church and then quickly disappears for most of the novel. He shows back up at the end for a real show down, but for much of the story he is either not present at all or I seriously missed something. I was looking forward to seeing him manipulate and coerce up close, but he seems to hide in the shadows if he is there at all.

 

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Worship Me is a story up there with King’s ‘The Mist’ and Neville’s ‘The Ritual’. I look forward to reading more of Stewart in the future and if you are missing a story of fanatical religious people learning what a real God would be like, I’d add this one to my shelf. God bless the little children.

 

About the Author-

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(Bio taken from Craig website) Craig Stewart is a Canadian author and filmmaker who learned how to count from the rhyme, “One, two, Freddy’s coming for you.” He’s a creator and connoisseur of everything horror; never afraid to delve into the dark. His written works include short stories, film scripts, articles, as well as his first horror novel, Worship Me, recently published by Hellbound Books. He has also written and directed several short horror films that have enjoyed screenings across North America. You can find Craig Stewart on Twitter and on his website.

 

 

Links to Buy and Review-

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Goodreads.com

 

 

What’s your favourite religious centred horror story? What’s the scariest thing you find about fanatics? Have you ever read any Christian horror stories? Let me know down below!

‘The Pale White’ by Chad Lutzke – Review

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

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It’s been dark for an hour and I’m the first one up. Usually am. I stare at the ceiling and pretend I’m somewhere else, pretend it’s all been a dream. It took about a week to get used to staying up all night, sleeping all day. We rarely get to bed before noon. That’s Doc’s doing. Nobody wants to rape a girl in broad daylight, the sun spotlighting their sin.

I turn on the lamp next to my bed and look over at the top of the stairs, where Doc puts our food. The same empty plates sit there, stacked and licked clean. It’s been like this for days. Not a crumb in sight. Being hungry is one thing, but when food is the highlight of your day, the days slow down and stretch into something tortuous, maddening. If it weren’t for Alex and Kammie, I’d have taken a broken bulb to my wrist months ago.

 

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Synopsis-

The Pale White is the story of how three young girls held captive in horrific conditions finally take their freedom back. But what happens when that door that’s been locked for so long opens up to a  they world no longer recognise. Can they regain their sanity and really live normal lives? And more importantly, can they do it together?

 

My Thoughts-

I neglected to read a synopsis or anything really about The Pale White before diving straight in and as someone who generally avoids any kind of sexual abuse in media, especially when it involves children, it was a real sucker punch for me to read that first chapter. That part was totally on me and not the fault of the author, but I would like to warn anyone considering this story that though there are no graphic descriptions of sexual abuse as it all happens before the story begins, it is alluded to and not sanitized at all so only read if you can handle the subject matter.

That being said, I think the handling of the incredibly sensitive subject matter is done well and shown through the eyes of one of the girls, gives a much needed human aspect to victims of this kind of abuse. A lot of stories I’ve read have victims of sexual abuse, whether they’re children or adults, as voiceless and unfortunately like tragic objects to pull at heart strings but not act as fully formed characters, and this is not so with The Pale White. Lutzke dove deep into the minds and lives of these girls for this rather short story and gives readers just a glimpse into what they have been forced through but also what they use to cope with that, the personalities that they desperately try to cling to as their captor relentlessly tries to stamp it out of them.

The sisterly nature and the care that these girls have for each other, the genuine love that they feel would bring a tear to anyone’s eye and I think it’s the grounding force for the story. Lutzke makes you care for the individual personalities and not just the fact that these are children in a dire situation – you care about them by name.

 

The Pale White is a heavy read but the story is in good hands with Lutzke. I think it draws attention to the every day horror that is a reality for far too many people, far too many of them children, and that most of us don’t have to think about. This type of thing happens far too often and is largely swept under the rug. All three girls are written with respect and reverence, and story of The Pale White‘s conclusion will not be easily forgotten.

 

About the Author-

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(Chad Lutzke hails from Battle Creek, MI. where he lives with his wife and kids. For over two decades, he has been a contributor to several different outlets in the independent music and film scene, offering articles, reviews, and artwork. He has written for Famous Monsters of Filmland, Rue Morgue, Cemetery Dance, and Scream magazine. His fiction can be found in a few dozen magazines and anthologies. He is known for his dark, heartfelt novellas which have been praised by Jack Ketchum, Stephen Graham Jones, James Newman, Cemetery Dance and his own mother. You can find him on Twitter, Goodreads, and over at his website.

 

 

Links to Buy and Review-

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Goodreads.com

 

How do you feel about trigger warnings, do you prefer not to know? Should depictions of sexual abuse be sanitized for readers or should it be described in all it’s horrific detail? Have you read any of Chad Lutzke’s other books? Let me know down below!

‘The Last Book You’ll Ever Read’ by Scott Hughes – Review

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

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Contents-

The Last Book You’ll Ever Read is a collection of 5 short stories from writer Scott Hughes. Ranging from the psychological horror of a tortured mind to the grotesque body horror of a man and some questionable cement, these five stories are fresh, modern, and oh so dreadful.

 

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The Last Book You’ll Ever Read is probably the shortest collection I’ve reviewed so far, but man does it pack a punch. The collection is well written, explores new and creative ideas rather than the usual horror tropes, and has a connecting thread that sandwiches the stories that really made me smile and genuinely creeped me out a little bit.

The beginning and ending portions are in second person point of view, as in ‘you get up, you see’, which is rarely used I find but in the right context can be very effective and in The Last Book You’ll Ever Read it is used to perfection. And the real meat of the sandwich explores psychological horror, body horror, and like any great anthology type series reminded me at times of The Twilight Zone or even Black Mirror in the way a couple of stories played out.

One particular story called ‘eXhaurio Inc.’ has stuck with me since I read the collection. It follows the story of a man seeing a ‘free’ computer advertised on television but when it arrives it isn’t like any computer he’s ever heard of, and soon he begins to pour his life into this computer, forgetting to eat and sleep. I was enthralled from the get go by this story and am not likely to forget it any time soon. I think we need more horror centered around technology and the devices that we use every day and how they mess us up sometimes more than the fictional monsters we all fear so much.

This is a short and sweet collection that is not one to be missed. If you are looking for well written and intriguing dark fiction stories to disturb you before bedtime, I would make The Last Book You’ll Ever Read, the last book you read before bedtime at the very least. I only wish there were more than five stories and I’ll be looking out for Scott Hughes name in the future.

 

About the Author –

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Scott Hughes is a writer from Georgia, USA. His fiction, poetry, and essays have been published in Crazyhorse, Carbon Culture Review, Strange Horizons and many, many more. Currently teaching English at Central Georgia Technical College, he lives with his two dogs Bacon and Pip, and is finishing up a YA novel called Red TwinYou can find Scott on Amazon, Goodreads, and learn more about his work over on his website here.

 

Links to Buy and Review

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Goodreads.com

 

What’s your favourite horror story collection? Do we need to incorporate more technology into our horror fiction? What do you want the last book you ever read to be?

‘Weeping Season’ by Sean O’Connor – Review

Though he didn’t say it, not wanting to scare her any further, he new in his gut that what was happening was no accident. As they wandered along, trying to figure out which direction they were heading in, a sickening smell grabbed their attention. Instead of moving away from it, they decided to follow it. If anything, it might lead them to some form of civilisation – some answer. With every cautious step, moving from the cover of each tree, it grew stronger, until they came to its source – a grey chain-link fence, about ten-foot high, with razor wire looping along its top. Fused to it were bodies – dozens of them – all naked, their charred remains blackened and reeking from the stench of electrified death and decomposition. 

Eight gasped in horror at the sight, turning into Seven’s chest to shield her vision from the hordes of flies, swarming and crawling all over the poor souls. 

Seven held her tight, unable to look away from the burnt remains of these people who so obviously had tried to escape from their harrowing predicament, or simply chose an easy out. Whatever the reason, Seven and Eight embraced as the realisation of their reality dawned. Beyond the fence stood nothing but trees as far as the eye could see, and they were obviously on the wrong side of it. He scanned along the structure until it was swallowed up in the far distance by the forest. We’re trapped.

 

Synopsis-

Two strangers wake up in a wood, naked and chained to adjoining trees with no memory of how they got there or who they are. Soon a disembodied voice is barking orders and they’re following them, but should they be? They need to find a way out of this strange and violent facility, but can they make it out alive?

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Weeping Season is a fast paced paranoia filled story, a mysterious mindfuck until the very last quarter and just when you think you get it – you don’t. It hits the ground running and doesn’t let up until the last page. If you’re looking for a level-headed and rational story, you’ve come to the wrong place. Based on this and O’Connor’s debut novella Mongrel, it looks like O’Connor likes to force his characters into dangerous and isolating scenarios and torturous wilderness and push them to their limits – there’s no exception for Weeping Season.

You can find my review of O’Connor’s first novella The Mongrel here.

Reading the story I did feel that at times the pace was a little too frantic. There seemed to be significant moments and acts happening to and we’re enacted by the group that were almost glossed over by the rushing time. A couple of times I did reread paragraphs just to let certain things sink in better. I think if the story was perhaps a little longer there would have been more space for the moments to be stretched out and have more of an impact on me. There are also multiple people in this group of kidnapees and though some of them are described in depth, a couple faded into the background, particularly the woman who is found unconscious and stays unconscious for the rest of the story. I was expecting her to awake and have some sort of part of the plot but she seems like a dead weight that could have been used more effectively. In saying this though, the main characters are fleshed out enough that this isn’t a major road block for the reader, just something I noticed when reading.

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Weeping Season has been compared to Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror which never fails to conjure up images of advanced technologies used maliciously and twists that never fail to shock, and I can tell you its a pretty fair comparison here. There’s something about being watched by (usually) rich and sadistic people, that gives most readers the creep factor, and Weeping Season mixes this creep factor with violence, amnesia, a desperate need to survive – the recipe for a dark and savage novel. If you’re looking for a stories that plunge you right into terrifying situations along with the protagonist, give the reader nothing that the protagonist doesn’t get, and leaves you with your jaw on the floor in the last chapter, I’d suggest you look up O’Connor and keep an eye on that name in the future.

 

About the Author-

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Seán O’Connor is an Irish author born in Dublin. Always a lover of horror and dark fiction, his debut horror novella ‘The Mongrel‘ was published by Matador Press in October 2018, and he currently lives in North Dublin with his fiance and son working on his next tale of darkness.

You can follow Seán on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and his via his website seanoconnor.org

 

Links to Buy and Review-

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Goodreads

 

How do you feel about mystery horror novels? Have you read O’Connor’s ‘Mongrel’ yet? What do you think of technology in horror stories? 

‘The Fearing’ by John F. D. Taff – Review

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

The end. It began with Adam Sigel. 

Because the end always begins with fear, and Adam was afraid of everything. 

Everything. 

He was too much of the world, and the world was too much of him. 

Adam spent most of his time curled up tight into a ball atop his bare bed in his small, spartan apartment in Brooklyn. Too afraid of people to leave its confines often, he dared going out only when he needed something badly – generally food or toilet paper. 

He’d stopped refilling the prescriptions for his anti-anxiety medications months ago. His fear of doctors and needles had trumped what little benefit he received from the mysterious, generic pills they prescribed. 

What good did they do? Adam was still afraid of people breaking and entering when he stayed inside, afraid of people mugging him when he went outside. He was afraid of germs and terrorist attacks and getting hit by a taxi. He was afraid of alligators in the sewers and rats in the plumbing and a million other things, rational and irrational. 

He was absolutely glutted with fears, every niche and hidey-hole crammed full of them. They floated just under the surface of his subconscious, like bubbles filled with toxic gas. Some of them – a group of fears that seemed central to Adam, to who he was at the very core of his being – floated atop this pool, always there, always nattering at him to watch, to beware!

Because of this, he usually spent his days – as he did this day – stretched atop his unmade bed, biting his lips and fingernails, sometimes until they bled. 

The lights were on in Adam’s apartment twenty-four seven. As silly as it seemed – and it did seem silly, even to him – he was afraid of the dark, the small scurryings and scuttlings concealed by the absence of light, the creaks and groans, how the traffic down on the street sounded angrier in the night. Darkness was, of course, at the very center of the fears, this one, primal, all-encompassing dread. 

He might get up and eat some cereal or perhaps a Pop-Tart. He didn’t cook much, indeed didn’t use much electricity, or even water. He was afraid of the possibility of electrical fires, so he kept only a small refrigerator plugged in. And the water? Who knew what they hid in New York’s heavily treated and chlorinated water supply? 

Today, though, there was no food in the apartment. He’d looked inside the little fridge earlier and saw only a small tub of margarine and a single slice of American cheese, curled and cracked within its plastic film like a great, yellowed toenail. 

He would have to go out. 

 

Synopsis –

An anxiety riddled man in a diner. Teenagers at a basketball game. Vacationers on a long bus journey home. Something is about to happen, a Nationwide disaster that starts in that small diner and spreads like a virus across America, throwing their world into chaos. Can they survive? Can they make it home, if there’s even one left? What is bringing everyone’s worst fears to life? Book one of The Fearing has a lot of questions to answer.

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My Thoughts –

The Fearing has an intriguing and immense concept driving the plot. Part psychological horror, part natural disasters, Book One is a slim volume that’s densely packed with action, tension and a far off dread. You won’t get a full explanation to the strange phenomena happening here, but you’re given enough to follow the characters through their terrible circumstances but there’s a lot more to discover in books two and three.

Speaking of those characters, Taff has a knack for getting the reader invested in his characters, creating personalities that are as believable as they are sympathetic. In so few words he sets scenes, describes characters as solid as the monsters attacking them, and a world that is falling apart. The initial character, antagonist as such, is a man who lives his life emmersed in fear. Without spoilers, he isn’t exactly innocent in this story though his full influence is not thoroughly explained in Book One. Though he’s clearly doing bad things, Taff has you feeling sorry for him, initially at least, with a slow realisation that this guy is only getting started.

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Book One of The Fearing is a short and immersive read, not a cliff hanger but a promise that there is much more to come in this story. I’ll be investing in books two and three to find out where these characters end up. Taff is a name to look for in horror.

About the Author –

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John F.D. Taff is a Bram Stoker Award Nominated author with more than 30 years experience, 90+ short stories and five novels in print.  His first fiction collection, Little Deaths, was named the best horror collection of 2012 by Horror Talk. Book 2 and 3 of The Fearing are out now. Taff lives in Illinois with his wife, two dogs, and a cat. You can find out more about him and his work on his website.

 

Links to Buy and Review-

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Goodreads

 

What do you think about horror series novels? What’s your favourite horror story that involves natural disasters? What’s your greatest fear? Let me know down below!