‘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.*





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.




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 –


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


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.



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?


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.


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-


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


Links to Buy and Review-



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. 


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.


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.


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 –


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-



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!

‘Tales in Sombre Tones’ written by Sean Walter and Illustrated by Karen Ruffles – Review

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


The streets were a dangerous place, it seemed. Every day, Michael heard of a new mugging or robbery, a new rape or murder in the alleys and streets that he frequented. Looking around tonight, half-drunk and bemused, Michael wandered between the local bars.

He turned down a street and narrowly avoided running into a man who stood in the middle of the sidewalk. Instead, he side-stepped into a signpost. Michael picked himself up ff the ground (with effort, his alcohol consumption finally making itself known) and turned toward the man he had almost ran down. He was about to scream at him, but something in the man’s face made him pause. 

The man wasn’t looking at him. He was looking, unblinkingly, over Michael’s shoulder The stranger’s eyes were red-rimmed, they twitched with the effort of remaining open, and they were absolutely filled with terror. 

Curiosity getting the better of him, Michael tried to turn to see what the stranger was looking at. 

Then the man’s hand was around Michael’s throat. The stranger pulled him close to his chest, the scent of unwashed body filling Michael’s senses. The man’s chapped lips brushed against Michael’s senses. The man’s chapped lips brushed against Michael’s ear as he whispered in a half-maddened tone: 

“Don’t look behind you!”

Michael pried the stranger’s hand from his throat and stepped away from him. “What the hell is wrong with you?!” he screamed. But, again, the stranger wasn’t looking at him.

“Don’t worry. You aren’t in any danger – not yet, at least. You’ll be fine. Just, for the love of all that you hold dear, don’t look behind you.”



Tales in Sombre Tones is a collection of 24 short horror stories punctuated by dark, dread filled illustrations. Ushered into each tale by an image to slowly chill your blood, this collection takes inspiration from ancient folk tales and modern monsters, reinventing and wholly creating stories of darkness. You will find something in this collection that is refreshingly new, no matter how many collections you’ve read and the artwork to go along with the book will cement them in your memory.


Tales From Sombre Tones has a gothic English tone overall despite the American author, which may be prompted by the English illustrator and her shadow filled art. Multiple stories ranging from darkly humorous to disturbing, from sleeping with the light on to feeling all cuddly about centipede creatures. A few of the stories felt unfinished or at least that they could be expanded on, maybe even to novella length, but I guess when you’re only real complaint is that you want more, it’s not much of a complaint is it?

There’s a version of the story of Frankenstein in this collection that gives a further perspective to the story that I found refreshing, as well as some fantasy driven tales that give off a great fireside story vibe to them. The emphasis on this collection seems to be the art of storytelling, the art of listening to a great storyteller, and though there are some small hiccups, overall I’m glad to have it on my shelf.



I enjoyed something from every story despite some of them calling for a stronger ending or plot. There’s a lot of new and unique ideas that may not  need a full explanation, but a little more context for the characters would go a long way.  And the characters themselves are generally very strong and they carry you through the more vague parts, but I would have liked to read a little more solid explanation in some of them.

And then , you have the artwork. So, picture books are for kids right? No, definitely not. The artwork that goes along with this book is skillfully created by Karen Ruffles and at times can be mistaken for photographs rather than charcoal drawings AND they complement the sombre tales perfectly. I didn’t know you could do so much with darkness, but gives it depth. I want more dark artwork not just on the cover but throughout my novels and collections, it makes for a beautiful book and a welcome break between stories.


About the Author and Illustrator-

Picture by David Saunders from NARC. magazine.

Sean Walter is the author of Tales in Sombre Tones and currently lives in Portland, Oregan. He writes primarily in dark fiction and works with strange concepts and you can find him on Goodreads, Twitter, and find out more about his work on his website. The illustrator of Tales In Sombre Tones, Karen Ruffles, is an artist and illustrator from Whitby, UK. You can find her on Twitter, and see more of her artwork on her website.


Links to Buy and Review-



How do you feel about illustrations in adult fiction? Do we need more horror/dark artwork? Do you like reinvented classic horror stories or totally original ones? Let me know down below!

‘Nightmare Realities 2’ by Amanda J Evans – Review

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


“The Nightmare Giving Demon watches from the shadows, lurking, prowling, waiting for the right moment to strike. He’s probably perched behind your shoulder right now. 

He’s watching as you read these words, hoping that you’ll turn the page. He’s licking his lips and rubbing his hands together in anticipation. 

He wants to be there as you read these stories. He wants to feel when your heart starts to race, when your palms start to sweat, when you turn your head ever so slowly to make sure there’s nothing else in the room with you. When the chill creeps down your spine, it’s him leaning closer, breathing on the back of your neck. His breath like rotting meat, soaking the room in dread. 

The black shadow you spot from the corner of your eye? It’s his sharpened claw, inching its way towards you, getting ready to rip your flesh from your bones.” 



Nightmare Realities 2 is the second book of middle grade dark fiction that Evan has published with Handersen Publishing, it’s predecessor Nightmare Realities having been published in 2017, both of which are illustrated by Evans 16 year old daughter Emma. Consisting of 7 tales of creep and dread, each one unique and separate, dealing with everything from death to haunted masks, from vampires to zombies, and even virtual reality – there’s a story for everyone in Nightmare Realities 2.





Nightmare Realities 2 is a collection of stories that I think would be perfect for the run up for Halloween. Whether you are reading with your kids or letting them delve into their own adventures, anyone from 9-10 and up would get a thrill from reading these dark tales. Evans seems to be a writer with many hats to choose from, but her middle grade writing is spot on – it isn’t too babyish to put off the early teen readers but it also isn’t verbose enough to intimidate the younger readers (if that’s even possible).

These are modern horror stories for modern children and they don’t hold back on the fear and terror and don’t patronise the reader. I honestly enjoyed the stories myself and didn’t feel like I was reading a children’s book, however, I also know this is the type of story I would have demolished as kid or a teenager, something to really chew on and get the creative juices going for my own stories. Each tale has a different tone to it ranging from typical teenage drama to hand-me-down ghost stories shared from generation to generation. Some have a sense of slowly creeping dread, and others are all action packed thrillers. No matter what kind of reader you are, you’ll find something that sticks in your mind from these stories, sticking in the dark corners of your mind.

I would have absolutely loved something like this when I was a kid, and to find out that it was entirely illustrated by the authors daughter as well? Priceless. I think that’s something that could inspire a lot of young people, that it doesn’t matter your age you can write your own stories and illustrate them and start as young as possible. And aside from the great illustrations I think the design of the pages is beautiful as well, a great addition to any shelf, physical or digital. This would be a great Halloween present to read over the holiday or just a staple for any creepy kids out there with voracious appetites. I’ll be going back to read the first Nightmare Realities.


About the Author


Amanda J Evans is an award-winning writer of paranormal and fantasy novels as well as children’s stories. Amanda lives in Co. Meath, Ireland with her husband and two children. She was published in several journals and anthologies in 2016 and 2017. Her first novel Finding Forever won Best Thriller in the 2017 Summer Indie Book Awards and her second novel Save Her Soul won Silver for Best Paranormal in the Virtual Fantasy Con Awards 2017. You can find Amanda on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and find out more about all of her works on her website


Links to Buy and Review-



What’s your favourite middle grade horror collection? Do we need more dark fiction for younger horror fans? Do you thinks kids would connect better to a book another kid had a hand in, like illustrations? Let me know down below!

‘Whispers in the Dark’ by Laurel Hightower – Review

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


It wasn’t much, that bare inch of scalp sticking up beyond the protective concrete wall Charlie Akers crouched behind. Wispy blond stands ruffled in the light breeze, giving away just enough of his location location for me to center him in my scope. He probably wasn’t aware that any part of him was visible at all, but an inch was plenty for me. One shot and I could take the cap of his skull off, scatter his brains across the bricks behind him, and end this standoff. The index finger of my right hand was light on the trigger, my shoulder braced for the recoil. I let myself picture it, indulge the fantasy. Anything to take my mind off the way my knee had begin to cramp. 

It never mattered what position I took up at the start of one of these damned things, it always got uncomfortable. Usually I can risk moving, take a moment to shift my leg and ease the screaming joint, but not now. We were in the magic hour, the decisive time at the end of a standoff that would decide who was going to walk away whole. I didn’t think it would be Akers. 


Synopsis –

Rose McFarland is a killer. Her job as a sniper means she knows to how to stay focused and do what needs to be done, no matter how difficult, but her latest bullet has got her rattled. An FBI agent shows up eager to speak to her, knowing a little too much about her past that she would like to have kept in the shadows, and now her son is showing signs of seeing the same terrifying things she saw when she was a kid. As she looks for answers, more questions show up, unraveling the mystery of her past and casting the person she thought she was into doubt. Can Rose protect her family and herself while confronting the darkness she was born to confront?



On a more shallow note, we all judge a book by it’s cover, that’s why they have covers in the first place. I was immediately intrigued by the cover of Whispers in the Dark is bright, eye catching and but it has a darkness about it that reflects the interior of the plot and the main protagonist Rose. And that fire! I’ll read anything on fire.

Now, onto the story, and what a story it is. The plot itself is a paranormal mystery horror that gives you the chills, sparks your curiosity, and one that you won’t guess the twist to trust me. You’re thrown right into the action as the protagonist has her sniper rifle trained on a disturbed and dangerous man and that’s just the first page. You’re taken on a journey with Rose learning about her heartbreaking past and the darkness that has always followed her. The creeping dread that you can feel coming from the first chapter like a far off tidal wave never lets up, it’s well paced, and the pay off is well worth the read.

As for the protagonist of Rose, it’s refreshing to have a woman like Rose written by another woman. Generally stoic sexually active women like her swing wildly from frozen bitch to sex bunny damsel in distress and I’m so glad that’s not the case here. Rose has had a terrible childhood and worked hard to get to where she is. She trusts her own instincts, she’s defensive to most apart from those she truly loves, she asks for help when she needs it, but with her skills she rarely needs it. She’s multi-faceted and never once is her cup sized mentioned! Amazing. Rose has led a complicated and messy life, much like the rest of us – she’s got an ex-husband, a dead husband, a child with each of them and a good friends who she occasionally shares her bed with, so if you’re worried the plot will run too thin on these whispers, you have nothing to worry about. Hightower handles all of these aspects and sub plot points deftly and with grace, never losing the real stakes of the story, but giving the reader time to breath between the terror.


I can’t recommend this book enough. I’ve always been ever so slightly bored by police procedurals and cop stories, though I’m aware that a story with no police involvement would also irk me, but Hightower gets the balance just right. The prose is well written, thought out and I’ve actually taken down a few paragraphs for later review so I can practice her approach in my own writing. I can only dream that my debut novel will be as well written as this (it won’t, but I can dream) and I highly anticipate what’s next for this author.


About the Author –


Whisper in the Dark is the debut horror novel of Laurel Hightower, a paralegal by day and a writer by night. She is a fan of real life ghost stories and a good horror movie and currently lives with her husband, son, and two rescue animals.


Links to Buy and Review-


Whose your favourite great female character written by a woman? Has your judgment of the cover of a book ever been completely wrong?  How do you feel about paranormal/ghosts in suburban settings?

‘Don’t Follow’ by Odette Lane – Review

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


He wanders the night feeding off your fears.

His right hand has five candles for fingers to light up the darkest of hours. 

Beware if you lose your way at night and see him. 

Stay away from his light. 

He will lead you to a place of darkness never to sleep or awake again. 



Sleep. We all need it, but not everyone gets it. Studying the effects of night terrors, a doctor recruits five strangers to write down their nightmares in order to find out what causes them. As these strangers lives begin to intertwine, they realise that they have more in common than just bad dreams and that this doctor may not be telling them the whole truth. As they each struggle with their own demons they must now face the one demon that they all share before it’s too late.


“With a deep and labored breath she ran her hand through her short brown hair feeling the dampness at the roots from sweat. The back of her shirt clung to her skin like saran wrap as she pushed the blankets away from her body to cool down. She reached over to her bedside table and flipped the switch on the lamp and sat up. It was 3am and she felt too shaken to try and go back to sleep.”



Over the course of our lifespan we sleep for 26 years. 

Don’t Follow has an interesting premise and I think in terms of horror, night terrors is something that should be explored more. The characters are really the driving force of this novel and their relationships are what keep you interested in between the creeping dread and horror that surrounds them. Lane has a talent for writing frustratingly flirtatious scenes and there was more than once I was so enthralled by the characters, I forgot about the evil entirely.

That being said, I felt that the introduction of the characters was more like a laundry list. It was the type of quick, short, descriptions jumping all over that would work in a screen play or movie but in a novel you just don’t have time to fix the character in your mind before you are thrust into a different scene with another. There are also two very similar bars where different characters work and frequent which at times could be quite confusing.

The actual story however was enjoyable, I would read this again and perhaps just pay a little more attention. I do have a love of anything that comes for you in your sleep and nightmares have such a potential for evil and darkness that I’ll take anything with nightmare demons in them. I like how Odette had diverse characters who turned stereotypes on their heads or just accepted them and made them their own. They explore sexuality, alcoholism, depression, and grief all the while being stalked by a shadowy demon of death – what more could you ask for really.


The last sentence read. “It will find me again, and when it does, I need to rid it from this world.”


To be honest, the monster of this story is just background noise, even the open conflict is second hand to the relationships of the group. And the doctor who brought them all together is barely seen at all, a forgotten pawn in the plot that needed to be more than she was. I was expecting long drawn out exploratory therapy sessions and pushing for more information, but in reality she seemed to not have much time for her subjects at all, and quickly disappears when they discover what her real intentions are. The diary extracts that she has them write about their nightmares were a little flat for me. When dealing with nightmares I find it far more compelling to be experiencing them with the character not reading descriptions of them.


I would recommend this novel for anyone looking for a fresh take on nightmare horror. The characters are well written and well connected, you will believe the relationships that you read about in Don’t Follow and will find it very difficult not to empathise with them. I look forward to seeing more from Odette Lane in the future.

About the Author:


Don’t Follow is the debut horror novel from Odette Lane, a native Minesotan who now lives in Los Angeles. Lane has studied creative writing and film production, performing her prose and poetry across stages in New York City and has worked on multiple film productions.


Where to Buy and Review:


Do you suffer from night terrors? Do we need to explore the world of nightmares and dreams more in horror? What’s more important in a novel to you – the terror of the monster or the characters and their relationships to one another? Let me know down below!