Blog

‘The Perfectly Fine House’ by Stephen Kozeniewski & Wile E. Young – Review

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

***

“Yes, smell. Very good, Jane. And who knows the last sense?”

They were so close, and yet so very, very far. The piece of chalk waggled back and forth through the air, desperately seeking an upraised hand. Bonnie scrunched up her brow, racking her memory, but no matter how she tried, she couldn’t come up with the last one.

Ms. McIntosh sighed. She probably didn’t want to stay late any more than the children did.

“Is there anything in the back of the room that jobs anyone’s memory?”

Bonnie looked over her shoulder in unison with her twenty-seven classmates. As they did every day at this time, the kids’ great-grandparents had lined up at the back of the room in preparation of taking them all home. Bonnie’s Gee-Ga waved at her. She smiled and waved back.

To her, Gee-Ga appeared as crisp and clear as a living person, like her teacher. The other great-grandparents were almost see-through, appearing in different shades of ghostly blacks, whites, and grays. Mrs. Anderson, who she knew from spending many afternoons at Jane’s house, was a little clearer, but still not nearly as sharp as her own relative.

“G… ghostsense?” Eric Conners volunteered tentatively.

“Very good, Eric,” Ms. McIntosh said, “but don’t forget to raise your hand.”

You can also check out my video BookTube review of this book here.

Synopsis –

In an alternate reality where ghosts are as commonplace as the weather, the most terrifying thing imaginable is a house not being haunted.

Donna Fitzpatrick runs a surrogacy agency, where ghosts can briefly possess volunteers in order to enjoy carnal pleasures. She’s also working herself into an early grave. But that’s no big deal because death is no worse than puberty. That’s particularly evident in Donna’s twin, Kyle, a self-absorbed roustabout who spends most of his time high on sage. Kyle’s been in arrested development since his motorcycle accident fifteen years ago.

When Donna has a panic attack, Kyle insists she take a vacation at an abandoned mansion. There’s just one small problem: there isn’t a single ghost in Jackson Manor. And while an unhaunted house seems no worse than an oddity at first, soon ghosts go missing, natural disasters consume entire cities, and every afterlife on earth is threatened by the terrible secret behind… The Perfectly Fine House.

Thoughts –

The Perfectly Fine House is set in a world where the scariest thing is an unhaunted house, but not only this, a house that actively swallows whole ghosts and doesn’t spit them back out again. An interesting look at a parallel universe where death is indisputably not the end but only a small inconvenience to get to a much freer ‘existence’, this novel explores what death means to us, how we would treat our ‘lives’ if we knew for certain this wasn’t the end of the line, and even the complexities of falling in love with a ghost.

Led by some engaging and undeniably likeable characters, The Perfectly Fine House takes an enticing concept and explores it through the lives of both the living and the dead alike. Donna and her twin brother Kyle live very different lives and have very different ideas about how they should be spending their ‘existence’, yet the fact that Kyle died years ago has done very little to dampen their sibling relationship. With time stretching into eternity, there is little to push parents to properly raise their children when they will always have more time, and myriad ghostly relatives to do much of the heavy lifting for them. Exorcists and ghosts experts are seen as your average tradesmen who get called around when any unruly ghost is acting a little too poltergeist for any living neighbours. And only the ultra rich feel the need to have graves and markers to their physical bodies.

While the universe set up in The Perfectly Fine House is unique and interesting, and the characters are rich and engaging, the conclusion of this story felt a little lack luster. Without revealing any spoilers; I was looking forward to a slightly more hopeful ending. The story moved along well and the motivations were set out strongly but the ending felt like a bit of a drag – even the story is mostly about the dead. In saying this though, it was enjoyable to explore this other world with Donna, Kyle, and their community and to think outside the box for a little while.

The Perfectly Fine House is a story about a house with not one single ghostly entity in it – and that is utterly terrifying.

About the Author –

Stephen Kozeniewski lives in Pennsylvania, the birthplace of the modern zombie. During his time as a Field Artillery officer he served for three years in Oklahoma and one in Iraq, where, due to what he assumes was a clerical error, he was awarded the Bronze Star. He is also a classically trained linguist, which sounds much more impressive than saying his bachelor’s is in German.

Wile E. Young is from Texas, where he grew up surrounded by stories of ghosts and monsters. During his writing career he has managed to both have a price put on his head and publish his southern themed horror stories, both terrifying and bizarre. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in History, which provided no advantage or benefit during his years as an aviation specialist and I.T. guru.

Read and Review –

Goodreads.com

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

‘The Haunting of Hacket House’ by Astrid Addams – Review

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

***

Clive was certain. Well as certain as he ever was about anything. He’d seen the evil with his own eyes ater all, but could he really trust them?

Here in the darkness as he peered by the light of the torch shaking in his hand, he couldn’t be sure, or so he told himself as he crept down yet another corridor in his childhood home. Even as a small boy he had hated it. He’d never been a man who believed in Gods, never felt the presence of the big G at his side, but now, in the hungry darkness, he simultaneously cursed whatever other forces may be out there for bringing him back here, for wedging Hacket House into his family history like a splinter into flesh. Simultaneously still he prayed to the same Gods, to get him and Clarissa away, anywhere would do as long as it was away from this hellish place. “When the shit hits the fan, that’s when having a God to pray to or curse the really satisfying,” his mother used to tell him between drags of her cigarette.

Clive stood still and strained his ears, listening for the sounds of creaking floorboards. His legacy! Eaten alive by woodworm and haunted by the never ending ticking of clocks which served to mask the sound of whatever evil might be coming.

Synopsis –

Offered a lucrative job at the mysterious Hacket House, Jane agrees to travel across country to live at the mansion. After all, a fresh start is just what she needs. Besides, the remote house is a long way from the past she is still running from.

Arriving at her new home, she finds a strange red house set in a wood of red, gnarled trees. The same trees used to build the house and the grandfather clocks that haunt every room and dark corridor. Jane quickly realises that there is something very wrong at Hacket House and the village of Bramley.

Why is there a graveyard in the garden of Hacket House? Who are the people in hoods who haunt the house at night? What are they doing with the old man in the bed? Why is somebody moving the grandfather clocks? Who is the strange woman no one will admit exists? What are the shadows that scoot across the walls like cockroaches? Who is Erazmus Nark whose grave nothing will touch?

As the sinister behaviour of the village escalates and her own past closes in around her, Jane learns that just because something is dead, doesn’t mean that it’s gone.

Thoughts –

The Haunting of Hacket House follows a classic gothic storyline with some strange twists and turns to keep the reader on their toes. The story of a carer to the elderly hired to look after a man suffering from dementia and night terrors in a stately home where nothing seems to grow, this is a novella with a familiar tone that quickly turns sour. The reader is also treated to possible ghosts, possible intruders, hundreds of clocks ticking night and day, some of them even having a strangely humanoid appearance, and rumours in the town of satan worshippers.

There is a lot going on in this novella. I was compelled by the main character of Jane the carer, however, she didn’t seem to do a lot of caring. As the story progressed she did seem to be more of a boarder at the house than a member of the small staff there. The Haunting of Hacket House has a lot of mysteries, a lot of threads to follow that don’t exactly fit the way you would imagine. By the end of the book I was a little confused as to where everything fit together, what was paranormal and what wasn’t, what was real and what wasn’t.

But the story is carried well by the character of Jane. The other characters of the story, Clarissa the house keeper of sorts who keeps herself very much to herself, Mr. Whiteley the maintenance man with an ominous past, and Dora the cook who is almost sickly sweet, have their own parts to play in the shadows of the story and though much is revealed by the end, not all of their actions and motives are thoroughly explained.

The Haunting of Hacket House is an enjoyable gothic horror novella, there are certainly some new elements to it that you are able to explore, along with the familiar gothic style and tropes.

The Haunting of Hacket House is a chilling gothic mystery that might just make you rethink that new clock purchase…

About the Author –

Astrid Adams is a writer of gothic and horror fiction. You can find her on Twitter here.

Read and Review –

Goodreads.com

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

‘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.

Read and Review –

Goodreads.com

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

‘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

Read and Review –

Goodreads.com

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

‘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.

Read and Review –

Goodreads.com

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com