‘Dreams of Lake Drukka & Exhumation’ (Short Sharp Shocks! Book 31) by Mike Thorn – Review

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

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Sharla didn’t need to glance at the passenger seat to know what Jeannette was doing – mouthing patronizing words, gazing out the window with an expression of exaggerated defeat. Siblings have a special intuition for these things. 

She clutched the wheel tighter. 

When Sharla had first called to propose the trip, Jeannette had shouted a familiar routine – “Just in case you forgot about the coroner’s report, the newspaper articles, and the goddamn funeral, let me spell it out for you again: Mom drank too much, made the boozey choice to go swimming alone at night, and straight-up drowned. There’s no mystery about it. Dad told us all about Mom’s problem – the bottles of vodka hidden under her socks in the bedside table drawer, how she used to sneak out to the garage in the middle of the night while she thought he was asleep…” 

Sharla had listened quietly and patiently, even as her body tensed with the urge to hurl her phone at the nearest wall. 

When Jeannette had finally finished rattling off, Sharla said it again: “If you refuse to join, I’ll make the trip alone. I just thought you should know either way.”

 

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Synopsis (from Goodreads) –

“Dreams of Lake Drukka” and “Exhumation” explore the unearthing of horrific, long-buried family secrets. Journeying into the darkest recesses of the past, these stories depict the dire consequences of discovering the truth.

 

Thoughts –

This is a duo of brutal stories from writer Mike Thorn. Tied together by the theme of fulfilling a debt to a supernatural creature, the stories differ on their endings between hope for the future and dread. Dreams of Lake Drukka leans heavily on the relationship between sisters Sharla and Jeanette and the struggles they’ve faced in their family since the untimely death of their mother. One thinks it was a tragic accident that happened to a struggling alcoholic, the other thinks their father murdered her. After Sharla has a vivid dream replaying her mother’s death, Jeanette agrees to take one last trip with her to the lake where their mother died in the hopes that her sister can finally get the closure she needs and mend their relationship with their father. Thorn handles the relationship between these women in a wholesome and realistic way, but he also creates great action in the climax of this short story that packs a punch at the end.

Exhumation is the story of a man attending the funeral of a cousin he once played with when he was young. After attracting the attention of another attendee who he does not recognise, but insists they know each other, he tries to leave and is accosted and forced to remember what really happened between him, his cousin, and the insisting man. Again utilising action in this story, Thorn draws the reader in with a hint of mystery and insufficient memories to end the story with a brutal realisation – you can never escape your past.

 

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A duo of stories that are short enough to enjoy on your lunch break but rich enough to revisit, Dreams of Lake Drukka and Exhumation make Mike Thorn a name to watch in the future.

 

About the Author (from Goodreads)-

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Mike Thorn is the author of Darkest Hours and Dreams of Lake Drukka & Exhumation. His fiction has appeared in numerous magazines, anthologies and podcasts, including Dark Moon DigestThe NoSleep PodcastTurn to Ash and Tales to Terrify. His film criticism has been published in MUBI NotebookThe Film StageThe Seventh RowBright Lights Film Journal and Vague Visages. He completed his M.A. with a major in English literature at the University of Calgary, where he wrote a thesis on epistemophobia in John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness. Visit his website or follow him on Twitter.

 

Read and Review –

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

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How do you feel about duel stories? Would you prefer more bitesize outside of novels and novellas? Let me know down below!

‘Vultures’ by Grant Palmquist – Review

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

****

At ten o’clock, Trent Sable grabbed the revolver, shoved it in the back of his pants, slipped on his latex gloves, and took the black balaclava from his duffel bag. He stepped out into the humid June night, and sweat rolled from his pores like wax down a melting candlestick. Mosquitoes buzzed around him. One of them landed on his forearm and sucked at his skin. Trent pulled a Marlboro 100 and chrome lighter with Trent etched into it from his pocket, lit a cigarette, breaking his two-a-day habit, and brought the cherry to the mosquito on his arm. It curled into a dry, dead ball and rolled into oblivion, then Trent made his way down the stairs, the wood creaking beneath each step. He could see the light of the Stop ‘N Shop sign by the moonlight, its fading yellow background flickering off and on.

Almost closing time.

The parking low was empty, and the man who owned the place was probably busy cleaning up inside. Trent looked up and down the street to make sure no cars were coming, and he gripped the balaclava tightly in his clammy hand, ready to draw it over his face. He reached the edge of the parking lot, gravel crunching beneath his feet. The smell of exhaust still hung in the air. Trent spotted puddles of gasoline near the gas pumps and dragged on his cigarette as he passed them, imagining someone drenched in fluid, begging Trent fore help, only to find himself ignited in flames a few seconds later.

Trent laughed to himself.

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Synopsis –

Heath is a family man with a nine to five job, a wife that he loves, and a teenage daughter going through a breakup and the

Trent is a sociopathic killer intent on proving himself a god and uprooting the laws of society. Trent picks Heath and his family as a target and stalks them relentlessly. What happens when chaos targets a middle class family? Can they survive the violence?

Thoughts –

I found a fun thing to do with this book! Here’s a drinking game you can play while reading. Drink when

– eyes are referred to as orbs

– you see the word phantasmagoria

– some ‘gets acclimated’ to sudden light or dark

– a random snake shows up

– Trent seems aroused but then blankly states that he can’t get aroused

– Victoria ignores blatant and immediate danger

– someone is clearly being followed but just shrugs and carries on anyway

– Trent swings ‘up and down’ on the swing

(Please be aware that if you play this game you will die because at least four of these happen in every single chapter)

First of all I would like to say that the general writing of the book is well done, Palmquist has a voice and he uses it and the sentence by sentence structure is well done. It was an easy book to read and if you are interested in synopsis of the book, I would say you should give it a try, however there were a few things that stuck in my teeth like a popcorn kernel, but I wouldn’t say this is a bad book, just possibly a confusing one.

So Vultures sets itself up as some kind of stalker story and I actually got the impression that maybe the family would be held captive in the house by the sociopath and that would be the majority of the novel. I’m not entirely sure where I got this idea from, maybe because Trent wants to destroy their ‘home and family’, so that assumption is on me. However, I did expect more to happen in the actual book than what did.

Without spoilers, there are two deaths pretty early on and this gives the impression that the story will ramp up to something, but the energy fizzles out very quickly after the second woman is brutally killed. I’d like to also point out that Heath the family man with a lovely wife and daughter, doesn’t seem to like women very much. He had a vendetta against Gloria (personally that hurt to read) at work and seems obsessed with hating her, and when he is blackmailed for the murder of another woman who’s body he wakes up beside, he never gives a single thought for the life of that woman. He never even thinks ‘that could be Yvonne or Victoria’, nope, he only cares about his own reputation which doesn’t fit with the character, or at least what we are supposed to believe about the character. Not to mention when Gloria goes missing, it seems more like he’s missing the conflict rather than actually concerned about her well being.

Heath as a character is completely caught up in his own insecurities and anger. Throughout the book he completely leaves his wife in the dark even after it would be far more beneficial to tell her. When it is one hundred percent clear that a verified killer is stalking your family, you tell your wife and daughter, you don’t leave them alone in the house, and you don’t let them leave under any circumstances. Heath just kind of… worries, without telling either of them. And Yvonne, his wife, is characterised as a submissive, loving but unquestioning wife even when her husband disappears for forty eight hours and is acting the weirdest he’s ever acting in their entire marriage. She’s basically not there for the entire story.

Victoria is, for the most part, is an ordinary seventeen year old. Trent tries to seduce her and it’s believable that in her fragile emotional state that she would fall for him, if it weren’t for the fact that he is completely devoid of any charm whatsoever. Serial killers, historically, are known to be very charming but Trent is just boring and mean and Victoria’s obsession with him is unbelievable to me as a reader. There are sermons scattered throughout from the family going to church, the book that I will be honest I mainly skipped because I did my time in church and the first few it wasn’t relevant to the plot of the story. At the end of church one day, for seemingly no reason Victoria declares that her goal in life is to have children. ???? Like, fine if you want to have children, but it was unprompted and told to her father, also at the beginning of the story she says she pledged her virginity to her father (promises her father she won’t have sex until she is married) which is uncomfortable to say the least.

But obviously the family aren’t devout Christians as Heath doesn’t seem to care about the deaths of the women around him. And a main theme in this book is masculinity and what it means. Trent believes he is a true man because he murders, and Heath feels emasculated because he doesn’t? Like you can’t be masculine unless you are violent. And you aren’t truly feminine unless you give birth?

There’s a lot of following but no reacting, there’s a lot of overlapping text conversations that didn’t need to be repeated. What could have been a great standoff between an average man protecting his family and a crazed sociopath hellbent on ruining societal norms, ended up being a strange squaring up that lasted way longer than it needed too, ironically showing two people who are too caught up in stereotypes about masculinity they forget to act out those very violent stereotypes at all.

Vultures is not badly written, but a confused book that is aspiring to greater themes than it displays. There are confused statements about masculinity and femininity and there isn’t as much of a showdown as was promised. Also a lot of ‘society are all zombies who don’t feel anymore’ talk which gets old quick.

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About the Author –

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Grant Palmquist is a writer of dark fiction and horror writer who doesn’t have any bios online that I can find.

Links to Buy and Review –

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Goodreads.com

Do you like serial killer horrors? What’s your favourite stalked family story? How do you feel about blatant societal narratives in horror?

‘Dark Thoughts’ by Kevin Kennedy – Review

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

****

The Karakyuza stood in single file, breathing in a synchronised rhythm while the incessant banging outside continued. Over one hundred and twenty-seven million people were estimated dead in Japan alone, which was pretty much the entire population. The fourteen-person unit stood unaware of the number of casualties, but they were well aware of the situation outside. 

People had been talking about secret organisations for years, but the Karakyuza had never once been mentioned or hinted upon anywhere. That was because they were the first men, well, gods really. Adam and Eve was a fairy tale, all religions were creations, and they all came from these very men. The Karakyuza created so many different gods over the years, they lost count, but they had always been there, watching, judging, but never intervening. 

The zombie plague was man made though. In the last century, more and more things were changing due to mankind rather than the Karakyuza’s will, but they had decided to see where the path led. It had led to destruction , the fall of mankind, and now the Karakyuza were surrounded by hundreds of thousands of the dead. 

The Karakyuza were almost sexless, they were men and women of sorts, but you could never tell. They were self-styled warriors, the only read gods to our basic understanding of the meaning, and they had already spent thousands of years battling Demons before man even came to be on this planet. We are their creation, and now that creation had died, all over the planet, millions dead, searching for any last scrap of living flesh to feast on. 

****

Synopsis – 

Dark Thoughts is a collection of short stories from writer Kevin Kennedy. A seemingly random selection that focuses mainly on zombies and cannibals, with a few interesting new horror concepts thrown in as well, Dark Thoughts is not for the faint hearted and includes sexual 18+ scenes and incredibly gross imagery. You’ve been warned.

 

Thoughts

Dark Thoughts begins with a mildly heart warming story of three kids trying to survive a zombie apocalypse and quickly descends into violent cannibals and the most ‘childhood ruined’ add on to ‘The Wizard of Oz’ that I would never even want to imagine. There are good points and bad points about this collection with the overall writing being a good point, but some more intentional choices needed in putting the whole thing together.

The layout of the collection seems to have little thought put into it. There are many ways you can set up a collection – you can have an over-arching theme that connects the stories, you can have characters that appear in multiple tales, or you can simply place the stories differently so that similar stories don’t appear side by side. Dark Thoughts feels like it was just a list that was never even tinkered with. Multiple zombie stories follow multiple cannibal stories (and even a cannibals fighting zombies hybrid!) with the shock of some serious porn in the middle; there’s just no rhyme or reason to it and it gives the collection a rambling, monotonous feel.

There’s a story involving the main cast of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ which feels like an indulgent sexual fantasy on the part of the author with some violence thrown in at the end so they can call it horror. I’m no prude, though I find descriptions of sex in literature to be at best cheesy and at worst bizarre, but this story just feels like a porno script. The characters have the same names as ‘The Wizard of Oz’ characters but that’s the only real connection to the source material. If you went in and changed those names to anything else, it would just be a violent erotic flat tale that if you aren’t actively masturbating to, will just make you uncomfortable. Definitely only written for a straight male mind in my opinion. It also paints Dorothy as possibly the worst heartless, sex addicted female caricature imaginable. If you have any warm feelings towards Dorothy, this story will not hesitate to erase them.

A story I did find interesting as well as utterly disgusting was one involving a whole lot of fecal matter. Dark Thoughts is a collection that has many different types of shadow in it. I’m normally not a fan of over indulgent gross stories, however this story has engaging characters, believable motivations and a chaos that makes it unforgettable. There are some gems in this collection, I just feel like it needed another pass to polish up a few things and perhaps rethink some of the stories.

Kennedy seems to have skill with setting and introducing characters but the endings tended to fall flat, like he ran out of steam. A short story has a different structure and focus than a novel or novella and at times I felt like his stories would have been better suited to an expansion to novella or full novel even. There was so much more that could have been explored with characters and the blunt endings just weren’t satisfying enough.

 

 

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Dark Thoughts has an apt name. The collection was marred for me personally by the strange pornographic story with no real plot to it. I would have liked more diversity in the themes of the stories or perhaps one interlocking theme – some kind of link between the tales. Kennedy’s writing is enjoyable and I would read his work again, but I won’t be picking up this particular collection in the future.

 

About the Author –

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Kevin J. Kennedy is a Scottish Horror author and editor, and a Bram Stoker Award nominee. He is co- author of ‘Screechers’ and ‘You Only Get One Shot’ and editor of multiple horror anthologies. You can find him on Twitter and on his website here.

 

Links to Buy and Review –

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Goodreads.com

 

How do you feel about gratuitous sexual content in horror? Should short story collections have a linking theme or just have different themes for each story? Does a weak ending ruin a story for you?

’13 Dark Tales’ Collection 2 by Mike Martin – Review

*Disclaimer – I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, then I couldn’t get the file to work and panicked and bought the kindle so make of that what you will.*

****

Connor hadn’t planned his first kill. Self-defence, plain and simple, even though others hadn’t seen it quite that way. He was sixteen and the hapless victim of school bullies: a trio of witless sociopaths. One day, it all got out of hand. 

He was walking home alone, along the edge of the park, when they leapt out of the bushes and rushed him. But Connor was fast on his feet, and only Lenny Barnett stood a chance of keeping up. He’d have outrun him, too, if he hadn’t tripped over that friggin’ tree root. Lenny had a temper, but his face was a mask of pure hate when he fell on Connor, punching and yelling obscenities. Connor bucked and squirmed, tried to fend the blows, but Lenny was bigger and stronger. He’d just about managed to wriggle onto his side when he was the sharp stone. He dragged it from the wet leaves and hurled it wildly at Lenny. By sheer luck, it hit him square on the temple. In an instant, the punching stopped, and he flopped to the ground like a rag doll. Connor grabbed the stone again and slammed it down on Lenny’s head. Dark blood rushed through his wavy hair. Connor rolled him away and got to his feet. But he wasn’t finished. The “fight or flight” instinct had switched to something he’d never felt before: a bloodlust wholly reptilian in its cold intent. But one of Lenny’s mates got there just before he could bring the stone down again. Connor dropped it and fled home, where he blubbed it all to his frantic mum. 

The next few days were a bit of a blur, and he could recall very little of his dealings with the police. Lenny died a week later in hospital. Connor’s father hired a good barrister who argue successfully for manslaughter, but it still meant eighteen months in a youth custody centre. And a life changed forever. 

 

Synopsis –

This is the second collection of dark tales numbering 13 by Michael R. Martin. Ranging from ancient Viking legends, satanic cults, ghosts and serial killers with a few sci-fi stories fit for a Creepy Pasta SCP, this collection has some fresh ideas and an able writer.

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13 Dark Tales Collection Two leaves the gore and violence behind for the most part and asks the reader to do more thinking and look at these tales with a different perspective. Martin tackles the past with skill and shows that there are always more ways to look at a story. From aliens to ghosts, ancient Viking folk tales to modern government conspiracies and murders, there’s plenty for everyone in this collection. Martin is adept at setting up a story and creating compelling characters with interesting back stories.

One issue I had with this collection is the repetition of the structure. Over half the stories in the collection involve one character telling another character a story from their past, often times one that they both already know somehow but this person knows the real story, the truth. The first few times this was fine, but after the fifth or sixth it was too much. Each collection is well written in and of itself, but it could have used a mix up, a few different frameworks for each tale and I think the stories themselves would have evolved within new structures as well. This also meant that there was little actual action happening, and more often than not the endings fell flat as the main story had already happened and it was more a flash of and ending rather than a satisfying conclusion.

13 Dark Tales is worth a read though even if it’s just for the new insights. I would still recommend the book – the fact that I sweep through collections in one go may be a contributing factor to my issue with the repetitive framework. I’ll also be giving Collection 1 a look in the future.

 

About the Author –

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Michael R. Martin is a dark fiction writer from the UK. He has a degree in mechanical engineering and takes inspiration from the likes of Stephen King, Philip K. Dick, and Nigel Kneale. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook.

 

Links to Buy and Review –

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Goodreads.com

 

What’s your favourite short story collection? Do you prefer action and gore or less tangible horror? Let me know down below!

‘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 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?