‘The Haunted Halls’ by Glenn Rolfe – Review

***

Walking up the pool steps he sensed a presence. Something else was here, and he had the goosebumps to prove it; the room was freezing. Not normally a man so easily spooked, Edward grabbed a towel from the plastic chair he’d left it on, and made for the door.

Stepping into the long empty corridor he could see his own breath. The icy presence had followed him. Even the maroon carpet which ran all the way down to the inns lobby was cool beneath his bare feet. The immense chill permeated every available space around him, freezing every door handle in sight and sparking to light and intense fear in him. He broke into a run looking for the nearest restroom.

Edward reached for the silver lever, his mind two steps away from setting his axis permanently out of whack, and despite the icy cold beneath his palm, shoved the door open. He spun around to the other side, shutting out the cooling hallway of the Bruton Inn. Something followed me. Standing in the men’s room clad in nothing but men’s swim trunks and a tiny pool towel that wouldn’t fit a child, he waited.

He was shivering, his teeth chattering, heart pounding. He could feel the wooden door at his back growing colder by the second. The small pool of water puddled beneath his feet began to freeze before his eyes. He stepped out of the slick space his wet body had created and stood before the mirror face to face with himself, intent on talking some sense into the man looking back at him.

“This isn’t happening. This isn’t fucking happening. Get a hold of yourself you stupid asshole!” he sad through quivering blue lips. A series of cracking noises stole his attention. He gazed back at the door. The floor beneath it began freezing over, the ice reaching out into where he stood.

Synopsis –

The Bruton Inn, located outside of the small Maine city of Hollis Oaks, is home to something special. An icy presence has made its way from a dark past to the present day. Cold spots, shadows, and whispers permeate the halls, and guests are beginning to change.

For two front desk employees, Rhiannon and Jeff, the dark rumors are about to come to light. They call upon Lee Buhl, the urban shaman, and his connection with the spirit world to dig up the truth.

Will they be able to stand against this malevolent force? Or will they come face to face with something beyond even your most frightful dreams. Welcome to the Bruton Inn. The Ice Queen has arrived.

Thoughts –

The Haunted Halls by Glenn Rolfe is a paranormal story set in a terrifying hotel with a dark past. Strange and unexplained things have been happening for some time; dead bodies found floating in the pool, voices and shadows in the empty hallways, and cold spots that can make your bones ache. Rhiannon is a relatively fresh recruit at the Bruton Inn and isn’t yet sure if she believes rumours going around, but she’d about to find out they are more true than she could ever imagine, and her coworker Jeff can’t escape them either.

A smorgasbord of messed up characters, bad decisions, evil intentions, and violence, The Haunted Halls has as many layers as there are rooms at the inn. The only real set back of the novel is the large cast of characters. Between hotel employees, blow in guests, regulars, and those from the haunting past that created it, it was a slippery task trying to keep them all straight in my head. Fortunately, a lot of them do end up shuffling off this mortal coil by the end, so it gets easier as it goes along. But Rolfe still handled the challenge well and the core character have their own time in the spotlight to keep the story going.

A classic haunted hotel story, from a fresh perspective, The Haunted Halls boasts physical and emotional turmoil, somewhat immoral characters redeeming themselves, and definitely immoral characters getting what they deserve. And a few unfortunate people who get caught up in the chaos and mayhem in between.

An exciting read that will keep you on your toes to the very end, this novel is another great read from Glenn Rolfe.

About the Author –

Glenn Rolfe is an author, singer, songwriter from the haunted woods of New England. He studied Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University, and continues his education in the world of horror by devouring the novels of Stephen King, Jack Ketchum, Richard Laymon, and many others. He has three children, Ruby, Ramona, and Axl. He is grateful to be loved despite his weirdness.

He is the author of August’s Eyes, Until Summer Comes Around, The Window, Becoming, Blood and Rain, The Haunted Halls, Chasing Ghosts, Boom Town, Abram’s Bridge, Things We Fear, Land of Bones, and Slush.

Read and Review –

Goodreads.com

Amazon.co.uk (affiliate link)

Amazon.com

‘For Rye’ by Gavin Gardiner – Review

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

***

Everywhere, knives; everywhere eyes.

She plunged trembling fingers into her worn leather satchel. Damned thing must be in here somewhere, she thought in the moment before her bag fell to the concrete flooring of Stonemount Central. The ticket collector’s eyes converged with her own upon the sacred square slip, tangled amongst the only other occupant of the fallen satchel: a coil of hemp rope.

They stared at the noose.

The moment lingered like an uninvited ghost. The woman fumbled the rope back into the bag and sprang to her feet, before shoving the ticket into his hand, grabbing her small suitcase, and lurching into the knives, into the eyes.

The crowd knocked past. A flickering departure board passed overhead as she wrestled through the profusion of faces, every eye a poised blade. The stare of a school uniformed boy trailing by his mother’s hand fell upon her, boiling water on her skin. She jerked back, failing to contact a shriek of pain. Swarms of eyes turned to look. The boy sniggered. She pulled her duffle coat tight and pushed onward.

The hordes obscured her line of sight; the exit had to be nearby somewhere through these eyes of agony. She prayed the detective – no, no more praying – she hoped the detective would be waiting outside to drive her, as promised. One last leg of the journey, out of the city of Stonemount and back to her childhood home after nearly thirty years.

Back to Millbury Peak.

Synopsis –

Renata Wakefield, a traumatised novelist on the brink of suicide, is drawn back to her childhood hometown following her mother’s ritualistic murder. Before long, she becomes ensnared in the mysteries of Millbury Peak as one question lies heavy: who killed Sylvia Wakefield?

As the answer draws nearer, as madness continues to envelop the quaint country town, Renata will come to realise that the key to all this insanity lies with one man—the world’s leading writer of horror fiction. His name is Quentin C. Rye, and he will guide her to the revelation that true madness lies within.

Discovering that the darkness of her family’s history runs deeper than she ever could have imagined, Renata Wakefield’s eyes will finally be opened to one single, hideous truth, which will awaken a long-dormant evil.

Thoughts –

For Rye is a dark and twisting mystery story involving a reclusive romance writer, her mother’s bloody and brutal murder, and a famed horror writer whose words were found at the scene of the crime. With layers of secrets and darkness, revenge and avenging, this is not a predictable story. Our protagonist Renata Wakefield, foiled in her attempt to take her own life as her careers wanes, is now staying to fulfil a long held promise to her dear mother; to care for her abusive father on his death bed no matter what. But the appearance of the mysterious writer Rye, the forbidden writer that may just have sparked her love of story writing in first place, may have just given her a new reason to keep living – to find out just what this mysterious romance thing is all about.

Rye himself, the boisterous American among the reserved English, is fascinated with the death of Renata’s mother, staged to look like a scene from one of his own horrifying books. He wants to get to know Renata, to help her find her mother’s killer, to give her new life. Little does he know that Renata’s life is a lot more complicated than he knows, her past darker even than a mind like his could imagine. And when his adult daughter Sandie shows up unannounced and determined to bring Renata’s works to the big screen as her leading lady, the danger surrounding Renata hits a little too close to home.

For Rye pulls you in with shocking events and complicated characters, and holds you within it’s pages with superb writing, a mix of genres, and twist after twist. By the end of this story you will not know who to trust, who to feel sorry for, and just how Gardiner managed it in the first place.

A darkly enjoyable read for any mystery lover’s out there.

About the Author –

Gavin Gardiner’s lifelong love of horror didn’t manifest into his debut horror novel, FOR RYE, until his early thirties. Between its completion and publication, he wrote a novella, several short stories, and a selection of non-fiction articles and analysis pieces. These can be found in various online publications and in print via:

www.gavingardinerhorror.com

Before he threw himself into the writing game, Gavin dedicated much of his teen years and twenties to the pursuit of music. Although the nightmares he’s since committed to the page have garnered more attention than his songs ever did, he hopes to one day return to music. The writing of horror, however, is here to stay.

He’s currently working on his second novel, Witchcraft on Rücken Ridge, and has grand plans for the future of his unique brand of horror. He very much hopes you’ll join him for the ride.

He lives in Glasgow, Scotland with his ever-patient girlfriend and ever-demanding kitten.

Read and Review –

Goodreads.com

Amazon.co.uk (affiliate link)

Amazon.com

‘The Thing in The Lake’ by Conor Metz – Review

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

***

The fog on the windshield expanded with every passing second, leaving the defroster locked in a losing battle. Murphy started to wonder if Evans could even see where he was driving. The storm that night was one for the books. The past few months had been relatively dry for Puget Sound and now all that buildup had unleased the wrath of the clouds. Rain splashed against the truck with such fury that Murphy might have thought Evans had wandered through a car wash, had he not known better. He did wonder why they had been ordered to travel so far from the freeway. There was the fact that it provided a lot of visibility and therefore increased chance of exposure, but taking the scenic route presented its own set of problems – especially in the current weather conditions. Some roads were already starting to flood as water built up along the sides and spilled over onto the pavement.

Murphy was bothered less by the weather and more by their cargo, yet he tried to keep his mind focused on the road ahead and off what was safely secured in the back of the truck. Things had been quiet since they left the facility and that’s the way he liked it. Quiet meant safe, safe meant he didn’t need to worry about what could happen if it escaped.

What could happen to him.

Synopsis –

Billy McGregor just wants to enjoy his summer before high school, but a creature lurks within his lake and seems to be picking off the residents one at a time. As a horror-buff, he’s quick to pick up on this and with nobody else seeming to notice, it’s up to him and his friends to take matters into their own hands.

But they aren’t the only ones after the creature.

A local cop realizes the several deaths are linked and an organization called SID is trying to cover it up. They have their own plans for the creature, but if they don’t capture it quickly, things could spiral out of control due to a potential for infection. A single bite or scratch will turn any person it injures into another one of its kind.

It’s a race for who can deal with the creature first, but will any of them be successful against a genetically engineered killing machine?

Thoughts –

The Thing In The Lake is exactly what you expect – it’s about a thing, in a lake. With a nostalgic feel of spending summers watching movies with friends and imagining yourself as the hero that saves the day, this is a novel that really puts it’s characters to the test. When a genetically engineered government experiment is let loose on a small lakeside town, four teenage boys and horror film addicts, take it upon themselves to first prove that the monster is real and stop the feds from covering it up, and to kill the monster themselves. These characters are written well and easily distinguishable, they have a great group dynamic and for the most part are realistic teenage boys.

The novel deals with multiple failed attempts from all side to capture or kill the monster. At times this did seem a little repetitive for the reader and there were certainly some ill advised decisions made, not just by the naive adolescents, but also by the more experienced and trained adults. There’s a familiar feel to the story with the trope of small town against big government and federal agents having terrible plans for a monster they created, but there is a certain unique aspect to the amalgamation of the creature and it’s many impossible traits and characteristics.

The Thing In The Lake is a monster story that delves into what happens when things don’t go to plan, the casualties that can happen when secrecy is more important than innocent lives, and the strength and determination of a group of teenage boys who think they’ve seen it all.

The Thing In The Lake is a monster story that pits a killing machine against the hearts and courage of a town and a group of four, determined, teenagers.

About the Author –

CONOR METZ was born in Renton, Washington in 1984. His early years exposed him to a variety of outlandish films, novels, and comics books, which have shaped him into the writer he is today. He currently lives in Seattle, Washington.

Read and Review –

Goodreads.com

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

‘Shepard’s Warning’ by Cailyn Lloyd – Review

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

****

 

He froze.

The broad oak floorboards undulated, a low rumbling sound, the same sound he heard earlier, but louder, more pressing. The house shook and trembled as if the ground beneath the foundation were in the grip of an earthquake. It all happened in seconds. Tom stood, gripped by morbid fascination and fear. A dizzy, nauseous feeling swept through him. He bent over, thinking he would throw up. 

Another slamming door jolted Tom from his trance. He had to get the hell out of here! Jesus! The floorboards were clattering like a mad drum brigade. He turned and ran down the hall, toward the stairs. Ahead, door at the end of the long hallway pushed ajar – just an inch or two. Bright sunlight spilled through that crack and the keyhole, down the dark hallway, a surreal contrast between the sudden calamity indoors and the serene July afternoon outside. Cheerful birdsong, from beyond that door perhaps, completed the insanity. 

Drawn to the doorway like a moth to a lamp, he felt powerless to resist the attraction of whatever lay beyond the threshold. Light emanating from the room grew brighter and warmer. He drifted down the hallway, clenching his fists for a moment, trying to shake the anxiety, trying to regain his composure. The floorboards rattled beneath his feet, the ominous rumbling continued, danger lurked around him – but not beyond the door. He just knew it. 

He took a deep breath. 

Reached for the knob. Hesitated. 

Pulled the door open – 

 

 

Synopsis –

For years the abandoned MacKenzie mansion remained hidden in rural Wisconsin. Rumors and stories of apparitions, odd noises, accidents, and strange deaths in or near the property were enough to convince the townsfolk it was haunted and they stayed away.

Lucas MacKenzie and his brother Nate know nothing of this when they inherit the property and decide to bring their families to Wisconsin for a major renovation project with HGTV stardom in mind. As they tear out old fixtures and open shuttered windows, the house begins to reveal secrets of a terrible past and it soon becomes clear the MacKenzies are in grave danger. In the end, only one person can save them.

 

20200214_135840_0000

 

 

Thoughts –

In Shepard’s Warning Lloyd crafts a story of tension mystery and more twists and turns than a roller coaster. Switching from multiple points of view the novel builds to a dizzying conclusion that satisfies the reader without playing into their expectations. Laura, the most frequented point of view in the book, carries the story through believable loneliness, seclusion, and disbelief towards the frightening and supernatural things that are happening to her, and perhaps through her.

With so many other characters however, at times some can seem more important than they actually are and there are loose ends and questions unanswered by the curtain close. But with the main characters and plot largely resolved, Shepard’s Warning delivers on its promise of a dark and intriguing story.

 

46156876

 

 

With ancient magic, cautionary ghosts, generations of mysterious deaths, and a family crumbling, Shepard’s Warning delivers a dark story meaty enough to keep you hooked to the very end.

 

 

About the Author –

19234062

In addition to writing, Cailyn Lloyd is an accomplished weather photographer and her work has appeared in several publications including Life Magazine and Time Magazine. She is also a composer and musician with three album releases to her credit. Cailyn lives near the Kettle Moraine State Forest in Wisconsin and when she’s not writing spooky stories, loves hiking with her children and dogs.

 

Read and Review –

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Goodreads.com

 

What’s your favourite ancient ghost story? Would you like to see more generational curses in your horror content? Let me know down below!

 

‘True Crime’ by Samantha Kolesnik – Review

If you’d like to take a look at my Booktube video review, you can find it here.

20200125_192447_0000

 

I pulled up the piece of loose siding and slid out my best copy of True Crime. The pages, thin as newspaper, were gritty with dirt. I flipped to my favorite photo of a blonde murder victim from a few decades ago. The black ink had worn gray from my repeated touch. My obsessive fingers threatened to wipe away the entire page if given enough time. 

The blonde in the photo had been babysitting when a man broke into the house and strangled her with an appliance cord. The photo left little to imagination and aroused an excitement in me – something similar, I imagined, to a young boy seeing his first centerfold. The blonde’s lip was busted and her face was swollen. Her cheeks bulged unnaturally. The only living part was her hair, which fanned out around her head in a wild mess of blonde tangle. 

My brother, Lim, said I was sick. He said only sick people look at magazines like the one I held in my hands. I knew he was right; it wasn’t normal. 

The babysitter photo was the first time I’d seen a dead woman in the full. Usually True Crime cropped out the details. It’s show a pair of clogs and white socks drawn up over pale calves. It’s show legs splayed apart with just a tease of blood. There might be a hand flung out from behind the couch with a few bullet casings in the foreground. 

There was no propriety with the babysitter, though. She was gold. 

I didn’t get a sexual thrill from looking at her. There was nothing climactic or conclusive about my obsession with her corpse. It just felt good. 

When I had first seen the photo, I hadn’t been able to look away for a long while. I had strained to scan every last detail of her into my memory. Th recollection of it had become a prayer I could recount at times when my mind strained to escape Mama’s very real and present hands. 

Sometimes it helped if I imagined the scene in the photo from the man’s point of view. I would try to feel the relief the man must have felt as he pulled on that cord around the blonde’s tender neck. I imagined it must’ve been quite a bit of work to take away a woman’s youth like that. 

I put True Crime down and started across the street.

 

20200126_163803_0000

 

Synopsis –

Suzy and her brother, Lim, live with their abusive mother in a town where the stars don’t shine at night. Once the abuse becomes too much to handle, the two siblings embark on a sordid cross-country murder spree beginning with their mom. As the murder tally rises, Suzy’s mental state spirals into irredeemable madness.

 

Thoughts –

Taken on the journey of a traumatized young girl and her protective brother as they attempt to navigate through a world that wants to continue to victimize them, any reader will find this a tense read to get through. With strong themes of misogyny, abuse, and violence, True Crime is a brutal look at the mind of a young girl trying and failing to come to grips with the trauma that she has endured at the hands of her mother. Brutalized from a young age, Suzy struggles to bring together her desire to do good and treat people better, and her natural reflexes of violence and defensiveness. A story for women written by a woman, True Crime takes a closer look at the self-shame and self-hatred of a victim of sexual abuse, and the conflicting emotions that come with being mistreated by those tasked with taking care of you.

The violence of the story is inexcusable and yet it is impossible to feel for Suzy and even her brother, impossible not to root for their salvaged futures and hope for a light at the end of the tunnel. A grimy, gritty, and unforgettable novel, True Crime is a story that needed to be told.

48808041._UY2400_SS2400_

For a debut novel, True Crime is a stunning horror debut from Kolesnik, an already seasoned story teller. With writing that creeps under the skin and sticks in the mind, this is a novel that is unique in it’s perspective and delivery and one that holds you until the very last word.

 

 

About the Author –

19735299

Samantha Kolesnik is an award-winning writer and film director living in central Pennsylvania. Her screenplays and short films have been recognized at top genre film festivals and her fiction has appeared in notable literary magazines including The Bitter Oleander, The William and Mary Review, and Barnstorm. She is one of the co-founders of the Women in Horror Film Festival. True Crime is her first novel.

 

Read and Review –

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Goodreads.com

 

What is your favourite debut novel? Do you have to like an authors first novel to even consider picking up the second? What do you think about teen murderers in fiction?