‘The Edgewood Nightmare’ by Conor Metz – Review

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

***

Jumping up onto her bed, she made a second leap onto her brother’s. His bed wasn’t quite a bunk bed on top of hers – it was adjacent, but elevated about two feet above hers to allow a small fort space underneath where they could hang out and hide stuff. Of course, the benefits of it were mostly lost on Kurt who was plagued by nightmares in his younger years that a troll or some such creature lurked below while he slept, just waiting for the right time to strike and gobble him up.

Maddie thought such stuff was ridiculous. She was never afraid of much, mainly because she knew monsters didn’t exist. She was more scared of things that seemed possible to her like ghosts, witches, and serial killers. The last was something her parents were always warning her about. Don’t take candy from strangers, don’t get into vans with older men, don’t wander off while in public places. When she was younger, most of these warnings were lost on her, but she was smart enough these days to take their advice. There were too many kids that seemed to disappear and this sort of thing did manage to put some fear in her, but for the most part their neighborhood was safe. The one thing she did need to watch out for was the other kids nearby.

They had problems.

Synopsis –

Maddie Durant is trying to enjoy a snow day in December when she finds herself suddenly trapped in a world of endless, inescapable nightmares. Unfortunately for the small community of Edgewood, she’s not the only one. As four other young girls go missing in the span of a few hours, the Wakefield Police have their hands full trying to find out who took them.

And things aren’t looking good.

The lone detective on the police force has few clues and little hope of locating the girls, but Maddie’s brother thinks he may know where she’s hidden. With the help of her best friend, the pair aren’t going to let their parents or the police stop them from finding the missing girls.

Meanwhile, the girls will have to work together and summon their courage if they hope to escape a horrible fate. But without any answers to who took them and why, it’s anyone’s guess who will make their way out of the Edgewood nightmare.

Thoughts –

The Edgewood Nightmare is the latest YA story from Conor Metz. In this alluring and mysterious tale, a small town is afflicted with young girls disappearing within hours of each other. As their families and the local police detective scramble to find any clue as to where they may be or who may have taken them, the girls wake up in a living nightmare. A dreamscape that seems to look into the darkest corners of their minds and recreates their worst nightmares. Only be learning to harness their imaginations and master their fears will they ever manage to escape this hellscape and discover who did this to them.

The Edgewood Nightmare will have you on the edge of your seat, rooting for this rag tag group of young girls using their knowledge of movies and video games to save each other. Not to mention their family and friends on the outside who are not about to give up looking for them. Metz gives the reader an undeniable feeling of camaraderie and reflects the strength and bonds of such young friends perfectly. As the adults deal with the real world logic and rules, the kids fight fear itself and create their own logic and rules to do it. The Edgewood Nightmare is dark, mysterious, and an entertaining read. With a 90’s nostalgic feel and reminiscent at times of the haunting Freddie Krueger and his Nightmare on Elm Street, this is a great one to read if you’re having trouble sleeping…

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 Bellevue, Washington.

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‘Shells’ by Joshua Radburn – Review

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

***

October 1971

Clive hopped out of the biting mid-night rain into a growling BMW. He was such a broad, thug of a man it almost toppled over when he slammed the door shut and shifted in his leather seat. He was not happy.

“I don’t know if I can do this, Mick,” he huffed, fiddling with the window winder.

Shut up,” Mick growled back, with a cockney twang so sharp it threatened to crack the windows. “One plug and it’s over.”

Mick was half Clive’s size but had dark eyes that were twice as menacing. He sat statuesque under a trilby hat with skinny arms folded. Gaze locked on the Eastern side of a large Victorian house. The storm leapt out of the surrounding woodlands and buffeted it with murky waves of air and water, and its white paint work absorbed the storm’s aggression. The resulting rot and black mould fortified its foundations.

Clive laughed. “Oh? One plug and it’s over? That’s all, is it? It’ll take more than that to butter Charlie fucking Blue, mate.”

Mick scowled at him and Clive turned up his trench coat collar. “Don’t look at me like that.”

“Then grow up. Or you too busy entertaining the painters?”

Clive could barely look at the house, sat centre stage in its decrepit forest clearing, overrun with weeds. The rain cut over the car’s headlights and cast it in a downy glow. After the week they’d had, Clive sympathised with it. The house mirrored his face, which was struggling to heal from a week’s worth of violence.

“Well, this ain’t a regular job, is it,” Clive said. “Otherwise we’d be in that house by now, either killing him or him killing us.”

Synopsis

Set in 1971 London, Shells follows the story of Joe, a grumbling cockney detective tasked with recapturing a prolific mass murderer who – quite incomprehensibly – has escaped from police custody. Haunted by the death of his partner a year prior and unwilling to let old vendettas die, Joe brings his past with him, muddying a case that veers into the ostensibly supernatural. At its core, Shells is also a love letter to three of Radburn’s favourite cinematic tropes: Film Noir, Shocking Cinema/Video Nasties, and the Nouvelle Vague.

Thoughts –

Shells is a gritty and dark crime novel that does not hold back on the gore or the ambiguity of it’s killer, the infamous Charlie Blue. Is he a demon possessed superhuman? Or has his blood soaked and mythical reputation simply created an image where incredible occurrences are easily believed when he is involved? As well as this masked psychopath, we have our down trodden hero, the drunk and bedraggled detective Joe, who’s nursing a shredded heart and still recovering from the death of his partner, the guilt of which is heavier than Charlie Blue’s claw hammer. But Shells is not all doom and gloom. To cut through the dark tension we also have some witty henchmen in the form of Mick and Clive who open the novel by wrestling over a packet of crisps while on a dangerous stakeout. And the religious fanatical warrior who also joins the search for Charlie Blue simply to prove his own might against him.

Shells, a multi layered novel where Radburn easily melds together the dark and seedy underbelly of corrupt city cops, drugs dealers, and gangsters, with the bone chilling threat of an evil serial killer, one who few have encountered and lived to tell the tale. A whopping 600 pages, but one that manages the pacing well and keeps the reader on their toes with just enough enigmatic characters and enticingly mysterious threads, to keep the pages turning.

As Radburn states in his introduction, Shells was inspired by his love for Film Noir, Video Nasties, and Nouvelle Vague, and began life as a set of screenplays. This comes across clearly in the visual descriptions and quick witted dialogue of the novel, not to mention the grey and rain soaked setting of a bleak 1970’s London. An intriguing novel that blends genres, and keeps you guessing, Shells is well worth the word count and one whose characters will stay with you long after the cover is closed.

About the Author –

Joshua Radburn is an independent author of Horror, Science Fiction, and Fantasy. He studied Computer Animation Arts at Bournemouth University and has had stints as a graphic designer, teacher, and personal trainer. He lives in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire with his wife and daughter.

With nowhere else to go, his wife and daughter graciously suffer the intrinsic quirks found in those who struggle with the monotony of day to day life, as Joshua pursues the intangible riches of creation…

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‘Dial M For Mutants!’ by Mat Thorne – Review

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

***

Her office smelled like the bathroom of a seedy bar. The endless cycle of cigarettes. That urinal cake perfume. A headache was already forming somewhere deep in Buck’s skull and one whiff of her office was just enough to set it alight. He slumped into the old floral sofa across from her desk and sighed.

She watched him a long, silent moment, then returned to the open tabloid on her desk. She clicked her tongue and scratched notes all across the page. Buck sat too low in the sofa to see what she wrote. He didn’t need to. Her expression told him everything he needed to know.

“Have a smoke,” she said, nodding to the pack of Viceroys on the table.

Buck sat up and took one.

“Why the hell not,” he said. “Just why the hell not.”

He tapped the cigarette on the desk and hesitated. The chaos of the newsroom sounded through the open door. Phones ringing, voices arguing, the occasional burst of laughter.

“You want me to close that?” Buck said.

“Leave it open.”

Buck pressed the cold cigarette to his lips and held it there. “That’s what I thought,” he mumbled.

She sat the paper down and flattened out the creases with her knobby hands. Just skin and bones and a glitter of cocktail rings moving slowly, tenderly, over the edges. She made a real show of it. She even squared it to the edge of the table and patted it like a puppy.

“This is trash, hun,” she said.

Buck lit his cigarette and smiled. “You’re the publisher.”

She smiled back. Red lipstick smeared across her teeth.

“Not the paper,” she said. “The Midnight Extra is an award winning publication.” She thumbed toward the wall of gilded plaques behind her desk, then raised her voice to be heard well beyond the office. “Award winning!” she shouted. Then to Buck: “It’s your section dear. It’s trash.”

Synopsis –

Welcome to 1994. Bill Clinton is the president, Twitter doesn’t exist, and The Midnight Extra is staring at you from every checkout lane and ratty newsstand along the East Coast. Hollywood scandals, wild gossip, and the occasional UFO. You just can’t miss it. You might want to, but you can’t.

The Midnight Extra isn’t much of a tabloid, but that’s never really bothered Buck Vincent. He isn’t much of a reporter. And in a paper notorious for Elvis sightings and celebrity sex gossip, Buck’s Can You Believe It?! section feels right at home. For twenty-nine years, he’s dreamt up stories about Bigfoot, aliens, ghouls, and monsters of every stripe, usually after a whiskey. Or four.

Problem is, Buck didn’t dream up his latest story. He’s seen the blood. And he’s met the strange, smiling woman haunted by something beastly in the night. Hell, he’s seen the damn thing himself.

Good thing he’s teamed up with rookie photographer Betty Roy. She may be a loose cannon, but she’s got more spine than Buck ever had. Gumption too. And together they’ll chase a story that might just be chasing them back. Something with teeth. Let’s just hope the story is worth all the trouble. Things are getting a little spooky.

Thoughts –

Set in the 90’s around a magazine publication specializing in the paranormal, supernatural, and esoteric, Dial M for Mutants! is a novel that perfectly encapsulates the smoke and mirrors of such a workplace. The setting and atmosphere of the book is immersive, and is only made even more enticing by the visceral and frightening events and images in the book.

Our reporter Buck Vincent is used to creating a spin on things, and for the last three decades of his career he hasn’t been above just totally making things up. But when he and the new photographer for the magazine, Betty Roy, find themselves in the middle of a story that appears to have real blood, real mystery, and real danger, Buck finds his taste for a good story hasn’t left him just yet.

Dial M For Mutants! has a nostalgic feel to it without overwhelming the reader. Thorne’s writing is a gritty fast paced story that does not hold back on the old school monster visuals and the macabre mad scientist angle. With characters you want to root for, and a mystery that is too delicious not to keep you hooked to the last page, this is a book that you will likely finish in one sitting.

A breathtaking cover to match the horrifying story within.

About the Author –

Mat Thorne is a writer, designer, and photographer from West Virginia. He lives in Pittsburgh with his wife, daughter, and two strange cats. He enjoys monster movies, fantasy miniatures, baseball, and dumplings. “Dial M for Mutants!” is his first novel.

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‘The Scavenger’ by Aidan Lucid – Review

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

***

The school bell rang to sound the end of science class. Soon the halls of Hopps Town High School thronged with students. Some, like Jared Duval, put books they no longer needed for the day into their lockers. Others just chatted for a few seconds before going to the next class. Jared, 17, African American of medium height and athletic build, turned the key in his locker door to lock it. He idolized the actor Will Smith and sported the same hairstyle that Mr. Smith had in the early nineties.

Jared froze as he heard an all too familiar taunting voice.

“Well, if it isn’t our resident queer,” said Lydia Moran. Lydia, 16, small with cherry red pigtails and purple-framed glasses covering her blue eyes, looked the picture of innocence. Everyone knew she was anything but that. For two years, she tormented Jared, leaving notes shoved in his locker or bag when he wasn’t looking; sending him crude Facebook messages or teasing him in front of her friends. He learned a long time ago the best way to deal with bullies was to ignore them or show no fear, or both.

Synopsis –

Three Separate Wishes. One Twisted Nightmare

Just like Hopps Town, their humble home, Jessica Barlow, Jared Duval, and Adrian Cole are fostering dark secrets. Plagued by loss, cruelty, and physical abuse, these friends are kindred spirits, bound by anguish and elusive dreams. They’re soon to find the key to change, but any happy future will demand they face a haunting past and brave a lethal present.

Deep in the forest on the outskirts of town, aging and nearly forgotten, there stands a well from another time. Happening upon this relic, Adrian goads his companions to join him in making a wish. Soon, difficult though it is to admit, their luckless lives do seem to shift. The only problem is, the changes aren’t at all as they’d imagined. Seemingly, they’ve only left the pan to face the fire.

Should they hope to both survive and thrive, they’ll need to pool their wits and draw on mystic inner-power. Solving Hopps Town’s greatest mystery now means life or death.

Thoughts –

The Scavenger is the familiar story of ‘be careful what you wish for’ with a little added pinch of evil. A YA horror story that takes the lives of three struggling teens and gives them exactly what they want; a loving parent, attention from an unrequited love, and saving from a relentless bully. A simple wish made by the old fashioned throwing of a coin in a well, leads these teens to realise that though their lives are far from perfect, things can be a lot worse.

Jared is a young gay teen struggling with his religious mother and her refusal to accept him as he is, while being bullied daily by a popular girl at school. Jessica lives with an alcoholic and abusive mother, dodging daily beatings and punishments for just existing. And Adrian seems to be the better off of the three, but still has issue with his lone parent father who expects nothing from him but never ending commitment to sport. These three characters are laid out in detail, built up throughout the story, and entice to reader into their unfortunate story.

Lucid has created a modern YA horror tale with traditional roots and evils that any adolescent, or adult for that matter could enjoy. A story that illustrates very real issues in modern teen lives and mixes in plenty of supernatural horror as well.

About the Author –

Aidan Lucid began writing in 2002 after having a religious experience. Since then, his works have appeared in national and international poetry anthologies, magazines, and e-zines. In October 2019, Lucid released his debut fantasy novel, The Lost Son, and book one in The Zargothian Saga trilogy. He plans to release its sequel in summer 2021, and book two of, The Hopps Town Duology in fall of 2021. In his spare time, Aidan likes to read, meditate, listen to music and go to the movies with his wife, Claire. You can find him on Facebook here, Twitter here, and Instagram here.

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‘Chatroom With A View’ by Glenn Maynard – Review

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

***

The wind gusts reached into the woods and sporadically shifted the little log cabin at its base, and the raindrops thumped the structure with a little more vigor when they did. It wasn’t that it was a threatening storm, but it created enough of a commotion to jolt Troy Cullen back into the world in which he was not a very big fan. The gray, sticky afternoon in late July contained enough heat to bring on this afternoon thunderstorm, but much more accompanied the storm beyond the clouds and the thunder and the rain.

Troy looked around the room from the floor of this long structure and with hazy vision saw his father on the hardwood floor across from him. Neither of them moved like the approaching storm. Turning his head to the left, he could see his house through the window. In fact, he could see the window of his bedroom from his current position inside this little cabin in the back yard. He was on the other side looking in not long ago, but a lot had changed since then. In the matter of an hour, his entire world had turned upside down.

Synopsis –

Lizzie Borden took an axe . . . and so goes the song depicting the 1892 axe murders of her father and step-mother. Research indicates that a killer gene could be passed down through generations of family members, and evidence begins with Lizzie’s ancestor who murdered his mother in 1673. Chatroom with a View opens with a bone-chilling episode, and what’s left of Troy Cullen’s dysfunctional family keeps him even further from the normal integration with society. Troy’s life further unravels when his ex-girlfriend, Veronica, announces that she is pregnant. Troy loses control and plots to do unto others as they have done unto him. When Veronica digs into his family’s past, she exposes this killer gene; she must try to balance her obsession for a family with shielding herself and their baby from evil. But Troy has his own agenda, resulting in an epic showdown. 

Thoughts –

Chatroom With a View explores the intersections and interactions of characters that are in dire need of a therapist. Beginning with the young and troubled Troy Cullen, desperate to protect his mother from his violent and abusive father, Troy feels let down by the world and by himself. Now having to work with two women who bullied him in high school and hearing that they are still up to their immoral shenanigans, he decides to take covert action against them, but quickly crosses the line between giving them a taste of their own medicine, and becoming the monster himself.

But as Troy is struggling not to become like his father, and failing miserably, a girl from his past shows up again too inform him that she is pregnant with his child. Not taking no for an answer, Victoria is determined to create her perfect family with the reluctant Troy, no matter what he is hiding in his father’s cabin. Discovering that Troy may have a hereditary disposition for violence, and so might her unborn son, Victoria believe she can nurture this nature out of them.

Chatroom With a View is a roller coaster ride of bad reactions and even worse decisions. Rather than investing in a few well needed, therapy sessions, every character in this story leans into their darkest and most irrational ideas much to the detriment of everyone around them. With small touches on the theory of nature versus nurture when it comes to violence and even murder, as well as the role of family on one’s own mental struggles, this is a novel that attempts to shed some light on the darker motivations that some people have. Representing the self titled victims of the cruelty of women is Troy, and representing the perfect ten women who just seem to be too much for people is Victoria – at no point should these psyche’s meet, but unfortunately they do.

While Maynard’s writing is enjoyable and his character’s solid enough, the decisions made and actions taken by many of the characters in the story felt very rash and unpredictable. It was difficult to get a handle on what Troy’s priorities were and how far he was willing to go to stroke his own ego. Victoria’s mental health issues were more overt, but Troy’s complete disconnect with reality has them on the same level for much of the story. But the story does take an interesting look at the downward spiral of a young man on the outskirts of society with violence in his blood.

About the Author –

Glenn Maynard has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Connecticut as well as a degree in Communications. After spending four years living in Denver, Colorado, he returned home to Connecticut and now resides in Wethersfield. Glenn Maynard is the author of ‘Strapped into an American Dream’ that details the one-year journey through the forty-eight continental states, Canada and Mexico in an RV. At one time he was a correspondent for three newspapers during his travels. To learn more about Glenn, you can visit his website here.

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