‘Unsafe Words’ by Loren Rhoads – Review

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

***

“You’re going to love this place.” Caleb promised. He pulled his bike over to the side of the pot-holed driveway, so Violet stopped, too. The house ahead of them was clearly vacant, its creamy paint gone scabrous as the stucco beneath it had fallen away. The window – blank, like eyes blinded by cataracts – reflected the flawless cerulean sky overhead. In front of the house stretched a lawn gone to meadow. Its tall golden weeds drowsed in the sun.

Violet and Caleb rounded the lawn – was it heart-shaped? – and went to sit on the broken steps leading up to the veranda. Caleb shouldered out of his backpack and pulled out two sandwiches. They were dill Havarti on sourdough with some lettuce and just a little mustard. Violet smiled, pleased that he’d finally remembered she was vegetarian. After the bike ride up the mountain, the sandwich was perfect, washed down with water from her thermos.

The area around the derelict house seemed eerily quiet. The fall of a leaf, rattling on its way to the ground, echoed. Violet turned so she didn’t have her back to the house.

Synopsis –

Thoughts –

Unsafe Words is a unique collection of dark fiction that explores themes of addictions and desires, of man and monsters, and does so in a way that enthralls the reader not only with the subject matter but by the strength of Rhoads descriptions and sentences. Ranging from the haunted wilderness of ‘In the Pines’ to the sci-fi horrors of ‘The Arm’s Dealer’s Daughter’, this collection reaches far and wide, examining every dark corner you can think of

Unsafe Words is a collection that is diverse and inclusive of queer people, exploring physical and emotional desires that are too often shunned from our pages. Rhoads clearly shows that she is not afraid to describe in detail the physical and loving acts of her characters, as well as the bloody and violent ones. From unique vampire stories such as ‘Affamé’ were no blood is ever spilled, to the heartbreaking ‘The Energizer Bunny at Home’, the stories in this collection cut deep and open up new avenues for fiction that need to be explored more.

Unsafe Words is a dark short story collection that reaches far, cuts deep, and is not easy to forget.

About the Author –

Loren Rhoads is author of Unsafe Words, the first full-length collection of her edgy, award-winning stories. She’s the co-author of Lost Angels and its brand-new sequel Angelus Rose. She’s also editor of Tales for the Camp Fire, which raised money for survivors of 2018’s devastating wildfire in Butte County, California.

Loren is also author of 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die and Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel.

Finally, she is the author of the space opera In the Wake of the Templars trilogy: The Dangerous TypeKill By Numbers, and No More Heroes.

Read and Review –

Goodreads.com

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

‘Kept From Cages’ by Phil Williams – Review

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

***

With Stomatt propped against the wall, Reece straightened out the boiler suit and patted down his legs, then twisted his gun belt round so the pistol was hidden to his rear. Caleb caught his eye like he wanted to suggest something worrisome, and Reece smiled it off before it was said. Because everyone liked Reece once he got talking. He rapped his knuckle on thee door. “Excuse me, good people! I know it’s late but we’re in bad need of assistance.” No reply. “Had ourselves an accident back up the road. Damnedest thing, you wouldn’t believe – car on its roof, and we got a man down.”

Nothing. Caleb worried, “Think they heard us coming, hid away?”

“Why’d anyone hide from a couple harmless musicians?” Reece said. Caleb’s eye tracked down to the gun belt. Reece curled his nose: even if they did see La Belle Riposte holstered there, it was an instrument as exquisite as his trumpet. And they were in Texas – who didn’t had a gun? He knocked again. “Hate to be a burden, but my friend here lost a lot of blood – can’t even stand right now.” Still nothing. “We’re decent people, like yourselves – just trying to get back home.”

Caleb shifted. “We could try another one?”

“Another house?” Reece raised an eyebrow to indicate the hundred miles of nothing surrounding them. He called out, “We don’t need to stay long, just got to patch up my friend – get him some water, fresh bandages. I gotta insist on that much at least.” One last pause. “We’ll make our own entrance if we have to.”

You can also watch my video review of this book on my BookTube channel here.

Synopsis –

Reece’s gang of criminal jazz musicians have taken shelter in the wrong house. There’s a girl with red eyes bound to a chair. The locals call her a devil – but Reece sees a kid that needs protecting. He’s more right than he knows.

Chased by a shadowy swordsman and an unnatural beast, the gang flee across the Deep South with the kid in tow. She won’t say where she’s from or who exactly her scary father is, but she’s got powers they can’t understand. How much will Reece risk to save her?

On the other side of the world, Agent Sean Tasker’s asking similar questions. With an entire village massacred and no trace of the killers, he’s convinced Duvcorp’s esoteric experiments are responsible. His only ally is an unstable female assassin, and their only lead is Ikiri – a black-site in the Congo, which no one leaves alive. How far is Tasker prepared to go for answers?

Thoughts –

Kept From Cages is the first in a duo of supernatural thrillers, and is a beginning that will have you salivating for the next installment. Filled with strong characters, a supernatural mystery at the core of the story, and Williams engaging and enthralling writing, it is a difficult book to put down.

The reader is taken on a journey through America, Africa, and Europe as the mystery of Ikiri unfolds, from a criminal gang of jazz musicians who now have a young and near magical ward, to a British spy tasked with uncovering the reason for multiple villages around the world annihilating themselves. The most enigmatic character for me was the character of Katryzna, an unhinged and untamable assassin that has her own motives, her own goals, and is not about to let anyone stand in her way – not even the voice of her conscience that only she can hear but that tries its best to guide her anyway.

Kept From Cages has unsolved murders, international conspiracies, rogue assassins, demons, a girl with red eyes, a man with a sword for an arm, and a swift and sure writing style that makes turning every page just that much easier. I thoroughly enjoyed my journey to Ikiri and look forward to the release of book two, hopefully very soon.

As a book one, Kept in Cages is an explosive beginning to the Ikiri story and will have you counting down the days until you can get your hands on the next one.

About the Author –

Phil Williams writes contemporary fantasy and dystopian fiction and non-fiction grammar guides. His novels include the interconnected Ordshaw urban fantasy thrillers, the post-apocalyptic Estalia saga and the action-packed Faergrowe series. He also runs the website English Lessons Brighton, and writes reference books to help foreign learners master the nuances of English.

Phil lives with his wife by the coast in Sussex, UK, and now spends a great deal of time walking his impossibly fluffy dog, Herbert. 

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