‘Grim Fate’ by Nicho Young – Review

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

***

The autumn leaves slowly tumbled to the ground in a graceful dance that reminded the man of a dream he had once upon a time. In the dream there were men and women whirling in ceremonial dress around a child who was lying on the ground, completely silent. Everything was in slow motion, and while it could have been a peaceful scene, there was something wrong about it. It struck the man as more of a warning and less of a dream; almost as if there were clues he was supposed to follow in order to understand the basic nature of the scene playing out before him.

The child, an infant, was watching the procession with understanding in its eyes, as if it already knew what the dance was for, and why it was being performed. There was something ritualistic to the movements; an appeasement dance perhaps, or a dance to ward off some unseen evil spirit. An itch at the back of the man’s head told him there was something familiar with the scene, something more than simply a dream, but then he had awakened. It had happened as soon as he was noticed as a bystander of the dance. And, as dreams most often do, the details had begun to fade the moment the man’s eyes adjusted to the darkness in his room. Most dreams of this nature drifted out of the head completely, and this one was no exception, until the man watched the swirling autumn leaves gracefully descend to the earth below.

Synopsis –

Marcus Grimm is a paranormal investigator who has made a living determining if supernatural events are occurring. Although he has a special intuition and connection to the Otherworld, he remains a skeptic, which allows him to figure out if there is a genuine event or if a family is trying to get their fifteen minutes of fame.

When Marcus meets John Billings and his children at their house, he has a sense that the events John describes are very real. As Marcus explores the house for signs of supernatural activity he not only learns more about himself, but uncovers truths that will change his life forever.

And he discovers that sometimes accepting invitations can have dire consequences.

Thoughts –

Grim Fate follows a paranormal investigator called to a house by the father of two young children. His wife has just died and he is concerned about some strange activities that are happening in the home that may be affecting his children. Our protagonist, Marcus, has been in a situation before where it was the parent harming the children so he is wary of any red flags when investigating the house, but little does he know, there’s a lot more going on here than even that.

Soon he is interviewing the children and discovering that there certainly are otherworldly forces at play in this house, both manipulative, both relentless, and both set to change the course of Marcus’s life forever. Through his supernatural abilities, the reader gets to know more about Marcus’s own life as well as the life of the family and the children he is trying to protect from this dark and dangerous entity in their home. And it is not clear which side the children’s father is really on.

While there is an interesting premise and good writing in Grim Fate, you are thrown in very much at the deep end. I would have liked to have spent a little more time with the family and the children in the ‘here and now’, instead of immediately delving into past experiences and memories. It gave the story a bit of an unstable feeling and made the climax in the real shared reality feel brittle to the touch. In saying that though, the story itself has its own unique layers and will interest any reader who is into ghosts, demons, and paranormal horror.

About the Author –

Nicho Young grew up in the Pacific Northwest and currently resides in the state of Washington with his wife and 3 (soon-to-be 4) children. When he is not writing he can be found playing with his kids, live streaming online, and watching shows and movies with his wife.

Writing has always been a passion of his and he is excited to be able to share his storytelling with the world. Grim Fate is his debut novel, and he plans on continuing to write and bring stories to everyone for decades to come.

Read and Review –

Goodreads.com

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

‘The Miracle Sin’ by Marcus Hawke – Review

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

***

Father Abbott was a man of God.

His earliest memory was of seeing the crucifix above the altar during First Communion when he was seven years old. He knew even then that he wanted to be ordained. To serve the Lord. When the priest placed the wafer on his tongue and said the blessing, he felt an overwhelming calm. Peace. He knew in his heart that his life belonged to Him.

But now, more than sixty years later, as precious drops of his blood dripped away on the filthy floor, Father Abbott desperately wondered where he was.

Bitter pain coursed through his whole body. His wavy gray hair clung to the sides of his unshaven face with sweat. Several of his teeth were loose and where others had been were now raw, bloody gaps. Though his hands were bound behind the back of his chair so tight that they had lost feeling, he was sure a finger was missing. Perhaps two. With each labored breath his broken ribs stung; with each breath he silently prayed for death. The flesh around his left eye had swollen to the size of a fist. All he could see through it was a narrow slit of light.

Through that narrow slit, a silhouette appeared.

“Do you think me evil?” Even with his shallow pulse thundering in his ears, the serpentine tickle of the words sickened him.

“Yes,” Abbott said weakly.

The creature smiled. “Good.”

“You didn’t have to do all this.”

A shrug. “Where’s the fun in that?”

Synopsis –

Have you ever wondered if there’s more to life? If we are destined for something great, part of a divine plan rather than just subjects of random chaos? Mason Cole has wondered these things. And he has the answer…

No.

How could that be when his parents were killed in an earthquake that destroyed the city of Jerusalem, yet he alone survived? How could he be destined for great things when he’s stuck in a town-shaped reststop where nothing he does makes a difference? And why would God do this to him in the first place?

Then one day a stranger passes through town, bringing with him a unique explanation of his past, one he never could have imagined, and wishes he could forget. It sounds like something from one of his books, only this time it’s happening to him, and it becomes clear that not every miracle is a blessing. Now, with a red-haired devil hell bent on possessing him for his own sinister gains, Mason must discover the answers to these questions if he ever hopes to survive in a world where the dark no longer hides that which dwells within.

Thoughts –

Young Mason Cole has had some tragedy in his life and it is only about to get worse for him. The Miracle Sin is the story of Mason’s righteous fight against unutterable evil, a path that he didn’t choose, but was chosen for him, and now he has to decide whether he stays on that path, or abandons it entirely.

A story of epic proportions that deals with the monumental battle of good and evil, The Miracle Sin is a rich tapestry of themes including religion, philosophy, faith, fate, and loss. Born of a miracle, that definitely doesn’t feel one, Mason Cole is an average teenager who just wants to get out of his small town and maybe ask his friend on a proper date. But he soon wishes that he never wished that, and is pulled into an underground Catholic Church offshoot that have been tasked with defending the world from evil for centuries, and they want him to join their team. No longer average, and imbued with the Holy Spirit itself, Mason takes in the familiar position of the chosen one who must train to fight the evil that started his journey and protect his new found family as well.

Hawke writes knowledgably about the growing pains of a teenager, about the crisis of faith that trauma and grief can bring, and even about this fictional team of Holy assassin’s keeping the darkness at bay. His writing is witty and at times poignant, and gives The Miracle Sin the grand scope that the story needed to be told.

This is a story of paradoxes, oxymorons, and vicious monsters that fans of the likes of Constantine will definitely enjoy.

About the Author –

Marcus Hawke is a writer primarily of horror and dark fiction, some fantasy and sci-fi, and a few things that defy categorization. He was born in Toronto, moved around quite a bit during the dreaded formative years, and finally settled in Calgary where he studied at the Alberta College of Art and Design.

After years worth of rejections, he finally had a short story called “Bump in the Night” published in Jitter magazine in 2016 and recently finished his first full-length novel THE MIRACLE SIN which will be released soon. He lives with his feline overlord in an apartment building haunted by the type of neighbors that make a person wish a ghost would come to visit in the cold, often gloomy great white North.

​In his spare time he reads, draws, paints, plays Dungeons & Dragons, and rambles in third person while writing website bios. 

Read and Review –

Goodreads.com

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

‘Shelter for the Damned’ by Mike Thorn – Review

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

***

Mark had been half-listening to his friends, but he said nothing. Adam paced and readjusted his hood. He shot a glance at Scott that said, Stop being such a baby.

Scott flattened his shirt with the palms of his hands, then stood still. He tried to look aloof, but looked scared shitless instead.

Mark continued staring at the place, all frayed splinters of wood and flat, desiccated walls. He would almost feel its texture, simply by looking at it.

“Who the fuck would live there?” Adam directed the question at no on in particular.

It looked impossibly weathered, transformed by age. Mark couldn’t help but notice that, by some unexplainable stroke of luck or happenstance, it was untouched by late-night prowlers and graffiti artists. It wore no evidence of vandalism, no etchings or street tags.

Synopsis –

While looking for a secret place to smoke cigarettes with his two best friends, troubled teenager Mark discovers a mysterious shack in a suburban field. Alienated from his parents and peers, Mark finds within the shack an escape greater than anything he has ever experienced.

But it isn’t long before the place begins revealing its strange, powerful sentience. And it wants something in exchange for the shelter it provides.

Shelter for the Damned is not only a scary, fast-paced horror novel, but also an unflinching study of suburban violence, masculine conditioning, and adolescent rage.

Thoughts –

Shelter for the Damned is a tale of violence, adolescence, and the price of being silenced. Following three young boys as they try their damndest to navigate their complicated lives while grappling with father’s who are violent, arrogant, controlling, and alcoholic, trying to find their own sense of identity and masculinity, Thorn creates a tale that is bitter, heart-wrenching, and disturbing.

The discovery of an abandoned shack, seemingly untouched by any other’s hands, the boys each experience their own feelings about it. Scott and Adam are wary of the place, uncertain about coming back even for a place to smoke in peace. But Mark is drawn to it like an addict to their drug of choice. For him it is a place where he feels at peace, where he can escape the constant threat of violence at home, the feeling of being unheard, the feeling of being an outcast. For Mark, he will do anything to get back to the shack, and the shack will ask just that of him.

Dealing with themes of familial tension, coming of age growing pains, and an otherworldly darkness creeping into ‘safe’ suburban lives, Thorn shows his skill as a story teller, a character builder, and an adept horror writer.

A young boy soon learns that you can take the boy out of the shack, but you can’t take the shack out of the boy.

About the Author –

Mike Thorn is the author of the short story collection Darkest Hours and the novel Shelter for the Damned (coming soon from JournalStone). His fiction has appeared in numerous magazines, anthologies and podcasts, including VastarienDark Moon DigestThe NoSleep Podcast and Tales to Terrify.

His film criticism has been published in MUBI NotebookThe Film StageSeventh Row and Vague Visages.

Visit his website. Connect with him on Twitter and Instagram.

Read and Review –

Goodreads.com

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

‘The Mirror’ by Hash Black – Review

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

***

Agatha grabbed her ears, frantically struggling to block out the deafening squeal that stabbed through them. She fell to the ground, writhing in pain as she waited for her eardrums to pop.

Then it stopped.

She opened her eyes. Everything was a blur The room seemed to revolve around her. A ringing wound chimed in her ear. And a throbbing ache pounded in her head.

She pressed her temples as she trailed her gaze back to the mirror.

It was intact.

But a message was scribed into it.

A LIFE FOR A LIFE

I WILL HAVE MY REVENGE

YOUR TWENTY FOUR HOURS STARTS NOW

Synopsis –

Jared Carson is gone, leaving a ravaged home behind for her wife Beth and baby daughter Lily. With her guardian angel gone, Lily’s horrid fears fester. The unseen monsters beneath her bed grow malevolent and stronger. It’s up to Beth to fill her husband’s shoes. She hugs Lily tight in her arms with teary eyes and makes a vow,

“You will never be alone, baby. Mommy will always be here to protect you.”

But…

The forces of evil watch quietly in the shroud of darkness. They thirst for anguish. They thirst for blood. They thirst for REVENGE!

And Lily is their prime target.

Thoughts –

The Mirror is a novella that follows a grieving widow as she moves into a new house, and hopefully a new life with her young daughter. Unfortunately, this new house has a dark past and an even darker entity inhabiting it and it’s reflective surfaces. Drawing on themes of painful secrets that refuse to be forgotten, repressed evils, and a mother’s love for her daughter, the story deals with heavy subject matters.

Unfortunately the pacing of the story is off. The entire work spans only a couple of days, and yet it seems only in the first hour or so of our main protagonist moving to this new town and still grieving the loss of her husband, she has no qualms falling in love with a brand new doctor who quite literally falls into her yard. Not only does this short span of time make some of the events feel unreal, but the backstory of the ghostly haunting going on was very difficult to fully believe as well – without any spoilers, the events of the town’s past just didn’t make sense and so the tragedy and darkness there didn’t have the impact that it should have. I did have to read the story twice to get the events straight in my head.

There are some good scares and descriptive passages of the dark entities that have stolen our main characters daughter. The psychological aspects of the scares were a plus for me.

The Mirror is a fast paced paranormal horror that just needed more space for the story to breath.

About the Author –

Hash Black is an author with a flair for writing horror fiction. Ironically, his educational background is rooted in marine biology, and has an innate love for coral reefs. However, he has always enjoyed writing his heart out as he grew up. R. L. Stine was a major influence during those days, with Goosebumps and Fear Street series getting lots of traction among his peers. Finally, at the age of 30, Hash gave in to his passion for writing.

The Mirror is his first novella.

Read and Review –

Goodreads.com

Amazon.co.uk

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