Archive for Horror
I’ve truly enjoyed Rhiannon Frater’s Pretty When She…series so far! It’s a great horror/urban fantasy cross-over with creepy villains, gruesome scenes and characters you will cheer for. The books have been designed by Claudia at Phat Puppy Art, who most of you may know of. I think she’s kinda incredible…
Cassandra is a dhamphir-the offspring of a vampire and mortal woman-and a thief of occult relics.
Aimee is a full-blood witch that is bound to a powerful vampire who traffics in the slavery of supernatural beings.
Both are powerful, lonely, and trapped in the dangerous world of the vampires.
When Cassandra steals a relic from Aimee’s vampire master, he targets her as his next acquisition. What he doesn’t realize is that a chance encounter between Cassandra and Aimee ignited a spark between them that they cannot deny.
To survive, the women must find a way to band together and fight against the ruthless evil that conspires to enslave them forever
I was excited when Rhiannon released this short story in the Pretty When She… universe. Aimee and Cass are introduced near the end of the second book, but they made a serious impact. I immediately felt their connection and dedication to one another. I’m so happy that Rhiannon decided to write the story of how these two characters met. It was action-packed, heart-warming and cray-zay! We meet some serious villainous bastards, as is always the case in Rhiannon’s books. I was sickened by these horrible creatures and their warped ideas of fun and pleasure. We get glimpses of the unique aspects of Aimee and Cass, the things they are capable of, the hardships they have endured, and their fragile yet strong personas. Their hearts collide and while they don’t understand the connection, at first, they use that bond to save each other, in very different yet similar ways. They are a duo that packs a supernatural punch! And I adore the love and passion for their mate that seeps from their pores!
“Be careful, Cassandra. Be very, very careful. Sometimes, the knight in shinning armor gets eaten by the dragon.”
“Oh, I’m not a knight in shinning armor,” Cassandra corrected him. “I’m the ninja sneaking up the back stairs.”
Published by DevilDog Publishing on 6/22/12
Source: Audrey's Astounding Library
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At the turn of the Millennium, Detective Constable Anthony McLean’s fiancé was abducted, raped and murdered by antiquarian book dealer Donald Anderson, the notorious Christmas Killer. Every winter since has been a time of nightmares. So when in the space of a few short weeks Anderson is killed in prison, McLean’s tenement building is burned down, and a young woman’s body is found murdered using Anderson’s MO, it’s hardly surprising that McLean starts to go off the rails.
Everybody loves Lovecraft.
Everybody wants tentacles in their stories, or creeping chaos, or exploding eye sockets or eldritch models in mouldering Boston sub-basements but mainly it’s the tentacles that people think of when they think of Lovecraft*and they really can’t wait to stuff tentacles in places, well, tentacles maybe shouldn’t be stuffed.
Luckily, that is not the case with James Oswald’s The Book of Souls. Verily, there are eldritch horrors, and books no man should look upon etc etc but more importantly, there’s gritty tartan noir and Stuart MacBride in a cameo role, which can (and in this case does) excuse a multitude of sins.
DC McLean is over-worked and patrolling the mean streets of Edinburgh at Christmastime, dealing with his own personal demons, a string of arsons and a copycat serial killer. DC McLean’s fiancée was abducted, raped and murdered in book 1, whatever the fuck that was. I didn’t read it, because my tolerance for abducted, raped and murdered fiancées is reeeeeeeal fucking low. All I know is that DC McLean amazingly does not drink every chance he gets, which is weird because a) he’s the protagonist in a Scottish police procedural and b) that would be my reaction given the above work situation.
Anyway, policework policework policework, inter-office politics, policework policework policework, FIRE, policework policework, until it turns out that all the serial-killing is being done at the behest of a cursed book that eats souls and likes its readers to kidnap and rape women.
Because you know, dudes don’t kidnap and rape women, uh, cursed books do.
Okay. The gender politics here are, if you have not guessed already, a little dodgy.
The main character is a white male (it’s Scotland, everyone in the book is white) and the women in the book are the protagonist’s ex-girlfriend (who gets kidnapped and raped), the protagonist’s dead ex-fiancée (who was kidnapped and raped and murdered), a newly transferred DC (who falls for the main character NATURALLY) and a string of victim-women (who are abducted, raped, murdered and laid out naked and crucified in a variety of streams).
James, if I may?
You are officially on notice, my friend.
I am going to say you maybe have some issues that could be addressed with fine fine psychological counseling or maybe by having someone with a vagina read your book before it goes to print, because if you show up with this shit in your third book I will gleefully review it here at Smash and rip you a new pisshole in the process. Maybe two, depending on how egregious this crap gets next time. So, you know, look to that.
Thank you for your time.
That said, I did enjoy Ye Booke of Crazy Souls. It’s really well-written, on a purely mechanical level, and the plot, with or without tentacles, is very, very well constructed. You just don’t see plotting like this every day and I am frankly quite able to appreciate a master of narrative construction, because I get that it’s not an easy thing to do.
Could I have lived without the supernaturally cursed book of rapey rapeyness? You betcha.
Do I think it would’ve been a better book without throwing Lovecraft into the whirling fan-blades of said lovely plot? Not necessarily.
If you’d asked me before I read this book, for my opinion on adding supernatural horror elements to perfectly good police procedurals, I would’ve said Fie on it, and For Heaven’s sake, and a few more F-words. But really it’s a testament to Oswald’s skill as an author that I finished the book and was like, yeah: that’s actually really plausible. I enjoyed that. I could ignore the bits that read like DI MacRae fanfic and simply enjoy this attempt to meld supernatural horror with a very well executed police procedural.
With uh, naked, raped crucified women in streams.
*Less frequently the rampant racism but hey, looking that stuff up is just what the internet’s *for*.
I’m so pleased to be on this blog tour. Firstly, I adore Rhiannon Frater and have yet to be disappointed in her work and talent. Kody Boye stopped by once for World-Building Wednesday, and I could tell that he had great creativity in his blood, as well. The two of them together was bound to be entertaining, and it surely was…
Best friends since kindergarten, Adam and Christy have always been the perpetual outsiders in their small town in Texas. The other kids call Adam gay and Christy a witch.
On both counts the bullies are right.
Their junior year in high school seems destined to be the same old same old until Christy decides to cast a love spell for Adam at the midnight hour. The next day an alluring and mysterious boy enrolls at school and sets hearts aflutter, including Adam’s. Meanwhile, Christy’s mad crush on the handsome football player Ian seems to be going nowhere fast and her witch puberty is making her life miserable.
When a great evil arrives in town that threatens everything they hold dear, the best friends realize that finding a boyfriend is the least of their worries. Soon Adam and Christy will have to battle a force of darkness that has killed in their town before, and will again.
I adored this book. The minute that I met Christy and Adam, I wanted to be the third wheel. I adored their personalities, and more importantly, their mutual love and support. I think it’s rare to find people who are so dedicated to another person in the way that these two friends were dedicated to each other. So epic, this friendship. The excerpt below shows a preliminary glimpse into their everlasting bond. All of the characters leapt off the pages and into my life. They were SO engaging and entertaining, that I found myself wanting to read the book at any free moment just so I could be in their presence.
Firstly, we have Christy with her unwavering loyalty, disappointment in her slowly but surely emerging witch abilities, and her good-natured soul. She rocked an Evil Alice costume for Halloween, which made me SQUEE. Twinsies! Then there is her bestie, Adam, with his gentle soul, bruised self-esteem, and yearning for love. Christy’s parents were damn memorable with their uncanny ability to be there when they were needed most. Chrsity’s dad was a riot. I would be his daughter any day, just so he can glamour himself into wicked hilarious costumes when he comes to save my ass from evil. Adam’s mother, Ashley, was so entertaining. She really reminded me of a character in Frater’s As The World Dies series. This character is also similar to a certain real-life Ashley that I adore hardcore. Turns out, the character in this book was indeed modeled after The Bookish Brunette, and it was totally her. Right down to the stiletto fetish and energetic personality. So much win.
Then we have the friends. Olivia, a town noob, falls in step with the outcast duo and ends up being a seriously entertaining piece of the puzzle. Panda bears FTW! Drifter, a mutual friend, was in the background for the most part, but he was someone I respected because of his ability to fit in with any crowd. He was liked by all cliques and was able to remain neutral and level-headed. I like people that can be friends with all types of people. Next up is Mark, who was dreamy and all the things you would ever want in a man, but be careful what you wish for! Nathan came about near the end of the book, but he had such a strong presence and I want MOAR. And lastly, I cannot forget the star of the book, for me: Callie the cat. Have no fear, this feline truly has a personality larger than any human I’ve ever met. I adored her protectiveness, sassiness and down-right boldness. Cats = ♥.
The mystery behind a certain character was REALLY fun and had my noodle working. I loved trying to figure out just WHAT this character really was. I picked up on the subtle hints but I was still perplexed because nothing quite fit. And there was a seriously scary scene thrown in there, and I don’t think I breathed until it was over. I was totally wrapped up in the moment, wishing I could turn myself invisible so that creature would not eat me! Also, there were some great pop culture references in this book that had me giggling profusely. Hocus Pocus was mentioned. Win!
Ok, I’m done rambling. Sorry for the incoherent run-on sentences. Did I like this book? That much is obvious. It was truly fun and entertaining, and that is exactly what I look for in a book.
”Whatever! I still think you should’ve been planning your party!”
“With who? Me, my two friends and a cat?”
“Callie? Sure! Why not? She’s a party animal from what you told me.”
“I said she’s was a slut, Mom. She’s always in heat.”
* * *
* * *
It all started with a spell. A spell performed at midnight. Little did we know that our simple little love spell to bring the one true love of my best friend Adam to our little hick town would cause so much trouble.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I suppose I should explain just a little about me and Adam.
Adam and I were best friends from the minute we met in the corner of the school yard of our elementary in Trinity Springs, Texas. The first day of kindergarten we bonded as our outsider status was firmly established in the minds of our classmates. We were the odd kids and our strangeness tossed us together. I was the weird little girl with roses tucked into her braids dressed all in black and he was the short little boy with red hair, freckles and bad allergies. I remember how small he was compared to me and I wondered if he was a leprechaun.
“Do you have a pot of gold?” I asked.
“No. Are you in the Addams family?” he countered.
We stared at each other with a mix of disappointment and hope.
“Want to play on the swings?” I suggested.
And that was when we became BFFs. We were always together after that day. We sat next to each other in class and at lunch. We played together on the playground and visited each other’s houses after school. Despite the scorn of our classmates, we were relatively happy. Sometimes the taunting words hurt, but we mostly ignored our tormentors. We were okay with our exile to the outer reaches of the playground.
The labels given so long ago stuck with us through the rest of elementary, junior high, and into high school. Even as juniors we heard the same insults that we did that first day of kindergarten.
Adam and I always smile when we hear the words that are meant to hurt.
Because they’re true.
One reader will receive one (1) ebook copy of The Midnight Spell. Open internationally. Please comment to be entered. The giveaway will close on March 15, 2013. (Prizes will be sent the week of March 18th.)
CONGRATS TO MARY!!!
Tour Grand Prize
The GRAND PRIZE from the entire tour is a paperback copy, a Midnight Spell candle and bookmarks. Please read Terms below and enter via Rafflecopter.
Published by Scholastic on 8/1/12
Genres: Horror, Middle Grade
Source: Audrey's Astounding Library
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Oh who doesn’t love a good abandoned-mental-institution story?
Only someone who’s dead inside, that’s all.
With what seems like suspicious ease, new kids in town Neil and Bree team up with age-appropriate companions and investigate the legend of the local abandoned asylum: Graylock Hall, where several young patients mysteriously drowned twenty years ago, and where it’s said that their killer, Nurse Janet, still roams the halls looking for new victims.
First of all, I need someone to explain to me this current fascination with drowning girls in YA fiction. It seems like it’s been building in momentum for a couple years now and I cannot for the life of me figure out why all these seemingly harmless YA authors are running around drowning young ladies instead of shooting, stabbing, poisoning or whopping them over the head. Is it an Ophelia thing? If so, why?
Answers on a postcard, please.
Second of all: awesome book. Some serious research has gone into constructing Graylock. The descriptions of the halls, the gym, the locked wards, the basement, the creepy staircases — all of it is incredibly detailed and realistic. The spooky occurrences are genuinely weird, especially after the ghost follows Neil and his sister home (like you do) because it’s one thing to think you hear footsteps or an unexplained bang in an abandoned asylum and completely another to find unexplained puddles of lake water on the floor at the foot of your bed. Your bed. In your locked and comfy safe house, on the second floor.
The characters are…well, they’re kind of unimportant, honestly, because the book is driven so hard by plot and setting. It is worth noting that Neil and Bree’s aunts are LGBT characters done well in the sense that no one ever mentions they’re lesbians, or notes that they’re together. They just are, and did we mention that Neil and Bree are being stalked by a ghost? Who manifests in the bathroom with them? Because that’s way more important than who’s with who right now. It was heartening.
Now, completely at random, the other day I watched the documentary Cropsey, which covers the rash of child murders in the late 70s and early 80s near Willowbrook, an abandoned residential school for the disabled on Staten Island. It’s a fantastic documentary for anyone interested in social issues, actually, because a) the horrifying conditions at Willowbrook were completely hidden until an unknown cub reporter named Geraldo Rivera snuck inside one of the buildings with a camera crew*, and b) a former Willowbrook attendant was eventually charged with two of the murders, and the filmmakers’ contention is that the evidence is a little thin in at least one case. Specifically, that they could understand, based on the emotional impact to the community of all these disappeared children, that they would want a scapegoat. They wanted someone to pay. And that idea is echoed here by a former nurse the children contact, who talks about the myth of Nurse Janet:
“To have an entire community turn against you…To have friends and family wondering: Is it true? Is she capable of such an atrocity?…I believe with my heart and soul that the people of Hedston never wanted to blame [Nurse Janet] but who else did they have to blame? No one else was there.”
Don’t get me wrong, this book doesn’t get very deep into child murders or Freddie Krueger-style community lynchings. This would be a great middle grades book as well as deeply satisfying catnip for John Bellairs fans of all ages.
Also, this book is ground-zero for anyone who likes descriptions with lots of shoe noises in them: nine different passages I found to add to my list of shoe-noises in fiction.
…What? Everyone has one of those, right**?
One minor quibble is that there are three pages right at the end, one tiny chapter, that is in an entirely different POV from the whole rest of the book. AUTHORS: DO NOT DO THIS. Or at least if you do, do it a whole lot better than it was done here. It’s the climax of the book! If you can’t figure out how to hang onto your POV there, phone a friend! Wake the betas! Go for a walk, then put the coffeepot on! Grah.
Yeah I know. That’s going to bother nobody but me. It’s fine. I get that a lot.
Overall, a great little atmospheric lovely, complete with Scooby Doo-style mystery solving and a cheerful lack of romantic entanglements, which feels very appropriate, y’know, for a book about ghosts and child murders. Call me old fashioned if you must.
*Hello and welcome to another installation of Things Not Taught In School, pockets of over-looked history that could use being dug up and talked about. Also, that’s some hard footage to watch, in case anyone’s got child abuse triggers. Forewarned is forearmed.
**Obviously, it’s a long story.
Series: The Paranormals #4
Published by Independent Publishing on 10/13/12
Genres: Horror, YA Paranormal / Fantasy
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I have just loved the hell out of this series. I honestly thought it was over with Alexander Death, but then Jeff surprised us with a fourth book that really impressed me! It was great to be back in the presence of these incredible characters, and to see them all in a very new light.
Holy awesome to the sauce and back in the pot to swim around in the awesome, Batman! It’s no secret that J.L. Bryan has really blown me away with his world-building skills. Mad skillz, yo. He takes the ending of The Paranormal’s journey to an entirely new level in Jenny Plague-Bringer. The remaining paranormals have disseminated across the world after the chaos in the last book. Two new paranormals are introduced, and with their presence, we are transported back to World War 2 Germany, and granted front row seats to the previous lives of the group. I cannot express the utter awesomeness of these flashbacks! Not only was the time period and setting beautifuly written, but the eerie similarity to present day activities was thrilling and interesting. I was completely enthralled.
The gang is back, in some time period or another. I don’t have much to add to characterization from previous books, other than it was incredible to be back in their lives. Some make extreme sacrifices, others surprised me with their actions. Still others are back to their douchebaggery ways. All the characters are, as always, larger than life. The good guys struggled intensely as their free will was ripped from their grasp. The bad guys were forced to face scenarios from which they assumed they were safe. It was great to see such a mixture of crazy happening to everyone! I think the character who was most different to me was Jenny. She is far from that timid, nervous little girl we met in Jenny Pox. She has morphed into this strong, self-sacrificing young woman who is fiercely protective of innocent people and those she loves.
This is definitely, without a doubt, my favorite installment in The Paranormals series. I loved the flashbacks and felt the world was expanded as we witnessed a different time period and new (old?) obstacles for the gang to hurdle. It was chaotic and fantastic. The bad guys were AWESOME, as always. I truly love Jeff’s villains. I also love his good guys, too. And his world-building. And…all of it. A favorite series all the way through!
”Do we need anything else?”
“Wine. You keep forgetting to buy it. And bourbon for the eggnog, if you want to get lucky tonight.” He winked at her. “It could lower my inhibitions.”
“Seth, you don’t have inhibitions.”