Sunday, January 15, 2023

All Hallows by Christopher Golden

 With the 80's nostalgia of Stranger Things, this horror drama from NYT bestselling author Christopher Golden follows neighborhood families and a mysterious, lurking evil on one Halloween day.

It’s Halloween night, 1984, in Coventry, Massachusetts, and two families are unraveling. Up and down the street, horrifying secrets are being revealed, and all the while, mixed in with the trick-or-treaters of all ages, four children who do not belong are walking door to door, merging with the kids of Parmenter Road. Children in vintage costumes with faded, eerie makeup. They seem terrified, and beg the neighborhood kids to hide them away, to keep them safe from The Cunning Man. There’s a small clearing in the woods now that was never there before, and a blackthorn tree that doesn’t belong at all. These odd children claim that The Cunning Man is coming for them...and they want the local kids to protect them. But with families falling apart and the neighborhood splintered by bitterness, who will save the children of Parmenter Road?

As a Halloween loving horror fan who grew up in the 80s, I was giddy with excitement over the description of this book. Pair that with the fact that the setting is a fictional town called Coventry as I sat here reading it from my home in an actual town called Coventry and the anticipation was almost more than my little dark heart could handle.
I love holiday themed horror, especially when that holiday is Halloween. So I wondered, could All Hallows possibly live up to my expectations? 
YES! This is my first 5 star read of the year. 

A perfect blend of nostalgia, realism and the supernatural collide on Parmenter Road where the nice guys, the racists, the bigots, and the hypocrites coexist as neighbors. There were characters I loved and characters I loved to hate. I felt like this could be any town in 1980s New England including my own. In the midst of The neighborhood Haunted Woods attraction, and the annual Halloween festivities, something uninvited stirs on this special night when the veil is thin. A doorway opens and something comes through to crash the party. As marriages crumble and friendships are tested, peculiar children not of this world walk this final October Eve, blending in with the trick-or-treaters, and begging for help.  Not all will survive the night.

My thanks to St. Martin's Press

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Holy Ghost Road by John Mantooth

 Some roads are haunted by the past. Some by ghosts. Some are even haunted by demons. The one Forest must travel is haunted by all three.

When she discovers Pastor Nesmith praying to a demonic entity in her family’s barn, Forest knows she must run. Enraged at the possibility of having his true allegiance exposed, Nesmith pursues Forest as she flees on foot, hoping to reach the one person who will believe her—her grandmother. Unfortunately, Granny is forty miles away, and Forest has no car, no phone, and no friends. To reach her, Forest will have to learn to see the world true, even as the demonic and the sacred wage war for her soul.

Over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house we go... in a desperate attempt to escape the clutches of Pastor Nesmith and a fate worse than death.

15 year old Forest is wise beyond her years. She sees things that others can't. She has a special power and that is why Pastor Nesmith has his sights on her. Most of the town is under his spell, including Forest's mom who doesn't realize he only pretends to care about her to get closer to her daughter.

For the majority of the book we are on the run with Forest, or hiding, or escaping the clutches of the pastor's creepy blind sister who moves as if she can see. There is a lot of suspense at first, but it becomes repetitive after a while with so many close calls and near misses. The pace is a little slow for my taste. I really wanted to love this book but it was just an ok read for me. It was just too much of the same thing over and over. Run, hide, search for food, get caught, escape, run hide, rinse repeat. You may enjoy it more than I did.

My thanks to Cemetery Dance for the review copy,

Friday, January 6, 2023

Perfect Union by Cody Goodfellow



When Drew married Laura, he also married into the Kowalski family. But on a trip with his twin brothers-in-law into the backwoods of northern California to find their abusive, estranged mother, buried secrets will be revealed, threatening his fragile marriage and his sanity.


Mom has joined a new family: Leviathan- a utopian colony that has taken the communist ideal to radical biological extremes, using the mutagenic honey from genetically tweaked bees to make ideal workers and flawless warriors. But the once-human hive is divided by a strike and brutal internecine war, and its tyrannical Chairman is eagerly recruiting scabs. With the Kowalski twins taking opposing sides in the colony's bitter feud, Drew is forced into a world where nothing is taboo and survival is the only law, where he must negotiate between the insane collective mind and the savage refugees, even as the battling forces of the commune work to reshape him into a tool to complete their... PERFECT UNION

It is not my usual type but once I started I just couldn't look away.

Drew is on a road trip with his two brothers-in-law. The plan is to pack up mama and move her and her belongings elsewhere before she ends up living too close to them. None of them have a relationship with her or want her around for reasons that become apparent later in the book. When they get there she is missing and there is a mix of relief and a who cares attitude other than some slight worry about the possibility of being blamed for her disappearance. At this point the reader knows where mama has gone... but our characters don't. 

A surreal mix of incest, child abuse, politics, and bees follows.

Yes. Bees. and I will never look at them the same way again.

I'm not sure what I expected from the synopsis but I was taken aback by this bizarro tale of family dysfunction that morphed into a satire of the far left versus the far right, communism, and sex in what I would describe as a dystopian ecological horror. 

If you are looking for over the top violence and a totally berserk plot this may be for you.

My thanks to Ghoulish Books.

Get a copy

About the author

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Sunny Pines by Glen Krisch, Bev Vincent, Kealan Patrick Burke, Ray Garton


After an absence of twenty-two years, childhood friends Connor, Miguel, and Jelica agree to meet at Sunny Pines, the mobile home park where they grew up. Sunny Pines had always been a violent place, where drugs and crime were prevalent and visits from the police commonplace. Some say it had been built on bad ground, a spoiled, cursed land. Nothing positive ever came from Sunny Pines, and those who managed to escape it carried the traumas from that environment wherever they wound up.

For the three friends, this is a solemn gathering and, hopefully, a way to put the past to rest. A recent fire destroyed the neighborhood, killing six and leaving many more injured. But their return does little to quiet their childhood memories. Instead, their arrival stirs every vile remnant of dysfunction into waking, and they must face their demons if they are to truly leave the mobile home park for good.

Even though this was a very quick read the characters were fleshed out enough for me to connect with them and envision their lives as children and adults. I wanted them to be ok.

Three childhood friends reunite at the burned out remains of the trailer park where they grew up, to face a timeless evil. As children, all they really had was each other to count on, bonded by the abuse and neglect that was their life in Sunny Pines. Now they will confront their darkest fears in an attempt to cleanse the grounds before it ruins more lives.

Four authors have come together to each write a section of this supernatural horror novella. I can't imagine how difficult that must be, like having four cooks with different recipes all cooking in the same pot and yet somehow they did not spoil the soup! 

4 out of 5 stars

My thanks to Cemetery Dance Publications