Monday, September 25, 2023

Black River Orchard by Chuck Wendig


A small town is transformed by dark magic when a strange tree begins bearing magical apples in this new masterpiece of horror from the bestselling author of Wanderers and The Book of Accidents.

It’s autumn in the town of Harrow, but something else is changing in the town besides the season.

Because in that town there is an orchard, and in that orchard, seven most unusual trees. And from those trees grows a new sort of apple: Strange, beautiful, with skin so red it’s nearly black.

Take a bite of one of these apples and you will desire only to devour another. And another. You will become stronger. More vital. More yourself, you will believe. But then your appetite for the apples and their peculiar gifts will keep growing—and become darker.

This is what happens when the townsfolk discover the secret of the orchard. Soon it seems that everyone is consumed by an obsession with the magic of the apples… and what’s the harm, if it is making them all happier, more confident, more powerful?

And even if buried in the orchard is something else besides the seeds of this extraordinary tree: a bloody history whose roots reach back to the very origins of the town.

But now the leaves are falling. The days grow darker. And a stranger has come to town, a stranger who knows Harrow’s secrets. Because it’s harvest time, and the town will soon reap what it has sown.

There's something new at the farmer's market in the town of Harrow this season.
Dan Paxon, having reclaimed his father's land and his father's dream, has brought to market a most unusual apple. At first, there isn't much interest in it until Dan's daughter Calla, who aspires to be a social media influencer, tells Dan to hand out free samples. One taste is all it takes to have nearly everyone in town clamoring for more. Soon, the apples are selling out faster than Dan can harvest them. Those who've eaten them have begun to change. They're more focused, faster, stronger, healthier, and ...meaner. They're more aggressive, dangerous, and deadly. 

I love small town horror.  Black River Orchard delivers a diverse cast of characters that drive the story forward from multiple points of view, including the small group of people (and a cat! I loved the cat) who have refused to eat the apple and are aware that something evil is afoot. The first half of this book held me spellbound as the effects of the apple took hold of the town and its history was revealed. The middle seemed to stretch on more slowly and I was longing for those who knew the apple was dangerous to get on with whatever they were going to do about it. The final third of the book not only picked up the pace but was sheer unmitigated suspense and horror. 
I would love to see this jump from my kindle screen to the big screen. It deserves to be a blockbuster movie. Horror fans are getting tired of stale sequels and reboots.

My thanks to Del Rey 

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Book Spotlight- Writers' Retreat by by J.P. Choquette


Coming soon from J.P. Choquette!

Writers' Retreat is available for pre-order

About this book:

You’ve never been to a writing retreat like this.
Flora Rossi is under deadline and her agent has made it clear: meet it or the publishing house will drop her. Still recovering emotionally from a tragic accident and with her creative muse missing, the acceptance letter to Idyll Weiss Writing Retreat comes at a perfect time.
A full week away to write in a rustic home deep in the Vermont woods with a handful of other writers will be just what Flora needs to rekindle her creative spark. The fact that the exclusive writing getaway is led by bestselling-author-turned recluse, Venetia Valentine? It’s the stuff of dreams.
Or nightmares.
Because the retreat isn’t quite what Flora, or the others expected. Secretive staff, no electricity, a missing writer, and unanswered questions about the Retreat Center’s dark past are just the beginning.
As hard as it was to get into the retreat, getting out may be even harder.
Readers of books by Ruth Ware, Jennifer McMahon, and Susan Hill will enjoy this slow-burn suspense. Loaded with twists and turns, Writers’ Retreat is another unputdownable suspense novel by J.P. Choquette.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Movie Review - The Goldsmith


Cinephobia Releasing is proud to announce the North American release of THE GOLDSMITH, a captivating home-invasion thriller with a bloody twist that offers plenty of violent fun. The debut feature from director Vincenzo Ricchiuto, and starring veteran Italian actor Giuseppe Pambieri and Stefania Casini (Suspiria), THE GOLDSMITH will arrive on DVD and VOD, digital platforms on October 3, with platforms including AppleTV, Amazon Prime, Google Play, Vudu/Fandango, Vimeo, YouTube Movies, and Kino Now.

THE GOLDSMITH held its International Premiere at Grimmfest 2022, where it won Best Screenplay, and went on to have a healthy festival run and winning multiple awards including Screamfest 2022 (Winner: Best Special Effects, Best Make-up), Santiago Horror Film Festival (Winner: Best Sound Design),Terror in the Bay (Winner: Best Original Score),, and HorrorHaus Film Festival.

A trio of lifelong criminals expects to have an easy time robbing an elderly couple. At first glance, these old folks (played by Stefania Casini and Giuseppe Pambieri) look like anybody's favorite grandparents. A cheery retired couple, happily married and enjoying their quiet life, until a home invasion interrupts their peaceful evening.

Unfortunately for this trio, instead of treasures, they find themselves trapped and there is no escape from The Goldsmith.

I generally like to see the bad guys get what's coming to them but I almost felt some sympathy for the would-be robbers as I began to question whether anyone was really innocent here.

I would have liked more backstory on The Goldsmith and his wife and what exactly they were hoping to accomplish. The movie begins with a scene of the three criminals as children when they were already well into their violent crime spree. Later when several of their secrets are revealed it gives the viewer a pretty good grasp of their background, but very little was told of what the elderly couple had been up to.

There was just enough gore to satisfy this horror fan without being enough to make me cringe. Stefania Casini was equal parts terrifying and hilarious in her performance as The Goldsmith's wife and was my favorite part of the movie.

If you enjoyed Don't Breathe, or other home invasion movies that don't go as planned for the invaders, I think you'll like The Goldsmith.

Monday, September 11, 2023

Fiends by Richard Laymon

 This book was first published in the 90s but I missed out on it at the time.

I have read a lot of Richard Laymon. I actually thought I had read all of his books, but that is because I never knew he wrote short stories and this novella.

Of these thirteen tales, the title story is the longest and also my least favorite in the bunch. It's mainly about a rapist who is back for revenge against those who sent him to prison, but he is not the only "fiend" in the story. Some of the actions of his main victim were just too ridiculous. I suppose her unbelievable choices were needed in order to make this novella length since she had ample opportunity early on to make sure this man never bothered her again. 

The rest of this collection was thoroughly witty, clever, creepy, disturbing, and hilariously disgusting.
From bratty kids who face gruesome consequences to vampires, serial killers and freeze-dried corpses, this book is a must for all Laymon fans.

4 out of 5 stars