Tuesday, January 28, 2020

The Pilo Family Circus by Will Elliott

"You have two days to pass your audition. You better pass it, feller. You’re joining the circus. Ain’t that the best news you ever got?"

Delivered by a trio of psychotic clowns, this ultimatum plunges Jamie into the horrific alternate universe that is the centuries-old Pilo Family Circus, a borderline world between Hell and Earth from which humankind’s greatest tragedies have been perpetrated. Yet in this place—peopled by the gruesome, grotesque, and monstrous—where violence and savagery are the norm, Jamie finds that his worst enemy is himself.

When he applies the white face paint, he is transformed into JJ, the most vicious clown of all. And JJ wants Jamie dead!

Jamie is living his ordinary life, working his thankless job, and for some reason living with room mates who treat him badly and steal his food. Those days are coming to an end after Jamie has a strange experience with a clown that he nearly runs down with his car. After witnessing something he will wish he could unsee, Jamie steals a pouch left behind by a clown and with that he seals his fate. Now they want him for their twisted circus and joining up is not voluntary.
I loved this book from start to finish. It's creepy from practically the first page before we even get to the actual circus and meet an unforgettable cast of characters. I've already bought the sequel!

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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The Black Book of Horror (Anthology)

The Black Book of Horror contains 18 excursions into the realms of terror. Ranging from the supernatural to the macabre, the stories selected for this anthology feature black magic, the dead, monstrous beasts, and things from beyond. There are tales that witness madness, and the evil that man does.

CROWS - Frank Nicholas
REGINA vs. ZOSKIA - Mark Samuels
POWER - Steve Goodwin
CORDS - Roger B. Pile
SIZE MATTERS - John L. Probert
SPARE RIB: A ROMANCE - John Kenneth Dunham
LOCK-IN - David A. Riley
"SHALT THOU KNOW MY NAME?" - Daniel McGachey

The Black Book Of Horror is the first in a series of horror anthologies published by Mortbury Press. As soon as I saw the gorgeous covers I knew that I wanted the entire set even though I am not familiar with the authors. I did notice some nominations for the British Fantasy Award but winning or losing would not have swayed my desire to get my hands on these books. I don't have a lot of experience with British horror other than having enjoyed the Hammer House of Horror series when I was a kid. Since I have found in my limited experience that British horror tends to be a bit more subtle than what I am used to on this side of the pond, I expected this would be more atmospheric than blood soaked. Well subtle I can take, but vague I can not. Some of these stories were so vague that they seemed more like a wisp of idea for an outline than an actual finished product. For example I could sum up "Spare Rib" as once upon a time a man's wife died but then she came back and he left for work. The End. Seriously that's a story in here. In another story a Nazi skin head and his pals desecrate a grave and then take off their pants and boots. The End.
Not to say they were all bad, there were some 3 and 4 star stories among the duds. The only 5 star mentions go to "Size Matters" more for it's dark humor than for anything frightening. Yes it is a story about a penis enlargement gone wrong, and Lock-In by David A Riley which actually was a scary story about a handful of men trapped in a pub by a creeping black void of nothingness that awaits them outside. 4 stars to Last Christmas (I gave you my life) Family Fishing, and Subtle Invasion.
I'm hoping the rest of the series has more 5 star stories than this did.

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Monday, January 20, 2020

The Shroud by Tim Turner

The Shroud is a science fiction novel that follows three friends from their teen years into adulthood and a dark memory they all share stays with them, deeply buried. As a child, Elvis Rondeau had what he thought was a nightmare. But it was in fact a memory. Other than this nightmare, Elvis had a normal childhood and forgot that scary night. After receiving head injuries in an auto accident, he starts to see things that he thinks are hallucinations at first. Now, that night so many years ago comes back with a new life…

A creepy strain of parasite takes hold in first time author Tim Turner's fast paced sci-fi tale The Shroud.
The first sightings seem to be only a nightmare but Elvis discovers he is not the only one to have glimpsed these bug like creatures in what he originally thought was just a dream.Years later as an adult he and his friends play a crucial role in alerting the world to this unseen menace.
There were a few spots that I thought were a bit repetitive, where I didn't need to be told more than once why it was referred to as The Shroud but over all a solid debut novel with a classic creature feature vibe. 

I received a complimentary copy for review.

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Saturday, January 18, 2020

The Patience of a Dead Man by Michael Clark

He just spent everything on a house in disrepair, but he didn’t know someone was waiting inside.

Tim Russell just put his last dollar on a handyman’s dream; a quaint but dilapidated farmhouse in New Hampshire. Newly single after a messy divorce, his plan is to live in the house as he restores it for resale. To his horror, as soon as the papers are signed and his work starts, ghosts begin to appear. A bone-white little boy. A woman covered in flies. Tim can’t afford to leave and lose it all, so he turns to his real estate agent Holly Burns to help him decide whether he has any shot at solving his haunted problem. Can they solve the mystery before he loses his investment…or maybe his life?

Tim is recently divorced and close to bankrupt after his ex wife  took most of their assets and tied up the sale of their home for 5 years. Losing the biggest part of his business but unable to fathom no longer being his own boss he takes what money he has left and sinks it into a dilapidated farmhouse hoping to fix it up and turn a big enough profit to get back on his feet. From the moment he takes possession of the house there are spooky happenings and strange sounds that simply should not be. There also seems to be the ghost of a child and the foul stench of death and decay emanate from a fly covered corpse that roams the house and grounds at will. Discovery of a journal kept by the previous owner who has documented her own experiences in the home proves to Tim that this haunting is not a figment of his stressed out imagination. He confides in Holly the real estate agent who sold him the house and together they try to solve the mystery of who these spirits were in life and why they have remained after death. Rather than the typical use of flashbacks to reveal the back story of the farm house the author relies more on vivid dreams and the journal to uncover the past. Some readers may take issue with this, but it worked for me, making me feel as if I were in on the investigation.

I received a complimentary copy for review.

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About the author
Michael Clark was raised in New Hampshire and lived in the house The Patience of a Dead Man is based on.

He now lives in Massachusetts with his wife Josi and his dog Bubba.
The Patience of a Dead Man is his first novel, and Dead Woman Scorned is his second. Stay tuned.

Facebook @michaelclarkbooks
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Twitter: @mikeclarkbooks