Category Archives: Horror

Books incorporating supernatural and/or inexplicable elements and intended to arouse fear and dread.

Ghoul’s Gym by T.J. Klune and Eric Arvin

Ghoul's GymGhoul’s Gym by T.J. Klune and Eric Arvin
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Wilde City Press
Novella:  100 Pages
Purchase at Amazon
Roses:  5
 

You’ll never want to exercise again as Eric Arvin and TJ Klune turn a gym full of hunks into a smorgasbord of terror in GHOUL’S GYM.

This is the individual release of Ghoul’s Gym which was originally published as part of the Zombie Boyz anthology.

Excerpt

Wow!  This wasn’t at all what I was expecting.  I think the authors did a fabulous job weaving together their two “voices” into this book.  The story doesn’t come off as having two authors but as having one.

The story is disturbingly bloody and vicious with humor too.  Under it all is a love story that makes you cry.  The whole of the story the authors keep you guessing at who is going to survive and what is going to happen next.

The characters are a bit strange.  Uly is a personal trainer who is a bit clueless about how much the love of his life is suffering with his body image.  Jake is teased by Uly’s boss and others at the gym because he isn’t all buffed up.  Uly doesn’t seem to get how much it is bothering Jake.  Jake really lets these bullies get to him.  He is bringing all of this into the relationship and making everything worse.  Talking to Uly doesn’t seem to make any impact on the situation either so Jake is internalizing it all.

The authors’ version of how zombies come to be is very interesting and creative.  I will admit that the read starts out sounding really bizarre and not at all like it will be enjoyable but by the end it captures you and makes you really care about the characters and their situation.

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Cowboys & Vampires by Hank Edwards

Cowboys & Vampires Venom Valley Book OneCowboys & Vampires by Hank Edwards
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Wilde City Press
Novella:  49,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  4
 

In the frontier town of Belkin’s Pass, as a vampire quietly feeds on the local saloon girls and their customers, a tragedy teaches resident Josh Stanton he has the ability to raise the dead. Knowing he is now a wanted man, Josh flees into the arid plains of Venom Valley. Pursued by Dex, the town deputy and Josh’s best friend, the two realize their friendship is truly something deeper, and Dex has to decide if he’s a man of the law, or a man in love. The vampire, drawn by Josh’s power, circles ever closer, gathering his forces against them.

Excerpt

Josh is an orphan.  No one ever knew of his father and his mother disappeared one night when he was 5.  Josh was raised by the town’s school teacher.  He loved Agnes like she was his own mother.  To his horror one night he comes upon her dead and feels a familiar heat in his blood.  Agnes eventually arises and attacks him.  He shoots her.  He has faced having to do this earlier when a neighbor did the same thing.  Now Josh must run because who would believe him.

Dex is Josh’s best friend and has been secretly in love with Josh for a long time.  Dex is a deputy.  When a woman comes to town and reports that Josh has shot and killed Agnes Dex is torn between duty and love.

This is an action packed horror.  The romance is pretty minimal.  The writing is well done, maybe a little heavy on poetic descriptions but to some degree that adds to the chill of the read.  I enjoyed the characters but to be honest it is the story itself that had more of a draw on me.  I just couldn’t get into the characters.  They weren’t cohesive enough for me.  I couldn’t really feel if Josh is a gentle man or a rough guy, big and tough or smaller and more delicate.  I get that compared to Dex Josh is a smaller man but it really doesn’t describe him.  Even more was the fact that the actual character of the two men was impossible to grasp.  You jump so fast into the story that you are left to catch up on the characters themselves.

Now the story was interesting.  I must give the author lots of props for his writing.  You get pulled in right away to the mystery and horror that is going on in the town of Belkin’s Pass.  It seemed like only a select few can even see or acknowledge what is happening.  Now for the things that struck me as strange.  Why did the vampire wait so long?  From the story he was around for quite a while but suddenly just when Josh is having his horror show the Vampire starts raising havoc.  I am hoping that with this being a series this may be answered later in later books.  The second things were the sex scenes.  They happened fast and seemed a bit anticlimactic after all the woe the two men went through with their attraction to each other.  I wouldn’t think it would be that easy.  I also would have thought the sex would have been more painful.  I hear all the time, “Spit is not enough!” and the first time is painful so why did that not happen?  It kinda through me a bit and made me pause at the thoughts.  These were where I had the hardest times with the story.

I really think this series will be an enjoyable one for me.  We have raising the dead, they are kind of like zombies, and vampires, the bad kind, to make this a very action pack time.  The author does leave the story on a cliffhanger as a warning.  I know some don’t care for that but it should be expected with this kind of read.  I await in anticipation for what will happen with Josh next.

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Dark Menagerie by Katya Harris, Lor Rose, Caitlin Ricci, and Arielle Pierce

perf6.000x9.000.inddDark Menagerie by Katya Harris, Lor Rose, Caitlin Ricci, and Arielle Pierce
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Storm Moon Press
Short Story:  49,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  4
 

A shifter leads two lives: one as a human, and one as an animal. Sometimes these lives are intertwined, and sometimes they are not, but always the shifter has to find a way to reconcile one with the other. Dark Menagerie follows characters as they explore the darker side of what it means to have one foot in the animal world and one foot in the human world. Some struggle to keep the animal starkly separate from their lives as a human being, but for others, their shifting leads them to a darker corner of the mind where human and animal are nearly indistinguishable.

First, in Dominant, Kade has left everything he valued in his life behind; his family, his fiancée, his entire future. He tries to make peace with what he has become by running away to a small town, but fails. Then, a monster in a suit walks into his life, a monster just like him. Then, the four in The Four of Us devised a game: pick two humans, lure them in, and hunt them down. The game, the shared thrill of the hunt, was what brought them together, but also what threatens to tear them apart.

Justin, of Horsefeathers, had one job—to get a new Mustang for his boss’ ranch. But at the holding pens, he can’t look away from a stunning stallion. He isn’t at all what the boss wants, but Justin can’t say no. He soon learns that he’s brought back much more than simply a beautiful horse, and that there are some legends that he wished weren’t based in truth. Finally, Breathe concerns a young dolphin shapeshifter who has to deal with his own hateful feelings about himself, a deadly dull partner, and the presence of a new shifter in town. And a hurricane bearing down on their home in Key West, of course.

Excerpt

“Dominant” by Katya Harris

This was a short but interesting little story.  To me it felt more like a teaser.  There is definite room there for a longer more in depth version that I would like more.  Considering its length it was very good.  I really loved the writing and the characters.  I wish there had been a lot more to it.  It felt incomplete the way it ended.  I would actually love to have more of this story.

Roses:  4

“The Four of Us” by Lor Rose

This is a creepy read, interesting, but creepy.  Podagros and Deinos are legends along with their companions, Lampon and Xanthos.  They are all monsters who hunt and eat humans, especially the heart which they need every other month to live.  They can each nothing but human flesh.  The two are sent out to seduce their next two prey.  Unexpectedly they find emotion and feeling/touch again.  Now what to do.

This was very well written.  I actually felt for the characters and considering what and who they were that says something.  No the characters aren’t deep but they still allow the reader to bond with the story.  I can say I really enjoyed this creepy read.

Roses:  5

“Horsefeathers” by Caitlin Ricci

Nohatu is a Native American that is also a shapeshifter/skinwalker.  He was turned long ago and had remained a horse for a long time, enjoying the openness of the prairie to the closeness of a city.  Unfortunately for Nohatu the BLM has gathered up mustangs in an effort to save them from overpopulation.  Nohatu and many of those horses are up for adoption.  Justin adopts Nohatu, as a mustang, for his boss even knowing his boss won’t be happy.  Nohatu returns to human shape demanding to go back and senses something within Justin.

Justin is an interesting character.  Nohatu is very mysterious though we get a good glimpse of the man when he tells Justin his story.  Again this felt very incomplete, like an excerpt for a longer book.  I enjoyed the small glimpse I got and hope the author plans on more for these characters.

Roses:  4

“Breathe” by Arielle Pierce

Nathan is a spotted dolphin shifter.  He lives on an island in the keys where there are a lot of other shifters.  Nathan has traded most of his life as a skinwalker to live with a man that abuses him so he can be an artist full time.  He is on a self destructive path that includes very rough, rape like sex with others.  This is when he meets Jacob’s.  Jacob and he are instantly attracted to each other but Jacob refuses to take what he wants from Jacob.

Jacob is a sweet man and poor Nathan is terribly messed up.  I feel the same thing with this that I felt with most of the stories in this book, that it is just part of a story.  A teaser to more weather with this particular story or with other characters within the story.   This was a sweet story that is very simple.  I liked it but it was missing something.  I just didn’t connect like I thought I would with it.  Still it is a cute story.

Roses:  3

Overall these stories mostly felt like a smaller part of bigger stories.  I liked them and most of them I would love to see more.  It is a bit frustrating for a reader to read this though not knowing if/when we might get more.  That is why overall the stories as an anthology will get a lesser rating than the individual stories call for.  If you don’t mind feeling this frustration this is a wonderful read!

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Past Tense by Ethan Stone

Past TensePast Tense by Ethan Stone
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Wilde City Press
Novella:  45,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  4
 

Jason Holt was a young man when he lost everything; his family, his boyfriend, and his safety. He’s been on the run since, hiding from an evil man bent on revenge. Las Vegas was supposed to just be another pit stop in his travels but when he learns the very man he’s hiding from is in Sin City Jason decides it’s time to stop hiding.

Private detective Quinn Reynolds lost the man he loved several years ago and since then he has been hiding from life. He can’t move on and is obsessed with making the man responsible for his lover’s death pay for the crime.

When Jason comes to Quinn for help, Quinn finds a reason to move on. The dangerous situation around them quickly escalates and together they face an unimaginable evil. Can they survive the darkness and make it through to the light on the other side?

Excerpt

Jason is on the run from a former friend that blames him for his father’s death.  Quinn is a PI that Jason hires in an attempt to escape from his past by faking his death.  Quinn has his own past with Jason’s ex-friend; he killed Quinn’s partner and lover.

This had a bit of a feel of two separate story lines, one intense crime thriller and the other paranormal.  The beginning seems more crime thriller but it does hint that there will be a paranormal aspect to it.  The crime thriller is a very interesting plot.  In some ways I think it would have stood very well on its own with no paranormal aspect to it.  To see how Jason confronts his former friend would have made a very interesting ending.  The paranormal changed up the story a lot.  It made it more about fighting evil or “monsters” instead of just humans.  I admit I have seen plenty of paranormal stories and would have enjoyed the thriller more but this was still a very well written and good read.

Jason and Quinn were interesting characters.  Jason didn’t make much sense to me.  Quinn I could get.  He is a romantic but he was saved by his first love and taken in by that man’s family.  Though Quinn lost Liam he had the set up for the perfect love.  Jason, Adian betrayed him in the end or at least we are lead to believe he has.  What I don’t understand is Jason from all appearances had a loving home.  His parents were wonderful examples.  Yes, he had them taken tragically and had to do things to survive but I just don’t see how he would have totally thrown that out.  Also if changing his name and identity didn’t work before I’m not sure how he thought it would work this time either.  On top of that the plan is quickly thrown out and never really discussed again.  These are some plot points I don’t quite understand.

I would love to see more of these two.  I really think there is a lot these have yet to tell us.

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