Thursday, June 30, 2011


by Alison Goodman
Published by Viking Juvenile

Being the first female Dragoneye that the world has seen in centuries hasn't slowed Eona down too much. In fact, it has added to the hordes of angry rebels tracking her around the country when the readers first delve into this read. Between EON and EONA, many events have unfolded that could spell disaster or salvation to the traveling band of resistance against Sethon's rule.

Following the tragic and sudden death of the Emperor, Prince Kygo must now defeat Sethon in the attempt to gain control of the throne by the end of the claiming days. Eona has managed to find out how to connect with her Mirror Dragon. The only problem is that when she does, the other dragons in the spirit realm whose partners have been killed attack both her and Ido, creating an uncontrollable wave of power that has catastrophic results. A lot of significant characters have been killed or kidnapped by Sethon's forces, bringing Eona's group down to just a trusted few. When they meet up with Kygo and his army, they know that it is now to never to defeat Sethon and regain control of the empire to save not only themselves, but everyone around them, in both this world and the spirit ones.

There were many parts of this story that were easily likeable. The overall "band of rebels trying to defeat a bad guy and make everything right" vibe is right on the road of agreeable righteousness. Seeing Eona change from Eon, a timid, crippled, insignificant girl pretending to be a boy, to Eona, a confident, powerful woman who isn't afraid to conquer any issue in her path was monumental to both me as a reader, and to the overall plot and advancement of the story. Love triangles, rape, and a lot of confusing inner conflicting characters had me shutting the book for a while. It was the need to finish the story and see how it ended that kept me turning back to the page I have left off on and getting re-immersed into this powerful new world.

Though EONA answered many questions readers were left asking at the end of EON, this sequel also created a lot of new questions. Not to mention, straying far from it's YA genre with a few borderline R-rated love scenes. Seeing EON create a brand new world with stunning characters, history, and culture, then to see EONA come around and knock down that empire with its malevolence and violence was both shocking and disappointing.

Buy it here.

Reviewed by Nora Yelekli

Nora Yelekli is the writer behind The Bookery, a YA/Adult book review blog featuring book reviews with attitude. Having just graduated from High School, she is planning to embark on the fun journey that is in store for the college-bound teen. However, those masses of teens will not be carting as many books as Nora plans on packing. When she's not reading, Nora is a Phineas & Ferb watching, Superman hoarding vegetarian with a whole lot of hair dye and not a lot of sleep.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Amorous Things

by Kody Boye
Published by Library of Horror Press

Love makes for an interesting theme for a collection of dark fantasy. No other emotion possesses a greater capacity for joy or grief, and Kody Boye provides both aspects a voice in his debut collection, “Amorous Things.”

“Elijah” offers the first real standout piece of the book as it details the yearnings of a young man shielded from the world by a lover far more concerned with aesthetics than his partner’s happiness. The story that follows, “Dream,” is similarly strong, detailing the surreal nightmares of its protagonist and what they have to teach him when they begin to reflect reality.

"War is in the Hearts of Men” allows a respite from the supernatural elements in the stories preceding it as the issue of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is dissected at length. The characterization, and the fact that each character is on the opposite side despite their shared sexual orientation and relationship, adds a great deal of depth and humanity to this piece.

“The Glass Doe” provides some of the strangest and most fascinating imagery in the book as a man is forced to come to terms with the significance of a very strange creature in his yard.

“An Amorous Thing,” pairs the reader with a murder victim and his journey from crime scene to grave and beyond.

Boye closes his collection with “Bellaerama,” a story that follows an insane woman and her love for something between a split personality and an imaginary friend. The writing used is nearly as much bizarro poetry as prose.

While there are a few stories (presumably older pieces) that could have used a bit more polish, “Amorous Things” offers an intriguing assortment to its readers. The stories have roots in everything from cryptozoology to Japanese folklore, and the variety of subjects is quite refreshing. Most importantly, the characters and their development are always at the core of each piece, and Boye’s care in crafting their personal journeys demonstrates an emotional connection to them that lends welcome power to his prose.

Buy it here.

Reviewed by Patrick Rutigliano

Patrick Rutigliano resides in Indiana with his wife, Hannah, and a very peculiar cat he found on his doorstep. He began his professional writing career in 2007 with a sale to Permuted Press. Since then, his work has appeared in History Is Dead, Monstrous, and Shroud Magazine. A full bibliography of his work is available at , although he advises the reader to take any of his rambling outbursts with a grain of salt.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Wretched Moments

Edited by T. L. Perry and Jessy Marie Roberts
Published by Pill Hill Press

It is ironic that many of the images we encounter that most people consider cute can also be the most horrific. Dolls. Clowns. Cherubic kids with really big eyes. All of these symbols of innocence are also the subjects of our deepest fears. One of the things that dark fiction does best is to take these pastel shapes and cast them into shadow. So naturally a collection of stories taking on the worldview of a certain notorious set of precious figurines would be a premise so brilliant as to be obvious. Wretched Moments, a new anthology from Pill Hill press, sets out to celebrate “the worst of times” by turning the maudlin to the macabre, and, with some exceptions, gets it right.

The collection is comprised of a solid set of twenty-two stories covering a pretty wide range of material. Stylistically the stories run the gamut from the elegant and literary (“Woman on the Horse” by Brian Ray) to the downright weird (“Resigned” by Scott Lininger). The editors seem to have gone for a wide spread, hoping to cover most tastes. As with most anthologies, some material works better than others. Particularly noteworthy are “Before the Bogeymen Come” by Kris Triana, the aforementioned “Woman on the Horse”, and the fiendishly macabre “Grannibal” by Eric Dimbleby.

Some of the stories follow the initial premise more subtly than others. For example, “Carly is Dead” by Shane McKenzie turns the classic Charlotte’s Web on its ear with a very bizarre twist. But too many of the entries are fine stories that don’t seem to really fit the theme. “When the Zombies Came” by Shane Collins is a fun tale of post-apocalyptic survival but it simply doesn’t subvert any of the sweet conventions implied by the collection’s premise. As a result, even with some very strong stories, Wretched Moments makes for very uneven read.

Buy it here.

Reviewed by Shedrick Pittman-Hassett

Shedrick Pittman-Hassett is a full-time librarian and part-time writer trying to do that the other way around. He has written reviews for Library Journal and has also had two articles published in the award-winning Knights of the Dinner Table magazine. Shedrick currently resides in Denton, Texas ("The Home of Happiness") with his lovely wife and the obligatory demon-spawn cats. When not writing, gaming, or watching cheezy kung-fu flicks, he can be found in a pub enjoying a fine brew.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Level 26: Dark Origins

by Anthony E. Zuiker
Published by Penguin

As the creator and producer of all three CSI franchised shows, Anthony E. Zuiker needs no introduction. However, in addition to being an accomplished television producer, he’s also an accomplished author. His novel, Level 26: Dark Origins, is a diginovel--a novel with an accompanying website that mirrors the events of the novel. Every few chapters, readers can use a special code to log in and view scenes from the novel, see evidence, watch security camera tapes, and even receive voice and text messages from characters. While this concept isn’t new, Zuiker’s Level 26: Dark Origins takes it to a new, and extremely professional, level with professional, celebrity actors on board, including contortionist Daniel Browning Smith as the terrifying Sqweegel.

According to most law enforcement personnel, murders can be categorized on a scale from one to twenty-five, with one being the most naïve or reactionary beginner and twenty-five being organized sociopaths who premeditate their kills and torture their victims for pleasure. Steve Dark is forced into leading an operative team sent to track Sqweegel, the only human being to every be categorized as a Level 26 murder.

However, Steve Dark has a different life. He abandoned crime fighting to become a real person, with a wife and child on the way. What make Sqweegel more terrifying, more psychotic, is that he knows this, and texts Sibby, Steve’s wife, on a regular basis. When Sibby is in an accident, Sqweegel manages to kidnap her from the hospital and deliver the baby on his own, constantly taunting Steve Dark with this intimate access to his wife, child and personal life, daring Dark to chase Sqweegel ever closer into a madness of his own creation.

Zuiker has taken the crime drama to a new level, creating a text too extreme for television, then augmenting that nightmare with online videos and interactions. These online performances also become a bit extreme, and should be avoided by squeamish readers; however, the idea of Zuiker’s diginovel and the professionalism with which it was executed is exciting, providing something thrilling and new for even the most dedicated of horror and crime readers.

Buy it here.

Reviewed by Joshua Gage

Joshua Gage is an ornery curmudgeon from Cleveland. His first full-length collection, "breaths", is available from VanZeno Press. Intrinsic Night, a collaborative project he wrote with J. E. Stanley, was recently published by Sam’s Dot Publishing. He is a graduate of the Low Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing at Naropa University. He has a penchant for Pendleton shirts, rye whiskey and any poem strong enough to yank the breath out of his lungs. He stomps around Cleveland in a purple bathrobe where he hosts the monthly Deep Cleveland Poetry hour and enjoys the beer at Brew Kettle.

Dark Things II: A Horror Anthology

Edited by Ty Schwamberger
Published by Pill Hill Press

Dark Things II is a fun, lightly horrorific collection of short stories meant not only to disturb and haunt their readers, but also to entertain, often provoking a chuckle of laughter as much as a sense of dread. While many readers will find this anthology to be hit or miss, there are enough solid stories in this collection to keep an avid reader awake at night:

The pinnacle of the collection has to be C. J. Sully’s “The Chevalier Sisters: A Tale of Voodoo” which weaves a southern gothic narrative about Thena Chevalier, and her constant struggle in life with her physical disabilities, the emotionally heavy loss of her mother, and the antagonistic torments of her sister, Dusa. With a revelatory ending reminiscent of Poe, Sully’s story is sure to capture the attention of any horror fans.

“Bug Boy” by Matt Kurtz is the story of social outcast Stanley, who has an affinity for collecting bugs. Living close to a cemetery in an area that has been experiencing a lot of rain, Stanley is certain he’ll be able to see a dead body soon, and be able to collect some great bugs to terrify the students in his classroom. He pursues his hunt into the cemetery itself, to a gruesome discovery.

“Polarity” by David W. Landrum is the introspective tale of a prostitute who is hired for participation a demonic ritual. Once she realizes that all is not as it seems with the daughter of the house, the two of them make plans to end things once and for all, but not without a sacrifice.

Overall, Dark Things II is a decent anthology of horror stories, some aiming to be terrifying, some aiming to be disgusting, and some aiming simply to be silly with elements of horror. In spite of some iffy production values, the anthology is well put together and the stories make for a quick read, with something included for every horror fan to enjoy.

Buy it here.

Reviewed by Joshua Gage

Joshua Gage is an ornery curmudgeon from Cleveland. His first full-length collection, "breaths", is available from VanZeno Press. Intrinsic Night, a collaborative project he wrote with J. E. Stanley, was recently published by Sam’s Dot Publishing. He is a graduate of the Low Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing at Naropa University. He has a penchant for Pendleton shirts, rye whiskey and any poem strong enough to yank the breath out of his lungs. He stomps around Cleveland in a purple bathrobe where he hosts the monthly Deep Cleveland Poetry hour and enjoys the beer at Brew Kettle.


by Carole Gill
Published by Vamplit Publishing

The House on Blackstone Moor is this year's must read for the beach...or for late at night as thunder and lightning rage outside your bedroom window. It is a deliciously dark journey set in Victorian England and begins with a sweet young lady, named Rose, being orphaned as a result of a murder/suicide at her home whilst she was out.

Assuming that our heroine has been driven out of her mind by grief, those in charge employ a Dickensian solution to her devastation and Rose is transferred to Marsh House--an asylum.

But she isn't there long. An employee, one Dr. Bannion, takes an interest in her case and after a time, Rose is transferred once again--this time to his home to rest and recuperate. While there, she meets the Dartons, friends of the doctor's, who offer Rose employment, which she accepts, as a nanny for their two children, moving the story into The Turn of the Screw territory.

From here things darken considerably at the house on Blackstone Moor. Though she adores the children, there is something strange about them, as there is with their mother and father. By the end of the book, the reader is embroiled in a battle of good and evil that was, though somewhat predictable, most enjoyable.

This story is told in the first person, which is generally a pretty hard sell, but author Carole Gill handles it well and makes the reader feel like Rose's confidant rather than a nameless person attending a lecture--the usual downfall of most first person pieces.

My single complaint about this book has absolutely nothing to do with Ms. Gill's writing. It has to do with the construction of the book itself. It would seem that those at Vamplit Publishing are not terribly familiar with printing signatures of books and the way in which they ought to be set up. For example, though the book is touted as a "Collector's Edition," it in no way reflects what those words imply. The cover looks somewhat unprofessional, with the book blurb on the back printed in what looks like 22 or 24 point type--rather too large to look like a book for an adult. The front cover isn't a grabber, either; and when you consider that the cover art is what makes potential readers pick up a book, this falls pretty flat. And, again, the longish title is set too large. Also the title page is numbered page 1; the rights page, page 2; the Acknowledgments page, page 3; a blank page, page 4, and the first page of the first chapter, page 5! And throughout the book, one generally expects to see the author's full name at the top of each left hand page, usually centered; and the book title at the top of each right hand page, also usually centered. In this book, neither author nor title appears on the interior pages at all
But please don't let this keep you from buying this book! There is something about The House on Blackstone Moor that will keep you reading and be sorry when you turn the final page.

However, rumor has it that a sequel is in the works…

Four stars.

Buy it here.

Reviewed by Carson Buckingham

Carson Buckingham is a writer living in the great American Southwest and she reviews horror/paranormal suspense novels.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Engines of Desire

By Livia Llewellyn
Published by Lethe Press (March 15, 2011)

Engines of Desire is comprised of ten stories, including two novellas and two novelettes. It’s stunning enough even without the knowledge that it is Livia Llewellyn’s debut book. Llewellyn, whose catalog of published work stretches back to 2005, has clearly demonstrated more dedication and patience than many of her peers, this reviewer included, and it shows through in every page of Engines.

Several pieces stand out from the pack. The collection leads off with ‘Horses,’ one of the novelettes, which begins as an end-of-the-world tale and finishes as something else entirely. ‘At the Edge of Ellensburg,’ a novella, tells the story of a college girl wrapped up in her addiction to a mysterious, drug-dealing stranger. ‘The Engine of Desire,’ from which the book gets its title, is about a woman’s decades-spanning association with a girl named Kelly who is definitely more than a girl. ‘Take Your Daughters to Work’ can’t really be described in-depth without ruining it, but further demonstrates Llewellyn’s flair for the apocalyptic and otherworldly. ‘The Four-Hundred Thousand’ is a dystopian piece centered around sacrifice and the supposed greater good, as manipulated by the powers that be. ‘Omphalos,’ the other novelette, is an incestuous round-robin affair that’s main character is at least slightly reminiscent of Jack Sawyer from Stephen King’s Talisman.

As a whole, Engines of Desire can be characterized by two overarching themes. The first is the strong erotic overtones (and the occasional subtle undertone) woven through many of the stories. Llewellyn writes hotter and more graphic scenes than the average horror reader is likely to encounter, almost always to the benefit of whichever story such scenes occur in. The second is the sense of otherworldliness present in several pieces; some of it is outright (the chimera in ‘Her Deepness,’ the book’s other novella, for instance), while much of it is more subtle (elements of both ‘The Engine of Desire’ and ‘Omphalos,’ and Kelly in ‘Engines of Desire,’ for instance, will certainly raise some questions).

Engines of Desire is an excellent introduction to a fine, relatively new, author who is sure to develop a rabid following in years to come.

Buy it here.

Review by Lincoln Crisler

Lincoln Crisler's debut novella, WILD, was released in March from Damnation Books. He has also authored a pair of short story collections, Magick & Misery (2009, Black Bed Sheet) and Despairs & Delights (2008, Arctic Wolf). A United States Army combat veteran and non-commissioned officer, Lincoln lives in Augusta, Georgia with his wife and two of his three children. You can visit his website at

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Songs from Spider Street

by Mark Howard Jones
Published by Screaming Dreams (May 12, 2010)

Single-author anthologies can be a tricky business, especially in the wake of Peter Straub’s marvelous Houses Without Doors. No longer are we content with discontiguous mashes of individual stories, we expect some sort of common thread combining them into a larger story. Don’t get me wrong, it is possible to get away with a randomized collection of self, but you sure as hell better kick the door of its hinges if you’re going with that approach.

From the back blurb of Songs From Spider Street, one would be tempted to believe this to be a themed anthology based within the confines of a single, decrepit Parisian street abandoned by all except the hollow echoes of songs spun by our sweet little arachnid friends and the introduction continues to build this illusion. Unfortunately, it becomes readily apparent quite quickly that this is not the case and the throbbing miscellany of tales present do little to recommend reading.

The biggest problem is that the majority of stories are revelatory instead of plot drive and dependant upon revelations that an aware reader will see coming from the title alone (see if you can guess where the guy in “A Hell of a Place” is) or at least the first few paragraphs. “Muse” should be an exception, rising above this problem in the way it deals with the extents some are willing to go through for the creation of art but collapses in on itself because he does not take the time to build a strong sense of the artists obsession and whizzes past his main unforgivable act to get to the punch line. The plot is interesting enough most of the time, but the story that drives the plot is sorely lacking.

The other big killer for me is Mr. Jones’ preference for style over substance that often results in clumsy, overwrought language that gets in between the reader and the story. As an example, viddy these lines from “Mirrorcle”: “A face lost forever to the cruel kiss of hot tarmac; a love abandoned forever to the cleansing fervour of the flames. The same squealing song of death and despair replays in her head every day that she continues to go on living.”

I’m sure I’m making this sound worse than it actually is. Songs is not actively bad. The stories are quick and most have an interesting idea at their heart, but the aforementioned problems robbed me of an ability to enjoy them.

Buy it here.

Reviewed by Anton Cancre.

Anton Cancre is one of those rotting, pus-filled thingies on the underside of humanity that your mother always warned you about. He has oozed symbolic word-farms onto the pages of Shroud, Sex and Murder and Horrorbound magazines as well as The Terror at Miskatonic Falls, an upcoming poetry anthology by Shroud Publishing and continues to vomit his oh-so-astute literary opinions, random thoughts and nonsense at No, he won't babysit you pet shoggoth this weekend. Stop asking.

At The Gates of Darkness

By Raymond E. Feist
Published by Harper Voyager; First Edition edition (April 6, 2010)

Here’s how to get a reader’s attention at the beginning of your latest novel: put in a scene in which devotees of a demon lord willingly sacrifice their lives by hanging themselves and getting thrown into a fire. That sure worked to get me sucked into this book, and it was somewhat of a letdown when I found out that the book’s biggest punch appeared on page two. At The Gates Of Darkness is book two of the Demonwar Saga, and thankfully it’s readable as a standalone story, even though it never really adds up to as much excitement as the first scene might make the reader come to expect.

In typical fantasy novel fashion, there is a group of disparate adventurers on a mission to stop the Big Bad Evil. Evil in this book takes the names of Belasco and Dahun, and there can be no doubt that these threats mean awful things for everyone else if their plans for infiltrating the world with demons go through. The previously mentioned adventurers include the usual assortment of rogues, wizards, knights, and elves and came across as a little flat personality-wise. Probably some familiarity with Feist’s previous novels would have come in handy here, so if you haven’t read anything else by him, this might not be the easiest way to get into the characters of Pug, Amirantha, Gulamendis and company.

It’s exciting how the heroes don’t really know a whole lot about their enemy and try to piece things together as they get closer to the confrontation near the novel’s end. An ancient tome of demonic knowledge is eagerly sought, but it can only help the adventurers so much. Belasco and Dahun prove to be an unexpected kind of danger that nearly costs everyone their lives. Overall, At The Gates Of Darkness is a commendable example of what might be expected from a fantasy release, but someone who is looking for a little more is likely to leave disappointed.

Buy it here.

Reviewed by Christopher Larochelle

Christopher Larochelle is a University of New Hampshire student coming close to being launched into the professional world in which he hopes to become a distinguished Writer of Stuff. He is an intern with New Hampshire Magazine, where some of his Stuff has begun to fill pages. He’s the guy with the comic book in front of his face, or the bass guitar or camera strapped around his neck, or maybe he’s at the computer typing something up for his shiny new blog at