Book Review: ‘The 12 Terrors of Christmas’ by Claudette Melanson

A great holiday read for anyone more interested in “boo” than “ho ho ho”… but definitely not for kids.

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What if your most basic assumptions bout Santa turned out to be wrong?

Is he just a jolly old fat guy who delivers presents, or is there much, much more to his story?

Claudette Melanson presents a somewhat different version of Santa in these twelve stories, which are well-crafted and well told. There is some lovely connectivity between the stories, which is sometimes quite overt and at other times sneaks up on the reader and takes them by surprise.

This is a great holiday read for anyone more interested in “boo” than “ho ho ho”.  Do take the title seriously, though: this book is definitely not for kids, as there is some quite graphic content.

‘The 12 Terrors of Christmas’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘The Awakening’ by A. Drew

A really great macabre mystery!

Part mystery, part macabre horror and part paranormal suspense, ‘The Awakening’ is a very good read.

The story is interesting and complex, cast with believable characters who face their biggest challenge ever while just trying to get through life from day to day. 

The central character is a regular teenage guy named Phil, who faces his own questions of identity and belonging by trying to fit in with the “in crowd”, as so many teens do. This sets off a disturbing chain of events that intrigue the reader and draw them deeper into Phil’s life as the story unfolds. 

This is the prequel to The Dowling House, but works perfectly well as a standalone book.

It’s a really good read. I have awarded ‘The Awakening’ a Silver Acorn.

Find your copy here.  

Spooktober Reads

Halloween Book Recommendations.

Promo Spooktober 2_edited-1

Book squirrel has a great collection of books for Halloween reading at
Book Squirrel’s Spooktober Reads. 

Ranging from creepy suspense to full-blown horror, these are some of the best Halloween reads around.

Stake Out by Lily Luchesi.

Lily Luchesi Stake Out

YA Paranormal.

In a city overrun with the undead, an ex-cop is given a chance to get revenge.

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Lac Du Mort and Other Stories by Joanne Van Leerdam

Lac Du Mort 6x9

Macabre/horror.

From the macabre to the deeply disturbing, Lac Du Mort and Other Stories delivers eight chilling tales that will please lovers of horror and dark fiction.

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Tunnels by P.J. Blakey-Novis.

Peter Blakey-Novis Tunnels

Horor.

From the author of Embrace the Darkness, Tunnels takes you on six terrifying journeys full of terror and suspense.

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Beyond by Alanah Andrews

Alanah Andrews Beyond

Dark fiction.

The future, ghosts, aliens, surprising twists, murder, love and beyond…

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Truly Unfortunate by C.A. King

C.A. King Truly Unfortunate

Dark Fantasy/Horror.

Which is stronger… the boundaries of reality or the safety on one’s own mind?

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The Dowling House by A Drew

A Drew The Dowling House

Horror/macabre.

An unseen world, where one just might discover the secrets that exist there, may be better off left to rot.

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Of Nightmare Realities by Toneye Eyenot

Toneye Eyenot Of Nightmare Realities

Horror.

Delirium and psychosis are beginning to set in. Are these visions real? Or merely the hallucinatory projections of your sleep-deprived mind?

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Road To Terror by S.K Gregory

SK Gregory Chills 1 Road to Terror

Horror/Suspense.

Aria is running from something she can’t quite remember.

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The Celtic Curse: Banshee by D.J Doyle

D.J. Doyle The Celtic Curse Banshee

Horror/Ghosts/Folklore.

A young gypsy woman is murdered for falling in love with the son of an Irish clan leader. She curses the men responsible and their bloodline.

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Reaper’s Folly by Nikki Landis

Nikki Landis Reapers Folly

Horror/Dark Fantasy.

Anchored in Hell, in the dark Underworld, one tarnished soul has become captive to the Darkness.

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Fear Of The Dark by Mark Woods

Mark Woods Fear of the Dark

Horror.

Sometimes it’s not the dark you should be afraid of… it’s what’s hiding in it.

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The Nightmare by Fiona Hogan

Fiona Hogan The Nightmare

Horror/Gothic

Seven cleverly crafted tales of gothic and contemporary horror to keep you awake at night.

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The Coven Princess by Lily Luchesi

Lily Luchesi The Coven Princess

Horror/Fairy Tale adaptation.

Your blood does not define you.

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Curious Times by Joanne Van Leerdam.

Curious Times eBook

Horror/dark humour.

Friday, the magical black cat with a devilish sense of justice, returns in a second collection of macabre and darkly humorous stories.

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Do Not Open Until Halloween by C.A. King

C.A. King Do Not Open Until Halloween

Dark Fantasy/Horror.

In this young adult fantasy, award-winning author, C.A. King, explores the answer to one of the questions readers have always wanted to ask… Where do fairies come from?

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Flash of Darkness by Toneye Eyenot

Toneye Eyenot Flash of Darkness

Horror.

Five flashes of terror to torment your mind…
Allow Eyenot to drag you through the darkness.
You may never find your way back to the light.

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A Flash of Light by S.K Gregory

S.K. Gregory Chills and Thrills 3

Creepy/Paranormal.

A Chills and Thrills Tale #3

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The Celtic Curse: Newgrange by D.J Doyle

D.J. Doyle The Celtic Curse Newgrange

Horror/Suspense.

The Celtic Curse: Newgrange is a highly original and often macabre tale crafted from strands of legend, religion, ancient culture, sex, superstition, loyalty and friendship.

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Pieces of Heaven by Nikki Landis

NIkki Landis Pieces of Heaven

Horror/Paranormal.

A Haunted Horror of Visceral Regrets.

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Arachnattack by Mark Woods

Mark Woods Arachnattack

Horror.

What IS Project 26? They called it the summer of spiders…

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Death Comes Calling by Fiona Hogan

Fiona Hogan Death Comes Calling

Gothic horror.

Death comes calling and decides to stay. A selection of dark fiction for lovers of gothic horror.

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Book Review: ‘Warm Shelter: A Ghost Story’ by Rich Hawkins

A powerful, dark short story.

Rich Hawkins Warm ShelterThis is a powerful story of one man’s descent into darkness. The author has drawn the reader into that journey by positioning them to look over Alex’s shoulder to see what he sees, but also by expressing the character’s thoughts and feelings in a really natural and familiar way. It’s a very good story, combining elements of horror, macabre, and suspense to keep the reader in the grip of the rising tension as the story progresses.

Perhaps the most striking quality of the story is the writing itself. It’s lean and precise but, at the same time, incredibly sensory and poetic. Hawkins skilfully causes imagery to flash into the mind of the reader and linger for a moment in such a way that the reader can not only see but also smell and taste those images, until the next scene and the next image takes its place. Hawkins makes great use of suggestion and foreboding to gradually darken the story, allowing the reader time to hypothesise and question before reaching the conclusion of the story. These elements combine to imbue the story with a nightmarish quality that evolves subtly at first and grows stronger as the tension of the story builds.

It’s a short read, but one that has a significant impact on the reader.  Acorn Award I Golden

‘Warm Shelter’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn for excellence.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Alterations’ by Lucretia Stanhope

Another great novel in Stanhope’s ‘Elemental Witch Trials’ series.

Lucretia Stanhope EWT 5‘Alterations’ is the fifth novel in the Elemental Witch Trials series by Lucretia Stanhope. It resumes Gwen’s story some time after the events of ‘Familiar Betrayal’, as she finds herself pursuing new and dangerous directions. There seems to be so much at stake for Gwen in this book – but perhaps that is an issue of scale, for every mother perceives that there are threats to her children that she must overcome in order to protect them, and all individuals understand that there are many people who would be willing to take us down and few who would truly defend us if it meant putting themselves in danger.

One of the qualities I really admire about Gwen is her refusal to be passive and just let things happen around her. She is not only a strong woman, she is confident in using her strengths to achieve her aims. She may not have everything in control, but she definitely strives to do what she can and to respond to situations with positive outcomes in mind.

I really enjoyed this book, and I’m also really glad to see that the author is determined to make this series varied and complex. This instalment is full of tension and twists, and I’m definitely keen to read more of this series.

Acorn Award II Silver

‘Alterations’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

Find ‘Alterations’ here.

If this series is new to you, click here to read my review of the first book in the series, Blessedly Bound.

 

 

Book Review: ‘Miss Abigail’s Room’ by Catherine Cavendish

A beautifully dark novella.

Catherine Cavendish Miss Abigails Room‘Miss Abigail’s Room’ is a Victorian Gothic mystery suspense story embellished with some gloriously macabre moments. The author builds the suspense steadily, creating tension that is almost palpable by the end of the book. The reader’s suspicions grow alongside those of Becky, the main character, but the ending of the book still comes with a surprising twist that, in keeping with the conventions of gothic horror, leaves the reader both shocked and satisfied.

I really enjoyed the way in which the author depicted life both “upstairs” and “downstairs” in the house, and the ways in which the different threads of the story were woven together to create one complex, elegantly constructed story.

To craft a story that is reminiscent of Poe, Dickens and Downton Abbey at the same time is quite an achievement.Acorn Award I Golden

Well worth reading, this beautifully dark novella has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘When Shadows Dance’

A really well crafted short story.

2018-08-09 18.32.03.pngThis is a beautifully written, well balanced story full of contrasts: light and shadow, age and youth, mishap and design. It has some almost Gothic elements and a finely tuned sense of foreboding that builds as the story unfolds, with a few neat little twists along the way, that are nicely balanced by its poignant and wistful moments.

It’s quite a short read at 18 pages, but one that proved to be a delightful diversion in a busy day.Acorn Award I Golden

‘When Shadows Dance’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Get your copy here.