HORROR IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN EVIL OVERTAKES THE HEART.
Joey’s a mechanic. One night, she receives a call from her best friend, asking for his car to be picked up from the infamous body dumping grounds of Baltimore: Leakin Park. When she arrives, there’s little more around than a stalled-out car and a couple of ravens, so she leaves only with the car. Back at the body shop, it doesn’t take long for the smell of rot to permeate the trunk. Inside? A corpse. The cops say her friend did it. His absence is his guilt, but Joey knows better. She will find her missing friend and she will prove his innocence.
But something isn’t right in Baltimore. It’s not just the feeling that someone is always watching from the city’s abandoned buildings… Her search for her friend reveals something much worse hiding under the city. A ghost town, a reaper, regret. Suddenly, the city’s rage and the stink rising out of the dirt make much more sense.
The cover snagged my attention first then the description. It took me about a chapter to settle into the author’s style. I wanted to love this book, and there was enough action at first to keep me reading… until things got weird. Or weirder…
At first Joey came across as a male character, which left me feeling confused. She’s so masculine at times it was hard to picture her and Jag together. With the way she constantly pushes him away, I’m not sure she genuinely cared about him as more than a friend. There wasn’t much about Joey, or even Jag and Donny, that I found even slightly likable.
The book starts with a murder mystery, and Joey trying to find her missing friend. And then it takes a strange turn. While I think the paranormal aspect of the book had potential, it was so randomly thrown in and rushed, it comes across as more of a square peg being jammed into a round hole. I found Val and Charon to be the most interesting characters in the book. They stole the show, casting Joey, Jag, and Waylon into the shadows.
Too many questions left unanswered. There was entirely too much crammed into the book in not enough pages. It didn’t give the author room to adequately complete the various story threads and tie everything up.
Since the book ends with an unfinished feeling, I hope the story will continue. Preferably with Charon and Val as the main characters.
*Disclaimer: I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The review above is only my opinion.
It’s Jennifer’s 24th birthday and she planned to spend it having fun with her friends. Instead, she ends up running for her life through the dark streets of London.
Her world is torn apart by a new disease, the likes of which have never been seen before. The government’s decision to conceal its deadly nature exacerbates the panic, and in all the confusion Jennifer is bitten by an infected person.
That’s it, right? Her life over.
Immune to the virus’s ravaging effects, Jennifer finds herself with a small group of survivors. Together they must fight to stay alive long enough for a cure to be found. Humanity won’t be beaten so easily.
But madness looms large, and safety seems forever out of reach.
Going to protests had become second nature to Jen. The gatherings were numerous, loud, and full of energy, but so far none of them had achieved anything. The world remained in the dark. Uncertainty pervaded the air like it had a physical weight, heavy and viscous, and Jen had long since grown used to it. She would be more uncomfortable if things were normal.
Fire threw orange light across the street, the shifting shadows dancing over riot gear as the crowd surged forward. Shouts and screams merged into a meaningless cacophony. Smoke hung over everything, obscuring people on the ground nursing broken noses, broken arms, broken legs. The camera spun in a disorientating way. Had the police attacked the news crew? Nothing would surprise her anymore. The roar reached a crescendo—
Jen switched the television off. Insecurity seemed constant, but she wasn’t going to let it ruin her twenty-fourth birthday. She’d seen it all before, anyway. The riots were becoming more and more frequent. She turned her attention back to the object in her hands and put all the confusion and dismay out of her mind.
The camera wasn’t the best on the market, but Jen loved it regardless, and she hadn’t been able to stop thanking her parents after they dropped it off yesterday. Jen liked the weight of it in her hands, ready to freeze everything away from the ravages of time. Her old camera had been damaged from years of use and abuse, and she vowed to take much better care of this one.
A sharp bang broke her concentration, and she jumped up as the door to the apartment burst open. What the—
“Jen? Damien?” Rhys’s strained voice sounded from the kitchen. What’s going on? He’d said he couldn’t make it tonight.
She entered the kitchen on light feet. If this was a prank for her birthday, she wasn’t going to be happy. She hated surprises.
“There you are,” Evelyn said. “C’mon, we have to go.” They were all there—Rhys, Evelyn, Amanda, and Rachel. Her friends. Instead of greeting her with smiles, hugs, and excitement, they looked scared, their bodies rigid as they stood in the kitchen. Rhys looked winded as he leaned on the kitchen counter, sweat running from his shaved head to his square jaw.
“What are you talking about?” Jen cut her laugh short as Evelyn threw a pleading look her way. This didn’t seem like a prank.
“Hey, guys,” Damien said as he entered the room, not a hair out of place. Jen had been ready for a good half an hour, but Damien had procrastinated and rushed to get dressed.
“Listen, we don’t have much time.” Rhys struggled to slow his breathing. Worry trickled down Jen’s back. This wasn’t like him at all. “I’m not even supposed to be here.” He still wore his army uniform. What are those stains?
“What’s wrong?” Damien asked slowly. Rhys wasn’t the type of person to play jokes on people.
Amanda shrugged. “I have no idea either. These two—” she gestured at Rhys and Evelyn as she shrugged out of her jacket and put her phone and purse on the counter “—found us walking up the stairs. Running like the devil was chasing them.”
“You all know about the new virus, right?” Rhys looked at them for confirmation, his dark eyes intense.
“Yeah, of course we do,” Jen said. People talked of little else. That and the less exciting news about a food recall and less on the shelves. “It’ll be okay. They’ll find a cure soon.” Conspiracies had sprouted up saying everyone who got the disease died, or the government had created it to stop overpopulation or some such nonsense. Fearmongering.
What worried Jen was how long they were taking to find a cure. With millions of people infected society had ground to a halt. Jen’s university had closed its doors last November, and she didn’t know when it would reopen. Restaurants and cafés had followed suit. It was a nightmare. Criminals became bolder too, with crime on the rise.
Quite a lot of the protests were about demanding to know what was going on. The majority of them devolved into riots these days, but the government kept assuring everyone they were doing all they could. Some people didn’t even believe the virus was dangerous.
As a child Amy loved reading and writing, so naturally she graduated with a degree in biomedical science and has worked in a microbiology laboratory ever since. Her passion is writing however, and she started her first novel while still at university. When she is not writing about surviving apocalypses, exploring space, and conquering magic—all featuring LGBTQ characters—she can be found reading or playing games about those very things. She lives by the sea with her wife and fifteen-year-old cat who still runs around like a kitten.
Kaitlyn didn’t believe in ghosts—not until one killed her boyfriend and her best friend. Now she must stop the spirit haunting the Devil’s Tree, or she could be next.
Seventeen-year-old Kaitlyn wants to escape her drunk mama and her trailer park home life to enjoy a Saturday night off work. Instead, her boyfriend, Hunter, convinces her to go with him and their best friends, Dylan and Keisha, to photograph a desolate tree with an evil past. A terrifying presence chases them from the tree, killing Hunter and Keisha. Left alive with Dylan, Kaitlyn must struggle with her unexpected romantic feelings for him, come to terms with her loss, and face being trapped in a dead-end town. Kaitlyn is desperate to put the past to rest, but when their friends’ spirits begin haunting them, she and Dylan have no choice but to seek help from a Catholic priest and attempt to set the trapped spirits free.
Ghost stories have always fascinated me. The light romance threaded into this one made it even more perfect. With a theme of much needed tolerance for those who are different, violent spirits and demons, and young love, The Devil’s Tree was a book I couldn’t put down,
A curse, a town with deep secrets, and a courageous girl… The Devil’s Tree will leave your heart racing, make you cry, and give you hope. An outstanding book!
*Disclaimer: I received an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The review above is only my opinion.
From the USA Today Bestseller L.A. Detwiler comes a new eerie horror filled with secrets, ghosts, and murder.
The dead do talk … if you’re brave enough to hear their sinister secrets.
In a thick forest sits a forgotten stone building, The Redwood Asylum. Once inside, the criminally insane, the darkly disturbed, and the eternally confused residents learn one thing very quickly: they are at the mercy of ruthless evil in many forms.
At twenty-six, Jessica Rosen starts a new job at Redwood in the hopes of forgetting an insidious past. She quickly realizes, however, that Redwood harbors malevolent secrets and beings in every chilly corner. On her second day adjusting to her job, the unstable man in 5B quickly latches onto Jessica in an unsettling way. When his rantings and warnings start to make sense, though, Jessica will be taken on a ride of secrets, murder, and dangerous beings. As she begins to uncover the horrifying truths behind the man’s past , the terrors of Redwood Asylum will follow her home and make her question her own sanity.
Can Jessica solve the secrets of the man in 5B in time to save herself, or will the terrors trap her in Redwood’s evil clutches forever?
A spine-tingling page-turner by USA Today Bestseller L.A. Detwiler perfect for paranormal horror fans.
Who doesn’t love a good horror story involving ghosts?
The way the story is narrated reminds me of Stephen King’s Rose Red, which happens to be a favorite of mine. Yes, there have been countless books about haunted asylums, and there will certainly be more. The ramblings of a mad man, locked away at Redwood, make nurse Jessica sympathetic. She wants to help him find peace, not realizing she’s placing herself in danger.
Jessica’s role in the story wasn’t just that of a nurse who wanted to help others. She had a dark secret in her past, one that would play a prominent role in her future. She also seemed to fancy herself a detective, and with determination, dug into the patient’s past trying to find the truth. Sadly, some things are better left buried.
Overall, I enjoyed the story. I’d definitely be interested in more stories featuring Redwood, and I want to know more about the other staff.
*Disclaimer: I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. The review above is only my opinion.
As the daughter of Dracula, you would think I’d be born the perfect monster.
You couldn’t be more wrong.
As far as monsters go, I’m a screw up—if I’m not tripping over my own feet, I’m accidentally murdering someone (it’s a real issue, guys).
Left with no choice, Dad decides to send me to Prodigium—otherwise known as Monster Academy—to train me on how to be a better monster.
When bodies turn up on campus, I’m the prime suspect (not that I can blame them. I’ll be pretty suspicious too if bodies drained of blood show up right after Dracula’s daughter arrives).
With the help of my mortal-nemesis Vin, Van Helsing’s son
Frankie, Frankenstein’s son
Mason, Medusa’s son
And Jack (sometimes Hux), Dr. Jekyll’s son
I might have a chance of uncovering the truth.
If I’m not murdered first.
The struggles of being a vampire, am I right?
This is a horror comedy reverse harem with some dark elements. After all, you can’t have a bunch of monsters without some darkness. This is book one of a series.
First, let me say that I don’t often read reverse harem books. I tend to prefer a guy who is so alpha that there’s only room for him and his woman in the relationship. But… that being said, the idea of Dracula’s daughter and the sons of all those other monsters was just too intriguing. And once I started reading, I couldn’t stop!
There’s humor, carnage, and Violet’s men are each so different, and yet similar in some ways. With a hint of mystery, danger around every corner, and love blossoming between Violet and her men, it kept me enterained from beginning to end. I flipped the pages, eager to find out what happened next. And when the book ended, I immediately went to look for book 2.
While there’s some sexiness in this story, and a lot of adult language and situations, the overall setting still gives the book a Young Adult feel (but it’s definitely not for younger readers). If you like fantasy, horror, mystery, humor, and romance, then you can’t go wrong with Monsters. Go grab your copy!
A modern-day and thought-provoking retelling of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray that esteemed horror magazine Fangoria called “…a book that is brutally honest with its reader and doesn’t flinch in the areas where Wilde had to look away…. A rarity: a really well-done update that’s as good as its source material.”
A beautiful young man bargains his soul away to remain young and handsome forever, while his holographic portrait mirrors his aging and decay and reflects every sin and each nightmarish step deeper into depravity… even cold-blooded murder. Prepare yourself for a compelling tour of the darkest sides of greed, lust, addiction, and violence.
There is blood on my hands. I look down at a body, a body that’s become a thing—monstrous, ugly, inanimate. It could be a sculpture, a figure formed from wax or porcelain. The soul inside is gone, leaving a shell. I wipe a line of sweat from my forehead with a trembling hand, trying to tell myself these things, trying to believe that what lies at my feet is nothing more than an object, something to be reviled, something not worthy of further consideration.
It’s not easy to believe. Although the corpse does not have a twinkle in its eye or the simple rise and fall of a chest, it’s hard to remove myself from the plain fact that the body possessed those movements, those simple signs of life, just minutes ago. Distance, for now, seems more a matter of location than of feeling. The body at my feet wears the badges of its untimely demise—a dented face, a split-open skull, blood and grayish-pink matter seeping out. The bruises have already begun to rise, ugly yellow-pink things all over the body.
I stoop, plunge my fingers into the deepest hole, the one on the belly, to feel the warmth and the entrails. Amazed that the breathing has stopped. Amazed that I have such power.
I lift a finger to my mouth and slowly run it over my lips, the blackish liquid warm and viscous, metallic to the taste. I recall the vampire films I loved as a youth, never really believing such a thing could exist.
Now I do.
I have stolen a life so that my own might continue. There is something vampiric in that, isn’t there? Because without this theft of a beating heart and an expanding and contracting pair of lungs, I would be unable to live.
Isn’t that the real essence of the vampire?
It seems too quiet here, deep in the basement of a high-rise. A dull clanging is my only accompaniment, pipes bringing warmth and water to tenants above, whose lives continue, ignorant, untouched by my murderous hand. And that’s the amazing thing, the thing that causes my breath, when drawn inward, to quiver.
Life goes on, in spite of this monumental act, just a quick, surprised scream and a heartbeat away.
There is blood on the walls, spattered Jackson Pollock-style. Who can say what is art and what is murder?
This so-called victim who now lies in final repose on a cold concrete floor, staring vacantly at nothing or perhaps at the hell that will one day consume me, can no longer chastise me, can no longer beg me to drop to my knees with him and pray, pray for forgiveness, imploring Jesus to lead me down the path of the righteous.
It’s not too late, he said before I brought the mallet down on his skull, cracking it open like a walnut, slamming it into his windpipe, his gut, an eye socket, his shoulders as he fell, anywhere the mallet would ruin, destroying, sucking life.
He was wrong. The final irony of his existence, I suppose, is that he thought he had the power to do anything, to change another person, whom, I must admit, he cared very deeply about.
No, that power rests in my hand, the death-dealing claw that changed him. And people whine about how change never really lasts when it comes to others, how they always unfortunately revert to their old ways, the ways you don’t want them to be. Anyone who has ever tried to change another knows this to be true. Oh certainly, the change may last a week, a month, even a year. But soon the real person comes back, the one who has been waiting in the wings for just the right cue, the one that will allow him to say “Ah fuck it, I’ve had enough.”
But the change I’ve wrought in my friend can never be undone. He is dead and always will be. I have a power of which psychiatrists and psychologists can only dream. And I accomplished my transformation in a matter of seconds, behind a red-tinged curtain of rage.
Pretty sly, eh? For a man who’s spent most of his life doing nothing but looking after his own selfish needs and pursuing his own pleasures, it’s a pretty accomplished thing. Decisive. For once, a man of action.
I nudge him with my foot and am amazed at the heaviness my friend has taken on in death. His body doesn’t want to give, to roll; it has become a body at rest…forever.
I turn and head back upstairs. There are matters to attend to…clothes to be burned, an alibi to be concocted. People will want answers. And conveniently, I will have none. Knowledge is a dangerous thing. What was it my other friend once told me? “The only people worth knowing are the ones who know everything and the ones who know nothing.”
I know nothing about this. And now I must go back into the realm of the living to ensure my ignorance remains secure.
But alone, I know that ignorance is one of the few luxuries I can no longer afford. Alone, I have only the luxury of time to contemplate how it all began.
Rick R. Reed is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction. He is a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Entertainment Weekly has described his work as “heartrending and sensitive.” Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” Find him at http://www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA, with his husband, Bruce, and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix, Kodi.