Monday, December 31, 2012

Empyres: Bloodblind (Northampton House), by John Koloski

Bloodblind is the first in a trilogy that pulls the reader in with a unique, evocative and powerful voice. The suspense is reminiscent of a classic Hitchcock film. And the journey the reader takes—an existential transcendence that continuously evolves—would make Carlos Castaneda proud.

Koloski’s expansive imagination evolves the concept of empathic vampires which gives the reader believable and, at times, horrific territory. Another pleasant surprise that plucks at our emotions and gives life to the characters.

We find Adam as a struggling artist at an event showcasing his latest work. After a friend asks him to accompany her for a ride in her corvette through the rain, Adam’s life is changed forever. He awakes from the accident alive, but blinded. Koloski places the reader in that headspace with effortless grace and ease. He’s being hunted, and he doesn’t even know it…yet. Despite his challenges, Adam is getting along fine: he’s a Dee jay at a local radio station, and has a loving brother who looks after him.

While at work, Adam receives a very odd song request which turns into an even stranger proposition: a possible cure for blindness. But no one in the studio could hear the woman’s voice but Adam. He accepts the invitation to meet her, and is told there is a cure…if he agrees to take an experimental drug. Adam can’t seem to put the doctor’s braille business card down, nor the urge to call her and accept.

What ensues is a fast-paced journey that ensnares the reader as the plot delves so far that it challenges the very fabric of reality. Adam is introduced to new, exciting worlds with almost limitless possibilities. However, what unintended consequences await every decision he makes to heal himself and protect those he loves? And more importantly, who is on the hunt for him and willing to burn everything that stands in their way? Other realities and dimensions await Adam, and everyone he loves, as he falls further down the rabbit hole.

Bloodblind is a breath of fresh air amidst a sea of modernity and convention--an original work that refuses to let go. Prepare to have your imagination taken to places only the author can take you. Koloski boldly steps on the stage with this new and impressive offering.

Visit Buy the ebook at either Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or  Kobo.

Reviewed by Ben Eads

Ben Eads is a dark fiction author of short stories and longer fiction. His work tends to represent modern horror coupled with what he likes to call: “Imagination-tickling elements”. Ben is also a huge fan of dark fiction and dark movies. At the age of ten he wrote his first story. Taking writing seriously in early 2008, Ben Eads has published numerous short dark fiction stories in various magazines, anthologies, and E-Zines.
You can find him here.  

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Every House is Haunted (Chizine), by Ian Rogers

Every House is Haunted  by Ian Rogers is nothing less than a brilliant short story collection, exploring the area between the world we know and the supernatural—and how deceptively close the two are.  It’s been a long time since this reviewer has read anything remotely comparable; and that which was had sprung from the pens of Shirley Jackson, Ray Bradbury, and Richard Matheson--with a little Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft thrown in for good measure.

The book’s organization is interesting, too.  The reader is taken, via the stories, on a trip through a house.  One begins in the Vestibule (including creepy photographs by Samantha Beiko), then on to the Library, the Attic, the Den, and finally, the Cellar—the usual locations for odd happenings in a haunted house.

Every single story in this 300-page volume is a stand-out—so much so that it is impossible to choose a favorite.  Or even several favorites. They all strongly remain with the reader days after turning the final page.

Rogers writes with all his senses, and his characters are deftly developed with an economy of language that is rare these days.  One feels as if one knew every single one of them. This reader smelled, tasted, touched, saw and heard every nuance…every subtlety.  Amazing.

There are also no weaknesses apparent to point out in this work.  It’s the strongest collection of short stories this reviewer has ever read—and though usually not one given to hyperbole, an exception must be made in this case.

Here is a little taste of the literary banquet you will indulge in should you read this masterful work:

"THE NANNY":  A kindly woman who does so much more for the children than any nanny every thought of.

"ACES":  Death and misfortune seem to following the wake of Soelle—a girl with a penchant for tarot cards and puzzles.

"CABIN D":  A lonely self-sacrificing man deals with an unorthodox killer.

"WINTER HAMMOCK": A tale H.P. Lovecraft would have been proud to call his own.

"THE DARK AND THE YOUNG": When experimentation with an ancient book spirals out of control.

I am so brief with these descriptions because I don’t want to spoil this for anyone.
I urge you to buy Every House is Haunted.  Read this book.  Buy one for yourself and one to give as a Christmas gift to your favorite horror fan.
You’ll thank me.

Get it here.

reviewed by Carson Buckingham

Carson Buckingham is a writer living in the great American Southwest and she reviews horror/paranormal suspense novels. Stop by to view her scriblins.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Revenant (Rock Bottom), by Allan Leverone

An artifact, closely guarded by the Navajo mystics for ages is stolen by an unscrupulous psychopath, Max, who is prepared to use it to create a zombie, Earl Manning, to do his bidding, and as long as Max has the stone, and Earl’s heart right next to it, he will control the Earl.  But due to some messy unforeseen circumstances, the box with heart and stone winds up in Earl’s hands.  He is suddenly the master of his undead destiny, and havoc ensues.

This second book in his series of Paskagankee novels, Allan Leverone’s  Revenant, is a page turner, and could almost be considered an homage to Stephen King, so closely does Leverone’s writing style mimic the master’s.  The book even takes place in Maine—not Derry, though; but in a town called Paskagankee.

My favorite character was actually Earl Manning, the revenant.  I found it fascinating that he was pretty much a brain-dead zombie to begin with, what with an alcohol-pickled brain at the age of 29.  Becoming a zombie wasn’t much of a transition for him—this was probably why he handled it so well.  You’ll want to read this book just for this character alone—he was the best developed and the most interesting.  Instead of the zombies running wild and the focus narrowly placed on the humans who are either chasing them or running away from them; it evolves into the Earl’s, story.  A nice switch.

Leverone handles suspense well, and though initially I was disappointed about the overused cliché of yet another zombie novel, I was pleasantly surprised about the original and deft way the concept was handled.

Though I enjoyed the book from start to finish and was sorry when it ended, there were a few weaknesses that I must mention.  I felt that the protagonists, Chief Mike McMahon and Constable Sharon Dupont suffered from lack of character development, and consequently came off as a bit two-dimensional. I didn’t care as much about them as I should have, and this caused the ending to fall a tad flat for me.

I also could have done without the frequent callbacks to the first volume of this series, Paskagankee.  They were slightly jarring and completely unnecessary.  This book was more than able to stand alone and should have been allowed to.

That being said, you’ll want to buy this—it’s a fun ride.

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. Stop by to view her scriblins.