Keep the lights on when you read this book! Sour Lake Or, The Beast will transport you back in time to East Texas, 1911. Chapter one is called Pray, and that is your only warning of what is to lie ahead. A brutal and gruesome death of the young school teacher Lenard Dalchau leads you into the world of this small Texas county of Ochiltree. Prejudice and racism run high and the locals want this death solved and forgotten quick. Reeves Duncan, the sheriff however isn’t one to just jump to conclusions and hang the wrong man. Agreeing with the sheriff that this is no ordinary murder case is “Doc” Walter McDivitt that has seen enough brutality for a lifetime. These two take the lead in discovering the truth. Together they discover a truth that no one wants to hear, and no one would believe if they did.
Bruce McCandless III is a talented author that is a cross between Steven King and the voice actor Robert Clotworthy. The historical descriptions and language are offensive to modern society but are accurate for 1911. It is so clear you feel like you are really back in Texas in the early 1900’s and living with this society. I’m not typically a person that enjoys horror novels because my imagination will just keep me up all night with every bump in the dark. McCandless however has written a story so engaging I couldn’t put it down. There are so many surprises in the pages it is hard to reveal much for fear of giving away the next piece of the plot. I can say I fell in love with the character of Sheriff Duncan. A man that lost his wife, became an alcoholic and overcame it. A mild mannered man that wants to be fair and not rock the boat. He does have a conscience and uses that to guide him as the story progresses, that inner instinct and unwillingness to follow a mob mentality. Sheriff Duncan believes in facts, and even when those facts point to things that should not be real he doesn’t discredit it. When all is said and done, he just wants to walk away. But how can you walk away from the nightmares he endured?
This is a novel you just can’t put down, it will draw in readers that like historical fiction, horror, a little sci-fi and a lot of action and gore. All the main characters are given rich back stories so you feel you really know who they are and how they ended up in Ochiltree County. The story line is unique and completely original probably because of when it takes places. Overall, I recommend this book to anyone that needs an escape from modern drama, this book will take you away and make you think, as well as surprise you from one chapter to the next.
Pages: 228 | ASIN: B06XR9T91W
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Stirring is a thrilling supernatural novel that sets a towns families against nightmares and tortured souls of evil that will pull them into the depths of their darkest days. What was the inspiration for the setup to this suspenseful novel?
I grew up watching monster movies – vampire movies in particular – with my mom. We especially liked the Hammer film series, starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, and The Night Stalker films and TV series, starring Darren McGavin. Also highly influential on me was the Salem’s Lot miniseries that aired in 1979, starring David Soul and James Mason. Dark Shadows and other such films and television series also played a role in developing my take on the genre.
I started writing stories in earnest when I was a young teenager, and that’s really when Descendent Darkness was born. It was one of the first ideas that I began developing, and was partially born out of a weird experience I had. I got up early one summer morning, well before sunrise, and went out for a walk near a wooded area of our neighborhood. From a distance, I saw a man walking under a street light, and not far behind him, coming up quickly, was a woman with a very creepy expression on her face. Being the imaginative sort, I thought: What if she were a vampire? What if she was stalking the guy and about to jump him and drag him off into the woods? From there, I started down the Night Stalker/Salem’s Lot path, thinking on the subject of how vampires would operate in the modern world.
As for the setting, my family is from the Shenandoah Valley. It’s such an old area, and so full of history, that it seemed a natural location for a story of this type. The mountains have a mysterious quality to them that isn’t easy to put into words.
Stirrings is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a mystery, crime, and drama as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
It was definitely an organic thing. I had a basic story outline formed in my mind, but it changed many times after I started writing and getting to “know” my characters. I had to figure out how to bring vampires into the real world, and that meant dealing with real world issues in an unreal situation: How would the murders be explained? How would law enforcement deal with the situation, given that outsiders would never believe the truth? How would real people react to genuinely encountering the supernatural? What effect would keeping secrets about these things have on people over time? How would relationships change? How would a real vampire seek to protect itself and take victims in the modern world?
All of these considerations caused the story to branch out in many directions and develop a number of layers.
The relationship between the siblings Holly and Mike is intricate and relateable as they battle together, sacrificing their souls to save their family. What were the driving ideals that drove the characters development throughout the story?
Their parents raised them with a strong sense of family loyalty, but the tragic loss of their mother drove them together in a particularly strong way. They share a bond, not only as siblings but also as survivors. Books two and three reveal more of their background and illustrate why they have the relationship they do. This is a key aspect of the story as it moves forward.
Stirrings is book one in the Descendent Darkness series. Where does book two, Legacy, take readers?
Legacy picks up immediately where Stirrings leaves off. The curse the men of the town hoped they had buried forever has finally been set free, and the number one item on its agenda is vengeance. A game of cat-and-mouse is set into motion, with the mice unaware of the game until they’re already caught up in it. We learn something of the true extent of a vampire’s powers and even delve into their origins.
Legacy contains more action and further develops the main characters. The reader also meets some new characters who will factor heavily into the events of the final book. It’s here that everything blows up and the secrets come out, setting up the end game.
In 1982, three men in rural Clarke’s Summit, Virginia, faced an ancient terror, a curse that reached for them from out of the distant past, threatening to destroy them and to draw everyone they loved into everlasting darkness. Together, they paid the ultimate price and drove the shadows back, burying the secret of Clarke’s Summit for what they hoped would be all time.
Now, twenty-one years later, Richard Gaston, deputy sheriff Tom Campbell, and Father Ryan Bennett fear that the power they once defeated may be growing strong once again, ready to break free of its prison. For another amongst them – a tortured soul who was once the bondservant of evil – there can be no doubt. A familiar voice is taunting him, calling him back into the service of darkness.
And for Richard’s son and daughter, Mike and Holly Gaston, the nightmares they’ve had all their lives are about to take shape in the real world.
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2PM On A Black Summer’s Day is a genre-crossing novel with elements of dark fantasy, paranormal, and horror as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
Definitely organic – I had a few ideas to begin with, but everything else just came flooding out as I let my imagination work its magic.
The characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
May Walker (the white witch) – I think there’s potentially a lot more to her character than we’re all told…
There is some amazing surprises in store for readers in this book. When you first sat down to write this story, did you know where you were going, or did the twists come as you were writing?
Once I started, it all just came flooding out… so all the little twists and turns just appeared before me. It was like watching my own film inside my head, with the added benefit that I could take the story in any direction and anything could happen.
What is the next book that you’re working on and when will it be published?
Although I am a great fan of horror – primarily supernatural or fear-based horror – when the first thoughts of writing came to mind, I decided to challenge myself to see whether I was actually capable of writing a book, but also whether I was capable of writing different types of story or genre, and not just horror. I wrote the book back in 2015 and since then, I have written a few more, although all unpublished so far, so 2pm is my first and so called trial run.
The next book will be monster based – huge colossal monsters, so completely different in every way, although after repeatedly re-reading it, I do feel like it could definitely be my best work to date.
Finger’s crossed, it will be released later this year.
If that goes well, I’ll then return back to horror again, with another dark and menacing local story that will raise the hair on the back of your necks. This story will not only be a hair raising adventure, but it will also have added elements of real life events that I personally experienced as a teenager….
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Little did Chris know that in years to come, despite being unknown to the world, his actions would have such an impact.
His idea for a bit of alternative fun one night went terribly wrong, leaving his best mate’s house in ruins and a few of his closest friends dead and missing.
No one could foretell the devastation that would occur or the destructive forces that would be released that night, as a series of events ended in total disaster, leaving the city with a multi-million-dollar clean-up bill and the death of thousands.
The fight soon build’s to an immense and climactic battle, with their only hope being an alliance between age-old opposing enemies that had been fighting each other for thousands of years.”
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The Nightmare From World’s End is a science fiction thriller that begins when various people go missing along a river and a mythical squid may be to blame. What was the inspiration behind the idea for this book and how did that change as you were writing?
It was two things, actually. The first was an offhand comment by my wife one day while we were having lunch along the Hudson River. It was something out in the water that I took a grainy photo (zoom lens) and it came out looking like the classic ‘Loch Ness’ hoax photo. She looked at it and said: “Oh, that’s Ossie!”. “Indeed it is,” I replied, and so it started. The second was a massive crate I discovered along the shore of the Hudson after a big storm. It looked like it had been underwater for some time. That’s how it usually works – something I saw here, a comment there.
Along with that was a genuine curiosity about the American Indians that once populated this area, which go back at least 8,000 years. For me it’s a fluid process of researching and letting it inform the story as it develops. For example, I’d had the concept of the ‘Crazy Jack’ character for years, but dismissed the name as a product of me watching too many movies or TV shows. So, I initially wrote a scene where the American Indian anthropologist – Sarah Ramhorne – is saying as much. Then I discovered (to my shock) that in Munsee/Lenape mythology, there really is an enigmatic trickster named ‘Crazy Jack’. The joke was on me.
Native American folklore around the Hudson River area is a relevant theme within the book. What was the inspiration to infuse such rich culture in this novel?
So little is written about it yet aside from local names – Wappinger, Kitchawank, Weckuaesgeek, Sint Sinck – almost nothing remains of it here. It’s like a ghost hiding in plain sight. Many of the local tribes here were wiped out completely within a couple decades of first contact – we don’t even really know what they looked like. That naturally piqued my interest.
Is there anything that readers connect with in your story that surprises you?
People seem to really be into the characters in this one. That and the American Indian history. A frequent comment I get is: “Is all that stuff true?”. As far as I know, yes.
Your story makes mention of the ancient alien theory. Why did you include this in your novel?
Mainly it was by accident. I was at a local Indian pow-wow researching the story when I ran into an American Indian vendor who in a confidential tone started going off about ‘lost technology’, Atlantis and how the Indians ‘really’ got here in spaceships and had forgotten it. I immediately thought “This is too rich, I have to work this into the novel!” Then it became a running joke through the story: what if some real phenomena was going on to one side while everyone in the story is focused on the hoax phenomena happening on the other?
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
Currently writing another novel for Severed Press titled The Lost World of Kharamu. It’s an updated take on Michael Crichton and Arthur Conan Doyle themes. It’s due out later this year – stay tuned.
In the aftermath of a major hurricane, a massive antique crate washes up on the shore of Raadsel Point. It’s smuggled cargo from the wreck of the Edmund Wood, an unregistered transport returning from a very unusual expedition. . . a ship that went down in the deepest and most dangerous part of the Hudson known as ‘The World’s End’. The nightmare creature it contains is about to unleash havoc on the citizens of the sleepy river village of Wyvern Falls and inadvertently draw to it a predator thought extinct a millennia ago. It will come down to two people to figure out what both these creatures are and how to stop them: expat CID Detective John Easton and American Indian anthropologist Sarah Ramhorne. The two of them will have to unravel local Indian myths, outmaneuver a corrupt mayor, a failing Ancient Astronaut Theorist TV show and an overzealous Green Folk Festival if they are to stand any chance of saving the day.
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Slippery Things follows Larissa as she tries to navigate high school when she starts having nightmares of blood sucking aliens and can’t tell if they are real or not. How did the idea for this novel develop and how did it change as you were writing?
I love monsters, so of course I knew I had to write a book about them. Also, I’ve always found the concept of alien abduction beyond unsettling. And while I certainly don’t believe extra-terrestrials are visiting planet Earth, I wondered if the idea of creatures venturing from another dimension might make for a creepy tale.
The biggest change in the novel’s development was the point of view. Originally written in first person, I ultimately rewrote the entire book in third person. Two early readers of the the first draft suggested that if written in first person, the reader may not feel as urgent a sense of jeopardy for the main character.
Larissa is a typical teenage girl dealing with a cheating boyfriend and a self absorbed best friend. What were some characteristics that you tried to capture while writing all three of these characters?
For Larissa, it’s anger and disappointment. These emotions spring from a feeling of being trapped. Luckily, her sense of humor will help get her through the day. As for the others, I believe it’s typical for high schoolers to feel that the world revolves around them. Perhaps it’s difficult for young people to see just how deeply their behavior can affect others around them.
Slippery Things gives a unique twist to the science fiction genre. What was your approach to writing an alien abduction/invasion story while to keep it entertaining?
My personal interest in this story has always lived more with the main character than with the plot. That said, I was born with a dark sensibility. I thought about what I personally find creepy and tried to exploit that.
As far as entertainment goes, my favorite scene in genre films tends to be the point where “all hell breaks loose.” A goal of mine was to emulate this moment by building to a chaotic chase scene towards the end of the book.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
My next book doesn’t have a title yet, but you can expect another young adult sci-fi novel entering the universe down the road. There will be a couple of similar themes, but an entirely new setting and diverse cast of characters. And although creepiness will certainly be on the menu, I’m working towards an overall shift in tone.
Jaded high school Junior and detention hall regular Larissa Locke has a recurring dream in which creatures sneak into her bedroom at night to perform experiments and extract her blood. Tiny scars on her arm suggest that perhaps she isn’t just dreaming. But wait! If she’s really the victim of blood-sucking alien intruders, then why is her bedroom window still locked each morning?
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Architects of the Illusion is about adopted royal sisters Eva and Ashy, members of a bird-like alien species. After Ashy is convicted of killing Eva’s husband, she is exiled to a refugee planet in another system, all the while maintaining her innocence, even though all evidence points to her as the killer. Eva turns to training and discipline, and, inspired by her late husband’s political career as a means to affect real chance, becomes a mercenary. Years later, Ashy escapes and sets off to find her own way in the universe, wondering if she’ll ever stop running, or if her sister will ever believe and forgive her. As an invading force threatens the planets with mutant monsters and destructive chaos, Eva and Ashy must confront their pasts if they are to save their futures.
The strength of this book is the characters. You really grow to care for Eva and Ashy, both as individuals and as estranged sisters. Eva’s mercenary lifestyle forcing her young son far away for his own safety, Ashy’s constant flight from the law and lawless – they’re both sympathetic characters, removed from the world both by their own choices and external influences, and both struggling to examine their relationship as sisters. Themes of love and duty are examined, leaving both characters and readers to wonder if familial bonds can ever be fully broken, or if they even want them to be healed. The secondary characters are also thoroughly unique and fleshed out, both through physical description and dialogue. The author has them often speak aloud to themselves when they’re alone, and while it can seem a little conveniently explanatory at times, there’s no denying that it always reveals more about the character. The author also has the characters speak about events in their past as part of their natural dialogue, without further explanation, allowing the reader to infer themselves, and making the whole thing feel a lot more organic, as if you were talking among old friends – mentioning past events without describing it shot-for-shot in a flashback, because you were all there. This is often hard to achieve in books, as a lot of writers feel they have to explain everything for their readers, but when handled correctly, the hints and quick dialogue with minimal set up work perfectly for better immersion.
The settings and world building are handled really well. Cities, space stations, even whole planets, are beautifully described without getting too bogged down in flowery language or extraneous explanations – they almost become characters themselves. The many varied alien species are also described well, with details about their physical appearances revealed naturally within the context of the story, as opposed to a solid paragraph of description, and their appearances are unique, yet plausible, and intriguing as you consider the evolution that brought them to their present forms. The actions scenes are appropriately heart pounding and tense, especially the exploration of the dying space station, and the quiet scenes are allowed to play out to further invest us in the characters. I will say there is a lot of colloquial language used in the dialogue, which I appreciate for attempting more natural banter than speech-like conversation, but it also has a few too many “like,” “it’s just,” and “errs” that bring it into present day, as opposed to distant future. Gangs of ellipses also litter the dialogue, but in the end, these linguistic and grammar problems do not ruin or negatively influence the book overall for me. Blending science fiction, a little bit of the unexplained, and the nature of human relationships, Architects of the Illusion has something for everyone.
Pages: 314 | ASIN: B00AW6AXZO
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The Hobbymen follows Geoff and Book who are Amateur Monster Biologists that are out to separate truth from fairytale no matter how bizarre it may be. Where did the idea for ‘Amateur Monster Biologists’ come from?
It was born out of boredom. After consuming media for over 25 years, I had become bored with the same stories popping up. I was bored with prophecies and characters destined to save the world. I was bored with all these rules about monsters that were in place for no reason other than tradition. I was bored with something as silly as a werewolf being treated with dignity and respect. So I thought, “What if all these myths were only half the story? What if the heroes were actually just some schmucks who had no idea what they were doing? Why don’t we take all the folklore to the stupidest conclusion we can find?” Because I don’t take myself too seriously and thought it was high time modern fantasy reflected that mindset. Also they’re biologists rather than hunters because hunting becomes a game of “find monster, kill monster” and having it be research is not only more fun, it opens a lot more possibility for exploring different aspects of the world they live in.
There is a lot of witty banter and sarcasm being thrown around by the characters. Did you have fun writing this novel?
I really did, sometimes more than I expected. Large portions of the book were sort of mentally written in my head as I was driving or just going throughout my day, but some scenes were completely unplanned and ended up being the most fun by just having the characters bounce off each other. The worst part was always coming up with a bit that got me really excited and it wouldn’t show up for another 3 chapters. I always had to slow myself down and make sure each chapter was worthwhile, even if I wasn’t as excited about it initially.
Liliana is a down-on-her-luck young nun who’s caught stealing a loaf of bread in a little town in Mexico. How did her character develop as you were writing?
Very slow and difficult. That’s what happens when the basis for your character started as “nun that beats things with a bat”. Having her be the audience surrogate in the beginning helped because it gave me a couple chapters for her to breathe before I really needed to know what she was about. I had a good handle on her about half way through the book, and made sure to go back and make sure she was consistent throughout. A lot of things for her sort of fell into place. Her cohorts were each at opposite ends of the spectrum, so she became a mixture of short-tempered and goofy to balance it out. She needed to be strong and independent, yet still function as a part of a team. My biggest focus was always to make sure her actions and dialogue came from herself as a character, and not as “the girl of the group” or “stock archetype #15”. I think a lot of the time she was the hardest to write just because she is somehow the least extreme in terms of her personality.
What were some books or movies that you think were your main sources of inspiration?
I tend to take inspiration from many places, which probably comes across as a cop out answer. The real answer is I grew up watching horror movies, reading Stephen King and Poe, and watching a little show called Mystery Science Theater 3000. The latter, for any unaware, essentially aired old B-movies and made fun of them. As a kid I loved the concept and my family ended up doing it on our own for any movie we watched. So unwittingly the concept for a book where monsters and myths are handled with a heaping dose of self-awareness and eye rolling was planted fairly early in my mind. But in terms of writing I tend to find inspiration through a lot of the classics. Like I think Catch-22 is an amazing tool in teaching about how to create the tone of a scene or how Dickens made sure to utilize his prose to make mundane events a joy to read.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
I am currently finishing up on a short story in the Hobbymen universe titled “Truth, Dare, Scissors” which is going to be released sometime before October. It’s the second short story I’ve written with these characters, the first being “Interview with a Vampire Named Bob” which acts as a prequel to the book. I am currently working on a sequel as well. What can I say, I enjoy these characters and I’m too lazy to come up with new ones for now. The next full novel is too far away to estimate, but I will definitely be finishing it.
Sister Liliana has not been having the best of days. Between running away from the convent and then being thrown into a desolate prison, she has started to lose hope of having a fun Wednesday. That is until she meets two strange men with a rather peculiar hobby: Amateur Monster Biology. From ancient monsters to urban legends, Geoff and Book are out to separate truth from fairytale, no matter how bizarre or ridiculous that truth may be. And as they have found, there is truth in everything. Soon Liliana is caught in a whirlwind of adventure as they show her a side of the world she never thought existed, filled with fantastic creatures hiding in plain sight. But just as it seems her life is finally turning around, the group get a foreboding message from an unexpected, sinister source. Are the three of them in over their heads this time? Yes…the answer is yes.
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Tarbabies follows Josh as he lives through the invasion of Earth by the “tarbabies”, monsters made of a soft gooey substance. What was your inspiration for the tarbabies slow, but relentless movement and appearance?
I’ve been a devotee of zombie stories since I first saw Dawn of the Dead back in 1978, and have long toyed with the notion of writing my own contribution to the genre. But as I began to flesh out a plot, I came to realize that the story I wanted to tell wasn’t going to fit within the confines of the category. The core premise of Tarbabies is best summarized by the first line of the back cover blurb: “That Thing on the porch won’t go away.” Zombies work best in hordes. They’re terrifying when you’re surrounded by them, but a lone shambling corpse is easily dispatched or avoided, making it as much a thing to be pitied as feared. What I wanted was a threat that was just as dangerous on its own as in a mob, and that couldn’t be dismissed by something as simple as a bullet to the brain. The longer I thought about it, the more I realized I needed to make a monster of my own. One of my favorite conventions of zombie fiction is the fact that there are no second chances. The moment you’re bit, you’re done for. I decided to take that a step further. With the Tarbabies, a single touch is enough to seal your fate. For that, I can credit the Blob as a primary inspiration. Once I got the idea to merge the Blob with zombies, I was off and running. The Tarbabies, on the other hand, slowed down. Once the creatures took their final form as animated bags of muck, their plodding, sluggish nature followed inevitably.
Josh and his wife were my favorite characters. Was it difficult writing such an in depth relationship? Were you able to achieve everything you wanted with these characters?
What I wanted most from my protagonists was for them to be ordinary. Tarbabies is a story about what happens when the monsters come to your front door. I wanted my heroes to be people of modest ambitions and corresponding resources. They would not be battling their demons with an arsenal of weapons or years of Special Forces training. They would be limited to the same skills and means that a typical reader might possess. But there still had to be a reason why Josh and Libby can survive while their neighbors succumb to the monsters. I wanted this to be their ability to rely upon each other. There is nothing extraordinary about Josh and Libby’s relationship, but they are devoted to one another, and they know each other well. In a world where every mistake can be your last, this trust and familiarity allows our heroes to share the burden of survival, and gives each of them their opportunities to shine. Though this first book is a complete story, one of these two characters undergoes a significant, substantive change in the course of the novel. The full ramifications of this change are explored further in the third book in the series, and without giving much away, I can say that it represents the greatest test of Josh and Libby’s devotion to each other.
The tarbabies are slow moving, but the tension was expertly crafted in the novel. What was your approach to writing the interactions between people and the tarbabies?
I tried to strike a balance between the Tarbabies being equally repulsive and alluring. They may be shambling bags of ooze, but they are also Something New, and human beings have always been fascinated by novelty. This is why, when the very first monster arrives in Otterkill, Josh discovers one of the neighborhood children literally poking it with a stick. But it’s not just the novelty of the situation that captivates the residents of Otterkill. There is also the knowledge that these creatures used to be us. Every monster wandering Ichabod Lane used to be a neighbor, or a family member. This can only amplify the urge to understand what is happening to them, as it is ultimately what might happen to each of us. There is one final, more insidious reason for the Tarbabies’ appeal, and it’s one that actually occurred to me when I was watching the Twilight movies. In that series, vampires are immortal, super-powered, rich, beautiful, walk about freely in the daylight, and can survive without drinking human blood. In a world where there’s no downside to being a vampire, I thought, why wouldn’t everyone want to be one? It’s not an idea that translates naturally to oozing, amorphous abominations, but the more I played with it, the more I liked the idea of people lining up for their chance to become monsters.
This is book one of the Tarbabies series. Where does the story go through the next two book in the series and where do you see it going in the future?
The good news is, if you enjoy Book 1, you don’t have to wait for more. Books 2 and 3 in the series are available now. Tarbabies Book 2: The Siege at Friendly Haven follows the residents of the Friendly Haven Assisted Living Facility, whom we first met in Book 1. As the last remaining invalids and geriatrics struggle to keep a horde of monsters from oozing into their home, they come to realize that no one in the outside world will be riding to their rescue. Instead, their last hope of escape may come in the form of a 300 pound octogenarian and her beloved personal mobility scooter. In Book 3, we meet up with Josh and Libby once again. In Tarbabies Book 3: The Honey Pot of Defiance, the plague has spread over most of the North American continent. We follow our heroes as they push westward in an attempt to reach the safe haven that is rumored to lie beyond the Rocky Mountains. In the desolate oil fields of northwestern Ohio, they discover the origins of the tarbabies, and witness the next stage in their evolution. Beyond these two books, I have ideas for two more installments in the series. These will further the developments revealed in Book 3, and follow the spread of the tarbaby plague as it becomes a global threat.
That thing on the porch won’t go away. I called the police, but I don’t think they’re coming. They’ve got their hands full with the Manhattan quarantine, so they can’t waste their time on a nothing little town like Otterkill. That means it’s up to me and the neighbors, and there are fewer of us every day. Fewer of us, and more of them. Every person we lose is one more monster to deal with. The Spiller family, the folks from the Retirement Center, even the Mathises’ Rottweiler are now stalking the streets, waiting for someone to get too close. A single touch is all it takes. I don’t know which of my neighbors became the thing on the porch, and I suppose it doesn’t matter. I’ve got to get out of here, but the Tarbabies are already showing up in Albany, and Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. There’s nowhere left to run, and there’s no point in hiding. Not when the shadows themselves are after you.
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Fun. That’s what Tim Owens brings to the table with his 2014 novel, The Hobbymen. It’s just fun. Ghouls, goblins, monsters. Banter. Sarcasm. Interesting settings and a fast pace. While you read, you can tell that Owens had a great time writing the novel and that excitement is transferred to us as we flip each page.
The book starts with Liliana, a down-on-her-luck young nun who’s caught stealing an old loaf of bread in a little town in Mexico and then thrown in a dusty, dark jail. As she sits in the dark basement, wondering if this dilapidated prison is even legitimate and awaiting her outcome, she hears the running of two young men being chased by something she’s never seen before – a scaly monster with fangs and a vicious demeanor. She watches as a fight ensues. After the two boys knock out the strange beast, they take pity on her and let her out of her cell.
We find that the two men, Geoff and ‘Book’, are monster hunters, tracking down the true origins of mythical creatures from legends, stories, and myths. Geoff and Book are friends, though very different in personality and are constantly barraging each other with good-natured sarcasm and other scathing remarks. While originally the boys were simply going to return Liliana to her convent, they quickly become a team. Working out of their shabby van, they go on all sorts of adventures – following leads for any gruesome, dangerous, or fascinating creature. Unfortunately for them, other more nefarious characters have caught wind of these adventures and they have their own vested interests in the creatures that they search for. This all leads to an exciting conclusion involving a huge rock-like monster, severed hands, and incantations.
With The Hobbymen Tim Owens has created a fun read. The dialogue is entertaining. It flies with sarcasm, humor, and references to other fantasy stories like Lord of the Rings and the classic 90s flick Tremors. The storyline is somewhat simple, but the characters and creatures continually pull you in to read more. We watch as Liliana changes from a young runaway with no real plan, to a strong, determined woman who can fight just as well as the boys. And as we flip through each page, we find that like Liliana, Geoff and Book have their own secrets and past hardships which drive them on their quests. And surely there’s chupacabras and voodoo, but it’s really a book about a girl who felt alone due to the mistakes she’d made and then finds a home, a place where she belongs, in an unexpected place and with very unexpected people.
I give The Hobbymen 4 out of 5 stars simply because it’s just good old fashioned fun. For the monster-lovers and supernatural-junkies, I would recommend this quick and light book. Because of the easy writing style and the young characters, the book lends itself well to a young adult audience, though parts might be a little intense for the younger end of that demographic (I mentioned a severed hand right?), but in the end really anyone would enjoy this. Friendship. Adventure. Voodoo. What more could you want in a book?
Pages: 358 | ISBN: 1505283590
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Thing Bailiwick is a collection of short horror stories by the ever-talented Fawn Bonning who pulled no punches in the gathering of these works. Stretching from the horribly, “pus-filled” scenes of stomach-wrenching gore to the much lighter, yet psychologically damming sets and characters, Ms. Bonning did not hesitate to irrevocably leave the reader checking corners and under beds. Her mix of both psychological fear and physical torment coincide within these pages as a ghoul may live at peace within a swamp; the epitome of bliss.
Within this particular swamp, a word I have chosen to use affectionately, there can be found many ghouls and shadows. Containing 12 individual stories, some longer, some shorter, each and every one leaves the reader wondering what would happen next, and what in the world happened throughout! The sense of mystery one feels at the conclusion of each story is enough to drive one insane, not to mention the insanity gained from reading just one or two of these tales. From hell hounds to the trials and tribulations of a young boy, this collection of horror stories has some form of terror for everyone!
I would have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed Thing Bailiwick; each story had its own bit of charm and personality to it. The various styles and settings used within the collection make it seem as if there were multiple authors involved, instead of just reading the works of one single artist. As minuscule a feature as that may seem, it was almost unhinging for me personally when multiple stories were read in one sitting or within a short amount of time. The reader was initially in one location learning about the personality of this character and their problems when suddenly you start another story and it is something completely different. Now, this wouldn’t be so unhinging if it wasn’t for the different types of language the author is able to use. It was definitely the changes in dialect and characters ways of speaking that provided me with the feeling of being lost within the book; a feeling I have found to be most fun to deal with within the confines of horror fiction.
While I had a lot of love for this collection and for the authors writing styles, I must admit that the previous mention of mystery at the end of these stories is done much more gracefully in some stories than others. I did find myself wondering what the author meant to imply after finishing two or three of the tales. It is obvious that the beginning of some of the stories foreshadow the endings, but I could not get a handle on some. It appeared that the author attempted to make some endings very deep and pensive in order to allow the reader to continue thinking about the story long after they’ve finished it. I love that angle, it works, and I respect it.
Ms. Bonning has an affinity for pulling the monsters, kicking and screaming, right out of the closet and forcing them into the light. She has taken the seemingly innocent and innocuous and made them into devils, and sorcerers, and anything else one may fear. This collection is phenomenal and I recommend it highly to those who have a taste for horror fiction and psychological trauma! A sure cure for hypersomnia, this collection will prevent you from ever sleeping again!
Pages: 452 | ASIN: B015EQAM02
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