Book Review – Tales From The Hearse by David Allen Voyles

Imagine you’re riding through a cemetery in the back of a hearse on a quest to find some ghosts. No, you’re not one of the ghosts, you’re just looking for ghosts. Notoriously difficult critters to find. Fortunately your guide, in addition to driving a hearse like a real American, knows the lore of the land and isn’t afraid to share it with you while guiding you to your doom. Because, honestly, what else are you going to drive through a cemetery in, a Honda Civic? No way, that’s not how things are done.

It’s the little things that count when you’re trying to creep out your audience. Hearses. Cemeteries. Good stories with dastardly endings. Those are the things that turn good horror stories into excellent horror stories. Details. Nitty gritty stuff. It’s not enough to just say, “And then it turned out he had a hook for a hand!” There must be a build.

Too many horror authors get themselves wrapped up in the gore and the shock and don’t realize that jumping straight to the knife in the chest or the mouthful of alien juice doesn’t work. It’s not a shock or a terror if you can’t juxtapose it with the normal.

Voyles doesn’t fall into that trap. He doesn’t rely on jumping straight to the scare like a teenager in the back seat. Voyles romances us, sets us up, and then pulls the floor out from under us.

He also doesn’t skimp on details. For such short stories, they’re richly detailed without being overbearing. Voyles gives us a world that lives and breathes, something alive and normal, and characters that aren’t trite caricatures. That reality makes the horror elements feel more real and that’s when things get scary.

So, if you’re into gore, this isn’t the collection for you. If, however, you can feel the rumble of Hell’s V-8, hear the voice of the frighteningly knowledgeable driver, and see the silver moonlight casting shadows over rows of tombstones, then this is the collection for you.

“Virgil Nightshade is an expert storyteller, mixing the local supernatural lore and a bit of theatrics with a stage magician’s flare to create a sophisticated carnival ride. All while riding in a hearse.” – TripAdvisor Review

In Tales from the Hearse, David Allen Voyles evokes his past role as Virgil Nightshade, the storyteller and ghost tour host, with this collection of thirteen stories of the macabre. One can easily imagine riding in the back of his 1972 Cadillac hearse through a spooky graveyard listening to him tell his tales of horror just as his customers did in Asheville, NC. If you love ghost stories, haunted houses, and walks through the graveyard, climb in the hearse and take a dark ride with David Allen Voyles. Just make sure your doors are locked.

Get your copy on Amazon

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Check out David’s website

Book Review – Vices and Virtues: A Horror Anthology

Sure, it would have been nice to have gotten this review up before Halloween, but like Ministry said, “Every day is Halloween.”

You might remember about a month ago there was a guest post on this blog by one Ashley Holzmann. Ash made some good point about what writing is about and why it should be approached without fear. Which is kind of ironic since he’s a horror author. But, the best horror authors write without fear of what they’re writing in order to instill horror in the reader. It’s hard to be scared of writing when the author is scared of what they’re writing. That kind of thinking seeps through the story and readers, like dogs, can smell fear.

Anyway, Ash and his crew got together and put together an anthology of horror short stories. Like all anthologies, it can be a mixed bag with some stories that really resonate and others that are less interesting. But that’s the beautiful thing about short story anthologies; there’s a little bit of something for everyone in them. The stories I didn’t enjoy as much might resonate with someone else. They’re also a good way to get introduced to new authors you might not have come across.

There are some decidedly creepy stories in here, ranging from the college kids on spring break who find more than they bargain for, to the government agents searching for missing stone, to a very classic horror story about a haunted pit.

I won’t play favorites and mention the stories I liked best by name because that’s not how I roll and I don’t want to influence anyone. Suffice it to say, there are some real gems in here. If you’re into horror, go check it out.

Discover some of the best up-and-coming horror writers today. Vices and Virtues will touch the center of your soul and leave it burning. This anthology truly demonstrates the range of the horror genre. These stories explore the best and worst aspects of human nature, each story based on a vice or virtue from the cultures of human history.

Get your copy on Amazon.

Book Review – The Blood and the Raven by John Hennessy

The vampire genre is an interesting one. It’s gone all the way from completely hokey (sparkling vampires) to entertaining (New Orleans) to downright scary (Jack Crow). In other words, it’s wide open. Unfortunately a lot of people like mimic the big names in the vamp world instead of finding their own voice and telling their own stories.

Enter John Hennessy and his Tale of Vampires series that started with Murderous Little Darlings and continues on. Today we’ve got book two: The Blood and the Raven. He’s found his own voice and his own terrifying way to tell the tale of the blood suckers.

Now, vampires have been around for a long time and are supposed to represent the worst in all of us. They’re parasites. They feed on the blood of the living and give nothing but misery in return. Kind of like spiders. Recent trends have started to paint the vampire as sexy, something to aspire to, a pale god-like figure that allows us to transcend our meager human existence and aspire to be something better.

sexyvampire

Random sexy vampire. Still has crazy eyes, though.

But the blood suckers aren’t things to aspire to – or at least shouldn’t be. Real children of the night should be terrifying things: not necessarily because of what they do (seriously, who doesn’t enjoy a cup of their enemy’s blood every now and then), but because of how and why they do it. They kill violently, shamelessly, and without any thought of morality.

scaryvampire

Seriously crazy eyes.

And when vamps like this show up, you really need to call this guy.

One from column A, one from column B.

One from column A, one from column B.

Hennessy’s vampires are a mixture of the sexy and the terrifying. They may use their powers to look innocent and beautiful but he’s not afraid of letting them bare their black hearts. Blood flows and he’s not afraid to show it.

The Blood and the Raven is a tale within a tale, which makes it all that much more interesting. Hennessy’s a talented writer and when it comes time for the internal story to be told he shifts gears and moves into the kind of narrative you get when you’re listening to scary stories around the campfire. Or Trump speeches. Take your pick. They’re both scary.

This is book two of a seven story set that’s scheduled to conclude in 2017. It continues the tale of Juliana (from Murderous Little Darlings) and expands on her particular brand of evil.

If you like beautiful vampires who will also rip your still beating out of your chest and rub the blood all over their faces while you watch in mute horror, John Hennessy has some tales for you.

BloodAndTheRaven

Get your copy here

Check out John’s blog

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Book Review – Harmonic: Resonance by Nico Laeser

Aside from the fact that this is a review of a Nico Laeser book, this post is special because it’s the first time for a new feature I call “Clever Answers to Stupid Questions”. Every author interview has the same set of questions: Why did you start writing? What inspired this story? Are you really this awesome in real life? (It seemed like a good idea at the time, A night of drunken debauchery, Yes). Writers are good at those kinds of questions so I wanted to try throwing some curve balls and let the writers flex their muscles a bit. For any book I review (and for books where I can get in contact with the author), I’ll give the author the choice to play. If they’re not interested, no worries. So, stick around after the review and see Nico’s “Clever Answers to Stupid Questions.” It’s kind of like the shawarma scene in Avengers.

The Review

This is the second of Nico’s books I’ve read (the first was Skin Cage) and just like Skin Cage, Harmonic: Resonance does a wonderful job of taking the familiar and turning it on its head. And kicking it around a little. Then asking “are you alright?” just before poking the familiar in its eyes and tweaking its nose. His books are smooth and easy to read but will stick with you for weeks. They’re the Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters of the literary world.

Harmonic: Resonance begins at the end. Literally and figuratively. The first lines echo events from almost the end of the book and the book starts at the end of what we would call normal. It’s an excellent genre-bending story (genres are for suckers) that takes us through the end and well into the new beginning. It’s the first in a series with Harmonic: Dissonance coming sometime in 2016.

The story is told from Emily’s point-of-view, a deep focus on a young woman stuck in the middle of extraordinary events. The world burns and out of the ashes come the ghosts. Normal people – everyday folks like you and me – change as a result and the world changes with them. Because, after all, it’s people that make the world what it is. Harmonic: Resonance is a story of change and how we’re dragged, sometimes kicking and screaming, into the resultant new world.

It’s a masterfully crafted story that looks at how we react to change, especially when that change is extraordinary. In the final analysis, some will call Harmonic: Resonance a horror story. Others will call it a survival story. Still others will point at the action or the quest or politics. None of them will be wrong, but in my mind it will still be a story about change. And change is a terrifying thing. Recall the words of the prophet Garth Algar: “We fear change”. Those words were as true in the 1990s as they are now. Even without the ghosts and the demons the general end of civilization, change is a terrifying thing.

Harmonic: Resonance is a great story that drags you in and shows you a world gone mad through the eyes of one young woman who is forced to accept the changes and learn to deal with them.

The blurb:

“The whole world waits for the gates of Hell to open; at least half of them wait on their knees, praying for it to be quick, praying to a god not even the dead can say exists.
I have done all I can to prepare. All I can do now is wait with the rest. I don’t know if anyone will make it through, or if anyone will ever listen to this recording. I’m sure everyone’s version of events will be different, but the end will most likely be the same for us all. They are everywhere now, strange variations of the basic demonic form—horns, talons, and teeth. They too are waiting for the transition, the next convergence.
My name is Emily. I am twenty-three years old, and I will probably not make it to twenty-four. I don’t know what I’m hoping to achieve with this recording, if anything, but I have no one left to talk to, so you’ll have to do.”

 

Copyright 2015 (I think) by Nico Laeser. Just a side note, he does all his covers, including the illustrations. Check out his tumblr for more.

Copyright 2015 (I think) by Nico Laeser. Just a side note, he does all his covers, including the illustrations. Check out his Tumblr for more.

Get Harmonic: Resonance here

Clever Answers to Stupid Questions

I wrote up a set of seven completely ridiculous questions and let Nico pick and choose what he wanted. Here are the results.

1). Why?

42

2). If the Hokie Poky really is “what it’s all about”, explain how you have used it in your daily life.

Hocus pocus, tontus talontus, vade celeriter jubeo.

3). Why do tornados always hit trailer parks?

Because a house with wheels is way more fun to blow around. (Why, if your house has wheels, would you remain in a place called Tornado Valley?)

4). Super strength or super speed?

Superposition 

5). What’s your favorite video game?

Fallout