Painted by Kirsten McKenzie

Anita is an inexperienced, young art appraiser who jumps at the opportunity to catalog an artist’s collection following his death. The reclusive artist painted abundantly. He left such an extensive collection that Anita has to spend several days at his remote coastal home. There is no phone service or WiFi. It’s a daunting task to stay in the portrait filled old house alone. The author brings us a classic haunted house vibe. The aging building is all creaks and groans. To begin with, mysterious little things happen as the tension and the notion that all is not right builds. The atmosphere is fueled by the portraits and their sadness as presented in oils. Anita cannot feel relaxed for a moment, as she has the feeling that the eyes in the portraits are watching. You feel the sense of isolation in the house, with just Anita and the paintings and the […]

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The Method by Duncan Ralston

The Method is an unconventional couples therapy retreat that Frank and Linda hear about from some friends who attended. The treatment saved their relationship. Frank and Linda decide this might be what they need to reconnect and save their marriage. The treatment is expensive and as it turns out, not just financially so. The setting is a remote lodge in the middle of the Montana wilderness. Surrounded by forests and a lake, it’s isolated and picturesque. Phones and other distractions are taken away for the weekend so they can focus on themselves and each other. A walk in the woods changes everything for them. A murder and the arrival of a local militia put them in a desperate battle for survival, and they are forced to trust and rely on each other. Much of the book focuses on the failing relationship of Frank and Linda, so we get to know […]

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cemetery gates

At The Cemetery Gates: Year One by John Brhel & Joseph Sullivan

At The Cemetery Gates is a collection of 14 short stories. As the title suggests, the stories are all linked by the theme of death, dying, or being recently deceased. Cemetery Gates is also the name of the publisher (see what they did there?). A major strength of the book is the variety of the tales, including everything from ghosts to urban legends, and from time travel to murderous clowns. Most of the stories are subtle in their dread, while others are a bit more visceral. Some involve the supernatural but mostly it is the human condition that brings about death. There’s a definite craft to writing these kinds of short stories – bringing the unexpected in and making it flow with the rest of the tale. One of my favorite stories is actually the opener about a couple trapped on a snowy road. Another favorite involved two boys witnessing […]

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Edging by Michael Schutz

A new designer drug, Intenze, is on the market. The experience of taking it is called Edging. Unlike any other drugs, Edging gives you a brief but terrifying reality-bending experience, along with an adrenaline rush that can’t be beaten. Taking Intenze is like a watching a horror film while riding a roller coaster. It’s also highly addictive. There is more to the drug though. The fear it induces opens a doorway for a dark creature, known as The Thirst, to worm its way into the world. The darkness that is The Thirst manipulates an addict to spread Intenze across the small town of New London to all of the unsuspecting public. The members of the town are a varied bunch and we get to know them before the whole place starts going to hell. I liked the natural way the different members of the community cross paths. It gives it […]

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Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of ’70s and ’80s Horror Fiction by Grady Hendrix

To say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover was probably never less relevant than with horror paperbacks from the 70s and 80s. This time period offered the most insane covers, enticing you to untold nightmares inside. In those days of pre-Internet, pre-blogs, and widespread reviews you’d find a book just by browsing the shelf. A cover that stood out would make all the difference. It seemed as though artists had free reign to sell the book in ways you would never see now. Did the text match the quality of the cover? Not always, but as Hendrix tells us, they accomplished the most important thing – they were not boring. After reading an extremely bizarre, long forgotten paperback, our author became addicted to the hunt, and we follow his journey of discovery through used book stores in search of more lost gems. Paperbacks from Hell offers the history […]

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Follow Me Into the Dark

Follow Me into the Dark by Felicia C. Sullivan

Kate’s father didn’t even wait for his wife’s death before starting an affair. He’s been seeing Gillian on the side while his wife fades away from cancer. This is too much for Kate to take. Our story begins in the aftermath of Kate’s attack on her father’s mistress. This is just the beginning of the powerful fall out and back story woven in Follow Me into the Dark. Kate’s grief and rage over her mother’s sad fate is completely overwhelming to her. It consumes her every waking moment and she struggles to keep it together in day to day life. It is Kate’s character that we empathize with most. The author introduces us to her pain and gives authentic insight into her feelings. The release of her rage is brutal and merciless. Her temporary coping mechanism is to use the order of baking and following a recipe. Kate’s relationship with […]

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Hellraiser: Anthology-Volume One

The world and mythology of Hellraiser is back. Although we have seen recent Hellraiser comics and graphic novels, this is the first publication to come direct from Clive Barker’s own company, Seraphim. The reason they’ve gone the in-house publishing route is censorship. Barker and his team’s experience with other publishers was a frustrating one. The original vision for stories was diluted and toned down, or certain panels were removed. This anthology promises a new beginning for a more extreme and visceral Hellraiser, as god (?) intended. The anthology contains eleven stories, one of which is text with a few Clive Barker illustrations, written by Mark Alan Miller. Other authors include Ben Mears, Matt Murray, and Blumhouse’s David and Rebekah McKendry.  We’re brought to Hell, sex clubs, suburbia, and even the Old West with these tales. The book ends with a vibrant gallery of Hellraiser inspired art in different forms. The […]

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