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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Feral by James DeMonaco & Brian Evenson

Blumhouse has been leading the way in horror production lately with big box office successes like The Conjuring, Split, and Get Out. I hadn’t realized that they were lending their name to novels too now. James DeMonaco, the writer/director of the hit, The Purge, gives us Feral, a horror book from the Blumhouse Books stable. All signs point to it not being a typical school day for Allie. A drama-filled day begins when a sex tape of her best friend is widely circulated. Little does she realize that it will be the last day of school. Things get progressively stranger as the school day continues. Male students are distracted in the classroom and perform incredible feats of strength on the sports field. Slowly, all the male students begin showing strange symptoms, excreting a pus-like mucus substance, and running a high fever. This is the how the end of civilization begins. […]

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Demons by WD Jackson

Demons is the first book in a new series surrounding a detective. With his move to the London Metropolitan Police, Detective Inspector Daniel Graves is unfortunately getting more familiar with seeing dead bodies. A particularly gruesome late night murder falls to him and his partner to investigate. Catherine is a freelance demonologist, assisted by Marcus. When she sees a local news report about a family who appears to have an evil presence in their midst, she offers her services to remove the demon. Things don’t exactly go according to plan as the bodies begin to mount up and the paths of the demonologist and Inspector Graves come together. Our main character, Graves, is likeable enough, as are the ensemble of others in the story. None of the others had remarkable personalities except for Catherine, who has more depth than it first appears. I did like the tie-in to the satanic […]

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Jackals by Stuart  R. Brogan

It’s a late night in a sleepy English town’s police station when all hell breaks loose. Jackals begins when three individuals enter the police station and brutally murder and then behead everyone inside. A unique sigil is painted in blood on the police station wall as a calling card and message. This sets the tone for the rest of the story. Visceral violence with sharp instruments, knives, axes, and nailed baseball bats are the order of the day. We find out our killers work for The Order, a secret society. The Order is an Illuminati that believes in embracing the primitive urges and killing indiscriminately without remorse. The Jackals are small units who carry these tactics out. The thrill of the kill and the hunt leads us to the main plot of the story. Jesse and her husband are out for their anniversary and are in the wrong place at […]

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Burning Down Paradise by Eric Kapitan

In Burning Down Paradise, Eric Kapitan brings us something pretty unique. The text is delivered entirely as a poem, and this was not a style I’d come across before. Before reading further, put away any preconceptions you have about poetry, because this is not what you might expect. This story about evil, begins with the beginning of evil – with Lucifer cast out of heaven. There is a truce between Heaven and Hell, but the world of humans is fair game. We then follow the life, death, and beyond, of a wretched man named Timothy. He was born out of the worst possible circumstances and full of vengeance. His only pleasure comes from inflicting pain and killing, haunted by visions of his ideal victim. He is a serial killer, so as you would expect, there is plenty of brutal gore and sadism inflicted on his part. It will certainly make […]

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Skin Deep / Ordinary Monsters by Frank Martin

Frank Martin brings us two short stories featuring classic monsters. In Skin Deep, Laura is a high school track star with great potential. Her wealthy parents dote on her. It’s not quite the same for her older sister, Jessica. The girls’ overprotective parents refuse to let Jessica go on a study abroad trip, and Jessica’s refusal to challenge them leads to an argument between the sisters. Laura, with help from a fake ID, ends up in a bar drowning her sorrows, which is where she meets a mysterious stranger, Remy. The main draw to the story is the dynamic between the two sisters, who used to be close but have been pulled apart by family secrets and life. The characters are full of angst and emotion. The story is all about family relationships, expectations, and a lack of true understanding between parents and children. My one real gripe with the […]

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