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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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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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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The Unhallowed by Monte Plaisance

This is the second book from Monte Plaisance in the Nightstalker series. I was blown away by the first book, The House on Judith Street. So it was exciting to check out this follow up, The Unhallowed. Our story begins with high school loner, Zach, contemplating jumping to his death. Something stops him, and later at a visiting carnival an encounter with a clairvoyant changes his life. Zach is given the power to seek revenge against bullies in return for serving the needs of a demon. We’re reunited with the heroes of the first book, the demon hunting NightStalkers. They are still trying to come to terms with what happened and their new vocation as demon hunters. There is some recap from the first book to catch new readers up. Although it would be a shame not to read The House on Judith Street. The demon they defeated and captured […]

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Almost Dark by Letitia Trent

Farmington is a small town in Vermont with a dark heart. Its abandoned textile factory was the location for the death of a number of people. Claire, our heroine, and her brother, Sam, went out exploring and Sam became the latest victim. Following his death the family was never the same and neither was Claire, as she learned to live with guilt and subtle blame from her parents combined with an overwhelming sense of loss. We then skip forward a number of years to an older Claire. She is now a librarian in Farmington, and the guilt and loss around Sam’s death have never left her. She finds her only solace in her job. (As a librarian myself, I loved this part.) Meaningful relationships and romance have been lost to her sorrow. Farmington is a town that rarely changes and has little to offer outsiders. Unexpectedly, a coffee company wants […]

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Dario Argento: The Man, the Myth & the Magic by Alan Jones

Dario Argento is undeniably a horror legend. His horror and giallo films have proven groundbreaking, bringing us such classics as Suspira, Tenebrae and Deep Red, to name but a few from an illustrious body of work. His bold visual imagery and use of color on the screen have rarely been matched. This book provides an in-depth examination of his career, both as a director and a producer, looking at each of his films in chronological order. It’s clear that Alan Jones, the journalist who put this together, is a dedicated fan of Argento and that comes through with his enthusiastic writing and thirst for detail and knowledge about the man and his work. After the background and discussion of each film, Jones follows up with a review, detailed production information, and shooting locations. Dario Argento: The Man, the Myths & the Magic is the third edition of this book, originally […]

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