Review: Snowblind by Michael McBride

Sitting here in snowbound Penicuik, this latest offering from Michael McBride, seems like the perfect story to pass a chilly morning.  Set in the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, this fast paced killer action based horror is the perfect antidote to the winter blues.

Using a well worn premise of a group of friends, who despite growing apart over the years,  still come together out of a sense of duty and sentimentality, it may seem that this novella is going to tread the same well worn tracks of a hundred stories before it.  Hold on folks, Snowblind takes this premise, and takes the reader far off the beaten track and straight into an undiscovered valley of terror.

McBride has made a wise decision to keep this story at a novella length, by doing so he maintains level of tension, paranoia, and fear, far above what could be achieved in longer form.  He drops the readers straight into the action, and when the blizzard sets in and isolates our protagonists, you the reader will also become isolated from the rest of the world while you read this book.

Keeping the back story of the characters to a bare minimum was also a wise move as it focus the narrative into the here and now, which adds to the overall tension of the book.  However, the biggest master stroke of this excellent novella, is the age old trick of hint and don’t show.  McBride, keeps the readers guessing as to what exactly is hunting our hunters right up until the very end of the story, remember watching Alien for the first time, and do you remember the feeling you got in the pit of your stomach when the monster was finally revealed, it was a great feeling wasn’t it?

Despite a couple of events that  push the boundaries of creditability, this is a very good read, and one that I highly recommend you read.  

News: Black Static 32

Great news folks, Black Static 32 is now out.  Featuring brilliant columns from Stephen Volk, and Christopher Fowler. A fascinating interview with genre legend Steve Rasnic Tem.  Fiction from the likes of Lavie Tidhar, Ray Cluley and Priya Sharma.  All topped of with the finest set of genre reviews out there from Peter Tennant, Mike O’Driscoll and Tony Lee. 
If you don’t already subscribe to this magazine then you really need to.  This is the best horror magazine out there.  

News : The Burning Time by J. G. Faherty

An ancient evil has come to Hastings Mills, and only one man can stop it.
Wherever The Stranger goes, evil follows. Wild dogs roam the fields. Townspeople turn on each other in murderous fury. Innocent women throw themselves off bridges. Swimmers disappear, victims of a deadly beast that haunts their waters. And the worst is still yet to come. The Stranger plans to open a gateway to the nether realms and release the Elder Gods to bring forth Chaos on Earth.
Only one man knows the truth, a country mage whose family has fought The Stranger before. But can he defeat his ageless enemy before Hastings Mills is nothing but a smoking ruin and the townspeople become unwilling blood sacrifices to the Old Ones? With only the help of a young woman and her teenage son, he will have to use all of his arcane knowledge to thwart his adversary and prevent the final apocalypse.
In Hastings Mills, The Burning Time has arrived.

INTERVIEW: 5 Minutes With Jeremy Terry

Today Jeremy Terry pops in for a chat.  Jeremy Terry is the author of several short stories appearing in upcoming anthologies. Dreams of the Dead,  is his first published novel, though it is one of the first stories he wrote. He lives in the Florida Panhandle with his wife, three sons, and Great Dane named Max.


Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
My name is Jeremy Terry and I will be thirty years old in a few weeks. My “day job” is in public service where I was actually called a hero for helping a co-worker during an altercation once. I’ve been writing short stories and novels since I was fifteen, though I started writing and drawing comic books much younger than that. You can follow me on the web at http://www.facebook.com/jeremyterrywrites
Do you prefer the term Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
I prefer the term Horror. It’s the one I’ve always heard growing up and it’s the genre I fell in love with.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
I read a fairly wide variety of authors. Some of my favourites are Nicholas Sparks, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Michael Crichton, and the incomparable Ray Bradbury.
What are you reading now?
I’m reading World War Z by Max Brooks in paperback and Too Late to Call Texas by Trent Zelazny on my kindle. Too Late to Call Texas is a brilliant novel in the vein of Cormac McCarthy’s No Country For Old Men.
Which book do you wish you had written?
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. It’s a truly wonderful tale friendship and growing up. His prose is poetry, beauty in the written word.
If you could use any other author’s creation in your own work, who or what would you use?
I think it would have to be Derry, Maine from Stephen King’s works. It has such a rich back story developed in It and Dreamcatcher and other works.
Describe typical day spent writing. Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I spend a lot of time writing while I’m doing something else. I carry a pen and notebook paper with me and write when I have a spare second or two. I must admit I’m a slow writer. A good day’s production is about 1,500 to 2,000 words. Unusual habits? Does listening to John Mayer while I write count?
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
I’d have to say Dreams of the Dead. It was the first real book I ever wrote and it’s stayed alive in my mind through five or six rewrites. It is the proof to me that dreams do come true.
What is the hardest lesson you have learned with regards to your writing?
Patience and humility. I might think a story is great and a publisher think differently. You’ve got to learn to brush off failure and keep moving forward.
What do you like to do to relax?
I like to relax with a good movie. I also enjoy playing my guitar and singing. Makes me happy.
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
Well, Dreams of the Dead is an apocalyptic horror novel in the veins of “The Walking Dead” only with vampires and a werewolf thrown in the mix for good measure. It revolves around a group of teenagers as they fight for survival in the aftermath of the outbreak. It really focuses on the themes of brotherhood and friendship in the face of hopelessness. I’m very proud of it. I am currently hard at work on the sequel to Dreams entitled Dreams of the Dead: Awakening. It’s coming along nicely. Also, look for my short story “Autumn’s gift” appearing in the anthology “Nightscapes Volume One” from Nightscape Press coming out the last week in February and for my novelette “Mirror, Mirror” due out later this year from SSTpublications.

Review: Interloper by Barry Hoffman

This has been a difficult book for me to review, which is why it has taken me so long to review it.  There is no denying that this is a well written story,  that engages the reader. Yes it has two very well written strong protagonists, and yes the story has a good Ying and Yang premise.  Yet despite of of these plus points, the story itself just didn’t connect with me.  To be honest I feel the main reason for this was the fact that the reference’s to sex, and the sex in the story just seemed to get in the way of a good story.  I personally have never been a fan of having sex in horror stories, I’ve never seen the point.  To me they are just filler, used to bump up the word count, something you can’t do with a 40 page chapbook.

I liked the idea of the story,  and in the main I really liked the execution of it, I just think that if the author stayed focused and concentrated on concept of a human guardian angel and her polar opposite the story would have been far better.

Available to purchase from Splatterpunk 

Review: From Hell to Eternity by Thana Niveau

When Grey Friar Press first announced this anthology from Thana Niveua I knew I had read it.  Based on the short stories of hers that I had read in a number of anthologies this year, she soon found her way onto my list of discoveries of the year.  So when I got a copy from my mother as a birthday present I put every other book aside and gave this collection my full attention.  From Hell to Eternity collects 16 of her stories, prefaced by an intelligent and thoughtful introduction from the Grandmaster Himself Ramsey Campbell.   This collection like a vintage single malt whisky deserves to be savoured slowly and lovingly one fabulous story at a time.  This is not a light read, her stories are layered, dark, melancholic and in a number of cases exceptionally chilling and disturbing. 
The first story, The Curtaina diver investigates an unusual wreck, and discovers that a curtain between our world and another reality has been lifted, is one of the most atmospheric stories I have read in long time.  Thana handles the diving scenes in such a way that the reader experiences the same sense of weightlessness, claustrophobia and isolation that diver in this pitch perfect modern take on an Elder God story.
 The Coal Man takes the much used trope of a childhood bogeyman and gives it a much needed makeover.  By using a spit time narrative, Thana subtly builds the sense of guilt and remorse brilliantly.  It is a sign of a great writer, when the site of a lump of coal can send a shiver down the spine of the most jaded reader.
Antlers, shifts the tone to a much more direct and punchy style of story.  When a woman is looking for a new place to live she encounters a man who may or may not spell the end for her.  This is a shocking and gory short story, that shares a similar tone with a later story Pigs.  These stories excel in being shocking, by the almost senselessness way in which the terrible things happen to the protagonists in both stories. Thana doesn’t explain why these things happen to them, she just puts them through hell, there are no twist endings, no final act scenes of redemption here.  These are two stories of pure primal visceral terror.
However, it’s probably one of the more subtle stories that really deliver the biggest and most heartbreakingly chilling shock.  The Death of Dreams is set in a world where a person’s dreams are no longer private, thanks to a device that can download and transmit for all in sundry to see.  Thanks to this device a mother loses her child into care, when the authorities decide she is no longer fit to be a mother.  The idea of your most private and inner thoughts no longer being private may be chilling enough, but this is nothing compared to what happens in the finale of this amazing story.
Ultrasound Shadow, shares a common parenthood with The Death of Dreams, in as much as a mother fights for her child, in this case the child is still unborn.  Thana handles the mother’s sense of paranoia and fear of her pregnancy with great skill.  But it’s the fantastic schlocky ending to this story that really shines through, Thana drops subtle hints as to what will happen throughout the story, but even if you figure out what is going on you will love this excellent nod to 1980’s horror. 
The Scouring is perhaps my favourite story.  Here a family is on holiday in rural England, never a good idea in these sorts of stories. Where they become intrigued by the local legend of The White horse and The Scouring, to a tragic ending.  For me what makes this story so perfect is how it stirs up all those repressed memories of children’s TV from a bygone age.  Shows such as The Children of the Stones, and The Box of Delights.  Combine this with my fascination for chalk drawings and you have a story that feels as though it was written specifically for me. 
From Hell to eternity might sound like a terrifying proposition, however based on the quality of these stories, I would happily spend eternity reading the work of the fantastically gifted Thana Niveau.

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