Category Archives: Prose

Review: Better Boxed and Forgotten by Andrew Charles Lark (2015)

mysticsReview by Jaq D Hawkins

Daniel Lintz attends his grandmother’s funeral, feeling uncomfortable among her colleagues, who tend to be Nobel laureates in Physics. It comes out that the grandmother was well respected among her peers and a genius, if not a great grandmotherly type. Her father was also a respected physicist and has left records of unknown experiments in the basement of the old mansion that has now passed to Daniel.

The story is told in first person from Daniel’s point of view and we learn much about his grandmother in the first chapter, especially that she was an interesting and intelligent lady. Yet she kept secrets well. The mansion itself is very run down, much like the inner city areas of nearby Detroit. Daniel, after being given a tour of the house by his grandmother’s lawyer, including hints of the secret documents he has inherited, decides he wants to fix up the house, despite financial objections from his wife.

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Review: Into the Velvet Darkness: An Eclectic Collection of Shorts by Kat Yares (2015)

Into the Velvet DarknessReview by Eden Royce

While I love reading fiction—especially dark fiction–I have a soft spot for short stories. To me, there is something magical about them, little gems of self-contained tales, which draw you into a new, fascinating world for a mercilessly brief time. They leave you wanting more of the characters, more should happen, all the while you know the tale has been told in its entirely and it works. It’s captured you in a few pages and you wonder how the author did it.

Short story writing is hard… many writers say it’s harder then writing full-length novels. (I don’t know about that.) But it is an art form, a condensed vision of the world as it could—horrifically—be.

Kat Yares has brought together these tales of horror in human nature. Paranoia. Evil.

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Review: The Litter by Kevin R. Doyle (2015)

mysticsReview by Jaq D Hawkins

The Litter is a very well written and gritty post-apocalyptic story about a social worker, Karen, and her shocking discoveries when her work with a homeless shelter takes her into a dangerous part of the city simply known as ‘the zone’. When multiple half-eaten bodies begin to be found in the area, things get dark very fast.

Doyle can set a scene well and in as few words as possible. I found his writing style very effective and well balanced between description and dialogue. I’m not usually attracted to stories where a lot of cops and emergency service characters are prevalent, but this time it was so well done that I was pulled in at the Prologue and found myself staying up late at night just to read some more. He also has a knack for dropping bombshell teases at the end of a chapter so that you really want to go onto the next one.

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Review: The Mystics by HLH Stephen Penn (2014)

mysticsReview by Jaq D Hawkins

This is a potentially good story that really has teeth; but although available on Amazon, what we have here is really a first draft badly in need of an edit. Assuming the author will read this review (because we all do, even the ones who claim they don’t), I’m going to give some good advice and invite the author to let me know when/if the problems are corrected, because I will change my review when that happens. I’m not going to slate a good story because of technical problems.

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Review: Angel Manor: Lucifer Falls Book 1 by Chantal Noordeloo (2014)

vinesReview by Jaq D Hawkins

What can you say about a story that opens with nuns performing a child sacrifice?

That’s only the beginning of a story where Christian and Pagan ritual combine with truly horrific results. The prologue left me breathless with horror and wondering if anyone would live through the times to come after a ritual gone wrong releases a power that kills all too efficiently.

At first it was not clear in the first chapter exactly who was who or how the characters related to each other. Some of the background information felt a little shoehorned in, but the story was engaging and kept me reading. Freya, the primary character, inherits a manor house where her mother was abused by parents as a child. Despite the bad connections to the place, it is actually rather well suited as a hotel and Freya and her friends decide to fix it up.

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Review: The Vines by Christopher Rice (2014)

vinesReview by Jaq D Hawkins

Anyone reading a Christopher Rice book and expecting to see a similar style to his mother Anne Rice will get a surprise. The styles are very different, though The Vines is set in Louisiana as many of Anne Rice’s have been. It is written in present tense, which surprised me as I’ve thought of this recent trend of writing books in present tense as the forte of young romance writers who didn’t pay attention in school; this may sound harsh, but I’m not a fan of the trend and I find it very difficult to engage deeply with a book written this way.

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Review: Lucky’s Girl by William Holloway (2014)

luckysgirlReview by Jaq D Hawkins

Lucky’s Girl by William Holloway is about a community in a small town that is seriously broken, with a large percentage of the citizens barely hanging on through poverty, alcoholism and unemployment. The story is split into three parts. In the first part, the reader meets a collection of odd characters, which includes a father (Kenny) trying to keep his family together after the loss of his wife and other very unpleasant tragedies that have affected his children.

The story is very atmospheric from the start and the horror factor of an unknown monster quickly grabs us. Meanwhile, Kenny is having trouble with things as simple as stopping to let his kids go to the toilet at a truck stop, where keeping both a girl and a boy within sight at the same time presents a problem.

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Review: White Walker by Richard Schiver (2014)

whitewalkerReview by Jaq D Hawkins

While I think that the first sentence could do with splitting in half, the opening to this story is set up very nicely so that the reader can feel the winter storm raging outside their car. A good start that bodes well. Not only are we immediately drawn into the situation, but we’re made to feel uncomfortable. This is the sort of story that wants you to feel uncomfortable.

Then something is seen outside the car, perhaps a person lost in the storm. A stop to investigate leads to some odd phenomena, but an argument with his girlfriend distracts the driver, Teddy, until they reach their destination. In the moment before he enters the building, Teddy sees something that makes him feel very, very afraid.

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Review: The House by R.J. Hulit (2014)

Review by Jaq D Hawkins

“A little boy is trapped in an old and abandoned house with no ‘seeming’ way out. He has no idea how he even got there. His only connection to the outside is an old crank-style wall phone with no buttons or dial. He cannot call out but another individual has been able to call in, is able to speak with the boy and may be the only link to his rescue.”

So runs the description of this novelette by Rebecca Hulit.

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Review: The Exorcist: A Story of Demons and Magick by Tony Walker (2014)

exorcistebookReview by Jaq D Hawkins

No relation to the well-known book The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty, but an interesting take on the genre in itself.

This story starts out as a typical ‘demon in an old piece of furniture’ tale, in this case a grandfather clock. We get some Dennis Wheatley-like sensationalism in the cat hissing at the clock and a family who hear things in the night, only to find either nothing there or a room torn apart by the invisible demon. It is well written with only a few typos when the action gets intense around a quarter of the way in. At that point I was too gripped by the story to care and presume the editors got similarly caught up.

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