by Catherine Bader
His wife didn’t know he was CIA. She was with him in Thailand. It was their 10th anniversary and the wet work was a quick one.
He left for a “meeting.” He’d be back within the hour.
Crazy cult group. Hundreds of kills attributed to them.
Candles lit. Hideous faces… midnight black robes.
They tied him to a chair.
Deformed, misshapen face…. Demon-ridden eyes…. Needle-sharp teeth. Whispered –
A woman screaming – loud, pulsating, high pitched.
He watched through the dimly lit room – saw a sword swinging….
Stopping at his feet……
Staring dead eyes.
Reviewed by Josh Black
Billed as “a double feature told in the tradition of vintage drive-in tales”, Say No to Drugs lives up to its tagline, also serving as a twisted PSA delineating the possible perils of recreational drug use.
“The Pot: An Homage to Classic Cautionary Tales of the 1950” starts things off with a bang (or a crunch or a splat). It centers around Terry and Ray, a couple of burnout kids looking to score some “killer weed” from their acquaintance, Jimmy (friend is too strong a word to use in this case, as it’s obviously just the drugs they’re after). They go to Jimmy’s house to seal the deal, and discover just how much of a killer the weed really is. You might think you’ve got the story pegged at this point, but not to worry. Molgaard’s writing doesn’t tread the obvious path. The titular pot becomes little more than a gateway drug to fathomless nightmare. Nearly the entire landscape of the house soon becomes an object of terror, and Ray and Terry are privy to something the likes of which probably doesn’t belong on any terrestrial plane. As brutal as things get, it’s always fun, much like the 50s-kitsch-inspired tales it pays tribute to.
The next story, “Blue”, cranks up the intensity more than a few notches and blows the first story out of the water in that regard. Here the fun factor is tossed aside in favor of pushing all your discomfort buttons. It strikes a nice balance with the preceding tale. It’s basically about a man waking up in a room and trying to figure out what’s going on. As meager as the plot may seem, Molgaard makes up for it as he pushes his character through a living hell of painful memories, horrifying hallucinations (or are they?), and images of a dead lover. The stream-of-consciousness style works well here, prose like a freight train pummeling everything in its path, as if everything hinges on getting each and every dirty detail on the page, no matter how small or superfluous it seems. It’s the kind of writing that makes you want to stop, take a breath, and ground yourself so you don’t get lost along with the main character. It’s got a great twist at the end, too.
As a double dose of cautionary tales, and a brisk and hard slap across the face, Say No to Drugs works wonders. It’s an exploration of two very different kinds of trips, and a fine sample of two different styles of horror story from Matt Molgaard. Hopefully we’ll have some more to read in the near future.
by Brent R. Oliver
Reality is meandering and losing cohesion. It’s no longer strictly real. The only real things are those that I write. They stick around. They don’t change. They’re solid.
Too solid. Maybe I shouldn’t have been a horror writer. I’ve populated this dying world with all manner of psychos and monsters. They stay aggressively in focus while everything around them blurs and comes apart.
So I now I have to write the world back. Or at least write up some resistance. Something to fight back. I have to hurry. When will I start to fade?
I hear them coming.
BIO: Brent R. Oliver is an award-eligible horror author, commenter, and enthusiast. For more of his work, please check out his website at brentroliver.com
Reviewed by David T. Wilbanks
The Stolen by Bishop O’Connell begins when Caitlin’s little girl is kidnapped by evil fairies. Now she must accept help from a mysterious, troubled warrior and his elf friends or she may never see her child again. If this sounds like grounds for a fantasy novel, it is, only this one takes place in the here and now and therefore should be considered “urban fantasy”.
The story moves along at a brisk pace, oriented more toward action and adventure than much deep character development. Even though this tale takes place in Boston and not the Deep South in ways it brings to mind the TV series True Blood–minus the softcore porn, and substituting evil goth fairies for vampires; one of the warrior’s friends is even an elf that runs a nightclub. The whole thing is steeped in fairy lore and much of the resulting terminology adds to the fae flavor. Don’t worry though; even if you don’t know a word of Irish or Welsh, most terms and phrases can be taken in context and should not hinder smooth reading. Besides, there’s a handy glossary in the back for reference. Add a couple wizards, including one who turns out to be close friends with our heroine, more varieties of fae, and a demon or two and you have yourself a fun ride into the fantastic.
Not bad for a debut novel and judging by how it ends there may be more later. The Stolen is recommended to any fairy freak or urban fantasy fan wanting to spend a few pleasant hours.
by Lori R. Lopez
“I created you. I’m sorry. It was a terrible mistake.”
I couldn’t understand why Mother seemed so unhappy. And frightened. My chains shifted, clanking as I sought to comfort her. She loomed beyond my reach. I needed to soothe her and strained wildly. But then she raised a long barrel and pointed the gun at me. Her progeny! Clawed appendages thrashed fiercely. My whip-snout whipped past, farther than ever, strangling her.
Mother. She sagged to the floor. Mother? I couldn’t embrace her properly. My nose unwound and retracted from her neck.
Iron links snapped as I rampaged. Hurting. Mourning.
For more from Lori R. Lopez: www.fairyflyentertainment.com
I mentioned just a while back that I love horror novels that utilize history as a basis. When an author can successfully combine real events with fictional horror, the result is usually a terrific story that is enthralling and entertaining. Such can be said for ONE UNDEAD STEP, a recent release from author Ian McClellan. Rife with originality and solid prose, McClellan’s horrific tale of a near zombie takeover will keep you riveted. And while it is not perfect, it is still a hell of a read and one I had a hard time putting down.
If you are not familiar with ONE UNDEAD STEP, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Amazon.com:
Many people know that the 1969 moon landing was faked, but are unaware of the actual circumstances. Find out how the U.S. faked the moon landing to avert the zombie apocalypse as the lives of a disgraced B-movie director, a bar owner, some drunks, an Army Ranger unit, a bunch of gangsters, an affluent but very dysfunctional family, and a few cops come together in One Undead Step.
One year after Romero shocked the world with Night of the Living Dead, a small city is rocked by grisly killings, the gory details of which are only known through whispered rumors. The government presence that makes the populace all the more nervous is unable to contain the impending threat that grows out of control on a hot, humid night in Mid-July. As the city’s residents fight for their lives, the Military rushes to make a film about two men landing a small spacecraft on the moon. Will their plan work? Find out as an evil man finds redemption, some soldiers choose between their mission and duty, a young couple finds forbidden love, an older couple reignites their passion, and a bartender gets stiffed for lots of drinks in One Undead Step.
I have to start off by commending McClellan on his unique concept for this book. I have to say, it is a very interesting proposal. I love the idea of the government trying to keep the public from learning about zombies, especially by using something as grand as a moon-landing to do so. Because of the paranoia that was rampant during that time period, I can totally see this as a plausible scenario.
ONE UNDEAD STEP is written well and flows at a smooth pace. McClellan seems to have a natural talent for storytelling, which is showcased in the way he ‘shows’ instead of ‘tells’. Here is an example: “His face had a hawkish look that was accentuated by his beak of a nose. He looked at Will and smiled. The smile was all politician or salesman (if there’s a difference), but he couldn’t take the predator out of his eyes.” I really like this writing style, as it allows for more immersion into the book.
The characters are flawed and colorful, a group of believable average-joes who we grow to like (and hate, in some cases). McClellan does a great job of bringing them to life, and they are a major part of what makes the book so good.
My sole complaint about the book is the ending; there are a couple of chapters labeled ‘Zombie Stories’ at the end, but they don’t fit with the rest of the book. I am not sure if McClellan put them in as an afterthought, or if they’re supposed to have some relevance to the story. Either way, they don’t fit for me (although they might be good as solo stories in an anthology or something). If you read this book, I would stop at the Epilogue, wait a bit, and then go read the chapters afterward as individual pieces.
But still, ONE UNDEAD STEP is a fun read and I recommend giving it a shot if you like zombies. I am willing to bet you will never read about the moon landing with the same mindset again. This book is available now in a variety of formats.