His Own Mad Demons: Dark Tales from David A. Riley

By David A. Riley

Hazardous Press

ISBN:  978-061578729

Oct. 2012 , Paperback $9.99, eBook $4.99 

Review by Kat Yares

For many, His Own Mad Demons, may be a bit different than the horror you are used to reading.  David A. Riley has a writing style very similar to early Peter Straub and very British to boot.  That said, the five novelettes in this collection are wonderfully eerie, spooky and unsettling.  Which to me, makes for a great read.

That’s not to say there isn’t quite a bit of extreme guts and gore in these stories – there is – more than enough to make my nose crinkle up and my stomach turn more than once.  It’s all just well balanced, and that is hard to find in shorter works like these novelettes.

Now a bit about the stories themselves:

Their Own Mad Demons:  This is a quirky little tale centering on two low-level lackeys working for a not so honest crime boss.  When their boss makes a deal with an even more powerful crime boss, our two not so bright small times, Nobby and Stinko (got to love those names) end up in just the situation you expect.  Small crime boss is trying to screw Big crime boss, and Nobby and Stinko have to pay for that misdeed.  Enter murder, mayhem and torture, and a haunting unlike any I’ve read before.  Finding out exactly what happens to the two wayward criminals will keep you turning the pages.

Lock-In:  Possibly my favorite story in the collection.  Just thinking about being locked in a bar for an extended time with all that alcohol to drink would be considered a vacation by some (maybe even me).  Yet, Mr. Riley quickly has two of the bar patrons gruesomely killed simply by stepping outside the door.  What waits out there is murderous darkness and nothing else.  As the story progresses, the remaining patrons soon discover that while there may be alcohol – they are quickly running out of food and devise a way to escape – they hope.  Dark, dark story that will leave you gasping for air.

The Fragile Mask on His Face:  This is one well told story definitely not for the squeamish.  Once again, Mr. Riley takes us back to the bar above and another dark conjurer who has peeling faces off of humans down to a perfected art form.  Really can’t say much more without giving too much away, but don’t read this immediately before of after eating a meal.  You have been warned.

The True Spirit:  This is a ghost story told in typical British fashion (and what makes me compare the author to Straub).  The True Spirit is so well told that your mind will almost go into cinematic mode as you’re reading and see the story as it unfolds.  My alternate for best story in the collection.

The Worst of All Possible Places:  Once again, back in Edgebottom’s world, this tells the story of Bill Whitley.  Bill is way down on his luck and faces taking a room in Daisyfield House or being homeless.  Daisyfield House has its own secrets which Bill will painfully learn once he checks in.

All in all, a very strong collection of wonderfully atmospheric and creepy stories.  I wholeheartedly recommend this one..

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