Friday, July 30
Wormfood by Jeff Jacobson
Arch Stanton has a bad job that's about to get a hell of a lot worse.
He's sixteen, scrawny, and dirt poor. He has an almost supernatural ability with firearms, but it may not be enough to survive the weekend.
Welcomes to Whitewood, California, an isolated small town in Northern California, a place full of bad manners and even worse hygiene. Money is tight, jobs are scarce, and bitter rivalries have simmered just under the surface for years.
Fat Ernst runs the local bar and grill. He'd stomp his own mother for a chance at easy money, and when he forces Arch to do some truly dirty work, all hell breaks loose.
Fat Ernst's customers find themselves being infected by vicious worm-like parasites and dying in unspeakable agony. As events spiral out of control, decades of hatred boil over into three days of rapidly escalating carnage. Will anyone in this town escape...before thy're eaten alive?
Packed with disgusting scenes designed to make you writhe and shiver in revulsion, Wormfood is likely one of the most fun books I've read in a while. You can almost feel the nasty little creatures slithering around under your clothing as you tear through the book, from scene to squishy scene.
Told in the first person, what Jacobson has created here is something that will surely catapult him into the genre as someone that gorehounds will want to keep an eye on.
The writing style of the story is incredibly easy to become engrossed in, feeling much like a tale told over a beer (or several) in a seedy bar on the outskirts of town. Jacobson ensnares the reader using dialogue laced with stereotypical backwoods jargon and flow, giving a certain weight to the characters and their individual peculiarities. It's very apparent from the get-go who is good and who is bad. But the fact that there seems to be a bit of darkness in every character makes the bad guys...badder.
And as for the gore...the glorious, grisly, gruesome gore...
Y'all know I love me some gore, and what Jacobson has done here is create exactly what a reader should feel when looking for a proper gross-out. All too often we - the genre readers looking for something nasty - are presented with violent scenes of depravity in a very visceral and realistic manner mostly depicting the humiliation and degradation of men and women from a physical and psychological point of view. While Jacobcon has done this (and well, might I add), he has also brushed aside most of the 'real life' style of gross, and ushered in a more comic styled, monster filled, over-the-top kind of disgusting. And all of this was achieved by directing the description to out guts as opposed to our brains. You don't have to think to know that this stuff is gross.
I laughed out loud at some points in this novel, but also kept reading because of a sort of trainwreck compulsion to keep an eye on the gore. I just couldn't look away.
If you like your books to be fast paced and sick, you're going to want to get your hands on this. If you're looking for a great gross-out and want to test your shudder factor, this is definitely a piece you should check out. This book is not for the faint of heart. Personally, I'm hoping Wormfood gets picked up for a graphic novel or optioned for film, as the cinematic quality of Jacobson's writing is well above par.
You can contact Jeff Jacobson at his website, and on Twitter. Wormfood is available from Medallion Press. Also, check out the Medallion Press website for interviews and an audio trailer to the book.
I really wish I had copies of this to give away, as it's really one of those rare treats that is just so severely sick, that I want to share it with everyone. Get out there and get it, folks.
Thursday, July 29
The Pack: Winter Kill by Mike Oliveri
What you see before you is one of the most incredible mixes of crime, action, and the supernatural that you can ever lay claim to reading. To say that this is the best example of how cross genre writing should be done would be an understatement. Between Greg Lamberson and Mike Oliveri - the bar has been set.
When tourists are murdered in a resort town in the Northern mountain range in Minnesota, FBI Special Agent Angela Wallace is called in to investigate. But what she finds tests her training and sanity, for what she discovers should not exist.
The above synopsis does not do justice to this book whatsoever. It doesn't even hint at the intensity that Oliveri has produced throughout this story. Every action sequence and plot point in the story where we find the characters planning their next move, is coated in massive amounts of tension and suspense. It's this style that drives the book along, making it something of a quick and exciting read, but also supremely satisfying in the end.
The characters in this novel are tight and more or less not people that you can identify with. That being said, I'm going to go further out there and say that they're more like those that you wish you could be (assuming that everyone has an action filled fantasy or two in their head). Every single one of the characters is written in a larger than life way that is reminiscent of the greatest comic book styles. This was a welcome break, for me, in that they're not something I had to get too attached to - giving me more time to focus on the masterful storytelling that was taking place. The characters blended into the scenes so well that everything - the whole plot, characters, dialogue and settings - all kind of melded into one another, creating one giant, adventurous, literary version of an excited whoop, that you'll ever read.
It should also be said that The Pack: Winter Kill has crime novel written all over its core, but the reader would be mistaken to judge it on that alone. When the book reaches it rollicking crescendo, the author brings out the gore like nobody's business. Oliveri has an incredible talent for setting up scenes that are not only satisfying, but are also emotionally charged, in that you're sitting at the edge of your seat waiting for everything to play out. It's then that he brings out the big guns and gives you exactly what you came for - be it a terrific scene featuring police and procedure, the supernatural eeriness of a winter landscape, or an all-out gorefest at the hands of a terrifyingly powerful werewolf. Whatever your want, I'm pretty sure that this book has you covered.
Make sure you check this book out. It is one of the most satifying reads I've had lately.
You can pick it up at Amazon in Kindle and trade paperback formats.
Also, look more news about The Pack and the impending series of graphic novels and prose novels to come, at Mike Oliveri's website - The Malice Engine. You can also contact him on Twitter and on his message board which is hosted at The Keenedom (registration required).
Check the Giveaways page in the next couple of weeks, here at Paperback Horror, for information as to how you can win one of 2 copies of The Pack: Winter Kill in trade paperback format.
Wednesday, July 28
The Painted Darkness by Brian James Freeman
Just about two or so weeks ago, I downloaded the darkness. And by that, I don't mean I downloaded the new Miley Cyrus album. Oh god no...I downloaded Brian James Freeman's incredible The Painted Darkness, available for free from Cemetery Dance (for a limited time) here.
When Henry was a child, something terrible happened in the woods behind his home, something so shocking he could only express his terror by drawing pictures of what he had witnessed. Eventually, Henry's mind blocked out the bad memories, but he continued to draw, often at night by the light of the moon.
Twenty years later, Henry makes his living by painting his disturbing works of art. He loves his wife and his son, and life couldn't be better... except there's something not quite right about the old stone farmhouse his family now calls home. There's something strange living in the cramped cellar, in the maze of pipes that feed the ancient steam boiler.
A winter storm is brewing, and soon Henry will learn the true nature of the monster waiting for him down in the darkness. He will battle this demon and, in the process, he may discover what really happened when he was a child — and why, in times of trouble, he thinks: I paint against the darkness.
But will Henry learn the truth in time to avoid the terrible fate awaiting him... or will the thing in the cellar get him and his family first?
I don't really want to go into the marketing aspect of this free release, as I feel that the book itself is phenomenal and deserves more praise than just that. Although, I have to mention the fact that we should feel honored to be receiving this for free because it's quite possibly one of the darkest, most beautifully written books I've seen this year.
The Painted Darkness is an incredibly strong story that jumps the reader back a forth between the past and the present, forcing him to be inside the head of the main character - Henry. And what a terrifying place that is. Freeman has written a very vibrant character in Henry, allowing the reader to not only indentify with him, but also to worry and fear what is coming at him in the story. The relationship between Father and Son that starts off the book is heartbreakingly beautiful, and something that I think most people wish they had with their own, or look back on fondly. The events that unfold for this character are made all the more compelling by the fact that you can really feel where he's been, and where he's going.
Freeman employs a masterful ability to set a scene in this one as well. I'm almost hesitating to say that he paints with his words - which is exactly what it is. Being a painter myself, I really appreciate the visual weight he achieves by using his descriptive ability so well. Throughout the entire story the snow is falling and the weather is chilly. I read this on my iPod and literaly found myself shivering along with the main character. Freeman manages to describe everything to it's fullest extent, thus forcing you to relive every moment in your head - visually. And when the action starts in the last act, well...it'll put you on tenterhooks, that's for sure.
I really enjoyed this book, and so did a fair many others. The Cemetery Dance Limited Edition was entirely reserved by collectors in under 24 hours, and preorders for the $19.99 trade hardcover have met incredibly strong sales. The trade hadcover version will be released in November of this year, and will be available at the Cemetery Dance website, Amazon, and other retailers.
Contact Brian at his website, on Facebook, and Twitter. Also, don't forget to Download this incredible book at www.downloadthedarkness.com.
Tuesday, July 27
The Frenzy Way by Gregory Lamberson
Lamberson is ushering a whole new breed of werewolf tales, and I'm stoked to be here while it happens. And you should be too. check the Giveaways page in the next couple days, for info on how you can get your hands on a free copy of The Frenzy Way.
Also, keep your eyes open for Lamberson's follow up - The Frenzy War - coming from Medallion Press in 2012.
Get in contact with Greg at his website, on facebook, and on Twitter, MySpace, and LiveJournal.
Sunday, July 25
Genesis Of The Hunter: Book One by Joshua Martyr
This is such a story: the origin of a legend that spans from distant past to the present day, the origin of the vampire. Alluring and suspenseful, it is the dark, epic chronicle of a man changed in nature and body. Once a sentinal of a prosperous settlement, he is forced into a nocturnal existence, and instinctually compelled in ways that he fears will cost him his very humanity. He gained an unnatural longevity, and while the ages pass, the modern world develops around him. His existence is discovered by an old organization whose siege even he shall be hard pressed to survive.
Thursday, July 22
Rapture by Thomas Tessier
From the Leisure website:
Jeff has always loved Georgianne, ever since they were kids--with a love so strong, so obsessive, it sometimes drives him to do crazy things. Scary things. Like stalking Georgianne and everyone she loves, including her caring husband and her innocent teenage daughter. Jeff doesn't think there's room in Georgianne's life for anyone but him, and if he has to, he's ready to kill all the others...until he's the only one left.
Rapture is one of the most intelligent and disturbing novels centering around a sociopathic/psychopathic character that I have read, to date. It was incredibly refreshing to read something of this caliber, and I have to say - I really hope that Tessier's other novels live up to the bar that this one set. Granted, it's a slow burner (which the above synopsis doesn't nothing to indicate), but when it gets deep into the story - it's more likely that it will embed itself in your psyche, and not let go.
Tessier's characters are incredibly well fleshed out as well. Throughout the novel we're basically attached at the hip with Jeff Lisker as witness' to what he will do to prove his love for the woman of his dreams. The most terrifying parts of the novel are when we're sitting in the Captain's chair with Lisker, seeing first hand what it actually is to be psychologically disturbed. The worst (read: best) part? You'll most often tend to sympathise with him, making you question your own sanity.
The buildup to the end is incredible, fueled by a sexual tension that burns deep within the most primal of your instincts, and carries you to a final act that is breathtakingly beautiful in it's simplicity.
In 1993, a movie was made based on the novel (directed by Timothy Bond), with Tessier taking a credit for writing the novel. The film starred Michael Ontkean as Jeff Lisker, Karen Allen as Giorgianne Corcoran, and Gemma Barry as Bonnie Corcoran. It was nominated for a Gemini in '93 for Best TV Movie, and in '94 it was nominated for a CSC Award for Best Cinematography in a TV Drama. To my knowledge, it didn't win for either.
You can check out Thomas Tessier's website here, and order his books directly from Leisure or Amazon.
Monday, July 19
The Killing Kind by Bryan Smith
I've been following Bryan Smith since his first Leisure release - House of Blood (2001) - and have yet to be disappointed by the sheer imagination and utter brutality that this man is capable of writing. The stories that he writes vary from the supernatural to the more hard edged, real life fare, but always have a level of violence and depravity not met by many (save for Wrath James White). With his latest, you can rest assured that he's reached a new level of extreme that will surely make him a household name with the mass market genre fans, and hopefully more.
To the spoiled rich kids on spring break, the rented beach house seemed like the perfect setting for partying, drinking and, fooling around. The neighbors wouldn’t be able to hear their music. But the unhinged killers about to crash the party think the house is perfect too—the neighbors won’t be able to hear the screams. And there will be much more blood flowing than booze. One by one as the night of terror wears on, the college friends will learn the gruesome results of meeting a very different kind of people… The Killing Kind
Now, I generally love my horror to be brutal, nasty, and unrelenting - y'all should know that by now. Smith's writing has always given me what I need in that respect, so I didn't expect anything new with this one.
I was wrong. Really wrong.
The Killing Kind is a new breed of brutal, and a whole shit-ton of whoop ass when compared to the rest of the market.
The characters are tight - and they need to be in order to be able to pull off the destruction that Smith envisions for them. When he writes about a woman that you're supposed to find sexy, you have no choice but to find her sexy. It just so happens that most of Smith's female characters are presented in a way that they're both sexy and dangerous as all hell. The folks that pepper this fine tale are no different. All the ladies are lovely, and all the men are played straight and narrow. From the get go you know who to like and who to dislike.
I find that, with Smith's work, it's not about the people involved, but the journey they're on. And oh, what a journey this is. The reader will find themselves somewhat uncomfortable, and feeling as if they're a party to the crimes and violence described on the page.
The fact that Smith delivers the action whilst his characters are on a road trip will also explain why you'll feel tired and spent at the end of the book. It's exhausting trying to keep up with the unrelenting chaos and madness, but Smith's intimidating skill with words keeps you glued to the page in a way that you'll find you only spend a day or two reading the book. I can assure you though, that you'll come out feeling every bump and bruise that his victims did. Maybe even more.
This is a visceral and nasty book reminiscent of early Jack Ketchum and Shaun Hutson. If you're a fan of in-your-face, personal, and very real horror - make sure you grab any (or all) of Bryan Smith's books. You will not be disappointed.
Check him out on facebook, follow the shit out of him on blogspot and Twitter, and join the discussions on his forum - hosted on Brian Keene's The Keendom (registration required).
Sunday, July 18
Wolf Hunt by Jeff Strand
George and Lou - two hired thugs who make a living collecting money and breaking the bones of those who do their clients wrong - have a new job to do. It involves driving a man who is locked in a cage in the back of their van to their client, who is five hours away. This human cargo is claimed to be a werewolf. It's supposed to be an easy transport job, but doesn't end up being as such. When the werewolf escapes, they face a much bigger problem than before. Now they're hunting the werewolf because their lives depend on it.
This is a lightning fast read, capable of taking you all over the place and then dropping you off in the middle of the most incredible action I've read this side of Vertical Run. (For those of you who are not familiar with Joseph Garber's Vertical Run - it's basically Die Hard in book form...but way better!)
Strand's latest effort does not fail to entertain, nor does it pull punches. The action is intense, the scares are abundant, and the gore - the beautiful, beautiful gore - is plentiful and visceral. Strand has also amped up the humor in this one, crafting some of the smoothest, funniest, and most awe inspiring dialogue you'll ever read.
The dynamic between the two main characters is something not often seen in in fiction these days, prompting me to believe that Leisure has struck gold with Strand. I would dare to say that it's what every reader hopes to find in a book, making Strand one of Leisure's most diverse and capable authors.
That is the power of Jeff Strand.
Every facet of this book drips with perfection, and I can sincerely say that you're going to love it. If you enjoyed Dweller and Pressure - Strand's previous efforts with Leisure - you're going to want to pick this up when it drops in December. I know I will.
If you can't wait that long, pick up the Hardcover edition from Dark Regions Press soon. While you're at it, pick up their Hardcover edition of Dweller as well.
Tuesday, July 6
The Rising by Brian Keene
The dead are coming back to life. Both humans and animals alike are rising from their graves in order to feast upon the flesh of the living. And these aresn't the shambling, brain sucking zombies that the world has seen through movies and TV. These creatures are intelligent and they can hunt.
Jim Thurmond is trapped in an underground bunker, flanked on all sides by the hungry dead, and his escape seems impossible. His son is in trouble, trapped hundreds of miles away with Jim's ex-wife and her new husband. Despite the outbreak of the newly risen dead, Jim vows to save him - at whatever the cost.
As Jim embarks on his cross country journey, he's joined by an old preacher, a tough as nails ex-prostitute, and a very troubled, guilt-ridden scientist. They must fight both the living and the dead on the road to save Jim's son, ultimately coming face to face with an even greater evil at the end of their journey.
You want a wickedly wild, fast paced, in your face kind of thrill ride of a book? Here it is. Keene pulls absolutely no punches with this novel, bringing the action in at an early stage, and meting out the violence and tension before you even have time to get comfortable in your seat. And with this book, comfortable is something Keene ensures you'll never become.
The characters could have all been pulled from real life - they're that convincing. With Jim's eternal struggle with the fears of his son's safety, Martin's unwavering dedication to his Lord, and Frankie's resolve to help Jim find his son, and to ensure that she - herself - stays alive; the reader sees the kind of subtle observations that make up our real life expreiences. Keene is capable of bringing all that and more to the page, and in turn his characters become more than words in a book.
Beyond that, the scenes and settings in this story have an unrelenting feel of the apocalyptic and desperate. You'd never want to find yourself in Keene's universe, that's for sure. It would surely spell the end of you and your friends, undoubtedly at the hands of some horrific being, or a supernatural malevolence bent of destroying the world as we know it. When Keene writes about a dark forest, the room you're in will grow darker. If a chill runs up the spine of the protagonist in a Keene story, you can bet you're going to feel it. And when death comes calling in the pages of one of his book, it's time to hold your breath...cause you never know what he's going to pull out of his hat.
This novel was followed up in 2005 by the incredible City of The Dead (to be reviewed later), after one of the most incredible cliffhangers you'll ever read.
Recommended for any collection of horror novels. In fact, this is a must-have.
Check out Brian Keene at his website or follow him on Twitter. And keep an eye out for his next release - A Gathering Of Crows - out this August from Leisure Books.
Monday, July 5
Hiram Grange & The Chosen One by Kevin Lucia
From the back cover: Hiram Grange doesn't believe in fate. He makes his own destiny. That's a good thing, because Queen Mab of Faerie has foreseen the destruction of the world, and as usual... it's all Hiram's fault. He must choose: kill an innocent girl and save the universe... or rescue her and watch all else burn. Just another day on the job for Hiram Grange.
The above synopsis doesn't say enough about what you're getting into with Lucia's forway into the world of Hiram Grange, and I want to personally endorse this as one of the best stories I've read this year. The idea that Lucia decided to bring to the table has a very...Lovecraftian...feel to it that is surprisingly easy to follow, (unlike Lovecraft's stories - in my opinion), and is packed with so much action that you'll be sitting on the edge of your seat throughout. It's tough not to care about the characters that show up in this story, as Lucia has written them out to fit Grange's world perfectly - a world that is dark and cold, yet very familiar to each and every one of us.
Lucia's Hiram is at times thoughful, sensitive and kind, while also being hilarious (in a dry humor way), and as surly as a Belfast drunk. This is one character, and writer, that you're going to want to look out for in the future.
For those of you who don't know who this Hiram Grange character is, well...here's the gist of it:
From the Hiram Grange blog:
Again, it's not enough to describe what you'll really receive when you crack open one of these novellas.
The cover art and production of the novella is incredible. I was expecting something special, but when I opened up the packaging on these, I was greatly impressed. From the sheer gloss cover, to the beautiful artwork within, this book feels like a special edition even when it's not. You're getting your money's worth here, folks.
Now, this is the fourth installment into the world of Hiram Grange. I'll be getting my hands on the rest of the series as soon as possible, and I suggest you do the same. Order online at Amazon or at Shroud Publishing. You can also follow Hiram on Blogger and on Twitter.
As for Kevin Lucia, you can find him at his personal website and on Twitter as well.
Friday, July 2
Forever Will You Suffer by Gary Frank
Rick Summers' only intention was to visit the graves of his mother and sister, who were killed in a car accident years earlier. He had the taxi wait for him, but when he got back to the car - it wasn't the same driver. This driver was someone he had never expected. A re-animated corpse bent on driving him straight through his past, and straight into hell.
His journey brings him to the house of his ex-lover - Katrina - only to find that she is missing and has recently been the main focus of a mysterious stalker named Eduardo. And that's only the beginning. Soon after his arrival, the house starts to change, bringing them to another time and place, and bringing with it the disturbing ghosts of the past. At the heart of the matter is an unrequited love, and Rick.
In a past life, Rick spurned a woman named Abigail. It seems that she's held a grudge since then, and has made some new friends in the mean time. Demon friends. And now she's dedicated to keeping a promise that she made all those years ago...
This breakout novel by the greatly talented Frank is a rollercoaster ride of a book. The characters are tightly written and quickly put through their paces. It seems that the author had no problem whipping and prodding these poor folks into shape, and breaking out the action within the first 5 pages. The story doesn't relent, plunging the reader into one mystery after another, and then back in time to try to figure out what exactly happened, only to tear everything out from under you with an ending that is so...deserving...that it almost makes you want to throw the book across the room with a feeling of unadulterated satisfaction. Whew.
The settings are incredible, the shifts from reality to fantasy are entirely believable and unsettling, and the plot is a rapid fire whirlwind of whodunnits and thrills. It's been said (by Jack Ketchum) that this book is reminiscent of early Richard Laymon, and I'm inclined to agree. If you like your horror to be in your face and fast, you'll love this book.
Check out Gary Frank's website here, and his livejournal page here for more updates as to what he's doing now. Also, make sure you catch up with Gary on his message board over at HorrorWorld.
Abolisher Of Roses by Gary Fry
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