Dreadful Tales Book Club – February 2014 Edition

Hello, you delicious and dreadfully dangerous Dreadites! I hope you enjoyed last month’s read and are ready for some more!

Now, I’m not your familiar emcee for these monthly little shindigs, but Meli and I did have a wee little chat,  and we ultimately decided we should do something special, not only for Women in Horror Month, but also to celebrate our 2014 Bram Stoker Award Challenge!

I’ve been brutalizing my eyeballs for a few days now, reading everything on the Prelim Ballot and wondering why the hell I do things like this to myself all the time. Now it’s YOUR TURN to join me! And, lookie lookie, what do we have here? What ditty have I chosen for y’all to dance to? Why it’s A Necessary End by Sarah Pinborough and F. Paul Wilson.Ness_zps3a6b12c2

Yeah… I know – Wilson is the opposite of a Woman in Horror, but Pinborough ain’t. And honestly, it’s worth it to read anything by these two stellar authors, regardless of what month it is.

Make sure you shimmy on by and chat with about the book here at The Mortuary, the official meeting place for the Dreadful Tales Book Club.

We’ve never had a chance to look at a Maelstrom title for the Book Club before, so this is an exciting first for us! If you’ve ever read the above two authors, you should already know what you’re in for. If not, take a look at the synopsis:

LIFE CAME OUT OF AFRICA…

But now it’s death’s turn….

It spreads like a plague but it’s not a disease. Medical science is helpless against the deadly autoimmune reaction caused by the bite of the swarming African flies. Billions are dead, more are dying. Across the world, governments are falling, civilization is crumbling, and everywhere those still alive fear the death carried in the skies.

Some say the flies are a freak mutation, others say they’re man made, but as hope of beating them fades, most turn to the only comfort left and see the plague as God’s will. He sent a deadly deluge the last time He was upset with mankind. This time He has darkened the sky with deadly flies. And perhaps that is true, for so many of the afflicted speak with their dying breaths of seeing God coming for them.

But not everyone dies. A very few seem immune. They call themselves mungus and preach acceptance of the plague, encouraging people to allow themselves to be bitten by “the flies of the Lord” so that they may join Him in the afterlife.

Nigel, an investigative reporter, searches the apocalyptic landscape of plague-ravaged England in search of Bandora, a kidnapped African boy. On a quest for personal redemption as well as the truth, his search takes him away from the troubles he can no longer face at home, and into the world of the head mungu, a man who speaks truth in riddles and has no fear of the African flies.

A Necessary End is about apocalypse, about love, about the fragile bonds that hold marriages and civilizations together. But mostly it’s about truth – how we find it, how we embrace or reject it, and how we must face the truths within ourselves.

Sarah Pinborough is a critically acclaimed award-winning author of horror, crime and YA fiction. She has also written for ‘New Tricks’ on the BBC, and has a horror film and an original TV series in development. She lives in London.

F. Paul Wilson is an award-winning, NY Times bestselling author of over 50 novels in many genres and numerous short stories translated into twenty-four languages. He is best known as creator of the urban mercenary Repairman Jack.

You can pick up a copy of A Necessary End in paperback format or for Kindle then come on over to The Mortuary to chat with us about the book! In the past, we have had a lot of success engaging the authors on the message board in discussions of their stories, so it should be a good time.

Find out more about Maelstrom and keep up with all things Thunderstorm Books at their website here.

-Colum

Violet Eyes by John Everson

The theme of nature attacking has long been a staple of horror literature and the idea that often seemingly innocuous creatures may become ravenously lethal nightmares has been used countless times but Bram Stoker Award winning author John Everson shows with his novel Violet Eyes that the theme still has legs.

A hideous abomination lies in wait on the island of Sheila Key, but it’s contained by geography until hapless tourists explore the idyll and discover unspeakable terror and death.

Moving forwards Rachel Riordan and her ten year old son Eric relocate to the isolated Florida town Passanaette to flee an abusive ex-husband and begin a new life together. Their new neighbour Billy is a survivor of the attack on Sheila Key and has brought back with him a virulent new species which is unleashed upon the unsuspecting town. Before long family pets begin to go missing and a swarm of biting flies and viciously aggressive spiders descend upon the burg. These creatures are hideous and insidious by design and by the time Passanaette wakes up to the peril it may be already be too late…

Everson has created a wonderfully nasty creature with a lifecycle and feeding habits that are voracious and terrifying all of which he describes with unflinching glee. This novel will cause even the hardened fan of horror literature to be filled with skin crawling dread but the real strength of this tale is the believable characters whose actions and motivation ring true. It is the human element which sells a story of this nature and no amount of wonderfully described horror and gruesome slaughter mean much unless the characters are well drawn. Thankfully Everson has crafted a convincing cast and environment upon which he unleashes a truly abhorrent plague.

Evoking old school horror from the 80’s and 90’s Everson’s novel is also refreshingly creative and suffused throughout with palpable dread and gruesome carnage which will have hardcore horror fans squirming and arachnophobes looking for a chair to stand on assuming they survive the first chapter.

October 2013 Book of the Month Violet Eyes by John Everson Extends to November

Banner by Mark Brown, aka Dark Mark

Banner by Mark Brown, aka Dark Mark

Many of the Dreadful readers were too busy eating Halloween candy, drinking witch’s brew, and dressing ghoulish in October to get much reading done, including myself, so we are extending October’s Book of the Month, Violet Eyes by John Everson, into November.

We all read at our own pace and comment on The Mortuary message board thread when we feel like it, so this is just as fine a time to start as any. You’ll have plenty of time to catch up with the group and join the discussion too.

In case you missed last month’s official Book of the Month announcement, Violet Eyes is about mutant spiders that terrorize a small town. If you like killer bug stories and enjoy being creeped out, and I mean seriously creeped out, this book is for you. This story reminds me a lot of Edward Lee’s Slither but with spiders.

You can pick up a copy of Violet Eyes here in paperback or digital format.

I hope to “see” you on the message boards for the discussion as well. Join ussssssssss!

-Meli

All Hallow’s Read 2013 (Day 21) – Johnny Gruesome

JohnnyGruesomeCoverMedallion

I have an excellent, must-have, can’t miss FREEBIE! for you Dreadites today. It’s the perfect tale for heavy metal zombie heads in varying stages of decomposition, Gregory Lamberson’s Johnny Gruesome. We have quite a bit of virtual space reserved for Lamberson here at Dreadful Tales and I think the majority of his work has been reviewed here, including Johnny Gruesome a couple years back which you can read in full here. But the reason I’m resurrecting this “headbanger from hell” today is, as I mentioned above, the eBook version for both Kindle and Nook is available for a limited time for FREE! FREE! FREE! Sorry, I don’t mean to “yell,” but this is worth getting excited for. 

Johnny Gruesome is a leather jacket wearing bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks, returned from the dead to give his enemies the what for in often creative and always nasty ways. This is the ghoul I envisioned when I heard the old 60’s cut “My Boyfriend’s Back” by The Angels. The biggest difference is there is some kinda sweetness to “My Boyfriend’s Back.” He’s coming back to save his lady from what we can only assume is a stalker. Did I interpret that wrong? Anyway, there is no sweetheart tale in Johnny Gruesome, as much as I love a romantic story; this is a rebel yell revenge tale.

johnny gruesome

I go into quite a bit of detail regarding the basic plot (sans spoilers) and characters in my review (again, you can check that out here), so I won’t rehash all the gory specifics again, but here a couple highlights of note: Johnny Gruesome is a back-from-the-dead revenge slasher story as opposed to the survivors vs. zombies ilk. Lamberson puts his filmmaking skills to work with his cinematic prose so the imagery comes easily keeping the pacing steady. Johnny Gruesome reads more like a comic book than a novel, without the pictures of course. There are some excellent illustrations by Zach McCain included in the hardcover edition from Bad Moon Books which you can try to track down here, but it will be for a pretty penny. I have my own copy and think it’s worth every cent, but if that’s not in your budget, you can pick up the free version. Just follow the links below and hurry because it’ll only be free for a limited time!

Kindle users can pick up their free copy here. Nook users go here for your free copy.

Check out the trailer for Johnny Gruesome here. And for more about the author visit his website at slimeguy.com.       

-Meli

All Hallow’s Read (Day 9) – Lucifer’s Lottery

I could have picked any Edward Lee book for an All Hallows Read. Really. It’s all good. As far as Hell goes, I could recommend any of the City Infernal series. I could choo-choo-choose Black Train (a.k.a. Gast) for a creepy earth-bound tale. Monstrosity is another great one for budding crypto-zoologists. There is always The Bighead but that is getting enough press at the moment and really, I get to pick my favorite here.

Enter: Lucifer’s Lottery.

What more could a horror-hound want than a trip through Lee’s Hell with Howard Phillips Lovecraft as your guide? The amount of gore and perversion found in Lee’s work is more than enough to tickle your gag-reflex, should you still have one, and this one doles it out in spades. His books that feature Hell read like a Cenobite’s nightmare version of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. But, you ought to see what they do to the Muggles there! Oh Mylanta!

This is one for the sicko. The perv. The blasphemer. The reader who delights in illustrated pathology texts or Gnostic tomes but spends as much time watching Saturday morning cartoons. You know, for the anvil drops.

It’s not all mutilated pubic mounds, effluent troughs, and burning bibles either. There are stories here. Even characters you meet for a flash are sketched so clear with intricate wording, you can’t help but adore even the most repulsive. And the bestiary! Well, that sort of crosses into the human and human-type characters too, depending. Fantasy for freaks. Science Fiction for sociopaths. If you are looking for something deeply disturbing with no holds barred page after page, this is your golden ticket.