Bloody Bytes: Digital Deals & Steals

I hope you’ve all recovered from your New Years Eve debaucheries. Me, I stayed home with the husband and made surf ‘n turf. Well, he made, I ate! I also hope you were able to take advantage of some of the great end-of-the-year deals. One of our favorite small presses here at Dreadful Tales, Dark Regions Press, offered a 25% off coupon, Scott Nicholson gave away free Kindle copies of his Mystery Dance: Three Novels, and there was plenty of other generosity to take advantage of on New Years Day. Even though the hangovers are gone and it is officially 2012, there are still plenty of digital deals for cheap and even free that you don’t want to miss.

Dreadful Tales had an exclusive sneak peek of Monica S. Kuebler’s (Owner/Editor of Burning Effigy Press, Rue Morgue Magazine’s Managing Editor) YA vampire novel Bleeder in early December and as scheduled the first chapter finally went live yesterday, January 1st! You can check back every Sunday for the latest chapter and watch this dark tale unfold via http://www.bleederbook.com. The stunning cover art and synopsis are certain to steal your cold, black hearts.

What if everything you knew about your life was a lie?
What if the truth was much, much worse?

Mildred “Mills” Millhatten’s life changed forever the day she found out it wasn’t hers at all.

Forfeited as retribution for the alleged crimes of a father she’s never met, she’s cast into a strange, vicious world that she didn’t know existed and has little hope of understanding.

As a Bleeder – one whose lifeblood feeds the Nosferatu – her continued survival hangs ever in the balance. The creatures are keeping her alive because they believe her blood has mystical properties. Mills fears what will happen when they realize they are wrong – or are they?

If she hopes to survive and discover who she truly is, she needs an ally. She needs to befriend a bloodthirsty monster. Because she lives in their world now, and if she doesn’t do something fast, she’s going to die in it too.

Click beyond the break for more Bloody Bytes!

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Meli’s Most Heartwarming Moments in Horror Fiction

Last month, I made a list of the goriest scenes in horror fiction for Meli’s Thanksgiving Day Gross-Outs. It not difficult to come up with memorable gag-inducing moments, but have you ever thought about the most heartwarming moments in the genre? This Christmas, to keep in the spirit of giving, good will toward men, twinkling lights, sugar cookies shaped like fir trees and all the joy the holiday brings, I want to focus on the softer side of horror lit. How hard could that be? I mean, it’s the author’s ability to touch our heart and soul that render the nasty bits so effective, right? Turns out this was more difficult than I originally anticipated. When I solicited other horror fiction fans for their picks via Facebook, Twitter, and my favorite message board, the Rue Morgue Mortuary, all that came back was the sound of crickets chirping. While the thread in the Mortuary for “Goriest Book Ever” went on for 3 pages, “Most Heartwarming Moments in Horror Fiction” got one response, and that was to say “Gonna have to think on this…” Still, bound and determined to prove that where there is blood there is heart, I managed a few choice moments from horror fiction that really tug on the heartstrings and get readers grabbing for tissues. Bust out your Kleenex, folks, these are my most heartwarming moments in horror fiction!

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Floating Staircase by Ronald Malfi

This review has taken us an eternity to write. Not only is Floating Staircase one of the best books we’ve read my this author, but it’s also one of, if not the, best book of 2011. It’s virtually impossible to detail exactly what it is about this novel that we loved so much. See, a powerful, beautifully written book is something that a reader should find solace in. They should feel overjoyed for having read it, maybe even saddened when it’s over. For us, whenever we come across a book like this, we tend to feel a deep connection. We feel like a part of the story. With Floating Staircase… it’s more than that. This story left us elated, heart-broken, terrified, tired, amazed, and completely in awe of the author’s work.

But we never expected anything less from Ronald Malfi.

To Travis and Jodie Glasgow, the house in the idyllic small town seems perfect, the surrounding wood and lake like a postcard. But soon after they move in, things begin to… change. Strange noises wake Travis at night. His dreams are plagued by ghosts. Barely glimpsed shapes flit through the darkened hallways – shapes bearing a frightening resemblance to a little boy. Footprints appear. Strangest of all are the wooden stairs rising cryptically from the lake.

The more Travis investigates, the more he uncovers the house’s violent and tragic past… and the secrets can’t be buried forever.

Where Malfi gets off being such a damned good writer, we’ll never know. Beyond that, having such a phenomenal press such as Medallion behind him, we can only expect the best, right? With Floating Staircase, Malfi brought his A-game to bear… and then some. It’s not every day that you experience so many emotions in the run of one novel, and Floating Staircase is almost the perfect example of how an author can drag the reader along all of them. When Travis is feeling low about the circumstances that surround a painful memory, Malfi makes sure that the reader feels exactly that. It’s just insane how absolutely effective this author’s prose is.

Once Malfi grabs the reader, he never gets go.  What makes this author so special is he has the uncanny ability to completely manipulate the readers emotions without letting them know.  He creates a paranoid world filled with movements caught out the corner of the eye, and noises that are just subtle enough to make us question what we are hearing. The world of Floating Staircase is filled with hidden rooms, dark secrets and constant heartache. This is the world that slowly begins to haunt the reader in much the same way that Travis is tortured by his own past.  It isn’t until the insanely satisfying finale when the reader feels the  emotional burden is lifted, finally realizing how truly helpless they were in grasp of Malfi’s wonderful prose.

It would not be an overstatement to say that Floating Staircase is a modern classic ranking among some of the best supernatural affairs ever committed to print.  The characters are so deeply textured while the story and setting sizzle to life through Malfi’s unparalled literary talent.  Again, this review took us an eternity to write because greatness is such a difficult thing to communicate to another person.  The only way that a reader can possibly understand the beautiful story that Ron Malfi has given us is to pick up a copy for yourself.

Pat and Colum

Tell us about YOUR All Hallow’s Read plans!

If you’ve been following along on our October journey this month you know we’ve been making daily All Hallow’s Read book suggestions for everyone in your life, so you can be prepared to terrify all your loved (or loathed!) ones during the week of Halloween.  (And if you need a specific suggestion, please feel free to ask away! Some of our staff are practically human scary-book encyclopedias.)

We’re dying to know what you horror-fiction folks have planned for our favorite new holiday tradition! Let us know in the comments what you’re doing or what books you’re gifting for All Hallow’s Read this year!

In the spirit of giving great literary scares and horror fare, we here at the DT offices want to extend our holiday book-giving to include our readers.  We’ve been excited to pick out books for our own family and friends, but it wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t get to celebrate All Hallow’s Read with the folks who make this website such a fun venture!  We’ll select people at random from the comments on this post to receive some fantastic fiction, as our All Hallow’s Read gift to you.

One of our favorite authors around here is Bryan Smith. His work has always been a treat to those of us who like our horror bloody, fast paced, and well written. So we’re giving away two copies of his new e-book, Kayla and the Devil an urban fantasy novel we know you’ll enjoy.

If you’ve been paying close attention to our Facebook and Twitter feeds, you’ll know the amount of love and respect we have for Ronald Malfi. And as we’ve always intended to bring you only the best in horror, we’re going to give away two e-book copies of his new novella, Borealis – a haunting and beautiful read that shook us to the core.

When it comes to Paranormal Romance and Erotic Horror, Melissa Ecker’s Giving Up The Ghost delivers in spades. Her prose is tight, her characters are immediately memorable, and her love scenes mind-numbingly intense. Apart from her prowess in writing erotic fare, she’s also more than capable of scaring the pants off of her readers. We’re going to give this e-book to two of you, along with the chance to get scared stiff. (I had to say it…)

Earlier this year, Colum reviewed 3 fantastic new novellas from Thunderstorm books’ Elemental series. We’ve got 2 signed bundles of those little books to give away: Kelli Owen’s The Neightborhood, Bob Ford’s Samson and Denial, and Mary SanGiovanni’s For Emmy.  You’ll love them as much as we did!

Dreadful Tales is also going to give away a bundle consisting of 4 hardcover copies of Locke and Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. Yep. You heard that right. One lucky person is going to receive a complete set of Volumes 1 – 4 (Welcome to Lovecraft, Headgames, Crown Of Shadows, and Keys to the Kingdom.) Why? Because we love our readers!

So let us know your plans in the comments! Or even just drop in to say hi.  We can’t wait to share so many awesome books with you folks!  The lucky giftees will be chosen at random from the commenters and announced next Saturday to kick off Halloween weekend…stay tuned!

All Hallow’s Read is a book-giving tradition thought up by author Neil Gaiman. We’re making book suggestions all month long in case you need ideas!

Borealis by Ronald Malfi

Borealis, Ronald Malfi’s latest release from Samhain Publishing, was originally released as a novella in New Dark Voices 2 (2009), which was edited by Brian Keene and brought to you by Delirium Books. Almost 3 years later, we’re proud as hell to tell you that it’s been released as part of Samhain’s inaugural launch of their new horror line.

To lead off with a book this powerful is a brilliant move by the predominantly romance-centric publishing house. Couple that with having a heavyweight in the horror industry like Don D’Auria taking the throne as editor and you have the makings for a complete and total takeover. Are we complaining? Hell no! We want more! Being that this was our first introduction to the press, we’re super excited to see what they have up their sleeves and we have complete and total faith in D’Auria and his ability to find great horror fare for us literature junkies.

On a routine crabbing expedidtion in the Bering Sea, Charlie Mears and the rest of the men aboard the trawler Borealis discover something unbelievable; a young woman running naked along the ridge of a passing iceberg. The men rescue her and bring her aboard the boat. But they will soon learn her horrible secret. 

By the time they find out why she was alone on the ice – and what she truly is – the nightmare will have begun, as one by one she infects them with an evil that brings about unimaginable terrors. 

Oh, Malfi. How we love this man at the Dreadful Tales office. Not only does this author have a literary staying power that transcends genres, but he’s got the chops to completely justify any move he chooses to make. His characters are flesh-and-bones real, and his story lines are tighter than anything we’ve seen this side of the classics. Borealis is no different than any of his other output quality-wise, save for the fact that it was written years ago, and shows the natural progression of Malfi’s writing ability. While not as tight as work such as, say, Floating Staircase, it’s still light-years ahead of the standard genre fare. In fact, to say that Malfi’s writing is standard isn’t anything but an insult. His prose is haunting, poetic, and timeless.

Borealis follows a common trend present in most of Malfi’s stories, at least thematically, in that it’s set in a mostly barren land that just so happens to be snow covered. For any of those who have read Snow, Malfi’s 2010/11 release with both Leisure and Altar 13, you’re well aware of this man’s ability to chill you to the bone with some seriously incredible scenes of terror, and literally freeze you with his words. In this particular tale it’s “so fucking cold my goddamn lighter’s giving up the ghost!”

Not only is the bone-chilling weather palpable, but once the girl comes aboard the entire atmosphere turns terrifying and dark. The presence Malfi creates with his creature is creepy and unsettling. It’s rare that an author can actually make the elements drift off of the page and affect the reader like that. It’s a special thing, really.

Another theme that seems to permeate throughout Malfi’s work is the loss of identity.  Stories like The Separation, The Floating Staircase and Passenger all find their protagonists pitted in a battle of the mind in their quest for true identity. This loss of identity usually runs parallel to the loss or separation from a loved one. Borealis is no exception as the characters are forced to combat an unimaginable evil as they attempt to save and maintain their individual personage and overcome their spiritual demons as well. That is, if they survive. This theme is the backbone of Malfi’s work and it serves to make his stories so damn relatable. Readers will be particularly touched by Charlie’s internal struggle with his estrangement from his son.

As usual, Malfi also achieves the ultimate effect on his readers with Borealis – he not only terrifies them with his wicked, lithe prose, but he also affects the reader emotionally, hitting where it counts the most. This story is so heavy, engrossing, and phenomenally paced, that it’s almost impossible to stop the tears from flowing in the end. It’s beautiful, man. *sniff* Beautiful… and terrifying! The baddie in this novella, for instance, is not only incredibly unsettling, but she’s also hot as hell. Malfi absolutely nails the physical description of this character right on the head, creating something that can be both vile and disgusting, at the same time as being lustful and sexy.

It’s amazing, really. We loved this book, the characters, and the story. The landscape is wonderful, the set pieces tangible, and the overall feel is foreboding and evil, if also absolutely heartbreaking at times. Borealis is a truly amazing book for anyone who isn’t familiar with Malfi’s work, and a great read for the die-hard fans of this man’s work. Either way, readers will be pleased to see the power in this story, and most likely chase the rest of Malfi’s stories for future reading.

Colum, Pat, and Meli.

Bloody Bytes: Digital Deals & Steals

Being a horror hound and book fiend can really put the hurtin’ on your wallet, but we’re always looking for ways to save and still keep our library full at Dreadful Tales. Bloody Bytes is dedicated to finding all the greatest deals for your digital reader. You can snatch up copies of some of the best horror and speculative fiction for as low as $2.99, $0.99, and sometimes even for free! Check out this week’s deals & steals beyond the break. Continue reading

Snow by Ronald Malfi

Ronald Malfi has a way with words. His command of the language will leave you breathless, dreaming of vivid landscapes, and in terrible fear for your life. The monsters in Malfi’s mind become tangible and all too real when he sets them loose on the page. Snow is an incredible modern horror story with a decadent feel, and the perfect marriage of beauty and brutality.

If you’re familiar with Canadian winters, you know very well the chill that runs deep into your bones, the shiver that creeps in and refuses to let go. Well, Snow delivers that feeling in spades. Malfi has crafted what is quite possibly the most brilliantly vivid world, leaving the reader no choice but to freeze along with the characters on the page. You can really almost see your breath at some points in the story. The virtually relentless action and scares are sure to turn any seasoned genre reader into a bubbling pile of awestruck goo, and will definitely bring new readers to their knees.

The story is a simple case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Todd Curry is trying to get home to his son for Christmas. Todd hasn’t always been the best father but things are about to change. See, this isn’t just a trip to see his son for Christmas, this is Todd’s chance at redemption. Unfortunately, Mother Nature isn’t too sympathetic toward Todd’s plight as a blizzard in Chicago grounds his flight. Not one to be deterred, Todd befriends a few other stranded passengers and together they rent a Jeep and make their way home. Things are going smoothly until the group happens upon a strange man who claims to have lost his daughter.  Todd’s group agrees to help the man look for his child as they are led to a seemingly abandoned town where there is something just a little “off”.  This is the point where Malfi opens up the floodgates and Snow takes on a blistering pace as we are introduced to some truly original monsters.  Survivors are picked off one-by-one as Todd’s group fight for survival against these bizarre creatures.

The setting itself is beautiful. How Malfi transforms the idyllic little town into a snow covered Hell is both applaudable and amazing. Every creak and groan is heard through Malfi’s expert descriptive ability. The reader can’t help but wonder exactly what is hiding around the corner, adding so many layers to the terror experienced. It’s right in the middle of the story, right about the time that Malfi has convinced the reader that this little town is about a creepy as it can get, that he swings for the bleachers and introduces some of the greatest monsters this reader has ever seen. This is truly an experience to behold.

Malfi is relentless with the horror and action without ever losing focus of the story. This, folks, is what is commonly referred to as a “real page turner.”  What sets Malfi apart from most of his peers is his expansive imagination. Most authors would be content with creating a new type of monster. Not Malfi. He has no less than 5 variations of the monsters that inhabit the pages of Snow and all of them are gloriously frightening. Of course, this creativity would all be worthless if Malfi didn’t have the literary chops to describe the creatures and setting with such brilliance. Lucky for us Malfi is a true master of his craft and all of his talents are on full display in Snow. One of Malfi’s strengths is taking the reader by the hand and making him believe. The reader doesn’t need to suspend disbelief when reading a piece of Malfi’s work, as he has already done everything in his power to make everything so… sincere. Hell, you won’t even have much of a chance to question anything. This novel is such a great ride, you won’t have any time to.

Malfi has really done away with a lot of the genre trappings, and carved himself his own little corner of the market. His descriptive abilities alone bring him head and shoulders above the crowd, making him an author to keep your eye on. His writing is reminiscent of the old classics, but has all of the daring and flair of the modern genre. This writer is definitely going to become a favorite for many horror and thriller fans, and in most cases, already has. Malfi has officially been added to that group of authors that we, at Dreadful Tales, can see us obsessing over in the very near future.

-Colum and Pat