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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Catching Hell by Greg F. Gifune

Samhain is back with another novella in their horror line that is just bristling with energy, viciousness, and an 80s slasher appeal that leaves no corner of the horror genre to rest. Gifune is in top form here with Catching Hell, unleashing a barrage of classic b-movie intensity and a writing style worthy of being compared to my beloved Richard Laymon, and the Splatterpunk legends of yore (even if they hated the title). So, buckle your seatbelts kiddies. We’re about to go on a ride.

Summer, 1983.

As fall approaches and the summer stock theaters on Cape Cod close for the season, three promising young actors and a stagehand pile into an old Ford Fairlane and head for a vacation resort in Maine. Hoping for a relaxing getaway before pursuing their dreams, the instead encounter a bizarre storm while on a lonely stretch of highway and soon find themselves stranded in the strange rural community of Boxer Hills.

At first glance it seems a harmless little backwoods town, but Boxer Hills has a horrible secret and a deadly history. It’s a place of horrific age-old rituals and a legendary evil that will let no one escape without paying a terrible price. Before the sun rises on a new day, they will have to fight their way through the night and out-of-town, or risk falling prey to a demonic creature so profane few will even speak its name.

They were young, reckless and chasing Hell. What they hadn’t counted on was actually catching it.

When Samhain launched their horror line with Don D’Auria at the helm, I knew we’d be getting some stellar works from the genre’s best midlist authors. What I didn’t bank on was the mostly romance publisher upping the ante and letting loose some great e-book novellas as well – something that most of the bigger publishers in the genre don’t do. First up we were given the incredible literary stylings of Ronald Malfi. Borealis was a blast and an absolutely terrifying read. Now we’re being treated to the whirlwind, chaos-driven madness that long time genre heavyweight Greg F. Gifune has to offer. If this keeps up, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to catch my breath.

In the case of Catching Hell, Gifine pulls no punches, opting instead to go straight for the throat, effectively leaving all subtlety to the amateurs and the scribes of the creeping dread. This novella is about catching hell, and with that the author rips straight into the story and provides a wild ride bereft of anything even resembling meandering or slow. The order of the day here is speed, folks, and that’s just how he executes this novella – at a break-neck velocity capable of wowing and completely blowing out any ideas of a leisurely read.

Gifune’s characters are strong. That’s pretty much the only thing than can be said about them that won’t sound like I’m blowing smoke. These kids are strong-willed, strong minded, and powerfully written. The choices they make are all rational, realistic, and don’t end them up in a happily ever after kind of scenarios, but instead have actual consequences that directly affect their present situations. This, in my opinion, is very rare in the horror genre. Gifune remarks at the end that this novella is loosely based on a real-life event that he, himself, was a party to. If it was anything like the craziness that goes down in this novella, I want to hear more. This is the stuff of nightmares.

The major attraction with this novella is that while Gifune delivers, as I’ve said, a great piece of Splatterpunk/80s b-movie styled fiction, he completely avoids massive clichés and other heaps of genre silliness. The brunt of the story is told in a matter of fact way that barely requires the reader to suspend any disbelief. The only instance where the reader might find it to be absolutely necessary is upon revealing the ‘demon’ or ‘bad guy’, his cloaked minion (a defrocked minister), and the description of the evil thing, itself. I tend to like my demons with a little more exposition, but this one will do in a pinch. It’s not hard to find information on the ancient demon Lithobolia (a demon who seems much more frightening in other works of literature), but Gifune’s incarnation is the first I’ve read about it in modern tales but, unfortunately, feels hardly like an adversary worthy of such fear, and more like filler for an explanation as to why this cult is effecting such horrible practices on innocent parties that wander into the backwoods town of Boxer Hills.

Regardless of the demon itself, Catching Hell is a wickedly fast-paced ride through Gifune’s madness, and a piece destined to become a ‘best of‘ somewhere down the road. This is easily one of my favorite reads of the year and makes me want to check out more of this author’s work.

Catch some hell over at Samhain Publishing and/or Amazon. You can check out more information at Greg F. Gifune’s webpage, and say a big ol’ hello over on Facebook.

C.