Dreadful Tales Book Club – November 2014 Edition

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November is upon us, and how better to while away the buffer month between Halloween and Christmas insanity than with a good old yarn? You with me? Let’s distract ourselves with words while we silently dread the snow covered, stress raising, rage inducing month of December. Because Christmas is… just… around… oh god… kill me… please…

WHOA! Okay. Let’s do this properly, folks.

I’m especially excited about this month’s book for several reasons, the most important being that I’m a huge fan of Kevin Lucia’s work. Now, I know a fair amount of you might not know his stories, but you should. You really should. Based on his scholarly achievements (he is currently finishing his Creative Writing Masters Degree, and teaches High School English… *shudder*), his work as a submissions reader for Cemetery Dance, and his Podcast, Horror 101, you can rest assured that this is a man who knows his craft.

Lucia’s released all manner of short stories, some novella length work, poetry, and a bunch more. My first introduction to his work was Hiram Grange & The Chosen One which had so much incredible imagery and action in it that I devoured it in one go and became an instant fan.

With Devourer of Souls, a twofer of novellas, folk are saying that Lucia would be the bastard son of Lovecraft and King, if ever they spent a night together under the stars. I don’t disagree at all. Take a look at the synopsis:

Welcome to Clifton Heights, an average Adirondack town. It’s nice enough, really. Except after dark. Or on cold winter days when you’re all alone…

Sophan

An ancient game of chance and Fate. One boy’s smoldering hate, another boy’s need to make things right, and a father’s ghosts of Vietnam past. These are the key players in this latest tale of revenge and reparation performed on the stage of the strange Adirondack town of Clifton Heights, NY.

The Man in Yellow
 
Tahawus is a small, isolated Adirondack town just north of Clifton Heights. A quiet place filled with simple people of an ardent faith, nothing much ever happens there…until the man in yellow comes calling. He knows your worst nightmares, and he can offer your fondest wish. All you need is faith…and a mouth from which to scream.

That said, please join us as we blast into the cold month ahead, pick up a copy of Devourer of Souls, and join us at The Mortuary to discuss this cosmic tale of horror.

– C

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Dreadful Tales Book Club – October 2014 Edition

October Banner

ROCKtober is upon us, kiddies, and it’s time to get serious about our reading. Personally, when I think about the books I want to read in this, the best month of the year, I tend to cycle back to writers I’m familiar with – people who have scared or affected me in one way or another.

But this month is also a bit weird. The book that was chosen for the club this time around isn’t scheduled to drop until around October 14th (a day before this writer’s birthday… *cough cough* buy me all of the things…)

So the Midwest Monster (Meli) came up with a brilliant plan. Let’s read a novella in the first half of the month, and run out the Halloween season with a novel I know a few of us have been waiting for.

That said, here’s what we have on deck for the October Book of the Month Club at Dreadful Tales:

By Insanity of ReasonBy Insanity of Reason is touted as an unforgettable story by two of the genre’s favorite authors – John R. Little, and Lisa Morton. This little novella clocks in at 107 printed pages, and 74 in its digital format, and was released by Bad Moon Books and Crossroad Press (Digital edition) this past september. It looks to be a great first course to this month’s club reads.

Here’s the synopsis:

By Insanity of Reason is the story of Crystal, a woman whose life has been shattered by a chain of mysterious murders. Her husband, Richard, struggles to help…or is he working against her as she tries to regain her sanity?Told in a unique style, with each scene moving further back in time, secrets and plans are unveiled that have led to Crystal’s unfortunate state, leading to the final shocking origins.

You can pick up a copy at Bad Moon Books, on Amazon.

Frenzy WolvesWhich brings us to the second portion of our monthly meal – The Frenzy Wolves by Gregory Lamberson. This is the long awaited final installment into the Frenzy Cycle Series, and the follow-up to The Frenzy War – a book that Meli called a “…noir upgrade to the classic werewolf tale” and one of a few stories that sees this reader being slaughtered in a harrowing and gruesome way. Ask Desmond Reddick over at Dread Media about his cameo, too. Good times.

Here’s the synopsis:

With the aid of his elite squad of super cops, NYPC captain Tony Mace has defeated the werewolf slayers known as the Brotherhood of Torquemada. But now a new enemy has risen to persecute the peaceful Wolves, and Tony’s loyalty to Gabriel Domini, leader of the pack, places him at odds with his department.

Gabriel’s brother Raphael objects to Gabriel’s efforts to integrate the Wolves into human society, and seeks to start a war against mankind. When Rodrigo Gomez, the Full Moon Killer, escapes from prison, his quest for vengeance draws Tony into a battle for supremacy among the Wolves which could lead to a far greater war for both species.

– from Amazon.com

As I said above, this book drops in October 14th, and will be available from Medallion Press, and on Amazon.

So please join us as we usher in the Halloween season with TWO stories by masters in their field. And don’t forget to join us at The Mortuary to discuss these two stories!

– C

Storm Demon by Gregory Lamberson

stormdemonStorm Demon, the 5th instalment in the Helman canon, takes Jake further into the fire than ever before, and sees him face down a bigger and badder villain than he’s seen in… well… 4 books. Trust me when I say this: If you weren’t completely invested in this series by now, you’re doomed to become a super-fan from here on out.

And thus we commence my annual drool fest for another volume of the Jake Helman series: 

Jake returns to New York City, anxious to start a new live with NYPD homicide detective Maria Vasquez. But the supernatural forces making his life hell have no intention of leaving him alone. 

When Psychic healer Laurel Doniger disappears, Jake lays his life on the line to bring her back alive. With time running out, he must uncover the truth behind Laurel’s secret past. He’s drawn into a conflict with a being who has existed since the dawn of mankind. She’ll destroy New York City to take revenge on those who interfere with her plans. This beautiful creature is known by many names – Lilith, succubus, witch – but Jake and his allies will come to know her as the Storm Demon. And the world will never be the same. 

– from the back cover

The Helman files have been rife with huge baddies and epic plots depicting insane situations for our favorite ex-cop/detective to endure. First we had ‘the Cypher’, then we had Lamberson’s take on zombies with his drug induced zonbies, and then came Avademe and, in the next book, the Demon Kalfu… and now this. I won’t go into any detailed explanations because I’m just going to assume you’ve been following the series, but if you haven’t, you should at least know that the aforementioned bad guys describe a drastic escalation in craziness for our main character from book to book.

Jake has been through hell more than I could possibly imagine, and this installment is no different than the rest… save for the massive amount of action involved. Truth be told, Lamberson has always made his best efforts to keep the pace going at an even keel, but this particular story sees virtually no lull long enough to even refresh a coffee or, god forbid, sleep. 

Where the previous outing, Tortured Souls, took me a little while to get through, Storm Demon wouldn’t allow for that. Tortured Souls was a fantastic book, and I gave it a very positive review, but, in retrospect, I almost feel that setting the story in the midst of a political revolution, and moreover, in a foreign land, gave it a bit too much room to breathe, if you follow me. It’s understandable that the probability of pulling off such a dynamic and detailed plot would have been next to impossible on American soil (or North American soil, for that matter), but the claustrophobic, familiar setting of this novel made the suspension of disbelief that much easier. 

Given the fact that I, and many other readers, have actually been to most of the locations described in the book, it’s far easier to see a gigantic storm ravaging Manhattan, or a giant stone angel slamming through the garden of a beautiful Eastchester mansion (because that stuff happens for real … right?) as opposed to an army of political dissidents attempting to stage a coup in a war torn country that, despite all of my OCD-like 

And that’s where Storm Demon steps up and slams the ball out of the park. Every setting, character, and situation is accessible. There’s no room for tangents or speculation. It’s all go-go-go. Which is, as you’ve no doubt figured out by now, how me likes me stories.

Tight, fast-paced tales make for some of the best horror fiction there is, and especially when you’re talking about a series. Now, there’s something to be said for explaining a  back story and/or catching a reader up on a series through info-dumps, and if I’m going to be honest, it’s something I absolutely hate in genre fiction, but sometimes it’s necessary. Lamberson is undoubtedly guilty of this in the Helman series, and it’s understandable. What I really dug about this entry is the fact that it’s pulled off so effortlessly – it’s almost negligible, yet it’s definitely in there. An author always wants their reader to know what’s going on when and where in their novels, but sometimes it’s to the detriment of pacing or at the behest of an overzealous copy-editor. Not this time, folks. Storm Demon is one of the best examples of a balls-to-the-wall action/horror and how it’s done right. 

Not only is Lamberson on the top of his game with Storm Demon, but he delivers one of the best “YOU’RE FUCKING KIDDING ME!?” moments of recent memory, with a twist even I wasn’t expecting. And that’s saying a lot, given the years I’ve invested in this series. 

The author’s depiction of Lillith is also one of most brutal and sexy depictions set to paper that I have ever read. I would love to be in the company of this woman, but am also aware that I wouldn’t last a moment. Hell, nobody would, really. She’s a storm. A force to be reckoned with, in the truest sense of the phrase. 

Lamberson outdoes himself with every installment of the Helman files, leaving this reader exhausted, yet begging for more with the end of every book. Storm Demon is no exception. 

Like I’ve said a few times before – I can’t wait for the next one. 

C.

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The Frenzy War by Gregory Lamberson

Gregory Lamberson’s noir upgrade to the classic werewolf tale, The Frenzy Way (book 1), burned with action and adventure, enticing characters, and an intelligent bent on the history of lycanthropes. There was only a two year lapse until the release of its sequel, The Frenzy War (book 2), but it felt like several years passed as I waited to reunite with the story’s protagonist and hero Tony Mace. The NYPD Homicide Captain turned paper pusher of the K9 unit was the hero and star of the first book, but there are a number of interesting secondary characters to beef up the mythos of The Frenzy Cycle Series in this sequel. Continue reading

Dreadfully Anticipated 2012

Dear Dreadful readers, we have a great 2012 ahead of us because there a frightful number of horror titles clawing there way to your bookshelves and e-readers this year. While our film-obsessed horror brothers and sisters discuss the state of dismal box office turnout and the exhaustive onslaught of remakes, reimaginings, and reboots, we’ll be celebrating the hard work and dedicated efforts of some of the best in genre literature as well as meeting some fresh faces to the scene. Every year seems to get better as my to-read list climbs to new heights and the outlook for 2012 is no different. Here is a list of the releases we are dreadfully anticipating this year, in no particular order.

The unfolding of Monica S. Kuebler’s online YA vampire series Bleeder

We’ve mentioned Bleeder a few times now, but it is timely to give it another shout because Chapter 2 just went live yesterday! If you haven’t been reading along, go back and check out the first two chapters in the series and buckle in for the exciting saga of Mildred “Mills” Millhatten as her life is turned upside down by a long dormant family secret. Monica S. Kuebler calls Bleeder “pitch-black urban fantasy/horror crossbreed” for teens, but I can assure you this will be enjoyed by adult readers too. A new chapter will go live every Sunday, so mark your calendars! Visit the Bleeder website here.

Jeff Strand’s Faint Of Heart (February 2012)

Jeff Strand just made an announcement this past Thursday about his upcoming novel Faint Of Heart via his website, Gleefully Macabre, with a very simple but enticing teaser followed by a peek at the cover:

Some of you prefer my funny stuff.

Some of you prefer the more serious stuff.

For those of you in the latter category, on February 1st there’s…

We are huge Jeff Strand fans here at Dreadful Tales. Hell, I even got dressed up like the guy and went strutting around town because I admire him so much! I like the funny, I like the serious, I’m just happy when he’s releasing new work! Faint Of Heart is due out February 1st, so keep your eyes peeled on Strand’s Facebook page and website for the deets.

The Hunger Artist by Lisa Mannetti (TBD)

Lisa Mannetti just announced via Facebook a few hours ago, at the time of writing this, that she is starting her next novel, tentatively titled The Hunger Artist, so I can’t say for certain that is will be published in 2012. Regardless, I am as pleased as punch to hear there is a new book on the horizon from this Bram Stoker Award-winning talent. I have no synopsis to tease you with or cover art to entice your eyeballs, but we’ll be sure to keep you posted as information becomes available. In the meantime, you can stalk her Facebook page and visit her website to stay abreast (stop giggling, Colum!) of everything Mannetti.

Everything Greg Lamberson is releasing! (April 2012, June 2012, October 2012)

Greg Lamberson has at least three books coming out in 2012! Yes, you read that right, three! And he may even have some super top secret book that he’ll squeeze in before year end as well, but we’ll have to wait and see.

First up from Lamberson is his zombie road novella, Carnage Road, out from Creeping Hemlock Press’ zombie line, Print Is Dead, in April. I scanned the aged wall postings of my Facebook to find the original blurb Lamberson used to describe this novella, but without success. If memory serves me right, he said it’s “Dawn of the Dead meets Easy Rider.” If that doesn’t sell you, read Colum’s glowing review that just went live yesterday. Lamberson also put together a book trailer where he puts that filmmaking experience to good use! Carnage Road is due out April 3rd, 2012, which is also my birthday, so plug that one in your calendar! Creeping Hemlock Press has an obvious eye for talent and they’re quickly becoming my favorite indie press, so stop by their their website to see the other horror titles they offer.

Second on the agenda is the long-awaited follow-up to Lamberson’s werewolf novel The Frenzy Way, The Frenzy War. Already available for pre-order, The Frenzy War is due out in June 2012 from Medallion Press. It’s been almost two years since we left our hero, Detective Tony Mace, and I am anxious to catch back up with this hunka hunka burnin’ love fearless protector of humanity. Tony, if you’re reading this, call me!

And finally, the third book Lamberson will release this year is the fourth installment in the action / horror mashup, The Jake Helman Files series, Tortured Spirits, due out in October 2012 also from Medallion Press. This is a truly epic series with a badass paranormal detective, Jake Helman, and a whole host of monsters. If you haven’t had a chance to read these books yet, make it your top priority! Otherwise, Detective Helman might come kick you right in the groin! Find out more about the fourth book here.

House of Skin by Jonathan Janz (Summer 2012)

I just recently finished Jonathan Janz’ first title published by Samhain Publishing, The Sorrows, and it really blew me away. I will be posting a proper review soon, so I won’t elaborate too much here now, but I will say all you children of Laymon out there will be pleased. The Sorrows is a turbo-charged, erotic horror that has passages to make the roughest biker dude blush and maybe even warm his heart! Samhain will publish his sophomore effort, House of Skin, this summer and I can’t wait to see what other sick and twisted monsters Janz will unleash upon the reading community. Read more about House of Skin and browse around Janz’ site here.

Corrupts Absolutely? anthology edited by Lincoln Crisler (March 2012)

Corrupts Absolutely? asks its readers what would happen if people had superpowers. People including the mentally unstable, social outcasts, and the regretful and bitter. Featuring work by genre favorites like Jeff Strand, Joe McKinney, Weston Ochse, and a dozen more, this anthology will undoubtedly be on everyone’s wish list this year, if it isn’t already. Corrupts Absolutely? will be available from Damnation Books March 2012.

Zombies vs Robots: This Means War, edited by Jeff Conner (April 2012)

Here is another title being released on my birthday! I don’t know who sent the memo to the publishing world, but THANK YOU! Zombies vs Robots: This Means War takes IDW’s comic book series, created by writer Chris Ryall and artist Ashley Wood, and promises it “expands it in ways that will redefine both zombie and robot fiction.” While I’m not familiar with the original series, I like a good comic and the lineup for this collection is promising which makes it worthy of an instant self-gift for my day of birth! Great concept, talented contributors, and a pretty badass cover too. You can preorder ZVR: This Means War, due out April 3rd, 2012, now at Amazon for a slight discount.

Wild 2 by Lincoln Crisler (September 2012)

Lincoln Crisler is gonna be a busy bee this year, buzzin’ all over the genre scene. Not only is he involved in the two projects mentioned above, but he’ll also be releasing the sequel to his weird western zombie novella Wild with Wild 2. There’s no cover art available to tease you with just yet because the book won’t be out until September 2012 (apparently he didn’t get the memo that all releases are due on my birthday!), but here is a peek at what to expect from the second entry.

While escorting Henry Waters to his new beginning at a Massachusetts prep school, Matthias and Juan uncover the reason for the school’s headmaster’s mysterious disappearance. Less cowboy. More questions.

Release of the film adaptation of Elizabeth Massie’s short story Abed (Spring 2012)

Abed, short story by two-time Bram Stoker Award-winning author Elizabeth Massie, has been called one of the most disturbing horror stories ever written. Now, the director adapting the short story for film, award-winning writer/director Ryan Lieske, has his sights set on making it the most disturbing zombie film of 2012. Until just last night, literally right before I went to bed, I hadn’t read Abed, but being a Massie fan I was still excited to learn that one of her stories would be adapted for film. Now that I have finished Abed, I can say undoubtedly that the short is one of the most disturbing stories I have ever read and I am very curious to see how this evolves from the page to celluloid. You can pick up a digital copy for just $0.99, so you should do that right now! And just wait until you find out what “abed” means. Production for this project is in full swing and due out in my most anticipated season of the year, spring 2012! Like Abed on Facebook and keep up with one of the hardest working writers in this gory game on Massie’s website. Below is a synopsis to get your blood pumpin’.

The dead have risen … and in one small, Midwestern town, the residents have learned to cope as best they can.

Meggie lost her husband, Quint, during the early days of the undead uprising. She now lives a life of quiet horror and desperation, for her mother-in-law will do anything to help the family adjust to this new world. Even the unspeakable …

NightWhere by John Everson (June 2012)

Ever since Colum gave me a copy of John Everson’s The 13th a few years back, I haven’t missed anything by this author. His blend of erotica and horror has been perfected into an intoxicating signature style that hits all the right notes. Everson revealed some details about this project in his interview with Dreadful Tales here where he assures his sixth novel, NightWhere, is a return to form. More blood, more sex, more mayhem! NightWhere centers on a swinging husband and wife who are invited to a floating sex club, the titular NightWhere, where anything goes. There is no cover art available yet, but we’ll keep you posted. NightWhere will be available from Samhain Publishing June 2012. Prepare yourself! Until then, visit Everson’s website and sign-up for his newsletter to stay in the loop on everything the master of sexy is up to.

So, those are the titles we are most anxious for this year. Tell us about your most dreadfully anticipated titles in the comments section below!

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

INVOKING COSMIC FORCES: A Conversation With Greg Lamberson

I’ve never made any apologies for the rave reviews I’ve written regarding Greg Lamberson and his novels, and never will. His work is something that sits with me well. Be it the dialogue, the settings, the character descriptions, or the monsters; they all live freely and wonderfully in my head without a single qualm from my picky little brain. The Jake Helman Files is one of my favorite series of books, blending crime fiction with a surreal supernatural element that defies genre trappings, and delivers vibrant, oft times violent stories that satisfy my greedy literature needs. So it was a no brainer that I should sit down with the author and pick his brains on all things Helman.

It also just so happens that the third book in the series, Cosmic Forces, was recently released. A book that I strongly urge you to check out. Not only does it break genre conventions and turn horror literature on its head, but it also tackles everything from giant freaking monsters to religious subtext. Cosmic Forces is, in my opinion, Lamberson’s most ambitious book, but does he think the same of it? Well, you’re going to have to listen to find out.

A little bit more about the man and his work can be found within this chat. We literally talked about everything and anything. I’m honored to be bringing this to you guys. It was a pleasure to speak with the man, and I look forward to doing it again very soon.

INVOKING COSMIC FORCES_ A Conversation with Greg Lamberson

C.