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






All Hallow’s Read (Day 19) A scary book for…

…someone who likes a series.

Jake Helman is one badass character, packing more attitude and swagger than you could possibly imagine. The Jake Helman Files, a supernatural/noir series by Gregory Lamberson, is 100% Dreadfully Approved, and worth every second. Start with Personal Demons, move on to Desperate Souls, and then throw down with Cosmic Forces. You won’t be disappointed. Tortured Spirits, the 4th book in the series will be available in October 2012.

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

Bloody Bytes: Digital Deals & Steals

It’s been a long three weeks since the last Dreadful Tales installment of Bloody Bytes, the column that’s dedicated to bringing the horror fan cheap digital deals. But now we’re back… with a vengeance!

Check out the digital deals and steals for horror fiction and more beyond the break.

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Zombies Don’t Cry by Rusty Fischer

Rusty Fischer and Medallion Press have offered up a new take on zombies with this wonderful piece of fiction. What, at first glance, looks like your “run of the mill” YA zombie novel, turns everything you thought about the sub-genre on it’s head, and whollops you with a very important, and impressive example of how YA should be written.

Maddy Swift is just a normal girl—a high school junior surviving class with her best friend and hoping the yummy new kid, Stamp, will ask her out. When he finally does, her whole life changes.

Sneaking out to meet Stamp at a party one rainy night, Maddy is struck by lightning. After awakening, she feels lucky to be alive. Over time, however, Maddy realizes that she’s become the thing she and everyone else fear most: the living dead.

With no Heartbeat and no breath in her lungs, Maddy must learn how to survive as a zombie. Turns out there’s a lot more to it than shuffling around 24/7 growling, “Brains”. Needing an afterlife makeover is only the beginning of her problems. As Barracuda Bay Haigh faces zombie Armageddon, Maddy must summon all of her strength to protect what matters most – just as soon as she figures out exactly what that is.

Busting out of the gate with an explosive (and hilarious) intro, Fischer sets the stage for a fun romp through the life of a young, accidently zombified, teenage girl; and leads you to believe that this is going to be something reminiscent of the scores of other YA horror novels out there. But you, the intelligent reader, can see something else in there. Behind the facade of a teenage-angst-ridden zombie story, Fischer has presented something fresher and more vivid than the decaying corpses littering the YA section of your favorite book store (or web-store *sigh*).

Fischer brings a massive amount of entertainment to this piece, not only poking fun at most teenage stereotypes, but also poking fun at the genre itself – in some places. Written from the perspective of the main female character, the author tends to lay heavy on the funny to dispell most of the serious situations, but dips into some seriously hardcore emotional territory with others. The brilliance of this situation is that he is able to make you laugh, think, and possibly even cry…all within the same sentence. To say that Fischer understands the teenage mindframe would be an understatement. He lives it in this novel, and that is what makes this book so different from the rest of the pack.

Now, in what is possibly my favorite move with this novel, Fischer whips out a whole new bag of tricks in regards to the zombies themselves. The constantly shuffling, groaning, and…well…slow moving zombies are eschewed for a more intelligent and brutal breed of walking dead. Not only are they completely sentient beings, but they’re also capable of planning and other sorts of menacing behavior. Even the manner of becoming zombified is completely different from most traditional ways. Fischer has introduced the potential for lightening to be a crucial factor in the zombification process, but hasn’t completely done away with the “zombie-by-bite” method. In fact, two different types of zombies can be created using the two different styles of…well…zombie creation, which is a much needed breath of fresh air in the sub-genre.

The whole book is written beautifully, combining so many different emotions and enough pop culture references to make any nerd’s head explode. Fischer has a tight grip on all things modern, and it really shows throughout the entire story. This novel will appeal to all ages. No exception. Hopefully Fischer has it in mind to write a follow up, as this is one story that I can really see becoming bigger and more detailed.

A great introduction to a truly unique world, Zombies Don’t Cry sets the bar high for YA horror novels.