DT Invades FanExpo

Holy shit, Fan Expo/Festival of Fear 2012 is in the books, and in a year centered around disappointment, the DT crew had a damn good time. I did, at least. I should explain my statement about disappointment: many things went wrong and many guests did not show up. If you’re an autograph hound, you still had your chances, but you definitely didn’t get the full meal.

I’m not into celebrities, so I can only describe through observation what occurred on “Celebrity Row”. John Carpenter appeared to be in great spirits throughout, and his fans always seemed to walk away satisfied. The same can be said of Jon Berenthal, Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flannery. Stan Lee‘s lineup was brutal and snaked through the horror section at times. I have no idea how other celebrities faired, except for Tony Todd, who had the biggest smile as he met up with the actors from Night Of The Living Dead.

If you’re still here, we’ll get to the horror literary festivities. The layout was improved over years passed, though vampire fic fans had to stand under an escalator in order to chat with either Karen Dales or Nancy Kilpatrick. Karen told me that she had fun and had sold very well. Nancy was less optimistic, because they put her at the farthest booth possible.

Speaking of Karen Dales, she was on a panel Thursday evening geared toward novice and inexperienced authors called Indie Genre Fiction. Moderated by Rue Morgue Managing Editor/Burning Effigy Press Founder Monica S. Kuebler, the dais included Sass Cadeaux, Stephen B. Pearl and Alan Draven, this discussion focused on topics near and dear to me. Full coverage with video shall be forthcoming.

Day two began with Greg Lamberson presenting his film Slime City Massacre…which I missed due to transit issues. I took the opportunity to wander the floor in search of something to write about here. I found Don D’Auria, a name who many of you should already be familiar with. Don made the trek northward to meet fans and give away books. That’s right, Samhain Horror did hourly giveaways of book prizes, and DT’s own Kendra won Ronald Malfi’s The Narrows. I managed to nab Don for a quick chat and faux pitch-session (as yet, I’ve nothing to pitch, but he graciously suggested that I send my MS to him when it is complete). I focused on very basic topics which are covered below in:

Don D’Auria’s Do’s/Do Not’s of Writing

  • DO – Write. Novels, novellas and the like don’t get written if pen doesn’t hit paper or fingers don’t hit keys.
  • DO – Be confident in what you wrote. “It’s easier to buy a book if the author believes in what they wrote and believes in themselves.”
  • DO – Clean up that manuscript. You’re submitting it for consideration, make sure it’s the best it can be. BUT…
  • DON’T – Hire a pro editor if submitting to any publisher. Don (and I assume most publishers) want to read YOUR book, not the book someone else helped create.
  • DON’T – Be afraid of rejection. This one is universal, and as an author myself it’s something that I’ve gotten used to. But, Don (and I) suggest that you use each and every rejection as a motivational guide to get better.

After stumbling over my words 3 times with arguably the most prominent editor in the genre, I can safely say that if I ever do submit to Samhain, I’ll be extra careful to dot my t’s and cross my i’s. I actually said that as I was walking away from the booth, I hope nobody heard me.

If I may derail this post right here, I have to commend HobbyStar for actually getting decent food into the building. I went for lunch soon after leaving Samhain and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised: the pizza was fresh and the sushi was real. No, I did not eat them at the same time.

Back to surreality, I was called upon to record audio for the Gore, Girls, And God-Forsaken Cinema panel which had absolutely nothing to do with literature, but more to do with having a damn good time enjoying horror. The panelists were: Tal Zimerman, Last Chance Lance, The Gore-Met, John W. Bowen and Aaron Lupton. Unfortunately, also in the room was a malfunctioning dvd player, however our panelists weren’t deterred. Aaron took charge and asked the audience for their favourite “squeamish scene” from a movie…and hilarity ensued. You’ll have to check back with us to see what exactly I did get audio of, I’m kinda excited to find out myself.

Day three was a vacation day for the DT staff, as we were unable to secure press credentials for the “big” day. As a result, I slept in and missed the What Is Goth? panel that included Voltaire, Liisa Ladouceur, Nancy Kilpatrick and was moderated by Tomb Dragomir. I believe our friends at Ottawa Horror did check out the panel, and you’d do well to check out their report.

Day four finished off the festivities in style, as Monica was back to moderating; this time with panelists Greg Lamberson, Sephera Giron and Kelley Armstrong chatting about Untraditional Beasts. Incredibly informative, but not much about beasts. Check back for the coverage and exclusive audio.

Shocked that I wanted somebody out of costume.

I took the rest of the day to wander around Artist Alley, and I’m kinda happy that I did. Not only did I find some incredibly talented paint slingers, I also ran into a young lady that won the Locke & Key collection that Colum gave out last year. It turns out that she and her associate comprise The Avod, a weekly horror podcast based on the fringe of Toronto. After pleasantries were exchanged, they were kind enough to interview yours truly for an upcoming episode. We chatted about the con, DT and my personal projects. (Ahem). I’m very thankful for the opportunity, and look forward to hearing just how out of touch I sound.

What authors do when we’re not writing.

After the good times and goodbyes, DT has to thank Rue Morgue, Fan Expo, Hobbystar and each and every one who made us feel incredibly welcome. To learn more about anyone mentioned, click their name. We will see everyone in 2013, and look for DT to have a presence at Toronto’s Word On The Street and possibly Darklit Durham.

Dreadful Tales Book Club – August Edition

We’re already 5 days into August and I haven’t told you about this month’s title. But not to worry, the book we have lined up runs at such a break-neck pace I don’t think you’ll need the whole month to finish.

This is a fitting title to welcome home Colum McKnight, one of the creators of Dreadful Tales and a man who was conspicuously absent from the virtual world for the past few months. In case you missed it, he made his resurgence on the site just last week and we couldn’t be happier to have him back.

So, about the book. What makes this particular title so special and why is it befitting of Colum’s homecoming? I’ve mentioned more than a few times that Colum was the one to stoke my interest in modern horror fiction often guiding me to his favorite authors. He was also the person to encourage me to share that enthusiasm with other readers by reviewing books. The path that lead me here (at least in regards to my reading and reviewing) can be traced back to one specific care package from Colum a few years ago which contained three novels. In it were novels by Jeff Povey, Shaun Hutson, and our Book of the Month author of August….

Drum roll please…..

John Everson!

This month we’re reading his latest novel NightWhere (Samhain Publishing 2012) which I reviewed last month and you can see what I had to say about the book here.Banner courtesy of Mark Brown, a.k.a Dark MarkFrom the Samhain website:

She yearned to go beyond… but some curtains should never be opened.

When Rae broached the idea of visiting an underground sex club, Mark didn’t blink. He should have. Because NightWhere is not your usual swingers club. Where it’s held on a given night…only those who receive the red invitations know. Soon Rae is indulging in her lust for pain. And Mark is warned by a beautiful stranger to take his wife away before it’s too late.

But it’s already too late. Because Rae hasn’t come home. Now Mark is in a race against time—to find NightWhere again and save his wife from the mysterious Watchers who run the club. To stop her from taking that last step through the degradations of The Red into the ultimate BDSM promise of The Black. More than just their marriage and her life are at stake: Rae is in danger of losing her soul…

John Everson is one of those authors that hits all the right notes for me. He has a passion for horror, of course, especially the satanic and erotic type, but he also has a love for music that is evident in his writing as well. Every novel has its own unique soundtrack that pulsates along with the action of the story and that’s just one of the many elements I love about his books.

Without further adieu, please give a warm welcome to John Everson and his latest novel of sexual depravity, NightWhere.

You can get a copy from the Samhain Publishing website or Amazon or anywhere else cool books are sold. Join in the discussion as you read at The Mortuary message boards in the August Book of the Month thread.

Be sure to follow John Everson on Twitter, friend him on Facebook, and check out his website.

Shadows in the Mist by Brian Moreland

During World War II, Jack Chambers survived battle after battle, along with a few members of his unit–the Lucky Seven. Drafted for a secretive mission into the depths of the Hurtgen, a dark, eerie German forest, Jack and his men join up with a team of special forces soldiers to take down a horrifying Nazi occult experiment. The records of the mission are kept sealed, lost forever except to the two survivors–Jack and one other man, a rabbi who seems afflicted with the same dark nightmares and mysterious scars Jack has.

Now, on his deathbed, Jack has one request for his grandson, Sean.

Return to Hurtgen.

Reading this book was like watching an old black and white war film. Even though it only lightly grasps the reader’s interest, you just sort of hang on and plow through. The story is well-crafted and well-written. Each character is fleshed out and written in such a way that you feel like you known these guys. The gore is light, but it’s good. In regards to the violence in the novel, it focuses more on the emotional reactions of the survivors. That’s not a bad thing in any case, but here it was almost like an attempt to weigh down an already-heavy plot. Speaking of which, the plot is a little heavy, and while the subjects–Jewish mysticism, gollums, Nazi occult secrets– are all fascinating on their own, for some reason, they just seemed sort of ho-hum. I couldn’t gather enough real interest in the events to care if the soldiers made it out of the scary medieval German castle alive. By the time something actually started to happen, I was mentally ticking off the members of the unit to see who was still left and who had yet to die.

I think my biggest issue with the book was how slow it progressed. I would sit down and read several chapters and realize absolutely nothing of consequence had happened. For all the perfect editing, amazing world building, and awesome character-development, this book was just plain dull.

Moreland did his history homework–there’s not a single negative thing I can say about the excellent world-building. I admire the character work. As I said, each one was crafted so solidly they felt like real people. The book is very well-written, the story airtight. I loved the gollums as the monsters. It’s a refreshing change from the usual supernatural bad guys. Even the Kabbalah plot line added a level of interest to the story, taking it a little further from the usual Nazi cult plots out there. If you can get past the turtle-slow pacing of the first 5/8ths of the book, the conclusion is satisfying enough to almost make up for the other issues.

Visit Brian Moreland’s website and Samhain Publishing for more info.

NightWhere by John Everson

The first John Everson title I ever read was The 13th, more than a few years ago after receiving a copy from Colum McKnight. If not for that horror lit care package I may not have discovered Everson at all and I’m certain I wouldn’t be writing this review today. I’ve devoured every subsequent release from Everson since. His palate of sex, blood, and Satanism had me hooked. He is to erotic horror what Jeff Strand is to comedic horror; a master. Everson paints gruesome imagery in his stories, often involving naked bodies writhing in viscera, but he is also a diehard romantic. Ultimately, it is love driving the plot of every Everson horror story. That’s also the case with his latest Samhain release NightWhere, but with more blood, guts, and torture than I’ve ever read in anything he’s done previously.

Mark and Rae are a happily married couple that enjoy a bit of diversity to their sex life. They frequent elicit sex clubs, swingers parties, and participate in sexual musical chairs, but Rae wants more. Mark just isn’t enough, he never has been. “He was peanut butter… but someone or something else always brought the jelly…” Still, being the understanding, and sexually curious, man that he is, Mark is willing to take their escapades further. When she catches wind of an exclusive, super secret sex club NightWhere, Rae is immediately obsessed. When they get their blood red invitation, Mark finds his wife sinking deeper into this forbidden world. How deep into NightWhere will she sink and how far will Mark be willing to go to save her?

Everson offered up bloody rituals, cult behavior, and pulsating orgies in The 13th, but that novel is like a cute little Disney cartoon compared to NightWhere. You won’t just go to the edge of darkness and desire; you’ll be pushed over into a hell of sexual tortures. This book doesn’t have NBP (you’ll have to google that one because I can’t bring myself to type out the abbreviation), but it’s the closest to being horror lit’s A Serbian Film than anything else I’ve ever read. It’s sick and depraved, the kind of book you feel perverted reading in public. I know they don’t know what I’m reading yet I still blush.

NightWhere is an endless orgy where anything goes. This is more than imaginative erotica though; there are unbelievable sexual kinks, vaguely familiar but horrifically distorted. The reader can share the experience vicariously without concern for safety unlike our unfortunate protagonists Mark and Rae and the never-ending parade of willing victims. Everson eases the reader into it though. He starts out with the obligatory whips and chains, floggers and shackles, careful not to get too kinky too quick.

Everson makes a compelling story for how the couple got into this lifestyle so it doesn’t seem so foreign and unbelievable. If you’re like me, it may be difficult to connect with a swinging S&M couple, but Everson paints relatable characters for the most part. By the time you are beyond your comfort zone it is too late, you truly have been lured deep into the rabbit hole.

He leads us into the initiation with pulsating New Order tracks and synthy beats. This is another aspect I’ve always loved about Everson’s writing; his obsession with music. He always finds an appropriate soundtrack to accompany his novels. This dark, drony post-punk sound is a perfect fit for the gothic underground club scene, but it fades rather quickly into the echoing screams of pain and pleasure in NightWhere.

As I mentioned, Everson is really a romantic at heart. His stories are undeniably horror and deal with subversive subject matter, but it is always centered on love and the vulnerability of those who succumb to its power. Everson doesn’t wrap up his stories with pretty pink bows or anything, and he is exceedingly cruel to his characters, but there is still a sense of hope and innocence despite all that.

Some horror fiction fans might roll their eyes at the romantic elements of NightWhere, or at least Mark’s unflinching dedication to Rae even as she succumbs to the seduction of the underground world. Still, all the in between is so extreme, so perverse that I think even readers with the hardest Teflon hearts will overlook that aspect.

Longtime Everson fans can expect all the ingredients you’ve come to love in an Everson erotic horror novel amped up to 11. He goes further, deeper, darker than anything before. NightWhere is a batshit crazy, hot, wet ride into hell!  

I found the perfect song to accompany this review, Angry Angles “You call it love.” I got the idea from a blog post about spicing up book reviews by Zombies Don’t Cry author Rusty Fischer. The key lyric is “Baby, when you hit me it feels so good.” I imagine this to be Rae’s theme song.

Angry Angles “You Call It Love”

You think you can handle it? Pick up your copy of NightWhere at Samhain Publishing or Amazon currently available in eBook format (paperback will be released in October).

Dreadful Tales Samhain Celebration Wrap-Up

In case you missed it, or for some reason didn’t notice, Dreadful Tales dedicated about a week and a half to the New Home of Horror, Samhain Publishing. If you didn’t catch the reviews, interviews, and guest posts, never fear, fair reader! Meli’s got you covered. First, let me apologize for referring to myself in third person. I’m sorry.

Although we lovingly referred to this as the Samhain Celebration, there was a name that was repeatedly mentioned with love, affection and admiration; editor of the Samhain horror line Don D’Auria.

I must admit that was introduced to some of Leisure’s most beloved authors, and my favorite modern fiction writers, just a few or so years ago. To give you an idea of where my passion for modern horror fiction began, let me just say the first Leisure title I read was John Everson’s The 13th. That came out in ’09, so I am over a decade late to the party. As usual. When Leisure started to dissolve, I was as sick over it as longtime fans. And while I wasn’t there from the beginning, I felt the power of the legacy and its loss just the same.

The heyday of the infamous Dorchester horror line may be over, but it is a new day in horror fiction with a veteran captain manning the ship. Perhaps I couldn’t appreciate Don D’Auria’s contribution back in ’09, but as the cycle of horror fiction comes full circle – John Everson’s latest novel NightWere comes out in eBook format from Samhain June 2012 – I recognize the debt my bookshelves (and Kindle) owe to this man, D’Auria.

Since 2009, I have been baptized into the Church of Richard Laymon and Jack Ketchum, both old Messiahs I seek dark guidance from frequently. And there are so many more I have discovered since – Bryan Smith, Elizabeth Massie, Jeff Strand, Ronald Malfi… But it all started with that one John Everson title, The 13th.

I kicked off the celebration with a review of Elena Hearty’s Donor. Hearty is a different type of writer. She writes for fun and on her own terms. I’m sure most Samhain writers that I love are in it because they love the genre and they love to write. Let’s face it, if you’re not Stephen King, you’re not getting rich as a horror writer, but Hearty is the first to tell you flat out that a horror con is her worst nightmare and she don’t do deadlines. I like that. When you read Donor, none of that will surprise you.

Despite Hearty’s very punk rock approach to writing, she gave me some time to bombard her with questions. You can read all about her influences for her debut vampire novel and plenty of other interesting tidbits here.

Following that Pat Dreadful shared a review of the Bram Stoker Award nominated The Lamplighters by Frazer Lee and an interview with the man himself who shares my love of giallo movies and the equally infamous music of giallos, Goblin.

I have two first-time authors at Samhain in particular that I am excited to read more from and that is Elena Hearty and Jonathan Janz. I followed Pat’s coverage of Frazer Lee with a second look at Jonathan Janz’ The Sorrows. Janz also took some time to talk to Dreadful Tales about the influence Don D’Auria had on his career and subsequent initiation into the bloody world of Samhain here.

While I didn’t instantly love Nile J. Limbaugh’s Genesis of Evil as much as Janz’ The Sorrows or Hearty’s Donor, I still trust the Samhain / D’Auria signature and plan to give this author another chance. Genesis of Evil had some missteps, but still entertaining and full of promise as horror fans would expect from the D’Auria approved titles.

It wasn’t just Pat and I doing the yapping this week. We had a couple guest posters to share their enthusiasm for Samhain, and especially Don D’Auria as well. First up was Brian Moreland who gave us An Insider’s Look at Samhain. Kristopher Rufty, also new to the Samhain family, share his experience of first getting signed with the publisher and how that all came to fruition in One Year Later. You can read that here.

Last, but certainly not least, Pat sat down to chat with Forest of Shadows author Hunter Shea and you can read the full interview here. Shea is a new favorite for Pat and renewed his love of the haunted house story. You can check out his review for Forest of Shadows and find out what’s got Pat so excited here.

So there you have it folks. That was a week in celebration of a name you’re going to hear around here quite often. We hope you are excited for a dark and horrific future at Samhain Publishing.

One Year Later: Guest Post by Kristopher Rufty

It seems like only yesterday horror fiction fans got news that former editor of the Liesure horror line, Don D’Auria, was moving over to Samhain Publishing. Hell, has it been a year yet? In that short amount of time, the Samhain / D’Auria match-up has proven to be the dream team macabre maniacs were hoping for with veteran fan favorites as well as fresh blood. Today, we have a member of the latter group, one of the latest editions to the Samhain family, Kristopher Rufty, to share his enthusiasm for the publisher from both a fan and author perspective.

It was a year ago in March when I got the email from Don D’Auria that changed my life.

Dear Kristopher,
I have finished reading Angel Board and enjoyed it so much that I would like to acquire it for our new horror line at Samhain…

After nearly four years of submitting that novel to other houses, someone finally wanted to buy it.  And that someone was Don D’Auria!  My eight year old son was sitting beside me when I read the email.  He saw the beaming grin on my face and asked why I was so happy.  I hugged him and told him the news.  Then he asked why I was crying if it was good news.

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was twelve.  But with such a passion for horror movies, I devoted most of my time to writing screenplays.  Between every third screenplay I would write a short story, nothing longer than eight pages.  My early influences ranged from Stephen King to Bentley Little, plus every horror movie from the eighties.  I was also a dedicated fan of Troma movies.  I had attempted to write a novel a few times before and failed, but it wasn’t until Psycho Holocaust star Vanelle encouraged me that I seriously gave it a go.  She’d explained that my screenplays read like novels anyway and I agreed.  A standard screenplay is around 120 pages, but mine tended to run closer to 200 because of the inner-monologues and descriptions.  I wrote them just as if they were books, but in a script format.  Vanelle declared going from screenplays to novels should be an easy transition.

It wasn’t.

But with a lot of help from some other authors, I was able to eventually get a book that someone wanted to pick up.  Rejection letters hurt, it doesn’t matter how detailed or how vague they are, they hurt the author.  They can cause self-doubt.  At least they did in me.  It didn’t stop me from writing, but it put this cloud over me that made it hard to focus.  Eventually, the cloud lifted and I would submit something else, only to be rejected again, and the cloud would return.  Since I began working with Don D’Auria that cloud has not returned.  Whenever I feel the slightest off about my writing or storytelling, I recall what Don has told me and all the positive energy he’s put into me and the cloud is vanquished before getting the opportunity to manifest.

I’m often asked how I came to be a member of the Samhain family.  It started way back when I was I hosting Diabolical Radio.  The authors I’d invited on the show were authors I

Kristopher Rufty on the set of Rags

enjoyed to read.  It was a great way to pick their brains, to discuss writing with people you respect, and it helped me greatly.  To my surprise a few close friendships came from those interviews.  Three authors from the show that have helped me a great deal in my “career” are Ronald Malfi, Jeff Strand, and Heather Graham.  Edward Lee was also always standing by with much advice and a shoulder to vent on.  I can’t say enough kind things about them.  Once we all got Angel Board to a point where everyone felt confident it could be submitted to Don, we sent it over with fingers crossed and saying prayers.  A few weeks later, I got that email referenced above.

I was a member of the Leisure Book Club for five years.  Richard Laymon, Jack Ketchum, Edward Lee, Wrath James White, Ray Garton, Jeff Strand, Ronald Malfi, Bryan Smith, and Al Sarrantonio are a handful of my favorite authors, and I was introduced to them through the book club.  Knowing that the man who edited their books is now editing mine is powerful.  I can honestly say that even if I wasn’t being published, but still had Don editing my stories, I’d be a happy camper.  His input and encouragement goes a long way and I am extremely grateful to be working with him and Samhain.

As I raise my beer, I offer a toast.  Here’s to several more great years with Samhain and Don D’Auria.

You can keep up with Rufty’s happening at his blog, Last Krist on the Left, Facebook, and Twitter.

Samhain Publishing is lurking around all the same haunts as well – official website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Alaska Revisited: Forest of Shadows by Hunter Shea

Yesterday I posted my interview with one of the brightest young talents in the genre, Hunter Shea.  I wanted to take today to repost my thoughts about his amazing haunted house story, Forest of Shadows.  I also wanted to provide some personal commentary on it as well.  Forest of Shadows renewed my love for the haunted house subgenre and immediately went back and re-read THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, HELL HOUSE and BAG OF BONES.  Hunter’s fine little tale also prompted me to finally tackle HOUSE OF LEAVES and had me giddy for Little’s THE HAUNTED.  I owe a ton to Hunter and FOREST OF SHADOWS because he breathed new life into a subgenre that I had all but forgotten.  With that said, I thought it might be fun to revisit my initial review of the book in hopes that others will be prompted to check the story out as well.  I’d also like to mention that Hunter has a new novel out, EVIL ETERNAL, that looks to be one of the most over-the-top, insanely fun releases of the year.  Check it out!

 

When I go to an amusement park the last thing I want to do is sit through some dopey stunt show or putz around an “educational” display.  Hell no, I want to get on the biggest and fastest  roller-coaster, ride it until blood is dripping from my eyes and then vomit all over anyone unlucky enough to be in my vicinity. That’s just the type of guy I am.  I feel the same way about my ghost stories.  Of course, I can appreciate a slow burn that concerns itself with atmosphere but what I really like are the supernatural tales that get in there and get dirty…..real quick.  I guess this is why I was so thoroughly satisfied with Hunter Shea’s newest novel, Forest of Shadows.

From Samhain Publishing:

The dead still hate!

John Backman specializes in inexplicable phenomena. The weirder the better. So when he gets a letter from a terrified man describing an old log home with odd whisperings, shadows that come alive, and rooms that disappear, he can’t resist the call. But the violence only escalates as soon as John arrives in the remote Alaskan village of Shida. Something dreadful happened there. Something monstrous. The shadows are closing in…and they’re out for blood.

Hunter Shea is absolutely ruthless.  The man writes with a passion and aggression that will leave you helpless in its grasp.  Shea keeps his eyes on the prize and everything else is secondary.  He wants you to cringe.  He wants your skin to crawl.  He wants to positively scare you out of your god-given wits.  Like I said, the man is ruthless.  I can appreciate Shea’s style.  He wants to tell a ghost story that doesn’t meander around with sweeping atmosphere and slow progression.  His version of a ghost story involves some evil-as-all-get-out ghosts, some local legend and a hefty heaping of heartache.  Throw in ample amounts of booze and you have the makings for one refreshingly original tale.

Above anything else, Forest of Shadows is a genuinely scary book.  Now that may sound a bit simple but after years of reading dreadful tales, it takes quite a bit to get my blood pumping.  The real highlight of Forest of Shadows is Hunter Shea’s ability to craft a tale that is so frantic with the pacing and yet, so subtle with the horror.  In fact, I was having so much fun with the story that I didn’t realize how effectively the story was haunting my subconscious.  It took a few restless nights and one incredibly vivid nightmare about whispering shadows and the floating visage of a young boy, before I realized how successful this book was at scaring the living daylights out of me. It had worked its way into my brain and nestled in there, coiled to spring at any given moment.  This book scared me in a way I haven’t been scared in a very long time.

This is all a testament to Hunter Shea’s talent as a writer. He takes a premise that could quite honestly, be considered hokey and works it so well that it seems believable.  Initially when I read the first pages that describe an amateur ghost-hunter who loses his wife and wins the lottery on the same day, I was a little skeptical.  Can you blame me?  This skepticism was completely unfounded as Shea sucked me into a world filled with ancient evil, teenage angst, heartbreak and a town with a very strange past.  That town is Shida and it just may be one of the most frightening places you’re libel to visit.

The Alaskan town of Shida makes for the perfect backdrop to this bone chilling tale.  Shea creates a spine numbing sense of isolation as he draws a vivid portrait of this wilderness town.  Hell, Shea almost seems so confident in his ability to remove Shida from reality that he will tease the reader by discussing Shida’s proximity to many major Alaskan parks and cities, all while the reader knows that there is no escape from the diabolical events that Shea has in store for us. Shida is as much the star of this story as any character, all while the reader comes to realize that the dark shadows that obscure the towns past are more frightening than anything that may be whispering to them from the Great Beyond.

This book has me extremely excited about Hunter Shea. I can respect an author who takes the ghost story and completely disregards its well worn conventions to create something truly original. He preaches from the Altar of Pulp- spewing a sermon filled with his own merciless interpretation of what this genre should be. I love seeing a newcomer just completely rip it and own the living daylights out his writing.  I expect some very big things from Hunter Shea in the very near future.