Book Review: A Satan Carol by Alan S. Kessler

Nostalgic for the Inquisition and plague, Satan feels neglected by the modern world that no longer cares about heresy or blames him for disease and death. He plans to create a new genesis, a place where people will love him. For that, his son needs just the right soul. 


A Satan Carol is a horror story with a message for those who want to understand God's apparent absence as the intersection of freewill and choice. It is a story with religious themes written for a secular reader. It is, in the end, a tale about family values even if they originate in hell.

REVIEW:

A Satan Carol desperately wanted to grab my attention. The description of the book had me hooked at the word horror, but I failed to find any gut twisting horror in the story. Granted, it is about Satan, and there are a few bloody or obscene sections, but I don’t think this really fell into the horror category. If I had to classify it anywhere it would be dark satire.

Satan, aka Mr. Green, is jaded by God’s love for another son, Jesus. And in a search to find happiness for himself, Satan has decided to start a family of his own. The Anti-Christ has been born on another planet named Shineland 7, but the boy is physically unable to move around on his own. Satan enlists the help of several people to obtain a “golden soul” to empower his son through their own free will actions. The emphasis seems to fall heavily on free will, but I think the concept is thrown out the window when you are threatened with horrible things if you don’t follow a certain path. 

The author takes great care to describe the story in detail, but seems to fall flat on dialog. Characters speak out loud to themselves to mill over their own thoughts, and there seems to be some confusing formatting as two characters have a telepathic conversation. It almost feels like you’re reading the script for a play.

The story is well written and heavily laden with religious undertones, which I find engaging, as I’m always curious to read a new take on any religion, but it just didn’t seem to pull me into the horror of the situation.

A Satan Carol is dusted with the horror of everyday living as we get to know the characters: An obedient wife, a promiscuous husband, a defiant teen, greedy doctor, and a man who sees visions. Somehow they are all linked to obtaining the “golden soul” and slowly the lines are connected through the book. Overall, it’s definitely an acquired taste.

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Book Review: 32 Fangs by David Wellington

Laura Caxton's battles against the ancient vampire Justinia Malvern have cost her nearly everything—her badge, her freedom, her friends and family . . . maybe even her humanity.


And as she hides out in the deepest backwoods of Pennsylvania, pursued by the cops who were once her colleagues, Laura certainly looks beaten. But as Laura sees it, what little is left of her soul is perfectly adapted to the job of ridding the world of its last vampire. And thanks to the terrible clarity she's found, Laura's come up with a plan—one that will finish Malvern once and for all.

But the ever-wily Malvern has a few last aces left to play and is quietly dealing a hand that will involve a terrible fate for the few friends Laura's got left. When the two adversaries meet for the last time in their most epic battle, the vampires will force Laura to pay a price far beyond anything she's sacrificed before.


REVIEW:

32 Fangs is the last of the 13 Bullets series (a.k.a The Laura Caxton series) by David Wellington, and I don’t believe too many of his fans will be disappointed.

The readers finally get the answers they have been waiting for:  Who was Malvern in life?, Where did she come from?, How had she survived throughout time?, and over all, What happened to Laura?

The story is set up like 99 Coffins as the chapters have alternate viewpoints. Wellington was able to give the readers what they were looking for by bouncing back and forth from present time to events in the past. He effectively told the story of Malvern this way.

The only off putting things I found were the present time story. It was mainly focused on back story. Reminding readers of what has happened throughout a series is a challenge, but it seemed like overkill.


I like David Wellington’s writing style, and his dedication to keeping monsters scary. I’m a fan of his Monster Island trilogy, and I like this series also, although I was hoping for a different type of ending. I’m really looking forward to hopping into his werewolf trilogy.


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Naked Hearts

Naked Hearts by C.V. Hunt


Two glass hearts listen as their music becomes thunder.
A docile cloud shifts to reveal the threads of a dream.
Time crests, then stands still for a spell.
One heart bounds forward and the other is consumed in fire.
Searching for light beyond the approaching storm, both hearts yearn to touch.
They cleave to the reality of its acid burn.

The brave heart trembles, and watches the other burn.
Thumping and beating, their lives begin to thunder.
The pyre grows, and the feral hearts refrain a shivering touch.
Reality becomes surreal, and their embrace is only a haunting dream.
Ashes mix with beats as they hail like fire,
And each encompasses the other, trying to break the spell.

Universes slide and the scorching heart learns to spell.
Slanted lines cross and create fractured webs that burn.
An atomic beat explodes, shattering a scarred heart in fire.
Its sonic freedom resonates with rolling thunder,
And the trapped heart winces inside the forlorn dream.
Dark clouds shift to display the craved touch.

The lone heart begs for the free heart’s reluctant touch.
It knows, once together, it will be liberated from its empty spell.
Untamed storms and perception invade the changing dream.
Along the edges, the scene starts to melt and burn.
The flames breed impatiently, and their song echoes of thunder.
The caged heart knows its loneliness will cease in fire.

Scorched in the downpour, their world is annihilated by fire.
The snared heart shatters, unmasking a desired touch,
And the world is unveiled with a deafening crack of thunder.
The clouds shift and lightning strikes, breaking the invisible spell.
Jagged pieces of broken glass burn,
And two naked hearts are exposed within the dream.

Broken hearts break the silence of the lucid dream.  
Their staccato beats quench the raging fire.
Moving closer, they savor a longing burn,
And mirroring the other, the vulnerable hearts extend a hesitant touch.
Their rhythm stops for an unnerving spell,
And on impact, their beats commence to thunder.

The dream wavers as the two hearts succumb to the hungered touch.
Their passion ignites a fire, and the embrace creates a new spell.
A drumming song will forever burn, and in the distance it reverberates as thunder.

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Book Review: Outside The Wire by Richard Farnsworth

Featuring fallen angels, demons, lycanthropes, monsters and a disembodied hand (or is it), Outside the Wire is a collection of six previously published short stories about things we don’t want to let in, all anthologized for your reading pleasure.



REVIEW:

Richard Farnsworth presents us with a collection of short stories in Outside The Wire. Two of these are just snippets of larger stories, Succumbing To Gravity (everyone who knows me, knows I will force you to read this book), and Gift Of The Bouda. Both of his previous works show how well Farnsworth can write the internal struggle.

I found all of the other short stories just as engaging as Richard’s previous books. One story, B.E.K.s is about ??? The writer created some terrifying creatures, and who, or what, they are remain a mystery to the reader and the characters in the story. In The Sacrifices Of Automated Tabulation, a woman starts a new job, only to find out things are not what they seem.

The Long Road To Sanctum felt familiar. The rules and aspect of the story coincide with the were-creatures of Gift Of The Bouda.

I absolutely love Farnsworth’s gift for writing the dilemma of the internal struggle, and he showcases the highlights of this in Dougies’s Hand. The story is about a young man with an uncontrolled hand, which reminded me of Idle Hands or Evil Dead.

The last story of the collection, Virtual Huntress, brings the horrors of the very possible to light. I think I’ve already stated this a million times, but the real monsters are always the scariest.

Richard Farnsworth has proved yet again, whatever genre or path he takes in his writing, he will always have my attention.



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Book Review: Z Strain by Rutger Klamor

When there's no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the earth.


Three days. Not much time. Lilith, Queen of the Whores, has three days. That's all the Prophecy will give her. Three days to build an army. Three days to unleash Hell. 



Three days. Not much time. Certainly not to become a hero. That's what Dee thought. Before the zombies. Before the dying. And the rising.



Three days until the end of the world. 



What he would give to get those three days back. 



Z Strain. Book one of the Zee Series Trilogy. Full of all the gritty realism any hard-core zombie fan craves. You know what I mean. Violence served cold. Sex served hot. 



And Zees. A whole army of 'em! 


Be warned. This book isn't for the faint of heart or easily offended. Buckle up and hold on to your brain pans! Here come the Zees!



REVIEW:

When God created Hell, He made it a tad too small. Over time it got really crowded down there… really crowded. The ranks of the damned found a solution to control their population.

Cannibalism.

And so zombies were born, and they’ve patiently waited for a prophecy to be fulfilled. One where they will have a bigger home. Earth.

There are only three days to bridge the gap between hell and earth, and there is a heartless warrior who could save the world. Hell erupts on earth as a cold Watcher keeps his distance in the shadows, making sure all the rules are followed.

Dee, an ex-military man, now a paramedic, has been thrust into a role that makes no sense to him:

Would you believe your city was being overrun by legions of the walking dead? Dead that consumed the flesh of the living. Dead who later rose and joined the ranks of their murderers? You gotta admit, that’s pretty friggin’ fantastic.

The Grim Reaper, demons, a succubus, vampires, and zombies… what more could you ask for in a story of hell and terror?

Rutger Klamor does a fantastic job tying all of these evil creatures together in Z Strain. He provides the reader with some mind-boggling prose, and a sarcastic and demented humor I love. Blood, gore, and sex combine to open the gates of hell. Because when hell is full, the dead will walk the earth. This is the first book of a trilogy, and I’m definitely looking forward to more.

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Book Review: Deathbird Stories by Harlan Ellsion

Harlan Ellison, prolific and powerful writer for motion pictures and television, has been one of America's finest short story writers for more than fifty years. Deathbird Stories is his most daring collection of dangerous visions, each tale a gem that peels back layers of human emotions to reveal a dark dream inspired by the madness that finds us in unprotected moments. From the nightmare-stalking that inspires 'The Whimper of Whipped Dogs,' to the glass-and-metal prison of 'Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes,' as well as in seventeen other brilliant tales from the new pantheon of gods, Ellison paints incredibly vivid portraits of the human soul in all its infinite variety of torment and torture, courage and charisma.

Contents: 

Adrift Just Off the Islets of Langerhans: Latitude 38° 54' N, Longitude 77° 00' 13" W (1974) 
Along the Scenic Route (1969) 
At the Mouse Circus (1971) 
Basilisk (1972) 
Bleeding Stones (1973) 
Corpse (1972) 
Delusion for a Dragon Slayer (1966) 
Ernest and the Machine God (1968) 
Neon (1973) 
O Ye of Little Faith (1968) 
On the Downhill Side (1972) 
Paingod (1964) 
Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes (1967) 
Rock God (1969) 
Shattered Like a Glass Goblin (1968) 
The Deathbird (1973) 
The Face of Helene Bournouw (1960) 
The Place with No Name (1969) 
The Whimper of Whipped Dogs (1973)

REVIEW:


Writing a review for a book filled with short stories is trying. It’s difficult to judge the book as a whole. When it comes to writing a review for a book of short stories published before I was born… it becomes maddening.

It’s hard for me to establish the mindset that would have been rampant before my birth. I think this work should have been perceived as a great gathering of insight into the human mind and soul when it was published. Each of the stories was well written, but lacked indulging in a stable outcome. Harlan Ellsion left each story open for interpretation instead of filling your head with his own theology.

I respected each story as a vague idea of what a god or devil could be, live, become, or die from. Each story is drastically different, and yet, the same in an awkward fashion. They wouldn’t have been grouped together in one book if they weren’t.

There are no secrets of the universe hidden within these pages, but then again, that’s up to you to interpret.

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