“Don’t Write It Down” by CE Wilson is Cool Mix of Scary and Entertaining

Dont Write It Down Cover shot

Don’t Write It Down-Episode One in the Rainbow Noir Series
C.E. Wilson
Rainbow Noir
Released July 4, 2017
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

Don’t Write It Down is a book so full of twists and turns that I guarantee you will find it impossible to put down. Like eating a certain brand of potato chips, you can’t read just one page of C.E. Wilson’s work. This is some damn good writing that sucks you in like a tornado!

It’s amazing how easily all the events in this story could happen. Wilson’s writing is very descriptive and mentions stuff we use all the time, such as cell phones, laptops, and hobbies like watching horror movies For those of us who are writers, we’re way too familiar with how we get when we’re chasing a story. We’ve got a story to write and it’s going to be great! Hey world, get the hell out of my way! Staying alive on our beverages, food, and drugs of choice is crazy, but true. Showering is a nuisance, as is staying in contact with people like our parents. All they do is sidetrack us and ruin our flow! But in the end it’s all worth it. Right?

NY Times Bestselling Horror Writer Emma/Shade thinks so. The only thing she can focus on is making it into the number one slot. If only she could, life would be fantastic and all her dreams fulfilled. Trouble is, that slot is always filled by a writer named Jessen Blake-“The Kurt Cobain of Horror Writers.” He’s called that because with all respects to Kurt, the majority of his hits are posthumous and they keep on coming. How do you compete with that? Emma is determined to do it. Even though it has destroyed her marriage, family relations, health, and brain, she just keeps on plugging.

Speaking for myself and the writers I know, we’d be pretty damn happy with being in the number two spot. There’s still plenty of perks and getting there is a huge achievement! Emma is number two for an extended time, yet she never takes time to enjoy her status by living somewhere nice, eating better, or truly sharing her life with someone else. Oh sure, there’s Kevin, who’s her legal husband, but Emma treats him like shit. The reason she uses for her behavior is that Kevin had a one night stand. He says it only happened because Emma couldn’t be bothered with his desires for her. Well SHE had a book to finish, damn it!

Either way, Kevin takes care of Emma by checking in with her daily and bringing her food. He also tries to tidy up the mess that she is making of her shabby townhouse. But Emma roars off to writing land, stuffing her feelings and yelling at people with venom. She keeps throwing Kevin out, not accepting phone calls, and pretty much cutting all ties to the “real world.”

Granted, this does produce results, but the cost is high. Her intensity even attracts the attention of Mr. Jessen Blake himself, who visits her during dreams that are more like nightmares. The main purpose of his visits is to discourage Emma from becoming number one. She thinks it’s jealousy on his part, but Jessen says that there is a lot more to being number one than she realizes. There are parts about being the number one horror writer that are really horrible. But Emma lets him know what she thinks about that and finally makes it to number one.

But Emma still isn’t happy. She doesn’t feel the warm glow of achievement or much of anything. Until death rears its ugly head. While she’s been busy celebrating her successes, Emma’s father is killed and buried before she could even try to make it home. Not only that, but Jessen Blake comes to tell Emma that it was her fault because she wrote about such a scene in her book. Wait, what? Things she writes come true? No, that’s ridiculous! How could that happen? Emma walls herself in with denial, shoves her husband away when he tries to help, and stops taking her mental health medications. But she keeps on drinking and smoking like fiend. Things are going completely out of control.

She’s hallucinating, feeling horrible, but unable to stop writing stories in which she kills people that are close to her. Her husband makes one last ditch attempt to help Emma get out of the hole she’s dug for herself, but things don’t work out as planned. Nope, but they do go in crazy directions that I’m pretty sure all of our review readers will enjoy! Totally dug it. Grab a copy of Don’t Write It Down today!

Throwback Thursday Thriller

Catacombs John Farris TTT

Found this fine combo last night while doing some retail therapy! “Catacombs” by John Farris and secret box guarded by a gargoyle! I had been thinking of Farris lately because of another disturbing title by him I read a while back and now here he is. I love the gargoyle. Look out, I have protection!

Good Things Come In Threes!

Grey Matter Trio

WOW! I Cannot believe my good fortune to have THIS come in the mail!
Paul Kane’s  BEFORE
Karen Runge’s  SEEING DOUBLE
All new releases from GREY MATTER PRESS! I am so excited right now to get right down to some serious read and review time! Sometimes good deeds are rewarded! I will be featuring the reviews here and also on Hellnotes, Horror Review, and Horror World. Stay tuned to hear more about these fantastic books SOON!

Benjamin Blake’s “The Devil’s Children” is Fun Demon Hunt

The Devil’s Children
Benjamin Blake
James Ward Kirk Publishing
Released October 6, 2016
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

This is a fun romp of a book that should be read purely for entertainment. If you are a person who wants everything perfect and disputes a lot of what you read in speculative fiction, don’t read The Devil’s ChildrenHowever, if you’re looking for a fun tale and are willing to go on a loose and sometimes drunken demon chase, this is your baby!

The story starts out with a couple of childhood pals getting back together to re-visit their old stomping grounds. Harry and Adam are a couple of single guys who’ve kind of arrived at adulthood. They’re not dead by some divine miracle, which is nice, but they aren’t really achieving anything much with their lives. Adam’s life is pretty simple. He likes to drink a lot, play video games, and yank his yeeker. That’s about all his aspirations in life are, so I guess you could say he’s “living the dream.” One other thing Adam has going for him is rich parents. His Mom funds the entire trip that he and Harry take back to Wycombe, Massachusetts. This includes purchasing multiple used cars, renting a house, and buying a ridiculous amount of booze.

Harry is a little more mature than Adam, but not much. While he’s managed to live on his own in the world, he’s still pretty much hung up on teenage thoughts. Being able to smoke all the cigarettes you want because you’re an adult, still dreaming about his teenage crush, and fondling female fountains is how he rolls. One of the passions both guys share is demon hunting, something they used to do a lot as kids. But living separate lives away from Wycombe, they’ve given that part of themselves up. Until the funky dreams start. Weird, demon-filled dreams that include Harry’s girlfriend Rose, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances.

Somehow all this gels into our two heroes zooming back to Wycombe. They need to defend the town against bad mojo and an evil… town historian? Well, so be it. Goats, goat masks, underground tunnels, and secret rooms all make an appearance in this tale which feels like it is made of vaguely familiar parts. There’s even the gruff old diner cook and an African American sidekick who can easily whip a football jock’s ass. Flashes of Tom Sawyer, Stephen King’s ItThe Goonies, a little romance, and a lot of pop culture fare have all been fed into the grinder to put together The Devil’s Children.

When I say that, I mean it in the very best way. This book is entertaining and a fun adventure of the sort that many of us would like to have. Instead we’re stuck in a cubicle, or behind a counter, or changing somebody’s oil while they sit in their car yakking on a cell phone. If you’ve ever wanted to go on a road trip with an old pal and drink too much while fighting evil, grab a copy of The Devil’s Children today!


Throwback Thursday Lucky Find!

Hitchcock Russian R Stories

So I was over to the local thrift shop and as always, I perused the books and music. There I am, passing over the hundreds of romance novels, when suddenly THIS catches my eye. Straight from 1964 (dig that 50 cent price!) Suspense Stories to Play Russian Roulette By Now how about that title? Not to mention Alfred Hitchcock loaded into a cannon. Awesome! It’s going to have to get in line behind some of the review books, but I am so glad I came across this little piece of horror history. Amazes me how sometimes when you’re down some little thing like this comes along and makes the day! I will try to do a review of this lovely in the near future. Have a great weekend everyone!

Check Out The Premier Issue of Aphotic Realm! Great Magazine And Market!

Aphotic Realm cover shot

Aphotic Realm Apparitions Issue
Edited by Dustin Schyler Yoak and A.A. Medina
Released July 4, 2017
Aphotic Realm
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

From the awesome cover art by Gunnar Larsen, to the variety of fine writing and art inside, the premier issue of Aphotic Realm grabs your attention. Available both in paper or electronic forms, the overall quality of this magazine is intense. Usually the average first issue of an independent mag is okay. This mag wants to blow your socks off and it does. Even the advertisements look special! Everything is big, bold, and colorful.

Besides the stories, there are two feature stories about important people in our world of speculative fiction, fantasy, and graphic novels. Roland Mann’s section is called Mann’s World and talks about his life as a comic book creator, professor, author, and editor. The other feature is about Matt Peters the driving force behind independent press, Beating Windward. Not only is there a profile about Matt but also a peek at what the press offers. If I were a rich man, I’d buy one of each of these badass looking titles!

I guess you could say that there are really three feature pieces, because there is also a nice gallery of Gunnar Larsen’s art. It is detailed, colorful, and…disturbing. Which is great and means we’re all going to love it! Really awesome stuff!

There are an amazing amount of stories deftly packed into this issue. The majority are fictional pieces, but the editors bookended the collection with two pieces of nonfiction that fit very nicely. Dustin Schyler Yoak’s opener is about ghosts and the beliefs about them. It includes a cool and entertaining tale about going out ghost hunting that I enjoyed. While A.A. Medina’s Hex, Drugs, and Azrael features some Ouija Board weirdness that is, well… kind of creepy! Real world meets real spiritual encounters!

My favorite story in this issue of Aphotic Realm is Steve Carr’s If A Ghost Comes Knocking. Nicely put together with a great build up! You swing right into the action without preamble. There is a shining man outside a little girl’s twelfth story window and he isn’t friendly. Nope, he has a debt to recover from her money stealing daddy. Unfortunately, Daddy doesn’t want to do the right thing and ends up paying for it with something more valuable than cash!

I also enjoyed The Princess and The Tower by Steve Hoskins. It is a cool trilogy of connected tales that is a twist on the classic theme of a noble prince rescuing his sleeping beauty from an unreachable tower.  I doesn’t take long to see that the rescuers are the ones who need saving! They aren’t locked out of the tower, they’re locked IN! Very cool!

Since it’s not much fun to know how every story goes before you buy the book, Waternish Boy by Christopher Stanley will be the last story I go over. I like Fairy stories that really show the multiple magic facets of the little people with big powers. This tale shows a young boy finding his own tribe and finally being happy.

A cool thing I really like about Aphotic’s layout is that they give a short bio after the story. Most of them also have a picture and it is cool to see how most of the writers are just like us. There is usually contact info as well. So there’s an opportunity to expand your network and also information about submitting to Aphotic.

I definitely encourage you to support Issue #1 of Aphotic Realm today! Not only is it going to be great having another cool horror mag to enjoy, but it will be a new market for those of us who write! Don’t miss out! Grab a copy today, before they’re gone. Be a part of something BIG!

Jordan Anderson Gets A Fair Review!

The Things That Grow With Us
Jordan Anderson
Released November 7, 2016
Jordan Anderson Publishing
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

Straight out of the gate, let me say that I have a great deal of respect for any writer or publishing company who sends me a note telling me that they want a fair review. The hell with just being my usual nice guy self! Jordan Anderson has the confidence in his writing and wants to use this as a chance to better himself. Well, that raises my opinion of the man and his work right away. So without further ado, here is a fair review of Jordan Anderson’s The Things That Grow With Us!

My overall feelings are that this is a great collection of stories in a very strong book. There is no room for chaff in this mill! Anderson’s writing is his own, but you could make comparisons to H.P. Lovecraft in his love for detail and the slowly mounting terror in his stories. There is also a good deal of science fiction in the mix that might make one think of Ray Bradbury for the humanity and Michael Crichton for the tech end of things. The opening story “The Further We Soar Into Madness” demonstrates this mesh quite well. We are on a high-tech space journey to planets impossibly far away in search of the ancient ones and the power that alliance would grant. Harold Jamison is a man hell-bent on this goal and will do whatever he has to in order to achieve it. That includes lying to his crew, knowingly sending his own brother to death, and spending incredible sums to acquire the necessary materials. One thing it does not include? Sharing his secret knowledge with others. The sole exception being his equally self-absorbed son, whom he has promised to visit upon his return from space.

While the first story is the longest, that doesn’t guarantee it’s the best. There are many fine gems to be enjoyed in this collection. Such as “The Tides Of Oblivion” – a story that makes you think some young pup is about to get a beat down in a den of thieves, when just the opposite will occur.

“Of Sand And Wine” is an emotionally intense story of loss, but also gain for a special girl who discovers her powers of the mind while her mother drowns herself in drink.

What if there were a chance to bring back someone you loved from death? Would you try it, even if it meant trafficking with evil dark forces? A man tries to do this for his granddaughter in “Burials,” only to find out that nothing is free. Instead, he reaps horrible results that require intervention.

Speaking of frightening and devilish creatures, do you think it is possible for them to have “Angelic Tendencies?” You might find yourself feeling very surprised! A young girl trapped in human-made hell calls on her angels to rescue her from a perverted creep, who just happens to be her uncle. As things get worse, she figures that her prayers are not going to be answered. But her angels do come to her aid, just not exactly the way she expects. Nor is she ready to see her rescuers who appear to be tiny…devils.

Perhaps they dwell in “The Gore Hole?” Anderson sends us on a psychedelic journey into an opening leading to another world. It is too much for mere humans to comprehend, so it destroys the minds of those exposed to it. Adults would probably not stick their heads into it, but children will!

At the end of this book is my favorite story. Anderson obviously had to place it at the end, because after reading “Warmth In Winter” you will be done for the day. Your mind will be full in the very best of ways. This story drags you through nearly every single emotion in the human psyche over its course. It starts with Old Man Jack living an isolated life as a sort of self-punishment for an accident that took his wife and son. It’s snowy, bitter cold, and dangerous. One mistake can cost a person their life. He is warned about weird events that occur on a certain night of the year, but he lives there for many years with no problems. Until the night of the story, that is! Then all hell breaks loose when a strange black tide covers the snow and attempts to get him. There is a creature trying to get into his cabin and Jack is sure that it means him harm. The poor man is run through Hell, into paradise, then left in limbo. To escape from that, he needs to make a life changing decision. That’s him on the front cover, being amazed and confused by this black, tar-like substance that can change shape at will. Jack takes the path offered him with high hopes of something better than just existing alone.

Highly recommended reading! There is not a dud in the bunch, and Jordan Anderson knows how to pull off some really awesome work! I guess my fair review ended up being a good review! That is always a pleasure! Try The Things That Grow with Us, his collection! You will be glad you did!

Monsters Exist Review Now On Hellnotes Site Too!

Edited by Mr. Deadman and Theresa Braun
Released July 7, 2017
Deadman’s Tome Publishing-Special Issue
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

This a great collection of stories from exceptional writers, including Gary Buller, S.E. Casey, Mr. Deadman, Calvin Demmer, Philip W. Kleaver, and William Marchese. Remember these names! I think we’ll be hearing a lot from them in the future. New, up-and-coming authors are one of the reasons why I enjoy doing reviews! We all enjoy books by established writers because they’re the ones who got us into writing in the first place, right? But, when you read new writing, there is a freshness and extra ferocity. Along with that, modern elements like cell phones, Google, and today’s vehicles make these stories that much more REAL. Anyway, I think you get my point. It’s important to read new writers from smaller presses. If you don’t, you’re missing a lot!

Monsters Exist kicks off in fine style with “Master Vermin” by Wallace Boothill. Sometimes in an eager rush to build new, costly condominiums, a construction company might release something that was better off trapped where it was. In today’s world of quick property flips and house upgrades that happen in the course of a 45-minute TV program, everyone thinks it’s so damn easy. But you can’t just slap a brand new name on something and pretend its history doesn’t exist, unless you want to pay the price.

Gary Buller contributes “Wicked Congregation,” and it is a chiller of a story! Faeries don’t really look or behave like those cute little figurines for sale in gift shops. Especially not the ones in this story! These guys are winged terrors who demand their dues, or the rest of the town will suffer. Either do what’s required or pay the price. By the way, these little dudes don’t want cash. Uh-uh. What they want is flesh and blood human sacrifices that must be alive upon delivery. Well done!

After reading this anthology you may “Never Sleep Again,” the title of Calvin Demmer’s contribution and nightmare-inducing tale. A retired policeman is pulled out of retirement to help a young and very gung-ho officer figure out what is causing strange deaths. All the victims are killed while sleeping, usually on beds. They also are minus their hands and feet. The only clue is a small pile of dirt and the testimony of the retired officer, which everyone scoffs at. What a ridiculous explanation! They think the man is off his rocker when he uses a children’s bedtime song as a clue. Rubbish! But that’s too bad, because the threat is real.

Can a monster offer a solution to some of life’s miseries? In Philip W. Kleaver’s tale, “The Voice From The Bottom Of The Well,” it does. Not that you will think so in the terrifying beginning of the story. A ten-year-old girl is having escalating nightmares about a voice coming from a well hidden in the woods. While outdoors playing, she finds that the well is quite near her home. Not only that, but a voice inside of it keeps telling her how hungry it is. It wants MEAT! She tries asking adults for help, but they tell her that she’s loopy and to grow up! Especially one very unpleasant parent. Perhaps this parent can help after all…

But you’ll have to grab your own copy of Monsters Exist available from Deadman’s Tome Publishing to find out! There’s also a ton more good stories included in this special printing. But grab it fast, before they run out! I definitely encourage you to give this anthology a try and also consider works by the authors included. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go pick up some more meat and hi-protein dog food!