Dead and Breakfast by Gary Buller

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Gary Buller
June 19, 2020
Reviewed by Brian “Skull” Lewis

Hello again you wicked whackdoodles, it’s your old pal Skull with another cool title from independent speculative fiction publisher Unnerving! Dead and Breakfast by Gary Buller is book number 11 of Unnerving’s REWIND OR DIE series, and a most excellent choice of reading material. What we get is one of my favorite approaches to a book: stories within a larger story, which is perfect for modern times, short attention spans, reading on the train and anywhere else. Let’s get to it, shall we?
Punk rockers Eddie and Banksy are on their way to a party which is going to be one hell of a good time. Unfortunately, they get massively offtrack and find themselves in the middle of nowhere with a tire that’s way beyond flat. If that’s not enough, a frigid rain chases them to the only shelter available, an ancient stone cottage straight out of a horror flick. But any warmth and shelter is better than none, right? Eddie feels a bit unsure as he hands over payment for the night’s lodgings at Sally’s Dead and Breakfast, wondering if he heard her right. No matter how creepy she is, a warm fire blazes in the lounge beckoning the soaked travelers. While the kettle is on, Sally regales them with a tale called Cords about a village that operates somewhat on the scale of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery except in Sally’s story the sacrifices are everyone who hits their 35th birthday. They must go to the fissure and if they don’t, evil things make sure they do. Cool mix of futuristic in a derelict almost Victorian landscape.
After that creepy story, there’s at least some tea and possibly a telephone to get the hell out of this crusty inn. But tea’s not ready yet and “sorry dearies, no phone”. There are more stories though. The Brace is a terrifying tale of domestic abuse and the power of ghosts to help a young boy in a time of desperate need. Sally is quite the weird wordsmith and trots out her story The Weight of Nostalgia for her captive audience. Eddie and Banksy don’t want to hear anymore but where can they go? This speculative tale starts with an unseen narrator following a young boy who appears to be enjoying a day at the local sweet shop. Warm waves of nostalgia abound among the penny candies, original formula Coca-Cola, and ice-lollies, but something is amiss here in the land of almost reality. A strange government program that enables test subjects to recreate the past and a family cursed with cancer make us wonder if all life is just a trap that leads to suffering.
Finally, Sally brings tea to the now weary and bewildered travelers who hope this means an end to the horrors she’s been heaping upon them. But she’s got one tale left and it’s a doozy called The Greyfriars Transcripts. A caller to a radio show is looking for some advice about a very grim situation he’s stuck in. His day started normally enough until the baker making his breakfast told him a strange story about the train he planned on boarding. “They say the Greyfriars route is cursed” But the narrator just rolls his eyes and heads off to the train station. Whether that was a good choice or not is something you’ll need to grab a copy of Dead and Breakfast to find out, along with the fates of Eddie and Banksy. Your old pal Skull says it’s a winner!
Damaged Skull Writer and Reviewer rates Dead and Breakfast a very scary FIVE STARS. I’ve been fortunate to know Gary Buller for many years and have enjoyed his ability to make readers both chuckle and scream with his decidedly English writing style. Bottom line, his stories hold up with a timeless quality to them that keeps you turning the pages and feeling a bit sad when you’ve finished. Combine that with Eddie Generous’ vision for Unnerving-an inclusive, anti-hater press and person, who knows how to scare the hell out of readers and make them think. Anybody can jump scare someone at least once, but to have something more to say afterwards AND be a supportive member of the diverse community that horror writers are, you have to be someone special. Maybe just a bit crazy too, but aren’t we all if we’re honest about it?
For more information about Gary Buller, visit him on Twitter @garybuller
For more information about UNNERVING go to: @UnnervingBooks on Twitter
And don’t forget to follow me, your old pal Skull, at: It’s a great way to help your favorite independent authors, poets, and publishers. Damaged Skull Writer and Reviewer is an inclusive blog where everyone is valued, except for haters who are heartily encouraged to climb into the nearest industrial trash compactor and press start. My human host, Brian James Lewis is a disabled poet and writer with PTSD who has 3 new Beat Generation style poems in Trajectory Journal issue 23, available now! As is issue 22 which contains his terrifying short story Following My Destiny about misguided mass shooter Chance McCandless. We’re also on Twitter @skullsnflames76 and Goodreads. See you soon!

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DARK MURMURS-A Compendium Of Curiosities
Edited by: Jill Girardi & Lydia Prime
October 10, 2022
Silent House Press
Reviewed by Brian “Skull” Lewis

Hello there, horror fiends! It’s your old pal Skull with a review of an amazing collection of short horror fiction from Silent House Press that I just know you’re going to love. Dark Murmurs is indeed a compendium of curiosities with the aim of shaking things up. The stories are breathtaking which is exactly what you’d expect from editors Jill Girardi & Lydia Prime, but this anthology also aims to bring attention to BIPOC and female writers. It has been proven time and time again that these writers are often treated as being less than or have their work dismissed because of gender and/or color issues that shouldn’t be. Just as no book should be judged by its cover, a story shouldn’t be turned down because of its writer. You will see the theme of discrimination brought up frequently in Dark Murmurs whether the protagonist is a human or a spider who’s just not going to take it anymore as in Webbed by Ellie Douglas. By calcium, this book has my bony digits clacking madly on the keyboard, so let’s keep a creepy thing going and check out more of Dark Murmurs!

In a story so vivid, you can feel the boot kicks, a cobbler and rabbi stuck in a WWII concentration camp create a golem to protect their fellow Jews from the Nazis. It is a success…for a while. But as the cobbler says at the end of The Cobbler And The Golem by Catherine McCarthy, “we cannot escape our fear…better to take it with us and learn to live with it.”  There is no master race and there never will be. Sadly, there is no shortage of people who hate others for things that cannot be changed.

Looking for a short story that will flat out terrify you with its twisted ending? Then check out Last Words by Richard Chizmar. This one’s going to give you a bad case of chills. The narrator tells us of how his wonderful grandfather raised he and his brother after a tragedy took their parents. Pops taught them how to fish, play baseball, and rewarded them with treasure hunts. I mean, what kid doesn’t want to go on a hike in the woods looking for buried treasure with maps and everything? Oh, what fun! The narrator loved these so much that when Pops mentions a final treasure hunt on his death bed, he can hardly wait to get started. But what he digs up brings a horrible realization. How the hell can one person be a loving parent and the epitome of evil at the same time?

Tea For Two by Elizabeth Massie also delivers a startling conclusion to what appears to be a standard love story. Will rescues Macy from the evil magician they both worked for. Daniel Dawson does a LOT more than just pull rabbits and endless scarves out of his hat. That stuff is mere child’s play for this friend of the devil, who can do horrible feats with his dark powers. Will falls in love with Macy and when Dawson turns her into a wooden dummy, gallantly tries to steal her away from the magician’s evil clutches. But he soon finds out that it’s impossible to run away from the truth. We are who we are despite the skin we’re in.

When I was a kid, my mom constantly hammered into my head that violence for any reason was wrong. Nice sentiment maybe, but I soon found out that turning the other cheek and all that jazz only works for saints in religious teachings. On the street in a new town every six months, I learned some different lessons. One of the main characters in Jill Girardi’s story One Every Year appears to have reached a similar conclusion. We get the story from Debbie who’s constantly getting yelled at and made to feel like trash by Uncle Hank. That seems to be Hank’s overall approach with family. Yell, hit, and dismiss. But when a bunch of hoochies pull up next his boat on the lake he’s a real charmer. Strangely enough after Debbie’s Aunt Ro tells them a story about a Native American Princess who haunts the lake, taking at least one victim every year, a rather major event happens to support her words. But was it caused by the Setauket princess’ ghostly powers or something a bit less ethereal?

What I’ve shared so far is just a tiny taste of the powerful stories included in Dark Murmurs I haven’t even told you about Philip Fracassi’s tale Serial Numbers which explains why it may be dangerous to fulfill one’s fantasies with money. Or why it’s a bad idea for immortals to fall in love with those who have a definite lifespan, as happens in Brandon Scott’s tale Stargazer Lily. But in all reality, your old pal Skull must wrap this review up so people can read it and find out how much they’ll enjoy having their own copy of Dark Murmurs-A Compendium Of Curiosities or gift it to someone who loves speculative fiction.

There’s just one thing left to do, rate this anthology using a system of 1 to 5 stars. Damaged Skull Writer and Reviewer rates Dark Murmurs a very hearty 5 STARS! Jam packed with awesome writers and edited by the power team of Jill Girardi & Lydia Prime this is a horror anthology you need to read. Avoid a boring winter by grabbing a copy of Dark Murmurs stat! For more information about this and upcoming releases, contact the publisher at: You can also contact the editors:

Jill Girardi:  Twitter: @Jill_Girardi
                       Instagram: @jill_girardi

Lydia Prime:  Facebook: @AuthorLydiaPrime
                         Instagram: @Helminthophobia

And don’t forget to follow me, your old pal Skull, at: which will help your favorite independent authors, poets, and publishers. This an inclusive blog where everyone is valued, except for haters who are heartily encouraged to climb into the nearest industrial trash compactor and press start. My human host, Brian James Lewis is a disabled poet and writer with PTSD who has 3 new Beat Generation style poems in Trajectory Journal issue 23, available now! As is issue 22 which contains his terrifying short story Following My Destiny about misguided mass shooter Chance McCandless.


God’s Leftovers
Grant Wamack
Bizarro Pulp Press
August 26, 2022
Reviewed by Brian “Skull” Lewis

Hello all you readers of horror and dark fiction, it’s your old pal Skull with some new dark fiction from Grant Wamack! Recently published by Bizarro Pulp Press, his novella God’s Leftovers is all killer and no filler, and I mean that in more ways than one. Just a quick note here for people concerned with triggers, this book is violent, gory, and contains some very graphic sex scenes. I know most of my readers are okay with that as long as it’s integral to the story, but for those who aren’t…you have been warned. Powerful images that stay in your head for a long time are on their way. All ready? Excellent! Then let’s all head for the desert.

What do a family of four, an extremely religious man, some funky hippies who live a strange life in desert, and a tough rapper and his videographer all have in common? They’re all visiting the Valley of Fire, a national park in the Nevada desert. The visitors all enter the park looking for something good. The family of four want to explore nature and see wildlife. Jerry the highly religious, uptight man is looking for peace. Big Redd and Scotty came to shoot a badass music video. The couple? Who really knows why they’re here. Probably to boink on the rocks and get video content for their vlog. But, instead of the goodness they seek, the visitors are found by the wiry man.

The desert is an ancient place full of magic and deadly threats. One might not regard the ragtag group of stoned looking hippies meditating for hours as any sort of threat, but the air vibrates with an electric hum that makes all things electronic die. As the power of The Collective continues to rise, the fates of the park’s visitors are revealed and the view ain’t too pretty. Help comes from an unlikely source, but will it be too late? The wiry man is not one to give in without a fight and to the winner goes the harvest. One person will finally find peace by riding into the flames on a pale horse, but who is it? Your old pal Skull gives God’s Leftovers a solid 5 out of 5 STARS and agrees with advance reviewers like Lucas Magnum that this spectacular splatterpunk blast is going to leave you wounded and bleeding. You’ll never look at a desert landscape in the same way again. Get it, but be warned, this ain’t no feel-good story. I dare you to step into the fire.

Want more information about Grant Wamack? Head on over to his blog

Want more information about Bizarro Pulp Press? Then head on over to the Journalstone website at

Want more information about Damaged Skull Writer Brian James Lewis and his Reviewer pal, Skull? Then follow us at:

Grant Wamack


Brian James Lewis is a disabled poet and writer with PTSD, who writes daily on vintage typewriters rescued from scrap piles, including one previously owned by Rod Serling. He’s also been a reviewer of dark poetry and speculative fiction since 2016. Most recently, Brian’s poem about mental illness “AGAIN” was published in JMWW and his short fiction piece about mass shooter Chance McCandless, “Following My Destiny” is in the Spring 2022 edition of Trajectory Journal. Check him out on Twitter@skullsnflames76 and visit his website for news and reviews.


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