Daemon Manx
July 24, 2021
Terror Tract
Reviewed by Brian “Skull” Lewis

Hello frequent readers, it’s your old pal Skull with a great FIVE STAR read that I’m just dying to tell you about! Of course, that’s going to be one hell of a nifty trick, since I’m already a member of the undead community, but I think you get where I’m coming from. Abigail written by the one and only Daemon Manx is a beautiful shape-shifting novella that calls the speculative fiction genre home. Readers will feel the full range of emotions as they peruse this big little book that seems tiny on the outside but is bursting with so much energy on the inside. Terror Tract made a most excellent choice in publishing this baby!

Abigail opens at the Del Monico where Adrian is sitting at the bar feeling bummed out because his date is a no show. His ex-boyfriend and bartender, Gabe tries to cheer him up to no avail. Then Michael shows up and…zowie! The sparks do indeed fly. After a wonderful evening, Adrian floats home to something unusual on his front stoop. It’s scary, horrible, and…kind of cute? Abigail has arrived.

Suddenly bachelor Adrian is in charge of a baby and it’s not an easy job in the least. Manx has a great eye for detail and puts in the perfect mix of humor and fear. And there definitely is fear because Abigail is different from her skin to her eyeballs, and are those horns? Oh my! But nothing is going to stop him from taking the very best care of Abigail. Adrian isn’t sure why, but he loves this child.

What about that handsome date he had? Doctor Michael seemed so perfect. Still, Adrian can’t let anyone see Abigail, not even a pediatrician. Nope, nopity, nope. He’s only too aware of what happens to people that are different. Growing up gay in the deep south was a horrible experience that scarred Adrian for life. It wasn’t his fault that he was different! Their violence wasn’t necessary, and Adrian vows to protect Abigail to the death if need be.

His commitment to her is wonderful. But after some odd experiences and definite difficulties, Adrian realizes that book learning and the internet only take you so far. Sooner or later great, expert help is required. In fact, Adrian knows a great pediatrician. Calling Dr. Mike! But will the doctor agree to see him after being ignored for months? What will he think of Abigail? Is there a chance that Adrian will have to give her up? Find out the whole story when you pick up a copy of Abigail by Daemon Manx from your favorite bookseller! If you’re an Amazon shopper, the paperback is currently listed for a great price, and the kindle version is even less expensive.

As I said in the beginning, Damaged Skull Reviewer rates Abigail a BIG FIVE STARS! This book is downright magical for its ability to tackle topics some might not agree with and to show that love does not discriminate. Rod Serling would enjoy reading this story because of the journey Adrian takes through Abigail. We readers go with him and learn some things, too. What constitutes “normal” and why do people think it’s such a good thing? Seems to me that those who are unique can open our eyes to new worlds, but only if we let them. I really enjoyed all of Daemon Manx’s little touches in the book, such as creating fictional names for places and things. A few examples of that are the “Fritz Carlson”, packages arriving from “Feral Express” and using the dating site “Cinder.” Clever!

I could ramble on all night about this novella, but now it’s your turn to enjoy this great read from Daemon Manx and Terror Tract. For more information about the publisher, go to: https://terrortract.net or visit them on Twitter @terrortract. For more information about Daemon Manx go to: daemonmanx@yahoo.com or visit him on Twitter @daemonmanx He also uses the handle Daemon Manx on Facebook and Instagram. Thanks for checking out another review from your old pal, Skull. See you soon!


Seven Exhumations
James G. Carlson
January 8, 2021
Terror Tract Publishing
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

Hello Horror Fiends! Welcome once again to the Skullcave, home of Damaged Skull Reviewer. Your old pal Skull has something special to share with you today-a collection of short horror fiction by Pennsylvania based speculative fiction writer, James G. Carlson. Published by Terror Tract, Seven Exhumations is way above the average slash and splash version of horror that many people have come to dread. In fact, this collection contains very little gore and is all the better for it. There’s still plenty of chills and lots of things that make you wonder if something similar could happen to you.

But enough pre-game chatter, let’s open that handsome cover-which just happens to be an artist’s rendering of the very first story, “Grim.” That’s brothers, Jack and Daniel frozen in their tracks at the sight of the story’s namesake. Carlson has written a story that mixes ancient evil and the modern day with satisfying results. Exploring abandoned properties isn’t anything new, but now there are videos all over social media of people doing it that pretty much destroy the magic. Despite their cameras and club shirts, most old house explorer groups just find dust bunnies and old clothes. Daniel and Jack do it the old-fashioned way, with just a lighter to illuminate the dark places. They soon meet the strange lifeforce of the house, but things go sour pretty fast. A couple of uninvited school bullies barge into the mix at just the wrong time and the house reveals some secrets to Daniel. Will Grim get his way or is there a chance to escape?

Insatiable is about a man who never feels satisfied, despite all the sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll. It’s cool and all, but he just can’t fill the void. Then a friend of his lets him in on a secret, He’s a demon and she’s an angel named Temperance of all things. After a night to remember, they have big choices to make.

Major Arcana: The Devil Reversed is about a man named Gerald who finds a unique way to escape from hell. But now he needs a body to experience life in the modern day, which brings the question: Can a mortal actually enjoy being possessed? Maybe the most terrifying part of this story is the woman who shows up near the end looking for Gerald. The Devil is a fearsome entity, but his accountant is on a whole different level of creepiness.

It’s Always Night Underground As a former mischievous teenager, this one hit me like a ruler across the knuckles. WHAP! When three bored teens decide to party in a dangerous cave on the outskirts of town, it seems like a pretty cool deal. That’s until they find a note from a neighbor girl who’s gone missing. The note is chilling enough, but her mention of an evil creature that guards the cave entrance sends every iota of fun packing, leaving only fear behind. This story reminds of all the stupid shit I did with friends back when we were “invincible.”

Micah And The Hellmouth. Intense tale about the people polite society ignores unless their kid becomes one. Then it’s just to condemn drugs and wave their silver canes about. None of that actually helps the addicts or saves relationships. All the hoo-hah about the war on prescription drugs is just so much news fodder. Most serious junkies are not purchasing their drugs from pharmacies, they get their stuff from a guy named “Oatmeal.” But love is love and to lose it, is to lose everything as Micah finds out. He’s also the reason for the hellmouth in his basement and why the Devil’s accountant is sitting next to it. My favorite quote in the book is this: “To exist is to suffer, whether alive or dead. No way around it. But it is to be hoped that our suffering served a purpose, had some meaning. It is to be hoped that when we fall, we do so gladly.”

Interview On Amen Alley The final story in this book is an apocalyptic dystopia about the future of “Old City” Philadelphia, PA. It contains strong fantasy elements and the often unrealized truth that modern technology cannot always replace the ancient things. Modern day humanity relies far too much on electronic help instead of honing real life skills. But when the future may only be a few hours away, you better keep learning and stay strong. All the stories in Seven Exhumations are great. But for me, this piece is the diamond. Thanks to Carlson’s writing skills, you can feel this story.

So, what about the million-dollar question: How did Damaged Skull rate this collection of James G. Carlson’s work? I rate it FIVE BIG STARS! This is some really groovy stuff that lovers of all things speculative are sure to enjoy. Seven Exhumations has also landed the coveted facing outward spot on the Skullcave’s “Wall of Fame!” James G. Carlson is a great writer who brings new material to the table and gives us lots to think about while avoiding the pitfalls of overdoing it. He presents a nice balance of reality and fantasy in his stories that puts readers right in the action. No flat spots, just pure imagination power at work. Plus, this is a release from Terror Tract, and they only publish good stuff. So do yourself a favor and grab a copy of Seven Exhumations your favorite bookseller today.

Thanks again for checking out another review from your old pal, Skull! For more information check out https://terrortract.net     


Hello friends! It’s your old pal Skull again with some great news. Author James G. Carlson has sent this fine collection of his short horror fiction to the Skullcave and it looks like my little friend, Skellicat, has taken a liking to it. We’re currently working on the review write up and it should be live in 5 days or less if hell doesn’t freeze over and the creek don’t rise.

Speaking of great things, check out that handsome typewriter that SEVEN EXHUMATIONS is resting on. Fans of the great Richard Chizmar might recognize this Remington Quiet-Riter as being just like the one he posted on his Twitter account a while back. Kind of cool, right? The big difference between our typewriters is that mine is still in daily use while Richard’s is under a pile of shoes in his closet-a sweet memory of pounding those keys on the way to his current status in the writing world, something we all aspire to. Just a fun aside there, but if you like Richard Chizmar’s work, there’s a pretty good chance you will also dig what James G. Carlson is doing, so check him out!

Thanks for visiting Damaged Skull Writer and Reviewer. See you soon!