Book Review: The Haunting of Edward House

Title: The Haunting of Edward House
Author: Amy Cross
Genre: Horror
Rating: 3,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon

Twenty-five years ago, Edward House and his sister Meg ran screaming from their family home. They claimed that a ghost had attacked their parents, that some kind of evil spirit had been trying to possess Edward and take control of his body. Their father lay dead on the floor, and their mother had lost her mind. Now Edward and Meg only had each other.

Today, Edward is a married man with a daughter of his own. When he and his family move into a new home, they have no idea that a dark force from the past is once again beginning to stir. Edward is certain that the events of his childhood are over, but his sister’s not so sure.

And when Edward’s daughter Molly starts seeing the same ghost that tormented Edward and Meg a quarter of a century earlier, history looks set to repeat itself.

The Haunting of Edward House is a ghost story about a man who refuses to face his past, a woman can’t let go of one moment of horror, and a deadly evil that will stop at nothing to get what it wants.

The Haunting of Edward House is the story of Edward House, a rather bland married man with a daughter of his own. He and his family move into a new home, and strangely enough, his daughter Molly starts seeing the same ghost that tormented Edward and his sister Meg back when they were children–although back then they lived in a completely different house!

As usual, Amy Cross manages to put an interesting, unexpected spin on your typical run-down-the-mill ghost story, making her books stand out from others in the genre. This is not one of my favorites by Amy Cross, but it’s still a decent story. What annoyed me the most was how long it took for Edward and his wife to finally admit they were being haunted. They did wrong by Meg by not believing her sooner. It also didn’t make much sense, given what had happened in Edward’s past, that he was so reluctant to believe.

Fans of ghost stories will find an interesting story here about trauma, family ties and also a lesson that not everything is always what it seems at first glance.

Book Review: How to Make A Ghost by Amy Cross

Title: How to Make A Ghost
Author: Amy Cross
Genre: Horror
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon

Twenty-five years ago, Eve Marsh’s little sister Rebecca vanished. No-one in the family is willing to talk about what happened, and Eve has come to accept that she might never learn the truth.

When a huge storm erupts, however, Eve is forced to return to her childhood home. Her father lives alone, and the house is in danger of collapsing as it’s battered by wind and rain. Eve hasn’t talked to her father since she ran away from home many years earlier, and she soon finds that the old man’s mind is deteriorating. Meanwhile, something seems to be in the house with him, lurking in the shadows and tormenting what’s left of his sanity.

Eve soon begins to discover the truth about what happened to Rebecca. A strange, ghostly figure appears in the house, and a voice cries out for revenge. The more Eve learns, the more she comes to understand that something terrible has been happening to her family for many years. She’s always held her father responsible, but is there something even worse that Eve doesn’t know? And is the ghost of her dead sister really lurking in the shadows of the house?

How To Make a Ghost is a horror story about a haunted house, a dark family secret, and a horrific experiment that has been years in the making.

Over the past year, Amy Cross has become one of my favorite authors. She manages to combine a straightforward, no-nonsense, fast-paced writing style with original, imaginative stories that keep readers on the edge of their seat.

How to Make A Ghost is no different. Seemingly starting off as yet another ghost story, the plot soon takes a turn followed by an ever-more-complicated series of twists that make for an unpredictable, innovative story.

Eve Marsh’s little sister Rebecca vanished more than two decades ago. No one in the family is willing to discuss the incident, and it has estranged Eve from her father, whom she blames for what happened to Rebecca. When a storm erupts and her sister begs her to go check up on her father, Eve reluctantly heads to her childhood home. Upon her arrival, she notices immediately that her father’s mind seems to be deteriorating… But perhaps even more worrying, something seems to be inside the house, trying to destroy whatever is left of her father’s sanity.

Is it the ghost of Rebecca? Or is something else at play?

What I enjoyed the most about this book, without giving too much away concerning the plot, is that the true horror doesn’t come from the ghosts, but from another source entirely. And that is far more horrifying and nightmare-inducing than any ghost could ever be.

Book Review: Her Name is Mercie by Chris Roy

Title: Her Name is Mercie
Author: Chris Roy
Genre: Thriller, Noir, Horror
Rating: 4,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Roy delivers on the edge of your seat storytelling with rough edges, crooked cops and a tiny light at the end of the tunnel that is never quite extinguished.

Tom Vater, co–founder of Crime Wave Press.

Her Name Is Mercie is a fast furious ride into an inferno of the highest tension you are likely to encounter this year. Where noir meets thriller, toss a coin. Dive in. And unplug your phones, pcs tablets and keep reading deeper and deeper, until the final pages.

Richard Godwin, author of Apostle Rising.

Mercie Hillbrook lives a simple, quiet life working as a gas station attendant. Then her parents are killed. Her home is taken. The people responsible are excused for just doing their job. When an attempt to get justice her way lands her in trouble with the law, Mercie realizes she still has something to lose: her own life.

Then she finds reason to believe her parents were murdered… and she doesn’t care anymore

In Her Name is Mercie, we get a few different stories to enjoy, the first and longest being “Her Name is Mercie” (same as the title of the book), but then we also get several shorter stories: “Re-Pete”, “Hunger”, my personal favorite “Libby’s Hands” and “Marsh Madness”.

While “Her Name is Mercie” is the longest story in the book and the other seem more like additions, I actually liked the shorter stories even more than the long story. I am a fan of short stories, so that could be one of the reasons.

In “Her Name is Mercie”, main character Mercie Hillbrook lives a pretty ordinary life until her parents get murdered, her home is taken, and the people responsible don’t get any type of punishment. Mercie has no choice but to take matters into her own hands and get some justice of her own.

The story has a very noir feel to it, and it’s definitely dark and troubling. “Libby’s Hands” has more of a horror feel to it, and overall, all the stories are omnious, atmospheric reads.

A great book to crawl under a blanket and read with the flashlight on.

Book Review: Skull Session by Daniel Hecht

Title: Skull Session

Author: Daniel Hecht

Genre: Mystery / Thriller

Rating: 3,5 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Despite his brilliance, Paul Skoglund hasn’t held a steady job for years, partly because of his Tourette’s syndrome. When his eccentric, wealthy aunt asks him to take on the repairs of her magnificent hunting lodge, he is in no position to refuse. But then he finds that the rambling old house has been savagely vandalized: he discovers a scene of almost superhuman destruction, a violence mirrored by a series of disappearances and grisly deaths haunting the region. Paul delves into the wreckage, wondering what dark passion—and what strength—could cause such chaos. As state police investigator Mo Ford pursues the mystery through official channels, escalating events force Paul deeper into his family’s past and into the darker aspects of his own nature.

Do you know the kind of book that starts out great, builds this wonderful, delightfully creepy plot, introduces you to these amazing characters with detailed, complex, three-dimensional personalities, all of them with their own quirks and characteristics? The suspense is so palpable you’re on the edge of your seat and you just can’t wait to see how it all plays out.

Until it does play out, and the big reveal is so shocking you can barely believe what you’re reading – and unfortunately, not in a good way. The big climax is weird, out of place, and seemingly comes out of nowhere. It’s also utterly ridiculous, even within the bonds of the world described in this book.

So, basically, an amazing, atmospheric, eerie read… Up until the last thirty pages which, as one reviewer on Goodreads adequately described them: “the last 30 pages ripped off my head and pooped down my neck”. That’s the most adequate description I’ve found of that horrible, out-of-place, surreal ending.

Anyway, back to hte plot. Paul Skogland, our main character, has Tourette’s syndrom and struggles to cope with his symptoms, and with keeping a job. When his wealthy aunt wants him to repair the old family estate which she has left vacant for the past six months, Paul jumps at the opportunity. But the mayhem wrecked in the manor doesn’t seem like something that could be attributed to a regular person.The force seems almost too strong for that.

Then, when a local police detective investigates missing persons reports of several teenagers who disappeared in the past few months, and the traces lead him to the house Paul is renovating, Paul realizes that to face the monster inhabiting his ancestral home, he might first have to face the monster inside himself.

Worth a read especially if you like psychological horror / neurological thrillers, but I’m giving you a fair warning – you will probably either like the ending, or absolutely hate it.

 

Book Review: For A Glimpse Beyond The Terminus by Jordan R. Anderson

Title: For A Glimpse Beyond The Terminus
Author: Jordan R. Anderson
Genre: Horror
Rating: 4,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

For A Glimpse Beyond the Terminus marks the second collection of horror, emotion and oddity by author Jordan R. Anderson.
Within these pages, a middle-aged man encounters oddity in a used car purchase, and a pair of detectives investigates the aftermath. A young employee of a tech firm discovers strange abilities in the wake of losing his virginity. After the stillbirth of her child, a woman flees from her pursuant nightmares into the arms of her sole blood relative. A boy’s patience is tested and his faith is challenged as he awaits prophecy under the guidance of his mother’s righteous fervor.
These and other tales lay elbow-to-elbow like corpses in a mass grave, offering unique struggles and differing perspectives on the meaning of life, death and the spaces between.
“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.” —Brian J. Lewis, Horror Review

 

I’m a huge fan of horror stories, so when I saw a request from the author to review this book pop up in my mailbox, I simply couldn’t resist. Not only does it have an awesome, fitting cover, the stories inside are pretty awesome too.

Usually with short story collections, they end up being a bit of mixed bag, with some excellent stories, some mediocre ones and one or two that are not so great. With For A Glimpse Beyond The Terminus, none of the stories really fell into the latter category – some stories were excellent, some were mediocre, but there wasn’t a single one that I didn’t like.

“The Midnight Baby” and “Master” were my two favorite stories in the collection. I also really liked the plot of “The Harem Within” and how it was executed. Perhaps my least favorite was “Under and In and So It All Begins”, but several other reviewers mentioned that as their favortie, which just shows you can’t argue with taste.

Author Jordan R. Anderson has the uncanny ability to sketch his character’s personality in a matter of minutes, like a painter bringing a portrait to life in just a few brushstrokes, and he masterfully creates an eerie, unsettling atmosphere in all of his stories.

I just finished this one, and I’m already looking forward to the next collection!

Book Review: Monsterland by Michael Okon

Title: Monsterland
Author: Michael Okon
Genre: YA, Horror
Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Welcome to Monsterland—the scariest place on Earth.

The last couple years of high school have not been fun for Wyatt Baldwin. His parents divorce, then his dad mysteriously dies. He’s not exactly comfortable with his new stepfather, Carter White, either. An on-going debate with his best friends Howard Drucker and Melvin over which monster is superior has gotten stale. He’d much rather spend his days with beautiful and popular Jade. However, she’s dating the brash high-school quarterback Nolan, and Wyatt thinks he doesn’t stand a chance.

But everything changes when Wyatt and his friends are invited to attend the grand opening of Monsterland, a groundbreaking theme park where guests can rock out with vampires at Vampire Village, be chased by actual werewolves on the Werewolf River Run, and walk among the dead in Zombieville.

With real werewolves, vampires and zombies as the main attractions, what could possibly go wrong?

Monsterland is a theme park filled with monsters – any monster lover’s dream come through. Zombies, vampires, werewolves, you name it, and the park has them. Wyatt Baldwin, high school student, movie buff and monster fan never expected to get invited to the grand opening of Monsterland. But then luck (or destiny, depending on how you look at it) intervenes and they get to visit Monsterland on the grand opening. What could possibly go wrong?

Monsterland focuses on monsters and families, and it basically reads like Jurassic Park, but with monsters. Of course you know something will go wrong the moment Wyatt steps through those doors, but still, it’s an engaging, surprising read. Wyatt and his brother have a new stepdad, so the family dynamics are slightly troublesome. They’re trying to make it work, which is admirable. The family dynamics play an important part of the book, and help sketch the personality of our main character.

The book is filled with adventure, fast-paced escapes, and great writing. A perfect read for horror fans – I didn’t find it that scary, but it was very entertaining nonetheless.

Giveaway

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review: Bone White by Ronald Malfi

Title: Bone White
Author: Ronald Malfi
Genre: Horror
Age Group: Adult
Rating: 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

A landscape of frozen darkness punctuated by grim, gray days.
The feeling like a buzz in your teeth.
The scrape of bone on bone. . .

Paul Gallo saw the report on the news: a mass murderer leading police to his victims graves, in remote Dread s Hand, Alaska.
It s not even a town; more like the bad memory of a town. The same bit of wilderness where his twin brother went missing a year ago. As the bodies are exhumed, Paul travels to Alaska to get closure and put his grief to rest.
But the mystery is only beginning. What Paul finds are superstitious locals who talk of the devil stealing souls, and a line of wooden crosses to keep what s in the woods from coming out. He finds no closure because no one can explain exactly what happened to Danny.
And the more he searches for answers, the more he finds himself becoming part of the mystery. . .
Praise for Little Girls
Best horror novel of the year. Hunter Shea
Much more than a haunted house story. Cemetery Dance
Takes well-known tropes and completely turns them around. IHeartReading”

How amazing is it that my praise for Little Girls, one of the first Ronald Malfi books I’ve ever read, is included in the Goodreads synopsis for Bone White? Pretty amazing, if you ask me.

Anyway, back to Bone White. Another Ronald Malfi book. I get excited just seeing this author’s name pop up on Netgalley or Amazon because he’s an excellent writer. The first book I read by Ronald Malfi was The Mourning House, a very atmospheric read. Next I read Little Girls, an absolute 5-star book for me, and still one of my favorite horror books to date. Then, I read The Night Parade, slightly less creepy for me but still an amazing book.

Then, Bone White. I was eager to start reading the book, and it starts out strong too. A man, Joe Mallory, comes down from the mountain he lives on to the quaint, slightly eerie Alaskan town of Dread’s Hand, where he tells the locals to call the cops. They do, and he just sits on a bench, waiting. When Major Crimes arrives from Anchorage, he shows them several spots on the mountain where he claims to have buried people. Who, he doesn’t know, and apparently it doesn’t matter much either, if you believe him. Jill Reyerson, detective in charge of the case, doesn’t believe the man actually buried people up there. Until the bodies start piling up that is…

In comes Paul Gallo, whose brother Danny went missing in Dread’s Hand one year prior. Paul is worried his brother might be one of the victims, so he travels to the desolate town to give his DNA. When it turns out his brother isn’t a victim of Joe Mallory, but Mallory seems to recognize Paul somehow… Paul decides to start to his own investigation in Dread’s Hand. What he finds, turns out to be a lot more than he bargained for. The people from Dread’s Hand behave eerily. No one wants him there, and no one is keen to answer his questions regarding Danny… But what is really going on?

The writing is, as I’ve come to expect from Ronald Malfi, nothing if not impressive. The settings are vivid and realistic, the characters are so real that you half-expect Paul Gallo to just show up next to you while you’re reading. The book is extremely atmospheric, again something Malfi is very good at it.

I don’t want to spoil the plot, but let me say a thing or two about the supernatural aspect. Usually a thing like that wouldn’t scare me. I’ve never been scared by anything really, except for ghosts. But here, with the atmosphere Malfi paints, with the sublime way he puts readers in his character’s heads…

I didn’t think I was afraid until I stopped reading and crawled into bed. It still wasn’t real fear, it was a bone-deep unsettled feeling, as if the devil himself was watching me…

So, a word of warning, even for the not-easily-scared, this book gets under your skin.

Bewaren

Book Review: One for Sorrow by Mary Downing Hahn

Title: One for Sorrow
Author: Mary Downing Hahn
Genre: Historical, Middle Grade, Ghosts
Age Group: Middle Grade
Rating: 3 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Against the ominous backdrop of the influenza epidemic of 1918, Annie, a new girl at school, is claimed as best friend by Elsie, a classmate who is a tattletale, a liar, and a thief. Soon Annie makes other friends and finds herself joining them in teasing and tormenting Elsie. Elsie dies from influenza, but then she returns to reclaim Annie’s friendship and punish all the girls who bullied her. Young readers who revel in spooky stories will relish this chilling tale of a girl haunted by a vengeful ghost.

One for Sorrow is an another addition to Mary Downing Hahn’s ever-growing oeuvre, and it’s a solid one, although perhaps not as refreshing or as creepy as I had hoped.

Against the influenza epidemic of 1918, Annie is a new girl at school. She’s immediately claimed as best friend by Elsie, a bossy tattletale classmate who Annie somewhat sympathizes with because of her horrible situation at home. Yet Elsie easily distances Annie from the other classmates, destroys her favorite doll, and soon turns out to be the worst friend in history. When Elsie is ill for a week, Annie makes new friends, much to Elsie’s dismay.

Then, the influenza epidemic strikes, and Elsie grows ill and dies. She returns from the dead to haunt Annie and her new friends, and to make Annie believes she’s responsible for Elsie dying. She makes Annie’s life a miserable, going so far as to get her locked up in an insane asylum. Annie must find a way to fight back against her unwanted ghostly companion.

It’s old school horror, but doesn’t have any of the delicious eeriness that usually accompanies those stories. The historical setting works, the writing is excellent, the children are cruel and wicked, but it’s still missing something. Elsie’s ghost isn’t particularly scary. She lets Annie do wicked things, but it’s not scary, not creepy, not eerie.

Also, all the characters are horrible. Even Annie. She decides to hate Elsie right away when it’s obvious and should be obvious to her that Elsie has a horrible childhood and could really use a friend. Maybe Elsie should temper it down somewhat, but she could still use a friend. I found it downright cruel how even the adults were mean to Elsie. That’s terrible. All the girl characters were nasty and spoiled, and the adults weren’t much better.

I was also rather annoyed by Annie not being able to do anything on her own. She wanted to get rid of Elsie’s ghost, but she didn’t really do anything about it. She didn’t try research, or try to contact anyone who could help her. She was very passive, and just let things happen to her.

Anyway, it’s a good story for middle graders, but not the best, although I did enjoy the writing and pacing, and the historical setting. The characters just weren’t very likeable, and the story wasn’t creepy enough.

Book Review: Final Girls by Riley Sager

32796253Title: Final Girls

Author: Riley Sager

Genre: Thrillers

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

Final Girls is an intriguing psychological thriller about survival, evil and the strength it takes to live with the guilt of surviving when others did not.

Quincy is doing well, nowadays. Years ago, she went through the worst nightmare imaginable. All her friends got slaughtered in a cabin in the woods one night, and Quincy was the only one who survived. She doesn’t remember anything from that night, just bits and pieces, but it has still redefined her life. Now she spends most her time working on her food blog.

She barely even thought about Lisa. Lisa was the first girl they called a Final Girl, a title stolen from TV series and movies, a name for the last girl alive after a massacre. The only survivor. The Final Girl. Lisa offered help to Quincy back when she needed it the most, and Quincy has never forgotten. So when she hears Lisa passed away – a suicide, or so police think – she’s upset. And when Samantha, the other Final Girl, shows up on her doorstep, claiming to be worried about her, Quincy lets her in and they start to connect.

But the past won’t let go, and when it appears Lisa’s death was no suicide but murder, someone seems out to finish the work those butchers started all those years ago, and finish Samantha and Quincy off. But who can Quincy trust? And if the secret to the murderer’s identity is buried along with her own traumatizing memories of the night that ripped her life apart, can she find the strength to finally face the past?

This is a very suspenseful read, and the writing is excellent. Quincy is a well-developed character. She has plenty of flaws, and she still struggles with the past, but it all sounds very realistic. It’s normal Quincy is still struggling, it’s normal she still has survivor’s guilt. But she’s very strong, easy to relate to, and actually quite admirable. Samantha and Quincy develop a bit of an odd relationship as two Final Girls, but even that (which I imagine must be quite difficult to write) is written well, and in a believable way.

Now, the major downside (and what brought this from a 5 to 4 star read) is that I figured out who was behind it almost from the moment this person appeared in the book, and how it was all connected. It’s not too obvious, but I simply had a gut feeling and it turned out correct. Bummer, though, because that made the book less suspenseful than it would’ve been otherwise.

If you’re a fan of thrillers or slasher movies, I recommend you check this out.

Book Review and Giveaway Those Who Are Left by Josh Stricklin

Title: Those Who Are Left
Author: Josh Stricklin
Genre: Horror
Age Group: Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Thinking back to when everything changed, Derrick can never pinpoint if it was the pickaxe swinging toward his own face that alerted him or if he knew moments earlier when he saw the weapon hurtle toward the barn cat. Either way, he quickly realized that the man he was facing—a farm employee he knew well—was not only no longer a friend, he wasn’t even human any more.

An apocalyptic tale that surprises you with humor when it’s not terrifying you with horror, Those Who Are Left follows Derrick as he and two strangers venture through the major cities of the South in search of family and safety. But not all the human factions can be trusted, and if the trio can’t figure out what’s driving the different groups they could end up with enemies on all sides.

But even in a chaotic world of murderous screamers and posturing humans, there’s always time to play a few games of bowling before the slaughter begins…right?

In Those Who Are Left, the world changes in the blink of an eye. Derrick’s farmhand, a man he knows well, suddenly attacks him with a pickaxe. And the rest of the world doesn’t fare much better – humanity has left the building, and the creatures left are hungry and savage, and will attack anything that moves.

Derrick is saved by Mark, a complete stranger who may turn into the best friend he’s ever had. Surviving in this new, apocalyptic world, means finding trustworthy allies, and Derrick and Mark work together. Their goal is to find Derrick’s wife, Sarah, and Mark’s sister Jackie, but finding them will be tremendously difficult with flesh-eating zombie-like creatures marauding the streets.

Despite the horror of the situation, the author actually manages to incorporate some humor in the book as well. This helps show humanity’s resistence, even in the face of such a terrible danger.

The writing was solid, and once I started reading, I finished the book in one sitting. A supsenseful, creepy read for fans of zombie apocalypse books and scary novels.

a Rafflecopter giveaway