Book Review: The Greying by Dallas Sutherland

CoverTitle: The Greying (Book One in the Landland Chronicles)
Author: Dallas Sutherland
Genre: Fantasy Novella
Age Group: Middle Grade
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

LANDLAND CRIES OUT FOR A SAVIOUR… Upon the death of her mother, Meah is pulled across the boundary that separates this world and another time and place where the dog-like Firbog have brought the mists of the greying. Under the evil Queen Berilbog they threaten to claim all the lands. With her Mother dead and her Father missing – she is on her own! Can Meah learn how to use the power of the thinking? Will there be enough time to save both Landland and herself? Will Meah ever find her way home again? She must triumph over grief and sadness on her journey into a world made cold, grey, and colourless by the ravages of the greying. Meah travels into the depths of Bigriverland to find the mysterious sage, The Biggo. In the heart of Dead Wood, Meah meets Josh O’Tosh, the last of the warrior Pictish Priests. Battling lurking homunculi and the horrors of the many-headed-winged-thing, they set out to recover the only thing that will save Landland …her mother’s Book-of-Colours.

The Greying is an original middle grade fantasy novella that offers an original cast of characters and creatures, and mixes them with solid writing and an excellent plot.

When her mother passes away, and Meah wants to cast her ashes into the sea, she tumbles into the water, and ends up in a world that’s completely different to her own. The world has succumbed to strange mists, called the Greying, because an evil Queen wants to take over Landland and rule it, instead of the rightful rulers. Meah soon enough makes new friends in this foreign world – friends who believes she is the savior destined to rescue them all from the cold, grey, colourless world and bring the colour back.

The story is more complicated than it sounds, especially as Meah discovers some things throughout the book, particularly about Landland and how it came to be. Meah is a naieve, young girl, and she struggles at first with the responsibilities she’s facing, and with ending up in this strange, new land, and of course dealing with her Mom’s passing. But Meah grows up a lot throughout the book. She learns a lot about the world, about herself, and her inner strength. Her new friends, and the villain she’s facing, form an original, creative mix of characters, and kids will enjoy the creativity the author used to come up with these characters.

I enjoyed the book, and I’m sure middle graders will love it. If anything, I would’ve liked to see more original place names – it feels as if all the creativity went to the characters and plot, and the setting didn’t get the same creativity juice – but apart from that, the book was highly entertaining. Recommended to middle grade fantasy fans (and older fantasy fans).

Giveaway

Sign up for the author’s newsletter on his website and you’ll have a chance at winning a poster map of Deadwood.

Book Review: Blackout by Tim Curran

22431309Title: Blackout

Author: Tim Curran

Genre: Horror, Science Fiction

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 3,5

Purchase: Amazon

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

In the midst of a beautiful summer, in a perfectly American suburban middle-class neighborhood, a faraway evil is lurking, waiting to strike the unsuspecting residents.

First come the flashing lights, then the heavy rains, high winds, and finally a total blackout. But that’s only the beginning…

When the whipping black tentacles fall from the sky and begin snatching people at random, the denizens of Piccamore Way must discover the terrifying truth of what these beings have planned for the human race.

Blackout was an intriguing science fiction novella that offers an interesting development on aliens kidnapping people. Whereas we might’ve heard of some lone cases of people claiming to be kidnapped by aliens, in this novella, the aliens have started a full-out attack on the human race.

The book starts out with Jon waking up in the middle of the night after a party down his street. His wife is missing, and when he goes outside, the night is completely dark, with no star in sight. Narrowly escaping tentacles of a gigantic floating monster, he and a small group of his neighbors that survived the initial attack, group together and try to make it through the night.

The author shows the characters’ increasing panic easily, and the sense of claustrophobia the characters get as the novel progresses. There’s panic everywhere, the crisis is obvious, and everyone struggles to survive, but yet there’s also room for some character development. Tim Curran is obviously a talented author, and he shows that yet again, here.

While the writing was solid, as I’ve grown to expect, and the characters were intriguing, the book didn’t offer much originality. Abduction stories have been around for ages, and this is just another version of the alien apocalypse. Nevertheless, very entertaining and a good read.

Book Review: Apartment 7C by David Bernstein

22711407Title: Apartment 7C

Author: David Bernstein

Genre: Horror, Novella

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 3 stars

Purchase: Amazon

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

Sometimes you just have to take matters into your own hands.

Eighty-two-year-old Beth Baker can hear the cop in apartment 7C beating his wife. Again. She’s also having dreams—or are they visitations—of her dead daughter, Alice, who was killed fifty years ago by an abusive husband.

The message is clear—Beth has to take care of the cop. But he’s a decorated detective and over two hundred and fifty pounds of muscle, so what’s a little old lady like her going to do? When things turn ugly and the cop threatens Beth’s own life, she realizes she needs to resort to extreme measures. Blood must be shed.

Apartment 7C is a fast-paced novella about one woman’s revenge on the abusive cop living next door. The cop beats his wife, over and over again, each day, and the abuse is getting worse. Beth Baker, eighty-two-years-old, has been through something similar before, when her daughter got abused and Beth could do nothing about it.

Now Beth starts getting nightly visitations from her daughter’s ghost, who wants to convince her to murder the cop next door, before he hurts anyone else. Beth is driven by revenge, and nothing will stop her. But how does an eighty-two-year-old murder a cop with excellent condition?

Not scary, but certainly a little gore. Not for the faint of heart, I’d say.

An enjoyable read, and the writing was okay, but not much more. I had expected more from the writing – it wasn’t as atmospheric as I’d hoped. However, the story is okay, albeit a bit predictable.

Book Tours: Starter Day Party for The Greying

bannerthegreying

I’m hosting the starter day party for the book tour for fantasy novella “The Greying”. The tour runs from August 1st to September 1st. I’ll be hosting a review on August 28. Stay tuned for the review, and meanwhile, enjoy the book tour!

Tour Schedule

August 1st: Starter Day Party @ I Heart Reading

August 3rd: Promo Post @ Bookaholic Ramblings

August 5th: Author Interview @ Cassidy Crimson’s Blog

August 7th: Book Excerpt @ Realm Tramper

August 9th: Guest Post @ Mythical Books

August 12th: Book Excerpt @ Cajun Book Lover

August 14th: Author Interview @ The Single Librarian

August 16th: Promo Post @ I’m an Eclectic Reader

August 18th: Guest Post @ Brenda McCreight’s Blog

August 20th: Book Review @ Blissful Books

August 23rd: Book Excerpt @ Ashley’s Paranormal Book Blog

August 24th: Book Excerpt @ Books Direct

August 25: Book Review and Excerpt @ Dalene’s Book Reviews

August 26th: Book Excerpt @ Sunshine Book Promos

August 28th: Book Review @ I Heart Reading

August 29th: Promo Post @ Tome Tender

August 31st: Book Review @ Paranormal Romance and Authors That Rock

September 1st: Book Review and Excerpt @ Step Into Fiction

 

About the Book

CoverTitle: The Greying (Book One in the Landland Chronicles)

Author: Dallas Sutherland

Genre: Fantasy Novella

LANDLAND CRIES OUT FOR A SAVIOUR… Upon the death of her mother, Meah is pulled across the boundary that separates this world and another time and place where the dog-like Firbog have brought the mists of the greying. Under the evil Queen Berilbog they threaten to claim all the lands. With her Mother dead and her Father missing – she is on her own! Can Meah learn how to use the power of the thinking? Will there be enough time to save both Landland and herself? Will Meah ever find her way home again? She must triumph over grief and sadness on her journey into a world made cold, grey, and colourless by the ravages of the greying. Meah travels into the depths of Bigriverland to find the mysterious sage, The Biggo. In the heart of Dead Wood, Meah meets Josh O’Tosh, the last of the warrior Pictish Priests. Battling lurking homunculi and the horrors of the many-headed-winged-thing, they set out to recover the only thing that will save Landland …her mother’s Book-of-Colours.

Author Bio

Bio Photo1 DallasSutherlandOver the last twenty-five years, the Author has exhibited a creative bent across a range of industries including graphic design, fine arts, and trompe l’oeil murals. He has lectured in fine arts and studied Art History, Literature, Adult Education, and Creative Writing. Works include play scripts and short stories. The Greying is his first published novella, with further books planned as part of the fantasy series. He draws inspiration from myth, legend, and fairy tales.

He lives on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia with his partner Kerri, and daughter Ruby.

Links

www.dallassutherlandauthor.com

dallasws.wordpress.com

twitter.com/dalkerri

https://www.createspace.com/4619258  (30% off code AV64GVYE)

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/424260 ($1.99 code NP84W)

Giveaway

Sign up for the author’s newsletter on his website and you’ll have a chance at winning a poster map of Deadwood.

Book Review: The Hanging Tree by Michael Phillip Cash

hangingtreeTitle: The Hanging Tree

Author: Michael Phillip Cash

Genre: Ghosts, Novella, Horror, Dark Fiction

Rating: 3,5 stars

Purchase: Amazon

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

Enter a world where spirits roam the earth in Michael Phillip Cash’s haunting new novella, The Hanging Tree. Set amid the eerie backdrop of Long Island, an area famously steeped in old legend, two young would-be lovers contemplate their future while visits from those who have come before them reveal the lure of fate…and the power of free will. At seventeen years old, Arielle’s relationship with her parents is slowly deteriorating. Angry and defiant, she is at a loss on how to cope with the tumultuous situation in which she finds herself. Arielle’s only comfort is Chad, an eighteen-year-old young man who seems to truly understand her struggles. Arielle and Chad meet beneath the low-hanging branches of what the local community has nick-named the “Hanging Tree”. An ancient and majestic landmark, it has long been rumored that the tree is haunted by ghosts. These ghosts span various centuries and vary wildly in age, but each one of them has one thing in common: their deaths are all somehow connected to the tree itself. As Arielle and Chad commiserate over their current situation and their precarious nature of their future, the spectral inhabitants of the Hanging Tree witness their conversation. One by one,the ghosts begin reminiscing about their own lives-and deaths- as they examine the inner demons with which their human forms long struggled. An eerie meditation on the oft-overlooked power of choice, Cash’s The Hanging Tree will stay with readers long after they turn out the light.

The Hanging Tree had decent enough prose, but the story itself was too familiar for me, it lacked originality. A couple of teenagers find themselves beneath a haunted tree, and are being watched by the specters occupying The Hanging Tree. While the teens face difficult decisions, the ghosts talk about their own lives and perils, and the reader finds out more about the origins of the tree, and the specters.

The ghost’s stories were a tad predictable, but at least they were more original than the overall premise. The old woman was my favorite ghost. She had an intriguing story to tell, and she had a fiesty personality. I enjoyed finding out more about the tree, and only figured out why the tree was cursed toward the end, although the reason was not very surprising.

The writing was okay, and the story was decent enough. I would’ve liked to see more original elements, but all in all it was an enjoyable read. Not scary though, so don’t go in expecting a chilling horror story. It does involve ghosts, but it’s rather tame.

Book Review: Elderwood Manor by Christopher Fulbright and Angeline Hawkes

22042305Title: Elderwood Manor

Author: Christopher Fulbright, Angeline Hawkes

Genre: Dark Fiction, Horror, Ghosts

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Things fall apart—Bruce Davenport knows this all too well.

On the heels of his wife’s death, laid-off and penniless with an eviction notice on the door, the only thing left for him and his four-year-old son Cody is Bruce’s childhood home, secluded deep within Ozark forests, haunted by the ghosts of his past.

After he receives a strange phone call from his dying mother, who has lived alone in the house for the past 15 years, Bruce reluctantly returns to the estate with his son.

But they soon find that something else dwells in the home, in the earth, in the woods. Unseen things are out for vengeance and blood. If they can survive the night, they may just find out what truly lies within the walls of…Elderwood Manor.

If he wasn’t in so much trouble money-wise, and heartbroken after his wife’s death, Bruce wouldn’t have gone back to his childhood home, not even if his mother called. But he has little other option, and his mother is dying, slowly withering away in Elderwood manor, and Bruce reluctantly agrees to come back to the estate. He brings along his four-year-old son, Cody. But as soon as he arrives at Elderwood Manor, he finds the mansion occupied by a sinister force, that threatens his own life, and the life of his son.

This was a quick read, a novella, and seemed like the typical haunted house story, up until the monster was introduced. This brought a whole new dimension to the story, and showed the authors’ creativity. I’d never expected something of the sort, and was pleasantly surprised by the “villain”. The story was atmospheric and haunting, and the writing was lyrical and suspenseful.

Elderwood Manor was one of the few novellas I read this year that really managed to creep me out. Definitely recommended, and I look forward to reading more books by this author duo.

Book Review: Ceremony of Flies by Kate Jonez

ceremonyTitle: Ceremony of Flies

Author: Kate Jonez

Genre: Horror, Dark Fiction

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 3 stars

Purchase: Amazon

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

Two petty criminals find themselves inextricably linked when a stop at a roadside bar leads to murder.

On the run and out of options, they reluctantly rescue a stranded boy and his dog from a lonely crossroads in the Mojave desert and decide for the first time in their lives to do the right thing.

But this one selfless act unleashes a terrifying onslaught of demonic trouble as they struggle to save the boy—and themselves—from an evil far greater than they ever imagined.

In Ceremony of Flies, showgirl Kitty makes a run for it after accidentally killing her boss. She befriends Rex, another criminal, and together they head for Mexico. They run into a young boy, Harvey and his dog, and decide to commit a good act and help out the boy. But with a trail of corpses on their back, their new little family might be in peril from the start. When they find themselves inthe middle of a demonic onslaught, Kitty and Rex struggle to save themselves and Harvey.

I found it ironic that the one good act Kitty and Rex commit – taking care of Harvey – is the act that ultimately leads them down the path of destruction. Kitty is an interesting narrator. She has a solid dose of dark humor, and as she started killing more, some kind of madness took hold of her, resulting in some interesting character development and plot.

However, the story wants to combine two genres – noir thriller and supernatural horror – and the execution isn’t always perfect. It felt like the story wasn’t sure where it wanted to go. And while I liked Kitty’s voice and humor, I didn’t connect with her, nor any of the other characters.

The writing was solid though – as I’ve come to expect from DarkFuse authors – and the pacing flowed well. Overall, not a bad read, but the ending was disjointed and left too many things open.

Book Review: Relic of Death by David Bernstein

21850360Title: Relic of Death

Author: David Bernstein

Genre: Horror, Dark Fiction

Rating: 3,5 stars

Purchase: Amazon

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

When two mob enforcers take care of a hit in the suburban countryside, they stumble onto a seemingly abandoned house. While searching the place, they find a simple leather briefcase full of what they think are priceless diamonds.

But things are never as they appear…

For the briefcase is a bringer of death. This ancient evil, once contained for centuries, is now unleashed. Those who come in contact with it will be granted their greatest desires at the even greater cost of their lives.

“David Bernstein delivers a fast-moving tale of desire and destruction that gives new meaning to the words, “Be careful what you wish for.” Relic of Death twists reality and will leave you reflecting on your own personal Achilles heel long after you finished reading…” —Allan Leverone, author of Mr. Midnight

“A fascinating, unpredictable, ever-shifting tale of greed and desperation. Highly recommended!” —Jeff Strand, author of Pressure

Relic of Death doubles as a powerful parable and a terrifying story. Proving himself to be a prodigious new talent, David Bernstein creates a blood-soaked canvas where dreams change to nightmares and hope transforms to dread.” —Jon Bassoff, author of Corrosion

In Relic of Death, after their car breaks down, two hit men find refuge in an abandoned house nearby. They search the place, stumbling upon a briefcase that holds priceless diamonds. While they think they got the hit of their lifetime, the suitcase holds a secret much darker and much more sinister. The briefcase brings death and despair to everyone who touches it, promising them the one thing deeply desire, but killing them when they try to achieve it.

The briefcase travels from owner to owner, but all stories flow from one scene into the next, and they make for an intriguing story. The writing was great too, and highly atmospheric. The story moves fast, and the pacing never flows down.

I didn’t find it that scary though, and I had hoped it would be slightly scarier. It’s an intriguing read though, and the characters were well-developed even if they got little screen time. A solid read for fans of supernatural horror.

Book Review: Deceiver by Kelli Owen

21850397Title: Deceiver

Author: Kelli Owen

Genre: Dark Fiction, Novella, HOrror

Age Group: Adult (18+)

Rating: 2 stars

Purchase: Amazon

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

Matt Newman’s life is turned upside down when his wife is found murdered. The police have no leads and no suspects.
As Matt sinks further into a deep depression, he stumbles across a mysterious notebook among his wife’s belongings. Within its pages are cryptic writings revealing that she led a secret life. The more he reads, the greater his love turns to hatred for the woman he thought he knew.
How had she managed to conceal this double life? Worse, are her tales of debauchery even more terrifying than the mystery surrounding her death?

Deceiver is a short novella, and in my opinion, too short. We learn about main character Matt Newman, who just lost his wife. She was murdered, and the police have no leads. Matt struggles through her funeral and the aftermath, and coming to terms with loosing his spouse. But then he finds a diary supposedly belonging to his deceased spouse. He doesn’t want to at first, but then he starts reading it. The diary reveals a side of his wife Matt had no idea even existed.

Is she still the woman he fell in love with, or a deranged serial killer? Can he still love her if she turns out to be the latter?

The subject matter is dark, sure, but it wasn’t dark enough for my tastes. The murders are described rather superficially. It’s more about Matt’s emotional turmoil than about creepiness. There’s some sense of foreboding, but there’s no creepy atmosphere, no fear crawling up on the reader’s skin. We get a good sense of Matt, and his personality, and considering the limited amount of characters, the novella length makes sense, but it’s too short to establish suspense.

Book Review: Savage by Gary Fry

21850420Title: Savage

Author: Gary Fry

Genre: Dark Fiction, Horror, Novella

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 2 stars

Purchase: Amazon

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

Driving home one day from a conference, Daryl seeks a shortcut through a barren countryside. He chances upon a mysterious village whose residents seem rather odd. But they have something to show him—a creature so strange he can hardly believe it exists.
And that’s only the beginning of Daryl’s problems, as he seeks to escape something far worse than he can ever imagine.
Something utterly horrific and extremely savage.

Savage was a little ‘meh’. I’ve read several of Gary Fry’s novellas before, but this novella…it felt off. Not at lot happened, and the narrative moved slowly – too slow. The things that happened just seemed to go nowhere. Several plot points led to nothing, characters were introduced seemingly without reason.

The plot starts with the main character taking a detour home. He ends up in a strange village, where nothing is as it seems. He walks into a pub to ask for directions, and a young girl walks up to him, and starts asking him strange questions, including if he’s one of the Undisciplined. Then Daryl, the main character, gets dragged along into one of the town’s mysteries.

The book is heavy on atmosphere, but unfortunately, not so heavy on plot. The plot goes nowhere, it drags on, and it doesn’t make a lot of sense. But hey, maybe I just didn’t get it. It’s entirely possible – I felt lost while reading, as if I’d missed some major plot point.

Either way, this book was a bit of a dissapointment. I’d expected more. The writing was all right though.