Sirens Call – issue 44

http://www.sirenscallpublications.com/

I am please to say that I have 2 pieces of short fiction included within issue 44 of Sirens Call.

It is free to download and contains a fantastic selection of short horror and flash fiction.

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The Nightmare Girl – Jonathan Janz

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Janz is a descriptive master. He conveys a scene in total HD ultra having you almost believe you are living it. This was most defiantly the case at the gas station.

Joe, a family man with a young daughter, witnesses a young mother abusing her toddler in the back of their truck. He intervenes to help the child and sets a disturbing chain of events in motion.

Joe and his family are soon stalked and terrorized by the family of Angie, the young mother who took her own life after she lost custody of her son. They are members of a cult and will go to any lengths to get their revenge on Joe and to bring back their daughter.

The premise of this story is filled with promise. The wonderfully dark and sinister cover conveys this too. A family man, just wanting to do the right thing . What is that they say about the road to hell… ?

A thrilling read from the outset. The characterization is on point as always from Janz and the story telling, deliciously creepy with many layers of nasty.

Flame Tree Press just keep putting out great books (mostly). Janz is as always, a wonderful author.

Breathe. Breathe. – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review

Breathe. Breathe.

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Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi

First of all, many thanks to the author, Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, for a copy of this wonderful collection to read in exchange for review. I always relish the chance to read some poetry, I don’t get the chance as often as I’d like to. I wholeheartedly am grateful for receiving this to read. It was inspiring, truly. I have just ordered myself a hard copy too, this is one which deserves a place on my shelf of re-reads.

I found myself captivated with this book from the start. It’s a beautifully dark and inspired look inside our pain, our sadness and our fear.  The book itself is broken down into three sections.

Act One: Breathe Through Fear

Dark and disturbing monsters, what lurks in the shadows and what is beyond the veil? Act One is sublime in the telling of these tales of fear and human horrors. Earl Grey Tea is one that will linger in my subconscious with its tragedy.

Act Two: Breathe Through Pain

Love, revenge, pain and jealousy – Act Two has it all. These are real, poems not about lurking monsters or the supernatural, but about the realities of our being.

Short Stories

The third section in the book contains a collection of exquisitely written short stories centring on topics including abuse and revenge.

The final story in the collection, giving inspiration to the bright cover art, is ‘Dandelion Yellow’, that is one that will stick with me. It is a heartbreaking tale of child abuse and the way a child’s mind works to protect itself. It started out so innocent, a child colouring with crayons, and her favourite colour is the Dandelion Yellow. What follows delves far from that childlike naivety and springs the true tragic horror at the end.  It is captivating in its sadness.

Breathe. Breathe is a tragic and thought provoking look within the human soul and a horrific exploration of our worst elements. It is a beautifully put together piece combining the dark nature of the poetry with some rather traumatic short stories. The bright and sunny cover is an emotional trigger of the final tale. I don’t think I will ever be able to view a dandelion in the same light again.

5/5

Lesley-Ann

The Nursery (The Bayou Hauntings Book 3) -⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review

The Nursery (The Bayou Hauntings Book 3)

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Bill Thompson

“A house that sat empty for fifty years as its dead owner instructed. A locked room with no key. A single father with eight-year-old twin girls. A nursery from long, long ago that no child ever played in.There are eerie things going on at The Arbors in St. Francisville, Louisiana. Architect Jordan Blanchard is joined by his friend Callie Pilantro (“Callie – The Bayou Hauntings 1”) and Landry Drake (“Forgotten Men – The Bayou Hauntings 2”) to learn the secrets of a domineering matriarch whose two husbands died in bizarre ways. They explore the house as someone watches from a hidden place high above. The Nursery, the third book in the series, will keep you up late at night wondering what’s behind the next door, what lies beyond the mirror and who hides and waits at The Arbors.”

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The initial grabbing point for me was the cover, I found it to be quite intense and thought provoking, and I’m always interested to read and good haunting story.

The first half of the book read really well. The story was developing nicely and the plot seemed to be going somewhere. I didn’t find myself at a disadvantage from not having read the first two stories in the Bayou Haunting series either – always a plus. What knocked it down to a three star review? The latter half of the story lost its way somewhat. It felt like it could have been wrapped up far quicker than it was. I found myself getting bored and wanting to skip to the end. I hate that in a book. I feel like I need to give a book my full attention, and I always feel dreadfully guilty when I am not enjoying the story.

As for the characters, Landry I found horrendously annoying – As I haven’t read his book, I can’t comment as to whether this is just ‘him’… But he was a pain in my side the brief times he appeared. The father of the twins, Jordan, I really couldn’t force myself to like him either. He just came across very contradictory. One minute nothing matters but his children, and the next, he is totally absorbed in work forgetting about them.

The setting, Louisiana, I found perfect. The descriptions of the area, that southern charm and atmosphere were there in the forefront. For me, sadly, that was the saving grace, it was well written and thought out. It seemed to be a combination of poor characters and a lazy plot that let it down for me.

3/5

Lesley-Ann

The Frighteners – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review

The Frighteners

Peter Laws

“The Frighteners follows the quest of Peter Laws, a Baptist minister with a penchant for the macabre, to understand why so many people love things that are spooky, morbid and downright repellent. He meets vampires, hunts werewolves in Hull, talks to a man who has slept on a mortuary slab to help him deal with a diagnosis, and is chased by a chainsaw-wielding maniac through a farmhouse full of hanging bodies.

Staring into the darkness of a Transylvanian night, he asks: What is it that makes millions of people seek to be disgusted and freaked out? And, in a world that worships rationality and points an accusing finger at violent video games and gruesome films, can an interest in horror culture actually give us safe ways to confront our mortality? Might it even have power to re-enchant our jaded world?

Grab your crucifixes, pack the silver bullets, and join the Sinister Minister on his romp into our morbid curiosities.”

This was a fun and interesting read, delving into the mind of a horror enthusiast, the Sinister Minister himself, Peter Laws.

I have always been interested in the scary, the dark and twisted, the gothic, and the gruesome. I have always been ridiculed for it too. You know, I’m sure a lot of us have heard the same… “It’s a phase” “she will grow out of it” “why can’t you like nice things?” “You won’t meet anyone looking like that” “what’s wrong with you watching those kinds of films?” …the usual. I must admit I have gone to the ‘dark side’ with my outfits and bit since I started my current day job (legal cashier) and wear pretty dresses and the likes. I got many a surprised look that day from people who know me.

Anyways, moving on from my ramblings, the book, The Frighteners, it’s a fun read. It’s very much a memoir of Peter Laws’ life with the horror genre, mixed with a lot of researched facts relating to the macabre and the morbid.

It’s very well written, well laid out and a hoot to read. He has a great sense of humour I found and he knows how to spin a tale.

The book opens with his recounting of his bucket list birthday trip to Transylvania (what a treat). The excited recanting of the trip and meeting like minding people was a pleasure to read. You can tell straight away that Peter Laws is truly passionate about his love affair with the genre, it radiates so brightly through his writing.

There is a great deal of information within The Frighteners. The author has had many an experience, with death, zombies, werewolves, crypts and the likes. He gives us a wonderful descriptive read of all his encounters, and a very informed insight into the genre of the weird, the wonderful and the macabre.

I really don’t want to delve too much into the content as I feel I would spoil the read for you folks somewhat. I really recommend checking this book out though, it’s a wonderful read and a great glimpse into the mindset of the horror fan.

Seriously… you won’t be sorry. Find it here on Amazon:

5/5

Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)

It’s Hard to be a Vampire -⭐️⭐️ Book Review

It’s Hard to be a Vampire 

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Viktoria Faust

“This book is a short selection of 20 years of writing of the Croatian “Queen of the Horror” as she’s called back home. It contains short stories of horror and SF/horror theme. 

IT’S HARD TO BE A VAMPIRE – A humorous story about a girl who wants to become a vampire, but cannot because she’s too fat 

GALLERY OF HORRORS – An unsuccessful young painter will go a bit too far in sacrifice for his art when he starts sacrificing his models 

THE PAINTING STRIKES BACK – A sequel of the Gallery of Horrors, telling us the story about what happened with one of the remaining paintings, many years after painter died 

DO THE VAMPIRES DREAM OF SLAUGHTERED SHEEP? – A story about a vampire hunter who falls in love with the vampire 

NARCISSUS – A story about a girl who kills a man because she is in love with herself and does not accept the competition 

QUIETLY THEY RISE FROM THE FOG – A story about a man whose wife and daughter have disappeared and he decides to follow them into the fog/death 

BEHIND THE DOOR – SF story of an attack on a fort where you never know what lies behind a door, aggressor or victim 

THE INVISIBLE INK – A story told from the perspective of a sister of missing writer who still keeps all her handwritten pages 

THAT BLOODY USELESS BLOODLESS BODY! –  Horror author will meet his big fan who turns out  not to be human”

This is nice quick read, a short collection of stories centralized around vampires and the supernatural. It’s a fun read, it’s not very thrilling, and there isn’t much in the way of horror within the stories.

I wasn’t overly impressed with the first story, ‘It’s Hard to be a Vampire’, I felt it was a touch insensitive with the ‘fat-shaming’ that was apparent. A vampire doesn’t want a fat girl. So she goes on a diet to become sexy. It sends, even in humor, it sends a bad message to the reader, especially teenage readers. I felt that it was in very poor taste.

That being said, some of the other stories are not too bad. The final tale, ‘That Bloody Useless Bloodless Body’ is quite entertaining. A horror writer, who isn’t very big on people, accidentally meets and lets in, one of his biggest fans. It’s bit trite, but still has a certain edge to it.

Not all the stories are vampire related. I felt that the title and the cover of the book lead us to believe that they are all about vampires was a bit misleading, but that’s only a small personal quibble.

Overall, it has its good points. Some of it is really well written, some not so much. Would I recommend it? Yes, but only if you are not really in the mood to think about what you are reading, and you have an hour or so to kill.

2/5

Lesley-Ann

Housewife of Horror

The Haunting of Henderson Close -⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review

The Haunting of Henderson Close

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Catherine Cavendish

“Ghosts have always walked there. Now they’re not alone…

In the depths of Edinburgh, an evil presence is released.

Hannah and her colleagues are tour guides who lead their visitors along the spooky, derelict Henderson Close, thrilling them with tales of spectres and murder. For Hannah it is her dream job, but not for long. Who is the mysterious figure that disappears around a corner? What is happening in the old print shop? And who is the little girl with no face?

The legends of Henderson Close are becoming all too real. The Auld De’il is out – and even the spirits are afraid.”

I knew I was going to adore this book before I read it, I just had that feeling. I was right. This was my first time reading Catherine Cavendish and not my last. This book hit all the right notes for me. I have so many happy memories of Edinburgh, including Old Town, Royal Mile, and of course, the infamous ghost walks through the old closes of the city.

Hannah has started her new job as a tour guide at one of Edinburgh’s famous closes. Henderson Close. She has left her old life, and moved up to Edinburgh for a fresh start. This is her ideal job, she loves drama and acting, and this is just perfect for her. The idea of these ghost tours is to gently scare the customers, while also giving them a peek into the dark history of Edinburgh’s Old Town. What Hannah didn’t expect of course, was to come face to face with actual ghosts, and an evil that has been following her for her entire life.

Catherine Cavendish does an amazing job within this book of giving you the feeling of being there, in Edinburgh’s Old Town, surrounded by the stench, the claustrophobic closeness of the buildings, the noise and the nervous uncertainty. She takes us on a journey though time, and into the midst of a murder mystery. Just who was Miss Carmichael’s killer?

This is what Hannah, George and Mairead must find out. A once sealed evil has now been released into their world. Their only way to stop it, find the killer, the one who got away, before it’s too late.

Everything about this book spoke to me. The characters are very real, with their distinct personalities shining through the pages, giving them life. The setting, the atmosphere of Edinburgh past and present is tangible. You can almost smell the manure, the human waste. You can hear the whinnying of the horses, the clatter of people. She brings Henderson Close to life.

Having been on a couple of the walking ghost tours while in Edinburgh last year, this was like going on a third. It was exactly like I was there again, gripping onto Andy as we stumbled through the closes, being treated to jump scares from our tour guides and nervously wondering if a ghost was actually there, watching me. I love how real it felt, Hannah and her co workers getting into character. Taking on the roles of people from the past, engaging the customers and taking them on a fun history tour with a few good scares thrown in for good measure.

The mix in the story between the late 1800’s and the present day was perfect. There was no confusion, I never once felt like I was getting lost with the story. The pace and flow are spot on. I particularly enjoyed the time-slips, Hannah and Mairead appearing to slip back into Henderson Close’s past. It was very exciting to read and the ending, my god, the ending was unexpected. I loved it.

If you have read Catherine Cavendish before, then I need say no more, you are of course going to be reading this book. If you have not, like me, then all I can say is that you are missing out greatly. This is a wonderful story, beautifully written, with real characters and a perfect setting. Plenty of scares and creepiness included. This is definitely going in my re-read pile. I loved it.

5/5

Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)

Familiar Spirits -⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Book Review

Familiar Spirits

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Donald J. Bingle

“Magician and story-teller William Pack conceived of Familiar Spirits as an outgrowth and supplement to his spell-binding performances of magic and ghostly tales. Connecting with Writer on Demand Donald J. Bingle, they have invited a specially selected group of extremely talented writers to craft short tales and vivid manifestations to unsettle, spook, terrify, and haunt you in your dreams and in brightest day.

Sometimes when the dead are laid to rest in peace, they refuse to go into that dark night. Instead, they lie in the cold earth, agitated and restless, angry about the past, conjuring up lists of wrongs to right and enemies to fright. 

In Familiar Spirits, you will find previously untold tales of … rainy graveyards … musty attics … domestic abuse … love unending … speaking with the dead … vengeful ghosts … infatuation gone wrong … and lonely spirits. And, you will meet a mother who refuses to abandon her child … a jealous ex … a sailor who seeks to escape his watery grave … and your deepest fears.

Includes stories from Sarah Hans, Dolores Whitt Becker, William Pack, Lynne Handy, Wren Roberts, Kate Johnson, Cathy Kern, Ric Waters, TS Rhodes, Melanie Waghorne, and Jean Rabe.
 
What makes ghost stories give readers shivers more than any other stories? After all, vampire and werewolf and monster tales can be plenty creepy, too. Perhaps it’s because we always know, deep in the back of our subconscious, that vampires and werewolves and monsters aren’t real. They’re fiction. But, the same isn’t true for ghost stories. Almost every culture believes in ghosts and has myths and tales about them. Almost everyone has had, or personally knows someone who has had, a ghostly or supernatural experience. We believe in ghosts, so we believe in ghost stories. And that makes it so much harder to go to sleep after we’ve read what those familiar spirits may be up to in the midst of deepest night in the woods, down the street, and in our own homes.

Join with these authors to bring Familiar Spirits to life … or, perhaps, unholy afterlife from beyond the grave. Death is only the beginning for a familiar spirit, but it may be the end for those it seeks out on the mortal plane.”

Familiar Spirits is a lovely and very spooky read. It is an anthology of ghostly tales brought to life by some very talented authors.

First of all, many thanks go to Donald J. Bingle for my copy of this lovely collection to read in exchange for an honest review.

There are so many wonderful stories within this book, all of them I found to be good. Of course there were some which I preferred to others, but this is always the case with an anthology. I was pleasantly surprised that I in fact enjoyed them all greatly, I feel I can normally be a little hit and miss with these, I will love some, like most, and dislike the few. I love that this book hits all the right notes. Familiar Spirits contains a great cocktail of the paranormal. There is a wonderful mix of the creepy, the frightening and the strange, as well as doing an impressive job of incorporating some quite emotional stories into the mix.

The opening story in particular struck a chord with me, ‘The Cold Earth’, is a tragic tale of domestic abuse. Megan has been murdered and subsequently buried by her husband Tom under an old oak tree, in their back yard. This was after what felt like a lifetime of abuse, both physical and emotional. Megan is still there, under the tree, in spirit, if not more, she hears all and she is aware of everything that is happening around her, including when Tom brings home a new girl, Jessica.

Megan feels an overwhelming urge to protect Jessica from Tom. She knows far better than anyone what he is like and how far he is willing to go. This is a chilling story that comes to its conclusion in the most beautiful symmetrical way. Both the imagery and the prose merge together as one, like they are locked in a perfect harmony to create the most fitting ending.

Familiar Spirits is a perfect book for fans of ghost stories, the paranormal and anything generally spooky and haunting. It’s a lovely read, and very engaging from the opening.

4/5

Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)

Trapped in Room 217 -⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Book Review ***spoilers***

Trapped in Room 217

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Thomas Kingsley Troupe

“Jayla Walters isn’t sure what to expect when her father’s job uproots her and her brother, Dion, to Estes Park, Colorado. But right away, something doesn’t seem right with their hotel. Jayla soon discovers that their home for the week, room 217 of the Stanley Hotel, is the most haunted place in all of Colorado. Barely asleep the first night, Jayla watches a ghostly woman walk toward her bed. And the ghost visits her room every night. What does the ghost want? And what happens when Jayla and Dion get in her way? 

Every state has its own spine-tingling stories of ghosts and mysterious hauntings grounded in its regional history. The Haunted States of America series uses real-life ghost lore as jumping off points to new, chilling tales. But beware: sometimes real life is stranger than fiction.”

Thank you to Netgalley for this copy of ‘Trapped in Room 217’ to read in exchange for an honest review.

This is a great little read, a short story based around the true haunting of a room in a popular haunted hotel. This is based on The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, where the author did actually get to stay overnight, just sadly not in the room itself.

Jayla and Dion (I love this kid, he packed nothing but books) head to Colorado with their father for work, also meaning that spring break starts early for them. They arrive at The Stanley Hotel, and are pleasantly surprised at how grand it appears. Immediately though, they are disturbed by an eerie feeling. It seems the other guests know something they don’t.

In the middle of the night Jayla is awoken by a chill, the room has turned icy cold. She and Dion are frightened by a figure in their room, the ghost of Elizabeth Wilson, a maid at the hotel from the early 1900s.

The story goes on to see Jayla take it upon herself to ‘release’ Elizabeth from room 217, but of course it’s not quite that simple.

I love things like this, ghost stories based on true events. I think in another life I would have ended up as a ghost hunter on a show such as Most Haunted, but anyways, enough about me.

The ending was a tad anti-climatic, but that was down to the author staying true to the history of the hotel. It would have taken away from the real life story to have this turn into some sort of Poltergeist style haunting. Over all though, it’s an enjoyable story, well worth an hour of your time.

4/5

Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)

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