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.

A Plague of Pages – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review

A Plague of Pages

John F. Leonard

I Love the writing, both the style and content, from John F. Leonard, I would even go as far as to say he is my favorite author now. I find his work fresh and inspiring; it’s always full of surprises. A Plague of Pages is no different; it’s a wonderfully creepy read.

“Ah, the perils of writing …it can bring out the worst in you.
Anthony’s world has fallen apart. The good times have gone, the things he treasures have been torn away. Life in tatters, he needs to press the reset button and begin again. And that’s exactly what’s going to happen.
He’s going to pursue his dream of becoming a writer.
Trouble is, some dreams turn into nightmares.”

Anthony Eames, a down on his luck writer with a bucket load of baggage. His marriage is over, thanks to his best friend having an affair with his wife for the entirety of their nuptials, and then the injustice of having to move into Hanfield Court, a ‘rat-trap’ block of apartments as he refers to it early on.  He ignores all the usual chaos of uprooting your life and moving home, and he leaves the boxes stacked and unpacked. Instead he decides to sit down at his much loved (hated by his ex-wife) Art-Deco table, and he begins to write, exchanging computer for paper, with his dearly departed father’s pen. Unbeknown to him, this is by far no ordinary pen.

This pen contains Scaethian ink.

The stories that Anthony write’s, in a somewhat fugue state, come to life, in an unnatural sense of the word. His prose of tragedy and plague, they occur, just has he has written. He doesn’t know why or how at first. He doesn’t even believe it to be true. It can’t be real, can it?

He tests it, his theory of the pen making the written word come to life, by writing a little short story involving his overly nosey neighbour and her return from the dead. He get’s the surprise of his life when he enters her apartment across the hall.

A Plague of Pages forms part of the Scaethian mythos and the Dead Box archives. It is a fantastic read, a short novella with an abundance of character and action. The plague of flies was an element to it I particularly enjoyed reading – I would love to see this as a stand-alone story (Can I write it John? Please). The premise of these unknown super flies swarming us, I relish this kind of thing being a sucker for a creature feature and all.

I feel of course that I have given enough spoilers away now, so I will keep quiet in that respect. I would hate to totally ruin the story for those yet too read this. I just can’t help myself though when it comes to talking about books, especially those which I adore. A Plague of Pages has earnt a well-deserved FIVE STARS from me.

The writing is, as always from John, engaging, clever and original. The characterisation has both depth and clarity, and the pacing of the story is very well planned and thought out. It’s a clever story with an excellent delivery. Anthony Eames is an intense character, a good guy turned bad by a life throwing him the proverbial lemons, not to mention the corruptive influence of the pen. His fate is sealed when he ingests the pens ink in a plot to escape justice. I don’t believe he was ever malicious enough to enjoy what he was doing, or indeed that he ever really had sinister intentions with regards to the pen. I feel like the character was in a bad place mentally and dealing with some tough personal issues, mixed with that, the allure of demonic energy was too much to for Antony to resist. I feel the overwhelming power of the pen had completely took over Anthony’s sense of self by the end.

I have previously read, to my pleasure, Bad Pennies and Doggem from John. F Leonard. Both part of the Dead Box archives and Scaethian mythos. I have a few more of these lined up to read too – thank you Kindle Unlimited for providing me with so much reading material. Since I am wholly enjoying this series of books, I am confident that I will love what’s to come. Roll on John’s next entry too, I look forward to reading it.

5/5

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)

Devouring Dark – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review ***Spoilers***

Devouring Dark

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Alan Baxter

Grey Matter Press

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads:

“DEVOURING DARK is an urban horror novel about a man plagued since childhood by a malevolent darkness that threatens to consume him. After a lifetime spent wrestling for control over this onslaught, Matt McLeod has learned to wield his mysterious paranormal skill to achieve an odious goal: retribution as a supernatural vigilante.

When one such hit goes bad, McLeod finds himself ensnared in a multi-tentacled criminal enterprise caught between a corrupt cop and a brutal mobster. His only promise of salvation may be a bewitching woman who shares his dark talent but has murderous designs of her own.”

To start, I would like to thank Grey Matter Press for a copy of Devouring Dark to read in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s a wonderful mix of horror, the supernatural and some crime drama. Three things I enjoy.

Matt McLeod, he is a great character. He has this crazy ability to literally devour people with darkness, as the title says. The book gets into the action straight away with Matt devouring a paedophile in an alleyway. Unfortunately, in this wondrous age of digital devices, he is caught on camera by a criminal, who decides his abilities should be put to good use for a criminal organisation as an assassin. Of course Matt isn’t exactly sold on this idea.

Amy Cavendish has similar powers to Matt. They both thought they were alone with their abilities. When their paths finally cross they end up in the fight of their lives, finding out just the true extend of their powers.

The characters of both Amy and Matt are solid. They are wonderfully written; they come across so well throughout the book. This is the second work I have read of Alan Baxter, I love his work. He writes brilliant multi-layered characters that you can develop a real relationship with. He has a real talent and I am looking forward to reading more from him.

Devouring Dark is a brilliant noir supernatural horror mash which will have you hooked from the start and all the way through. I loved it.

4/5

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

Wolvz: Whispers of War -⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review ***Spoilers***

Wolvz Whispers of War

Wolvz Whispers of War

Toneye Eyenot

5* Book review

“The war on humanity has begun… 

Wolfhaven – ground zero – none in this town will survive the wrath of the pack. The first slaughter sparks the beginning of the end for humanity as the Wolfhaven pack descends upon the unsuspecting townsfolk to exact revenge for the killing of one of our own – Pharo, the mother of the pack, once feared and respected by our kind throughout the region, is no more. 

Claude’s plan is bold yet carefully thought out; to spread from Wolfhaven, town by town, village by village, city by city; to rid the world of the human plague and put an end to the desecration of this wondrous planet. It all begins here. 

As the ranks swell, the surrounding packs forming alliances and consolidating, select humans spared annihilation to be turned and assimilated as the moon casts her influence. Will our beloved Alpha’s grand plan come to fruition? Or, will pettiness, arrogance, and territorial pissing end this war before it begins? 

I am Shona, first daughter of Pharo, and here my story begins…”

I really loved this novella, it was an intense and inspiring read, an exquisitely beautiful and savage tale centred around revenge.

I was pulled into the story from the outset. The townsfolk of Wolfhaven have killed the pack mother, Pharo, and the pack has planned their glorious revenge. The Wolfhaven pack, led by Claude, has come up with an astoundingly vicious plan. They are going to decimate the town of Wolfhaven, killing most of the human infestation, and turning the stronger among them, those with potential,  to increase their numbers. They also plan to form alliances with neighbouring packs and to continue this killing spree and recruitment drive through other towns. One town at a time, they plan to take the planet for themselves, ridding it of the human scourge.

This is a very visceral descriptive story, from the POV of Shona. She has lost her mother, ripped away from her in a savage way. This is her story; this is Shona’s journey of revenge and to some extent, her coming of age.

“Agitation sets into my bones. Soon, we will be in human skin once again, which I never look forward to. I long for that day… when Claude’s plan comes to fruition and we never have to hide our true form again.”

The writing, the imagery, the sheer feeling that is evoked when reading this, this is what led me to rating this five stars. It is a journey for both Shona and the reader. There is a delicate intensity about Wolvz: Whispers of War. It is savage, yet beautiful. It is haunting, the purity of the rage from the pack. The writing is outstanding, really getting inside the head of the reader.

I would highly recommend this novella to anyone and everyone. It’s not a long read, this is very good lunch break or bedtime material. If werewolf stories aren’t normally your thing, you won’t lose too much of your day reading it. I think if you give it a go though, you will be more than impressed.

5/5

Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)

Sugar Skulls – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review ***Spoilers***

Sugar Skulls

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M. R. Tapia

Hindered Souls Press

“”Life is a matter of death. Death is a matter of fact.”

Micah DeAtta learns this as he awakens with Death seated across from him, whetting his sickle. Micah has no choice but to converse with Death in order to figure out his own demise. As their conversations become a battle of wits, Micah is forced to relive prominent deaths of family and friends before learning of his own. Each death happens in real time, each correlating with the nine levels of the Aztec underworld. Before it is said and done, Micah will have been forced to face his fears, his losses, and the fact that although life may be too short, death is forever.”

First of all, may I say thank you to M. R. Tapia for sending copy of ‘Sugar Skulls’ in exchange for an honest review.

A conversation with Death himself. It’s not something you would expect to wake up too is it? But that is what happened to Micah. He woke to Death sitting across from him.

“Tonight I have the displeasure of meeting Death”

He doesn’t know what is happening to him. Death is not quite ready to take him yet. They must sit, talk and relive his past experiences, his regrets and his heartache.

This is a wonderfully written piece. The conversation between Micha and Death is riveting to read. It’s a two man show, two main characters who compliment each other very well.

I love M.R. Tapia’s writing style. I find it very easy to read, it has a constantly good steady flow. The pacing and the characterization are just perfect.

I would highly recommend this, M. R. Tapia is a wonderful author. I have read a few of his works now, and I am happy to say that they are consistently good.

4/5

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)

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