Hearthstone Cottage by Frazer Lee – Flame Tree Press

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My Rating: 4.5/5

I would love to see this made into a movie or mini-series (are you listening to this Netflix?). The imagery and scope of the landscape, the nightmare sequences, down to the descriptions of the characters (especially Meggie) is work of flawless art. This book is a real testament to the ability of the author.

The scene is set from the beginning; creepy yet beautiful Scottish Loch, an old stone circle, a house in the middle of no-where (a glorious old building), Meggie the mysterious sister and not to mention the majestic stag. An accident on the way to the house for the groups post-graduation holiday results in a wrecked hire car and a dead stag. No one was seriously hurt… but the accidental killing of the stag sets of a chain reaction of supernatural events centered around Mike Carter (our main protagonist). Mike’s friends Alex and Kay, and girlfriend Helen are dragged through the ringer by his deteriorating state.

The mental collapse of Mike throughout the story is handled vividly yet with delicate ease. First the accident, then finding out his girlfriend is pregnant, as well as his drinking and weed habit, he steadily circles the pits of despair, not knowing what is real or what is a dream.

Hearthstone Cottage is a wonderfully written supernatural horror story that captures the Scottish charm and beauty effortlessly.

Released October 24th 2019 by Flame Tree Press

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1787583252/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_uk-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738

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A Suburban Haunting by Matt Shaw -⭐⭐⭐⭐ Book Review

This was one I decided to read on our travels to Paris and managed to finish it while my adorable husband sleeps.

This was going to be a 3⭐ book originally but the last few chapters really ramp the horror up and the unfathomable turmoil of the family and the diabolical history of the house.

So our protagonist Craig is left a house by his recently deceased uncle Bill. Bill’s estranged wife Mavis warns Craig that the house isn’t right and that he shouldn’t move himself and his family into it.

This would seem to be your typical haunt. It’s not.

Things go from bad to worse very quickly for Craig and his wife Melissa, with one extreme twist that I actually didn’t see coming.

This is a really great read and it’s not too long a one either.

Be warned – extreme sexual content that some may be uncomfortable with.

Find it here, free for KU users:

An Army of Skin – Morgan K. Tanner – Book Review ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

An Army of Skin is a wonderful entertaining and juicy gore fest.

Trevor blames the intriguing Doctor Mellick for the untimely death of his mother… and he wants revenge.

From the outset the gore was strong with this one. The heartbreak of Trevor and his desire for the deepest revenge is woven through this novella perfectly intertwined with the macabre flaying of corpses and the skin coming back to ‘life’. It’s a very visceral tale, it’s engaging from word one with the overly twisted murders followed by the ever so wrong resurrections fitting together like a perfect jigsaw.

An Army of Skin is a well written novella that you won’t want to put down. Be prepared for plenty of blood, guts and terror. It’s a twisted nightmare like no other.

They Kill – Book Review – Flame Tree Press

Flame Tree Press are really putting out some great reads. They Kill from Tim Waggoner is a crazy trip through the inner workings of the psyche.

I’m always afraid of saying too much and giving the story away, so I think for this particular book I won’t say anything more than READ IT! It’s a lunatic ride… Tim Waggoner really takes his readers on a journey through madness. The underbelly of civilised society, it’s a dark perspective of our deepest desires, that which we hide and tuck away in a corner never to be seen. We see ‘regular’ people turning to their reverse selfs, doing the things they never would think then would or they could.

This is a gore filled tale, very graphic but I never felt once that it was out of place.

It’s a fun read, one that will hook you in and keep you guessing.

Check it out here:

They Kill (Fiction Without Frontiers) https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1787582566/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_LvacDbECCNSSS

House of Skin – Jonathan Janz

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I’m quite annoyed at myself that I couldn’t get into ‘House of Skin’ as much as I would have like. I have become quite the fan of Janz’s work lately, but sadly this isn’t one of my favorites.

I like the premise: Nephew inherits estranged dead uncles creepy estate. Town tarnishes nephew with the same brush as his not so nice uncle. Murder and ghostly goings-on ensue.

It has a really good start to with the despicable Ted Brand getting his comeuppance after the cheating philanderer messes with the wrong women.

I think, well for me, I believe this it where it went wrong. I was loving the Ted Brand/Julia arc, but I was a lot more interested in that than in the Paul Carver arc, who of course is our main character. I couldn’t really attach myself to the character of Paul the way I like in a book. For me to really, and I mean REALLY enjoy a story, I need to be 100% behind the characters. Without this I have a habit of losing interest rather quickly.

This is by no means a shot at the story or the author himself. I firmly believe Janz is a wonderful story teller, and this story is not completely terrible. It just wasn’t for me is all.

I am looking forward to my next Janz read, ‘Nightmare Girl’.

The Bledbrooke Works

The Bledbrooke Works

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John F. Leonard

5/5

A new story from the Scaeth Mythos, The Bledbrooke Works does not disappoint.

I love reading these stories, John F. Leonard has a talent for subtle horror yet disturbing all the same. The Bledbrooke Works I feel is one of the subtlest yet. I was engaged with the two characters from the onset. Donald Hobdike, a cranky older gentleman who resents youth, yet at the same time he resents getting old. He is tasked with wayward youth Michael Bassey, ‘Mikey B’, who is sent to Hobdike to work of his debt to society.

Hobdike takes Mikey down under Bledbrooke, into the sewage system to search for what could be a ‘fatberg’ – A fatberg is a congealed mass in a sewer system formed by the combination of non-biodegradable solid matter, such as wet wipes, and congealed grease or cooking fat. –Thank you Wikipedia for that definition. As they work their way through the darkness and stench of the towns waste Mikey begins to get nervous. He thinks he feels something touch him in the water. He sees shadows and movement. Things that cannot be real, that cannot exist. Hobdike tells him it’s just the darkness; being so far below the surface can have an effect on people – A plausible explanation. Mixed with being soaking wet after a tumble into the sewage, and too hot from the unnatural humidity down there, Mikey could almost accept that he was just being paranoid, almost.

The truth of the matter is far worse. It’s no fatberg at the end of the tunnel.

This book goes from ‘normal’ to creepy in one giant monster leap. The twist, the payoff, I have to admit I had no idea. The best way of course is when you are taken completely by surprise. The Bledbrooke Works reeled me in good. Hooking me from the start with believable characters, a musty old sewage works and some dark and smelly tunnels (and of course my favourite, a mention of rats).

It is such a simple yet effective setting, old factories and ageing buildings are ready-made for horror stories. They have unlimited potential, as John shows in his writing, with an atmosphere of suspense and horror built into them from their creation.

The sights, sounds and smells were all but palpable. John really has a knack for descriptiveness. You can almost envision yourself there, walking though the ripe narrow passages behind Hobdike and Mikey, as well as suffering the claustrophobia and paranoia that Mikey feels.

I felt there were undertones of the harsh realities of ageing within the story. Hobdike, not the young whippersnapper he used to be, being somewhat resentful of Mikey’s youth. He recognises himself in Mikey, something I feel we all do as we get older, we see the younger generation making the same mistakes as we did, yet we still hold contempt and criticise in what becomes an infinite loop. He isn’t ready to grow old and retire. He doesn’t want to die. Who does of course? But some things are meant to be. The symmetry between young Mikey and old Hobdike at the end I feel validated my thoughts on this with a somewhat ‘passing the torch’ moment.

“Michael Bassey, a blundering boy, crippled by circumstance. Packed with potential and denied opportunity. A horrible reality for the vast majority of the underprivileged in the modern era. This vicious circle that kept the underclass confined to poverty. Wedged and forever stuck at the bottom of the pile.”

The Bledbrooke Works is yet another fantastic story from The Scaeth Mythos. John F. Leonard just keeps coming back with all things subtle and scary; I swear they get better and better.

5/5

Ghost Mine – ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review

Many thanks first of all to Flame Tree Press for the copy of Ghost Mine by Hunter Shea. This is part of the Flame Tree Press May releases.

Ghost Mine is a cowboy/gold rush/Djinn mash up which does work really well for the most part.

Teddy Roosevelt wants the gold from the mining town of Hecla, the problem… well Hecla seems to swallow men whole. He decides his man from the Rough Rider days, Nat, now an NYC cop is the man for the job and sends him in to see what exactly is going on there. Taking is long time friend and fellow adopted Rough Rider, Teta, with him they head out to the unknown.

My favourite thing about this book is Teta, he is a fantastic character. You can feel his sassy energy bouncing of the page and his little digs and quips really worked for me. I hate to say that Nat on the other hand, felt a little, robotic (if thats the right term). For me this let the book down a bit. It’s a great story, and the Wild West setting is wonderful – I love a good western. Sadly the majority of the characters just took the shine off. Selma too, I found her quite irksome for the most part.

The story itself is rather good, opening in Hecla with the naughty kid Billy killing rats in the mines. It seems that something down there did not want to be disturbed and it definitely made itself known. I enjoyed the subtlety of the opening chapter, setting the story up whilst being very tight-lipped about the while ‘what’s down there’.

Ghost Mine is definitely worth a read. As always it’s a very subjective matter. Yes, I couldn’t quite get there with it, but all the same it’s a well set up plot, and Teta who I’ve already gushed over is great!!

Released May 30th 2019 from Flame Tree Press

Ghost Mine (Fiction Without Frontiers) https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1787582078/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_gWs2CbE6KQ2GQ

Some light reading….

Thank you to The Bold Mom for this one.., Master of Pain is a very very violent BDSM filled tale based on the true story of America’s first online serial killer.

I’m about 10% in and god yes it tough going. It’s very graphic. I do like it though…. let’s see if I can make it too the end shall we.

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