February at Housewife of Horror – A Weird and Wonderful Month

February was an odd month for me. Reading wise it’s been quite quiet, one thing and another creeping up and taking me away my from reading time.

I hated the fact that two of my reads became DNFs. I struggle to get into ‘Will Haunt You’ and ‘Black Wings’. Both I was quite excited for. I will come back to them at a later date as potentially I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind for them. I hated Sons of Anarchy when I first watched the first few episodes – came back to it a few months later, and it’s now one of my favorite shows.

I got around to reading ‘Blood in the Woods’ from J. P. Willie. I have had that one a while, and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a wonderful book, kind of a ‘Stand by Me’/ Horror mash up. It’s well worth your time.

My favorite read of February, of course it was Jonathan Janz with ‘The Dark Game’ – see review excerpt below.

Book of the Month – The Dark Game by Jonathan Janz  –https://horrorhousewife.net/2019/02/22/the-dark-game-%E2%AD%90%EF%B8%8F%E2%AD%90%EF%B8%8F%E2%AD%90%EF%B8%8F%E2%AD%90%EF%B8%8F%E2%AD%90%EF%B8%8F-book-review/

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The Dark Game did not disappoint.

“I am ever developing a deep love for the style of Janz’s writing. I adore his characters, they are as always, full of depth and horrific delights. His stories are inventive and unique, and he has a wonderful penchant for all things gory.

Ten writers of varying ability are taken to the secluded home estate of Roderick Wells, the worlds most famous author. They are promised a great lesson in writing, with the winner taking home not only a healthy pot, but they will also receive the book deal of a lifetime. Of course, things are not always as they seem. What they have fallen prey to is a twisted game, a brutal fight for survival. And in true horror fashion, there are some particularly gruesome ends.

Janz does an impeccable job of creating so many full characters in this novel. They all have their darkness; each character has their own sin to bare. Each character is well thought out and written so flawlessly that you can almost touch them. The back story of the individuals, the sins, they are woven in throughout the novel, intertwining in a perfect harmony with the events occurring at Roderick’s estate.

One of my favorite parts:

“Well’s entered with his wife. Lucy stared at the man, stunned at the change in his appearance. She supposed it was a matter of simple grooming: he’d shaven and the hair around his ears had been trimmed. Yet there was something more at work, something subtler yet more profound. His eyes shone with a vitality that hadn’t been there the first night. The deep grooves in his forehead were less pronounced.”

This is a very intense and immersive read. Thank you so much to Flame Tree Press, and to Jonathan Janz for a copy to read.


Find it here – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dark-Game-Fiction-Without-Frontiers/dp/178758187X

The end of February I have to say was the most exciting for me. My short story ‘Fresh Air’ was published in Sirens Call issue 43. I am so excited and so proud. To see something that I created in black and white, published along with many many other wonderful stories by so many talented writers. I am truly honored and overwhelmed.

Thank you so much to the amazing people over at Sirens Call and to those who have stuck by me and supported me. You guys rock!

Check out my story here – http://www.sirenscallpublications.com/

Sirens Call issue 43 is free to download along with all the back issues.

Enjoy, and thank you again.

Bring on March.

Lesley-Ann Campbell

The Dark Game – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review

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The Dark Game

Jonathan Janz

What can I say, the five star reviews just keep coming where Jonathan Janz is concerned.

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads:

“Ten writers are selected for a summer-long writing retreat with the most celebrated and reclusive author in the world. Their host is the legendary Roderick Wells. Handsome, enigmatic, and fiendishly talented, Wells promises to teach his pupils about writing, about magic, about the untapped potential that each of them possesses. Most of all, he plans to teach them about the darkness in their hearts. The writers think they are signing up for a chance at riches and literary prestige. But they are really entering the twisted imagination of a deranged genius, a lethal contest pitting them against one another in a struggle for their sanity and their lives. They have entered into Roderick Wells’s most brilliant and horrible creation.”

I am ever developing a deep love for the style of Janz’s writing. I adore his characters, they are as always, full of depth and horrific delights. His stories are inventive and unique, and he has a wonderful penchant for all things gory.

The Dark Game did not disappoint.

Ten writers of varying ability are taken to the secluded home estate of Roderick Wells, the worlds most famous author. They are promised a great lesson in writing, with the winner taking home not only a healthy pot, but they will also receive the book deal of a lifetime. Of course, things are not always as they seem. What they have fallen prey to is a twisted game, a brutal fight for survival. And in true horror fashion, there are some particularly gruesome ends.

Janz does an impeccable job of creating so many full characters in this novel. They all have their darkness; each character has their own sin to bare. Each character is well thought out and written so flawlessly that you can almost touch them. The back story of the individuals, the sins, they are woven in throughout the novel, intertwining in a perfect harmony with the events occurring at Roderick’s estate.

One of my favorite parts:

“Well’s entered with his wife. Lucy stared at the man, stunned at the change in his appearance. She supposed it was a matter of simple grooming: he’d shaven and the hair around his ears had been trimmed. Yet there was something more at work, something subtler yet more profound. His eyes shone with a vitality that hadn’t been there the first night. The deep grooves in his forehead were less pronounced.”

 

This is a very intense and immersive read. Thank you so much to Flame Tree Press, and to Jonathan Janz for a copy to read.

Highly recommended – this one you won’t want to put down.

5/5

Lesley-Ann

The Sorrows – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review

The Sorrows

Image result for the sorrors jonathan janz


Jonathan Janz
Flame Tree Press
November 2018

“Ben Shadeland and Eddie Blaze are the hottest young music composers in Hollywood. Fresh off an Oscar nomination, they’ve just been chosen to score a big-budget horror movie by Lee Stanley, the most demanding director in film. But Ben, the creative half of the duo, hasn’t written a note since his wife divorced him and got custody of their three-year-old son.
Chris Blackwood is the gambling-addicted heir to the Blackwood fortune, which includes the Sorrows, an island off the coast of northern California. The island and its castle have been uninhabited since a series of gruesome, unexplained murders in 1925, but Chris needs money, and to get it he allows Ben, Eddie, Claire Harden (an aspiring composer), and Eva Rosales (Lee Stanley’s gorgeous assistant) to stay a month in Castle Blackwood.
Eddie is certain an eerie, isolated setting is just what Ben needs to find musical inspiration for a horror film. But what they find is more horrific than any movie.”

Jonathan Janz himself said that the book explores the exploitation of innocence, and the evils surrounding this. This is exactly what I got from this book. The Sorrows is a somewhat harrowing and frightful journey exploring this exploitation from many viewpoints. We have several separate tales, all intertwining and weaving in and out of each other, culminating in a fantastic last quarter of the book.


I love a good haunted house tale, the old creepy buildings with hidden doors and basements you wouldn’t dare enter. The big castle in the middle of nowhere, surrounding by nothing but forest and a spooky cemetery. It’s perfect. To me, this book was perfect (bar the “” that appeared to be unfinished, and a few sentences that seemed to be missing – we can overlook this though as this is an ARC courtesy of FlameTree Press).


The characters were a*holes in some respects, apart from Ben and Claire (who made it yay), but to me, this made it all the more exciting. I love the bad guy, the horrid, annoying, full of himself/herself character. You can love to hate on them throughout the book, a part of you knowing and looking forward to them getting their comeuppance at the end; and Boy did Lee Stanley get his in the end. I was actually quite shocked by that. I totally loved it though and it was thoroughly deserved.


All the characters’ storylines played out roles in either the salvation or the exploitation of an innocent. Lee Stanley, a big name horror director and total moron. He has no conscience about using women, young women, who want to break into the industry, happily disposing of them when he sees fit. Richard Blackwood, exploiting a child (or so he thinks) to make himself a success in music. Eddie Blaze, a Hollywood composer with a dark secret. And Ryan, a pilot with a nasty side, using Ben’s ex wife just to get to her teenage daughter.


I loved, and really enjoyed reading how all the different elements came together. This is one of those books too, where it works to have intermittent chapters where we are reading about past events at Castle Blackwood through a journal. Sometimes I feel flitting between past and present, as well as several character arcs can be confusing. But here, it worked very well. I was dragged into the story from early on, becoming emotionally attached to the characters and couldn’t wait to see where this went. I wasn’t disappointed.


I highly recommend this book, I didn’t realise it was actually a re-release of Jonathan Janz’s first novel. So for a debut, this is great.


An overwhelming 5/5
Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)

Kosmos – ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review

Kosmos

Adrian Laing

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Flame Tree Press

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads:

“Early one fine autumnal morning in 2001, an old man is found asleep on Hampstead Heath. Abruptly awoken by two dog patrollers, a struggle ensues resulting in the oddly-dressed character being arrested facing a minor assault charge. Rookie barrister, George Winsome, is tasked with defending the old boy who believes himself to be the mythical character, Merlin. When the victim of the assault unexpectedly dies the resulting manslaughter case turns into a jury trial catching the public’s imagination. George decides to defend Merlin on the basis that there are well-established historical grounds for the old boy’s self-adopted identity believing the jury will decide whether he is ‘Merlin’ or not, does not matter; it’s a question of the old boy being accepted an honest and peaceful character. That’s the plan. But as the riotous trial plays out, events conspire to challenge everyone’s cynicism. What if the defendant really is Merlin? The trial progresses through one unexpected twist to another and those present in the courtroom and the wider public begin to embrace the extra-ordinary possibility that Merlin has indeed returned to this world. Even the crusty trial judge is forced to reconsider his ingrained beliefs and confront his own domestic demons especially when his wayward, new age son decides sneakily to ‘enlighten’ his father with some vintage LSD. The media take an unexpected interest in this engaging and challenging character and turn the trial into a cause. In the hazy and wild events which follow the trial, George’s girlfriend, Heather, discovers she is pregnant and on the same day she is cynically fired from her promising publishing job leaving Heather bitter and vengeful. Heather sees as her route to revenge the acquisition of a quickly-acquired fortune through Merlin’s celebrity status, and decides to take advantage of the interest in Merlin by the Prince of Wales. But who is playing whom? As Merlin’s past unfolds George and Heather become embroiled in Merlin’s other-worldly friends, spirits and gods. At the time of the birth of their son, Merlin’s past is unraveled, and his true identity revealed, dramatically. Both Heather and George, in their separate ways, come to understand that their collective material-based obsessions were merely illusionary and that the real source of their happiness and love has far deeper, spiritual foundations. ‘Kosmos’ is a contemporary novel of two halves; the first part culminating in Merlin being tried and freed; the second half in the outrageous events and revelation that follow, Kosmos draws on the author’s experiences as a trial lawyer, his interest in complex psychologies and the rich and complex history of the mythical figure of Merlin. Kosmos is a wild, feelgood novel, a right-of-passage tale of love, redemption, revenge and hubris”

First of all I’d like to thank Flame Tree Press for a copy of ‘Kosmos’ to read in exchange for an honest review.

With the extensive synopsis, that’s the biggest I’ve seen (I can hear the “that’s what she said” already by the way) I don’t need to say too much really, if anything about the general plot. I think we’ve got it pretty much covered.

I hate to say it, but I wasn’t too fond of this one. It’s a great story, well written, and MERLIN of course. But I just could not get into it at all. It is though as lovely tale of morals, good deeds and being happy with ourselves rather than material possessions. That I really liked, I always enjoy stories like that as I do think we (as humans) get a bit to pre occupied with ‘things’, over what really matters. I’m guilty as charged at times with that.

The book splits between a courtroom drama where we have our newbie lawyer defending a man who believes he is the one and only Merlin. It play’s out in an interesting way, although again, it’s given away really in the synopsis. I feel I would have preferred not to know. Though I guess it’s like Columbo in a way. You know who the killer is and who the victim is, but you watch to find out how Columbo pieces it all together,

The second part is focused on the lives of Merlin, George the lawyer and his family. It’s rather sweet, and it all comes together in a heart warming way.

It’s a really fun read, with good characters, but a little slow in parts.

3/5

Lesley-Ann

Housewife of Horror

Savage Species ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review

Savage Species

Savage Species by Jonathan Janz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


If you like a fast-paced, full on, action filled bloodbath then this is the book for you.

Thank you Flame Tree Press for an ARC of Savage Species by Jonathan Janz to read in exchange for an honest review.

Savage Species, and by god they are savage, is a spin on the Wendigo Myth. A brutal race of creatures have been awoken thanks to the construction efforts in the opening of Peaceful Valley Nature Preserve. It doesn’t take long for the peaceful atmosphere to be lost to the horrific sounds of screams and mutilation.

This is a two-fold story. We have Charly, dealing with her idiot of a husband, her crush, and the terrible kidnapping of her baby by the creatures. We also have Jesse, Emma and Colleen, who have been assigned by their paper to cover the opening. They got more of a story than they bargained for. The separate story arcs come together neatly, culminating in one great finale.

The characters are all written so flawlessly. There is real sense of fear and urgency from all of them. You feel how scared they all are, how trapped and helpless they feel in this nightmare situation. The oppressive feel of the tunnel and the caves is real; you get a distinct feel of the claustrophobic atmosphere, and the tense nature of their predicament.

The balance between the human characters, with their own issues, and the monsters is scaled nicely. It’s that real sense of humanism, the characters become alive, they have real life problems and issues, they are just like the rest of us, not over dramatised or exaggerated. They are real. It is this, and the fast yet steady pace of the story which really knits it all together.

The creatures, two different creatures, are written frighteningly well. You get a real picture of them in your mind’s eye. Their human qualities, and their beast qualities, make them a truly terrifying creature to behold. The brutal descriptiveness of the initial attack by these creatures was, as the title suggests, savage. The fierce nature of the beasts, the primal instincts and the absolute brutality was captured with the sense of realism that I so admire in the author’s writing.

I have to mention my favourite character, Frank Red Elk, he is a piece of work. I love him. A ‘soft-porn’ obsessed Native American who lives on the land. I really appreciated the comedic value this guy added to story. It paired well with the brutality, breaking it up in just the right places. He is one of my favourite characters I have had the pleasure to read I think.

Synopsis: “Jesse thinks he’s caught a break when he, Emma (the girl of his dreams), and her friend are assigned by their newspaper to cover the opening weekend of a sprawling new state park. But the construction of the park has stirred an evil that has lain dormant for nearly a hundred years, and the three young people–as well as every man, woman, and child unlucky enough to be attending the Algonquin Falls grand opening–are about to encounter the most horrific creatures to ever walk the earth. Charly has three young children and a jerk for a husband, a hot shot girls basketball coach with a penchant for seducing his female assistants. When Charly’s baby is kidnapped by one of the creatures, she turns to Sam Bledsoe, the man who constructed her house (and the man on whom she has developed a sizable crush) for help. Sam, Charly, her husband, and the newest hot assistant coach soon find themselves underground and on the trail of Charly’s baby. Jesse’s trio, a group of professors, and Frank Red Elk–a Native American who specializes in women and booze–take refuge in the caves hoping to find a way out of the park. But like Charly and the others, Jesse’s crew will soon learn just how monstrous the creatures are. And how cunning. Together, they will all try to save Charly’s baby, escape with their lives, and take down as many of the monsters as they can. But the creatures are hungry. They delight in human suffering. And they will stop at nothing to prove that they are the dominant species.”



View all my reviews

Junction -⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review ***Spoilers***

Junction

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Daniel M. Benson

“When Japanese nature show host Daisuke Matsumori finds himself on an alien world, he hopes to rekindle his passion for his work. Travelling through a newly-discovered wormhole in the Papuan highlands, he joins biologist Anne Houlihan on Junction, a patchwork planet of competing alien ecosystems. When their exploratory party crashes in the alien wilderness, Daisuke and Anne try to lead bickering soldiers and civilians back to civilization alive. As they trek across one unearthly biome after another and members of the party continue to die, however, Daisuke wonders whether human politics might be more deadly than alien biology. One of his companions might be a murderer.”

As much as I love horror, I also love and adore science fiction. One of my first loves was Stargate, right from the film starring James Spader and Kurt Russell, through to the Stargate Universe. The mere mention of Wormholes, this took me back to a good place. I couldn’t wait to get into Junction.

First things first, I would like to thank the author, Daniel M. Benson, and Flame Tree Press for an ARC of Junction to read in exchange for an honest review.

This is fun filled book of weird and bright aliens, on an even weirder and brighter planet. What’s not to love?

The plot itself is rather interesting, a take on world politics, and how we, as a global nation would react to such a magnificent find. A stable wormhole in the middle of Papa New Guinea, that’s one hell of a find. I found the authors handling of the different nations great, as well as the diversity of the ‘away team’. We have some pompous military leaders who of course always know what’s right. Anne Houlihan, a character I loved instantly, the biologist who isn’t shy about telling the world what she thinks. Then we have Daisuke, a reality TV star, the Bear Grylls of Japan, who has also been sent along on this mission– well he isn’t quite sure why.

It’s an engaging story; I found it fun to read. It held my attention, and I became very sympathetic with the characters early on.

The planet is amazing, I loved all the ‘domes’, the different life, the different atmosphere as it were, the transition from dome to dome was great to read. The author has come up with some crazy aliens life forms, while also keeping it quite simple (if that’s the right term). I think that simplicity of it made it all the better, and more engaging to read. I didn’t have to be concerned with remembering too much detail involving really elaborate aliens, which can take away from a story.

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable read.

5/5

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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