Josh Malerman; J. Daniel Stone; Joe Schwartz; Erik T. Johnson; John F. D.
Grey Matter Press
Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads:
“Five Unique Voices From Bram Stoker Award-nominated authors
Josh Malerman, the newly minted master of modern horror, and John F.D. Taff,
the “King of Pain,” to the mind-bending surrealism of Erik T.
Johnson, the darkly poetic prose of J. Daniel Stone and the transgressive mania
of Joe Schwartz, I CAN TASTE THE BLOOD offers up five novellas from five unique
authors whose work consistently expands the boundaries of conventional fiction.
Five Disturbing Visions I CAN TASTE THE BLOOD opens the doors to a movie
theater of the damned; travels the dusty, sin-drenched desert with an almost
Biblical mysterious stranger; recounts the phantasmagoric story of birth, death
and rebirth; contracts a hit that’s not at all what it seems; and exposes the
disturbing possibilities of what might be killing Smalltown, U.S.A. One
Nightmare As diverse as they are, in voice and vision, the work of the five
celebrated authors assembled in this stunning volume of terror share one common
theme, one hideous and terrifying nightmare that can only be contained within
the pages of I CAN TASTE THE BLOOD.”
read from Grey Matter Press. Thank you for allowing me a copy of ‘I Can Taste
the Blood’ in exchange for an honest review.
one title. This is one awesome book. This is great unique collection of stories
from five different authors, all with one title, I Can Taste the Blood. I loved
the different take on the title from each author. The tag line ‘Five Unique
Voices’ is very fitting.
I don’t want to
say too much to be honest as I don’t want to give anything away to anyone that
hasn’t yet had the pleasure. This will be a brief review from me, well briefer
than usual shall we say.
It’s a brilliant idea, the diversity and range that can come from one phrase. It really is astounding. The writing is wonderful, each other has their own style, their own flow, they are all so different yet they all blend so well in this collection. I enjoyed all of the stories; they were all perfect in their own way, J. Daniel Stone’s offering was my personal favourite of the collection. Very way out, very full on, and very very excellent.
Seriously, I am
not going to spoil it for you, read it. You will love it.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
is a brilliant noir supernatural horror mash which will have you hooked from
the start and all the way through. I loved it.
“EXPOSE THE DARKEST OF SECRETS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD
A deadly menace threatens a remote island community and every
man, woman and child is in peril. Sent to the isle to collect the remains of a
dead fugitive, US Marshal Virgil Bone is trapped by torrential storms.
As the body count rises the community unravels, and Bone is
thrust into the role of investigator. Aided by a local woman and the town
pariah, he uncovers the island’s macabre past and its horrifying connection to
Some curses are best believed.
Sometimes the past is best left buried.
And some will kill to keep it so.”
First of all I would like to that
Grey Matter Press for a copy of ‘The Isle’ to read in exchange for an honest
The lead protagonist, Bone, is sent
to The Isle to retrieve the body of a fugitive, Richard Slocum. “Still a federal
fugitive until we bring him in” he is told. He takes passage on Leviathan, a fishing
boat captained by one by the interesting character, Samuel Weeks. Bone has many
issues of his own to deal with such as the drinking problem that led to the
death of his wife. He is a much layered character, something which I like. The
more depth I feel with a character, the more you can relate to them. With this,
it also brings you closer, in a fashion, to the story.
The trip out to The Isle I
particularly enjoyed reading. It was very claustrophobic, very intense and descriptive,
really making you feel like you were there, on the boat. I swear I felt a
little sea sick reading it. The atmosphere was very dark and unnerving, as the
reader, you never quite knew what to expect.
Bone then becomes stranded on The Isle due to the deteriorating weather, and finds himself embroiled in a murder mystery wrapped up in a curse tied up in very strange bow. This is a very interesting read, a murder mystery in an isolated environment. The Isle is very Gothic in nature, a good collection of odd characters, with a rich, old feeling, New England atmosphere.
“First he gave us
LITTLE DEATHS: THE DEFINITIVE EDITION. Then he unleashed his unique brand of
pain in THE END IN ALL BEGINNINGS.
Now Bram Stoker Award-nominated John F.D. Taff – modern
horror’s King of Pain – returns with LITTLE BLACK SPOTS. Sixteen stories of
dark horror fiction gathered together for the first time, exposing the delicate
blemishes and sinister blots that tarnish the human condition.
From a man who stumbles on a cult that glorifies spontaneous
human combustion, to a disgraced nature photographer who applies his skills for
a vile outcome.
Where a darkened city parking structure seems malevolently
alive, and a Halloween costume has a husband seeing his wife in a disturbing
When a ruined man sees far too much of himself in his broken
family, and a mysterious bottle of liquid arrives with a deadly secret inside.
Little Black Spots is a beacon shining its light into some of
life’s most shadowy corners, revealing the dark stains that spatter all mankind.”
Thank you to Anthony
Rivera and Grey Matter Press for a review copy of ‘Little Black Spots’.
The great thing about
short story collections is there is always something to suit every taste. Every
story is different and it’s ok if you don’t like them all.
For me, this was a
good enough read; I didn’t love all the stories, some, I really resonated with
and some I just became bored with. Overall, Little Black Spots was an enjoyable
My particular favourites:
-The Immolation Scene
This is a very intense story of loneliness and
helplessness, emphasizing just how far people are willing to go to feel, to
Corey is besotted with Amy, his ex and also his
colleague. They engaged in a 6 month passionate affair before Amy abruptly
ended it, claiming love wasn’t enough.
BothCorey and Amy have a special, yet dangerous, ability. They can ‘burn’; theyboth have the ability of spontaneous combustion. They can ignite their flesh,sometimes without realizing. Neither knew of the other’s ability, until a chancemeeting when they cross paths during work. Amy is clearly more comfortable withtheir ability than Corey, he can’t bear the pain, the burnt flesh, the scars itleaves. The smell of the burning flesh is overwhelming. It’s too much to see,to deal with and to cope with, Amy wants them to be together completely, toburn bright as one, but he cannot commit to that, breaking Amy’s heart.
“How far are you willing to go this time”
“How much are you willing to feel”
returns to his mundane existence, ‘numb’ from losing Amy again. He is lonely,
the emptiness eating away at him.
I loved this opening story from Little Black Spots,
it’s a perfect story examining the human condition and how we are afraid of
what we don’t totally understand. We are willing to sacrifice our own
happiness, willing to miss out on what could be a pivotal life changing moment,
because of fear, fear of the unknown and our innate resistance to change.
-Just a Phone Call Away
Just a Phone Call Away, this was a deeply disturbing tale of a middle aged average woman, laid off from her job. It’s difficult, you have worked somewhere a long time, and you become set in your routine, the daily mundane lifestyle of the nine-to-five life. If something happens, such as being unfortunately laid off, it can be hard to find something else. It’s a sad truth too, but the older we get, the harder it can be sometimes without the right qualifications, the right connections and the rest.
Cynthia was unfortunate
enough to find herself in this situation, and it made her feel powerless,
helpless. A colleague had joked once that she had the voice to be a phone sex
worker. Little did she know that this would be her next career move, and her un-doing.
Just a Phone Call
Away is a horrific story of the mental decline of Cynthia, as she attempts to
regain control of her life. It’s quite a terrifying read I found, escalating
all through, culminating in a very dramatic, disturbing climax.
-The Depravity of Inanimate Things
I loved this one, it
started out quite innocent. A guy in a cinema who is pirating movies (Okay
maybe not so innocent but you get my drift) for overseas use. He thinks he is
some kind of film ‘Robin Hood’, giving the poorer people of the world the
option to view these blockbusters as they come out without having to pay the
over the top cinema prices.
He then starts hearing voices, everything, and I mean everything is talking to him, from the bottle of champagne to the TV in his apartment. Even the characters in the movies he is watching are turning to him. He is hearing voices everywhere.
His descent into madness is riveting to read. Even at the end, it’s the voices, he had to do it, and they just wouldn’t stop until he killed. He genuinely believes he is hearing voices and completely accepts this as the new ‘normal’.
It’s sad that he didn’t seem to have anyone to help him,
someone who could have seen his mental issues and got him the help and medication
he needed. I guess in a way that was the moral of this story. He thought he had
it all, women, money. But in reality, he had no-one.
I loved about a third of the stories within Little Black
Spots, like I said, collections always have something for everyone. I would definitely
recommend checking this out; I myself want to have another read through it. I
sometimes need to be in a different frame of mind to truly appreciate certain
works. A second read through and I may have a new favourite three, who knows?
“He is close. So close now. He Feels it. He feels everything”
Thank you to Grey Matter Press for this copy of Little Black Spots, a short story collection from John F. D. Taff.
The Immolation Scene is up first. This is a very intense story of loneliness and helplessness, emphasizing just how far people are willing to go to feel, to feel anything.
Corey is besotted with Amy, his ex and also his colleague. They engaged in a 6 month passionate affair before Amy abruptly ended it, claiming love wasn’t enough.
Both Corey and Amy have a special, yet dangerous, ability. They can ‘burn’; they both have the ability of spontaneous combustion. They can ignite their flesh, sometimes without realizing. Neither knew of the others ability, until a chance meeting when they cross paths during work. Amy is clearly more comfortable with their ability than Corey, he can’t bear the pain, the burnt flesh, the scars it leaves. The smell of the burning flesh is overwhelming. It’s too much to see, to deal with and to cope with, Amy wants them to be together completely, to burn bright as one, but he cannot commit to that, breaking Amy’s heart.
“How far are you willing to go this time”
“How much are you willing to feel”
Corey returns to his mundane existence, ‘numb’ from losing Amy again. He is lonely, the emptiness eating away at him.
I loved this opening to Little Black Spots, it’s a perfect story examining the human condition and how we are afraid of what we don’t totally understand. We are willing to sacrifice our own happiness, willing to miss out on what could be a pivotal life changing moment, because of fear, fear of the unknown and our innate resistance to change.
I’m looking forward to the next story very much after this one, ‘The Bunny Suit’.
Little Black Spots – https://www.amazon.com/gp/search/ref=x_gr_w_bb?keywords=9781940658841&index=books&linkCode=qs&tag=x_gr_w_bb-20
“A SUPERNATURAL CRIME THRILLER FROM THE AWARD-WINNING MASTER OF DARK FANTASY
Following a psychotic break, Eli Carver finds himself on the run, behind the wheel of a car that’s not his own, and in the company of a terrified woman he doesn’t know. As layers of ugly truth are peeled back and dark secrets are revealed, the duo find themselves in a struggle for survival when they unravel a mystery that pits them against the most dangerous forces in their lives.
A contemporary southern gothic thriller with frightening supernatural overtones, Alan Baxter’s Manifest Recall explores the tragic life of a hitman who finds himself on the wrong side of his criminal syndicate. Baxter’s adrenaline-fueled approach to storytelling draws readers into Eli Carver’s downward spiral of psychosis and through the darkest realms of lost memories, human guilt and the insurmountable quest for personal redemption.”
Manifest Recall, The Sopranos meets Sons of Anarchy, and gets all kind of twisted. This is a great read, a brilliant novella from Alan Baxter. May I just say a huge thank you to the author and to Grey Matter Press for sending me a copy of Manifest Recall in exchange for a review.
Eli Carver is having the worst day of his life. Who is he? What has he done? What or who is he running from? And who is the girl tied up in his trunk? He has no memory. He knows that something bad has happened to him, he just doesn’t know how bad. To make matters worse, he has the ghosts of the dead talking to him, mocking him, tormenting him. What has he gotten himself into? And how is he going to get himself out of this?
This is one of those books. You know the ones, the ones you cannot physically put down after you start them. You just have to keep going, keep turning the pages to see what comes next. The desire to put all the pieces together, to figure out what is happening right now and what happened before, it’s too strong. Before you know it you have finished the entire book and you just don’t know what to do with the rest of your day. This is one of those books.
I really don’t want to say too much about it, I don’t want to give too much away. This is a must-read, it’s a real edge-of-seat job, a proper page turner.
The writing style is excellent, the first person prose, it does its job of dragging you deep into the story. There is a brilliant claustrophobic element here; you are sucked in so deep you need to finish the story to climb back out again.
It’s excellent. Very stylish and very fast paced. Thrilling.