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

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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)

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

My top 5 reading in 2018

My first year as an official book blogger has been a great one. I am forever grateful to those who have supported me and helped me on my journey. It has been amazing, I have read some wonderful horror stories (and a few dodgy ones), and I am very excited for all of the reading to come in 2019, including my initial seven books in seven days self challenge.

Anyway, enough of me, my top 5 have to be, in no particular order:

Bad Pennies by John F. Leonard

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The first thing that really grabbed my attention with this book was Chris Carlisle. A guy, just trying to make it through life, struggling the same way we all do. Mundane job, living payday to payday, debating with himself over the now regular winter ‘heating or eating’ dilemma. This is a great story, a supernatural horror story encompassing not only the horrors of the supernatural world, but also the horrors of our own everyday existence. I felt his internal struggle, his guilt, and his overwhelming need. He needed the money, he knew he was wrong, but it was going to help him more than the dead guy wasn’t it? Or so he thought. I really loved the undertones about our general money worries, and the depths we can be driven to in desperation. For me personally, it felt like John F. Leonard was getting right into the nitty gritty of our materialistic society. The rich get richer and the poor get squashed.  Our ‘need’ as it were, for the things we don’t really need, take over our senses and cause us to do things completely out of character, ruining our lives and those of our loved ones. Those of us who are desperate enough can be completely blinded by obsession and greed. To me, this was a story examining just how far one is willing to go, and how much is one prepared to turn a blind eye to, just to get on in this mundane existence we have created for ourselves. 

A particular quote I loved “I might have no time for Fleecebook and Twitter-Tattle, Snapshat or Instawhatever, but it loves them like naughty sons. The more noise the better as long it keeps a few real truths quiet.”

I felt this partly summed it up, our materialistic obsession. We love sharing so much with friends via social media. We lose ourselves in the moment, rather than enjoying what is in front of us right now, we sacrifice it for a few likes and retweets. We are missing so much. I am as guilty as the rest for this. There is a pressure here too, the ‘keeping up with the Jones’’, the need to acquire things just to show we have them. We don’t like the idea of people knowing we are struggling, we don’t always ask for help when we should. It’s like this ‘shame’ has been bred into us. There is no shame in needing help. To me anyways, it felt like this was one of the points of the books. Speak to people, ask for help if you need it. Don’t leave it so the ‘help’ seeks you out. Evil is attracted to the most vulnerable among us.

My favourite character has to be Ronald Hodge. My god that guy is a creep. I felt like I needed a shower each time he was in a chapter. He is one horrendously bad man, in every possible way. I absolutely loved the development of his story. The way it just kept getting worse and worse (in a very good way), he is awful. Reading about Steph in his house gave me chills. It was so bad yet so good. I really don’t want to say too much on Ronald as I don’t want to totally ruin it for people. This is must read, for this character if nothing else.

Bad Pennies is brilliantly thought out and written, it flows so easily from one chapter to the next. The switch up in characters is obvious without being confusing. The fluidity of the story and realness of all the characters made this a truly horrifying pleasure to read.

I am very much excited to delve deeper into The Scaeth Mythos, it’s fascinating. The other realm, the manipulations of our reality and the descriptions of the, do I call them familiars? I’m not sure. King Ratty was a definite favourite. When he became spider-rat, oh god, I was itching all over. I hate spiders! I really can’t wait to read the next instalment.

The Sorrows by Jonathan Janz

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***REVIEW PENDING VIA GNOH***

The House by the Cemetery by John Everson

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Some things should most definitely remain buried. A murderous witch undoubtedly should.  If there was ever a tale about a man being led by his, ahem, ‘other’ brain, this is it. Mike, a carpenter is tasked with making an already haunted house safe, to be opened as a haunted house attraction. Seems like a great idea doesn’t it? The end result, the cattle are taking themselves to the slaughter.

I got many American Horror Story feels from this book; I could picture it in my mind, the different cast members of AHS and which parts they would be perfect for. It really felt like a story that Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk had come up with during the creative process for their next series. It’s a shame really that they have already done the haunted house theme (series 1). I can live in hope though right?

Mike, divorced, living hand to mouth and pay check to pay check, is struggling to pay the rent. He reluctantly agrees to a job offer from his friend Perry, to work on reconstructing Bachelor’s Grove, an infamous haunted house complete with a creepy cemetery. It is to be opened in the run up to Halloween and a scary money making attraction. He meets a girl, Katie, falls for girl and does everything she asks no matter how twisted or bizarre it may seem. Love really is blind.

That was my one fault with this book; Mike was a little too accepting of the situation. Even at the end, all the murders, the bloodshed, and he just seemed to be very blasé about it. He would complain, and say he didn’t agree et cetera et cetera, but Katie would smile sweetly and bat her witchy eyelashes and he would be back to being her good boy. That one thing was my only annoyance. I think we needed a man with a bit more fight in him, not an absolute pushover. Katie really didn’t have to work for it. Also, I have to admit, it was not a huge surprise to find out Katie was a ghost, or even the witch for that matter. It was sadly pretty obvious from early on in the book, although that didn’t curtail my enjoyment.

I felt the haunted house within a haunted house concept worked really well, I loved all the different room ideas and the overall layout and decoration of the house really did sound great. I felt there was maybe a lack of any ‘actual’ haunting within the house when it was open to the public, unlike the subtle incidents, of entrails, noises and footsteps whilst Mike was working on it. That subtle approach was perfect for building atmosphere in the earlier stages of this novel. I would have appreciated a few unintended jump scares from resident ghostly inhabitants during the open house, which would have been a treat alongside the actors dishing out the scares. I think introducing some other spectral figures would have given the house more of a back story, showing us that many people died there over the years. While we were limited with ghostly visitors, despite being told numerous times of the vast paranormal presence within the house, we were not left totally disappointed.  It wasn’t until the very last night of business that the ghouls came out to play. Those last few chapters were great, a very big finish, a huge kill count, it was an absolute blood bath that wouldn’t have been lost on an eighties slasher flick.

The Mouth of the Dark by Tim Waggoner

The Mouth of the Dark

As a horror fan, and all round crazy fan-girl, it is always the stranger the better that I love. I love randomness, oddities, crazy, the unusual and the downright illogical. I relish the weird and the wonderful with a fiery passion, embracing it and all its wondrous madness. This book, this wonderful book, The Mouth of the Dark, is all of these things and more.

There is nothing I can say that could do this book or its author justice. Tim Waggoner, you are a literary genius. This is an extraordinary tale, a frightening, exciting, and thrilling ride from start to finish. The Mouth of the Dark has opened up a whole new world of wonder for me, I feel inspired by it, and I feel that it has cracked open a creative door within me that I don’t think can ever be closed.

We meet Jayce Lewis, a regular guy, a desperate father who is searching for his daughter, Emory. He knows something is wrong, he is deeply worried. He and Emory are not the closest anymore, not since the divorce, something he regrets deeply, but they keep in touch. She has gone missing from her home, in the Cannery. No one seems to believe him, that she is in danger, missing, abducted maybe; even her mother thinks everything is fine, and that she is just loved up and holed up with her current boyfriend and will get in touch eventually. Jayce knows, he can feel it, something isn’t right and he isn’t leaving until he finds her, he will do anything to find her, his little girl.

The Cannery has a questionable reputation; it is not the safest of places to live by any means. It wasn’t what he would have wanted for his Emory, but she is an adult now, she has to make her own way in the world, and he respects that. A lot of strange things happen within the Cannery, it’s a place for the unknown, the darkness, and the shadows. A different kind of life thrives here. While asking around about Emory, he meets Nicola, a curious woman who saves his life after he is attacked by some of the Cannery’s strangeness. She offers to help him find his daughter, it’s just a matter of can they trust each other, and can Jayce accept what he is about to find out. His whole life is about to change in ways he could never have imagined possible.  

The Shadow, a world of dark wonder where the impossible is real, everything you could imagine, and the things you would rather not, it’s all real, and it’s here. A world existing alongside our own, just out of sight for most people, ‘normal’ people. Jayce soon discovers he has ‘the eye’, he can see the things most can’t, he is a part of the shadow, he just didn’t remember he was.

The Mouth of the Dark is a truly fascinating read, it has everything. We have lunatic killers, sex toys with a life of their own, dog eaters, clones, gladiator style fighting, melting heads and even a pinch of romance. It has something for everyone, and it is all wrapped up in a perfect twisted bow.

Haunted: Horror of Haverford West by G. L. Davies

Haunted: Horror of Haverfordwest

This terrified me, I couldn’t put it down. Haunted: Horror of Haverfordwest is an interview with a married couple, Dai and Anne (names changed so as to not be identified), recounting the dreadful days spent in their marital home. They are haunted by a malevolent paranormal being, tormented and almost driven apart by the entity. This book is the prequel – which happens to be featured at the end of this one – to G. L. Davies’ ‘A Most Haunted House’.

I really liked the style, the transcript, it really pulled me in, and I was immediately engrossed, desperate to find out what happened next. I was hooked from the get-go. It was really interesting, as well as frightening, the idea that this could be going on in the house next door and you wouldn’t know it. You might put banging and clattering down to just noisy neighbours with no consideration, or maybe they are having a clean out… you would never think that they were being haunted, not in a million years. Or maybe we don’t want to think that? Is it better that we live our day to day lives in the blissful ignorance that there is nothing else out there, nothing lurking in the closet or under the bed? Are we happier this way?

I honestly can’t say I’m 100% sure this is based on truth or whether this is a story in a ‘true life’ format. I am most definitely open minded, and I’m more to leaning that this is based on real events. If so, oh my god, I can’t begin to imagine how horrendous and terrifying this must have been.

I’m glad the original book was included, I hadn’t read this previously and it was interesting to see the similarities between both accounts, from different people in different eras. I also found the possible explanations for paranormal occurrences an interesting and insightful read.

For someone like me, a believer, this is a great read. It’s had me on Google, looking up the area and the paranormal goings on. It seems Pembrokeshire is a paranormal hotspot.

I’m quite interested in this I must say.

The story of the Hooded Monk of Union Hill in Haverfordwest is something that has grabbed my attention, the ghost hunter in me has decided to take a trip down later in the year, see some sights, and maybe spot a ghost or two. Of course we are already concerned this will end up the next big ‘found-footage’ film, my fiancé joking the sequel will involve his mother and uncle heading out looking for us.


Thank you guys for sticking with me this year, and I am looking forward to a very exciting horror filled 2019!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from me, Lesley-Ann, The Housewife of Horror xxx

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