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.
Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)
The Five Senses of Horror
Sarah Totton (Contributor), Poppy Z. Brite (Contributor), Sarah Singleton (Contributor), Lisa L. Hannett (Contributor), Richard Christian Matheson (Contributor), Norman Prentiss (Contributor), David McGroarty (Contributor), Chris Bell (Contributor), John F.D. Taff (Contributor), John Farris (Contributor), Jessica Bayliss (Commentary), K.H. Vaughan (Afterword), Nils Bross (Illustrator)
Dark Moon Books
Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads: “Hearing, sight, touch, smell, and taste: Our impressions of the world are formed by our five senses, and so too are our fears, our imaginations, and our captivation in reading fiction stories that embrace these senses. Whether hearing the song of infernal caverns, tasting the erotic kiss of treachery, or smelling the lush fragrance of a fiend, enclosed within this anthology are fifteen horror and dark fantasy tales that will quicken the beat of fear, sweeten the flavor of wonder, sharpen the spike of thrills, and otherwise brighten the marvel of storytelling that is found resonant!
Editor Eric J. Guignard and psychologist Jessica Bayliss, PhD also include companion discourse throughout, offering academic and literary insight as well as psychological commentary examining the physiology of our senses, why each of our senses are engaged by dark fiction stories, and how it all inspires writers to continually churn out ideas in uncommon and invigorating ways.
Featuring stunning interior illustrations by Nils Bross, and including fiction short stories by such world-renowned authors as John Farris, Ramsey Campbell, Poppy Z. Brite, Darrell Schweitzer, and Richard Christian Matheson, amongst others. Intended for readers, writers, and students alike, explore THE FIVE SENSES OF HORROR!”
Table of Contents includes:
“Preface: The Five Senses of Horror” by Eric J. Guignard
“Introduction: Why Do Horror Stories Work? The Psychobiology of Horror” by Jessica Bayliss, PhD
“Thoughts About the Sense of Touch” by Jessica Bayliss, PhD
“Heading Home” by Ramsey Campbell
“Soft” by Darrell Schweitzer
“Feel the Noise” by Lisa Morton
“Thoughts About the Sense of Hearing” by Jessica Bayliss, PhD
“In the Cave of the Delicate Singers” by Lucy Taylor
“Sounds” by Kathryn Ptacek
“Malleus, Incus, Stapes” by Sarah Totton
“Thoughts About the Sense of Taste” by Jessica Bayliss, PhD
“His Mouth Will Taste of Wormwood” by Poppy Z. Brite
“Cassilago’s Wife” by Sarah Singleton
“Sweet Subtleties” by Lisa L. Hannett
“Thoughts About the Sense of Sight” by Jessica Bayliss, PhD
“The Beholder” by Richard Christian Matheson
“In the Porches of My Ears” by Norman Prentiss
“The Impression of Craig Shee” by David McGroarty
“Thoughts About the Sense of Smell” by Jessica Bayliss, PhD
“Shem-el-Nessim: An Inspiration in Perfume” by Chris Bell
“The Scent” by John F.D. Taff
“The Odor of Violets” by John Farris
“Understanding and Incorporating the Five Human Senses into Modern Horror Short Fiction Writing” by Eric J. Guignard
“Afterword: Sensation and Perception” by K. H. Vaughan, PhD
“Suggested Academic Reading for Further Study”
“A Brief Reading List of Modern Fiction Short Stories with Relation to the Senses (1940–2015)”
Our five senses: Touch, Hearing, Sight, Taste and Smell. All of which are explained and explored from both a psychological perspective, and from that of the horror writer.
Thank you to Eric J. Guignard and Dark Moon Books for allowing to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
A wonderful collection of short horror stories, split into five sections (the five senses obviously), all with fascinating introductions explaining the psychology behind the sense. I found those introductions, courtesy of Jessica Bayliss, PhD, very insightful and thought provoking. The short stories themselves were all very well chosen, fitting in even so well with their specific sense. The introductions for me seemed to also add to the feelings I had while reading each story. It felt like the explanations to our responses to fear stimuli actually invoked a fear response from me before I read the story itself. That may have been helped along though by a long discussion about the fear of spiders – I hate spiders.
It’s quite difficult to choose a favourite. They are all so good. If pressed though, I would have to pick ‘In the Cave of Delicate Singers’ by Lucy Taylor. This short story I found to be especially haunting.
***beware of spoilers***
The Brotterling cave complex is a deep network of caves, chambers and tunnels, with a dark history behind it.
This doesn’t sway Matthew and Lionel Hargave, brothers, and experienced cavers. They both went in, but only one, Lionel, returned. In a cruel twist of fate, Lionel was the lucky one; he had lost his hearing in Iraq years courtesy of a roadside IED. This terrible accident was what saved his life here; he could not be called by the maddening siren song within the depths of the cave.
A search and rescue team are dispatched, confident and disbelieving of the rumours and stories of death. They are soon to find out the caves history is all too real.
Karyn, a junior member of the team goes solo against orders to try and rescue her friends. What she finds are mutilated corpses, her friend and one time lover, Pree, being absorbed into the cave itself.
This is a song that must be heard.
“Madness made tangible.
Contagion by sound.
It spews from my lips – a song of such deadly beauty and unholy allure that I experience only the briefest frisson of horror – an emotion something inside me instantly quells – when their mouths fall open, songstruck, enthralled, and they begin to rend their own flesh and tear each other apart”
A story that definitely resonates with today’s busy modern world of chaos is ‘Sounds’, by Kathryn Ptacek. This tells a tale of a woman plagued by sound – the constant din of the town where they live, the never ceasing intrusive soundtrack of life – to the point of madness.
This is a particularly relevant story I felt, especially as I live in quite a built up area. We never get complete peace and quiet. There is always something going on. Whether it be the neighbours banging, cars revving, the garbage truck or the mail. There is always noise of some description. It is never ending. It’s easy to see how very real this story’s conclusion could become in today’s society.
What is most frightening though, is that we have done this to ourselves.
This is a wonderful anthology of stories from some great authors, which will appeal to all walks of horror fan. It contains a wonderful mix of the paranormal, the supernatural, as well as the most terrifying side of the human condition.
Highly recommended and worth a read as soon as you get the chance.
Available via Amazon (UK) here:
Dark Moon Books:
Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)
The Die-Fi Experiment
M. R. Tapia
Hindered Souls Press
“I would like to welcome the world to The Die-Fi Experiment. Please join us in the fun that is the deterioration of the world by means of social media.”
Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads: “Marie and her husband are spending their honeymoon in Tokyo, Japan. While strolling the downtown streets, they are hoaxed into a chance at winning the latest cell phone: First to get through a maze of doors wins! Only they both awaken amidst a sadistic live-stream gameshow. Marie competes against a man while both of their partners are strapped down to chairs. The winner of the deranged challenges imposes extreme pain for their own partner while the loser receives their own form of demented punishment. As it goes on, more and more people around the World Wide Web tune in. The winner of the entire competition gets the chance to fight one last time for their ultimate chance of survival against their own partner…to the death! Will Marie and her husband get the chance to have their first fight as a married couple, and if they do, who will be the last one standing?”
A huge thank you to M. R. Tapia for allowing me to read and review The Die-Fi Experiment.
The Die-Fi Experiment, a brutal glimpse into the ever changing morals of our modern society. The pitiful truth of the time we live in, a world where we upload a video of someone being assaulted in the street to Instagram with a snappy hash-tag rather than help them. Where we go out for dinner and spend the entire time posting pictures of our meals all the while trolling for likes and comments. Seeking the validation from faceless friends, and judging our place in society by how many comments or re-tweets we receive.
It’s a very sad time for the human race. We have lost ourselves to the digital world. We are helpless without a WiFi connection.
I personally loved this novelette from M. R. Tapia, it really hit chords with me over our obsessions with our iphone and the likes (yes – I need my phone; I am one who gets a bit anxious if I don’t have it with me. I hate that about myself). It really reflects well the global fixation with viewing life through a 7 inch screen, as well as our backwards need to comment on the misery of others rather than to help. The phrase – “A congregation of faceless hairdos. Mohawks and bowl cuts. Tapers and sumo buns. Bald Heads and sweeping comb-overs. Lots of them nodding in approval. Receiving their own acceptance by sharing this live on their own Facebook and Instagram and Twitter accounts.” – really summed this up.
The Die-Fi experiment is quite a brutal experiment, a live streaming of torture and murder with tones of Saw and Hostel. The coup de grâce being that the winner receives a brand new iphone X – seriously though, people kill for less these days.
I loved this, the relevance to our brutal world really spoke to me and I feel like it has given me a nudge to maybe leave the phone at home sometimes. To go out and enjoy the world, see some sights through my own eyeballs while I still have them, and rather that tweet it, tell someone in person.
Definitely a must read…
Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror
Got plenty of review to come this month. Looking forward to lot’s of reading and writing (and some Halloween fun).
Reviews coming soon:
The Die-Fi Experiment by M. R. Tapia
The Five Senses of Horror by Eric J. Guignard & Co
The Jesus Man by Keith Anthony Baird
This months reading:
Ten Thousand Thunders by Brian Trent
Sugar Skulls by M. R. Tapia
Manifest Recall by Alan Baxter
+ plenty more
Stay tuned folks (credit firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Toy Thief
D. W. Gillespie
Flame Tree Press
“As a girl, Jack lives with her father and brother after her mother passed away during childbirth. Her father is a well-meaning construction worker who treats her more like a roommate, while her brother, Andy, is an introverted loner prone to violent outbursts, a virtual mirror to his sister who is outspoken to an extreme. The story opens on a sleepover with nine year old Jack and her close friend. While putting on a pretend show, the two girls leave a video camera running, and when Jack replays the tape the next day, she sees her friend’s toy being snatched off the end table and out the back door by a swift, nearly unseen hand. Excited and bewildered, she tries to show the tape to her thirteen year old brother, Andy who is still furious about the spat he and Jack got into the night before. Without another word, he smashes the tape of the intruder. That night, determined to catch the creature she now calls The Toy Thief, Jack sets up a series of traps, all of which fail miserably. Once she awakens in the middle of the night, she finds her friend’s toy has returned, brought back by The Toy Thief, an impossibly tall and rat-like creature with glassy eyes. Just then, Andy steps out of his room, and as The Thief flees in a panic, Andy realizes his sister is telling the truth. The two of them are able to surmise that The Thief most likely travels through a tangled section of woods called The Trails, and they go out in search of it. After returning unsuccessful, Jack awakes the next morning to find Andy missing from his bedroom. As her father informs the police, Jack knows it’s up to her to find him. Jack must venture into the dark place WHERE TOYS GO to get him back. But even if she finds him, will he ever be the same?”
It’s the defining moments in our lives that what make us who we are. They shape us, mould us and manipulate us into the person we are today. A lot of those moments happen during childhood, during the period of our lives that we are most malleable, most impressionable, and most innocent.
I particularly liked the format of this book, the storytelling in the shape of a woman recalling a traumatic event from her childhood. One that will have shaped her somewhat, and made her the person she is today. It read really well, flitting between the past and the present. You could have almost been sat across a table in a greasy spoon from her, listening to Jack’s dark tale.
It was more than a story about a lurking monster; it was about family, and the bonds that hold us together as well as drive us apart. The sibling relationship between Jack and Andy was touching, how it ended was heartbreakingly sweet I felt. The family unit was the main focus of the book from my perspective. The challenges of a widowed father, raising two children after his wife has died during childbirth, and the difficult relationship between brother and sister that ensued. Andy had known his mother, Jack had not. That difficult resentment, when you love someone but you struggle to get past something that you know deep down wasn’t their fault. That’s the relationship between Jack and Andy, turbulent and angry, but at the same time a deep loving bond. It was really well thought out and written I felt. I had a real empathy for the whole family.
The Toy Thief itself, the monster, is deliciously creepy in so many wonderful ways. The perfect manifestation of a childhood nightmare, it’s the monster coming to take your most precious toys. It was a darkly creepy creature, hiding in the shadows, just waiting for its moment to strike. I really loved it. It’s that monster under the bed scenario, or in your closet maybe. It’s that underlying fear that something is watching, waiting, and you are afraid to fall asleep in case it gets you in the night. I appreciated the hidden depths too; it was a great touch that made it an even more frightening experience.
This is a great read that plays on our most innocent fears. It hits home in many ways, both good and bad. This is a wonderful scary story, definitely worth a read.
Available for Pre-order from Amazon, The Toy Thief hits the bookshelves 18th October 2018. Check it out.
4/5 – very very creepy.
Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)
Thirteen Days by Sunset Beach
Flame Tree Press
Publication Date: 6th September 2018
“They feed so Skiá feeds”
I had the pleasure of receiving a copy of this book to review in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley and Flame Tree Press.
My fiancé is a huge Ramsey Campbell fan so he was just as excited as me for me to begin. His writing has been a great source of comfort for Andy over the years and he takes every opportunity he can to re read the books he owns. I can see why, the writing is so fluid and detailed, pulling you in one sentence at a time, engulfing you with this feeling that you are there, right in the middle of the unfolding drama. I was dragged in from the start with this book; the increasing tension, the desperation to know just exactly what was happening, I found it hard to put down, only stopping when real life traumas like work got in my way (even then I was reading it on my lunch break, so engrossed that I didn’t hear my colleague trying to talk to me for over 10 minutes).
I really appreciated that we were never given the full picture of what was happening until quite near the end. I knew from the start there was something ‘off’ with the Greek Island of Vasilema, there was something unseen and unspoken, a darkness that lingered and terrified. Only the locals seemed to know, but they appeared to ignore it, or at least pretend to.
The tone of the story was very much about our mortality and prolonging life. The focus of the book surrounded Ray and Sandra, as well as their children and grandchildren. We are aware from the beginning that something is wrong with Sandra, we can feel the concern and protectiveness that Ray has for her, confirmed when he proceeds to put on a facade of normality for the rest of the family. He doesn’t want to ruin the family vacation. The descriptiveness of how frail Sandra was, the writing was both delicate and yet intense, fully encompassing just how brittle she appeared to be, and how she was deteriorating before Ray. The way she was then invigorated, seemingly from a bite, or the island, or a combination, gathering her strength back very slowly over the two weeks, was beautiful to read yet unnerving all the same.
I found all the subtle references throughout the book relating to mortality, and the curse of immortality I felt, very well thought out and very well placed. The driving force of the story, the family, their relationships, and their coming to terms with Sandra’s illness, was so well integrated with the underlying tension of darkness. It was claustrophobic in parts, this all encompassing, all controlling darkness; it seemed to be the all powerful force on the island. Even the buses wouldn’t stop after dark.
After the initial night, Sandra had been bitten by some kind of insect after falling asleep on the balcony outside their room. While Ray and Sandra awaited the rest of the family at a local taverna, Chloe’s Garden, the waitress seemed to be quite disconcerted with Sandra’s bite. Responding with “I pray not” when Ray comments “at least my wife won’t get bitten here”. There were also the seemingly religious women on the bus, blessing Sandra, Tim and Jonquil (the three members of the family in total who had been bitten) every time they boarded; we found near the end of the book that it was only these three family members whom the women had been blessing, and no one else. They appeared to know that they had been tainted in some way by the island. I particularly enjoyed a scene over dinner one evening in Chloe’s Garden, in which birthday greetings of a long life were conveyed, and rebuked, as they are seen to be more than a curse by the locals.
From the start you could feel the underlying oppression, a dark force, something that wanted to feed, that needed to feed. The phrase, “They feed so Skiá feeds” becomes more and more unsettling. Even more unnerving was what felt like captivity in some ways, they just couldn’t leave the island. Boat trips cancelled, the owners of tour boats and fishing boats refusing to take them – ‘them’ referring to Sandra, Tim and Jonquil. There is a notion mentioned several times relating to ‘coming back to find your memories’, rather than to re-live them, I found this to be very unsettling indeed, what happens to you here that you forget after you leave? The story ended with the family leaving on the ferry away from the island, with Sandra, Jonquil and Tim trying to remember the details of their two week vacation. It was ambiguous yet implied that they were beginning to forget.
5/5 – If I could give it more I would. This book is beautifully thought out and so amazingly written. It really gets you thinking, and stays with you afterwards.
Lesley-Ann (The Housewife of Horror)
Drakon Unchained: Blood of the Drakon
Release Date – 27th August 2018
She had dedicated her entire life to this, to finding her childhood friend, the one person who had made her feel special, who had made her feel like she was worth something. Was she about to find him? Was everything about to change?
Victoria Marshall, a women with a rare ability, she has visions of both the past and sometimes the present through her dreams.
Luther Henderson is the tough and handsome head of security for a very dangerous man, Herman Temple; a man Victoria hopes can lead her to Sergei, her childhood Drakon friend, and Katherine, his wife. She knows that they are being held captive, as well as tortured, she has unfortunately seen this through her visions. She just doesn’t know where they are or why this is happening.
She only took the job as Temple’s assistant because of a vision she had seen that evening, after her job interview. She realized then that he could be the one, the one to lead her to Sergei. He knows something, he has deep secrets, deep ties to covert organisations, she knows he is involved somehow in this nightmare. She is swimming with sharks and there is blood in the water. This is a dangerous game she is playing, one that could cost her her life.
Victoria is drawn to Luther, and he to her. It’s magnetic; they can’t stay away from each other, even though they both know the dangers of fraternizing within their employment under Temple. Employees have vanished for less.
I had the kind pleasure of receiving an advance copy of ‘Drakon Unchained: Blood of the Drakon’, to which I volunteered to read and review. I was not disappointed.
I was drawn into the book straight away; I felt an immediate connection with the characters, especially Victoria and Luther. I was immersed in their growing relationship from the get-go, I could not get enough, I found this book hard to put down if I’m honest.
I really admired the strong and independent woman in Victoria, she knows her own mind, she has dedicated her life to her mission, nothing and no-one will stand in her way. She is afraid yet fearless, she is independent yet isn’t too proud to take comfort with Luther. She is such a warm character, strong, intelligent, beautiful and fragile. A character I grew to care for and admire.
I’m ashamed to say this was the first N.J. Walters book I have come to read; it definitely won’t be the last. I felt a strong sense of immediate attachment, the realism in the writing connected me deeply with the story and the characters involved, good and bad. I was so deeply invested in fact that I was quite emotional in parts and also by the end of the book, I could feel the tears beginning to well up. I felt a great deal of empathy with the characters, again Victoria and Luther specifically.
“She’d never belonged anywhere before, or to anyone, and his touch silenced the old voices in her head that whispered she wasn’t good enough, that no one wanted her because she was flawed”
I swear the above extract could have been written about me and my lovely soon-to-be husband.
N.J. Walters’ writing is beautiful; the story flows easily chapter to chapter, taking you along on Victoria’s dangerous journey into the realms of the dangerous ‘Knights of the dragon’, on her quest to free Sergei and Katherine, and her growing relationship with Luther. I felt like I was there, I felt like I was along for the ride, and what a ride it was.
This is book 5 in the ‘Blood of the Drakon’ series,
Now as I have said previously, I have not read any other N. J. Walters material, so I cannot compare to the previous books or how the story flows from there. I can say with confidence that this didn’t hinder the story one bit. I felt there was plenty of detail included; well enough explained that I never felt lost or confused.
I whole heartedly give this book 5/5.
I look forward to reading more from N.J.Walters in the future (and from the past).
Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)