2017 Horror Novel

Book Award Contest Entrants

We take pride in the fact that it is not easy to earn 4 or 5 stars from our team.  So, all the books on this page have a lot of great content!!

3-5 Stars

*When an entrant’s book earns less than 3 stars, we send their critique only to them vs. sharing it here as well.


3 Stars

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Allie Harrison

Montgomery Manor is the second installment in Allie Harrison’s series, The Haunted. Meg and Quint Falkner have inherited an abandoned (and presumably haunted) mansion from an unknown cousin. Quint is determined to renovate Montgomery Manor and open it back up to the public, but he remains very secretive about it. Meanwhile, Meg begins to notice inexplicable changes in her husband’s behavior, as well as the presence of a dangerous stalker. The mysteries of Montgomery Manor may well lead to the end for Meg and Quint, unless they can get to the bottom of its dreadful tale before it’s too late. 

Montgomery Manor is a decent book on its own. The storyline is intriguing and the mystery of the Manor is well-written and suspenseful. The descriptive language that Allie Harrison uses in her writing is great; it makes for a pleasant and captivating reading experience. The obvious lack of comprehensive editing tends to be distracting, but the story itself is wonderful. 

However, there’s no avoiding the fact that Montgomery Manor is nearly identical to the first novel in the Haunted series, Hargrove House. They each have different characters and settings, but these things differ only in name. Both books feature an abandoned, haunted building undergoing renovation, passionate romance between the two main characters, a strange, perpetual time loop, and leading ladies that may as well be carbon copies of one another. Even the covers of the books look the same! The Haunted is a decent series with interesting stories, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that Allie Harrison basically wrote the same book twice. Montgomery Manor is a good read, but perhaps it would have been better if the entire novel didn’t feel like one big instance of deja vu.

Originally critiqued by the staff of AuthorsTalkAboutIt.com.


3 Stars

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Allie Harrison

Hargrove House is the first novel in the series of ghost stories by Allie Harrison, The Haunted. As a child, Torrie Reynolds was dared by her friends to venture into the infamously haunted Hargrove House. The experience terrified her, and she avoided the property from then on. Years later, Torrie’s interior design business is failing; that is, until the mysterious Will Dalton approaches and asks her to renovate the old Hargrove House and return it to its former glory. She accepts and for a while, the operation runs smoothly enough. However, Torrie soon learns that there is more to Hargrove House- and Will Dalton- than meets the eye. 

As a horror novel, Hargrove House is incredibly disappointing. There is a ton of paranormal activity and spooky mystery in this novel, but the vast majority of it was a supernatural romance. From the very first chapter, the romantic tension between Torrie and Will seemed to be the main objective of the plot. For this reason, fans of conventional horror novels may not particularly enjoy Hargrove House; it’s hard to be scared by haunted houses and mysterious disappearances when the main characters are too busy getting lost in each other’s eyes. Perhaps it would be embraced better under a different genre; horror doesn’t suit it one bit. 

Hargrove House was still entertaining, though, and wound up being full of surprises. It was well-written and descriptive; Allie Harrison’s style of writing is very clear and straightforward. Despite its twists and turns being fairly predictable, the direction the plot took was definitely an interesting one. Once you get past the rushed romance, the bare bones of the plot were great. The mystery of the haunted house was an intriguing one, with enough suspense behind it to drive the plot onward and keep the pages turning. It may not fit the horror genre, but Hargrove House is certainly well worth the read.

Originally critiqued by the staff of AuthorsTalkAboutIt.com.


4 Stars

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D.J. Doyle

In D.J. Doyle’s The Celtic Curse: Banshee, Tierney O’Neill is the stern patriarch of the O’Neill clan in 17th century Ireland. Furious that his eldest son has become enamored by a gypsy girl, Tierney recruits two local miscreants to scare her away. However, they go too far, and instead brutally rape and murder her. On her dying breath, the girl casts a curse on the bloodlines of the men responsible for her demise, including the O’Neills. Now, centuries later, descendants of the O’Neill clan are being haunted by a ghostly entity that is hungry for vengeance. The only way to break the curse is to find the gypsy girl’s gravesite and unravel the ancient clues, hopefully before it is too late. 

The Celtic Curse is a bit all over the place in terms of flow and development. There are constant shifts in perspective that tend to make the storyline confusing in places. Also, a good deal of the dialogue seems wooden and unnatural; in turn, this makes the characters lacking in believability and maybe even likeability. The pacing in the present-day portion of the novel also seemed very rushed in parts, which didn’t help much either. 

However, The Celtic Curse was still a highly entertaining novel. D.J. Doyle’s writing was intriguing and descriptive, and the historical aspects were especially fascinating. The banshee itself was a most unusual choice for the antagonist; it isn’t one that’s seen in literature often, which made the concept all the more interesting. The Celtic Curse: Banshee has so much potential, and with a bit of work in its development, it would be a truly phenomenal novel. 

Originally critiqued by the staff of AuthorsTalkAboutIt.com.


4 Stars

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Brent Michael Kelley

In Brent Michael Kelly’s Keep Away from Psycho Joe, Ruby is a teenage boy (his actual name is Ruben, in case you were wondering) who has recently moved to Bluehills, Wisconsin. He is looking forward to an uneventful summer vacation with his friend Cludes, but their plans are soon thwarted by a certain unsettling neighbor. Nearby, in a stereotypically dilapidated house, lives “Psycho Joe,” as the local kids call him. There are flyers all over town warning Bluehills’ youth to “keep away from Psycho Joe,” but Ruby isn’t sure he believes the rumors. However, after a series of odd occurrences, Ruby begins to doubt his own, well, doubt; perhaps he should have kept away from Psycho Joe after all.

For supposedly being a horror novel, Keep Away from Psycho Joe was very slow to pick up on the scare factor. Sure, there was a creepy neighbor who did some weird stuff, but any of the creepiness that was there from the beginning was muted by the sharp focus on adolescent humor. The humor was witty and creative, for sure, but it had a tendency to be distracting. A good portion of the time it took to read this novel was spent wondering when the plot was going to get weirder than fart jokes and teenage boy-isms.

However, Keep Away from Psycho Joe was still quite an enjoyable book. Brent Michael Kelly’s writing is descriptive and imaginative, with plenty of the aforementioned humor to lighten the mood. Perhaps this novel would be better categorized as a Satire than a Horror novel; aside from this, there are few faults to find with it. Keep Away from Psycho Joe was definitely a fun take on young adult horror, from a writer who shows a lot of promise and creativity.

Originally critiqued by the staff of AuthorsTalkAboutIt.com.


4 Stars

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Mark Simmons

In Mark Simmons’ Of the Night, Whitfield Creed regains consciousness to find himself restrained and bleeding in an unfamiliar warehouse. Vague memories come back to him; he saw something he wasn’t supposed to, and now he fears for his life. Injured and on the brink of death, Whitfield is inexplicably revived by a mysterious woman- but now he’s not himself anymore. He has transformed into something else, something dark. Faced with a choice between assimilation or death, Whitfield must do anything he can to try to survive. 

Yes, Of the Night is about vampires. Yes, that subject is a bit overdone. This novel is interesting though because it seems to revert to the classic, horrific image of vampires, but with a modernized twist. They are deadly, organized, immortal, and  ruthless. However, there are no exaggerated fangs or garlic, and their affliction is regarded as a blood-borne virus instead of some supernatural curse. This idea alone was very intriguing.

The plot was a bit rushed; truth be told, it could have been developed better in terms of pacing and exposition. Some of the dialogue and character development was a bit choppy as well. However, Of the Night was very well-written and descriptive. Mark Simmons is an excellent writer; his style of writing was captivating and full of great imagery. Of the Night was a highly entertaining read; it is definitely a novel that fans of supernatural fiction would eat right up.

Originally critiqued by the staff of AuthorsTalkAboutIt.com.


3 Stars

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Jon Stasiak

In Jon Stasiak’s Standing in the Shadows, Tom Nowak is a photographer living happily on the island of Jersey. Then, the island’s serenity is shattered when a young woman goes missing and is later found dead, presumably murdered. Tom soon realizes that he may have accidentally captured some important clues through the lens of his camera; dark shadows lurk in every frame, threatening the content belief that “nothing bad ever happens in Jersey.” Tom is determined to unravel the mystery behind the shadows in his photographs, but the truth could end up costing him everything. 

Standing in the Shadows is a bit of a long read, mostly because its beginning seems to drag on forever. The novel’s exposition lasted far too long, as every painstaking detail of Tom’s life, ambitions, and the geography of Jersey was painstakingly spelled out. It reads like a combination between a tourism brochure and a biography about Tom for quite a good portion of the novel; the plot doesn’t even begin to pick up until around a quarter of the way in. In this regard, Standing in the Shadows was quite disappointing. 

However, there’s no denying that Standing in the Shadows has a lot of promise and potential. Jon Stasiak writes with great imagery and detail, and there’s definitely an interesting concept behind this novel’s plot. Standing in the Shadows falls short when it comes to execution, but if all the unnecessary fluff around the main plot were to be cleaned up, it would be a really great book. It has the sort of small-town, Agatha Christie-style mystery that really makes a fascinating story, but with a modern, paranormal twist. Jon Stasiak is onto something here, but the fact remains that Standing in the Shadows didn’t quite live up to its potential. 

Originally critiqued by the staff of AuthorsTalkAboutIt.com.


3 Stars

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Chuck Daukas

In Chuck Daukas’ A Little Night Fishing, something dangerous is lurking around the shores of Rhode Island. A teenager has gone missing after a supposedly peaceful night of fishing, and the clues don’t seem to add up. A local security guard, Bob Brickley, is left to try to fit the pieces of the puzzle together, but he isn’t prepared for the truth. There is nothing natural about the hybrid monster prowling the sea

Truthfully, A Little Night Fishing was more silly than anything resembling horror. So many aspects of the plot and characters were absurd to the point of being ridiculous; the entire story ended up being entirely unbelievable and almost comedic. The identity of the antagonist alone is enough to raise a few eyebrows. The narrative also had a tendency to ramble quite a lot, delving into long-winded tangents that were hardly necessary or relevant to the plot. With its distracted narrative and odd storyline, a good deal of A Little Night Fishing fell flat. 

However, despite its plot being a bit bizarre, A Little Night Fishing was fairly well-written. The scenes were very descriptive and the characters were expressive and thoroughly detailed. Had the narrative been more straight-forward and the “villain” of the story made a little more believable, A Little Night Fishing would have been an amazing novel. It’s certainly still good, but not as good as it could be with a little more work. Chuck Daukas definitely has plenty of talent and potential, but there’s no hiding the fact that this one is a little strange, perhaps even too much so.

Originally critiqued by the staff of AuthorsTalkAboutIt.com.


4 Stars

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Raz T. Slasher

The Mime,  written by Raz T. Slasher,  is the first book in a new horror series.  With a very traditional horror style, the story kicks off three decades previous in 1985 describing a horrible accident that led to devestating tragedy.  Before the reader has time to absorb the first death, Slasher turns the tables and kicks into a different gear bringing fear, disgust, hatred and a crazed teenage to the forefront, but that doesn’t last all that long as the core of the story begins to show up.  The Mime is broken into three sections.  The first lays the foundation, but it is pretty slow to start.  The second part, a recipe for yellow cake, seems oddly out of place even though there is a connection with the strange creature in the story. The third part takes up the majority of the story, and is set in present day bringing forward the stories set up in the first section.  Twist after gruesome twist author, Raz. T. Slasher will keep horror fans turning pages.  

Though this new horror novel brings the strange and the grotesque to readers it lacks in a number of ways.  To be honest, it was downright cliche – a fight suddenly leads to a gruesome murder, which leads to a weird monster taking over and controlling another’s body.  Unfortunately, there are numerous scenes that are truly unimportant to the overall story.  They seem shoved in to further explain, but the story would flow better if they were omitted.  Back stories to the different characters could be brought forth more fluidly.  The pacing of The Mime is another area that may be a drawback for readers.  Often it feels as though the scenes are rushed through while others are given too much detail.  

For those readers who enjoy reading a story with a classic horror feel, even if a bit cliche, then Raz T. Slasher’s The Mime should be on their wish list.  It will twist the mind and make readers wonder as to the real reasons behind other’s actions.

Originally critiqued by the staff of AuthorsTalkAboutIt.com


4 Stars

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Sandrine Genier

The Vampire by Sandrine Genier follows Jason Sterling as he takes on an assistant job to a boss who is stranger than most. By living with the mysterious Augere, Jason learns some things about his employer that test what he thought he knew about the supernatural.

The first impressive thing about The Vampire is the presence of a main gothic character who does not fall into cliched tropes. Jason is intelligent, witty and his black clothes come with dark humor.  There are also strong ties to film, literature and supernatural lore that show off Genier’s research skills and will appeal to many readers. The novel is easy to read, and the character of Augere is enchanting as he is mysterious, pushing us to find out more. While the title already gives away the twist, fans of this genre will enjoy the process of identifying a vampire. The friendship between the two men is also very refreshing and does not shy away from male emotions.

However, the problem with The Vampire is that nothing happens and the book is too long. There are revelations and romances but nothing big enough to be called a climax or to push the reader’s interest.  This drags out the novel, and there are whole sections of the book that could be edited out without losing the story.  The Vampire also tries to take us to too many locations and uses street names and landmarks that mean nothing to the untraveled reader. Genier may have traveled but we are not transported to these places, and they mean nothing to us. Jason and Augere travel to over six distinct places within the novel and yet we are not truly taken there with them.

Overall, The Vampire reads like a “memoir of a vampire’s assistant. “ It does not add anything new to the genre, but it does provide us with a mesh between modern Dunkin’ Donuts eating characters with old school vampires.

Originally critiqued by the staff of AuthorsTalkAboutIt.com


4 Stars

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Vanta M. Black

In Vanta M. Black’s Oubliette, Veronica, a ten-year-old in the 1990s, is found hospitalized as she tries to battle ‘shadow people’ and monsters who come into her hospital room to torment her each night. However, Veronica’s nurses fill her with IV and heavy sedatives to try to get her to fall asleep, not realizing that they’re paralyzing her abilities to fight off her demons each night. Vanta then fast forwards to present day Los Angeles where Veronica receives a phone call with an offer to decorate Le Chateau du Feu Ardent in France. Veronica blindly accepts the offer and brings her sister Nikki along for the ride. When arriving to the chateau, they’re greeted with a seemingly abandoned property, no owners, nor entrance way which leads the sisters to break into the beautifully timeworn chateau. As the chateau’s history is presented later on, it leaves you wondering what exactly is in store for Veronica and her sister on this trip.

Vanta has crafted a well-written rollercoaster ride through two thousand years, ranging from 325 AD to present day Los Angeles. She transitions seamlessly through different ages giving us stories and history from the Inquisition in 1307 AD, The Reformation of 1520 and the Great Pestilence in 1348. Vanta also brings likable characters to which you can either relate to or empathize with such as Veronica, in present day Los Angeles, who takes a job without a contract to get exposure for her after a breakup with her business partner/former boyfriend or Father Michael in 1348 AD who is blamed for a plague because he took in a sick, homeless family into his church for a few days. Vanta M. Black manages to keep you on your toes even through the more obvious and predictable plots by having each chapter take place in a different time and focusing on different characters.  Overall, Oubliette is truly a page-turning time machine in which you get the perfect dosage of history, fiction and humor to leave you satisfied upon completion

Originally critiqued by the staff of AuthorsTalkAboutIt.com


5 Stars

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John McNee

In John McNee’s Prince of Nightmares, millionaire Victor Teversham is devastated by his wife Josie’s unexpected suicide. Before her death, she reserved a suite at a mysterious haunted hotel, and Victor travels there in the hopes that he might find some answers about his wife’s heartbreaking decision. However, once he is checked in, he soon discovers that nothing at the Ballador Country House Hotel is as it seems. Victor is then left to unravel whether the unusual occurrences at the hotel can be attributed to a physical source, the paranormal, or his own grieving mind. 

Prince of Nightmares is a relatively short read, partly because of its literal length, but mostly because it was a difficult novel to put down. From the first page of the prologue on, the pure intrigue and mystery of this novel is captivating. Perhaps the whole haunted hotel bit is a little cliche, but it is so wonderfully executed that it almost doesn’t even matter. John McNee’s writing style and use of imagery is phenomenal, drawing the reader into the story and making it seem so very realistic- and simultaneously, so very terrifying. 

The pace and suspense in Prince of Nightmares is nearly perfect; it is paced fast enough to keep the reader interested and invested, but slow enough to draw out the eeriness and mystery. It is a well-balanced, well-written novel that fans of classic paranormal horror would certainly appreciate. Prince of Nightmares is a perfectly chilling October read, certain to leave a lasting impression on its unsuspecting readers.

Originally critiqued by the staff of AuthorsTalkAboutIt.com


3 Stars

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Will Macmillan Jones

The House Next Door is the third installment of Will Macmillan Jones’ Mister Jones paranormal mystery series. Sheila Balsam has purchased a mysterious terracotta unicorn statuette from a local antique shop, but soon discovers that there is more to the figure than meets the eye. After her mother winds up dead, seemingly in relation to the presence of the unicorn, Sheila contacts the infamous Mister Jones for help. Once again, Mister Jones is thrust into an unusual, supernatural mystery with twists and turns around every corner. 

From the first page, The House Next Door does not fare well as a standalone novel; it continuously references past events in the series that readers may not understand without having read the earlier books first. As far as development goes, The House Next Door certainly left a lot to be desired. Much of the narrative seemed to ramble about unnecessary thoughts or details, and the great majority of the dialogue between characters seemed overwhelmingly wooden and unnatural. The pace was dreadfully slow, almost to the point of being boring. 

However, The House Next Door was still a good read. Will Macmillan Jones lent a good deal of uniqueness to this novel; one of the especially interesting tidbits was the use of a unicorn, of all things, as the catalyst in a paranormal mystery. The mystery aspect of The House Next Door was executed very well, with plenty of vivid and descriptive dream sequences and other such scenes that added to the ominous tone of the novel. Perhaps The House Next Door could have benefited from improving the development here and there, but all in all, it was still a good book and a highly entertaining read.

Originally critiqued by the staff of AuthorsTalkAboutIt.com


4 Stars

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The Behrg

In Housebroken, written under the pseudonym The Behrg, Blake Crochet and his family have recently moved to a new home in California so that Blake can progress his business endeavors. The Crochets are wealthy, successful, and the stereotypical epitome of perfection. However, all of that changes after a mysterious stranger shows up on their doorstep. A home invasion with a dark psychological twist threatens to uproot their very existence, as they endure unspeakable horrors and mental abuse at the hands of an unexpected stranger. 

Housebroken started off really great, with an intriguing prologue that set the stage well for all of the struggles to come. However, it slowed down significantly after that, almost to the point of becoming uninteresting for a while. A good deal of Housebroken progressed this way, from exciting, page-turning suspense to boring sidetracking expeditions, and back again. Also, the characters were rarely believable or even likeable, often going too far to the extremes with certain personality traits or behaving in manners that just didn’t seem realistic. The misspelling of one specific character’s lines, though intentional to stress his speech impediment, became increasingly annoying; readers shouldn’t have to spend several minutes staring at a sentence trying to figure out what the character is even saying. 

All of that aside, Housebroken really was a great and intriguing novel. The descriptive language and imagery in The Behrg’s writing was wonderfully in depth and detailed. Also, the entire premise of the novel, with the psychological aspects and themes of horror, was fascinating to explore. Perhaps it could have been developed just a little better, but all in all, the story was solid and the style of writing was phenomenal. Housebroken is well worth the read.

Originally critiqued by the staff of AuthorsTalkAboutIt.com


3 Stars

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Ellie Douglas

Zombie Dogs: SB-16, Book 2 is the sequel to Ellie Douglas’ first Zombie Dogs book, continuing the tale of the undead canines infected by the SB-16 virus. However, there is now double the danger, as the surviving humans fear that they are all doomed to become zombies as well. Life for the few survivors left has become a ticking time bomb, as they try to dodge the undead as long as they can before becoming one of them, too. 

Okay, imagine The Walking Dead and Cujo had a bizarre, graphically descriptive love child. That’s Zombie Dogs (both books, really). There seems to be a lot of inspiration borrowed from those other works, most notably the whole “everybody is infected” bit from The Walking Dead and the rabid, killer family pet thing from Cujo. Zombie Dogs 2 is pretty typical as far as zombie stories go, but that basically guarantees that fans of zombies and gore would love it. 

Ellie Douglas doesn’t really give readers much of a break in this one (though, to be fair, she didn’t in the first book either). There is no recap period in the beginning of Zombie Dogs 2; it just jumps right back in where it left off. The gore is relentless; you can expect for a single character’s demise to last several pages, as every excruciating detail is spelled out until the very end. Sometimes it’s a bit overkill, but you’ve really got to admire Ellie Douglas’ dedication to writing horrific deaths. She’s terrifyingly good at it. Zombie Dogs: SB-16, Book 2 could definitely use a bit of work, mostly in its plot development, but for the most part, it’s a solid horror novel overall

Originally critiqued by the staff of AuthorsTalkAboutIt.com


4 Stars

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Scott M. Baker

In Scott M. Baker’s Yeitso, Russel Andrews has left his tumultuous career as a detective in New York City to take up the position of Police Chief in Los Alamos, New Mexico. He had hoped the move might prove to be peaceful for him and his teenage daughter, Kiera. However, on Russel’s first day on the job, he is greeted by a mysterious crime scene and a heinous murder, as well as the looming dread of a missing teenager. As the clues begin to unravel, it is clear that this isn’t the work of ordinary humans; a dark, unseen force did this, one known by the local Native American tribes only as “Yeitso.”

Despite being a horror novel, Yeitso didn’t quite live up to that genre as well as it could have. It definitely started off great, but then seemed to stray into the buddy cop/mystery dynamic for a while. However, the concept and suspense throughout helped to drive the story along until the horror picked back up again, and it payed off, without a doubt. Perhaps die-hard fans of conventional horror novels may not find it to be immediately gratifying, but that’s not to say that Yeitso was disappointing, because it most certainly wasn’t. 

Scott M. Baker writes with plenty of intrigue and imagery, developing Yeitso into a well-written and well-rounded novel. The characters were personified so well that they seemed real and believable, which added to the overall likability of the story as a whole. It also seemed to be exactly the sort of novel that would make an excellent film, with just enough twists and turns to really leave a memorable impression on the reader (or perhaps, someday, viewer). Overall, Yeitso was a fantastic book with almost no faults, and one that would surely prove enjoyable for almost any reader

Originally critiqued by the staff of AuthorsTalkAboutIt.com


4 Stars

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Dylan Worthey

Jethro & Me by Dylan Worthey tells the story of two friends battling a zombie apocalypse. The story is a classic zombie thriller, focusing on the slaughter of undead foes. Told through the first-person narrative of an unnamed narrator, we are put in the center of the outbreak and watch as the two characters fight their way from the city to the rural farmlands.

Even though it is traditional zombie horror, Jethro & Me reimagines some unconventional zombie experiences. There are tragically vivid descriptions of murdered families, captured girls held in basements and the horrors of mothers turning on the children. The horror is well written, and the pace of the story is exciting. It is evident that Worthey knows a lot about guns, and this adds a level of technical knowledge to the novel that even those with expertise will be impressed by. The story is not focused on how scary the zombies are, but instead asks us to question how humanity stands up against the undead. It also provides us with a story of the strength of friendship.

The one problem with the book is a lack of character development. Both Jethro and the narrator are not well rounded. There is a “reveal” about the narrator towards the end of the book, but it is unclear if this is deliberate or if the overall weak characterization was to blame.  Overall, the editing is great and while there is a lack of dialogue, Worthey makes up for this with great descriptions.

Jethro & Me is a great horror story, which stays faithful to the zombie classics while still offering us something worth reading. The first person narrative puts us in the thick of the action, and we are treated to a story that provides the usual blood and gore but also gives us a story with heart, twists, and mindless zombies.

Originally critiqued by the staff of AuthorsTalkAboutIt.com


4 Stars

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Charles W. Jones

Home: A Novel by Charles W. Jones is a story about a fallen angel, Belphegor or Mr. Bel for short, who has a disagreement with God and is sent to rule a small town in Wyoming named Shoshoni. Belphegor, who spends his days peering out of a window in the Shanley hotel, demands that his servants find him ‘the one with whom he’d shared himself with,’ to help him restore the life back into the lackluster town. When his servant, Mark, fails to complete the requested task, he returns to Shoshoni with the brother of whom he had been sent for, leaving Mr. Bel very unhappy. Mark, who is greatly terrified as well as very aroused by Mr. Bel, lies about his messy work during his mission to find Cody and why he brought over his brother Tyler instead. Nonetheless, Cody ends up in Shoshoni with his brother Tyler along with Mark and Mr. Bel, only to find out that Mr. Bel no longer wants to be permanently earthbound and will use him to gain God’s forgiveness.

Home is quite the page-turner if you could get passed the irrelevant book cover and poor book formatting. Jones also starts each chapter with a bible verse, which can become a bit excessive seeing as the book consists of forty-eight chapters. Nonetheless, Charles seamlessly switches the character focus with each chapter while maintaining his third person point of view, giving you a well rounded idea of the personalities and thoughts of everyone involved. He brings you into their workplaces, their homes, their pasts and current thoughts, leaving you feeling as if you personally know the characters. Jones also gives us steamy, intimate scenes without turning the book into an erotica novel and taking away from the religious underbelly of the novel.

Charles provides the reader with a twist on God, creation and spreading the word of the bible while challenging some views of Christianity and Catholicism. There is quite the emphasis on homosexuality in the book which can offend the religious party, for obvious reasons but also those part of the LGBTQ community due to subtle jabs such as; “After hours of heated passion, she knew he wasn’t gay. A gay man didn’t have the skills he used to bring her pleasure.” However, he recovers later on in the book when he speaks on a misinterpretation of the bible’s references to homosexuality. Needless to say, this book isn’t for everyone, but for those who’re interested, it is overall a very satisfying read.

Originally critiqued by the staff of AuthorsTalkAboutIt.com


3  Stars

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A Lotus

Inside the Wall is the first novella in A. Lotus’s The War in the Wall series, in which readers are first introduced to the futuristic, tumultuous war zone that the world has become. Letha and Nathan were once best friends and young sweethearts, until the peaceful city they lived in was taken over and thrust into war. Children were taken by the war’s leaders, their parents murdered in front of them, and then split into opposing groups and brainwashed into fighting and killing one another. On her fifteenth birthday, Letha is given a dangerous new assignment that involves killing the leader of the enemy group of killer kids, who is none other than Nathan himself. She then must make the difficult decision of whether to follow her orders in this new world, or try to revive the love from the old one. 

Truthfully, Inside the Wall’s plot seems a lot like A. Lotus gathered together the plot points from all of the popular young adult franchises (most notably The Hunger Games and Divergent), mixed them together in one big bowl, and then dumped its contents out onto the pages of her own book. Children transformed into murderers and pitted against one another, conformity and rebellion in dangerous futuristic worlds, and the feisty young heroine who is a warrior too advanced for her young age- it’s all been seen before. That’s not to say that Inside the Wall was entirely unoriginal, because that’s not the case, but it did seem a bit tired after all the others like it. 

Also, it is rather unfortunate that Inside the Wall was lacking substantially in development, because it did have a good deal of potential. There was not a lot of background information on the world before the war, or even how the war started at all. The few flashbacks that were granted involved the budding romance between Letha and Nathan, which was off-putting more than enlightening due to their young age at the time. This novella could have certainly benefitted from a transformation into a full-length, in depth novel, as there were far more questions than answers upon completion. Hopefully the rest of A. Lotus’s  series will provide more satisfaction; at this point, with what is there, Inside the Wall is not as impressive as it could have been. 

Originally critiqued by the staff of AuthorsTalkAboutIt.com


3 Stars

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M.J. Preston

In M. J. Preston’s Arcadia Event, Marty Croft is living a peaceful life with his wife, Maggie, in the Northwest Territories of Canada. However, that peace is abruptly ripped from him when he receives a sudden phone call from a familiar, raspy voice he would have liked to have forgotten. The son of an infamous gangster Marty used to work for, Gordon Shamus, knows secrets about Marty’s past and present that could end up costing him his marriage, and maybe even his life. Shamus wants help with a dangerous job, and signs Marty up to work for a trucking company that will allow him access to a stolen shipment of rare and valuable diamonds. However, Marty will soon discover that there is more to this job- and those diamonds- than meets the eye. 

Arcadia Event certainly has an interesting plot idea, but it is not executed as well as it could be. Irregular and sudden shifts in perspective, often in the middle of a paragraph, made the story difficult to follow at times. Also, the storyline itself was a bit all over the place; in some places, it was extremely rushed, while in others, the pace slowed to a miserable crawl. It is also worth mentioning that despite being listed in the Horror genre, Arcadia Event would likely be disappointing to fans of conventional horror due to its drawn-out beginning; it would be much better suited as a mystery or suspense novel. 

This mystery aspect is one of Arcadia Event’s saving graces. The suspense and intrigue was built and developed wonderfully throughout the novel, which kept the pages turning and the plot interesting. Also, M. J. Preston’s personal knowledge of driving big rigs across a frozen landscape was translated almost perfectly onto the page, making the practicalities of the novel more believable. Arcadia Event was fairly entertaining and unique in its own right, but it could still benefit from a bit more development. Overall, it was still a good, solid read.

Originally critiqued by the staff of AuthorsTalkAboutIt.com


5 Stars

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Brian McKinley

Drawing Dead (Faolon O’Connor Book 1) takes you back to the 1930s era of organized crime when mobsters, gangsters and mafia bosses were somewhat common.  Yet, author Brian McKinley has written a book that is far from stereotypical.  Why?  Because Faolan O’Connor isn’t just a gangster, he’s a freshly turned vampire.  The expectations of those above him aren’t necessarily difficult for this tough-as-nails, cold-hearted killer or are they?  Faolan’s superiors test him, and his so-called friends willingly turn their backs on each other to save their own necks.  Whether or not McKinley’s young vampire will succeed in this new world or whether he’ll finally end up dead remains to be seen.

From the get go, readers will likely be captivated by the cover.  It fully captures the essence of Drawing Dead.  Vampires don’t run around announcing to the world what they are, and the secrets that are fluidly woven throughout Drawing Dead are reflected not only from the cover but from page one.  Admittedly, the scenes do jump around a bit, which can make it a little confusing at times.  But there is so much action and intrigue embedded within the storyline that this is an aspect that can almost be overlooked.  McKinley does a great job offering readers the opportuntiy to take a look at their own values and morals as Faolon seems to reconnect with his humanness.  Of course, this may end up ending his life.  Highly recommended – readers can feel the danger, the excitement and the horror of a vampiric gangster life in this pragmatic tale. 

Originally critiqued by the staff of AuthorsTalkAboutIt.com


4 Stars

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Richard Wold

Stan: The Awakening by Richard Wold tells the story of Stan Foster, a New York artist who finds himself dealing with amnesia and strong inner demons. Told against a background of biblical imagery, art and psychology, this intelligent horror story is not full of cheap scares. It is not traditionally scary, but it pushes us to think about the fragility of the mind, the redemptive power of love and how the devil may be more emotionally complex than we think. 

By naming the characters recognisable demon names, the plot is somewhat given away before the story has a chance to flesh out. This is a pity as the story becomes predictable. That being said, Wold does offer a unique possession story in the way that he focuses on the emotions of humans and demons and how Stan is pitted in a battle against both. There are strong female characters in the dark Lilith and resourceful Abby. Overall the characters are believable while still being supernatural: a quality that can be rare in horror stories where the focus is on sharp teeth and blood. The novel is punctuated with vivid descriptions of Stan’s artwork as well as ‘flashbacks’ to hell which are aided by Wold’s ability to write clean prose. The language is simple throughout the novel and the dialogue pushes the plot in a natural way.

Overall, Stan: The Awakening is the story of inner demons, real demons and how the two sometimes meet. While not bone chilling, it does have something to offer the horror genre. It is about the horror of self-reflection and how demons can be weak and man weaker. 

Originally critiqued by the staff of AuthorsTalkAboutIt.com


3 Stars

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A.E. Hellstorm

Lost is the second novel in A.E. Hellstorm’s series about a group of field researchers belonging to the secretive Golden Fleece Society. Following in the footsteps of the first novel, In the Hands of the Unknown, Lost centers on the narrative of another of the agents, Carl Hansen. In the midst of a peaceful afternoon with his daughter, Carl is called to the scene of an alleged terrorist attack at a local grocery store, where his colleague Miriam was caught in the fray. Meanwhile, he is haunted by memories of a mysterious case he worked four years ago, during which he lost several friends and almost his own life as well. In the midst of all of the pain and trauma Carl is experiencing, he must gather his senses and solve yet another paranormal case for the FBI, perhaps even stranger than the first. 

Truthfully, Lost wasn’t much more impressive than its predecessor. The confusion and lack of satisfying information was just as prevalent in this novel as it was in the first. Especially with the constant plethora of different names assigned to each individual character, it is increasingly difficult to keep up with who’s who and what is going on. Also, the plot development in this book was a bit slow in the beginning; fans of horror and exciting paranormal mysteries might find themselves bored before anything substantial happens. 

However, it is still worth noting that A.E. Hellstorm’s interesting style of writing is again the saving grace of her strange and sometimes tedious series. The vivid scene descriptions and unique story ideas shine through, albeit not executed as well as they could be. Perhaps with a bit of the confusion cleared up and some more gratifying tied-up loose ends for the readers, this series could be a phenomenon. As is, however, Lost and the rest of the series is sadly a bit of a disappointment.

Originally critiqued by the staff of AuthorsTalkAboutIt.com


3 Stars

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A.E. Hellstorm

A.E. Hellstorm’s In the Hands of the Unknown opens with FBI agent Claire (also known as Miriam) as she receives a bizarre new case. As a member of and researcher for the secretive Golden Fleece Society, she often works odd cases, but there is something ominous about this one. A teenage girl has been eaten from the inside out by strange eel-like creatures, with seemingly no tangible explanation. From there, she and her fellow investigators descend into a terrifying maze of paranormal activity, murder mysteries, and horrifying encounters with what can only be described as the unknown. 

In the Hands of the Unknown’s major faults lie in its vagueness; while some mystery is necessary to keep the reader turning pages, this book has far too many questions and not nearly enough answers. It is frustrating and largely unsatisfying to finish the entire length of a book and still not have any clue what is going on, who the characters are, and what the Golden Fleece Society even is. While this elusive manner of storytelling might entice some to keep reading the rest of A.E. Hellstorm’s series, surely most would give up after the first book. 

However, in terms of mechanics and language, In the Hands of the Unknown was fairly well written. The descriptive language used was vivid and clear even in times when the reader might wish it wasn’t, and the rise in tension throughout the story was communicated well. Perhaps the plot itself was a little too reminiscent of something like The X-Files, but whether that is a successful venture or not depends on the taste of individual readers. Hopefully A.E. Hellstorm’s next book in the series starts dishing out some more answers; otherwise, it would be tedious to continue reading at all. 

Originally critiqued by the staff of AuthorsTalkAboutIt.com.


3 Stars

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Ellie Douglas

In Ellie Douglas’s Zombie Dogs: SB-16, a deadly virus, the aforementioned SB-16, is running rampant. The first to be infected is a friendly neighborhood pet named Sasha, who begins a rampage of undead fury. After mutilating her loving, elderly owners, Sasha turns her sights on the neighbors, spreading infection and death and she goes. After the virus spreads and wipes out most of humanity and the animal kingdom alike, the few survivors left must band together to try to keep themselves and their families safe. 

The concept behind Zombie Dogs seems a bit silly; it has all the cliches attributed to most zombie stories, but as the title would suggest, the zombies are dogs instead of people. Perhaps it could have been an interesting perspective, with the dreaded disease originating in animals, but why only dogs? Besides, most of the time, it seemed like the dogs in question had rabies, rather than a zombie virus (if you ignore the rotting skin and dead eyes, that is). And the fact that Zombie Dogs is supposedly part of a series too is a bit off-putting; surely more than one of this odd story would be overkill. 

However, Ellie Douglas redeems herself somewhat with her vivid, descriptive writing. Zombie Dogs is certainly graphic, as any zombie tale should be, so if you don’t have a strong stomach, this novel isn’t for you. However, it is written well enough that it’s sometimes easy to forget just how silly it all is. There is plenty of gore and gut-wrenching, bloody details to satisfy any horror fan. However, whether readers would truly enjoy the strange plotline of Zombie Dogs is another question entirely.

Originally critiqued by the staff of AuthorsTalkAboutIt.com.


4 Stars

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William Holden

In William Holden’s Crimson Souls, several people find themselves caught in a whirlwind of vengeance, horror, and erotic passion. They all come from different walks of life- a Harvard librarian, a victim of domestic violence, a mental patient- but they all have one thing in common; they are haunted by a mysterious, shadowy figure known only as “Nate.” However, there is much more to Nate than any of them realize. Nate was once known as Phineas Nathaniel Trescott, and he was a student at Harvard before being expelled by Harvard’s “Secret Court” for being gay. After his expulsion, he was brutally murdered by affiliates of the Court, but his death was covered up and made to look like a suicide. Now, eighty years after the fact, a demonic, otherworldly version of Nate is on a quest for revenge. Anyone who has any ties to the Secret Court will receive an invitation to a dinner party; from there, all hell (possibly literally) will break loose.  

The premise of this novel is actually quite intriguing. Harvard’s “Secret Court” that sought out and expelled homosexual students did exist, although some names and details have evidently been embellished or altered for the purposes of this book. The blend of historical facts and creative fiction in Crimson Souls is seamless; without a bit of research, it is not always clear where the truth ends and the story begins. There was a wonderful sense of suspense throughout the novel, with a good amount of mystery and fear to keep the pages turning. However, the pacing was a bit off at times, with some scenes rushed and others dragging on for several pages. The most developed and detailed scenes seemed to be the ones involving explicit sexual activity, while other, perhaps more interesting scenes were a bit lacking. Some of the characters and dialogue seemed a bit weak in development and the changing perspectives were sometimes confusing, but most of the book was truly fascinating to read anyhow. 

William Holden’s writing style is sometimes very casual, and other times deep and introspective, but always confrontational in the best possible way. Crimson Souls is captivating from the first mysterious pages until the last, with just the right amount of horror, suspense, and historical fiction to drive it along. In truth, Crimson Souls would likely make for a great film someday. But for now, it is a most worthwhile read about a very interesting, albeit disheartening, chapter of history.

Originally critiqued by the staff of AuthorsTalkAboutIt.com.