Thursday, July 23, 2015


Kyle M. Scott - Protection 5/5


     I received a copy of Protection in exchange for an honest review and I wasn't prepared for what I actually read. Kyle has been known for writing in your face splatterpunk. Blood, and total face melting mayhem. Protection has none of this and that's not a bad thing at all. Protection is a creepy little horror novel that escalates slowly and here we get to see a new side to Scott. A kinder gentler Scott that holds back on the gore that he's become known for and gives his readers something totally different. As a parent I could relate to this a lot and the theme of protection is the glue that holds this all together. The question here is simple. How far would you go to protect your children? As a father that's easy to answer and it's a question that I'm sure Kyle himself has asked himself.

     This is a novel that keeps you guessing and we get to see Scott actually create a novel that is based more on atmosphere than actual gore. We know that something is out there, but we have no idea what it is. This is a well paced horror novel that you almost think you have figured out and then you realize that you were wrong. Scott keeps us guessing until the end, and I had to actually read the ending three times just so it would sink in. Kyle is a writer exploring new territory and sometimes these explorations end badly, but this is one  novel you don't want to miss.

      Protection is by far the best novel that Scott has written, Excellently paced and shows that he has grown as a writer. You are drawn to these characters as well as the bond that James has with his son. As the night terrors escalate you feel the same helplessness that he does. We want to find out what's after his son? Was there something supernatural involved in Lilith's disappearance? For those that are looking for a creepy little horror novel that takes a left out of splatterpunk territory into dark, mind twisting fiction this is one you can't miss. It shows that Scott is more than that guy that writes those gory books and if he keeps writing books like this he won't be an indie author for long. I don't even think that 5 stars is enough for this and would even go as far as giving it ten. I've been a fan of Scott's for awhile now and I look forward to reading his next book.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Out Are The Lights

     Out Are The Lights - Richard Laymon 3/5


     Richard Laymon is by far one of the greatest horror writers you have never heard of. My writing is hugely influenced by him, and no one comes to close to matching his style. When you read one of Laymon's novels you are in for one hell of a ride, and it's easy to see why he has such a large following. I have been waving the Laymon banner for years and have written quite a few reviews of his work. This man was a splatterpunk legend and took horror to a place it needed to go. It was not the typical stuff that seasoned horror fans were accustomed to and they reacted accordingly. You will see tons and tons of bad reviews that dismiss Laymon and call his work shit, but they're idiots. Laymon was a genius and I could write an entire blog telling you why but for now let's just review Out Are The Lights.

     I own two version of this and the one above is the Warner edition which I purchased because the cover was just too terrible to pass up. This is why Laymon's career stalled in the States. You have these great books with shitty cover art, and usually the cover art had nothing at all to do with the book. Also, forget the blurb on the back of the book because it's only a portion of what this book is about. Let's focus on the other cover for a second. This is the Headline version from the UK.



      This is the version you should pick up. Not only is the cover better, but Headline features five bonus short stories. As a Laymon collector I usually buy the Headline versions. Not only is the art work better but the books themselves are well done. You can find the Leisure versions, but again you're running into bad cover art and the look of the book itself is no match for the Headline edition, I have yet to read the short stories housed in the Headline edition because I forgot I had it. I read the Warner edition which sadly contains a few typos, and what the hell is up with that cover? This was typical artwork in the 80's and yeah it looks pretty bad. It has nothing to do with the book, What the hell is up with the shadow hand? It's just reaching out there and the girl in red looks like she has to take a shit.

     I digress. Out Are The Lights is an early Laymon novel and it shows Laymon trying to find his balance and stay original. With later books we know what to expect, and he already has found his comfort zone, but here we find a writer exploring his surroundings and getting a feel for the area. The strength of Lights is his pacing and storytelling. You have a twisted plot that seems to have no connection at all and sometimes it feels a bit disjointed, but Laymon knows exactly what he's doing and has no problem guiding us there. This may be a short novel but it packs one hell of a punch. Laymon is laying the ground work for his style and while there is a bit of gore and sex it's also a novel that explores our love of horror and how far we would go to be entertained.

     The Shreck films are cleverly disguised as snuff films, but the issue here is why Shreck is creating these films. It's an interesting plot line, but it doesn't really go anywhere. Laymon leaves this one wide open and there's never really any closure. These interludes are shocking and violent, but they serve no purpose. The real plot here is Caroline and Del, and Elizabeth who is married to a man she almost killed. This is the oddest and creepiest aspect of the novel. Once you get into this story line the Shreck portions of the book seem to be filler that Laymon could have left out of the book. That is the only weakness of Lights and it dragged the book down a bit.

     For an early Laymon novel this isn't terrible. It's an entertaining and fast read that show glimpses of what would come. Laymon never really pushes the envelope he actually balls it up and throws it away. He doesn't follow any rules and that's what makes him so great. Lights has an element of realism to it and that's something you don't see enough of in horror novels. Each of Laymon's characters are flawed in some way, they're all a bit broken. The one thing that is glaringly obvious is that most of the book is implausible. None of this could really happen, but so what. That's the reason why Laymon's so entertaining. This is a novel that will have you groaning at the cheesy dialogue while frantically flipping pages trying to figure out what happens next.

     Laymon is a great story teller that makes his characters parodies of ourselves. His villains are based on real people that you probably encounter at the grocery store, or maybe even work with. Lights is a fast paced horror novel that doesn't try to be anything other than a horror novel. You aren't going to get a nice reality based piece of literature. Our Are The Lights is well paced and shows glimpses of what Laymon would soon become. He takes a few risks and sometimes it pays off and sometimes it doesn't. This is horror that you become absorbed in, and there's nothing cooler than that. Laymon was a master of giving his fans what they wanted, He wrote novels that defined the splatterpunk genre.

     Out Are The Lights has its flaws, but in the end it's a novel worth reading. This may not be one of his greatest novels but it's still pretty damned good. Laymon has a cult following for a reason and Lights isn't like other Laymon novels. It's an experiment of sorts. You have the exploration of Shreck and his crew creating these short horror films and the story of Del, Connie, Pete, and Elizabeth, All of the plots line up and the ending does leave a bit up to the reader to figure out. Is it one of my favorite Laymon novels? No, but it does remind me that with Laymon you just never knew what to expect. I miss the hell out of Laymon, He was true master of horror and his passing left a huge hole in the horror genre.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

How To Successfully Kidnap Strangers

How To Successfully Kidnap Strangers  - Max Booth III  5/5


      Max was gracious enough to give me an advanced reading copy of his latest book in exchange for an honest review, but after reading it I'm not even sure I can be honest. What if I end up kidnapped and shoved in a trunk with a bag full of severed heads? I don't want to be kidnapped because I wrote a bad review. Actually that's the premise of the book and the kidnapping and everything else that happens in Booth's book is a direct result of a sheer panic and indecision. If you're actually using this as a a guide to kidnap people you have serious issues and the book isn't even a guide that you can use,

    This is my fourth Booth book and I haven't read a bad novel yet. Max is a solid story teller that refuses to follow any genre and write whatever the hell he wants. That unpredictability is what fuels his novels. You never know what the hell you're in for and his characters are always interesting. You have elements of bizarro here and light touches of horror, but mixed in there are a variety of other genres. Strangers is an interesting and bizarre read that elevate Max's talents as a writer that can't be boxed in by genres or rules. These are characters who are just sort of thrust into this situation and only make things worse for themselves as the novel progresses. One bad decision just snowballs and you almost feel sorry this rag tag group of indie publishers.

     Also there are great tips for writers which I refuse to disclose, but it's very solid advice and you can also see a bit of Booth's personality shine through as he talks about not only publishing, but the various genres that have seemingly popped up over night. As a writer I can relate to a lot of what he's saying and what it boils down to is just write. That is what makes Strangers so good. Booth isn't allowing himself to be boxed into one genre. When you try and categorize any of his books you just can't and that may piss off fans of any one genre. When he attacks these genres you may laugh and agree or get pissed off.

     If there is a message here it's this. Don't be a dick or you may find yourself kidnapped. It's a glimpse at how some writers react to negative reviews and how we feel so self important that we seem to believe that we're bigger than Christ himself. We're supposed to write and after reading this I swear not to whore myself on Facebook or at the very least vow not to do it so much. Here's the deal. I'm a fan of Booth's and have been since They Might Be Demons, and with each book he continues to buck trends and write solid books. That's what a good writer does, and Strangers may be his best book yet,

Thursday, July 9, 2015

In The Trenches

    In The Trenches - Various Authors 4/5

      I received this anthology in exchange for an honest review and I was intrigued because there are a lot of ways that you could approach it. You could go  all Full Metal Jacket or you could go in the opposite direction and put your best anti-war foot forward. Look at any war and you can pretty much throw out your own opinion on how you feel about war and what it not only does to families, but also the soldiers who are coming home from a war that they may not have believed in or even wanted to fight, We are all affected by war in some way, and we also see that when it comes right down to it war is big business. It can certainly boost or destroy an economy.

     I was curious to see just how Verto Publishing approached this. You can offend a lot of people with a book like this so naturally I wanted to see how it played out. I wanted something that would make me think, but what I didn't want was a bunch of stories that played it safe and featured a bunch of stories that shied away from the realities of war. In that regard In The Trenches has really stepped up to the plate and delivered a home run. These are stories that may not be for everyone, but they are about raw emotion and seeing through the eyes of a soldier can sometimes be terrifying, What you have are poems and stories that effectively give you an inside look at what it's like in the trenches. These are often dark and terrifying glimpses but that's what makes this so damn good. In The Trenches doesn't play it safe and if you're looking for an anthology about war this is a must read.

       Each story and poem compliment each other so that there's a healthy balance of material to choose from. The editor did one hell of a job putting this together so the material is spread out and each idea doesn't clash into the next. This is an interesting anthology that could have easily turned into just another boring mess of unreadable material, or a handful of stories that just don't work. To tell you about each story would take way too long so all I'll tell you is to read this anthology and then watch a classic war film, or maybe read Dalton Trumbo's anti-war novel Johnny Got His Gun so you have a full understanding of the realities of war. You may walk away from this enlightened or you may have a wider view on why war is necessary.

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Splatter House Rules

The Splatter House Rules - Jeff O'Brien  5/5


      I am a huge fan of O'Brien's and the more I read the more I realize that you can't just dump his books into one category. He brings the punk, DIY aesthetic to his writing and it works. These are books that remind me of those classic B-movies that are full of cheese but have a an interesting plot that holds it all together. Splatter House is a combination of the bizarro/horror hybrid that he's become the master of. His fiction may not be for everyone but it's a blast to read and that's really all that matters. Splatter House is a lot of fun to read.

     If you're familiar with slasher films then you'll recognize the plot, but O'Brien throws a few curve balls that keep it from being a straight ripoff and more of an homage. I love that there's a healthy amount cheesy dialogue and gore and like all B-movies you have an underlying issue that throws the plot into unpredictable territory. You have an abandoned camp and counselors that know a little of the history and then like all good slasher hell is properly unleashed. O'Brien is a talented writer that doesn't even try and take himself seriously, The Splatter House Rules is the kind of novel you read just for the fun of it. The plot moves quickly and O'Brien is the type of writer that knows his subject matter and isn't afraid to take a few risks.

     As it says right on the cover this is a summer camp slasher with a bit of an edge. Finding out what's lurking in the camp is what drives this novel. Think Sleep Away Camp, or Friday 13th and you have a pretty good idea of what you're in for. This is for fans of classic B-movie slashers and if you're looking for a novel that will make you think you're reading the wrong book. O'Brien is a writer who is comfortable taking risks and venturing just outside of the rules of horror and bizarro. There's really no way to classify this guy and that's what makes this novel so damn good. Of course it wouldn't be an O'Brien novel without an underlying moral issue. This one you'll just have to discover on your own,

     The Splatter House Rules is a solid read that shows O'Brien growing into his role as a writer that knows how to craft a decent story with just the right amount of humor and gore. Horror and bizarro fans will no doubt enjoy this, and even if you're not a fan of either genre this is one of those books you should check out. This is the equivalent to a Saturday morning creature feature that you watch while eating bowl of cereal.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Wet And Screaming

     Shane McKenzie - Wet And Screaming 5/5



      I received a copy of Wet And Screaming in exchange for an honest review and I also feel the need to maybe throw in a disclaimer because this is one of those books that make people a little butt hurt. In this overly sensitive society you can't review a book like this without one. People like to blame everyone else when they're offended and I'm from the school of if you're offended then maybe, just maybe you needed to be offended. You don't need me to tell you that this book is not for the weak. Look at that cover. Shane McKenzie is the kind of writer that writes blackened, gore infested, horror. Think Edward Lee, or Jack Ketchum, and you have a pretty good idea what you're in for. This is the type of splatterpunk that draws a line in the sand and promptly pisses all over it.

     Wet And Screaming is a short story collection and what a collection it is. These are stories that will stick with you days, and even weeks after you read them. You want gross? Check out Fat Slob, you want disturbing? Kill The rabbit. McKenzie has a knack for taking the dark and twisted path and if this is your first time reading McKenzie's work you'll instantly walk away a fan. Before each story you get a glimpse at what inspired the story. For some it may seem a bit tedious but it gets you closer to the story, This is a collection that flows wells. After each story ends you almost have to stop and catch your breath. McKenzie knows what his fans like and Wet And Screaming is a solid read, 

     Anytime I review a short story collection I judge it as a whole. How well does it flow? It flows extremely well . Each story transitions smoothly into the next. How much filler is there? In this case there is none. Wet And Screaming is a collection that McKenzie fans will devour and for those looking to branch out and read something different you can't go wrong here. You just have to keep in mind that this isn't your normal run of the mill short story collection. McKenzie is a true master of gross out fiction. Aside from that he knows how to craft a decent story so that when it all goes to hell you're too invested in the story to give up. You have to keep reading just to see what's going to happen. He is a master of shock and awe, and if you're a fan of Edward Lee or Wrath James White you are going to love this,