Monday, August 11, 2014

Reviews for the Week of August 11, 2014

NOTE: Please see bottom of main page for submission info. Thank you.

PROUD PARENTS by Kristopher Rufty (2014 Samhain Publishing / 282 pp / trade paperback & eBook)

Greg and Sheila weren't able to have children. But when they joined an experimental birthing project, they became the only couple whose child survived ... and they became the only family who got out of the facility alive when mutations and chaos struck.

Today, Greg, Sheila and their six year-old son Gabe survive by moving from small town to small town. Gabe is a human/reptilian hybrid who they try to keep inside, but his urges often cause him to sneak out at night and eat their neighbor's pets. Now they've found a new town and are getting friendly with their neighbors Todd and Lisa. Greg has even discovered Doctor Henry Connor, one of the men who helped them conceive their son, living nearby, and he offers to help them find a cure for Gabe.

As Greg and Sheila get closer to their new neighbors, Gabe begins to spy on Todd and Lisa's teenage daughter Jenny and discovers new feelings. Doctor Connor is also blackmailed by a superior from the birthing facility, and before long Gabe manages to get out of the house and claims first another pet as a victim, then an elderly neighbor.

PROUD PARENTS has all the ingredients of a classic pulp horror tale: a cool monster, horny obnoxious teens, nosy detectives, a hint of conspiracy, and a truly gruesome finale. The story reminded me somewhat of Edward Lee's MONSTROSITY, but with its own flavor. The second half features a nice blend of suspense and grue, and will surely satisfy anyone looking for a solid creature feature.

-Nick Cato

THIS DARKNESS LIGHT by Michaelbrent Collings (2014 CreateSpace / 430 pp / trade paperback & eBook)

I sat down to this book thinking it’d be a nice break from worries about the state of the world and certain current events like oh say we’re all going to get Ebola. The opening, an email exchange between the President of the United States and the mysterious X, an email titled OUTBREAK, really should have been a penny drop for me that I might want to hold off a bit. 

Maybe I glossed over it, or maybe I just let it slip my mind because the rest of the first chapter captivated me with the introduction of a gutsy ol’ gal of a widow who was, bum hips be damned, going to cross ‘climb Kilimanjaro’ off her bucket list. I fell in love with her instantly, I wanted to read about her uplifting tale of determination and triumph! 

Boy, was I a sucker. 

Outbreak, remember? One of those horrible HOT ZONE situations where an ordinary airline flight goes hideously wrong in a matter of moments of screams and explosive gushing biohazard. 

The scene then jumps to a hospital, where a man who should be dead wakes up with no memory but an inexplicable skill set. And, as he soon discovers, enemies who will stop at nothing to finish the job. His only ally is a nurse, whose co-workers have already been cut down. 

Meanwhile, in case his enemies aren’t up to the challenge, an expert assassin has also been recruited. Or, not recruited so much as conscripted, made an offer he can’t refuse on pain of death to his own nearest and dearest. 

What follows is a breathless cross-country pursuit, peppered by the delightful interludes of emails as the President tries to cling to control of a situation where he never had it. A situation that’s rapidly deteriorating as the outbreak – in all its horror – spreads. 

With a strong but vulnerable hero, a tough but beautiful heroine, a special child, secret conspiracies of far-reaching power, deviant pervert bad guys, and the fate of the world in the balance … I daresay we’re a saintly dog away from needing to do an intervention. Collings’ work has been compared to that of Koontz before – with reason, and I’ve done it myself – but he’s thus far escaped the descent into overwrought, overwritten preachiness. 

We can’t let that happen, people. He’s too good to let go off the deep end. He writes amazing books, and he writes them too fast for even me to keep up. THIS DARKNESS LIGHT is another winner.

-Christine Morgan

KETCHUP ON EVERYTHING by Nathan Robinson (2014 Snakebite Publishing / 119 pp / trade paperback and eBook)

KETCHUP ON EVERYTHING is one of those books where the title is mysterious. It is also one of those books where the title remains that way up until the very end. However, this is not by any means a letdown. Nope, this is very much the exact opposite. The author successfully keeps the reader’s interest well intact and creatively adds to the mystery at hand throughout the entire book, leaving the reader just dying to know what it all means without the plot being overly predictable.

I picked this book up on a whim merely because of the cover. It caught my attention right away when shopping on amazon with its minimal, text-only appearance. To me it screamed 80’s all over it, like some of those old T.M. Wright hardcovers or something. I don’t know why but the bold, pale text is straight to the point and does the job well. But, aside from maybe a slight resemblance it didn’t really scream horror to me (well, not at first). This is intriguing because aside from the book description I didn’t really know what I was originally getting myself into.

So, let’s talk about what’s on the inside. First of all, the story is great. It keeps the reader on the edge of his/her sanity, needing to know what’s going to happen next. The author manages to hold onto the horror genre by a thread. A loose thread, but, when it hits it, it hits rather hard. The rest of the book comes off as something (like the cover) almost unexplainable. We have an attempt at some sort of literary, almost poetic imagery that goes further in-depth in the narrative than most of the horror books I’ve read as of lately. The emotion is fantastic. But just when you start to think, “Hey, this isn’t horror at all…” it creeps up on you and hits you right upside the back of your head and puts you right back in place, almost like the huge plot shift near the beginning of this book (which was absolutely brilliant by the way). The author does this to set the mood for what is to come, and, before you know it, you’re right back there in that grimy diner at night with your RV parked in the back lot, facing what could end up being your last breath of life inside of one of your worst nightmares come true, standing there with your hands in your pockets, wondering what to do next, while face-to-face with death.

If there is a lesson to be learned here, I think it's safe to say that in order to survive, sometimes we have to break down and put Ketchup on Everything.

-Jon R. Meyers

APARTMENT 7C by David Bernstein (2014 Samhain Publishing / 62 pp / eBook)

Revenge stories can be tired and familiar. Played out. Seen this / done that. But thanks to the unlikely protagonist in Bernstein's short novella, APARTMENT 7C has a little bit more of a kick than your standard DEATH WISH-type tale.

Beth is an 82 year-old woman who lives in the apartment next to a decorated police officer. But despite his public image, Beth hears him abusing his wife every night, and one day decides to pay her a visit. The cop finds out and his wife ends up dead. Thinking back to her own daughter who was killed at the hands of her abusive ex-husband, Beth decides she must take action, especially when she figures no cop will believe her.

This slick thriller really gets into the mind of a senior citizen, and gives a reasonable way for her to take justice out on a man who could easily kill her. The finale is quite extreme, so those squeamish toward hardcore violence be warned. A quick, one-sitting read that can be read to the older folks in nursing homes (on second thought, maybe not...)

-Nick Cato



  1. Rarely have I wanted to read a book more than POSSUMS EAT YOUR FACE. And yet I can't find it ANYWHERE! Must be out of print.

  2. Maybe we can work something out after we review it. ;)