13 books that scared the hell out of me

There’s a ton of books that didn’t make this list; stuff by Ramsey Campbell, Clive Barker, Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, and a score of others. Not to mention a handful of new writers I’ve discovered more recently. It’s not that they don’t deserve a spot. Of course they do. But this isn’t a list of a hundred books that scared me shitless, only thirteen. Why? Because the number 13 is cool and creepy. Besides that, I’m lazy. Which is also why these aren’t in-depth reviews, but only recommendations. And who knows, maybe I’ll compile more of these lists as time goes by. So, without further ado, here are 13 books that scared the hell out of me: Continue Reading →

A review of Sour Candy by Kealan Patrick Burke

27687495At first glance, Phil Pendleton and his son Adam are just an ordinary father and son, no different from any other. They take walks in the park together, visit county fairs, museums, and zoos, and eat together overlooking the lake. Some might say the father is a little too accommodating given the lack of discipline when the child loses his temper in public. Some might say he spoils his son by allowing him to eat candy whenever he wants and set his own bedtimes. Some might say that such leniency is starting to take its toll on the father, given how his health has declined.

What no one knows is that Phil is a prisoner, and that up until a few weeks ago and a chance encounter at a grocery store, he had never seen the child before in his life.

I first became aware of the novella Sour Candy through an Amazon promotion via email. The above blurb intrigued me, so I downloaded the sample to my Kindle. When I reached the end of that sample I bought the book without hesitation, because by then I was hooked.

This is psychological horror at its best, intense and mind-blowing. The protagonist, Phil Pendleton, suddenly finds himself in an alternate reality, a distorted funhouse mirror world of which he alone is aware, and from which there is absolutely no escape.

There’s a nightmarish quality about this story that I loved. It had the fascinating and creepy feel of an old Twilight Zone episode, of which I’m a huge fan. Not to mention, the nod to the otherworldliness of H.P. Lovecraft. Sour Candy is straight-up, spine-tingling horror. Dark and gripping, and a story that will stay with you long after you put the book down.

Get it now. Thank me later.

 

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A review of Since Tomorrow by Morgan Nyberg

18193658Since Tomorrow is a dystopian novel set nearly two generations into the future, following what is apparently a series of past disasters that have left the people of Earth practically living a stone age existence surrounded by the once modern artifacts of a forgotten world. I say “apparently” because these disasters are only hinted at. The first seems to have been the sudden and jarring depletion of the world’s natural resources, after which came a nameless plague. Earthquakes rock a landscape barren of trees, and the people live beside a river in which all the fish have long since disappeared. In fact, the only animals seemingly in existence are wild coyotes, rabbits (which are the people’s only real source of food, other than the abundant “spuds”) and dogs bred more for protection than for pets. The rabbits’ fur also provides the only halfway decent clothing, unless someone is lucky enough to scavenge some rare and ancient “store-bought” apparel. Many simply cover themselves in pieces of plastic, or go naked. Continue Reading →

A review of Peter Cawdron’s Little Green Men

8505549When it comes to first contact scenarios, we usually imagine that they are beyond imagining. Peter Cawdron examines that concept in his compelling new novel, Little Green Men. The story opens on a distant ice planet in the far future. Two astronauts, Michaels and Johnson, are collecting data from a thermal pool when they’re summoned back to their ship, the Dei Gratia.

As they make their way back to their scout craft, all hell breaks loose. What follows is a nightmare scenario reminiscent of such classics as Alien, The Thing, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

But Peter thickens the plot of LGM with his own tight little twist. As the clues unfold, the protagonist, Michaels, begins to suspect the terrible truth. The good news is, his theory could possibly save the crew of the Dei Gratia. The bad news is, he might very well be too late.

Peter Cawdron is a master of science fiction, which he demonstrates decidedly with Little Green Men, not to mention his novels Anomaly, Monsters and Xenophobia.

Do yourself a favor and read this book.

 

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Taking a trip through time

Tunnel Through TimeSo stoked! I found this YA sci-fi classic by Lester del Rey the other day. I read it for the first time when I was around ten or eleven, and it was one of those books. If you’re an avid reader you know what I mean—the ones that you completely lose yourself in, and for the rest of your life your thoughts drift back to them again and again. Those gems are rare, even when you read a lot, like I do. Don’t get me wrong, there are a ton of books I’ve read and loved over the years. But there are only a handful that manage to hit that elusive sweet spot. Three others that come to mind right off the bat are The Stand by Stephen King, Time and Again by Jack Finney, and Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon. I’m not sure, but I think, as important as story is, sometimes it also happens to be where you are and what’s going on in your life at the time that makes certain books stay with you. Continue Reading →