Review: The Second Coming: A Horror Short Story by Griffin Hayes

“Just enough for a drop or two at a time, no more. And how you were tied just right so that the water would hit your forehead dead center each and every time. Of course, as Knuckles told it, the first two hundred drops never did much more than annoy the hell out of you. At about the first thousand, the skin on your forehead would start to redden. And by twenty thousand, when you head was beginning to bear more than a passing resemblance to a soggy watermelon, you were telling those sick bastards anything they wanted to hear.”

The Second Coming: A Horror Short Story by Griffin Hayes is a story with an interesting premise. To explain what I mean, here is the synopsis from Amazon –

Jack Barrow has traveled back in time to save his family from a sadistic killer. All he has to do is convince Dr. Sims at Bellevue Heights Mental Institution that he isn’t crazy.

As you’re reading, you get the sense that something is not quite what it seems as first blush. As Hayes draws you in, you find yourself wondering what it would be like to be accused of a crime you know you didn’t commit. As you read, your perception changes once met with the proof that what you believe isn’t as simple as you have perceived it.

The interplay between Jack Burrows and Dr. Simms is at time tense and others oddly soothing. As the story unfolds around you, the feeling that you are a witness behind the glass is undeniable. Hayes writes with such reality that you cannot ignore the emotion he builds with his words. Even though The Second Coming: A Horror Short Story is only considered a short, it excited me to read what else Griffin Hayes has to offer.

4.5 stars out of 5!

Review: The Grief Frequency by Kealan Patrick Burke

“Inside it was as I’d left it, hollow and draped in blue-black shadows like oil paintings of bruises. With more courage than I could claim in daylight or sobriety, I peeked over the back of the sofa and found no one there.”

The Grief Frequency by Kealan Patrick Burke is a gripping story of pain, regret, and deliverance. From the first word to the last, I was enthralled. To give you a glimpse into the context of the story, here is the synopsis from Amazon

After losing his wife in a car accident, a husband struggles with survivor’s guilt. But in the dark, he realizes that the dead are never very far away. Not when there are secrets yet to be uncovered. Because Paul hasn’t lost everything. Not yet. And as he struggles to separate dreams from reality, he is forced to answer the ultimate question: How far would you go to get back those you’ve lost?

Burke is a master with his words; knowing which ones to use to illustrate a point so beautifully that you ultimately relate on a subconscious level. That transcendence of meaning strikes you so divinely that it makes The Grief Frequency all the more poignant.

Paul is a character struck down by the grief of loss; the pain stemming from the fact that he has killed his wife, Caitlyn, in a car accident. You are excruciatingly aware as you are reading that while he recognizes the accident was not directly his fault, he still blames himself and strives to never let go of the pain the guilt envelops him in. Add into the mix his father in law Bill who does nothing but hold him responsible; wanting Paul to feel the depth of his own pain of loss.

“Like codependents, the sorrow and the hangover came hand in hand, sprinkling ground glass into my eyes and kicking at the walls of my skull with no apology.”

This is a story of grief and ultimately forgiveness. It’s touching, sad and brilliantly written. I cannot wait until my next read from Kealan Patrick Burke – I’m sure I won’t be disappointed.

5 out of 5 stars!

Have You Seen The Sirens Call Yet??

That’s right, The Sirens Call is out!

For those of you that have no idea what I am talking about, The Sirens Call is the eZine put together by the lovely ladies over at Sirens Call Publications. I just got my contributor copy via email a few minutes ago and after skimming through and reading some of the fantastic offerings from other authors, I had to blog about it right away! Trust me, you’re going to want to get your hands on it! It’s absolutely beautiful and professionally put together!

To boot, Sirens Call Publications is offering a reduced rate on a Subscription for a limited time to celebrate the release of the premiere issue! So hop on over to their website and get your today!

Get your Subscription for The Sirens Call here!

Release: Women of the Living Dead

Women of the Living Dead is here!!

Open Casket Press certainly does not waste time putting together an anthology and getting it out to the masses. What does that mean for you? You get great content all that much sooner! Available now on Amazon is Women of the Living Dead, an anthology made up entirely of female authors, all writing on the topic of the Living Dead.

Here’s what Open Casket Press has to say about what you can find inside the cover:

“Many have called women the fairer sex. To those I say, come home late from a night out with the guys when the wife expects you home three hours ago.

See the venom in her eyes as she stares you down and I defy any man not to cringe like a whipped poodle.

In many ways, women are the stronger sex. Take childbirth for instance. It’s highly doubtful a man could take pushing a football out a hole three times too small. Most men run for Mommy the second they get a splinter or a cold.

And that’s where this anthology shines. Like a teenage girl in high school, females can be more ruthless, cunning and evil than any man on the planet. Lacking empathy, they can slice up a person’s self esteem till there’s nothing left but bloody pieces.

And now an all female stable of writers have been allowed to run free in the world of the undead.

So see the living dead through a woman’s eyes.

But be careful…you might not like what stares back at you.”

It contains stories by Alyn Day, Gretchen Elhassani, Chauma Smith Guss, Jennifer Goraczkowski, Jennifer Koehler, Rebecca Snow, Katie Simmons, J.L. Petty, Suzanne Robb, Dana Bell, Marilyn Simpson, Candis Vargo and yours truly!

Here’s a short excerpt of my contribution – The Living Dead at Penderghast Manor

“It was Chester’s sole job to prepare the bodies of the locals for viewing, and ultimately burial. It was his father’s idea; Chester needed to perfect the craft and the only way to do that was to practice.

Business was fairly steady, so he was confined to the cool, mint-green tiled room containing three white porcelain tables tucked into the basement of the house.

Working on his own gave Chester plenty of time with his thoughts. Thoughts that ranged from what God really looked like to what made up the flavour profile of Dr. Pepper.

Those random but utterly consuming thoughts were what helped to distract him from the bodies that he worked with every day.

He found that ignoring them was easier than dealing with them for the most part. In his teens, he had once asked his father how he dealt with the dead; the voices, the incessant questions or requests that resulted and the struggle to get them to lie still on the cold porcelain as he worked on them…” 

Make sure you get to Amazon to pick up your copy of Women of the Living Dead!

Review: Time of the Season by William Butler

“Ben cocked his head to the left as he looked at his reflection in her sunglasses.

“I look fucked up,” he mumbled.”

If you’ve ever wanted to read a story that artistically melds the world of boxing with the subterfuge of a robbery then Time of the Season by William Butler is the book for you. The titillating product blurb reads like this:

“A plot to steal 10 million dollars. A man down on his luck. A woman with a plan. A lethal affair that could only end badly. Ben Lyons is down on his luck, but his luck changes when he meets Lauren Tinsdale, the wife of loan shark and ex-boxer Freddy “The Beef” Tinsdale. Seduced by Lauren, Ben finds himself caught up in her plan to steal a large sum of money and then skip town. But is that all Lauren wants from Ben? Or does she have another plan…one that involves taking her husband’s life?”

The overall pace of Time of the Season was measured and well-timed and the plot was solid and well thought out. The voice with which Butler weaves the story is impeccable; as you’re reading, you feel as if you’re a part of the action. His use of proper terminology was spot on and helped to place you within the world he created.

The characters that Butler created are likable when you need them to be but detestable when the current of the story changes. Ben is a tight character, written to have an ease about him despite his personal damage. His passionate connection to Lauren has the ultimate feeling of danger and she is a delightfully aloof character at times. Her husband Freddy is the kind of character that is so beautifully written that you actually want to put your hand through the page and connect with his smug face. The cast of accessory characters supports the main players very well, written in such a way as to not take away from the intensity of the struggle between the main characters but complement them. As a whole, Butler has a definite and defined was of crafting relatable characters, even if you don’t relate to them directly.

“He pulled up to the bar and walked in. It was slow and with the regulars. You could always count on the regulars. They are what makes the place a home.”

Time of the Season was a great read. I found myself losing time as I got involved in the plot and in the lives of the characters. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for an engaging read to escape into.

My rating 4 stars out of 5