Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Blanket Of White by Amy Grech

Amy Grech's Blanket of White - a collection of 14 stories designed to make your skin crawl and your heart race - takes the reader on a crash course with what it truly means to be human.

The stories contained within range from psychological horror to those with darkly sexual themes, and are all presented in a true-to-life way, forcing one to come to terms with the fact that emotional horrors are sometime the most uncomfortable things to endure.

The title story - Blanket of White - deals with one father's incredible love for his physically challenged daughter, and the lengths he will go in order to ensure her happiness. This story is particularly brutal in that it will remind you as to just how special life can be, and how precious every moment is spent with those that you love.

Ashes to Ashes is one of the shorter stories, but nonetheless packs quite the wallop. This little supernatural tale tells of a husband's wedding vow: to be with his wife - always, and how sometimes a promise like that can even transcend death.

Come and Gone sees the Grech's powerful ability to craft erotic prose, and make it shine brightly through the darkness we find within the main character of the story. I actually found this one quite disturbing, as Grech has created a character here that would stand well against someone like Ellis' Patrick Bateman.

The final story in the collection - EV 2000 - deals with robotic Vampirism in a way that you won't believe until you read it. It's has a truly futuristic style, while staying true to the good old fashioned - creep out horror.

Grech's style is as straight to the point as a sucker punch, and will hold your attention well after you've finished the book.

Check out her website, Crimson Screams, for more information, and purchase Blanket of White at Damnation Books.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Moonlit Daydreams by Rebecca Carter

If you're into wicked short fiction, then I have a great little book for you.

Moonlit Daydreams by Rebecca Carter features 5 ultra short stories ranging from Vampirism to Undead Velociraptors.

I know...Zombie Velociraptors! I have to be honest, when I read about that I was very unsure as to what I was getting myself into. But, with the lead off story - Of Children - Carter pulls the idea together beautifully, crafting a very sympathetic and intriguing monster, and has even made me want to read more about this undead breed. A longer trip into the theme would be very welcomed.

Hunger is the story of A Vampire who tries very hard to fit into everyday life. I don't want to spoil the end for you, but let's just say that it doesn't all go as planned.

Midnight Strolls depicts the plight of a young woman who is held captive by a deranged and brutal captor, only to become something of an incredible example of Stockholm Syndrome.

Love tells of the lengths a husband is willing to go to in order to show his love for his suicidal wife.

Special is a look at the painful transformation of a beautiful young woman as she becomes a wolf, and the consequences of being something special.

All of the above mentioned stories hint at an underlying talent that Carter has for crafting memorable and heartwrenching stories. For every undeniably brutal and twisted idea or scene, there is a trace of the love that the author has for the horror genre. These stories were obviously told with a passion for every single piece, and bode well for her future as a writer in the horror genre. Hopefully next time we'll get to see something longer.

Until then, more information on Rebecca Carter and her future projects can be found at her website. You can also order Moonlit Daydreams at Amazon.

PBH.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Joyride by Jack Ketchum

If you're a fan of Jack Ketchum's novels, and are itching to read something featuring his trademark style, depicting sociopathic murderers and the victims they so lovingly...well...victimize - you're going to want to check this one out.

Leisure Books has reissued what was originally published as Road Kill in the UK (Headline, 1994 - Hardcover) and Joyride in the US (Berkley Books, 1995 - Paperback), but with a great treat for all you Ketchum fans - the bonus novella - Weed Species. Before this publication, Weed Species was only available from Cemetery Dance, and has since gone out of print.

On with the story:

Wayne, a disgruntled bartender, keeps a book filled with all of the offenses that people commit against him. The guys who give him crap in the bar, the dog who dumps in his yard, the kids who've trashed his fence - everybody. He hasn't lashed back at them yet, but the urge is strong. Things get a little out of hand for him and his girlfriend, while on a hiking trip with his girlfriend, and she can't take it anymore. After, Wayne witnesses the brutal murder of a man at the hands of his ex and her lover. To Wayne, this is the best day of his life. He capitalizes on the situation that the two murderers - Lee and Carole - are in and takes them on a ride of their life.

This novel reads like a whirlwind of violence at the hands of a sociopathic killer. The brutality of Ketchum's short yet sharp words, coupled with the subject matter - love, lust, and the desire to kill - make for one seriously action packed ride that will leave your head spinning throughout. If you liked Off Season, Offspring and Cover, you're going to be shocked by exactly how different this novel is. Unlike the aforementioned novels, the action in this one is immediate, the tension feels uncomfortably real, and the characters are incredibly sympathetic - almost too real. It is not at all necessary that the reader suspend his/her disbelief, as Ketchum isn't going to give you the choice in the matter anyhow. Thinking back on the story, one might find it hard not to say that this is one of Ketchum's more realistic tales. The title really does speak volumes to the perfection of this piece. This really is the literary equivalent of a Joyride.

As for the bonus novella, Weed Species, I really don't know what to say.

The story centers around the depraved activity of it's two main characters - Sherry Jefferson and Owen Delassandro - and their propensity to rape and murder people. The sexual violence and cringe inducing visuals are incredibly strong in this one. Ketchum employs his innate ability to turn the most innocuous words against the reader, fashioning a fast paced and utterly disturbing piece of fiction that you just can't put down. These are things that one would come to expect from a Ketchum novel, but the fact that this story is loosely based on crimes that happened in Toronto between 1987 and 1992, makes this all the more terrifying. Be warned, this novella is NOT for the faint of heart.

Overall, I'd seriously recommend this one to anyone and everyone who is a fan of Ketchum's work.

PBH.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Fallen Angel by Amy Grech and Michael McCarty

Now, I know the name of this blog is Paperback Horror, and I swore to myself that I wouldn't go about reviewing anything but paperbacks...but screw it, I lied. If you think about it, within a year about 25% of sales are going to be e-books, so why not jump up and give it a shot?

Darkside Digital's Fallen Angel tells the story of an 18 year old girl - Angel - who was sexually abused by her father. Angel's long time friend, Uncle Brew, comes to visit her and ends up consoling her upon learning of her father's death. Angel moves back into her childhood home only to find out that strange and terrible things await her there.

First and foremost, I must warn those who are interested in this novella that this story deals with very sensitive subject matter. Because of the short length of the novella, delving any deeper than that would mean scores of spoilers.

Grech and McCarty have penned something very daring, and potentially controversial - but have done so with a Laymon/Lee feel that is very familiar to those who prefer their horror to be of the more "extreme" persuasion. If you've read and enjoyed Laymon's more risque novels, you'll enjoy this quick read.

The character - Angel - is sympathetic and understandable, and the villain - Angel's Father - is utterly despicable. The contrast between the two works out well here, and left me almost as satisfied as I would have been had I sat down and watched one of my favorite late 80's/early 90's slasher flicks. The book itself on clocks in at about 50 pages, and really moves along. In fact, I'd say it almost feels more like a movie script than a novella, which is a good thing for the visually minded person.

Fallen Angel isn't the only piece that these two authors have collaborated on. March 2010 saw Grech and McCarty tackle an interview with horror fiction legend Jack Ketchum, in the pages of The Brutarian - a quarterly magazine focussing primarily on "fringe" culture.

Grech, who can be found at her online home - Crimson Screams - is also the author of over 100 short stories and 3 poems. She's also written Blanket of White - a collection of short stories that was published by Damnation Press in 2009 and made available here.

Mike McCarty is the author of 12 books including Liquid Diet, Little Creatures, I Kissed a Ghoul, and Attack of the Two Headed Poetry Monster (which was co-authored with Mark McLaughlin). You can catch him at his MySpace page, and purchase most of his books at The Horror Mall.

The only down side to this little treat is the .pdf formatting. There were a couple of confused paragraph placements, and a few grammar errors, but nothing that can't be overlooked. I can only assume that there will be a fair amount of problems with formatting during the infancy of digital publishing. Not everybody is using the same machines, and a lot of programs are libel to present problems for not only the readers, but the publishers as well. I mean, I read this one on my iPod Touch, so it stands to reason that more people will read on whatever device they can.

All in all, this was a great way to start my adventures in digital reading. And at a measly $3.95 US, who would pass up the chance? It sure beats paying upwards of $50 on a hardcopy of a novella.

Check out Fallen Angel at the horror mall here.

PBH.