Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Creature's Curse by Paul Braus

Tired of wading through the untold masses of Undead and/or serial killer fiction that seems to be saturating the small press right now? Long for the days when demons reigned supreme in horror? Then you might want to get your hands on Paul Braus' debut novel - The Creature's Curse.

There is an angry, massive, unearthly beast lurking at the end of Buck Tree Road. Locals know the brutal history of the creepy house on the road - but some are so curious they cannot stay away.

Meanwhile, Abigail Merriweather and Eldon Bailey are working their way through a rocky courtship to build a life together. Both are harboring secrets, however, that will prove to be damaging - and maybe even deadly. Through it all, Abigail clings to the one item that she treasures more than life itself: a small pewter medallion on a chain that she wears around her neck.

First worn by her distant relative, a woman executed for alleged witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts in 1694, the medallion has become an odd and insistent presence in Abigail's life. But what is the connection between the ancient amulet, the creature and the horrible history of the house at the end of Buck Tree Road?

And can anyone really feel safe with the creature poised to strike again?

In the opening pages of this novel, Braus shows the reader exactly what he intends to bring to the table and immediately begins to deliver. Wasting no time whatsoever, this books reaches straight for the throat and delivers a physical and psychological jab, grabbing the reader's attention. The characters are set, the plot is in motion, and yet the reader has no idea what is in store.

Braus' characters are very well fleshed out. Their individual histories are told in a series of flashbacks and through carefully crafted dialogue. The author doesn't reveal too much in the beginning, but rather decides to let the reader find out slowly through dialogue and action. This is an admittedly difficult task, being that the story takes place over two decades, and, furthermore, has ties to events that happened hundreds of years ago that affect the outcome of the story at present.

Relying heavily on some well researched facts, Braus is able to create a very convincing back story for the main character - Abigail - and uses this to present what seems to be her steady psychological decline. And he does this all very well. The brutal psychological beating that Abigail's husband - Eldon - takes, is all the more terrible for this.

Braus also manages to mix a whole heap of sex, abuse, and various other sinister things into the plot, taking the reader of an epic journey in a short period of time. Witches, spells, and monsters abound in this fun little read. The gore is very well described and just radiates off the page.

Apart from a formatting issue that relied on italicization far too often for this reader, I found this book to be a great departure from the vast amount of zombies, vampires, and psychopaths that are currently cluttering the shelves in most brick and mortar stores. It's nice to see a good old fashioned Witch story every once in a while, and this one certainly fills the void beautifully. Braus certainly knows how to entertain, and flaunts his stuff unapologetically in this novel.

You can find out more about the book here, and find out more about Braus here. You can grab yourself a copy of The Creature's Curse at Amazon, and most online booksellers.

PBH.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Zombielicious by Timothy McGivney

Anyone looking for a fun, fast paced, sexually charged, homo (and hetero) erotic novel depicting zombies, aged strippers, and a bevy of other insane (yet hilarious) characters, should look no further. Timothy McGivney's debut novel - Zombielicious - pushes all of the envelopes and fires on all cylinders. And let's not forget the fact that this is one steaming hot piece of erotic fiction, from all angles.

Amidst a zombie outbreak, Walt, athletic and confident, meets shy and quiet Joey, the attraction between them both instant and electric. With strength in numbers, they band together alongside fellow survivors; Jill, an ex-porn star turned nurse who's made a startling discovery about her past; Ace, a disgruntled security guard who just can't live up to certain short comings; and Molly, the fiery redhead unwilling to give up on her dreams of stardom.

In this apocalyptic new world of the dead, an anything-goes attitude has become the law of the land and lust, betrayal, true love and redemption are all just a gunshot away.

Homo-erotic literature has a huge following in the niche/erotica/romance markets (among others), so it was only a matter of time until the undead poked their ugly heads into the mix. I'm not saying that Zombielicious is the first of it's kind. Oh no. I'm sure there are more out there, but this is the first that I've read. And wow, did it ever leave a lasting impression on me.

As stated above, this is author Timothy McGivney's first published novel, but one really wouldn't be able to tell, given his keen eye for dramatic flair and blistering action sequences. The flow of the novel is a little bit hard to get into at first, as it's written from the first person perspective of all 5 of the main characters, but once the ball gets rolling, it becomes a smooth and fast read.

Speaking of characters, McGivney really has his hands full in this one. The 5 main characters have almost nothing in common with each other from a stereotypical point of view, but share so much in their situation that they seem virtually made for eachother. You can see what we're dealing with in the brief synopsis up top, but the point to remember is that the author really brings all 5 of these people to life, guiding their interactions in a very smooth, very solidly written way. The first person narrative, while admittedly distracting at first, becomes almost non-existent after a while.

Now, to say that this is an undead love story or a zombie novel would be stretching it a little bit. In all honesty, this is a erotic/romance novel set inside the parameters of a zombie apocalypse story. But there's absolutely nothing wrong with that at all. The flavor that the circumstance lends to the story makes it all the more enjoyable, and produces some grade A gore for the harder edged readers. These scenes, when tempered with the obligatory (and set-the-page-on-fire-hot) love scenes make this a whirlwind ride, with excitement being a top priority.

The erotic content in this novel is very obviously swayed in the direction of the homo-erotic fare, but there something in this for everyone. The sex scenes in this book are smoking hot, eliciting heart pounding excitement and enough vivid mental pictures to make you blush, no matter what your preferences are. I'd say that McGivney really has a knack for depicting some seriously intense erotic scenes, but then I'd be undercutting his talent. This is some incredibly steamy stuff.

The only real shortcoming that the book has is it's cover, which I really can't enjoy. For a book this wild and entertaining, I feel it deserves something more artistic and flashy.

Zombilicious is really a wicked, sexy, and adventurous ride. If you dig your horror with a large smattering of romance and LGBT erotica, you're really going to enjoy this one.

You can grab a digital copy here and in paperback format here. Check out more info on McGivney here.

PBH.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Zombies Don't Cry by Rusty Fischer

Rusty Fischer and Medallion Press have offered up a new take on zombies with this wonderful piece of fiction. What, at first glance, looks like your "run of the mill" YA zombie novel, turns everything you thought about the sub-genre on it's head, and whollops you with a very important, and impressive example of how YA should be written.

Maddy Swift is just a normal girl—a high school junior surviving class with her best friend and hoping the yummy new kid, Stamp, will ask her out. When he finally does, her whole life changes.

Sneaking out to meet Stamp at a party one rainy night, Maddy is struck by lightning. After awakening, she feels lucky to be alive. Over time, however, Maddy realizes that she’s become the thing she and everyone else fear most: the living dead.

With no heartbeat and no breath in her lungs, Maddy must learn how to survive as a zombie. Turns out there’s a lot more to it than shuffling around 24/7 growling, “Brains.” Needing an afterlife makeover is only the beginning of her problems. As Barracuda Bay High faces zombie Armageddon, Maddy must summon all of her strength to protect what matters most—just as soon as she figures out exactly what that is.

Busting out of the gate with an explosive (and hilarious) intro, Fischer sets the stage for a fun romp through the life of a young, accidently zombified, teenage girl; and leads you to believe that this is going to be something reminiscent of the scores of other YA horror novels out there. But you, the intelligent reader, can see something else in there. Behind the facade of a teenage-angst-ridden zombie story, Fischer has presented something fresher and more vivid than the decaying corpses littering the YA section of your favorite book store (or web-store *sigh*).

Fischer brings a massive amount of entertainment to this piece, not only poking fun at most teenage stereotypes, but also poking fun at the genre itself - in some places. Written from the perspective of the main female character, the author tends to lay heavy on the funny to dispell most of the serious situations, but dips into some seriously hardcore emotional territory with others. The brilliance of this situation is that he is able to make you laugh, think, and possibly even cry...all within the same sentence. To say that Fischer understands the teenage mindframe would be an understatement. He lives it in this novel, and that is what makes this book so different from the rest of the pack.

Now, in what is possibly my favorite move with this novel, Fischer whips out a whole new bag of tricks in regards to the zombies themselves. The constantly shuffling, groaning, and...well...slow moving zombies are eschewed for a more intelligent and brutal breed of walking dead. Not only are they completely sentient beings, but they're also capable of planning and other sorts of menacing behavior. Even the manner of becoming zombified is completely different from most traditional ways. Fischer has introduced the potential for lightening to be a crucial factor in the zombification process, but hasn't completely done away with the "zombie-by-bite" method. In fact, two different types of zombies can be created using the two different styles of...well...zombie creation, which is a much needed breath of fresh air in the sub-genre.

The whole book is written beautifully, combining so many different emotions and enough pop culture references to make any nerd's head explode. Fisher has a tight grip on all things modern, and it really shows throughout the whole story. This novel will appeal to all ages. No exception. Hopefully Fischer has it in his mind to write a follow up, as this is one story that I can really see becoming bigger and more detailed.

A great introduction to a truly unique world, Zombies Don't Cry sets the bar high, for YA horror novels.

You can grab the book here, and take a look at the blog for the book here. You can also catch up with Fischer at his own website, and visit Medallion Press at their website.

As is usually their awesome fashion, the ever impressive Medallion Press also has a wicked little poem called 'Zombies Don't Date' by Rusty Fischer, on their website, as bonus content. Make sure you check it out.

I can't say enough as to how much I love this author. There's so much talent here, and I can't wait to check out more more of his work. Fischer's next book with Medallion - Vamplayers - is set for release in 2012.

PBH.