Monday, 23 January 2012

House of Fear, M is for Monster and PULP! (Summer/Fall 2011) - Short Story Collections Progress Review Part 3

Here's a continuation of the reviews I'm doing of the books I won earlier this year via the #coffinhop and Kamvision review blog. I'm reviewing 3-4 stories of each book per blog post.

I've included website details of the writers where I could find them. I will also be posting the reviews on Goodreads (If you're one of the writers involved and I didn't link you, please let me know and I will).

Part One and Part Two

House of Fear:

Hortus Conclusus by Chaz Brenchley

It's about a group of friends who go help the mother of a deceased friend clean up a disused garden, and it doesn't take long before strange things start to happen. Things that prove that maybe their friend's spirit hasn't yet departed. While I enjoyed the story, I think it could have been a bit more scarier, but I don't think it was the aim of the story, because it left me feeling uneasy, like you should be doubly sure you treat people with respect while they're alive otherwise it might come back to haunt you.

The Dark Space in the House in the House in the Garden at the Centre of the World by Robert Shearman

Being a Dr Who writer (mentioned in the foreword before the story) I knew this story was going to be a little different and I wasn't disappointed. Cindy and Steve are forbidden from going to the centre of the forest, but predictably they don't listen. Being passive aggressive God is disappointed, but he does little to punish them, only
warning them not to go into the attic. And so the story goes on with its many twists and turns. It's the sort of story Alice would be proud of. The overall tone was compelling and it felt like a breeze to read.

The Muse of Copenhagen by Nina Allan

Nina has a done a great job of writing from the male perspective, normally you can tell quite easily that a writer is a bit out of their depth. Johnny gets a strange call from his uncle stating that he doesn't have long to live and when he inherits his childhood home he should get rid of it as soon as possible. Johnny goes over, but he soon gets caught up on childhood memories and doesn't want to get rid of any of it. Then his trip into the village changes everything and quickly decides to sell, but it's too late, he is not alone.

An Injustice by Christopher Fowler

A group of friends decide to go ghost hunting. Max, Ali and Shape. Max is the serious one and is in love with Ali and she doesn't know it, because she's too busy trying to get into Shape's pants and Shape doesn't care because he's only in it for the moment and will do anything to piss off his upright parents. Finding a possible ghost in the wrong side of town they stalk and soon discover that it's not all as it seems. A great story that ties in modern events quite nicely.

The Room Upstairs - Sarah Pinborough

The story had a laid back feel to it. A man casing out the town waiting for his accomplice to arrive, but soon gets distracted when something upstairs in the B and B he's staying in makes an awful racquet every night. He confront the other guest and landlady, but they know nothing. It soon reaches a stage where he can't take it any more and goes and finds out for himself. He finds something that makes him realize he should maybe change his ways.

M is for Monster

J by J.C. Andrijeski

As stated in an Amazon review the start of this story is a bit of a jumble, but the rest of it makes up for it. A squad of marines find an odd man in a cave, a man who doesn't give a straight answer, things soon descend into chaos and a monster shows up.

K by Bec Zugor

One of my favourites of the anthology. It had quirkiness to it that was quite compelling. People are dying from drinking too much water during a heatwave, the MC tries to deny that he knows what is going on, but he soon has to face reality that something from his past has caught up with him. Would make a great low budget film.

L by AJ French

Rozz encounters a bagboy who wants a kilo of drugs, and things soon get even more bizzare when the bagboy turns out to be quite wealthy and lives in a Adams Family style mansion. Being a Frasier fan I kept on imagining the MC was Frasier's producer Rozz, which made things even more weird, but in a good way. With his steadyish girlfriend Marie by his side he soon discovers the bagboy is into even more dangerous things than drugs.

M by Jeffrey Sorensen

A group of friends go out to stay in a cabin in the woods. A recipe for disaster in almost every story. The story jumps right into the action and pretty much stays there the whole way through without feeling tired. There's a monster outside that only one of them has seen it, A monster that has already killed one of their friends. With a fast pace things soon reach boiling point.

PULP! Summer/Fall 2011

It seems this book will be finished a lot sooner than the other two, so will wrap things up for this volume in Part 4.

James and the Gentry by Kevin Lauderdale

Quite enjoyed this story. Had a light-hearted feel to it, Reggie, a gentleman and his valet James are thrown into a spot of bother when James rescues a faerie from a bull, a princess no less and as per custom she is no indebted to him and they must get married, and as breathtaking as she is he just doesn't feel it and doesn't want to live in the faerie world, and not only that a past flame of his is betrothed to his best friend Flippy, with limited time they have to figure out how to escape the marriages. I enjoyed the James character the most and hope to stumble across more of his stories in the future.

Radon's Daughter by Julie Jansen

This story had an ethereal/noir feel to it. Detective Weatherford is investigating a case involving a cashed cheque, but everyone in the bar says she should leave saying she's in for more than she bargained for. It's not long before she discovers the cause of her problems, a possessed pinball machine that compels people to play it until they disappear. A mystery she will need all the the help she can get to solve.

The Ball C Griffiths Knowles

I liked the characters in the story and the writing itself, but the plot of the story was a little dull to be honest, it felt like an interlude between grander/more action type scenes in a novel. A sky captain sends his wife into flirt with a prince and get information about a possible invasion, but he soon regrets it when he sees how friendly things get. He falls apart, but luckily his friends and his wife keep things on track until there's unexpected development. I think Mr Knowles should develop this into a novel, I think it would work quite nicely. Especially with how popular steampunk is at the moment.

A Reversal of his Fortunes by J Boyer (I couldn't find any site linked to J Boyer)

The MC is a hitman and he has a dinner appointment with his client. What follows is a polite stand off between the two characters, while compelling it could have been more intense. Without giving more of the story away that's about all I can say.

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