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).
For this part I will be adding Cthulhu Unbound to the line up. The book (signed copy) was kindly supplied by Kevin Lauderdale, the author of James and the Gentry (a story that appeared in PULP!). He popped me an email after he saw my review of his story. The internet truly is amazing sometimes!
Noir-Lathotep by Linda L. Donahue
The collection is off to a cracking start with this story. It really lives up to both parts of the title. It was just dripping with noir and crammed with Lovecraft mythology. It has it all from the dashing dame to the villains you wouldn't want to meet, even in a well lit alley, Having 1000 or so aspects of himself Nyarlathotep has a lot to keep track of, but he soon has to concentrate on one of them when it pops up dead. Plus something very important is missing. Something that could unravel the whole universe.
The Invasion out of Time by Trent Roman
This story reminded me of the 90s series Space: Above and Beyond. Fighters defending Earth against an alien force, but that's pretty much where the similarities end. Bai is one of the elite pilots in the whole army and is promoted to Captain quite early into the story. Gaining him access to information that he didn't need to know before. Information that changes everything. Info that could change the tide against the seemingly invincible alien forms, but is all as it seems?
James and the Dark Grimoire by Kevin Lauderdale
After reading Kevin's previous story James and the Gentry I was quite familiar with the characters, but it's not necessary to have read it to enjoy this tale. (I do recommend you do though, cracking story). James's master Reginald Brubaker is invited to his good friend Dicky's wedding. Hosted in a town he doesn't care to return to because of past indiscretions. Indiscretions his unscrupulous aunt holds over him so he can procure a book for her: The Dark Grimoire. The Necronomicon (being an Evil Dead fan this appealed to me). A book Dicky's father Lord Bootchester is keen on using. What really makes this story shine is the carefree writing style, you feel like you've known the characters for ages. Plus it has a sense of humour about it that made me chuckle more than a few times. Kevin tells me he's working on James's next story. Something involving parallel universes. Can't wait.
House of Fear:
Inside/Out by Nicholas Royle
This story had a dream like feel to it, you can almost see the shroud of fog in your mind's eye as you follow the main character as he stalks someone. It's one of those stories where a lot happens, but nothing too solid you can recall later. Although I do remember the gist of it, and it all comes together in a nice ending where everything suddenly makes sense. As you can imagine too late for the MC to do anything about it.
The House by Eric Brown
As stories go this a prime example of how you shouldn't let the past chain you down. Things happen and it may be hard at first, but you have to put it behind you. Focus on the future and the good things in life. The main character realizes it late in life, but better late than never. It's the sort of story you would expect to be made into a late Sunday evening drama you can enjoy with the family. In addition it's unique compared to the other stories, when you realize it's not the house itself that is haunted.
Trick of the Light by Tim Lebbon
This story pretty much continues the theme of the previous one. Live life while you have the chance. Penny a widow (husband missing for 7 years while on holiday and presumed dead) never was the adventurous type and didn't share her late husband's need to see the world and discover new things. She just wanted to stay at home in her own little world where nothing changed. After years of no news she decides to sell up house and buy an old mansion. I'm assuming Peter was quite well off because the place sounds massive. As you would suspect all is not right with the house and strange things start happening. Things that remind her of her husband.
What Happened to Me by Joe R Lansdale
I think this story was a fitting choice to end off the collection. It was suitably creepy and it's one that really fires the imagination. When the main character and his buddies pool their resources together to rent an old house they thought they had found the bargain of their lifetimes. The first flatmate pretty much leaves the first day there and the next soon after leaving the MC to tackle things on his own. Things get worse and worse to the point where he finds a previous tenant of the house, an old woman who used to live their when she was a girl, to help him get to the bottom of it. A woman the house seems to still have a strong bond with. Overall the story flowed nicely and even though the story was fantastic in nature it was told in a way that made it very much possible. A story I think I would make a great movie if was made by someone like Peter Jackson.
M is for Monster
Q by Carson Buckingham
I found this to be one of the most light-hearted and fun stories out all of the collections so far. An odd looking lady comes into a jewellery store to sell one of the rarest and biggest diamonds anyone has ever seen. Thinking it too good to be true they check and double check it, finding it to be real, but this being a collection of horror stories you know there's something nasty in store for the characters, and it may not be what you suspect.
R by Rakie Keig
Every neighbourhood has one, a busybody who puts their nose into everyone's business. Although these type of people can be annoying, Rakie does a good job of getting you on her side. She's an old dear who only wants the best for the people around here. But does she take it too far? And the strange experience she has, was it really a dream?
S by Wayne Goodchild
This reminded me a lot of The Mummy movies. Going around the world collecting artefacts. But as you would suspect they soon bring home an artefact they wish they had never found. Something that brings the whole village under attack. Forcing people to do things they wouldn't normally do. It makes me wonder if people would act the same in a similar and real situation. Good writing overall.
T by Magen Toole
This story has me wondering about the people we meet, what sort of past are they hiding? Carroll is your average hard-working, but he as a dark past lurking underneath. A past he has forgotten about and put safely behind him, but the universe hasn't forgotten, not at all. Should people pay for crimes they committed years and years ago even though they have lived quite a productive life? I agree with Magen when I think they should. Pay your debt to society. To the people you caused harm they most probably relive the event everyday for the rest of their lives. Overall the writing was compelling and I was hooked to the end.