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(REVIEW) BLUE DEMON by David Bernstein

Great new review from Glenn Rolfe for David Bernstein’ s BLUE DEMON

Glenn Rolfe

BDFrontCoverWhen the meek need defending, they call on Blue Demon, a guardian of bloodshed and retribution. Its loyalty is forever, as long as you remain righteous. For those that oppress the demon’s flock, life grows short. It kills in the most brutal fashion, and maims those it most despises. It has no feelings, only loyalty and devotion for the ones it protects.

Of course, this is all from the Blue Demon television show and Cal Langston, Blue Demon’s biggest fan, knows such things can’t be real, at least not until the people who messed with him start dying in the most horrific of ways.

Frightened and not sure what to believe, he sets out to discover what is truly going on, and if Blue Demon is for real, does he want it watching over him?

First off, look at that freaking cover! Beautiful!

Here’s my review:

Blue DemonBlue Demon by David…

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Pre-order Stone Wall today!

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The Wall is the only thing standing between the people of City and the horrors of The Wastes. The prisoners who inhabit The Wall follow two simple rules: do whatever you have to do to survive, and when you are called for patrol, do your part to clear The Wastes of City’s enemies.

Stone is a ruthless mercenary, hired to break into The Wall and rescue a young boy who may very well be dead already. Stone knows what’s waiting for him out there. He was a prisoner years ago, and he earned his scars fighting for City. He has heard whispers regarding a “New Enemy” beyond The Wall. A war has broken out, and more and more of the prisoner patrols are going out into the desert never to be heard from again.

But five-hundred grand’s nothing to roll your eyes at, and Stone hasn’t had a decent payday since his techie, Megan, split on him six months ago. In desperate need of a number-two man to fill Megan’s spot, Stone reluctantly reunites with Kendrick, his old partner and current disco fanatic. Together, yet constantly at each other’s throats, they’ll break into The Wall and make their way through its deadly streets, doing their best to avoid unimaginable dangers. Stone broke out once. The question is, can he do it again?

You can preorder Stone Wall here. But I would recommend checking out book 1, Stone Work, first!

Consequences by John Quick – Review

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I’m a little late to the game, having just recently read John Quick’s debut novel, Consequences. Many people in the horror community are already aware of John’s skillful use of language, his knack for characterization, and his cruel dedication to putting his readers through an emotional grinder. If you’re not one of them, you need this book.

High school has come to an end for a small group of friends, and they look forward with anxious hope toward their respective futures, while trying to savor this last summer they have together. The stories of what Crazy Freddy did to his family years ago are true, but the rumor that his spirit may still haunt his old house is just that, a rumor. Right?

Either way, the rumor does nothing to deter our group of friends as they hold a graduation party on the purportedly cursed property. That tragic night becomes the catalyst for a string of gruesome murders that begin to whittle away at our group, until only a frightened few are left to face the evil legend head on. Is their fierce love for one another, and their will to live and see those bright futures enough to keep them from falling under Crazy Freddy’s knife?

Sometimes, I’m embarrassed to admit, I pick up a book hoping it’s not good. As a writer, this makes me feel better about myself. Sometimes, I pick up a book because I know it will inspire me to write better. I’ll look at my own work with a more critical eye. I began reading Consequences, hoping it wasn’t good. Not because I wish John Quick anything other than a successful and thriving literary career—because I think that’s what’s coming and it is well-deserved—but because I wanted to feel better about my own writing.

What I found was that Consequences was one of those books that inspired me to write better. From the eloquence of Quick’s prose and the lush characters he has created to the gut-wrenching scenes of violence, every aspect of this book is enviable to any writer and just what any horror reader wants to curl up with.   

One of the things that stands out most for me is Quick’s characters. It’s so easy to use the word “pulp” as an excuse to write flat characters. But Quick has carefully cultivated his characters and made them real people. The death scenes are brutal, but that’s not what made them so hard to read: it was that I loved the characters. I remembered that feeling of uncertainty about the future following high school, and I was on board with this group, rooting for them. As people began to die, I felt real pangs of hurt at seeing them go. I sighed. I set the book down at points and felt loss. That’s storytelling.

Whether you are a fan of hardcore horror or a more atmospheric approach, there is something for you here. I look forward to reading Quick’s upcoming works.

Take a Chance on Me, Get a Free Ebook

I just want to spread the word that I have a few books out or on the way. It would be awesome if you bought one or all of them; but when you see my name, you probably think something like “Who the fuck is this hoser?”

I get that. I believe my books are worth your while, but I’m not asking you to take my word for it. Take it from the folks at Mirror Matter Press/Sinister Grin Press, and Grinning Skull Press, who were gracious enough to publish my first book in the Stone series, Stone Work, and the follow-up, Stone Wall (coming in 2017), as well as my weird western, Full Moon in the West. They have published/reprinted many great writers, including some of my friends: Wrath James White, Glenn Rolfe, Jeff Strand, Adam Cesare, Jonathan Janz, Stephen Kozeniewsky, Greg F. Gifune, Kyle Rader, Phillip Tomasso, Russell Coy, Dan Foley, Jonah Buck, and a ton more. I don’t know that I deserve to be in such fine company, but I’m also not going to question the judgement of these fine publishers.

If you have enjoyed the work of these authors, you may enjoy my writing as well. But you’re still taking a chance on me. So, if you buy any of the books listed below, I will give you a free ebook to make you feel better about spending your hard-earned money on a possible hoser. Send me proof of purchase and your email address through a facebook pm, email at stabiledominic@yahoo.com, facebook wall post, twitter dm, or whatever, and I will send you your free book. Thanks for giving me a shot, and potentially feeding my cats.

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Pre-order One, Get One Free!

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In some ways, 2017 is shaping up to be a much better year than the one we are currently living through. As my dad says to every passing year at 12:01 a.m., January 1st, after swinging open the back sliding-glass door and making a lude gesture–“Fongul!” or, loosely translated from Italian–“Fuck you.”

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On top of the fact there aren’t enough cool celebrities left for 2017 to make a dent in 2016’s death pool, there are also some more personal Pro’s to the coming year. First up, my novelette, Full Moon in the West, is to be released by Grinning Skull Press as an ebook. Remember that time a posse killed your wife and daughter, and you conscripted the aid of a local witch, who enchanted your dead father’s old gun and set you on a quest for revenge? Well, if not, this one might jog your memory. Oh yeah, and if you can’t tell, there are werewolves in it.

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In addition to my first publication with Grinning Skull Press, my second Mirror Matter Press title is also set to be released in 2017. Stone Wall is the follow up to this year’s, Stone Work, a collection of three novellas that introduces Stone, a mercenary, making his way in a blasted, future cityscape, and Megan, his techie and moral anchor. Stone Wall sees Stone return to the prison from which he escaped eight years ago. The Wall. The Wall is where he got his scars. The Wall took his wife and daughter. Now, The Wall is his line to half a million dollars. All he has to do is break back in, save the boy, and get back out with his skin. What he doesn’t know is that Henry Burke, the detective who put him away eight years ago, is hot on his trail. And this time, there will be no arrest. If you haven’t read Stone Work yet, grab a copy here and catch up, so you’ll be ready when Stone Wall breaks out (see what I did there?).

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And now to explain the title of this post. In 2014, two weeks before I turned twenty-nine, I decided to finish a short story for the first time in two years or so. It was part of a promise I made to myself to get something published before I turned thirty. Not that there’s anything wrong with being unpublished and thirty, but it was a goal. That story was “Old Haunts.” I had piddled around with the story on and off for a year, unable to decide what it was about. I was a fan of “ambiguity” and “letting the reader decide what the story was about.” Unfortunately, for me at least, that was just laziness. I needed to be less ambiguous, and throw the reader a bone. So I decided what it was about, based on the characters and their conflicts, and finished it.

The excitement of writing the final line of a story, and the satisfaction that followed, was exhilarating. I went on to write five additional short stories and two books that year. All of the short stories were published in various zines for varying amounts of money, I self-published one of the books, and sent the other off never to be heard from again. Two of the stories I wrote would end up being the first two stories of Stone Work.

Old Haunts was published almost a year later in the first issue of Cyclopean, and was my first by-the-word or semi-pro sale. “Old Haunts” gave me my confidence back, and started me on the path of publishing. Now that I have the rights back on it, I am releasing it as an ebook, which is currently available for preorder. I know–who wants to pay any amount of money for one short story? That’s why I am including a free copy of “Coker,” the second short story I wrote the year I got back on track. If you pre-order “Old Haunts” and would like a free ebook copy of “Coker,” simply PM me a screenshot of your order confirmation (or any form of proof you pre-ordered it) and your email address, and I will gift you a copy of “Coker.”

If you read this far, thanks! To find out what “Old Haunts” is about and/or to pre-order it, click image below!

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Book Review – Empty

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“There’s a crushing silence when moving through the void of space. The night sky paints a false picture of the cosmos, giving the impression that reality is filled with objects and phenomena. Truthfully it’s more empty than full. Nothing but seemingly unending blackness in all directions, punctuated by brief flashes of deadly light.”

This excerpt was taken from chapter two of Ty Arthur’s wonderful scifi/horror novella, Empty. The writing is this strong throughout the piece. At no point did the tension waver. From beginning to end, you feel Junior Engineer 3rd class Hansen’s claustrophobia and isolation–his sense of existential despair coupled with a crawling anticipation.

COVER BLURB:

There are terrors still waiting to be discovered out in the vast emptiness of space. After millennia of travel through the void, man has convinced himself he is master of the stars.

Down-on-his-luck, stuck performing punishment duty in the lower levels of the Penrose, Junior Engineer 3rd Class Hansen wants nothing more than to see the wreckage of a newly discovered ship dating back to man’s earliest deep space explorations.

The engineer is about to get his wish, and in the process come face-to-face with a long-dormant horror waiting patiently for the perfect vessel. What he’ll uncover in the darkness will threaten to consume him, body and soul.

I loved this little book. Clocking in at seventy-seven pages, Arthur manages to create a world worthy of seven hundred. Although, despite what many readers have suggested, I think the book is perfect at its current length. The pacing and the flow of the prose just feel right. I would love to see a follow-up novel, however, that lingers a little longer and expands on the idea presented here.

If you’re a fan of Alien or the Dead Space video games, you will probably enjoy this book. But one of the things I truly enjoyed most about it was Ty’s prose. He manages to combine elegance with bluntness, and insight with action in a way that keeps you thinking about the story even after you have stepped away from it.

You can purchase Empty here!

 

Mayan Blue – Book Review

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The Sisters of Slaughter, Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason, have been splashing blood and guts all over the horror world for a few years now. When I purchased their debut novel, Mayan Blue, I had already read one or two of their short stories, and was excited to see how their skills translated to a longer medium. I was first drawn to Mayan Blue by the interesting premise:

COVER COPY:

Xibalba, home of torture and sacrifice, is the kingdom of the lord of death. He stalked the night in the guise of a putrefied corpse, with the head of an owl and adorned with a necklace of disembodied eyes that hung from nerve cords. He commanded legions of shapeshifting creatures, spectral shamans, and corpses hungry for the flesh of the living. The Mayans feared him and his realm of horror. He sat atop his pyramid temple surrounded by his demon kings and demanded sacrifices of blood and beating hearts as tribute to him and his ghostly world. These legends, along with those that lived in fear of them, have been dead and gone for centuries. Yet now, a doorway has been opened in Georgia. A group of college students seek their missing professor, a man who has secretly uncovered the answer to one of history’s greatest mysteries. However, what they find is more than the evidence of a hidden civilization. It’s also a gateway to a world of living nightmares.

Sounds awesome, right? It is. I really enjoyed this book. There is a comforting familiarity to the roster of soon-to-be-maimed characters, who manage to charm the reader early in the story. Alissa and Wes, our bookish/curious and good-hearted heroes are easy to like, while Kelly, Dennis, and Tyler are easy to hate. They aren’t complicated, and that works in the novel’s favor–it means we can get right to the pandemonium. And pandemonium is what we get.

I don’t want to include any spoilers here, but I will say that Garza’s and Lason’s obvious love for horror shows in how Mayan Blue is written. It’s not perfect, but I never got the impression the novel was written because the SOS just wanted to write something. There’s a ring of inspiration to Mayan Blue. You get a sense of their excitement for the story. A particular line that stuck out for me:

“The silt erupted in an azure cloud as decrepit arms reached out from the cenote bed.”

That’s inspired. There are little snippets like this scattered throughout the novel, which poetically serve to bring the reader right down into the story with these doomed characters–whether he wants to go or not. If I had to make one critique, I would say at times I wanted the language to back off a little and let the scene shine through more. There were moments where fewer words would have had more of an impact. I also think some dialogue from the dwellers of the Land of Fear would have helped bring those characters to life. Instead of things like “The Simian Queen told them to____,” maybe her words could have been written out in dialogue form. If they were communicating telepathically and I overlooked that detail, then I’m an idiot and you shouldn’t listen to me!

Overall, great debut by The SOS, who obviously know and love their horror. I will read everything they write for as long as they write.

You can purchase Mayan Blue here.

 

 

Order Stone Work today–It’s Good Luck!

stone cover finalOk, I can’t guarantee you good luck, necessarily–but it will definitely make you cooler…not to say you’re uncool…oh boy. How about you just read the cover copy and decide for yourself if this is the book for you? If it is, you can order it at the link below. Don’t read? No problem. The paperback is handy in all sorts of ways. Just the other day I saw a Louis L’Amour book wedged under the leg of a person’s bed. If someone can use a Louis L’Amour novel to keep her bed from rocking, you could shamelessly abuse my book for at least a dozen household purposes:

  1. It would make the perfect Punk/Noir/Bizarro coaster for that Blade-Runner-esque home decor that’s so popular these days.
  2. At 124 pages, it’s just the right weight for fly-swatting. But don’t stop at flies. You can thwack your share of spiders, ants, mice, roommates, and other varmints (Neither I nor Mirror Matter Press condone the use of this book for the purposes of harming roommates or endangered animals).
  3. If you buy two paperbacks, then you have the niftiest pair of oven mitts this side of The Wall.
  4. There’s a chance that if you hold the book in front of your face, people will think you’re a leather-jacket-wearing, gun-toting criminal from a dystopian future city. And in that case you WOULD be cooler.

These are just a few of the possibilities. Comment below if you can think of any other uses for this book. And tell your friends!

You can order Stone Work here!

COVER BLURB:

“City stands in the irradiated dunes of America, nearly two centuries after the Final War. The wall surrounding it is a buffer for the wasteland inhabitants who covet entrance, and a trap for the citizens smothering in its polluted air and drowning in its blood-filled streets. Stone is a criminal for hire. Robbed of his loved ones and scarred almost beyond recognition, he navigates City’s darkest corners, doing some of its darkest deeds. In this collection, he’ll pursue an elusive thief, bent on raising an army of juiced up mutants. He’ll break into the office building of a mysterious corporation, only to find the executives are less into sending faxes and more into performing hexes. In the final chapter, he’ll track a man through the Alleys of South City with the help of his tech savvy partner, Megan, and together they’ll face the sentient darkness of City’s deepest underbelly, and confront the violent potential of City’s most dangerous cults.

Part Blade Runner. Part Sin City. Stone Work is an action-packed ride through the rain-slicked streets of a dark, unforgiving urban landscape, rife with sadistic criminals, inter-dimensional abominations, and a creeping darkness that seeks to erase the last, now almost mythical traces of human goodness left in a world always teetering over the edge of its own extinction.”

 

 

Manor House Productions Presents “The Invite”

manor houseI’ve been listening to this dark audio series for a while now. They have a current collection of 26 audio adaptations of horror stories written by new and established writers. I’ve been working my way through their backlog, and I think Manor House is one of the best podcasts of its type currently circulating. They don’t simply provide audio stories. The episodes they put together are full-on productions, complete with incredible musical scores, well-timed sound effects, and extremely talented voice actors.

Their newest episode is an adaptation of my short horror story, “The Invite,” and they’ve added a layer of atmosphere and emotion to the story that makes me appreciate it more than I did before. In many ways, they’ve improved it. Episodes air every other Friday. You can check them out at their website manorhouseshow.com or on iTunes, youtube, projectiradio.com, stitcher, and podbean. You can listen to “The Invite” below.

 

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