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wagthefox

Wag The Fox

a genre mutt's den for dark fiction

Currently reading

Condemned
Michael McBride
Knuckleball (One Eye Press Singles)
Tom Pitts
Tokyo Raider: A Tale of the Grimnoir Chronicles
Larry Correia, Bronson Pinchot
The Boy Who Killed Demons
Dave Zeltserman
Police Procedure & Investigation: A Guide for Writers (Howdunit )
Lee Lofland
Evil Dark: An Occult Crime Unit Investigation (Occult Crimes Unit)
Justin Gustainis
The Forty First Wink
James Walley
The Walking
Bentley Little
Howdunit Book of Police Procedure and Investigation: A Guide for Writers
Lee Lofland
Boy's Life
Robert R. McCammon

Dark Screams: Volume Two

Dark Screams: Volume Two - Robert R. Mccammon, Richard Matheson, Brian James Freeman, Richard Chizmar Review coming soon.

Facial

Facial - Jeff Strand Review coming soon.

Prodigal

Prodigal - Melanie Tem Review coming soon.

Malediction

Malediction - Lisa Morton Review coming soon.

A Chick, A Dick and a Witch Walk Into a Barn...

A Chick, A Dick and a Witch Walk Into a Barn... - Nikki Nelson-Hicks A little book that packs a wallop. And the devilishly long title to the book should give you fair indication just what kind of story to expect.

Jake is a Hungarian ex-pat now running his dead dad's bookshop in New Orleans, basically living the American dream ... such as it is. Bear, a private-eye and Jake's tenant, since Jake only uses one floor of the building, borrows Jake's car to in search of a fella who moved down there to be with his lady love, but the fellas' family hasn't heard from his since. Nothing to it, and Jake is always eager to learn a little more from Bear about sleuthing so he thinks nothing of lending his prized wheels, until some time passes and Bear doesn't return. So Jake heads out to find him--and his car--and winds up in a whole heap of Bayou badness.

If you enjoy the weirdness that comes from genre mashups that see private-eyes, accidental or otherwise, tangling with witches and their foul fowl (terrible wordplay, I know), then you'll no doubt get a kick out of this. In quick fashion, Nikki presents Jake as a bit of a hapless and likable guy, eager to learn the trade and amazingly lucky when it comes to not winding up dead at the hands of feathered fiends.

I found it very fun, very gruesome, and a very effective opener to what I hope is a slew of Jake Istenhegyi stories.

Lady Killer

Lady Killer - Jamie S. Rich, Joëlle Jones June Cleaver ... with an actual cleaver.

Cecil & Bubba Meet the Thang

Cecil & Bubba Meet the Thang - Terry M West, Rena Mason Review coming soon.

John Golden: Freelance Debugger

John Golden: Freelance Debugger - Django Wexler, Tyson Mauermann Review coming soon.

Wytches #1

Wytches #1 - Scott Snyder, Jock A great kickoff to this series.

McFall

McFall - Scott Nicholson Review coming soon.

Dark Screams: Volume One

Dark Screams: Volume One - Brian James Freeman, Kelley Armstrong, Bill Pronzini, Simon Clark, Richard Chizmar, Stephen King It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.

I think that saying sums up this little anthology of horror stories fairly well. It's not a big book, weighing in under a hundred pages, but it's ten pounds of darkness in a five pound bag. Okay, okay, I'm getting a little too crazy with the metaphors too early.

Kicking off the fun is Stephen King, probably a guy who is as good at writing a short story as he is famous for writing his novels. "Weeds" may not be at the tippy-top of King's best short works, but if you enjoy the more monstrously weird tales he's come out with over the years, like "Battleground" for instance, then this tale of a fella freaking out over a pernicious fungus in his yard should be right up your alley.

One of the more viscerally charged stories was Kelley Armstrong's "The Price You Pay." While the narration is somewhat cut-and-dry, the wallop at the end delivered and psycho thrillers seem to me like a hard thing to pull off in short fiction a lot of the time. This one does a real good job of it.

A couple notable stories from Bill Pronzini and Simon Clark, whose novels I keep meaning to read, appear as well. And then things are capped off with the legendary Ramsey Campbell. This one just harkens back to one of the most tried-and-true setups in horror, that being the child and the elderly guardian and the thing that goes bump in the night. From that, there's a million ways to spin the tale, and Mr. Campbell does a heckuva job doing it here.

Folks who go in for short stories may be looking for something more expansive than five stories, but bear in mind this is but the first volume and a top notch one at that. I believe the second volume is slated for a spring release, which gives enough time to read one story every couple of weeks and salivate over reading the next batch. I know I will.

Devourer of Souls

Devourer of Souls - Kevin Lucia Review coming soon.

Crossroads

Crossroads - Kelli Owen Dean, Tucker, Stephenson, Bobbie, and Jody take off in Dean's pickup onto a back road in search of an old church and graveyard, with a ouija board in tow. Oh, Ouija. You and your abominable deviltry. Now, maybe you were subjected to that PG-13 horror flick, Ouija, this fall and are in no mood to be twice disappointed by hackneyed attempts at horror. Well, fear not, for Kelli Owen is responsible for this tale and she does not f**k around with any PG nonsense. Nor does she let you get to comfortable in how you think this story is going to play out, because it diverges from the predictable and offers up horror from a different source.

The conflicts and cowardice and contradictions found in each of the five characters are wrought out through much of the story, both in its preamble to the ghost play in the woods and after the surprise that lays in wait for them rears its head and scares the bejesus out of them. With the limited time, Kelli afforded herself in writing this novella, she manages to wring each character for all they're worth, though there were a few moments that could've have been stretched, but that's just me getting wrapped up in the interactions when the sh*t hits the fan.

It's a genuine heartpounder.

The Deep

The Deep - Nick Cutter Back when I read Craig Davidson's Sarah Court, I thought the guy had a real handle on wringing every bit of tension out of the most mundane instances of contemporary life. Then he took on the pen name Nick Cutter to release one of the more hair-raising horror novels of 2014, The Troop. Now he has The Deep, and I think this is where he makes the balance between the two.

Okay, so it's a very near future where the world is ravaged by a disease that causes people to forget. Not just "Where did I leave my keys?" stuff, but right on through to "How do I breathe?" The civilization that is hanging on bands together to find a cure, but things aren't going so great. There's an inkling of hope way down in the deep blue sea, though. There's been a discovery down there, a substance dubbed Ambrosia that may be the cure, but it's eight miles down and the facility at the bottom of the ocean researching it has gone silent. The brilliant, if not slightly disturbed, scientist leading the charge down there calls upon his brother to come down, and so he does. It's already a strained relationship between the two, so throw in a perilous journey below the sea to a claustrophobic sea station with drudged up memories and a possible sentience at work related to the Ambrosia, and things just get compounded.

The tension mounts and mounts, from all angles, for all members of the crew, and what really works as the cement between these bricks of horror is the familial bond between the two brothers and what we see of it through the induced flashbacks. Where The Troop took the parasite horror trope and breathed new life into it, the Crichton-esque horror new technologies impeding on our grasp of reality is given a breath of fresh air in The Deep, but given it a more relatable experience through its humanity that I just never got from a Crichton work.

There's a lot of ways to describe this book, but I kind of like Edward Lorn's: “Event Horizon shags Sphere who then fornicates with Carpenter’s The Thing.” Bingo!

I'm lukewarm to the movie, Sphere, but Event Horizon and The Thing are two classics in the sci-fi/horror realm, and if The Deep ever sees its way to the movie screen it would fit in nicely among this pantheon. It doesn't reinvent the genre, but what it does do is fine tune it so that its engine purrs. The Troop was very good, The Deep is just plain great, so I'm really keen to see what Nick Cutter manages to do with his third outing.

The Deep

The Deep - Nick Cutter Review coming soon.

Devouring Milo

Devouring Milo - Tonia Brown Review coming soon.