Horror Month and Brief Hiatus

I haven’t been in the best of health lately, hence the (comparatively) measly amount of posts I’ve made this month and August. I’m afraid I just haven’t the time, not with illness and the books I have to publish later this year.

However, there is some extremely good news! Besides the publication of my first book around Halloween (Oct. 31st), I have a load of spooky reviews from the depths of nightmare for October. I may schedule them later this week, as my time may be scarce, but there are a ton of very interesting books in store. 🙂 I really appreciate all who have been reading this little blog, it’s not much but I love to create it.

-S. M., September 2018

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Book Review – Creep House by Andersen Prunty

★★★ 3.5 Stars

Genre: Horror / Short Stories
Publication Date: October 13th, 2014
Publisher: Grindhouse Press

Something is wrong with Twin Springs, Ohio. Something unimaginably dark has burrowed into the atmosphere itself and smothered to death, its phantom filling everything. Darkness looms in the guts of little houses and the bodies of big forests. Creep House is a series of portraits of Twin Springs taken in its bleakest, most secretive corners.

You should kind of take my opinion with a grain of salt on this one, if I’m honest. You might well love it if suspense is your game, for Creep House is a vault full of it.
It’s just that my opinion may have been coloured wrongly by reading Prunty’s offbeat “Hansel & Gretel” remix, Zerostrata immediately beforehand. Ironically, I ended up disliking pieces of Creep House for the same reasons I adored Zerostrata.

Zerostrata had a wandering, bizarro-beautiful sensation to it, but with this same step, Creep House felt rather aimless. A few of the stories that were uneasy were still never scary, nor do they really get resolved in any way.
Prunty is a supernaturally talented writer, no part of this book is poorly written, it’s just a little disappointing fear-wise.

I did really enjoy “The Calming Wood”, “Candy Heart”, and “Running From the Roses”, all creative twists on the vampire and werewolf myths. “Running From the Roses” in particular is a disturbing story about the blood bonds of family becoming tumorous instead of loving.
(Also, the retro Leisure Horror / Zebra-esque cover is awesome. I collect those as a hobby, and I love to see appreciation for them anywhere.)

Book Review – Pan by K. R. Thompson

★★★★ 3.5 Stars

Genre: Fantasy
Series: The Untold Stories of Neverland
Publication Date: August 10th, 2015
Publisher: Independent

I sped through Pan in a midnight’s blink. Precious, dreamy, and fun enough to be addictive, but it’s over ridiculously soon. It leaves so much desire for full bloom, like a rose you know could be dazzlingly beautiful, but stops budding halfway through. It’s frustrating.

Pan is actually the second novella in the series after Hook, which I didn’t realize before it was too late, but it still made sense within its own sphere so I suppose it doesn’t hurt to read the first two out of order.
Thompson is a really promising indie writer, and I appreciate the sinister touches that edge the sparkle of her reimagining, and this version of Tinkerbell is likeable as a heroine.
There’s always been a devilish chord in the whimsy of Peter Pan to me, or at least I imagine it there, with a strange boy who spirits away other children. The balance of dark and magical, I have a theory is what makes retelling Peter Pan notoriously difficult.

Pan has some issues, it’s a little underdeveloped and brief and Peter’s character goes from awestruck to bully and back without any reason, but especially for an independent fantasy novel, it’s well-written and cute, and worth a look.

Poem – “Blood Moon”

Blood Moon

Blood of the moon she softly needles free
It seeps into the tar galactic night, the red clouds
Like a warning siren in an abandoned ward

Which is the eclipse and which is the stain?
The barbed wire dividing great pain and eternal beauty
Have been severed by the sword of the reaper

©S. M. Shuford 2018
Follow my poetry on Tumblr.
Add my upcoming collection on Goodreads.

Poem – “The Median”

The Median

She walks solemnly down the median,
A constant in the chaos of headlights,
The lung-corrupting breaths of motors
She never senses what surrounds her
She will never dare a solitary footstep
Into the left highway, which spells emotional injury
Nor into the right, which threatens death

©S. M. Shuford 2018
Follow my poetry on Tumblr.
Add my upcoming collection on Goodreads.

 

Book Review – The Haunting of Saxton Mansion (Book 0) by Roger Hayden

★★★ 3.5 Stars

Genre: Mystery / Suspense
Series: The Haunting of Saxton Mansion
Publication Date: November 2nd, 2017
Publisher: Independent

The Haunting of Saxton Mansion has a pretty atmosphere and engaging suspense, but holy goodness, it needs a thorough, surgically precise typo scrub. There are really frequent typos that detract from what otherwise is a promising gothic suspense novel. They’re more malapropisms than misspellings, things that Spell Check alone wouldn’t catch, so I can see how they slipped through. But still, there’s such a number I don’t see how some weren’t noticed. In one instance, it causes an accidental paranormal moment where two men seem to be having a psychic conversation with each other.

If the editing was glossed up, I feel like it would’ve been quite beautiful. It’s still not a poor story underneath its surface flaws. Saxton Mansion has an original premise and it reminds me rather nostalgically of Fear Street.
The plot revolves around a man and his wife who purchase a strange mansion in rural Florida that was a strong but somehow forgotten part of the man’s childhood. It’s slow burning rather than visceral, which works for it, and the twist ending is rewarding. I probably would read the second to see where it takes me, but I really wish they had cleaned up the grammar. It’d do a world of favours to its world of ghosts.