Archive for the Horror Anthology Category

Book Review for State of Horror: New Jersey

Posted in Alexander S. Brown, Amazon, author reviews, authors, Book Reviews, books, entertaining, entertainment, Fiction, Horror, Horror Anthology, Horror Authors, Horror Book, Horror Books, Horror Fans, Horror Fiction, horror literature, Horror Lovers, Horror Punks, Horror Readers, Independent Horror, literature, Read, readers, reading, Readings, scary, Splatterpunk, Uncategorized on July 16, 2016 by Alexander S. Brown

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New Jersey makes the second time I have explored the State of Horror series.  In both of my trips, I have returned to normality, satisfied.  Such as State of Horror: Illinois, New Jersey opens up with an intro from the anthology composer.  In merely a few pages, the tone and theme is set for the reader, as we are reminded of some of the urban legends and horror movies produced from New Jersey.  Now, with the road to horror opened for us to cruise along, we bypass the many regional nightmares that haunt the state.

Pork Roll, Egg, and Sleaze by Frank J. Elder is a fantastic opening and a throwback to New Jersey classics such as: Friday the 13th and Alice Sweet Alice. This whodunit slasher story takes place in an abandoned factory that is being explored by a group of friends. As they wander, each character is picked off by a serial killer.  With this tale, Elder has accomplished a superb job of, “Just keeping it Jersey, bitch”.

American Gargoyle by Scott M. Goriscak chronicles the Jersey Devil’s life from its birth to current time. With this installment, Goriscak’s descriptive ability impressed me the most.  Not since The Fly (1980’s) have I encountered scenes of metamorphosis so graphic.  Also, I was pleased to see Gorisack’s smoothness, as he covered such an extensive timespan while obeying short story requirements.  This tale is not for the faint of heart.

Dying Days: Charon by Armand Rosamilia is a continuation of the zombie outbreak from State of Horror: Illinois.  The pacing in this story is fast and the action is high.  The style in which this is written, makes it a solid pulp fiction piece.

Evacuation by C.I. Kemp is a speculative fiction piece that smothers the reader with paranoia.  In this tale, Kemp provides an intriguing character study that regards a group of people who have been evacuated during an intense storm.  At first, the characters find security within the storm shelter provided to them.  Yet, the longer they are held in their refuge, the more their tension grows as they discover this shelter is their prison.  As this slow burner progresses, we realize the fate of these evacuees will undoubtedly meet a dreadful conclusion.

Doctor Nightshade Comes to Ocean County, NJ by T. Fox Dunham is a great throwback to Edgar Allan Poe’s The Mask of Red Death. I thoroughly enjoyed the depth provided to the antagonist.  By how Fox described the villain in this segment, I walked away from the story feeling like literature finally received its first true Freddy Kruegeresque boogeyman. The story’s pacing was neither slow or rushed, rather it allowed perfect timing for the reader to develop fear and dread for the protagonist.  The style in which this was written made me feel like I was reading a chilling fable for adults.

Sweets for the Sweet by Margaret L. Colton is a delicately crafted psychological piece.  In a prose that feels heavy with grief, we meet a widow who begins receiving messages from her dead husband.  At first, I felt the messages she received were nothing more than loving reminders.  However, as the tale fleshes out, we discover she is being lured to her death.  Somehow, Colton goes deeper than a mere haunting.  By her writing style, the story itself is like a sweet.  It is presented as a final course in the entrée of life.

Under the Boardwalk by Julianne Snow is a visceral tale that holds the graphicness of an early Clive Barker and the twisted mind of Chuck Palahniuk. While paying homage to 80’s slashers, Snow provides a hearty bowl of horror soup.

Monster by Christian Jensen is a splatterpunk story about the Jersey Devil. This installment is based around a survivor who encountered the Jersey Devil during his childhood.  Seeking vengeance on the creature, he dedicates his life to weightlifting, working out, and defense. When he’s ready, he returns to the spot where the Jersey Devil killed his friend for a final confrontation.  I like how Jensen was able to build a strong protagonist, one who wasn’t a weakling and wasn’t afraid to battle his childhood nightmare. The style in which this is written is tangible for most people who have wanted to battle their childhood monsters.

Road Wearier by Tim Baker is an installment that works on the creep factor. I found that the pacing of the story moved smooth and its intensity increased the further it progressed.

Rudetown Road by Blaze McRob a bittersweet story between man and monster. My favorite element to this tale was the bond between human and beast shared at the end.  In a book of horror, this was a great way to break up the pattern of fear and gore for the reader.  McRob provides the platform for the reader to feel sympathy for the monster, such as one may have felt when reading Frankenstein or watching Legend of Boggy Creek.

A Friend of the Family by Diane Arrelle is about a woman who has the powers to heal those who have been injured. This fascinating story moves like a dark fantasy, until our protagonist is raped and murdered by her boyfriend’s friend. Yet, the tale doesn’t end there. In a fashionable twist that can only be compared to Tales from the Crypt or Tales from the Darkside, the antagonist has Hell to pay.

Red Eyes by Nathanial Gass is a story that works on the senses. The way Gass describes how the Jersey Devil is hunting its prey made me look over my shoulder a few times. Gass has a knack for creating haunting imagery and providing literary scares.

Memories of Her Are Dead by Eli Constant is perhaps one of the most frightening stories in this anthology. While paying homage to old school “Man vs. Animal” horror, this story stays new and fresh as a zoo full of animals go insane and create an unrelenting bloodbath against humanity.  I have not been so excited over a tale of animal horror since reading Food of the Gods or watching movies such as: Frogs or Day of the Animals.

The Best Stories:

Pork Roll, Egg, and Sleaze

American Gargoyle

Evacuation

Doctor Nightshade Comes to Ocean County, NJ

Sweets for the Sweet

A Friend of the Family

Memories of Her Are Dead

The Good Stories:

Monster

Dying Days: Caron

Rudetown Road

The Okay Stories:

Under the Boardwalk

Road Wearier

Red Eyes

My overall experience with State of Horror: NJ was enjoyable.  From a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the worst and 10 being the best, I would rate it an 8.  The audio experience was a solid 9.  Combining the two, I would consider the final outcome for stories and vocal performance combined is an 8 ½.

Order your copy HERE

Sweet Nightmares,

Alexander S. Brown

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Alexander S. Brown Author Page

Author Guest H. David Blalock Reflects on Halloween

Posted in author interviews, Fiction, H.David Blalock, Halloween, Horror, Horror Anthology, Horror Book, Horror Books, Independent Horror, interviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 2, 2014 by Alexander S. Brown

At last, October is here. Although I plan to contribute more reviews on Halloween themed entertainment, I thought it would be fun to invite a few authors and artists throughout October to share their views and memories of Halloween.

Our first featured guest is a prolific author known by his fans as H. David Blalock. His writing talents are superb examples of diversity within the literary world. Some of his horror stories can be found in the anthologies Southern Haunts: Spirits that Walk Among Us and Southern Haunts 2: Devils in the Darkness. Look for his name again in the upcoming Southern Haunts 3: Magic in the Moonlight. Even though these are only a few titles, be sure to check out his series The Angel Killer Triad, now available where books are sold.

Before we jump into our interview, here is a little back story on Mr. Blalock:

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Born in San Antonio, Texas, David spent the majority of his formative years in Jacksonville, Florida. At the age of 16, his family moved to the Panama Canal Zone where David finished school and entered employment with the Department of Defense as a Powerhouse Electrician. Hiring into the FAA, he returned with his wife and two daughters to the States and settled briefly in Gulfport, MS. He later moved to Memphis, TN, as an Air Traffic Controller for the Memphis ARTCC where he remained until retirement.

David’s writing has appeared in numerous anthologies, magazines, webzines, and writer’s sites. For more information on David, his work and appearances, visit his website: www.thranKeep.com .

What does Halloween mean to you?

Not nearly as much today as it did when I was young. Nowadays I don’t see as much meaning in it as I did when trick or treating was my main goal. Today, it’s just another holiday.

What is your most memorable Halloween?

We used to have some remarkable Halloween parties. At one in particular, I remember a bonfire that precipitated a particular set of events, including: a significant amount of liquor, several attendees, a can of gasoline, a large blue flash, melted boot soles, and the first and only time I have ever seen a human being jump straight up in the air and then be displaced several feet before hitting the ground, running at full speed.

How do you celebrate Halloween today?

I usually spend it quietly, sometimes with friends and family. I live in an area where there are few kids and we seldom have visitors, so I enjoy the quiet time.

What was your best Halloween costume?

When I was a boy I probably had a couple but I can’t remember. I’ve slept since then.

What was your worst Halloween costume?

I would have to say the one I wore a few years ago, during one of our Halloween parties: the Kingpin from the Spiderman comics. Don’t ask.

Some people believe Halloween is a negative Holiday to celebrate. Why do you feel Halloween has such a controversy to it?

Because it has a religious background to it. The real name of the holiday is “All Hallow’s Eve” and it is actually supposed to be the first of the days that is reserved for praying for the dead. The others are All Saints Day (Nov 1) and All Souls’ Day (Nov 2). By associating the sacred days with pagan symbols, ghosts, ghouls, etc. those who object are scandalized.

What do you do to keep the ghosts and ghouls away on Halloween night?

I find that a good single-malt whiskey does wonders.

What frightens you and why?

I find today’s splatterpunk and gore off-putting, not because it’s repulsive but because it has nothing to do with real fear. To me the fear of death is humanity’s common understanding of its mortality. What really frightens me is not what I know is inevitable but what I don’t know: the unknown. Will it kill me or will it do something that might make me wish I were dead? Worse, will it do something that will affect me beyond that veil?

What’s your favorite scary movie and why?

The Robert Wise film The Haunting (1963), co-written by Shirley Jackson and Nelson Gidding. It was based on The Haunting of Hill House and did a fantastic job conveying the atmosphere and emotion from the novel while maintaining an understated quality that made the fear that much more exaggerated to me.

What’s your favorite horror book and why?

I really can’t nail that one down. I have many favorite horror authors. Lovecraft, Maachen, Bierce, Dunsany, Chambers, Campbell… I could go on and on.

Do you prefer slow burners or fast paced thrillers?

The slow burners are my favorites. They build atmosphere and let you become part of the story before digging in with their claws.

What inspires your more frightening work?

I like to think I’ve continued the ideas and concepts put forward by the masters of the first half of the 20th century. Psychological horror to me is much more effective than just the shock value of today.

Do you plan to contribute to the horror genre in the future?

Yes. I look forward to writing more and editing more in the next few years than I have done in the past.

Where can we find your work?

I have work available from several different publishers. Most of my work is available from Amazon (a list of currently available titles is at http://www.amazon.com/H.-David-Blalock/e/B00JPGRLAM/) and all online booksellers as well as the publisher websites. My website (www.thrankeep.com) has links to work at webzines.