#BlogTour Dust Devils by Jonathan Janz

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Dust Devils by Jonathan Janz. It’s a western and horror combined with paranormal fantasy.

About the Author

Jonathan Janz grew up between a dark forest and a graveyard, which explains everything. Brian Keene named his debut novel The Sorrows “the best horror novel of 2012.”The Library Journal deemed his follow-up, House of Skin,” reminiscent of ShirleyJackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and Peter Straub’s Ghost Story.”

Since then Jonathan’s work has been lauded by writers like Jack Ketchum, Edward Lee, Tim Waggoner, Bryan Smith,and Ronald Kelly. Novels like The Nightmare Girl, Wolf Land, Savage Species,and Dust Devils prompted Thunderstorm Books to sign Jonathan to an eleven-book deal and to give him his own imprint, Jonathan Janz’s Shadow Side.

His novel Children of the Dark received a starred review in Booklistand was chosen by their board as one of the Top Ten Horror Books of the Year (August 2015-September 2016). Children of the Dark will soon be translated into German and has been championed by the Library Journal, the School

Library Journal,and Cemetery Dance. In early 2017, his novel Exorcist Falls was released to critical acclaim.

Jonathan’s primary interests are his wonderful wife and his three amazing children,and though he realizes that every author’s wife and children are wonderful and amazing, in this case the cliché happens to be true.

Follow @JonathanJanz and @flametreepress on Twitter, Follow Janz On Instagram, on Goodreads, on Amazon, Visit jonathanjanz.com

Buy Dust DevilsAbout the book

It is 1885 in the wilds of New Mexico and Cody Wilson and Willet Black are bent on revenge after their loved ones are slaughtered by a group of traveling actors, but neither of them suspects what they’re really up against.

For the actors are vampires. Their thirst for human blood is insatiable. The two must battle the vampires—alone—or die trying.

Review

Janz has been making a name for himself in the horror genre. It’s fair to say he tries to mix it up and redefine it by combining old favourites and modern ideas. This time it’s a western meets paranormal fantasy extravaganza.

The relationship between Cody and Willet is one of the highlights of the book. The two of them bond over the fact the vampires have taken loved ones from them. Cody becomes almost paternal towards Willet, perhaps the boy represents the future he has lost.

Some of the scenes are quite graphic, especially the violent and sexual ones. Janz can be a bit of a shock jock at times. A bit of a ‘let me lull you with the intricately woven relationships and my writing, then when you least expect it a wet kipper will whack you round the face’ kind of storyteller. The violence or the more graphic details creates a sense of unease and keeps the reader on their toes, which I think is intentional. Janz doesn’t want his readers getting too comfortable.

It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I think readers who know Janz are aware of his style and hey the genre is known for being extreme and bending the boundaries. I think there has to be a nice balance, so it doesn’t appear to be gratuitous. Sometimes less is more, especially when it comes to the sexual element.

It’s a western and horror combined with paranormal fantasy. Cowboys vs Vampires, which is far more politically correct and results in some interesting scenarios. It’s a blood-drenched read.

What I can say without a doubt is that Janz enjoys evoking a strong emotional response in readers, regardless of whether they are feeling sympathy, disgust or anger.

Buy Dust Devils at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Flame Tree Press; pub date 27 Jun. 2019. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Flame Tree.

Read my review of The Sorrows by Jonathan Janz.

#BlogTour Severed by Peter Laws

Today it is an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Severed by Peter Laws. I have no idea why I haven’t come across this author before, but I will be making a point to do so in future. It’s an eclectic mixture of theology, faith, thriller and horror.

About the Author

Peter Laws is an ordained Baptist minister with a taste for the macabre. He regularly speaks and preaches at churches and events. He lives with his family in Bedfordshire.

Follow @revpeterlaws @AllisonandBusby,Visit peterlaws.co.uk

Buy Severed

About the book

During a communion service at a village church, the teenage son of a vicar brutally attacks his father with an axe. The horrified congregation watch the son escape and during a frantic police search rumours arise that the boy was involved in devil worship.

Professor Matt Hunter, an atheist ex-minister and expert on religion, is brought in to advise, yet he quickly suspects the church attack may have a far more complex cause. Meanwhile, a ten-year-old boy called Ever grows up in a small Christian cult. The group believe they are the only true humans left and that the world is filled with demons called Hollows, but they’re working on a bizarre ritual that will bring peace and paradise to the world. Soon, the worlds of Matt and Ever will collide in one awful, terrifying night where Matt is thrown into the frightening and murderous world of religious mania.

Review

I have no idea why I haven’t come across this author before, but I will be making a point to do so in future. 

Matt Hunter is a one-time man of God, who now likes to dabble in atheism instead. Now he spends his time dissecting his own feelings of faith and his knowledge of theology. He is also the go-to man for all things macabre and faintly godly or devilish in any way, which is how he ends up in the middle of an unusual attempted murder in an old church.

A teenage boy attacks the local vicar during a service all whilst mumbling a strange language. At the same time the reader is introduced to a young boy called Ever, who lives in a seemingly idyllic, albeit odd, small community of very religious people. His family. The question is what is their connection to the events in the church?

I think one of the most interesting aspects of Severed is the way the author unfurls the complexity of cult mentality. How is easy it is to be sucked into a theoretical concept, which to the objective outsider may seem completely absurd. I mean how many people, including really intelligent people I might add, do you think would fall for a money making oppressive religion based on the failed sci-fi stories of an ego-maniacal author who envisioned himself as a leader of the ‘enlightened’ members of the human race. Oh wait, yeh, my bad. Loads of people already have and are paying through the nose for the privilege.

A cult environment is bit like creating the perfect growth habitat for delusional thought fungi. They absorb the vulnerable, the rejected and the lost of our society, whilst the sharks at the top feed on their insecurities, fears and traumas.

This eclectic mixture of theology, faith, thriller and horror makes for a spectacular read. It bandies around the concepts of Christianity, religion, cults and atheism in a way that engages the reader in the narrative like a literary novel, despite the fact it is an action-packed horror read. 

When you’ve read this book take a moment to read the author’s note of acknowledgement – emotional and honest words on the thought process behind the story. In a way it says so much more about the story, the author and society, perhaps more than a mere read may.

Buy Severed at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Allison and Busby; pub date 24 Jan. 2019

The Taking of Annie Thorne by C. J. Tudor

This isn’t just your run of the mill psychological thriller. Why not? Well it’s a book by Tudor and she likes to mix her thriller and mysteries with an element of the inexplicable, which in turn often wanders into the genre of horror.

Joe is drawn back to his hometown when he starts receiving emails that reference the disappearance of his sister many years ago when they were both children. It reminds him of the fact that he has scores to settle and perhaps he will finally find out what happened to Annie. Then again maybe he has a fair idea about what happened and just doesn’t want anyone else to come to the same conclusion.

He starts working at his old school as a teacher, which throws him straight into the same kind of debilitating oppressive atmosphere of bullying and intimidation he had to put up with as a kid. History is repeating itself, but this time he isn’t going to sit by and watch it happen.

It also brings back memories of a traumatic event in his life and the disappearance of a second child under similar circumstances makes people start to ask uncomfortable questions again. Is it just a coincidence or is there a bigger plan at stake?

I really enjoyed The Chalk Man by Tudor and highly recommend it if you haven’t read anything by this particular author yet. The story of Annie Thorne may just leave you with nightmares or at the very least a healthy fear of entering underground caves. You just never know what might be waiting there for you. 

It’s so much more than just a psychological thriller. The whole essence of the story is infused with a feeling of menace, a silent threat just waiting to welcome the reader into its inner folds. It surrounds the characters like a soft blanket of mist and even manages to penetrate the pages and draw the reader inside its nefarious web.

Buy The Taking of Annie Thorne at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Michael Joseph; pub date 21 Feb. 2019

Follow @cjtudor @MichaelJBooks

Read my review of The Chalk Man by C. J. Tudor.

#BlogTour The Sorrows by Jonathan Janz

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour for The Sorows by Jonathan Janz. Janz has a penchant for the unpredictable and the macabre. A perfect combination for a connoisseur and writer of horror.About the Author

Jonathan Janz is the author of more than a dozen novels and numerous short stories.

His work has been championed by authors like Joe R. Lansdale, Jack Ketchum, and Brian Keene; he has also been lauded by Publishers Weekly, the Library Journal, and the School Library Journal.

His novel Children of the Dark was chosen by Booklist as a Top Ten Horror Book of the Year. Jonathan’s main interests are his wonderful wife and his three amazing children. You can sign up for his newsletter Shadow World, and you can follow him on:

Follow @JonathanJanz @flametreepress on Twitter, On Instagram

Visit jonathanjanz.com

Buy The Sorrows

About the book

The Sorrows, an island off the coast of northern California, and its castle have been uninhabited since a series of gruesome murders in 1925. But its owner needs money, so he allows film composers Ben and Eddie and a couple of their female friends to stay a month in Castle Blackwood. Eddie is certain a haunted castle is just the setting Ben needs to find inspiration for a horror film.

But what they find is more horrific than any movie. Something is waiting for them in the castle. A malevolent being has been trapped for nearly a century. And he’s ready to feed.

Review

You get a fair idea of what to expect within the first chapter or so. Okay that’s a lie, Janz loves to spring the unexpected on his readers and his poor characters.

I like the idea of the odd codependent relationship between Ben and Eddie. The whole deal with the devil to achieve ultimate success and wealth. The way Eddie is willing to go to such extreme measures to get Ben motivated or rather to get his creative juices flowing, well it borders on negligence. What he perceives to be amusing others would consider to be reckless and dangerous. Not exactly what I would call a great friend.

I’m not sure the group really understands the stress and pain Chris is going through. Life as he knows it is in tatters, and having to deal with a vindictive ex-wife who is alienating their young son from him, is destroying him physically and mentally. It makes Chris a liability and someone who is willing to take a big risk, Not exactly unusual for a gambler, which is how and why he ends up letting the risk craving group enter Castle Blackwood.

If you have read anything by Janz then you will probably be aware that he has a talent for the darkest depths of hell and horror. The Sorrows represents the beginning of his journey, and also shows much he has honed his craft since then.

Low level male chauvinism and misogyny is alive and well in the men, and the women are objectified. Well, except for evil ex-wife perhaps. The sexual escapades seem more like gratuitous fillers and the horror is on the other end of the extreme.

Saying all that, the talent doesn’t go unnoticed and is clearly evident in this first novel. What I really liked, especially at the beginning of the book, was the way Ben and Eddie reacted to each other and the events. It was almost as if Janz wrote each part without either character knowing what the other was going to do, and that surprise comes through bold as brass.

Janz has a penchant for the unpredictable and the macabre. A perfect combination for a connoisseur and writer of horror.

Buy The Sorrows by Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Publisher: Flame Tree Press, (New edition – 30 Nov. 2018)

#BlogTour Think Yourself Lucky by Ramsey Campbell

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Think Yourself  Lucky by Ramsey Campbell. An unsettling piece of horror fiction, which comes perilously close to truths we all try to keep hidden.

About the Author

Ramsey Campbell is a British writer considered by a number of critics to be one of the great masters of horror fiction. T. E. D. Klein has written that “Campbell reigns supreme in the field today,” while S. T. Joshi has said that “future generations will regard him as the leading horror writer of our generation, every bit the equal of Lovecraft or Blackwood.”

Follow @ramseycampbell1 @flametreepress, Visit ramseycampbell.com

Buy Think Yourself Lucky

About the book

David Botham just wants a quiet ordinary life―his job at the travel agency, his relationship with his girlfriend Stephanie. The online blog that uses a title he once thought up has nothing to do with him. He has no idea who is writing it or where they get their information about a series of violent deaths in Liverpool. If they’re murders, how can the killer go unseen even by security cameras? Perhaps David won’t know until they come too close to him―until he can’t ignore the figure from his past that is catching up with him…

Review

If you imagine the world wide web as a humongous one-way mirror with every internet user on one side, and on the other side, behind the dark impenetrable screen sit the unspoken desires, words and subconscious impulses. What we do on the translucent side can be seen by everyone, and yet it’s the moments in the darkness, the minutes of anonymity the other side of the mirror craves.

Campbell speaks to this dangerous element of the web, and of the hidden dangers that lurk there, and the parts of our personalities we keep hidden from others.

In general people are regarded or described in relation to their worst attributes in this story and women tend to, more often than not, be described as see you next Tuesdays or as portraying an annoying amount of see you next Tuesdayness.

The story has this feel of dirt you can’t seem to rid yourself of. Like a layer of invisible darkness over the entire story. This is really apparent towards the last scenes at the end, where you can almost feel the presence looming over you.

The fact the main character David is most definitely not a writer is repeated ad nauseam. In reaction perhaps to the blog some mysterious person is posting, which seems to have some weird connection to David. For me it is also a cheeky nod by Campbell to his many critics. A bit of a Marmite man, he waves the words ‘I am not a writer’ in front of everyone, whilst writing a story. That’s irony for you.

An unsettling piece of horror fiction, which comes perilously close to truths we all try to keep hidden. I found it a wee bit all over the place and perhaps not on par with other work by Campbell.

Buy Think Yourself Lucky at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Publisher: Flame Tree Press; New edition  (1 Nov. 2018)

(About the publisher: Flame Tree Press is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launching in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.)

#BlogTour The Toy Thief by D.W. Gillespie

Today it’s my pleasure to bring a wee bit of horror with a smidgen of creepy with the BlogTour The Toy Thief by D.W. Gillespie. You might want to keep an eye on your toys and the other eye open whilst you are sleeping from now on.

About the Author

A long time fan of all things dark and spooky, D.W. Gillespie began writing monstrous stories while still in grade school. At one point, his mother asked the doctor if there was anything she should be concerned about, and he assured her that some kids just like stories about decapitations.

He’s been writing on and off for over a decade, quietly building a body of work that includes horror and dark sci-fi. His novels include Still Dark, The Toy Thief, and a short story collection titled Handmade Monsters.

He lives in Tennessee with his wife and two kids, all three of which give him an endless supply of things to write about.

Follow @dw_gillespie @flametreepress on Twitter

About the book

Jack didn’t know what to call the nameless, skeletal creature that slunk into her house in the dead of night, stealing the very things she loved the most. So she named him The Toy Thief…

There’s something in Jack’s past that she doesn’t want to face, an evil presence that forever changed the trajectory of her family. It all began when The Toy Thief appeared, a being drawn by goodness and innocence, eager to feed on everything Jack holds dear. What began as a mystery spirals out of control when her brother, Andy, is taken away in the night, and Jack must venture into the dark place where the toys go to get him back. But even if she finds him, will he ever be the same?

Review

It knew – has to be one of the creepiest sentences in this book.

Jack blames herself for killing her mother, and so does her brother Andy. Their Dad is barely coping and they have a hate-fight relationship barring one exception, nobody else gets to treat either one of them badly. First rule of sibling war strategy – siblings come before outsiders.

The often strained relationship between the two of them takes on another level when one evening Jack accidentally sees something she wasn’t supposed to see. Something is in the house with them, a thing that wants their toys, until she realises it wants more than just their special toys.

Gillespie brings horror, dysfunctional relationships and reality together, which gives the read a surreal aura. At times the border between what is real, dream and the Toy Thief are skewed. I have a tendency to look for the metaphor, the hidden and the deeper meaning. Bad habit probably because sometimes a Toy Thief is just a Toy Thief, and not a Freudian slip.

Saying that, the Thief is attracted to the toys that hold a special emotional value to the child. The ones with an essence of nostalgia, sadness and also moments of joy attached to them. Toys equalling memories, which in turn make them more valuable to the child and the Thief.

One of the most poignant moments in the story is towards the end when the realisation of being broken, hence a possible danger to others, leads to a tragic decision. That is where the horror story takes a break and the real world slips in again. Where does the evil inside man end and the evil of the Thief begin?

There is no doubt the author has a talent for bringing nightmares to life and putting childhood trauma, albeit trauma caused by shadowy evil crawling along the ceilings at night, into words and creating the imagery to go with it.

Buy The Toy Thief at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Publisher: Flame Tree Press

#BlogTour Death Dolls by Simon Farrant

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour of Death Dolls by Simon Farrant. Be prepared to be a wee bit worried about your local butcher and any leather products you buy. It’s horror with a tendency towards the gory.

About the Author

I am an emerging author, a submission to a short story anthology kicked it all off. Black Cat is my first short story, and the hero isn’t maybe who you would assume.

Originally from Doncaster, South Yorkshire and now Corby in Northants. I’m in my forties, married with three children. We share our home with a Bengal cat and a Pink Tongued Skink.

I’ve been lucky enough to have had an interesting (well to me!) life. I have been a truck driver, university graduate and motorbike salesman amongst other things.

My two novellas, Newdon Killers series, The Crucifix and Famously Ordinary are out now! The third book, Death Dolls is coming soon estimated launch date 22 August.

Later this year a new series in a different genre Mystery / contemporary fantasy will be published. Sign up here to receive my newsletter

Follow @asfarrant on Twitter or SimonFarrantOfficial on Facebook

Buy Death Dolls

About the book

Benjamin McGuinness fulfils his dream of establishing successful businesses and gives jobs with a new home to some of life’s misfits, deep in the English countryside on a farm. Everything seems perfect and his workers are as close as family.

A fire strikes close to home, a disaster that changes his perception of life and one of his loyal workers takes the chance to propose a life-changing venture.

This new business drags Lisa, his sister, into the deadly web of deception.

When exiled Russian twins join the family a symbolic tattoo is created that drives Benjamin’s money into a new league. Benjamin knows that his future is defined by ‘the family’.

Will greed cause everything to crumble before his eyes, or will there be brutal consequences to their actions?

Review

This is creepy horror with gruesome details, which reminds me don’t eat anything while reading it. I had to put my chocolate down, and that doesn’t happen often. Be prepared to be a wee bit worried about your local butcher and any leather products you buy from this point forward.

Benjamin McGuinness hires someone to help run his tattoo parlour, who in turn introduces him to some people with plenty of unusual ways to expand his business and make him a profit. Greed makes him throw out any semblance of common sense, as he is drawn into a quagmire of crime and murder.

My major concern is that Farrant has left me with a conundrum. The characters are pretty convincing, so convincing when it comes to the marketability and possible profit margin that I am unsure if it is just a random premise. I want to know whether the human leather thing is legal, but refuse to google it, because then it will be in my browser history. Fast forward to my arrest for researching the legality of human leather. Now I know why curiosity killed the cat.

Given a wee bit more polish I think this author will create his mark. The creativity and ideas are tenfold, they are disturbing and lean towards the more murderous side of the genre. The writing and dialogue just need honing. Pun totally intended.

It’s horror with a tendency towards the gory. I am a little worried about where this series may go next, however I am sure the author will come up with something equally disconcerting as this premise. It’s not for the faint-hearted or those readers who have difficulty discerning fiction from reality. Simon Farrant – giving readers trust issues on a daily basis. Just kidding.

Buy Death Dolls (Newdon Killers #3) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.Buy The Crucifix (Newdon Killers #1)Buy Famously Ordinary (Newdon Killers #2)

Publisher: Farrant Fiction, Pub. date 22 Aug. 2018