#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 Ghost Mine by Hunter Shea

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Ghost Mine by Hunter Shea. It’s horror meets western and and a wee bit of historical fiction.About the Author

Hunter Shea is the author of over20 books, with a specialization in cryptozoological horror that includes The Jersey Devil, The Dover Demon,Loch Ness Revenge and many others. His novel The Montauk Monster, was named one of the best reads of the summer by Publishers Weekly. A trip to the International Cryptozoology Museum will find several of his cryptid books among the fascinating displays. Living in a true haunted house inspired his Jessica Backman: Death in the Afterlife series (Forest of Shadows, Sinister Entityand Island of the Forbidden). He was selected to be part of the launch of Samhain Publishing’s new horror line in 2011 alongside legendary author Ramsey Campbell. When he’s not writing thrillers and horror, he also spins tall tales for middle grade readers on Amazon’s highly regarded Rapids reading app.

An avid podcaster, he can be seen and heard on Monster Men, one of the longest running video horror podcasts in the world,and Final Guys, focusing on weekly movie and book reviews. His nostalgic column about the magic of 80s horror, Video Visions, is featured monthly at Cemetery Dance Online.

You can find his short stories in a number of anthologies, including Chopping Block Party, The Body Horror Book and Fearful Fathoms II. Living with his crazy and supportive family and two cats, he’s happy to be close enough to New York City to see the skyline without having to pay New York rent. You can follow his travails at www.huntershea.com.

Follow @huntershea1 on Twitter, on Goodreads, on Amazon,

About the book

Nat Blackburn is given an offer he can’t refuse by President Roosevelt. Tales of gold in the abandoned mining town of Hecla bound. The only problem those who go seeking their fortune never return. Black-eyed children, strange lights and ferocious wild men venture from the deep, dark ghost mine…as well as a sinister force hungry for fresh souls.

Review

Blackburn is asked by the President himself, Teddy Roosevelt, to investigate the disappearance of his troops, who were sent to a rural isolated town to find out if there is any truth to the rumours of a huge gold deposit in the area. There is no trace of them or of any other of the townspeople. Something strange is going on in the town of Hecla.

It’s getting a bit of a reputation, which is why other local townspeople are unwilling to set foot in the area. The question is whether it is all just folklore, paranoia or is there really something more nefarious going on. Perhaps they should steer clear of the creepy gold mine.

I really enjoyed the way Shea gave the story a cheeky western nuance, and the relationship between Teta and Blackburn is absolutely what makes this more than just a horror read.

The two of them have a camaraderie, they are brothers in arms and they have each others backs no matter what comes their way. The author gives the setting an old school two cowboys and their horses go on an adventures feel to it. Their relationship sets the tone for the rest of the story.

In fact I actually think it will entice more non-horror readers to read the genre. The author draws readers into the read by hooking them with the rambunctious, devil may care attitude of the two main characters. Then once he has lulled readers into a false sense of security the horror starts trickling in.

It’s horror meets western and a wee bit of historical fiction. On a side note, I would love to read more about Teta and Nat in the context of their previous experiences and adventures.

Buy Ghost Mine at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Flame Tree Press; Paperback pub date 30 May 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Stoker’s Wilde by Steven Hopstaken and Melissa Prusi

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Stoker’s Wilde by Steven Hopstaken and Melissa Prusi. It’s horror meets urban fantasy with a nod at historical fiction.About the Author

Steven Hopstaken was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he spent his formative years watching and reading science fiction and horror. He has a degree in journalism from Northern Michigan University and spends his free time traveling; writing screenplays, short stories and novels;and practicing photography.

Melissa Prusi was born and raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (often mistaken for Canada), and studied video and film production at Northern Michigan University and the University of Michigan. She’s been a video editor,a semi-professional film reviewer,a three-time champion on the quiz show Jeopardy!,and a Guinness world record holder (1990 edition, for directing the longest live television show).

They met in a college screenwriting class and married three years later. They spent a brief time in Los Angeles, where they both worked for Warner Bros. television. They eventually ended up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where they love the arts scene but dread the winters. While they both currently make a living as website content managers, they have sold two screenplays, which have been lost to development hell.

They’ve indulged their fascination with Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde through trips to Dublin and London to research their lives and visit sites mentioned in Stoker’s Wilde.

They live in St.Louis Park, Minnesota with their two cats. If they’re not writing, you can usually find them at a movie, local theater production, improv show or pub quiz.

Follow @StokersWilde on Twitter

Buy Stoker’s WildeAbout the book

Years before either becomes a literary legend, Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde must overcome their disdain for one another to battle the Black Bishop,a madman wielding supernatural forces to bend the British Empire to his will.Review

What a wonderful way to combine two very important writers of the 19th century, and a wee bit of horror and the supernatural. Hopstaken and Prusi, the writing duo behind Stoker’s Wilde, have melded the creativity of both men to create an entertaining read.

The result is a band of merry werewolf and vampire slaying men. It reminded me of old classic horror stories and films. However it still manages to weave the oppressive morality laws and the way society seeks to conform individuals to their own set of standards, into the story. This defined Wilde’s writing and thought processes, which of course should have a place in his letters.

The book is set up with diary form and journal entries placed intermittently throughout, which have been collected and are held by The White Worm Society. Oscar writes to Florence Balcombe, his wife and later also his literary executor. There are also extracts from Stoker’s journal relating his version of the events. It gives the story an air of historical fiction, of someone wading in a piece of written history, and yet at the same time it has the exuberance of an urban fantasy plot.

It works because the writers know their stuff and have done their research. It’s important, when using a real historical figure in a fictional setting, to get the facts right, especially when it comes to being able to portray them realistically.

I came away from this read with a sense of nostalgia, despite the fang-toothed bloodsuckers and the furry moon-stalkers. With a need to pick up and read Wilde and Stoker and embrace their words. It’s horror meets urban fantasy with a nod to historical fiction.

Buy Stoker’s Wilde at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Flame Tree Press; Paperback pub date 30 May 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour One Last Prayer for the Rays by Wes Markin

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour One Last Prayer for the Rays by Wes Markin. It’s crime fiction, but with a horror vibe.

About the Author

Wes Markin is a hyperactive English teacher, who loves writing crime fiction with a twist of the macabre.

​Having released One Last Prayer for the Rays he is now working on the second instalment of DCI Michael Yorke’s wild ride, The Repenting Serpent. He is also the author of Defined, a prequel to his DCI Yorke novels, which takes the reader back to his blood-soaked university days.​​​

Born in 1978, Wes grew up in Manchester, UK. After graduating from Leeds University, he spent fifteen years as a teacher of English, and has taught in Thailand, Malaysia and China. Now as a teacher, writer, husband and father, he is currently living in Harrogate, UK.

Follow @MarkinWes on Twitter, on Facebook, Visit wesmarkinbooks.weebly.com

Buy One Last Prayer for the Rays

About the book

DCI Michael Yorke faces his most harrowing case yet.

When 12-year-old Paul disappears from school, Yorke’s only clue is a pool of animal blood. Fearing the worst, he turns toward the most obvious suspect, recently released local murderer, Thomas Ray.

But as the snow in Salisbury worsens, Ray’s mutilated body is discovered, and Yorke is left with no choice but to journey into the sinister heart of a demented family that has plagued the community for generations. Can he save the boy? Or will the evil he discovers changes him forever?

Review

DCI Michael Yorke is called to the scene of what appears to be a brutal crime. A pool of blood in a school toilet and a missing 12-year-old boy suggest that something awful has happened. If someone in the school killed him then where the heck have they hidden the body?

The story takes on a whole different angle when it appears as if the scene of the crime isn’t quite what it seems to be and to make matters worse there is a known mentally unstable murderer on the loose.

It’s interesting how Markin gives the readers a horror crime scenario, but manages to write it in a way that doesn’t present it as overly graphic. The reader gets a sort of birds eye view of the horrific crime scenes or crimes, the author adds in some suggestive descriptions and dialogue, and then leaves the rest up to our imaginations. (Shudder)

It’s like a really screwed up episode of Criminal Minds when it comes to the really insane and murderous Ray family. There are just far too many of them for anyone to feel safe. Just take that into consideration the next time you meet someone with the surname Ray. You never know they might be a second cousin twice removed or crazy great uncle Rays illegitimate progeny. Just saying.

It’s crime fiction, but with a horror vibe. The type of story that creeps you out and creates an unhealthy measure of distrust. I am hoping the Rays don’t procreate any more going forward, there is something seriously wrong with the majority of them.

Buy One Last Prayer for the Rays at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Independently published; pub date 29 Jan. 2019, Buy at Amazon com

#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)