Book Review – Boogerman’s House by Dax Varley

Boogerman’s House by Dax Varley is a ghost story plus. The old farmhouse has a bad reputation and as such, it acts as the main character in this novella, a place of murder and suicide. There are three prior occurrences – a murdered family by the hands of the father and his suicide after, the death/suicide of two sisters, and finally, the suicide of a famous horror writer who hangs himself in the barn. Three teenagers – Will, Ryan, and Teagan – set off to the house to spend the night gathering information for an article they plan to write for their school paper. One of the teens has an alternative agenda. Will they survive the night? Or will Boogerman’s House claim three more lives?

Although this novella can be a quick read, it does not mean that Varley denies the reader of well-developed characters. The house, Will, Ryan, and Teagan all come to life before your eyes with their own distinctive personalities and the ghosts will definitely scare you. The setting, a notorious haunted house, is so well-described that at times it left shivers down my spine. And the plot is well thought-out and followed through until the very last line (which will also leave chills!).

I love the ease of the storytelling in this novella. Varley doesn’t mince words. There are very few suspenseful build-ups. Instead, she mostly ops for the real-life gotchas, which put the readers right there with each of the characters in the moment of their attacks. I also enjoyed how the author, using both the personal and the impersonal, allowed the house to get inside the heads of the characters. If you love a good ghost story, then this is the story for you.

Notes: This novella has been renamed – Nightmare House. I received a copy of the originally titled novella from Goodreads Giveaway in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Rating: 5 stars

Genre(s): Horror/Young Adult/Paranormal

To Purchase: (Under new title) Amazon

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Fine Dining

This appealed to my darker nature.
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livingauthorssociety

wine

“Refinement,” Albert said, raising his glass high. “That’s what’s missing from society these days. A sense of class. Culture.”

Light glinted on the rim of the round glass and danced over the little ripples in the golden wine. Albert watched it in silence for a moment, studying each little movement. The wine’s aroma filled his nostrils. He took a small sip and let the taste linger on his tongue.

Yes, he decided, this was an excellent vintage.

“What a shame,” Albert continued, “that our society no longer values such things. Such wonderful, wonderful things.”

His gaze swept over the room and he smiled a cold smile, one that never reached his dark eyes.

“Wouldn’t you agree?” he asked.

There was no answer. Ten eyes stared pleadingly at him from terrified faces. Twenty hands struggled with the ropes that bound them to polished wooden chairs.

“Of course you wouldn’t,” Albert said…

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Book Review – Firefly Haven by Aaron Gritsch

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Firefly Haven by Aaron Gritsch is a series of tales within a tale, told by various characters and a narrator. The main plot involves a set of friends who enjoy hunting down hauntings and other paranormal events, and a family whose life has taken a series of bad turns. The friends and this family converge at a park called Firefly Haven, an idyllic location where things go horribly wrong.

What I love about this novel is the storytelling, especially the ghosts and other paranormal stories. I think switching around from tale to tale in the novel is well done. It gives the reader the sense that something sinister will happen, you just don’t know exactly when. I also enjoy the characteristics of the friends. They are well-defined and distinctive. I especially enjoy the dichotomy between Luci and Didi, who should have been unlikely friends as one is quite devious in nature (Luci) and the other a bit innocent and naive (Didi). With the family characters – Daniel, Jennifer, and Jessica – there is always that sense of foreboding with a touch of optimism. It too is an interesting contrast. Gritsch definitely nails plot, characterization and storytelling in this novel.

However, there are quite a few things wrong with this novel. It could use some serious professional editing. For instance, Gritsch’s constant misuse of ‘to’ that should be ‘too’. I thought this was a one-off, but it is instead a continual practice throughout the novel. Two other areas really distracted me – the overuse of the elliptical instead of proper punctuation and incorrect quote tags. I can forgive the elliptical being used in conversation because it can denote a pause, but this was not the case the majority of the time in the novel. It was used mostly within the narration of the story and far too often. The quote tags were badly constructed. Occasionally they were used correctly, but the majority of the time they weren’t. There was also a lot of odd wording for sentences, especially the constant use of ‘mainly due to the fact’ and ‘referring to the fact’. These are colloquialisms that would be okay if used in conversation, but they weren’t. They were used by the narrator and it was quite annoying. And finally, a few times, Gritsch changed verb tenses mid-sentence, or within the same paragraph.

All in all, this has the potential to be an amazing novel. The plot is exciting and intriguing. The characters are interesting. You want to know them and and discover what makes them do what they do. And the tales within this story really keep you on the edge of your seat. I would love to give this novel a high rating for those reasons alone, but sadly, I cannot. The novel really does need extreme editing and because of that, I just cannot give the high rating. Does this mean you shouldn’t read it? If you aren’t a literary snob like I am, then you will probably overlook most of the issues that I found and could enjoy the novel. The only things that may stop your enjoyment are the oddly worded sentences, but I could even be wrong there. All I can say is it isn’t the worst plotted novel I’ve ever read; however, it is one of the worst edited novels I’ve read so far.

Rating: 3 star

Genre: Horror/Ghost Tales

To Purchase: Amazon

Book Review – Lester’s Keeper by George Holm

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Lester’s Keeper is an erotic horror short story told from the point of view of Lester – an egotistical, self-absorbed 25 year old. Lester rarely maintains relationships with women, discarding them often. He is about to do the same with his current girlfriend, Maggie. Only, he has one more thing he wishes for Maggie to do for him before he discards her. Lester wants to be a voyeur while Maggie has sex with another man. And he gets his chance when, through a friend of Maggie’s, he learns of an exclusive sex club. Lester’s excitement and enthusiasm gets thwarted as he soon realizes exactly what happens at this sex club. Sorry, I won’t give further details. You will have to read the short story to get all the gory, horror-filled details.

Holm did an excellent job with the characters in this story. Lester is as disgusting a character as one can create. You learn that he really is a dislikeable, narcissistic jerk through his actions, inner dialogue and the way he treats people. Maggie is quiet, demure and all too willing to go along with Lester’s plan. You’d never suspect what a schemer she turns out to be. And of course, Mrs. Knight is a dominating, impressive figure in the story.

Holm also has a way with descriptive language. He presents an unusual dichotomy between the beautiful, descriptive scenery of the drive to the club and their arrival, and the shocking, descriptive sex-ridden horror scenes. I came away from the story in awe of so much beauty and at the same time, such ugliness.

My only complaint with the story is that it needs a little technical revision. Sometimes Holm left off conversation quote tags, but this is such a minor thing and did not detract from the story.

Fair warning, there are descriptions of sex scenes in this story and some foul language. While these do not bother me, they may bother some readers.

Rating: 5 star

Genre(s): Erotica, Horror

To Purchase: Kobo (free) | Author’s Website (free) | Amazon

Killer Tales 1 – Slips

(Note: This story is not for the faint of heart. There is extreme violence and murder – this is after all about a serial killer and told from the serial killer’s pov)

There she is. You wouldn’t notice anything unusual about her, but I’ve been watching her now for three weeks. She has that perfect sway to her hips. Time to get down to business.

“Excuse me. I am trying to get my grandfather loaded into my van, but the lift is broken. Can you help me?”

I’ve been using my grandfather for years now. He has no clue what’s going on. He just sits and drools. I know, it’s a lame excuse and has been done before, but just wait. It gets more original.

She leaves the safety of her car and follows me to the van. She goes in first to gently hold my grandfather’s head. Such a nice woman’s touch. As soon as he is loaded in, I slam the door shut. She tries to get out of the side door, but it’s bolted shut. The bulletproof glass that separates the back of the van from the front keeps her from beating the crap out of me as I drive away. I do enjoy the sound of her fists pounding on the glass though. The oxygen mask over my grandfather’s face isn’t just for looks, nor for his health. I flip a switch and the back fills with nitro gas. Grandfather is okay, but my mark has passed out.

Back home, grandfather is tucked safely into bed. I descend into the basement where my mark is naked and strung out on a table – hands bound together above her head, her mouth gagged so I don’t have to hear her screams too soon and her legs separated by a metal bar bolted between her ankles. She’ll stay fairly still this way. I go to my work table and lay out my tools – a boner knife, a mallet, several ice picks, a whip and a bottle of vinegar.

She stirs. I hear her moans and I know it’s time to begin. I turn with the mallet and an ice pick in my hands. Her eyes are wide with fear. You should see how she writhes and shakes. Sweat beads up on her forehead. I stand at her waist and press my thumb into her hip until I feel the hip bone. Then I place the ice pick over the spot and with a swift pound of the mallet, I drive it deep between the hip bone and the thigh bone. There’s the sound I’ve been waiting for – the slight crunch of cartilage. Her scream is muffled, but tears stream down her cheeks. You would have pity for her, wouldn’t you? Not me. I proceed to the other side of the table and drive a second ice pick into the other hip. She is secured.

I grasp a boner knife in my hand and return to my mark. I run the tip of the knife along each cheek, across her chin and down the center of her throat.

“Shhhhhh… don’t move or I may just slip too soon,” I whisper into her ear.

With expert precision, I begin slicing away tiny strips of her flesh – first from each forearm, then from each thigh. Each strip is hung on one of the lines that runs from one end of the basement to the other. My trophies. Hundreds and hundreds of strips of flesh.

Back to my mark once again, I run my knife along each breast, close to the bone, just enough to separate, but not remove them completely. I return to my work station and grab the vinegar and whip. Finally, I remove her gag. As I pour the vinegar over her bloody flesh, I bask in the sound of her screams. With the whip in hand, I strike her flesh over and over again. Watch as whelps rise upon her flesh. And the pièce de résistance – I pour on more vinegar until she passes out from the pain.

Ahhhhh… you should have heard her. If I could only get you to understand how beautiful her screams are, how they gladden my heart, then perhaps you would know how empowering this feels. This has been hours of pleasure.

I stand at the top of the table and pat her face until she awakens. As I hold the knife out in front of her face, I whisper, “Nothing personal, dear,” and then quickly slit her throat.

I stroll back to my work bench and turn on my computer. I pull up the file of mother dancing with me as a child, my feet on top of her feet, my hands holding on to her hips as she sways. You’d think this would be a happy, cherished memory, wouldn’t you? That dance led to helping in the kitchen. To filleting a fish. To the slip of the knife that cuts mother deeply on the thigh. And then a beating moments later. She strings me up in the closet, throws vinegar on my whelps and laughs as I scream. She doesn’t stop until I pass out. This isn’t my first punishment of this nature, nor the last, but mother was my first kill.

©2016 Lori Carlson. All rights reserved.

(853 words)

 

A NIGHT AT THE THEATER by E.F. Olsson {short flash}

Well-written, scary flash fiction… what did all of that carnage?!
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E. F. Olsson

A_NIGHT_AT_THE_THEATER_by_EFOlssonA NIGHT AT THE THEATER by E.F. Olsson

I took my place in the school theater. Luckily a seat was available on the end so in the event I had to take care of some business, I didn’t have to step on toes and blocked views as I made my way to the aisle. Most parents fought to be close so they could record their child’s performance on their smart phone. This was the second show of the year and a formable one, the ‘Great Gatsby’.

Thomas had been working hard to be apart of this production. When he first told me that he was going to be a part of the show, I asked him which part are you playing, Nick Carraway? Jay Gatsby? Perhaps, Tom Buchanan?

“No,” he said. “None of them, dad.”

“Then who else is there?”

“I get to use the left spotlight.”

“Oh. And I…

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