Alone by Cyn Balog: Spotlight Tour, Review & Giveaway!

Welcome to my spot on the Alone blog tour

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About the Book

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Publication date:  November 7th 2017 by Sourcebooks Fire
Genre(s): YA, Horror

When her mom inherits an old, crumbling mansion, Seda’s almost excited to spend the summer there. The grounds are beautiful and it’s fun to explore the sprawling house with its creepy rooms and secret passages. Except now her mom wants to renovate, rather than sell the estate—which means they’re not going back to the city…or Seda’s friends and school.

As the days grow shorter, Seda is filled with dread. They’re about to be cut off from the outside world, and she’s not sure she can handle the solitude or the darkness it brings out in her.

Then a group of teens get stranded near the mansion during a blizzard. Seda has no choice but to offer them shelter, even though she knows danger lurks in the dilapidated mansion—and in herself. And as the snow continues to fall, what Seda fears most is about to become her reality…

Goodreads // Amazon

Excerpt

Sometimes I dream I am drowning.

Sometimes I dream of bloated faces, bobbing on the surface of misty waters.

And then I wake up, often screaming, heart racing, hands clenching fistfuls of my sheets.

I’m in my bed at the top of Bug House. The murky daylight casts dull prisms from my snow globes onto the attic floor. My mom started collecting those pretty winter scenes for me when I was a baby. I gaze at them, lined neatly on the shelf in front of my window. My first order of business every day is hoping they’ll give me a trace of the joy they did when I was a kid.

But either they don’t work that way anymore, or I don’t.

Who am I kidding? It’s definitely me.

I’m insane. Batshit. Nuttier than a fruitcake. Of course, that’s not an official diagnosis. The official word from Dr. Batton, whose swank Copley Square office I visited only once when I was ten, was that I was bright and intelligent and a wonderful young person. He said it’s normal for kids to have imaginary playmates.

But it gets a little sketchy when that young person grows up, and her imaginary friend decides to move in and make himself comfortable.

Not that anyone knows about that. No, these days, I’m good about keeping up appearances.

My second order of business each day is hoping that he won’t leak into my head. That maybe I can go back to being a normal sixteen–year–old girl.

But he always comes.

He’s a part of me, after all. And he’s been coming more and more, invading my thoughts. Of course I’m here, stupid.

Sawyer. His voice in my mind is so loud that it drowns out the moaning and creaking of the walls around me.

Seda, honey?” my mother calls cheerily. She shifts her weight on the bottom step, making the house creak more. “Up and at ’em, buckaroo!”

I force my brother’s taunts away and call down the spiral staircase, “I am up.” My short temper is because of him, but it ends up directed at her.

She doesn’t notice though. My mother has only one mood now: ecstatically happy. She says it’s the air up here, which always has her taking big, deep, monster breaths as if she’s trying to inhale the entire world into her lungs. But maybe it’s because this is her element; after all, she made a profession out of her love for all things horror. Or maybe she really is better off without my dad, as she always claims she is.

I hear her whistling “My Darlin’ Clementine” as her slippered feet happily scuffle off toward the kitchen. I put on the first clothing I find in my drawer—-sweatpants and my mom’s old Boston College sweatshirt—-then scrape my hair into a ponytail on the top of my head as I look around the room. Mannequin body parts and other macabre props are stored up here. It’s been my bedroom for only a month. I slept in the nursery with the A and Z twins when we first got here because they were afraid of ghosts and our creepy old house. But maybe they—-like Mom—-are getting used to this place?

The thought makes me shudder. I like my attic room because of the privacy. Plus, it’s the only room that isn’t ice cold, since all the heat rises up to me. But I don’t like much else about this old prison of a mansion.

One of the props, Silly Sally, is sitting in the rocker by the door as I leave. She’d be perfect for the ladies’ department at Macy’s if it weren’t for the gaping chest wound in her frilly pink blouse. “I hate you,” I tell her, batting at the other mannequin body parts descending from the rafters like some odd canopy. She smiles as if the feeling is mutual. I give her a kick on the way out.

Despite the morbid stories about this place, I don’t ever worry about ghosts. After all, I have Sawyer, and he is worse.

As I climb down the stairs, listening to the kids chattering in the nursery, I notice the money, accompanied by a slip of paper, on the banister’s square newel post. The car keys sit atop the pile. Before I can ask, Mom calls, “I need you to go to the store for us. OK, Seda, my little kumquat?”

I blink, startled, and it’s not because of the stupid nickname. I don’t have a license, just a learner’s permit. My mom had me driving all over the place when we first came here, but that was back then. Back when this was a simple two–week jaunt to get an old house she’d inherited ready for sale. There wasn’t another car in sight, so she figured, why not? She’s all about giving us kids experiences, about making sure we aren’t slaves to our iPhones, like so many of my friends back home. My mother’s always marching to her own drummer, general consensus be damned, usually to my horror. But back then, I had that thrilling, invincible, first–days–of–summer–vacation feeling that made anything seemed possible. Too bad that was short lived.

We’ve been nestled at Bug House like hermits for months. Well, that’s not totally true. Mom has made weekly trips down the mountain, alone, to get the mail and a gallon of milk and make phone calls to civilization. We were supposed to go back to Boston before school started, but that time came and went, and there’s no way we’re getting off this mountain before the first snow.

Snow.

I peer out the window. The first dainty flakes are falling from the sky.

Snow. Oh God. Snow.

My Thoughts

I really enjoyed this book. I’m a huge fan of YA Horror , as regular readers will already know, and I wish there was more of it. So when a new one comes along it makes me happy. And Alone wasn’t a disappointment.

The success of Alone for me was all about the creepy old hotel that had been used as murder mystery venue. It provided such a perfect setting, with lots of red herrings. There were also lots of twists and turns, and I definitely didn’t see a few of them coming.

I wasn’t completely won over by Seda, the protagonist (and less so by her mother!) but it didn’t bother me as much as it has done in the past. I was still invested in the story, and although I never quite trusted her as a character, I still wanted Seda to come out of it alive!

Alone also struck me as a story that would make a great teen horror film. I don’t often think that when reading because I enjoy the medium of novels so much (obviously), but I couldn’t help but picture it as a horror movie on this occasion.

Overall, Alone is a fast-paced, compelling read which I couldn’t put down. There were some great twists and unique elements, and now all I want to do is go on a murder mystery weekend. Maybe not one quite so realistic though…

 

Meet the Author

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Cyn Balog is the author of a number of young adult novels. She lives outside Allentown, Pennsylvania with her husband and daughters. Visit her online at http://www.cynbalog.com.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

 

 

If you’d like me to promote your book, please get in touch via the email on my contacts page 🙂

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30 Days of Horror: #27 & #28 #30daysofhorror #HO17

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Join me for 30 Days of Horror in which we spotlight one horror book every day until we reach Halloween!

So yes, I failed to keep up with this once again, but that means you get two picks for the price of one today and tomorrow.

My first pick for day 27 is a non-fiction book that I’ve only recently come across. It’s like everything I love about trashy horror in one book!

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Available in paperback & digital, 256 pages

Published September 19th 2017 by Quirk Books

 

Take a tour through the horror paperback novels of the 1970s and ’80s . . . if you dare.

Page through dozens and dozens of amazing book covers featuring well-dressed skeletons, evil dolls, and knife-wielding killer crabs! Read shocking plot summaries that invoke devil worship, satanic children, and haunted real estate!

Horror author and vintage paperback book collector Grady Hendrix offers killer commentary and witty insight on these trashy thrillers that tried so hard to be the next Exorcist or Rosemary’s Baby. It’s an affectionate, nostalgic, and unflinchingly funny celebration of the horror fiction boom of two iconic decades, complete with story summaries and artist and author profiles.

You’ll find familiar authors, like V. C. Andrews and R. L. Stine, and many more who’ve faded into obscurity. Plus recommendations for which of these forgotten treasures are well worth your reading time and which should stay buried.

 

Goodreads // Guest Post: Paperback Lost by PG Bloodhouse

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Read this? What did you think?

My second choice for today is a book that I really enjoyed. It was much better than the film, but it was still worth a watch.

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Available in all formats incl. audio, 460 pages

Published June 19th 2014 by Orbit

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her “our little genius.”

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.

Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

The Girl with All the Gifts is a sensational thriller, perfect for fans of Stephen King, Justin Cronin, and Neil Gaiman.

 Goodreads // My Review

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Don’t forget to vote in the flash fiction battle!

You can catch up on all four stories here.

 

Horror October: Week #4 Wrap-up! #HO17

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The end is nigh, horror fans! And I can’t lie, I’m slightly relieved. It’s been a blast, but busy, oh so busy!

Anyway, in case you missed anything last week, here is a handy summary of all the goings-on.

Horror October Week 4

30 Days of Horror:

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Day #22 & #23: Relics & Angel of Vengeance

Day #24: There’s Someone Inside Your House

Day #25: The Hollow Girl

Day #26: Doctor Sleep

Top Ten Tuesday: Weird horror book titles

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This Week in Books 25.10.17

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Flash Fiction Battle

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Entry #3: In That Sleep of Death by Stephen Kozeniewski

Entry #4: Puppets by Gabino Iglesias

Vote for Your Winner Now!

Guest Post: Paperback Lost by PG Bloodhouse

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Lazy Saturday Review: Under My Skin by Juno Dawson

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Still to Come:

I crown the winner of the Flash Fiction Battle!

Don’t forget to vote for your favourite!

 

Horror October Guest Post: Paperback Lost by PG Bloodhouse #HO17

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PG Bloodhouse is a fellow vintage bookseller and horror lover. I would buy everything in his shop if I could, so I was delighted when he agreed to share with me his two favourite, most creepiest horror paperback finds.

Paperback Lost by PG Bloodhouse

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Robert Aickman is a terribly underrated writer, whose 48 ‘strange stories’ were belatedly reissued in four lovely editions by Faber & Faber in 2014. With the boost in popularity, earlier editions were suddenly very scarce.

I have only seen this 1968 edition of ‘Powers of Darkness’ once and have held on to it with dear life. As lovely as the recent reissues are, modern book covers just cannot achieve that sense of uneasiness that 60s and 70s design could.

This cover particularly reflects Aickman’s style. His stories are unsettling and Aickman has no intention of making things easy for the reader. Often the scene is mundane, with just a sense that there is something wrong.

This subtlety was overshadowed in late 70s and 80s by the novels of more blatant British horror mongers Clive Barker and James Herbert. Their work often spelt out the horror; told you what you should be scared of.

Aickman dropped you in a peculiar place and left you to it. Alone.

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I am hard pushed to think of anything more terrifying than a little girl in an old-man mask, ascending a stately home staircase towards me. This atrocity pretty much sums up what I love about 70s book cover design.

I have always thought that horror is best served in small doses. The short story gives you little time to get accustomed with the characters and surroundings. Less chance to get comfortable.

It also means more is left to the imagination – something very few horror writers can achieve over the course of a novel. Shirley Jackson being one notable exception.

More Tales of Unease, from 1969, was the second of a trilogy of anthologies edited by John Burke, more famous for his novelisations and TV writing. This collection of stories was adapted for TV in 1970, most episodes of which were subsequently lost.

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PG Bloodhouse started selling books online this earlier this year. Accidentally stumbling into book trading in an attempt to stem (justify) his own spending….

He is currently trading on etsy at pgbloodhouse.etsy.com with a new website on the way at www.pgbloodhouse.co.uk.

You can also find him and his wonderfully creepy covers on Instagram (which is where I discovered him)!

 

Halloween sale now on, so go check out his shop!

Horror October: This Week in Books 25.10.17 #TWIB #HO17

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Welcome to This Week in Books, where we share what we’ve been up to in bookland this week and look ahead to next. 

Throughout October, I’ll be doing the short version of this post where I will simply share what I’m reading now, then and next. Because quite frankly, there’s enough going on around here.

I’m afraid my answers are the same this week as I got no reading time at all this week. But I’m hoping for a quiet weekend so fingers crossed I can get the last Horror October book read and catch up on reviews and things!

Here’s what I’ve been reading this week…

Now: Alone ~ Cyn Balog

I’ve barely started this, so nothing to report yet.

When her mom inherits an old, crumbling mansion, Seda’s almost excited to spend the summer there. The grounds are beautiful and it’s fun to explore the sprawling house with its creepy rooms and secret passages. Except now her mom wants to renovate, rather than sell the estate—which means they’re not going back to the city…or Seda’s friends and school.

As the days grow shorter, Seda is filled with dread. They’re about to be cut off from the outside world, and she’s not sure she can handle the solitude or the darkness it brings out in her.

Then a group of teens get stranded near the mansion during a blizzard. Seda has no choice but to offer them shelter, even though she knows danger lurks in the dilapidated mansion—and in herself. And as the snow continues to fall, what Seda fears most is about to become her reality…

Then: I Am Behind You  ~ John Ajvide Lindqvist

I was pleasantly surprised by this one. It was so creepy and weird! My review will be up ASAP.

Next: ??? The Passion of Cleopatra ~ Anne Rice.

It’s the last of my Horror October ARCs. Whoop!

Ramses the Great, former pharaoh of Egypt, is reawakened by the elixir of life in Edwardian England. Now immortal with his bride-to-be, he is swept up in a fierce and deadly battle of wills and psyches against the once-great Queen Cleopatra.

Ramses has reawakened Cleopatra with the same perilous elixir whose unworldly force brings the dead back to life. But as these ancient rulers defy one another in their quest to understand the powers of the strange elixir, they are haunted by a mysterious presence even older and more powerful than they, a figure drawn forth from the mists of history who possesses spectacular magical potions and tonics eight millennia old.

This is a figure who ruled over an ancient kingdom stretching from the once-fertile earth of the Sahara to the far corners of the world, a queen with a supreme knowledge of the deepest origins of the elixir of life.

She may be the only one who can make known to Ramses and Cleopatra the key to their immortality—and the secrets of the miraculous, unknowable, endless expanse of the universe.

Up Next on Horror October:

Flash Fiction Battle: Entry #4 and how to vote!

Flash Fiction Battle: Entry #3 #ffb17 #HO17

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Welcome to the second annual flash fiction battle in which four brilliant independent horror authors will battle it out to be crowned the King or Queen of Horror, (well, Horror October at least). 

For the past few weeks, four horror writers have been creating an original short story based on the theme you chose.

The winning theme was ‘Master of Cemeteries’.

Once all four stories have been published, the vote will open for you to pick your favourite. I will crown the winner on Halloween!

Without further ado, here is Entry #3.

Please do let us know what you think in the comments below. Will this story get your vote?

In That Sleep of Death

by Stephen Kozeniewski

“You want to know the really perverse thing about The White City Devil?” Donnelly asked, the glee in his voice as he discussed his favorite serial killer almost palpable.

Vince shrugged as he shuffled to the other side of his kitchen to grab a mug for the loudmouthed undertaker’s coffee.  Vince always kept some beans on hand for Donnelly’s occasional visits, but he never drank anything more powerful than tea himself.  High-test upset his stomach, and he had enough trouble sleeping nights with the arthritis and everything else.

“The only thing that got him off was the sound of women screaming.  That’s why he kept doing it.  Imagine putting all that time and effort and money into making a jack shack for yourself because of a weird kink.  Eh, but it was the 1800s, after all.”

Donnelly shrugged.  Vince nodded and sat down across from his…well, he hesitated to use the word “friend,” even in his own mind, as he didn’t particularly care for the other man.  “Acquaintance” seemed too remote, considering he knew more about Donnelly than almost any man alive.  (Certainly, he spilled his guts to Vince often enough.)  “Visitor,” perhaps was a fair splitting of the difference.

Donnelly continued describing the exploits of mass murderer H.H. Holmes for more than an hour before finally asking Vince a question about himself.  In previous visits he had gone much, much longer.

“But, my God, Catapali, I have to say, I sort of get it.  After all, the work I do, the work you do.  Well, you’re so much closer to the metal, so to speak, than I am, digging all those damn graves.  I can’t even get to sleep without a fifth of Amaretto in me.  How do you sleep at night, anyway?”

Vince didn’t rush to answer.  Usually if he waited long enough, Donnelly continued on with whatever he had been blathering about.  This time, though, he was silent just long enough for it to seem rude if Vince didn’t respond.

“Noise machine.”

Vince pointed at the little box with the speaker in his bedroom.  It was visible from where they were sitting.  Donnelly nodded.

“Yeah, that makes sense.  That’s a good…I’ll have to try that.”

It was almost dark before the chatterbox mortician finally left, but Vince didn’t really mind.  He couldn’t do any more work before dark, anyway.  Not his real work, anyway.  He clambered into his pickup truck and was greeted with a thump from the pine crate in the bed.

“Easy now,” he said, putting his hand through the back window and stroking the crate, as though its inhabitant could feel his soothing touch.

The thumping didn’t stop as he drove out to the gravesite.  With the pulley system he had rigged up for his truck it was no trouble at all to dump the pine crate into the open grave.  Getting the expensive cherry coffin from Donnelly’s funeral home up into the bed was slightly trickier, but he had done it nightly for years now and was used to it.

When Vince had first started his job, he had done the grueling work of digging a three by eight foot hole six feet deep by hand.  144 cubic feet of soil.  1100 gallons.  Every speck hauled out of the ground at the end of a spade.  Hours of work.  Now, with his backhoe, it took him forty-five minutes, tops.  Ten to cover it back up.

It was only half an hour to the abandoned dump.  Using the old car compactor, Vince squished what was left of the dearly departed Mr. Squillante into a fine red paste, strewn with splintered wood and bone.  Vince had occasionally considered selling Donnelly’s expensive coffins, but he had no idea what the market was for those, and, really, he didn’t need the money.  He led a simple life.

Afterward, he swung by all his usual haunts: the docks, a few crack dens, the bus station.  It seemed like slim pickings tonight, but he finally tracked down a skinny runaway peeing in the bushes outside of the homeless tent city downtown in Memorial Park.  He brought the boy back to his caretaker’s shack before nailing him into a fresh pine box for tomorrow.  By three in the morning he had finished digging all the graves for tomorrow.

Vince trudged into his bedroom, feeling every second of his sixty-seven years on this Earth.  It seemed like all he ever did anymore was work his fingers to the bone, and yet no matter how tired he was he could never sleep a wink at night without his noise machine.  It wasn’t a store-bought device with a pre-recorded track, though, as he had let Donnelly assume.  The transmission had to be live.  Always live.

He flicked it on.  Instantly, his bedroom was filled with the soothing sounds of nails scratching against wood, panicked low-oxygen screams, and profanity-laden threats.  Good.  The prostitute he’d buried in Squillante’s stead was just reaching that point of pitch-perfect desperation.  Vince yawned and felt his eyes grow heavy.  Better sleep while he could.  Tomorrow he’d have to do it all over again.

The End

(854 words)

Meet the Author

ffb17-sk1Stephen Kozeniewski (pronounced “causin’ ooze key”) lives in Pennsylvania, the birthplace of the modern zombie. During his time as a Field Artillery officer, he served for three years in Oklahoma and one in Iraq, where due to what he assumes was a clerical error, he was awarded the Bronze Star.

He is also a classically trained linguist, which sounds much more impressive than saying his bachelor’s degree is in German.

He has written numerous horror novels including Braineater Jones, The Hematophages and Hunter of the Dead, and has been published in various anthologies.

Website // Amazon // Goodreads // Twitter

Check out the other entries:

Entry #1: Holding On by Sean Seebach

Entry #2: The Master of Cemeteries by Justin Bienvenue

 

The vote will open soon. Stay tuned for the final story!

30 Days of Horror: Day #22 & #23 #HO17

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Join me for 30 Days of Horror in which we spotlight one horror book every day until we reach Halloween!

I’m still catching up from going AWOL at the weekend so today you get two picks for the price of one again.

My choice for day 22 is by an author that I’ve been meaning to try for so long.

relics

Available in paperback and ebook, 384 pages

Published March 21st 2017 by Titan Books

There’s an underground black market for arcane things. Akin to the trade in rhino horns or tigers’ bones, this group trafficks in mummified satyrs, gryphons’ claws, and more.

When Angela Gough’s lover Vince goes missing, she sets out to find him whatever the risk. She learns that he was employed by the infamous London crime lord Frederick Meloy, providing bizarre objects beyond imagining. Descending into the city’s underbelly, she uncovers a deadly side to the black market. It might have claimed Vince, and Angela may be next.

Gripping supernatural terror launching a new trilogy by the acclaimed author of Coldbrook (distinct, unique, and absorbing), The Silence (truly addictive), and the Alien-Predator Rage War.

 

Goodreads // NOT My Review

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My second choice (day 23- today!)) is a book that I’ve wanted to reread for a while now. It is the book that TV show Moonlight was based upon, a vampire show that was ahead of its time in my opinion!

angel

Available in paperback and ebook, 269 pages

Published February 1st 2011 by Titan Books

“NO WOMEN. NO CHILDREN. NO INNOCENTS. THOSE ARE THE RULES…IT’S HOW I LIVE WITH MYSELF, SO TO SPEAK”

L.A.-based Private Eye and vampire Mick Angel has been hired by a beautiful red-headed burlesque dancer to find her missing sister. But the apparently simple case of a teenage runaway is soon complicated by drug dealers, persistent cops, murder, and Mick’s own past.

Mick must learn the hard way what every vampire should know – nothing stays buried forever. Especially not the past.

Goodreads // My Review

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Have you read either of these? What did you think?

Up Next on Horror October:

TTT: Scary Book Titles

Horror October: Week 3 Wrap-up #HO17

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Well, that was another busy week! I took a few days off over the weekend so need to catch-up this week. Anyway, in case you missed anything last week, here is a handy summary of all the goings-on.

Horror October Week 3

 

Review: The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

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30 Days of Horror:

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Day #14: Cruel Summer

Day #15: Department Zero

Day #16: The Merciless

Day #17: The Haunting

Day #18: Redder Than Blood

Day #19: Phantoms

Day #21: Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day & Day #22: Ghostland

 

This Week in Books 18.10.17

 

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Flash Fiction Battle

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Entry #1: Holding On by Sean Seebach

Entry #2: Master of Cemeteries by Justin Bienvenue

Still to Come:

The last two entries for the Flash Fiction Battle and the vote will open shortly!

30 Days of Horror #18: Redder Than Blood #HO17 #30daysofhorror

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Join me for 30 Days of Horror in which we spotlight one horror book for each day until we reach Halloween!

Tonight’s horror book choice is by an author that I’ve been meaning to try for ages now. This book was only released in April, but when I first saw the cover I thought it was from the 90s or something. I like it! It’s a short story collection of horror-interpreted fairy-tales. Sounds awesome.

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Available in digital formats only, 209 pages

Published April 4th 2017 by DAW

A vampiric Snow White whose pious stepmother is her only salvation….
A supernatural Cinderella who strikes at midnight, leaving behind a prince mad with desire….
A sleeping beauty never meant to be woken…


In her World Fantasy Award-nominated short story collection, Red as Blood, Tanith Lee deconstructed familiar fairy tales, recapturing their original darkness and horror in haunting new interpretations. Behind gilded words and poised princesses, she exposed a sinister world of violence, madness, and dangerous enchantments.


With Redder than Blood, Lee resumes the tradition of twisting tales. Among its nineteen tales, this volume explores unnerving variations of Beauty and the Beast, The Frog Prince, Snow White, and other classics, including three never-before-published stories.


A recognized master fantasist, Tanith Lee has won multiple awards for her craft, including the British Fantasy Award, the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, and the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement in Horror.

 

Goodreads // Not My Review

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Have you read it? What did you think?

Up Next on Horror October:

Flash Fiction Battle: Entry #2

The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell #BookReview #HO17

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ThesilentcompanionTitle: The Silent Companions
Author: Laura Purcell
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 384 pages
Publication Details: October 5th 2017 by Raven Books
Genre(s): Horror; Historical Fiction
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads 

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Inspired by the work of Shirley Jackson and Susan Hill and set in a crumbling country mansion, The Silent Companions is an unsettling gothic ghost story to send a shiver down the spine…

Newly married, newly widowed Elsie is sent to see out her pregnancy at her late husband’s crumbling country estate, The Bridge.

With her new servants resentful and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie only has her husband’s awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. But inside her new home lies a locked room, and beyond that door lies a two-hundred-year-old diary and a deeply unsettling painted wooden figure – a Silent Companion – that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself.

Review

 

 

The premise of this book had me at ‘Susan Hill’ and ‘crumbling mansion’, and although it wasn’t without its flaws, I ended up really enjoying it.

In The Silent Companions, we first meet Elsie in an institution. She can’t talk and the doctors seem very wary of her; she’s mad; a lost cause. But there is one doctor who tries to help her to communicate, to hear her story.

Elsie tells the story of how she came to The Bridge, an old mansion with incompetent staff, pregnant and husbandless. Now a Lady of the House, Elsie tries to adjust to her new life, but the mansion is strange, cold, and unwelcoming. Her only friend is Sarah her late husband’s sister, who she finds dull, but beggars can’t be choosers as they say.

When Elsie and Sarah come across a locked attic room whilst exploring the house, they wonder what could possibly be up there. Then, all of a sudden, the door isn’t locked anymore. In the room is something that will propel a series of bizarre and dangerous events – a silent companion.

I had never heard of silent companions, and this book compelled me to look them up. They are strange wooden paintings made to look like people with shading and the like. They’re pretty creepy by all accounts, especially when they start multiplying and moving of their own accord!

It took me a while to get into this book- I wasn’t a fan of the beginning- but by the time Elsie and Sarah found the first companion I was already starting to get intrigued, and from then on I was hooked.

What I struggled with was the structure. Now, I don’t know whether it was down to the digital proof (which could be resolved now it’s published) but there was no indication of when we shifted in time which was really off putting. It threw me off on a lot of occasions. It also took me a while to realise that a second storyline came from a diary that Sarah found – also in the attic – and gave us an origin story as to the original ghost/companions. It would have certainly benefited from a dinkus or *** each time, so the reader doesn’t have to work too hard in figuring out where they are in the story, and whose storyline we are following.

However, this was a great read overall. As the premise suggests, it is a return to a traditional ghost story in the style of the likes of Susan Hill & Shirley Jackson, and it’s an impressive diversion from Purcell’s usual historical fictions.

horroctrating-4

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