Tag Archives: Contemporary

Too Much Noise in a Empty House: A Review of The Estate Guards

Book cover for The Estate Guards by Kenny Wayne. Image on cover shows a three-story house that has lights shining through nearly every window. It is dark outside and lighting is striking the land behind the house and temporarily illuminating the sky. What a stormy night it is. Title: The Estate Guards

Author: Kenny Wayne

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: October 1, 2023

Genres: Paranormal, Contemporary

Length: 29 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb:

Kenny Wayne’s short ghost story, The Estate Guards, is the humorous tale of two brothers who can’t seem to keep from running afoul of ghosts.

Harley and younger brother James are providing security for an estate company at an eerie, old mansion whose elderly owners recently died in a tragic accident.

For the straightforward, down to earth, older brother Harley, it’s just a job. For younger brother James, who wants to be just like his older brother, it’s not so simple. Even though he would quickly say he doesn’t believe in ghosts, secretly he’s not so sure.

But after this particularly long night, any uncertainty he had about the existence of ghosts will be removed. The weird noises in the attic, and those upstairs bedroom lights that keep turning on and off by themselves are only the beginning. It’s the other strange late night occurrences that strips the last bit of doubt from James’ mind.

This night there will be strange enough occurrences to make even Harley a believer.

Review:

Dealing with ghosts is all in an honest day’s work, right?

The relationship between Harley and James was interesting, and I found myself wishing there had been more attention paid to the differences between them. It’s interesting to me to think about how wildly different siblings can be even though they were born to the same parents and more or less experienced the same sort of events growing up. Genetics are important, but they certainly can’t predict or explain anything as new readers will soon discover in this story.

I struggled to get to know all of the characters in this short story, especially since two of them were given most of the dialogue, but it was important to remain connected to everyone in order to understand the ending. There simply wasn’t enough space to develop everyone well enough for me to feel emotionally invested in what would happen to them. This is something I’m saying as a reader who normally loves both haunted house and humorous tales.

The humour took a little while to show up, but it was well worth the wait. I think this will be most appealing to readers who either come from a working class background or know a lot about such subcultures in some other way as the jokes weren’t always the sort of things generally included in funny tales about, say, doctors or lawyers. This was about salt of the earth sort of folks who quietly keep the world humming along without expecting or generally receiving any recognition of the myriad of things they do that ensure everyone has a safe and healthy life. The characters were hardworking and matter-of-fact which were exactly the traits they needed in order to make the ghosts believable and the twists worth a chuckle.

The Estate Guards made me smile.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Science Fiction and Fantasy

A Review of What Love Survives & Other Stories

Book cover for What Love Survives & Other Stories by DB MacInnes. Image on cover is a snapshot of someone in a cheerful yellow sweater walking away from their cozy little stone cottage outdoors next to a lake in the evening. There are mountains in the distance and the sky is overcast. The land where they are walking is grassy, flat, and brown as this appears to be late autumn. It looks a little chilly given how the wind is blowing the grass around and how tightly the person has their weather wrapped around them. This feels a little desolate but also quiet and peaceful. I get the impression this person loves being out in nature alone at this time of day as night approaches and knows exactly how to get back home safely before nightfall as they will have their home in full view and only about a five minute walk away at most once they turn around. Title: What Love Survives & Other Stories

Author: DB MacInnes

Publisher: Balfour & Breck Press

Publication Date: February 15, 2022

Genres: Speculative Fiction, Paranormal, Contemporary, Historical

Length: 61 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb:

Lovers in a room overlooking the North Sea, a missing boy on an island in the Hebrides, an itinerant saw-miller’s tragic accident in the forests of Argyle, these short stories–often with a historical and sometimes speculative flavour–offer a glimpse into a Scotland of magic and mystery. First published in literary magazines such as New Writing Scotland and Gutter, they have now been brought together in this haunting anthology.

Review:

Content Warning: Missing children, cancer, child being sent to orphanage, child being raised by a relative after the parents’ death, death of a child, divorce, job loss, disability, accidental injuries and deaths, alcoholism, and an affair.

Even quiet towns are filled with secrets if one listens long enough.

I thought I should give everyone reading this a heads up that these tales dabbled lightly with speculative fiction and paranormal themes. Most of their scenes could easily happen in our world, some could be explained with either supernatural or scientific perspectives depending on how you interpret certain key sentences, and a few were deeply rooted in the speculative fiction with no other rational way to interpret them. This is a writing style I happen to deeply enjoy, but it’s something I think should be shared in advance as not everyone feels the same way about stories that move so fluidly between genres.

The main character and his wife Clare struggled to look after their adult son, Jack, who was severely disabled in “What Loves Survives.” Many stories about children with disabilities focus on the early years, so I was intrigued to get a glimpse of what this can be like once a child grows up and ages out of so many of the governmental support systems that exist for those under the age of eighteen. It’s difficult to talk about the plot twists in this one without giving away spoilers, but I appreciated the protagonist’s realistic assessment of what his life was going to be like as well as the hope he cultivated while trying to do the best he could for his family.

One of the biggest strengths of this collection had to do with how the same themes popped up repeatedly. “The Boy Who Vanished” was the second-to-last instalment, and it reminded me so much of what I’d already read in a good way. Once again there was an innocent person in danger, a town that knew more than you might assume, and an ending that matched the beginning nicely. As the title so strongly alluded to, this was about a boy named Duncan who disappeared one snowy day and the people who still remembered him years later. The flow of the dialogue was especially smooth here as the characters discussed who this child was and what happened to him. It genuinely felt like I was eavesdropping on a real conversation and it made me want to read an entire book written from these characters’ kind and honest perspectives.

“The Sawmillers” began with a child accidentally getting lost in the woods on a chilly night. He was not quite old enough to think clearly in that situation, especially as the sun set and it grew even colder outside. I was intrigued by his predicament and wondered how he was going to get out of it as the adults in his life didn’t know where he was or even that he was in danger yet. While there were no grand plot twists in this tale, that didn’t matter. The journey and how clearly it was described to readers was what mattered, and I couldn’t stop reading until I knew how everything turned out.

What Love Survives & Other Stories was a fantastic introduction to this author’s work. I look forward to reading more.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Science Fiction and Fantasy

A Review of Giving Up the Ghost

Book cover for Giving Up the Ghost by Dean Rasmussen. Image on cover shows a drawing of a ramshackle old house just after sunset. The sky above is cloudy and quickly turning black as the sun slips beyond view. One of the windows in the house has a red light glowing menacingly in it. Title: Giving Up the Ghost

Author: Dean Rasmussen

Publisher: Dark Venture Press

Publication Date: June 28, 2021

Genres: Paranormal, Contemporary

Length: 26 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb:

A gripping paranormal thriller to rattle your nerves…

A protective nurse pays a visit to an elderly dementia patient as a hurricane arrives, but discovers she can’t leave after getting caught up in the patient’s delusions.

Hanging House: An Emmie Rose Haunted Mystery thriller author Dean Rasmussen presents a terrifying new supernatural suspense tale.

His books will leave you gasping for breath and craving for more!

Review:

Content Warning: A character who has dementia and is on hospice care. Brief references to trauma. A small amount of blood. A stabbing. Murder. Suicide. Hurricane. I will only discuss the trauma in my review, and I will not share any details about what caused it.

Time can’t heal all wounds.

We all have pieces of our pasts that we’d rather not think about too much for a wide variety of reasons. One of the strengths of this short story had to do with how it framed Edith’s past and explained the many quiet ways it continued to shape her personality even now that was at the end of her lifespan. Trauma can haunt someone for decades.  While I will leave it up to other readers to discover what it is about this character’s past that she has never been able to forget, these scenes were interestingly written and made me wish for a sequel that could dive into this topic even more deeply.

I struggled with many of the decisions Jennifer made, especially given that she was a nurse who presumably had a lot of experience working with patients who have dementia and reacting quickly in emergency situations. She did not seem to know how to stay calm or to think critically about the facts in a crisis. Yes, she was going through something frightening,  and I am not saying I’d expect anyone to always make the right choices when under so much stress. This would have made more sense to me as a reader if her occupation had been something that should not have been an asset under these circumstances.

With that being said, I enjoyed Edith’s character development quite a bit. It’s rare to find books about frail, elderly, dementia patients, so I was incredibly curious to see how she responded to what was happening during the hurricane as Jennifer continued to make poor decisions. Not only was she in a completely different stage of life than her nurse was, her emotional and intellectual responses were equally refreshing and surprising. I don’t want to give away any spoilers about what happened to Edith, but I will say that this portion of the storyline played around with many audience expectations and made me curious to read more from this author soon.

Giving Up the Ghost was thought provoking.

2 Comments

Filed under Science Fiction and Fantasy

Enough Time to Think: A Review of Sands of Time

Book cover for Sands of Time: A collection of thought-provoking stories by Beatrice C. Snipp. Image on cover shows a patchwork assortment of squares in all seven colours of the rainbow. The colours are arranged randomly, and a few squares have exclamation points or question marks written on them. Title: Sands of Time – A Collection of Thought-Provoking Stories

Author: Beatrice C. Snipp

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: May 21, 2020

Genres: Science Fiction, Contemporary

Length: 40 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb:

To anyone who might read this book. These few short stories are not written to entertain or pass away a short train journey. They are written to make your little grey cells work (Hercule Poirot). Hopefully they might make you think a little longer after reading. On time, space and human companionship to name but a few.

Review:

Content Warning: An accident resulting in blindness, secondary infertility, death, and murder. I will not discuss any of these topics in my review.

If you love stories that have morals attached to them, keep reading.

The blind protagonist in “The Smell of Death” discovered that they could smell death and predict in advance when someone was going to die. Just when I thought I had the entire storyline figured out, Ms. Snipp added a plot twist that made everything even better. While I can’t go into detail about it without sharing spoilers, I can say that it involved the main character discovering a new facet of their power and trying to decide what to do with it. What a wild ride this was, and I enjoyed every moment of it.

While I appreciated the brevity of them all, some of these tales were confusing to me due to how little time the author had to explain what was happening in them and what lessons she hoped the readers would take away from them. “Death So Near But So Far,” which followed four friends who reunited after the funeral of a fifth friend, was one such example of this. I would have loved to have more information about what was going on in their lives and how they had all lived to such ripe old ages.

As soon as I read the title of “Xenolith,” I knew I was in for a treat. That term refers to fragments of other types of rock that find themselves embedded in igneous rocks to which they should not be part of. I must be careful about how much information I share about the plot twists as this was a short piece, but seeing how the storyline quickly shifted to a talkative man named Eric who kept sharing nature facts with people who were terribly bored by that monologue made me curious to see what would happen next. The connection between the opening paragraph and the rest of it was as interesting as it was unexpected.

Sands of Time – A Collection of Thought-Provoking Stories was interesting.

1 Comment

Filed under Science Fiction and Fantasy

A Review of Confirm Humanity and Other Stories

Title: Confirm Humanity and Other Stories Book cover for Confirm Humanity and Other Stories by Ren Ellis. Image on over shows a drawing of a person with long, straight hair sitting on a banister and looking out at the cloudy, stormy red and yellow sky before them. You can see the bones in the person’s left arm and leg glowing through their black frame. Perhaps the bones are actually cybernetic? Or perhaps we’re looking at a sophisticated x-ray of this characters? It is unclear.

Author: Ren Ellis

Publisher: Port of Planets Publishing

Publication Date: March 27, 2021

Genres: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal, Contemporary

Length: 44 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Blurb:

“Ren Ellis’s Confirm Humanity and Other Stories is a collection…filled with questions, intrigue, tears, and hope. Ranging from familiar to fantastical, the settings and the characters are diverse. Readers will definitely enjoy the eclectic and fantastical stories in Ren Ellis’s Confirm Humanity and Other Stories , and the collection’s element of humanity will hit home, reminding us of the pivotal moments that define us.” – Readers’ Favorite ★★★★★ Confirm Humanity and Other Stories is a collection of twelve short stories by Ren Ellis. Primarily comprised of speculative fiction stories, this collection ranges from slice-of-life to the supernatural and beyond. Genres
This collection uses imaginary tales as a lens through which to see the very real threats and struggles of our time. Extreme flooding and Venice-like canals reshape the famous city of Paris in “Deluge.” The fairytale stepmother casts new light on old tales in “The Stepmother’s Story.” Monsters meet the Marie Kondo method in “Monsters Welcome.” Other stories explore the paranormal world of “Red Rain”; the cosmic courses of “The Time Garden”, “The Welkin Tree” and “Winter’s Last Breath”; the dystopian worlds of “Life” and “Recycled”; and cycles of hardship and hope that will resonate with adults of all ages.

Review:

Content Warning: Miscarriage, climate change, and unjust imprisonment. I will not be discussing these topics in my review.

This was like a sample platter of speculative fiction that included a little bit of everything to go around.

The tired stepmother of Rapunzel, Cindy, and Snow had a lot to say in “The Stepmother’s Story,” a modern-day twist on a few classic fairy tales. I appreciated the hard work she’d put into look after her stepchildren and thought it was only fair that her perspective of their relationships be given a chance to shine. This was a short piece that took advantage of every single word in it to paint a vivid picture of modern family life. It made me chuckle and was a good thing to read as I settled into this collection. I only wish the father had been given a chance to speak up, too.

There were times when I felt like these tales didn’t have enough in common with each other to be included in the same collection. They were all over the place as far as themes, writing styles, and messages go. While I certainly wouldn’t expect all or even most of them to repeat one another, it was a little disconcerting for me as a reader to leap from something lighthearted to much more serious and sometimes difficult themes just a few pages later.  This is something I’m saying as someone who has read, written, and reviewed speculative fiction for many years. Either approach is a valid one, but I would have preferred to have a better idea of what to expect next each time I flipped the page.

Many paranormal stories are – or at least try to be – frightening, so I enjoyed the humorous slant of the unnamed protagonist of “Dancing on Graves” finding amusement in watching her dead neighbours dance on their own graves after dark. This was another very short piece, but the power in it came from the single moment in time it captured and how the main character reacted to such a surprising and lighthearted event. The imagery in it was lovely, too, and I would happily read an entire book about these characters if one ever were to be written.

Confirm Humanity and Other Stories was a fun assortment of various types of speculative fiction.

2 Comments

Filed under Science Fiction and Fantasy

Mistimed Meal: A Review of Vampire Fly

Book cover for Vampire Fly: A Samantha Moon Story by J.R. Rain. Image on cover is a closeup photo of a large, green fly sitting on a white surface. Title: Vampire Fly – A Samantha Moon Story

Author: J.R. Rain

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: September 4, 2022

Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary

Length: 28 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb:

She’s a horsefly who bit the wrong person—and now something very strange is happening to her.

Something very, very strange.

Not only can she fly faster and see further than ever before, but she has a weird craving for blood.

Her crazy new life has just begun.

That is, until she gets caught in a sticky web and stalked by a massive spider… a spider that’s about to get the surprise of its life…

Review:

Content Warning: A vampiric horsefly, insects eating each other, and an insect pregnancy and birth.

Flies have feelings, too.

Mr. Rain did an excellent job of exploring the logical conclusions of a horsefly accidentally becoming a vampire. Not only was this an imaginative story, it spent a lot of time digging into what horseflies might think and feel as they go about their usual business looking for food and, in this case, a safe place to lay their eggs. The vampiric twist to what should have been a pretty ordinary day only made everything even more interesting as the ecosystem is not exactly set up for a horsefly that is much stronger, faster, and more resilient than any other member of its species has ever been before. This opportunity to get a glimpse into the mind of a creature so unlike humans is one of the many reasons why I adore xenofiction, and this was a very good example of what that micro-genre can do.

I found myself wishing for more details about what happened to the horsefly’s babies. For example, did they inherit her supernatural abilities? Would future generations of this family be little vampires as well, or were her babies sterile like most human versions of this monster are? There was so much more the narrator could have done with this subplot, and I would have gone with a full five-star rating if a few additional paragraphs had been included that explained what their fates might have been.

With that being said, I did enjoy the ending quite a bit. The main character had been hurt by a spider in a previous scene, but many of the assumptions I’d made about what might happen next were turned on their heads in the most marvellous manner.  I must tip my cap to the author for pulling this piece in the direction he did. It has piqued my interest in what else might be going on in this universe and made me wonder if this is only the tip of the creative iceberg. As much as I wish I could go into more detail about the last few scenes, I don’t want to spoil anything for other readers as it was a great deal of fun to be surprised by what happened.

This is part of a series, but no prior knowledge of that world is necessary in order to understand what is happening here.

Vampire Fly was a memorable tale that made me curious to read more.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Science Fiction and Fantasy

Persistence: A Review of Ghost Coach

Book cover for Ghost Coach by Amanda Linehan. Image on cover is a closeup photo of some white satin or silk sheets on a bed. The sheets are a little rumpled. Title: Ghost Coach

Author: Amanda Linehan

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: January 10, 2015

Genres: Paranormal, Contemporary

Length: 15 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb:

Sarah hasn’t been sleeping well. Turns out, she has a ghost in her house. But this ghost has a problem.
And only Sarah can solve it.

Review:

Content Warning: brief reference to blood, a dead animal, and a ghost with a severe head injury. I will not discuss these things in my review.

Even ghosts need a little tutoring sometimes.

I adored the fact that Sarah was oblivious at first to the ghost’s attempts to scare her. She had such a logical and calm personality that the spirit of a dead person was the last thing she ever would have suspected to be the cause of the fluctuating temperatures in her bedroom. This was a nice change of page from the sorts of characters who generally populate this genre, and I found myself wishing for just a few more scenes with her in them so I could get to know her even better.

The beginning and middle of this tale did not quite match the ending due some references to blood and gore in the last few scenes. While other style could have worked for this piece, I have to say that I preferred the lightheartedness of the first two-thirds of it to the more violent – albeit still sort of humorous – tones at the end and wish that the author had stuck to one style or the other for the entire thing. Some readers will love both, of course, and that’s totally normal and okay, but in my experience these two approaches do tend to attract different audiences whose interests may not overlap here as much as the author might hope they would. Sticking to one lane would have made this a more effective and memorable story in my opinion.

There are only so many things someone can do after death to amuse themselves. It made perfect sense to me that the ghost would eventually want to interact with the living in order to get some sort of mental stimulation and socialization, as one-sided as those experiences could often be depending on who they were haunting and how that person reacted to suddenly having their covers pulled away or their television turned on in the middle of the night.

Ghost Coach was a funny, playful, and occasionally a somewhat dark take on the haunted house genre.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Science Fiction and Fantasy

A Review of Tucker vs. The Apocalypse

Book cover for Tucker Vs. The Apocalypse by Jay Allen Storey. Image on cover shows a photorealistic painting of a golden retriever standing alone on a wet street in the evening sun with city skyscrapers behind him. Title: Tucker Vs. The Apocalypse

Author: Jay Allan Storey

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: December 1, 2023

Genres: Science Fiction, Contemporary

Length: 125 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb:

Lost and alone amid the ashes of a dead civilization

Household pet Tucker is thrust into an apocalyptic world when not only his own ‘master’, but all of humanity, are stricken with a deadly plague. The disease is fatal in almost one hundred percent of cases, but affects only humans, leaving empty cities and towns that are quickly being repopulated with domestic animals and wildlife.

Tucker eventually connects with a group of other former pets. Deprived of their human caretakers, and guided by the mysterious Web of Life, Tucker and his ‘pack’ must learn to fend for themselves, confronting cold and blinding snow, blistering heat, the threat of starvation, ferocious predators, and the violent remnants of humanity as they search for a new home.

Review:

Content Warning: pandemic, robbery, human and animal deaths from both natural and violent causes, murder, animal attacks, plane crash, car crash, (animal) pregnancy and (animal) birth. I will not talk about any of these topics in my review.

Beloved pets generally aren’t taught many survival skills, and that’s a big problem in an apocalypse.

Tucker was an intelligent and sweet dog who I enjoyed getting to know. Mr. Storey did an excellent job of showing the world through canine eyes. Some things that utterly ordinary to humans can be mystifying to dogs and vice versa, so it was amusing to compare those two perspectives as Tucker either puzzled over the weird stuff humans do or assumed the audience was already aware of certain canine behaviours were honestly so obvious to him he barely felt the urge to explain them to the audience at all.

I was surprised by how many of the adult dogs in this story had not been spayed or neutered before the first scene began. It’s rare for that to happen in my social circles, so I was caught off-guard by later scenes that referenced what can happen when humans are no longer around to keep an eye on what their dogs are doing. It would have been nice to have even a brief explanation of how so many fertile pets were running around during an apocalypse.

The world building was excellent, especially considering the fact that it was filtered through the perspective of a dog who, as I stated earlier, had a wildly different opinion on what was most important to share than a human narrator would have mentioned. There was always enough information to know what was going on here, and I enjoyed the challenge of putting together the pieces of scenes that were intentionally written a little mysteriously as Tucker trotted off to sniff interesting scents or find reliable sources of food and water.

Tucker Vs. The Apocalypse was a wild ride.

4 Comments

Filed under Science Fiction and Fantasy

A Review of Who’s Haunting Whom

Book cover for Who’s Haunting Whom: A Ghost Story by Kenny Wayne. Image on cover shows two figures standing outdoors at night in front of an eerie blue-green light. The figures are wearing hooded cloaks and appear to be bending over to look at something, but it’s too dark to tell who or what they may be inspecting. Title: Who’s Haunting Whom

Author: Kenny Wayne

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: January 30, 2020

Genres: Paranormal, Contemporary

Length: 20 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb:

Paranormal investigators, with years of experience, are called to the scene of a haunting. That’s their job and they do it well, but this time they’re just not sure Who’s Haunting Whom.

Fred Madison once experienced a life changing event… a haunting. That one event changed the course of his life. He now owns the Madison Paranormal Investigations Agency. His mission in life is to gather irrefutable evidence of the existence of ghosts and to help those that are being tormented by hauntings.

Harley Stinson has been around the block a few times himself. He has had his own experiences with ghosts and has worked with Fred ever since his first sighting.

Experienced as they both are, they have never experienced anything like the case they are about to undertake.

What if the homeowners that hired them aren’t whom they appear to be? What if the ghosts they’re supposed to remove aren’t whom they appear to be?

You’ll enjoy this short ghostly tale as you follow along with the investigators in their attempt to determine exactly what’s going on.

Review:

Content Warning: accidental death

Without trust they’ll have almost nothing at all.

I enjoyed the way this tale played around with the reader’s expectations of what was going on. Anyone who is well-read in the paranormal genre will probably be able to figure out what was happening early on, but putting those clues together was only the first step. Knowing why certain characters behaved the way they did was even more important and it took extra effort to untangle. People are endlessly interesting, and they were what made this worth reading in my opinion.

Linda Morgan, one of Fred and Harley’s clients, had a phobia that overshadowed the first scene but then was never mentioned again. I was confused by why something like this would be included if it wasn’t actually relevant to what was happening in that strange little house. There was a lot of space here to flesh out both her character as well as the storyline itself, so it was disappointing to me as a reader when it fizzled out instead.

The relationships between Fred and his employees was also well worth exploring. He seemed to have subconsciously arranged them in a particular order that did not always line up with how useful I thought they might be as he attempted to figure out what was actually happening with this case. As much as I would have liked to dive more deeply into the assumptions he made about which people would be most helpful, I also thought that leaving those moments the way they were revealed a lot about Fred’s character in both positive and negative ways. On the one hand, he was a decisive person, while on the other he was someone who could be too quick to brush an employee off if they didn’t fit his mental image of who he thought should be exploring that home. If the author ever decides to write a sequel, this would be a great mixture of traits to explore even more deeply.

Who’s Haunting Whom was a fun twist on the paranormal genre.

 

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Blog Hops

Looking for Monsters: A Review of Forest of Bones

Book cover for Forest of Bones: A Short Winter Horror Story by Jessie Thomas. Image on cover is a close-up photo of someone wearing a black dress and holding the skull of an animal that has two long, mostly straight antlers protruding from its head. Title: Forest of Bones – A Short Winter Horror Story

Author: Jessie Thomas

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: December 17, 2019

Genres: Horror, Holiday, Paranormal, Contemporary

Length: 53 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb:

Armed with her well-worn Field Guide to Cryptids of North America and a macabre sense of enthusiasm, Ana’s mission to visit and capture evidence of every known cryptid in the United States puts her on the trail of the elusive Covey Devil. Not many people are willing to spend their winter break looking for monsters, but Ana’s trio of friends seem up for whatever the adventure entails.

Review:

Content Warning: Blood and death.

Cold, dark forests are nothing to fool around with.

I loved the fact that the author chose Christmas time as a setting for this tale. The cold weather and long nights of that time of year in certain climates definitely sets the mood for scary things to lurk in the shadows. No matter how you personally feel about this holiday, there’s something to be said for acknowledging that it isn’t a shiny, happy season for everyone for a wide variety of reasons. I also appreciate the juxtaposition between the audience’s expectations for a Christmas story versus what was actually waiting for the characters in the Forest of Bones.

It was difficult for me to understand why four teenagers who had  only limited camping experience and no self-defence or first aid training so far as I could tell would head into a forest with such a frightening reputation in the middle of the night in December. While the storyline did eventually explain why this happened, I would have appreciated far more details about how this was supposed to look and how all four young women, one of whom was extremely nervous about the trip, were convinced to take such serious risks with their health and safety when they could have just as easily gone on a warm June afternoon with a much larger group of explorers instead.

Speaking of the ending, it was exactly what I thought it might be. It was nice that the author trusted the audience so much to connect the few clues about what was going on. Not everything always needs to be spelled out directly, and in this case it was much more fun to be a little confused at first than to have everything explained before it strictly needed to be.

Forest of Bones – A Short Winter Horror Story made me shudder.

2 Comments

Filed under Science Fiction and Fantasy