Tag Archives: Joshua Scribner

The Science of Vampirism: A Review of Serotonin

Book cover for Serotonin by Joshua Scribner. Image on cover shows a campfire burning outside against a pitch black sky. Title: Serotonin

Author: Joshua Scribner

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: March 2, 2019

Genres: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Contemporary

Length: 15 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb:

A vampire story with historical references and a strong science fiction component.

Review:

Content Warning: Stalking, imprisonment, a discussion about why one character is a cannibal (but no actual cannibalism happens in this tale), and a vampire’s finger being cut off. I won’t discuss any of this in my review.

Sometimes there are no good guys.

I almost stopped reading halfway through this short story due to how violent certain passages were, but the two charismatic antagonists made me curious to see which one of these bad guys might win. Neither of them was someone I’d ever want to meet in a dark alley, but I couldn’t deny that they were both intelligent and quick-witted. It was amusing to see how their ominous energies interacted with each other.

What ultimately convinced me to go for a five star rating was how terrifying vampires are in this world. I’ll leave it up to other readers to learn for themselves why this is the case, but it was refreshing to see an author take a more traditional approach to this lore and make the main character someone who truly feels like a menace to human society. This is a great option for readers who like being scared and who would rather have their vampires without a single ounce of romance or sentimentality.

The world building was fantastic. Given how short this was, I don’t want to share too many details about how vampires or their abilities work in this universe. All you need to know is that they choose their victims carefully and that there are things humans can do to increase and decrease the odds of being selected as someone’s dinner option. There doesn’t seem to be such a thing as a random vampire attack here. That made me want to learn more about how it all worked.

Serotonin was an excellent example of what horror should be.

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Changing Luck: A Review of Foreign Objects

Foreign Objects by Joshua Scribner book cover. Image on cover shows a well made of clay and covered in mostly-dead branches of a bush.Title: Foreign Objects

Author: Joshua Scribner

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: February 24, 2015

Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary

Length: 7 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb:

A young outcast, his struggles to survive, and the crucial objects that come into his life.

Review:

Content Warning: Bullying, physical abuse of a child by another child, violence, attempted kidnapping, attempted murder, murder. I will make allusions to them in my review.

Paying attention can be the difference between life and death.

Joel, the main character, had a difficult childhood to say the least. When I first met him, I was a little concerned by how negatively he spun everything, but I soon learned he had a good reason for reacting the world that way. Terrible things kept happening to him for reasons that neither he nor the audience understood. Of course anyone would learn to become suspicious under those circumstances! Given these facts, it made sense for him to behave the way he did, although I never gave up hope that he’d have easier days to come.

The fantasy elements of the plot were subtle and were not revealed until very late in the game. I found myself wishing that the author had been a little more straightforward about where he was going with this portion of Joel’s life. It played such an important role in his development that I would have loved to see it explained better even though I understood why certain details really did need to be saved for the end. From the perspective of a reader who wasn’t entirely sure what I’d gotten myself into, though, I would have given this a much higher rating if a clue or two about the ending had been dropped in one of the first few scenes. Obviously, I don’t expect the same amount of world building in seven pages of fantasy as one would find in seventy or seven hundred, but a little more would have gone a long way.

I must admit to having mixed feelings about the beginning and middle of this story because of how violent it was. It took a little bit for the narrator to explain why he was sharing so many traumatic events from his life, but once he did everything clicked into place for me. I appreciated the way he reframed his memories after the revelation at the end, and I’d be quite curious to read a sequel if one is ever written.

Foreign Objects was a wild ride.

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Sounding Like a Train: A Review of Voices in the Wind

Voices in the Wind by Joshua Scribner book cover. Image on cover shows a drawing of a tornado touching down on some land. Title: Voices in the Wind

Author: Joshua Scribner

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: December 15, 2017

Genres: Paranormal, Horror, Contemporary

Length: 6 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb:

A paranormal flash fiction story.

Review:

Content Warning: death and a tornado. I will discuss the tornado in my review.

Tornado season is nothing to sneeze it.

Since the blurb didn’t describe anything inn much detail, let me say that this piece of flash fiction is about tornadoes and the havoc they wreak. Boyt, the protagonist, has experienced far too many tornadoes in his lifetime, and he’s fed up with it. His reaction to them was perfectly understandable. As someone who has seen too many of them myself, I thought Mr. Scribner captured the terror of those moments perfectly. There is nothing like hearing something that sounds like an approaching train or, as it gets closer, endless bombs going off to sear those moments into someone’s mind. Anyone who had a single lick of sense would be terrified by such an encounter.

The only thing I wish had been written differently here was how Boyt’s wife, Carol, reacted to the storm. Given how much she knew about his past experiences with them, I was a little surprised by how much less afraid she was of them than he was. If the author had gone into more detail about why this was so, I would have been thrilled to go with a full five-star rating as everything else about this tale was perfect.

I must be careful about how I word this paragraph because I’m writing about a piece of flash fiction here. There is only so much I can say without giving away spoilers, but the paranormal elements of the storyline were handled beautifully. They gave me such a strong sense of yearning as I read them. it was also worthwhile to ponder what they had to say about what it means to be human, especially as it is related to the difficult portions of life. As much as I want to expound on that idea, it’s really best for me to stop here so you can go discover everything for yourselves.

Voices in the Wind was as poignant as it was eerie.

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