Tag Archives: Monster

A Review of South of Okeechobee

Book cover for South of Okeechobee by Daniel Powell. The cover looks like a piece of cloth that has greatly yellowed and frayed with age. On the left hand side, there is a black streak that looks like mold or maybe a small burn mark. That is the sum total of the imagery on the cover. Title: South of Okeechobee

Author: Daniel Powell

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: January 6, 2014

Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary, Historical

Length: 16 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author

Rating: 5 Stars


Somewhere in the River of Grass lives a sad and solitary creature. Once a man, this cursed monster now haunts the margins of human imagination, forever searching for his murdered love…

A rip-roaring slice of Florida Folklore, “South of Okeechobee” is an origin story of one of the American South’s great mythological creatures: the Florida Skunk Ape. Blending prohibition, cryptozoology, southern magic, and a little bit of moonshinin’, “South of Okeechobee” is pure, high-octane Florida gothic…

This short story (4500 words) originally appeared in the collection The Silver Coast and Other Stories.


Content Warning: Prohibition, bootlegging, mild violence, and murder.

Not every feud is a harmless one.

I wasn’t aware of the legend of the Florida Skunk Ape before reading this story, but no prior knowledge is necessary in order to enjoy it. The characters share everything important early on, and the last few details can be picked up by the final scene or by looking this creature up online if you must know everything about it in advance. There’s something to be said for folklore that makes so few assumptions about the audience already knows, and I was glad I could walk into this without needing to do any homework in advance.

Sixteen pages was the perfect length for this story. There was exactly enough plot and character development to keep all of them interesting, and I was left feeling satisfied with where everything had ended up by the time I read the final scene. It can be hard to write a story that fits the parameters so perfectly, so I must tip my cap to Mr. Powell for pulling it off. There’s not a single thing I would have changed about what he wrote. He did everything perfectly here in my opinion and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for what he comes up with next.

There were a few gems here for those of us who have lived in small towns and know how important social standing can be there. When you see the same people every day, little things can snowball into big conflicts easily if anyone involved chooses to make a big deal out of someone breaking a social norm for that community in even the tiniest way. None of those moments were strictly necessary in order to understand the main storyline, but they sure added some nice depth to the plot and gave readers who understand this experience something to chuckle about.

South of Okeechobee was a wild ride.



Filed under Science Fiction and Fantasy

Local Legends: A Review of Come in the Water

Book cover for Come in the Weater by K.C. Hastings. image on cover shows the sun setting over a lake. There is a pool of water on the beach and a portion of the sand that shows marks from something heavy being dragged into the water. In the distance, you can see something tentacle-like poking out of the water. Title: Come in the Water

Author: K.C. Hastings

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: October 19, 2020

Genres: Fantasy, Horror, Contemporary

Length: 11 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 3 Stars


There’s something in the lake, and I don’t mean the giant catfish.


Content Warning: Murder, drowning, a small amount of blood.

Beware what the locals say. Sometimes they know more than anyone else.

One of the biggest strengths of this short story was how arrogant and yet still likeable the unnamed protagonist was. While I certainly wouldn’t want to live with her, I was intrigued by how certain she was that she had everything figured out. Her confidence was admirable even if it sometimes lead her into some pretty dangerous decisions. It can be easier to write a kind and sweet character than one who had such a major personality flaw, so I tip my cap to the author for pulling this off so nicely.

Given how unfamiliar the main character seemed to be with Oklahoma, I was surprised by how quickly she brushed off the scary legends the locals shared with her in the first scene. I would have understood if she didn’t believe every detail of them, but it struck me as odd for her not to be willing to listen to their warnings at all. If only the narrator had given more clues about why she behaved this way. Even if the string of recent deaths all had natural causes, shouldn’t she at least taken heed of how dangerous swimming could be in that area? I wish this had been explored as it would have gone a long way to provide some additional character and plot development.

The horror elements of the plot were deliciously scary and well done. Even the nicest lakes can feel a little eerie even on a clear sunny day when you stare into their murky depths, and that’s even more true for lakes that have disturbing legends attached to them.

Come in the Water is making me think twice about going swimming in a lake this summer!


Filed under Science Fiction and Fantasy

Bad Decisions: A Review of The Diary of Mr. Poynter

The Diary of Mr. Poynter - A Ghost Story for Christmas (Seth's Christmas Ghost Stories) by M.R. James. Image on cover is of a furry monster. The telling or reading of ghost stories during the Christmas season was once a tradition in Victorian England. This series of books seeks to revive this tradition. As I did last year, I will continue reviewing several of them each December until I’ve reached the end of this series. 

Title: The Diary of Mr. Poynter – A Ghost Story for Christmas (Seth’s Christmas Ghost Stories)

Author: M.R. James

Publisher: Biblioasis

Publication Date: 1919 and 2016.

Genres: Paranormal, Historical

Length: 38 pages

Source: I borrowed it from the library.

Rating: 2 stars


While engrossed in an ancient account of the sinister death of a student obsessed with his own hair, a man leans down to absently pet his dog — oblivious of the true nature of the creature crouching beside him. Seth’s newly illustrated version of M.R. James’ classic Christmas ghost story is a spooky holiday delight.


It turns out there is such a thing as being too engrossed in a book.

Out of all of the things in the world one could get excited about, a fabric sample is honestly pretty far down on my list. The fact that something as ordinary as this could change the lives of the people who found it in ways they never would have imagined made for a creative read.

The pacing of this story was slow and included many rambling details and asides that didn’t seem that relevant to pushing the plot forward. As interested as I was in the premise, I struggled to remain interested in the storyline because of these issues.

I’m not normally a fan of tales that include morality lessons, but this one was nice and subtle which is something I appreciate in that genre. The reader is mostly left to their own devices when it comes to deciding what the mistakes of the characters might have been and how they could have made better choices.

If you don’t mind a little sermonizing in your ghost stories, this is an interesting read.


Filed under Science Fiction and Fantasy