Archive | Fiction

Steven Dawes

Dead Stay Dead Novella Review

Posted on March 31, 2011 by

Hello again fellow horror hicks! I know, it’s been a long time since my name graced the pages of Flames Rising. But my school duties have been a greedy bully with my time as of late. If it makes you feel any better, I’ve not have much time for anything else I enjoy doing either. And perhaps as further punishment of my not being around more often, the latest book I was given to review, titled “Dead Stay Dead”, was simply insufferable and punished me harshly for reading it.

From its description, it wanted to be blended mix of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Shaun of the Undead and Zombieland. But what it turned out to be was a plain mess to read that completely missed its mark. I hope my past reviews show that I’m not a snobby or picky reader. I’ve read many different styles of horror books and have found ways to enjoy them all.

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Flames

The Blackness Within: Stories of the Pagan God Moccus Review

Posted on March 25, 2011 by

The mythology of the British Isles fascinates me. Long before Christianity reached their shores, the people of England, Scotland and Ireland had their own fascinating, rich and complex religions. Sadly, their gods and monsters were given the short straw– devolving into leprechauns and pixies if they survived in our social conscious at all. But if you dig deep, you can usually find them still, primal and brutal, beautiful and mystic. And that’s where The Blackness Within shines.

The Blackness Within is Apex Publication’s collection of stories on the Celtic god Moccus, a god traditionally associated with boars. While both pigs and boars were held as sacred by the Celts, the boar was specifically revered for its ferocity and the strength one would require to bring it down. Little is known about Moccus– he may have been a fertility God, or one of the Hunt, or even a psychopomp, but little can be said for certain. The Blackness Within sets out to answer these questions with another: what would happen if the savage, earthen god returned today?

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alanajoli

Unholy Ghosts Fiction Review

Posted on March 17, 2011 by

It isn’t often that I pick up a book (this one purchased with my own cashy money) where it’s got so much going on, I’m not sure how to start a review. Stacia Kane’s Unholy Ghosts is like that. This isn’t just a ghost story — though it works admirably (and scarily) well in that area. It’s not just postapocalyptic, though again, the brave new (scary) world that Stacia imagines is an amazing one. And though it’s not really a private investigator story, it’s got a lot of similarities to that genre, as the main character goes about solving a mystery and, eventually, confronting a threat that could destroy the world as she knows it. So it’s got epic scope, but the characters aren’t your typical heroes — in fact, they’ve got more in common with your typical villains, and that’s one of the areas where Stacia really succeeds: making characters you don’t really want to trust, but can’t help but like. Or, at the very least, sympathize with.

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Steven Dawes

Asylum Novella Review

Posted on March 15, 2011 by

I read the short novella “Dead Stay Dead” before I realized that it was the second story in the new “Zombie Feed” series from Apex Book Company. After a bit of research I found the short story “Asylum” was the first story released in the series, which also happened to have recently arrived as a reviewers copy book in my mail. Feeling kinda sheepish that I hadn’t done my home work before hand, I set out to read “Asylum” to cover my bases. And I’m glad that I did as this story was unexpectedly interesting to read and author Mark Allan Gunnellis got a lot of mileage out of a mere 80 pages.

The story is centered on several homosexual men who barricade themselves inside a gay bar when the zombie apocalypse begins.

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Matt-M-McElroy

Dragon Age: The Calling Novel Review

Posted on March 14, 2011 by

When I first read Dragon Age: The Calling, I hadn’t played any of the Dragon Age video games (although I did start playing Dragon Age: Origins for my PS3). My experiences with the Dragon Age setting was from playing a few sessions of the Dragon Age RPG that is published by Green Ronin and reading a few of the IDW Comics. The setting was what hooked me enough to pick up this novel and dive into the world.

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alanajoli

As Lie the Dead Review

Posted on March 1, 2011 by

Kelly Meding, I have a bone to pick with you. After introducing a seriously awesome minor character in Three Days To Dead, you neglected to include even one scene with Smedge the Bridge Troll in the sequel. Sure, you gave us a seriously hot shape-shifting osprey who can go into angel mode with Phin. You introduced us to a sweet-yet-strong kestrel shifter, who alternates between protected and protector in Aurora. You brought in the mysterious shifter lawyer with a talent for vague clues with Michael Jenner. So, one could say that the new awesome outweighs the old awesome.

But I miss Smedge. I just want that out there.

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Autumn: The City Review

Posted on February 15, 2011 by

I woke up today without any power which is a large part of the reason as to why this review is a day behind. Not that you needed to know that little fact, or really even, not that my day to day is all that relevant to the review itself. We are living in the 24/7 digital world here, so it shouldn’t matter when I do the reviews, right?

No, wrong. This was the perfect setting to nearly blow all my battery power and candles on writing a review. Especially a review of Survival Horror/ Zombie Apocalypse superstar writer David Moody’s latest book in the autumn series by Thomas Dunne St Martin’s Griffin press. In fact it was probably the most perfect setting to write the review in. Picture it.

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alanajoli

A Brush of Darkness Review

Posted on February 8, 2011 by

Not long ago, I signed up for a very cool program with Simon & Schuster called “galley grab,” which allows participants to read e-book galleys in full for a limited amount of time. I’ve loaded up several titles on my nook and am trying to get through them before my time runs out!

One of my first priorities on the list was A Brush of Darkness by Allison Pang, which I’d seen previews for over at Pocket After Dark. There are all sorts of marketing sayings about how many times you have to see something before it sticks, or if you touch something some large number of times, you’ll buy it.

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alanajoli

Three Days to Dead Review

Posted on January 31, 2011 by

When Evy Stone wakes up in a morgue in a different body than the one she remembers, with no memory of the few previous days, she knows she’s in for a hell of a time. What she does remember is this: her teammates from her bounty hunting career were murdered, the were-people with whom she took asylum were slaughtered by her former bosses, and the only person she thought she could trust was her handler. She has to make contact, convince him that she’s still Evy (despite the new body), and avoid being entangled in the life of the girl who used to live in this frame. Not to mention, as she discovers more about the reasons she ended up in a new body, saving the world. All in a three day time frame. But hey, she’s been through worse. Probably.

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alanajoli

Deader Still Book Review

Posted on January 24, 2011 by

Anton Strout brings us more madcap mayhem in book two of the Jane chronicles (otherwise known as the Simon Canderous series, but his girlfriend, the ex-evil cultist Jane, totally steals the show). Now a member of the Department of Extraordinary Affairs after leaving her cultist ways behind, Jane is working in the Black Stacks (the scariest library in urban fantasy) and discovering that she has a talent for technomancy. In fact, she’s so good with magic and machines, she rescues her boyfriend Simon from an attempt on his life in his Oubliette test over his cell phone. Her new gig working for the ambiguously moralled Thaddeus Wesker, Director of Greater and Lesser Arcana at the DEA is going swimmingly — except for the tension it creates between her and Simon, who doesn’t like her boss.

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Doc Wilde and the Frogs of Doom Review

Posted on January 21, 2011 by

The place of the pastiche in fiction is mixed at best: August Derleth’s Solar Pons is but a pale shadow of Sherlock Holmes, and the less said about Derleth’s “posthumous collaborations” with Lovecraft, the better. But in his collection of linked novelettes, Trail of Cthulhu, Derleth had the happy inspiration to combine the Cthulhu Mythos with Fu Manchu, and the result is a propulsive series of tales considerably above his usual mark. In Doc Wilde and the Frogs of Doom, Tim Byrd goes Derleth one better; he combines Lester Dent’s Doc Savage (as clearly as the laws of copyright will allow) and the Cthulhu Mythos – in the form of a young adult adventure mystery.

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Flames

Patient Zero Fiction Review

Posted on January 12, 2011 by

I’ve come to realize, somewhat unwittingly in more recent years, that Maberry scares me for reasons that go beyond the mere horrific. When I made my first serious foray into researching the occult, I didn’t realize until after the fact that my first fact finder’s guide just happened to have been written by the one who wrote this pithy little gem. But then, there’s always something about a writer whose writing not only gives you something you already know, but can serve to inspire other avenues of horror you were certain should have occurred to others by now – only didn’t.

Patient Zero is the first in a series of Joe Ledger novels (not to be confused with the Marvel character), revolving around a former Baltimore detective who is pulled into the shady world of the equally shady Church.

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Flames

Sirenia Digest 58-59 Review

Posted on December 16, 2010 by

Sirenia Digest is a monthly subscription PDF-zine released by author Caitlín R. Kiernan. The stories are solidly weird fiction, with healthy infusions of erotica and Lovecraftian horror. (The adult-only warning on the website stems from both the themes of the works and their illustrations.)

I’ve been a subscriber for two months, now. My first readings were hurried, so I took advantage of the holiday downtime over Thanksgiving break to do a second reading of two recent Sirenia Digest issues (#58 and #59), to give each story my full, undivided attention. This time, I read them alone in a silent, darkened room in the wee hours of the night, with a giant picture window behind me, and silhouettes of writhing tree branches splayed across the floor.

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Billzilla

Amortals Novel Review

Posted on December 15, 2010 by

What would you do if you found out you had been killed? Further, what if the new you had to track down the old you’s killer?

This is the odd dilemma facing Ronan Dooley, Secret Service Agent and Amortal. The Amortals Project is a program that keeps people alive long past their normal lifespan, and is a sort of insurance policy against anything lethal happening to the rich and powerful. Ronan has been granted Amortal status because of his usefulness in protecting other Amortals – including the President of the United States. So when Dooley ends up murdered, his first assignment – once his new body is up and running – is to track down the ones responsible; they may pose a threat to other Amortals, and besides, killing Dooley in such a high profile manner – broadcasting his death scene – gives the Project a black eye and unwanted bad publicity.

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Zombie Week: Autumn Novel Review

Posted on December 10, 2010 by

“Survival horror” is everywhere, if you don’t believe me then just go to the horror section and take a look around. I guarantee you’ll see at least, if the bookstore happens to be Borders, 25-30 titles from small and large publishing companies alike that have something to do with survival horror.

Guaranteed.

And the majority of these titles will invariably have the words, dead; plague, zone, strain, Armageddon and/or zombie on the front cover or even interjected into the title of the book in some way, shape or form. Now for someone who really loves this sort of stuff, as I do, a fact which I make plainly and painfully clear every chance that is given to me, then this is something of a golden age for the “survival horror” fan.

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Billzilla

Zombie Week: The Cold Ones Review

Posted on December 9, 2010 by


The Cold Ones is a novella by award winning author Elizabeth Donald. In Cold Ones, we meet Sarah Harvey, small-town bookstore owner with a secret: she’s not really a bookstore owner. It’s her cover; she’s part of a secret organization doing who knows what in this small coastal town. At least one other shop owner is another member of her team; their jobs are to keep an eye on the town and cover the rest of the team. The story begins with a scream as someone is attacked in the street by what turns out to be a quick, ferocious, zombie-like man, and as if that wasn’t bad enough, it represents only the beginnings of the trouble ahead…

The Cold Ones is a well-crafted tale; I was instantly sucked in and stayed up too late reading it. Ms. Donald does a very good job making her characters believable while avoiding most cliches found in supernatural fiction these days. This team of covert operatives is skilled and fairly bad-assed, but they are also fallible – they screw up occasionally and sometimes make poor choices.

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Flames

The Crown of the Blood Review

Posted on December 1, 2010 by

Ullsaard has conquered the known world. All have fallen before his armies.

Now it is time to take the long journey home, back to the revered heart of the great Empire he had helped create for his distant masters. But when he returns to the capital, life there is so very different from what he had believed. Could it be that everything he has fought for, has conquered and killed for, has been a lie?

I’ve long been a reader of Gav’s work and consider the novels he has written for Black Library Publishing to be among the best works they have put out to date. I was excited to see that Gav had stepped out of the Games Workshop intellectual property to create something all his own. The folks at Angry Robot were nice enough to send me a copy of The Crown of the Blood several weeks ago and I happily stuck in.

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Monica Valentinelli

The Disappearance Novel Review

Posted on November 17, 2010 by

Having read some of Bentley Little’s work before (MY FATHER’S SON), I was really interested in picking up THE DISAPPEARANCE to see what twists and turns were in store for me.

The story takes place in our modern-day world, and infuses our worst fears into what should be a very fun weekend. A group of college students from UCLA travel to the world-renowned Burning Man festival, and experience a bizarre turn of events: they wake up from a drug-induced state to find that Gary’s girlfriend Joan has disappeared. Worse, when they contact the police, they don’t believe that she has ever existed because her digital identity has been wiped cleaned.

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alanajoli

Red Hood’s Revenge Review

Posted on November 11, 2010 by

Jim Hines has a way of twisting fairy tales to let him get at bigger issues that lurk behind those stories. One of the biggest ideas he decided to take on is the traditional tale of Sleeping Beauty. One of the early versions of the tale says the the princess was not woken with a kiss, but either with intercourse or the pain of childbirth. If you follow Jim’s online writing at all, you know he’s worked very closely with rape survivors, and that talking about rape is important to him. It’s no surprise that he handles the issue with sophistication and a delicacy, which becomes even more relevant in Red Hood’s Revenge , a story that takes Talia back to her homeland to face her demons. The Lady of the Red Hood, also known as Roudette, is the most deadly assassin in the world, and she’s come after Talia. Her motives are unclear, especially when circumstances lead her to team up with the princess trio, but her hatred for fairies is obvious. When Talia wants to take out Zestan, a fairy the heroes suspect of being a deev — a very powerful evil fairy — Roudette gives every appearance of going along willingly, and only a shift in narrative technique allows readers to see that she’s up to something. (In the previous books, Jim stuck to a more limited third-person narrator; in Red Hood’s Revenge, the narration is broader, allowing peeks into several of the character’s perspectives.)

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Billzilla

A Touch Of Dead Review

Posted on November 3, 2010 by


With the new season of Trueblood beginning soon, I thought it was a good time to take a look at the books that inspired the popular HBO series, starting with a collection of short stories – an excellent way to evaluate the world of Sookie Stackhouse for one’s self.

For those who may not know, True Blood is based on a series of novels by Charlaine Harris. The main character of these books, Sookie Stackhouse, is a barmaid in a fictional Northern Louisiana small town called Bon Temps. Sookie has a rare talent; she’s a telepath. As much curse as blessing, her telepathic ability meant she always knew what everyone around her was thinking – both god and bad. Sookie had resigned herself to a lonely existence when “V-Day” happened. Japanese scientists perfected a synthetic blood, and vampires – no longer needing to attack humans to survive – one day formally announced themselves to the world, along with their intention to live side-by-side with humans.

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11 Tales of Ghostly Horror

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