The Healing Doll
By Bradley Poage
This story from the Bedtime Tales of Horror collection takes us on a journey through a world of superstition. Now, many people believe in many different things. In the USA, seven is the lucky number. In Japan, it’s thirteen. People believe in lucky rabbit’s feet and that they shouldn’t walk under ladders or let a pole or fence, etc. split a couple walking and holding hands, etc. We’ve all heard about black cats being unlucky and say, picking up a penny that is tails side up.
But there is a whole other world to what we call superstition and, in that world, it’s called faith and religion. Think of voodoo. Some of these practices the general public might cackle at, but others believe in them very deeply. Some people believe in the power of certain crystals or statues. In this story, the faith and belief are held about a doll. But this isn’t just any doll. It’s a special healing doll.
Now, if there’s one thing we all should have learned by now, it’s not to mock anyone’s religion. That never turns out well. And the bad is always more than you could have ever imagined.
Such is the case for a gentleman at an office who hasn’t been well. A coworker gives him the healing doll and special instructions. He’s happy about having the extra help and was even grateful that his coworker thought of him enough to worry about his well-being.
His girlfriend on the other hand, she’s not happy. She doesn’t like the doll, doesn’t want it in the house and certainly doesn’t like the fact that a woman gave it to HER man.
You put all this together and you have a voodoo recipe for destruction and disaster.
This story has a fabulous build up through the whole story. The ending is so fitting and so perfectly creepy that it just chills your soul. It’s the kind of ending that gives the reader one of those sinister smiles of satisfaction, as if we had a hand in the dirty work ourselves. It’s always a true joy to feel like you are right in the mix of everything with the main characters.
Surely this will be a tale that any horror fan can dig, especially with the added intrigue of voodoo and the dangers of dismissing certain powers.
THE DVD COLLECTION
By Bradley Poage
“Every morning Angelique goes for her run. But today a man will kidnap her and subject her to a fate worse than death. She will become part of his DVD collection. A fate no one would EVER want…”
This was by far one of the best stories I have read from this author. This story has all the elements of horror you could ask for. We have kidnapping, torture, a creepy bad guy that is eerily calm and collected. We have murder. We have sick and twisted obsessions that just can’t be ignored or brushed off.
Poage has taken to a new format, slightly changing the organization of his stories and how they are written. He has added chapters which are created at the perfect break point in the story to force you to keep reading into the next chapter. If you thought you’d seen some crazy stuff on TV or the news, please believe this story will easily rival any of that.
The suspense factor is so palatable it tingles your tastebuds and the tension so thick you could stab it with a knife. The fear and intimidation of our poor victim in this story is so intense, her pain and terror radiating through every paragraph and, at times, jumping off the page and slapping you right in the face…you know, just to make sure you are paying attention.
A fantastic short tale that would be perfect for any sleepover, camp out or even a little evil bedtime story. This is definitely one of the Bedtime Tales of Horror feature you will NOT want to miss.
Netted: The Beginning
This was another novel I anxiously requested to read from the people at Blackthorn Book Tours. Unfortunately, the book wasn’t for me. The good thing is that I really think I am missing something when I’m reading and so I think the true meat of the novel is getting lost on me. I’m not sure why this is, I just know that it wasn’t going to work out for me.
The blurb fully did its job and did it very well because I was beside myself ready to read this novel. Here’s the blurb:
About Netted – The Beginning
When a serial killer pulls Dale and Jessica into his world of torture and murder, they are left fighting to escape the clutches of a sadistic cult leader.
Dale simply wanted to rebound from a failed relationship. Now, he is fighting to escape abduction.
Jessica’s curiosity led her onto the dark web where she found The Silent Red Room Show. She admired the show from afar…until she found herself sucked in.
Will these perfect strangers survive the dark web? Or will they become a part of a vicious serial killer’s deadly collection?
Yet, as I read and read, the plot became less and less clear to me and I felt like nothing was making any sense or falling into place. Now, this novel is fifteen chapters. I read seven. By the time I started the eighth I still found myself wondering what I was reading and what was going on, trying to put it together as I read it but just couldn’t seem to get there. I also make notes in the margins when I am reading something so I can go back and refresh on what I’ve read, put my immediate thoughts down instead of trying to wait or coordinate them separately and so I can continue to put things in the story together so at any time it could be something I am able to summarize for someone else.
And still, like I said, seven chapters into a fifteen-chapter novel and I honestly couldn’t tell you the plot of the story. A lot of it seems like we are just following two messed up people in their messed-up lives. There’s mention of a serial killer in the blurb and seven chapters in I was still waiting for the killer to appear in the story. Also, seven chapters in, I was left wondering where all the horror aspects were. I mean, I’m approximately half way through the novel and no horror and no violence and this is supposed to be a horror novel. That was frustrating because I started to feel like the blurb was misleading or maybe a mistake and meant for another book almost. The largest part of the novel that I read that pertained to the Jessica character was a very long piece which seemed to be nothing but this Jessica chick complaining.
I read through chapter eight. I still didn’t know where this story was going and there was still nothing very horror to it in my opinion. So, I stopped reading it. I can’t spend so much time and effort on reading something that makes as much sense to me as it would if it were in Greek. My reading list for review requests in topping thirty or so titles and I’ve had to move on from some novels if they just weren’t clicking for me. I do think that reading eight out of fifteen chapters is giving the novel a fair try. It just wasn’t for me.
Because of this, it is very difficult for me to sum anything up or talk about how it’s actually written or address characters and plot, etc.
I do commend this author for their effort because I can at least tell that this wasn’t an easy piece of work to put together and complete. So, props to them for that.
But as far as a recommendation, I will just leave that up to readers to decide for themselves from the blurb. Maybe in reading the novel they will get something I missed. I do want people to feel like they can give this a chance. I just think a lot of the content matter may have been lost on me. So, keep in mind my rating is from my own personal experience reading the book.
About the Author
K.T. Rose is a horror, thriller, and dark fiction writer from Detroit, Michigan. She posts suspense and horror flash fiction on her blog at kyrobooks.com and is the author of a suspenseful short story series titled Trinity of Horror, an erotic thriller novel titled When We Swing, and A Dark Web Horror Series. She also writes supernatural and paranormal horror novels and short stories.
By Damien Linnane
I asked for this book from the generous team at Blackthorn Book Tours. It was the blurb summary that really piqued my interest.
There were five now. The mugger, the sex offender, the wife-beater, the drug-dealer. And of course, Peter. Jason hadn’t needed a gun to kill Peter.
Jason Ennis doesn’t understand why the world is such a confusing place. Why it’s so difficult to read between the lines, so hard to understand what people want, such a struggle to fit in. Not that he isn’t trying as he works a dead-end job and chips away at a degree that’s going nowhere.
But good things come to those who wait. Sometimes, when he least expects it, he gets a chance to make a real difference. To make the world a better place. By removing someone else from it. Someone who doesn’t fit in with his standards of behaviour, someone who reminds him of how they scarred him as a child.
Scarred is not for the squeamish. A poignant debut about serial killers on the streets of Sydney, it explores the addictiveness of vengeance and the tragic mistakes made by the misguided.
Now, as a horror and true crime lover, how can you not want to read that????
But when I got the book, I was immediately disappointed. The format it is written in is almost like one HUGE paragraph. As the manuscript went on, the format DID get a little better. But it was difficult to read because there was little separation between thoughts and paragraphs, quotation marks were rarely used to identify dialogue, often leaving me wondering if the main character was thinking these things to himself or if it was a real actual conversation within the text of the story. The compressed and unclear format made it very challenging and somewhat frustrating to read. What frustrates me the most is that a simple click of grammar and spell check could have fixed about 30-40% of the issues. The rest could have been easily solved with using paragraphs to separate different trains of thought and subjects. If I had to call this style something, it is definitely written in the more ‘stream of consciousness’ writing method. And unless you are right in the mix with the author, sometimes that can be very disorganized and confusing.
Another frustrating thing about this manuscript was certain things about our main character Jason get repeated over and over, virtually in every chapter I read. Things like “he doesn’t like to be without his tactical gear or his gun” and other similar quirks. These are repeated so often it’s almost insulting to the intelligence of the reader (me) because it’s like, how many times do you have to tell me that in one story? Do you think I didn’t catch it the first ten or twelve times? Come on. I think I get what the author was trying to do, trying to make us identify with the character as an OCD and more militant type of individual. But it got to be where if I saw that phrase, I wanted to skip ahead to get away from it. I applaud and admire the effort the author made to make Jason real to us and put us in his mind and position, but at a certain point it just became like an overload of an audio track on repeat.
There also seems to be a lot of random information that doesn’t seem to apply specifically to the story and comes across more as filler material to bulk up the page count for the novel.
The story itself, AWESOME. At least what I could get through of it. I will admit freely that at about the halfway mark I simply had to stop reading and put it away. For me, reading is an enjoyable activity. Not one where I like to experience a whole lot of frustration or spending time deciphering what the author was intending.
This story is also not near for the faint of heart. It takes a lot to make my stomach turn and things of that nature. Being the child of a police officer, I was exposed to murder crime scene photos and some of the most horrible stories from the other officers on the squad and the ADA that was my Dad’s old partner on the police force. And there were still parts of this story that made me have to pull back and resituate my brain and emotions. To me that is extremely powerful writing. And it’s not done in a way that I think comes off as offensive. This author is using these events to make a statement for certain characters involved.
This story should definitely come with one of those ‘trigger warnings’ that I see splayed all over everything nowadays. It is truly a chilling story to read, just so hard to maneuver through. It is extremely violent including such ghastly crimes as murder, violent rape and sexual assault, general violence, child pornography, torture, kidnapping, revenge, punishment, psychopathy, sociopathy and even suicide. It’s as if the author was trying to include every horrible thing a human being could do to another human being all in one book.
While I wasn’t able to finish it myself, I can honestly say that if you want to dig in deep to the darkest parts of the human condition, this is a book for you. But be prepared for the horrors that await you because they are in fact there on every page.
About the Author:
Damien Linnane was born in Sydney in 1986. His debut novel, the vigilante justice thriller Scarred, was written by hand in prison while he was serving a two-year sentence for a series of crimes, including the firebombing of a home, with the sentencing magistrate finding that his motivation appeared to be ‘vigilante action’.
Since his release from prison, Linnane has completed a master’s degree in information studies. He also works as a portrait artist and freelance writer, and is in the finishing stages of writing a memoir.
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/damienlinnane/ OR
Everyone Is A Moon
Everyone Is A Moon
Author Sawney Hatton
Boy, this book was a challenge from beginning to end. Not all in bad ways. I received this book as one I requested to read from Blackthorn Book Tours. I, as most of my readers know, love anthologies. So, any time I get the opportunity to read any kind of short horror story collection, I’m on it.
This was unique because the author had hand-picked writings from over twenty-five years of writing. Can I just point out serious respect to the author for having that kind of devotion and conviction to their craft and passion? That right there is a WOW factor for me. As a writer myself I still have a box of stuff I wrote well over twenty years ago and I think it takes a lot of resolve and determination not only to make sure that kind of stuff stays safe over the years but also the pure guts it takes to go back and revisit earlier work. As an artist of any kind, sometimes going back to a previous creation takes you back to what inspired that creation and well, that’s not always pleasant. Some of the most precious and beautiful works that we consider the talent of someone truly gifted are also the results of some very tortured souls, and in more ways than one. So, I raise my fountain pen to this author with respect, from one writer by nature to another, you deserve recognition for the battle that is keeping your drive and work alive over the course of more than two decades. Mad respect.
Now, having paid proper and most assuredly deserved tribute, down to the review. As you all know, as with any anthology, not every story is going to be a hit and not every story will be well received by the audience because well, we just can’t please every single one of you out there, Which is a good thing. It shows the true diversity of individuals. Imagine how boring life would be if we all agreed on everything and everybody liked all the same things and there were no individuals to make life interesting and exciting and throw in the unexpected and the unique. So, with that in mind, I rated this anthology how I’ve rated the others I’ve reviewed. I read each story and rate it individually and then I take the average of the scores as the overall rating for the whole book.
There were three stories that got 5/5 ratings and really stood out to me. There were two stories that actually got 0/5 ratings, which is rare. I don’t do that a lot. One of them was a story that was nine pages, had five sentences and six, count them SIX blank pages. Now, I know what the author was trying to do because the story was about a blizzard and they were trying a visual and aural effect, but it didn’t work for me. I thought it was a good effort but it didn’t seem to have the desired effect for me.
This author seems to get tied up and lost in the innocuous details and not as much time on the meat and grit of the true horror. Which isn’t always a bad thing. I mean, Stephen King has been taking up whole chapters to tell you about the main character’s best friend’s friend who has a buddy whose cousin’s girlfriend’s parent’s business partner’s daughter’s boyfriend’s main rival likes to wear leather jackets by night and cashmere sweaters by day and then we get to go into detail of someone else’s life two hundred miles removed from the story and their dog and what kind of dog food the dog eats. I get it. But for me, it’s too much.
I love Stephen King and all but his long windedness and micro detailing can be a little tedious. But it also seems like this author seems a little reserved with their horror parts of their stories. It seems they like to imply a lot rather than actually give you the gruesome and gory details. An that’s okay but it does take away from the whole horror aspect of the story and the book somewhat. A few stories like The Good Touch, Cutting Remarks and FYVP were all very good stories and I was really pleased with those. I think those are the real highlights of this collection. The rest were mostly 3/5 ratings and 2/5 ratings.
In all honesty, I don’t think that this author is actually a bad author. I think the style just doesn’t click for me. But, nevertheless, I always give you guys my honest thoughts and there they are.
The total score for all thirteen stories was 35/65 which comes to about 54%. Now, that’s more than a 2.5/5 which is 50% and not quite the 3/5 which is 60%. So, I guess it’s about a 2.75 but since I never really rate like that, it’s a 3/5. I mean, come on. Let’s not get too bogged down in numbers and mathematics, okay? So, that would make this an average anthology. Nothing wrong with that. Pretty normal actually.
I hope if you choose to read it you do enjoy it! Maybe you are the audience it’s meant for!
“Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.” —Mark Twain
From the devilishly inventive mind of Sawney Hatton comes this twisted collection of 12 Dark Fiction tales featuring a magical finger, a cannibalistic memorial, an extreme piercing parlor, a Space Age monastery, a budding serial killer, and more. Presenting three new, never-before-published stories, as well as re-mastered versions of earlier works, this collection is sure to disturb and delight readers who like to play in the dark.
‘Pet’: animal abuse
‘The Dark at the Deep End’: explicit torture
‘Suitable for Framing’: sexual assault
Not suitable for readers under 18
About the Author:
Sawney Hatton is an author, editor, and screenwriter. His published credits include the Dark Comedy novel Dead Size, the YA Noir novella Uglyville, and his Dark Fiction short story collection Everyone Is a Moon. His most recent novella The Devil’s Delinquents appears in the Noir-inspired anthology Murder in Montague Falls. He also edited the Sci-Fi Horror anthology What Has Two Heads, Ten Eyes, and Terrifying Table Manners?
Other incarnations of Sawney have produced marketing videos, attended all-night film festivals, and played the banjo and sousaphone (not at the same time). He fancies himself as somebody you can relax and have a beer with, and encourages people to buy him beer in exchange for his company. As of this writing, he is still very much alive.
You can become better acquainted with him at www.SawneyHatton.com. You'll also find him lurking on Facebook and Twitter.