Bedtime Tales of Horror: The Curse of Miley
By Bradley Poage
Here, my good friends, is what I would deem a shining example of what a short horror story should be. A wonderful little piece of entertainment that is well-rounded, complete and leaves the reader with a feeling of satisfaction AND anticipation. Gripping and suspenseful, this tale will snatch your attention and have you enthralled, from the first paragraph to the very last.
One of the challenges with a horror short is deciding how much detail to include, what to give to the reader and what to remove from the story to fit a desired length, all while somehow manufacturing a cohesive story that is not only interesting but also one that the reader can visualize in their own imagination. Trying to communicate what is in your head to someone else AND have them understand it AND GET IT…well, that’s not always easy. Even harder when trying to create a masterful tale of terror that only takes up a few pages. And Poage has done it with this production of a well written and well-balanced piece of horror.
Although consistent with what I have come to expect of Poage and his writing, this tragic tale of woe goes above and beyond the chilling joys of many of the previous works of his that I have read. As soon as I began to read this tasty little devilish snack, I was so engrossed I could not put it down until I was done reading. And the great thing about Poage’s short stories…they are actually genuine short stories. So, it was only a few pages, a few minutes and a small break from the horror of my reality to the hell of someone else’s.
There is just enough explained that you know what is happening and can follow the plot. However, there isn’t so much extra detail that we get bogged down in seemingly innocuous details or taken for a ride on the author’s drug induced tangent of some sort that makes no sense and has nothing to do with anything at all.
In this apprehensive anecdote everything centers around a beloved childhood toy. A ventriloquist dummy named Miley Smiles. (I mean, geez, just the name of the damn doll is creepy as hell, right?!) A simple toy for a simple person in a simple tale that will send chills down your spine and make hairs on your arm stand up.
All of that finished off with an ending that is, in my humble opinion, rather genius. It leaves the door wide open for the reader’s imagination, pushing you to go in, pulling your mind in all directions of thought. Yet the ending is totally and utterly complete. In theory, it’s like one of those really good horror films that has that one ending where it concludes the movie and the film could be a stand-alone if they left it that way OR they could totally make a sequel with the way they left it open. I like these kinds of endings because, as the reader, you get to participate in writing the story a bit for yourself. You decide what happens after a certain point OR you decide to leave it as the author left it. It’s perfect to play with and a lot of fun.
I have to say that any of my fellow horror lovers would dig this and dare I say, even some readers that like short stories in general. As well as this one flows, it’s hard to imagine someone not liking it.
To read for yourself you can get your own copy at the Amazon link below:
Blood and Ink: Love Can Be Cold
By Bradley Poage
This is a new series from the same author as Bedtime Tales of Horror. You remember, those short stories in three book collections that I loved so much? Yes, THAT author. I’m telling you this guy has some skills.
This is the tale of a unique tattoo shop with an artist that has a very special talent. One that can definitely make or break a tattoo for the client.
In this story, our client is an insistent and anxious young lady, who is just dying to get a tattoo b this man. A friend of hers got one from this artist and well, Jenna just fell in love with it. So, she wants her own ink piece done by Michael.
But Michael does things differently than most tattoo artists. He doesn’t use a stencil or a ThermoFax machine. He doesn’t apply a line drawing of the image to the skin first to use as a guide. He draws every design freestyle, by hand, straight from his mind to tattoo gun to human flesh. To him, he’s finding the story of their skin. But he’s not searching for just their particular story, he’s looking for their particular fate.
I felt this short story was a fantastic read. It read so quickly it was as if the words were jumping off the page at me, grabbing my attention with practically every syllable. In addition to a quick and fluid pace, there is an immediate sense of impending doom and intense anxiousness that, at the beginning, you just can’t quite put your finger on. But you know it’s there.
And I mean this tattoo artist is no joke. He even gives a different disclaimer than regular tattoo artists, telling them he doesn’t do custom designs or custom art. Then he tells her something like let’s see what your skin has to tell. ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? Total red flag girlie, but noooo. She wants a tattoo. Friend did it. She should do it. (The stupidity of youthful logic.) And still, the artist gives her a calm and stiff warning that Jenna fails to heed. Soon her lack of recognition of her animal instincts will prove to her just exactly why they are there in the first place.
I found this short story to be incredibly and eerily entertaining. An awesome story with an intensity throughout that tugs at your nerves and pries at your curiosity. Capturing the reader from the start, a spectacular delivery building up to a superb ending, ensures the readers complete and total satisfaction. With smooth transitions and well timed dark levity, horror lovers are sure to become engrossed within the first few moments. And void of any awkward breaks or structure issues i the material, the author allows the story to build up naturally in the imagination of the reader. Utilizing some classic tidbits with bold new twists, transforming the text into fresh and creative material. Poage is an excellent author with a very vivid imagination and a true talent for transferring that creativity from his brain to his manuscript. A definite must read for ALL horror lovers!
To read for yourself sign up at http://www.channillo.com/ and search for
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Bradley Poage’s Social Media
I always like story collections. I like that you get many different stories, conclusions and such a multitude of emotional roller coaster rides as you go through each story, as if you are living out the experience yourself.
In this book, a collection of stories sent to me by Blackthorn Book Tours, there are thirteen stories compiled. They range from murder mystery to an almost ghostly type of science fiction horror.
Here is the blurb:
“The moon has always been with us -- tempting us, enticing us, and enthralling us through the ages. Here you'll find thirteen stories involving this heavenly body -- sometimes tragic, magical, and other times mysterious, or horrific, but always, memorable.
Contributors include both veteran and first-time authors alike, and hail from around the world, including the United States, India, United Kingdom, and Greece. The collection was compiled and edited by Laura Seeber.”
I rated this collection the way I have rated others, by taking the average of the ratings of ALL stories put together. So, I score each story individually and then take the average of those ratings to get the final full book rating. I find this to be the fairest way to judge a book like this.
Now, I don’t want to ruin anything for anyone so, no spoilers here. I will say that while I liked this book, it should be noted that some patience will be required for this reading material. I don’t say that because the stories are boring. No. I say that because there isn’t forefront action on the first page of every story. While some of the stories do start right off with the horror roller coaster ride, not all of them do. Some tales read more like novellas rather than an actual short story.
One thing about this collection that surprised me was that several stories had somewhat vague or cliffhanger type endings. What makes this such an advantage is that the reader gets to create any ending they want for themselves. Some endings were surprisingly not what I had expected. And some of the stories and endings don’t follow the typical rules of horror.
All in all, I thought this was a well-rounded collection. No collection will ever please every person with every story. But this anthology was a nice, even mix of everything. For me personally, my two favorite stories were The First Victims Club and The Experiment.
Here’s a little information on each author included in this horror collection:
Laura Seeber (“To Make a Violin”)
Laura Seeber actually performed double duty on this anthology, acting both as a contributor and editor (so any typo complaints- send her way!). When she’s not writing horror, mystery, or dark science fiction, she spends her time divided between her young son and husband, her freelance writing business, and Antimony and Elder Lace Press.
Todd Taylor (“The Experiment”)
Todd Taylor teaches high school ELA, Creative Writing, and Theater in an inner-city Memphis-area School. His short story, “The Experiment,” was published by Laura Seeber in the summer of 2019 in an anthology called, Moonlit Dreams / Moonlit Nightmares. He has also written a play for his theater class that is being performed at 3 different high schools, and has 2 completed novels he is looking to publish. When Todd is not writing, he spends his time coaching track and field, playing guitar in a local band, woodworking, performing weddings / funerals, or relaxing with Sudoku.
Shaun Avery (“The First Victims Club”)
Shaun Avery writes fiction in a number of different mediums, normally with a dark or satirical slant, and often both at once. “The First Victims Club” comes from questions raised by watching horror movies. A LOT of horror movies. He also loves comics, and has co-created a self-published one, more details of which can be found here: http://www.comicsy.co.uk/dbroughton/store/products/spectre-show/
Unsurprisingly, this is also a horror.
A.P. Sessler (“The Sound of Stars”)
A resident of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, A.P. frequents an alternate universe not too different from your own, searching for that unique element that twists the everyday commonplace into the weird. When he’s not writing fiction, he composes music, makes art, and spends too much time trying to connect with his inner genius.
His first novel House of the Goat came out in January. It’s an homage to the Satanic Panic genre of the ’70s-’80s. https://www.amazon.com/House-Goat-P-Sessler/dp/1945940735
Lori Tiron-Pandit (“Receiving Room”)
Lori Tiron-Pandit is a writer, editor, and Web communication professional. Her work celebrates women’s lives and work, of both mystical and mundane significance, as well as their ancestral and contemporary imprint on the world. Growing up with the “great” “classics” of literature, all men, only very late did she realize that the male perspective was not all there was, that it was skewed and small, and it ignored women’s views. Her work is rooted in the worlds of women she’s been lucky to cross paths with.
Thomas Vaughn (“A Consultation by Moonlight”)
Thomas Vaughn is an author of literary horror and dark magical realism. He came from the debris field of rural Arkansas where he persists in uncertainty. When he is not writing fiction, he poses as a college professor whose research focuses on apocalyptic rhetoric. For him fiction serves as a tool to mediate the terrible reality that encompasses all humanity. These works represent his clumsy efforts to seek awareness in the face of a stillborn universe. And so, he pulses, waiting for a reply in the void.
Cara Fox (“Anamnesis”)
Cara Fox is an English author trying to write her way out of the dark. She favors steampunk, horror and Gothic romance, but you can find her anywhere that the stories sink their claws into you and the wine flows freely. Her work has been published by Tales To Terrify, Empyreome, Broadswords & Blasters and Horror Addicts, amongst others, and she is working on her debut novel, The Strange Case of Doctor Magorian.
Parineeta Singh (“A Visitation”)
Parineeta Singh currently lives in Delhi, India, and has earned a Ph. D in Creative Writing from the University of Surrey, as well as a Master’s Degree in the same field from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Her work has appeared in many international magazines and anthologies, and we’re thrilled to have her talent showcased here as well.
Dawn J. Stevens (“When the Moon is Full”)
Dawn Juniper Stevens is the fiction pen name for Kara Kelso. She has been writing short stories and poetry for nearly 30 years, with the past 20 years spent writing an assortment of business, hobby, and nonfiction articles for a variety of businesses, websites, and projects. There aren’t too many types of writing she hasn’t dabbled in at least once, but fiction remains her favorite. “Kira’s Tale: Descend into Darkness” was released in 2013 and is currently available on Amazon.
In her spare time, she enjoys mostly non-fiction books for their source of education and learning from another’s beautiful experience, as well as spending time with family and children. She also enjoys sustainable gardening, music with soul, real life magic, and simply being surrounded by nature. She lives in the Midwest.
For news and updates, find Dawn J. Stevens on both Facebook and Twitter.
Jesse Moak (“One Stormy Night”)
Jesse Moak is a lifetime writer and dreamer who has been perfecting his craft and pursuing the dream of becoming a professional writer for some time. When he isn’t actively searching for an agent or writing other stories, he spends his time exploring his other passion of retro gaming at his blog retrorevelations.blogspot.com
Jamie Ryder (“Eleventh Hour”)
Jamie Ryder is a short story writer and pop culture content creator from Manchester, England. His short stories and poetry have been published by Hyperion and Theia, Colp, EastLit Magazine, AEL Press and more. You can find his other work on The Comic Vault, Yamato Magazine and The Rum Ration.
Sarah Walker (“Phosphene”)
Sarah Walker is an author and mixed media artist who currently lives in Lebanon Oregon. When she isn’t busy writing, she spends her time creating art that explores the boundaries of reality.
Dimitris Psomadellis (“The Magic Circle”)
Dimitris is a life-long writer that has been perfecting his craft in Mytiline, Greece for a number of years. “The Magic Circle” is his first published story with a professional publisher, and we have no doubt it will be the first of many.
Check out other reviews on this tour.
Google search the names below to find their reviews:
Here we have another novel from our fabulous friends at Blackthorn Book Tours. (I swear they keep me soooo busy with all the books they find for us.) In fact, if you are interested in becoming a reviewer yourself, you can visit their website https://blackthornbooktours.wordpress.com/ and find all kinds of information on how this hard working team gets all this stuff done and how you can be a part of it.
Now, before I get into what I thought about this book, here is the blurb that enticed me. You guys know I always share the blurb on these book tour reviews. I think it’s important you see for yourself what initially grabs us and forms immediate interest.
"This is a novel I would read and reread and recommend to others. Fans of vigilante and desperado revenge will delight in this horror story." — Horror Tree.
Rebecca Crow’s four-year-old son is dead, and her husband is missing.
Divers find her husband’s car at the bottom of a canal with their son’s small, lifeless body, inside. The police have no suspects and nothing to go on but a passing mention of a man driving a van. Guilt and grief cloud Rebecca’s thoughts as she stumbles towards her only mission: Revenge.
James Porter knows exactly what happened to them, but he’ll do anything to keep it a secret.
James didn’t plan to kill Rebecca’s son, but he’s not too broken up about it, either. There are more important things for him to worry about. He needs money, and his increasing appetite for murder is catching the attention of a nosy detective.
Sad story, huh? Well, don’t get all down in the dumps about it because not everything is as it seems.
Rebecca, devasted by the loss of her little boy Oliver and her missing husband, Jon, she desperately waits for the police to come up with something, ANYTHING, that would lead them to who killed her boy. She’s also in a constant state of anxiety and depression because of this whole ordeal, which only gets heightened and made more raw by the disappearance of her husband. Cases like these can move fairly slowly.
Tommy and James are pals. Although James is obviously the alpha of the two, they go practically everywhere together. And, they are partners in crime. Burglaries, robberies, etc. In order to live that kind of criminal lifestyle, you need a vehicle that is big enough haul away the loot. James happens to own and drive an old white van that matches the witness description at the scene of the crime. Eventually, Detective Barnes comes snooping around James’ home and asking the typical questions. He confirms with James that he does own and drive that van. Tommy seems like he’s going to come out of his skin with the Detective there interviewing them. Of course, they have a planned alibi, but everyone knows it’s thin.
As it so often happens, as more pressing and current cases come in, the Crow murder/missing person case gets put on the back burner, waiting for test results and hoping for some new information to smash the case wide open.
But Rebecca is going crazy with all the waiting. Waiting to go back to work. Waiting on the police. Waiting for results. Waiting, waiting, waiting. She would love the mental and emotional distraction that her work would provide, but her boss thinks she’s not ready to come back just yet.
So, what does a shattered woman do with all that free time? She decides it is time for her to take charge of the situation and conducts her OWN investigation.
Out of the two, James is definitely the most cruel and sadistic. He has no conscience and isn’t fazed by anything that he does. That includes anything from intimidating his mother’s landlord to killing little Oliver and everything in between. He has no compassion, no boundaries, no morals. Tommy, on the other hand, really just seems to always be in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong person. And he knows it.
Soon, Rebecca is becoming so distraught that she is hallucinating and delusional.
When does it end? And where is Jon? What happened to him?
Find out by getting your copy of the book at https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B084FHXZZL
I highly recommend that suspense, thriller and murder mystery lovers read this book. It is extremely well written and the flow of the text allows the reader to easily follow along, even though we jump back and forth between different characters and situations.
Although there are some truly disturbing and heartbreaking aspects to the plot, the way the author expertly brings everything together is seamless with a flawless fluidity is truly a magnificent structure rendering this tense tale of murder and mayhem that pulls at the reader, flooding them with anticipation and even playing detective themselves as they furiously read along.
This was a story of many lives, individual destinies intertwined together in a web of death, gore, greed, love, murder and revenge. This is the kind of novel that will get your heart pumping and your adrenaline rushing. I can’t imagine a thriller/suspense/mystery fan not falling in love with this book.
Check out other reviews of this book by fellow reviewers on this tour by entering he names below in a Google search.
About the Author
Holly Rae Garcia's debut novel, Come Join the Murder, was released on March 27th, 2020 by Close to the Bone Publishing (UK). Her short fiction has been published by Siren's Call, The Bookends Review, Rue Scribe, Pen to Print, The Australian Writers' Centre, and Trembling With Fear along with a few anthologies. Holly lives on the Texas Coast with her family and five dogs.
Links and Social Media
Author's Website: https://www.hollyraegarcia.com/
Book's Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B084FHXZZL
Book's Goodreads Page: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50978801-come-join-the-murder
Murder in Montague Falls
Noir-Inspired Novellas by Russ Colchamiro, Sawney Hatton and Patrick Thomas
This was another book sent to me by Blackthorn Book Tours. I must say, the team over there has a knack for finding entertaining reading material. This book is a collection of novellas, three of them to be exact. We have murder, mystery, money, Satan worship, the classic love triangle, sex, drugs…they have everything in these three novellas.
Let’s talk about each novella before I get into the ratings.
The first story is called Red Ink. This was written by Russ Colchamiro. It involves an average fourteen-year-old boy with a wild imagination named Isaac Fuller. Isaac fancies himself as some sort of super spy. Yet in the mundane reality of his real day to day life, little Isaac is just a neighborhood paperboy. He likes the job, riding around town and getting to know his customers as he delivers their newspapers every day.
Unfortunately, one day while delivering the paper to his neighbor, Mrs. Gagne, he sees something very strange, unusual. He thinks he’s witnessed the tail end of a crime and Mrs. Gagne winds up missing. He shares this information with his life-long friend Dani, who says, in her most friendly and loving way possible, maybe he should just go to the police and let them handle it. Poor Isaac has a crush on Dani and has for what feels to him like forever, so when she seems to doubt his “special spy agent prowess”, it is a huge slam to his ego.
Soon a precarious triangle begins to form between Isaac, his suspect and the police as suspicious things around the neighborhood start to happen.
Will the truth be revealed before someone else goes missing? Will Isaac get to prove his skills to himself and Dani before something bad happens to him?
I really enjoyed this story immensely. It was a fantastic read and I tore right through it. The text has such an excellent and natural flow it is easy to read and follow. I loved the story idea, very interesting with a number of tense moments. The Isaac character is only fourteen but he has a kind of simple maturity that makes it seem like he should be older. That little edge on Isaac rounds out the tale perfectly.
I rated this story a 4/5.
The second story is a wild one. It’s called The Devil’s Delinquents and written by Sawney Hatton. Okay so here we go:
Meet Cal Virgil. A smaller build of a kid, he’s a young teen from Van Buren High School. He is not considered popular (if his classmates consider him at all) and the poor thing, like so many others, suffers from horrible teen acne. Isn’t puberty just grand? He’s also somewhat mean spirited and slightly emotionally void.
Now meet Derry Rhodes. Derry is a fellow young teen at Van Buren and is Cal’s best buddy. Derry is a larger kid than Cal. He has black hair and seems to have more of a conscience and moral code than Cal. Plus, Derry has a soft spot in his heart for his Mama. So, we know he can feel love and compassion. Cal? Not so sure.
These two friends are interested in devil worship, conjuring dark forces, that kind of thing. They try and try, yet they are repeatedly unsuccessful.
Then they meet Natalie Glantz, a Junior classman transferred from what is referred to as “a special school”. She totally rocks the gothic look; black hair, thick black eyeliner, deep red lipstick, pale skin and tops it all off with a black pirate patch over one eye. Needless to say, she doesn’t look like every other teen at Van Buren. She’s viewed as the creepy girl at school, she’s very cold and emotionally detached (especially from her parents) and even claims she can communicate with spirits and demons from the other side.
This is EXACTLY what Cal and Derry think they need.
Together the three of them do everything in their power to try to conjure dark forces. But nothing is ever what it seems when dealing with the devil. Soon the boys find out that there is more to conjuring than they thought. Questions start to arise and a tiny little love triangle begins to develop that could have a devastating impact on the trio’s whole plan. Now they have to figure out what to do, where to do it and most importantly, who to trust.
I found this story to be an excellent example of truly disturbing horror and gore. We run the gamut of horrifying bits and pieces. Child death and mutilation, Satanic worship, all kind of violence on all levels and murder and gore galore. Be ready for some shock and awe as you tear through the darkness of this tantalizing tale.
I rated this story 4.5/5.
The last story, A Many Splendid Thing, reminds me of so many true crime cases I’ve seen over the years.
A young man named Jethro find a dead body. (You gotta love a dead body so early in the story, especially the first page.) Of course, being the one that reported the crime, this puts him on the radar of the police as a suspect. If that isn’t bad enough, the troubled teen is struggling at home with an abusive and angry drunk of a father who can’t seem to get over being abandoned by his wife a while back. Jethro just hates her. Dad, he just drinks.
But Jethro does have a place of rescue. His teacher Mrs. Carmine. He’s totally in love with her (ya know, hot for teacher…) but then again, so is every other guy in the school. Jethro feels almost blessed when she asks him to help her home with groceries.
Most of Jethro’s days at school are spent being as quiet and unseen as possible. Yet the three school bullies, Pete, Dean and Stumpy, are constantly antagonizing him every time they see him. But Mrs. Carmine usually takes Jethro’s side and runs to his aid. Of course, this makes him feel like she has a thing for him, which only intensifies his emotions towards her.
Eventually things progress between Mrs. Carmine and Jethro and they spend a wild weekend together while her husband is out of town. Then she starts telling Jethro things about her marriage and how she wants out and they can’t be together unless she doesn’t have a husband anymore…and all these thoughts and feelings start pouring into poor, young Jethro’s head and heart.
Thus, begins the game of cat and mouse between Jethro and his new love where she will stop at nothing to get what she wants and accomplishing her goals. And apparently, she’s outsourcing the job of getting rid of her husband.
So, who will accept? Who will decline? Who will survive and who comes out on top?
This story was by far my favorite. It’s the best story in the book. It has a fantastic ending and for me, was the most well written out of all. I was on the edge of my seat, reading as fast as I could just to find out what happened next when I turned the page.
I rated this story 5/5.
The average rating between the three stories is 4.5/5. This is a very good rating. I have to say that this is definitely a must read for horror lovers. Each story is independent of the others and they are all very entertaining to get to experience in your mind as you read.
ABOUT THE THREE AUTHORS