Book Review: Prophet’s Journey by Matthew S Cox

 

About Prophet’s Journey (Prophet of the Badlands) 

Althea struggles to adapt to an unexpected twist in her life—not being kidnapped in six whole months.The strange police from the faraway city claim the abilities she thought of as magic are really ‘psionics,’ and say she is far stronger than anyone they have ever seen. Despite their curiosity, they let her remain in the Badlands to protect her from an evil they call corporations. Of course, Althea knows all too well how powerful her healing gift is. For most of her life, she’d been a prize taken in raids. Tribes have killed to own her, and she let them.But the Prophet is done being passive.Having a family changes everything. No longer afraid to use her powers to protect herself, Althea refuses to be taken again… even when corporate mercenaries find her.

My Thoughts

A Prophet’s Journey is a fabulous book to sink into during our troubled Covid 19 times. The story is told through the eyes of Althea, an innocent eleven-year old struggling to come to terms with life in her adoptive family as everything around her is strange. She’s bilingual, Spanish and English, and the two become muddled in her mind, so much so that an assessment to determine if she is fit for school apportions her the mental age of a six-year old, something Althea is puzzled by. The people in her new home don’t seem to get her. And Althea knows she is mature beyond her years. In the opening chapters, the author masterfully handles the strangeness of Althea’s reality, easing the reader into the dystopian world he has created. This dystopian setting is situated in middle America. Things we take for granted – roads and traffic lights – are to Althea most odd. And that’s just the beginning.

Althea is The Prophet, a great healer, “the child with the blue eyes that lit up like stars.” She is a mystic with paranormal and transformational powers. She has telempathy, the ability to read or change the emotions of others, and this makes her highly sensitive to all impressions. I am reminded of indigo children, those with indigo auras especially sensitive to the high toxicity of the modern era, often with creative, artistic and mystic abilities. They are said to have rather piercing blue eyes, like Althea’s.

Prophet’s Journey is a story of Althea’s quest to return to her adoptive family after she is kidnapped. Thwarting her journey through the Badlands are the Raiders and the robotic tribe Sigma Six. Both groups have only one aim, to kill humans. Beautifully told through the eyes of a child with excellent characterisation especially of the protagonist, Cox delivers a page-turning, post-apocalyptic dystopian adventure with tremendous imagination, wit and insight into the dark and the light of humanity. A refreshing and absorbing read.

 

About Matthew S Cox

Originally from South Amboy NJ, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Since 1996, he has developed the “Divergent Fates” world in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, The Awakened Series, The Harmony Paradox, the Prophet of the Badlands series, and the Daughter of Mars series take place.

His books span adult, young-adult, and middle-grade fiction in multiple genres, predominantly science fiction, cyberpunk, post-apocalyptic, and fantasy.

Matthew is an avid gamer, a recovered WoW addict, developer of two custom tabletop RPG systems, and a fan of anime, British humour, and intellectual science fiction that questions the nature of humanity, reality, life, and what might happen after it.

He is also fond of cats, presently living with two: Loki and Dorian.

Links:

Amazon Prophet’s Journey https://www.amazon.com/Prophets-Journey-Prophet-Badlands-Matthew/dp/1950738019/

Twitter: @Mscox_Fiction / https://twitter.com/mscox_fiction

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MatthewSCoxAuthor

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/mscox

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/matthewcox10420/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7712730.Matthew_S_Cox

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mscox.author/

Book review: Crazy-Ass Stories for Crazy-Ass People by Andy Rausch

 

About Crazy-Ass Stories for Crazy-Ass People

This quirky collection of short stories (and one novella) by Andy Rausch contains something for readers of every stripe. Rausch touches on a variety of genres, including horror, comedy, crime, and even Western, but every story features his unique, offbeat wit, superb writing, and razor-sharp dialogue, all delivered from a decidedly off-kilter perspective. His work has been praised by the likes of Cape Fear screenwriter Wesley Strick and Fort Apache the Bronx author Heywood Gould. Author Peter Leonard once compared his writing style to that of his father, Elmore Leonard. Storylines include a naive little boy mistaking a burglar for Santa Claus, bumbling white supremacists attempting to resurrect the dead body of Adolf Hitler, a man who develops an unexplainable craving for the taste of human flesh, a would-be author summoning the spirit of dead novelist Charles Bukowski to assist him writing, a showdown between legendary lawman Wyatt Earp and a deadly serial killer on the dusty streets of Tombstone, and many more. So ask yourself: are you a little bit crazy, and if so, are you up to the task of reading these twenty-two wild and crazy tales of darkness, wackiness, and outright debauchery?

My Thoughts

Just as the book blurb states, Andy Rausch has produced a hilarious, off-the-wall collection of twenty-one short stories and a novella, all with satisfyingly ironic and at times macabre twists. I much appreciate the author’s cutting and economic literary style and terrific dialogue. Vivid characters abound, including the ludicrous and inane Chunk, to the revolting, personal-hygiene-challenged degenerate Turk through to quirky Granny Wilkins and her special family dinner and the file predator Roach and his encounter with an attractive young woman at a gas station. Each story is distinct. Rausch manages to evoke vivid settings with the fewest words.

The novella ‘Wyatt Earp and the Devil Incarnate’ sees Deputy Marshall Wyatt Earp – in real life the legendary American West lawman and gambler of Tombstone, Arizona, best known for his involvement in the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral – dealing with a string of gruesome murders. Rausch inhabits the western genre with aplomb. I could picture the saloon, the men, the gun holsters, conjure the sound of boots on unpolished wooden floors. The tale is raw and I liked the twist at the end.

There is depth to all these tales, insights into the human condition, and oodles of amorality, derangement and hapless folk dealing with confronting situations. Rauch’s journalistic mind comes to the fore, telling it as it is, shooting from the hip, never blenching, almost as though the author is shrugging and raising his hands at his readers saying, well, people can be like that.

Where is humanity’s moral compass? Does humanity even have one? How far would you take a ‘what if’?

In all Crazy-Ass Stories for Crazy-Ass People is an elixir of a special kind, appealing to those after fast-paced shorts to escape into and get a kick out of, and those who enjoy the odd moment of pause and reflection. Highly recommended.

 

About Andy Rausch

Andy Rausch is an American film journalist, author, screenwriter, film producer, and actor.

He is the author of several novels and novellas including Elvis Presley, CIA Assassin. He also wrote the screenplay for Dahmer versus Gacy and is the author of some twenty non-fiction books on popular culture.

Books: Riding Shotgun, Bloody Sheets, A Time for Violence, Layla’s Score.

You can usually find Andy on Twitter @writerrausch1, and he maintains a blog at https://authorandyrausch.wordpress.com/

 

Isobel Blackthorn is an award-winning author of unique and engaging fiction. She writes gripping mysteries, dark psychological thrillers and historical fiction. Her dark fiction includes The Cabin Sessions and The Legacy of Old Gran Parks

Book Review: Jon Richter’s Disturbing Works Vol 2

About Jon Richter’s Disturbing Works

Another compendium of delightfully macabre stories by Jon Richter, author of Deadly Burial and Never Rest. Jon’s first short fiction collection was described as ‘Black Mirror meets Tales Of The Unexpected’, and here he brings you another chilling assortment of twisted tales encompassing killer creatures, terrifying technology, and scientific experiments gone horribly wrong… These dark fables are perfect for anyone who likes their reads short, shocking, and laced with a dash of black humour.

My Thoughts

This collection of dark tales gets off to a suitably disturbing start as family man Walter attempts to cope with the garbage in his town’s landfill site, a quarry known as The Pit  – the stench, the rats, the maggots, the flies. Walter isn’t happy. He sends his wife and children away to enjoy cleaner air. The mounting garbage, caused by a strike, is mirrored in internal filth, in corruption in local government. The story unfolds through the lens of several other characters, but the main character is really the quarry itself, brought to life in visceral detail, the reader doomed to smell the smells and hear the buzz of the flies. Richter majors here in revulsion and he does it well.

Throughout these ten stories the prose is taut; Richter writes with that necessary poise required of good horror. There is no flab here. The stories are infused with intelligence and insight, the prose filled with crisp dialogue and evocative imagery, such as the following from ‘The Truth’:

“I suppose what I’d experienced had been something resembling a breakdown: a feeling like choking, of being slowly dragged beneath the surface of a lake, bureaucracy and corporate politics tangled around me like discarded plastic ensnaring a helpless sea creature.”

As this second story progresses, I’m reminded very much of Ivor Cutler both in terms of wit and in toying with the absurd. I’m also reminded that so much talent fails to get picked up by mainstream publishing with its orientation towards volumes of sales which lends itself to sameness and formulaic storylines to feed the masses, Fifty Shades style.

All of the stories in this collection set out to disturb, revolt and amuse. If it’s originality you want, look no further. Jon Richter has a wry sense of humour that shines through the pages and at times has you laughing almost in spite of yourself. Disturbing Works Vol 2 is an immersive journey in what is my favourite form of horror: British black humour. Jon Richer is a rare talent and his works surely deserve to be read.

Author bio:

Jon Richter writes dark fiction, including his two gripping crime thrillers, Deadly Burial and Never Rest, and his two collections of short horror fiction, volumes one and two of Jon Richter’s Disturbing Works. Jon lives in Elephant & Castle and is a self-confessed nerd who loves books, films and video games – basically any way to tell a great story. He writes whenever he can, and hopes to bring you more macabre tales in the very near future, including his upcoming cyberpunk noir thriller, London 2039: Auxiliary. He also co-hosts the Dark Natter podcast, a fortnightly dissection of the greatest works of dark fiction, available wherever you get your podcast fix. If you want to chat to him about any of this, you can find him on Twitter @RichterWrites or Instagram @jonrichterwrites.
His website haunts the internet at http://www.jon-richter.com, and you can find his books at Amazon here: https://amzn.to/2OXXRVP.

Isobel Blackthorn is an award-winning author of unique and engaging fiction. She writes gripping mysteries, dark psychological thrillers and historical fiction. Her dark fiction includes The Cabin Sessions and The Legacy of Old Gran Parks

Book Review: The Mentor by Lee Matthew Goldberg

About The Mentor

Kyle Broder has achieved his lifelong dream and is an editor at a major publishing house.

When Kyle is contacted by his favorite college professor, William Lansing, Kyle couldn’t be happier. Kyle has his mentor over for dinner to catch up and introduce him to his girlfriend, Jamie, and the three have a great time. When William mentions that he’s been writing a novel, Kyle is overjoyed. He would love to read the opus his mentor has toiled over.

Until the novel turns out to be not only horribly written, but the most depraved story Kyle has read.

After Kyle politely rejects the novel, William becomes obsessed, causing trouble between Kyle and Jamie, threatening Kyle’s career, and even his life. As Kyle delves into more of this psychopath’s work, it begins to resemble a cold case from his college town, when a girl went missing. William’s work is looking increasingly like a true crime confession.

Lee Matthew Goldberg’s The Mentor is a twisty, nail-biting thriller that explores how the love of words can lead to a deadly obsession with the fate of all those connected and hanging in the balance.

 

My Thoughts

Lee Matthew Goldberg’s The Mentor is a tense, dark,  psychological thriller. It starts in the urbane world of an upwardly mobile young professional, and descends, step by terrifying step, into a nightmare world of depravity and murder.  It is a thriller that cuts across genres and works on many levels.  There is a nail-biter of a crime mystery, which keeps the reader hooked from deceptive start to gruelling finish, with twists and turns that leave them wondering what is real and what isn’t.  There is a narrative about relationships and history, as we gradually learn the complex back stories of the main characters and their relationships with each other.  All the characters are interesting and the changes in point of view mean that we see the story in the round, understanding how each of the characters has their own version of the world.  Goldberg is masterful in creating sympathetic characters who are all engagingly imperfect, as well as a deeply worrying villain who none the less has charm and occasionally pathos.

For a lover of books, one of the most entertaining undercurrents of this novel is its running commentary on the production of fiction.  Kyle is a publishing editor; Lansing is a teacher of literature; Kyle has dreamt in the past of writing novels; Lansing still does.  Throughout the novel there is a conversation about how fiction works, richly peppered by references to authors from Edgar Allen Poe to Jean Paul Sartre, Camus to Orwell.  The story in no way depends upon knowing these references, but if you do recognise them, they give an additional depth to the read and each adds a clever counterpoint to the events of the novel.  This production of literature theme operates at a number of different levels, starting at the end point of the commercial publishing house, and gradually stripping the process down, layer by layer,  like a dance of veils, back to the origin of fiction in the darkest psychological secrets.  The opening chapters give a satirical  perspective on the publishing industry, wherein both books and authors are commodities to be cynically traded.  Moving back from this, we see the process of writing a novel – two almost comically different first-time novelists, both struggling to bring their precious works to completion.  Then, as we are drawn into the mind of the terrible William Lansing, we enter an exploration of the dark side of the creative process, the point where reality and fiction intersect.

Most authors of dark books will know that intersection, or at least will recognise the anxious looks on the faces of friends, family, partners, as the nagging question occurs to them.  This dark story, emerging from the mind of someone they have known and trusted:  “How come you have written this? I thought I knew you… Where does this stuff come from?”  The answer in Lansing’s case is far from reassuring – as the narrative moves on, we discover that in his case, the line between reality and dark fantasy is fine to the point of illusory. At times it appears that Lansing’s ghastly novel-within-a-novel is not only recording a real past, implicating both Lansing and Kyle, but also, in some terrifying way, writing their real future. The shocking events at the climax of the story underline that possibility, as does the wicked twist at the end of the book.

Perhaps, in fact, there is no boundary at all.

About Lee Matthew Goldberg

Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of the novels THE DESIRE CARD, THE MENTOR, and SLOW DOWN. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the 2018 Prix du Polar. The second book in the Desire Card series, PREY NO MORE, is forthcoming in 2020, along with his first Sci-Fi novel ORANGE CITY. His new endeavor will be as the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Fringe Press and Fringe Digital, dedicated to publishing fiction that’s outside-of-the-box. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Book Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in the anthology DIRTY BOULEVARD, The Millions, Cagibi, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, The New Plains Review, Underwood Press and others. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series and lives in New York City. Follow him at leematthewgoldberg.com.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Mentor-Thriller-Lee-Matthew-Goldberg/dp/1250083540/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=the+mentor+lee+matthew&qid=1579824002&sr=8-1

Isobel Blackthorn is an award-winning author of unique and engaging fiction. She writes gripping mysteries, dark psychological thrillers and historical fiction. She is the author of The Unlikely Occultist: A biographical novel of Alice A Bailey.

 

Book Review: The Unholy by Paul deBlassie III

About The Unholy

The Unholy is a dramatic story of Claire Sanchez, a young medicine woman, intent on discovering the closely-guarded secrets of her past. Forced into a life-and-death battle against an evil Archbishop, William Anarch, she confronts the dark side of religion and the horror of one man’s will to power.

Set in the mystic land of Aztlan, The Unholy is a supernatural tale of destiny as healer and slayer.

Native lore of dreams and visions, shape changing, and natural magic work to spin a neo-gothic web in which sadness and mystery lure the unsuspecting into a twilight realm of discovery and decision.

My Thoughts

A prologue of a young girl standing in the wilderness watching her mother as she’s attacked by a murderous and plainly evil man in black sets the tone of this supernatural thriller. The girl is saved by wolves who take her to a cave and protect her. The first chapter then opens in a psychiatric hospital situated in the desert of mythical Aztlan where Claire Sanchez – the girl now grown – works as a natural therapist. She’s struggling to deal with her angry patient Elizabeth who has an important message for her, one Claire does not want to hear. She has shunned her medicine ways after witnessing her mother’s death, realising they expose you to too much evil. Yet the evil that killed her mother is coming for her too and she needs to face it. Ecclesiastical evil, no less, corrupted by power and greed.

I was excited to read The Unholy as I have a background in Transpersonal Psychology, including the medicine ways of native Americans and last year I visited for the first time some of the desert regions of the United States and experienced the deep spirituality of the landscape. I am happy to say Paul deBlassie III did not disappoint. The Unholy is a slow-paced and absorbing read peppered with tension and fear and plenty of action to hold the interest. The writing is strong, the plot well-conceived. Evocative descriptions of landscape and well-executed introspection fuel this read. The author demonstrates good characterisation, particularly regarding the protagonist, and provides just enough exposition to let the reader in on the most important theme in the book: native American spirituality versus the dark side of institutionalised Christianity. An entertaining and informative read leaving the reader with much to ponder.

About Paul DeBlassie III

Ph.D., is a psychologist and writer living in his native New Mexico. Memberships include the Depth Psychology Alliance, International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, Author’s Guild, and the Visionary Fiction Alliance. He has for over thirty years treated patients in spiritual and emotional crises as well as writing and publishing visionary thrillers and essays in depth psychology.

Isobel Blackthorn is an award-winning author of unique and engaging fiction. She writes gripping mysteries, dark psychological thrillers and historical fiction. She is the author of The Unlikely Occultist: a biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey.

Book Review: Follow Him by Craig Stewart

About Follow Him

True love doesn’t die – it devours. Just outside the sleepy town of Dreury, a mysterious cult known as The Shared Heart has planted its stakes. Its followers are numerous. More join every day. Those who are lost and suffering seem to be drawn to it; a home for the broken. When Jacob finds himself in need of such a home, he abandons his dead name and gives himself over to the will of The Great Collector. However, love refuses to let Jacob go so easily; his ex-fiancé, Nina, kidnaps him in the hopes that he can be deprogrammed. As she attempts to return Jacob to the life they once had, a terrible fear creeps in: what if there isn’t enough of her Jacob left? When The Great Collector learns of his missing follower, the true nature of The Shared Heart is unleashed. Nina discovers what Jacob already knows: that hidden behind the warm songs and soaring bonfires is a terrifying and ancient secret; one that lives and breathes and hungers. And it’s coming for them.
 

My Thoughts

Follow Him falls into that category of horror that draws on the paranormal in the form on an ancient evil, a metaphysical entity of enormous potency. The novel opens with Jacob coming out of a strange trance in which he saw for himself what the worshippers of The Shared Heart thought they knew. He could fly, he could soar, and he had come face to face with the beast. The experience was ecstatic, a privilege, only for the chosen few, and all who worshipped coveted the same. Jacob is lost, doomed and it remains for his ex-fiance to save him. When gutsy Nina appears on the scene, breaking into The Sanctuary to steal Jacob away, the story picks up speed in true thriller fashion.

Stewart has penned a novel with a complex undertow very much pointed at the dangers of religious and spiritual cults. I enjoyed the Biblical overtones. It is no accident that Stewart named his protagonist Jacob – Jacob first appears in the Book of Genesis as the son of Isaac and Rebecca, he who wrestled with God and forced God to bless him. Jacob is said to have experienced a vision of a ladder, or staircase, reaching into heaven with angels ascending and descending, known as Jacob’s ladder. Stewart’s Jacob follows ‘The Collector’, the beast’s messenger, and has out of body experiences that change him forever in the most unpleasant of ways.

The complexities of this theme are cleverly buried beneath an action-led, fast-paced plot laced with sensuality. Well-crafted characters, excellent snappy dialogue, and a sharp and witty narrative style make Follow Him great entertainment. Yet this novel remains ultra-disturbing in every respect. Follow Him is Iain Banks’ Whit on steroids. Recommended to horror/dark thriller fans after their next fix.

About Craig Stewart

Craig Stewart is a Canadian author and filmmaker who learned how to count from the rhyme, “One, two, Freddy’s coming for you.”

He’s a creator and connoisseur of everything horror; never afraid to delve into the dark, and then a little further. His written works include short stories, film scripts, articles, and most recently, a novel.

He has also written and directed several short horror films that have enjoyed screenings across North America.

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE: mybook.to/craigstewart

Don’t be afraid to reach out to him on twitter: @TheCraigStewart

Or visit his website: everythingcraigstewart.com

Read Craig’s interview with Fanbase Press hereFANBASE PRESS

Follow Him can be found here – https://www.amazon.com/Follow-Him-Craig-Stewart/dp/194831875X/

Isobel Blackthorn is an award-winning author of unique and engaging fiction. She writes gripping mysteries, dark psychological thrillers and historical fiction. She is the author of The Unlikely Occultist: a biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey.

Book Review: Bullets, Teeth and Fists 3 by Jason Beech

 

 

BULLETS, TEETH, & FISTS 3

She’s heavily pregnant. She’s handcuffed to a pipe. The clock is ticking. Belle, the heavily pregnant wife of an important man, is bundled into the back of a car, held against her will, and cuffed to a pipe in an abandoned apartment … and her waters are about to break. Belle is desperate for her baby girl to survive and live a better life than she ever had. All she has to do is get one of her kidnappers onside. All her husband has to do is pay the ransom. Will he? The latest in the Bullets series is here – 20 exciting, violent, and sometimes heartbreaking short stories of noir and pulp fiction. Put your gloves on, it’s bloody round here.

My Thoughts

This short story collection opens with a confronting and fast paced tale of the survival of a pregnant woman protecting her baby in a kidnap gone wrong. From there, Beech takes his readers into urban and domestic settings, some seedy, others banal, and finishing off with a zombie tale. There’s Ross on his way home from the supermarket with the groceries, which should be an ordinary trip, but for the suspicious man pulling out in the car beside him. Then there’s a guy just released from prison, a guy with a dog in the pub. Some stories are flash fiction in length. Others are fully fleshed out. All of these stories plunge the reader straight into the action.
Jason Beech has a pleasingly gritty writing style, chiseled, polished, a touch literary which I enjoy, instantly engaging and perfect for the hardboiled pulp and noir genres. The author infuses his tales with irony and astute observation. Good characterisation throughout and clever storylines, each with a satisfying twist and an unexpected ending, make for a highly entertaining read. Recommended for those who want to switch off the telly and sink into some solid British noir shorts for an evening.

About Jason Beech

Sheffield native, New Jersey resident — writes crime fiction and interviews crime authors at Flash Fiction Offensive. His coming-of-age crime drama City of Forts was described as “tense, atmospheric, and haunting” by UK crime writer Paul D. Brazill.
You can buy Jason’s work from Amazon and read his work at Spelk Fiction, Shotgun Honey, Close to the Bone, The Flash Fiction Offensive, Punk Noir Magazine, Punk Noir, and Pulp Metal Magazine.
Twitter: @beech_jason
Facebook: Messy Business