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

Book Review: 113 Hours by Zach Abrams

133 Hours

 

Arriving at work to find she’s lost more than five and a half days of her life, Briony has no recollection of where she’s been, or what has happened. Has she been ill or had a breakdown – or could she have been drugged and abducted?

Doubting her own sanity, Briony is fearful of what lies beyond the surface, yet driven to discover the truth. Going through her scarce memories, she realizes that something terrible might have happened to her during the time she has no recollection of.

Assisted by her friends Alesha and Jenny, they team up with a retired detective to uncover the truth. But where was she for 133 hours… and why?

 

My Thoughts

A mysterious attack on a young woman who was drugged and held captive for a week, and then finds herself walking through Glasgow train station, dopey and confused and unaware of what has happened to her makes for a compelling opening to this fast-paced, gripping read. Briony turns up for work and is taken in hand by a colleague who accompanies her to the local police station to report the apparent crime. Gradually Briony is reassured as the friend she was planning to meet the night she disappeared rallies around to support her. Suddenly she is surrounded by caring folk. Even her acerbic boss is being extraordinarily nice to her. Can any of these people be trusted? Briony isn’t sure. She also isn’t sure about the flashbacks she keeps having. Are they memories or just her imagination running wild?

Written with all the economy and up-close and personal of deep pov in short sharp chapters, Abrams never misses a beat. The plotting and pacing are terrific. The protagonist is fully developed and believable and I especially appreciated the effort Abrams took to nuance Briony’s emotions. He captures her feelings, the numbness and confusion perfectly, evidence of Abrams own depth and empathy. The police procedural aspects of this thriller are handled delicately and realistically too, something I was pleased to find.

The author keeps you guessing to the very end in this highly compelling thriller that can easily be read in one sitting. Recommended.

About Zach Abrams

 

Purchase Links:

http://mybook.to/133

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07ZT9VRF3

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07ZT9VRF3

Author Bio –

Having the background of a successful career in commerce and finance, Zach Abrams has spent many years writing reports, letters and presentations and it’s only fairly recently he started writing novels. “It’s a more honourable type of fiction,” he declares.

Writer of the Alex Warren Murder Mystery series, set in Scotland, Zach has also written the psychological thriller ‘Ring Fenced’ and the financial thriller ‘Source’, as well as collaborating with Elly Grant on a book of short stories.

Zach is currently producing a non-fiction series to help small businesses -using the collective title ‘Mind Your Own Business’. The first, ‘So, You Think You Want to be a Landlord’ is already available.

Social Media Links –

Website : http://zachabrams.wix.com/zach-abrams
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Zach-Abrams-author-463346010364540/
Twitter: @authorway

Blackthorn Book Tours: Death of a Young Lieutenant by B R Stateham

About Death of a Young Lieutenant

Meet Captain Jake Reynolds – pilot, adventurer, art thief, spy.

In the opening weeks of World War One, and as a member of the newly formed British Royal Flying Corps, Captain Jake Reynolds is shipped off to Belgium.

Roped in by his squadron commander to prove the innocence of a young lieutenant accused of murder, Jake also wants to steal a 14th Century Jan van Eck painting.

The problem is both the evidence and the painting are behind enemy lines.

How do you prove a man’s innocence and steal a masterpiece while an entire German army is breathing down your neck?

My Thoughts

Stateham has penned an intriguing and well-conceived story told mostly through the eyes of daring art thief and forger Captain Jake Reynolds, who is charged with finding out who murdered Sergeant Grimms. Young Lieutenant Oglethorpe, also deceased, is in the frame. Only Colonel Wingate is not so sure he’s guilty. Reynolds heads off to investigate, a task that means he must sneak behind enemy lines. While there, he plots another art theft. 

There is much to love in this novel. I enjoyed Stateham’s punchy, rhythmic narrative style. Stateham has taken his literary chisel to his daring protagonist Jake Reynolds and sculpted a complex larrikin of a character that can charm his way out of the tightest of spots. The mystery elements combine in intricate ways that make for an engaging and entertaining read. And there is plenty of action to kick things along to a satisfying conclusion.

When it comes to stories based in history, anachronisms can easily slip in. World War One in 1914 was known as the Great War. But Stateham writes for a contemporary audience and perhaps made his choice accordingly. Death of a Young Lieutenant to my mind would not be classed historical fiction, the genre where such things matter, heaps, with historians quick to demolish a novel for getting a small point wrong. And yet the novel is packed with historical details and the author has clearly researched his subject, especially regarding the history of aviation. I appreciated the realism of the backdrop.

In all Death of a Young Lieutenant will please murder mystery fans who love to be taken on a journey to another time and place, to find themselves in amongst all the action. Recommended.

 

About B.R. Stateham

B.R. Stateham is a fourteen-year-old boy trapped in a seventy-year-old body.  But his enthusiasm and boyish delight in anything mysterious and/or unknown continue.

Writing novels, especially detectives, is just the avenue of escape which keeps the author’s mind sharp and inquisitive.  He’s published a ton of short stories in online magazines like Crooked, Darkest Before the Dawn, Abandoned Towers, Pulp Metal Magazine, Suspense Magazine, Spinetingler Magazine, Near to The Knuckle, A Twist of Noir, Angie’s Diary, Power Burn Flash, and Eastern Standard Crime.  He writes both detective/mysteries, as well as science-fiction and fantasy.

In 2008 the first book in the series featuring homicide detectives Turner Hahn and Frank Morales came out, called Murderous Passions.

Also, in 2008 he self-published a fantasy novel entitled, Roland of the High Crags: Evil Arises.

In 2009 he created a character named Smitty.  So far twenty-eight short stories and two novellas have been written about this dark eyed, unusually complex hit man.

In 2012 Untreed Reads published book two of the Turner Hahn/Frank Morales series A Taste of Old Revenge.

In 2015 NumberThirteen Press published a Smitty novella entitled, A Killing Kiss.

In 2017 a British indie publisher, Endeavour Media, re-issued A Taste of Old Revenge, and soon followed by a second Turner Hahn/Frank Morales novel entitled, There Are No Innocents.

In 2018 Endeavour Media published a third novel of mine, the first in a 1st Century Roman detective series, entitled While the Emperor Slept.

Also in 2018, NumberThirteen Press merged with another famous British indie, Fahrenheit Press. Soon afterwards, Fahrenheit Press re-issued an old novel of mine entitled, Death of a Young Lieutenant.

Now, after all of this apparent success, you would think Fame and Fortune would have sailed into my harbor, making me the delight of the hard-core genre world. Ah but contraire, mon ami! Fame and Fortune are two devious little wraths who pick and chooses the poor souls they wish to bedevil. I remain in complete anonymity and am just as bereft of fortune as I have always been. And apparently will continue to be for a long time to come.

B.R. Stateham has a blog called, In the Dark Mind of B.R. Stateham – http://noirtaketurner-frank.blogspot.com/

https://www.amazon.com/Death-Young-Lieutenant-Jake-Reynolds-ebook/dp/B07TBFFMFT/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3E0AXA4WW0B27&keywords=death+of+a+young+lieutenant+br+stateham&qid=1577942808&sprefix=death+of+a+young+li%2Caps%2C406&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 Spirits of Six Minstrel Run by Matthew S Cox

 

Here’s my slot on The Spirits of Six Minstrel Run Blackthorn Book Tour.

 

About The Spirits of Six Minstrel Run

A move to the small town of Spring Falls, New York, is the perfect cure for Mia Gartner’s horrid commute. However, her new home isn’t quite empty.

She adored working in fine art restoration, but a two-hour ride each way got old fast. When her husband found a house for sale at a suspiciously low price, they jumped at it. Mia expected chemical contamination, a fixer-upper, or termites, so when the problem turned out to be persistent rumors of haunting, she set aside her worries. Adam hoped the place would propel his parapsychology hobby into a career.

Upon first sight, the innocuous suburban house filled Mia with dread. Adam had long maintained she had a psychic gift, but if she believed him, that would mean something terrible and dark once happened there.

Soon after their arrival, unexplained events prove the rumors are more than wild stories. A childlike spirit attaches itself to Mia, seeming harmless and so very lonely.

Alas, she fears the ghost may not be as innocent as it seems.

 

My Thoughts

This straight ahead haunted house novel opens with Adam and Mia heading to their new home on Minstrel Run. Adam is an academic taking up a new posting at Syracuse in the psychology faculty. Mia is a painting restorer with a spooky past. Adam has a special interest in the paranormal and believes Mia has special psychic abilities she’s in denial of. He knows Six Minstrel Run is haunted and buys the house no one else wants as a kind of twisted experiment. He is as keen as mustard. Mia is, from the very first moment, terrified, even as she battles with her fear and summons enough courage to get on with the normal routines of domestic life. Yet even before she crosses the threshold and enters the house, she is consumed by dread. It is Mia’s terror that permeates the narrative and makes this novel utterly convincing and really very spooky. Throw in a local clergyman who comes knocking on their door offering his assistance and protection from the truly evil spirits lurking in their new home and you have the perfect set up.

I enjoyed the steady plotting, the twist, and the unfolding of the characters, their interesting lives, thoughts and motives, the plethora of scary scenes rising in intensity and escalating to a heart-pounding climax. Mia is a strong female lead, intelligent, resilient, courageous. The narrative has a strong forward drive, not overly weighed down by back story and exposition, the reader given just enough explanatory detail to provide context and setting. In all, The Spirits of Six Minstrel Run is a well written, traditional supernatural horror novel for those who want to be truly terrified. Not to be read alone in the dark in a big old house with creaky doors and attics and cellars. Cox has penned a classic.

About the Author

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:

The Spirits of Six Minstrel Runhttps://www.amazon.com/dp/B07MY8GDHC

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/

 

Isobel Blackthorn is the author of a Canary Islands Mystery series, including A Matter of LatitudeClarissa’s Warning and A Prison in the SunThe Drago Tree serves as a prequel. Find her author page and easy access to her writing here author.to/IsobelBlackthorn

Book Review: Gumshoe Blues by Paul D. Brazill

It’s my turn on the Blackthorn Book Tour for Gumshoe Blues by Paul D. Brazill!

Gumshoe Blues

Following the breakdown of his marriage, in a booze-addled flash of inspiration, Peter Ord decides to become a private investigator. Dark farce and tragicomedy soon ensue. Peter must tackle many challenging cases, and when he comes under the radar of a local crime lord, he may have bitten off more than he can chew. With sidekicks, like boozy hack, Bryn Laden, failure is not an option – it’s compulsory.

My Thoughts

What a corker of a volume this is! Four stories, one a novelette in length, all told from the perspective of washed-up, hard-boiled private investigator and former English teacher Peter Ord. The opening scene of ‘Gumshoe Blues’ find Peter waking up on New Year’s Day after a night of binge drinking. I can hear U2 playing in the background, I can smell the fetid air in the grotty room. The sleaze continues on into pubs and Velvettes, a nightclub for ‘gentlemen’. We soon meet the  supporting cast of barmen, dancers, and underworld bosses make up the northern UK town of Seatown.

Throughout the volume, Brazill’s originality and imagination shine. ‘Mr Kiss and Tell’ finds a wife-beating loser and Ord as a store detective at Poundland – one of Britain’s cheap discount stores. I am reminded of ‘World of Quid’ in the opening episode of the new season  of Birds of a Feather. Stores existing to let the poor believe they can afford to shop. ‘Who Killed Skippy’ finds Ord paid to protect Craig Ferry, from himself. The mystery is solved in the end, but it is hardly the point to the story, which is rather to spotlight the iniquitous Ferry family and particularly the  loser-behemoth, Craig. ‘The Lady and The Gimp’ is an oddly charmingly bleak tale of former lead singer of a punk rock band Lightning Jones – who belongs to Spammy Spampinato doing time for a string of murders –  and Barry Blue, ‘The Gimp’, doing some handyman work at Harry Shand’s bar. His gaze lands on Jones and he falls in lust. Meanwhile, Jones hires Ord to track down his mother.

Brazill crafts strong, believable and quirky characters. The jump cuts walking us through vignettes and backstory work well. A healthy use of colloquialisms lends a gritty authenticity. Told masterfully with tremendous wit and realism in taut, punchy prose, Gumshoe Blues contributes a work of considerable merit to the noir crime stable. In all Brazill offers his readers a window on northern Britain’s underbelly, the everyday humdrum banality of struggle street existence and wrecked lives. Definitely a book to look out for.

 

About the Author

Paul D. Brazill was born in Hartlepool, England and now lives in Bydgoszcz, Poland, where he’s been TEFL teaching for more than a decade.

His books include Last Year’s Man, A Case Of Noir, Guns Of Brixton, Small Time Crimes, and Kill Me Quick. He’s had stories published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime 8,10 and 11, and his writing has been translated in Italian, Polish, Finnish, German and Slovenian.

You can usually find him on Twitter @PaulDBrazill and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pauldavidbrazill/

Website: https://pauldbrazill.com/

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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.