Thrilling Halloween Promo

Need to discover some new reads in the run up to Halloween?

Then check out this list of 59 FREE novels, novellas, short stories and novel samples!

CLICK HERE

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Dark Impulses – Book Club Giveaway


For the next 12 days, in the run up to Halloween, I’ve teamed up with 12 other authors as part of a Book Club incentive that celebrates dark fiction in the theme of ‘Dark Impulses,’ and will be giving away Emergence for free. 

I know, FREE, that’s fucking crazy, right?

As a general rule, I don’t tend to give away my full length horror novels. Too much time and effort goes into them, and let’s face it, I need to earn a living too. So this offer will be something of a one-off.

Emergence was my debut horror novel, so if you aren’t yet familiar with my full length pieces, I’d suggest you start with this one. I’ve also created some extra reading material to enhance the reading experience. 

If you already do have a copy of Emergence, you can download the extra reading material HERE. Also that means, since you already have a copy of Emergence, you either bought it online or from me in person, so for that I want to say a massive THANK YOU for your support, I love you guys! 

If you do read and enjoy Emergence, can I ask that you please leave a review. I can’t express how important reviews are to an author. Especially an indie author. If a book has 50+ reviews, Amazon will be more likely to feature it in their newsletters and ‘Also Bought’ sections, giving the book more exposure and visibility. Even something as simple as ‘I liked it’ is enough, you don’t have to write an essay.

So anyway, yeah, if you’d like to explore some dark thoughts and urges this Halloween (and goodness knows John Gimmerick in Emergence has plenty), then check out this list of 13 books and feel free to share it with your friends, family members, colleagues and anyone you might meet in the street…

DARK IMPULSES BOOK CLUB GIVEAWAY

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Cribbins: He Lived & Died in the House Next Door

There’s a devil waiting outside your door,
He’s weak with evil and broken by the world,
He’s shouting your name and he’s asking for more. ― Metallica, Loverman

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Hey, it’s been a while. I can’t believe it’s October tomorrow!

Recently I had part of my immune system wiped out, and have been oscillating between feeling wired on steroids and feeling rather fragile. But it’s all good, I’ve had time to reflect and get the first draft of the new book written, and I’m officially kicking the shit out of MS. Woo!

So, the new book. Originally I was going to call it The House Next Door, but having realised there are quite a few other books with that title, I’ve decided to rename it Cribbins. But what does that mean? Here’s a summary of the book which will explain…

“While struggling to cope with the emotional and physical impact of having been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, single mother Sophie Harrington is tormented by a man from the past: her old neighbour Ronnie Cribbins.

Cribbins has been dead for the past fifteen years and Sophie is faced with the possibility that his malevolent spirit could be the cause of her autoimmunity, because she can feel him attacking her senses from within. 

Enlisting the help of new neighbour Piotr Kamiński, a troubled younger man, Sophie must look to the past in order to expose a secret she hadn’t realised she’d kept hidden. Because if she doesn’t recognise the truth she, along with her eleven-year-old daughter, will be sucked into Cribbins’ cold, black, stinking world forever. 

And in Cribbins’ world there’s no medication – just pain and sickness.”

I’m really pleased with the way Cribbins is shaping up. When I first came up with the idea, during my own second relapse, I’d moved back in with my parents because my husband was working away and I was pretty much out of action. I remember lying in my old bedroom one night, tripping on steroids, wondering why I could hear snoring coming from the house next door. This then opened up a whole load of ‘what ifs’ in my head and everything kind of snowballed from there.

It’s worth pointing out that although Sophie Harrington shares a couple of similarities, she’s by no means meant to be me. I merely wanted to tackle MS within my fiction, perhaps as a form of therapy, but also to raise awareness. Undoubtedly, MS is one scary motherfucker and it can strike out of the blue, targeting anyone. Until I found myself in its sights, I had absolutely no idea this was the case. So yeah, awareness means vigilance. It’s one of the many monsters under the bed that we’d do well to know about, so that before it gets too big we can drag it out by the ankles and kick its teeth out.

As for Cribbins, who is he? Well, he’s an amalgamation of various people I’ve known throughout my time and pure fiction. But one thing’s for certain, he’s a sick, horrible old bastard that no one would want for a neighbour.

R

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IT

I went to see IT last night, finally! I had reservations before I went, that is, I didn’t dare hope too much that it would be great – but I needn’t have worried. The banter between the kids brings a level of entertainment that I’ve probably not seen since The Goonies. And Pennywise was definitely more than acceptable. 

On a whole, the film wasn’t piss-your-pants scary, but it had the right blend of creepiness and humour to make for a very memorable and enjoyable film. In fact I believe this new version of IT will become a classic within the genre. 🤡🎈

#pennywisethedancingclown #weallfloatdownhere

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Highs of Horror

In the local newspaper yesterday, my horror writing journey so far:

http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/culture/books/15400690.Highs_of_horror/

Me & Ravens

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Bird Box – Josh Malerman

Bird_Box_2014_book_coverI read this book because of the hype associated with it, and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. Malerman takes the fear of going blind and runs wild with it. The main character, Malorie, faces the challenge of being pregnant and then raising her child more often than not blindly, because there’s something outside that if seen makes a person go mad, driving them to suicide.

I must say that for me Malorie wasn’t a particularly likeable character. That is, I never felt that I was rooting for her all that much (I preferred some of her housemates). But she was pretty grounded, given the situation, and kick-ass enough to succeed as being the protagonist nonetheless. She satisfyingly carried the story from beginning to end.

I did worry how an entire novel could be written about blindfolded people, but it works surprisingly well. The storyline jumps from past to present, so it never loses pace.

I kept thinking while reading that I wouldn’t have made it far in the developing situation, because curiosity would have got the better of me. I’d have definitely peaked out the window to see what was out there!

Malerman creates a tense atmosphere for a dynamic group of people who are all sheltering in the same house. It’s a highly claustrophobic piece and I like that he leaves a lot to the reader’s imagination.

Overall it was a quick, easy read which effectively tapped into some fundamental fears of mine, so Bird Box gets a solid 4.5* from me.

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Stallo – Stefan Spjut

22841.books.origjpgAs soon as I read the description for this book I just had to read it. I love trolls and have always felt drawn to Scandinavian countries, so it promised to be a winner. The opening chapter was fantastic, it really set the scene and I could tell straight away that I was going to get along famously with Spjut’s writing style. He has a way of slipping very normal, trivial observations into the prose to wonderful effect. By doing this he masterfully injects a dose of believability in a tale that’s filled with magical creatures. Hat’s off to him, he totally nailed it. The storytelling was so successfully grounded, I had no problem believing in trolls.

I particularly enjoyed that Spjut doesn’t glamorise the characters. They’re fairly ordinary folk. Nothing outstanding or heroic about any of them. He doesn’t shy away from giving us trivial, yet impacting scene-setting details either – like when the characters have snot on their faces because it’s so damn cold. I guess what I’m trying to say is that he tells it how it is. And I like that.

I also enjoyed discovering things about Swedish culture that I wasn’t otherwise familiar with. I find reading stories which transport me to non-English settings are hugely intriguing and appealing. This was certainly the case with Stallo.

Spjut uses an interesting mix of third person POV and first person POV. This worked well. It was never confusing because the first person POV sections were only ever told from Gudrun’s point of view. It was a refreshing mix which kept the story moving.

Overall I’d give Stallo 4.5*. The only reason it doesn’t get 5* is because I’d have liked more scares. The story was more magical/fantasy-like thriller than straight-up horror.

On a side note, John Ajvide Lindqvist is one of my favourite authors, and now having read Spjut’s work, I feel like I need to read more Swedish horror!

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Before I Wake

MV5BMjM5NDAzNjgzOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODA0MTUzMDI@._V1_UY268_CR4,0,182,268_AL_A couple who have lost their son in a domestic incident decide to foster a boy, to take the edge off their bereavement and to focus their energy on something positive.

I went into this film thinking there’d be an introduction to some devil child, or similar, and that he would stab his new foster parents in the back with his craft scissors as soon as their backs were turned. But this wasn’t so. Cody was a pretty cute kid who was never anything but polite and caring.

So how does this work as a horror film if the bereaved couple fostered a well-adapted, smart kid?

Well I’ll tell you. Whenever Cody goes to sleep he dreams, and his dreams become a reality for whoever is within close range. This might not sound like such a bad thing if he dreams about nice things, but there’s something bad that lurks in his dreams and this bad thing always tends to surface. Which the new foster parents soon find out!

Cody is aware of the scary consequences his dreams can have on others, and he’s so conscientious and thoughtful enough to try to prevent it from happening – he has a stash of stimulants under his bed (Red Bull and Pro Plus type stuff). But obviously when you’re so tired, as the teens in Nightmare On Elm Street will tell you, you’ve got to sleep eventually.

I particularly liked the way the foster parents reacted to Cody’s dreams. I could understand the mother’s desperate hope of seeing her own son again by trying to get Cody to dream about him. And I could sympathise with the father’s sense of trepidation, that what was happening was very wrong.

All in all, the storyline was actually pretty good. It was like taking the idea of Freddie Krueger and doing something new with it.

Unfortunately, however, I can only give the film 2.5 stars.

So, what didn’t I like so much?

Despite me fully understanding the motives and emotions of the characters, I never felt totally drawn into them. I dunno, something fell flat. I wasn’t wholly convinced.

My biggest issue, however, was with the antagonist itself: The Canker Man. This is the ghoul who haunts Cody’s nightmares. When it fully revealed itself in a visual sense, that’s when I began to lose interest. I guess horror is subjective and all that, but The Canker Man just made me just roll my eyes. It was too CGI’d for me to care. More often than not, less is more in horror as far as I’m concerned. I get the best chills from fleeting flashes of something moving within a shadow, the grainy outline of a figure that I can’t quite make out. Someone else’s monster, in this case The Canker Man, will often fail to scare me as much as the suggestion of it would.

I did like the story concept, which is why it gets a 2.5*. Just not the execution, unfortunately.

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American Horror Story – Season 5 – Hotel

Since I’m on a bit of a reviewing streak, I felt it only right to review AHS Hotel. I finished watching the final episode last night. Now I’m gutted because it’s over and I have to wait till late in the year for Season 6 to be added to Netflix. Oh well, it seems like life is all about waiting. Like the yearly wait for Game of Thrones and, way back when, the yearly wait for the next in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

I must admit, when I watched the first episode of Hotel I wasn’t convinced. That is, I just couldn’t see where the storyline would go and had a momentary lapse of faith that AHS could put on another great show. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. Hotel ended up sharing joint place for my favourite AHS, alongside Asylum. It’s dark, deeply disturbing, intriguing, funny, sad, kinky and addictive as hell. There are lots of threads running throughout involving vampires, murderers, ghosts, junkies, film stars, a bunch of kids who look like the set from The Children of the Corn and a homicide detective.

I was gutted to learn that Jessica Lange wouldn’t be in this series. Instead we got Lady Gaga. But wow, she totally rocked the roll of The Countess. Hers was one of my favourite characters in fact – and dare I say, sometimes for her fashion sense alone.

My other favourite characters were Liz Taylor (Denis O’ Hare), the transvestite who helps run the Hotel Cortez with manager Kathy Bates’ character Iris (who was also a treat), and James Patrick March the owner. James Patrick March was played by Evan Peters, who is undoubtedly my favourite cast member of AHS (alongside Jessica Lange usually). In this season he donned a pencil moustache and totally owned the vintage film star voice he managed to pull off. He was wonderfully sadistic in this role – perhaps his best yet!

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Season 5 is ultimately about acceptance and belonging. It’s about finding your place in a fucked up world that’s filled with human cruelty and evilness. Having a one true love was mentioned throughout, it was key to the whole series. For the lucky ones it was about finding or realising their one true love. For the unlucky ones it was about accepting that they’d lost it or never had it, and to move on in a way that wouldn’t destroy them in their desire to be loved. The lasting message was one of hope.

All in all, the converging threads of all the characters tied up well, making for a satisfying ending.

It’s maybe worth mentioning that there’s lots of sex and nudity throughout, so definitely not one for the straitlaced. In fact, there were more nudey scenes of Lady Gaga than I had glasses of wine last weekend (take from that what you will).

AHS Hotel gets a great big 5 stars from me!

 

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Patient Seven

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I went into this film with low expectations. That is, I didn’t quite know what to expect after having watched the trailer. And let’s just say I was pleasantly surprised.

While the overall storyline was a little predictable, I did enjoy the interviews with all the patients. Their backstories were revealed in flashback snippets, which made the film a varied anthology of creepy tales: a possessed little girl who murders her family; a murdered corpse who can still hear and feel; a vampire hunter who is trying to save humanity; a hot Scandinavian bloke who is managing to survive a zombie apocalypse while harbouring some dreadful secret.

Patient Seven has a darkly humoured vibe throughout, especially the story which features Game of Thrones’ Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen). I especially loved the fact that the film’s flashback settings aren’t all in the US. In fact, I was actually quite excited that one of the patients was Icelandic.

All in all, I’d definitely recommend giving Patient Seven a whirl if you’re at a loose end on Netflix. It’s a collage of messed up human psyche with a whole load of supernatural thrown in the mix just to make you wonder. And although it’s not exactly piss-your-pants scary, it’s certainly fun and varied.

I’d give Patient Seven a respectable 3*

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