Weird Ales: Last Orders Edited by Lynn M. Cochrane

Cover for Weird Ales

Have you ever walked in to a pub for the first time and everything stops and every single person turns as one to stare in silence at you? That’s what reading this book reminds me of. That uncomfortable feeling stayed with me throughout this book. The stories themselves were different and odd (in a good way) but they always felt like something I could relate to. I think that only added to my discomfort. I clearly spent too much time in dodgy pubs and social clubs when I was younger. The characters in this book seemed so familiar. The desperation and hopelessness coloured by the short-term highs and lows of ordinary people made a great backdrop for these stories.

If you are looking for creepy and disturbing stories set in the seething underbelly of pub culture then stop searching and pickup this anthology now. Stupidly good value at the price of a cup of tea too.

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Outliers: The Shape of Things to Come (Outliers Saga Primers Book 1)

Book Cover Outliers

It would have been easy to view this as a trailer or an advert, because it was. There was much more to this than a simple advert though. This “book” had a wonderful look and feel. Why did I put bunny ear quotes around the word book? It didn’t feel like a book. It felt like a dossier. A collection of seemingly disparate materials brought together by a subtle thread. I could almost see the papers spread out across my desk. As an old role-playing gamer (I’m both old and played them for a long time) this felt like a particularly intriguing background section of a game. If you’ve ever played Achtung! Cthulhu the layout is similar but the artworks does seem crisper in this. The artwork really begs the reader to buy a paper copy or use a high quality screen to read it on. The different textures on the different letters and documentation worked really well to section things without obvious chapter headings. I liked that as it flowed really well.

This was more than a shiny bauble. For A Fistful Of Diamonds in particular was a particularly enjoyable read. It had vivid characters, a story that made sense and some twists on morality to get my head around. This story added punch and a feeling that it mattered. I really cared by the end of this. I’d have bought this just to read that story.

I finished this taster wanting more, much more. If this group of writers manage to pull together a lot of content at this level as coherently as they did here then it could be something spectacular.

 

 

Larry by Adam Millard

Cover Art Larry by Adam Millard

I picked this book up at EdgeLit last week. I’d never heard of the author but he had a stand there selling his wares. There were some books with better looking covers but hearing the author describe the premise behind this story I just had to give it a go. The cover art was perfect for the book. It summed up the splatter elements but more importantly hinted at the humour and rather bizarre nature of this story. I wondered why the author put SQUUUUEEEEEEE on the dedication. You’ll find out as I did pretty soon after you start reading this.

I loved the simplicity of this story. In terms of plot and characters there was nothing that surprised me. The fast-paced easy to read prose made reading this novella a really quick read. There is more to it than that. The sense of humour in this book was brilliant. At times it was subtle but on other occasions it hit you in the face like a blood soaked axe (that was a spoiler). There were quite a few horror references littered throughout this story and at one point near the end it felt like there were so many my brain was going to explode. It didn’t and I enjoyed feeling like I’d found something extra hidden within this deceptive story.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story and plan to read some more of Millard’s work.

Wolf At The Door by Theresa Derwin

Wolf At The Door by Theresa Derwin

I’ve read a few stories by Theresa Derwin and I have always enjoyed her take on zombies. I’m not sure anybody else would have written a romantic comedy for zombies. I was looking forward to reading this to see what else the author could bring to the table.

I have read too many stories that fail at writing a period story to take anything for granted. This book manages to somehow manage a tone that suggests Victorian to me without resorting to obvious and heavy handed word choices. There was a light touch to the language that made me think the author had an old soul.

If the author had left it there this would have been a solid collection of stories, but she didn’t. There was a time warp between stories that was surprisingly easy to detect just from the author’s voice. Each time period had a completely different sound in my head. I didn’t need to think about the specific words or any titles about when a particular story was set. Everything I needed was there just below the surface.

I really enjoyed this book and will probably come back to it at some point to enjoy the voices.

 

 

Riding The Centipede by John Claude Smith

Riding The Centipede by John Claude Smith

I bought this book mainly because I enjoyed Autumn In The Abyss by the same author. As I started reading this I thought I was going to write a lazy review citing the obvious Burroughs influences. The more I read this book the more it got inside my head. There is an odd flow to this book. The prose slithered a slimy path across my consciousness. It tickled that part of me deep within my lizard brain (pun intended) and genuinely made me question my perception of reality on occasion.

In simple terms this story assumed that all the drug-fueled warped writing of authors such as Burroughs were not just ravings. They were founded in a reality. The search for the ultimate hit was actually a search for the entrance to somewhere else. A dimension with different rules where insects rule and mankind was tolerated.

There were three strands to this story that slowly converged to create a twisted knot of realities. I was really grateful that the author put the character title in the chapter titles. That made it really easy to put myself in the right place as I started to read each chapter.

I only have one negative thing to say about this book. It uses one of my most hated words. Every time I hear or read the word impactful I cringe. It makes no sense to me but in the context of this story I guess I can cope as it hits the contrary nature of the conjoined realities.

Piercing The Vale edited by Adele Wearing

Piercing The Vale

WARNING! THIS REVIEW IS INHERENTLY BIASED AS I AM IN IT.

This was difficult to write. Part of me wanted to scream “LOOK AT ME”, whilst the rest of me was thinking how crap my story sounds compared to those around it. This isn’t about me though. This is about another fine book in the Fox Pocket series. I can’t talk about this series without mentioning the cover art. I love them all and this one may be my favourite one so far. I’ve asked the editor several times if there is any chance of a poster version of all the covers.  Sarah Anne Langton really makes these books stand out.

This book contained some really interesting stories. There were some very different perspectives and a nice variety of length and paces to each story. My personal favourite was by Connected by Alasdair Stuart which was short and punchy. The biggest surprise for me was the poem by Chloe Yates. I had to read it a couple of times to get the rhythm but the emotion was  powerful and serious. Yes I just said Chloe Yates has written something serious. The first time through I was expecting a cock joke at the end. I’m glad there wasn’t as it would have spoiled something quite magical.

Objectively I enjoyed this book and although not my favourite in the series there was nothing that I didn’t enjoy reading. Casting aside objectivity you should buy this book. No really, BUY THIS BOOK. Hopefully I’ve got that out of my system and will not be spamming links every hour.

Fury: A supernatural horror novel by Joan De La Haye

Fury by Joan De La Haye

Fury was a deeply disturbing and at times uncomfortable book to read. The sexual violence that kicks this story in to action was cleverly written to convey how truly nasty it was without needing too much exposition. My warped little mind took all the hooks and made things much more horrific.

Angela had a bad day. A night out with her friends  goes badly wrong when she was lured away by a honeypot working for a criminal gang. What happened to Angela was beyond what anybody should ever have to endure. Something happened at that moment and Angela’s spirit was released to gain revenge on those that had wronged her.

There was an interesting counterpoint in this story. Another victim called Alice experienced her ordeal in a completely different way. Her journey had no less peril and in a different way was just as disturbing. I was left wondering whether her situation was down to her personal desires or whether the Stockholm Syndrome was more of an influence. Either way her life looks set to be tumultuous at best.

I still think Requiem in E# is my favourite story by Joan De La Haye, but this one is clean, snappy and has a nice flow to it.