Land of Bones – Glenn Rolfe

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Land of Bones by Glenn Rolfe is a 14 story collection of horrific shorts and novellas. Let’s jump right in and break these down in order:

 

Ghosts of Spears Corner – Two boys, days from starting middle school in the 1950s, decide to break into the boarded up Spears House, the local haunted house. Doing their very best to keep their fears at bay, the boys discover a dark secret locked away. A fun read that, even though took place in the Fifties, reminded me of my childhood. Sometimes you just have to see what it’s like behind those boarded up windows on a big, gothic looking house.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Simon – Ally has a pet worm named Simon. He is a worm, right?

4 out of 5 stars

Not Kansas Anymore – Kick ass story about bats that take over a small town and young Colton wants to see for himself what happened over at Pedro Field. What sounds like a voice crying for help mesmerizes him to a cave on the side of a hill. How long he had been walking, he didn’t know. What he did know, is that what was in that cave didn’t need any help. A great story that stays with you long after you’ve put it down.

5 out of 5 stars

Fire – A snippet of what it would be like if a life and death situation forced you into making a choice of which lives you were going to save. A thought provoker.

4 out of 5 stars

Welcome to Paradise – The start of a Natural Born Killers type of relationship. Twisted story that feels like it’s chapter one of something bigger.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

 

Avenging Kitten – A story about what can happen when people, all hell-bent about a particular cause, happens to poke their nose into a situation that’s none of their business. A chuckle gets four stars.

4 out of 5 stars

 

Charley Sings the World Away – The end of the world is here and it’s sad to watch as your little girl is oblivious to the big picture.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

 

The Fixer – A new take on the age-old proverb of be careful what you wish for. Evil likes to prey on the desperate. Even though it felt like familiar territory, it was fun to see what twists Rolfe put into it.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

 

The Rooster – I’ve always loved the AIC song and thought the lyrics were powerful. They fit this story like a glove about losing a loved one that you thought was indestructible. It feels eerily more like a true story than fiction.

4 out of 5 stars

 

Too Much of a Dead Thing – A unique take on the whole zombie/undead phenomenon. At first, you think the monsters are zombies and as you move along through the story, you start to wonder if maybe they came from outer space. A few nice things here, but the real horror turns out to be from the people that are left alive.

4 out of 5 stars

 

Little Bunny – a whacked out fairy tale/hallucination type of story that has traces of possession and ghost story to add some flavor. I think the idea was okay, but I found the story telling wasn’t smooth and fluid.

3 out of 5 stars

 

Death Lights – A novella that stars Rolfe’s supernatural detective and banisher of evil spirits, Lee Buhl. For those of you that are familiar with Rolfe’s writing, you may remember Buhl from The Haunted Halls. He’s back in Maine to take on a house that can’t be sold due to it’s resident poltergeist. Buhl calls upon his Native American heritage once more as he battle the malevolent spirit of a murderer. Good stuff here. Rolfe has the makings of a franchise character.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

 

Rolfe has evolved nicely over the last couple of years. His writing chops are much tighter than when he began and he’s quickly become one of my go-to authors when I want a quality read of terror. Land of Bones has a little bit of everything. It has your gothic horror. Your Conjuring/James Wan style of horror. Even your Jack Ketchum style that hits a little too close to home, a little too personal, and makes you uncomfortable. I think Glenn’s influences are clearly on display here, yet none of the stories feel like watered down derivatives. They clearly have their own terrifying voice, and that voice screams Glenn Rolfe.

 

Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

Dead City – Joe McKinney

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This is my first time reading anything by Joe McKinney. Dead City has been on my TBR pile for quite some time. Three to four years, to be exact. My hesitation has stemmed from the gluttony of zombie stories that have flooded the market in the past decade. It’s really too bad, because Dead City is a cut above the average walking dead tale. There’s not a lot of original ideas or unique spins to the story. What it has going for it is the authentic view of a police officer. I know. I know. The Walking Dead’s Rick was a police officer too. But Joe’s officer, Eddie, is a three-dimensional take on a cop trying to get back to his family in a sea of zombies. It makes sense. McKinney is a cop, himself, and it shows. The language and terminology isn’t your Hollywood take on what it’s like to be a police officer. Its as real as it gets. I love that POV and it really transcends Dead City above your average zombie story. It’s also the first of a trilogy, so I’ll be seeing Eddie in the future stomp some rotted flesh.

 

4 Maggot-Infested Bodies out of 5

 

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Ghost – J.N. Williamson

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Zach Doyle is pretty sure that he’s dead. He doesn’t remember dying or what might have caused it. He just knows that he’s stuck watching his wife and children go through their daily routines without being able to communicate with them. They can’t see him. They can’t hear him. Nor can they feel his touches. His hands travel right through like wisps of smoke. His family is in the process of getting on with their lives without Zach and he’s stuck in limbo. Is this purgatory? Has there been a mistake? Did someone fall asleep at the switch and forget to collect his soul or is this how it’s supposed to be? Just when Zach thinks he’ll forever be a spectator unable to communicate with the living, the movers come to collect all of Zach’s belongings and the worker and his grandson can see him. Furthermore, they aren’t frightened at seeing a ghost. Can these people help him or is he destined to wander alone through this netherworld for eternity?

Williamson’s offering is a schizophrenic tale isn’t sure what it wants to be. Somewhere amongst all of the confusion is some interesting subjects that he seems to have a hard time focusing on. The idea of this poor guy not being able to communicate with his loved ones and watching his life try to assemble a love life again is a mix of so many strong emotions – frustration, sadness, despair, loneliness, and grief. That alone makes for a horrific journey for the reader. Unfortunately, Williamson didn’t anchor his focus here. He would bounce from what Zach was going through to the ESP ability of the movers, then onto some weird sidebar of a struggle for Zach’s soul by an angel and a demon, and then delve into some esoteric rambling about what he was going through. If you could cherry pick the interesting pieces out of Ghost, it would have the backbone of 2-3 good stories. I don’t know if Williamson was going through some midlife crisis at this period in his life, but it really made the flow of the story suffer. And even thought it sounds like I’m trashing the story, I’m really not. While it may not be his greatest tale that I’ve read of his, Williamson does offer up some interesting and thought provoking points to consider. They just so happen to be stuck in the middle of this schizophrenic soup.

3 Rattling Chains in the Attic out of 5

 

You can also follow my reviews at the following links:

https://intothemacabre.com

http://intothemacabre.booklikes.com

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5919799-ken-mckinley