Fungoid – William Meikle



There’s a fungus among us. When the oily rain starts pouring down, what follow brings mankind to it’s knees. A fast growing fungus starts spreading and wiping out the vast majority of the population. Is it from outer space? Was it an experiment gone wrong? Does it really matter? The speed at which these deadly spores wreak havoc on the world is astonishing and it’s decimating everything in it’s path. We’re left with only a few characters that have hung onto life by the skin of their teeth. One is a scientist that specializes in fungus and stumbles onto a possible solution. Will it work and, if it does, will it work in time or is this Mother Nature’s answer to it’s human problem?

Meikle’s Fungoid is a fast-paced read that will have you on the edge of your seat trying to figure out what will happen next and how will our heroes get out of this predicament. The characters are realistic. The situation is plausible. The suspense can be cut with a knife. I really don’t have much for criticism for this one. Meikle was a scientist in a previous life and you can tell he knows his way around the fungus. What’s amazing to me is that he makes it interesting. Funguses aren’t that exciting to the vast majority of the population and I’ll be damned if he doesn’t make me eat my words. Good show, Willie!


4 1/2 Blue Hills out of 5


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Among Prey – Alan Ryker



Character development, character development, character development. What Ryker is able to do in only 65 pages, most authors can’t accomplish in 265 pages. Among Prey is told from multiple character’s POV and you’d think that it would be distracting to the story. Au contraire, it adds richness and depth here, another testament to Ryker’s storytelling prowess.

In Among Prey, we have Amber, a pill-popping worker at a build-a-doll store that meets Bobby, the 7-foot mentally handicapped behemoth that comes in one slow Wednesday morning. Where many people would be terrified at the silent hulking man, Amber takes a shine to him. That is until the day she realizes that the dolls Bobby has been building in her store look amazingly like the little girls that have been kidnapped in the area the past few months. The story wraps around itself nicely as we’re introduced to Carol, Bobby’s caregiving nurse and then Bobby’s POV. This one is a pageturner, folks. The ending may be a bit abrupt for some, but it left me satisfied that I had read a well-crafted thriller. Loved it.

5 Bruised Doll Heads out of 5
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Covenant – Allan Leverone



Lindie and Justin relocate from North Carolina to the small town of Covenant, New Hampshire to start their new jobs. They purchase a “fixer-upper” and immediately get to work remodeling. One afternoon, Justin goes to get them something to drink. After too much time had passed, Lindie goes looking for Justin and finds him at the bottom of the basement stairs in a pool of blood with a pair of hedge trimmers protruding from his body. In the aftermath of the “freak accident”, Lindie is badgered by a persistent detective that can’t buy her explanation and can’t go out in public without hearing the stinging whispers of small town New England gossip. By chance, she begins to learn of the history of her “fixer upper” and it’s not a pretty story. Edward Collins, the recluse tycoon had the house built to some peculiar specifications. Those specifications helped him with his favorite past time – the torture and murder of prostitutes. Edward has been dead for over a hundred years, but it’s hard to keep evil at bay forever.

Covenant is a fun haunted house tale and my first read from Leverone. He commands the story well and you begin to feel for Lindie. At it’s best, Covenant has shades of Amityville Horror in it. There are times that the dialogue feels a little forced and the introduction of a meth-head killer on the run in the middle of the story seemed awkward. It does tie together nicely at the end. All in all, a decent read from Leverone.

3 1/2 Floating Steak Knives out of 5
This ARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Relic of Death – David Bernstein



When two mafia hit men have their luxury SUV breakdown in rural upstate NY after disposing of a body, they come upon a house on a dirt lane. They beat on the door to no avail. No one is home. The door is reinforced and won’t budge. They try to shoot their way in. No dice. They end up bludgening the door open with the blunt end of a splitting maul. Once inside, they find a safe that is just begging to be cracked. Inside, they find only a briefcase. However, this briefcase is full of diamonds. What the hit men thought was their lucky day only turns out to be the beginning of death and destruction for all who possess the briefcase.

Bernstein takes us down a rabbit hole where the naughty briefcase goes from person to person in a roller coaster ride of mayhem that will remind you of shades of the Twilight Zone, Tales From the Darkside, and Friday the 13th the Series. Great story and highly recommended.

4 1/2 Temptations out of 5.
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Woman in White – Kristin Dearborn


What is the woman in white? Ahh…that is a very good question and the answer is a slippery one. Just when you think you have it, it gets away from you.

Rocky Rhodes, Maine. Yes, it is a goofy name for a town and the inhabitants know it and make fun of it. It is set in the middle of nowheres-vile Maine north of Bangor. Population – not very damn many. Cell phone service? Fergetaboutit. Ain’t happenin. If that isn’t bad enough, how about adding a snowstorm so powerful that everything is shut down and covered in a thick blanket of the white stuff? Dennis is on his way to his girlfriend’s trailer for a little gaming and some fun when he goes off the road to avoid hitting a woman standing in the middle of the snow storm with no shoes on. The next day, all the authorities can find is his abandoned Camry with an interior covered in blood. Bring in the forensic specialist and the state cop, who happen to be having an affair with each other. After inspecting the crime scene, things aren’t adding up right. Where is the body? Why is there more blood than a human body holds and why is it devoid of any DNA markers? And why are all the subsequent victims all male?

Woman in White is my first forray into Kristin Dearborn’s writing. She’s a talented author that can really make you feel frostbitten by the way she makes the snowstorm it’s own separate character. Kudos also for taking elements of The Thing, The Blob, and Ghost Story and making it her own. The downside for me were some of the characters. While Nate was one nasty bastard that I actually loved to hate, Lee was an annoying cardboard cutout. I mean, whoever heard of a prissy, spoiled forensic scientist? All in all, it was still decent read that will chill you down to your bones.

3 1/2 Frostbitten Toes out of 5
** This ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.
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Interview with Kristopher Rufty







Lets get the vitals out of the way –

Name: Kristopher Rufty
DOB: July ‘79
Birthplace: NC
City of Residence: TBD
Marital Status: Married
Children: Yes
Pets: Yes
Into The Macabre: When did you first start writing?

Kristopher Rufty: I dabbled a lot as a kid, writing my own comics that I had drawn on folded typewriter paper. But the first story I completed was in the 6th or 7th grade. And it was TERMINATOR 3, after I’d just finished watching T2 and decided to write my own sequel. About ten pages long, I got to the point rather quickly.

Into The Macabre: What drew you to horror? What/Who were your inspirations?

Kristopher Rufty: What first drew me in was Friday the 13th. I was put in front of the TV when I was five years old. My mom wanted to do some canning and she mistook the guy in the superhero costume on TV, telling jokes as being a child-appropriate babysitter. Turned out the show was Commander USA, and he was a horror host. He aired FRIDAY THE 13th and I was hooked. I drew pictures in crayon of scenes I’d seen in the movie. My mom, always the supportive one, hung them on the fridge.

Into The Macabre: Describe the process it took for you to become published.
Kristopher Rufty: It was a lot of falling on my face, relearning everything from the ground up. And then submitting over and over. Getting a lot of rejections, then rewriting the book and submitting again. Luckily, I had a lot of support and guidance from some very talented writers along the way. Then, thanks to Ronald Malfi, Jeff Strand, and Don D’Auria, it finally happened.

Into The Macabre: If you could turn back the hands of time and go back, what about the publishing process would you do differently?
Kristopher Rufty: That’s a good question. One thing, for sure, would be to not be so quick to submit. ANGEL BOARD was my first published novel, and I submitted versions of it two years prior to it finally being acquired. The final version was completed after a lot of advice from other writers, and had I been stricter on the writing itself, it might have made for a better book earlier on. But, everything happens as it’s supposed to and that was a learning experience for me. I honestly wouldn’t change it in any way.

Into The Macabre: They say its not about what you know but who you know. Would you agree with this statement? Who helped you along the way and what did they do?
It does help, especially if the “who” is someone you can depend on. But if the who you know can’t teach you anything new, then it really doesn’t matter.

Kristopher Rufty: There was a lot of people who helped me along the way. Ronald Malfi and Jeff Strand were very supportive and encouraging, still are. They actually read ANGEL BOARD early on and gave their suggestions on what they thought needed to be worked on.Others who’ve helped me are Heather Graham, Edward Lee, Brian Keene, Ray Garton, Gary A. Braunbeck, Al Sarrantonio, Wrath James White, Aleka Nakis, Kathleen Pickering, Traci Hall, Blake Crouch, and JA Konrath. There are so many more. I could keep naming names.Not all of those helped me before I got published, but most of them did, but they all still help me to this day. I still hold their teachings close to my heart.

Into The Macabre: What would you say are the biggest challenges you face today as a writer?
Kristopher Rufty: Challenges I face are sticking to a word quota when the day acts as if it won’t allow it. That’s why I’m grateful for a wife who understand that I have to write. I know other authors that don’t have supportive spouses and it breaks my heart. But I do get to write, no matter what, and it’s good to have that.

Into The Macabre: What role has social media played in your successes?
Kristopher Rufty: I’m rarely on Twitter. Rarely. Facebook is fun. I enjoy the interaction with readers and other writers on there. Seems so much more intimate. I’ll do giveaways and sometimes when it’s somebody’s birthday, I’ll give them a free book. It’s fun. I plan to get more involved with Twitter, but not allow myself to become married to it.I think it’s played a decent role in what success I’ve had because I’m very approachable and feel that I’m easy to talk to. I wish there had been something like this when I was getting started. I’d have lost mind had I been able to communicate with my influences as I was growing up.

Into The Macabre: My first exposure to your work was through recommendations on Goodreads. What would you say is your level of interaction through fans on GR and other sites?
Kristopher Rufty: Not much at all on GR. I need to get better at it. Some of my author friends have great success with interacting on GR, but I do not. It’s really because I don’t know how to. It’s on my list of things to change this year. I plan to be more active with it. I like GR because its readers and writers talking about books. So I could easily see myself becoming absorbed.But I interact quite frequently on Facebook. I try to always respond to comments and messages whenever somebody reaches out to me.

Into The Macabre: Which one of your stories are you most proud of?
Kristopher Rufty: DESOLATION is definitely one I’m proud of. A DARK AUTUMN is a story I read after I’d finished writing it and couldn’t believe I was the guy who’d written it. I think I crossed a barrier with that one, to an area that I was too scared to infiltrate before. Had I not written A DARK AUTUMN, I don’t think I would have had the guts to attempt THE VAMPIRE OF PLAINFIELD and DESOLATION. I wouldn’t have dared try to write the book I’m about to finish up now, SEVEN BURIED HILL.
I’m very proud of THE LURKING SEASON and PROUD PARENTS as well. These two books just don’t really seem to get a lot of notice, for whatever reason. But I wish they would. I think those books helped me realize how much I’ve grown as a writer. I tried new things in those stories and tapped into areas that I hadn’t yet.

Into The Macabre: So tell me about Diabolical Radio. What’s the status of that?
Kristopher Rufty: I was a guest on The Independent Corner, a podcast hosted by Jonathan Moody. He had me on to discuss CUTTING ROOM!, a very low-budget movie I’d made. I liked the idea of having the time to talk with people about things you admire. I wondered what would happen if I started a show, invited people I would love to sit down and talk with. Not only am I fan of these people, I admire them, RESPECT their work. Just imagine what I could learn by talking with them. Just imagine what others, like me, could learn hearing us talking. I knew there were people out there that would like to ask these guests the same questions. So I asked legitimate questions about what I wanted to know about, which were things that the listeners also wanted to know.

We had so many great guests come on. I don’t know what it was about our show, but somehow we became a hit. Very high listener ratings. Not at first, but during the first year, we were trying to discover what were as a show. We found a format that worked. And by the second year, people were contacting us about coming on. I couldn’t believe it. We ran for almost four years.

As a writer, I got to learn from some of the best: Joe Lansdale, Ed Gorman, Edward Lee, Brian Keene, F. Paul Wilson, Heather Graham, Ronald Malfi, Jeff Strand, Wrath James White, Ray Garton, John Russo, JA Konrath, Blake Crouch, Gary A. Braunbeck, and so many more.

As a filmmaker, I got to learn from Herschell Gordon Lewis, Kevin Tenney, William Butler, Charles Band, Tom Towles, and the teams behind many great movies I’ve loved all my life.

It was so much fun. So much fun.

The status now? Well, it’s dormant. But I’m asked, a lot, to bring it back. I wonder what it would be like now? I know Faith, one of my cohosts, is up for it. Steve is up for it. I’m even up for it. I left the show to devote my time to writing. I’ve met a lot of great folks since then that I’d love to talk with more, and I’m sure Diabolical’s listeners would love to hear from them.

Maybe it’ll come back one day. Maybe sooner than anybody expected.

Into The Macabre: I’ve found that many writers have a routine that they like to follow when writing. Give me a breakdown of your day and how you create the next Kristopher Rufty masterpiece.
Kristopher Rufty: It changes from day to day now. Being self-employed, I used to write in the mornings. I still prefer to write in the morning. Something about starting your day like that just sets the rest of the day in a positive motion. Now we have a baby, and I write at night. I wrote at night for years while our older two children were younger. I’m back to the night shift. It seems that my stories get a little darker when the sun isn’t out. I wonder if it’s related to my nocturnal writing schedule.

Into The Macabre: I see that your story, Jagger, is on quite a few Top 10 lists for 2015 and getting quite a bit of love. What can you tell me about that? How did the story come about?
Kristopher Rufty: JAGGER is one of my favorites. It did make a good number of Top Ten lists, but it also got me a lot of hate mail. There are a couple scenes involving animals that were very tough to write, but I felt were crucial to the book that angered a lot of people, which wasn’t my intent. I didn’t set out to write an animal cruelty story, though it was meant to bring focus to the kind of things that happen.

The idea first sparked in my head when I had taken our large dog to the vet. A guy came in with a much bigger Fuzzy Mastiff. I’d never seen such a large dog in all my life. But he was the sweetest animal. Just like our dog. He’s close to 150 pounds, and intimidates a lot of people, but is very sweet and loving and protective. I wondered what would happen if that guy’s dog turned on him. That was where the idea began, and it just went wild from there.

Into The Macabre: Tell me about the filmmaker side of Kristopher Rufty.
Kristopher Rufty: Not much to tell these days. I enjoy making the movies, but would be happy writing for the rest of my life. I still have the bug to get behind the camera with a good team and make something special. I’ve been blessed in the past to work with a lot very talented and dedicated people. We’ve done some work that I’m very proud of. Hopefully, one day it’ll happen again, but if it doesn’t, I’ll be okay.

Into The Macabre: Stephen King has the spooky house in Bangor surrounded by the wrought iron fence with gargoyles on it. Do you have anything crazy at your house that makes your neighbors clutch their children when they see you coming?
Kristopher Rufty: I wish I did! Maybe someday. I think during the Halloween season people will think we’re a bit obsessed with the decorations and jack-o’-lanterns, but other than that, nothing to really talk about. Hopefully we’ll be those neighbors sometime soon.

Into The Macabre: What are you reading these days?
Kristopher Rufty: Been on another Ray Garton kick. I tend to read a cluster of books by the same author before moving onto something else. I love Ray Garton’s work. I also read a lot of crime fiction and westerns, and I have a pile of those to get to. I still prefer to read paperbacks over eBooks, but I read a lot of eBooks. I also read a lot of comics and horror magazines, and newspapers.

Into The Macabre: Your Top 5 horror movies?
Kristopher Rufty: Man…that’s so hard. I watch them all over and over, but I suppose the few I watch more than any are:
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Friday the 13th 1-6
Fright Night (Probably my all-time favorite movie)
Halloween, The Thing, Prince of Darkness, In the Mouth of Madness (I binge-watch Carpenter movies)
Phantasm 2 and The Evil Dead tying.

Into The Macabre: Desolation has been released here in January. How has the response been, so far? How did the story come about?
Kristopher Rufty: The response has been amazing. My most well-received book, by far. The story came in a dream. I dreamed I was watching a movie and the select scenes I saw in the dream-movie inspired the entire story. This idea has been with me for ten years. It has been a screenplay, a couple of abandoned novels, and many rewrites before finally becoming the book that was released. I’m glad it took as long as it did. This was the version that needed to be read.

Into The Macabre: Do you do horror conventions? What’s your thoughts on those?
Kristopher Rufty: I love them and will do them any chance I get. I’ve enjoyed going to Horror Hound since my first time way back in 2008. Last year, I was a guest at Scares That Care and really enjoyed it. Not just the convention, but what they strive to accomplish by doing it. I’ll be a featured guest this year and can’t wait to go back.

Into The Macabre: What can us fans expect coming down the pike in 2016 and beyond?
Kristopher Rufty: As many books as I can get out. I have three coming through DarkFuse over the next couple years. The first, SOMETHING VIOLENT, will be released in December. I have a horror-western almost ready to go. And a book due to Sinister Grin Press this summer. I will continue to work with SGP for years to come. Thunderstorm Books will be releasing special, hardcover editions of DESOLATION and A DARK AUTUMN this summer, with more titles to follow. I also signed with Festa-Verlag, a German publisher. I have a short story coming in an anthology they’re putting out, plus JAGGER will be released this year through them. There will be more short stories in other anthologies, but I can’t announce them yet. And there will be more audiobooks coming this year.

Into The Macabre: I really appreciate you letting me grill you for my blog and look forward to chatting with you in the future. Take care, my friend.

Kristopher Rufty: No, thank you for having me on. I really appreciate it. Thank you for your support and kindness!

Skinshift – Lisa von Biela


Dominic has been left for dead out in the desert by his cohorts after a simple pick pocketing job goes awry. After stumbling around and drinking some funky colored water that looked like it was draining from an old mineshaft, he gets attacked by a coyote. He kills and eats the coyote, then changes into A coyote.

Skinshift is my first Lisa von Biela read and it wasn’t one that I’ll be jumping up and down about. The writing itself is decent, but the story is a basic shapeshifter tale that doesn’t go anywhere. The characters weren’t very interesting or fleshed out. Dominic seems perfectly cool with the fact that he now can change into a coyote like its the most normal thing in the world. There are characters that are introduced towards the end of the story that don’t serve much of a purpose, much like the story.

2 Glowing Animal Skulls out of 5

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