The House by the Cemetery – John Everson

IMG_0548

 

The House by the Cemetery is meant for horror fans. You know who we are. We’re the ones that go to the midnight showings of classic Carpenter, Craven or even Argento or Fulci flicks. We have the wal-to-wall collections of horror Blu Rays. Halloween is our national holiday. And we go to haunted houses, no matter how crappy of an attraction they are. That’s us and that’s who Everson wrote The House by the Cemetery for. We get it. We understand the industry and HOUSE has everything that we love about it.

A dilapitated house sits vacant by an abandoned cemetery. Outside of thrill seekers, it’s been dormant for many years. But the rumors are passed down from generation to generation. This place was used for a cult killing by a group of witches back in the 1960s. Stories of ghosts hitchhiking nearby, strange happenings and haunted tales permeate the local legends for years. The house is a royal pain in the ass for the county. Law enforcement has to chase off ghost hunters and thrill seekers every year. So when a local entrepreneur comes calling and offers to turn the property into a haunted house attraction, the county jumps at the chance to alleviate this headache and score some bucks in the process. Mike, a down-and-out handyman, is hired to renovate the place so that they can turn it into the tourist attraction that it was envisioned to be. Wouldn’t you know it, Mike learns that every rumor has a grain of truth somewhere and you can’t keep a good witch down.

While HOUSE has a fantastic setting that is just screaming for a horror story to be written about it, the characters are the glue that hold this story together. Mike is a likable guy that you can easily relate to. Katie is that mysterious, flirtatious girl you’ve seen work her charm on numerous lonely guys, over and over. The cast and crew, putting together and running the attraction, all have personalities that we know like the back of our hands. It all feels comfortable and familiar. This is how Everson is able to pull this story all together. Sure, there are some parts where you kind of roll your eyes, maybe a character should ask a few more questions, but they’re not deal breakers. HOUSE is easily the best thing Everson has written. The guy has talent and you can see it in his past catalog. Hell, you don’t get a Bram Stoker Award for being a hack. But, for me, HOUSE is the story where he put it all together. Atmosphere, character development, dialogue, interesting storyline, an homage to the genre that I know and love, and suspension of disbelief. Some writers age like a fine wine. Here’s to hoping for an extended run of this particular vintage very soon. It’s intoxicating.
4 1/2 Secret Rooms 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

The House – Bentley Little

IMG_0478

 

So this was my first forray into a Bentley Little tale. I’d heard such good things about him and decided it was time to give it a go. I had a few of his sitting on my shelf staring back at me to choose from. I selected The House and, looking back, that my have been the wrong one to introduce myself to his work. It’s not that the house was horrible. Far from it. But it became a mess and the last 100 pages were an absolute chore to get through. The ending was completely “meh” and I found myself disappointed at what seemed like a really good story at the beginning.

Five different people from different parts of the country grew up in a house that gave everyone the heebah jeebahs. These five people “escaped” their childhood houses and had never returned as adults. Most of their recollections were vague and fuzzy about their childhood homes until they all started having strange things happen to them that seemed to be all pointing in the same direction. They needed to return to their homes and take care of some unfinished business. What that business was, they didn’t know.

So far, so good? Yes. I was digging Little’s writing style and even though the five characters kept having similar things happen to themselves, to the point where it was beginning to feel like he was describing the same scene five different times, I was still chugging along.

Then we find out that the same Victorian house is in five different parts of the country and it’s a gateway barrier to some alternate reality. The five people go to their respective houses and then things morph so that they’re all together in the same house, which is now holding them prisoner. Without going into too much more detail, things started getting weird. And I can get into weird, but this weird was the same thing told five different times, over and over and over and…well, you get the idea.

Even though this is my first story by Little, I can tell that he has the chops to be considered a very good writer. The prose is not done by an inexperienced hand. The problem is the story itself. It really just goes around and around without much of a payoff, aha moments of explanation, or any points of interest. With a writing style as good as his, I expect more and not the clunker that was The House.

3 Foul Mouthed Urchins out of 5

You can also follow my reviews at the following links:

https://kenmckinley.wordpress.com

http://intothemacabre.booklikes.com

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

We Are Always Watching – Hunter Shea

IMG_0433

 

Hunter Shea has to be the hardest working author in the horror genre right now. It seems as if, in the past year, he’s releasing a new offering every month or two. That’s quite the pace considering the turmoil the industry is in currently. They say during hard times that the cream rises to the top. We Are Always Watching is Shea on the top. I dove into this baby during a group read and it knocked my socks off.

West and his family have stumbled upon hard times. His dad was involved in a bad car accident and is now struggling with a crippling case of vertigo. Its so bad that he has lost his job and can’t work. With their money drying up and the bills becoming insurmountable, they are forced to move in with West’s crabby and contentious Grandpa Abraham in his old and spooky house in rural Pennsylvania. Upon arrival, things get weird for West right away. Mysterious and ominous messages begin appearing including one that says, We Are Always Watching. Grandpa Abraham takes them all in stride without shedding much light on them, only saying that he has it all under control. Does Grandpa really know what’s going on or doesn’t he care because he spends most of the day getting drunk down and the VFW? With West’s mom working all day in the city, his dad a mess from his vertigo, and with no cell phone or internet access to the outside world, he has no one to turn to until one day he meets the beautiful neighbor’s daughter. She seems just as mysterious as Grandpa Abraham. Is there really someone (or some thing) that has been writing these messages or is the house really haunted?

We Are Always Watching is a tension-filled pot-boiler with some great characters that transcend the story from being a good one to being a great one. Shea really has done something here and I hope he continues to flex this new found muscle he has.

 

5 Spinning Ghosts out of 5

 

You can also follow my reviews at the following links:

https://kenmckinley.wordpress.com

http://intothemacabre.booklikes.com

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

Tormentor – William Meikle

img_0393

 

Jim Greenwood’s life is devastated with the death of his wife from cancer. He attempts to start over by getting away from all of the pain that surrounds him in London by moving to a remote home on the NE coast of Scotland near Dunvegan. The home is the oldest in the area and the locals seem to be frightened by it. Soon Jim finds out why. Mysterious sooty smudges appear while he sleeps that seem to be forming some sort of code. In an attempt to avoid the madness of it all, Jim resorts to drinking heavily. Is something from beyond trying to communicate with him or is Jim slowly going insane?

Meikle is a master at telling tales and Tormentor is no exception. He crafts a tight storyline with realistic characters that you quickly identify with. Tormentor is a fun romp of a haunted house story that you’ll savor through every page.

5 stick figures out of 5
You can also follow my reviews at the following links:

https://kenmckinley.wordpress.com

http://intothemacabre.booklikes.com

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