Under The Fang – Edited by Robert R. McCammon

IMG_0547

 

Under The Fang is one I’ve seen on bookstore shelves many times throughout the 1980s. Its chock full of the decade’s horror stalwarts, yet somehow I never picked it up. On a trip to my favorite used bookstore, I came across it again and made sure not  to overlook it this time. Let’s see what’s between the covers:

 

The Miracle Mile – Robert McCammon

McCammon always serves up his readers platter after platter of stories with three-dimensional characters and layers of atmosphere. The Miracle Mile is no different. Survivors of the apocalypse try to find one last glimmer of joy from a favorite family vacation spot.

4 out of 5 stars
Dancing Nitely – Nancy A. Collins

After the Uprising, life as a vampire is very different. A glimpse in the life of Maldives the vampire as he goes out to the club. An entertaining look at how the undead’s world would be.

5 out of 5 stars
Stoker’s Mistress – Clint Collins

Bram Stoker thought he was writing a fictional tale about vampires. It’s a good thing for them that he didn’t know the truth.

4 out of 5 stars
Does The Blood Line Run On Time – Sidney Williams & Robert Petitt

Dugan joins the resistance after seeing the lead vampire destroy the only thing he loved in this vampire apocalypse. Absolutely loved the writing and the plot. Perfect.

5 out of 5 stars
Red Eve – Al Sarrantonio

Spoiled, loud-mouthed brats learn a new lesson…the hard way. An okay story that you could see the ending coming from a mile away.

3 out of 5 stars
We Are Dead Together – Charles DeLint

A young gypsy learns that it is better to be true to yourself then live your life as a lie. A moralistic scene rather than a complete story. Still a decent rendition.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars
Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage – Chet Williamson

Being together for all eternity has different meanings in a world ruled by vampires. Richard finds out this and what true love really means. Great story written with such eloquence by Williamson.

5 out of 5 stars
Advocates – Suzy McKee Charnas and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

What to do with a captured vampire that isn’t limited by sunlight and can feed off of other vampires as well as humans. Advocates touches on sociological questions that could possibly arise during the vampire apocalypse but then never really goes anywhere, no conclusion, nothing. Its too bad. A story with this good of writing shouldn’t end by the reading being indifferent and shrugging their shoulders before they move on to the next story.

3 out of 5 stars
Special – Richard Laymon

Falling in love with the prisoners is never a good idea in a vampire apocalypse, especially when the humans are supposed to only be around to be slaves and procreate. But, for Jim, the heart wants what the heart wants and for some reason Diane is special. A fun tale that I actually like from Laymon. The guy can flat out write when he’s not trying to be a horny 13-year-old.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars
Herrenrasse – J.N. Williamson

Harry is captured by the vampire that kills his family. Instead of disposing of Harry, the vampire decided to make Harry his human “pet” to keep him company. A confusing tale that tries to show Harry outwit his captor. Eh.

2.5 out of 5 stars
Duty – Ed Gorman

Keller doesn’t like his job, but someone has to do it in the vampire apocalypse. A great story where the delivery is the best part.

5 out of 5 stars
Midnight Sun – Brian Hodge

This one knocked my socks off. Think of John Carpenter’s The Thing with vampires instead of an alien.

5 out of 5 stars
A Bloodsucker – David N. Meyer III

A quick and fun little diddy about the price of fortune and fame in the vampire apocalypse.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars
Prodigal Son – Thomas F. Monteleone

A vampire scientist discovers a vaccine that will allow him to be exposed to sunlight. Following a successful trial of using himself as the first test subject, Vandemeer finds himself walking along the beach right before sunrise for the first time since he became a vampire. He meets a human and is surprised that his hunger doesn’t overtake him. What has this vaccine done to him? Monteleone’s solid delivery still doesn’t make up for a mediocre ending.

3 out of 5 stars
There Are No Nightclubs in East Palo Alto – Clifford V. Brooks

A group of humans are tired of being scared and suppressed by the vampires in the apocalypse. They learn to play instruments, form a band, and write songs of rebellion to try and feel less weak, less afraid. But in the apocalypse, you never know who you can trust, even yourself. A solid story with interesting characters and nice twist on the ending.

4 out of 5 stars
Juice – Lisa W. Cantrell

A bootlegger in the apocalypse finds that they have just as much to fear as the original ones did during prohibition. My first time reading Cantrell, a fairly well-known author from the eighties. Juice was creative and an engaging read. Cantrell doesn’t have an extensive catalog, but I will be grabbing what she did publish.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars
Behind Enemy Lines – Dan Perez

Here’s an author I’ve never heard of, but with Behind Enemy Lines, he dishes out an engrossing tale militaristic vampires versus a band of human rebels. I’m a sucker for great characters and Perez delivers.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars
UNDER THE FANG is one of the best anthologies you’ll run across. There are only a couple of clunkers in the 17 offerings. There were a few authors in there that I’d heard of but had never read yet. Now I’ve got a few more writers to look for in my used book store outings. And that’s going to be your best bet to find and pick up UNDER THE FANG, since it was released in the 1980s. I recommend that you do. It’s chock full of wonderful bloodsucking tales.
OVERALL = 4.11 out of 5 stars

 

Bone Chimes – Kristopher Rufty

IMG_0492

 

Bone Chimes is Rufty’s first collection of short stories and I have to say that I think it’s some of his best work. There are so many gems hidden away in Bone Chimes that each new story you read will be your new favorite that replaced the story before it. The development is excellent and has a very 1980s heyday of horror cinema to it. In case you were wondering, that’s a good thing in my book. The influences of Stephen King, Robert McCammon, Bentley Little, Charles L. Grant, John Carpenter and David Cronenberg are all there.

Love Seat felt like it was made next door to the factory that built Stephen King’s Christine. The Chomper felt like it was set in Grant’s Oxrun Station. The Wager, Bruce Smiley’s Ultimate Death Machine, and Bedside Manner had that great Twilight Zone feel to them. But the one that made me look uneasily over my shoulder was Gearhart’s Wife. That one was full of creepiness and atmosphere that Rufty ladled on with a very large spoon. I kept thinking to myself, what would I do if I were loan officer. This may sound like blasphemy, but I think when he’s not trying to paint the pages red, Rufty’s best writing comes to the surface. He spends his time crafting atmosphere and the characters have that extra je ne sais quoi that breathes life into them. All in all, Rufty has something for everyone in this collection and I can’t say enough about it. Get your butt over to Amazon and click on it immediately.

5 Psycho Relationships 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

Worlds Between My Teeth – Tim Meyer

IMG_0443

 

Another short story collection from a new-to-me author, Tim Meyer. Let’s jump right in and break each story down one by one.

The Dream Eaters – It’s all a dream. Nothing can hurt you in a dream, right? Some familiar elements with a twist or two.

3 out of 5 stars

The Lemures – A brother and sister running from a crime boss who made a deal with the devil and can summon dead spirits. The story has a nice voice, if not the most satisfying ending.

4 out of 5 stars

The Cherry Collectors – Being a player can come back and haunt you.

4.5 out of 5 stars

Worlds Between My Teeth – The night just keeps getting stranger and stranger for a mall security guard. Shades of King’s The Drawing of Three and The Twilight Zone. Good stuff.

5 out of 5 stars
Gingerbread Death Machine – Revenge doesn’t always taste sweet. A macabre Christmas tale that seems familiar but doesn’t work as well as it could.

3 out of 5 stars
Under New Skies – A high school boy writes about love and the world becoming Jurassic Park overnight. I liked the uneasiness in this one.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

 

The Ice King – Emmett is sure that his wife, Gertie, is slipping him an extra pill in his daily stash, trying to kill him. When he sees something humongous under the ice while fishing, he becomes convinced. Lovecraft meets Grumpy Old Men. This was a fun one.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars
Box Game – Yikes! That’s some game!

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

 

Armala’s Hunt – Armala’s sister has been abducted by an unknown assailant. She recruits her world’s best tracker for hire. They follow their trail to a cave where the grisly realization of why he kidnapped Armala’s sister unveils itself. A nice tale of fantasy that feels like it’s the start of a story rather than the whole tale.

4 out of 5 stars

 

The Old Church – Umm?!? Am I missing something here? What seems like a fragment of a setup to a story.

1 out of 5 stars

 

The Pumpkin Tree Giveth, The Pumpkin Tree Taketh Away – The pumpkin tree has been rumored to grant wishes. For 10-year-old Jeffie, he better watch what he wishes for. Again, it feels like a scene instead of a story.

3 out of 5 stars

 

The Man Who Never Frowned – A used car salesman, who is down on his luck, is about to have a really bad day.

 

4 out of 5 stars

 

The Organ Harvest (An October John novella) – In 2052, a plague has hit the world and decimated 95% of the population. Detective Callahan is breaking in a rookie partner while investigating a strange case of murders. The victims bodies are barely recognizable save for one distinguishing feature, a tattoo of a white rabbit on their ass cheek. Every clue runs into a dead end and with nowhere else to turn, Detective Callahan is forced to turn Johnny Webster (aka October John), a down-on-his-luck bum that has a knack for this kind of work. You see, 12 years ago, Johnny used to be Callahan’s partner.

A fun novella that introduces us to some interesting characters with October John being right up at the top. Think of Riggs from Lethal Weapon.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

 

All in all, a very solid collection of shorts and a novella. Meyer has an easy writing style with some good characters and plots. There were a couple that were too short for me to really get into, but that’s my preference and not necessarily a dig on Meyer’s writing. Definitely worthy of space on any horror fan’s bookcase. Meyer looks like he has the chops to make a real name for himself in the horror community.

 

Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

 

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

Wrathbone and Other Stories – Jason Parent

img_0376

 

This is my second read of Jason’s and this one is a short story collection. Without further ado, here we go:

Wrathbone-

The “title track” of this collection and it’s an eerie display of watching a man sink deeper and deeper into madness. What makes this story even more unsettling is that it’s based of true historical facts. Henry Rathbone was indeed a major in the Union army. He, and his wife Clara, were the guests of President Lincoln and his wife attending the play at the Ford theater where Lincoln was fatally shot. Rathbone did suffer from extreme guilt and eventually went mad from not being able to prevent the assassination of the president. This is Parent’s imagining of what went on in Rathbone’s mind after that fateful night. Impressive.

4 out of 5 stars
The Only Good Lawyer –

Bradley is a scum bag lawyer. A damn good one and he defends other scum bags for obscene amounts of money with no conscience hampering his ability to defend these lowlives. He gets a taste of his own medicine when a victim’s father takes the stand. A fun ride that you know where it is leading, but still love the ride.

5 out of 5 stars
Dorian’s Mirror –

What if your looks were what made you a success and defined you? What if every mirror you now gazed in reflected you as hideous and aging more every time you looked into it? For Dorian, the mirror was his best friend. Now it is his enemy.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars
For The Birds –

Nev’s parrot has a peculiar craving. One warped story that is guaranteed to make you cringe!

4 out of 5 stars
Revenge is a Dish –

Maurice is hired to be a chef aboard a private yacht. Everything was going great until Maurice gets caught sampling the owner’s wife’s goodies. Oops. So what do you do with a guy when you’re out in the middle of a vast ocean and days away from any land? Well, for Maurice, he gets tossed in the drink wearing nothing but his skivvies in shark infested waters. Needless to say, Maurice isn’t in good mood after he’s been floating on life ring for days fighting for his life. The only thing that keeps him going is his burning desire to enact revenge. Pass the salt, please.

5 out of 5 stars

Parent keeps getting better and better. There were 3 absolute gems out of this collection and, overall, there wasn’t a clunker in the batch. That’s saying a lot. His writing style is fluid and easy to read with an impressive vocabulary without being pretentious. I’m a reader and I read many books. It’s been a month since I finished Wrathbone and these stories are still clearly tattooed in my brain. That’s the sign of a good writer.
Overall – 4 1/2 President’s Friends with Blood on their Clothes 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