Category Archives: Horror

Fiction in which events evoke a feeling of dread and sometimes fear in both the characters and the reader. Includes ghosts, monsters, vampires, zombies, supernatural creatures that threaten, the Occult, slasher, survival horror, etc.

Ghosted #1 by Williamson, Sudzuka and Mrva

Jackson T. Winters, criminal mastermind, is in jail and under imminent threat of sexual assault which is graphically depicted by a large man assaulting a weaker man in his cell pointing at Winters and saying, “You’re next.” Welcome to Ghosted.

Ghosted #1
Written by Joshua Williamson
Art by Goran Sudzuka and Miroslav Mrva
Image / Skybound
July 2013

Winters is broken out of jail by a rich benefactor who wants him to put a team together to steal a ghost from a haunted mansion that is about to be torn down. An origins story, this issue focuses on getting the team together – along with a new suit and a richly endowed whore for Winters. We don’t find out too much about the difficulty of stealing a ghost (just suspend disbelief with me here.) But we do meet characters and we can infer where this is going.

If the first page isn’t a rude awakening to the reality of this gritty and vulgar series you’re far too jaded. I don’t mind a story that makes use of violence or vulgarity to further the plot but this book reveled in it unnecessarily. Sure, a man who was in jail may want to spend time with a woman but they also may need to take a dump and we don’t need to know about it because it doesn’t further the story. Sure, in jail Winters may be under threat, but graphically depicting homosexual assault to make your point is unnecessary. Too often entertainment today focuses on gotcha! moments instead of strong storytelling. I got that feeling from start to finish in this first episode. Hopefully we’ll see this mellow out and move more into the Dresden Files type series this could be. (In fact, Mr. Williamson, I highly recommend books like those to show you how you successfully meld hard-boiled with supernatural, witty with classy.)

Overall, this is an underwhelming start to the series and in a marketplace full of similar titles the creators are going to have to make some quick adjustments to find their niche. Right now, I doubt this one lasts.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Doll Bones by Black

Doll Bones by Holly Black is a spooky ghost story. This is the type of book that I think kids will be clamoring for.

Doll Bones
by Holly Black
Margaret K. McElderry Books
May 2013

Holly Black writes with a style that creates a spooky atmosphere. The story is that three children Polly, Zach and Alice are all best friends. They have been playing a make believe game with figures and dolls for years. When it seems like the game might end forever, the trio embark on a quest, one last game. Polly says she had a vision of a ghost possessing the doll they had dubbed the Queen. Now they are on a quest to bury her with her family.

This book is aimed at the upper elementary level ( grades 4 and up). As far as ghost stories goes this book is good for that level. It is spooky but not extremely scary. I think that the story is more interesting than the typical Goosebumps book. This book differs from a Goosebumps book because it is well written. The characters are developed and you care about all of them. None of the three main characters seem like cardboard cutouts. I would recommend it to very imaginative children between grades 4 and 6 because they would appreciate the game that the characters play.

I rate this book 5 stars for being a spooky well written ghost story.


Patrick Tierney is a school librarian in an elementary school in Providence. Reading is his passion. He loves reading new books and sharing with his students. Getting a good book into the hands of someone and seeing them excited to read is what he lives for. He posts reviews of new and interesting Children’s and YA books at his blog.

This book was provided by the author as a review copy.

Walking Dead Vol. 18: What Comes After by Kirkman, Adlard, and Rathburn

Negan has completely and fully turned once tough guy incarnate Rick in his b****. Carl doesn’t respect him. Andrea isn’t sticking around. The battle is over. Right?

The Walking Dead
Volume 18: What Comes After (103-108)

Written by Robert Kirkman
Illustrated by Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn
Image Comics
June 2013

[SPOILERS GALORE] When Rick decides to go with a new plan to placate Negan and the Saviors instead of fighting not everyone is on board with it. But what choice does he have? Carl, though, has thoughts of his own about how to handle the threat and stowes away on the truck going back to Negan’s base with a large caliber machine gun. Once captured, which was inevitable, he is at the mercy of Negan’s mercurial whim. Carl’s capture sets in a motion a plan to save him – with Michonne, Andrea and Jesus following Rick – but at what price? [END SPOILERS]

After finishing up the most recent season on AMC you may be tempted to think that the series has no where to go. But you’d be so very wrong. The comics have long been much more intriguing and exciting – and that’s saying quite a bit – than the show. The show is hampered by actors and contracts and audience demos. The comic is not hindered at all, except by the whim of creator and writor Robert Kirkman’s decisions. So we find characters dying and growing and changing to a degree not seen in the show. And we find even more dangerous characters than the Governor. Negan is a great example of this. A complex and volatile enemy who we find is much more than simply a killer.

After the events in issue 100, this series changes once again in ways that we readers wouldn’t have guessed. I’m a fan of reading the trade paperbacks as we get a group of issues (usually 6) that we know are out and can run through them quicker than waiting on the next issue (which may or may not come out in a month.)

The artwork is expressive as always and the detailed landscapes and expressive characters lends itself to the world of the Walking Dead so much better than most comics out there today. The writing is tight and the pace just ambling enough to be authentic but just quick enough to keep the reader engaged.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

The Girl in the Wall by Benedis-Grab

At a high school birthday party, security guards for the live entertainment pull their weapons on the kids, start shooting, and the party turns in to a hostage situation. Ariel, the birthday girl hears the noises, quickly runs away and hides in a crawl space between the walls. Within moments a friend of Ariel’s who looks like her and her father are both executed in brain splattering gory detail. And then other kids are killed as well. Again and again all night long.

The Girl in the Wall
By Daphne Benedis-Grab
Merit Press
December 2012

Reading through this “Children’s book” for teenagers was more horrifying than even horror books I’ve read by Stephen King or the Walking Dead. Because this author crosses the line of torturing and killing children! In detail. With gore. A kid won’t answer where Ariel is (because they don’t know) so the bad guys shoot him in the head, brain matter splattering the other kids. Even a bad guy remarks, “I didn’t sign up to kill children” at one point.

Which brings me to the main question: what is the point of this? No one, movies, TV and most books go this far in violently treating characters that are children. (Remember the debate raised about the Walking Dead on AMC in season 1 when Rick shoots a child zombie? Imagine a story where bad guys killed children who were not zombies, a lot.) Here this author does and there isn’t a payoff. There isn’t a moral. There isn’t even progression of character. It’s like a horrible nightmare of what none of us parents would ever want to contemplate. A what if? from Hell. And the author seems to delight in it.

This is an uncompromisingly dark, poorly conceived and completely inappropriate book that I would never let a young person read (and I woudl go to great lengths to tell everyone to avoid.)


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Road to Woodbury by Kirkman and Bonansinga

The second book in the Walking Dead universe doesn’t start off where we finished the first book, The Ruse of the Governor, instead focusing on a completely different and new group of survivors who have banded together in a huge tent city. If you’re thinking that tents are a terrible way to hold off zombies you’d be correct.

The Road to Woodbury
The Walking Dead
By Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga
Read by Fred Berman
Thomas Dunne Books / Macmillan Audio
October 2012

The story this time focuses on Lily Caul, a young strawberry blonde, freckled girl overcome with grief over losing her father and with certainty that the tent city won’t last. (It doesn’t; but you knew that.) As she moves on from place to place with her small group of survivors she finds herself at the gates of Woodbury, home of the infamous Governor, Philip Blake.

She and her friends find that civilization isn’t all that civilized and when some of her companions end up dead she crosses over from victim to aggressor and decided to facilitate a regime change in Woodbury.

This, the second book in the planned trilogy, doesn’t add as much to the world as the Rise of the Governor did and doesn’t flesh out the characters in this story arch as well either. Not as much happens in this book and not as much character development takes place. And some things don’t make a lot of sense. Why did Lily decide to attack the Governor when he wasn’t directly tied (from her perspective) to her friend’s deaths? I can’t go into more details on this trail without giving away spoilers. But this isn’t the only plot point that seemed to be forced on the reader, instead of naturally developing.

Also, after reading both books back to back it is painfully clear that the authors have only a few ways to describe things (or everyone wears the same lumberjack coats, chambray shirts and everyone hides behind cyclone fences, for a few examples.) I’d like to see some more diversity in description. And character! (Lily is almost the same character as Brian Blake was in the first book).

An interesting addition that doesn’t move the story forward much. I enjoyed it, though, and am looking forward to the conclusion.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Infected by Schannep

It’s been years since I last read a Choose Your Own Adventure novel, but man did I used to love them! I remember opening up the white bordered covers, flipping through the possible answers (to cheat, so I lived, of course!) and I remember hours of fun with a book at a time when reading books straight through wasn’t a hobby. Now that I’ve “grown up” and moved on to “real” books I haven’t thought of them for years. Until now.

Infected
Click Your Poison
By James Schannep
Amazon Digital Services
September 2012

You start the book reading about Gilgazyme a miracle medication that stops the aging process by mutating human genes. You can now stay “young and beautiful forever!” Your first choice: “Stay young and beautiful forever… sign me up”, or “Does anyone else think this is a bad idea?” And you’re off. It’s tough to review a story when the story is really what you make of it. But let me say this: I “played” this book from start to finish for hours and hours and for days on end trying to find the best resolutions and I do know the story and it’s a good one. But I’m not going to ruin it for you. You can assume that you will either try to enjoy the gene therapy or try to stop it. Either way, it is clear from the book title that the therapy produces Zombies. The next question is whether or not you’ll survive.

And I didn’t. In fact, I died maybe five times before I finally found a method of survival. By the end, I was able to reach the highest completion scenario (how do I know? Each of the “Congratulations” endings gets more and more excitable and the final one has an F-bomb in the middle of the word exclaiming my awesomeness.) Trying to survive is only part of the fun, though. Because if you don’t survive and you get infected you get a special treat by way of a point of view change. A storyline ensues that is really unique in this genre.

When I picked this up I expected to move through it for maybe an hour and move on. But I ended up that first day playing for several hours and then the next day as well. And a couple weeks later I’m still playing it trying to get all the possible endings. It is genius! How adult themed Choose Your Own Adventures have not been blowing up – especially in this current Zombie-loving time – is beyond me. I fully expect that books like this one will only get bigger.

This is a great book, a fun story, and a heck of a game. Highly recommended.

Note: If you are concerned about language or sexual situations in books then be advised that this book is very easily R rated and possibly NC-17. There are a ton of cuss words, drug use, sexual situations, and (obviously) graphic violence. Kinda what you would expect in a Zombie story.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Rise of the Governor by Kirkman and Bonansinga

The dead are walking – and eating – the living. No one knows how or why. The only concern is survival. This first novel in the cultural phenomenon that is The Walking Dead takes the reader back to the beginning and those first frantic days in the late Georgian summer focusing on a small group of survivors trying to get to Atlanta’s rumored safe zone.

The Rise of the Governor
The Walking Dead
By Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga
Read by Fred Berman
Thomas Dunne Books / Macmillan Audio
October 2011

As the novel starts we find Philip Blake, his daughter Penny, his brother Brian, and his two friends Bobby and Nick clearing a house in an outlying suburb of Atlanta killing “biters”. The goal is Atlanta, but first a safe haven to rest. Unlike the television series that starts an indeterminate time after the outbreak or turn, this book takes the reader through those first horrible days as news reports start coming in detailing the rise of the undead through the terrifying losses of first some then all television, radio and news outlets and finally to the end of all infrastructure and utilities.

As the small group struggles through the masses of undead we find out what kind of people theses are and the darkness that lurks in each of them. Philip, the leader, is focused on the protection of his daughter to the exclusion of all others. His brother, Brian, a coward, loves his brother and is blind to the encroaching madness. Penny, a seven year old who has already seen her mother die years ago, struggles to cope with this new horror and retreats inside herself. While Bobby and Nick play roles but this story is ultimately about Blake family. (Which is a shame since Nick develops into one of the more interesting characters in the series – a religious man who holds on to his faith even through the outbreak and who isn’t a caricature of the faithful – but isn’t developed enough.)

As fans of the show, and movies in the genre, Atlanta’s safe zone doesn’t exist. Instead, the group finds thousands or even hundreds of thousands of zombies and no where to run. The story really hits its stride when the small group is saved by the Chalmers, a father and his two daughters hold up in an apartment complex. The group dynamic, and individual sanity, is changed forever when Philip makes a terrible choice forcing their exodus from Atlanta with nothing but the clothes on their back.

Ultimately, this story is about how the Governor rises to power in a small enclave of survivors in Woodbury. It is a complex and terrifying character study of a man’s descent into madness. For fans of books with great character development and for fans of this genre this book will definitely impress. It is filed with bloody, gory action; last second escapes (and not); and all the survival horror you can eat.

A note about the audio book: Berman does an excellent job channeling the anger and evil intentions of the characters. His voice modulation worked very well moving from marathon to character. The characters did sound almost the same at times and I had a hard time following who was speaking during intense conversations with a lot of back and forth. Overall this did not distract and I found myself easily lost in the story and rarely jolted out of it.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Unholy by Graham

What better way to start a book than with a heinous murder committed in a legendary special effects studio in Hollywood? Throw in a famous ghost and give us a character that can talk to them, and you’ve got a good story on your hands.

The Unholy
Krewe of Hunters
By Heather Graham
Harlequin MIRA
June 2012

Alistair Archer has been accused of the murder of his girlfriend Jenny. His father Eddie is willing to do whatever it takes to save his son. He calls on Sean Cameron, a former employee at his studio, who now works for a special division of the FBI. The police seem to have an airtight case against Alistair, but Eddie needs a miracle, and he believes Sean can provide that for him. Sean has the special gift of being able to speak with the dead, and it’s going to take something special to get Alistair out of this mess. Eddie asks one of his best employees, Madison Darvil, to be Sean’s liaison throughout the investigation. Madison is also able to speak with the dead, and even lives with the ghost of the legendary Humphrey Bogart.

Madison and Sean develop a chemistry almost immediately, and The Unholy focuses on their endeavors to prove Alistair is not guilty of murdering Jenny. The villain, who calls himself Vengeance, appears periodically throughout the book to create havoc and throw Madison and Sean off the trail. Who will prevail?
The Unholy is without a doubt character driven. Madison’s energy and innocence is refreshing throughout the book, and I found myself anticipating a relationship between Madison and Sean. The well developed characters do come with a price. The villain does not inspire a feeling of contempt as most villains do. He almost seems to be more of an afterthought than a driving force in The Unholy. I found myself much more involved with the relationship of Madison and Sean than with finding out who the killer would turn out to be. Despite this, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I was definitely surprised to discover the identity of Vengeance. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good mystery with a touch of the supernatural.


Kassi Kirschner loves to lose herself in a great book. She likes to spend her time with her family, her many dogs, and preparing for her baby on the way!

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Friends with Boys by Hicks

Maggie McKay is going to High School – well, any school really since she’s been home schooled her whole life – and she’s spooked. It doesn’t help that a local ghost won’t leave her alone, either.

Friends with Boys
by Faith Erin Hicks
First Second
February 2012

Fortunately, Maggie has older brothers at the high school to look after her, in a way. As she starts to find herself and becomes friends with a couple of outcasts she starts to open up. When they decide to try to solve a local mystery involving the ghost things get interesting.

This is billed as a Young Adult graphic novel but really it should be a teen graphic novel. (No jokes about the similarity of reading level between those two.) Maggie’s plight is one that any teen would understand. The ostracism, the difficulty in trusting, the feeling of loneliness are all relatable and well done. The art is cartoony, but stylish and comes off well in this genre.

Overall, this is a fun graphic novel that Junior High and High School students, especially girls, will enjoy.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he cartoons and writes on Christianity, Zombies, and anything else he wants to.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Casting Shadows by J. Kelley Anderson

When Edward Kelley was young, his parents died in plane crash while on a missionary trip. Years later his sister, Beth, died as a result of a chronic medical condition that health insurance wouldn’t cover. Alone in the world and grieving, Edward turns his back on the god that his parents and sister so devoutly believed in.

Casting Shadows
By J. Kelley Anderson
World Castle Publishing
January 2012

But that isn’t enough. Edward wants to make sure that every human being suffers as he has. So when a mysterious note appears at his doorstep and introduces him into a world of magic, Edward leaps at the chance to use his new abilities to cause pain and destruction on a world that he feels has wronged him.

Too bad it looks like he may just end up saving the world instead.

Casting Shadows by J. Kelley Anderson is a story about Edward Kelley, an outcast who is doing his best to hate the world but finds it difficult to justify killing innocent people. When Edward finally meets another magic user who is doing what he can’t, he is horrified by her acts of violence and general disdain for human life.

The story, overall, is really a tale of redemption. Edward is pale, skinny, and socially awkward. No matter how hard he tries, he’ll never be what society really thinks of as normal. But try as he might, he isn’t quite capable of destroying the people who don’t understand him.

Edward’s journey through the world of magic is also entertaining and often humorous. The inclusion of a colorful array of other characters only adds to the mix and plays on Edward’s lack of social grace.

In fact for me, one of the defining factors of the story is Michael. Michael is a brash, foul-mouthed police officer, who is endlessly optimistic and has insisted on being Edward’s friend since high school (much to Edward’s chagrin). I actually didn’t like the character, but the interesting thing is that you’re not really supposed to like him. He’s there because he is what Edward needs. He knows Edward doesn’t enjoy his company, but he stands by him regardless, because no one else will.

And there’s something very powerful in that description.

Really, I just have to say that this story was truly a page-turner for me, and I loved every second of it. I can only hope that there will be more to come from Mr. Anderson about our unlikely hero and his bumbling foray into magic.


Matthew Scott is just another average reader who enjoys sharing his opinion on various books, authors, and whatever else may cross his path.