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 #5

ghosted5When we left off (issue 4) the thief was possessed, the videographers were dead, the group was trapped and surrounded by ghosts and darkness had fallen. Pretty grim, huh?

Ghosted #5
Written by Joshua Williamson
Art by Goran Sudzuka and Miroslav Mrva
Skybound / Image
November 2013

[MAJOR SPOILERS ABOUND] In this issue, we find Jackson fighting with Anderson fighting – really fighting, with guns and knives – as the depth of her allegiance to Markus is fully displayed but not fully explained. The medium, skeptic and the thief all make it out alive after a plot twist towards revenge ends the battle and the storyline.

This is the issue that finally wraps up the “steal a ghost” storyline – and let’s face it, how long could it last anyway? Five issues is probably two too many as it wasn’t a deep or particularly satisfying story. It was filled with gotcha moments and despicable acts that only really took off in issues 3 and 4 when we started to see survival horror aspects come in to play. But then it just ends almost like the story was cut short. Why not continue the story and have the ghosts pick off a few more characters, one after the other, if we are going for horror? Have you ever read a horror story where the characters find themselves in a bind, a few immediately die, then the rest – all the rest – make a deal with the ghosts and then live? Yeah, me either.

One other thing that bugs me about this far too quickly over story is how Jackson is stabbed with a knife that is longer than Anderson’s head and neck are tall through his left back, level with his heart, causing him to fall down stairs only to sit up and continue talking and then somehow at the end has no injury. I’ve reread it. There is no explanation. The whole story feels so quickly mashed together that a lot is unexplained.

Why did the ghosts want to kill anyone since they were just victims of Markus and quickly placated? Why did the ghosts try to hang Jackson in issue 4? Why was there a portal to Hell in issues 2, 3 but nothing else came of it? What was the point of having a skeptic or a thief in the story at all? If the medium could just put the mask on and find out the truth about Markus why didn’t she do it in issue 1? Why would Rusnak become a Maury Povich? But the writer get’s to do whatever they want and while I don’t get it I don’t have to. But I should enjoy it and I really didn’t.

The best and only reason to read this story has always been Jackson. And in the end, we see we may finally get what we want. After the epilogue we see him living out his life six months later on the beach. He’s ignoring his past as a thief avoiding the repercussions of his past. He gets to use his gun. He’s cool. He’s basically a sorta Thief of Thieves lite. Even the artwork – which is more vibrant and cartoony than the dark, grungy look of the first 5 issues – is more enjoyable. I’m actually looking forward to issue 6 and seeing where the story goes. [END SPOILERS]


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 Screaming Staircase by Stroud

The_Screaming_StaircaseIf you were to take the mystery of a Brixton Brothers or Young Sherlock book and mix it with the supernatural horror of a series like The Last Apprentice, you would get Lockwood & Co.

The Screaming Staircase
Jonathan Stroud
Disney Hyperion
September 2013

Jonathan Stroud who is known for the Bartimaeus sequence has a new series. Lockwood & Co The Screaming Staircase is the first book in this new scary and fun series. England is faced with a problem. There are ghosts all over the place. As the society tried to deal with the Problem, it was discovered that the abilities to fight these ghosts are strongest in children. So there are many businesses run by kids that help deal with the problem.

Lucy is a new grad of one of the ghostbusting schools. When she gets to London she applies and gets a job with Lockwood & Co and the adventure starts.

This book was scary, suspenseful and fun. I was on the edge of my seat to get to the end and I was very impressed. I have placed this book firmly among my favorite books of the year.

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud. Ages 8-12 | Grades 4-8.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


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.

Bad Radio by Langlois

badradioDuring WWII, Abe Griffin was a member of a special task force that took on the strange and supernatural. One event in particular, however, left its mark on Abe. Now, sixty years later, Abe hasn’t aged a day, is preternaturally strong, and can heal from just about anything. But Abe’s abilities are more than they seem. The same ritual that gave Abe his abilities is being recreated, and the man responsible is determined to finish what he started. All he needs is Abe, and he’ll kill anyone that gets in his way.

Bad Radio
The Emergent Earth #1
Michael Langlois
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
August 21, 2011

Corpses and living people filled with parasites, giant worms, and blood rituals ensure that there is no shortage when it comes to gore in this particular tale. Throw in some psychics and obscure magic and you’ve got yourself a story. Or so you’d think.

But the truth is that this story just suffers from plain old bad writing. Characters are mortally wounded one moment and then they’re fine the next. Nobody even questions the fact that Abe seems to be able to heal from multiple stab wounds in minutes until three-fourths through the story. (Although no explanation is given as to how everyone else is alive and up walking around. All that blood has to come from somewhere.)

The story also has a nasty habit of using any and every lull to drop into lengthy exposition. I honestly almost laughed during one scene where a character was lying on the ground, supposedly bleeding to death and waiting for an ambulance, but manages to have an entire cellphone conversation chronicling Abe’s past.

Even worse is the fact that some of the exposition is literally a repeat of information already shared. It’s as though the characters have forgotten the details of each other’s lives, despite the exact same conversation having happening two chapters ago.

Really, I could go on, but the point is that the book is a mess. There’s already a sequel and I imagine this first book is meant to be part of a series or a trilogy, but I honestly don’t think I could bring myself to read more.


Matthew Scott is the Dark Fantasy & Horror Editor of BookGateway.com who describes himself as just another average reader who enjoys sharing his opinion on various books, authors, and whatever else may cross his path.

Graveminder by Marr

graveminderRebekkah Barrow’s grandmother, Maylene, was the Graveminder. Exactly what that meant, Rebekkah never knew, but through most of her youth, she followed Maylene to every funeral and watched as Maylene performed a strange ritual with food and drink. Now Maylene is dead, and Rebekkah has returned to Claysville for the funeral. But unbeknownst to Rebekkah, she’s been chosen to take over the role of Graveminder, which means she has quite a task before her. Starting with finding out who murdered Maylene.

Graveminder
by Melissa Marr
William Morrow Paperbacks
January 17, 2012

This book hovers somewhere between love story and supernatural thriller, but can never seem to decide which it wants to be. As a result, it has trouble committing to either, and the story flounders a bit in the process.

On the one hand, we have Rebekkah and Bryon, an on-again, off-again couple. Byron is in love with Rebekkah, but Rebekkah apparently likes to randomly desert Byron every time they start getting serious. (As in Byron wakes up to find Rebekkah is gone and has moved half away across the country.)

On the other hand, we have undead spirits/zombies wandering around and eating people, and an entire town that is under a sort of magical oath that prevents them from even talking about it.

Where the problem comes in is that neither side is given a chance to truly develop. The magical aspects of the story are heavily downplayed through the majority of the book. Instead we focus on Rebekkah and Byron, and are given several flashbacks through their lives. Unfortunately, the history of their relationships doesn’t paint Rebekkah in a very positive light, and she comes off as flighty and downright cruel as we watch her abandon Byron again and again.

Then two-thirds through the book, the magic comes back full force, and we’re suddenly spending entire chapters in the land of the dead. It’s a bit like reading Romeo and Juliet, and then halfway through it switches to Night of the Living Dead.

Perhaps if the book has been longer, it would have had a chance to delve deeper into both of its aspects. But as it is, I finished the book with more questions than answers.


Matthew Scott is the Dark Fantasy & Horror Editor of BookGateway.com who describes himself as just another average reader who enjoys sharing his opinion on various books, authors, and whatever else may cross his path.

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.