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.

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.

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 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 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 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.

Looking for Jake by China Miéville

I think I’m officially in love with China. Every time I read another work I am more astonished by the unfettered creativity brough to it. This is not your normal short story collection – it is deeper and wider and more entertaining than most of the books I’ve read in the last couple years.

Looking For Jake
by China Miéville
read by Jonathan Cowley, Enn Reitel, Gildart Jackson, Peter Altschuler, Robin Sachs, Bruce Mann, Dominic Burgess, Steve West Del Rey & Random House Audio
September 2011

There are 14 short stories here with topics ranging from ghost stories to horror to straight up interdiminensional science fiction and each of them shines in their own way. Some were stronger than others though and stay with you longer. Consider The Tain, a story that turns on its head any ideas about what we really see when we see a reflection in a mirror and asks the haunting question: what if those reflections don’t want to mimic us? The Ball Room is a modern horror story that takes place in an department store children’s play room where something goes horribly wrong.

Others are less profound but enjoyable never the less. The most humorous story in the bunch is
Tis the Season, a story that wonders what would happen in a world where everything related to Christmas(TM) could be copyrighted. Details is a story about a young boy who spends his days sitting outside the door of an elderly woman who cannot leave her home because when she looks on anything with a pattern she seed It coming for her.

Reading this book made me feel like I was a kid in a candy store except I’m not a kid and the store that I’m in just appeared around me unexepectedly and the candy isn’t actually candy but is something I couldn’t ever have imagined but at the same time realized as I partook that I had always wanted it. A gem.

A note about the audio book version: Each story is narrated by a different reader who brings their own charms to the work. None of the readers suffered from over zealously affecting the work and all brought just enough of their own personality to make each story that much more independant. With this many stories it would be easy to have them run together with the same reader. This version, though, suffers from none of those concerns. Well read from top to bottom.

Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of 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.

Chuggie and the Desecration of Stagwater by Brent Michael Kelley

The story stars our titular character, Chuggie, who is the walking incarnation of Drought. His ability to rapidly pull in moisture from his surroundings, which includes people, causes him to be shunned the world over. Immortal and homeless, he wanders the earth until he comes across the troubled city of Stagwater. Here, it seems fate has decided he has a purpose.

Chuggie and the Desecration of Stagwater
by Brent Michael Kelley
Omnium Gatherum
November 2011

We’re introduced to Chuggie as he stands just outside the city of Stagwater. From the very beginning you know something is a little strange here since Chuggie has horns and a length of chain with an anchor attached to one end and the other fused to his rib cage. Things actually gets stranger still as we’re introduced to a world of magic fueled by torture, demons, and inter-dimensional monsters.

Unfortunately, the story never really takes off from there. Chuggie is only ever interested in drinking, smoking, and telling stories so outlandish that we’re never quite sure if they’re supposed to be true or just pure fabrication. We’re also introduced to a host of secondary characters, but despite being given brief glimpses into their lives, none of them are ever really fleshed out and ultimately come across as flat cardboard cut-outs that float in and out of the background

The main villains of the story aren’t much better. Kale is the only other character besides Chuggie that is given much focus, and while the inner workings of his mind are initially interesting to behold, his whole “I want to kill everyone” thought process becomes a bit repetitive after a while and makes his role of “bad guy” feel a bit forced.

Instead the story focuses heavily on Chuggie and his lover Shola, a witch whose actions and emotions are so non-sequitur I was hard pressed to see what Chuggie even saw in her (other than that she was female and apparently interested in him).

As for Chuggie, he’s hardly a sympathetic character, but given what all he’s put through, it actually works for him. However, Chuggie’s biggest problem involves staying on track. He seems to be constantly distracted by anything and everything, and his musings go on for pages at a time without actually adding anything to the story or suddenly adding too much as we’re ripped from the action and treated to paragraphs of exposition.

In truth, the work’s biggest flaws come down to pacing and length. The framework is there, but halfway through the story, all the characters seem to be in a rush to collide with one another as if they know there’s only so much screen time left. Crucial plot details feel tacked on last minute while others are glossed over or simply thrust into the story with no explanation, deus-ex-machina style.

The gore and horror are well-written, and certain scenes and descriptions shine with obvious polish and care. But as any movie critic will tell you, good special effects can’t make up for bad acting. And no amount of setting can make up for shaky character development.

That said, I’m honestly interested in seeing what this author comes out with next. There’s obviously some raw talent in this work. It just needs a little more focus and direction to really shine.

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

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

Hades by Alexandra Adornetto

WOW! What an amazing scary book. If you are a believer – you will want to recommit. If you are a nonbeliever – you will want to immediately ask for God’s forgiveness and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. You certainly don’t want to go to HADES.

by Alexandra Adornetto
Feiwel & Friends
August 2011

Even the love of her boyfriend,Xavier Woods, and her siblings, Gabriel and Ivy, can’t keep the angel Bethany Church from being tricked into a motorcycle ride that ends up in Hell.

Bethany Church is an angel living on earth in Venus Cove on the Georgia coastline in Sherbrooke County and goes to Bryce Hamilton High School. She lives with her siblings, Sister Ivy, a seraphim and her brother Archangel Gabriel. Yes – you read this right – the one and only mighty Archangel Gabriel. Bethany is not like her siblings in that she has a boyfriend Xavier she loves – not heavenly love but earthy love. Their mission is to visit other cities and towns in the vicinity of Venus Cove to expel any dark forces residing there.

It is Halloween and she and Xavier are going to a party at the old abandon house out in the country. All of their friends will be there – all dressed in costumes. Bethany’s friends want to have a séance using a Ouija Board. Bethany is against this – she knows about the dark arts – but her friends are insistent. Abby starts the incantation calling for the spirits to make a connection. Suddenly everything goes horribly wrong. A spirit materials telling them to stop – leave the place – they are all in danger. Now they have done it – they have broken the circle and trapped the spirit inside. They can feel the evil radiating around them. Bethany must find Xavier and leave. Before she can locate him she learns there has been an accident at the swimming pond – Xavier is hurt – she must go to him. She accepts a ride on Wesley Cowan’s motorcycle and heads for the pond. to find Xavier. Only it isn’t Wesley, but Jake Horn who is driving the cycle. Jake, known as Arakiel, is one of the original eight angels thrown out of heaven with Lucifer. Jake has once again left hell for earth and his goal is to take Bethany back with him. As they roared down the highway a deep, jagged crack appeared in the center – they were heading straight toward a gateway to Hell.

In hell Lucifer is known as Big Daddy and Jake is a Prince of a section of hell and is determined to make Bethany his princess and keep her with him. Bethany is just as determined to return to earth – an angel has never been in hell. She is grief stricken – does anyone know where she is – are her siblings looking for her? Even the mighty Archangel Gabriel will have trouble finding the portal to hell. While looking for ways to free Bethany, Gabriel and Ivy must free Sister Mary Clare from a demon that has taken over her body. and learn where there is a portal.. What Bethany sees and learns about hell makes her more terrified – she has been to the club district, the pits, even the wastelands with the Hellhounds and talked with Lucifer face-to-face. With help of Tucker she has drank from the Lake of Dreams that puts her in a trance like state where she can project her spirit and visit her love ones so she is aware of what is happening with her siblings.

Bethany is running out of time – she will soon lose her powers and her wings if she can’t use them – how can she survive – an angel in hell – an unheard of event. Jake has made a wager with her – he will not harm Xavier if she will make the supreme sacrifice and give herself to him. What choice does she have? In the meantime Gabriel has located the portal to hell in a place called Broken Hill in Alabama. Portals were designed to repel angelic powers – Gabriranel is a high roller in heaven and even he can’t wangle them open – an angel has never broken into hell. They will need some real fire power to accomplish this. Archangel Michael, who runs with the big guns in heaven, to the rescue. The Sword of Michael – it could open the portal.

Will they reach Bethany in time to save her from destruction and possibly themselves as well? Can Jake be trusted to keep his word?

This is one book you will want to read and take to heart. Hell is not a figment of one’s imagination, but a real place where one will be tormented for eternity. Which will you chose – Heaven or Hell?

Highly recommended.

Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer, is a founding book blogger for She describes herself as “An 80 year old avid reader reviews the newest in Christian fiction and non-fiction with a sprinkle of the secular on top.”.

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