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Harlan County Horrors
by Flames R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/08/2014 20:13:28
Harlan County Horrors, edited by Mari Adkins, is billed as an anthology of regionally-inspired tales. With Harlan County being in the heart of coal country, one might expect a number of the tales to touch on aspects of mining, and that assumption is correct. However, there’s more to Harlan than the mines; for one thing there’s the people themselves, and where there are people, scary stories are sure to follow. These twelve stories are a showcase for tales of Kentucky coal country by a fine crop of writers, many of them with close ties to the state.

The lead story, “The Power of Moonlight” by Debbie Kuhn is a bitter lesson about a woman scorned and the folly of rash acts. It was a very good selection to kick off the anthology. Maurice Broaddus’ “Trouble Among the Yearlings” is a subtle tale that captures well the claustrophobia of being trapped in a mine. In “Spirit Fire”, Robbie Sparks weaves a tale that warns about making a deal that seems too good to be true.

Ronald Kelly’s “The Thing At the Side of the Road” has a darkly humorous twist – at first. “Inheritance” by Stephanie Lenz was my favorite of the collection, and possibly the scariest story of the bunch. I also liked Alethea Kontis’ “The Witch of Black Mountain”, another woman scorned tale that turns out a bit differently for the protagonist than does “The Power of Moonlight.”

Do the stories capture the feel of Harlan County? Having never been there it’s difficult for me to say. What the tales do capture is a feeling of loneliness, of desperation, and of a hardscrabble existence in a remote place where good paying jobs are few and far between. Pulling coal from the ground pays well, but takes its toll on everyone eventually, and many don’t survive the task. The stories also capture the natural beauty of the area, with its dark, rugged mountains and thickly-forested gullies and streams; towns that seem to still cling to a century ago, and people who could have lived in any time period during the last thousand years.

One criticism I would offer on Harlan County Horrors is that not all of the tales are horror stories per se; many are, but some seem more science fictional than truly horrifying – though horrific elements are definitely present – and one or two defy clear categorization. None of this is necessarily bad; the stories are uniformly well-written and engrossing, but not all met my expectations. That’s a tall order in any case for an anthology; part of the reason why so many anthologies seem a hit-or-miss proposition is precisely because each reader brings a different perspective and different expectations to any book.

Regardless, Harlan County Horrors is a worthy addition to any horror collection. At 180+ pages it’s not an overwhelming reading project, but the stories themselves are page-turners, bringing me to the end of the book sooner than I wanted. It is a satisfying read and, at $16 for a trade paperback-sized edition or $5 for a download, it’s well worth the money.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Harlan County Horrors
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Machine
by Flames R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/27/2013 14:02:10
Story:

A young woman, Celia, undergoes a procedure to have her mental self – memories, thoughts, and her “soul” – transferred to a mechanical replica of her physical self while her body is put in stasis until a cure for her rare condition can be found. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of controversy surrounding the issue of these bodies. And her wife, Rivka, a very religious woman, chooses to leave her at the most difficult time in her life.

Pelland does an excellent job of weaving current political, religious and philosophical issues throughout the story without beating the writer over the head with the message(s). At the core, it is the story of Celia, a woman that must find her own way after the world has turned its back on her through no fault of her own.

Characters:

Celia is well-written, and you instantly empathize with her and her situation. The irony is not lost on her that at one point in history her marriage was deemed an abomination by some. Now her wife takes a similar stance with machine bodies, abandoning her without warning. Celia is left to fend for herself in a world she no longer understands against strangers filled with hate.

But for some she is a cause, a means to an end. For others, she is nothing more than a thing. Celia must find her own way to understand who and what she is, and what that means. Having her life turned upside down leads her on a dark journey of mutilation and crime. When it’s all said and done, what part of her self will remain?

All of the characters are well-written, and the story moves along at a realistic pace.

Shockers:

There are some very interesting shockers, and I won’t spoil it for future readers by revealing those moments.

Recommend:

Yes. An excellent book, well worth reading and adding to the collection.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Machine
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Harlan County Horrors
by Brian F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/28/2013 15:56:47
I found this collection to be really a mixed bag. Some of the stories were horror, some were just odd. All of them were shorter than I expected them to be, though that's not necessarily a bad thing. A few of them really stood out in ways that actually made me wish they were longer, or expanded on a bit. Overall I'd say that this was a good, interesting read, but not great.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Harlan County Horrors
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Asylum
by Carol M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/20/2012 18:45:53
This is a great zombie story that is centered on a few gay friends, that barricade themselves inside a gay bar. I loved the story, if you like zombies you should read this one.

Carol.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Asylum
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Apex Magazine January 2012 (Issue 32)
by Carol M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/20/2012 18:31:48
Great magazine, but why is my real name printed on every page of the magazine?

Carol.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Apex Magazine January 2012 (Issue 32)
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The Blackness Within: Stories of the Pagan God Moccus
by Flames R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/17/2011 20:28:08
The mythology of the British Isles fascinates me. Long before Christianity reached their shores, the people of England, Scotland and Ireland had their own fascinating, rich and complex religions. Sadly, their gods and monsters were given the short straw– devolving into leprechauns and pixies if they survived in our social conscious at all. But if you dig deep, you can usually find them still, primal and brutal, beautiful and mystic. And that’s where The Blackness Within shines.

The Blackness Within is Apex Publication’s collection of stories on the Celtic god Moccus, a god traditionally associated with boars. While both pigs and boars were held as sacred by the Celts, the boar was specifically revered for its ferocity and the strength one would require to bring it down. Little is known about Moccus– he may have been a fertility God, or one of the Hunt, or even a psychopomp, but little can be said for certain. The Blackness Within sets out to answer these questions with another: what would happen if the savage, earthen god returned today?

The collection opens with a rather powerful introduction by the editor, Gil Ainsworth. Titled “The New God, the New Order”, the introduction eerily asserts that the tales to follow are not mere fiction, but truth– warnings to be heeded. The tone is so dire and serious that one begins to question whether they believe they’re about to read works of fiction or accounts of true supernatural events, giving the anthology the feeling of a dark Bible, “The Gospels of Moccus” if you will.

Overall, The Blackness Within is a mixed bag of horror stories with the good far outweighing the bad. This anthology contains some great gems, including “Abattoir Blues”, “For They Are as Beasts”, “Daughter of God” and “Dreaming”, and overall leaves very little left to be desired. In the end it makes good on the promise made in “The New God, The New Order”, and becomes its own Bible. It truly is the tale of the rise of the Lord Moccus, a God powerful enough to plunge the world into two wars before taking his place as the one supreme Being. His rise to power is engrossing and fascinating, at times both horrifying and surreal, and this collection of His stories is well worth a look for any fans of mythology, horror or, of course, obscure Celtic gods.

Read the full review at Flames Rising:

http://www.flamesrising.com/the-blackness-within-review/

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Blackness Within: Stories of the Pagan God Moccus
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Asylum
by Steven D. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/18/2011 18:17:39
“The last thing I want to believe is that we’re in some queer version of Night of the Living Dead”

I read the short novella “Dead Stay Dead” before I realized that it was the second story in the new “Zombie Feed” series from Apex Book Company. After a bit of research I found the short story “Asylum” was the first story released in the series, which also happened to have recently arrived as a reviewers copy book in my mail. Feeling kinda sheepish that I hadn’t done my home work before hand, I set out to read “Asylum” to cover my bases. And I’m glad that I did as this story was unexpectedly interesting to read and author Mark Allan Gunnellis got a lot of mileage out of a mere 80 pages.

The story is centered on several homosexual men who barricade themselves inside a gay bar when the zombie apocalypse begins. The main character Curtis is a twenty year old virgin from a small town and has gone out to a gay club in the big city for the time, at the urging of his very gay friend Jimmy. From here the story switches between several characters as they battle their personal demons as well as the zombies that have surrounded the club.

Read the complete review at FlamesRising.com:
http://www.flamesrising.com/asylum-novella-review/

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Asylum
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Dead Stay Dead
by Steven D. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/18/2011 18:14:52
Hello again fellow horror hicks! I know, it’s been a long time since my name graced the pages of Flames Rising. But my school duties have been a greedy bully with my time as of late. If it makes you feel any better, I’ve not have much time for anything else I enjoy doing either. And perhaps as further punishment of my not being around more often, the latest book I was given to review, titled “Dead Stay Dead”, was simply insufferable and punished me harshly for reading it.

From its description, it wanted to be blended mix of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Shaun of the Undead and Zombieland. But what it turned out to be was a plain mess to read that completely missed its mark. I hope my past reviews show that I’m not a snobby or picky reader. I’ve read many different styles of horror books and have found ways to enjoy them all.

And while I usually call them out in my reviews, I can forgive and sometimes even ignore a lot of short coming in any book, as long I enjoyed the narrative. But this one… it was disjointed, confusing to follow, and between the poor editing (missing words like “a, and, of, but, it” and others in sentences on a regular basis) and using incorrect words (like using “here” when he meant to use “hear”) it was nearly unintelligible at times.

Read the complete review at FlamesRising.com!
http://www.flamesrising.com/dead-stay-dead-novella-revie-
w/

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Dead Stay Dead
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Apex Magazine Vol 3 Issue 1 (PDF)
by David Z. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/17/2009 16:38:54
“She Called Me Sweetie,” by Glenn Lewis Gillette, works in undertones that remind the reader of the early Genesis narratives of Adam and Eve, along with the Cain/Able conflict, mixed with a dose of "1984"/"Brave New World," and "Coming of Age in Samoa." It’s a story of self-individuation gone wrong, jealousies, secrets, lust, and oh yes, _murder_. Gillette packs a lot into 4500 words; it is an intriguing tale.

The story is set in a remote Manor House, a faux Eden. Boys named with single letters who dress and speak as if attending English public school, are class conscious and very aware of higher (or lower) rank. We see all through the eyes and experiences of narrator/protagonist “E”, about twelve, who adores the provocative and subversively seductive goddess-like figure he calls “Mommy.” And Mommy calls him "Sweet E." Only E doesn't hear it that way; he hears “Sweetie.” Otherwise, he might realize that Mommy likes him no more than any of his clone-brothers. Otherwise, he would not misunderstand the pet-name, and Mommy's specific affection for him. Otherwise, but there is no “otherwise” . . . to everyone else's detriment.

~David J. Zucker: "An independent scholar, I write in the fields of biblical studies, chaplaincy, aging, and modern Jewish literature. I have three books published and contributed chapters to three other scholarly books. I also publish articles and reviews regularly in a variety of journals; for details, see my website: www.davidjzucker.org"

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Apex Magazine Vol 3 Issue 1 (PDF)
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