The Demonists by Thomas E. Sniegoski

The Demonists by Thomas E. Sniegoski | Roc, 2016

The Demonists by Thomas E. Sniegoski marks the start of a new series. John Fogg and Theodora Knight are paranormal investigators; hosts of a popular television program. During a Halloween special where the couple and their team investigate a house filled with dark energy, a supposed haunting, things suddenly take a horrific turn as malevolent forces kill John’s team and leave Theodora in a catatonic state; possessed by countless demonic spirits. Confronted by the veil now inhabiting his wife John must face off against threats both worldly and otherworldly in order to save the woman he loves.

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End Time by Keith Korman

End Time by Keith Korman | Tor, 2015

End Time isn’t Keith Korman’s first novel but it appears to be his first solo novel written in quite some time. As a fan of the apocalyptic genre I was definitely intrigued by the title alone. The publisher’s description of the novel reads like a fascinating mashup of science run amok and a rising tide of supernatural occurrences. I found this to be an interesting combination and one that we don’t see too often. Unfortunately I found End Time’s combination of supernatural horror and weird science a bit too hap hazard.

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Seal Team 666 by Weston Ochese

Seal Team 666 by Weston Ochese | Thomas Dunne, 2012

Weston Ochese’s American Golem was one of my favorite stories from the Operation Arcana collection and as a result I was excited to give Seal Team 666 a shot. Unfortunately, I wanted to like Seal Team 666 far more than I actually did. The novel opens up with Cadet Jack Walker, nearing completion of SEAL training, suddenly yanked out of said training and attached to titular Seal Team 666 for a covert mission. Walker, finds himself suddenly part of a strange new world where everything that goes bump in the night is real. The novel’s primary threat centers on a cult being led by a man possessed by an ancient spirit and the efforts of Seal Team 666 to bring him down.

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Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes | Mulholland, 2014

Lauren Beukes follows her excellent The Shining Girls with another cross-genre blend of the real and the other-worldly in Broken Monsters. When boiled down to its most basic elements Broken Monsters lays somewhere near the intersection of mystery and thriller with the majority of the focus on the murder investigation involving a young boy whose remains were sowed to those of a fawn. It’s a horrific premise but one that despite forming the bedrock of the narrative isn’t really what the novel is about. The novel features a variety of perspectives including that of the divorced Detective Gabriella Versado and her daughter Layla, the journalist Jonno, Thomas Keen (TK) a homeless Detroit native, and Clayton who the less I say about the better. Each different perspective offers a different thematic thread that weaves into a novel of surprising breadth that still offers a taught, cohesive story.

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Alive by Scott Sigler

Alive by Scott Sigler

I read Alive by Scott Sigler while on my honeymoon in April. I’ve enjoyed his previous work, especially the Infected series, so I’m always willing to read whatever he has written. The premise of the novel is fascinating:

A young woman awakes trapped in an enclosed space. She has no idea who she is or how she got there. With only her instincts to guide her, she escapes her own confinement—and finds she’s not alone. She frees the others in the room and leads them into a corridor filled with the remains of a war long past. The farther these survivors travel, the worse are the horrors they confront. And as they slowly come to understand what this prison is, they realize that the worst and strangest possibilities they could have imagined don’t even come close to the truth.

I started Alive and didn’t stop reading until I finished. Exciting, thrilling, and eminently readable Alive is not a novel without its issues. In previous works Sigler doesn’t shy away from violence and while that is still true here it is certainly less graphic than in previous works (but can anything really top Perry’s sections in Infected?). Alive is a novel that is targeted a bit towards the teen crowd and I can’t help but think the audience limited the places that Sigler could go with his story.

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The Deep by Nick Cutter

The Deep by Nick Cutter | January, 2015

Nick Cutter, the pseudonymous author of The Troop, will release his second novel The Deep on January 13, 2015. In The Deep a strange disease called the ‘Gets has ravaged humanity attacking peoples’ minds forcing them to forget things until even their most basic abilities to function disappear. With no cure in a sight a special research station deep within the Marianias trench, the Trieste, offers the faintest glimmer of hope. Luke, a veterinarian, has been called to this research station since it his brilliant scientist brother Clayton who is spearheading the research deep beneath the surface of the Pacific Ocean. Luke must descend into the dark depths of the ocean, into an alien landscape, in order to find his brother and discover what type of cure has been dredged up from the depths.

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We Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory

We Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory | Tachyon, 2014

We Are All Completely Fine is a book about monsters and the scars they leave. It centers on a group of survivors who have each encountered something strange. This group, brought together by Dr. Jan Sayer, each bear the scars of their experiences. There is Stan, the only survivor to make it out alive (though not wholly intact) after being held by a family of cannibals; Martin, a shut-in geek who never takes off his glasses; Barbara, who survived flaying at the hands of a monster who carved intricate designs into her bones; Greta, a mysterious young woman with a penchant for fire; and Harrison Harrison, aka Harrison Squared who in his youth was a semi-famous monster detective who was featured in fictionalized in a series of novels based on his real-life experiences. The group gathers together reluctantly. The various experiences of each of this weird support group makes trusting and sharing rather difficult.
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The Strain: Episode 1

The Strain is a book written by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan and first released in 2009. It’s the first book in a series followed by The Fall and The Night Eternal. I reviewed The Strain back in 2009 and you can check out the full review here, I also pulled in my friend Val to do another review which you can find here. If you don’t want to read both reviews let me give you the highlights. We both agreed that The Strain featured a fascinating update to the vampire myth. del Toro and Hogan took familiar elements of vampire folklore and gave them reasoned scientific approach (with the exception of the whole won’t cross running water thing) while at the same time equating the notion of vampirism with that of a virus or parasite. I found that del Toro and Hogan while having a fascinating take on vampires were not terribly great at their character creating a handful of characters that were boring and uninspired and several who were downright fascinating and woefully underexplored. By and large both Val and myself found the The Strain to be a enjoyable and entertaining update to the vampire myth.

Needless to say I was definitely excited about the prospect of The Strain as a television series. del Toro is a masterful visual artist and his distinct eye and unique vision are always a pleasure to watch. Given that the novel had a certain amount of cinematic flair to it it seemed certain that very little would have to be discarded in order to make an entertaining television show. Turns out I was a little bit wrong about that as the pilot episode of The Strain is an enormous mess.

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Review: The Three by Sarah Lotz

The Three by Sarah Lotz | Little, Brown and Co., 2014

After four planes crash simultaneously in geographically disparate locations, three child survivors emerge unscathed from the wreckage (the presence of a fourth child is possible but neither confirmed nor denied). Instant media darlings the Three, as they come to be known, are viewed as miracles by some and as harbingers of greater doom yet to come by others. The Three is presented as fact; the novel cleverly written as if it were a manuscript of a nonfiction book investigating the crash, its aftermath, and the survivors and their families. As I’ve said in the past this is a format that horror fiction leans on heavily stemming as far back as Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto in 1764 to the modern film equivalent of found-footage.

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Review: American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett

American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett | Recorded Books, 2013

Imagine, if you will, the perfect town; immaculately groomed lawns, quiet streets, perfect houses, smiling faces, and no crime to speak of.  Wink, New Mexico is just such a town though as Mona Bright learns upon her arrival such perfection comes at a price. There are places in Wink that you just don’t go, things you just don’t do, and thoughts you aren’t aloud to think. There are secrets hidden behind the immaculate walls and picturesque homes and the Mesa it sits beneath, home to an abandoned research facility, casts a long and deep shadow on the denizens of Wink.

Robert Jackson Bennett’s American Elsewhere has one of the most perfect premises to get me interested. The novel’s opening chapter provides a tantalizing glimpse that things aren’t quite what they seem offering a nice taste of things to come before slowing things down a bit. American Elsewhere is a delicately paced novel focusing on atmosphere over action. Mona Bright, an ex-cop, discovers during the reading of her father’s will that her mother once owned a house in a town called Wink. With the inheritance set to expire soon Mona sets off to find Wink which is a town that has become rather difficult to find in recent years. Arriving in Wink, Mona is met with a strange vision of a town seemingly right out of the 1950s where everybody knows everybody and nobody ever leaves.

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