13 Dark Issue #1 Dead Voices: A Review

After an unlucky stumble with Kickstarter, followed by a successful Indiegogo crowd sourcing, the first issue of 13 Dark is out.

While this project had to change from its original concept of 13 individual stories, released separately, the final product is no less stunning. And it holds fast to its original promise of story theme: Light and dark. Sacred and profane.

Screen Shot 2017-11-15 at 1.26.49 PM

Comprised of short dark stories by three authors, each with an intro by editor Joseph Sale, 13 Dark also gives each tale searingly gorgeous artwork packaged with an eerie cover.

A bit about each…

Bethesda by Ross Jeffrey

From the Intro: This story is a dialogue, both interior within the narrator, and exterior, presented in the two key voices of the story: the ‘pale man’ (Joe) and ‘Captain Haddock’. One is an atheist who has turned to God in desperation (and subsequently vilifies Him when he seemingly doesn’t get what he wants) and the other is a devout religious evangelist who talks about the Bible stories as though they were things that happened to him on the way to the shop. We walk the middle road with our narrator, and witness something truly spectacular.

Jeffrey uses atmosphere to present differences so well in this story. The beach is our setting, but it doesn’t have the sun-warmed sands we think of for a vacation. It is cold; the wind is damp and clinging. I shivered when reading, feeling the cold slant through me. In a windbreaker with the vibrant colors of Jamaica, the pale man — in his three-piece suit — looks out to sea. As he has done every day…

Our narrator observes the pale man’s ritual and relays the event to the reader, and it’s all done smoothly, this style that is more typical of a bygone age. Perhaps this is why it works here. Save for some modern touches of barista coffee and the like, the story feels as though it could take taken place at almost any time. The narrator’s conversations with rusty-edged Captain Haddock, a local beachcomber, fill us in on the details of how long the pale man has come to this stretch of beach, and watched the tides.

Bethesda is about a man who has given up hope, who is floundering with the hardest thing he’s ever dealt with, while beachgoers walk by him each day. Never stopping, never looking, never really seeing. Until he finally makes a desperate decision. He lifts a frail, wasted young man into his arms and begins walking into the sea.

At once heartbreaking and uplifting, Jeffrey has written about sacrifice, love, and miracles.

17632415_1500509016627952_5039949885580878627_o

Under Soil by Tice Cin

From the intro: …A tale of love, it would seem, but scrape away that painted veneer (again a Gothic concept) and you will see a buried truth, a dark beating heart. It is this hair-raising moment of revelation, when the illusion of our desiccated world falls away and reveals something buried beneath it all that must be seen, that makes Under Soil so powerful.

Anyone who reads my reviews with any frequency knows I love Gothic tales. Beauty giving way to decay, family secrets, doomed loves and lives. Under Soil gives me all of that and more.

Cin’s writing style flourishes with this dark tale. The language is like bouquet of flowers, each one chosen specially to convey a feeling that is almost beyond words. The hopefulness of love comes with a crack, a sharp sting that our protagonist relishes. Feeds on. Quickly, love and lust weave together, become something unrecognizable, unwanted.

I am surprised to write these next words: Cin was written body horror is such way that leaves me with both a churning in my stomach and a breathless fascination with its delicacy.

Simultaneously sensual and unnerving, Under Soil shows that Gothic has moved from mist-shrouded castles to wear a new, and modern face.

Undertow by Samuel Parr

From the intro: Descending into hell is such a popular theme in literature that there is even a specific word for this trope: katabasis. And Undertow is one, a modern katabasis that takes us into the river of eternity itself. As with all of Sam’s work, however, all is not as it seems. That which seems grandest can be most fragile, most illusionary, and that which is most fragile-seeming can be made of steel.

Mirabel enters the sewer-like Undertow to save her brother. But she is no ordinary girl.

Parr has created a quest in this story, one where a young magic-user encounters creatures of the grotesque as barriers to her goal. They are at once fearful of and hungry for her, but she has armed herself well. With a soul to barter.

Another tale with a narrator watching from afar, Undertow creates a vision of Hell that will stick with me for a long time. Fearsome monsters clamor for the new, the fresh. It’s what they see so little of, and what they desire most.

Parr seamlessly moves through this world and its sinister beasties, allowing the narrator to come ever closer to Mirabel, revealing a unusual nature, and finally becoming part of her story. It’s a fascinating, engrossing read. A tale of redemption, of resistance, of sacrifice.

zombie crowd walking at night,halloween concept,illustration painting

 

Editor Joe Sale ends the collection with one of his stories first published in Storgy magazine.

“Night Drive” is a great fit for this collection of tales. It’s dark, even claustrophobic at times, making the reader feel the impending doom closing in on the driver, the former Reverend John. Perfectly paced, it winds between a frantic pace and moments of relief, where we drag in deep cleansing breaths before plunging back into the pit again.

Reverend John can’t outrun his past—of lust, power, and baneful gods. He can’t outrun what he himself has called forth through poorly advised ritual.

You can get a paperback copy of 13 Dark Issue #1 at Lulu. Use code LULU25 to get 25% off the purchase price.

 

Advertisements

Blood of My Blood: A Review

Vampirism as plot can be a tough sell, when the market is awash in tales of bloodsuckers and their effect on humanity.  But, occasionally, I’m lucky enough to find a fresh take on a beloved horror staple.

Awakening of The Spirit is a new three-part, mystery/suspense series about the supernatural criminal world in Washington, D.C.

In Book One titled Blood of My Blood, award-winning writer Montiese McKenzie creates a criminal underworld with supernatural creatures, ancient and powerful. But the government has its own plans to grasp this power for itself.

Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 12.48.34 PM

Agent Alexander Rubidoux has been working kidnappings for years, but he’s never come across anything like the disappearance of wealthy financier, Paul Kirsch. He’s also never been stirred by woman like he is by Kirsch’s wife Kathryn Spencer, an Afro-Russian who requests his help to locate her husband.

During his investigation, D.C. goes from a town he’s known forever to a hotbed of paranormal creatures and abilities he’s never seen before. And he’s out of his depth. Blood of My Blood brings readers into a battle between darkness and light with a unique focus on actual historical events like The Bolshevik Revolution, the Holocaust, as well as race relations in America incorporated in a modern-day setting.

Kathryn is a multi-layered character. Exactly what we want to see, especially from a Black female protagonist, where in dark fiction the range of our emotions and responses is rarely explored.  She is a vampire, a mother, a reluctant — yet loyal — wife, not always in that order. Her feelings about her vampirism, her Russian heritage, and her abusive relationship all shift with the events of the story.

And Rubidoux finds himself willing to do anything for her.

A fast-paced, well-researched read. Themes of Christianity, spirituality, and eternal life alongside race relations, and violence.

Blood of My Blood is available on Amazon.

Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 12.41.25 PM

Montiese McKenzie is a lifelong Philadelphia girl, writer, who somehow stumbled into accounting. As a kid if she wasn’t writing stories exploring the human condition, she was stealing her mother’s matches to light things on fire. With a B.A. in both History and Sociology from Bloomsburg University, Montiese combined her love of the human condition, time periods, and writing to survive five years in the boondocks. A cat mom, a sock collector, and lover of MerchantIvory films with too much dialogue, Montiese is about to enter her fourth decade riding high on naps and snickerdoodle cookies.

For more information about her and her work, visit her website, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram pages.

Graveyard Shift Sister: Rebecca R. Pierce

I’ve noticed a trend with my recent posts: there haven’t been many.

Usually, I’m pretty consistent with posting to this blog, but lately, I’ve been focusing on writing. Which is a good thing in the long run, but my contact with the outside world is suffering.

Time to catch up. I’ll be making a flurry of posts to bring the blog back up to date, then going forward…

Well, I’d better not make that promise.

I’ll just leave you with the link to my review and interview with the wonderful Rebecca R. Pierce on Graveyard Shift Sisters. While GSS’s tag line is: Purging the Black female horror fan from the margins, we celebrate the work of all women of color who love horror.

RebeccaPierceBooks.JPG

Day 12: Kenya Moss-Dyme

kenya-moss-dyme

Kenya Moss-Dyme began writing short-form horror in her teens and won several scholastic writing awards for her creative tales, whose characters ranged from a grandmother with healing hands to a runaway seeking redemption from the other side.

For Moss-Dyme, short horror stories are a favorite to both read and write because “…you have to hit them hard and fast, and make the shivers last long after the story has ended.”

While she loves zombies and the supernatural, there’s nothing scarier to her than humans and capability of reaching the depths of depravity. These are the depths she explores in her work, and she doesn’t shy away from vivid description of violence, blood, or sex. This is especially evident in her Amazon best-selling dark romance series, A Good Wife. The third installment of the series, entitled A Good Wife: Post Coital, will be available on February 14th, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

She is also one of the founders of Colors in Darkness, a place where authors of color and authors who write characters of color to find support for their dark fiction projects.

the-mixtape_kmd

In her collection, The Mixtape, Moss-Dyme has compiled seven of her short stories that have previously appeared solely online in various publications or were available as free downloads. The catch is, it’s ONLY available in print through her website or at one of her live appearances.

Find out more about Kenya on her website and follow her on Twitter.

Day 6: Pheare Alexander

pheare-alexander

Pheare Alexander says most of her life has been spent reading and thus writing her own tales soon followed. Her writings focus on horrific tales of murder, fantasy, morality and exploration into the decay of the human mind.

Her contemporary psychological horror novel, Str8laced asks the question:

Who do you live your life for?

Successful child psychiatrist Dr. Jocelyn Reynolds is abducted and kept in a one-room dungeon, where this question is posted to her by McClaine Henry, a woman suffering from severe psychosis. Henry, a seasoned serial killer, proclaims to want therapy to change her life and Dr. Reynolds is only one she trusts.

But Reynolds is pregnant and that changes the game…

Alexander’s writing is tense and taut, mirroring the emotional and physical torture Dr. Reynolds endures from the sadistic Henry.

pheare_alexander-str8laced

Buy Str8laced on Amazon here. You can connect with Pheare Alexander on Twitter.

Forever Vacancy: A Release

For those that don’t know, I’m one of the founders of Colors in Darkness, a group of dark speculative fiction authors of color and authors who write and read characters of color. CID exists to provide support to authors of color in the speculative fiction genres of horror, paranormal, sci-fi, dark fantasy, and combinations thereof.

We also are a place to find new work to read if you enjoy seeing characters of color in the genres above.

In our Facebook group, we share calls for submissions, writing advice, and provide beta reading for these diverse stories and their authors.

We’re excited to announce our latest project, and anthology of stories from these authors, Forever Vacancy.

15780915_979346828833199_9193920710634278665_n

 

The pre-order link is on Amazon and the book will release on January 13th.

Want to know more? Here’s a bite:

Amid the upheaval of the 1960s, the Kretcher Motel opened in a poor, desolate part of Atlanta. It still serves its original purpose: to lure those souls who are lost, who are troubled, who are evil…to itself. Check in to view these thirteen dark tales of horror, betrayal, fear, and wickedness, all featuring characters of color. You may never want to leave.

TOC:
The Thing in Room 204 – C.W. Blackwell

Karma Suture – Tawanna Sullivan

The Last Day of Jerome Brown – Jordan King-Lacroix

Roost – Kenya Moss-Dyme

Salvation – Ross Baxter

The Honeymoon Suite: Jacob’s Reunion – Sumiko Saulson

A Long Way From the Ritz – Eden Royce

Mister Mackintosh – David Turnbull

Flesh Trap – Querus Abuttu

A Devil of a Deal – David O’Hanlon

Hollygraham – Sy Shanti

The Adjusters – Dahlia DeWinters

Need – Zin E. Rocklyn

 

 

15780743_979346855499863_138501054692637252_n

Deadly Reads Radio: An Appearance

I’ll be interviewed on Deadly Reads Radio with Linda and Lisa on Wednesday, but you won’t need to stay up. They’re doing a special show to accommodate my time zone. If you’re around at 4:00 pm Eastern, I’d love to have you call in!

graveyard-384603_1920

Feel free to ask me Southern Gothic horror is or what work I have coming out or my recommended reads for those lovers of the grotesque. I’m even open to chatting about recipes, local eerie legends, and what the heck a Charleston girl is doing in the United Kingdom.

Once the show starts, you can call in to speak with the horror hostesses: (646) 668-2716

You can listen to the show here on Wednesday, January 5th  at 4:00 pm Eastern time–which for me is 9:00 pm here in England.

Let’s get 2017 started!