Tag Archives: Review

Secrets Of The Weird – Chad Stroup (Kendall Review)

I was somewhat apprehensive as I dipped into this novel with an opening line that certainly sets the tone for a surprising reading experience.

That opening line?


Welcome to Sweetville and Secrets Of The Weird

Secrets Of The Weird is set in the early 90’s, references to presidents (Clinton) and musicians (The Cure, The Smiths) ground this novel in reality but it’s key setting, Sweetville, is a fictional City populated by a wild assortment of characters. From the relatively normal residents going about their day-to-day lives, to the neo-Nazis club scene to drag queens, prostitution and even cannibalism. Sweetville is also under the cloud of a powerful new designer drug, Sweet Candy. It’s streets are full of the lost and the lonely with an unusual cult, that speaks in a tongue that only the broken minded can understand, the Withering Wyldes are only too happy to prey on the weak.

Secrets Of The Weird is relatively light of plot, but that really didn’t matter. The central story is about Trixie, a strong young woman born male, trying to earn enough money to complete her transition. It’s a powerful story but not preachy in the slightest. Stroup uses Trixie’s diary entries to let us know about her past  and her hopes and fears for the future. A clever mechanic that added a grounded reality to some of the madness going on in the present. Trixie is a fantastic protagonist that I’d love to read more about. More that I’d like to read about are the plethora of Sweetville residents that we briefly meet in pushing Trixies’s story along. There are so many interesting characters populating this City that it’ll be a crime if Stroup doesn’t bring us back.

Prose is tight and very well written, Stroud has created a believable world that’s filled with  the unbelievable. I must warn you that there are scenes that do not make for a particularly easy read, but Stroud is skillful in being explicit without going into details (The Zane brothers first encounter with Trixie springs to mind).  As well as the gritty side of the story there are many good-humoured moments, with a Crying Game reference making me laugh.

Secrets Of The Weird is not a book I would have ordinarily picked up. I don’t believe I have read much in the way of ‘weird’ fiction and after Secrets I feel I may be missing out on something. In Sweetville, Stroup has created a City full of adventure, danger and eroticism populated with a range of characters that simply jumped off the page and with his lead Trixie, he has created a strong female character that I absolutely want to read more about.

…and now a word from our sponsor

Star Rating (out of 5): 4****

Before – Paul Kane (Kendall Review)

Part horror story, part thrilling road adventure, part historical drama, Before is a novel like no other. Described as “the dark fantasy version of Cloud Atlas,” Kane’s Before is as wide in scope as it is in imagination as it tackles the greatest questions haunting mankind-Who are we? Why are we here? And where are we going?

In 1970s Germany, a mental patient at the end of his life suddenly speaks for the first time in years. A year later in Vietnam, a mission to rescue a group of American POWs becomes a military disaster.

In present day England, the birthday of college lecturer Alex Webber sends his life spiralling out of control as a series of disturbing hallucinations lead him to the office of Dr. Ellen Hayward. And things will never be the same again for either of them. Hunted by an immortal being known only as The Infinity, their capture could mean the end of humanity itself…

One of the first things I read about Before was Paul Kane himself calling his latest novel his The Great And Secret Show. Now that’s some claim! Clive Barker is one of my favourite authors, with The Great and Secret Show being a true epic within his bibliography. This not only shows Kane’s confidence in his new 491 page tome but it also sets a level of expectation for any prospective reader.

Before is a thoroughly enjoyable adventure story with horror/supernatural elements. Although not as eloquent as Barker, Kane’s prose is incredibly effective . I particularly enjoyed the Cambodian Village chapters, full of believable characters and well written action set pieces. It was also here that I noticed my first real nod to Barker,  a sequence of events made me think of the attic at 55 Ludovico Place. (I won’t be more specific as I hate to post spoilers, but once you read it I’m sure you’ll agree.)

Alex Webber is a believable lead and plays off well against Ellen his psychiatrist. I did find the love triangle a tad melodramatic with too much attention paid to Beverley, Alex’s ex-wife. My main issue with Before is the criminal underuse of The Infinity, a fantastic creation. I loved it anytime he was on the page, which wasn’t anywhere near enough sadly. I thoroughly enjoyed his dialogue and the way he interacted with his minions. To counter that though, Kane really shone  with Lucas Peck, a nasty piece of work that has a unique talent.  Peck is The Infinity’s sadistic sidekick, and with his skills, I’m not sure if there isn’t a touch of the Cenobite about him. And don’t get me started on what he does with some flowers!

Paul Kane can certainly tell a story! To be able to keep the reader engaged across multiple settings, eras and genre can only be classed as a triumph. Before mixes action adventure, horror and the supernatural skillfully.  I burned through nigh on 500 pages in only a few days. Before may not have been as epic a story as I was expecting, but it was a fast paced enjoyable read that kept me hooked till its thrilling conclusion.

Star Rating (out of 5): 4****



Nights Of The Living Dead: An Anthology – Edited by George A. Romero and Jonathan Maberry (Book Info)

I was delighted to be contacted by Duckworth Overlook about a new title they are releasing in September 2017 entitled NIGHTS OF THE LIVING DEAD: An Anthology. Nights is a collection of short stories that take place during the first 48 hours of the zombie outbreak as it occurs in Romero’s classic film. The book also contains Romero’s last published work before his tragic passing in July 2017.

The terrifying tribute to 50 years of zombie lore by the masters of horror

It all started in 1968 on that dreadful night in a remote farmhouse… the world experienced a brand-new kind of terror with the debut of George A. Romero’s landmark film Night of the Living Dead. The dead rose to attack the living, not as vampires or werewolves, but as something modern and terrifying. Since then, zombies have invaded every aspect of popular culture.

Nights of the Living Dead returns to that night when it all began. New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry teamed up with Romero, the godfather of the living dead, to present a collection of all-new tales set during the forty-eight hours of that legendary outbreak. In addition to original stories by Romero and Maberry themselves, some of today’s most important writers have contributed short stories to this anthology. Nights of the Living Dead is an instant classic that belongs on the shelves of every horror and sci-fi reader.

I hope you agree that this sounds like it’s going to be a fantastic read! Keep an eye out for my review which will be dropping prior to publication.

Author Biography

JONATHAN MABERRY is a New York Times best-selling and five-time Bram Stoker Award-winning author, anthology editor, comic book writer, and much more. He has published over a hundred short stories in a variety of genres and is a jurist for the Edgar, Stoker, and Scribe Awards. Visit his website www.jonathanmaberry.com

GEORGE A. ROMERO (February 4, 1940 – July 16, 2017) was an AmericanCanadian filmmaker, writer and editor, best known for his series of gruesome and satirical horror films about an imagined zombie apocalypse, beginning in 1968 with Night of the Living Dead, considered a progenitor of the fictional zombie of modern culture.

Duckworth Overlook website can be found here

Goth Witch Of Philly – Lincoln S. Farish (Kendall Review)

One of the benefits of running a blog like KendallReviews is discovering new authors. One such discovery is Lincoln S. Farish, author of the successful Inquisitor series of books. An ongoing series of books that’s been described as a darker Dresden Files. I have the first book of the series Junior Inquisitor on my ‘to read’ pile and with a blurb that certainly has my caught my interest it won’t be long before I’m going to dive in.

Brother Sebastian is halfway up a mountain in Vermont, hell-bent on interrogating an old woman in a shack, when he gets the order to abandon his quest for personal vengeance. He has to find a missing Inquisitor, or, more likely, his remains. He’s reluctant, to say the least. Not only will he have to stop chasing the best potential lead he’s had in years, this job—his first solo mission—will mean setting foot in the grubby black hole of Providence, Rhode Island. And, somehow, it only gets worse…
If he’d known he would end up ass deep in witches, werewolves, and ogres, and that this mission would jeopardize not only his sanity but also his immortal soul, he never would’ve answered the damn phone.

Until that moment, I was delighted to find there’s a stand a lone short story set in the Inquisitors world. For me this seems a perfect way to sample the series and Farish’s writing style. And with a title like Goth Witch Of Philly how could I resist?

Asked to investigate a spate of disappearances, Brother Maurice somewhat reluctantly heads to Philadelphia to investigate reports of Witchcraft.

I really enjoyed this, the writing was pacey with plenty of humour. Action scenes were believable as were the strategies employed by Brother Maurice to try to solve the case. Based on what I’ve read its not an entirely original premise, but it was great fun. It’s a story that features heavily armed Monks that fight the supernatural! How can that not be? In it’s 10 action packed pages there was enough here for me to move Junior Inquisitor up the ‘to read’ pile. The Goth Witch Of Philly  has done her job.

Star Rating (out of 5): 3***

Goblin – Josh Malerman (Kendall Review)

Josh Malerman invites you to take a walk through the rain-sodden streets of Goblin, a City populated by the weird and the wonderful. A City with stories to tell, stories that will captivate you, make you laugh, chill you to the bone, make you want to pull a loved one closer.

Goblin, the third novel from Josh Malerman, is a limited edition publication from Earthling (Pre-order information is at the bottom of this review) that consists of 6 novellas that for me perfectly echo the classic TV anthology shows I used to watch as a kid. From the horrors of Creepshow and Tales From The Crypt to the wonders of the Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits.

Each story works individually but together they’re linked, sharing characters and locations. Events in one story, although slight have a knock on effect to another. Goblin is a living, breathing City. No word is wasted in creating Goblin and it’s inhabitants. The people of Goblin are, mostly, very human. Normal people like you, or I, living with the understanding that the fantastique is part of their normality. In Goblin, people can be just as monstrous as whatever’s rumoured to live in the North Woods.

An unusual friendship is the centrepiece of A Man In Slices, an incredibly dark tale that sparked with some very amusing dialogue. The swim camp sequence was fantastically written that escalated the darkness superbly till the satisfying, although not entirely surprising ending. A man so terrified of being scared to death by a ghost is the premise of Kamp.  Walter Kamp goes to extreme lengths so that nothing can creep up on him in his apartment. How I’ve never though of Malerman’s answer to the ‘monster under the bed’ is beyond me. Such a simple idea, genius! Big game hunter Neal Nash is celebrating his 60th Birthday in Happy Birthday, Hunter. Nash has killed a lot but still has animals on his hunting wish list, one of which is the protected Goblin Great Owl. Seems it’s a good idea to go try to bag one whilst drunk with some of his friends, at night, in the middle of the North Woods…what could possibly go wrong? Presto is a wonderful tale about a boy finally having the opportunity to see his favourite magician, Roman Emporer. Other magicians on the circuit don’t like Roman, they suspect him of practising ‘dirty magic’. The audience is in for one hell of a performance at the midnight performance in the Goblin Domino Theatre. There’s plenty going on in this story but it’s Pete and his open-eyed wonder that I enjoyed the most. Next we follow Dirk Rogers’ descent into madness whilst alternating jobs at both the Goblin Slaughterhouse and the Goblin Zoo.  A Mix-Up At The Zoo has a different writing style to anything else in the book. It’s a fantastic piece, with some stunning imagery, although for me it didn’t fit as neatly into the concept as the other tales. The last story from Goblin sees a girl get to the end of Goblin’s biggest maze, a tourist attraction known as The Hedges. No-one has ever done it before, so when she reports what she finds at the end of the maze to the Goblin Police, the attractions creator goes on the run…and ultimately ends up in the North Woods. Malerman writes kids very well, Margot is a delight. She’s a little madam but as the story progresses she displays an innocence that’s wonderful to read. I’d be very interested to hear the authors thinking behind the Goblin Police, they’re referred to a lot throughout the book, mostly with a sense of fear. So when Margot gets to the Police Station and we finally get to see them, it’s…wonderfully…bizarre! Either side of these six novellas a Prologue/Epilogue that bookend Goblin perfectly, with the Prologue giving a very strong Creepshow vibe.

Josh Malerman has not only written the best book I’ve read this year, with Goblin he’s written the best book I’ve read in the last few years. The pages couldn’t be turned quickly enough, I was completely under his spell, so much so I was upset once I had finished reading. There must be a multitude of stories waiting to be told, I genuinely hope that Malerman has more planned.

Goblin is an absolute triumph, wonderful characters, fantastic stories and in Goblin, a place you will want to return to again and again.

Star Rating (out of 5): 5*****

Firstly, I’d like to thank Paul Miller at Earthling Publications for sending me an advance copy of Goblin.

Secondly, to Josh Malerman who has written a story that has utterly reignited my passion for reading…Thank you!

Goblin is to be released as an extra special book to celebrate the 13th year of Earthling’s Halloween Series. It’s only going to be available via Earthling Publications and will be limited to 500 numbered and 15 lettered signed by Josh Malerman.

Please go to www.earthlingpub.com for preorders which should be live from the 14th August. 

Praise for Goblin

Goblin should be listed on every horror reader’s itinerary of places to visit, with the lights turned low and the night breeze creeping into the room. An incredible Halloween find for all.” –Dave Simms, Cemetery Dance Online

Goblin is a mesmerizing, terrifying tight-rope walk.” –Clive Barker

“Malerman has created a Derry for a new generation.” –Sarah Pinborough

Goblin is another triumph from Josh Malerman.” —Christopher Golden

“A perfectly-realized universe that’s sometimes hilarious, and often horrifying.” —Mark Alan Miller

Goblin’s charm will beckon you, its citizens will dance like ghosts in your mind.”—James Henry Hall

Goblin proves what I’ve been saying for the last few years: Malerman is becoming one of the true greats in weird fiction. He is the genre’s new dark prince!” —Jonathan Maberry



Goblin – Josh Malerman (Book Post)

Receiving books from authors and publishers is a genuine thrill for me. I take it as a sign that my Blog and how I review are moving in the right direction. I’m incredibly passionate about the genre and love nothing more than reading new and exciting titles. So you can imagine how I felt when I opened the parcel that arrived for me this morning, inside a brand new journey for me to go on, an advance copy of one of  favourite authors books to review, I’m delighted to have this beauty in my hands…

All my thanks to Paul at Earthling Publications!

A novel in six novellas

A Man In Slices – A young man wants to prove to his long-distance girlfriend that they have ‘legendary love,’ better than Vincent van Gogh, so he sends her more body parts that just his ear in the mail.

Kamp – A man so horrified of encountering a ghost that he sets up a series of ‘ghost traps’ all over his apartment, desperate to catch one before it can sneak up on him.

Happy Birthday, Hunter! – Big game hunter Neal Nash leaves his own meat-themed birthday bash to go hunting for Goblin’s hallowed (and protected) Great Owl. But the North Woods are unkind at night.

Presto – In the pages of Presto magazine, a young boy reads that his favourite magician, Roman Emporer, is coming to town. Problem is, Pete doesn’t know that Emporer’s magic is real, and his latest trick involves audience participation…a little boy volunteer.

A Mix-Up At The Zoo – Dirk Rogers works at both the Goblin Slaughterhouse and the Goblin Zoo, but the workload is really getting to him. Will he be able to separate the two jobs on the night he finally breaks down, or will the slaughterhouse and the zoo overlap in his cracked, dark mind?

The Hedges – A young girl finally reaches the end of Goblin’s biggest tourist attraction, The Hedges. But what she finds there sparks a mad chase between the owner of the Hedges and the Goblin Police, through the streets of the rainy city and into the terrible North Woods.

The author of Bird Box and Black Mad Wheel welcomes you to Goblin. May your night there be wet with rain, breathless with adventure, and filled with fright.

Due for release November 1st 2017 and published by Earthling Publications

Goblin will be limited to 500 numbered and 15 lettered hardcovers, all signed by the author.

The Die-Fi Experiment – M.R. Tapia (Kendall Review)

“I would like to welcome the world to The Die-Fi Experiment. Please join us in the fun that is the deterioration of the world by means of social media.”

The Die-Fi Experiment is the tale of newly wed Marie, who with her husband, travels to Japan. They have both suffered emotional trauma and feel that getting away from everything will give them the time to heal. No-one knows where they are, the couple even ban themselves from using social media to prevent detection. They don’t want to be found.

In a believable twist, whilst trying to earn themselves a free phone the young couple find themselves forced to take part in ‘The Die-Fi Experiment’, a game show live streamed on the internet where contestants compete with each other to the death.

There’s a lot packed into this novellas concise 74 pages, we have a damning critique of social media and the power of the internet, an incredibly violent horror story, made all the more abhorrent as the faceless game show hosts are fuelled by ‘likes’ and other digital interaction whilst at the stories heart, for me anyway, a love story. Love itself is an incredibly powerful weapon, what would you do on a loved ones behalf to prevent them pain?

I’ll be honest, the violence in The Die-Fi Experiment was bordering on too much for me. I’m not a fan of extreme violence in fiction, but M.R. Tapia has been skillful in giving the reader breathing time. Here chapters alternate between the horrors of the game show and the unnamed husband relaying the story of how he met Marie, their romance and how they ended up in Japan. In doing this you understand how strong a relationship they have, I felt fully invested in their lives, this juxtaposition from normality to utter carnage worked incredibly well. Had it just been constant violence it would have been too much, here I was completely in the husbands head, the utter terror about his own mortality beaten only by his determination to save his wife.

The Die-Fi Experiment is an incredibly powerful, well written emotional rollercoaster of a novella. This is the second release I’ve read by M.R. Tapia, and certainly won’t be the last. I’m looking forward to reading his debut novel ‘Sugar  Skulls’ which is out November 2017.

Oh, and if you see an offer for a free iPhone-X…walk away!

Star Rating (out of 5): 4****




What Monsters Do – Nicholas Vince (Kendall Review)

In browsing the shelves of the KendallReviews library trying to feed my current obsession for anthologies, I decided to pull out a little book by Nicholas Vince entitled What Monsters Do, a 104 page book with a stunning cover, containing ‘Seven Short Stories of Psychological Horror’.

From novel takes on the classics  (Werewolves, Ghosts and The Mummy) to monsters of the authors own creation, What Monsters Do is a thoroughly intoxicating read that will both shock and delight you in equal measure.

Family Tree reveals the chilling reason why two brothers have not seen each other for 25 years. It’s a fantastic start to the anthology showing Vince not only has the chops to horrify you, he can also get you so emotionally involved with characters that the ending really does offer a punch to the gut. Tunes From The Music Hall is set in Victorian times. A tale about forbidden love told from a very unusual perspective. An incredibly passionate story where the real monster is not from supernatural realms. Green Eyes is a chilling piece of fiction! I really enjoyed how it was written, almost riddle like, making you think, leading you by the hand to its shocking conclusion. Death Is But The Doorway is great fun. The Mummy sub-genre is given a good kick in the arse with a rip-roaring tale of curses, missing people and death-dealing statues. And in Nan, a character that I loved! Nursery Rhymes is possibly my favourite tale in this book. I found this brilliantly dark. Humans are very much the monsters here in a tale of rejection, jealousy and revenge. There’s a true open-mouthed shock moment in this story, that in lesser hands could have ruined the story. Powerful stuff!  The Worst Day tells the story of a father who needs to protect his recently deceased sons name. But in doing so, ghosts from his past show he may not his sons best interests he’s trying to preserve.  The Beast In Beauty is wonderfully poetic at times, mixing sub-genres and adding very real-life issues into the story to produce something that is incredibly mysterious and keeps you thinking long after the book snaps shut.

What Monster Do is a 104 page treasure, you’ve really got no where to hid in so few pages and 7 stories. A weaker tale would stand out like a sore thumb but credit to Nicholas Vince, i’m struggling to pick a tale that has been hit by that dreaded hammer, what I can do is suggest you go and pick up this book now. It demands to be read!

Star Rating (out of 5): 4****

Monsters Exist – Edited by Mr. Deadman & Theresa Braun (Kendall Review)

I’ve always enjoyed reading anthologies, particularly those with a theme. Monsters Exist ticks that box nicely by having 14 tales all about Monsters. I was not familiar with any of the authors prior to reading this book, something which may be of benefit as I would then have no expectations based on previous reading experience.

There are not many anthologies I’ve read that have had a 100% hit rate. In fact from memory there are 2, Clive Barker’s Books of Blood and my current book of the year, Richard Chizmar’s A Long December. Monsters Exist is incredibly close to having all its tales hitting the spot, and I really do mean incredibly close. There were so many positives crammed within it’s 148 pages, it was a blast discovering what Monsters Exist!

Monsters Exist opens with Master Vermin by Wallace Boothill, a tale about rats in Baltimore. I loved how this had me shuddering at a couple of superb ‘yuck’ moments and then totally surprised at it’s somewhat epic ending. Theresa Braun’s Legend Trippers takes us into one of my favourite sub-genres, the urban legend. Here we have a tale about the Goatman who lures its victims in front of an oncoming train. It’s a great story that was well paced. S.J. Budd gave us a tale about a woman who climbs into the back of a taxi who’s driver has a dark secret in The Murder Of Crows. I really enjoyed the writing and the ending was very satisfying. Wicked Congregation by Gary Buller is one of the standout tales in the anthology for me! A shocking tale of fairies and human sacrifice. Echoes of Adam Nevill in the story’s setting and an ending that would grace Tales Of The Unexpected at its peak. I have to add, there’s a line in Wicked Congregation that really stood out for me ‘Every 20 years they take a little of our future so we may keep the rest’ Fantastic writing! Playing Dead by S.E. Casey is a dark tale about the devil monkey where you’re never quite sure what’s real or not. Superb! Mr. Deadmans Lake Monster has sublime characterisation and punchy dialogue. Just what would it take for Gary to believe in the Goat Man? Another standout tale is Calvin Demmer’s Never Sleep Again, a clever use of the old monster under the bed trope. I for one won’t be dangling hands or feet over the edge of the bed…or futon! I let out a sigh of relief at one point during Philip W. Kleaver’s The Voice From The Bottom Of The Well, the author had me convinced Johanna was going to do something quite terrible only for the rug to be pulled out from under me. I really enjoyed this tale with its smile inducing ending. Eclipse At Wolf Creek is another well written urban legend tale, this time involving the Mothman. To be honest, I may have found Sylvia Mann’s descriptions of poor old Grandma the most disturbing part of the story. No. 7 by William Marchese has moments of excellence with a tale of ‘super’ soldiers crossing paths with a bunch of kids. I did struggle with the tale to be honest, and even reread it in case I had missed something. There’s a cracking story here, the author himself holds his hands up in this honest post that things could have been better. I’d be very interested to read any rework that appears in the future. A variant on the Bigfoot legend is the next tale in John Palisano’s Criatura. This is a deliciously gory story that I had great fun reading. There’s a wonderful sense of humour in the writing, with the line ‘maybe because it was sticking out and is the easiest target’ earning a genuine laugh. If spiders aren’t your thing  then Bitten by Christopher Powers is going to make for an unpleasant reading experience. To add to your pain these spiders are the size of dogs, and in one scene (that had me proper squirming) the description of a spider ‘probing and pushing into an ear deep enough to cause blood to seep out’ is wrong on so many levels. Christopher Powers, I salute you! Kelpies by Leo X. Robertson is an unusual tale about a man lured into the water by a mysterious seductress. Any fellas may think twice about any ‘momentary wavering’ after reading this excellent piece of dark fiction. Lastly, in the final tale Bloodstream Revolution M.R. Tapia writes an engrossing tale involving Chupacabras in the time of the Mexican revolution. I thoroughly enjoyed this conclusion to Monsters Exist especially as it convinced me that it is actually humans that are the true monsters.

As I said at the beginning of this review, I was not familiar with any of the authors prior to reading. Now that I have finished the book, I’ll be looking out for each and every one of them in the future. Monsters Exist is a superb read with a variety of styles that works as a collective. I couldn’t recommend it enough!

Star Rating (out of 5): 4****

Monsters Exist is edited by Mr. Deadman & Theresa Braun and published by Deadman’s Tome

The Truants – Lee Markham (Kendall Review)

An interesting twist on the vampire myth as the last vampire learns that his partner since the Stone Age has killed herself. Rather than face eternity alone he decides to commit suicide by waiting for the sun to claim him. His plans are thwarted however when he’s stabbed as the sun rises, his suicide remains successful, yet he retains a degree of consciousness as his soul is now being spread through each subsequent victim that falls to the blade. He must get the knife back and reclaim his soul, the problem is, someone doesn’t want him to get it back.

The Truants is a tale of the social underclass, of knife crime, drug abuse and poverty  with a clever new interpretation of the Vampire mythology woven between the rat infested tower blocks. It’s beautifully written, almost poetic at times, there were several passages that literally stopped me reading for a moment it was so powerful. The way Markham details the grief of a murdered childs mother were stunning, the vile descriptions of poverty and abuse in a small flat where drug addled parents fester whilst their dirty, lice ridden child is in another room desperate for love and attention is simply heartbreaking.

The story is certainly not an easy read, but the elegant way in which it’s written pulls you through the blood and filth.

The Truants is a remarkable piece of work that demands to be read.

Star Rating (out of 5): 4****

The Truants is written by Lee Markham and published by Duckworth Overlook