[Review] – Midnight In The Graveyard

By Elle Turpitt

Coming October 1st 2019, through Silver Shamrock Publishing.

Midnight in the Graveyard is an anthology packed full of ghost stories: ghosts seeking closure, revenge, or just company. Each of these stories is guaranteed to send a chill down your spine.

The anthology contains some names familiar to any fan of horror. Authors who are quickly becoming some of the strongest voices in horror fiction today, and the short stories here show why. Each draws you into their world, whether it’s a town thriving on the ‘ghost trade’, an apocalyptic world where the dead roam, or a simple, small graveyard watched over by a caretaker. Characters within these pages will linger with the reader, as much as they linger in death. The stories each feel fresh and new, even when tackling old tropes, and provide new twists on one of the oldest aspects in horror.

With ghost stories, it would be easy to fall into cliché, but this anthology strays far from it. With powerful, compelling voices, and a few interesting twists, it’s hard to see where each story goes, and the reader must simply follow along, dragged in by each new tale presented.

Anyone who’s seen my reviews knows how much I love anthologies, and this one did not disappoint. It’s strong, fresh, and intriguing, sure to leave you awake at night and staring at that shadow in the corner, wondering what if…

With twenty-five different authors and twenty-five intriguing, creepy, eerie tales, this is another fantastic anthology well worth a read.

5/5 stars from me!

Buy directly from the publisher at silvershamrockpublishing.com

[Double-Feature – Interview] – Stephanie M. Wytovich

By Patrick R. McDonough

Dead Head Reviews (DHR): Stephanie, thank you so much for giving us your time. I just finished The Apocalyptic Mannequin (I loved it!). Where were your poems when I was younger? I read poetry growing up, but if I found your work as a kid, it would have planted a bug in me early on that would’ve demanded consumption of all dark poetry.

Stephanie M. Wytovich (SMW):It’s my pleasure, and thank you for such kind words about my work! I, too, wish I would have had more horror poetry in my life as a child, and I often think about possibly writing a collection aimed more toward children/middle grade readers. Maybe one day!

DHR: Wow! That’s a great idea. The cover seems like it is directly from a few of your poems, while at the same time, it’s a perfect representation for the entire collection. Who created the cover? Was it a love-at-first-sight sort of deal?

SMW: I’ve been working with my cover artist, Steven Archer, for the past seven years now, and he’s done the work on all of my poetry collections from Hysteria: A Collection of Madness to The Apocalyptic Mannequin. Steven and I work really well together, and he sees my visions clearer than I do sometimes. A handful of the covers we’ve done over the years have been love-at-first-sight scenarios and they’ve hardly needed any revisions done to them. Others I’ve picked out from his body of work and he’s come up with edits to better acclimate them to the themes and style of my books. The Apocalyptic Mannequin was a love-at-first-sight situation, but one of my favorite stories is in regard to Brothel. I had originally picked a painting of his that was of this beautiful, sultry woman smoking a cigarette, and when I told him I was interested in that specific piece, he told me no, and then sent it back a few days later with a cat skull painted over her face.

And honestly, that’s the kind of relationship you want with your cover artist: someone who knows your work better than you do. I’m glad we’ve become friends over the years and I respect the hell out of his work. He’s beyond talented. 

DHR: It sounds like you two are very lucky to have found one another. Kind of piggybacking from the last question, why did you choose The Apocalyptic Mannequin for the title?

SMW: A few years ago, I wrote the stand-alone poem “The Apocalyptic Mannequin” and had it published in the HWA Poetry Showcase IV. I’d been searching for a new direction in my work, and the science fiction, robotic-soliloquy vibe really spoke to me because I’d never even attempted anything like that before. After that, I kept tapping into the doomsday vein and the book started to speak for itself. Plus, since the mannequin’s voice was the first I heard, I knew she was my new muse and therefore I decided it would only be right to put her in the spotlight.

DHR: Neat! Why did you publish through Raw Dawg Screaming Press?

SMW: Raw Dog Screaming Press was the first publisher who really took a chance on me when they published my debut collection Hysteria back in 2013, and since then, we’ve been working closely together ever since. Even before then, though, I admired the work they did within the genre, and I loved how they were constantly pushing boundaries and forcing their readers and writers to reinterpret the genre and its rules/expectations. When I saw that they were as passionate about poetry as I was, I knew we were going to be a great fit.

But beyond all of that, Jennifer and John are not only incredibly supportive and encouraging of my work, they’re wonderful, brilliant, kind people and we’ve grown to be great friends over the years. I couldn’t be happier working with them and I love watching the press grow and it’s a real honor to be a small part of that in any way. 

DHR: Your collection consists of 90 poems. How long did it take to write all of those and at what point did you know you wanted to have them in a single book?

SMW: With poetry, I write thematically, so I’m usually always working toward a new collection, although I do write stand-alone poems for various publications here and there. This specific book, however, took me a little over two years to write.

DHR: Are these stories connected? As in, are they all part of one massive apocalypse, through the eyes of dozens of points of views? Or are they all separate accounts during different apocalypses?

SMW: These poems are all separate accounts during different visions of the apocalypse. When I pick a theme/muse/topic to write about, I like to challenge myself to interpret it as many ways as possible while also considering both what’s been done in the genre and what the genre still needs. 

DHR: Do you have a favorite apocalyptic film, show, and or book(s)? 

SMW: I have several! I recently wrote an article about this for Speculative Chic, which readers can check out here!

DHR: I won’t spoil the above link, but you’ve got some excellent choices. What’s scarier, life or horror fiction?

SMW: Life.

Horror fiction can be absolutely terrifying, don’t get me wrong, but at the end of the day, we’re experiencing that fear safely from a distance, and beyond that, most of the time there are rules in place for how we tackle whatever type of monster or villain we’re facing. Life isn’t like that, though. There are no rules, the pain is real, and sometimes the monster doesn’t go away/die. Hell, sometimes we’re even the monsters. 

DHR: That’s a scary truth. Do you have a favorite poem in this collection? If so, what makes it stand out the most in your heart?

SMW: This is a tough one. I really like “Identification,” “Call Me Haunted,” and “Death Bed,” but I’m particularly partial to “As the Crow Flies.” 

DHR: As the Crow Flies was a nice and eerie poem. Do you have a favorite apocalyptic scenario? Let’s be brutal for one moment. Let’s say you’re handed the keys to control our world’s Judgement Day. What are you going to make everyone suffer (and die) through?

SMW: Zombies. I’m definitely going with zombies—hands down! I mean, do I want the world to end? Absolutely not. But if I had to go down running around with a chainsaw and hacking up the undead, I could learn to be a little okay with it.

DHR: I’m right there with you! Count me in. I have to be honest though, if I was thrown into one of your end of the world scenarios, the chances of me surviving are slim to none. What do you think your chances are in surviving one of your own apocalyptic stories?

SMW: I’d like to think that I’d be one of the last ones standing, but between you and me, I don’t think I’m making it out either, ha! I will say that I’m definitely the type to go down swinging though!

DHR: Swing and I’ll run, hehe. A few of your poems deal with sisters of the supernatural kind. Do you have a fascination with witches?

SMW: Very much so. Spiritually speaking, I identify as pagan, and I’ve always had a fascination with the archetype of the witch in film and literature, but the identity of the witch is something that is more personal and part of my day-to-day routine these days, too.

DHR: Right on. I too have a fascination with witches. Do you plan on writing an apocalyptic novel? I feel like you’d create something incredible. 

SMW: In some ways, I already have. My debut novel, The Eighth, was published by Dark Regions Press in 2016. The quick elevator pitch for it is that it’s a religious horror novel about the seven deadly sins searching for their eighth. For more on the book, you can click here.

DHR: I’ll have to add that to my TBR list. What poets influence you the most?

SMW: Oh, I could talk about this one for hours, but I’ll try to keep it brief: Nick Flynn, Zachary Schomburg, Ocean Vuong, Charles Simic, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Andrea Gibson, Helen Marshall, Theodora Goss, Rachel Wiley, Aase Berg, Julie Boxsee, Yona Harvey, Natalie Diaz, Eleanor Hooker, Megan Falley, Hieu Minh Nguyen, and the list goes on and on and on…

DHR: Would you like to make a shout out to anyone?

SMW: Absolutely! Continued love to Jennifer and John for their support and friendship; a huge thanks to Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi for her hard work and help with the marketing and publicity prior to, during, and after the release; and my forever gratitude to my family, friends, and readers. 

DHR: Very good. Thank you again, Stephanie!

[Double-Feature – Review] – The Apocalyptic Mannequin

By Patrick R. McDonough

The Author

Stephanie M. Wytovich is the Poetry Editor for Raw Dog Screaming Press, an adjunct at Western Connecticut State University, Southern New Hampshire University, and Point Park University, and a mentor with Crystal Lake Publishing. She is a member of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, an active member of the Horror Writers Association, and a graduate of Seton Hill University’s MFA program for Writing Popular Fiction. Her Bram Stoker Award-winning poetry collection, Brothel, earned a home with Raw Dog Screaming Press alongside Hysteria: A Collection of Madness, Mourning Jewelry, An Exorcism of Angels, Sheet Music to My Acoustic Nightmare, and most recently, The Apocalyptic Mannequin. Her debut novel, The Eighth, is published with Dark Regions Press. 

The Review

It won’t come to a surprise for many of you that Stephanie M. Wytovich is a hypnotic poet. An artisan in painting bleak imagery with words. In her shadows lies a subtle beauty. A beauty that you can appreciate for a fleeting moment before something attacks, or kills while supplying a gruesome goodbye. Throughout the 90 poems we witness our own destruction, from advanced technology, to supernatural sisterhoods, creatures that impale, and half-organic, half-manufactured humanoids. Below is my short-list of poems that I felt perfectly embodied this collection. It’s not to say I wasn’t a fan of the others, because there isn’t a single one that falls short. Everyone just has their favorites. These are mine.

Behind the Genetic Reaping

            This encapsulates the tone and eeriness of the original Twilight Zone series. It displays the terrifying reality that death is our playground…and “there’s a reaper in your head.”

Greetings from the New World

            A short poem that throws you in the perspective of a survivor. Of what exactly, I think I know. But then again, “they” could really be anything.

It’s in the Rain

            In one page, you see a world folding and crumbling. Sinking and drowning. Beyond the dreadful scenes depicted, awaits a killer last line. A line that is bigger than this poem and beautiful collection itself. It’s a line that is us. Each. And. Every one of us. It begs to ask the question: Who is really prepared for the end of days…and who will have the last laugh?

Mounted

            The story of a final moment. We don’t know the who or what, or by what or who, yet, that doesn’t really matter. It’ll send a tingling sensation through your guts. For each reader, we will share the same components of what is happening, but, like any great story, each individual will walk away with a different exterior of the creature in question.

Future Mannequins on Display

            This. Is. AMAZING! It spoke to me, on so many levels. 

            The opening sets up the end for a beautiful sucker punch to the heart. It throws you in the point of view of a thing that none of us think about too often, yet, in this specific example, is absolutely fucking terrifying. It creates sympathy for an inanimate object. This poem is my favorite in the collection.

            It’s my sincerest hope that one day an artist uses Wytovich’s haunting words to turn into an illustration, preferably an oil painting. To depict the stages of the poem. To show the power of its words in colors and brutal truth. A truth that Wytovich displays with the precision of a master chess player.

When we create something to look exactly like us and do terrible things to that creation, what does that really say about how we value ourselves? Is it a question we really want an answer to?

Lost Highways

Want to feel what its like to be a survivor during the apocalypse? This poem will be more than happy to provide that insight.

The Manufacturing of Bodies

            If anything, this one speaks to what we’ve all become. What we’ve created. Not just for ourselves but for future generations.

            “Please hit copy…

                                                …Paste.”

At the Neon Circus

            I’m a sucker for dark sci-fi. When it’s executed this well, I’m all yours…forever. I beg Wytovich to show me more of this world. It’s something I can foresee occurring in our lifetime. It’s also something I’d be dying to read in novel form.

The Quotes

Here are some of my favorite lines from several other poems. Lines that I believe will hook and reel you into this collection, if you aren’t already.

            “A reminder that we are nothing but spoiled meat.”

            “…like deformed hands unable, but determined to grab.”

            “…we are the chosen, we are the coven.”

            “…they plucked off my limbs like petals.” 

            “When I make my entrance, will they marvel at my wings or will they, like they did to so many others, tear them from my back and set my corpse on fire?”

            “It only took hours before my skin started to slip. I peeled it like an orange, slowly at first.”

And a word that I have never encountered, a word that Wytovich, as far as I know, created: frankenwhore. That word makes me laugh, yet at the same time, I am cautiously intrigued to see what that may look like.

Final Thoughts

Bring this book on a camping trip to read a poem or two (or four, or more) around a fire, and enjoy the gore. Just you and a friend, to read the world’s end. Let those stories loop in your mind. They’ll do it regardless of tears or time. Dare you read, alone in your room? Under no stars, sun, or moon. Soon you’ll see, why I am a fan. Of Stephanie Wytovich, and her grand plan.

            I wish I discovered Wytovich sooner. It was truly a pleasure to read her latest collection. If poetry hasn’t been your cup of tea, then I would be willing to bet it will be after you’ve had a mere sip of her addictive writing style and voice.

And forgive me for my amateur poem. I am but a simple man, who needs to atone. 

About The Apocalyptic Mannequin

Doomsday is here and the earth is suffering with each breath she takes. Whether it’s from the nuclear meltdown, the wrath of the Four Horsemen, a war with technology, or a consequence of our relationship with the planet, humanity is left buried and hiding, our bones exposed, our hearts beating somewhere in our freshly slit throats.

This is a collection that strips away civilization and throws readers into the lives of its survivors. The poems inside are undelivered letters, tear-soaked whispers, and unanswered prayers. They are every worry you’ve had when your electricity went out, and every pit that grew in your stomach watching the news at night. They are tragedy and trauma, but they are also grief and fear, fear of who—or what—lives inside us once everything is taken away.

These pages hold the teeth of monsters against the faded photographs of family and friends, and here, Wytovich is both plague doctor and midwife, both judge and jury, forever searching through severed limbs and exposed wires as she straddles the line evaluating what’s moral versus what’s necessary to survive.

What’s clear though, is that the world is burning and we don’t remember who we are.

So tell me: who will you become when it’s over?

What They’re Saying 

“Like a doomsday clock fast-forwarding to its final self-destruction, Wytovich’s poetry will give you whiplash as you flip through page after page. The writing here is ugly yet beautiful. It reads like a disease greedily eating up vital organs. The apocalypse has arrived and it couldn’t be more intoxicating!”

—Max Booth III, author of Carnivorous Lunar Activities 

“In this hauntingly sensuous new collection of poetry, you’ll long to savor every apocalyptic nightmare you have ever feared. Blooming in the beauty of destruction and the terror of delight, Stephanie M Wytovich’s poems remind us that we feel the world better, love the world better, when we recognize the ephemeral nature of everything achingly alive beyond our mannequin minds. Here, we are captive to our deepest velvet snarls, zombie songs, and radioactive wishes, at the mercy of a neon reaping. Reading this collection is like dancing through Doomsday, intoxicated by the destructive, decadent truth of desire in our very mortality. In these poems, you will find revelry in the ruins of everything you once held dear — and you will love it to the last as you watch the world unravel around you.”

—Saba Syed Razvi, author of Heliophobia and In the Crocodile Gardens

“Beautifully bleak, Stephanie M. Wytovich’s latest collection posits scenarios of the apocalypse and the horrors to come thereafter with language like fragrant hooks in your skin. Vivid, each word a weight on your tongue, these poems taste of metal and ash with a hint of spice, smoke. She reminds us the lucky ones die first, and those who remain must face the horrors of a world painted in blisters and fear. Leave it to Wytovich to show us there’s beauty in the end, just beneath all that peeling, irradiated skin.”

—Todd Keisling, author of Ugly Little Things and Devil’s Creek

“Set in a post-apocalyptic world that at times seems all too near, Wytovich’s poems conjure up frighteningly beautiful and uncomfortably prescient imagery. Populated by a cast of unsettling, compelling characters, this collection is one that stuck with me.”

—Claire C. Holland, author of I Am Not Your Final Girl

“A surreal journey through an apocalyptic wasteland, a world that is terrifyingly reminiscent of our own even as the blare of evacuation alarms drowns out the sizzle of acid rain, smiling mannequins bear witness to a hundred thousand deaths, and “the forest floor grows femurs in the light of a skeletal moon.” Stephanie M. Wytovich’s The Apocalyptic Mannequin is as unsettling as it is lovely, as grotesque as it is exquisite.”

—Christa Carmen, author of Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked

Follow Stephanie on social media:

Blog: http://stephaniewytovich.blogspot.com

Twitter: @SWytovich

Instagram: @swytovich

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-M.-Wytovich/e/B00DTKIN2K%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

Main Website: http://www.stephaniemwytovich.com

Media

If you’d like to review or feature Stephanie, please contact her publicist Erin Al-Mehairi at hookofabook@hotmail.com. Find The Apocalyptic Mannequinand other of her work at rawdogscreaming.com.

[Review] – Calling Darkness Podcast

By Elle Turpitt

Take six women, make them read what they believe to be ‘Danish’ poetry (psst, it’s actually a demon summoning spell), and trap them in a big, remote house, and you have the brilliant, hilarious, yet sometimes very creepy, Calling Darkness.

The podcast, written by S.H. Cooper and Gemma Amor, features a fantastic cast of voice actors, who bring the various characters to life. One thing I’ve noticed with a lot of drama podcasts is how difficult it is to keep a clear idea of what’s happening, but it’s handled really well here, with the mysterious Narrator guiding the listener, drawing them to different parts of the house and revealing, very effectively, what is happening at any one time.

There’s not a single moment in ten episodes that isn’t, in some way, entertaining, whether it’s the comedy or horror aspect, and the podcast presents some horror tropes in a new fresh way, keeping the listener constantly guessing what might happen next.

The tension will keep you on the edge of your seat. The humor does exactly what humor should do in horror – gives you a momentary relief before you’re hit with something else, or gives you a chance to laugh just after you’ve jumped. Each character gets their own moments, creating a truly fantastic ensemble feel, and it’s so easy to fall in love with all of them. It doesn’t take long to really start cheering for them, to care about them, to want to see them get out alive and maybe heal old wounds along the way.

An intelligent, hilarious, and sometimes heart-breaking horror podcast, Calling Darkness shows what can really be done with the medium, to great effect. This one gets all the stars. Give it a listen, and I promise you won’t be disappointed. Not until you run out of episodes, anyway.

Social Media

Main website: callingdarknesspodcast.libsyn.com

Facebook: /CallingDarknessPodcast

Twitter: @CallingPodcast

And don’t forget to catch them on Spotify!

[Review] – Black Rainbow by Scott Savino

By Elle Turpitt

I love a good anthology. I love when themed anthologies span genres, and when genre anthologies span themes. They’re an absolutely fantastic way to discover new favourite authors, and to explore a wide range of fiction. 

On all those levels, Black Rainbow does not disappoint.

Black Rainbow is an LGBTQIA anthology, written by LGBTQIA writers, containing LGBTQIA characters – different sexualities, different relationships, in the kind of diversity that really should be more common in horror (and fiction in general). There was not a single bad story in the whole anthology, and I found myself absolutely gripped by every single one. And this anthology reinforces something that’s been on my mind recently – good horror is often, at its core, about love. Whether it’s the sacrifices we make for the ones we love, the ways we harm them, or about trying to find it, love runs through these pages as much as horror, whether it’s subtle or not.

There really is something in here for every horror fan. From supernatural elements, including vampires, werewolves, old gods, cults, and strange creatures creeping out of the night, to more grounded horror, each story presents something different.

There were heart-warming stories, stories to send shivers down your spine, and stories to make you tear up. Some of the standouts, to me, were Curios and More, Mr Flip, It Should Be Raining, and The Last First Date of Bear Bloomfield. But I think this is one of those anthologies where everyone reading it will have a different favourite. 

This book is absolutely fantastic, and a must read for any fan of horror. Every story is brilliant, and on the whole the anthology is really well put together. Definitely check it out.

5/5 stars

[Interview] – Mother Horror

By Patrick R. McDonough

Dead Head Reviews (DHR): Thank you so much for letting us interview you! Dead Head Reviews loves what you’re doing for the indie horror community. What do you think about the current state of the community and where do you see its future?

Mother Horror (MH): Absolutely. My pleasure. Thank you to Dead Head Reviews for interviewing me and for the kind words. The current state of the horror community is one of generosity, unity and buzz. I think we’re experiencing a re-branding of the horror genre. Readers are discovering that horror is rich with multiple sub-genres and a wealth of talent. Literally something for everyone. There have been a lot of successful movies made from horror books like THE RITUAL and BIRD BOX on Netflix that reached a new audience for horror. Of course Stephen King and Joe Hill have a steady stream of adaptations under their belts and then of course we are seeing publishers scramble to bolster their roster of horror authors. So it’s been a great year. The way I see it.  

DHR: Is there a backstory to the name “Mother Horror”? 

MH: Yes, there is a little backstory. My Night Worms business partner, Ashley Saywers nicknamed me Mother Horror a few years ago. We started out as friends on Instagram and I influenced her to read so much horror in one year she ultimately started referring to me as “Mother Horror”–indoctrinating her into the world of dark, wicked reads. *evil laugh*

DHR: Ha-ha, very cool. For those that aren’t familiar, would you mind telling us a little bit about Night Worms?

MH: Sure! I’d love to. I co-own a business called Night Worms which is curated, hand picked horror books packaged together with some goodies to enhance the reading experience and delivered to one’s door every month for 37.99 + shipping. We have a theme and we make sure to include at least three books, sometimes three and it’s always a mix of indie and traditional horror from a variety of sub genres. Novels, novellas, collections, anthologies and poetry. It’s a great service.

DHR: It certainly sounds like a great service. When did you become a reviewer? Do you remember the first book you reviewed?

MH: I have had a Goodreads account FOREVER. I would leave reviews strictly for my mom because we were following each other. I’d be like, “Mom, this one’s for you!” or “Mom, don’t believe the reviews, this book is SHIT!” I started noticing that a few random users would like my reviews and so I started being more intentional about sharing my thoughts and feelings. Joining a community like #bookstagram on Instagram changed everything. I was invited by both SCREAM Mag and Cemetery Dance to write reviews for them based on the fact they were following my social media accounts. The first book I reviewed for Cemetery Dance was THE ATROCITIES by Jeremy Shipp. There were several for SCREAM.

DHR: Are there any other places you write for? How do you manage to keep pushing out so many reviews for several sources?

MH: I was recently asked to write occasionally for Black Static magazine. So I’m very excited about that opportunity. I also keep my Goodreads and Amazon reviews as up to date as I can. I’m writing reviews and working on Night Worms full time. It’s not just a hobby or a side-gig anymore. It’s my full-time job.

DHR: That fantastic! Have you always had such an ardent love for horror? Do you recall what first sparked your interest for horror?

MH: My mom is an avid reader and horror is her first love. Horror books were readily accessible and I raided her collection. My first big time horror book was Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot and it will be a forever favorite. But even as a small child, I had a penchant for the macabre, mysteries and dark things. I would shut myself up in my room and read for hours after school, sometimes skipping dinners and going to bed way too late.

DHR: Is there another genre, perhaps one that may come off as a surprise, that you also enjoy reading? 

MH: Not surprisingly, Fantasy is my other love. I obsessed over the SONG OF ICE AND FIRE series by George R. R. Martin. Dark or Epic Fantasy often has elements of horror. Like the DARK TOWER Series, THE TALISMAN, or THE STAND by Stephen King can really go either way on the shelf–Fantasy or Horror. I just haven’t read any Fantasy books in a long time. I’m pretty happy and preoccupied with Horror.

DHR: While reading and reviewing, is music necessary to have as background noise? Do you prefer silence while reading or reviewing?

MH: Yes, silence for both reading and reviewing. I can read while the TV is on but I don’t like to. I prefer quiet. 

DHR: What authors are you currently reading that you may want to spread the word about? 

MH: Currently loving the works of: Sarah Read, Sara Tantlinger, Matt Hayward, Aaron Dries, Bob Ford, John Boden, Paul Tremblay and just a slew of others. I think it’s best to follow my Twitter or Instagram to get a daily update on what I’m reading and reviewing. Not to mention I post bookmail coming in so folks can stay up to date on current or upcoming new releases.

DHR: I know this is a pretty tough one to answer, but, do you have a favorite author(s)?

MH: I do have some pet favorites–authors who can typically do no wrong: Josh Malerman, Paul Tremblay, Nick Cutter, Ania Ahlborn, Chad Lutzke, Stephen King, Joe Hill, Brian Keene, Jonathan Janz, Stephanie Wytovitch, Nicholas Day, Kristi DeMeester, Stephen Graham Jones and Damien Angelica Walters.

DHR: I recall a discussion you had some time ago about sub-genres in horror that you wish to see more of. One was stories that focused on mothers (to-be-expecting ones specifically). As an expectant father (first timer here) this idea is absolutely fascinating to me. Are there any other sub-genres in horror that you wish were written about more often?

MH: Well, we get a lot of male-centric coming of age horror which is my favorite sub-genre so I’m always banging on about seeing some female-centric coming of age horror. That would be awesome! Chad Lutzke has one coming out at the end of the month called THE PALE WHITE

 DHR: I recently read your interview with Chad Lutzke where you two discuss that book (very entertaining stuff, by the way!). Have you, or will you, ever interview by means of Skype or podcast? I recently wrote a review about Ink Heist. Just my personal opinion here, but seeing you and the Ink Heist boys on an episode would be so amazing!

MH: Funny you should mention that! I’m going to join the Ink Heist boys in a guest spot to interview Nicholas Day soon. But plans for a Night Worms podcast or video channel are just a gleam in my eye and nothing terribly serious happening at the moment.

DHR: I’m looking forward to that episode! Reviewers in the horror community seem to be growing. Do you have any advice for anyone that wishes to pursue this, whether for hobby or on a professional level?

MH: I actually just told my Night Worms team of reviewers to stay humble and hungry. Be passionate. Don’t beg, borrow or steal to reach your goals–just do what you do and let your drive and your passion shine through. I was invited by industry people to write reviews or blurbs or provide interviews–I didn’t pester anyone or solicit myself to get where I am and that feels really validating and authentic to me that what I have, I worked for. It was noticed. I love that.

 DHR: That has to be the greatest feeling. Do you go to conventions? If so, what ones?

MH: I have not gone to any yet but I plan on going to some in 2020. I will be at Scares That Care Weekend, hopefully and perhaps something in May that I’m not talking about quite yet. 

DHR: Is there an area in this community that you feel is under-appreciated?

MH: Under appreciated?? Hmm….I can’t think of anything!

DHR: Dead Head Reviews looks up to you as one of the crucial members in the community. Would you like to give a shout out to any other reviewers?

MH: Thank you! And hell yes! The Night Worms crew, The Ink Heist guys, Shane–my horror bro. Tracy and the SciFi & Scary Team, my girls Mindi, Ashley, Emily, Audra, and Alex–the OG Night Worms. Jim and his team at GingerNuts of Horror, George and Steve. Ed Lorn and Michael Hicks–Mike runs High Fever and he writes amazing reviews. The Ladies of Horror Fiction Team of reviewers, Where The Reader Grows-Chandra Curtis at Cedar Hollow and Kendall.

DHR:  Thank you for setting a professional standard for all of us. And again, thank you for giving us your time to do this interview!

MH: My pleasure!!

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[REVIEW] Devouring Dark – by Alan Baxter

DEVOURING DARK by Alan Baxter

When I went to read Alan Baxter for the first time, I ended up choosing Devouring Darkbecause its premise reminded me of a comic series I enjoyed when I was growing up: The Darkness. You have your anti-hero with a shadow-like power surging inside him that can be unleashed in horrific ways. There’s a lot than can be done with this idea, but for now this is a standalone novel and not a series (though Baxter has several others, so maybe there’s hope yet for Devouring Dark to continue).

Though I definitely enjoyed this book, I had a few issues that nagged me along the way. There’s a surprising amount of slow sequences for what should be an action-fueled story. There’s also the matter of Matt’s guilt (which powers his darkness); what he did as a child is absolutely terrible, and yet Amy (the character he falls for with a similar power) is very easygoing about the whole thing. She basically tells him not to worry, it’s no big deal, and he should confess it to his parents and smooth things over. I’m sorry, but that was unbelievable – if my kid came and told me they had done such a thing, we would not be able to “smooth it over.” What Matt did is unforgiveable, even if he was just a kid when he did it.

I would have liked to see more action – though I get Matt’s condition keeps it from showing up hardly at all in the story – as well as some different interaction between his character and the others to gain sympathy from me. I was interested in our anti-hero up until I learned the cause of his guilt; I didn’t care about him after that, and felt Amy was just blinded by her interest in him and willing to overlook his evil.

My complaints aside, I did enjoy the majority of this book, enough so that I would like to read a sequel. I also found Baxter’s writing comfortable and inviting, so I will look into his other work in the coming months. So, overall, this is a recommended title (especially for comic fans). – by Andrew Redman

3.5/5.0

[Review] – The Town That Feared Dusk – Calvin Demmer

This short story is part of the Short Sharp Shocks collection, and it really delivers on that. After the death of her colleague, Sylvia needs a story to boost her career. She finds information on a ‘Suicide Bridge’, but the investigation drags her deeper than she ever expected to go.

This is one of those stories that’s really easy to get carried away in, as the reader follows Sylvia to the bridge and beyond, as she discovers there’s more than meets the eye to the suicides reported there. The empty town, the non-cooperative locals, and the eerie imagery all builds up to a tense climax, making the reader as eager to find out what is happening as Sylvia is. The ending packs a shocking punch, as promised in the collection.

The only downside is how short it is – I wanted more, more about the town, more about Sylvia, more about the unfolding events. But that’s just the sign of a good short story. The way elements are combined words really well, and I can’t imagine anyone regretting picking this one up.

4/5 – Elle Turpitt

[Review] Grind Your Bones To Dust – Nicholas Day

Dangerous, deadly creatures emerge from the night, leaving nothing but slaughter in their wake. But monstrous beasts aren’t the only evil haunting these pages. Enter a preacher and raven, determined to cause as much destruction as the flesh-eating donkeys in the desert.

It’s rare I would describe horror as beautiful but damn, is this book beautiful. And haunting and violent and absolutely, utterly mesmerising.

The novel is split into four parts, each distinct and fresh, feeling perfectly blended to the character the prose is following. Each character feels unique, with everything needed from a character; their own wants, desires, arcs. Their own voice. Each section bleeds wonderfully into the next, leaving the reader wanting more with every page. The imagery is striking, the landscape terrifying, the events gripping. Day paints a bleak, unrelenting world, in a story of loss, love, redemption and pure horror. This is not a novel for the faint of heart, but one which will, without a doubt, linger with the reader for a long time to come.

5/5 – Elle Turpitt