Monday, May 21, 2018

Honest Reviews of Hinnom Magazine 3 and Crimson Streets 2

Since Amazon doesn't allow authors to review anthologies that include their work, I've made a habit of posting my reviews here on my blog.

Title: Hinnom Magazine #003
Theme: "dark fiction and cosmic horror"
Publisher: Gehenna & Hinnom Books
Editor: C.P. Dunphey
Number of stories: 7 (plus articles, reviews and an interview)
Pages: 133
Price: $6.99 paperback, $2.99 Kindle

Favorite stories: "Jennifer Brings it to Work" by Jack Lothian, which involves a mysterious entity that serves a massive distraction for an office staff, but might also be the harbinger of the end of life as we know it; and "The Enameled Crown" by Steve Toase, which is set in a dentist's office. It reminded me of a Bentley Little story (a compliment).

My story: "Home Again." This story is inspired by my own tiny home town and the idea of all points in history overlapping in the afterlife. At first I had a typical "horror" ending but the editor encouraged me to try for something with more of an emotional impact. Full disclosure: the paperback version has a continuity error I missed, while the Kindle version should have it fixed.

Final thoughts: I give this magazine a B. It has a gorgeous cover paying homage to a number of supernatural characters (villains) from classic horror literature. I skipped all the non-fiction and only read the stories. Leaving mine out of the equation, I enjoyed five of the six stories, especially the two noted above. It's a good deal for the price, especially if you opt for the updated Kindle version.

You can order a copy of Hinnom Magazine #003 right here.

Title: Crimson Streets 2
Theme: "stories inspired by the classic pulp magazines"
Publisher: portableNOUNS
Editor: Janet Carden and G. Shane Meeks
Number of stories: 12
Pages: 155
Price: $7.99 paperback, $2.99 Kindle

Favorite stories: "Five Crisp Tens" by Chris Bauer, an interesting mystery with a shocking twist, which would have been a perfect fit in the old Alfred Hitchcock Presents crime anthologies; "Three on a Match" by Robb White, which started as a heist story but ended in Tarrantino territory; and "Under the Earth" by Micah Castle, a creepy story that reminded me of the vintage Weird Tales.

My story: "Nic Fits," is a humorous story in which a mob hit man with serious anger issues wakes up dead and buried. Things get worse for Nic when a rat decides to nest in the casket.

Final thoughts: I give this magazine a B. Every story features an illustration, which is awesome. Some of the stories entertained me more than others. Most were either fun or suspenseful, with only one I didn't care for. Plenty of variety too!

You can order a copy of Crimson Streets 2 at this link.

Honest Reviews of Whispers of the Apoc and Perceived Realities

Since Amazon doesn't allow authors to review anthologies that include their work, I've made a habit of posting my reviews here on my blog.

Title: Whispers of the Apoc
Theme: "Tales from the Zombie Apocalypse"
Publisher: Tannhauser Press
Editors: Martin Wilsey
Number of stories: 16
Pages: 406
Price: $14.95 paperback, $3.99 Kindle

Favorite stories: "All Dolled Up" by Stephen Kozeniewski, which chronicles a thuggish character who, while fleeing the zombie outbreak, finds himself in an even more harrowing situation; "Needs Must" by John L. French, which follows a strike-force on a (heartbreaking) post-outbreak extraction mission; and "Blood in the Water" by Emmet O'Cuana, in which the zombie apocalypse is almost secondary to a safe haven's ghastly secret.

My favorite of all, however, is "A Slow Leak" by Cameron Smith, in which a lonely outcast faces the mistrust of others in an isolated compound, yet still finds the strength of character to make the ultimate sacrifice when the safe haven is invaded by the walking dead.

My story: "Crave New World." This is an extended version of "Encephaloshrooms" which appeared in The Misbehaving Dead last year. This version is not only polished up and revised, but also features two additional scenes, one heartfelt, one ultra-violent.

Final thoughts: I give the anthology a B+. If you love zombie stories, maybe even an A. Lots of different styles, and only one story (very heavy on military jargon) was a chore to finish. Most of the authors included were new to me and there were many pleasant surprises, and no two stories alike.

You can order Whispers of the Apoc here!

Title: Realities Perceived
Theme: "Speculative Fiction on Reality, Perception, and the Unreal."
Publisher: Left Hand Publishers
Editors: Karen T. Newman
Number of stories: 15
Pages: 259
Price: $10.99 paperback

Favorite stories: Several! "The Mortal Coil" by A.P. Sessler, a jarring mix of sci-fi and horror; "I Carry You Everywhere" by Katta Hules, a fascinating story about a reporter who scores an interview with a reclusive celebrity; "The Dodos" by Gregory L. Norris, which chronicles friendship amidst tragedy; "Demon" by A.D. Ross, a violent action story involving a cult and a tragic hero; and "The Ogress" by Keith Gouveia, in which a cabbie in Japan unwittingly transports a demonic assassin from job to job.

My story: "Cobwebs and Cold Truths," which features two stories within a third story. The editor of the anthology calls it "a psychological thriller where Halloween shreds the veil between madness and monsters."

Final thoughts: I give the anthology an A for story content and a C for cover and interior layout, averaging out to a B. Lots of unique and entertaining stories here, all of them well-written.

You can order Realities Perceived at this link.