I am primarily interested in reviewing novellas of any genre but will consider novels and collections. Please query with title, genre, type, (novella, novel, collection) and blurb/synopsis. Word count should be included. If your book is selected, I only review Kindle versions of books. All reviews are based on a severed head system. My best rating is five decapitated heads. The severed head system can be amended for different genres such as five teddy bears, five French kisses, or five bullets to the back of the head-whatever the situation calls for.
I can't wait to see what you've got.
Let's Get Some Heads Rolling,
Submit to Wartooth Ebooks and Reviews
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Ty Hutchinson delivers a psychological thriller set in the final days of the cold war that offers just as much excitement today as it would have in the early 1990’s. The St. Petersburg Confessions opens with “St. Petersburg, Russia, 1991”. For those of us with memories of that time we recall the protests and the radicals slowly chipping away at government legitimacy. It was a time filled with intrigue, espionage, and political assignation. CIA and KGB were everyday words. The details of the time are completely understated in this novella to the point that my first thought was wondering why Ty used the setting in the first place, but as the darkness of human nature unfolded, I was treated to the bleak existence of the times.
Description is sparse, and the novella avoids extravagant language as if the reader were in a government food line waiting for a hunk of hard bread. If the prose didn’t so perfectly fit the cold stone of the cathedral and the totalitarian oppression of the people, we might simply scoff at the story. Ty Hutchinson created a world that transmits the authenticity of the time without the details. I applaud his efforts.
Father Fedor sits at his church late one evening when he is approached by a shadowy figure referring to himself as a ghost. He tells the father he wants to confess his sins. The humble servant of God accepts his duty and begins listening to the stranger confess ninety-nine murders. By the day, Father Fedor tries to go on as usual while carrying his burden of darkness. The tension builds as the father becomes obsessed with fulfilling his religious duty until the darkest grows out of control.
There is a point where the story became a little predictable, but I was still hooked. Unfortunately the climax was delivered too quickly and neatly. I expected something much messier in order to really leave the reader breathless.
The St. Petersburg Confessions by Ty Hutchinson is a sleek fast read with a nice nugget of darkness that you can ponder in your spare time. I give it three and a half severed heads out of ninety-nine.
Heads Will Roll,
Saturday, July 21, 2012
Beatrice Beecham's Houseful of Horrors by Dave Jeffery
Beatrice Beecham’s Houseful of Horrors by Dave Jeffery is a little bit of a conundrum for me, sort of a no man’s land of fiction. My assumption is that this is some level of children’s book, but I can’t discern what kid would like this book. It doesn’t have a multi sensory experience or a wildly engaging story. It is a very low energy read that I don’t feel would appeal to many kids in this age that offers a plethora of wonderful choices..
Beatrice Beecham is a sleuthy high school girl with a group of friends referred to as the Newshounds. The team investigates paranormal phenomenon in the small town of Dorsal Fin. This book features four short stories of their adventures. The only one that I enjoyed was the first one, Halloween Haunting, and I really loved it. The rest of the stories were unremarkable. The pages are peppered with references to pop culture and history that seem more aimed at adults.
Beatrice is known for her culinary interest and skill, but her love of cooking is lost one me when she has conversations with a group of celebrity chefs in her head. The result of these mental meetings is that she gains some insight, but again, kids won't know the chefs and probably won't read much longer.
Halloween Haunting has several vivid elderly characters that enthralled me in a story that kids would have little interest in. However, the folksy description of everything got in the way of the plot at times. The emotional energy of the elderly protagonists was beautiful and created great tension. Then I was utterly disappointed by the abrupt, unsatisfying ending. I would love to see this story retooled for adults.
Perhaps Beatrice’s other books are a different story entirely, but Houseful of Horrors gets two severed heads. Since it is aimed at younger people, they are stuffed and cute.
Heads Will Roll,
Zombies of Iwo Jima by Dane Hatchell
Zombies of Iwo Jima by Dane Hatchell is a fun corpse tale with a historical gimmick. For the most part this is a free sample of his current zombie novel, but he does toss us this undead bone with a hunk of ghoulish raw meat on it. I didn’t read the novel excerpts.
Instead of alternate history, Dane gives us “substitution” history. He adds a deadly mix of zombies to the monumental battle in a traditional style that zombie fans are sure to enjoy. I really liked his characters for such a short work, and his reason for bombing Nagasaki and Hiroshima blends very well into the zombie mythology.
I give this story three severed heads. It’s per5fect for a quick horror break..
p.s. I have a feeling zombie fans will like his zombie novel. I may read one myself.
Heads Will Roll,
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Surviving the Fittest by Jason White
Surviving the Fittest by Jason White is an emotionally charged, action packed zombie short story that kept me on the edge of my seat. His zombies are the classic lumbering fiends from the Romero blood line. Not that humanity has a chance anyway, but against corpses with super speed, super strength, and reason, we’d last a few hours. With Jason's walkers I feel like our delusion of survival is dragged on long enough to get stories other than zombies eats human.
So the situation is a zombie plague has overtaken the world. Fifteen year old Charlie is alone caring for his thirteen year old severely mentally disabled sister, Cindy. They must survive the living dead as well as those humans that have survived.
The affection Charlie has for his sister and his innocence in general made this story work. Zombie tales are metaphors for the inevitable death of all people. You can run all you want, but they will catch you—and in the end death will be triumphant. Charlie’s story gives us another metaphor, a reason to live despite approaching doom. He learns what his life is worth.
I give Surviving the Fittest four severed heads.
Heads Will Roll,
Electric Blue by Deanna by Deanna Riddell
Electric Blue is a short story by Deanna Riddell that totally hooked me with its synopsis. Tragically, fifteen year old Jake disappeared one evening on a trip to the grocery on his electric blue bicycle and never returned. Six years pass and we join the story on his younger sister Sara’s fifteenth Birthday. Their parents have never stopped waiting for Jake to come home. The strangeness of the situation isolates Sara from her friends.
Sara receives an unexpected Birthday card in the mail. There you have the synopsis that made me think I was about to get some traditional Bradbury or Matheson horror. That is not what happened.
Turns out, the synopsis is the whole story except for the unrewarding, lack luster, imagination free ending. I’m not one to focus on writing mechanics because an engaged reader will overlook and forgive many mistakes. However, for a story this short editing was very poor.
Electric Blue gets a body with a butter knife cut on throat. Pretty soon the guy will get up and walk away. You should too. .
Heads Will Roll,
Shreds of Humanity by M.J. Hangge
Shreds of Humanity by M’J. Hangge seemed like an awesome concept, zombie destruction of humankind from the perspective of the walking dead. In ironic fashion, it did not live up to my expectations. In fact, for me it was dead on arrival. I managed five or six chapters before I quit. It was just continuous thought perspective from the zombie, like a stream of dead consciousness. There were no characters or plot for me to grab onto.
Normally, if I quit a book I wouldn’t even review it because I don’t think it’s fair to a writer to pass judgment without having experienced the whole thing. But I am mentioning it because I might not be a hard-core enough zombie fan to get it. I will say I wanted to love this book, so I can’t help but wonder if this was a personal failure rather than a bad book.
I feel like there are several hard-core zombie fans in the Wartooth Horde. Someone post a review if you care to that can encourage me to try again. Not to mention, I don’t want to dissuade other hard-core fans from a potentially great read.
How many heads would you give it? Should I try again?
Heads Will Roll,
Monday, July 9, 2012
I have always loved to walk, particularly aimlessly in search of all the cool nothings life has to offer. At an early age my love of walking and stories collided. My grandmother had a dark stuffy room in the back of her house, and I loved to sneak off and rummage when the grownups weren’t looking…One day I found a stack of my cousins’ comic books. That encouraged more wandering and looking for nothing in particular.
A few years later my uncle took a job in another state. Before he left he gave me his BetaMax. As you can imagine, that lead to searching aisles of video cassettes for the perfect movie.
In high school I started patrolling two local record stores for the perfect album. In college the shrines to the gods of wandering became a comic shop and a used book store. I rarely knew “what” I was looking for, but when I saw the perfect title, with the perfect cover, with the perfect synopsis, and the perfect first line, I felt it in my bones. I savored these jewels.
I now wander the stacks at amazon, hoping to find that perfect nothing. My reviews are aimed at sharing the beautiful nothing. We’ve begun with horror, but stick with me. I promise we’ll explore many worlds of emotion.
Asian cultures have wonderful words like do and tao to describe the spiritual way and itsu to describe peace or my favorite translation “mistake” For me Wartooth is the grand, wandering mistake. If you move and you search you will find the peace of nothing.
Nothing to it,
Saturday, July 7, 2012
If you are a fan of zombie splatter and the polished supernatural fiction of a solid hit maker like Stephen King, AfterDark Chronicles: Survival by R.L. and M.R. Reeves will be familiar territory. Our tale begins with the end of the world from a zombie plague. Everything is exactly as the mythology demands with a few extras thrown in by the Reeves.
Mr. and Mrs. Reeves write with an engaging vocabulary of exploding skulls and gushes of arterial blood that keeps the action rolling very cinematically. They don’t forget to develop their characters either. A father and his adult daughter embark on a quest to reach the rest of their family on the other side of the country. A tough as nails marine with a heart that gets her in trouble at times joins them. They do stupid things and really smart things just like all of us would. At times the characters fall into their stereotypical uniforms, but I managed to stay invested throughout. As they cross a crumbling America, the band of survivors encounter the well-armed rednecks and fanatics we love to see heroes destroy, and they do it convincingly with a fun flair.
My biggest complaint is the supernatural element that gets introduced does not get near as much screen time as the zombies. An otherworldly force takes interest in certain survivors of the plague and mysteriously intervenes in their lives. This tried and true plot line of the masters is kept fresh by the Reeves’ naive villain that allows for a brief flicker of uneasy sympathy and convincing innocents that anyone would want to protect. I hope this story line will be amplified in the other books of the trilogy.
AfterDark Chronicles: Survival by R.L. and M.R. Reeves gets a solid three severed heads, and you better not get too close to these heads because they will eat your brains after finishing your intestines.
Heads Will Roll,