Reclusive Reads

Where I read and review Dark Fiction, from the classics to the contemporary, while favoring the quietly atmospheric, with side trips into everything from Fantasy and Mystery to the occasional work of non-fiction.

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2016 NetGalley Challenge





The Ghost Club: Newly Found Tales of Victorian Terror - William Meikle

The Ghost Club: an informal gathering of the literary icons of the Victorian Age. The price of admission...a dark tale told by each member.
William Meikle has not only offered up 14 lost tales by this illustrious group, he has done something that raises him to a "Victorian Voice" in his own right, and surely an honorary member welcome to his place with them. No author has the talent to give voice to the dearly departed quite like Mr.Meikle. The man has a full blown author seance in his head. He even gave me pause with authors I consider myself wholly familiar with.
THE GHOST CLUB more than earns it's place next to the classics on any horror purist's book shelf, William Meikle has earned a place with the authors of those classics.
A magnificent collection of dark delights.

Highest possible recommendation.

Many thanks to the fine folks at Crystal Lake Publishing for the chance to read and review the e-arc. You've all outdone yourselves.

Chills by Mary SanGiovanni

Chills - Mary SanGiovanni


When a rogue late season snow storm cuts off the town of Colby, Connecticut, the weather proves to be the least of problems for the stranded locals. Bodies are turning up in the snow, victims of ritual murder and something far worse. Joining forces with an enigmatic occult crime expert, police detective Jack Glazier finds himself in a race against time, for as the snow rises, so does the body count....and the bizarre goes off the charts. A cult has come to Colby, one with the keys needed to unleash an unspeakable horror upon the small town...and the world.

A fast paced horror/police procedural, populated with well rounded characters, an intriguing new spin on Lovecraftian style Mythos building, and enough chills to cut your air conditioning bills, SanGiovanni's latest delivers.

Highly recommended.

This was an eARC from Netgalley.

Expected publication: September 27th 2016 by Kensington Books/Lyrical Underground

The Jersey Devil by Hunter Shea

The Jersey Devil - Hunter Shea


This creature feature novel should come with an extra large bucket of popcorn....recalling the Saturday afternoon monster movies of my youth, with a healthy dash of "Die Hard" style mayhem thrown in. Pure, escapist fun.

When the legendary Jersey Devil returns to it's old stomping grounds, the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, all Hell breaks loose, as the once elusive creature is now hunting....and it may not be alone.

Only the Willet clan, all four generations of them, dare to challenge the Devil's reign of terror, to end a family curse. And the Willets are ready for war. Joined by a cryptozoologist, they head into the Pine Barrens armed to the teeth to face a legend.
And that may just be exactly where it wants them.

Hunter Shea brings his own spin to the Beast of the Barrens, expanding on the original legend with terrifying results, while peopling his novel with characters that are truly characters.

Non-stop, fast paced fun from the first page to the last.

Highly recommended.

Expected publication: August 30th 2016 by Pinnacle

This was an eArc from Netgalley.

Cast a Cold Eye by Alan Ryan

Cast a Cold Eye - Alan Ryan


Cast a Cold Eye is a perfect storm of a novel, bringing together atmosphere, location and mystery in one of the finest ghost stories it has been my pleasure to read.

An American author travels to a remote village in Ireland to gather background for a book on the Irish Famine, and discovers that the past is closer than he thinks.....and it does not lie quietly.

A beautifully constructed example of literary ghost story that doesn't burn creeps up on you like the mists off the moors, slow and relentless, running chill fingers down the back of your neck. The suspense builds just as slowly, ratcheting up the reader's unease to the breaking point.

Kudos to Valancourt Books for bringing this masterwork by an underappreciated author back into print.

Highly recommended.

Babylon Terminal by Greg F. Gifune

Babylon Terminal - Greg F. Gifune


Greg Gifune takes his signature psychological horror into a place where dark urban fantasy meets science fiction in his latest book.....where a man whose job it is to track and terminate runners who dare to follow a dream that speaks of a Promised Land far from the City....a man who now must track down his wife before another bountyhunter reaches her first, across a landscape that is at turns hallucinatory and nightmarish, a no man's land of no-when and never-where....
This one reminded me of BLADE RUNNER, but if you cornered me, I couldn't tell you why beyond it does.

Highly recommended for Gifune fans looking for something completely different.

Mayan Blue by Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason

Mayan Blue - Melissa Lason, Michelle L. De La Garza


The debut novel of horror from the shared pen of Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason, known collectively as "The Sisters of Slaughter", is an exuberantly over the top gorefest that captures the no holds barred spirit of the early days of the horror boom.

An archeology professor, seeking the truth behind the end of the Mayan civilization, unleashes that truth when he unwittingly breaks open the seal on the doorway to Xibalba....the realm of the Mayan Lord of Death, hidden deep in the mountains of Georgia.

A fast paced read that captures the feel of a 70s horror movie, while offering up a myth system that is so colorfully different and complex, it grabs your attention.....and yanks it out your nose. The Sisters' shared imagination is a thing of wonder, and they let it run wild in these pages, creating imagery that will splatter blood across your nightmares for a long time to come. Yeah, this one gets nasty......but ain't that what we're here for?

While there are points where this novel is obviously a first effort, the Sisters' writing is near perfect, seamless as they work in concert, raising Mayan Blue above the pack of debut authors.

The Sisters of Slaughter are authors to watch.....and I know I will be. Grab a copy of Mayan Blue and tell me I'm wrong.

Highly recommended.

A Time of Torment by John Connolly

A Time of Torment: A Charlie Parker Thriller - John Connolly


Let me begin by stating that I do not rate John Connolly against other thriller authors. It's simply not done. I rate John Connolly against John Connolly. His work stands alone in the field, and even a good John Connolly book is head and shoulders above anything else currently being written in the genre.

That being said, A Time of Torment is, in my humble opinion, the weakest in the Charlie Parker series. A man who stopped a pair of bizarre killers, only to have his life systematically taken apart, his reputation destroyed, falsely imprisoned for the lowest of crimes, and targeted by a brutal group intent on turning his incarceration into a living Hell.
Finally freed, he knows his days are numbered, and he turns to Charlie Parker to expose his tormentors, the deadly conspiracy that stems from an isolated community known as The Cut, and the dark secret it hides at it's heart.....the entity known as The Dead King.
An engaging enough plot, and a faster than usual read, with a strong start.....Parker forming an uneasy alliance with the Collector, one based on the threat of Louis, in order to use his nemesis against those Charlie hunts.....and a powerful finish, where Charlie's daughter, Sam, displays her growing talents to devastating effect, showcasing her cold, lethal intelligence.
But in between these points lies the problem.....the main characters of the series, Charlie, Louis and Angel, are mere shadows drifting in and out of the story, and the tale suffers the lack of heart, humor and depth they normally bring to the table.

Surely just a stumble in a series that raised the bar on thrillers.

As always, I look forward to the next book in the series with my enthusiasm undimmed.

This was an eARC from Netgalley.

The Complex by Brian Keene

The Complex - Brian Keene


When it comes to pedal to the metal, no brakes, balls to the wall survivalist horror, Brian Keene is the master of disaster.
Now, I'm not a big fan of survivalist horror, or splatterpunk in general, as I tend to stick to the "quiet" side of the genre, but I know who Me. Keene is and when my book buddy Chris K. offered me an eARC of The Complex in exchange for an honest review, I figured it was time to give Brian a try.
Unholy Hell, but the man can write!
The action takes off without warning, and reason goes out the window, as the residents of an apartment complex find themselves under siege by hordes of naked, rabid lunatics, and doesn't stop until you hit the back cover wreathed in the smoke of smouldering pages. While this tale may appear to tread familiar ground for fans of survival horror, Keene raises the bar with intelligent plotting, realistic characters, a fine grasp of the community dynamic that exists in society these days, the realization that the worst incidents of random violence have no rational explanations, and two of the most interesting individuals I've come across in a while......the serial killer/vigilante of the supernatural known as "The Exit" and the man mountain of berserk blubber referred to as "Tick Tock". I plan to read more about the former.....and hope to learn more about the latter. This guy makes Chaingang of Rex Miller's classic SLOB look normal.

I must admit, despite the distance that exists between my reading tastes and Mr. Keene's preferred sub-genre, I need to read more of his work. It's that damn good.

Highly recommended.

Redemption Road by John Hart

Redemption Road - John Hart


A boy with a gun waits for the man who killed his mother.

A troubled detective confronts her past in the aftermath of a brutal shooting.

After thirteen years in prison, a good cop walks free as deep in the forest, on the altar of an abandoned church, a body cools in pale linen…

These are the first pieces in the stunning mosaic that is John Hart's long awaited new novel Redemption Road ....
And that is an oversimplification, for each individual piece is part of it's own mosaic. A complex, rich and textured tale in and of itself. Fuel enough for several novels. But this is a John Hart thriller. Each mosaic is a mosaic piece of it's own, each a tale that fits into the whole in myriad ways, for what each portrays is not what it appears.....
Absorbing, complex and literary, this is a thinking reader's thriller....Hart's writing is pitch perfect and mesmerizing, the pacing is flawless and his characters are human to the core, possessing depths, secrets and denials that ring true.
Truly a masterwork by one of the best in the business.

Highest possible recommendation.

This was an eARC from Netgalley.

The Plasm by William Meikle

The Plasm - William Meikle


Science fiction meets the Occult in this pulptastic creature feature tale of space exploration, colonization, ghost ships, experimental drives....and Lovecraftian repercussions
Meikle is a master of spinning tales that combine old school with a contemporary voice, engaging imagination and a welcome sense of fun.

Highly recommended.

Little By Little by John R. Little

Little by Little - John R. Little


No one writes like John R. Little, and this collection is a monumental testament to his talent, his versatility and his sheer literary power.
What is unique about this collection, which gathers some of his finest short stories, is the emotions that moves them all.....


Rarely has a writer worked the dark side of fiction touched on this emotion in so many ways, and with such immense impact. John's writing will leave you an emotional wreck. He wrings out your soul, and breaks your heart.

He brought me to tears, and that just doesn't happen. Ever.
John R. Little is that damn good. Hell, scratch that....John is one of the best.

Each of these tales is a perfect gem, and each is worth the price of admission on there own.
But, wait......there's more.
For within this amazing collection is the novella MIRANDA, winner of the Bram Stoker Award for Long Fiction (2008)....the crown jewel of this literary treasure trove.....a stunningly powerful tale that will linger with readers for the rest of their lives.

Get your copy now, along with everything John's written or will write.
You can thank me later.

Highest possible recommendation.

Nameless: The Darkness Comes by Mercedes M. Yardley

Nameless: The Darkness Comes - Mercedes M. Yardley


Mercedes M. Yardley is a breath of fresh air in the dark urban fantasy genre. Her first book in The Bone Angel trilogy may appear at first glance to follow a familiar path, but her tale breaks away from the pack, filled to the brim with humor, heart, an invigorating young heroine who raises casual sarcasm to an art form, and enough darkness to satisfy both dark fantasy and horror fans alike, while spinning a new mythology for both demons and angels that engages the imagination.

This was my first Yardley book, and it won't be my last.

Highest possible recommendation.

The Cabinet of Dr. Blessing by Jack Rollins

The Cabinet of Dr Blessing - Jack Rollins


A trilogy of tales (Dr. Blessing's Curse, Dr. Blessing's Rapture, and A Christmas Blessing) that form a cohesive novel, The Cabinet of Dr. Blessing is one of the most chilling examples of Victorian historical horror I've read in quite some that deserves a place on the shelves with the classics that were written in that time period.
Jack Rollins sense of time, place and the attitudes of the era are pitch perfect, transporting the reader back to the London of the 1800s, immersing them in the sights, sounds and squalor of the time with a masterful skill. Offering up an alternative take on the tale of The Elephant Man, wherein the twisted "monster" was a decent, tortured soul, we bear witness to a monster that is far darker than expected, and the cold evil of the Victorian medical community....where scientific curiosity overrode common sense, human decency and public safety, how the search for knowledge led to amoral acts that would chill the blood of the most dedicated sadist.

Mr. Rollins is an author to watch. I look forward to reading more from him.

Highest possible recommendation.

Children of the Dark by Jonathan Janz

Children of the Dark - Jonathan Janz


Will Burgess is a kid used to the rough side of life. Raising his little sister with a mom who is mentally missing in action thanks to pharmaceutical fire, and an absentee father. Trying to survive his first year of high school, targeted by bullies....including one particularly vicious thug who happens to be dating the girl he can't get out of his head or his heart.
More than enough for any teenager.......but things are about to take a turn for the worst, with an escaped serial killer heading in his direction.......and something far worse lurking out in the woods.

Janz takes the coming of age story into horror territory with impressive results, melding his already well established ability to create characters that ring true, characters with heart and soul, that you can't help but feel empathy with, and his prodigious talent for monster mayhem.....and big props from this reviewer for his take on mythological creatures that have been personal favorites of mine since the first horror story I've ever read......the one that made me a fan of dark fiction for life.

This one reminded me of Dan Simmons' SUMMER OF NIGHT......but stripped down, built for speed....without giving up any of the horsepower. This one burns rubber, folks, and you'll want to take it for a spin.
Pre-order your copy here:

Highest possible recommendation.

I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Last Call by Sean Costello

Last Call - Sean Costello


A young woman's journey to reunite with the father she never knew has her crossing paths with a brutal serial killer.
This fast paced thriller is the definition of a page will leave your finger tips smoking as you are drawn into this incredibly engaging and brutal tale.
Sean Costello is a master craftsman, offering up solidly human characters, a maniac who is more horrifying for his reality (and the nasty hobby he uses to pick up spending cash), while weaving threads concerning addiction, broken families, love, forgiveness, recovery and redemption, adding a refreshing depth that is rarely found in the genre

Highly recommended. I will be eagerly awaiting Mr. Costello's next book, while hunting down his previous ones. He's that good.

The Reclusive One Picks Up a Win!

My esteemed colleague, Nev Murray over at Confessions of a Reviewer held a little story contest to celebrate the anniversary of his blog....and guess who won the grand prize?

The Reclusive One himself!

Check out my winning story, narrated by none other than Chris Barnes, along with the fantastic stories by the other winners, and while you're there, bookmark Confessions of a Reviewer for future reference. Nev is one of my go-to sources for rock solid recommendations, and enthusiastic, insightful reviews. He's one of the best around.
Check him out.
You'll thank me soon enough.

Confessions of a Reviewer

Many thanks to Nev, Jo and Chris for everything.

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