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.

Professional Reader80%Reviews PublishedChallenge Participant

2016 NetGalley Challenge

 

 

 

The Rim of Morning: Two Tales of Cosmic Horror by William Sloane

The Rim of Morning: Two Tales of Cosmic Horror - Stephen King, William Sloane Kennedy

 

This omnibus edition, contains the short novels To Walk The Night (1937) and The Edge of Running Water (1939), the only long fiction output of forgotten author William Sloane (1906-1974). The reissue of these novels is long overdue, and cause for celebration.
Despite their age, these stories are a breath of fresh air...remarkable works that casually ignore genre boundaries, allowing the stories to go where they must, moving from mystery, to science fiction, to horror with subtle ease.
From the mysterious burning death of a college professor in To Walk The Night, to a widower's attempt to contact his late wife via an electric "seance" machine in The Edge of Running Water, Sloane tells his tales rationally, in a clear and concise prose style that is refreshingly accessible and vastly more chilling, with the kind of snappy, smart dialogue that has become so rare in fiction these days, just the right dash of humor and pacing that is damn near pitch perfect.
The only downside is that these are the only novels Sloane ever wrote. Truly a shame.

Highest possible recommendation for all fans of engaging, well written fiction.

Trivia Tidbit: The Edge of Running Water was adapted into the Boris Karloff film The Devil Commands (Columbia Pictures, 1941)



After The Fog Clears by Lee Thompson

After The Fog Clears - Lee  Thompson

 

Lee Thompson is a master at what I call "empathic noir". He knows his characters....the good, the bad, and the broken souls that populate his stories....and he shares that connection with his readers like no other author in my memory.
And his grasp of the trappings of noir itself is equally good. He knows the terrain, and his voice is strong as he guides you through the dark labyrinth of his tales, no matter how twisted, without a misstep.
This particular offering is another fine example of his talents, a dark gem that misses being flawless simply for the lack of a larger canvas to give it the room it needed.

Highly recommended

Expected publication: February 2016 by DarkFuse

This was an eARC from Netgalley

An English Ghost Story by Kim Newman

An English Ghost Story - Kim Newman

Imagine a house that was haunted before there was a house to haunt.....

Newman brings his unique vision to this slow burning tale of a family that finds itself in the presence of supernatural forces of unknown intent.
So subtle as to be nearly subliminal, this almost psychological haunting will keep you wondering if the ghosts ate having a negative effect on the family.....the family is having a negative effect on the ghosts, or possibly both, as things spin inexorably from the creepy to the weird.




Birthdays for the Dead by Stuart MacBride

Birthdays for the Dead - Stuart MacBride


This book is a stripped down muscle car, roaring with unbridled horsepower, racing like the literary equivalent of Steve McQueen in BULLITT through dark territory, pedal to the metal without headlights, questionable brakes and Steve himself at the wheel, taking the story through it's paces, hitting every twist and turn like a pro, ricocheting off the curves, pieces flying, until the very end, when the reader crawls out of the smoking wreck, soaked in sweat, twitching like a junkie.....and ready for another ride.

No one writes like Stuart MacBride. Not only does he imbue every word with pure Scottish attitude, he captures the heart of noir in it's essence......the road to redemption and the highway to Hell are sometimes one and the same, and the most you can hope for is to arrive at either destination.....bloodied and broken but alive.

Highest possible recommendation.

Submerged by Thomas F. Monteleone

Submerged - Caniglia, Thomas F. Monteleone

 

In the final days of World War II, an experimental submarine, the U-5001 slips out of the sub pens of Trondheim under the cover of darkness.....it's mission secret, sinister and potentially suicidal.

70 years later, ex-Navy diver Dexter McCauley and his friends stumble upon an unknown vessel in the depths of Chesapeake Bay.

When Dexter tries to unravel the secret behind the mysteriously scuttled submarine, he contacts his old associates in the US Navy.......inadvertently attracting the attention of a secret, world spanning cabal that knows all about the U-5001, it's secret mission.....and suspects that it holds the key to even greater secrets.....secrets that suggest that Lovecraft's mythos may not have been a fever dream....and will stop at nothing to obtain them.

No one writes like Thomas F. Monteleone, expertly blending history fact and fiction with a subtle dose of the supernatural, and engaging, fully formed characters, into a perfectly paced retro thriller that raise the bar for the sub-genre.

Highly recommended.

Expected publication: March 1st 2016 by Samhain Publishing Ltd.

This was an eARC from Netgalley.

Method 15/33 by Shannon Kirk

Method 15/33 - Shannon Kirk

 

As a pregnant teenage girl struggles to survive the clutches of an abductor with a deadly agenda......a teenage girl who has some secrets of her own.....an unbreakable will to survive, a mother's fierce instinct to protect her unborn child, and the brilliant, analytical mind....of a born sociopath.

Kirk deftly transforms the formula into a fast paced ticking time bomb of a tale, as two deadly predators are locked in a battle of wills, while a pair of FBI agents race against the clock.

As sleek and sharp as a razor, this is a must read for every thriller fan, particularly those who think they've seen it all.

Highest possible recommendation.


The Return of Reclusive Reads

Let's face it....2015 was not a banner year for me on the reading and reviewing front. I started out with my usual boyish exuberance, diving into my TBR pile like a fat kid into a pool full of Milk Duds. But, somewhere along the line, I stumbled. Began doubting my abilities as a reviewer, losing my enthusiasm for the one true joy in my life. The stumble became an uncontrolled skid. Juggling two jobs, marathon insomnia and family issues, my concentration suffered.....and the skid became a full blown train wreck. I couldn't give the books the attention they deserved.....and there is no greater sin than that.

Things slowly got back to as close to normal as they ever were in the asylum that is my life over the last few weeks, and I started picking through the wreckage, catching up on the reviews I had let slip through my fingers. I'm haven't cleared all the debris yet, but I've made some headway, and will continue to do so. The books, and their authors are worth my best efforts.

Which brings us to 2016, and the reason for this little confession......Reclusive Reads is back in the game. And I'm asking for my followers assistance to help me raise the bar back where it belongs.
If there is something I've done that you like, let me know. And if I do something that you hate, give me a shout. If there is anything you'd like to see from me, let me know. I'm open to suggestions from one and all.

Thanks in advance, and Happy New Year!

My Favorite Reads of 2015





These were my favorite reads of 2015, in a particular disorder that pleases me for reasons that escape even me. Click on the cover to see my review of these highly recommended works.


Happy New Year!
May 2016 fill your shelves with the books that you will cherish for all the days of your lives!

Bryant & May and the Burning Man by Christopher Fowler

Bryant and May and the Burning Man - Christopher Fowler

 

As a scandal rocks the banks of London, and the streets erupt as divergent groups of protesters descend upon the City, a killer strikes, wielding fire in a vengeful plot that will end in flames on Guy Fawkes Night.
The 12th installment of the Bryant and May Peculiar Crimes Unit series, featuring the most enigmatic and entertaining duo in mystery, keeps the bar Fowler raised in book one high, balancing the duos signature old school, sometimes off the beaten path style of detection with a mystery that is "ripped from the headlines" contemporary....and no less off the beaten path.

Highly recommended, along with the entire series.

This was an eARC from NetGalley

Sour Candy by Kealan Patrick Burke

Sour Candy - Kealan Patrick Burke

 

For Phil Pendleton, a relatively happy man running an errand at his local WalMart, his encounter with a frazzled mother and her spoiled child was just business as usual at the world's most famous chain asylum.
But Phil is wrong, for his normal life is about to spin out of control, taking Reality with it, as he finds himself facing something unspeakable from the mists of legend and folklore, something that will cost him his sanity and his life.......
Kealan Patrick Burke offers up a truly chilling novella, one that reads like a modern version of the Brothers Grimm, but this is no cautionary tale for children. This is a warning for adults, distilling the legend of the changeling, a dash of Chambers and just a hint of Machen into a potent literary "dram" that is pure Burke, pure genius and powerful enough to knock you flat........only to get up and reach for the "bottle' again.

The man is that good.....and he's getting better with every story and every word he writes.

Night Music: Nocturnes Volume 2 by John Connolly

Night Music: Nocturnes Volume Two - John Connolly

 

A new John Connolly book is always an event, and his latest collection is no exception.
Having already proven himself a master of Dark Fiction, it goes without saying that the short tales of horror here are all gems....dark, compelling and powerful journeys into the shadows that will thrill and chill any horror fan. Connolly's homage to the sub-genre of forbidden texts, The Fractured Atlas-Five Fragments alone is worth the price of admission.

But.....the crown jewels of this collection are something completely different, unexpected gifts for the book lovers in us all.
With the novella, The Caxton Private Lending Library and Book Depository, and it's companion short story, Holmes on the Range: A Tale of the Caxton Private Lending Library and Book Depository, Connolly has outdone himself, creating a special place where the characters of literature appear once their creators have passed away. In my opinion, the very best stories, in any genre, are works of imagination and originality, true classics inspire the imaginations of their readers. These are true classics, in every sense of the word....a heartfelt gift from Mr. Connolly, not only to the authors and books that inspired him, but to every lover of books...giving us a place that we would give anything to visit....and that fills our dreams, wondering who else may be wandering about there. I will be returning to these stories often, as often as I've returned to The Caxton in my mind.

And finally, we come to I Live Here, an autobiographical essay where Mr. Connolly shares the books and authors that inspired him, told with a delightful candor, humor and even a chill from unexpected places.

It goes without saying, my highest possible recommendation.

This was an eARC from Netgalley, offered in exchange for an honest review.

Lost Girl byAdam Nevill

Lost Girl - Adam Nevill

 

In a near future England, caught in the upheaval of the ongoing apocalyptic changes brought on by global warming....rising ocean levels, shifting weather patterns, the European populace in flux, famine, plagues, a collapsing infrastructure, and rampant crime....a little girl vanishes from her yard, and her father sets out to find her, at any cost.

An interesting thriller, well written, with a few striking moments and images that linger in the reader's mind.....yet, in my opinion, fails to engage any empathy at all. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge vigilante/hero/anti-hero fan, but the father character simply doesn't connect on any emotional level. He goes from mildly despicable to a faceless non-entity going through the motions, paying lip service instead of viscerally reacting to what he witnesses and what he does to find his child.


Expected publication: October 22nd 2015 by Macmillan


This was an eARC from Netgalley.

Blood, Bones and Bullets by Tim Curran

Blood, Bones and Bullets - Tim Curran

 

This triple threat of terror from one of the most imaginative authors working in horror today features a trio of novellas that twist the familiar tropes of terror into tales that redefine horror.

From the The Puppet Graveyard, where you will meet the ghastliest dummy in the history of ventriloquism....to the forgotten things that exist beneath the lowest level of a mine in The Underdwelling....to the unspeakable shadow that stalks the cell block after lights out in Fear Me, Curran delivers tales that are refreshingly unexpected.

Highest possible recommendation

Happy Birthday to the Master of Quiet Horror: Charles L. Grant

 

 

Worlds of Hurt by Brian Hodge

Worlds of Hurt - Brian Hodge

 

In Worlds of Hurt, Brian Hodge, horror's "green thumb", has entered the garden where the myth trees grow, and from among the roots of many legends, he has cultivated his own tree, one that has borne very strange fruit...the Misbegotten Mythos.
Woven into the history of our world, these collected tales are visceral yet illuminating, for Mr. Hodge has offered up something deep, dark and brutal in it's honesty.
For his demons.....are purely human.
Appetites without remorse, without empathy, without conscience. Unleashed from the bonds of mortality by something unspeakable, but human all the same.
Raw, powerful and purely "Hodgian".....this collection is highly recommended for those who like their horror deep, literary, and as wet as wet can be.




Blood and Rain by Glenn Rolfe

Blood and Rain - Glenn Rolfe

 

Years ago, a small town sheriff ended a reign of terror with a bullet and an unmarked grave.
Now, when the full moon rises, something has come to finish the bloodbath with feral ferocity and unspeakable fury.

An engaging addition to the werewolf canon that stumbles a bit pace-wise from a feeling of repetition in the early going, but manages to find it's feet and deliver it's share of lycanthropic lunacy.

Rolfe is coming into his own, with a descriptive style that lingers with you long after you finish reading. Definitely a writer to watch.

I received an e-copy of this book in return for an honest review.

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