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




Beneath the Skin: The Sam Hunter Case Files by Jonathan Maberry

Beneath the Skin: The Sam Hunter Case Files - Jonathan Maberry

I'm a huge fan of horror fiction involving private investigators and occult detectives, so this collection really hit the spot.

Sam Hunter is a private investigator who happens to be a member of a long line of werewolves who battle evil in all it's forms. A line that got a pass from the Inquisition.
He treats his clients like one of his own, summons his wild side when things get hairy.....and always tries to eat before shifting.

With cases ranging from vampires and werewolf super soldiers, to a boogieman in a child's closet, Hunter won't give in until the fur stops flying.

And as an added bonus, there are appearances by Joe Ledger, Limbus Inc. and a visit to the town of Pine Deep!

Doorbells at Dusk: Halloween Stories edited by Evans Light

Doorbells at Dusk: Halloween Stories - Adam   Light, Gregor Xane, Josh Malerman, Jason  Parent, Evans Light

A stand out Halloween anthology that delivers a trick or treat bag full of tasty chills.
Editor Evans Light has gathered a coven of 14 excellent tales from some brilliant writers, and kept the quality high.

Personal favorites include:

THE FRIENDLY MAN by Thomas Vaughn, and
THE RYE MOTHER by Curtis Lawson

Highly recommended.

*I received a paperback ARC in exchange for an honest review*

They Feed by Jason Parent

They Feed - Jason  Parent

All Hell is about to break loose in Galveston State Park tonight, as a wrongly accused man, a woman bent on bloody revenge, and a bunch of frat boys out looking for trouble discover they aren't alone in the dark.
For there are things out there.
Things that shouldn't exist.
Things that defy description.

Jason Parent has written a masterful creature feature that keeps the tension high, the gore flowing, and offers up a unique pack of "What the Hell is that?!?" monstrosities that will keep you out of the woods on a permanent basis.

Highly recommended.

This was an eARC from Netgalley.

Saying Uncle by Greg F. Gifune

Saying Uncle - Greg F. Gifune

A powerful coming of age tale about family, the ties that bind and the secrets that sever them.

The Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Labyrinth of the Spirits - Carlos Ruiz Zafón

The final chapter in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series follows secret police investigator Alicia Gris, scarred body and soul, as she takes one final case, and finds herself following a deadly trail which begins with a rare book that leads her back into the shadows of Barcelona's dark past, to the horrors of Franco's fascist regime....and even greater evils that some will commit any act to keep hidden.
A brilliant literary thriller that captures a pitch perfect sense of time and place, along with a near Gothic atmosphere that wafts from the pages like fog and the scent of old books, while the tension ratchets up to garotte tautness.

I was drawn in by the first paragraph, and didn't come up for air until I reached the last page.

Highly recommended finale to a highly recommended series.

Thanks to HarperCollins for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Siren and The Specter by Jonathan Janz

The Siren and The Spectre (Fiction Without Frontiers) - Jonathan Janz

Jonathan Janz has penned a Laymonesque haunted house, that isn't right. What we have here is a purely Janzian ghost story, because no one writes like Jonathan Janz. At turns both bone chilling and gut wrenching, where the sins of the past return to taint the present, while leaving one guessing as to whose sins they are....and whose pasts.
An excellent addition to the sub-genre, tautly written, that will leave the reader guessing.....and sleeping with the lights on.

Highly recommended.

This was an eARC from Netgalley

The Woman in the Woods by John Connolly

The Woman in the Woods - John Connolly

When a tree falls in the Great North Woods, revealing the mummified body of a woman who apparently died in childbirth, it does more than make a tolls a death knell whose echoes reach far beyond the poor soul nestled in it's roots.
The discovery of the body moves lawyer Moxie Castin to an act of decency...hiring Charlie Parker to discover who this woman was, and to find her child.
Not the simplest of assignments, but Charlie could use something to occupy his mind, as Angel lies fighting for his life in a hospital bed, and Louis contemplates losing not only his lover, but the last shreds of his humanity.

Little does Charlie know that shadows are gathering.....a small boy is terrorized by a voice coming from his toy phone in the dead of night, beckoning him into the woods....and a couple who seek the lost woman for other reasons; he, a dapper killer who claims to be older than he appears, searching for something that will end his existence; her, a lethal sociopath who leaves the scent of corruption wherever she goes.
They're on the trail too, leaving pain and death in their wake.

This one had me considering mortality, my own and that of others, from many viewpoints.

Connolly only gets better and better, the proof of this is not only in the longevity of the series, but the fact that his characters evolve naturally as time passes, growing older, but aging well.

Highly recommended.

The Nameless Dark by T.E. Grau

The Nameless Dark: A Collection - T.E. Grau, Nathan Ballingrud

T.E. Grau offers up an impressive collection of weird tales, bringing a fresh, new and compelling voice to the classic sub-genre. These stories will haunt you into the deep hours of the night...and they will have you thinking the rest of the time.

T.E. Grau is an author to watch.

Highly recommended.

Bone White by Ronald Malfi

Bone White - Ronald Malfi

Bone White has done something that few thrillers have done to me in years....left me white knuckled. With a chilling atmosphere that has one Hell of a lot more going for it than just the temperature in the aptly named town of Dread's Hand, Alaska.

With a deft hand, Malfi weaves a contemporary thriller with primal fear, paying homage, in my humble opinion, to Algernon Blackwood and his classic The Wendigo. And raising the bar, not to mention the hairs on the back of my neck in the process.


Highly recommended.

The Fisherman by John Langan

The Fisherman - John Langan

Abe and Dan, coworkers, with nothing in common but their grief, find the bond of friendship and solace in the peaceful hobby of fishing the streams in upstate New York. Then Dan suggests Dutchman's Creek. Although Abe is unfamiliar with this waterway, he is more than willing to give it a go.
When one of the locals hears of their interest, he feels the need to tell them the legend of Dutchman's Creek, and why it is avoided.
Assuming it's no more than a colorful piece of folklore, a fish story as it were, they head for Dutchman's Creek......where they find a darkness deeper than any body of water, one that promises for a price.

Langan has written a fantastic novel, at turns achingly human, and gutwrenchingly horrifying. A grand tale of cosmic folklore that would have done Algernon Blackwood or Arthur Machen proud.

Highest possible recommendation.

Obscura by Joe Hart

Obscura - Joe Hart

In the not so distant future, a lethal pandemic of unknown origin is sweeping the planet. A virulent form of dementia that spreads unchecked to people of all ages, with fatal results. The leading researcher into the contagion, driven by the loss of her husband to this plague, and the heartbreaking signs that her young daughter may be next, finds herself succumbing to addiction as her funding dries up. When an old friend offers her a chance at obtaining unlimited funding for her research, she jumps at the chance.....but there is a catch. NASA has developed a teleportation device that may be the key to interstellar travel, but the test subjects are falling victim to a similar affliction. All she has to do is travel to their space station, help discover a cure, and everything she needs to save her daughter, and the human race, will be hers for the asking.
It's an offer too good to pass up.
But things are not what they are advertised to be, as another form of death stalks the station, and deception shadows everything and everyone involved. She finds herself struggling with demons both internal and external as she struggles to accomplish her mission and save the one thing that means the world to her.

Hart enters the arena once ruled by Michael Crichton with this engaging thriller, and proves himself more than a match for the past master of science based thrillers, bringing a powerful human factor to his tale, along with lingering questions about the fate of the human race in the face of evolving biological threats, corporate dirty dealing, and the dark underbelly of medical ethics.....along with a talent for sustained white knuckle suspense.

Highly recommended.

This was an eARC from Netgalley.

Ramskull by William Meikle

Ramskull - William Meikle

It started out as a simple nuisance call...a bit of sheep worrying according to a cantankerous old farmer on the remote island of Leita. For Sergeant Dave Wilkes, it was a chance to get out from under some excess paperwork, nothing more. Along with an over eager young constable, he heads out to the island, expecting no more than a day out of the office.

He's going to wish he never left the mainland.

What they find is a community abandoned....signs of horrific violence, some of which disappears in the blink of an eye. When they discover they have been cut off from any and all assistance, or even leaving the island, Sergeant Wilkes sets out to solve the mystery....only to discover that an ancient evil, long forgotten....a force twice thought laid to rest centuries before by one familiar with the powers of darkness, has broken loose once more. An entity that calls out to the unwary, with a power that can't be denied or stopped by bell, book, candle or firearm....a bloodthirsty horror that only Sergeant Wilkes stands against in it's bid to leave Leita and contaminate the entire world.

Grand atmospheric horror with a fine sense of place from Scotland's greatest horror author.

Highly recommended.

Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton

Hangover Square - Patrick Hamilton

George Harvey Bone is a down on his luck fellow, infatuated with the lovely, yet heartless Netta Longdon, an actress whose only interest in George is taking advantage of his good natured generosity.
But George has a secret. He's slipping into the grip of schizophrenia, suffering blackouts when he has a completely different attitude towards Netta.....he needs to kill her. What follows is the tale of George's downward spiral, as his sanity degenerates and his mental duality battles for control.

Set in 1930s London, Hamilton offers us a bleak view of the lower classes, the drunks, the unemployed and the shiftless, written in engaging prose that may be some of the finest writing I've encountered in quite some time. While his grasp of the facts about schizophrenia may not be completely accurate, he still manages to capture George's descent into madness with a nightmarish quality that rings true, not to mention his ability to transport readers to the less savory side of Earl's Court as war looms on the horizon.

A true classic that should be on every reader's book shelf.

Highest possible recommendation.

The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp

The Last Days of Jack Sparks - Jason Arnopp

Unexpected, unreliable and unputdownable, this one had me laughing out loud....then glancing over my shoulder at the shadows. Equal parts smart, sarcastic and spooky as Hell.

Highly recommended!

Death in the Air by Kate Winkler Dawson

Death in the Air: The True Story of a Serial Killer, the Great London Smog, and the Strangling of a City - Kate Winkler Dawson

In December of 1952, a brutal winter and inferior heating coal collided with London's infamous fogs to produce a killer smog so lethal, it took the lives of thousands and literally strangled a city. Meanwhile, serial killer John Reginald Christie was adding to the body count, hiding his victims about his home and property.
Kate Winkler Dawson does a masterful job of weaving the stories of these two different harbingers of death on the streets of London, and displaying how each impacted that city in near equal measure, and left their filthy fingerprints on the pages of it's history.
Extensively researched and beautifully written, this book proves that history can be as engaging as any fictional work.

Highly recommended.


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.

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