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




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.

A Coin For Charon by Dallas Mullican

A Coin for Charon (Marlowe Gentry Book 1) - Dallas Mullican


Seraphim: a serial killer, who believes he has been chosen to free the suffering from their pain, is on a random rampage of unspeakable mercy killings.
Marlowe Gentry: a detective who had his life, family and career shattered by another serial killer, and is struggling to gather the pieces back together as he seeks redemption through revenge by proxy.
Been there, done that, right?
Yes, but not like this. Not by a long shot.
Mullican's debut thriller raises the bar on the genre, populated by a cast of characters, major and minor......the good, the bad, and the completely psycho, that the reader can connect with on an empathic level. Hell, even the Seraphim is disturbingly human, three dimensional and accessible on an emotional level....a unique quality among fictional serial killers, who are generally one dimensional screwballs with a catchy hook, and the real ones, who usually have the personalities of linoleum.
Combine this with a solid police procedural, a dash of "good cop gone rogue", psychological thriller and just a whisper of an "otherness" that is reminiscent of John Connolly, and you wind up with a novel that is a cut above the pack.
It don't get much better than that.

Dallas Mullican is an author to watch, and I am anxiously anticipating his next book.

Many thanks to my esteemed colleague, Nev Murray (Confessions of a Reviewer) for the recommendation.

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'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 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

Currently reading

The Hunger by Alma Katsu
Bone White by Ronald Malfi

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