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 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.....

Love.

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 time.....one 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: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01B...

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 turner....it 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 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.


Currently reading

Magic by William Goldman
Hell's Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness, Butcher of Men by Harold Schechter
The Frighteners: 25th Anniversary Edition by Pete Kahle, Stephen Laws

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