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 Devils of D-Day by Graham Masterton

Devils Of D Day - Graham Masterton

In July of 1944, 13 mysterious black Allied tanks crossed the bridge into the village of Le Vey, Normandy, and laid waste to the Germans.

12 of those tanks vanished into the mists of history.

The 13th lies rusting where it stopped. And after 35 years it remains, welded shut, sealed with a crucifix and given wide berth by the locals.

Until Dan McCook, an American cartographer making maps of the area for a book on World War II, becomes fascinated by the old relic....and inadvertently unleashes a demonic force intent on reuniting the 13. To wage a war that will bring Hell on Earth.

Masterton flips the old standby of "Nazis tampering with the occult" and drops the responsibility for supernatural weapons on the Allies in this fast, fun read.

Recommended for fans of old school horror.

The Buzzard Zone by Ronald Kelly

The Buzzard Zone - Ronald Kelly

An unknown parasite brings the human race to it's knees....transforming the living into ravenous Biters, ambulatory undead vehicles of infestation and certain death.
The only warning that they are coming....monstrous flocks of buzzards that follow the swarming Biters....feeding on the carnage they leave in their wake.

And people aren't the only living things susceptible to the plague.

Levi Hobbs and his family have managed to survive in his childhood home in the Smoky Mountains. But when their luck finally runs out and the Biters find them, they are forced to flee east, seeking a new safe haven.

But safe places are few and far between. And the Biters aren't the only threat on the road to sanctuary.

Along the way, they will find survivors, decent people fighting for their lives.....and predators who prey on them.

Will they find a place to make a life in a world gone mad......or a place to make a last stand against the inevitable?

Ronald Kelly has written a tense, superior zombie thriller, peopled with characters that are perfectly imperfect. Each bearing the traumas of their own pasts, traumas that surface as the trauma of their battle for survival takes it's toll. Add in a welcome dose of true humanity, and country common sense, you can't help but feel for them....and in doing so, feel the horror of their plight that much more.

And let's not forget appearances by folks that fans of the horror community will recognize immediately.

Ronald Kelly is back....and better than ever.

Highly recommended.

The Tribe by Bari Wood

The Tribe - Bari Wood

A well written thriller concerning the mysterious survivors of the Belzec death camp during World War II, and the deadly secret that protects them still 40 years later.

Interesting use of Jewish folklore in a contemporary setting, but reads more like a thriller, or horror lite.

3.5 stars

The Window by Glenn Rolfe

The Window - Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, Glenn Rolfe

After the divorce of his parents, James Curry finds himself torn away from the town he grew up in, his friends, the girl he loves, saddled with a stepfather he can't stand....and worst of all, missing his dad.

When his mom finally caves in, and allows him to spend the last month of summer vacation back home with his father, James is thrilled to see his old friends, his girl, and his dad.

But things haven't been going well for his father. Not for a while. In ways that James finds increasingly disturbing. Turning to his friends for help, he unwittingly puts them all in mortal danger from forces none of them can accept or believe.

Rolfe has written an engaging coming of age horror novel, peopled with believable, fully fleshed characters, a wonderful retro 80's feel, and unrelenting terror that he unleashes on the reader with both barrels.

Highly recommended.

Mister Jack by Chris Kosarich

Mister Jack - Chris Kosarich

When three teens set out on Halloween night to revive an old tradition, vandalizing a house on the outskirts of town....a house that belongs to an old woman who some believe is a witch, and most believe to have passed away decades ago, they are in for a shock. For the old woman is alive and well and appears to have been expecting them. The question of whether or not she is a witch remains to be seen.

She greets her visitors with reasonable grace...and a shotgun, then offers to tell them the true story of an urban legend named Mister Jack....and changing four lives forever.

A pitch perfect tale of Halloween, which Kosarich masterfully crafts to touch upon both the classic oral tradition of storytelling and the EC comics style of supernatural revenge stories.

A perfect story for Halloween night....or any night you need a little dose of the Halloween spirit.

Chris Kosarich is an author to watch....I recommend keeping an eye on him.

Highly recommended.

Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker

Dracul - Clive Barker, Dacre Stoker

Bram Stoker's DRACULA is the iconic cornerstone of vampire fiction and horror literature in general.
Frequently imitated, constantly recreated, never duplicated.

But what inspired Stoker to create the most infamous, immortal vampire of all time? His great-grand nephew, Dacre Stoker and co-author J.D. Barker have the answer.

DRACUL is a prequel of sorts to Bram Stoker's DRACULA, based upon the 100 or so pages edited from the original manuscript and Bram's own notes....and, I hope, a great deal of fiction. Because this one brings back the Gothic creep factor of the original in spades....Hell, it's using earth moving equipment.

While growing up in Dublin, 7 year old Bram was a sickly child. Until his nanny Ellen Crone took over his treatment. Brought back literally from Death's doorway, Bram begins to a series of mysterious deaths in the village all seem to be connected to Ellen, whose odd behavior has become a subject of concern for Bram and his sister Matilda.....especially when the nanny suddenly vanishes without a trace.

Years later, Matilda would bring news to Bram that she has seen Ellen Crone again....and a nightmarish horror from the past descends upon them once more.

A heady Gothic blend of fact, fiction and Irish folklore, DRACUL earns the right to be shelved with the original DRACULA, while Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker deserve kudos for creating a literary horror novel that brings depth to Bram's original masterpiece, while still being strong enough to stand on it's own.

I received this hardcover ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Many thanks to Ken Kusisto and G.P. Putnam's Sons for the opportunity.

The Widow by Fiona Barton

The Widow - Fiona Barton

A thoroughly engaging mystery/thriller concerning a missing little girl, the prime suspect who suddenly dies in an accident, and the one person who may hold the key to what truly happened...the suspect's widow.
Expertly weaving between the past and the present, through the viewpoints of the grieving mother of the missing child, the man suspected of the kidnapping, his widow, the detective who has dedicated his career to the case, and an investigative reporter willing to do anything to capture the headlines, the story grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go until the final page.
And it kept me guessing the entire way.
A truly remarkable debut novel. I'll be back for more.
Highly recommended.

The Lesser Dead by Christopher Buehlman

The Lesser Dead - Christopher Buehlman

In 1978, New York City was a dark, dangerous place.
Evil walked the night streets. Every night.
Lurking among the human predators, there are vampires.
And something worse.

The Lesser Dead is a stunningly original and chilling addition to the vampire mythos, set in a time and place that was the perfect hunting ground..... the deep tunnels below New York, where even the homeless fear to tread, the hidden places within bridges, the castle in Central Park....all the places where angels feared to tread....and actually exist.

Buehlman pumps new blood into vampire lore, with disturbing variations on the undead, and their survival habits.

A must-read for vampire fans, or any horror looking for something different.

Highly recommended.

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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.

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Hanging Hill by Mo Hayder

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