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 Prophet by Michael Koryta

The Prophet - Michael Koryta

A compelling thriller concerning two estranged brothers who have taken different paths to deal with a shared personal tragedy....forced to come together when a young girl is murdered by someone out to test their limits.
Koryta nails the personalities of the brothers, their troubled relationship, and how they deal with personal loss flawlessly. And keeps the suspense on high burn, creating a thriller that will keep you guessing....with an ending that strikes hard and true.

Highly recommended thriller by one of the best in the business.

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

The Broken Girls - Simone St. James

An excellent murder mystery/ghost story centered around the ruins of a former school for unwanted girls known as Idlewild Hall. The mystery is engaging, moving between the 1950s and the present, and the ghost story has a marvelously creepy urban legend vibe.

Highly recommended.

Evil Whispers by Owl Goingback

Evil Whispers - Owl Goingback

A group of Seminole warriors raid a village of runaway slaves to put an end to an insane bokor who has been sacrificing their children for his twisted voodoo rituals.....scattering his remains in the dark waters of the Florida swamps.

His evil should have ended there.

But, over a century later, a family of tourists will arrive at the Blackwater Fishing Camp on vacation, and inadvertently unleash the spirit of Mansa Du Paul....and transform their little girl into the vessel that will gather his bones together so that he may walk among the living again.

Only one lone Seminole, Jimmy Cypress, a former warrior who turned to the path of the medicine man in order to watch over the final resting place of Mansa Du Paul and contain his evil, knows what has broken loose in Blackwater. But will the ways of his people be enough to stop the growing powers of a voodoo priest whose powers have been growing in the dark waters of the swamp....and save the life of a little girl whose blood may be the key to his resurrection?

Goingback writes a fast paced horror novel that delivers the chills, and a native's view of all the different versions of Florida that exist....from the Kingdom of the Rat that is Disney's legacy ( I'm still laughing at that phrase), to the darker side of the state and the problems brought by the locusts known as tourists......and then raising the bar with a festering supernatural evil that lurks in places where one least expects it.

Highly recommended.

The Corruption of Alston House by John Quick

The Corruption of Alston House - John Quick

Seeking to turn the page after a devastating personal tragedy, Katherine Ransom impulsively purchases Alston House, a partially restored Victorian, on the outskirts of the small town of Poplar Bend, Tennessee.
Although it was obvious the old pile still needed a lot of work, Katherine remains unfazed....after all, she'd gotten it for a song. And she could work on her art while the contractors handled whatever was required.
But her new beginning isn't as bright as she'd hoped.

Old houses have histories, a mix of life's joys and sorrows.

Alston House's history is one of human depravity.....and it's still festering after all these years.

A few people in town know exactly what Katherine has walked into....and are willing to let her face the consequences.

She won't be the first, or the last.

John Quick has written a solid, slow burn of a haunted house tale, exploring the depths of human evil, and the dark secrets that, once the whispering begins, lead from denial to other forms of human evil.

The Deep Blue Good-by by John D. MacDonald

The Deep Blue Good-By - John D. MacDonald

It's easy to see why Travis McGee's legend endures. He's a white knight in tarnished armor, a decent man who lives by his own moral code and personal philosophy on the outside of society, on a houseboat called The Busted Flush.
No stereotypical P.I., he's a self described "salvage expert" who will find what was taken from the innocent...for half of what he retrieves.
Although a character of his time and place, Fort Lauderdale, Florida in the 1960s, he is more timeless than dated, in my opinion.

Highly recommended.

Painted by Kirsten McKenzie

PAINTED: A Horror Novel - Kirsten McKenzie

When art appraiser Anita Cassatt arrives at the mansion of the late Leo Kubin, a reclusive painter and art collector, she finds paintings on every wall of nearly every room.
Undaunted, she begins cataloguing, alone, until her associates arrive in a few days.

But there are a few things she doesn't know about this seemingly straightforward assignment.

Leo Kubin left very specific instructions concerning how the paintings are to be handled with his attorney....who has passed away, leaving his law offices in the hands of his son. Who has higher aspirations than the final wishes of senile old recluses. He dismisses the instructions as a waste of money and time, never informing Anita.

Who may not actually be alone in that house....

Kirsten McKenzie has written an atmospheric tale that feeds off that unsettling feeling many get when surrounded by portraits....that sense of being watched, and delivers a solid modern Gothic ghost story. Definitely an author to watch.

This was an e-ARC from Netgalley.

Midnight in the Graveyard edited by Kenneth W. Cain

Midnight in the Graveyard - Jeremy Hepler, Chad Lutzke, Kenneth W. Cain, Jonathan Janz, Kealan Patrick Burke, John Everson, Elizabeth Massie, William Meikle, Thomas F. Monteleone, Robert R. McCammon

Every once in a while, and those whiles seem to be getting longer, there are anthologies that simply blow you away. You know the ones....DARK FORCES edited by Kirby McCauley, and Charles L. Grant's SHADOWS series being two that are close to my heart. Collections of stories that defy the odds, not a misstep in the bunch.....the ones that offer you unforgettable tales by authors you know, and tales by authors new to you, authors whose work you will seek out in the future.

MIDNIGHT IN THE GRAVEYARD, the premiere anthology from Silver Shamrock Publishing, is one of those books.

25 stories by authors who are household names (in decent, literate households), a few actual legends, the best of the crew that have taken over the reins, and some new voices you simply must hear.....because each one is that damn good.

Some personal favorites (because your mileage may vary) include:

DEVIL'S DIP by Shannon Felton

TUG O' WAR by Chad Lutzke

DROWN by Hunter Shea


COOL FOR CATS by William Meikle

SAWMILL ROAD by Ronald Kelly

THE GLIMMER GIRLS by Kenneth McKinley

THE RING OF TRUTH by Thomas F. Monteleone

THE GRAVEDIGGER'S STORY by Kathryn Meyer Griffith

THE PUTPOCKET by Alan M. Clark

SWAMP VENGEANCE by Brian Moreland

This book resets the bar for horror anthologies, and is a must have/must read for every fan of the ghostly and horror in general.

Highest possible recommendation.

*I received an e-ARC from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. Well, here it is.*

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

The Only Good Indians - Stephen Graham Jones

When four young members of the Blackfeet Nation decide to hunt on reservation land reserved for tribal elders, it costs them the right to hunt on reservation land ever again.

Ten years later, they will learn the price is much higher than that. And they won't be the only ones to pay it.

For prey has become the hunter. Maternal instinct fuels unrelenting vengeance as a nature spirit rises from a killing field to balance the scales.

A brilliant, literary Native American horror novel that is incredibly empathetic to both the hunters and that which hunts them

Highly recommended.

This was an eARC from Netgalley.

Expected publication: April 7th 2020 by Gallery/Saga Press

The Surgeon's Mate: A Dismemoir by Alan M. Clark

The Surgeon's Mate: A Dismemoir - Alan M. Clark

When artist and author Aiden, already struggling with his own demons, contracts a brain infection, his life becomes a nightmare as he finds his mind invaded by a malignancy from across time and space.......a damaged maniac named Frederick living in 1800's London. As awareness of each other grows, the serial killer revels in sharing his crimes with Aiden, striking in the shadow cast by London's other monster....Jack the Ripper.
As Aiden battles to free his mind, his terror grows as Frederick's insanity begins seeping into his life, endangering his family.
Clark blends autobiography with the historical, fictional and factual, and psychological thriller, creating a unique piece of dark fiction that is powerfully emotional, at turns heartbreaking and horrifying.
Highly recommended.

Devil in the Darkness by Archie Roy

Devil In The Darkness - Archie Roy

A sudden snowstorm in the Scottish Highlands strands a newly married couple in a crumbling Victorian mansion known as Ardvreck House, along with a team of paranormal investigators and demolition experts already there, seeking proof that the mansion is haunted before the old pile is reduced to rubble.
Archie Roy, a noted astronomer and physical researcher, brings a sane, scientific approach to the haunted house genre, without losing an ounce of atmosphere or dread. And avoiding the cocksure, self serving/self promoting nonsense that oozes from such 'paranormal investigators' as the Warrens. The suspense steadily mounts without being bogged down by the dry tone scientific writing has been known to be plagued with.

Originally published in 1978 and brought to America for the first time by Valancourt Books (Where do they find these wonderful lost gems?)

A Parliament of Crows by Alan M. Clark

A Parliament of Crows - Alan M. Clark

An engaging work of historical fiction based on the true crimes of the Wardlaw sisters, three women whose survival instincts, honed in the Civil War, proved to be deadly to other family members....including small children. Until the death of a daughter/niece finally brought them to the attention of the law.

Clark brings empathy and a depth to this novel that one rarely finds in true crime accounts, recreating the pivotal moments of these women's lives leading to their downfall.....and offering a look into their minds, the unholy bond that drove them, and displaying the personalities that turned these three sisters into a singular deadly whole...a triad of black widows acting as one.
Finally, he offers a look into the trial that ended their spree, and sent them into a self destructive spiral as stress induced insanity shattered their unholy union.

A brilliant piece of fact based historical fiction. Highly recommended.

A Book of Bones: Charlie Parker # 17 by John Connolly

A Book of Bones: A Charlie Parker Thriller: 17.  From the No. 1 Bestselling Author of THE WOMAN IN THE WOODS - John Connolly

When a body left in a remote Arizona dump to throw off law enforcement is found too soon, Charlie Parker realizes that Pallida Mors is alive......and it's time to put an end to her, her master Quayle and the book known as the Fractured Atlas.

Aided by the FBI, Charlie follows the pair's trail, from Arizona, to the Netherlands and finally London.
But not alone.
Where Charlie goes, a healing Louis follows, seeking his pound of flesh from the deadly duo. And where Louis walks, Angel, staggering under the effects of chemotherapy, is beside him.

While, in England, human sacrifices are being left at pagan sites.....spilling fresh blood and awakening old Quayle seeks the final key to unleash the power of the Fractured Atlas....a power that is already leaving tears in reality, letting creatures of myth and nightmares spawned in the minds of the insane to cross over....leaving more death in their wake.

And others are in the hunt, powerful individuals who want the Atlas at any cost.

The final race has begun.......and in America, two special little girls stand together on opposite sides of the veil between life and death, watching as their father faces a force that must be stopped at any cost.

With this, the 17th installment of the Parker series, Connolly has let loose with a steamroller of a thriller, overflowing with human evil and supernatural forces.....packed with cursed books, amoral evil, and England's rich past of human history and it's connections to the occult.

This one is a monster of a novel, and a must-read addition to one of the must-read series ever written.

This was an eARC from Netgalley and Atria/Emily Bestler Books.

Expected publication: October 15th, 2019 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books.

Beyond The Gate (A Kathy Ryan Novel Book 3) by Mary SanGiovanni

Beyond the Gate (A Kathy Ryan Novel Book 3) - Mary SanGiovanni

When the theoretical research group, with a shady reputation opens a dimensional doorway to another world....a world where only plant life thrives, it is a discovery of unlimited potential.
None of it good.
The discovery of a dead city on this silent world ends in tragedy, as the first research team to cross dimensions vanishes....and a scientist connected to the project falls prey to an infestation that haunts the minds of hardened police detectives.
The corporation hires occult investigator Kathy Ryan to spearhead a rescue mission across the barrier....but their true intentions have little to do with rescue. And Kathy finds herself thrust into a world beyond the veil, joined by a team of non-volunteers, to explore a dead city that doesn't lie still. Where a horror older than time waits.
Mary SanGiovanni spins an engaging horror/thriller that weaves the Lovecraftian Mythos into a fresh, new horror mythos that is hers alone.
Highly recommended. I look forward to more in the Kathy Ryan series and from the pen of Mary SanGiovanni.

This was an eARC from Netgalley.

Expected publication: November 26th, 2019 by Lyrical Press

Cricket Hunters by Jeremy Hepler

Cricket Hunters - Jeremy Hepler

Five friends bond into the group they dub 'the Cricket Hunters' under the guidance of Celia and her abuela, a practicing bruja.....weaving a little of that white magic of childhood with the beliefs of their friend and her grandmother, while doing all the things that kids with bikes, woods and soaring imaginations do.

But with the sunshine comes the darkness.....and all magic isn't white. For one of them will disappear and never be seen again.

15 years later, Celia and Parker, one of her fellow hunters, are married. Celia has never let go of her abuela's teachings. But the past isn't finished with her or the Cricket Hunters, because now it's Parker's turn to vanish. And Celia will need the strength of her faith, and the magic of her childhood to find out what happened to her husband, and her long lost friend, because a darkness is gathering around her.

Jeremy Hepler delivers a brilliant coming of age tale, a mystery that runs the gamut from heartbreaking to bone chilling, filled with hope, heart and even horror.

I'll be watching for Jeremy's next books with avid anticipation.

Many thanks to Ken at Silver Shamrock Publishing, and Jeremy for the review e-ARC.

We Are Monsters by Brian Kirk

We Are Monsters - Brian Kirk

Dr. Emil Alpert runs the Sugar Hill mental asylum with compassion and humanity, treating his patients with understanding rather than drugging them into catatonic submission.
However, his protégé, Dr. Alex Drexler views treatment of the mentally ill differently, secretly testing a new experimental drug that he believes can cure schizophrenia. Driven beyond his means and his better judgement, he seeks fame and fortune at any cost.
When the brutal murder of a former patient, seemingly by a member of the hospital staff sets in motion a series of errors that removes Dr. Alpert from his position, Drexler is given his chance to prove his drug testing it on the asylum's newest and most infamous patient.....Crosby Nelson, the 'Apocalypse Killer'.
Allowing his ambitions to override his common sense, Drexler agrees.....and discovers his drug does something he never planned for...
Crosby Nelson's inner demons have broken loose in the halls of Sugar Hill, and no one is safe.

Because the demons that haunt the Apocalypse Killer are many, and they won't be denied.

An interesting novel that balances between a hard look at how society treats the mentally ill and a straight out horror thriller.

I received a copy of this novel from Netgalley and Flame Tree Press in exchange for an honest review.

The Spirit by Thomas Page

The Spirit (Paperbacks from Hell Book 5) - Grady Hendrix, Thomas Nelson Page

For a schizophrenic Native American, it is the spirit guide that will lead him back to the heritage he can no longer remember....a spirit he will kill to protect.

For a wealthy businessman looking for a purpose in life, sole survivor of a chance encounter with this spirit, it is a savage beast that must be destroyed at all costs.

The creature known as Bigfoot.

An engaging, reasonably intelligent novel concerning the legend that basically kept alive supermarket tabloids back in the day and fueled a few horror films.
Page offers an interesting spin on Bigfoot, and the conflicting evidence associated with it, while delivering a solid horror adventure that explores what drives humans to the edge of insanity in search of inner peace.

Currently reading

The Hiding Place by C.J. Tudor
The Search for Joseph Tully by William H. Hallahan
Tomb of Gods (Fiction Without Frontiers) by Brian Moreland
Boy in the Box (Fiction Without Frontiers) by Marc E Fitch

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