Book Reviews

Unknown Pleasures by Charles Colyott

Reviewed by Sheri White

I love short stories, and really enjoy single-author collections. Collections are better than long-fiction to get to know the author better.  It tells you what’s in his or her head, which can be a little disconcerting when you’re reading horror stories.

There are weird things going on in Charles Colyott’s head.  Creepy things. And a few nasty things.

In the first story, “Severance,” a man is tortured by dreams of his missing fiancĂ©e; he is convinced she’s been killed since she just wouldn’t leave him. He sees her wounded and bloody, reaching for him, surrounded by other dead people. He admits himself to a psychiatric center to find relief. What he finds is much worse.

“Commitments” reminded me somewhat of King’s “Quitter’s Inc.,” which is a story I’ve always liked. Instead of a self-help company, a man is stalked by a cable company. We’ve all felt that rage at being bothered at home through our phone by people you don’t want to talk to. But Ben has no choice - he MUST talk to this person or never see his wife again.

Charles Colyott

I really enjoyed “TEETH grinder.” I can’t think of anybody who enjoys that long, cold needle full of Novocain sliding into their gums. The feel of a tooth being removed from its socket, with that sucking sound that runs down your spine. Charles captures that perfectly in this story. But that’s not all to the story - it gets really messed up and chilling. Think of vagina dentate, only male-oriented. Yeah, it’s creepy.

A man is ticked off that his wife hasn’t cleaned the house after giving birth to their son. Nagging doesn’t help, so he decides to clean up himself - and clean up HIMSELF. “Dead Things” will have your teeth aching and your spine spasms toward the end.

“Seed” takes the awful consequences of bullying and makes them even worse. The bullied becomes the bully, with horrific and sad results.  This story is really great and one of my favorites.

The final story, “The Catastrophic Loves of Edgar J. Spurlock,” is pretty gross, but Charles warns the reader of that from the get-go.  One of the characters, “Peepers,” will make quite an impression on you.

Other stories in this collection include zombies, conjoined twins, a deal with President Death and other twisted themes.  Unknown Pleasures is a collection you’ll want to have on your shelf, and a great way to be introduced to a new author.  But try not to think of the things going on in his head.


By ZootCampbell
Grand Mal Press 2011
Reviewed by Colleen Wanglund

The world has gone to Hell and the bitches are taking over. While trying to create an AIDS vaccine, scientists have inadvertently unleashed a new “disease” on the world—one that only affects women and turns them into zombies. Lock up your daughters, wives and granddaughters because the first chance they get they’ll chow down on the family jewels and anything else they can get their teeth and claws on.

ZOMBIE BITCHES follows Kent, a reporter from Denver and his friend Tim who decide to make their way to Boston so that Kent can find and hopefully save his girlfriend Jen. Along for the ride in their hot-air balloon is Kent’s trusty mutt MG and the owner of said balloon Rick. The story is told from Kent’s point of view and relates the trouble they run into—from a convent full of zombie women, a barn with nursing home refugees and an old armory full of white supremacists.

The disease is named the GaGa after Lady GaGa collapses on stage and turns into one of the first hungry harpies from Hell while the world watches on television. As Kent and Tim make their way east the zombie hoards make their way west, but a change is going on. The packs of screaming banshees are becoming organized. The undead women are evolving and they are determined to take over. When Kent finally makes it as Far East as land will go he not only finds a sizeable stronghold of male survivors but he also discovers just how evolved and organized these bitches are.

Between the title, the author’s name and the awesome cover art by MichaelLindsey, ZOMBIE BITCHES FROM HELL reminded me of an old pulp novel—in a good way. While I love my zombies, the whole “apocalyptic zombie” thing can get a bit repetitive….but not with ZOMBIE BITCHES. Zoot Campbell adds a fresh narrative to the zombie sub-genre. The story flows nicely and character development is very good. The end of the novel totally works for me and there are a few nice surprises thrown in, including the question of Kent’s sanity. Zoot Campbell left me wanting more…..and from what I understand, I’ll get it. ZOMBIE BITCHES FROM HELL is a great addition to zombie lit and I can’t wait to read more!

The Color of Bone by Carol Weekes
Reviewed by Sheri White

I hadn’t heard of Carol Weekes until I was asked to review her collection. I’m glad I was given the opportunity to read The Color of Bone, because this is a great collection. Most of the stories in this book are fantastic. The offerings are diverse, ranging in emotion from horror to sadness.

The first story, “Standing Water,” starts this collection off with a bang. A little boy notices what he thinks are snakes in his elderly neighbor’s rain barrel, but soon realizes these are not snakes, and they are hungry. He is bitten by one of these creatures, and what happens after that is pretty horrific. Great story.

If clowns creep you out, you’re going to get chills reading “Clowning Around.” This is not your usual evil clown story. It has a great twist towards the end, and you won’t look at carnival workers the same way again.

“The Punishing Room” was my least favorite story; mostly because I couldn’t suspend my disbelief. A little girl is always punished by having to sit in a corner in the kitchen. One night the appliances start talking to her and tell her they will kill her parents so she won’t have to sit in the corner ever again. The story is well-written, but I found the idea of talking appliances a little silly. This would probably be a great story in a horror collection for kids, though.

One of the few non-horror tales, “Two Hours, Two People, and a Box,” is a chick-lit kind of story about two people who can’t stand each other getting stuck in an elevator together. They end up hitting it off after a little bit of violent fighting, and seem to fall in love. Good story, but seemed out of place with the rest of the collection.

One of the creepier tales, “The Wishing Well,” will make you want to cover up any deep holes in your yard. The Cobb family moves into an old farmhouse and discover a well in the backyard that stinks. Terry thinks an animal fell in and died, but he discovers something more evil and sinister than he could’ve imagined. At first repulsed by what he finds, he then becomes attracted to what it can offer him and regrets it the rest of his life.

A spooky story that is also sad is “Maybelline.” The tone of the story reminded me somewhat of Stephen King’s “Stand by Me.” A group of 12-year-old boys heads out for an adventure one day. They decide to hang out in an empty boxcar at the train tracks, and meet a young girl who is anything but sweet.

The final story, “Smoke and Leaves,” is another carnival story, this time with an evil who works the beanbag toss. He lets his son play the game although he is nervous about the carnie, who gives him a creepy vibe. He should’ve followed his instincts.

There are more stories in the collection for a total of 26. There were only one or two I didn’t care for, but they were still very well-written; they just weren’t my type of story. All in all, this is a great collection, and I will be seeking out more of the author’s work.

By Greg Dixon
Visions Given Life Publishing 2011; 212 pgs; Tp)
Reviewed by Colleen Wanglund

In this fourth installment of the PARADIGMS OF SUFFERING series of books, Greg Dixon has managed to continue his stories of the macabre and extreme.

The first novella-length story entitled “Worked to Death.” Kevin has left his former employer and joined the internship program of the biggest and best property appraisal firm in Florida. Kevin soon discovers the program, as well as the company, is not what he bargained for. Hours are ridiculously long, the workload never ceases to end, and the company seems to be using illegal and unethical tactics to maintain their status and earnings. It is seriously stressed to the interns that they may not go to the second floor, where all of the real action takes place until they have completed their rigorous training. The general consensus is that the firm will work their employees to death. Unfortunately for Kevin, he is about to discover just how true that statement really is.

The second story is “The Family that Preys Together” and begins with a career criminal staking out a home for burglary while the owners are having a yard sale. He plans to return later with an excuse to get into the house and see the layout. Tim has decided that this will be the last job of his crew in the current town because the police are on to them. What Tim doesn’t know is that his potential victim knows who he is. When Tim returns to the house later in the evening he is invited in. What Tim doesn’t realize until it’s too late is that his life of crime is about to come to an abrupt and painful end.

The third and final story is “Tracking Carrie (Next Day Delivery)” and tells the story of Carrie, a girl who just can’t seem to catch a break in her life. She has a job delivering packages, and her father (whom she does not get along with) has recently moved in with her. Carrie is not happy. Carrie has been making regular deliveries to Jonathan, who has taken an interest in Carrie. She thinks he’s creepy but he has convinced her that he’s giving some good advice—a form of therapy. Carrie decides she’s going to leave her hometown and start over again in California, and she’s convinced that it was Jonathan’s therapy that has helped her. Jonathan did not intend for Carrie to make her own changes to her life. He expected to make those changes for her—through death and rebirth. What’s truly horrifying about this one is discovering the people from Carrie’s life who are in collusion with Jonathan’s plans.

I have read Dixon’s previous PARADIGMS OF SUFFERING and this one lives up to all of my expectations. The horror is extreme—just how I like it—and the people and circumstances are truly twisted. Dixon’s writing is poetic and descriptive, allowing for the dark beauty of the gore to shine through. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the POS series of books are all self-published. They are beautifully done and expertly edited. I highly recommend all of the PARADIGMS OF SUFFERING. I, for one, can’t wait to read more by Greg Dixon.
Bite Club by Hal Bodner
Reviewed by Sheri White

West Hollywood, California - home of many gay people, who find it a safe place to live and play. But lately things have gotten dangerous. Several gay men have been found dead, drained of all blood. Clive Anderson, Captain of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station, is at a loss to solve the cases, even with the help of the city coroner, Becca O’Brien. She is baffled by the murders, and thinks there is a serial killer loose in the city.

She calls an old friend, Chris Driscoll. She had a crush on him in college and was dismayed when she found out he was gay. But they have kept in touch, and Chris is somewhat an expert on serial killers. He and his boyfriend, Troy, travel to West Hollywood to see what Chris can contribute to the investigation. But Chris has a secret of his own, and he’s afraid of who - or what - is actually killing the city’s gay men.

Bite Club is a great read. I’m not a huge vampire fan, but I was drawn in right from the beginning. The characters are real and funny, and have their own quirks. The vampires are not the usual Nosferatu or BelaLugosi vampires; some are vicious and some are just living their lives, minding their own business.

Whether you like vampires or not, pick up Bite Club. You can tell Hal had a blast writing it, and you’ll have a fun time reading it.

By James Newman
(Necessary Evil Press 2011; Limited HC and E-book)
Reviewed by Colleen Wanglund


Andy Holland is a successful horror writer, both for adults and with a Young Adult novel series.  He had a beautiful wife Karen until a recent divorce and has a young daughter Samantha, who is the most important person in Andy’s life.  Andy still lives in the same house in a neighborhood that he thought couldn’t be more perfect.  It was safe and his neighbors were friendly….until the day, while out walking his dog, Andy discovers the dead body of a little girl.

Andy is horrified by what he sees, but manages to wrangle the dog and get back home to call the police.  What Andy doesn’t realize is that his seemingly good life is about to slowly unravel.  It begins with the police questioning him as though he may be a suspect.  It seems something from Andy’s past is now coming back to haunt him.  As time passes, the neighbors are no longer friendly and the news reports focus more on a stupid mistake made when he was young instead of the girl and her rape and murder.  They stop speaking to him and begin to take out their suspicions on his property.  Initially Andy tries to rationalize their behavior, until they kill his dog.  It seems the once friendly neighbors now believe that Andy is a pedophile/murderer….all because he is a writer of horror fiction.  I mean, anyone who can dream up such horrible things must be an evil person, right?

What strikes me about ANIMOSITY is that these are normal and generally good people, but the mob mentality sets in with a vengeance, making for a potentially real scenario and a very scary final confrontation.  The writing is wonderful and flows without a hitch and Newman’s character development is perfect.  As shocking as the events in the story are, I could see something like this happening, especially in a small, tight-knit community.  With a revealing introduction by author Ray Garton and fantastic illustrations by Alex McVey, ANIMOSITY is definitely one to get your hands on.  And beware of the neighbors.

Writer: Sue Dent
Reviewed by: Char Hardin
(1-5) 4
Category: Horror-Science Fiction-Urban

I got Whiplash and Paper cuts from reading ELECTRIC ANGEL...Could…Not put it down!
Char Hardin

Terminal patient Anna Chadwick pregnant with twins is told her cancer would not allow her to live or carry to term her babies and to make it worse they tell her one is stillborn. She prayed for a miracle and it was an an otherworldly entity who answered. Anna’s miracle promised to save her children. It made one startling request, which the dying woman readily agreed to the price, in order to save her unborn babies.

What a simple idea, when in mortal danger we pray and something answered this woman and with this promise came life, adventure, betrayal, bravery, love and sacrifice. I truly could not put down this book once I started reading!

Sue Dent’s storytelling was vivid and the scenes with Anna and the Entity were hair-raising and interesting. What she was offering was mind bending and thought provoking. What I liked too, was that it was explained in simple layman’s terms and not so technical my head throbbed with pain for trying to figure it out. Her descriptions were solid and not over the top or over done, she didn’t flood the pages with unnecessary flowery descriptions and that is something I admire. I do not like overly descriptive stories…just tell me what you have to say and then let the storyteller’s words show me the action or the scenery.

The characters were quickly placed in emotional situations, the viewer just couldn’t help but become concerned for the welfare of Anna and her babies and then what happened on the day of their birth, it was fast acting and scary and emotional…I shed tears during the aftermath of the babies births of happiness that they made it and then with how it was handled…I felt that raw paternal bond that was ripped from Anna and her husband Zachary as the bad men arrived and kicked the story into maximum overdrive.

I took the book to the English Tea Room in Covington, Louisiana Monday and started re-reading and couldn’t believe how my time got away from me, I became immersed in the story and 3 hours passed and I finished with a gasp and cry. The patrons sitting around me laughed and I sat back and ordered a fresh pot of tea as mine had long sense grown cold.

I see that on the back it lists the book as Urban Horror/Science Fiction, although there were elements of terror for the characters, I probably would not classify this as a true horror but more a Dark Urban Fantasy with elements of science fiction thrown in for the electrical devices and created for the characters. I found the story to be original and that is major plus with me, finding something original in a literary world where it has been done before. There may be other stories with this storyline…but as of now, I have not read them. The characters were well fleshed out and likeable and moving and the evil bad characters were deliciously decadent, especially Mr. Fritz of Anderson Electric. His machinations and methodology was devious. He had it all figured out except for the power of love and maternal instinct even if of a different Nature, but his flawed thinking was expertly written and his undoing was well hidden. Reading Sue Dent’s characters were like a Frankenstein moment, when the switch was thrown and Dr. Frankenstein declared the monster “ALIVE”…SueDent’s characters leapt off the page and into my mind, as alive as the viewer reading them.

As a horror film reviewer, I had to smile at the Michael Myers and Dr. Loomis references made in connection to one of her injured characters. Actually, I believed I laughed out loud when I saw the reference. The following excerpt is taken from the book:

“Without warning and much to the nurse’s surprise, the patient’s eyes sprang open and in a MichaelMyers fashion, an arm shot up. Fingers wrapped the nurse’s wrist in a viselike grip…”

“Having watched and absorbed his share of horror movies in his day, he stopped short of pushing through the swinging double doors that led out and added, Or Dr. Loomis.”

ELECTRIC ANGEL is a fast read topping out with 177 pages and engrossing, time literally passes while you are entranced and reading. I think my only criticisms for the book was when there was a time jump, that I had to go back and re-read because I missed something. My suggestion would be under the change of chapter when a jump in time is necessary to include, 20 years later… tag or something separate from the text. Because I was so caught up in the story, I was reading fast and I must have glossed over, where the time change was noted. It created a moment of fogginess, that made me back up and re-read two chapters to see where I gotten lost and sure enough when I went back and slowed down, I saw where in the text it was mentioned and my fogginess was cleared away. Other than that, the book was solid.

I would (and will) recommend this book to science fiction/Urban Paranormal/Dark Fantasy and yes even to horror fans. There is a little bit of everything in this story and when it was over…had me wishing I had another of Sue Dent’s stories to reach for and continue the spellbinding enchantment, that I had fallen under while reading ELECTRIC ANGEL.

November 30th the Mavens of Horror will interview the author Sue Dent and the ELECTRIC ANGEL Cover Model Ron Fitzgerald. The Mavens are looking forward to the recording of the show. Be sure to visit for dates of upcoming shows, reviews, etc. Look for us on Facebook. Join our group at!/groups/mavensofhorror/

Sue Dent on Amazon