Friday, 29 June 2012

Review: The Ever by Hollis Jay

The Ever by Hollis Jay is a different kind of horror. It's a different kind of ghost story. It's a different kind of haunted house tale. It's different. And that's not a bad thing.

The books weaves together the lives of all the people touched by the Marks' House, a house containing such evil and malice that it has become a living thing, intent on ensnaring the souls of those it can manipulate into murder.

The initial chapters work well as stand alone vignettes, letting the reader into snippets of the characters' lives as they come into contact with the wickedness that is in the Marks' House. Hollis Jay dips the reader in, gives them a tantalizing view, and them whips them away again, sending them further down the road to the next life, the next death, the next terrible tragedy.

As the book moves on, we focus on one particular man - Tommy - who has survived a broken childhood in the house, and has managed to escape. But only for a little while. Due to circumstances that the house controls, he is drawn back, along with his wife and unborn child, and becomes yet another part of the house's bloody history, another legend.

I found this book a quick read, but not an easy one. This is not easy subject matter as this is not just a horror story with the usual blood and gore and characters that deserve their fates. These characters don't deserve the terrors that await them; they are normal people living normal lives, and they just happen to be unlucky enough to become captured in the Marks' House's web of evil. It could be me. It could be you. It could be your loved one. It's a disturbing thought and one that stayed with me after I had finished reading.

I like a book that makes me think.

I especially like a book that makes me think when it's dark and it's quiet and I'm supposed to be going to sleep...

I can recommend this book as a new kind of horror - if you're just about blood and guts, you can have them here too (great!), but if you want a bit more, if you want to ask questions and find your own answers, then I suggest you read this and ask them.

The Ever can be bought here:

And here is some information about Hollis Jay in her own words:

Hollis Jay is an up and coming author focusing primarily on both the gothic and horror genres. She also loves to work within the realms of both poetry and nonfiction as well.  Having seen John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) at the age of five, she became infatuated with the horror genre watching films such as The Uninvited (1944) and The House on Haunted Hill (1958) and reading such outstanding authors such as Richard Matheson, Shirley Jackson, Edgar Allan Poe, Ambrose Bierce, Peter Straub, Clive Barker, Stephen King, and of course H.P. Lovecraft.  She graduated with both her BA in English and American Literature and her MFA in Creative Writing specializing in fiction. She is continuing with her educational goals and is currently working on her MA in English focusing in the gothic.  She plans on also eventually receiving her PhD specializing in Gothic Literature. She is working as an intern for Magic Cat Press and plans on releasing her first edited anthology focusing on the horror genre. 
Traveling her whole life, Hollis not only takes on a different point of view and walks a different path due to her exposure to new cultures but she also uses those experiences within her writing to illicit reactions-both good and bad- and bring about discussion within her readers.  Visiting and living amongst historical locations gave her not only an understanding of loss, but an appreciation of the sanctity of life.  Raised in an unconventional and abusive family, she turned these negative fixtures in her life around towards a positive goal and used these elements to help her to dictate not only the emotions of her characters but she also used these traumatic events as an inspiration to her and as an advantage throughout her work.
 Her first novella, The Ever is the classic story of a haunted house turned inward and personalized towards its victims. Set throughout various sections of life, the Mark’s house becomes a representation of the minds of its occupants engulfing them in not only their own nightmares but haunting them in every aspect of their lives.  In her writing, she believes in the reader completing the story for themselves and that the writer does not always have to present the back story in order for the readers to understand the complexities of the characters and the issues at hand.  She presents an honest story without formalities and without presuming that there will always be a happy ending. 
  Hollis lives with her family and her dogs in Arizona.  When she’s not writing, she enjoys photography, helping animals, being with her significant other, and of course reading or watching a good scary story.  

Monday, 25 June 2012

Twisted Reality: Of Myth and Monstrosity

Twisted Realities: Of Myth and Monstrosity from Sirens Call Publications…

Where does your mind wander when asked what would happen if modern man were to encounter the creatures or lore of old? Do you see Gods from mythology destroying mankind for having ravaged the world? Would you wonder if a trinket could call down the wrath of a vile demon upon you? Would you dream of having your every wish granted by a mystical object, only to realize the price too late?
We asked the twelve authors of the stories included in Twisted Realities: Of Myth and Monstrosity to do just that. Reach back into time, pull forward a myth, and spin a tale that would not only captivate today’s readers, but perchance capture them as well.

Myth or reality…
Explore the twelve tales of horror and intrigue in Twisted Realities: Of Myth and Monstrosity and ask yourself, what would you consider a fair price to pay for life immortal... or the chance of life at all?
Would a young woman pass up a shiny bauble if she believed it to be nothing more than a harmless trinket? What transpires once a year in a peaceful and remote village that no one will ever speak of? What better way for a broken man to honor a crippled existence than with a memorial of blood and vengeance? How could a disfigured woman ever dream of chancing across an object that would restore her beauty - and at what cost?

Follow the twists and turns of each writer as they delve into the legends of days gone by, as well as the consequences that are wrought when myths and monstrosities collide with our world.

Contributing Authors include:
Thomas James Brown, Nina D'Arcangela, K. Trap Jones, Amber Keller, Lisamarie Lamb, Edward Lorn, Alexa Muir, Kate Monroe, Joseph A. Pinto, J. Marie Ravenshaw, Julianne Snow, and Jonathan Templar

Pick up a copy of Twisted Realities: Of Myth and Monstrosity and delve inside. Available in print and digital version from:

eBook: Amazon,,,,,, Smashwords (Nook, Kobo, Sony and Kindle eReaders)

Excerpts from three of the twelve stories contained within Twisted Realities: Of Myth and Monstrosity. For a preview of all 12 stories, please go to

Voices – Kate Monroe
No one believed in the gods of old. Maeve blamed the internet for the birth of the new wave of cynicism that had pervaded throughout the world she restlessly roamed. No one accepted anything at face value these days.
Magic was once widely acknowledged and respected; witches and warlocks were a common feature of every village that she cast her net over. Now it was no more than a child’s fairytale and literary escapism for those who quietly rebelled against the skepticism of the twenty first century. Even the lore of old was dismissed as old wives’ tales and uninformed mumbo-jumbo. What chance did the gods stand when to almost everyone they were intangible, inexplicable; and, in the truest sense of the word, incredible?
Maeve, though – or the being that wore the name of Maeve Regan – was a goddess. She had reveled, once, secure and resplendent in the soothing embrace of unfailing belief in who she was and what she stood for. Entire armies would fall at her feet and sing her praises, lifting their voices to the heavens in exaltation and fear. Oh, yes; fear! She shuddered in delight as she allowed herself a moment’s somber recollection.

A Fair Price – Alexa Muir
A splash sounded to Hannah’s left. She swung her head, her copper hair cascading over her neck, but saw only ripples in the water by the side of the pool. Puzzled, she got up from her comfortable perch and walked over to the pool’s edge. Though she peered intently into the pool’s depths, she saw nothing; the water was clear and sparkling all the way to the mosaic bottom. With an internal shrug, she decided to seek out Matt for herself.
Studying her nails as she wandered past the lounger, Hannah reached down one handed to pick up her book, only for her fingers to meet the wooden tabletop with a scrape. It wasn’t there. Grumbling, she went onto one knee and peered under the table, and then under the lounger. Still no book. She could have sworn she put it there. A little worm of unease slinked into her guts, but she decided to ignore it and continued her way around the house. She could hear Matt laughing and knew that Jess would be the source of the amusement.
“Jess, stop, get off, stop it!” The words came fractured between Matt’s laughter, and when Hannah came round the corner she saw that he was having a tug of war with Jess for the hose he’d been washing the paving with. It looked like Jess was winning.

Riddle Me Real – Lisamarie Lamb
She ignores me. It’s a curious tactic for a therapist. If she expects me to speak first, she will be disappointed. I can wait for her. Waiting. It’s what I’ve done for millennia. There’s no reason why I should rush anything now. We sit opposite one another, both outwardly relaxed in our matching leather chairs. Strangely, I can’t read her, or I would know whether this was an act or not. It is for me. I am nervous. I know what I want to say and yet I don’t know how to say it. I wonder if she can section me. I wonder if she should. She’s not a priest - she’s not bound by the confessional - so I have no idea whether she would tell on me. Of course, she would have to believe me first, and there’s the sticking point. I don’t think she will.
“So, why are you here?”
Her voice is as I thought it would be. Smooth, velvet. It is calming and cajoling, and I think I will tell her everything, despite my misgivings. Surely the worst that could happen would be a lifetime – many lifetimes – spent in a white walled hospital where I could rest and be at peace? That doesn’t sound so bad. I clear my throat.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Has Your Job Been Invented Yet?

Has your job been invented yet?

Well? Has it? Perhaps not... perhaps you need to invent it for yourself.

It's a strange concept, isn't it? I thought so.

The idea hadn't even occurred to me until my husband and I took our daughter to visit her new school. She won't start in the nursery until September 2013, but since the intake is so small, we needed to put her name down as soon as we could.

We met with the head teacher - a truly lovely woman, the sort of person you hope will have some part of your child's life - and it was whilst sipping proper coffee in her office, all three of us watching our daughter at play, that she spoke. "We don't know what Alice will become. We don't know where she will go. It may even be that the job she ends up doing hasn't been invented yet."

That stunned me. I didn't let it show, of course, I had to keep my cool in front of this woman who is going to play such an important role in Alice's life, but the whole idea that there were things and ideas and concepts that were yet to exist almost floored me. I know it's true. I know we haven't come to the end of our brilliance as human beings (the Victorians might have thought they'd got it all sewn up, that they'd done it all, but I'm pretty sure I know better - possibly due to all the things that have been invented since then...). But even though I absolutely, positively know that she was right when she said it, I was still mesmerised by the whole untouched and impossibly unknowable expanse of it.

What amazed me was that I had never considered it before. What intrigued me was the thought that the things we take for granted might someday cease to be.

Doctor. Nurse. Lawyer. Teacher. Police officer. Accountant. Bus driver. Chef. Sports coach.

We take it as read that these things - these things that have always been there, for as long as we have known, anyway - will always be there.

We need them. Don't we?

But what if the jobs that the next generation and the next and the next invent does away with doctors or drivers or teachers? It doesn't seem possible, does it? Not to us, living as we are now. But I don't believe the lamplighters ever could have imagined a time when they wouldn't be needed anymore. And what about the typists in the typing pool?  Did the Witchfinder General ever think there would be a time when not only did we no longer fear witches, but we actually celebrated them?

It unnerves me, if I'm honest. It excites me too because I get to see what is happening. I get to be a part of it. It also saddens me because I can't live forever, and so I'll miss out on all the great stuff that's going to come after I'm gone.

One thing calms me though. There is one job that I'm sure - I just know - no advances could ever replace. No robots or magic or computer technology could ever stamp into the ground. That's the job of artist. Whether it be painting, writing, sculpting, creating in any form, that is a purely human thing.  That takes heart.  It's more than a job; it's a vocation.

So the artist is here to stay.

But what do I know? That's what the Elizabethans said about the gong farmer...

Friday, 1 June 2012

Review of The Vagrant by Bryan Hall

Crate Northgate. You might not know that name now, but believe me, you'll come to know it.

Crate is the hero (or perhaps not - anti-hero might be a more appropriate description,) of Bryan Hall's new Southern Hauntings Saga, the first part of which is released by Angelic Knight Press. He is an enigma wrapped in a comfort blanket of booze and guilt, surrounded by the not-so-dearly departed as he makes his way up and down and across America at the behest of people willing to pay for his unique brand of ghostly expertise.

Is he a psychic? Perhaps so. He might equally as well be insane. Or drunk. It's all left open and the edges are blurred so that the reader has to make up their own mind. This is not a bad thing. In Hall's 'The Vagrant', we are told little of Crate's past, even less of his present, and nothing of his future. By allowing us this intriguing snippet into the life of his new creation, Hall manages to capture his audience, haul them in through Crate's truck window, slam them down into the passenger seat, and drag them along for the ride.

And it's quite a ride.

With his snappy prose and detailed descriptions, Hall brings us the old South, its characters and legends, but also invents new ones to chill us with. Just who is the ancient woman in the woods? Why was a hanged man's body found with a grin on its face and a pentagram by its feet? Who is the mysterious murdered girl, and just what can Crate Northgate possibly do to save the seemingly doomed vagrant of the title?

I think - I hope - we'll be hearing a lot more from Bryan Hall's Crate Northgate. There's so much more to learn.

Book Blurb:

Creighton Northgate is a man shrouded in mystery and on the run from a past he doesn't even fully understand.  Blurring the lines between vagabond, enigma, drunkard, and saviour, he spends his days staring into the southern legends and paranormal events that most only speak of in hushed, half-believing whispers. 
In the midst of a sweltering southern day, he attempts to help a homeless man who seems to share his curse; a man haunted by a silent figure from beyond this world who pursues his every step.  By the end of the day, Crate discovers that some things are best left alone; some truths best left in the dark.   
This novellette serves as an introduction to the Southern Hauntings Saga and its central character Crate Northgate, a man whose shadowy past is slowly catching up to him.  The first novella in the series will be released late summer 2012.   
To find out more about Crate visit 

Author Bio:
Bryan Hall is a fiction writer living in a one hundred year old farmhouse deep in the mountains of North Carolina with his wife and three children.
Growing up in the Appalachias, he's soaked up decades of fact and fiction from the area, bits and pieces of which usually weave their way into his writing whether he realizes it at the time or not.
He's the author of the sci-fi horror novel Containment Room 7, collection Whispers from the Dark, and the upcoming Southern Hauntings Saga.  You can find him online at

To buy the book, go to