They Kill by Tim Waggoner (2020 Splatterpunk Awards)

TheyKillAfter losing her brother Jeffrey in a car accident, art teacher Sierra has a dream in which Jeffrey is raised from the dead by a sinister man in a black suit. It later turns out that this was more than a dream: Jeffrey really has been resurrected, and both Sierra and Jeffrey’s boyfriend Marc catch sight of him around town.

Naturally, however, Jeffrey did not return from the grave without paying a price. He has brought death back with him: his touch causes objects to decay and people to wither and die. Furthermore, Jeffrey is not the only one to be granted deadly abilities. A number of other people in Sierra’s life have undergone weird transformations, and proceed to leave trails of destruction. Sierra and Marc – each blaming each other for Jeffrey’s death – must look beyond their animosity to work out what is going on, and where Sierra’s dream of the mysterious man in the black suit fits into events.

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Lakehouse Infernal by Christine Morgan (2020 Splatterpunk Awards)

45448518._SY475_Following a special merge, part of Hell has bled out onto Earth. Only a comparatively small part – enough to fill Lake Misquamicus in Florida, to be precise – but even a fraction of Hell is bad news for us on the mortal realm. With the lake now occupied by six billion gallons of infernal effluent, and a prime location for visits from demons, damned souls and other denizens of the underworld, the US government has little choice but to construct a wall around it and forbid any crossings.

In her author’s note at the end of the book, Christine Morgan refers to Lakehouse Infernal as “total shameless Edward Lee fanfic throughout”. In particular, it follows on from his “Infernal” quartet (City Infernal, Infernal Angel, House Infernal and Lucifer’s Lottery) but also makes reference to a number of his other works – and even includes Lee himself as a character. Anyone who is familiar with Edward Lee’s distinctive brand of fiction will recognise the tone and narrative style of Lakehouse Infernal.

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Carnivorous Lunar Activities by Max Booth III (2020 Splatterpunk Awards)

CarnivorousLunarActivitiesOne day, out of the blue, Ted receives a telephone call from Justin, a childhood friend who has not spoken to him for three years. The two meet up in Justin’s squalid abode, and Ted is soon distracted from the problems in his own life – including the terminal state of his relationship with his wife Shelly – by the utterly bizarre story that his friend has to tell.

Between numerous asides about childhood memories shared by the two young men, Justin reveals all about the dark turn his life has taken. He became involved with dogfighting, and decided to buy a particularly vicious dog that he saw advertised on Craigslist. The animal he ended up with, however, turned out to be something rather different from a typical canine: “try to imagine a wolf, okay? Only the wolf’s on steroids and its father might be a bear” says Justin.

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Werewolf Wednesdays: House of Frankenstein


Here’s this week’s instalment of my Killer Horror Critic column on the history of werewolf films, in which I take a look at how the Wolf Man fared when he visited the House of Frankenstein,,,

Past instalments:

Omega Factor: Divinity Reviews are Coming In…


I’m happy to say that so far, my Omega Factor novel Divinity has been going down pretty well with fans of the original 1979 TV series. First off, Rich Cross of Cultbox calls the novel a worthy continuation of the saga:

Doris V Sutherland’s novel conjures up the world of The Omega Factor very recognisably, and her realisation of the show’s main players is on point. The guest characters of her story are also convincingly sketched, and the shifts in focus between the different time zones are well handled.

Meanwhile, Liam Rudden of Edinburgh News goes for Divinity as his audiobook of choice during trips through the eeriest stretches of Scotland’s capital:

As much of the original series featured locations in and around the Old Town – looking somewhat more dilapidated back then – it seemed Divinity was the ideal companion to accompany me as I rediscovered the Royal Mile. Despite the latest investigation not being set in Edinburgh, it certainly added an extra dimension to the drama as I explored the shadowy closes and pends, some I had never ventured down before.

If you want to hear the novel for yourself, as read by the wonderful Louise Jameson, you can purchase it at the Big Finish website.

Reception by Kenzie Jennings (2020 Splatterpunk Awards)

ReceptionNovel.jogAnsley Boone is getting ready for a wedding, with her sister Shay marrying fiancé Nathan. But alongside all of the typical stresses and excitement that come with preparing for the special day, Ansley has personal issues. She is coping with the aftermath of mental and physical trauma and is now reliant on medication: “I was cutting my last benzodiazepine prescription down, mobbing my way into low dose Diazepam, as per strict, hellish instructions. Aprazolam, Lorazepam, Clonazepam, you name it, I’d been overprescribed it and its other mellow kin.”

Her boyfriend has dumped her, and she lost her job following a particularly severe breakdown in the workplace. Her parents are unsupportive and blame Ansley for her troubles, particularly her stanchly right-libertarian father: “To Dad, my problem, the withdrawals, was, of course, due to my own poor choices in how I handled my crippling anxiety, the panic attacks, the blackouts, the flare-ups.” By the time the wedding rolls around Ansley is left feeling like the family misfit, and she knows full well that her sister’s wedding day will be a test of self-endurance.

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Merciless by Bryan Smith (2020 Splatterpunk Awards)

52666849._SX318_SY475_Newlyweds Grant and Lindsey celebrate their marriage with a trip to a mountainside cabin owned by Grant’s family. During their journey, Lindsey’s libido begins running out of control: she suggests such erotic adventures as having sex beside a country road, or getting jiggy in every state of the country. But their most extreme exploit begins when they meet a man named Jorge – and Lindsey shoots him with a tranquiliser so he can be abducted and taken back to the cabin for a round of torture.

Grant is initially surprised by this development. Not because his new wife is kidnapping someone, but because she has decided to do it so soon: they had previously agreed to abduct and murder someone at the end of their trip, not the beginning. Grant and Lindsey, as it happens, are a pair of sadists who bonded over their shared obsession with serial killers, and when bedroom roleplay failed to satisfy, Lindsey agreed to marry Grant on the sole grounds that he helped her to carry out a murder for real. “There’s literally no reason we had to wait until the end of the trip”, she argues. “And the sooner we go ahead and do it, the freer we’ll be. I’m talking about real freedom, Grant, freedom in its purest fucking form.”

And so Grant goes along with it. At first it is just the three of them in the cabin: two would-be murderers and their victim. But they receive unexpected visitors when members of Grant’s extended family – a couple and three children ranging from infant to eye-rolling teenager – drop by at this most inconvenient of moments. Furthermore, the cabin is not quite so isolated a retreat as the two kidnappers hoped: a mysterious man, who lives as a recluse in the mountains, is keeping an eye on things…

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Toxic Love by Kristopher Triana (2020 Splatterpunk Awards)

54272456._SY475_Mike Ashbrook is struggling in life: his wife divorced him, he boss fired him, and his two daughters – one a teenager, the other approaching that point – are growing away from him. He has to find new work, not an easy task as a 45-year-old with no collage degree. He settles for becoming a janitor, and even then he draws the shortest straw: his new job involves cleaning up human remains. Picking out the shattered skull fragments of a man who committed suicide with a gun to his mouth, mopping up the blood of murder victims – all in a day’s work for Mike.

But things take a more positive turn when Mike meets his new co-worker: a beautiful young woman named Sage (“She looked like she should be selling lingerie, not filling up blood buckets”). At first, Mike believes that the gruesome task will be too much for her, especially given that their first job together is in a bedroom where two children were brutally murdered. But to his surprise and dismay, Sage finds the prospect utterly exciting: “She sounded like a kid seeing Star Wars for the first time. There was no shock or disgust, no horror, only childlike wonder.”

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