Review Summer — Week 1

With The Horror Fiction Review on summer hiatus, I’ll be posting some reviews here, hopefully two a week, to keep me on track. This first installment features the DOA anthologies from Blood Bound Books, and Lee Murray’s Into the Mist.

Title: DOA I and II
Publisher: Blood Bound Books

This is my fiftieth review of 2016, so hey, I decided, why not make it a twofer? Read both volumes of DOA back to back and review ‘em both? Well, let me tell you, that made for a couple nights wallowing in some deep hardcore gore, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Many of the names in the table of contents were familiar (including some of the intense heavy hitters like Shane McKenzie, Monica O’Rourke, Robert Devereaux, J.F. Gonzalez, Wrath James White, and the man perhaps single-handedly responsible for scarring an entire generation, Jack Ketchum. A few were stories I’d enjoyed before (if that’s the right word for experiences of extreme flinching, cringing, and squick).

I went into this with pretty high expectations, and I am glad to say I was not at all disappointed. Each book features almost 30 stories. That’s a lot of brutality and torture. A lot of sex-carnage. A lot of atrocities both human and inhuman.

Awesome! In the most soul-shriveling way, of course. From births to deaths both natural and unnatural … dogfights, frostbite, madness, monsters, cannibalism, necrophilia, snuff films, vampires, evil kids, deformities, disease … too many twisted traumatic nightmares to list!

So, yeah, I would have a hard time limiting myself to even a half-dozen top picks. I understand a third volume will be coming along soon, and I can hardly wait.


Title: Into the Mist
Author: Lee Murray
Publisher: Cohesion Press

What is there not to love about an action-packed military thriller pitting a group of scientists and soldiers against BIG STOMPY TOOTHY MONSTERS??? Come on, it’s part Jurassic Park, part Aliens, all awesome!

Not to mention educational to the Ameri-Euro-centric readers who might not be familiar with anything New Zealand beyond its spectacular Lord of the Rings scenery. It’s a land rich with its own cultures, mythologies, history, and turbulent sociopolitical struggles. A setting ripe for conflict and drama even before hapless hikers in untouched wilderness run into something hungry and should-be-extinct.

When some surveyors and geologists want to go in to check out some possible ore deposits and mining and mineral opportunities, it provides a good cover for the military to send along its own team to investigate on the hush-hush a rash of recent disappearances.

This also brings together the requisite personality clashes and conflicts – the imperious petty-tyrant egomaniac who thinks he knows best and should run the show, the former friends who’ve had a bad falling out but still need to work together, the traitor, the tweeker, the sleazeball – as well as providing the obligatory romantic prospects for our attractive but troubled lady doctor.

Best of all, it offers up ample bodies for the counting, once they find what they’re looking for and it turns out to be way more than they ever could have anticipated. The first soldiers to sight their adversary don’t want to be the ones to have to report seeing what they’d swear is a dinosaur, but all too soon the rest of the group have no reason to doubt or make fun.

Or IS it a dinosaur? The scientists, of course, have their theories. The scientists also have their eyes on different sorts of prizes … all that discovery, prestigious journals, fame and fortune, rewrite the books on evolution, etc. The more prosaic soldiers are more interested in silly stuff like, oh, say, surviving, preferably by means of lots and lots of heavy firepower.

The book also opens with a helpful glossary of terms and acronyms, but those as well as regionalistic dialect and slang are so expertly handled, deftly used in context without being overexplained, that I didn’t need to go back and look even once.

Throw in an intricate network of sub-plots with corporate trickery, armed subversives, Maori mystics, drug runners, tragic pasts and familial dramas, and … whew … it’s a full ride, breathless but oh-so-much fun!