Posts Tagged ‘A.R. Braun’

Book Review: Huffer by Michael J. Hultquist

                                      Huffer by Michael J. Hultquist

                                       Book Review by A.R. Braun                    

In Huffer by Michael J. Hultquist, Gus Gerring has a paint-huffing habit. He’s finds he’s been at the fumes for too many years when an entity Gus calls “Satan” shows up in a Hawaiian shirt. Soon, he’s revealing things Gus doesn’t want to know.

Gus sees strangers’ eyes turn black. Then his loved ones have the same black eyes. It gets worse when he sees the insidious secrets inside people’s minds and too much to take when he sees the hidden evil in his own girlfriend and family. With his sanity at stake, Gus wonders if this is a gift meant to enhance his life like “Satan” says or a curse meant to destroy him. The way his life’s spiraling out of control, he’ll soon find out. 

Huffer by Michael J. Hultquist is a scathing horror novel that caught my attention from the beginning and held me captive throughout the whole book, making me fear I’d get his power. The story is wonderfully woven through realistic events in Midwestern Illinois that could happen to anyone. I recommend this book without a second’s hesitation. If Huffer doesn’t freak you out, you haven’t got a pulse.

Book Review: She Nailed a Stake Through His Head: Tales of Biblical Horror edited by Tim W. Lieder

She Nailed a Stake Through His Head   She Nailed A Stake Through His Head
Book review by Sarah Hayes

The true terror of the Bible comes to life through its unwitting characters, some knowing pieces of a greater game and some ignorant pawns in His divine machinations. Either walking in the dunes of the Middle East or swimming a stormy ocean, they are all looking for answers and trying to live normal lives. They are Ruth and Naomi, who both share the blessing and the curse of a double-edged devotion to one another. Delilah, who betrays Samson for something different than money and pays the price for it. Holofernes, whose wife beheads him every night only to grow it back much to her disgust.

She Nailed A Stake Through His Head is a collection of stories that take a darker look at the parables of the New and Old Testaments, without losing the markings that make them so Biblical, so affecting and yet so startling. Those who think the Bible is nothing but life lessons and comforting anecdotes will find themselves unsettled in a satisfying way by its frankness and explicit details. There is sex and violence and savagery of body and mind along with some very supernatural happenings, including vampires of the most grisly sort.

There is nothing tame about the stories in She Nailed A Stake Through His Head; everything from the visual imagery to the storytelling is brutal and unrestrained in its mission to show the unsung side of some of the well-known tales of the Good Book. The language is gorgeously detailed and unrelenting and it is refreshing to read a collection of stories by multiple authors that carries a consistently high level of quality. Readers who are willing to set aside their preset notions about the characters birthed in the Bible will find themselves surprised by the richness and honesty of those lives retold in She Nailed A Stake Through His Head.

Book Review: She Nailed a Stake Through His Head: Tales of Biblical Terror (edited by Tim Lieder)

She Nailed a Stake Through His Head: Tales of Biblical Terror (edited by Tim Lieder)

Book Review by A. R. Braun

Do you love twisted Bible tales? Then you’ll relish She Nailed a Stake Through His Head, a riveting book of short stories released by Dybbuk Press that warp the classic scriptural tales.

Not that it’s done with any disrespect, but quite the contrary. A fresh spin is put on the Old Testament, making it scream with new excitement one didn’t think possible. There’s enough satire and human disgust with the hardness of God and the world He’s created to satisfy even the most morbid atheist. Yet there’s a thread of truth that allows the pieces in the volume to rise above the typical collection of yarns.

While I found some of the stories superfluous with beatific description, enough visceral plot strength lurked in certain chapters of the book to spike my interest. Gerri Leen’s “Whither Thou Goest” gives another reason for the familial atrocity that struck Naomi, her own clutching companion now dangerous instead of loyal. My favorite was Daniel Kaysen’s “Babylon’s Burning,” the sinister reality behind what seems like a macabre show genuinely terrifying as the words writhe into your brain like blow. “Swallowed” by Stephen M. Wilson casts a Lovecraftian shadow on the story of Jonah.

The one hundred and forty-three pages of sardonic wit mixed with morbid description in She Nailed a Stake Through His Head are full of fresh ideas that shouldn’t be ignored.

Review: Tapestry of Tales by Sarah Deckard

Tapestry of Tales

Book review by A. R. Braun

In Tapestry of Tales, Sarah Deckard gives us a multitude of protagonists and antagonists to entertain us deep into the night with the timeless writers’ question, What if? What if the elder brother of twelve sisters becomes a necromancer and tries to destroy them by dancing them to death? What if when a princess kisses a frog, it brings her to ruin? What if waking Sleeping Beauty invites a sanguine doom?

Sarah’s warped fairy tales bring to mind yarns I learned in school with a fresh and evocative twist. The lusty, violent and sometimes perverted plot twists are something you’ve never read before, though you’ve perused the basic plots. “Zodiac Dancers” brings the reader to a hidden underworld of dangers. “The Enchanted Kiss” makes the reader question selfishness. “The Sleeper” ends in a way you won’t see coming, showing her expertise when working in the dark fantasy genre.

I found the collection quite refreshing, a genre I don’t usually read but was able to enjoy whole-heartedly. The tome is not predictable or tiresome, the stories bringing to mind morals, questioning avarice and narcissism and evoking surprise and sometimes shock when the endings are revealed. I definitely recommend this to any fantasy aficionado.

Hiram Grange and the Digital Eucharist

                                            Hiram Grange and the Digital Eucharist

                                                   Book Review by A. R. Braun

Hiram Grange is an unlikely hero. With a penchant for loose women, drugs and booze, who would expect him to be a demon hunter? But that’s exactly what he is, fighting to keep the demons in hell and off the streets. A long-haired, gun-toting protagonist who loves hard-loving, young chicks? You know I’m all over this series!

In Hiram Grange and the Digital Eucharist by Robert Davies, Hiram shows up with his cohorts, preventing a demon named Giblis from entering our world. He does so, but not without sacrificing the life of his now worst enemy’s girlfriend, a lithe, supple beauty. The other survivor gives him The Scorpion’s Kiss, a bomb blast of a drug stash, hoping it will do him in. Hiram must go up against the Occultionist’s Tower, a deadly corporation helping the demon, Giblis, come back into the world . . . and now he’s hunting Hiram, the man responsible for preventing his entry last time. Will Hiram have to drink The Digital Eucharist, a symbiotic potion primed to take the conscience of man away, to gain entry and fight the demon?

I enjoyed the raw humor and the subject matter. It wasn’t a bad novella by any means. Some of the description at the end I felt a bit anticlimactic. Everything else was rock solid, nothing boring and tedious. There’s plenty of gripping, gory details and amazing artwork throughout the graphic novella. The non-cumbersome ninety-seven page read held my attention throughout. It’s definitely the best graphic novella since Stephen King’s Silver Bullet. I could have done without the author’s comment at the end, saying mimetic writing is for wimps when talking about writing of lobster girls and laser beams. Seeing as two other writers wrote the first two books, this comment doesn’t make sense to me. Otherwise, a quick, fun read that kept my attention.

A. R. Braun

Around a Dark Corner

Around a Dark Corner
Book Review by: A.R. Braun

Jeani Rector’s Around a Dark Corner is a refreshing collection of short stories that genuinely creeped me out. The book has the look of a small press publication, and if you can get by all the typos and the overuse of passive, to-be verbs like “was” and “were,” you’ll be able to enjoy this work. I found myself liking a little over half of it. She’s done her homework as far as research, and there are some great descriptions of what happens to the body after death. Especially gut-wrenching were “The Dead Man,” “A Medieval Tale of Death,” “The Spirit of Death,” “Horrorscope,” “Maggots” and “Flight 529.”, a story of a plane going down through the protagonist’s point of view.

The story that stood out to me as far as greatness was “Horrorscope.” I’m always going to give kudos to any writer that names her story after an Overkill song–I don’t know if this was intended–and the rantings of a madman in second person had me cringing in my seat.

Although she seems to have mastered the short story, I didn’t care for the long short story, “Lady Cop,” and the novella, “A Teenage Short Story.” The long-winded stories came off a bit simplistic and heavy-laden with what seemed like rushed content just to fill up space. I have to ask myself why a high school girl would care about a murder in 1935, but I won’t give away the ending or too much content.

I recommend Around a Dark Corner because a little over half the short stories sent shivers down my spine and had me wincing.