Posts Tagged ‘Review’

Book Reviewer Wanted

Niteblade is looking for another book reviewer or two. That reviewer could be you if you:

  • Enjoy reading small press publications and sharing your opinion about them
  • Are familiar with (or willing to learn) how to post blog entries via Word Press
  • Can write clearly
  • Are not looking to get rich

Unfortunately we can only afford a token payment for reviews ($1, plus a .pdf copy of each issue of Niteblade as they come out) so you will not get rich doing this job. I encourage reviewers to aim for one review a month as a minimum.

If you’re interested please email me at rhonda @ with a sample book review (of any book you’ve read recently) that follows our reviewer guidelines under the cut. Use the word ‘Reviewer’ somewhere in the subject line of your email, please.

There is no ‘application deadline’ or anything like that. The first couple reviewers who seem to be a good fit will be welcomed to the team.

Thank you!

Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Review: Shadow of the Antlered Bird by David Sklar

Shadow of the Antlered Bird
Book review by Amber Stults

Shadow of the Antlered Bird is about Tam.  Born of a fairy mother and human man, he’s at an age where he wishes to strike out on his own and learn more about the human side of himself.  He uses the knowledge of magic gained from his mother to keep her from finding him.  It’s not that Tam is superior at magic or his mother’s ability is inferior.  In fact, she’s quite powerful.  He uses different materials in his spells in order to obfuscate his mother’s ability to track him.  As a result of her interference with one of Tam’s spells, something is released that has desires of its own.  And it wants to have Tam’s life by any means. 

April, a human, joins Tam on his cross-country trip simply because he’s her friend.  It doesn’t hurt that he’s kind of cute too.  She teaches him more about being human than he was able to learn on his own.

The fairy world of David Sklar’s making is not like the others I’ve encountered.  Many have dark undertones in their dealings with Tam but they aren’t malicious.  They recognize whatever is after Tam is powerful and they’re more worried about self preservation than about angering Tam’s mother. 

The themes in Tam’s story are timeless ones told with humor and honesty.  Shadow of the Antlered Bird is an engaging read that happens to be a page turner.

Review: Unholy Embrace by Neil Benson

Unholy Embrace
Book review by Amber Stults

Unholy Embrace by Neil Benson is the tale of what happens to Frank after he meets a vampire in a bar.  Frank is an architect in his 30’s who spends his spare time oil painting or drinking Heineken.  He does not believe in vampires, werewolves or other supernatural creatures.

His mind changes after meeting Nessa, a Hungarian vampire who is several hundred years old.  Whatever his intention when he enters the upscale vampire nightclub, he leaves with Nessa and a chance at love.  His association with Nessa brings him into contact with werewolves and other supernatural creatures he never imagined he’d meet.

Chapters vary between Frank’s and Nessa’s point of view but mostly the story is told from Frank’s viewpoint.  The plot is solid but the characters didn’t come alive for me.  Their interactions with other people are minimal.

Benson’s back story for Nessa is solid and believable.  At first it’s difficult to see what Nessa finds attractive about Frank.  The attraction is probably his skepticism and his loyalty.  This book has action sequences and love scenes but is not a straight horror or straight romance so keep that in mind if you’re not a fan of both.

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

The Demon Redcoat

The Demon Redcoat
Book Review by Amber Stults

The Demon Redcoat is the final book in C.C. Finlay’s Traitor to the Crown trilogy.  In the series Finlay addresses the scenario of what may have happened if both sides of the American Revolution used witches in the war.  Finlay stays true to the actual timeline of events without moving them around to suit his purposes and a few famous figures make appearances as the main character, Proctor Brown, works to secure America’s freedom from the British.

Proctor is a former minuteman whose life has taken unexpected turns because of the war.  Though his life hasn’t gone exactly as he imagined it would, Proctor has the two things he wanted the most – a wife and land.  Through a series of events in the first book, Proctor was sent to The Farm where he met Deborah and fell in love with her.  Deborah’s parents were part of an underground railroad for witches and owned The Farm.

At The Farm, witches practice their magic and learn how to control it.  It’s also a safe haven for witches.  Proctor’s magic originally manifested in the ability to see the future but through practice and trials experienced in the previous books, he has grown more powerful than he ever imagined.

The British have a secret society of European witches known as the Covenant helping their cause.  England recognizes the rights of blacks as free people but ironically continue to kill witches for practicing their magic.  The Covenant has inserted itself into positions of power in Europe and some of its members have lived for hundreds of years.  They would like to defeat the American rebels in order to maintain their current power.  Throughout the trilogy The Farm has received quite a bit of attention from the Covenant.  Deborah and Proctor decide the only way to save them and their loved ones is to take the fight to the Covenant.

Proctor represents the everyman and the action always focuses on him.  Once he is on his way to Europe, Finlay is able to keep the reader informed of what is happening in America without breaking in with a narrator.  These glimpses of events without full knowledge of the circumstances give the reader the same sense of confusion and dismay experienced by Proctor.  This serves the story well.

The topic of slavery comes to the forefront in both subtle and obvious ways.  Accompanying Proctor to Europe is a former slave, Lydia, who pretends he is her master.  Lydia finds her role a difficult one to return to, just as the rebels found it increasingly difficult to go along with the demands of the British.

This is a good book to turn to for some cerebral fun with some action thrown into the mix.  No zombies or animated scarecrows arrive for the action as in previous books.  As the title suggests there are plenty of demons.  One scene with King George would be laugh out loud funny if it were not for the seriousness of the situation.  Overall it’s a satisfying ending to the series and even leaves an opening for a series set during the Civil War.

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.

Review: “Who Mourns For the Hangman?” by S. A. Bolich

Who Mourns for the Hangman? By S. A. Bolich

"Who Mourns for the Hangman?" by S. A. Bolich

"Who Mourns for the Hangman?" by S. A. Bolich

Published by Damnation Books

“Who Mourns for the Hangman?” is a novella by S. A. Bolich set in the 19th century. A hangman by the name of Scraggy Barton has been called to a town in order to hang a young man known only to him as “Young James.”

Scraggy is a hangman with a reputation.  His noose glows with the power of providing justice to the people.  If his noose glows, the person is a criminal, worthy of the death that he is about to receive.  Having received a letter regarding this “Young James,” the noose glowed stronger than it had in the past.  But will Scraggy be able to let it do its job?

This novella is extremely rich in imagery. While most writers and books on writing tell new writers to stay away from it, Ms. Bolich has masterfully used smidgens of dialect to color her story so that the readers’ suspension of disbelief even easier.  The emotions of Scraggy Barton as he is faced with a situation that he never once expected are clearly described and heavily felt in the stomach of the reader.

The characters in “Who Mourns for the Hangman?” are fully fleshed out and visible in the mind’s eye as the reader ingests the words of the story.  And, to answer the titular question, it is we, the readers, who mourn with the hangman as he remembers his life and choosing his work of distributing justice over that of being a father to his son, a husband to his wife.

I will be searching out more of Ms. Bolich’s work.  You can find her online at her website, The official site for S.A. Bolich and follow her writing blog, Words From Thin Air.


Kari Wolfe is a freelance author, reviewer and stay-at-home mother of the cutest little girl in the whole wide world (ok, she is a little biased).  You can contact her directly at kari.j.wolfe (at) and can find more of her work on her blog, Imperfect Clarity.

Peckinpah: An Ultraviolent Romance

Pekinpah: An Ultraviolent Romance
Book Review by Jonathan Parrish


A recurring theme, hammered into your head. You wallow in it, you might say.

I couldn’t be happier. Possibly as happy as a porcine in feces. Possibly my own.

D. Harlan Wilson’s Pekinpah: An Ultraviolent Romance is not a happy read; so (to paraphrase Gary Larson) if your fridge is covered in Family Circus cartoons, you will not like it. If, on the other hand, you thought Naked Lunch was one of the best reads you’ve had, then this book has a lot of potential for you.

The book is an homage to director Sam Pekinpah, the master of slow-motion ultraviolence – a director whose imagery persists in your memory. Single scenes stake claims in parts of your mind even when the movies as a whole fade (while Convoy has not remained intact in my memory, the cafe fight scene has).

Appropriately then, Wilson weaves words into a brutal tapestry, creating a presence that will remain with you long after you stop reading. Pekinpah is confrontational and crude, with clipped sentences and stark images. The images are gritty and the progression is erratic, a series of prose paintings.

“Sky the color of uncooked fowl. Dead signage with no titles. Abandoned. Expansive gravel pit. Tread marks from pickup trucks. Tumbleweed. Skeletal trees, skeletal bushes. Telephone poles. Dead smokestacks on the outskirts. Cinderblock outhouse and concession stand in the middle of the pit, haunted by the ghosts of hotdogs, caramel corn,  candy bars, Slurpees, eight lb. bowel movements… The movie screen looms over the pit. A dispossessed employee.”

The chapters describe what could be perceived as a series of scenes from a hypothetical movie. As Sam Pekinpah is no longer with us, the movie would, if it was ever made, need to be directed by David Lynch and it would be more disjointed than Eraserhead. John Woo, despite taking the mantle of slow-motion ultraviolence, would make the movie too pretty.

“Last line of the chapter—a quotation—a string of dialogue—a dark, gravely voice-over with a faint air of empathy and caring:… “We must first understand violence before we can control it.””

As disjointed as the individual pieces are, the chapters in Wilson’s book all come together into a melange, an existential love-letter to Sam Pekinpah. A more than fitting tribute. Strange. Erratic. Captivating.

Win a Signed Copy of Breathers

Breathers by S. G. Browne

I loved this book. Not only does Breathers have zombies it’s funny, romantic and has something to say. Mostly it’s just a lot of fun to read and I devoured it.

While at the World Horror Convention, S.G. Browne signed an extra copy of Breathers for me, and I will be giving it away to a lucky Niteblade reader.

The table of contents for the June issue of Niteblade, Of Warmth, Of Dragons, has been finalized and it’s going to be a great one.

Of Warmth, Of Dragons by Michael R. Fosburg
Untitled by Greg Schwartz
Blood Brother by Angel Zapata
Breathless Reunion by Ann K. Schwader
Brain Cookies by Kaolin Fire
Family Jaunt by Lucien E. G. Spelman
He Wanted by Stephanie Smith
The Price by Michael R. Fosburg
These Trees Outside the Window by John Grey
Dead Hands Claw by Anthony Bernstein
Keepsakes by R. J. Walker Miller
Work of Horror by Noel Sloboda
Brad Pitt Sells You His Doppelganger’s Home by Philip Coffeen

The Empty Crib at the End of the World by Beth Cato
A Night With Grimes by Bret Jordan
Cemetery Pet by Marge Simon
Rocky Road and a Dead End by David Flint
The Strawman and a Murder by Jeff Menapace
Monsters by Stephen Graham Jones
Whipped by Paul Ingrassia
Dream Spinner by Robert E. Keller
The Never Fair by Kenneth Schneyer
Giant Killer by Howie Good
The Parts of Justice by Gavin Hughes
Behind Blue Eyes by Sharon Kae Reamer
Copperheads by Catherine Brown

Amber Stults reviews The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines
Kari Wolfe reviews Unabridged, Unabashed and Undead: A Collection of the Best Zombie Short Stories by Eric S. Brown

The online version of the June issue, like the March issue before it, will take the form of a wordpress blog. However, during the month of June any comments left on the blog will be considered entries into a draw for the signed copy of Breathers. Also, purchasing the .pdf version of the June issue will be considered five entries into the draw. A winner will be chosen on July 1st from all the entries.

So a great line up of stories, poems and book reviews, plus a chance to win a signed copy of a fantastic zombie novel. Niteblade is totally the place to be this June! Mark the first on your calendar, you won’t want to miss this.