Archive for the ‘Scary Stuff’ Category

The following review features mention of suicide. If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal or considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline by dialing 988 in the United States. Other nations have similar hotlines set up and they are just a Google search away, so please make that call if dark thoughts are plaguing you. Thank you.

Black Paradox follows four individuals who meet on an online suicide message board. However, almost immediately odd events derail their plans, most notably the discovery that one of their members has a portal in their belly to another dimension and keeps vomiting up precious gems (yes, you read that right). However, the gems contain a dark secret, and their discovery in our world set events into motion that will affect not just the four protagonists, but the entirety of humanity.

I would say that the word that describes this short series is “inventive.” Almost immediately, weird stuff happens and it is generally very freaky. The gems, later called “paradonite,” are also an inventive touch, as well as what they do. I haven’t seen much horror around gemstones unless it’s like a haunted/cursed necklace or something. Plus there’s a robot in there, doppelgangers, and quite a few other things that will surprise you. The paradonite itself is an interesting object, as it has a few surprises associated with it.

The art is also quality. Ito being Ito, you know he’s going to put a lot of effort into his work to create an evocative and at times unsettling illustration. It’s especially effective with sequences of body horror, which are rife throughout this book.

However, it does feel like at times Ito was making it up as he went along, and not in a good way. There are certain threads that are left dangling at the end of the series, and while in horror it’s okay to sometimes leave certain questions unanswered, especially with Ito’s work, it didn’t work too well this time around. Also, I don’t think the topic of suicide was handled as delicately as it could have been. At times, as events unfold, it’s almost brushed off and forgotten as inconsequential.

Also, there’s a four-page bonus story at the end that’s kind of included as a joke. It’s not very good. I’m not sure why it was included.

Despite all that, however, I would call Black Paradox quintessential Ito and worth a read. I struggled on what score to give this one, but I kept coming back to 3.8 out of 5, so I’ll go with that. If you are looking for a strange and surprising horror manga, I would recommend Black Paradox (though Uzumaki and Remina are still leagues better).

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. It’s been a hell of a month, but a good month nonetheless. I hope December is just as good and that we all have a stress-free time during the last 34 days and three-or-so hours of 2022. Until next time, pleasant nightmares!

My AI art portrait of the King in Yellow. Couldn’t think of anything more perfect to showcase with this story’s release.

Oh Glory to the King in Yellow! My story “The Dedication of the High Priestess” has finally been released! And even better, it’s been released in an audio format, which is always very special!

Now, if you don’t know, “The Dedication of the High Priestess” is a short story I wrote back in late 2021 combining both my love of ballet with the story of the King in Yellow (see this incredible video by The Tale Foundry if you would like to know more about the character before going into the story itself). It follows a young ballerina who finds herself chosen for a special role by the King, and what happens when she becomes exposed to his influence.

I know I say this about a lot of my stories that are published lately, but I do feel this is some of my best work. I really feel that I got to capture the main character, Anastasia Hummel’s, despair and abrupt transition into adulthood very well while also telling a great horror story. Honestly, I haven’t been this excited for you all to read one of my stories in a while, that’s how much I love it and how good I think it is.

Not to mention that it’s being released on the Tales to Terrify podcast. As you can guess from the title, the Tales to Terrify podcast is dedicated to reading aloud terrifying stories submitted by writers like you and me and narrated by professional narrators. And boy, did they do an amazing job with “Dedication!” The narrator, Amy Paonessa (God, I hope I spelled that correctly), brought Anastasia to life perfectly and mirrored her emotions so well. I was impressed and amazed as I listened, unable to stop. And I’m sure you all feel the same way when you hear her narrate the tale.

I hope you take the time to listen to the story and then let me know what you think. Hell, maybe you’ll even spread it around so that other people can hear it and experience it for themselves. I would very much appreciate that, as would the good folks at Tales to Terrify.

Anyway, I’ll leave a link for you all below. I can’t wait to hear what you think of the story. Now, if anyone needs me, I’ll be spreading the word about the story and thinking about how it came out right as lots of ballet companies around the world are putting on their annual Nutcracker productions.* Then I’ll drive out to see some family while also writing the script for the movie version in my head.**

Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and be careful who you punch out during Black Friday sales today. They might come for you and do more than punch you back!

Tales to Terrify – Episode 565 – Rami Ungar

*Coincidence? Probably, but a cool coincidence.

**No, a movie version isn’t planned at this point, but that has never stopped me from dreaming. And I feel “Dedication” would make a great psychological horror film.

The RMS Queen Mary, one of the locations I would like to visit someday.

So I may be super busy these days writing a hundred different projects while also working a day job, but there’s one thing I can always make time for: looking up haunted places I want to investigate. And as expected, I have ten more I want to visit and even investigate. And some of them are even close! I hope that means I can get into them eventually.

Anyway, let’s talk about some haunted locations I will want to visit, investigate, and eventually force one of you to join me for a night of terrifying occurrences. Yes, I might kidnap one of you, Followers of Fear. You know I’m capable of it.

Marsh’s Library, Dublin, Ireland
Marsh’s Library was the first public library in Ireland, and dates back 300 years. From what I hear, folks like Bram Stoker and James Joyce may have spent time researching there and going through its over 25,000 volumes and manuscripts, some dating back centuries! Perhaps some of those books have spirits attached to them. What is known is that there are rumors that the library is haunted by its founder, Archbishop Narcissus Marsh, who is buried near the library. According to one legend, his beloved niece eloped and left a note for him in one of the books, so he’s searching for it.
Seems a dumb reason to haunt a library, but that’s just the one legend I was able to find. Perhaps there are other stories behind it. Other ghosts. Which leads me to ask: when can I check in?

Central Ohio Fire Museum, Columbus, Ohio
This one’s really close to me. Like, just a few miles away! Originally a working fire station until 1982, the building was turned into a museum by some firefighters wanting to preserve the history of firefighting. Today, it’s an educational center that teaches about fire safety and preserves the history of the profession in Ohio. However, there are some spooky happenings in that building as well: ghostly thoroughbred horses from the days before fire engines had engines are said to haunt the building, as does a dead fire captain who likes to take inventory. There are also reports of singing coming from nowhere.
I don’t think this place is open to ghost hunts. Still, if I could, I would go.

Pine Street Saloon, Paso Robles, California
The Pine Street Saloon is one of the oldest buildings in the area, having been around since the 1800s and used for various kinds of businesses. Today, it’s a working bar that’s open to the public and that has its fair share of spooky ghosts hanging around. I wouldn’t mind getting out the dowsing rods and doing a spirit session while also drinking a pint or two

Satan’s Hollow, Cincinnati, Ohio
Supposedly there’s a storm drain in the Blue Ash neighborhood of Cincinnati that’s supposedly a portal to Hell. If you manage to find it and go inside, you’ll hear strange noises, ghostly voices, and even demonic growls. Videos online taken in the storm drain often have creepy voices that will deliver shivers to any viewer! Sadly, this place is on private property and going there means you’re trespassing. Apparently the police have to go there multiple times a year because of trespassing calls, especially around Halloween. Makes you feel sorry for the landowners, who are probably lovely people.
Still, it would be cool to investigate. Just make sure to bring some sage with you before you go.

The Yellow House, Six Flags Over Arlington, Texas
In Texas long ago, a little girl named Annie was found dead in a creek. Years later, the Six Flags company built Six Flags Over Arlington, and the land where that creek used to be became part of the park. Annie is sometimes seen around the park, but is well-known to stay at the Yellow House, a yellow building/concession stand near the entrance of the roller coaster the Texas Giant. From what I hear, a paranormal group investigated the building and did get some recordings from Annie, who is generally a kind and mischievous spirit.
I’m not much for theme parks these days (too much standing around in line in the hot summer sun), but if I could investigate the park one night, I’d make the trip.

Sylvan Beach Amusement Park, Sylvan Beach, New York
Another amusement park, but this one is supposedly haunted all over the place, and the park even acknowledges its history of hauntings with ghost tours. Supposedly, people who love the park so much in life stay behind after death just to enjoy the rides and games for all eternity. I’d be willing to come by after hours to check this place out.

Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Michigan
The Grand Hotel is one of Michigan’s most beautiful resorts! Built in the 19th century, it’s a lovely building with great architecture and some lovely golf courses, stables, dining facilities and other attractions. However, there’s a dark history to the area. The island used to be home to both Native Americans and an Army fort, so there were a lot of deaths over the years. Supposedly, so many skeletons were found during construction, the construction crew gave up trying to excavate them all and just built over them. Stories of spirits haunting the place include a woman in Victorian clothing traipsing through the halls and climbing into beds at night, a man with a top hat smoking a cigar in the piano lounge, and a malevolent shadow figure with red eyes that was once spotted in the theater.
I don’t know if they lean into their haunted history at all, but if they do, invite me over. I want to find some spooks!

Cachtice Castle, Slovakia
Ever heard of Elizabeth Bathory? For those of you who haven’t, she was a Hungarian noblewoman who was accused of killing many young girls and women for the sadistic pleasure of it. Some legends even claim she bathed in the blood of her victims as part of a macabre beauty regimen (likely false, as it was first recorded a century after Bathory’s death and ascribes a very stereotypical reason for the murders. I guess for some people, women being sadistic for sadism’s sake is just too ludicrous).
Nowadays, there’s a lot of doubt that Bathory did commit those murders, or as many as is popularly rumored. Instead, she may have been the victim of a witch hunt, accused of heinous crimes because she was a powerful landowning woman whom even the King of Hungary owed a favor to. God forbid they just let a woman be independent and capable and even a national leader!
But even if the stories are lies, the castle where she supposedly committed those crimes is still around. Whether or not it’s the sight of terrible horrors, it’s probably picked up a ghost or two. Maybe even Elizabeth Bathory’s ghost. Who wants to visit with me?

Queen Mary, Long Beach, California
A former British ocean liner, the Queen Mary was used as a commercial passenger ship and, during WWII, a naval troopship. In 1967, it was retired and moored in Long Beach, California, where the city purchased it and converted it into a hotel, museum and tourist attraction. Given its history, it’s not surprising that it’s gained a reputation for being haunted. One stateroom is home to the spirit of a man who was allegedly murdered, and a former third-class cabin is said to be, by the Queen Mary’s own admission, “notoriously haunted.” I want to go there, I want to investigate, and I want to write a story based in the hotel. Who’s with me?

Catalina Casino, Catalina, California
A lot of California locations this time around, isn’t there? Anyway, this isn’t a gambling establishment, but instead comes from the original Spanish word for casino, “gathering place.” Indeed, the casino has a theater and a ballroom, and is where the residents of Catalina Island are supposed to head to when disaster strikes. However, the place is filled with a lot of spirits. A very aggressive woman supposedly haunts one of the lounges, spirits are sometimes heard knocking around the theater, and the casino once held a museum inside featuring skeletons of the local natives, which probably contributed to the hauntings.
Anyone want to make a trip out to California?


That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I haven’t had anything really worth blogging about lately, so I’m glad I was able to at least get together a list of haunted locations to visit at the right time and post about it. But tell me, have you been to any of these places? Are there any I should add to my list for next time? Do you plan to become a ghost after you die, or do you have other plans? Let’s discuss.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night and pleasant nightmares.

Has it really been six months since The Pure World Comes was released on paperback and ebook (and three months since it was released on audio book)? Maybe it’s because I moved into a condo and the entire month of October happened, and just a lot of other stuff occurred, but yeah. It’s been six months. And I have to say, it’s been nice to hear that people are enjoying it.

So, if you’re new here, then first off, hi! How are you? What’s your favorite horror novel and horror movie? If you don’t have one, better fix that soon.

Second off, The Pure World Comes, or TPWC, is a Gothic horror novel I wrote in 2020. It was first licensed on an app in 2021, and was officially released on May 10th, 2022. I often describe the novel as the love-child of Frankenstein and Crimson Peak, which is a pretty apt description. It follows Shirley Dobbins, a maid living in Victorian England who goes to work at the estate of the Baronet Hunting after the deaths of her previous employers. However, strange occurrences happen at the baronet’s estate, the Hunting Lodge, and some of them seem quite deadly. Does it have anything to do with the baronet’s research into a fringe science that might cure humanity’s imperfections? Shirley will find out, and her life will change along the way.

Did that catch your attention? It tends to do so. And thanks to that description, I’ve been lucky to get plenty of readers in the past six months. And some of them even leave reviews. Here’s what people are saying:

I love it when I’m pleasantly surprised by a book. Rami Ungar is not a debut author, (according to the back of the book, this is his fourth novel), but his work is new to me and so I went in not knowing what to expect. What I got was a short novel so perfectly Victorian and utterly Gothic that it made my old-fashioned self giddy as a schoolgirl…Mixing classic-romantic Victorian elements with early science-fiction, tales of Jack the Ripper/Spring-Heeled Jack, and a bit of the occult, this book gives the reader a truly chilling and also slightly fun little Gothic adventure.

Heather Miller, author of “Tales My Grandmother Told Me,” Amazon

In Victorian England, Shirley Dobbins rises from lowly maid to competent scientist. The problem is, her tutor and employer is a mad scientist, and his mansion is haunted. I loved the cast Ungar put together, young to old, rich and poor, lower class and upper class, and most dramatically, kind hearted and evil. The mad scientist’s haunted mansion is a character, too, with its secret laboratory and portals and rats and a haunted toilet…Gothic horror fans will love The Pure World Comes. Ungar keeps getting better and better. He has become an auto-buy author for me.

Priscilla Bettis, author of “Dog Meat,” Goodreads

Really enjoyed this! Been a while since I’ve read a Gothic tale and it did not disappoint. I love the twists that it took!

Pax Panic, YouTuber, Goodreads

And on Audible, the audio book recently got its first couple of reviews. Here’s what they said:

Very interesting story that brings together the evolution of science and some history too. I especially liked the strong female heroine.

Arthur Siegal, Audible US

Great story. Loved the main character. The narrator does a great job, especially with the voices.

Iseult Murphy, author of “All of Me,” Audible UK

High praise. And all these reviews have led to TPWC to receive ratings of 4 and up on Amazon, Goodreads and Audible. It makes me really happy that so many people enjoyed the story and thought it was good. And that’s why, even as I work on my other projects, I’m working hard to get this book into as many hands as possible. I want people to enjoy this work of Gothic horror and tell as many others about it as they can, so those people can enjoy it too.

If you’re interested in reading The Pure World Comes, I’ll leave all the links I can down below. And if you like what you read, please leave a review. Not only do I leave reader feedback, but your thoughts help other readers figure out whether or not they should check out the book.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I hope you’re having a good week, no matter what direction election week has gone. Until next time, good night, happy reading and pleasant nightmares.

The Pure World Comes: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo, Goodreads, Audible, Chirp, BingeBooks, LIbro.Fm, Storytel, Google Play

In truth, I should have posted this update last night. That’s when I finished the latest chapter of the novel. But it was nearly eleven at night, and I had to go into the office this morning, so I put it off till now. Would have been written earlier in the day, but I had to de-stress from work and relieve my election related anxiety.

So, as many of you know, I’ve been working on-and-off on a new novel, a mummy novel tentatively called Crawler. The story was inspired by that god-awful movie with Tom Cruise that came out in 2017. Or maybe I should say it’s my attempt to show the world (and maybe Universal) how to write a decent mummy story. We’ll hopefully see someday whether or not I’m successful in that department.

Anyway, I’ve been writing four chapters at a time, then working on other, shorter projects that I can submit to other publishers. And if you’ve guessed that I’m going to post an update every four chapters, you’re completely right. In fact, the chapter I finished last night was Chapter 8. And if I’m being honest, these past four chapters have been among my favorites to work on so far.

Yeah, I know. How can I have favorites this early in the process? The novel is barely a quarter written! And you’d be right. But these chapters have some (what I think is) great content. Chapters 5 and 8 have some nice, slow character development and bonding that I really enjoyed writing. I really got to showcase the forming and established bonds between these characters, which is something I feel like I haven’t done enough of in my previous novels.

And Chapters 6 and 7 did plenty to establish the mystery and terror of the story. Chapter 7 in particular, I feel, was quite creepy and is a nice little opener for the horror that the readers will eventually get to experience. I’m trying to approach the idea of the mummy as a threat in a way that hasn’t been done before, so seeing the initial results with these initial chapters is encouraging to me and makes me think I’m onto something here.

And when I get back to this novel, I’ll be diving right back into the horror and seeing if my idea goes anywhere (no spoiler, but Chapter 9 is going to be something else). At the moment, the novel is currently 133 pages (regular MS Word pages, double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font) and 37,575 words. It’s going to be one hell of a Stephen King doorstopper when it’s done. And hopefully just as terrifying. Or if not terrifying, hopefully just as interesting.

In the meantime, however, I’ll be working on a couple of (hopefully) shorter works, and finally editing that story where I put some neo-Nazis through the hell they deserve. All these stories have a common theme to them, so I think they might work well together if I wanted to create a new collection or something. Of course, we’ll have to wait and see what I end up writing, if it’s any good and if I think a collection is the best way to go with these stories.

But first, I’ll need to write and edit them, of course! And I look forward to every moment of it.

Well, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I need to head to bed. So, until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and may God have mercy on all our souls! Trust me, there’s a good chance we’re going to need it.

Surprise! I got a new article out!

So, if you haven’t heard of Ginger Nuts of Horror, it’s a huge website dedicated to horror and the horror community. Reviews, interviews, scholarly articles, you name it, they have it. Previously they’ve published a few articles of mine, and I’m happy to have another article on their site. This one is called “From Slender Man to the Backrooms,” and explores how horror folklore such as Slender Man and the more recent Backrooms goes viral.*

If you have a few minutes available, you can go and read the article online now. No paywalls, so you can read it without any issue. And if you like what you read, or disagree with my ideas, I hope you’ll let me know what you thought. I’d be happy to continue the discussion with you all.

Just be respectful if you disagree with my opinion or if you have a thing against Slender Man or anything. I know it’s all the rage to rage at people who disagree with you, but this blog is a place to show respect.

Anyway, link’s below. I look forward to hearing what you think of the article. In the meantime, I’ll be writing during the commercial breaks. Are you watching American Horror Story tonight? God, this season is really good! I hope they can keep it up for the rest of the season.

This post is going all over the place, isn’t it? Oh well, it’s my blog, so a little randomness is to be expected. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

GINGER NUTS OF HORROR — FROM SLENDER MAN TO THE BACKROOMS

*If you’re not familiar with the Backrooms, go look it up after reading the article. It’s such a trip!

Where did the month go? How are we already in November? And why were stores putting up Christmas decorations before Halloween had even passed? I know it’s a big holiday, but come on! At least wait till November before you put that stuff up!

Anyway, onto why you’re all here. As many of you know, I co-founded a small publishing company called Cracked Skull Press with some of my fellow Ohio horror writers, and we released our first anthology, That Which Cannot Be Undone, on October 4th. The anthology is written entirely by Ohio authors, and each story is set in Ohio, as well as revolving around the theme “that which cannot be undone.”

Obviously, I have a story in the anthology, “Is Anyone There?” which takes place in the Ohio State Reformatory, one of the most haunted locations in America and one of my favorite places in the world. So far, I’m getting some good feedback on it.

I’ve said it before, but it’s very exciting for all of us writers to have this anthology out. And we’ve been doing our best to make sure as many people as possible check it out. We just had a release party at a restaurant in Columbus the other day (one of the waiters actually bought a book off us), and this past weekend, some of Cracked Skull Press and the other writers showed up at a local writing-related establishment for an event (I was at the ballet). Thanks to all this work, more people than ever are reading the anthology, and we’re so glad they are.

Not only that, but we’ve had some amazing reviews. The Akron Beacon-Journal from Akron, Ohio gave the book a very positive review, as did Kirkus Reviews! And from what I hear, more publications are going to release reviews of TWCBU soon! Imagine, so many publications are going to have reviews of this book in it! The mind boggles.

Not to mention all the love we’ve gotten from readers on Amazon and Goodreads. Here are what people are saying:

A gem. I’m an avid reader and writer and new to the horror genre. This was a great opportunity to explore a bunch of creative and very different authors. I snickered, I laughed, I almost cried from the beauty of several scenes. I lost my breath at several twists. I grinned at several regional legends brought to life. I’ve found a new genre.

Justin Reynolds, Goodreads

This book contains 18 stories of the deranged, mysterious, spooky, and disturbed. These stories all take place somewhere in Ohio and include a little bit for everyone. There’s a possible vampire baby, a dead girl in the snow, gender-shifting, an underwater town, death by lawnmower, a reanimated body, a FrankenDaddy, and some insurance revenge.

The stories are so creative and well-written that I found myself just sinking into the book until I found myself at the last page. This speaks to the excellent editing, as well, because I am easily distracted by grammar errors, misspellings, duplicated words, etc. This book was so well edited, I remember thinking about it while I read, amazed I hadn’t encountered an error. A perfect addition to your spooky season reads! Just released and ready for you to grab now on Amazon!

The Bookish Abyss, Amazon

What a great idea for a horror anthology. These eighteen stories, all set in Ohio, weave different aspects of the state into their terrifying narratives. From the cities of Cleveland and Columbus, to an old prison, a drowned town, an abandoned winery, and many other natural and notable locations, these stories place Ohio front and centre on the map of horror landscapes…A frightening anthology that has ensured if I ever visit Ohio, I will be very afraid.

Iseult Murphy, Author of “All of Me,” Goodreads

Not only are people loving it, but some are discovering the horror genre for the first time and loving it because of TWCBU! Can you imagine? A lot of people say Stephen King or Anne Rice or Shirley Jackson or other major authors were their introduction to horror. Hell, King is why I’m writing horror today! And now something I’m part of is bringing new fans to the genre. It’s an honor to be part of this project.

If you’re interested in this book, I’ll leave links below. You’ll find stories about serial killers, underwater towns, ghosts, people haunted by more than ghosts, and so much more, so why not dive in and see what sort of stories you’ll come across? Perhaps something will be your new favorite.

And if you do read it, be sure to leave a review. Reviews help bring visibility to the book and allow other readers to figure out whether or not a book might be up their alley. So please be sure to share your thoughts when you’re done.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll be back with more to post soon. Until then, happy reading, pleasant nightmares, and 364 days till the next Halloween. I wonder what horrors will occur in the meantime?

That Which Cannot Be Undone: Amazon, Goodreads

About a year or two ago, this one title became kind of a sensation in one of Facebook groups. Everyone was talking about it, raving that it was the next best thing in indie horror. Combined with a striking cover and name, I couldn’t help but grow curious. Sadly, my TBR list is already a mile high, so I had trouble getting around to reading it. Thankfully, I get plenty of reading done thanks to audio books, so when I found out the audio book for this novel was finally released, I scooped it up for my October read.

So, after all that hype and fanfare, is Stolen Tongues worth the wait?

Set mostly in California and Colorado, Stolen Tongues follows a fictionalized version of the author himself, Felix Blackwell, as he and his fiancée Faye go up to her parents’ cabin in the mountains as a little engagement present. However, the lovers’ weekend is interrupted when they find a strange object hanging from the trees, and later that night start to hear odd voices coming from the surrounding woods. Soon, Faye starts to walk and talk in her sleep, and it becomes clear that something is influencing her in her dreams. And it will stop at nothing to have her.

So, the suspense throughout this novel is phenomenal. The prologue itself would make a terrifying short story on its own, and the early scenes, where we have no idea what sort of monster we’re dealing with or how it’s doing what it’s doing, are some of the tensest, most heart-pounding scenes I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. It’s also quite unsettling to see Faye undergoing changes due to the influence of the creature. Her personality warps at times, as do her memories, and you feel the narrator’s anguish and concern as she becomes someone he doesn’t recognize.

I also like the reverence and respect shown to Native American beliefs, both the beliefs themselves and indigenous people’s attitudes towards their beliefs and sharing them with outsiders. As the novel’s monster draws heavily from Native American culture, it’s refreshing to see so much respect. Often, horror that draws on Native American folklore and ideas doesn’t always include the very peoples from whom the folklore and ideas derive from, and when they do, not always in the most respectful manner, so it’s a welcome change to see said folklore, as well as Native characters, portrayed with such care.

Actually, the author includes at the end of the book an essay he wrote on writing Native American characters and horror based on their folklore, which I would read after you’re done with the novel.

Sadly, the novel isn’t perfect. After the reveal of what the creature is, some of the tension and mystery is sacrificed. The author does try to keep things creepy, especially after the narrator has a close-up encounter with the monster, but it’s not always successful. I also thought the ending was rushed and a letdown, with far too much telling, not enough showing, and not a finale epic or scary enough to match the rest of the novel.

I know me griping about showing vs. telling when I only just got better at that this year is rich, but it’s still a legitimate problem.

Overall, while it’s not the terrifying ride of suspense and creepy atmosphere that I was led to believe I was going to get, Stolen Tongues by Felix Blackwell is still a decent and chilling novel. Those sections where the tensions really works make it worth the read all on its own. On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m going to give it a straight 4. If you’re still looking for something spooky to read this October, this book might be a good choice. I’m certainly glad I finally got around to reading it.

I did warn you this post was coming, didn’t I?

As many of you are aware at this point, I’m the co-founder of an independent publishing press, Cracked Skull Press, and we released our first anthology, That Which Cannot Be Undone, exactly two weeks ago today. The anthology is written entirely by Ohio authors, every story is set in Ohio, and the theme of the anthology is “that which cannot be undone.” This anthology is the result of a successful Kickstarter campaign, as well as lots of tears, sweat, discussion, blood, and so much more, and I’m so proud that I got to be part of its creation.

I’m also quite proud to have one of my own stories, “Is Anyone There?”, in the anthology. It’s about a ghost at the Ohio State Reformatory, one of my favorite places on Earth, and I consider it some of my best work.

Anyway, in the two weeks since the book was released, we at Cracked Skull Press have sent out copies of the anthology to the backers who supported us and have sold plenty of copies through Amazon. The result is that we’ve been seeing a lot of people reading the anthology, which is what we always hoped for! And not only that, but we’ve been getting plenty of reviews. At the time I’m writing this, we’ve received nine reviews on Amazon and eleven ratings with ten reviews on Amazon, for an average rating of 4.6 out of 5 and 4.18 out of 5, respectively.

Here are what people are saying:

This is a horror themed short story collection with a diverse range of topics. All stories have two things in common – they take place in Ohio and the underlying theme is that somehow something in the story is irreversible. As always with such collections I enjoyed some stories more than others, yet there weren’t any that I actually disliked. I think the editor did a good job putting this anthology together. Some stories had so cool concepts that I was “enraged” when they ended, wishing they were made into novels or movies. A few were based on myths or locations authors knew about…Some really imaginative and original stories in here that did manage to “wow” me and make it quite easy to recommend this anthology.

Aili Annuk, Amazon

This book brings together short stories that are very different from each other, all set in Ohio. Some are more horrific, others more melancholic, but they all have something original and appealing. Whether they are about ghosts, teeth, PTSD, or murder, they all have a dark and intriguing atmosphere that makes you want to keep reading. A perfect read for a cozy autumn evening.

Aiden Messer, Goodreads

What a great idea for a horror anthology. These eighteen stories, all set in Ohio, weave different aspects of the state into their terrifying narratives. From the cities of Cleveland and Columbus, to an old prison, a drowned town, an abandoned winery, and many other natural and notable locations, these stories place Ohio front and centre on the map of horror landscapes.

Iseult Murphy, author of All of Me, Amazon

High praise, indeed. And if things continue in this vein, we’ll only be getting more.

Anyway, if you would like to support our little venture and get some good scary reading in before Halloween, I’ll leave links to the anthology below. You can check it out, read the reviews, and then decide whether or not you’d like to read That Which Cannot Be Undone yourself. And if you end up reading it, I hope you’ll leave us a review. It lets us know what you think and helps other readers decide whether or not to read the book.

Anyway, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I hope you’re having a wonderful and spooky October. Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and 13 days till Halloween! Who has sweets and scary movies ready?

That Which Cannot Be Undone: Amazon, Goodreads

You know the drill: I released something, so I have to do a post about it the day of, one week after, two weeks after, one month after, two months after, three months after, six months after, one year after, and then every year on the release anniversary. Hopefully you don’t find that too annoying.

So, as you know, last week the press I’m part of, Cracked Skull Press, released That Which Cannot Be Undone, an anthology of horror stories written by Ohio horror authors, set in Ohio, and revolving around the theme “that which cannot be undone.” This includes my spooky ghost story “Is Anyone There?,” which takes place at the Ohio State Reformatory and is inspired by something that happened to me at the prison a few years ago.

(I also had a short story, “Disillusionment and Trauma Sometimes Go Hand-in-Hand,” published in Volume 14 of the Ink Stains Anthology series on the same day, and you can get a copy for that here. However, since I had a bigger hand in the creation and release of TWCBU, this post focuses on that.)

As you know, getting this anthology created started over a year ago with just a dream and some talk among my fellow Ohio writers and friends. And a year, a Kickstarter campaign, and a whole lot of work later, the book is out, and we at Cracked Skull Press are focused on making sure that the book’s release isn’t the last you hear of it. Rather, we’re focusing on making sure that this dream goes on, and leads to all sorts of wonderful things. That TWCBU becomes an anthology all horror fans want on their bookshelves!

And from the looks of it, we’re making good progress on doing just that. It’s only been a week, but at the time I’m writing this, TWCBU has amassed four reviews on Amazon and five on Goodreads for an average score of 4.7 out of 5 and 4.40 out of 5, respectively. Here are what people are saying:

What a great idea for a horror anthology. These eighteen stories, all set in Ohio, weave different aspects of the state into their terrifying narratives. From the cities of Cleveland and Columbus, to an old prison, a drowned town, an abandoned winery, and many other natural and notable locations, these stories place Ohio front and centre on the map of horror landscapes.

Iseult Murphy, author of All of Me, Goodreads

When I was in 5th grade I discovered horror fiction, and I’ve been a fan ever since (almost 40 years), and I’ve always had an affliction for short story horror fiction collections. Especially the kind that makes a 12 year old think its better to ‘hold it’ than make a break for the bathroom in the middle of the night – the risk of putting a foot on the floor at 3am is too great.

This is a (creepy) collection of short stories, all with ties to Ohio where I now reside, although many references will be well known outside the area.

Its any easy read, as most short story collections are, with a variety of writing styles, so each story feels fresh. Some creepier than others, but all entertaining by their own merit. As the days are getting shorter and the weather colder, this makes for a perfect bed time snack before turning out the light (be sure use the restroom first).

Wallflower9193, Amazon

So glad I had this creepy captivating horror anthology to read during the short breaks between bands at a huge metal/rock festival over the last four days.

This anthology written by multiple authors had stories ranging from ghosts to murder to horrific creatures. This dark and chilling collection was a joy to read.

Gillian Casso Speiche, Amazon

And these are just a few of the reviews we’ve received! Imagine, as the backers get their copies and more people buy copies, what they’re going to say about the anthology! I’m getting chills just thinking about it. Or is that the legion of undead that have escaped my washing machine freezing up my condo?

Anyway, this is a great anthology that will hopefully continue to receive notice and praise, and I’m doing all I can to ensure that that happens. So, if you would like to check out the anthology, I’ll include the links for both Amazon and Goodreads below. And if you do read the anthology, I ask that you leave a review somewhere. Amazon, Goodreads, BookTube, BookTok, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, whatever! Just let us know what you think!. Reviews not only help us know what you’re thinking, but give readers an idea of what they’re about to get into, so it doubly helps us out!

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll be back soon, I’m sure. In the meantime, I’ll be at the Licking County Local Author Fair with Cracked Skull Press on Saturday, October 15th, 2022 from 10:30 AM – 2 PM. If you’re in Newark, Ohio this weekend, stop by the Downtown Library and say hi. You may even get a signed book from it all.

Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and 20 days till Halloween. Have you ingested pumpkin spice flavor yet? If not, better get to it!

That Which Cannot Be Undone: Amazon, Goodreads