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After Sundown Edited By Mark Morris

After Sundown‘After Sundown’ is a collection of a short stories that is guaranteed to keep you awake at night.

This new anthology contains 20 original horror stories, 16 of which have been commissioned from some of the top names in the genre, and 4 of which have been selected from the 100s of stories sent to Flame Tree during a 2-week open submissions window. It is the first of what will hopefully become an annual, non-themed horror anthology of entirely original stories, showcasing the very best short fiction that the genre has to offer.

With it coming up to Halloween, there’s not much opportunity for trick or treating with the pandemic so, why not settle into a collection of horror stories about things that go bump in the night, paranormal and disturbing people.

The book is packed with some well known authors from CJ Tudor, author of ‘The Chalkman’ and Avon Books author Paul Finch as well as some new names who submitted their own stories.

Packed with 20 stories and dependent on your type of horror, there’s something for everyone who enjoys unsettling reading. There’s stories of ghosts, flesh eating butterflies and women who are really swans. These stories are genuinely disturbing and as I got closer to the end of each of story, I found myself tensing up for the big reveal.

This collection of short stories makes for fascinating and unsettling reading, injected with a bit of humour to decrease the fear factor. A book filled with all types of horror, from new and established authors, ‘After Sundown’ is a must read for all horror fans.

You can buy ‘After Sundown’ from Amazon.

Until Summer Comes Around By Glenn Rolfe

Until Summer Comes Around‘Until Summer Comes Around’ is the latest book by Glenn Rolfe.

When fifteen year old Rocky Zukas meets a mysterious dark-haired girl named November, his world is forever changed. The young couple falls under the spell of summer love, but not everyone approves. November s brother, Gabriel, is the keeper of the family s secret, and big brother is always watching, growing more sinister as his bloodlust gets the best of him. Directing his attention to Rocky s family, Gabriel aims to make sure little sister knows who is in charge.

Reminiscent of the 80’s cult classic ‘The Lost Boys’, which I absolutely loved and had on VHS. ‘Until Summer Comes Around’ was a book that I gobbled up in one sitting (pardon the pune).

Set in the 80’s in a small seaside town of Old Orchard Beach which thrives with strangers. We join teenage Rocky who falls in love with the mysterious and exotic Summer who distracts from the embarrassment of a back brace as well as keeps him company whilst his best friend goes to England for the summer holiday.

Summer makes Rocky forget his fears and brings out a new happiness in him, but sadly Summer is too good to be true. She’s a vampire on vacation with her older brother and mother. Summer has a heart and doesn’t want to kills humans but her brother Gabriel is ruthless and leaves a trail of bodies and missing people behind him.

As the death count rises, the town becomes on red alert and we see multiple narratives from the story as different people interact with Gabriel and they all make for gory and terrifying reading as they all meet their demise in horrifying circumstances.

Right from the start, this book is a gruesome and unsettling story with an interesting mix of characters. I loved Rocky with his love for 80’s power ballads and how Summer struggled with morals and mortality. Scenes with Gabriel were interesting and surprisingly funny as he played the cliche vampire card with sleeping in a coffin and he toyed with humans made for shocking reading. I also enjoyed how vividly Glenn wrote, with the descriptions of the fun fair and the beach, I almost felt I was there with Rocky as he strolled the pier with Summer.

A horror classic that’s riddled with blood, drama and teenage love, ‘Until Summer Comes Around’ is a rollercoaster of terror that kept me gripped until the final page.

You can buy ‘Until Summer Comes Around’ from Amazon and is available today from good bookshops.

The Darkest Lullaby By Jonathan Janz

The Darkest Lullaby‘The Darkest Lullaby’ is the latest book by Jonathan Janz.

The old house waited. For years there had been rumors that the owner, Lilith Martin, had been part of an unholy cult. People spoke of blasphemous rituals, black rites filled with blood, sex…and sacrifices. Then Lilith died and the house sat empty. Until now. Lilith s nephew, Chris, and his wife, Ellie, are moving in. Ellie isn t happy about living in such a dark, foreboding place, but she wants to get pregnant and this house has a lot more room to raise a baby than their apartment. Unfortunately, she and Chris will soon learn that Lilith has other plans.

It’s been a while since I’ve read a really good horror that really terrifies me and it’s fair to say that ‘The Darkest Lullaby’ hit the spot. It’s unsettling narrative and creepy location brought me right back to my teenage years reading the chilling ‘Goosebumps’ series when I couldn’t have the book in the same room as me when I went to bed in case the characters somehow managed to come to life. Yes, it’s really that creepy.

The book is seen from the perspective of couple Chris and Ellie who move to Chris’ old homestead hoping to start a family and recover from old debts, but it’s not that easy.

The old house is creepy and riddled with reminders of Chris’s aunt who never liked Ellie and there’s a presence that they’re not alone in the building. Meanwhile, there’s the woman and man that appears to the couple, freaking them out as well as the rumours of there once being a cult on the land.

The story is reminiscent of ‘The Shining’ and ‘The Wicker Man’, with the cult rumours and the character development as the story progresses. Cleverly written and unsettling throughout, ‘The Darkest Lullaby’ is a wonderfully old fashioned horror story with fills with wit and gore and terrifies the reader to the core.

You can buy ‘The Darkest Lullaby’ from Amazon.

The Girl With All The Gifts By M.R. Carey

The Girl WIth All The Gifts‘The Girl With All The Gifts’ was hailed as one of the great books of 2014 and after finishing it during the week, I have to agree.

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite. But they don’t laugh. Melanie is a very special girl.

The story is a complex story that made me experience a flurry of emotions as Melanie is essentially the bad guy of the story but how can you dislike an innocent and sweet little girl?

It takes place years after a huge outbreak and the human race was wiped out leaving behind ‘Hungry’s’ zombie like creatures that crave human flesh and blood. Melanie is in a secure unit with other children and each day they are wheeled to their classes and taught about the world before the outbreak. Melanie loves class particularly her teacher Miss Justineau, who reads Greek myths and shows some affection and warmth towards her unlike others who keep her at bay. Miss Justineau gives Melanie hope, that there is life beyond the four walls.

There are five main characters in the story Melanie, Miss Justineau, Sergeant Parks, Dr Caldwell and Private Gallagher, who all find themselves on the run when one day the base is attacked. Sergeant Parks has grown to hate creatures like Melanie and finds it hard to adjust without in her usual restraints and feels threatened whilst they try to get to safety with limited protection. He’s outspoken, loud and feels pressure to protect the small group. Dr Caldwell is hated by Miss Justineau who wants to protect Melanie, as the doctor has previously killed a lot of children with her research, Melanie is afraid of the calm and quiet woman who is fascinated by her and finally there is Gallagher, a young and timid man who hates the way his life has turned out, regularly he looks back and his reflections make for heartfelt reading.

The characters are a brilliant team and make for fascinating reading as they all fight for survival, the dynamics often change within the group as new realisations come to light and Melanie finds herself becoming the unlikely protector of the team. The backdrop of the story is set against a damaged and ruined dystopian world in Britain, it’s bleak and hopeless but this small team give a tiny chink of hope as they all fight for their lives.

It’s hard to review this book, as it would be very easy to give it all away with its many twists and turns and I’ve probably said too much already! But I have to say how much I loved Melanie, an innocent girl who has a sweet curiosity about life and knows the difference between right and wrong. She struggles with her emotions and the things she sees and her primary focus is protect Miss Justineau, a woman who only sees her as a little girl and not a threat.

An originally, gory and gripping story, that had my full attention throughout, ‘The Girl With All The Gifts’ is a gloriously unexpected terrifying and poignant story that has an absolute sweetheart of a lead.

You can buy The Girl With All The Gifts from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Harbour by John Ajvide Lindquist

Harbour book cover

Harbour is the latest novel by John Ajvide Lindquist author of ‘Let the Right One In’ one of favourite books and I was eagerly anticipating ‘Harbour’ to be just as good but unfortunately it wasn’t.

Harbour is based on the story of Anders and Ceclia, who one day took their six year old daughter Maja for a walk on the frozen island across from a lighthouse, they turned away from Maja for a split second to admire the view and when they turned back, Maja is gone.

Two years later, Ceclia has left Anders and as he struggles on with life, he returns to the island and immediately feels a presence. He begins to wonder if the presence could be Maja. As the presence grows stronger and Anders investigates, he discovers that Maja is the latest in the long line of disappearances and that within the small fishing village lurks a dark, dwelling secret,

From the beginning, this book unsettled me. Lindquist is wonderful at creating eerie, creepy situations that continued throughout the story.

Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I hoped, it spooked me out, mainly due to the presence of children and a sea that turns against the world. This book was much to dark and strange to enjoy but I would still reccomend reading “Let the Right One In”, a wonderful read and much more interesting than Harbour.

You can buy Harbour on Amazon and other good bookshops.