Book Review: Slush by Glenn Rolfe



By Glenn Rolfe

Published by Alien Agenda Publishing, December 2014

4.5 Stars

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a review of a book. Leave it to Glenn Rolfe and an incredible set of short stories to get me back in the game.

I read Slush, a slightly older anthology from Rolfe, on the porch of my home, in the hot summer heat. The title, appropriately reflective of my own physical state in the heat, guided the tone of the stories within. Twelve stories presented in rapid succession make up the contents of Slush, and all twelve stories blend together with a ferocious sense of grime and despair.

I was taken aback by just how horrific some of these stories were—several were mean-spirited to their core, while others started like a crisp autumn morning, only to devolve into gratuitous horror by its end. Every story sang its own tune beautifully, drawing you in for a variety of reasons only to spit you out, churned through a pulp of human emotion, depravity, and violence.

I appreciated how each of these stories were written. The characters stood out in each story, each person distinctly human, hauntingly relatable, and faced with godawful choices, flaws, and downright bad luck. From the opening story “Skull of Snakes” which had a “boys on bikes” feel, I knew these were unique tales of terror.

There was little I disliked about this collection, but chief among them was how a few of the stories made me feel: dirty, tarnished…so perhaps this anthology has truly achieved what it set out to do. The writing itself is thoughtful, reminiscent, light at times, and bludgeoning when need be. Rolfe is truly talented at tone changes, writing characters you can really see, and making your skin crawl when things go wrong.

Check this one out if you get a chance. It may be several years old, but it packs a punch not every anthology can achieve.

Book Review: Chasing Ghosts by Glenn Rolfe


Chasing Ghosts

By Glenn Rolfe

Published by Sinister Grin Press, August 1, 2016

4 Stars

One of my earliest guilty pleasure movies was Wrong Turn. I was obsessed with the backwoods creatures that knew no moral boundaries, who seemed to exist solely to inflict pain and eat other humans. This premise is ruthlessly terrifying, and I found myself, years later, equally frightened by Glenn Rolfe’s take on this vicious plot in his novella, Chasing Ghosts.

For such a short book, Rolfe is able to pack an immense amount of characters into the main plot—and not just filler, but characters you actually feel for. He opens with a ghost hunt gone wrong, where a group of young boys stumble into a dangerous family of monstrous humans. It then fast forwards a bit, following a punk band and their mistake to agree to play a show in the secluded woods. We are treated to a slasher-esque pacing of characters being picked off one by one, and as quickly as the blood-spilling and mayhem begins, it continues until the stories bittersweet end.

This book is brutal. It is relentless. The thrill moves at a breakneck speed. Rolfe depicts violence in such an empathetic, yet over the top way, that you find yourself cringing involuntarily when the action ramps up. There are few details spared to really bring that 80s horror vibe home. I could easily picture what was going on at every turn, as Rolfe’s writing has a very cinematic quality to it. Each page splashes across your imagination vividly, a feat that is not often achievable at this consistency.

While this is a book that I will remember because of its hard-hitting gore and horror, the amount of emotional work done in this book does not go unnoticed. The relationships between characters are well-established in a short period of time and still find space to develop in interesting, interconnected ways. This makes the pain felt by characters resound even louder as it’s felt by the characters close to them as well. Rolfe does what a lot of modern-day slashers can’t—makes you care if the characters live or die.

There were few things I was less enthusiastic about with this book. One, however, is that the title, combined with the summary, makes you feel like you are going to read something very different than what you get in the book. I was a bit confused when the focus of the book started to become clearer, but still, far from disappointed. The other small issue I had was with the late introduction of the law enforcement characters, who felt slightly forced into the fray. It would have been interesting to see them developed more throughout the story. I gladly would have read another hundred pages in this world!

All in all Rolfe’s Chasing Ghosts was a true treat to read in the dark, covers pulled tight. I’m looking forward to reading more in Rolfe’s catalog, as he clearly has an eye for horror and pulls off one of the more disturbing reads I’ve come across.

(Disclaimer: Review copy received from publisher. Thank you!)

Book Review: We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix

We Sold Our Souls

We Sold Our Souls

By Grady Hendrix

Published by Quirk Books, September 16th, 2018

5 Stars

We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix is hands down one of the most suspenseful, horrific, and entertaining books I’ve ever read. Strong female protagonist? Check. Disgusting scenes of gross-out horror? Check. An entire mythology created to sustain the story? Check check check. Hendrix has one of the best new catalogs of horror stories and a clear love for the genre, and his newest work does not disappoint in the slightest.

We Sold Our Souls follows Kris Pulaski, a tired, down-on-her-luck, former metal rock star and her truly epic journey against a force of evil under the guise of sell-out rock. This story is filled with metal riffs, rabid fans, unsettling lyrics, and one woman’s battle against the pits of hell.

This book is one of those rare books that I could not put down no matter how hard I tried. It had a magnetic pull that required I turn page after page to watch the grueling adventure spill over each paragraph. The plot was so beautifully paced, allowing for introspection in between big action moments, plenty of character development to create long-lasting impressions of well-rounded badasses.

Like Hendrix’s other books, the story told here is relatively original with compelling characters, quick humor, and a sense of world-building that is truly unrivaled. For this particular book of his, the humor may be a little quieter, but the world was the most fascinating one he’s created yet. Hendrix wrote an entire discography of music, a feat that deepened the lore in a satisfying way, providing an almost audible march that kept the plot moving. In addition to the numerous intriguing lyrics he wrote, he also crafted a fiction within his fiction that provided a backdrop for the hero’s journey. This mythos was equal parts awe-inspiring and terrifying. Hendrix carefully weaves the dark side of metal with the terrible things that humans do to craft a tale with moments of true horror.

However, while this books has plenty of heart-stopping moments, what I really loved about this book was the character-driven heroism inherent in Kris. Kris is a multi-dimensional character, written with heart, that I wanted to leap off the page and meet in real life. Her story, her drive, her passion…those things stick with you long after the book ends. I think Kris is one of Hendrix’s best characters yet, and I would have read a thousand more pages of her life and journey. Strong female characters is not necessarily uncommon in horror, with the trope of the final girl and powerful women like Ripley from Alien and Laurie Strode from Halloween. However, the depth given to Kris makes it more than just about her will to survive, but also about her dedication to her passion and to her friends.

Hendrix has another successful hit on his hands with We Sold Our Souls. I don’t have a lot of time to re-read these days, but this is a book I could see myself revisiting every couple of years. Simply put, I was completely engrossed in every aspect of this book, and, as dark as the world was, I want to be there again to witness the thrill of the journey.

I’m going to go take this book, pick up my guitar and microphone, and scream into the void just how wonderful this book is.


Book Review: Kill Hill Carnage by Tim Meyer


Kill Hill Carnage

By Tim Meyer

Published by Sinister Grin Press, July 15 2018

4.5 Stars (Rounded up)

A few pages into Kill Hill Carnage by Tim Meyer, published by Sinister Grin Press, I knew I was holding one of my favorite horror books to be released this year. I was in the mood for something gory, lively, with a little humor and a lot of heart, and I found that in this book and so much more.

Kill Hill Carnage draws from the splattery depths of 80s horror, with creature and mad scientist throwbacks, campground massacres, and classic tale of “group of friends go into the woods and get more than they bargained for”. At face value, that’s enough fun to keep your attention through this novel. However, Meyer, with a knack for writing witty dialogue and palpable action, brings these fun tropes into a league of their own.

The plot of this book is thoroughly amusing, requiring page turn after page turn with an inability to be put down. The story travels non-linear paths, describing the monster-led massacre of a camp decades earlier, switching back and forth to the current-day group of young adults seeking thrills in those same woods. At no point did I feel lost in the story, each timeline and character perspective serving to push the story along at relatively breakneck speed.

One of the aspects I enjoyed most from Kill Hill Carnage was that there was a dynamic range of characters in the story. Meyer created realistic, interesting, and complex characters in the group of friends who are at the heart of this story—Jenna, Seth, Fiona, Dave, and Warren. While this group of friends are tied together in a twisty web of bffs, partners, wannabe-lovers, and acquaintances, Meyer does well to illuminate relationships in compelling directions. The other characters in the story—rough and gruff Frank and the scientists of Kill Hill allow for additional character development in well-written personalities. In addition to the solid cast at the center of the story, Meyer treats the reader to plenty of fodder to live up to the titular carnage.

Speaking of slaughter, while Meyer’s is talented in his ability to portray likable (and appropriately unlikable) characters with fun and often humorous dialogue, his ability to make me feel a little ill is to be equally lauded. Kill Hill Carnage was wrought with gore and the grimace-inducing action that causes it. This book is sharp in its descriptions of mayhem, with tense, gooey moments to fill the gaps between action as well.

I could go on and on about how this book is something close to a perfect read, but instead, I’m going to go light a candle and wish to the splatterpunk gods for a sequel.

(Disclaimer: Review copy received from publisher. Thank you!)