Literature

Worship Me. The spine-chilling, gut-wrenching debut demon horror novel from Craig Stewart!

Something is listening to the prayers of St. Paul’s United Church, but it’s not the god they asked for; it’s something much, much older.

A quiet Sunday service turns into a living hell when this ancient entity descends upon the house of worship and claims the congregation for its own. The terrified churchgoers must now prove their loyalty to their new god by giving it one of their children or in two days time it will return and destroy them all.

As fear rips the congregation apart, it becomes clear that if they’re to survive this untold horror, the faithful must become the faithless and enter into a battle against God itself. But as time runs out, they discover that true monsters come not from heaven or hell…
…they come from within.

Pretty deep, right? That’s the synopsis of ‘Worship Me’, the debut novel of Craig Stewart, and WHAT a debut it is!

The book delves deep into human morality and portrays traits and attitudes which I think are synonymous with the current climate we’re living in. Quarantine, lockdown and fear has brought out the worst in some people, showing human nature for what it potentially can be. Given that ‘Worship Me’ was released prior to the pandemic, Stewart has knowingly portrayed these traits in his characters which in itself is an applaudable feat.

As I’m sure you’ve worked out from the above synopsis, the book centres around demonology, with The Behemoth as the demonic antagonist. Whilst the congregation are faced with an agonising choice, it’s not long before they start to turn on each other. As the story progressed I just started to read faster and faster; desperate to know how it all panned out.

The book itself is written in a way that totally immerses the reader making you feel like you’re actually part of the congregation. It’s detailed, with well-written characters and a great storyline. Blood and gore flow profusely through the pages, with Stewart not afraid to describe the splatterfest in great detail.

The only aspect of the book I wasn’t fond of was the beginning. It took a while to get going, but once it did there was no stopping. This isn’t necessarily a criticism – after all, the best rollercoasters in the world start with a slow, tension-building ascent before you’re plunged into an abyss of fear, excitement and shock. ‘Worship Me’ does just that.

Check out the book on Amazon here

Alternatively, if you want to read more about Craig Stewart and what he’s up to these days, check out his website here

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Carrie Rickard, leaving an abusive relationship back in London, tries to escape her own past by throwing herself into her restoration project: Fairwood House, known to locals of Pagham-on-Sea as The Crows. Unable to resist as it whispers to her, Carrie’s obsession only grows when she discovers it was the site of a gruesome unsolved murder.

As Carrie digs deeper into the mystery surrounding the bloodless child stuffed up the kitchen chimney in the 1950s, she awakens dark and dangerous forces that threaten her own life.

Cue an introduction to her eldritch neighbour, Ricky Porter, a foul-mouthed modern-day Merlin in a hoody and a tracksuit, who claims he can see the future. But Ricky, as obsessed with The Crows as Carrie is, has an agenda and several secrets of his own, not least of which are what’s really under his hood, and what he’s got in the cellar…

…Is his offer of help sincere? Or is he the reason she’s doomed?

THE CROWS is a Gothic Paranormal novel for fans of haunted houses, eldritch monsters, and things that go bump in the night. Content Warning for psychological abuse, body horror, gore, strong language, and scenes of an unsettling nature.

What do you think? Sounds good? That was my first thought when I sat down to read The Crows. It was about 21:30 and I figured I’d read for an hour before heading to bed. FOUR HOURS LATER(!) I glanced at the clock. Never mind the content warnings in the blurb, it should warn you of the amount of time you inadvertently give to this book. I genuinely couldn’t put it down.

The story is gripping, immersive and written in a style that is easy to read and understand. Rosens writes as though she had lived through the tale herself. The convincing characters, descriptions of Pagham-on-Sea and the house itself all suggest she was writing from personal experience! Carrie is a down to earth, relatable character who, despite being thrown everything but the kitchen sink, manages to take it all in her stride.

However, it’s not just Carrie that is a well thought out protagonist. Each character is given their own individual personality and traits which either makes them loved or loathed. Their unique personalities and mannerisms often leads to hilarious outcomes/events (just thinking back now is making me smile)

The only downside I could find was the sheer number of characters mentioned. I occasionally found myself having to skim back a few pages to remind myself who certain characters were and how they were connected. However, that may have just been me reading too quick – a testament to how gripping the story really is. If you want an engrossing, unpredictable page-turner, The Crows is the book for you.

So, in conclusion; there’s humour, gore, compelling storyline, well written characters, with twists and turns along the way. What more could you want?

If you would like to check out the book yourself, you can find it here

And if you would like to find out more about C.M. Rosens, you can access her site here

Definitely an author to keep an eye on as she’s likely to keep going from strength to strength.

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The Horror Writer
The Horror Writer

The Horror Writer: A Study of Craft and Identity in the Horror Genre. Coined as “The most definitive guide into the trials and tribulations of being a horror writer since Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’…” Wow, that’s one hell of a claim; one which I was eager to verify.

Compiled and edited by Joe Mynhardt, The Horror Writer was released by Hellbound Books and contains a myriad of essays, interviews and valuable insights by some of the best in the business. Ranging from Bram Stoker Award© winners, bestselling authors, a President of the Horror Writers’ Association and many other distinguished writers, this book can aid anyone wanting to improve their craft. The full list of contributors include;

  • Ramsey Campbell
  • John Palisano
  • Chad Lutzke
  • Lisa Morton
  • Kenneth W. Cain
  • Kevin J. Kennedy
  • Monique Snyman
  • Scott Nicholson
  • Lucy A. Snyder
  • Richard Thomas
  • Gene O’Neill
  • Jess Landry
  • Luke Walker
  • Stephanie M. Wytovich
  • Marie O’Regan
  • Armand Rosamilia
  • Kevin Lucia
  • Ben Eads
  • Kelli Owen
  • Jasper Bark
  • Bret McCormick

I’m sure you recognise a number of big names on that list, all of which bring their own valuable insights/advice to help aid a writer of all levels. The Horror Writer covers a wide variety of topics such as how to connect with your market and carve out a sustainable niche in the independent horror genre, as well as how to tackle the writer’s ever-lurking nemesis of productivity.

Make no mistake, this isn’t a book that you’re going to read from beginning to end in one sitting (I mean, you could if you were inclined), rather it will serve better as a writing companion. The helpful contents section at the beginning of the book allows you to jump to whichever topic you want clarification of, or would like to explore in more depth. Writing good horror stories with powerful, effectives scenes, realistic flowing dialogue and reliable characters without resorting to cliched jump scares/gimmicks – it’s all there! The book even covers the delicate subject of handling rejection with good grace, and how to use those inevitable “not quite right for us” letters as an opportunity to hone your craft.

I know you’re probably sold at this point and have already jumped to the link at the end of this article to go buy a copy, but wait… There’s more!

There are also a number of perceptive interviews to provide an intimate peek into the psyche of the horror author and the challenges they work through. The authors interviewed include:

  • Steve Rasnic Tem
  • Stephen Graham Jones
  • David Owain Hughes
  • Tim Waggoner
  • Mort Castle

And, as if that – and so much more – was not enough, the book also contains Ramsey Campbell’s beautifully insightful analysis of the tales of HP Lovecraft. What more could you want?

Make no mistake, regardless of your writing ability – whether you’ve never written a book but always considered it, or if you’ve penned over 20 novels – The Horror Writer can be a useful aid for everyone.

Go check it out here:

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Mongrel: Son of a Bitch

Review by : Daniel Kraevyn

Mongrel: Son of a Bitch

Issue #2 cover

Created By: Edward Dunphy and Michael Kudelka
Story By: Edward Dunphy (here is his website: www.labbratz.com)
Art: Andrew Mitchell Kudelka (and his website: www.amkudelka.com)

To Donate to the Kickstarter: click here

Werewolf stories are very hit or miss, mostly belonging in the latter category. In all honesty, most of them suck, which is an unfortunate thing, as one would think that the mythos would be rife with stories that would write themselves. I guess one of the traps that practically every werewolf story falls into is that they all struggle to capture the feelings of the original Wolf Man film. Many movies, books, and comics have tried to craft a good werewolf story, and most have failed, although there have been some exceptions (notably, the first Howling film, and the Werewolf television series). Perhaps trying to capture this ubiquitous “feeling” is the very thing that leads most lycanthrope stories to vapid response.
Enter Mongrel: Son of Bitch, an indy comic by Edward Dunphy and Andrew Mitchell Kudelka. According the preface, Mongrel was originally written in the early 90’s but due to complications (read: long story of company troubles) the other two issues never saw the light of day. Now, it has been revised, colorised, and with the help of kickstarter, the first two issues are out, and the third is currently seeking funding.
This is a 1990’s era detective story, and I must say, one of the better lycanthrope tales to be released. The mood is evocative of a noir tale, the gruff monologue of a protagonist, interspersed with alternative narratives; yet the comic is injected with a modern, gritty, visceral feel. As with comics, pacing can be tedious, but this story overcomes any issues quickly. Of note: the gore. The violence is spectacular, and witholds nothing, and Kudelka shows his artistic prowess by how he is able to pose his characters, along with a very artistic and original of showing the blood splatter outside of the panels. While “nothing” is happening (no action), the characters pose normally; then the action sequences shine as Kudelka displays the sequences with precision and dramatic flare. I must also note that the werewolves themselves are awesome. I will say that perhaps the greatest challenge to werewolf movies has been to have truly scary, realistic werewolves, and Mongrel does just as the movie Dog Soldiers and the T.V. series Werewolf did for the Lycanthropes, they are fantastic.
Mongrel is a three-issue digital comic, with two issues out, and the third in it’s funding stage on Kickstarter. I recommend this read, and even to support these guys. Indy comics need all the help they can get, because there are some gems out there. I will include links below should you wish to get involved. At least read them, and enjoy a good werewolf story. As I prefaced this review, good werewolf stories are tough to come by, so be sure to experience the good ones.

To Donate to the Kickstarterclick here
Mongrel Website
Mongrel on Facebook
Mongrel on Twitter

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Staring into the Abyss

After my last short story I was given to review, I was pretty hesitant to get into Staring into the Abyss. This book contains 20 short stories. All of them are written well, but I found some confusing. Thomas definitely wanted to let your brain come to its own conclusions about some of these stories.

The trouble with reviewing stories and movies in the horror genre is sometimes you can become slightly “numbed” to some contents. This compilation of stories are dark, and would be a good fit for someone first getting into horror. Not all horror is blood and guts, which you’ll soon find with the quick descriptions I’ve included for you guys.

Maker Of Flight – Alone in a room, a man is forced to make robotic blue birds all day, every day. Some people would consider that a vacation..

Steel-Toed Boots – If you’re trying to get your dick sucked by a male stranger, there’s always a chance it could be your pregnant wife.

Freedom – I think a suicidal just got saved by a prostitute.

Committed – Yet another reason for me to be paranoid when going to the post office.

Splintered – Allows you to skip ahead or keep reading a story about a guy whose relationship has gone sour, kind of a confusing one.

Fallible – If you fall asleep with a lit cigarette, you’re gonna have a bad time.

Stillness – Another confusing one. Guys alone in his apartment (or the entire city for that matter) you don’t know why, eventually he gets taken down by a group of storm troopers? Da fuck?

Fringe – The Russians implanted a microchip in your head, what the fuck has been going on in your life?

Underground Wonder Bound – This isn’t a horror story at all. This is about a couple going to an underground club to have sex with strangers. Hey, you’re into what you’re into I’m not here to pass judgment; just cause I’m not down with it doesn’t make it horrifying.

Amazement – Heroine will make you kill yourself and others.

Victimized – Some chick who has been abused her whole life enters a no rules fighting ring to fight her ex.

Twenty-Dollar Bill – Have you ever stopped and thought about whose hands that twenty-dollar bill in your pocket has touched? (not as entertaining as it sounds).

Interview – Babysitter killer, Quentin Tarantino style.

Paying Up – An absent father finally finds his daughter, as a stripper. Absolute horror story for a father, not for a 22-year-old female.

Ten Steps – A kid’s adulthood is affected by his childhood.

Honor – A wife decides to follow in her mother’s footsteps, and her brother kills her client.

Stephen King Ate My Brain – self-explanatory. My favorite of the bunch.

Twenty Reasons To Stay And One To Leave – A husband dealing with his failing marriage, caused by the death of their son.

Transmogrify – Can you technically be considered a lesbian if you’re a robot that looks female?

Rudy Jenkins Buries His Fears – I think a 10 year old killed a werewolf that’s been fondling him every night.

Links to pass the time on lonely nights:

Kraken Press
Kraken Press Facebook
Kraken Press Twitter
Richard’s Website