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Books for Review should be sent to: Don D'Ammassa, 323 Dodge Street,  East Providence, RI 02914

Last Update 12/10/17

The Vampire Years by Eric Del Carlo, Elder Signs Press, 2017, $14.95, ISBN 978=1-93450-182-5

Vampires and humans went to war and the vampires won. They now rule the earth but thanks to the invention of artificial blood, they no longer prey on humans, who are essentially kept on reservations. But the long and uneasy peace may be coming to an end because a vampire has killed and consumed the blood of a human being, throwing into jeopardy the fragile balance of power.  A human and a vampire get involved with solving what is essentially a murder mystery, and each discovers that his or her attitudes are beginning to change. Could this be the dawn of a new understanding between the two species? I didn't completely buy the romantic subplot but the mystery itself is well handled. 12/10/17

After Sundown by Randall Boyll, Charter, 1989

Boyll's first horror novel appeared just as the genre was about to collapse, which is a shame because he showed considerable promise. Much of his subsequent work would be novelizations of films. This one involves two families, one of whom has recently lost their only child in a freak accident, who decide to spend a weekend in a remote cabin to get away from their mutual gloom. But the cabin is near the sight of another tragedy in which starvation led to the murder of a child. Suddenly the newcomers find themselves beset by a dead coyote that refuses to lie down, trees that spring up from the ground to block their escape route, a mounting snow fall, and the appearance of ghostly figures who are trying to find a release from their posthumous punishment. There are some genuine chills and inventive thrills as the story rushes toward a frightful conclusion. 12/9/17

Last Chance by Gregg Hurwitz, Tor, 2017, $17.99, ISBN 978-0-7653-8269-6 

Although this is technically SF it feels more like horror. This is the second in a series of young adult novels, following The Rains, which mixes a variation of the zombie apocalypse with an alien invasion clearly inspired by The Fifth Wave. I havenít seen the first book, but clearly the aliens used spores to convert large chunks of humanity into more or less mindless killing machines. The protagonists are a group of teens who have turned a school into a kind of fortress. Unfortunately, that was not the only trick the aliens had up their sleeves - assuming they have arms Ė and the pressure is going to be ratcheted up a notch. As usual, some of the teens may hold the key to defeating the invaders, unlikely as that might seem, and in the mean time they are armed and ready to kick ass. I sometimes felt that these were adults rather than teens, but maybe weíre supposed to assume that events have caused them to mature more quickly than usual. Nothing new, but not badly written and generally entertaining. 10/28/17

The Complex by Brian Keene, Deadite, 2016  

As much as I enjoy Brian Keeneís zombie novels, I would not have finished this one if I hadnít been trapped in a waiting room with nothing else to read. Present tense narration just kills suspense for me because Iím constantly noticing that Iím reading a story. I am aware that many people don't get bothered by this, but some of us do and I'll keep saying the same thing. This one involves a mass attack by naked homicidal killers on an apartment complex inhabited by a quite varied group of people. The usual events ensue as the outside world effectively ceases to exist for the protagonists. 10/23/17

Inferno by Angeline Hawkes, Elder Signs, 2017, $14.95, ISBN 978-1934501818

This collection of short stories has a rather unusual structure. The angel Obadiah is taking a tour of Hell and interviewing a couple dozen of its occupants, and their stories are the individual tales within this frame. Obviously each story involves some form of sin, some worse than others, but there are traditional supernatural devices as well including a vampire and a werewolf. The stories are sprinkled through history and quite varied in tone and subject matter, although almost all of them are necessarily quite short. Their effect is more cumulative than individual, although paradoxically I thought the framing material was unnecessary and sometimes distracting. 10/15/17

The Corona Book of Horror Stories edited by Lewis Williams, Corona, 2017, £8.99, ISBN 978-0993247262 

This is a collection of sixteen original short horror stories, almost entirely by British authors, none of whose names were remotely familiar to me. Judging by the biographies in the back, they are predominantly new to writing or work in other fields normally. It's a true unthemed collection in that there is no common element, nor even a similarity of style and approach. Some of the stories are more properly psychological suspense and contain no supernatural or fantastic content. There is a slight tendency toward the more restrained, intellectual school of horror, although there are also stories that are quite overt. One is arguably science fiction. Several of them are very short and some of these rely on a surprise ending. I did not like them all, but I enjoyed at least three quarters of the book, and that's a win. 10/10/17

The Collected Supernatural and Weird Fiction of Mrs. Oliphant Vol 3, Leonaur, 2014 

This final volume contains one short story and a longish novel. The novel, The Wizard's Son, is about a spoiled young man who inherits a title and an estate, after which he discovers that his family and the father he never knew are connected to rumors of dark magic and witchcraft. He is tempted to use supernatural devices himself, but ultimately takes a more enlightened path after various rather dull interludes. Very long and very boring.  The short is a vignette that hints about a miracle.10/7/17

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