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REVIEW: Twelve Terrifying Tales for 2011 – Books 1 & 2

For this Indie Author Spotlight, Fiktshun will be reviewing two short thrillers from author Shana Hammaker’s year-long series, Twelve Terrifying Tales for 2011.

Charlie is the first book in the series

North of Forks is the second book in the series

Charlie is the first book in this monthly serial by author Shana Hammaker. Published on January 14, 2011, it is available in eBook format from Amazon.

A new short thriller will be published each month. Charlie is author Shana Hammaker’s debut short story.

Partial Goodreads description:

When Alex fantasized about buying her dream home, she didn’t imagine it would include a regiment of reappearing corpses.

But that’s exactly what she got.

In CHARLIE, Alex Hutchinson buys the home she hopes she and her fiancé will start a family in. But unfortunately for her, family bliss isn’t in the cards. Instead she gets Charlie, the corpse who won’t stay away.

What’s a girl to do? Call the cops? Bury the bothersome stiff in the basement? Run away to Spain? Alex tries a little of everything as her rotting, unwanted visitor pops in with ever-increasing frequency and the fabric of her once-tidy life unravels around her.

***

Everything was finally falling into place for Alex Hutchinson. Growing up in foster care wasn’t easy, but she had a steady job, a steady boyfriend and now she bought her very own home.

What she didn’t realize was that she was sharing her new home with a corpse. Finding a body in the basement definitely wasn’t the housewarming gift she was expecting, but what was she supposed to do with the gift that kept on giving?

***

Charlie is a great start to this monthly series of short thriller/horror stories. A quick read, this macabre story takes a dark turn that may come as a bit of a surprise to readers.

Author Shana Hammaker does an impressive job of adding in all the elements necessary to make this short thriller work. Enough, but not too much, background is given about the characters to provide insight into their motivations and just the right amounts of horror to make this a disturbing and chilling tale.

Reviewer gives this story [rating=4]

North of Forks is the second book in the monthly serial, Twelve Terrifying Tales for 2011. It was published in eBook format on February 10, 2011 and is available online at Amazon.

Partial Goodreads description:

Twenty-year-old Washington native Sara Cullen had a vampire problem.

And before you even ask, NO she’s not one of THOSE Cullens. But try telling that to the legions of lost bloodsuckers who wandered into her hometown of Beaver because they missed the exit for Forks. Vampires can be so stupid.

But soon another monster came to town that made the star struck vampires look like cute defenseless puppies. I’m talking about zombies. The zombie plague swept into, and quickly overwhelmed, Sara’s small town. Within days normal life ended. Within weeks there were more ghouls than humans. Finally, a mere three months after the start of the plague, Sara and her friend Jessie Sparks were the only live people left in their corner of Washington.

Or so they thought. But then a handsome stranger wandered into town, and everything Sara and Jessie thought they knew about life in post-zombie-apocalypse Beaver turned upside down.

***

Nothing ever happened in Beaver, Washington, the small blue-collar town just north of Forks. Even the occasional vampires who mistakenly wandered into town didn’t cause too much of a problem, especially with the Anti-Vamp! antidote on hand.

But just three months ago when the first wayward zompire – that’s right, a zombie vampire – arrived in town with a taste for flesh and blood, things got seriously out of hand.

Now, with a decimated population, Sara Cullen and her friend Jessie are the last remaining living resident of Beaver. That is until Keelan Gray arrives with a plan to help them get out of town. But with the zombies outnumbering the living, will they be able to make it out alive?

***

North of Forks is a funny yet gruesome addition to this monthly series of short thrillers. Another fast read, this gory tale of vampires and zombies also ends on a dark note.

In this installment, author Shana Hammaker infuses humor into the story, giving readers a chuckle as they experience the grim reality along with Sara in her zombie-infested hometown of Beaver, Washington. By now, fans of the author will be expecting a twist, and Ms. Hammaker does not disappoint.

Once again, all the ingredients are there to make this story feel complete, although this would also be great as a longer novella. Superbly written, this story has the feel of some of Stephen King’s early short works.

Reviewer gives this story [rating=5]

***

On a personal note:

As these were both short stories I’m lumping my commentary into one entry.

I thoroughly enjoyed both stories, but my favorite, hands-down, was North of Forks. I tend to enjoy horror when mixed with humor, and there was just something about the style of writing in the second book that reminded me of stories like The Lawnmower Man or Survivor Type, definitely dark but perhaps without quite the same level of hopelessness.

Even though each book is sold individually and you can read them in any order, or just read read one of them, you get a much better picture of the author’s writing and the differences between the stories if all are read and in order of release.

I liked the fact that these two stories were very different in plot, with very different main characters, but still had a continuity in the flow for each of the stories.

And, although the author gave me copies of each story for review, I ended up purchasing them so I could read them on my eReader and will likely buy other stories in the series as they are released.

***

Book three in the series, Border Crossing, will be published in March, and the fourth book, Metamorphosis, will be available in April.

Author bio from Amazon:

Shana Hammaker grew up in sunny California reading L.M. Montgomery and Stephen King. She also had a major case of wanderlust.
But while most people fantasize about traveling West, young Shana had her sights set on colder places: Prince Edward Island, or perhaps Bangor, Maine.

Ironically, Shana eventually settled someplace even warmer than California: Tennessee. And it was in this sultry Southern climate that Shana realized her destiny: to read and write stories in which people do horrendous things to one another.

Shana Writes Thrillers. And in 2011, Shana will publish one short thriller per month! Twelve Terrifying Tales for 2011!

A note to readers: These are not young adult stories. While the content in the two stories I received for review would not be considered extreme, there is profanity and violence which may not be suitable for some young readers.

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