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    Review: Death Sentence

    Death Sentence by Alexander Gordon Smith was released in the U.S. on August 2, 2011 in hardcover, audio and eBook formats.

    It is currently available to order online in all formats at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The paperback version is available to pre-order and will be released on February 14, 2012.

    Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Books for Young Readers), a division of Macmillan, the print edition is 272 pages.

    Death Sentence is the third full-length book in the Escape from Furnace series by Alexander Gordon Smith. Fugitives, the fourth book in the series comes out on February 28, 2012.

    ***WARNING: Goodreads description is spoiler-y for books one and two***

    Goodreads description:

    Alex’s second attempt to break out of Furnace Penetentiary has failed. This time his punishment will be much worse than before. Because in the hidden, bloodstained laboratories beneath the prison, he will be made into a monster.

    As the warden pumps something evil into his veins–a sinisterly dark nectar–Alex becomes what he most fears . . . a superhuman minion of Furnace. How can he escape when the darkness is inside him? How can he lead the way to freedom if he is lost to himself?

    ***

    Furnace Penitentiary is a fortress. A mile beneath the surface, with walls of chiseled rock, escape is not a viable option.

    Not when there are cameras everywhere, mounted machine guns ready to take aim at the first sign of rebellion and black suits more than happy to deliver their brand of justice.

    But when your only other choices are to die or become a monster, trying to find a way out seems worth the risk.

    Even if it means unleashing an evil that you can’t control. Even if it means enduring the Warden’s wrath. And even if it means that Alfred Furnace will be coming for you.

    ***

    Death Sentence is third, pulse-pounding, action-packed and bone-chilling installment in the Escape from Furnace series by Alexander Gordon Smith. With each new book, the series gets darker, the dangers to the main character Alex become exponentially greater, his chances of survival grow slimmer and the need to escape is even more critical.

    Readers were first introduced to the blood watch, the dogs, the black suits, the wheezers and the Warden. Then they got to meet the rats. But there are things that are even more terrifying, even more deadly. Things that even the Warden can’t control.

    They are the berserkers. These terrifying creatures that were once human are Alfred Furnace’s creations. Experiments gone wrong. Beings so devoid of humanity, filled only with rage and tremendous power, that their bloodlust knows no bounds and their loyalty is to no man. They will kill without thought, slaughter without mercy. And if they were to be let loose, there would be almost no hope for survival.

    In Death Sentence, author Alexander Gordon Smith takes readers to new parts of Furnace Penitentiary and introduces them to all sorts of new horrors. More is revealed about the origins of the experiments, the wheezer’s nectar, the Warden and even Alfred Furnace.

    And as with each previous installment, the situation becomes even more dire. When things seem as if they can’t possibly get worse, they do.

    The author has managed to increase the level of excitement with each book, surprising readers with new twists and turns, taking things right to the edge of the abyss before pulling them back, and layering in such vivid, detailed descriptions of each new monstrosity, each new horror that is visited upon the inmates, and each new obstacle that his characters must face in their attempts to regain their freedom.

    The pace in Death Sentence is blistering. The action is intense and riveting. The characters’ plight is nerve-wracking. And the outcome is still unknown.

    With two more books in the series, who will be the victor is still to be determined.

    For fans of the series, this installment is not one to be missed. And for those who haven’t yet visited Furnace Penitentiary, be prepared to be scared, to witness horrors never imagined and to discover that the longer you stay the less you’ll want to leave.

    This series is a must, must read.

    Reviewer gives this book…

     

    On a personal note:

    I am totally in love with this series. Head over heels in love. As soon as I finish reading each book, I just want to read the next one. Immediately. I even want to go back and read the book I just finished.

    Which is not typical. I don’t often find myself wanting to re-read books that are considered horror books. I’ve always felt like once is enough. But that’s not the case with Escape from Furnace. I want to re-read each book in this series. More than once. It is so unbelievably addictive.

    I keep thinking these books can’t get any better. But they do. Even though things may get so much worse for the characters, they get so much better to read. And I keep thinking that I just couldn’t be any more horrified by what the author has created. But I am.

    Each story is a nail-biter. And Death Sentence had me biting my nails right from the start. As with the previous books, this one picks up where things left off. Which was in a pretty dark place. While I don’t plan on revealing spoilers, I will say I was shocked. Horrified. Sickened. Saddened. And a little bit heartbroken.

    I did not expect the story to go the way it did or end the way it did. Which is awesome. With this series, I love the surprises.

    Death Sentence definitely moves the story forward and sets things up for the next installment, Fugitives. I do not plan on guessing what might happen, because as with all previous guesses, I’m sure I’d be wrong. Though I do have a sinking feeling that things won’t go too well, given the fact that the last book in the series is entitled Execution.

    I never have a problem immediately falling right back into the series. I never forget exactly where things left off in the previous book. I’ve never forgotten a character’s name or any of the important details from each of the stories. These books are forever engrained in my head. And I never notice the time passing until it already has and I’ve clicked to the last page.

    To say that I love this series is a serious understatement. I just wish I’d discovered these books when they first came out, so that I could have re-read them many times by now.

    ***

    I have four passages that I absolutely love, though I do have a favorite. But my favorite is spoiler-y unless you’ve read the first two books in the series, so I decided to use one that isn’t. And it is pretty awesome, so…

    I stared into the warden’s eyes, trying to remember how weak they had looked last time I’d met them–pale and watery and all too human. But all I could see now were black holes that caused the rest of the prison to disintegrate around them, sucking every trailing piece of matter into their soulless depths.

    ***

    If you’d like to stalk the author on Twitter.

    If you’d like to stalk the author on his Website.

    If you’d like to check out my review for Lockdown, the first book in the series, click here.

    If you’d like to read my review for Solitary, book two, click here.

    Book trailer for the Escape from Furnace series:

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    Review: Solitary

    Solitary by Alexander Gordon Smith was released in the U.S. on December 21, 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. It is currently available to order online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble in hardcover, paperback, audio and eBook formats.

    The paperback edition, published on July 5, 2011 by Square Fish, is 256 pages.

    Solitary is the second book in the Escape from Furnace series. Book three – Death Sentence – is currently available. Books four and five – Fugitives and Execution – will be released in 2012.

    Goodreads description:

    Alex tried to escape.

    He had a perfect plan.

    He was almost free. Even felt the cool, clean air on his face.

    Then the dogs came.

    Now he’s locked in a place so gruesome—so hellish—that escape doesn’t even matter.

    He just wants to survive.

    ***

    The cells in Furnace Penitentiary are small. Those in solitary are even smaller. Solid walls. Pitch black. Soundproof.

    Except for the sounds of scratching from above. As if something wants in. Something strong enough to dent the heavy metal lid that locks you in a cell that is not much more than a hole.

    A solid lid that locks in place, leaving you no way out. And hopefully keeping you protected from whatever wants in.

    They say that three days is the most that anyone can survive in the hole with their mind intact. But what if you had to survive for thirty?

    After a month locked away from the light and from all human contact, with only nightmares for company, just who, or what, would you be when you were released?

    And if escape is the only chance you have for survival, how is it even possible to plan to break free if your mind has snapped?

    ***

    Solitary is the incredibly imaginative, unbelievably disturbing and downright chilling second installment in the Escape from Furnace series by Alexander Gordon Smith. Digging into this novel after lights out is a sure way to bring to life the nightmares that exist in and just beyond the walls of Furnace Penitentiary that unfold page after gruesome page.

    In this sequel, the journey is darker, scarier and even more horrific than what Alex Sawyer encountered in Lockdown and is just as nail-biting, if not more so. And readers will quickly discover that the horrors that face the prisoners aren’t the only things crawling through the tunnels beneath Furnace penitentiary.

    Solitary picks up right where Lockdown ended, on the edge of that cliff as Alex and the other escapees attempt their prison break. But as can be guessed from the title, things do not go as planned and they soon get to experience the blackness, isolation and terrors that solitary confinement has to offer.

    And if Alex didn’t think things could get much worse than what he had to endure in Furnace, he was wrong. Dead wrong. Because the fear of being taken at blood watch is nothing compared to the panic that comes from witnessing just what happens in the infirmary.

    Like Lockdown, Solitary ends with a cliffhanger. But where Lockdown left things in a hopeful, optimistic place, Solitary does the complete opposite.

    Author Alexander Gordon Smith really knows how to grab readers, pull them into his macabre creation and make their blood run cold as they follow along with Alex as he is forced to suffer all the evils inflicted upon him by the Warden, the black suits, the dogs, the wheezers and the other atrocities that live in the depths below the penitentiary.

    Solitary is an absolute must read for anyone stuck on the side of the cliff with Alex at the end of book one and for readers who enjoy a fast-paced, heart-pounding, grisly and terrifying adventure.

    Reviewer gives this book

    On a personal note:

    This series, which I am totally in love with, is also so completely addictive. I finished Lockdown and I just had to read more. I couldn’t pull my mind out of this dark, gruesome and hellish world. I did not want to leave. I don’t think I could if I tried.

    I couldn’t just stop reading with Alex on that cliff. I wanted to find out how he ended up in solitary or if it was even him that ended up there. I wasn’t sure if Solitary was a continuation of his story or not, as I refused to read the description.

    The moment I finished reading Lockdown I purchased Solitary for my Kindle so that I could keep the story going. It was just so easy to pick up this next book in the series and fall right back into this brutal world.

    Even the brief rehash at the beginning, for readers who might have had to wait between each book’s release, didn’t pull me out of the story. Although it did give me a new piece of information about the main character that I didn’t have before.

    And I really, really wish I listened to the advice that was given in that introduction. Because with the way things ended, it would have been a much easier pill to swallow if I took that information to heart.

    I had to put Solitary down for about a week, so that I could read my required review books. But it was always in the back of my mind. And when I did pick it back up again, I started it from the beginning so that I could experience it uninterrupted from start to finish.

    I didn’t think I could enjoy this book any more than I did Lockdown because it was a second book and because I’d already met the black suits, the Warden, the dogs and the wheezers. I didn’t think I could be surprised again.

    But I was. Oh, I most definitely was.

    There were two new additions to this sequel that made it even more horrific than the first book. I will not go into specifics so as not to spoil any first encounters with these horrors, but they are terrifying, grotesque and incredibly chilling.

    And one of these new additions, that was only just briefly introduced in this book, keeps the anticipation…dread might be more accurate…going until the next book. I thought nothing could be scarier than the Warden. I was so very wrong.

    But it was the peek inside what was happening in the infirmary, the place only hinted at in the first book, that left me utterly horrified, repulsed and saddened. While this isn’t a story meant to break hearts, mine did feel a little squeezed when certain events unfolded.

    And while I cringed at some of what happened in the first book, I actually groaned and shuddered at some of the extremely vivid and fairly disgusting things that happened in Solitary.

    As fantastical as this world is, when you’re reading it, it just feels so real – as if you’re there with Alex experiencing what he does, seeing what he does, hearing what he does, feeling what he does…smelling what he does.

    What goes on in Furnace Penitentiary is nothing compared to what happens behind the scenes or even beyond its walls. And I find myself more than morbidly curious about what’s going to happen next.

    As much as Alex claims not to be a good guy, I can’t help but root for him. No matter how dire or hopeless his situation. And I am dying to find out what happens in Death Sentence. Especially after that peek they gave at the end of Solitary.

    You can pretty much guess that I did end up buying and downloading it immediately. And that I started to read it the second it landed in my collection. But as Death Sentence is the last book currently available to buy – the next book doesn’t come out until 2012 – I’m terrified that if I do continue to read it, I’ll be left hanging in an even worse place than I am right now. If that’s even possible.

    I cannot recommend this book, and series, enough. Maybe not to fans of happy endings, love stories, or heartwarming adventures. But for readers who love to be scared, who want to follow along with characters who are put in the most dire of situations, who want a book that really pushes the envelope on what it means to be afraid, or who just love an incredibly descriptive, well-written and exciting, if harrowing, story, then Solitary and all the books in the Escape from Furnace series are definite must reads.

    How I “discovered” this book:

    Solitary is a “Just Discovered” just learned about book.

    I heard about the first book in the series, Lockdown, through a promotional post and giveaway the publisher was offering to bloggers. As I don’t just auto-post anything here on the blog, I checked out the book to see if it might be something I, or my blog’s readers, would be interested in.

    I don’t know about my readers, but I was definitely interested in checking out the first book in this series.

    I loved it so much that as soon as I finished reading it, I immediately purchased Solitary, the second book, to see what was going to happen next.

    That was a pretty big cliff Alex was left on at the end of book one and I just had to get, and devour, this next book.

    ***

    If you’d like to check out my five-star review of Lockdown, click here.

    Click to read The Night Childrena novella about how Warden Cross met Alfred Furnace, on Tor.com.

    And be sure to head over to the author’s website, HERE, to check out all sorts of extras.

    Escape from Furnace series book trailer:

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    Review: Lockdown

    Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith was released in the U.S. on October 27, 2009 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. It is currently available to order online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble in hardcover, paperback, audio and eBook formats.

    The paperback edition, published on August 3, 2010 by Square Fish, is 304 pages.

    Lockdown is the first book in the Escape from Furnace series. Books two and three – Solitary and Death Sentence – are currently available. Books four and five – Fugitives and Execution – will be available in 2012.

    Goodreads description:

    Furnace Penitentiary: the world’s most secure prison for young offenders, buried a mile beneath the earth’s surface. Convicted of a murder he didn’t commit, sentenced to life without parole, “new fish” Alex Sawyer knows he has two choices: find a way out, or resign himself to a death behind bars, in the darkness at the bottom of the world. Except in Furnace, death is the least of his worries.

    Soon Alex discovers that the prison is a place of pure evil, where inhuman creatures in gas masks stalk the corridors at night, where giants in black suits drag screaming inmates into the shadows, where deformed beasts can be heard howling from the blood-drenched tunnels below. And behind everything is the mysterious, all-powerful warden, a man as cruel and dangerous as the devil himself, whose unthinkable acts have consequences that stretch far beyond the walls of the prison.

    Together with a bunch of inmates—some innocent kids who have been framed, others cold-blooded killers—Alex plans an escape. But as he starts to uncover the truth about Furnace’s deeper, darker purpose, Alex’s actions grow ever more dangerous, and he must risk everything to expose this nightmare that’s hidden from the eyes of the world.

    ***

    There’s not much to do to pass the endless days and nights in Furnace Penitentiary except wait.

    Wait out a life sentence. Locked away a mile beneath the surface of the earth in a cell barely big enough to lie down in. Wait in darkness so black it seems infinite.

    Wait for the next day of hard labor, cold showers and food that is barely edible. Wait to die.

    And hope.

    Hope that the gangs don’t notice you. Don’t choose you as their next victim. Don’t break what’s left of your spirit. And don’t beat you too badly that you require a trip to the infirmary. Because that trip is always one way.

    Hope you’re not forced to jump. Because jumping almost always ends badly. And won’t necessarily end your time in Furnace. Not high enough means a trip to the infirmary. Too high and it’s as if you never jumped. Get it right or you’ll wish you never even tried.

    Hope that a fight doesn’t break out that calls for a lockdown. Locked out and it’s over. Quickly. But not painlessly. Because the guards will come. And their dogs. Monstrosities that will tear you limb from limb.

    And pray.

    Pray that they don’t come in the middle of the night. During the blood watch. When Furnace is bathed in the glow of the red lights. When the sirens blare. And when the wheezers come, with their inhuman cries, their rusty masks and their dirty needles.

    Pray that it’s not you they choose. Because if you’re marked you’ll wish you had died. What awaits you is something worse than the Skulls cruelty. Worse even than the quick and brutal end promised by the dogs.

    Pray for death. Because when they take you, you almost never come back. But if you do, what you’ve become can no longer be considered human.

    ***

    Lockdown is the dark, disturbing and chilling story of the unimaginable horrors that face the young offenders that are incarcerated in Furnace Penitentiary. This fast-paced, action-packed and gruesome tale will keep readers who enjoy the macabre riveted.

    There is no love story in Lockdown. There is no real hope for these prisoners who may or may not have committed the crimes they are accused of. The threat from other inmates is minor compared to what the warden, the guards, the creatures with only a vague resemblance to dogs and the wheezers can do.

    This first book in the Escape from Furnace series introduces Alex Sawyer, who is framed for murder and sentenced to life imprisonment in Furnace Penitentiary. As a backlash to the recent heinous crimes committed by children, adults are quick to embrace this form of harsh justice which locks these boys forever away beneath the ground. But what they don’t know, and don’t care to know, is just what cruelty awaits these kids.

    Alex is quick to learn that Furnace isn’t like any prison he’s seen on television. Failure to follow the rules can mean death…or worse. Getting injured is something to avoid at all costs. Getting sent to solitary for more than three days will break your mind. And even if you do everything right, they may still come for you.

    Author Alexander Gordon Smith has written a story that is exciting and terrifying and will leave readers on edge of a cliff, both literally and figuratively, as they follow the main character Alex through his induction into Furnace and his attempt to break free.

    The author paints a vivid picture of life in Furnace – one that is beyond horrifying. The stuff of the worst kinds of nightmares. Guards who laugh at the terror they invoke in their charges. Creatures whose only wish is to bite and rip and tear. A warden whose gaze is and depthless and soulless. And one where the darkness is far less frightening than when the red lights come on.

    This story is not for the easily frightened. It’s not one for the squeamish. But for readers who don’t mind a little bloodshed, Lockdown is an incredibly well-written, gripping and nail-biting adventure.

    Reviewer gives this book


    On a personal note:

    I have to start off with the cover. That thing absolutely freaked me out. It is the stuff of nightmares. Fortunately as I read the book I didn’t have to see its face. I would have if I had to set it down, but as this book was unputdownable, I didn’t.

    What I’m glad I didn’t notice until I was most of the way through the book was the back cover. If I had seen that it said that the walls were “soaked in blood” I would have been even more freaked out. Lockdown can definitely be called a young adult horror book, because Furnace Penitentiary is a waking nightmare and this story is disgusting and terrifying, but so unbelievably good.

    Anyone who reads this who has a very vivid imagination and takes the author’s words and constructs a visual will be horrified. I was. I still am. It’s Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Clive Barker all rolled into one story with a little Resident Evil thrown in for good measure.

    I liked the characters, especially Donovan, but it was what went on in Furnace that kept me glued to this book. This is definitely the darkest young adult book that I’ve read. It was really twisted. It’s cruel and scary and violent. And the tagline – Beneath heaven is Hell… Beneath Hell is Furnace! – just so perfectly describes the world the author created in this book.

    I was rooting for Alex, Donovan and Zee. Even poor Monty. While not good boys, they didn’t deserve the brand of justice that Furnace dished out. But as this story is a horror story I wasn’t very hopeful.

    While I won’t give any spoilers away, I will say don’t expect the perfect happy ending. But do expect to be left on the side of a pretty huge cliff. Fortunately book two is already out, so there doesn’t have to be a wait. And I couldn’t help but pick it up to find out what happened next.

    I love books that are dark, hellish and creepy. And this was definitely one of those. While it doesn’t cross that line into horror stories aimed at adults, it comes close. Some of the scenes the author describes in detail, but others are left to the imagination. So, depending on just how dark and vivid your imagination….

    Lockdown is the perfect start to this series. Not everything is revealed in this first book. There is definitely much more to learn about Furnace – about the warden, what happens in solitary, what a trip to the infirmary is really like, and what exactly happens to those who are taken during the blood watch. And I know I’m morbidly curious to find out.

    How I “discovered” this book:

    Lockdown is a “Just Discovered” just learned about book.

    I received an email from the online public relations team for the publisher, Macmillan, with an opportunity to receive a copy for review and host a giveaway. As I only like to promote books or have giveaways for books I’ll enjoy, or think I will, I made sure to check this book out thoroughly.

    I hadn’t heard of the author or series before. But this cover was… twisted… and disturbing… to say the least. So, of course I was intrigued. But the description really did a good job on selling me on this book. It was dark and kind of horrifying. And since I hadn’t really read any books for young adults that classified as horror, I just knew I had to review this book.

    ***

    Check out The Night Children, a novella about how Warden Cross met Alfred Furnace on Tor.com.

    And there’s all sorts of extras on the author’s website, HERE.

    Book trailer for Lockdown:

    ***

    This review is based on a finished copy I received from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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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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    Review: Dead Man’s Eye

    Dead Man’s Eye is a novella by author Shaun Jeffrey. It is available in eBook format only from Smashwords. It is also available at Amazon in the U.S. and Amazon in the UK.

    First published September 18th 2010, it was published on  December 30th 2010 by Deshca Press.

    Genre: Horror/Thriller   Audience: Adult

    Goodreads description:

    A corneal transplant does more than correct Joanna Raines sight. It allows her to see something that doesn’t want to be seen. Something evil. Something that threatens mankind. The only trouble is that no one believes her, and by the time they do, it might be too late … Seeing is believing. Now Joanna just has to convince everyone else.

    Joanna Raines was losing her sight. It crept upon her stealthily until she was left in almost complete darkness. As a young photographer her entire world revolved around her visual impressions.

    Electing to risk transplant surgery before being forever trapped in blackness, what at first seemed to be a miraculous cure has turned into Joanna’s worst nightmare.

    Through her new eye, a dead man’s eye, she is now able to see what others can’t, an evil that resides within, an evil that is spreading. But what can one former photographer do to stand up against the powers of hell? Will Joanna be able to find help before it’s too late? Or will the legions of hell claim her first.

    ***

    Dead Man’s Eye is a novella in the horror/thriller genre. Joanna Raines has Fuchs’ corneal dystrophy and received a transplant in one eye. While still in the healing stages, she is witness to a terrible accident and begins seeing what appear to be dark corona-like shadows around the victim.

    Afraid that she is going crazy, she is reluctant to seek treatment, but when the shadows turn out to be something other, something evil, she can no longer stand idly by.

    Author Shaun Jeffrey has written a dark and brilliant novella. The author has a very smooth quality to his writing which offers a nice contrast to the subject matter. While only a short narrative, there is enough substance to the plot to make this story feel complete. And it is the author’s ability to really paint a picture with his words that elevates this from being just another horror story.

    From the very first line, the writing captivates:

    Joanna Raines looked at the world through a dead man’s eye.

    Reviewer gives this book [rating=5]

    On a personal note:

    I was pleasantly surprised by this book. From its description I anticipated this to follow along the lines of those horror stories where someone receives a possessed body part from a transplant and evil and violence ensue. That was not the case here.

    Although similar in concept to the film “Jian Gui” and its American re-make “The Eye,” the story progresses very differently. As I’ve read hundreds of horror stories, I didn’t expect this one to wow me. And while the plot itself and its ending are not unexpected, it was the writing that stood out.

    I did not anticipate an indie horror author to have such command of their words and the ability to craft such a well-written novella. I would typically never rate a short horror story a five (aside from Stephen King), but the writing in this one deserves it.

    ***

    A note to readers: In its eBook format, the story has not been adapted for an American audience so readers should expect alternate spelling and punctuation as well as certain “Britishims.”

    This story contains language, violence and brief sexual content and may not be appropriate for young readers.

     

    Author bio from Goodreads:

    Shaun Jeffrey was brought up in a house in a cemetery, so it was only natural for his prose to stray towards the dark side when he started writing.

    He has had three novels published, Evilution, The Kult and Deadfall, and one collection of short stories, Voyeurs of Death. He has also had over 40 short stories published in places such as Dark Discoveries and Cemetery Dance.

    His novel The Kult was optioned for film and shooting has just finished.

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