Tag Archives: dystopian horror

Pretty/Ugly by Jennifer Anne Gordon Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Two people struggling with loss and loneliness must face a dystopian nightmare in author Jennifer Anne Gordon’s “Pretty/Ugly”. 

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The Synopsis

Pretty/UglyInteritus: noun. ruin; violent/untimely death, extinction; destruction, dissolution.

Omelia fills the empty place in her heart with Instagram clicks, likes, and subscribes, hiding the scars of grief under a mask of makeup, cloaked in an online personality. She yearns to be someone new: a girl in a magazine, a character in a book, a beauty queen. Anything not to feel, to be numb, but the sharp pain accompanying the red spot on her face cannot be ignored. Nor can the black, spindly tarantula-like vines that creep up the side of her face and the fever she spikes, forcing her to confront the fact that the person she has become may not be who she is at all.

Dubbed ‘the New JFK,’ Sam is the heir apparent to a powerful but emotionally distant political family, living the life he neither dreamed nor wanted. He sleepwalks through his days filled with self-loathing, rage, boredom, and an ache under his heart that reminds him that he is not complete. He is roused from slumber when a political scandal erupts that coincides with the end of the world. Too many Adderall and Old-Fashioneds leave Sam wondering, is he crazy or haunted? When lives are emotionally ended in childhood, it takes an apocalypse to see the ephemeral beauty of living again.

The Review

Another fantastically haunting and memorable read from author Jennifer Anne Gordon. The story fits perfectly into the pandemic era we’ve all gone through this past year and a half. The chilling setting of a dystopian world that has ended after a pandemic really brought the horror aspect of this novel, gripping the reader in a story that captured the suddenness and quick pace that an illness can take the world. 

The characters really brought the heart to this narrative. The protagonists, in particular, two very broken and lonely people who find themselves living lives not their own, really speaks to the idea of isolation and public perception versus reality. The losses they share and the terrifying way they meet one another turns their tale of survival into one of personal connection and hope. 

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The Verdict

A gripping, engaging, and emotional tale of horror, survival, and rediscovering life again, author Jennifer Anne Gordon’s “Pretty/Ugly” is a must-read horror novel of 2021. It perfectly captured the raw emotions and fear that so many have felt over the course of this pandemic and the isolation and loss that can come from it. The stories haunting end and visceral writing does a great job of leaving glimmers of hope and life mixed into this terrifying world, leaving readers wanting more. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Jennifer Anne Gordon is a Gothic horror novelist. Her work includes Beautiful, Frightening and Silent (2020) which won the Kindle Award for Best Horror/Suspense for 2020, and From Daylight to Madness (The Hotel book 1), and When the Sleeping Dead Still Talk (The Hotel book 2).

She had a collection of her mixed media artwork published during spring of 2020, entitled Victoriana: mixed media art of Jennifer Gordon

Jennifer is one of the hosts as well as the creator of Vox Vomitus, a video podcast on the Global Authors on the Air Network, as well as the Co-Host of the You Tube Channel “Talk Horror to Me”. She had been a contributor to Ladies of Horror Fiction, as well as Horror Tree.

Jennifer is a pale curly haired ginger, obsessed with horror, ghosts, abandoned buildings, and her dog “Lord Tubby”.

She graduated from the New Hampshire Institute of Art, where she studied Acting. She also studied at the University of New Hampshire with a concentration in Art History and English.

She has made her living as an actress, a magician’s assistant, a “gallerina”, a comic book dealer, a painter, and burlesque performer and for the past 10 years as an award-winning professional ballroom dancer, performer, instructor, and choreographer.

When not scribbling away (ok, typing frantically) she enjoys traveling with her fiancé and dance partner, teaching her dog ridiculous tricks (like ‘give me a kiss’ and ‘what hand is the treat in?’ ok these are not great tricks.) as well as taking photos of abandoned buildings and haunted locations.

She is a Leo, so at the end of the day she just thinks about her hair.

https://www.jenniferannegordon.com/

https://www.bookbub.com/books/pretty-ugly-by-jennifer-anne-gordon

Oware Mosaic by Nzondi Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

An Enhuman girl must race against the clock along with her human best friend and detective to find a way of saving sentient life in a nightmarish virtual landscape in author Nzondi’s futuristic, dystopian thriller “Oware Mosaic”.

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The Synopsis

Decades after a cataclysmic nuclear war, Ghanaian scientists develop technology that store consciousness onto data orbs called retcons. Seventeen-year-old forensic specialist, Feeni Xo, is a Enhuman (a radiation-enhanced metabolic human) that, similar to a vampire, need blood for sustenance. Through a game called the House of Oware, Feeni discovers that the virtual construct is actually an augmented reality. She and her human best friend, Sammi, a young female detective, have been mysteriously given specialized neural implants that allow them to hack into government software. The two teenagers race against time in a horrific world of deformed beasts to piece together the puzzles of the digital mosaic. Will they find a way to save sentient beings from total extinction or will they run out of time?

The Review

An incredibly daring and creative new dystopian and sci-fi horror novel, author Nzondi has captured the reader’s attention and painted a vivid picture of this apocalyptic-level future. A fantastic story that delves into the much needed genre of Afrofuturism and contemporary Black science fiction, the narrative does an excellent job of balancing the intricate pacing of the main mystery with the powerful and artistic setting that is both original and full of culture all at once. 

The character arcs were the true draw for many readers, including myself. The protagonist’s early struggle with guilt and horror after she is convinced she was complicit in a horrific accident and coverup is the perfect shock to the reader’s system as they delve into this terrifying and futuristic world. Yet it is the twist and turns that take the protagonist off into varied directions that keep the mystery and suspense element of the narrative alive, and the introduction and revelation of long thought gone characters will keep readers guessing the true mystery all the while.

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The Verdict

A memorable, creatively-inspired, and haunting sci-fi and horror-driven narrative, author Nzondi’s “Oware Mosaic” is a must-read sci-fi novel. A gripping tale of family, corruption and culture, this book draws the reader in immediately and keeps them locked in till the last page’s final turn, making this a truly remarkable novel. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Nzondi (Ace Antonio Hall) was born Acemandese Nzondi Hall in Queens, New York on July 4th. Hall received his BFA from C. W. Post, Long Island University. His science fiction/horror work, Oware Mosaic (Omnium Gatherum, September 2019), is the 2019 Bram Stoker Awards® Winner for Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel. Hall is a two-time Honorable Mention winner of the Writers and Illustrators of the Future Award. He is also the author of the novel, Confessions of Sylva Slasher, (Montag Press, April 2013) and a non-fiction book, Lord of the Flies: Fitness for Writers (Omnium Gatherum, April 2017).

https://www.aantoniohall.com/

https://www.bookbub.com/books/oware-mosaic-by-nzondi

Skin Curse (The Gate Cycle #2) by Kristin Jacques Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young woman searching for her brother in a city of monsters must navigate her growing power and the inner workings of the city of Avergard’s politics in order to save her family and friends in author Kristin Jacques’s “Skin Curse”, the second book in The Gate Cycle series. 

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The Synopsis 

The Children of the Gate wait for the call to Rise.

Azzy Brimvine knows her brother is in the vast city of Avergard. She must find him, but time is not on their side.

In the House of Seven Smiles, Azzy struggles to understand the constraints and limits of her power. She finds the whispering voices that guided her for so long, suddenly silent. The enigmatic Lord Wallach is both a frustrating ally and a dangerous mystery, and a strange entity lurks among the household servants. The haven Azzy sought may not be as safe as she thought…but is anywhere truly safe in the Above? 

The city of Avergard is full of monsters and secrets, and a dark history festers at its root. A yawning pit nestles in the house of a scheming lord, who will use Armin’s dangerous gifts to raise history, and raze the city to the ground. As Azzy finds herself and her brother pulled into these machinations, she must navigate the politics and society of Avergard’s brutal ruling class to save her family and friends before the Gate consumes them all.

©2020 Machovi Productions Inc (P)2021 Machovi Productions Inc

The Review

This was a gripping and engaging story, blending everything from fantasy and horror to sci-fi and dystopian themes. While I am new to this series, I found the author did a great job of implementing enough of the first book’s story into this novel to make it feel both fresh and well-understood. 

The pacing and haunting atmosphere played a big role in establishing this fantasy world. The blend of chilling imagery that really brought Avergard to life in the reader’s mind and the narrator (Amie Lyn Hornick) really did a great job of voicing this story, establishing the mix of wonder and terror the protagonist endures throughout the novel while capturing the raw emotions and action that Azzy must overcome to save those closest to her. 

The Verdict

A brilliant, entertaining, and mesmerizing fusion of gothic horror and sci-fi dystopian elements, author Kristen Jacques’s “Skin Curse” is the perfect fantasy read for both new and established fans alike of this series. As a fan of history, I loved the backstory the author established of using one of history’s greatest villains, the Third Reich, and showed their involvement in opening the fabled Gate that let the magic and monsters into this dystopian world, as I know it is well established that one of Hitler’s mad machinations was to harness the power of the occult into his hatred and war machines. Add to this a great story with both haunting and engaging characters and a heart-pounding narrative that readers won’t be able to get enough of, this is a brilliant audiobook that can’t be missed. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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Author: Kristin Jacques

Narrator: Amie Lyn Hornick

Length: 9 hours 13 minutes

Series: The Gate Cycle, Book 2

Publisher: The Parliament House

Released: Apr. 21, 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy

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Ration by Cody T. Luff Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A harsh world where food is scarce and two young women must decide what they are willing to do in order to survive and whether they can help others survive in the process in author Cody T. Luff’s novel “Ration”. 

The Synopsis

Cynthia and Imeld have always lived in the Apartments. A world where every calorie is rationed and the girls who live there are forced to weigh their own hunger against the lives of the others living in the building. It’s a world where the threat of the Wet Room and Ms. Lion always lingers, and punishments are doled out heavily both by the Women who oversee them and the other girls.

When Cynthia is wrongly accused of eating an “A” ration which leads to the death of another girl, her peers punish her harshly. In seeking revenge, she is forced from the only home she has ever known, out into the broader world with one of the Women—Ms. Glennoc—who has tormented her for years. Hunger mixes with politics, intrigue, and social status, and Cynthia needs to figure it out quickly if she’s going to survive and make it back to the Apartments to save Imeld.

With her friend and Ms. Glennoc gone, Imeld is lost. Ms. Tuttle forces her to step into Ms. Glennoc’s shoes, taking on the role of a Woman in charge of all the girls, the punishments, and the Wet Room. The new role feels wrong, especially as Ms. Tuttle’s behavior becomes more and more erratic. Imeld can’t turn her back on the other girls in the Apartments, but how can she save them when she isn’t sure how to save herself? If they rebel against Ms. Tuttle and the other Women, will they starve?

Set in the far future, Ration is an unflinching take on the ways society can both thrive and go wrong as the pressure to survive builds. 

The Review

This book was incredibly well written. From the novel’s first pages, readers get a sense of being in the opening scene of Stephen King’s Carrie, if Carrie took place in the world of author Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaids Tale. A world ravaged by an unknown virus that has taken the lives of all men in the world, and the women left created a brutal system of survival like no other. 

The two main perspectives shown throughout the novel are stark contrasts with one another, as we see the innocent protagonist Cynthia thrust into a cruel reality and fighting not just to survive, but to find a way to punish those who made her and her fellow “girls” suffer. Then there is Ms. Tuttle, the strict leader of the Apartments, who follows the rules to a T but finds herself caught between a secret of her own and the harshness of her mother and the political world they come from. 

A truly gripping tale, the novel does an excellent job of delving into the despair of a dystopian novel while inciting horror and terror into the actions and ways in which the survivors of this world have adapted, where flesh and lower class “girls” are a commodity for the higher class “women” to use as they please, and even amongst advocates for change, no one can truly be completely trusted. 

The Verdict

This is a breathtaking thriller and horror adventure like no other. While the book has it’s gruesome moments when delving into the specific “payments” made by the girls, it is the pacing of the author’s writing that sells the horror aspect of this novel. Combine this with the despairing the reader feels in the dystopian setting, and readers can expect a truly engaging read that is sure to become a cult classic in the genre. If you haven’t yet, grab your copy of “Ration” by Cody T. Luff today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Cody’s stories have appeared in Pilgrimage, Cirque, KYSO Flash, Menda City Review, Swamp Biscuits & Tea, and others. He is fiction winner of the 2016 Montana Book Festival Regional Emerging Writers Contest. 

Cody teaches at Portland Community College and works as a story editor. He completed an intensive MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. Cody grew up listening to stories in his grandfather’s barber shop as he shined shoes, stories told to him at bedsides and on front porches, deep in his father’s favorite woods, and in the cabs of pickup trucks on lonely dirt roads. Cody’s work explores those things both small and wondrous that move the soul, whether they be deeply real or strikingly surreal.

https://codytluff.com/

http://www.mindbuckmedia.com/