Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker Review

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

One of 2018’s most highly anticipated fall reads has to be author Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker’s novel Dracul. The book is the official prequel to the classic literary horror classic Dracula, written by Dacre Stoker’s great-granduncle Bram Stoker. Taking the concept first explored by Bram and showcasing how the legend of Dracula first began, the story puts the Stoker family in the role of protagonists and explores where the myth and legends truly came from. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

The prequel to Dracula, inspired by notes and texts left behind by the author of the classic novel, Dracul is a supernatural thriller that reveals not only Dracula’s true origins but Bram Stoker’s–and the tale of the enigmatic woman who connects them.

It is 1868, and a twenty-one-year-old Bram Stoker waits in a desolate tower to face an indescribable evil. Armed only with crucifixes, holy water, and a rifle, he prays to survive a single night, the longest of his life. Desperate to record what he has witnessed, Bram scribbles down the events that led him here…

A sickly child, Bram spent his early days bedridden in his parents’ Dublin home, tended to by his caretaker, a young woman named Ellen Crone. When a string of strange deaths occur in a nearby town, Bram and his sister Matilda detect a pattern of bizarre behavior by Ellen–a mystery that deepens chillingly until Ellen vanishes suddenly from their lives. Years later, Matilda returns from studying in Paris to tell Bram the news that she has seen Ellen–and that the nightmare they’ve thought long ended is only beginning.

The Review

I will say it now: this is one of my 2018 picks for best book of the year. It was truly amazing to read, and was as engaging as the original novel written by Bram Stoker over a century ago. Capturing the gothic, Victorian era setting and interweaving history, mythology and handwritten notes from author Bram Stoker himself, the authors really did a wonderful job bringing the life of Bram Stoker and his family to life in a horror based setting.

Now while the world knows the works of Bram Stoker’s Dracula to be a fiction horror tale, what fascinated me about Dracul was not only the amount of history and real life individuals mixed into the narrative, but learning about the creation of Dracula to begin with. Readers will be enthralled to learn the true manuscript first written by Bram Stoker was never meant to be a fictional tale, but through the words of Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker’s afterward we learn how the book came to be what we know today, and that large portions of the original novel have never been published before. How much of this horrific and scary tale are fiction as we know it, and how much is fact?

The writing itself was amazing. The story was written in an epistolary format, allowing us to delve into the minds of the Stoker family themselves, as well as associates of the family and historical records to match some of the claims. Fans of the original tale of Dracula will love the similarities and context given throughout this novel, while modern day horror fans and readers will be enthralled with the vast character development and parallels between the life of Bram Stoker (in the novel) and the stories told within his novel years later.

The Verdict

This is a must read book for 2018. As a history buff, classic horror fan and overall Bram Stoker enthusiast, this story really captured my attention from the beginning. From the author’s early years battling illness to the life or death battle with unknown forces he and his siblings undertook, this is the kind of story that comes along rarely. If you haven’t yet, be sure to pick up the novel Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker today!

Rating: 10/10

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0735219346/ref=x_gr_w_glide_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_glide_bb-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0735219346&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

About the Authors

Dacre Stoker:

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Dacre Stoker, a Canadian citizen and resident of the U.S., is the great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker. He is also the godson of H.G. Dacre Stoker, the commander of the AE2 submarine, whose tactics were instrumental in Gallipoli in World War I.

Dacre, who now calls Aiken, South Carolina home, was a member of the Canadian Men’s Modern Pentathlon Team, Senior World Championships in 1979 and coach of the Canadian Men’s Modern Pentathlon Olympic Team, Seoul, South Korea in 1988. Dacre is married to Jenne Stoker and is the father of two children. He is the Executive Director of the Aiken Land Conservancy.

Dracula: The Un-Dead is Dacre’s first novel.

Dacre Stoker’s Links:

https://twitter.com/dacrestoker?lang=en

https://www.facebook.com/DacreCStoker/

J.D. Barker:

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J.D. BARKER is the internationally best-selling author of Forsaken, a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel, and winner of the New Apple Medalist Award. His work has been compared to Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Thomas Harris. His 4MK Thrillers, The Fourth Monkey and The Fifth to Die, were released in June 2017 and June 2018 respectively. He has been asked by the Stoker family to coauthor the forthcoming prequel to Dracula due out in fall 2018. His novels have been translated into numerous languages and optioned for both film and television. Barker currently resides in Pennsylvania with his wife, Dayna, daughter, Ember, and their two dogs, both of whom sit outside his office door daily, eagerly awaiting his next novel.

A note from J.D.

As a child I was always told the dark could not hurt me, that the shadows creeping in the corners of my room were nothing more than just that, shadows. The sounds nothing more than the settling of our old home, creaking as it found comfort in the earth only to move again when it became restless, if ever so slightly. I would never sleep without closing the closet door, oh no; the door had to be shut tight. The darkness lurking inside needed to be held at bay, the whispers silenced. Rest would only come after I checked under the bed at least twice and quickly wrapped myself in the safety of the sheets (which no monster could penetrate), pulling them tight over my head.

I would never go down to the basement.

Never.

I had seen enough movies to know better, I had read enough stories to know what happens to little boys who wandered off into dark, dismal places alone. And there were stories, so many stories.

Reading was my sanctuary, a place where I could disappear for hours at a time, lost in the pages of a good book. It didn’t take long before I felt the urge to create my own.

I first began to write as a child, spinning tales of ghosts and gremlins, mystical places and people. For most of us, that’s where it begins—as children we have such wonderful imaginations, some of us have simply found it hard to grow up. I’ve spent countless hours trying to explain to friends and family why I enjoy it, why I would rather lock myself in a quiet little room and put pen to paper for hours at a time than throw around a baseball or simply watch television. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I want to do just that, sometimes I wish for it, but even then the need to write is always there in the back of my mind, the characters are impatiently tapping their feet, waiting their turn, wanting to be heard. I wake in the middle of the night and reach for the pad beside my bed, sometimes scrawling page after page of their words, their lives. Then they’re quiet, if only for a little while. To stop would mean madness, or even worse—the calm, numbing sanity I see in others as they slip through the day without purpose. They don’t know what it’s like, they don’t understand. Something as simple as a pencil can open the door to a new world, can create life or experience death. Writing can take you to places you’ve never been, introduce you to people you’ve never met, take you back to when you first saw those shadows in your room, when you first heard the sounds mumbling ever so softly from your closet, and it can show you what uttered them. It can scare the hell out of you, and that’s when you know it’s good.

jd

J.D. Barker’s Links:

http://jdbarker.com/

https://www.facebook.com/therealjdbarker

https://www.instagram.com/jdbarker_author/

https://twitter.com/jdbarker

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It Came From The Basement By M.R. Kessell REVIEW

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

In one of the most original, one of a kind twists this year, I received a truly remarkable children’s book with a horror twist. It’s called It Cam From The Basement from author M.R. Kessell, and it is a fantastic read that I just had to share with you all. Here’s the synopsis:

“It Came from the Basement” is an illustrated, inky homage to monsters and monster movies accompanied by a collection of thirty-one ridiculous rhymes to make you laugh uncomfortably in the night.

Darkly humorous, M. R. Kessell’s “It Came from the Basement” lies somewhere between Edward Gorey’s “The Gashleycrumb Tinies” and Tim Burton’s “The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy.”

Intended for the monster kid in all of us.

I have been a fan of horror most of my life, as well as books. My love for horror came from my mother and her father before her. I still remember the day I first saw the original Trilogy of Terror film as a kid, and despite the ensuing nightmares it brought, my fascination with the storytelling capabilities of the horror genre never dissipated. With author M.R. Kessell’s book, the wonder and dark humor of the genre has finally found a home amongst younger generations.

While it may be a shock to some to have a children’s book within this genre, the truth is horror has always been integrated to a degree within our childhood. Lest we forget shows like Are You Afraid of the Dark or Goosebumps, or perhaps even the chilling moments from classic films, such as the monstrous Rattigan from The Great Mouse Detective or classics like Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, let’s not right off the horror genre for children’s books quite yet.

This book is filled with some of the most gruesome yet hilariously dark rhymes and illustrations I’ve ever seen. From monsters and killers to zombies and other devilish fiends, this book imagines the nightmare ever child has of ghouls traveling from the dark basements of their homes becoming a reality, and the hilarious reactions of the people in the home to these monstrosities will have parents and children alike fascinated, horrified yet strangely entertained all at once.

Overall I loved this book. I can honestly say there is nothing else like it on the market right now. The illustration greatly reminds me of Shel Silverstein, and the writing captures the essence of a good Tim Burton story while the overall book remains truly unique and one of a kind. Author M.R. Kessell has written a truly amazing book that is sure to be a hit, so if you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copies of It Came From The Basement today!

Rating: 10/10

ABOUT

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M. R. Kessell is a writer, illustrator, and a musician with a penchant for the weird and macabre.

And smoothies.

Born and raised in New Jersey, he recently made the huge cross-country move to Brooklyn, NY, where he resides with his lovely wife and their fat cat.

By day, he works as a project engineer in New York City’s architectural metals industry. You may have seen some of his work.

https://mrkessell.com/

https://www.amazon.com/Came-Basement-M-R-Kessell/dp/0692110135

Smashwords July Summer/Winter Book Promotion: 50% Off And Free eBooks!

Hello there!

I hope everyone is having a fantastic summer thus far! As I continue preparing for the upcoming release of novella #2 in my YA series Nightmare Academy, I thought it would be a great time to start sharing my books with you all. That’s why I’m excited to share that my books I Was An Evil Teenager: Remastered and Welcome to Nightmare Academy are taking part in Smashwords annual Summer/Winter promotion! Throughout the entire month of July, I Was An Evil Teenager: Remastered is going to be 50% off (that’s $1.50 for an entire novel), and Welcome to Nightmare Academy will be completely free! Yes, the first entry in the series is now free for the entire month. So click the link down below and get both a marked down, scary horror novel about a teenage killer and get a free copy of a highly reviewed and engaging upcoming YA series. If you enjoy these stories then I would love for you to leave a review on any site you are able to and also preorder your copy of Freshman Hunt: A Nightmare Academy Novella today! Thanks everyone, and enjoy your summer!

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https://bit.ly/2IKOtiA

Interview with Author Caspar Vega

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I’ve been writing in one form or another since I was a kid. My first attempts were dirty rap songs that I wrote on A4 paper and illustrated – I must have been around eight years old then. My mother might still have them stored somewhere. Some angsty teenage poetry followed, then a few short stories that I thought were decent at the time.

I started taking it seriously when I turned 18 in February 2009. That’s when I wrote the first pages of what would eventually become my debut novella The Eclectic Prince that I self-published in 2012. It took me a long time to finish because I didn’t have any writing habits developed but in my mind, I knew I was pursuing something.

What inspired you to write your book?

Different influences inspired the vignettes in Southern Dust. Gretchen’s story is more of an introduction to the Governor. The Governor’s part explores similar themes I had already covered in my earlier novel Hayfoot but something still felt unfinished there and I took it a bit further with Nightingale’s story.

Roger Conaway’s story is a mash-up of several things. Captain America is one of my favorite heroes and I always liked the idea of a super soldier experiment. This was exacerbated when I watched The Guest for the third time – the best movie of 2014 by far.

I was also watching Game of Thrones for the first time a few months before I started outlining and Theon Greyjoy’s arc was so tragic and disturbing. Also Nightmare Alley with Tyrone Power. It made me want to tell a story where we see the complete rise and fall of a character. Someone who becomes truly monstrous and unrecognizable by the end of it.

Dominic White is about one third myself, one third Oberyn Martell – one of the greatest characters to ever be on TV – and one third something else.

Plotting this book was a lot of fun because I felt like I was writing a prologue and three separate mini-books. I think they tie together neatly in the end.

What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

None whatsoever – I only hope they’re entertained.

What drew you into this particular genre?

I think I bend several genres together in this one but as far as a black magic adventure story, this is my version of a Dennis Wheatley book. Now to replicate his sales numbers.

If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

Dominic’s the most like me but he’s very anti-social, I don’t think he’d agree to a meeting.

What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I used to be on Gab which gave me a few interesting acquaintances but I’ve gotten rid of everything except Instagram now. Something about being able to send out condensed little messages on a big platform brings out the worst in some people, myself included.

What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Force yourself to write until it comes to you naturally. I spent three years on my first book – a 20,000 word novella – because I only wrote when I felt “inspired” which is a copout. If you have a rough outline, set yourself some simple goals and get writing. I’m very proud of my first book and I wouldn’t change a thing about it but I was definitely making excuses and stalling for a while.

What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I’m working on a new novella now that’s a parody of the modern thriller genre entitled The Gone Girl On the Train Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. I’m also working on a few TV pilots because let’s face it, that’s where the real money is for writers. Wish me luck.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/princeofpulp/.

Southern Dust by Caspar Vega Review

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

An incredible genre fusion of a book comes together in author Caspar Vega’s novel Southern Dust. A story filled with monsters, civil war and tales of revenge all set in a post-Trump era, this story delves into the differences between people in our divided world, and how it fuels the actions taken on a large scale. Here’s the synopsis:

A diesel-fueled, black magic powered, vampire-creating Southern extravaganza!

Gretchen Walker: A Southern belle living an idyllic life in the newly independent Alabama; worrying about the upcoming cotillion, and hoping more than anything to find a dapper young suitor from a good family. Might she end up getting more than she bargained for?

The Governor: The enigmatic leader responsible for achieving the aforementioned independence.

Roger Conaway: An enforcer trying to make a clean break. When his boss tells him a friend’s daughter has gone missing, can Roger find the girl and get out of the game while he still has a shard of innocence left?

Dominic White: An obsessive Hornbuster overcome with grief; recovering from a nervous breakdown, and actively seeking revenge for his murdered sister.

Discover their interconnected stories in this spiderweb of love, politics, guilt, and revenge.

This book was a fast yet engaging read. It reminded me a little of the connectivity of a good Dean Koontz novel, with a wonderful blend of genre fusions like horror, science fiction and historical fiction all rolled into one. The characters were interesting to read about as they each dealt with a troubling background, and led into the horrors that brought them all together. Exploring a world in which people rose up and declared independence for individual states was interesting as a plot point, as the current political nature of the United States in particular is volatile and easily could find itself in a time of great turmoil.

The author did an amazing job drawing the reader in, creating beautiful scenery that played out wonderfully through each page of the book. The ease in which the genres blended with the overall story made this feel like a more real story than ever before, and the story itself flowed smoothly.

Overall I loved this story. The writing was very down to earth while blending in these larger than life and fantastic story elements. It was a fascinating read that drew me in immediately from the story’s first page. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copies of Southern Dust by Caspar Vega today!

Rating: 10/10

AMAZON: http://amzn.to/2puTGq3

GOODREADS: http://bit.ly/2sh5jBW

Face your Demons (Tainted Blood #1) by Nina Hobson Review

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

A brutal horror story of a group of children terrorized by a monster straight out of humanity’s worst nightmares comes to life in author Nina Hobson’s novel “Face Your Demons”. Part of the Tainted Blood series, this book is filled with fast paced action, gruesome horror and a cliff-hanger ending you won’t be expecting. Here’s the synopsis:

Librarian’s note: This is an Alternate Cover Edition for ASIN: B0089PT018.

Jennifer’s young life has never been better. She has it all: family, friends and fun. That is until her terminally ill cousin comes to live with them setting in motion a horrific turn of events unlike anyone in the town of Cleveland has ever seen.

Oh yeah…and did she mention her best friend’s sister has a massive crush on her?

 

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This was one of the more unique horror tales I’ve read in recent years. The story reminded me of a more fast paced version of Stephen King’s IT, with a string of child murders plaguing a town and a group of pre-teen children facing this threat alone. The adults are all acting strange, and have dark secrets of their own. The horror of this tale is what really sells the story. The in your face scares and gory deaths solidify the horror heavy tale, while the character development between protagonist Jennifer and her friends helps bring a much needed human element to this supernatural tale.

The only criticism I would have is that while fast paced, this story does have moments of show vs. tell writing. I’d advise a slightly lengthier approach to garner that show quality storytelling that allows the reader to visualize the monsters for themselves. While the formatting itself did make some of the pages jumbled, I did receive an early copy of this book and therefore the formatting has most likely been improved since then.

Overall this was a very enjoyable horror tale. Filled with suspense, intense action horror scenes and a deepening plot that screams for more stories to be told, this was a fantastic first entry into the horror series. If you haven’t picked up your copies of Face Your Demons (Tainted Blood #1) by Nina Hobson, then do so today!

Rating: 8/10

 

 

Terminal Core by Lynn Steigleder Review

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

A surreal and thrilling blend of science fiction, horror and westerns comes to life in author Lynn Steigleder’s novel Terminal Core. A group of ragtag fighters with haunted pasts must put aside their mistrust of one another to save the human race and their dying world. Here’s the official synopsis:

Aon, a solid core planet made from the priceless and most dense element in the galaxy, caladium, is under silent attack. Plans are made by off-worlders to dissolve the unbreakable core using crude oil obtained from 19th century earth. Once the oil is refined, the byproduct, gasoline, will soften the caladium, allowing it to be collected. It is soon discovered the core is made from living beings created from caladium itself. The off-worlders employ a band of corrupt inhabitants to carry on this work. They find themselves in a constant struggle with a small coalition of Aonians bent on saving their home world. Both factions clash with the indestructible core creatures. With horrendous beasts one step behind and deadly pitfalls ahead, the coalition struggles to finish its journey, hoping to insure their races’ survival.

I absolutely loved this read. The blend of the science fiction setting with some pretty vicious and horrific creatures that made it feel like a creature feature horror story. The inclusion of the western style setting helped integrate the characters well, with each one harboring a dark secret that could easily turn friend into enemy or foe into ally. The complex western world was filled with backstabbing, lying, cheating and death, making this an intriguing read to say the least. The book itself flowed smoothly, keeping an even pace throughout. One of the biggest highlights however was the extensive world building, shifting the story from the planet Aon to the western age of 1800’s Earth and beyond.

Overall this was a fantastic read. Full of life, death and adventure, this was a unique and creative read that cannot be missed. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copies of Terminal Core by Lynn Steigleder today!

Rating: 8/10