Friday, February 19, 2016


Carson Buckingham is my Woman In Horror today! Carson writes fantastic horror, but she has the skills to add in humor where it is needed. For me, this makes a story so much more enjoyable.

Carson is also a master at the art of writing dialogue. Her skill lies in the fact she makes it seem casual, which dialogue is. Too many authors force it  and it becomes a mish-mosh of inept verbalization. 

Another thing I love about Carson is her attention to detail without over-doing it. Readers are intelligent. An author needs to paint the picture, but she also needs to allow the reader to grab a hold of the brush and add her own imagery to it. Think of a painting by Monet. You see everything you need to see, and it is gorgeous, but the interpretation of the visual afforded you is yours alone. I love the art of Monet, and I compare Carson's artistry with words to his fantastic skills.

Not only is Carson an author, but she is also a superb editor, who charges great rates, and a book reviewer as well. What a talented lady!

A couple of quotes I got from Carson the other year:

 "I don't believe in writer's block. An empty screen and a daily word quota is all the inspiration I need. It doesn't have to be perfect--it just has to be there. To do anything else puts undue stress on the writer. Edit it later--write it NOW!"  Carson Buckingham

"I never outline anything. All I start with is how I want what I'm writing to end, and then write to that ending."
Carson Buckingham

Carson has the right attitude! I certainly believe what Carson has written above. In regards to outlines, I feel they stifle the flow of a book. Let the story roll, unfettered by restrictions within an arbitrary guideline.

I wrote this a while back, but it certainly bears mention once more:

"Okay, not that I ever say things which might cause a bit of an eye-brow raise, but The Best Of The Horror Society 2013 would not be where it is without Carson's editing skills and determination. This anthology came in third in a prestigious poll and Carson should take a bow. A huge one. Yes, the authors in the anthology are superb, but without great editing, what is a story? Crap. And Carson did so much more with promoting it. I know what it takes to do these things and she was a wonder woman. The wonderful job she did on this alone would make her a Woman In Horror in my eyes." 

For a completely hilarious about me post, go to
If you don't laugh at this, you don't have a funny bone in your body.

Carson is all over the place promoting other people in the publishing business. She believes in giving back to the community.

Carson's Amazon bio:

"Carson Buckingham knew from childhood that she wanted to be a writer and began, at age six, by writing books of her own, hand-drawing covers, and selling them to any family member who would pay (usually a gumball) for what she referred to as "great literature." When she ran out of relatives, she came to the conclusion that there was no real money to be made in self-publishing, so she studied writing and read voraciously for the next eighteen years, while simultaneously collecting enough rejection slips to re-paper her living room...twice.

When her landlord chucked her out for, in his words, "making the apartment into one hell of a downer," she redoubled her efforts, and collected four times the rejection slips in half the time, single-handedly causing the first paper shortage in U.S. history.

But she persevered, improved greatly over the years, and here we are.

Carson has been/is a professional proofreader, editor, anthologist, newspaper reporter, copywriter, technical writer, novelist, short story writer and comedy writer. She prefers fiction writing above all, since fiction, ultimately, is where the truth is. Her novels and short stories fall under the horror subgenres of dark fantasy (think Poe, not swords and sorcery) and paranormal suspense and are meant to chill the reader without blood and guts and veins in the teeth.

Her blog is at and though she is a horror writer, Carson's blog is humorous (she hopes) with commentary on life's absurdities updated each week in THE WEEKLY RANT. THE CAPTIONED PHOTO OF THE DAY is there, too, along with the HORROR-SCOPES and even shots of her garden in Arizona. You can also find out about what she's up to in the world of dark fantasy in the BOOK BLURBS and CARSON'S NEWS sections.

She loves reading and gardening; but not at the same time. Though born and raised in Connecticut, she lives in Arizona now--and Connecticut is glad to be rid of her!"

On to some great books!

As I say in my review below - under Robert c. Nelson - Gothic Revival is a brilliant masterpiece of horror, one I believe you should not miss.

Book description:

 Alex and Leo Renfield are a husband and wife contractor team who’ve recently moved to the village of Woodhaven, Connecticut to escape the chaos of life in New York. Pretty close to broke, they meet Theodora Hamilton, a somewhat unsavory and odd individual, who offers them an astronomical amount of money to repaint the first floor of her family home.

But along with the huge paycheck comes a set of unsettling rules that must be followed explicitly if they are to accept the offer; one of which is they must reside on the property having no direct contact with the outside world until the job is complete.

Is Theodora Hamilton just an eccentric woman with a peculiar way of doing things, or is there a more sinister agenda that Alex and Leo are unaware of? What exactly does she have in store for this down-on-their-luck couple who have no choice but to accept the offer and the strange requirements that come along with it?

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Gothic Revival, by Carson Buckingham, is the author's best work to date. One would think a 536 page novel would have some slow, drawn out sections, but not for Carson. She is a master at Gothic story-telling and knows how to keep the story moving.

I am particularly impressed by the fact there is no elaborate over-description involved. To me, that is boring. Give me some action; some psychological horror. Carson gives the reader all the description she/he needs without describing every useless tid-bit a reader doesn't want to know.

How does she do this? Through her skillful use of dialogue. Too many authors are totally without dialogue skills. Carson could write a non-fiction book on the subject. But then again, anyone who reads Gothic Revival will see what I'm talking about. Her dialogue is written the way people actually talk. Fancy the concept! She has hit upon a secret so simple that it eludes far too many authors.

Now I come to a part of Carson's writing that I really enjoy. Her sense of humor. What, you ask, humor in Gothic horror? You betcha. Once more, Master Carson Buckingham comes riding along on her trusty steed and delivers the right amount of humor at the perfect time. Superb!

Take dialogue unmatched by any author past or present, add in humor, suspense, romance, and a foreboding creepy feeling polishing it all off, and you have Carson Buckingham.

You will notice my review does not tell you the details of the story. Yikes! Why do that? Read the description and the free sample for that. I'm here to tell you about the author's skills. Of that, Carson has many. Besides, I wanted to blurt out some goodies, but that would have been a spoiler. Not my style.

Gothic Revival is a masterpiece! 
Format: Paperback
Have you ever read a book where you simply can’t get the characters out of your head? You read and are drawn in, not simply gliding past the words but living them? Gothic Revival, by the amazingly talented wordsmith, Carson Buckingham, is truly a book that needs to be added to your must-read list. Not only uniquely creative is the storyline, but Buckingham goes on to create characters that are believable, intelligent and oh so witty.

This, dear fans of haunted houses, incorporates elements to creep beneath your skin with just enough added mystery to satiate your hunger for the macabre. Indeed, Gothic Revival is a book you will read again and again.

A young couple, carpenters by trade, are given the job of a lifetime: to paint a single room in a huge Gothic Revival home. But there are stipulations – odd stipulations – they can work only after midnight until dawn – why, you ask?

This is just one of the strange strings attached to being paid an exorbitant amount of money for what appears to be a simple job. Or is it?

The owner is reminiscent of an older Morticia Adams. Her staff and family – well let’s just say they fall into the category of odd, strangely peculiar, leaving you uneasy and at times frightened. If you want to read a book causing you to remain glued to each page with great anticipation of what this talented writer has in store beyond the next; well, prepare to cuddle beneath a cozy and what you believe comfortingly safe blanket – oh, and let’s not forget to keep the lights on well past the book’s ending – I implore you.

Carson Buckingham is a genius with every facet of a book’s formation; imagery to dialog, quick and sharp witticism, the gift of creating goosebumps and blowing your mind in the process. This creepfest is one this reviewer has to say, is now on a personal favorite list. Buckingham is an author with more than great promise; she truly is masterful with the written word. I am personally hooked as will you be, dear reader. Once finished, you will want more. Do you hear that, Ms. Buckingham? Your fans anxiously await the next masterpiece. No pressure here… *SMILE* This is intelligent horror at its best – her twists are clever and unrelenting, leaving the reader in awe.

If the best is what you seek, be sure to pick up a copy of Gothic Revival and keep your eyes open for more from this gifted author. She has no intention of letting you down – nor letting you go for that matter.

Carson Buckingham is a winner, and Gothic Revival is but a taste of works yet to come. I can’t wait!
Format: Paperback
Alex and Leo Renfield are celebrating their first wedding anniversary at the local Chinese food restaurant, when fortune—or is it misfortune?—intervenes. Sure, they have enough in savings, but they aspire to what every couple dreams of: Owning their own home. Once Leo expresses an interest in home-remodeling work to their waitress, the local rich, eccentric couple sitting beside them—wait…wasn’t that booth vacant?—offers them an odd opportunity. They’re given an unbelievable offer of $30,000 just to paint the first floor of their Victorian “beauty.” But things are not that simple, folks.

First, they must take a physical exam performed by the Hamilton’s doctor. He keeps some odd hours, this doctor, claiming a rare skin-disease as the cause. And once it’s time to start work, Alex and Leo will be keeping odd hours as well, having to stay at the Hamilton’s until the job is finished. They must not leave the house. They cannot bring anything with them from home, other than clothes, and this is just the beginning. Buckingham puts good-ambiguity to great effect here, layering the story so that the reader is constantly guessing, just like the characters, unable to find a footing, except for that $30,000—their key to the good life. The exquisite ambiguity reminds me of a good Dean Koontz novel.

Once Alex and Leo arrive at the Hamilton’s house, Buckingham’s imagination muscles begin to flex. Is Leo interested in the Hamilton’s house out of nostalgia? Or is there an uglier truth behind his fascination? Once they get to work, all bets are off. Time is hard to keep in the house. Theodora Hamilton claims it’s a magnetic anomaly, but can a magnetic anomaly account for character’s limbs acting of their own accord? And why has almost everyone disappeared from the quiet little town of Woodhaven? What will Leo find when he breaks his legal contract by investigating the second floor? Soon, Alex will realize that severe choices have to be made, and that it will take their combined will-power, and courage, to survive a force that only Buckingham’s twisted imagination could produce.

Gothic Revival is a suspenseful, mind-bender of a novel which readers will find a hard time putting down. Buckingham pays homage to the American gothic story whilst keeping it unique. We’re given characters we can easily sympathize with and care about. They’re a perfect match for one another, and the dynamic is put to good use as we go down the rabbit-hole.

While reading, I often found myself thinking: How could you do that to that wonderful, loving couple? A true mark of a brilliant writer at work. Gothic Revival is one of those horror novels that burrows into your head like a greedy termite. And once it’s done consuming, its effects linger for eternity.
The Best of the Horror Society 2013 is a fantastic collection of horror tales. The reviews below go into great detail explaining the great stories. As I said before, Carson was the driving force behind this anthology and much credit must go to her.
Book description:
 A central coast trip that leads to devastating consequences for wine collectors. An adjoining hotel room that isn’t what it seems. A long bus trip with a stopover in an eerie little town. You’ll visit these places and more in this volume. Or how about the old woman with the strange plant? Or the odd little boy selling lemonade? Perhaps the sideshow lady who just smells so good? You’ll meet them all at the turn of a page and they will remain with you long after the book is closed. The Best of the Horror Society 2013 is an anthology of the weird, the wonderful, and the downright wicked. Within you will discover not only the best of emerging horror writers but seasoned pros whose names you will no doubt recognize as well. So turn out the lights, pull up a chair beside the nearest roaring fireplace and enjoy the ride.
Format: Paperback
The Best of the Horror Society 2013, edited by Carson Buckingham is a collection of twenty eight excellent horror stories designed to sit with you long after you read the final page. What’s interesting is that unlike many recent anthologies, this one is built not around a theme but rather is a collection of simply great stories which are dark, disturbing, and in many cases, push the boundaries of horror. Ironically, I did find a common thread through many of the stories and that was that bad things often happened to bad people, although good people certainly got caught in the grip of evil as well.

Of the twenty eight stories, there were some from well established voices along with relative newcomers to the horror genre. As is often the case in these anthologies, sometimes the most entertaining stories came from the newer voices who are just now flexing their storytelling muscle. There wasn’t a single bad story, which made my task of narrowing down to my favorites all that much more challenging. Of the stories that I listed below as my favorites, please understand that my selection is entirely subjective to the impact each of the stories had on me. While I enjoyed each story in the anthology, the following managed to hit a nerve and make the story stand out and linger long after the final word was read.

Ceremony, by William F Nolan is the perfect tale to kick off the anthology in style. A story by one of the grand masters of short fiction is bound to be a treat and Nolan certainly does not disappoint. The story centers on an unnamed hitman traveling to New England to carry out a job. Of course, the bus breaks down in the creepy town of Doour’s Mill, and the man gets thrown into the middle of some very odd goings on. To tell any more would ruin the story. Of course, like any Nolan story, getting there is half the fun and Nolan pulls out all the stops in his descriptions of the town and its very strange citizens. Ceremony is a story that lingers with you long after reading it.

Lemminaid, by Carson Buckingham is a story of a wealthy old man, Peterson Sharpe, who spots a young boy selling lemonade by the side of the road and decides to stop. While to story starts in an almost lighthearted tone, it quickly dissolves into something a lot darker and leaves us with an ending very reminiscent of early Richard Matheson. A strong moral lesson is given here in that you will reap what you sow.

White Hell, Wisconsin, by Weldon Burge was another stand-out story in the anthology and clearly the case of bad things happening to good people. It follows the story of a snow plow driver who on the night of a huge blizzard comes face to face with a very familiar monster – mankind. What really stood out in this tale was not only the sense of isolation from the storm, but the manner of how cold and calculating those in the story can be given the right circumstances. A dark and unsettling read, it sends chills as it serves as an allegory for what is happening to the youth of America. Very chilling indeed.

Normal is relative, by Dan Dillard starts off as a simple paint by numbers story of a young couple having dinner at home when their idyllic evening is interrupted by the unexpected arrival of the man’s psychotic brother. Of course, this story quickly spirals out of control and after the blood soaked violence, the ending hits you with an twist I can guarantee you won’t see coming. It lingered long after reading and is highly recommended.

Madeleine, by Julianne Snow is a dark tale about a six year old girl haunted by prophetic dreams of her family’s gruesome demise. Throw into the mix a creepy aunt who gives the terrified girl an unusual doll to help with her night terrors and you have another great tale with the requisite twist ending. Another story that pays quiet homage to Richard Matheson and manages to scare us long after we’ve finished reading.

It has Teeth, by Christian Larsen is an old-school horror story of a husband and wife who think they’ve found the home of their dreams only to see it dissolve into the stuff of nightmares. Eerily reminiscent of stories ripped from the pages of the old Pan Book of Horror Stories anthology series, the story does indeed have teeth and will grab you and not let go.

Black Bird, by Rose Blackthorn starts off telling the story of Callie Velis who notices a black bird who seems to be following her as she heads to work. The story escalates and the one bird becomes many as Callie becomes terrorized by the birds. Not to give anything away, the story builds tension as it works its way to a satisfying climax. Highly entertaining and a real page turner, it will have you looking at the next crow or raven you see with a greater degree of suspicion.

Adjoining Rooms, by Scott Goriscak is a dark tale that follows a con man who has a run in at a hotel with his very large and frightening neighbor at a city hotel. The story mixes an old-school approach with a small degree of surrealistic weirdness to evoke a sense of fear and paranoia as the story propels itself along to a twisted finale, showing once again how bad things do happen to bad people. The story reminded me of the old “pre-code” EC comics and was a blast to read as I turned the pages, waiting to see what would happen next.

Moving Day, by Mark Onspaugh tells the story of eight-year old Clarissa Pearson as she and her family move into their new home. The story manages to take two time worn staples in horror such as the unknown of a new home and the innocence of children and blends them together to get a dark and twisted tale that hints strongly at a Lovecraftian influence. Very clever and will keep you reading until the very last word.

Black Mary, by Mercedes Yardley is a haunting tale of abuse, human monsters and the indomitable will of the human spirit wrapped around a quiet ghost story. Very well written with strong characters you can empathize with and incrediby haunting, this story shines as one of the best in the book.

Boy in the Elevator, by Robert S Wilson tells the story of a man who is convinced he sees his dead son at a hotel and follows him into the elevator. The story relies not only in the build-up of tension throughout, but also with the hard hitting ending which cbeautifully closes the story. Very creepy and unsettling and makes us caution what we truly wish for.

Again, while the above eleven stories really hit a chord and resonated with me, this is an anthology that doesn’t have a weak link. Each story is well written and highly enjoyable and well worthy to be a representative for the Horror Society. Carson Buckingham has pulled together a solid and cohesive collection and a highly and engaging read from beginning to end. Highly recommended.
Format: Kindle Edition
Some clarification for the uninitiated: This is the best of the Horror Society - not necessarily the Years Best Horror (although I think the anthology would be in the running for such a title.) The Years Best Horror was a legendary series of short story collections issued by DAW and edited, if memory serves, by the great Karl Edward Wagner. "The Horror Society" is a new organization that has reached a remarkable level of distinction in a short period of time. As Scott Gorsiak, the president of the organization claims in his forward, it is "a think tank" for those who contribute to the field of Horror, not limited to one particular discipline, such as writers, but including musicians, directors, make up artists, etc., where artists can network for connections and exchange ideas. This isn't the Horror Writer's Association of America, the H.P. Lovecraft Appreciation Society, the Stephen King Wannabe Club, Clive Barker Uber Alles or any other darned group.

There are some very good writers here. Along with the legenary William F. Nolan, the only living writer I know of who can be included along with the likes of Robert Bloch, Richard Matheson and Ray Bradbury. Included too are rising stars Richard Thomas, Weldon Burge, Joe McKInney, Aaron Warwick Dries, Robert S. Wilson, Scott Gorsiak (grin) and editor Carson Buckingham. Twenty-Five Tales of short and not-so-short, high quality and mostly unfamiliar shivers. Authors are included I've never heard of, but I chalk that up to personal ignorance on my part. One Hell of a lot of good horror writers have shambled their way into print and eprint over the last few years. It's enough to make you throw your typewriter against the wall and try writing Harlequin Romances.

This is an excellent collection and terrific way to find out what's happening on the current, horror scene. Unlike a lot of anthologies, the stories aren't limited to a particular theme, although they aren't necessarily original to this collection. You may have encountered a couple of these before. (The William F. Nolan is from 1985 - culled, in fact and appropriately enough, from "The World's Best Horror" Collection of 1985.)

“Ceremony” by William F. Nolan, although the oldest story in the book, predates the 'noir/horror' fusion fad currently rising in public awareness by almost thirty years. Noir/Horror isn't all that new of a trend. There's something we find just, basically satisfying about low life mobsters and the like getting their comeuppance. Nolan's story delivers the goods. It’s a great start for the current anthology - but nobody gets a free ride on my bus. Horror aficionados will probably spot the very strong influence of Shirley Jackson here – but I won’t tell you how.

I like "Tendrils Never Lie" by Kevin A Ranson. It successfully incorporates some classical horror concepts into a very well observed and executed modern setting.

The Mask by Lisamarie Lamb is obviously written for the intelligesia. Set in the famous “Carnival in Venice,” it assumes you know who Petrouchka, Scaramouche and Pedrolino are, It’s atmospheric, metaphoric, uncompromisingly intelligent - a little arty in the Victorian ghost story sense, perhaps, but still good. Worth reading.

Lemminaid by Carson Buckingham
Okay, I was wondering how good this would be. The editor has to throw her own story into the mix, right?. The first two paragraphs, the introduction, were shockingly inept. Cliché followed cliché - like I was listening to some poor loser in a bar try to tell a story, using which ever cliché popped into mind: . "heaved a contented sigh,” “dearly loved these quaint... slices of antiquity,” “ripe old age of...”, “ mind as clear and sharp” (as the Atlantic in February - well, THAT'S better, anyway,) “body sound and healthy,” “ one fly in his personal ointment..”


I was ready to skip this sucker entirely -- but I kept reading. I advise the same for you, too. I don't know how the opening got so far off track, but the story itself, once it gets started, is one of the best of the collection, building slowly as it does from the most innocuous of summer diversions, a lemon aid stand. I loved it. I think the story will eventually be a classic - but man, those opening paragraphs. We're all human, I guess, and even first-rate editors like Carson Buckingham screw up. Give the story a chance. It’s a winner.

If Lemminaid's terrors are decidedly "Old School" - and I don't have a problem with that, "The Central Coast" by Jason V. Brock sucks us right back into the modern, Clive Barker influenced horror. It is the aftermath of the ultimate wine tasting party gone bad. “The Central Coast” is an unrepentantly, joyously nasty ride. Hold on..

White Hell, Wisconsin by Weldon Burge
Convincing Rural Horror exploring the depths of human depravity. It’s exciting, tense and the denouement is completely unexpected. Very good. I sense the influence of Richard Matheson here, but that is not a bad thing. At all.

Victimized - Richard Thomas
This one reads a little more like Speculative Fiction - anybody remember that term? - than a conventional horror story, although it's bloody enough. It's about government sanctioned, fights to the death among prison inmates - a way to handle the surplus population and turn a few bucks. "Victimized" is also written in what I call the fashionable first person, present tense - a technique that in lesser hands can make you think that you're locked in a coffee house with some deranged bad beat poet/journalist who just won’t shut up..

The story is much better than that. In fact, it's very, very good. After awhile I didn't mind the present tense at all - and for me, that's saying something. “Victimized” has great characters; superb descriptions; an excellent story and is well worth the read.

“Normal is Relative” by Dan Dillard
A descent into human evil and degeneracy with an ending that was a little too slick for my tastes but effective enough. (You can pick at a story and still admire the quality - and this is first rate.) Bon Appetite.

Igor Award Winner: The Procedure by Doug Lamoreux.
Maybe I’m just perverse, but I didn't like it. The story is effectively written enough, although I disliked labeling the main character as "Pigeon." It gave away for the ending with the character’s initial appearance. In particular, I didn't like the triumph of evil and the “weak deserve what's coming to them” message of the piece. Maybe it comes from reading Raymond Chandler recently. Like Marlowe, I rather like life's oddballs, the losers, the less than over-achievers. But you know, this is the award winner, which means someone liked it – a lot. Give it a shot and see what YOU think.

Little Church of the Safe Crossing by Joe McKinney
In this one, Joe McKinney presses the boundaries, finding an original source and mythology for his monster. It is, set among illegal immigrants and some of the social/religious baggage some may be bringing with them. As a chilling horror story it works well enough, although you could argue that the subtext of the story leans a bit to the right. Also, the ending was almost comically simple, almost like the punch line of a joke you'd hear in a red state, blue collar bar - but enough of the story was enjoyable to merit it a guarded thumbs up -- denouement excluded.

Madeleine by Julianne Snow presents an interesting take on the haunted/evil dolly theme. The 6 year old girl suffers from the worst possible night terror and recurring nightmares until she is given a very special doll, someone who can help her combat the forces in those dark dreams. This one grows on you. The more you think about it, the nastier and more ambiguous it seems. Great story.

It has Teeth by Christian Larsen is home improvement horror about an evil and powerful splotch of mold that just will not be eradicated. Pretty good.

Masquerade by Dave Jeffery
I’m not a religious person and usually avoid horror and fantasy stories that proceed from a Christian concept or Christian Theology. It's not that I mind a writer having religious views or Christian beliefs, but there's something about using that viewpoint fictiously that seems to cheapen those beliefs. Does that make any sense? After all, the writer is offering just one view, one interpretation of Christianity. So, when dealing with known demons and angels, the way the angle Michael was vilified in the Prophecy series of movies, for example, I bristle.

Masquerade doesn't come out and call itself a deal with the devil story, but it's clear enough just who the Paymaster is. The weird thing is that this story is really very good - quite original and absolutely scary. So, in spite of my prejudices, my preconceptions – and who doesn’t have a few, really? -- I have to rate this as a fine and satisfyingly nasty story. Excellent

Blackbird by Rose Blackthorn is a horror story about a young woman stalked by an evil black bird. It’s good even though I am particularly fond of Ravens. Once upon a time they were considered great pets. No matter. The story was written to entertain and it does that quite well. Thumbs up.

Adjoining Rooms Scott Gorsiak
So: the editor, Carson Buckingham, has acquitted herself with aplomb in this collection. What about the host? He says he's only been a writer for a bout five years now. Is he coasting to glory on more stellar names, riding into the limelight on more famous coat tails?
I guess not. Adjoining Rooms is a very effective piece of Horror that builds nicely to the final pay off. The style threw me a little. It seemed anchored in the first person narrative of H.P. Lovecraft and other slightly stilted, slightly pompous writers of the late 1800s, but the story is set in modern times. The thing works. That's what s important. If anything, the slightly stilted narrative at the beginning throws the graphic horror elements into starker relief. You may groan a little at the “message,” the final revelation, but a story is more than the sum of its parts. Scott misleads and misdirects like a master and knows how to build his effects. All considered: "This," as Boris Karloff used to say, "is a Thriller."

The Clown by Henry Snider ain't for kids. It’s an example of modern, cutting edge horror based in human sexuality, a little carnival of souls surrealism and an unexpected change up. Not for the squeamish, totally disturbing and an effective horror tale.

Inspiration and Horror of George and Hugh by Nicholas Grabowsky
This one gets my “Bite the Hand that Feeds You Award.” It’s one of those "In Cold Blood" style journeys into the mind of sociopath serial killers that seem so popular right now. I guess the message is: don't watch too many horror movies. Whatever. It's still a well-written, well told example of it's type.

Moving Day by Mark Onspaugh
Nicely told little gem with a lot of twists for such a short story. You think it's going to be another variation of "The Bad Seed" - but then it gets much more, uh, complicated. Can't tell you much more without ruining the ending - but I'll wager you won't see it coming. Great job of misdirection with a lovely, horrific pay off at the end.

Soft Like Her by Charles Colyott
Some stories you can't discuss at all without ruining the impact. Not for the squeamish, my friend.

Black Mary by Merced M. Yardley
One of my favorites. “Black Mary” is about unwilling, child sex-slaves fighting for their freedom and sanity. Grim, grim, grim - but with a lot of heart, humanity and an ending that works well. Kudos to the author for trying something different. Again, this is ADULT material – which is not to say pornographic. Recommended, strongly, for mature readers.

Ellen Lee Pletzers
Hand it to author Lee Pletzers: he's not afraid to examine the outermost regions of human depravity and still make the story literate and involving enough not to be exploitive. Recommended – but again, with caution: This is horror cooked rare with the blood dripping from the plate.. If you're a drinker, you may want to pour yourself a stiff one before plunging in.

Luminous Veil by Ian Rogers is an excursion into the totally cynical wherein the character successfully counters every argument given her for staying alive by a teen help/suicide prevention hot line. It's well told, original and well written, but my own social/literary taboos prevent me from recommending it. It's easy to mock people who try to help and let the societal chips fall where they will. Different strokes for different folks, I reckon.

Daddy by Aaron Warwick Dries offers a good story - an original take on the demonic doll tale with a dollop of child/elderly abuse subtext added. The confection works. It could be interpreted as a sophisticated exploration of the horror that arises from self-discovery, of realizing that you aren't quite the person you always thought you were and hoped you would be. Aaron is mostly a novelist, and so runs on a little -- but it’s worth the read. Well done.

Beer and worms by T.E. Grau.
Here’s another one I can’t discuss without ruining. It’s a clever variation on a familiar theme and you probably won’t see the payoff coming. .

Boy in the Elevator - Robert S. Wilson
Great. This one can serve as a textbook example illustrating the art of misdirection. Robert S. Wilson, along with many others in this anthology, also shows us that an effective horror story can be placed just about anywhere: an old abandoned house, the "bad place" at the edge of town or dead center in the middle of the city on a crowded elevator.

Weird by Dean M. Drinkel
I have to admit I didn't like this one. It seemed to be inspired more by the Matrix than any phenomena observed in the real world and then slightly exaggerated as the best horror is - to my mind anyway. IN fact, the work seemed to be a throwback to a certain VERY familiar type of story from the slush piles of science fiction yesteryear. Maybe the old rules don't apply anymore.
Well, just because I didn't like it doesn't mean that you won't, and so I won’t give it away - and you have to give author Dean M. Drinkel credit for his carefully polished prose. At least he puts a new spin on an old, OLD concept.

Venus by L.L. Soares
Interesting take on "Pygmalion” set in a carnival side show. Thumbs up.

And finally, “Hotties” by Mort Castle is a virtuoso display of technique from someone who has mastered the narrative style of several different epochs and eras. There seems to be a little bit of everything here as the story bounces to several different times and locations: 1837 Oklahoma, 1696 London England, and the contemporary Internet. The story is all about hot headed teenagers and...

Sorry folks. It’s been a long review.

To my mind the story seemed heavier on style than substance and the ending strained a little to make it all hang together. There’s no denying the writing chops at work here, though. Very impressive.

In sum: The Best of the Horror Society 2013 is an extraordinarily strong showing by a LOT of talented people, beautifully edited, neatly packed and ready to ship to an unsuspecting world. Watch the skies!
Zippered Flesh 2 is one horrific anthology! Carson's story, Skin Deep, certainly finds a good home here.
Book description:
 So, you loved the first ZIPPERED FLESH anthology? Well, here are yet more tales of body enhancements that have gone horribly wrong! Steroids from Hell. Horrendous piercings. Bizarre brain modifications. Obscene amputations. Facial reconstruction. Self-mutilation. Implants. Chilling tales by some of the best horror and suspense writers today, determined to keep you fearful all night (and skittish during the day).
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This anthology is full of excellent horror from the beginning story by Bryan Hall, called The Modern Adonis to the last story by Michael Bailey called Primal Tongue. The first one starts off the book with gore and bizarre circumstances, the last story is not a bit bloody, but so creepy and full of "sign of the times" themes. In between, every single one of these offerings has something for everyone. Taut by Shaun Meeks is a mixture of atmospheric nightmare, fetish and what I call "the ick factor". A more gothic and atmosphere centered tale is offered by Lisa Mannetti in The Hunger Artist. Carson Buckingham gives us Skin Deep, which delves into the human desire for perfection. Prosthetics by Daniel J. Russell is downright just creepy. Seeds by L.L. Soares is a wonderful new version of one of my favorite iconic movies. Kealan Patrick Burke spins a dark and very disturbing tale of teenage romance with his story Underneath. In Piper at the Gates, David Benton and W.D. Gagliani take us on a roller coaster creep fest ride. I would describe every story in here, but they are all so good, I just want you to buy this book or e book and start reading immediately!!! You will not be sorry! 
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
These stories are so weird and wonderful, at the same time. I enjoyed every second of this book. Some of these stories were so creepy, and far out!! I am definitely going to grab the first one too!! Great job to all the authors!!!! 
Format: Paperback
I recently had the pleasure of reading several unique anthologies that have been published by presses new to me. One of these presses is Smart Rhino Publications, a small publishing firm based in Delaware. Although they are small, they have some excellent titles. One of these is ZIPPERED FLESH 2: MORE TALES OF BODY ENHANCEMENTS GONE BAD! This collection of stories almost defies normal classification; within these tales are horrors and wonders that you must read to believe. In short, this is one hell of an anthology!

This is definitely not a collection for the faint of heart! But the talent in this book is very impressive. I have to admit that I have never heard of many of these authors, but I definitely want to check out more of their work. Each author brings a unique perspective to the subject matter, making this collection a must-have for fans of horror and bizarre tales.

And `unique' is an excellent way to describe this book. The stories in ZIPPERED FLESH 2 are not traditional by any means; these are true tales of the original. From piercings to amputations, these stories will definitely stick out in your mind long after you have finished them.

One of my favorite stories in the book is "The Sun-snake" by Christine Morgan. In this tale, an ancient civilization "honors" the winner of a competition by transforming him into the Sun-snake, their embodied god. This is achieved by several gruesome surgeries that bind his legs together. I particularly like this story because of the vivid imagery involved. Morgan does an amazing job of conveying the scene and the images from this one will haunt me for a long time.

ZIPPERED FLESH 2 is a big win for me and is a book that definitely needs to be on your horror bookshelf. It is available now, so give it a look. 
Luna's Children: Full Moon Mayhem is an eclectic collection of werewolf stories. Carson's story Into The Woods, is howling good fun. Get your fix of Horror!
Book description:
 Fear the full moon!

For countless centuries, mankind has watched as the sun goes down knowing that Luna will rise in its place, to rain her brilliant shards of light upon the Earth. But for the cursed and afflicted, that silvery orb brings horror and death.

Luna's Children: Full Moon Mayhem is a collection of 22 stories of the werewolf. From the halls of a local high school to the bowels of a Civil War-era church, from the deserts of the American Southwest to the distant lands across the seas, from the horrors of the first kill to a lycanthropy support group, Full Moon Mayhem explores the many stories and possibilities of werewolves in the modern world.
  Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase Great stories. Especially enjoyed The Study Break. Great detail and good drama. Especially liked the sensory touch. I felt like one of the characters. Good job writers
Format: Kindle Edition
I have a problem with short stories. Every time I read one, I become so invested in the story and the characters that I expect a full length novel to follow and am sorely disappointed when the story abruptly ends. That's a good thing. It means the author was able to make magic with a mere 5000-7000 words. I've dabbled in short stories. I've been published in one anthology and I will certainly be submitting to others in the future, but I'm a selfish, wordy person. I want more of each story that I read! Again, this is all very complimentary to these authors. I love the idea of monsters and werewolves, especially so close to Halloween (okay, so close to September). I can highly recommend this collection of short stories to any horror fan!

By the way, to all authors who contributed stories, I expect full-length novels in the near future. Thanks.
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an amazing collection of great werewolf stories. Many of them are very detailed and full of suspense and do a great job leading the reader away from the true werewolf before revealing it perfectly. My favorite one, "Painted Wolves" is interesting because of the setting and the different kinds of werewolves. I love the idea of painted wolves as a werewolf. The story makes me want more. I'd love to see a full novel based on the world of "Painted Wolves." "Googi" is also a great story, as is "Eat Your Peas" and many others.

The only one I would not recommend is the perverse story, "The Last Lamb" a story about a high school coach who rapes boys. The predictable werewolf gets him in the end, but the coach's destruction doesn't feel like justice, but rather more perversion. I don't think the coach's eventual demise is worth the extended descriptions of his lust after the victims he calls "lambs."

However, don't let one story keep you from getting the book! The rest are very well done and they kept my attention to the very end. Great story! 
M Is For Monster has Carson's short story Q is for Quillen in it. This is a unique collection in which the alphabet plays a big part. Not the ABC's you learned in school, either. The reviews were all long, and so I only included the one specifically for Carson below. Again, this story shows her depth and breadth as an author.
Book description:
 Short story book of Monsters - 26 authors bringing 26 unique monsters to life that corresponds with each letter of the Alphabet.
 [Q is for Quillen - Carson Buckingham - 13 Pages]
Julius Neiman and Todd Ames jointly own the Neiman-Ames Jewelers. A very prestigious store, specialising in exquisite stones of the highest quality. However, when a poorly dressed and frumpy little woman by the name of Mrs Quillen comes into the shop exclaiming that she has a piece of jewellery to sell, not even Julius Naiman takes her seriously. That is, until she pulls out an exceptionally rare orange sapphire known as a padparadscha, which is no doubt the largest and most perfect of its kind in the world. But the stone has a curse...Mr Quillen!

Comically written from the outset, this almost slapstick short plays around with the humorous premise of a somewhat pretentious jewellers being thrown into disarray by an increasing number of bizarre turn of events. From elation to near comical misery, the short chuckles along until the final somewhat predictable comeuppance ends the tale in a witty yet charming manner. Well written throughout, but not necessarily the most fitting addition to the anthology.
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Check out Caron's Amazon Author Page for her other great books. All her stories are superb.

Carson Buckingham is a Woman In Horror!

Blaze McRob

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