Author: Candy Korman
Genre: Gothic Horror (Short Story)
Publisher: Lymehouse Productions
Length: 65 Pages
Something is amiss at the Usher Institute for the Study of
Criminal Psychopathology. It seems the prominent families who send their criminally insane brethren for safekeeping have a bone to pick with the head psychiatrist. Or do they? The doctor is the sole narrative voice as he tells the story of the institute’s checkered past to an unspeaking journalist. Within the first few pages, the doctor assures his visitor that he is not paranoid, which of course invites the reader to look for clues to unlock the source of the unreliable narrator’s suspicions.
The doctor proceeds to make his case by informing his visitor, “Money blunts the instruments of law—and The Usher houses the evidence.” What ensues is a refreshing take on modernizing various aspects of some Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories for today’s readers. The dark secrets of some of the city’s most powerful families are skillfully rendered: a son entombs an enemy in an airtight wine cellar, a mother kills others so their life force can keep her daughter alive, as well as the killer who keeps an artsy photo album of all his victims.
Along the way, the story of the cuckolded sea captain who built the house transpires, as does the tragic nature of the doctor’s doomed love affair when he confesses, “That is the worst fate a healer can face—the incurable nature of some diseases.” All of which begs the question of what exactly is ailing the good doctor? It’s quite delightful to watch his paranoia grow and reach its inevitable conclusion.
When all is said and done, and the doctor has cried, “I am your judge and jury. I am your executioner, too. Watch as the pendulum swings closer and closer to you,” the reader will indeed ponder the thin line that separates reality from fantasy. After all, as the end of the story reminds us,“All that we see or seem / Is but a dream within a dream.”
THE RECOMMENDATION Poed
is the right book for anyone who enjoys skillfully-crafted and suspenseful prose. The novella stands on its own merits, but anyone who is even slightly acquainted with the works of Edgar Allan Poe will no doubt be fascinated and in awe of what Candy Korman has managed to achieve. 5/5 Stars.
on Amazon Candy’s Monsters Blog
Candy’s Monsters on Facebook
, GoodreadsCandy Korman Author Page on Amazon
THE REVIEWERJeri Walker-Bickett is an author, editor, and teacher. Her short story collection, Such is Life, is now available. Lost Girl Road, forthcoming, is a ghost story of psychological suspense set in the woods of northwest Montana. Despite growing up in the rough Idaho mining town of Wallace, she earned multiple writing degrees, and became a devoted English teacher who has since left the classroom to pursue writing and editing full time. Food and travel continually inspire her creativity. She currently lives in North Carolina with her wonderful husband and their demanding pets. You can connect with Jeri’s social networks via her twisted book blog, What do I know? located at JeriWB.com She also invites you to browse the selections on her Amazon Author Central page.
review by Kimberly Shursen
Title: Murder & Single Malt Author:
Mark Anderson Esquire Publisher:
Mike Baker is a serial murder. It’s as simple and as complicated as that. That’s who he is; that’s what he does. Not too far into Murder & Single Malt
, Mike loses his boring job, his only friend moves out of the country, his girlfriend trades him in for a guy who could be his twin, and the only person who cares about him is his dying mother. That’s it. That’s all there is to Mike except... he enjoys torturing and murdering people. Sometimes he murders because of a vendetta, sometimes it’s just on a whim and sometimes someone just ticks him off. There is no rhyme or reason. There is no connect-the-dots like 5’5” blonde haired women that look like his mother, or grumpy old men who remind him of a father who never really cared much about him, it’s just who Mike Baker is. Murder & Single Malt
will take you on a journey into the mind of a killer; a journey that is haunting. As normal on the outside as apple pie and four-leaf clovers in Ireland where Mr. Esquire resides, you will abhor Mike Baker, feel sorry and get angry with him, and then just pause and think, oh my God, do I know this guy? Quote: “I’ve been reading more and more. I’ve come to the conclusion that I am a serial killer. But, at the same time I differ from most. My background isn’t the abusive/broken home stereotype you’d expect. Plus I vary my kills. Usually serial killers stick to a pattern. They might let the pattern evolve over time. But I’m not sure if I’ve killed two people in the same way yet. That’s maybe what’s keeping the police from connecting the deaths.” Opinion:
Okay, I have to admit, I was a bit leery when Mr. Esquire asked me to review Murder & Single Malt
. I’m a total serial murder junky and didn’t know if Murder & Single Malt
would be believable. From Gein, to the Zodiac killer, to Gacy and Bundy, I’ve studied them all, read the books, watched the movies and dug, dug, dug for more. The human mind fascinates me. Obviously it does Mr. Esquire too.
Written entirely in first person, Murder & Single Malt
is brilliantly composed. Mr. Esquire's crisp, concise dialogue puts us right smack inside Mike Baker’s head. Where some authors lose readers by taking us from past to present, Esquire is not that author. Each chapter brings us right back where we left off.
From the one person dialogue Mike has with himself about the Big Bang Theory to his ‘chat’ with God about the crucifixion of Jesus, Murder & Single Malt
is a brilliant down-to-earth read.
I did find myself closing my eyes during the murder scenes as the book was so visual it made me feel as if I was sitting in a movie theater, so you may get a little nauseous at times, yet not enough to put it down. A few minor grammatical errors to fix and this book will soar to the top. Recommendation: Murder & Single Malt
is for anyone fascinated by the criminal mind. We read about it, but never quite understand. It does not offer insight into the ‘why’s’, but gives a first-hand view inside the head of Mike Baker, serial killer. I do not recommend this for children, nor do I recommend it as a gift for a friend you feel is a good candidate to be a serial murderer. Rating: Top Pick!
Five Stars Links: Amazon Book Link Mark Anderson on FacebookMark Anderson on TwitterVisit Mark's personal webpage
If you enjoyed this review, you can subscribe to the Underground or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
If someone offered me a choice between having my eyeballs gouged out by a feral cat or reading a vampire novel I’d have to think hard about it. When I got into the book review business I promised myself I would stay clear of anything that sucked, especially anything that sucked blood. Therefore, I only grudgingly picked up Andy Gavin’s indie vampire novel The Darkening Dream
after someone I trusted talked me into it.
After the first ten pages I couldn’t put it down. I still hate vampire books, but I love The Darkening Dream
Perhaps the best way to describe The Darkening Dream
is a Dusk Till Dawn
with just a dash of Buffy
and The Mummy
thrown in to spice it up. While you’re trying to wrap your mind around that, I’ll just say this book is the most original novel I’ve read in years and has made me an instant Andy Gavin fan.
The Darkening Dream
tells the story of two teenagers in pre-World War I Salem, Massachusetts. Sarah is the daughter of a rabbi, who she comes to learn is a powerful wizard. Alex is a young Greek immigrant with a wizened grandfather harboring dark secrets of his own. Over the course of the book Sarah and Alex fall in love and stumble on a plot run by an evil sorcerer in league with an ancient vampire. We also meet a kinky blue demon, a painting with an attitude, and an Egyptian beetle-god. They’re all looking for a mystical artifact that holds the power of the universe and Sarah is the key to finding it.
Unlike most horror novels, Darkening
is character driven. Gavin’s characters draw you in because of the seamless way he changes point of view from character to character. This simultaneously gives Darkening
depth and speed.
The villains make this novel especially delicious. Gavin paints Nasir as a classic vampire while giving him a very human, yet twisted, practicality. But the vampire is not the best villain in this book. That honor belongs to the evil sorcerer and his sexually insatiable succubus girlfriend, who’s so bad she’s good. They steal the show and deserve their own sequel.
Even though the protagonists are young, this book is clearly not YA (Gavin classifies Darkening
as “dark historical fantasy.”) It’s chocked full with violence, gore, and wizard-on-blue-demon sex. It is suitable for ages 18 and up.
My only minor critique of Darkening
is Gavin didn’t fully develop the town of Salem itself. The period setting of early 1900’s Massachusetts never came alive and felt like a missed opportunity in what I otherwise found was a flawless story.
I’m astonished The Darkening Dream
could have been passed up by any agent or mainstream publisher. Andy Gavin unearths a tired genre I thought was long past its prime, injects it with a spurt of fresh blood and sends it into the night to with a blood-curdling 95 out of 99 cents. 99 cents of Andy Gavin links:
All things Andy Gavin
The Darkening Dream, free sample chapters
Find it on Amazon
Andy's next novel, Untimed
Find Andy Gavin on Facebook
. If you enjoyed this review follow Underground Book Reviews on Facebook, Twitter and subscribe to our newsletter.
You can also follow Brian Braden on Facebook and Twitter and buy his book, Carson's Love.