Tag Archives: Dark Fantasy

Thin Walls by Christopher Golden

Overview
Image result for death's excellent vacation book cover

Title: Thin Walls
Author: Christopher Golden
In: Death’s Excellent Vacation (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Lust, Paranormal fantasy
Dates read: 15th November 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gollancz
Year: 2010
5th sentence, 74th page: ‘I can sense those things,’ Diana said.

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Synopsis

Tim is on a farewell tour to remember his late wife. When he overhears people in the room next door to him, he realises how thin the walls truly are. And his wish to honour his wife is truly tested.

Thoughts

I figured that this short story would have something to do with succubus, or some paranormal element of that character. After all, it starts with a man alone in a hotel room, with a woody, listening to others have sex. And it’s in a collection of paranormal fantasy stories. It wasn’t exactly a big leap. But, it did end in a way that I wasn’t completely expecting. And I did appreciate quite a bit.

I really don’t love the idea of people ever being able to overhear me and my SO in a hotel room. It’s pretty ick. And I really don’t like the idea of overhearing somebody else. Luckily, at this point in life, it hasn’t actually happened to me. But this storyline… and what happens when Tim overhears certain things… yeah, it added an extra layer of ick to the whole storyline.

Aside from the many ick factors throughout this story, I did love that ultimately, the “vacation” is a farewell tour for a lost wife. It was incredibly sweet and cute. Something that I can imagine doing if I lost my SO… touring all of the places that were important to us and just… remembering.

<- The Perils of EffrijimThe Heart is Always Right ->

Image source: Amazon

Bamboozled by Kelley Armstrong

Overview
Image result for dead man's hand book cover

Title: Bamboozled
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Series: Women of the Otherworld #0
In: Dead Man’s Hand (John Joseph Adams)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Paranormal fantasy, Strong women
Dates read: 23rd October 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Titan Books
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: She raised her voice a little, knowing Nate’s ace hearing would pick it up.

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Synopsis

Lily has loved Nate for a long time, and they make a great team. Particularly when they’re in the Wild West.

Thoughts

I love reading a paranormal fantasy story and spending it trying to guess what “being” the lead characters are. In the case of this story, I spent my whole time trying to figure out what Nate and Lily’s paranormal species was. I didn’t get it. And now, knowing what I know… I feel like it should have been WAY obvious… but oh well.

The word “bamboozle” has got to be one of my favourites. There is just something… fun about it. So reading a story that features this word as the title was immediately going to draw me in (let alone the fact that it is by a well-loved author and series). But it was the activity of “bamboozling” people throughout this that really had me smiling. And I’m now just going to sit in my little book lair and keep saying the word. Because, seriously, who wouldn’t? It’s a pretty awesome word…

What was I saying?

Oh yeah. This is an awesome short story. You should read it.

Bamboozled.

<- Red DreamsSundown ->

Image source: Amazon

Claimed by Shadow by Karen Chance

Overview
Claimed by Shadow (Cassandra Palmer, #2) by Karen Chance

Title: Claimed by Shadow
Author: Karen Chance
Series: Cassandra Palmer #2, Cassandra Palmer World #4
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Paranormal fantasy, Paranormal romance
Dates read: 28th – 31st July 2020
Pace: Slow, Medium, Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Roc
Year: 2007
5th sentence, 74th page: I wasn’t sure why – obviously she could see without the eye, or come to some approximation of it – but she seemed very depressed about missing her turn.

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Synopsis

A recent legacy made Cassandra Palmer heir to the title of Pythia, the world’s chief clairvoyant. It’s a position that usually comes with years of training, but Cassie’s circumstances are a little… unusual. And now she’s stuck with a whopping amount of power that every vamp, Fey, and mage in town wants to either monopolize or eradicate – and that she herself doesn’t dare use.

What’s more, she’s just discovered that a certain arrogant master vampire has put a geis on her – a magical claim that warns off any would-be suitors, and might also explain the rather… intense attraction between them. But Cassie’s had it with being jerked around, and anyone who tries it from now on is going to find out that she makes a very bad enemy…

Thoughts

This is a great second book to this series. I always find second books are the true hint to as to whether or not the series is worth continuing on. The first book is all about setting up the world 9and sometimes, they were originally supposed to be a standalone). But the second book is a hint as to the pace and style with which the rest of the series is going to set forth. Which made this a fantastic indication that I need to continue reading this series. Because. Wow. What a second book.

At the conclusion to Touch the Dark, Cassie had this great, kind of insane power thrust upon her. And I love that all throughout this book, she is seriously fighting that power. Instead of wanting to be powerful and a major player in the political activities which are surrounding her, she just wants to live a nice, quiet and normal life. To a degree, I get that. I’ve had an extremely eventful life… and all I want is for things to be incredibly boring. These are the kind of characters that I like – those who are powerful in a begrudging, slightly annoyed manner. It also gives many moments of humour throughout the action where she’s just a little bit testy…

Now that the series is starting to truly develop, I can see a few potential love interests for Cassie… and I’m completely intrigued to see who and what will be the ultimate guy that she ends up with. She’s finally lost that pesky virginity (and this is the first time that I’ve enjoyed the virginity sub-plot). But the actual guy who is going to be her happily ever after… I can’t wait to see who that will be!!! Personally, I’m hoping that it’s Tomas. But I think that’s just because I have a very, very attractive man pictured in my mind’s eye…

This novel isn’t just a great story in which Cassie is trying to wrestle with ideas of her new power. It is also a great story in which time travel and dimensional travel occur. From going back to the past, to travelling to Faery there are so many brilliant settings. Then, there’s also the fact that the end of this story indicates that not only is a massive supernatural war about to start. But, there’s a fairly good chance that Dracula is now running free and wild…

<- Touch the DarkEmbrace the Night ->

Image source: Goodreads

Squatter’s Rights by Rochelle Krich

Overview
Image result for home improvement undead edition book cover

Title: Squatter’s Rights
Author: Rochelle Krich
In: Home Improvement (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Horror, Paranormal fantasy
Dates read: 29th June 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: Eve was sure.

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Synopsis

Eve and Joe have just bought their dream house. But there is something knocking in the walls at night. Who will win this battle of wills?

Thoughts

The start of this story made me think that it was going to be kind of cute and super sweet. Turns out I was wrong. Fairly seriously wrong too to be honest. This is not a sweet short story. It does not have a happy ending. In fact, I don’t suggest reading it just before bed… there is just something goose bump creating about it that left me cringing and feeling very seriously uncomfortable.

I did guess that this story would be a little random due to the name – after all, Squatter’s Rights are based on the idea that whoever lives in a place owns the place. I didn’t realise how truly dark Krich would take the idea and the story though. How uncomfortable I would be at the end of this short story and how much I would enjoy that feeling of discomfort…

There are many things that this story touches upon. But one of the most poignant – the fact that it is seriously easy to lose trust and faith in another person. How easy it can be to manipulate someone into believing that things aren’t all as they seem and matters should possibly taken into their own hands…

<- GrayBlood on the Wall ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

Wasted by Jennifer Estep

Overview
Wasted (Elemental Assassin, #2.7) by Jennifer Estep

Title: Wasted
Author: Jennifer Estep
Series: Elemental Assassin #2.5
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: AssassinsDark fantasy, Elements
Dates read: 30th June 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Free online short story
Publisher: Jennifer Estep
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: And from some things that Roslyn has said, I thought that Gin might be able to help.

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Synopsis

This short story takes place in between the events of Web of Lies and Venom. One day, a beau­ti­ful woman walks into the bank where Finn works, and trou­ble soon fol­lows.

Thoughts

This was a nice little short story from Finn’s point of view. It takes place not long after Web of Lies and I get the feeling that it also nicely sets the storyline up for Venom. I was also not quite ready to leave the world of Gin and Finn, so this was just a nice little time filler until Venom arrives on my doorstep.

I also seriously enjoyed the action in this story – a bank robbery, setting up another novel and Finn’s irrepressible desire to seduce and romance women. All in all, a great way to fill a short story with not only Finn’s life and the action in it, but his personality. Partner that with the fact that is all written in the first person point of view. Filled with Finn’s wit and style.

Throughout this story, I was laughing and smiling. But, it really wasn’t until the very end that I actually laughed out loud. Or more like, guffawed. It was a nice, poetic ending. And has me seriously jonesing for the next book in the series…

<- Web of LiesVenom ->

Image source: Goodreads

Web of Lies by Jennifer Estep

Overview
Web of Lies (Elemental Assassin, #2) by Jennifer Estep

Title: Web of Lies
Author: Jennifer Estep
Series: Elemental Assassin #2
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: AssassinsDark fantasy, Elements
Dates read: 27th June 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Pocket Books
Year: 2010
5th sentence, 74th page: I had no desire to pay the facility a return visit.

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Synopsis

Curiosity is definitely going to get me dead one of these days.
Probably real soon.

I’m Gin Blanco. You might know me as the Spider, the most feared assassin in the South. I’m retired now, but trouble still has a way of finding me. Like the other day when two punks tried to rob my popular barbecue joint, the Pork Pit. Then there was the barrage of gunfire on the restaurant. Only, for once, those kill shots weren’t aimed at me. They were meant for Violet Fox. Ever since I agreed to help Violet and her grandfather protect their property from an evil coal-mining tycoon, I’m beginning to wonder if I’m really retired. So is Detective Donovan Caine. The only honest cop in Ashland is having a real hard time reconciling his attration to me with his Boy Scout mentality. And I can barely keep my hands off his sexy body. What can I say? I’m a Stone elemental with a little Ice magic thrown in, but my heart isn’t made of solid rock. Luckily, Gin Blanco always gets her man… dead or alive.

Thoughts

There is something beautifully intense about the Elemental Assassin stories. Which isn’t really surprising when you consider that the stories are set in a world much like Gotham City. And the lead is an assassin. And there is a massive conspiracy that even in the second book is only just unfolding. It makes a great intensity and a kind of impossible to forget story unfolds before your eyes. I had wondered how that intensity would carry on from the first book after Gin retires… and wow. Did it work well.

In the first Elemental Assassin novel, I really, really liked Donovan. I was fully expecting him to be a fairly permanent fixture in this series. And then I read this novel. And honestly. The man is a dick. A close-minded, self-centred dick. I actually raged quite a bit at him towards the end. Although, there is the introduction of a potential new love interest. One who sees Gin for exactly who and what she is… and still wants to pursue her and have her in his life. Which means I just can’t wait to pick up the next book now… because I want to see how that relationship develops further.

The mostly brotherly-sisterly relationship between Finn and Gin is further developed in this story. Her relationship with Fletcher is also highlighted a little more. Although, since he’s dead, it’s more about secrets and feelings than the actual occurrences of the relationship. What I loved about this was that it creates a beautiful world in which Gin’s relationships and family ties are becoming more and more complex and built upon. There is also so much history that is revealed. Both of which helped me to become even more connected to the person Gin was, is, and is going to become. That, and I love how Finn is a complete lady’s man and irresistibly charming…

Throughout all of the running around and conspiracies and killing in this story. There is the under arching storyline that began in Spider’s Bite… that of who killed Gin’s family and why. Some hints were provided in Spider’s Bite, but many more hints were provided throughout this story. For starters, Gin finally realises the who of her family’s murder and discovers that not everything she thought was true about that night was… it’s just another incentive to read Venom.

<- Web of DeathWasted ->

Image source: Goodreads

If I Had a Hammer by Charlaine Harris

Overview
Image result for home improvement undead edition book cover

Title: If I Had a Hammer
Author: Charlaine Harris
Series: Sookie Stackhouse #12.5
In: Home Improvement (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Paranormal fantasy, Vampires
Dates read: 9th June 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: There’s a reason the haunting started when the hammer came out of the wall.

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Synopsis

There’s a reason the haunting started when the hammer came out of the wall.

Thoughts

This is not the kind of short story you want to read before doing a home renovation – after all, in it, everything that can go wrong… will. But it does make it entertaining and a fun reading.

I absolutely adored Sookie in this story. She is fun, engaging and entertaining. Her strength is great. And considering I’ve only read one full-length novel, and in that she’s a little wishy washy. Yet, this short story takes place later in the series – and it highlights the strength that she finally has after she’s grown.

I love that there is a double storyline in this short story – not only is there the story line which follows Sookie and friends as they try and figure out what is going on with their mysterious guest. But there is also the tale of what actually  happened generations ago that involved a hammer and a bit of vengeance…

<- Home ImprovementWizard Home Security ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

Two Blondes by Charlaine Harris

Overview
Image result for death's excellent vacation book cover

Title: Two Blondes
Author: Charlaine Harris
Series: Sookie Stackhouse #9.6
In: Death’s Excellent Vacation (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Paranormal fantasy, Vampires
Dates read: 30th June 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gollancz
Year: 2010
5th sentence, 74th page: ‘Our new masters have been chipping away at Edgington’s control of Mississippi,’ Pam said.

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Synopsis

Sookie and Pam just want a little vacation in Glitter Town. But then vampire politics get involved… and things take a turn for the interesting…

Thoughts

This was a really, really good, funny and enjoyable short story. It featured all of the aspects of the Sookie Stackhouse short stories that I’m seriously beginning to love and a little more information about the series as a whole… I should probably actually pick up the full-length novels again… this was just such a great reminder of how enjoyable they really are.

One of the aspects of this short story that I loved (and what I assume will be more obvious after the 9th book in the series), was the sense of gender fluidity and sexual identities in this story. I loved that there were characters who were most definitely part of the Vampire LGBTQI+ community (and what an interesting community that would be). It also showed Sookie exploring a little more of her own identity, something I haven’t yet come across as a major plot line in the first novel…

Probably what I liked so much about this short story, that didn’t pull me into the original series was the fact that Sookie is no longer kid of weak and whiny. I found her really irritating in the first novel, and I’ve been told multiple times to actually read more of the series, that this diminishes. But reading this short story really drove that fact home. And has left me kind of excited to actually stick my nose into these books again.

<- Death’s Excellent VacationThe Boys Go Fishing ->

Image source: Amazon

The Monstrous edited by Ellen Datlow

Overview
Image result for the monstrous ellen datlow book cover

Title: The Monstrous
Author: Ellen Datlow, Jeffrey Ford, Peter Straub, Dale Bailey, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Gemma Files, Livia Llewellyn, Adam-Troy Castro, Kim Newman, Jack Dann, Gardner Dozois, Carole Johnstone, Brian Hodge, Stephen Graham Jones, Adam L. G. Nevill, Sofia Samatar, Terry Dowling, Glen Hirshberg, A.C. Wise, Steve Rasnic Tem, Christopher Fowler & John Langan
In: The Monstrous (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Horror, Short story collections
Dates read: 8th January – 3rd June 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Tachyon
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: “I supppose I do,” I reply.

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Synopsis

Horror’s most acclaimed editor reveals twenty riveting tales of the Other gone wrong. Monsters who suffer from heartbreak, betrayal, ungrateful kids, and unpaid overtime. Creatures of darkness that struggle to adapt to modern living. Ordinary folks who find themselves inexplicably transformed. 88 But if you dare, come a bit closer and discover the most terrifying of beings – those who are living under your own skin and peering out from behind your eyes.

Thoughts

This collection is brilliant. It is dark, creepy and intense. It is fun. It gave me goose bumps. And it is filled with monsters who come in ALL shapes and sizes. And I mean ALL. A wonderful, fantastic and seriously enjoyable collection filled with the things that go bump in the night. The things that you really hope aren’t hiding under your bed.

Although this anthology sits in my horror shelf, it isn’t really all that scary. Sure, there are multiple moments of discomfort throughout. But they’re that, you have to think a little too much, or consider the many moments of confusion throughout this story that you really don’t necessarily want to think too much about. And, honestly, it’s not the things that jump out and yell BOO that make me love horror. It’s that underlying discomfort that makes you look at your own life that I am quickly becoming obsessed with.

I absolutely adored this collection. It was filled with some familiar names and new ones. Each and every story made me stop and really think about what the storyline was saying. And even now, when I have still finished the whole collection… I am still thinking about some of the stories that I read.

<- Run, Rabbit, RunA Natural History of Autumn ->

Image source: Amazon

The Monster Makers by Steve Rasnic Tem

Overview
Image result for the monstrous ellen datlow book cover

Title: The Monster Makers
Author: Steve Rasnic Tem
In: The Monstrous (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Family, Horror
Dates read: 25th May 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Tachyon
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: They kick and wave, thrilled.

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Synopsis

Have you ever wondered where little monsters come from? Are they born or are they made? And just who makes them?

Thoughts

I both thought that this story was kind of nice and really not pleasant. I mean, the grandfather obviously dotes upon his grandchildren. And his wife. And he spends the entirety of the story loving them all for exactly who they are. But then there’s the dark side…

And what a dark side it is… there is a weirdness in this constant idea of changing bodies and creatures. There is the loss of sanity and ambulatory skills in the grandparents. But most of all, there is the relationship between narrator (Grandfather) and son. It’s a little bit uncomfortable and upsetting.

Yet, it continues to get darker and darker. Once the bad thing to the son happens, then there is yet another not so good moment in which the grandchildren… well, I’m not really sure what they do. But I know that it’s creepy. You’ll just have to pick up this short story to find out what I’m talking about for yourself.

<- Chasing SunsetPiano Man ->

Image source: Amazon