FBI Special Agent Elliott Cooper investigates five unexplained child disappearances from a small town. He uncovers something beyond the FBI’s jurisdiction, something that literally changes him. Although this novel has a few inconsistencies, such as things working when the story requires them to work, it’s a fun tale of evils beyond the hand of man, the importance of loyalty, and astonishing graphically detailed descriptions of physical transformations and emotional turmoil. I recommend it for anyone who likes the stuff of nightmares born from the mind of a horror writer like Straub or Koontz. I was fortunate to receive a review copy from the publisher Moonlight through NetGalley.
The stories get better as you go deeper into this collection. The graphic depictions of sex and violence are just enough to give Dear Readers with active imaginations speculative ammo for tremors and terrors. Run, don’t walk, through these stories. Something always goes awry in the everyday worlds of Jack Rollins. A woman seeking sexual release exacts supernatural revenge on the shady service professional she hired for this purpose. An elderly couple become fungi. The ghost ship’s captain shows a very human sense of integrity. A young man cheating on his boyfriend discovers that not all legendary villains are fiction. A family man finds what appears to be evidence of a serial killer in the garage of their newly acquired home. Oh, and the lost god Mammon trips lightly through many of these tales—don’t turn around; keep running. Jack’s work is unique and his style feels personal, almost as though the characters are sharing too much, which works into a creepy crawly feeling under your skin. The only thing that popped me out of his stories is the common description of any man as tall, strong, and muscular. There are no wimps in Jack’s worlds. Despite that niggle, his work is solid and entertaining. I highly recommend this collection; really, anything by him. He’s so open and frank that his introductions to each story are nearly stories themselves; I thought the first one was the story!
Children made up a rhyme about the serial killer The Whisper Man. Though he’s in prison, a young boy’s abduction matches his MO. Young Jake Kennedy, whose father moved them into a new house after his wife’s death, has begun hearing whispers outside his window. Detective Amanda Beck joins original detective on The Whisper Man’s case, Pete Willis. The two storylines come together, but not seamlessly. The supernatural element in Jake’s storyline is not fully explored and somewhat confuses the issue. It feels like a crime thriller trying to be a paranormal horror. All in all, it’s still a good story. I was fortunate to receive this suspenseful tale from the publisher Celadon Books through NetGalley.
Basically, this book attempts to warn humans that they are being farmed like cattle across planet Earth as food for energy entities, inter-dimensional and extraterrestrial, who wish to eat souls. Redfern, author of 30+ books on UFOs, Bigfoot, and cryptozoology, takes readers through the minutia of anecdotal evidence for cryptids, some timeworn, a bit somewhat newer, all of it always fun and interesting. The book begins with an explanation of supernatural energy, or orgone, as defined by Wilhelm Reich, and immediately launches into soul stealing creatures from around the world. It’s hard to tell if Redfern is writing tongue-in-cheek, or in full belief; Llewellyn is the publisher—the latter is more likely. As with inexplicably grainy (in this day and age of technology?) videos of cryptids, so the personal stories, including those of alleged personnel of mysterious / forbidden locations, such as Area 51 (according to Redfern, there’s a secret facility miles underground in New Mexico), border on requiring suspension of belief. Silently dismissing mental illness or other more pragmatic sources, the author relays seemingly supernatural events as fact. Even with prior knowledge of the medical condition behind experiences of succubi and incubi, the chapters on these sexually demanding night creatures are disturbingly realistic. However, mythological lore is explored through the story of Lilith, who links Paganism, Judaism, and Christianity, as a relevant dark, feminine archetype. The highlight of the book is the concept of a tulpa, an entity created by focused energy of a group of people, with Slenderman being the most well known. Readers who accept spiritual entities for granted will be scared out of their wits by this book. Others who take it with a grain of salt will appreciate it for further forays into global legends, myths, and folklore. I was fortunate to receive an early copy of this fascinating book from the publisher #Lewellyn through #NetGalley.
Aubrey Ellis grew up learning to control the physically ravaging and emotionally draining interactions with ghosts who insist upon her assistance, ghosts who always leave tangible evidence of the encounter. As an adult, she’s settled into a position as a real estate columnist that gives her the opportunity to connect with and aid those who have passed on to continue their journey without too much damage to herself. Then she’s sucked into a decades old unsolved murder after new evidence emerges. Her reluctant partnership with fellow journalist Levi St. John takes her in new and unexpected directions, personally and professionally, and she comes fully into herself.
Although Spinella is designated a romance writer, I found the romance to be an integral part of a paranormal story and not the focus. She spins a ghost story so enchanting that I looked forward to meeting the ghosts and cheered Aubrey on when she succeeded in convincing Levi of her gift / curse. I love when writers understand human emotions, building character integrity and deepening genre novels. Spinelli is brilliant at laying down the elements that came together later in the story, doing so without distracting from the current scene. The tension builds as the story veers from the apparent guilt of one character to another, and I did not guess the true culprit, even with the hints sprinkled about everywhere.
Readers who are intrigued by the possibility of the existence of ghosts and the ability to converse with them will like this story. If you liked the television series Ghost Whisperer, you will love Aubrey’s story.
Thank you, Laura Spinella, for gifting me the digital copy of the first Ghost Gifts. I love it!