Preternatural Evolution by Peter Topside

In my review of Peter Topside’s first book, Preternatural, I started with the fact that Peter had hit the mark with an enjoyable debut novel. I just finished reading the second book in the trilogy, Evolution, and I’m happy to report Peter has managed to write a fantastic sequel.

Many authors spend way too much time in flashback scenes, and I often feel as if I’m re-reading large chunks of the first novel. Peter found a brilliant way to bring back pieces throughout the second book, just little snippets, but that’s the gem of book two. I never felt bombarded with trips down memory lane, nor did I feel lost.

The characters are more three-dimensional in the second book. They’ve grown over the fifteen years since Blackheart first terrorized their town, and yet many of them, despite the growth, are still stuck looking for something in the past to allow them to move forward. In comes the new and viciously improved Blackheart.

Preternatural: Evolution is a great read and a thoroughly enjoyable sequel to his debut novel. I’m looking forward to reading the final installment. Well done, once again.

Available on Amazon.

Absolute Unit by Nick Kolakowski

Okay, this one takes the prize for being the strangest most bizarre thing I read in 2020. There are no words to describe how addicting, over-the-top, and utterly freaking weird this book is.

Parasites are living inside Bill and his nephew Trent. Bill, a Health Inspector, is hated by everyone, and Trent is a young con artist. The parasites are sarcastic, funny, and unapologetic as they go from learning the joys of human consumption to the terrifying realization that they can control our every move. If you think that the parasites living in Bill and Trent are strange, wait until you get farther into the story with sex addicts dressed as furries, drug dealers, prostitutes, and an angry girlfriend, all of whom are trying to get their hands on these two men.

It’s not us who will end the world, and it might very well be something darker, something that comes from inside of us. The book makes me wonder how much control we have over ourselves. Or do I or we have some alien or biological creature running through our bodies?

This book is truly a gripping, bizarre, and bonkers experience. I loved every moment of this story. Do yourself a favor and dive in, you won’t regret it.

Preternatural by Peter Topside

Peter Topside has hit the mark with an enjoyable story for a debut novel. The antagonist, Blackheart, is the dark soul of this book. There are no Twilight vampires in Peter’s world or in the small town of Meadowsville, which has decided to use the strange deaths and legend to increase tourism, led of course, by the town’s mayor.

The myth surrounding the creature of the night was original and engaging, even though there were some awkward moments where I thought a bit more editing of the book could have enhanced the story. Overall, this was an original and creative endeavor for Peter’s debut work of fiction.

As another horror genre writer, I know that writing a trilogy can be difficult. The author must ensure that each of the novels has a solid ending, so the reader doesn’t feel cheated with unnecessary cliffhangers. Peter thankfully didn’t have this problem. Preternatural has a definite conclusion and one where I felt satisfied and not cheated.

I’m looking forward to reading the second in the trilogy and seeing how Peter continues the story of Blackheart and Meadowsville.

Dark Thirty: A Novella by Andrew J. Brandt

To be honest, I’ve never read anything by Andrew J. Brandt before. The blurb on Amazon intrigued me, but not for the typical reason. The blurb doesn’t do the story justice. It makes the novella sound like the same old horror/mystery trope. A small-town kid goes missing, and the town’s secrets are slowly exposed. It seems to be everywhere these days – television, movie, and books. (Think Broadchurch, Dark, The Disappearance, The River, etc.… You get my point)

Despite the blurb and seemingly commonplace plot, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed Dark Thirty. Brandt has a wonderfully devilish mind. The plot and story are a bit unsettling, but it also makes for a great read. I bought the book to see if something different or unique could be done with the old trope. While the trope is common, Dark Thirty is not. Brandt has devised a way to make even an old idea fresh and new.

Available on Amazon.

Nana by Mark Towse

Nana, as most people know, is the endearing term used for their sweet, loving grandmother. Mark Towse says it’s derived from the Italian word for grandma, Nonna. Whatever the origins, Mark Towse has a wonderfully twisted, unsettling, and at times humorous story to tell.

Olly must stay with his Nana while his parents work out some marital issues. Nana says she has a lot of surprises waiting for her grandson. One would expect from your grandmother, home cooking, television, or even letting you be alone while she knits. Not Olly’s Nana. Olly is about to face some extraordinary things. I’m not talking magical creatures and fantastical worlds. I’m taking things a young boy (or even an adult) should never witness.

Not sure how anyone could write something so bizarre and mind-boggling terrifying, but Mark Towse has done just that. Nana doesn’t fit into any box. There’s not a box big enough to contain it. From gruesome scenes too deliciously unique to describe in this review (no spoilers) to sexual pleasures of all kinds. There is something wrong at Newhaven Crescent Community Center, and it’s not just Nana.

This book is truly one of the most insane rides I’ve been on in quite a while. If it wasn’t for the humor dotted throughout the book, I’m not sure I would have come out of the story quite the same person. I felt exhausted and a bit dirty when I finished the book. Not an easy accomplishment, Mr. Towse, from one horror author to another – well, done.

It’s a great read, but be warned – you’ve never met a Nana like this one.

Available at Amazon. Amazon affiliate link

Friends in High Places by Rob Smales

I’ve seen Rob read a few times at Pandemonium Books in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His readings are always lively and memorable. He’s a talented reader as well as a masterful writer. If you get to see him read, consider yourself fortunate.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from his novel, Friends in High Places. One never knows what to expect with Rob Smales. I’m here to tell you, this novel will haunt me for quite some time. His characters, in this case, a group of young boys, are not only engaging but familiar. We’ve all been there. We all had childhood fears and phobias. And I bet we’ve all had a special group of friends to share those terrifying times with. It’s part of growing up. It’s how we learn to become adults and deal with difficult situations. If you’re like me those childhood memories are alive and well in me today. I’ve learned to keep them at bay (most of the time).

When I was eleven or twelve. I had an overactive imagination. Same as most kids. I always believed that writing horror for twenty-two years made me immune to the scares. Rob proved me wrong. His novel spooked me beyond words. This is a classic ghost story in a whole new light, or dark in this case. From the moment I opened the book, I realized Rob was taking me someplace I didn’t want to go, yet I couldn’t say no. I couldn’t stop reading because I was there in the story with the four friends. I was not only witnessing the events that unfolded I was also living it.

I knew Rob’s craft of storytelling is impressive, but I had no idea how unique and twisted his stories could get. Rob has brought my childhood fears to life once more, and I’m constantly looking over my shoulder. Thanks, Rob.

Available at Amazon. Amazon affiliate link

Malinae by Josh Schlossberg

Josh Schlossberg has done something very few people have done. He’s created not only a gripping and terrifying story but has done so with characters in their eighties. It’s a heartbreaking love story as Ward watches his wife of fifty years slip further into dementia. It’s a story many of us can relate to. But there’s something deeper at play in Josh’s story. With expert craft, he turns the tides on the reader as Ward discovers there is more to his wife’s dementia, and it isn’t human.

The story is intricate and woven together beautifully. Josh is a master storyteller, and Malinae is the proof.

This is a story that will tug at your heart on many levels. Highly recommended.

Amazon affiliate links

Kindle Edition 

Paperback