Deadlock by Tim Curran

Charlie Petty is a man known for having ice water in this veins. He never backs down and is never shaken20850731 but unfortunately stirred up into the wrong crowd. As a degenerate gambler, his luck has run out and his debt has now come due.

Charlie is offered a chance to clear his tab: simply stay alone on a ship overnight to prove to its owner and potential crew that it’s not cursed nor haunted. Never mind the ship’s history of suicide, violence, mutiny and murder. Or how the ship’s past crews have gone missing or insane. The fact that no one has set foot on deck in darkness for years doesn’t phase Charlie one bit. It sounds like easy money to bust up a superstition or two.

Charlie thinks his luck is returning. Little does he know it’s about to run out completely. –

What a perfect cover to set the mood for this horror novella from DarkFuse!  From the synopsis, you know going into the book things aren’t going to turn out well for Charlie.

Yes, the “spend one night in a haunted house, graveyard, etc…” has been done many times, but I’m always a sucker for reading about it, and a ship was a new setting for me.  Charlie went into this situation with bravado, chest puffed out, knowing he could do this.  And then things rapidly went down hill for him.  Much of what happens is in his own mind, but don’t let that be deceiving.  There were some pretty gory parts that weren’t for the faint-hearted.  If you read this at home alone, you would definitely be looking over your shoulder.

While Charlie was initially skeptical of the hauntings, I felt as if he did an about-face very suddenly rather than gradually changing his mind; however, I found it interesting that he discovered he wasn’t the person he’d always believed himself to be.  Some of the descriptions also became a little repetitive but, overall, I thought the author did an excellent job with imagery.

This novella can easily be finished in one sitting and I would recommend it to horror fans and readers who aren’t squeamish.  Deadlock is scheduled for publication May 27, 2014.

This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.



Severed by Gary Fry

When an unknown virus is unleashed on London, it turns everyone in its path into violent, zombie-20742681like killing machines, leaving their souls separated and floating away to form a giant halo above the capital. Flesh and spirit, dead and alive, they are both. They are severed.

As a beleaguered government brings in scientists to work on an antidote, the problems become even more complex. The virus spreads. The mayhem grows. There’s no solution in sight and time is running out.

Enter Stephen Hobbs, a hard-drinking, womanizing academic with a violent past of his own. Due to his special skill set and experience, he is enlisted to figure out what the virus is and how to stop it. Despite his own demons, Hobbs may very well be humanity’s last chance to survive becoming…SEVERED. –

This book demonstrated what could happen when a person loses the capacity to exercise moral restraint and chooses emotions versus morals – and it was not a pretty sight.  Imagine if you were able to actually say what you really thought to someone and act on any emotion you felt with no regret or remorse.  Mayhem doesn’t come close.

There really weren’t that many likeable characters in this book – in fact, most were loathsome.  The MC, Stephen Hobbs, was especially hard to connect with, but on the flip side of that, his character arc was profound, making made him more intriguing than likeable.

This was a quick read and the action started from page one, so I appreciated the fact that the backstories were woven in instead of having to sift through the first several pages to get to the real plot line.  Naturally, in a book of this genre you have to suspend disbelief, but if you enjoy this type of book, that’s not a negative.  I’ve also read Conjure House by this author, review here, a creepy novel I’d recommend to horror fans.

Something I missed with this novel was the lack of anyone to root for, a charismatic protagonist instead of Stephen Hobbs, who was more of an antihero.  I also felt like his mother seemed to be two different people, at times making statements that seemed inconsistent to her character.

DarkFuse is an independent publisher of modern horror, suspense, and thrillers and after reading a few of their books, I can say I haven’t been disappointed.  Severed is scheduled for publication April 1, 2014.

This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.