Monday, 26 September 2016

British Home Children



I had the opportunity on Saturday to attend the annual British Home Child event organized by the Eastern Ontario British Home Child Society. I would like to extend a special thanks to Judy Neville, who organized the event in Perth, Ontario, and kindly invited me to read from my first novel, The Home Child. I'd also like to thank my friends Margaret Leroux and Peter Fox, who drove from Kingston to lend their support to me at the event.


 If you're not familiar with the story of the British Home Children, the following information might be helpful:

Starting in 1869 and continuing throughout the first half of the twentieth century, children—some as young as six months—were sent to Canada, Australia, and other countries from Great Britain. Known as the British Home Children, approximately 100,000 of these children came to Canada. The majority of children came from the Barnardo orphan homes in England, while 7000 children were sent from the Quarrier orphan homes in Scotland. This child migration was organized as a mission of mercy: a means of allowing these children to have a better life than the poverty they had experienced in their homeland. But only two per cent of these children were actual orphans. They were separated from their parents and siblings and often ended up being exploited as cheap labour and abused in Canada.

My own novel, The Home Child, tells the story of Jake Hall, a transplanted city dweller trying to adjust to the realities of country life. He knows it isn't going to be an easy transition. He's prepared for major renovations to the old farm house he's bought, but what he hasn't counted on is finding a former resident still inhabiting the house in spirit form! Set in eastern Ontario, Canada, against the backdrop of a rural town in transition, this story combines historical detail and the supernatural in the poignant tale of a home child wanting simply to be reunited with the family he lost so many years ago.

Since writing this novel, I've had the privilege of talking to many home child descendants and hearing the stories of their relatives.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Season 2 of Fear the Walking Dead

I'm enjoying the second season of Fear the Walking Dead much more than the first. In fact I wasn't sure if there would be a second season. The primary drawback from my point of view was that the first season seemed more like a soap opera focusing primarily on teenage angst in two largely dysfunctional families as opposed to the chaos surrounding them.

Season 2 has more of an outward-looking feel, and the writers have both improved the story line and ramped up the action. They are using the technique, well-developed in The Walking Dead, of separating groups of characters to explore several adventures at once. However, the main difficulty for me in Fear the Walking Dead is that I find the characterization very weak in comparison with TWD. There are so many strong characters in TWD--Rick, Daryl, Glenn, Carol--to name a few, while the new series largely lacks interesting characters. (In fact, I find the two sons Chris and Nick mostly annoying.) In fact the character I like the most is Travis, played by Cliff Curtis, who also starred in the short-lived series Missing with Ashley Judd. Unfortunately, I'm not enamored of the main character Madison Clark, which I find to be overacted and overstated: almost a poor man's Ripley.

But then it's still early in the series and lots of ground to cover. . . .

Monday, 29 August 2016

The Latest Horror News





The Horror News Network reports that the movie Don't Breathe has already grossed more than $26 million at the box office, exceeding the studio's expectations. It has an 86% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which notes that:
 
 Don't Breathe smartly twists its sturdy premise to offer a satisfyingly tense, chilling addition to the home invasion genre that's all the more effective for its simplicity.

Stephen Lang, whom you may remember from the short-lived but excellent series Terra Nova, plays the lead in the film.


On other fronts, fans of Bruce Campbell can enjoy the first season of Ash vs. Evil Dead which is now available on DVD/Blu-ray. Season 6 of The Walking Dead has also been released, although if you've missed episodes and can wait until October, AMC will no doubt show Season 6 as a lead-in to the new season premiering on October 23.

There's lots of horror to come!

Monday, 22 August 2016

A Review of The Devil Will Come by Justin Gustainis

I received an ARC of this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program in exchange for an honest review.
 
Back Cover Blurb

Twenty-one stories that will scare you to death. 

You may or may not believe in the old gentleman known variously as Lucifer, the Prince of Darkness, Satan, or simply the devil – but it is impossible to deny the existence of evil in the world. And all those arguments about whether evil originates in the fires of Hades or in the smoldering heart of humankind don’t change the fact that evil has always been with us – and, most likely, always will be.

The stories you are about to read are about evil, in one form or another. Several of them give evil a supernatural origin, but others place it squarely in the lap of ordinary (or maybe not so ordinary) human beings. Some of the people you are about to meet will overcome the evil that confronts them, while others won’t be quite so fortunate. Either way, all of them are going to be changed by the encounter.
These stories are best read late at night, preferably while you’re alone in the house. I recommend leaving only a single light on. Try to use a reading lamp that illuminates the page while throwing the rest of the room into shadows – shadows where anything might be hiding.

Anything.

Later, as you lie in the iron dark, waiting for sleep, perhaps you’ll start to wonder if there really is a Devil, and if this is the night he might choose to come – for you.

I wish you pleasant dreams.

Well, no – not really.

Author Bio

Justin Gustainis has been an Army officer, speechwriter and professional bodyguard. He is currently a college professor living in upstate New York. He is the author of The Hades Project, Black Magic Woman, Evil Ways, Hard Spell and Sympathy for the Devil. He has also published a number of short stories, two of which won the Graverson Award for Horror in consecutive years. He is a graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop. 
  
Publisher Info

EDGE-Lite and EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing publish thought-provoking full length novels, collections and anthologies of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. Featuring works by established authors and emerging new voices, we are pleased to provide quality literary entertainment in both print and pixels.
"Enjoyable in Print and Pixels"
Website: http://www.edgewebsite.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EDGEfbpage
Twitter: EDGEpublishing


Amazon Buy Link

https://www.amazon.ca/gp/search/ref=x_gr_w_bb?keywords=9781770530904&index=books&linkCode=qs&tag=x_gr_w_bb_ca-20


Review

This is an entertaining collection of short stories that examines the Devil in his various guises. 

The author uses both historical and literary references--Jack the Ripper, Nazi Germany, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, and Stephen King's Carrie, to name a few examples--as backdrops to his depictions of evil.

I especially enjoyed the stories in which the author combines the paranormal with crime fiction, as well as those with plot twists.

This collection will appeal to readers of supernatural, paranormal, and horror fiction.


Monday, 15 August 2016

Time for Some Original Content?

We see it again and again: an inferior sequel to an original movie in an attempt to create a franchise and earn more money for the studios. For me, it was the disappointing sequels to Alien and Aliens, in my mind among the best science fiction/horror movies ever created. You can probably think of many other examples.

It is not surprising, then, that Horror News Network reports there will be no sequel to the new Ghostbusters movie, as originally promised by the studio. There are diminished returns at the box office, as well as dwindling fan interest. Sony, with its partner Village Roadshow, is preparing for steep losses after spending an exorbitant amount in advertising costs for the new movie. Sony is now focusing on the lucrative animated film/television market.

For the full text of the article, please see http://www.horrornewsnetwork.net/ghostbusters-box-office-sinks-plans-sequel/.

Am I the only one who is sequel-fatigued? Obviously not. . .

Monday, 8 August 2016

Books for the Dog Days of Summer

If you're heading for the cottage or beach and are looking for some good books to take with you, here are a few of the 2016 horror releases that you might like to consider:


 End of Watch by Stephen King - This is the third and final book in the Bill Hodges' trilogy, the first two being Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers. Brady Hartsfield, responsible for the Mercedes massacre, has spent five years in a vegetative state in a traumatic brain injury clinic. But he is now awake and possesses deadly new powers. He is planning revenge not only against Bill Hodges--the hero of the previous two novels--and his friends but against an entire city.






  Disappearance at Devil's Rock by Paul Tremblay - A fourteen-year-old boy vanishes without a trace, and the ensuing search turns up nothing. But his ghost keeps appearing, as well as random pages from his journal. This book has been described as a blend of literary fiction, psychological suspense, and supernatural horror.
 

 
  
Fellside by M.R. Carey - Fellside is a maximum security prison on the edge of England's Yorkshire moors. It's the kind of place where even the walls whisper. And for Jess Moulson, one of the voices belongs to a young boy who says he has a message for her.

 
Medusa's Web by Tim Powers - A haunted house in the Hollywood Hills is the backdrop for this tale of speculative fiction in which a man must uncover cult secrets to save his sister, who has fallen under the spell of the house.
  
The Fireman by Joe Hill - Please see my previous post which featured this novel.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Summer Reading



If you're planning a vacation and would like to stock up on books--electronic or paper--please consider The Home Child, Fire Whisperer & Circle of Souls: Two Novellas of the Supernatural, and The Accusers. They are reasonably priced and can be read in one or two sittings while you're relaxing on the beach or by the pool.

The Home Child is the story of Jake Hall, a transplanted city dweller trying to adjust to the realities of country life. He knows it isn't going to be an easy transition. He's prepared for major renovations to the old farm house he's bought, but what he hasn't counted on is finding a former resident still inhabiting the house in spirit form! Set in eastern Ontario, Canada, against the backdrop of a rural town in transition, this story combines historical detail and the supernatural in the poignant tale of a home child wanting simply to be reunited with the family he lost so many years ago.

 
 
"Fire Whisperer" - Injured in a hotel fire, Keva Tait experiences auditory and visual hallucinations and is diagnosed with schizophrenia. But is this illness really at the root of her constant encounters with a young, dark-haired woman and an elder who materializes at night on her bed? With the tenth anniversary of the fire looming, Keva wants to take back her life by confronting what really happened when she was seventeen years old.

"Circle of Souls" - A young woman doing research at a small museum in Ottawa is almost pushed down a set of stairs. Her sister-in-law, who restores fossils at a museum of natural history, is touched by an unseen presence. A videographer glimpses unsettling images in his work. A paranormal team leader encounters the inexplicable as he investigates an old mill. A student working part time at an old jail experiences the despair of its former inmates. All of these locations are said to be haunted, but who exactly is the ghost? Or are there many ghosts seeking human intervention?

The Accusers - At first glance, Berwick Street is a quiet cul-de-sac: a safe place to raise a family and enjoy retirement. But in the dead of winter when most Berwick Street residents have gone south to escape the bitter cold, there is something evil lurking in the coming snowstorm. A group of followers with specially-honed powers of destruction seeks final retribution for events that occurred more than four hundred years ago. Aided by a teenager with precognitive abilities, an unlikely trio of women - Cassie, an introvert in her twenties, Rebecca, a sixty-five-year-old grandmother, and Mabel, an ailing octogenarian - must face the coming onslaught. Who will prevail?
 
 These books are available through Amazon and other outlets.

To read Goodreads reviews, please see https://www.goodreads.com/author/list....

Happy reading!