Lost Words In a Dream by Lucas Milliron

Mark’s life is one of banality punctuated by terror. Living in a sparsely furnished apartment and working at a filthy cesspool of a fast-food restaurant, he thought he might have escaped the horrific events that transpired in Leesburg. But the dread and panic are always there, just beneath the surface, waiting to erupt, and some wounds never heal.
Recollection of the events from his past come through only sporadically, intruding on his daily life at unexpected moments, triggered by seemingly unpredictable stray thoughts or disturbing noises and visions. As Mark struggles to remain in the here and now, he finds himself increasingly drawn into memories that he simultaneously wishes he could forget and desperately needs to unravel.
Maybe he didn’t escape at all, and it’s all happening again.
Milliron masterfully crafted this tale of cosmic horror, utilizing the imprecision of traumatic memories to provide us with an unreliable protagonist around whom the story plays out. This story has everything one could hope for in cosmic horror. Milliron blends a perfect mixture of secretive cults hidden within small-town populations, unspeakable horrors breaching the barriers that separate our world from somewhere cold and dark, hallucinatory visuals described with frightful detail, and a stochastic narrative that leaves the reader dizzied and struggling to piece together the mystery.
Lost Words In a Dream is a story that will stick with you long after you’ve reached the conclusion, and you’ll find yourself wishing you could go back in and experience it fresh all over again.

This title was released as part of the 31 Days of Godless event at http://www.godless.com for October of 2021. You can obtain a copy for yourself by going to the website or by downloading the app to your mobile device of choice. The link is below:

Chocolateman by Jonathan Butcher

If you’ve already subjected yourself to Butcher’s coprophilic masterpiece included in Scats, Splats, and Stupid Twats, you’re already familiar with Kreb, The Chocolateman. You can think of him as something akin to Candyman, a monstrous, supernatural being who comes when you make the mistake of uttering his name. Of course, instead of bees and honey, his aesthetic is purely fecal.
This larger volume can be considered the origin story for The Chocolateman. Butcher takes this opportunity to tell us how Kreb found his way into our world and our bathrooms in search of delicious choc-choc.
James Tooth appears to be a successful man with a loving family, but he is tormented by a horrible secret that troubles him more profoundly as the 22nd anniversary of his parents’ deaths approaches. James is terrified of poop and with good reason. Throughout the story, Butcher provides readers with glimpses of James’s childhood, the horrible events of 22-years before, when he was only ten years old. As the past catches up with him, taking a terrible toll on both himself and those around him, he has no choice but to face the nightmare that’s haunted him the previous two decades, his older brother, Kreb.
Mixed up in the whole mess, James’s drug dealer, Mucklow, and his bodybuilding lover, Isabella, find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time over and over again, leading them on a collision course with the Tooth family and The Chocolateman himself.
Amazingly enough, considering how absurdly revolting the concept of Chocolateman is, Jonathan Butcher still populates this tale with well-developed and sympathetic characters. Grotesque, gory, and visceral as much of the narrative happens to be, it’s also fantastically well-written and articulated in such a way as to never seem quite as gratuitous as it’s clearly meant to be. Chocolateman isn’t simply a collection of repulsive gags and toilet humor. At its heart, it’s a story about family, fears, and the ways we cause harm when trying to do what we believe to be the right thing.

This title was released on http://www.godless.com as part of the 31 Days of Godless event for October of 2021. You can pick it up for yourself by going to the Godless website or by downloading the Godless app to your mobile device of choice. The links for purchase are available below:

Left To You by Daniel Volpe

Robert Sinclair is a good kid who has a lot on his plate, but he pushes through it all and remains good-natured and hard-working. Working multiple jobs, struggling to remain afloat while caring for a mother suffering the end-stage of cancer, Robert doesn’t have much room in his life for anything else.
While working a dead-end job at L-Mart, Robert has developed a friendship with an elderly gentleman, Josef Lazerowitz. A former theology professor in Poland, Mr. Lazer is burdened by an unbelievable history, plagued with unspeakable secrets that will soon become Robert’s burden to bear.
Both of these men, Robert and Josef, are decent and sympathetic characters forced to experience their individual, horrific torments separated by more than half a century. In the end, what they’ll share is a terrible and shameful confidence that could destroy both of them and anything they hold dear.
Daniel Volpe constructs a captivating, mysterious tale that’s so thick with atmosphere and depth that the reader can hardly keep from being immersed in the experiences brought to life on the page. His detailed exploration of Josef’s life in 1940s Poland is gripping and profoundly vivid, almost painfully so. The author’s unique portrait of the supernatural world and how it interacts with our own was fascinating. As the story delves into those things only near the latter half of the book, it still doesn’t feel like the reader is short-changed or left wanting. I can’t recommend this book enough, especially to those who enjoy a bit of historical fiction with their horror.
I will suggest that one scene in this book troubled me, and it involves a bit of a spoiler, but I’ll do my best to dance around that by explaining a little bit about my own life, hopefully framing why I found it disturbing without telling you about the scene itself. I had a dog named Molly. She was a terrific, atypical chihuahua who was perpetually thrilled to meet new people. When she was seven years old, she was taken from me by cancer in her blood. That little girl died in my arms, in what I can only describe as a traumatic experience without going into detail. I now have a dog who is half golden retriever and half German shepherd and husky–funny enough, named Talia–who is two years old. She’s been with me since December of 2019. Fans of Volpe’s work might find that last bit to be a strangely serendipitous thing. Having a personal connection with both a golden retriever and a dog named Molly, there’s a particular scene that I found difficult.

I picked this title up as part of the 31 Days of Godless event at http://www.godless.com in October of 2021. You can obtain a copy for yourself by going to the website or downloading the app to your mobile device of choice. The link is below:

Mephistopheles Den by Matthew Vaughn

If you’ve already braved the horrors of Lucifer’s Mansion, the earlier prequel to Hellsworld Hotel, you might just have an idea of what awaits you in Mephistopheles Den. That doesn’t stop Matthew Vaughn from crafting a whole new and exciting house of horrors for us to explore.
We follow two groups into an abandoned factory that’s been converted, for one night only, into a most graphic and distasteful series of rooms. Meant to elicit terror and disgust from those unfortunate enough to purchase tickets, each new display is more unsettling than the next. We follow along as helpless witnesses, slipping through black curtains into a nightmare from which there is no escape. Or is there?
Vaughn brings to life two vastly different groups of people, for the sole purpose of stealing that life away in callously violent fashion. Of course, one of those groups includes Donald and Tony, and any reader is likely to want those two dead before we really get started with the story.
This one takes a slightly different direction as we reach the end, presumably leading us into the much larger work that is Hellsworld Hotel. I suspect you, like me, will be eager to dive into that title after reaching the conclusion of this prequel.

This title was released as part of the 31 Days of Godless event at http://www.godless.com and you can pick it up for yourself by going to the website or by downloading the app to your mobile device of choice. The link is below:

https://godless.com/products/mephistopheles-den-by-matthew-vaughn

Follow the Maggot Wagon by Robert Essig

Follow the Maggot Wagon takes the road trip narrative in a deliciously awful direction. Jamie and Adam had been friends for most of their lives, but they’d gradually grown apart as Adam’s impulse control issues and drug use led him down paths Jamie wouldn’t follow. Though Adam’s poor impulse control might have helped to push the friends apart, it was also the thing that contributed to years of pranks, dares, and manipulation by Jamie and other friends. Old tensions arise as the two friends find themselves stuck behind the maggot wagon, a truck that smells like it’s hauling a full load of carrion beneath the tarp in the back, and Jamie takes this as an opportunity to push Adam into doing something risky and juvenile, pushing his buttons along the way.
The true surprise of Essig’s story isn’t what’s going to happen, as the reader begins to suspect where things are going long before we arrive at the farmhouse. The shock is the motivation behind it. Throughout the story, we catch glimpses of the eroding facade of civility between the two friends, as the interactions take on an increasingly cruel and bitter tone. We think we know why we’re speeding toward the inevitable outcome, only to find ourselves just as stunned as Jamie and Adam are when more secrets get revealed.
I suspect many of us have friendships like this, where old grudges and recrimination are difficult to forget and perhaps more challenging to forgive. Thankfully, most of us don’t decide to follow the maggot wagon as Jamie and Adam did.
This was an excellent character study, portraying both individuals with vivid and tragic dimensionality. Both Jamie and Adam are relatable, and that makes it all the more disturbing because one has to wonder how much or how little it might take to push us into either the driver’s or passenger’s seat.

This title was released as part of the 31 Days of Godless event at http://www.godless.com for October of 2021. You can obtain a copy for yourself by going to the website or downloading the app to your mobile device of choice. The link is below:

Picture Perfect by Allisha McAdoo

Picture Perfect tells the tale of a mother and daughter plagued by a cursed or haunted painting brought into their home by the mother. While the daughter finds the imagery depicted on canvas repulsive, her mother seems strangely fascinated by the grotesque artwork.
The fixation takes on a more sinister quality as the picture begins whispering, and driving the mother to madness and self-destructive outbursts. It’s only after the daughter begins hearing those haunting whispers for herself that she understands the helplessness her mother felt under the painting’s influence.
McAdoo provides readers with a story of inescapable fate, loss of control, and suffering, all with a twist and a glimmer of cruel hope at the end.

This story was released on Halloween as part of the 31 Days of Godless event at http://www.godless.com and you can find it for yourself by going to the website or by downloading the Godless app to your preferred mobile device. The link is below:

Picture Perfect by Allisha McAdoo

Demophobia by Gerhard Jason Geick

As peculiar, violent, and perversely humorous as Demophobia happens to be–and it is all of those things–it is also a deeply sad story about survivor’s guilt and an insightful discourse on being an outsider.
Mr. Foicus is a Pus-Eater, or as he prefers, an Eiterfresser. A packed auditorium watches his multimedia lecture on the history of his kind, distorted and sanitized to elicit sympathy and hopefully engender less of a freakshow aspect to his existence. He’s one of the last of his kind, and he’s regretful of that. While he may be an inhuman, vicious monster, he suffers from the same melancholy any human might experience under similar circumstances.
All of this doesn’t change the fact that Mr. Foicus is still a monster, and it doesn’t take long before the story takes a violent and revolting turn when the Pus-Eater shows his true colors. Through the perspective of someone hoping to capture images amid the panicked crowd, we experience the dread of knowing that everyone should have left when things turned sideways. That’s the problem with a crowd, though; they feel safety in numbers, and if a large number of the individuals begin to relax, everyone else will go along with it, even if they think there’s something wrong.
I’ve never been more grateful for the fact that I loathe being in crowded spaces with large groups of people than when I imagined the carnage and wash of bodily fluids in the lecture hall.
Geick does an excellent job of building the reader up to a conclusion that feels both fitting and depressing.

This title was released as part of the 31 Days of Godless event at http://www.godless.com for October of 2021. You can obtain it for yourself by going to the website or by downloading the Godless app to your mobile device of choice. The link is below:

Black Friday by Todd Keisling

Retail is a thankless job, but working retail on Black Friday would be an absolute nightmare. For Doug, it’s not so bad. He knows it’s a job he wouldn’t want to make a career out of, but it pays the bills, and he gets to work with his girlfriend, Jenna.
As challenging as he expects the day to be, Doug never anticipates just how bad it can get. Black Friday is rough, but when it might just be the end of the world, things are about to get worse.
In the tradition of George A. Romero, Todd Keisling provides us with a funhouse mirror distortion of the American obsession with consumerism. Providing commentary on the mindless or single-minded hunger that grips wide swaths of the population on the biggest shopping day of the year, Keisling forces us to wonder how much difference there is between one shambling horde and another.
Even in a genre run into the ground, Keisling manages to create something fresh and entertaining with well-developed characters, fantastic writing, and plenty of wit added into the mix.

Black Friday was released on Halloween of 2021 as part of the 31 Days of Godless event. You can pick it up for yourself by going to http://www.godless.com or by downloading the app on your mobile device. The link follows:

A Predisposition for Madness by Aurelio Rico Lopez III

Aurelio Rico Lopez III has provided readers with a robust assortment of free-verse narrative poems. There are literally dozens of stories and set pieces conveyed through poetry in this collection, and it’s well worth the time spent properly digesting each and every one.
A Predisposition for Madness has certainly put this writer on my radar in a good way. In these pages, you’ll discover monsters both human and far from it, you’ll witness new pandemics and sickness ravaging households and the world, you’ll see warfare and apocalyptic scenarios played out, and you’ll encounter things far more challenging to describe. There’s most certainly something in here that will suit the tastes of any reader, assuming that reader enjoys poetry. Even if you don’t typically enjoy it, I’d recommend giving this collection a chance.
The title is an apt one, the cadence of the poems coming across almost as if the stream of consciousness ravings of a madman in a padded cell, alternating between mumbles and screams.

This title was released as part of the 31 Days of Godless event at http://www.godless.com for October of 2021. You can read it for yourself by going to the website or by downloading the Godless app on your preferred mobile device. The link is below:

Rhyme Or Reason by Dan Chadwick

Have you ever gotten a ridiculous song stuck in your head?
Of course, we’ve all experienced that.
There’s a reason I mention this, but you’ll know that if you’ve already had the pleasure of reading this surprising story. If you haven’t read it yet, skip the rest of this review and remedy that mistake ASAP.
I’d hate to spoil the surprise.
Rhyme Or Reason details a series of gruesome murders taking place during the nights leading up to Halloween. The victims are horrifically dismembered while still alive to experience most of what’s being done to them. I would certainly hope I’d be long gone before the torture reached an end, but the people being slaughtered while the killer hums his eerily familiar tune are not blessed with that small mercy.
The brilliance of Dan Chadwick’s story is that every bit of the story is building up to a punchline that almost had me laughing out loud. It’s a horror/comedy that the reader doesn’t realize is a comedy until they’ve reached the end.
Does the killer commit these atrocities because the song is stuck in his head? Did the earworm drive him to do the things he does? Is he just a killer who finds humor in what he’s doing, irreverent and cruel enough to make light of it in such a way? Perhaps we’ll never know…and perhaps the author was just hoping to elicit a groan from the readers as they reached the end.
This is a fun story that sneaks up on the reader in a delightfully absurd way.

You can grab this one for yourself by going to http://www.godless.com or by downloading the Godless app on your mobile device of choice. Rhyme Or Reason was released as part of the 31 Days of Godless event for October of 2021. The link is below: