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:

Growing Dark by Kristopher Triana, Narrated by Kristopher Triana, Dani George, John Wayne Comunale, Michael Zapcic, Kevin McGuire, Thomas Mumme, and Jennifer Mumme

Growing Dark truly showcases the eclectic range Triana is capable of in a way a reader would otherwise only discover if they took the time to read half a dozen books. Running the gamut from intense cosmic horror to something that could be considered kid-friendly, there’s no doubt any lover of dark fiction will find something to love in this short collection.
From the Storms, A Daughter kicks everything off, sharing the story of a town that’s been going through hard times, and they’re only getting harder as the region gets flooded. First responders in boats are struggling to locate stragglers to take them to safety, but what they find instead is evidence that there’s more to fear than the water.
Eaters is a post-apocalyptic excursion into the remnants of the old world, as a small party of hunters is clearing the area of zombies. As with most tales like that, things don’t go smoothly. Triana manages to bring some originality to the topic, and an ending that readers/listeners are unlikely to see coming.
Growing Dark is a coming-of-age tale gone wrong, as a farm boy surrounded by sickness and decay desperately wants to prove to his father that he can be a man. Sometimes being a man involves making some hard choices, and sometimes they’ll be bad choices as well.
Reunion is an insightful story of childhood regrets and how the mistakes we make can haunt us well into adulthood, altering the courses we travel and where we ultimately end up.
Before the Boogeymen Come was the most surprising inclusion in this collection. Triana entertains readers as he breathes life into the monsters who plague the imaginations of young children before media and experience provide new monsters to replace the old.
The Bone Orchard is a heartbreaking western tale that could be read, depending on the reader’s perspective, as being either pro-life or pro-choice in its message. An old shootist returns to an old haunt and old love, only to discover there’s a sinister secret behind keeping the brothel running smoothly.
Soon There’ll Be Leaves is a character study framed by multiple horrors, the most potent of which being reflection on a life not well-lived and the looming loss of family. Returning to a place he’d sooner never see again, our protagonist is approached by an old flame who proves the adage that one can never go home again, as an attempted affair takes an unforeseen twist.
Video Express is a nostalgic exploration of the video rental stores of our youth and condemnation of how we quickly turned our back on the family-run establishments in favor of places where we could easily snag the newest titles.
Giving from the Bottom is another character study, this time focused on the horrors of everyday life and the gradual erosion of both one’s ability to care and one’s will to live when nothing seems to turn out as expected.
The collection ends with the strangely epic Legends, a vision of an afterlife that is not at all what one might expect. In Triana’s captivating narrative, we discover that the dead–if they’re famous or infamous enough–become eidolons of a sort. Charles Bronson and Lee Marvin come together as paragons of what generations of moviegoers and fans imagined them to be, and as such, they are bestowed with purpose and power to protect the world from infernal entities who may have similarly familiar faces. For me, Legends was the best of the whole collection, providing a glimpse into a world I could see the author fleshing out into a much longer piece.
The narrations provided by Dani George, John Wayne Comunale, and Kristopher Triana himself were the best of the bunch. Triana especially did an excellent job of providing his characters with distinctive voices, and in the case of Before the Boogeymen Come a level of caricature that was enjoyable. The additional narrators, Michael Zapcic, Thomas Mumme, Jennifer Mumme, and Kevin McGuire were satisfying as well, just not as memorable as those provided by the three previously mentioned.

The Cosmic Anomaly by Henk Wester

It begins in 2005, with the unforeseen devastation of a college student’s head in the back of a Japanese classroom. Split down the center, with a sudden burst of blood and gore, the other students don’t have a chance to react before tentacles begin emerging from the space now present between the two halves of the boy’s head. This horrific experience is the first of the anomalies on record.
With that graphic, visually potent scene, Henk Wester drags the reader into his unfolding novella, The Cosmic Anomaly. If you don’t consider that a tantalizing first glimpse of the world he’s preparing to show us, I don’t know what else you’d be looking for.
Wester provides the reader with a brief overview of the succeeding years, as anomalies become increasingly common, ranging from the simply peculiar to the utterly horrific before introducing us to Anton, Irma, Bernie, and the other Splenmalies creators. A South African YouTube channel focused on exploration and exploitation of anomalies, the Splendmalies crew exclusively provides their massive viewership with fraudulent cases, banking on the–largely American and European–subscribers knowing little to nothing about what’s going on in Africa. That is until Bernie decides they need to go big or go home. By venturing into De Aar, a town abandoned by the residents who managed to survive the high rate and destructive level of anomalous activity there, Bernie sees nothing but dollar signs and fame in their futures.
As the story races toward its gripping conclusion, Wester displays great imagination and dedication to bringing the conditions in De Aar to surreal, terrible life. Hellraiser meets Silent Hill is perhaps the best way I can conceive of describing what the reader is in for, and that only provides the bare minimum of preparation.
As Henk Wester introduces us to his native South Africa in a form that, thankfully, should never exist, we realize just how much smaller the world has gotten over recent decades. College students and young adults are the same worldwide, or so it would seem–that is to say, stupid and short-sighted.

This title will be available through Godless on September 30th, before presumably becoming available through other channels a short while thereafter. You can obtain a copy for yourself by going to http://www.godless.com or by downloading the Godless app on your smart phone, tablet, or eReader of choice. The link for this title is below:

Porcelain by Nate Southard

Jason Hawks puts his career as a professional comedian on hold to return home to Cincinnati after learning his high school sweetheart, Andrea, stripping under the name Porcelain, publicly murdered multiple patrons before shooting herself. Reconnecting with old friends he similarly hadn’t spoken with in 12 years, Jason struggles to discover an explanation for the horrific act Andrea committed. Haunted by disjointed memories and terrifying hallucinations, Jason forces himself and two of his old friends to relive the events of the final night they’d all been together more than a decade before. Piecing together the pieces of what happened when six freshly graduated young adults had lost control and experienced something both carnal and terrifying, a mystery begins to unravel that threatens both sanity and the world as they know it.
Nate Southard shares a compelling and disquieting tale with this title. Friendships are rekindled and snuffed out on the page as the author drags us through a tangled mess of erotica and supernatural horror that tiptoes the line separating us from unstoppable, madness-inducing cosmic horror.
Fans of Stephen King’s IT will feel a certain sense of familiarity with this narrative of adults coming together and unhappily reliving a hardly self-aware sexual awakening they experienced at a much younger age. Unlike the uncomfortable scene described in King’s novel, in Porcelain, at least these characters were adults–though barely–when they intimately came together in a dark, terrifying place.
More terrifying than anything else for me, the core horror of this story is derived from the loss of control. Propelled by an insatiable desire for gratification, characters fight to restrain themselves and to fend off the debasement as increasingly louder voices within are urging them to give in. The almost vampiric presence at the heart of the horror is unsettling in its ability to overwhelm the individual’s better judgment and will to fight. The corrupting nature of the evil as its influence appears to spread from the original location in the abandoned factory makes for a truly disturbing concept, executed superbly by Southard.

You Will Be Consumed…by This Riveting Tale

Ignore, if you can, the “For Rectal Use Only” sticker I’ve affixed to the cover of this proof copy of my novella, You Will Be Consumed.

I know it’s difficult.

Some of you might find yourselves asking whether that’s a reference to the contents being best suited for use as toilet paper. I can assure you the paper utilized in printing this book is definitely inferior to most toilet paper on the market. You may find yourself wondering if I’m implying that you should attempt to roll the book into a tube of sorts for rectal insertion. I don’t recommend that. You may find yourself in a beautiful house with a beautiful wife. You may ask yourself, “Well, how did I get here?” If those things are true, you’re probably somehow existing within the amazing song Once In a Lifetime by Talking Heads.

At this point, I’m sure you’re wondering what the hell this post is all about. You’re not alone. I think I might have forgotten that salient detail as well.

Of course, I’m joking.

I just wanted to remind you that it’s time to pick up your own copies of You Will Be Consumed…and the amazing publisher I worked with on this title, Madness Heart Press, has guaranteed that there are outlets available for anyone.

Amazon, of course, is available as an option:

You can also purchase the book in either physical or digital copy directly from the Madness Heart Press website at the link below:

However, if you’re interested in a digital copy of the novella, and you really don’t want to support Amazon…but you do want to show support for indie authors and small press publishers of horror titles…there’s another place you can go.

Drew Stepek, a fantastic author and an avid supporter of the indie horror literature scene, has assembled something amazing.

Check out Godless at the following link:

While you’re there…please spend some time perusing the available titles. This is a great distribution option for small presses, self-published horror authors, and fans to come together without Amazon lining their already bulging pockets in the process.

That’s all.

I wanted to peddle my new novella some more, and I really wanted to encourage everyone to visit Godless.

Goblin: A Novel In Six Novellas by Josh Malerman

Josh Malerman’s Goblin is a fascinating glimpse into a truly peculiar town, not altogether dissimilar from some of the fictional Maine locales made popular by Stephen King. Also, like King, the tales Malerman weaves of the rainy town of Goblin are unevenly paced and of vastly different content and quality. This does not, as one might suspect, take anything away from the amazing quality of this collection of interconnected novellas. It works out perhaps better than Matt Ruff’s Lovecraft Country did, where that collection wove together connected tales of a single family and this one immerses us in the haunted title town.
Goblin is a place of near-constant rainfall, a place haunted and evil before man ever made the mistake of settling there in a town built on a history of bloody violence and betrayal. It is a town where the impenetrable North Woods are home to giant predatory owls and a witch who breaks the hearts of those she tells her stories to, where inhuman police produce shivers in even the most courageous residents, and where the key to the city has been missing for years.
The Prologue & Epilogue (Welcome & Make Yourself At Home) provide an almost perfect bookend to the stories contained within this book…especially since the tales reach their respective crescendos at approximately the same time on the same night of nightmares and downpours…as a reckoning of sorts falls upon the town and its residents.
A Man In Slices tells us a story of twisted friendship and the sacrifices such a friendship might require.
Kamp delves into the paranoid, fearful mental landscape of a man who fears–well, to borrow from FDR–fear itself. Sure, he’s terrified of encountering a ghost, but it’s the resulting fear upon experiencing that encounter that he’s truly terrified of.
Happy Birthday, Hunter! brings us face-to-face with the manic, self-absorbed, single-minded dedication of a big game hunter and his overwhelming need to pursue the greatest game of his life…and a wife with an unwelcome surprise present.
Presto introduces us to a world of magic and illusion that might just be more real than it seems.
A Mix-Up At the Zoo is a sad story about a simple, friendly giant of a man who spends too much time burning the candle at both ends and gets confused about where he is and what he’s doing. The ending of this particular story, as predictable as it might have been, was all the more heartbreaking for playing out exactly as a reader anticipates it will.
The Hedges splits its narrative time between telling us a fantastic, beautiful love story and exploring the mysteries we’ve already been exposed to as we reached this point in the collection. This is the story where we finally begin to glimpse precisely why the residents of Goblin are so terrified of the police, and rightfully so.
Yes, this collection is uneven…but it’s telling us the story of a town through the interrelated snapshots of the residents…and that unevenness makes it feel all the more real. No real city is uniformly interesting or captivating to all comers when we’re diving into the lives of those who reside within. In the end, Malerman does what he set out to do–I suspect–by crafting a place that becomes more real to the readers than many real-world places ever might be. This is doubly impressive when one considers just how unreal Goblin is.

You Will Be Consumed Preorder

There’s less than a month to go until my novella, You Will Be Consumed, is released by Madness Heart Press.

This bizarro/splatterpunk novella will serve as an introduction for many of you to a shared world for a handful of upcoming novels, novellas, and short stories…the world of The Hungering Void. Welcome to a world where gods are not what we’ve long believed them to be, where demons might not be the bad guys, and where the very fabric of reality appears to be deteriorating. Elements of cosmic horror and splatterpunk meld together to create a phantasmagoric tale of nightmare becoming our reality.

In this novella, you’ll be introduced to detectives Lauren (Ren) Thomas and Martin Garcia as they investigate a surge of strange homicides taking place in and around Denver, Colorado. You’ll also meet Stephen Lee, the medical examiner who unfortunately has to help them unravel the mystery surrounding these peculiar and gruesome murders. These flawed and all-too-human characters are faced with reality-defying crimes that might just push them beyond the edge of sanity.

The novella is presently available to preorder in Kindle format through Amazon. You can’t help but love that cover artwork designed by John Baltisberger of MHP. He did a fantastic job of designing not only the cover art, but also the interior layout.

You can also preorder either digital or paperback editions of the novella directly through the Madness Heart Press website linked below.

This will not be the end of the story. You can expect to see Ren and Martin in future releases as they continue what could be an impossible battle to restore some amount of sanity to the world they find themselves struggling to understand.

Additionally, my short story, Yeshua and Adonai is available in Kindle format, providing a different sort of introduction to the world of The Hungering Void.

Eight Cylinders by Jason Parent, narrated by Joe Hempel

Jason Parent’s Eight Cylinders captures a sort of grindhouse action/horror vibe that I appreciated a great deal. We’ve got a story about crime, cars, creatures, confusion, and condemnation in the middle of the desert…and if that doesn’t appeal to you at least a little bit, there’s probably something wrong with you.
Comparing it to movies and other visual mediums, as I usually do, it’s a little bit Tremors, a touch of From Dusk Till Dawn, a good bit The Road Warrior, and a dash of the old show The Prisoner (or maybe, for those who never watched that one, Lost). If you were to toss all of that into a blender and add a splash of cosmic horror, you’d end up with something along the lines of Eight Cylinders.
This story had me invested as soon as Seb began using a novelty Magic Eight Ball glass eye to make his decisions for him as he sped away from Vegas after a deal gone exceedingly bad. Criminal and “bad guy” that he might be, Seb is particularly relatable as a protagonist, and you can’t help but cheer him on as he races through the desert multiple times throughout this short tale. The attention to detail concerning cars, trucks, and ATVs through the narrative gives one the impression that Parent is a bit of a gearhead at heart, or certainly one who spent some quality time researching this tale with gearheads…and that comes through clearly with Seb’s absolute love for his Dodge Charger and his appreciation of other vehicles in the narrative.
Joe Hempel’s narration is excellent, and I’ll surely be watching for other titles he’s provided his voice talents to.
My sole complaint about this story is that it felt a little rushed at times like we were racing from one point to another without getting enough time to really experience where we were.

Bella’s Boys by Thomas R. Clark

Thomas R. Clark has crafted an interesting tale with Bella’s Boys. It’s a little bit American Psycho, a larger bit of cosmic horror, and a lot of splatterpunk erotica.
The reason I mention the novel from Bret Easton Ellis isn’t only because of the fixation on music and the almost overwhelming attention to detail associated with said music throughout the novella–but that does have something to do with it–it’s because this novella captures something of the 1990s dive bar, metalhead scene in the same way American Psycho satirized the white-collar, predatory capitalist world of the 1980s. At the same time, Bella’s Boys certainly depicts graphic acts of sex and violence (often simultaneously) with the same unrelenting and unfiltered lack of concern so many readers enjoyed from Ellis’s novel.
The afterward, providing a glimpse into the author’s life and the real-life snowstorm that inspired the blizzard taking place within the novella, was a nice touch. It’s fun and entertaining to see just how much of the story was pulled from a piece of Clark’s own life. I would certainly hope none of the people trapped in the house they were trapped in during the real blizzard ended up being converted into conscious bits of fecal matter…but maybe the truth is stranger than fiction?
The short story, Prey for Change, attached to the end is a tantalizing glimpse of a world that melds Viking society, werewolf mythology, and something reminiscent of the army of the dead from Game of Thrones. I would read more of that story, for sure.
Since I listened to the audiobook edition of Bella’s Boys, a comment on the narration is in order. It’s almost unfortunate that the sole weakness with this edition of the book is the quality of Allyson Wentworth’s narration. This isn’t to say the narrator does a bad job of it, but there was a certain flatness to elements that seemed like they merited a bit more passion or at least spirited delivery. From what I can see, she has only narrated a couple of books thus far, and it could be due to this being the beginning of her career as an audiobook narrator. Please don’t let my personal opinion on the narration dissuade you from checking out the book in whatever format most appeals to you. I sincerely doubt even my favorite audiobook narrators were at the apex of their craft when they started.

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

The City We Became is vastly different from the other books I’ve read by N.K. Jemisin. She manages to put the “urban” in urban fantasy in a way I’ve never seen from another author aside from maybe James Blish’s Cities In Flight (Okie) series. The urban fantasy tale is a huge departure from the straightforward fantasy I’d been accustomed to from Jemisin while adding a nice touch of cosmic horror into the mix.
Take a little bit of L. Frank Baum and a bit of Neil Gaiman and add a whole lot of the worldbuilding and myth creation fans of Jemisin are already familiar with, and you’ll end up with some idea of what The City We Became has in store for you. It’s as much a character study as a sweeping, grand fantasy tale…another thing fans of Jemisin should be expecting.
Jemisin fills this book to the brim with social commentary on a wide variety of topics from gentrification and art criticism to racism (overt and subtle) and mistrust of law enforcement. The six primary characters (representing the five boroughs as well as one individual representing the whole of New York City) take on lives of their own even as they come together and find their place in the synergy of a whole.
I will admit that I didn’t enjoy this book nearly as much as I’ve enjoyed the Inheritance and Broken Earth trilogies, but it’s only the first book of a series that I certainly still enjoyed enough to read what’s still to come.