The Backbone of the World by Stephen Graham Jones, Narrated by Charlotte Flyte

Stephen Graham Jones has a knack for forcing his readers to look at the world–and aspects of it–in wholly different ways. The Backbone of the World will have you looking at prairie dogs (of all things) and our perceptions of time differently. If this installment of the Tresspass Collection is indicative of what the rest of the stories have in store for me, it’ll be one hell of a trip.
Millie Two Bears is a lonely, socially isolated living on property that she’s about to lose with her husband in prison and his family breathing down her neck to parcel up the land. When she invites a peculiar stranger to rent the camper on the property, she has no idea what sort of repercussions it’ll have and how it ties in with the peculiar prairie dogs plaguing the distant edge of her land…and something growing deep in the earth below.
Jones’s knack for taking the seemingly prosaic and transforming it into the mysterious and sinister is on full display. The simple reservation life of a woman with all-too-familiar troubles gets upended as her everyday environment becomes increasingly unsettling.
Charlotte Flyte’s narration of Millie’s story is superb, and she makes the listener feel as if they’re hearing the story from the woman living it.

Deadman’s Road by Joe R. Lansdale, Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki

Before Deadman’s Road, I’d only been acquainted with Reverend Jebidiah Mercer via one of the short stories contained within this volume, but the character stuck out as one with a great deal of potential for additional adventures. I’m pleased to discover that I was not wrong.
Joe R. Lansdale populates his fictional version of the American Wild West with monsters, both human and inhuman, familiar and strange. All of this is filtered through the sardonic and rueful Reverend Mercer as he struggles to fulfill God’s will, a capricious and cruel thing.
As he faces off against zombies, werewolves, goblins, and other monstrous entities, Mercer is joined by assorted men and women who frequently don’t survive the encounters with the same sort of adroitness the Reverend displays. Short-lived as his companions may be, they provide ample fodder for Mercer’s wit and derision in some of the most entertaining dialogue Lansdale’s written outside of the Hap and Leonard novels.
The narration of the audiobook provided by Stefan Rudnicki perfectly suited the gruff and acerbic Reverend, as well as the other characters filling these tales. This was only my second encounter with Rudnicki as a narrator, and he was no less impressive this time around.

The Buried King by Thomas KS Wake

Thomas KS Wake deftly combines cosmic horror, folk horror, and kaiju with environmental consciousness in a captivating tale with The Buried King. Raymond, an unscrupulous building developer visits the site of an out-of-the-way vacation resort that should have never existed, at least not where it’s been erected. Unfortunately, his arrival coincides with the consequences of his predatory and deceptive business practices coming to fruition, and it’s a price we all have to pay.
Beneath the construction, buried for centuries, a malevolent force of nature awakens. As those tasked with containing the monster give up hope and give in to righteous anger, the results will be catastrophic and undeniable. Nature will take its revenge.
Reaching the final page of this story inevitably causes the reader to immediately hope that Wake is working on a follow-up to this title. The disaster porn addict within us wants nothing more than to see just how far the devastation will go and how long humanity will manage to survive.

This title was released as part of the Emerge series, focused on providing a platform for emerging authors. This was brought to us by a partnership between D&T Publishing and Godless. You can obtain a copy of this story by going to http://www.godless.com or by downloading the Godless app on your mobile device. The link is below:

The Damned Place by Chris Miller, Narrated by Daniel Caravetta

The Damned Place could be considered the spiritual successor to Stephen King’s IT, transported into the 1990s from the 1960s of King’s pivotal masterpiece. Coming of age tales are a familiar substrate upon which horror authors can build a significant sense of dread and high stakes, relatable terror–after all, we were all children once upon a time, complete with imaginations and an unflappable sense of our own invulnerability. Some attempts are more successful than others, and Chris Miller’s foray into the subgenre is massively successful.
Deep in the woods is a dilapidated house with a history so unspeakably awful that almost no one in the nearby town of Winnsboro remembers it exists. When a group of friends stumbles across the house, they unwittingly draw the attention of a monstrous, hungry creature hoping to slip through the border between worlds and into ours. It’s in this place that they also discover their world is more magical and unreal than they’d have ever expected.
Miller provides readers with an unflinching, uncensored glimpse of a world populated by bullies, tragedy, and alien beings. With gritty, grimy realism, Miller drags us into the story he’s crafted, forcing us to bear witness to extreme depravity and cosmic horror in equal measure. Gone is the infamous underage sewer orgy of King’s novel, but don’t worry because Miller manages to add plenty of discomforting and unsettling elements to his book. But it’s not all about the terror, The Damned Place is also about the strength of friendship and the courage found in the face of impossible conditions.
Daniel Caravetta’s narration captures the accents and speech patterns of the characters in a way that makes them jump off the page for the audiobook edition of Miller’s novel.

Your English Is Good by Colt Skinner

Colt Skinner’s debut, brought to us by the unholy alliance of D&T Publishing and Godless, is one hell of a ride. Your English Is Good introduces us to Eddy, a biker hired as protection for Grace as she entertains clients for the night. On the surface, Grace appears to be a prostitute or dominatrix, but appearances can be deceiving.
We learn a great deal about Eddy–both his past and aspirations within the Dead Mariachis Motorcycle Club–as he finds himself drifting through reminiscence and reflection in the strangest way upon first meeting Grace. She seems to have a peculiar effect on him, but it’s nothing compared to the influence she has on her clients, but that’s what they’re paying her for.
While short, this story succeeds in blending elements of cosmic and body horror with a meditation on morality and sacrifice. In the end, we’re forced to consider that it may be that the most inhuman among us who display the most compassion and decency and that it’s all-too-human to exhibit a total lack of humanity.
Skinner leaves the reader wanting, hoping there’s more to the story of Grace and Eddy than what we’ve been exposed to. More than that, we’re left hoping there’s a lot more on the horizon from this emerging author because his English is good, but his writing is excellent.

You can obtain this story from http://www.godless.com or by downloading the Godless app to your mobile device of choice. The link is below:

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.