Skullcrack City by Jeremy Robert Johnson

S.P. Doyle is a banker, and he’s up to some shenanigans when we first meet him. That much should be expected of anyone disreputable enough to become a banker, especially an ex-junkie. An unexpected promotion provides Doyle with an opportunity to set off on a quixotic mission to do some good with his improved access, seeing himself as a hero who can take down the corrupt institution from the inside.
To accomplish his lofty goal, Doyle will need some chemical assistance. Meth, it’s said, is one hell of a drug, but Hex makes meth look positively prosaic by comparison. As Doyle’s consumption becomes increasingly massive, the threads of the conspiracy he believes he’s unraveling within the bank’s records grow more convoluted and seemingly absurd. With Deckard, his pet turtle, as the only voice of reason in Doyle’s life, nothing is stopping the erratic and manic banker from slipping off the rails.
Unfortunately for Doyle, the conspiracy he’s stumbled across is far more sinister and far-reaching than even his feverish, drug-addled imagination could conceive.
Before long, Doyle’s swept up in a dizzying world of occult forces, reality-bending drugs, insane body modifications, corporate assassins, near-immortal doctors performing unspeakable experiments, and giant gorilla-like monstrosities–referred to as Skullcrackers–who speak with the voices of the dead. What possible chance could Doyle and a small band of resistance fighters have when struggling against such insurmountable odds, at least without making sacrifices that test the limits of what it means to be human?
Jeremy Robert Johnson has created a lunatic narrative that defies genre, incorporating elements of horror, science fiction, bizarro, and crime fiction into a captivating melange that’s sure to make any reader feel like they might be on the same drugs as the unlikely hero. The most amazing accomplishment of Johnson’s Skullcrack City is that the diverse threads of this story remain straight and easy to follow, a testament to the author’s extreme skill and attention to detail.

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:

A Baptism for the Dead by Charles R. Bernard

Charles R. Bernard has crafted an immersive piece of historical fiction with A Baptism for the Dead. Spanning the decades between the 1840s and the 1870s, we experience snapshots of the expansive fields of unsettled Nebraska on the approach to the South Pass through the Continental Divide in what would become Wyoming, raging blizzards in Northern Michigan, and the early years of Salt Lake City…and those snapshots feel three dimensional.
Throughout the story, we occasionally follow Left Hand, an indigenous woman who has the unfortunate path in life of hunting monsters. The introduction to her character is a fascinating glimpse of a forest haunted by ghosts and a cavern of sickness and monstrous residents.
The bulk of the story begins as we witness Leonidas Pyburn and his two sons–following the fateful path previously taken by the Donner-Reed Party–headed West to embrace the call of Manifest Destiny in the form of the emerging gold rush in California. Encountering a frantic, haunted sexton along the way, their own journey takes a turn not altogether better than that experienced by the previously mentioned Donner Party.
The survivors of that grisly, horrific encounter go drastically separate directions, both in life and in a cartographic sense. While Leonidas continues West to seek fortune and power, his son determines that his fate awaits him to the North, with the Mormons who passed through the region previously.
As secrets and magic bring the father and son together again, two decades later, we learn that there are more than carrion-eating ghouls to be afraid of in this vision of the American West.
Bernard succeeds in blending occultism, conventional spirituality, social commentary, history, and family drama into a captivating novel that contains more than enough gore and Western aesthetic to appeal to fans of the Splatter Westerns being published by Death’s Head Press.