The Fires of Garbagehead by Tim O’Neal

Homeland is a small town in the center of America, or the middle of nowhere, depending on how one chooses to look at it. Either way, it’s a bad place for one’s car to break down, but that’s precisely what happens to Daniel on his journey to distance himself from the scandal and ignominy on the campus where his lascivious behavior got him into trouble.
What initially seems like a quaint dose of old-fashioned Americana grows increasingly offputting, and Daniel is eager to be on his way, but the residents of Homeland and the mysterious, filth-shrouded figure known only as Garbagehead have other plans.
There is evil simmering beneath the surface, but there’s no need to worry because all sins are purified in the fires of Garbagehead.
Tim O’Neal captures the often eerie sensation of rural small-town dynamics as experienced through those who are only passing through in truly spectacular fashion. He manages to develop such a viscerally tainted and claustrophobic atmosphere within the first few pages that the arrival of Garbagehead and the revelation of the town’s awful secret feels natural when it comes. I would greedily consume more tales of Homeland and those who reside there, under the watchful eyes of Garbagehead.

This title was released as the second Emerging Authors volume brought to us by the partnership of Godless and D&T Publishing. You can obtain this for yourself by going to or by downloading the Godless app to your mobile device of choice. The link is below:


The Haunted by Bentley Little, Narrated by Dan Butler

Concerned that their neighborhood might be going downhill, Julian and Claire Perry decide to look at some available properties in their small town of Jardine, New Mexico. Drawn to a house in the historic district near downtown, they’ll soon discover that some neighborhoods are worse than others, and some homes can be worse than they’d ever imagined.
Bentley Little is a master of the haunted house story, somehow managing never to retread his other material, keeping the tales fresh and filled with new horrors each time. The Haunted is no exception.
The Haunted isn’t a story of gradually building unease and uncertainty, as we encounter from many tales of haunted houses. As with most hauntings, it begins with the children, but it isn’t long before everyone in the family recognizes the danger in their home on Rainey Street. It soon becomes clear that everyone in the neighborhood knows what the Perry family will discover. There is no subtlety to the monstrous presence lurking in the Perry family’s new home, and its reach is greater than any of them could have known.
As is often the case with Little’s writing, there’s a massive history he’s built up leading to the events of the novel itself, and he provides readers with tantalizing glimpses of the detailed past as the story approaches its climax. The presence in their home is no mere ghost, and the house is only the most recent structure built on that place.
Dan Butler’s narration is excellent, leaving nothing to be desired. The best narrators do one of two things, they either bring the story and its characters to life, or they manage to make the listener feel almost as though they’re reading the book themselves. Butler is of the latter variety, and one of the better narrators I’ve come across in that respect.

Clown In a Cornfield by Adam Cesare

It was going to be challenging enough for Quinn Maybrook to adjust to the transition from Philadelphia to Kettle Springs, MO, under the best of circumstances. Unfortunately for Quinn and her father, Kettle Springs isn’t simply another small town in the rural Midwest. Kettle Springs is suffering from a terrible pressure building up just beneath the surface of the seemingly prosaic day-to-day rustic community.
Cesare lets the tension build as we familiarize ourselves with the mostly quaint environment of Kettle Springs. Dedicating the first half of the novel to a character study and framing the narrative as a coming-of-age tale that we anticipate taking a darker turn makes the latter half of the book more potent. The tension gradually builds, punctuated by scenes that guarantee the reader is in for more than just a fish out of water tale long before the party in the cornfield transforms into a nightmare. While I understand that this is ostensibly a young adult novel, it never pulls punches or treats the reader like they won’t be able to handle the visceral one-two punch once the violence kicks off.
At its core, Clown In a Cornfield is a story of intergenerational conflict. We’re forced to face the ever-present conflict between youth and adulthood or tradition and novelty. When we join the story, we’re an ancient god and a charismatic child away from this book going the route of Children of the Corn. Similarly, we’re government sponsorship away from the story turning into Battle Royale.
As the tale evolves from coming-of-age drama into slasher horror and finally into something altogether more ominous, we’re carried along by Cesare’s masterful storytelling.
This is a young adult novel that is far more suited for adult readers than the books in the Harry Potter–and not solely because Rowling is a TERF and a bigot–or The Hunger Games series. Don’t let the YA categorization push you away from a fantastic dark tale for all ages.