Sunday, August 27, 2017

recent reads; Porter Rockwell 2-fer


David J. West has created his own Weird Western niche by crafting tales of the historic figure, Porter Rockwell. West weaves Native American myths, monsters, legends, tall tales, and touches of cryptozoology and lost civilizations into a fun and original tapestry. Rockwell strides through this collection of stories. Not to be missed if you're a fan of Weird West tales, action, wry humor, and monsters.


Two tales of West's Weird West take on Porter Rockwell, the Mormon gunslinger. The first tale extends a story that originally appeared in shorter form. Second story is a previously unreleased bonus. Also, a teaser chapter from his first novel length Porter tale, SCAVENGERS.

Very enjoyable westerns with just the right amount of weird. West has developed his version of Porter into a fun 'cowboy' character. I look forward to reading the novels.

Monday, August 21, 2017

recent read: A Discourse in Steel


It took me too long to return to Egil and Nix. Kemp has created a great sword-&-sorcery duo. And yes, even I who prefer novella length as tops for sword-&-sorcery, still consider this novel as sword-&-sorcery. Don't let the length fool you. While it has touches of "high fantasy" and some Dungeons & Dragons magical items and dungeon crawls, Egil & Nix comes right out of the Nifft the Lean and Fafhrd & Gray Mouser tradition.

A psychic friend of the duo learns a little too much about the city's thieves guild. The guild tries assassination and Egil & Nix know they won't let up. So the duo goes for the throat of the guild.

They're not out to save the world - they are out to save their friends .. and their whorehouse.

Along the way we get cosmic horrors of a black alley that appears at random in the city, magical "gewgaws," lost civilizations, a whole lot of action and combat, and even deeper reflections on what makes a person a person, friendship and loyalty.

The banter between Egil and Nix comes to life in the audiobook. It might work well on the page, too, but there were moments when I laughed out loud while listening.

Angry Robot originally published the first two Egil & Nix novels. They were dropped after Angry Robot were bought and went through some restructuring.
Original Angry Robot cover
Fortunately, Del Rey picked them up and republished the first two novels and they have released a third, A CONVERSATION IN BLOOD.

I enjoyed A DISCOURSE IN STEEL a whole lot. I won't wait so long between books this time.

And I want a t-shirt;

In a world of slubbers and fakkers, be an Egil (or a Nix.)

Thursday, August 17, 2017

recent read; Hammer of Darkness

Hammer of Darkness by Rowan Casey

Hammer of Darkness is the eighth book in the urban fantasy Veil Knights series. The Veil between worlds is thin, and Knights are sworn to protect our world. Each novel deals with a different knight and a different task they must perform. The titles are released direct to ebook.

The series is a throwback using a house-name author to produce short, quick adventure novels. The house-name angle is not a secret, it's mentioned in the series' summary.

In Hammer of Darkness, Hautdesert, a tough Knight who has battle fatigue stretching back through time, provides a noir first-person narrative. Hautdesert is called upon to recover a mystical hamper of power. (yes, "hamper" - not to be confused with the title. See #2 on this list)

Hautdesert navigates his way through the seedier and supernatural dangerous parts of San Francisco. He must battle natural men and supernatural creatures - from witches enhanced by magic to the point of superpowers to succubi vampires and other dangerous elements of black magick and the dark left-hand path.

Along the way, Hautdesert goes through a series of uncomfortable reunions with ex-girlfriends. (Imagine if James Bond revisited paramours from his past movies.) Many of the femme fatales harbor resentment and/or their own motivations when dealing with the hapless knight.

The action pistons along. There is a level of grit, gore and violence keeping the story away from a comfortable polish found in other contemporary urban fantasy stories.

Hammer of Darkness is a solid, quick read if you want a taste of gritty noir urban fantasy.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

recent read; WITCHY EYE

WITCHY EYE by D. J. Butler
Sarah Calhoun is the fifteen-year-old daughter of the Elector Andrew Calhoun, one of Appalachee’s military heroes and one of the electors who gets to decide who will next ascend as the Emperor of the New World. None of that matters to Sarah. She has a natural talent for hexing and one bad eye, and all she wants is to be left alone—especially by outsiders.
But Sarah’s world gets turned on its head at the Nashville Tobacco Fair when a Yankee wizard-priest tries to kidnap her. Sarah fights back with the aid of a mysterious monk named Thalanes, who is one of the not-quite-human Firstborn, the Moundbuilders of the Ohio. It is Thalanes who reveals to Sarah a secret heritage she never dreamed could be hers.
Now on a desperate quest with Thalanes to claim this heritage, she is hunted by the Emperor’s bodyguard of elite dragoons, as well as by darker things—shapeshifting Mockers and undead Lazars, and behind them a power more sinister still. If Sarah cannot claim her heritage, it may mean the end to her, her family—and to the world where she is just beginning to find her place.
Dave Butler has weaved the ornate tapestry of a fantasy epic from the history of early America and it is simply wonderful. WITCHY EYE is a great read. Full of detail, historical veracity, and charm. The characters - protagonists and villains alike - spring from the page.

Butler's "America" is never referred to as such and there are no states - united or otherwise. There are territories and empires and the wild untamed wooded frontier.

In this world, magic is real - from simple hedge-witch hexing to dread necromancers.

So, how does one classify WITCHY EYE? It's not only fantasy. It is not only alternate history. It's a rich novel of heroics in an Americana Flintlock Fantasy, and I for one, am glad it has arrived.

I enjoyed it a lot and I eagerly await its sequel.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

WICKED HAUNTED - "East Boston Relief Station"

I am proud and pleased that my short story, "East Boston Relief Station," was accepted for inclusion in the anthology WICKED HAUNTED. The book is edited by Scott Goudsward, David Price & Dan Keohane, who read and chose the entries from members of the New England Horror Writers.

The theme of the anthology is ghost stories.

Amazing table of contents! I'm honored to be included with all these authors!

Bracken MacLeod - "Lost Boy"
James A. Moore - "Pulped"
Remy Flagg - "Murmur"
Doungjai Gam Bepko - "We're All Haunted Here"
Emma Jane Shaw Gibbon - "Ghost Maker"
Kenneth Vaughan - "And They Too Want to be Remembered"
Peter Dudar - "The Thing With No Face"
GD Dearborn - "Triumph of the Spirit"
Nick Manzolillo - "My Work is Not Yet Completed"
Paul McNamee - "East Boston Relief Station"
Trisha Wooldridge - "Ghosts In Their Eyes"
Curtis M. Lawson - "Everything Smells like Smoke Again"
Renee Mulhare - "Stranding Off Schroodic Point"
Tom Deady - "Turn Up the Old Victrola"
Dan Szczesny - "Boy on the Red Tricycle"
Dan Foley - "They Come With the Storm"
Barry Lee Dejasu - "Tripping the Ghost"
Rob Smales - "Road to Gallway"
Paul McMahon - "The Pick Apart"
Morgan Sylvia - "The Thin Place"
Matt Bechtel - "The Walking Man"
Larissa Glasser - "The Mouse"
Patricia Gomes - "Scrying Through Torn Screens"

Without giving anything away, I will say my story was inspired by some personal experiences and some family history I discovered.

Thanks to my alpha reader, Charles Rutledge.

The editors are still deciding the cover art. They plan to have the book published and ready for Halloween this year.