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Books for Review should be sent to: Don D'Ammassa, 323 Dodge Street,  East Providence, RI 02914

Last Update 1/15/18

Hobgoblin by John Coyne, Berkley, 1981

An introverted teenager addicted to a D&D type adventure game called Hobgoblin runs into trouble with the bullies at his new school. His mother, who is writing a history of a local estate that comes complete with an Irish castle, turns up evidence of a strange series of deaths of young women. The elderly caretaker suggests to her son that hobgoblins are real and he - and others - begin to catch glimpses of creatures that should only have existed within the game. The basic plot in this one is pretty good but the pacing is very slow, particularly in the first half.  1/15/18

The Searing by John Coyne, Berkley, 1980 

A new housing development has some unusual associated phenomena. For one thing, children begin dying mysteriously. For another, all of the adult women are being hit with involuntary orgasms as though someone was projecting a force in the area. Is it the CIA man who is working on a secret electronic project in his basement or is it the autistic girl who seems to be present when all of these things are happening? This was more interesting that the author's first two horror novels, but the motivations and reactions of the characters are often unconvincing. Though terrified, no one actually gets up and leaves. The police seem oddly uninterested in the situation. Doctors notice brain damage in the victims but are not inclined to look into the matter. 1/13/18

The Piercing by John Coyne, Berkley, 1979 

A young girl from rural Appalachia begins displaying stigmata and has visions of the Crucifixion even though she is a Baptist. Two very flawed Catholic priests take an interest in her for different reasons while battling their own internal demons. A mysterious neighbor lurks about and the reader is aware that he was the real cause of the girl’s transformation, and it is entirely possible that he is Satan or one of his minions. The two priests react very differently and not always entirely believably. Deaths follow before it is revealed – though it is no secret – that the devil has set up the whole sequence of events in a plan to capture one priest’s soul.  Entertaining, but a bit talky. 1/11/18

Cry Your Way Home by Damien Angelica Walters, Apex, 2018, $14.95, ISBN 978-1937009618

This is a collection of short stories but not specifically horror. There are also stories of SF and fantasy, although the tone is often brooding in those as well. My first impression after reading them was contradictory. On the one hand, the majority of them seemed to me emotionally and often thematically similar, but then I realized that the plots themselves - which involve everything from outer space to Lovecraftian horror and other monsters. I didn't even mind that many of them were in present tense narration - which works much better in short stories than in novels - although the second person narration was too artificial for me. Most of these first appeared in relatively obscure venues so they should be new to most readers. These are more stories of psychology and reflection than action and adventure, but they are often quite tense.1/6/18

Apart in the Dark by Ania Ahlborn, Gallery, 2018, $16, ISBN 978-1-5011-8753-7

This book consists of two unrelated novellas which apparently were previously published as ebooks only. I slight preferred "I Call Upon Thee" which is a rather traditional but quite atmospheric story of a young woman who believed a dark presence hovered over her when she was younger. Now an adult, she decides to return to her home and confront her childhood fears, only to discover that they are not in fact unfounded. The accompanying story, "The Pretty Ones," is set during the reign of terror of the Son of Sam, David Berkowitz, who killed or injured more than a dozen people. The protagonist is a young woman who has trouble making friends, and who may be making the wrong ones even when she does succeed. Both stories are very dependent on characterization, focus on alienation from others and the inter-relationships of families, and the second is somewhat depressing overall. The author makes use of a quieter form of horror, somewhat reminiscent of Charles L. Grant, but what might seem slow pacing will actually insidiously drag you into the story.  1/4/18

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