GUEST BOOK REVIEW by C.R. Richards: Inside & Midnight Screams

Two Frightfully Fun Books Written by Women

Crisp wind dances through the falling leaves, sending a blanket of burnt-orange and yellow across the damp ground. I shiver, my gaze drifting along the landscape. Pumpkins smile an ominous warning from their sentry post beside the front door. I catch the distinct aroma of cinnamon and cloves in the air. Someone is baking. I quicken my pace as thoughts of hot tea, and pumpkin cookies make my mouth water.

A warm glow beckons me. Home. Smiling down at my furry walking companion, I climb the stoop and open our front door. My cozy reading chair waits inside. I run anxious fingers longingly across the small stack of books resting upon a table beside the armrest. I’ve been looking forward to my evening read all day.

Hot tea at the ready, I sit down in my chair and scan the scary books on my Halloween Reading List. Will it be The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson? Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, perhaps? No. I want to begin my Spooky Season reading with two new favorites, written within the last decade by talented women authors.

Inside
By: D.M. Siciliano

Genre: Horror, Ghosts
Publisher: Parliament House Press
Publication Date: October 2019
Pages: 354

1987 “Does it burn in the dark?”

Reid is a bully, but he’s still Alex’s best friend. When Reid pushes Alex and their friends into invading a historically haunted Massachusetts house, Alex knows it’s a terrible idea, but indulges his friend. What could go wrong?

Inside, a mysterious Shadow looms in the darkness. The door to the house vanishes, leaving them trapped. The group flees through the tiny, one-roomed house that defies logic, constantly shifting, presenting them with new doors, hallways, and rooms that seem to be plucked from their memories and fears. One by one, the Shadow hunts them, intent on burning them all from within.

Is there any way to escape? Or will they be burned from the inside out?


C.R. Richard’s Review:

It’s 1987. Five teens dare each other to go inside a haunted house in the middle of the Massachusetts woods. What could go wrong?

The one-story house waits in the wood as it has done for centuries. Locals know it by reputation as being haunted, so naturally, a group of friends go inside to explore. Reid, their leader, is a bully and enjoys asserting his dominance on the group. Not wanting to be a victim of his best friend’s teasing, Alex agrees to go inside with the rest of the group. But the friends soon find the house has deadly games of its own to play. Portals and constantly changing rooms keep the characters and readers guessing.

Time and space are fluid in this house of horrors. What seems like a simple shack in the woods turns into an evil predator with a wicked taste for psychological cruelty. I was both fascinated and terrified by the story’s concept. Warning. This is NOT a lightweight read. The emotional torment of the characters can be draining. We, as readers, become emotionally invested in their well-being.

Author D.M. Siciliano is a modern-day master. Expertly layering emotional torment with threats to the physical, the author guides her readers through the terrifying paradox that is the single-level house.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Pumpkins!

Banshee 1:
Midnight Screams
By: Sara Clancy

Genre: Horror
Publisher: Scare Street
Publication Date: May 2017
Pages: 144

When Benton dreams, people die…

Every time Benton sleeps, he becomes a trapped passenger within a murderer’s skin; able to hear, see, and feel every part of their kill. When he wakes up, he knows it’s only a matter of time before his dreams become reality. No matter how hard he tries to stop the murders, it always ends the same way – with death.

After ten years of constantly relocating, his parents have decided to settle in Fort Wayward. A quiet Albertan town where Benton could focus on graduating high school and living an idyllic teenage life. That is, until he finds a dead body in his backyard.

Benton’s hopes for normalcy come crashing down as something new begins stalking his dreams. Something that’s not human. And, for the first time, he’s not the only one watching.

As his dreams and reality collide, Benton finds himself facing a monster beyond his understanding. In his fight for survival, Benton soon discovers why death follows him, why monsters draw close, and why he always wakes up screaming.


C.R. Richard’s Review:

Nightmares are terrifying. Trapped inside the deepest realm of our psyche, we are helpless against the brutal torture exacted by our subconscious. Escape comes with the aid of a clamoring alarm clock or an unexpected nudge toward reality. Sweating and afraid, we laugh with a heavy sigh of relief. It was only a dream!

Imagine if the dreamscape won’t let go. Something imprisons Benton, forcing him to witness horrific scenes of violence as if he were the one committing the atrocities. Each night he sees a new murder and experiences it through the killer’s eyes. He wakes, knowing the killings will soon become a reality.

Author Sara Clancy draws us into the troubled life of Benton, the high schooler who is desperate to live a normal life. Clancy has created a sympathetic and interesting character. Being the new kid in high school is awkward enough, but throw in visions of murders, and you have the perfect setup for horror. The author adds ‘literary salt’ to Benton’s wounds as she expertly builds the tension between him and his anxious parents.
Midnight Screams is a wonderful mix of heart-stopping horror and crushing emotional angst.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Pumpkins!

Still Hungry for Horror? Check out The Horror Writers Association for more hauntingly good stories.


Boo-graphy:
C. R. Richards is the award-winning author of The Mutant Casebook Series. A lover of horror and dark fantasy stories, she enjoys telling tales of intrigue and adventure. Her most recent literary projects include the epic dark fantasy series Heart of The Warrior and the novel-length dark fantasy thriller, Pariah. She is an affiliate member of the Horror Writers Association.

Look for her paranormal dark fantasy project, The Vengeful Dead, coming in 2022.

For more information on the author’s books and upcoming events, please visit her website or social media:

Author Website
Blog: Deep Thoughts & Junk
Facebook Author Page
Amazon Author Page
Goodreads
Twitter

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