The Gulp


TITLE: The Gulp

AUTHOR: Alan Baxter

SYNOPSIS: Strange things happen in The Gulp. The residents have grown used to it. The isolated Australian harbour town of Gulpepper is not like other places. Some maps don’t even show it. And only outsiders use the full name. Everyone who lives there calls it The Gulp. The place has a habit of swallowing people.

A truck driver thinks the stories about The Gulp are made up to scare him. Until he gets there. Teenage siblings try to cover up the death of their mother, but their plans go drastically awry. A rock band invites four backpackers to a party at their house, where things get dangerously out of hand. A young man loses a drug shipment and his boss gives him 48 hours to make good on his mistake. Under the blinking eye of the old lighthouse, a rock fisher makes the strangest catch of his life.

Five novellas. Five descents into darkness. Welcome to The Gulp, where nothing is as it seems.

PUBLISHER: 13th Dragon Books

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Welcome to The Gulp, the Hotel California of Aussie harbor towns.

Out on a Rim

Two truck drivers get stuck in The Gulp. One decides to wander the town and finds more adventure than he bargained for.

Mother in Bloom

Mother dies. She wasn’t a very good mom and the teens decide to keep her death a secret. Then they find mom covered in a fungus...and it's hungry.

The Band Plays On

A new spin on an old trope. Four young adults find happiness in music, partying with a band after a show, but when weird stuff begins to happen, Patrick can’t believe he is the only sane one.

48 to Go

If a crime boss gave you 48 hours to come up with an obscene amount of money, how would you get it? Dace has a very simple way--steal, but when the couple he is robbing turns out to be more than he bargained for, Dace is forced to decide whose life is worth losing. (Hint: it isn’t his family’s)

Rock Fisher

Alan saved the best for last. This creepy tale gives us life, literally. A sinister egg is found by a fisherman and things begin to change for all of The Gulp. 

The Gulp has a habit of swallowing people. But sometimes it spits one out.”

And just like that, The Gulp has spit me out. I survived. I enjoyed my stay, everything cleaned up very nicely in the end and the ending gives us home to a return trip. I would definitely visit The Gulp again. 

Alan gave us five distinct stories, some more brutal than others (seriously what is up with the guinea pigs?), but all high in creep factor.  There is certainly a weird force around The Gulp and it leads us all to one thing-- the fall. 

Thank you to Alan Baxter for a gifted copy of THE GULP in exchange for an honest review.

The Flashlighters


TITLE: The Flashlighters
AUTHOR: Daniel Barnett
SYNOPSIS: John Hawthorne is awake at last.

But so are other things . . . horrible, unthinkable things born from bad dreams and left to roost across the darkened Utah countryside.

Nor is that all.

Somewhere on a lonely highway to the north there waits a mysterious, light-worshiping band of drifters led by the magnanimous Father Ammon, whose one blind eye might hold a secret path to salvation . . . at least for some.

America is dead.

Welcome to its nightmare.

The Flashlighters is the fourth volume of the Nightmareland Chronicles, an ongoing serialized adventure horror epic following one man's journey to reach his estranged daughter in a world claimed by eternal night.
PUBLISHER: Self-Published
RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Another great installment in the Nightmareland Chronicles. In this one John is awake and Mariah has returned with Marcus. The three now travel to Utah on a mission to Wyoming to battle time and get to Maine ASAP.

There are new nightmares in store for our characters and they are some of the eeriest ones we have yet to meet. I definitely wouldn't want to meet them in a dark alley.

Then we meet a new group. I think of this as the cult phase of the apocalypse. When mankind cannot explain things they tend to turn to religion, and there is no shortness of faith here.

John is still such a damn mystery. I really hope we get to unfold his fuckedupness in #5. I feel we still know so little about what is actually going on in his head. OPEN UP JOHNNY BOY!

In summary, Daniel offers another solid episode in his Nightmareland SAGA. Great characters, amazing atmosphere, and diverse characters are why I gave THE FLASHLIGHTERS 4 stars!

Thank you Daniel Barnett for a gifted ARC of THE FLASHLIGHTERS in exchange for an honest review.

The Rotting Within

TITLE: The Rotting Withing
AUTHOR: Matt Kurtz
SYNOPSIS: Fleeing an abusive boyfriend, Kenzie Moore and her two small children seek refuge at the Sunrise Bed & Breakfast, a secluded inn run by her estranged grandmother, Shirley. While there, Kenzie and her children promise to follow one simple rule: stay away from the third floor, where its bedrooms house a pair of reclusive old women. Though the inn seems an idyllic place to start anew, Kenzie quickly discovers something malevolent not only lives under its roof, but moves within its walls.

When Shirley is called away and the kids are mysteriously stricken ill, a torrential storm further isolates the family and brings forth something out of the darkness, something whispering for Kenzie to “kill the children.”

It all culminates in a terrifying game of cat and mouse, where Kenzie must battle both new and old demons while trying to prevent.
PUBLISHER: Grindhouse P
RATING: ⭐⭐⭐½

I sat with this one for a bit and stewed over it. There were elements I really enjoyed and then there were others I felt were stuffed in to fill space. The first monster kill at the BnB was rad and I really enjoyed the intensity.

Ultimately, Matt has an awesome talent for disturbing, but with that, I feel this could have been cut and trimmed and been more of a powerful narrative. I will definitely be seeking out other work by Matt Kurtz.

Thank you Matt Kurtz for a copy of THE ROTTING WITHIN in exchange for an honest review.

Take Your Turn, TEDDY

TITLE: Take Your Turn, Teddy
AUTHOR: Haley Newlin
SYNOPSIS: No one knows your darkness like your own Shadow.

Nothing has been normal for Teddy, not since discovering the harsh identity of the monster he had been living with his whole life—his own father. Teddy and his mother leave that behind to start over in a small Indiana township. But as Teddy begins to learn of humanity's monsters, he unveils an otherworldly evil he calls "The Shadow." The Shadow tests Teddy's vulnerability and growing sense of isolation, poisoning his mind and conjuring a vile killer-in-the-making.
A year later, Officer Leonard Strode is called in to offer consultation on a case similar to the most brutal and scarring of those he’s worked on before. One is the case of Jackie Warren, the other, Theodore “Teddy” Blackwood — two missing children. As he and two other officers follow the trail of clues, Strode is haunted by the ghosts of his own past and is horrified to find them wreaking havoc on his present.
When both Teddy and Strode finally meet face-to-face, they must confront their inner darkness as well or else be consumed by it.
PUBLISHER: New Degree Press

Whoa, TEDDY!? WTF, broski. This novel was a pirouette of crumbs that lead us through five parts. First, we are introduced to Teddy and his parents. That doesn’t end well and Teddy relocates to Indiana. Now I live in Indiana, I have never seen anything weird and mysterious but it always seems weird shit is happening here in spooky stories (Sam and Dean spend a lot of time in Indiana too). 

Once Teddy moves into his grandparent’s old house, the weird factor is kicked up a notch. Teddy, lonely, angry Teddy, meets a friend in the basement. Enter SHADOW. Without giving too many details, Shadow and Teddy embark on a bloody adventure for the next year. 

Overall, I loved the story, the characters felt nuanced and balanced, and there were no questions left unanswered. I will note that once the police characters my enjoyment fell a bit and that is merely personal preference (I am so over cop/military characters rn) and as the story progressed, I appreciated their POV.  Finch, a WOC and a police officer in the 70s was a great choice here! I felt her persistence and attention to detail are what made the investigative part of the story more interesting.  

Part five felt a bit rushed and I would have read another 20 pages if it could have been drawn out more. 
For Newlin’s great storytelling, diverse characters, and unique twist on imaginary friends, I gave TAKE YOUR TURN, TEDDY 4 stars!

Thank you, Haley Newlin and New Degree Press for gifting me an ARC of TAKE YOUR TURN, TEDDY in exchange for an honest review. 

MARCH MAYHEM with Silver Shamrock Publishing


Here are March’s picks for March Mayhem with Silver Shamrock Publishing!

1. Coffin Shadows by Glen Krisch and Mark Steensland.

A horror book based in grief.

2. The Malan Witch by Catherine Cavendish.

Another grief horror, with small town secrets and witches. 😍

3. Clementine’s Awakening by Jennifer Soucy.

An unlikely friendship between a bartender and a ghost in one of the most haunted cities in America.

4. Wormwood by Chad Lutzke and Tim Meyer.

Another based in Georgia, with vigilante justice!

Join us on Istagram and leave your thoughts in the discussion posts. As always, every book reviewed is an entry into our monthly giveaway. Use tag #QofHRewiews on either Twitter or Instagram for your chance to win!

The Drowning Kind

 TITLE: The Drowning Kind 
AUTHOR: Jennifer McMahon
SYNOPSIS: Be careful what you wish for.

When social worker Jax receives nine missed calls from her older sister, Lexie, she assumes that it’s just another one of her sister’s episodes. Manic and increasingly out of touch with reality, Lexie has pushed Jax away for over a year. But the next day, Lexie is dead: drowned in the pool at their grandmother’s estate. When Jax arrives at the house to go through her sister’s things, she learns that Lexie was researching the history of their family and the property. And as she dives deeper into the research herself, she discovers that the land holds a far darker past than she could have ever imagined.
In 1929, thirty-seven-year-old newlywed Ethel Monroe hopes desperately for a baby. In an effort to distract her, her husband whisks her away on a trip to Vermont, where a natural spring is showcased by the newest and most modern hotel in the Northeast. Once there, Ethel learns that the water is rumored to grant wishes, never suspecting that the spring takes in equal measure to what it gives.
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster
RATING: ★★★ ½

Jennifer has created a world I want to visit, the issue is, I likely won’t survive. With the promise of granting wishes and healing impossible aliments, the Springs at Sparrow Crest sound amazing, almost too good to be true. But as with all great things in life, everything has its cost.

The story follows two women: Ethel, the desperate wife dealing with infertility, and Jax, social worker and sister of the Springs’ newest victim. I thought the two storylines floated effortlessly into each other as things progressed for Jax, they unfolded for us with Ethel.  I do want to note the two narrators were a nice touch, but I found Ethel’s more aloof, but maybe that is the character and on purpose.
I noticed the Springs largely stole women, but maybe that is a feminist approach to the siren-esque mythos. Kudos to the queer and mental health rep! I should mention a suicide TW as it is a small part.

I have one big problem: What happened to Declan? Why was his storyline even important? What did any of that mean? Was it just Jax’s slipping mental state? I feel like this part left more questions than added to the story and could have technically been edited out.

I want to know what happens now.  Will the Springs at Sparrow Crest live on? What happens if there are no more victims to feed it? Can the Springs not exist? 

For McMahon’s eloquent prose and use of language, I gave THE DROWNING KIND 3.5 stars. I am excited to visit more of her work.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for a gifted copy of the audiobook in exchange for an honest review.

Queens of Horror Book Club partners with Horror Oasis!


Queens of Horror Book Club has partnered with The Horror Oasis! 

This was a no-brainer for us. The Horror Oasis is committed to advocating and amplifying the voices of the horror community. Andrew has already shown this commitment with his #WiHM sponsorship funded by his RedBubble shop. We, three queens, are very excited for this opportunity to bring diverse, indie horror to the masses. 

Check us out here and make sure you subscribe to The Horror Oasis newsletter!