ZERO SAINTS by Gabino Iglesias (Book Review)

ZERO SAINTS by Gabino Iglesias (Broken River Books)

There are no saints here!

I read a lot of books and tend to find that four or five books a year are that good that I can’t put them down. ZERO SAINTS by Gabino Iglesias is one of those books.

Fernando is the star of the show. He’s a small time criminal who trades his life in Mexico – after a beat down goes wrong – to work as a bouncer at a nightclub in Austin, selling drugs for the local crime boss, Guillermo. Then one day, after work, he’s thrown in the boot (trunk) of a car and driven to an abandoned house, where he watches his friend get beheaded. It’s a warning to Guillermo. There’s a new gang in town and they want to take over.

Fernando is a thug, a criminal, but he’s also a good guy. He knows he can’t take these gangbangers down on his own. So what does he do? Does Fernando run, like he did in Mexico, or stay, arm himself and fight?

It’s my first time reading anything by Iglesias (and obviously it won’t be the last). He puts together a great cast of characters from the mysterious Consuelo, to a gun-totin’ rapper. Throw in a Russian hitman and a seemingly unstoppable Mexican gangbanger. Mix it all together with Iglesias’ knowledge of Mexican culture. The result is addictive noir. ZERO SAINTS is an awesome book which leaves you wanting more.

Add to that a fine Revert cover and a good layout (I used to work as a typesetter and I have OCD tendencies so I’m anal for that) and you’re left with one beautiful book.

Welcome to Barrioland. (Jack Bantry)

zero saints

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THE VAMPIRE OF PLAINFIELD by Kristopher Rufty (Book Review)

THE VAMPIRE OF PLAINFIELD by Kristopher Rufty (Sinister Grin Press)

There’s a line drawn in the sand. If you look closely you can see it and then if you open your eyes just enough you can see people standing on opposite sides of it. Here, on one side, you have the people that like THE VAMPIRE OF PLAINFIELD, and on the other? Those that I think (might) hate it. There’s no middle ground whatsoever. The reasons for hating it are based on the idea of Ed Gein being not just a hero, but a vampire hunter. Imagine that for a second. Let it sink in. Ed Gein, notorious serial killer not just a hero mind you, but also a vampire hunter. That’s just a small part of this novella. I think it might be a sticking point that draws people away from it. It’s almost as if you took Jesus and had him hawking nails at Home Depot. Just all sorts of wrong isn’t it? But I might be wrong!

Let’s take our focus away from those that are going to hate it and focus in on those with an open mind. Those that are horror fans that appreciate a great horror story. Are you comfy? Good, you’re the people I want to talk to anyway. Ed Gein is in fact the reluctant hero in PLAINFIELD but it’s his own doing. We know who Gein is, what he’s done. Rufty has really researched his novel and doesn’t try to pretend that he isn’t. This adds a bit into the lore of who Gein is and what he’s done. Surprisingly it works well in the novel and you don’t really want to cheer him on because it’s Ed fucking Gein! Shifting away from that we have a vampire novel, a damn fine vampire novel and one that reminds me a lot of ‘SALEM’S LOT. It’s exactly what a vampire novel should be and the beautiful thing is that Rufty knows that we know the lore and the rules. He doesn’t give us sparkly vampires. His vampires are violent nasty beasts that take what they want and like ‘SALEM’S LOT it’s wholly original and doesn’t hold back. Not once.

The strength in THE VAMPIRE OF PLAINFIELD is Rufty’s writing. He writes like a man possessed and presents us with a story that is well plotted and very dark. This is how a vampire novel should be. There are some scenes that will make you squirm, but it all blends into the plot. The plot itself is simple and moves quickly. This is a writer that doesn’t waste time in cluing you into things. He just assumes that you know. It seems like it would drag the book down but for horror fans this is basic horror 101. If you don’t know anything about vampires or even Gein, why the hell are you reading this book? Read Bram Stoker’s DRACULA, Google Ed Gein, and then read Rufty’s book.

Rufty’s THE VAMPIRE OF PLAINFIELD is a great, well written horror novel that has a classic, splatterpunk feel to it. Rufty has taken a huge risk and it’s paid off. There are some that won’t get this novel at all and that’s okay. There are plenty of us who will. As both a horror fan, and a writer, I like that he’s taken something familiar and put a fresh coat of paint on it. Horror needs a kick in the ass now and again and THE VAMPIRE OF PLAINFIELD would be about a size nine kicking a stake through your blackened heart. This is by far one of my favorite vampire novels and will no doubt be one of those novels I read again just because it was so bad ass. Cheers Mr. Rufty for giving us a vampire novel with teeth, or fangs. (Michael Noe)

plainfield

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The Final Cut by Jasper Bark (Book Review)

THE FINAL CUT by Jasper Bark (Crystal Lake Publishing)

Jasper Bark knows about the pain a creative person puts into their work in order to see it come to life; the blood, sweat, and tears that an artist mashes together and vomits onto the canvas of their choice in an effort create their creative masterpiece.  He knows that artists are voyeurs, constantly watching the world in an attempt to make some sort of sense of the madness they witness so they can use it for fuel for their art. THE FINAL CUT is a dark glimpse into the extremes that some artists are willing to go in order to see their art become a reality.

When film student wannabes, Jimmy and Sam, find footage of a snuff film that contains footage they are hoping to use in the horror film they are making in order to save money on special effects. They have already, miraculously, survived an intense meeting with their producer over the money he had invested and they are desperate to finish the film while underestimating the cost that the footage will have on their souls as they become obsessed with the gore and the girl whose bloody endings are forever evolving with every repeated viewing.

As the filmmaker’s lives become crazier, so does the snuff film’s power.  Before they can finish the film they are trying to make, they will have to make sure the poor girl caught in the endless loop of torture and madness on the snuff film has an ending to her story.  Jimmy will have to open his mind to ancient rituals and powers and powerful dark arts if he is to save the girl he is obsessed with from the worst kind of film… a film with no ending.

Jasper’s usual gore soaked insanity fills the pages of this brilliant look into the pains of modern film making.  His writing is vulgar, humorous, and full of enough blood splatter to force the reader to treat his books like a Gallagher fan with front row seats. There is a lot to do when a film is on the editing room floor before it gets to a red carpet premiere, and Jasper unrolls a very different kind of red carpet, so wear galoshes.

No character is safe in Jasper’s worlds, no situation is normal, and nothing should ever be assumed when reading something by this author. THE FINAL CUT is a dark, gritty, gore soaked, horrific noir-infused pulp throwback with all the modern goodies to fulfill any horror fan’s taste.  Unless, of course, that horror fan is easily offended by torture, gore, demonic tailors, or character with man buns.

You have been warned. (Cory Cline)

the final cut

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SCAVENGERS by Nate Southard (Book Review)

SCAVENGERS by Nate Southard (Sinister Grin Press)

This is the story of mankind’s plight against the surmounting and inevitable terror of starvation, the burden of survival and the finality of death. And just like death, Nate Southard’s take on the post zombie aftermath is unavoidable as it grips you from page one and never lets go.

Published by Sinister Grin Press, SCAVENGERS starts right off in the middle of the action (like all great stories tend to do). Southard tells the tale of the small town of Millwood and a group of people holed up in a church. Their food is gone and time is running out. Names are drawn for the suicide mission that, if successful, will bring back nourishment and give them all a fighting chance at life again.

But outside, armies of undead await. And they hunger!

The characters are solid and relatable and Southard’s writing always has a way of keeping me glued to the pages till the end. Buckets of gore, plenty of action and an unshakable plot make this one a must read. The novel is quick and I finished it in one sitting, but in this day and age, fast reads that are easy to finish in one setting are worth every damn penny. (Chuck Rios)

scavengers

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The Bad Game by Adam Millard (Book Review)

THE BAD GAME by Adam Millard

Adam Millard’s latest novel from Sinister Horror Company, THE BAD GAME, is the best of pulp horror fiction with undeniably gripping B-movie atmosphere. Think Children of the Corn meets Night of the Living Dead and add a jigger of rocket fuel, but don’t get confused. This isn’t a zombie story, it’s something so much better, so much more interesting.

Jamie Garret is a fifteen-year-old living in Hemsby, a British seaside town in the thriving throes of the tourist season. Great for visitors, but boring for Jamie who spends his idle time at the local arcade or fending off a group of town bullies who have been getting more aggressive as of late. One day two things happen to change Jamie’s life: He meets a girl and an unusual arcade game arrives at his local haunt, one that is so strange and intriguing that it has all of the kids in town lining up to have a go. Problem is, playing this game comes with a price, and no one knows this little factoid until it’s too late. Soon the idyllic summer town becomes riotous with acts of ultra violence the likes of which has never been seen there before.

Adam Millard has a way with words that keeps the reader hanging on his every sentence, slurping up his prose and continuing on at each chapter well into a late night or after the end of a lunch break. The story is fun in every way, reminiscent of days gone by, youth, the long lost arcades I spent so many hours in trying to beat my high score. That alone is enough of a draw, but it’s Millard’s ability to bring life to his characters that seals the deal. I liked reading about Jamie, his attempts at impressing Liza, the girl he met at the arcade, and Scottie, the troubled arcade owner, not to mention the other supporting characters, all of whom are as individual as snowflakes.

I highly recommend this book to pretty much anyone who loves a good story, but especially those of you who enjoy reading about the horror of a town being taken apart en mass. A great read for anytime, but prime for summer, so get yourself a copy, have a seat by the pool or in your favorite chair, and enjoy the ride. (Robert Essig)

bad game

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SQUEEZE by Christopher Rhatigan (All Due Respect)

Squeeze by Christopher Rhatigan (All Due Respect)

I loved this short noir tale. Lionel Kasper is an amateur reporter, a drunken gambler who’ll do anything to get a headline. He’ll even fabricate a story and lay on a SQUEEZE. In his quest to stay ahead of the competition Kasper even blackmails the local senator. But his past catches up with him when a rival reporter, Greg Hulas, becomes suspicious and looks into Kasper’s invented stories. Things spiral out of control as Kasper desperately tries to cover his tracks and save his job.

It’s not what I expected, slower in pace than what I normally read. My crime fix is usually fast paced and hard-boiled – so I had difficulty comparing this – but the story doesn’t suffer. I really enjoyed it. SQUEEZE is timeless – set in the present, but it could just as easily the 1950s. I found myself sucked in and I kept asking myself: how the hell is Kasper going to get out of this? Christopher Rhatigan (author of the collection, WAKE UP, TIME TO DIE) leaves you guessing where Lionel Kasper’s exploits will eventually take him. I can feel the journalist’s despair has he hopelessly losses control. Will he manage to con his way through or will his nemesis – rival reporter, Hulas – get the better of him? Excellent stuff! (Jack Bantry)

squeeze

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Last few copies of Splatterpunk 7…

We are down to the last five copies of SPLATTERPUNK ZINE issue 7. The latest issue features fiction by Jeff Strand, Adam Cesare, Kristopher Rufty and Garrett Cook. Illustrations from Dan Henk, Nick Gucker, Jim Agpalza and Robert Elrod. Plus non-fiction, A Hostel Fever in the Inferno: In Defense of Eli Roth by Jeff Burk.

“Splatterpunk is 100% the real deal, and if seedy-but-brilliantly-written hardcore horror is your pleasure, guilty or otherwise, I’d say this zine is essential reading.” – Kit Power, Ginger Nuts of Horror

Splatterpunk 7 Cover small

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