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I'm a business journalist and a fiction author. My novel Mute is available now from Silver Leaf Books.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Make your bookworm squirm with chilling Halloween reads

Stuffed werewolves and plastic skeletons are mildly frightful, but real terror comes when the imagination is stimulated, especially by a haunting story. Sometimes a creepy book can conjure up the most fear on Halloween.

While it isn’t hard to find classics like Pet Sematary, there is a new breed of novel awaiting readers that enjoy a good scare. From zombies on the beach to a skin-melting lagoon, here are some recent novels that have terrified readers and critics – in a good way. All of them can be found on Amazon.com.

Halloween Jack and the Devil’s Gate by M. Todd Gallowglas (Bard’s Cloak of Tales) – It was Jack o’ the Lantern’s job to chase demons away from earth, but his powers failed and the minions of hell threaten to overrun the world. They spend Victorian-esque robots called steam soldiers storming across the globe. Jack’s three decedents must out-wit the ultimate evil. 

“Halloween Jack is a perfect blend of Harry Potter and Harry Dresdon, only with no magic and just the right dash of attitude.” – Fantasy Flight Games.

Mute” by Brian Bandell (Silver Leaf Books) – Things have gone terribly wrong in the once scenic Indian River Lagoon in Central Florida. The water is turning acidic and smells like rotten eggs. Seemingly harmless animals like manatees and dolphins are dragging people into the toxic depths. Headless bodies are popping out of the water, and the only witness is an eight-year old orphaned girl who saw her parents killed. Mariella has gone mute and it’s detective Monique “Moni” Williams’ job to protect the girl while at the same time figure out what’s behind the scourge from the lagoon. 

“Bandell, who grew up in Indialantic, shows Brevard’s beauty in scenes set in the Indian River Lagoon that are as breathtaking as they are scary.” – South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Dying Days” by Armand Rosamilia (Rymfire Books) – Many people like the beach because they see people showing off sexy skin. But for zombies, those skimpy bathing suits make it like a buffet. The undead hit the beach in with an appetite as they take the oldest city in the United States, St. Augustine, Fla., and try making it the most undead city. 

The Tour Bus of Doom – Spam the Cat and the ZombieApocalyps-o” by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough with K.B. Dundee (Gypsy Shadow Publishing) – The author of over 23 solo novels and 16 collaborations, Scarborough returns with a tour bus that rolls into a coastal town blaring loud drums and a zombie horde. Fortunately, the town has a brave defender: Spam the Cat. In this comedic horror, our hero has help from Rocky the vampcat. After the zombies sack the cats’ beloved fish n’ chips restaurant, the battle lines are drawn. 

“The voodoo zombie dust stuff was alarming, some of it was really breath-holding scary, especially the basic idea that zombie labor is even cheaper than slave labor.” – Kerry Greenwood, author of the best-selling Australian series Phryne Fisher

"Diaphanous" by Roy C. Booth and R. Thomas Riley (MinnKota Publications) – Arachnophobia is one of the core fears. Spiders creep most people out even though most aren’t harmful. Yet, these eight-legged baddies give the people of earth a very rational reason to fear them. Ted and Loretta are looking for their lost family member Mitch. The police think he abandoned his family. Not exactly. He’s been claimed by a family of little creatures bent on colonization. 

"A tale full of creeping dread and suspense, Diaphanous is a cool retro throwback to 50's and 60's creature horror.” – John Grover, author of “A Beckoning of Shadows.”

Devil Eyes” by Prudence Foster (Wing ePress) – A remote key off Florida’s Gulf Coast sounds like an ideal vacation spot, but not when you check into a cursed hotel. The renovation of the recently reopened Tarpon Inn didn’t remove its ancient curse, a fact that its unfortunate guests are soon to discover. Florida crackers and the Seminole tribe struggle to survive the murderous visions foreseen by the child who is burdened by this dark magic. And if that isn’t bad enough, here comes a hurricane. 

Invitation to a Murder” by Esther Luttrell (L & L Dreamspell) – Dena Brooke hoped to enjoy some relaxation at her beach cottage in Fort Myers, Fla. but the murder of her friend’s young son drew her back to Kansas. It is anything but a quaint prairie scene in Topeka as drive-by shootings, stalking and dark family secrets turn this into a pulse-pounding thriller. 

 The Witness WoreFur” by Nancy Clark Townsend (Blue Dragon Press) – It starts with a wounded dog in Wendy Malcolm’s yard. When the window seeks help for the animal as it suffers from stab wounds, she’s dragged into the mystery of two missing coeds and psychopathic killers. If they would do that to a cute dog, what would they do to a person?

If you have any other scary suggestions, please let me know...