Today – in our inaugral edition of the Indie Book Drop – we’re featuring a few stories from indie publisher, Dark Fuse.
Dark Fuse is an online publishing company that produces primarily ebooks – but also print copies – for up-and-coming indie authors. It’s a small, tight-knit company that focuses on emerging talent in horror, suspense, thrillers, and some science fiction and fantasy. Recently they were good enough to ‘pre-approve’ me for their whole catalog over on NetGalley which basically means they gave me access to some of the books they publish. A lot of their stuff can be classified as ‘novellas’ and they are often quick, decent reads for about $2.99 or less.
If you’re a horror fan, their stuff is a great way to experience some new voices in the genre and see some of the talent that’s lurking out there.
So, here’s what I’ve got for you all so far from Dark Fuse.
Review Spoilers: High
GoodReads | Amazon
Those who are weak of heart shouldn’t even give this book a second look. It’s dark. And when I say it’s dark I really mean that. Nicole Cushing takes readers into a very place where avant garde art blends with sadism and torture. The story revolves around a man who hopes to create a living, performance art piece that has been many years in the making. This make has been taking poor children sold to him by parents who either didn’t care what happened to them or couldn’t let themselves care for them and keeping them in total darkness in an underground maze where he has warped their minds so unbelievably that he considers the whole evolution of their abused psyches and the setting to be some sort of macabre art. The children – in particular two brothers focused on in this story – are conditioned to think of their captors as angels and only see light when they are given some food. It’s Pavlovian and they honestly believe that enduring these trials will lead them to Heaven. But it’s not art if there is no one to appreciate it and there are people wealthy enough to pay to see even the most disturbing of things. Children of No One is dark. It’s twisted. It’s a story that’s not meant for everyone.
It also a story that could have been developed much further. I think Cushing had an actual book in this story and not just the fifty page novella we have her. She created a very dark series of antagonists who served as some of her primary protagonists. I felt like a lot more could have gone into the character development and the story taken in some different, more scenic directions. But over all it wasn’t bad. What makes this story particularly terrifying is the real world implications. It seems like every other day we’re discovering young people who are escaping from their captors after being held captive in homes and basement dungeons for years without anyone knowing. But with how uncomfortable it made me… I don’t know. I hate to rate it lower because of that but still.
It does, however, definitely have the distinction of having the best looking cover art for any of the books in this post.
GoodReads | Amazon
Yet another creepy entry to Dark Fuse’s repertoire of novellas, Nightsiders, is a bit of a trippy revenge fueled story that had some pretty interesting twists and turns – though I’m not entirely sure they always worked out.
McMahon makes some interesting choices in th ebook. It’s sort of channeling movies like Funny Games or Cabin in the Woods, I guess, in a way. Sort of horror-gore with a bit of metaficiton. It’s an interesting choice for such a short novella. Robert is a compelling character and watching him and his family sort of struggle with the situation into which they’ve been thrown is interesting. I don’t really know how I feel about the fact that this if this was a film I’d probably rate it lower if not the same and that I’d probably find it on Netflix in a category their algorithm cooked up for me because my sisters like to watch a lot of B-class horror movies with their friends at night. But it’s not bad. It’s a good story.
The basic plot revolves around a family who has moved to the county after suffering a devastating tragedy. After leaving on holiday they come home only to find a chaotic group of interlopers living in their home and claiming its theirs. The police seem to agree and they seem to have all the appropriate papers. Or do they? The cop that ran the family out doesn’t exist. Nothing seems certain, nothing seems concrete. The juxtaposition of reality and the darker pseudo-reality wasn’t quite as well done as it could have been in a longer, fuller book but the author did the best he could and it turned out fairly well.
It’s well worth a read if you’ve into that trippy kind of what-is-reality sort of thing.
GoodReads | Amazon
The battle of good and evil has raged for eons and most recently it’s come to focus on two boys – Simon and Jonathan. Brought to the forefront by a pair of ‘Messengers’ who seek to manipulate them to fulfill one cosmic goal or another, they spend their lives being haunted by strange dreams which they don’t fully understand. The book jumps around in time, features a number of different dream sequences, and brings the two characters to the present where one is now an artist and the other a high profile politician. With the nightmares drawing closer and the fate of humanity at hand, the two men whose lives have oddly paralleled one another from time to time are finally faced with decisions that will effect both our world and the nightmarish spiritual world as well.
I liked this book a lot. And the above paragraph does not do it justice. You should definitely give it a read because it’s pretty fantastic. At times it can be a bit confusing because there a lot of different scene shifts and settings and it jumps around a lot from the dream world to the real world and such. It takes a little while to get comfortable with that and understand it. The main four characters – the boys and the Messengers – are pretty dynamic characters in their own rights and they drive a lot of the story. Once you get into the groove of things and so long as you can keep track of their two particular stories, dream sequences, and such you can pretty much follow things pretty well. Sometimes I think a lot of the secondary and tertiary characters got left on the sidelines when it would have been important to find out more about them and understand them better.
But over all it’s a pretty great read.
Ron Savage had a fantastic little horror-centric hit on his hands. More people need to read it to help get the word out!
GoodReads | Amazon
Okay, so, I’m not sure why this is an average of two stars on GoodReads. Probably because it looks like only one person has actually reviewed it so far. So let’s talk about the New Flesh.
I liked this book. I really did. I got a real Stephen King vibe from it in a way – which is a good thing. I’m a big Stephen King fan. Jake is a a compelling, young narrator whose attempts to understand why he’s being haunted by the nightmarish figure known as the Melting Man. After a childhood incident involving a fire he set near his school, Jake starts having nightmares about this devlish figure who calls out for Jake to join him. What starts as nightmares begin to run over into his waking moments. And Jake has to figure out what this figure wants and how the Melting Man is connected to his family and to his father’s work as a filmmaker.
What I really liked about this book – besides Jake as a main character – was how the plot kept moving forward and it kept you on your toes. Some horror books flatline after a bit but this one kept on trucking. I really appreciated that. At no point as I bored and Deininger did a really good job of threading this story along. Plus the Melting Man is a really great, creepy sort of antagonist. And I just find kids who see things like that terrifying. IT and Nightmare on Elm Street did a number on me as a kid and so anything even vaguely analogical gets my heart racing. Nightmare creatures that chase you through your waking hours? Yeah. Sometimes it seemed a bit long or overly drawn out but it didn’t seem like that distracted from the story any. It’s not like I wanted the story to necessarily end. And at times – while the story itself was fine – the writing was a bit stale. Still, that doesn’t really matter because it was a good book.
This one was well worth the read.