The World’s Most Evil Books – in movies and real life

A fun and fascinating post for fans of horror and the macabre via Parlor of Horror.

parlor of horror

The World’s Most Evil Books – in movies and real life

book of shadows

For conjuring, spells, invocations and summoning the dark powers and Demonic entities

Books for summoning dark powers, entities, and magicks are often called Grimoires. These Grimoires were often collections of incantations and spells that practitioners accumulated in their travels, rewritten in an orderly fashion. Some were more intensive studies by monks, Satanists and sorcerers interested in the dark arts and attempting to unlock the secrets of death and the great beyond. Here’s a brief look at some of the most powerful dark arts books in the world.



TheBlackPullett

The Black Pullet – 1700s

This book from 18th century Rome gives instructions and guides on creating and using Talismans. The magic of the rings is known to bring forth a multitude of extraordinary powers of protection, healing, and spellbinding. One such ceremony concerns producing the Black Pullet, known as the…

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Review: The Sleepers by J Edward Neill

 The Sleepers cover 
The Sleepers by J Edward Neil

27 pages, Science Fiction/Horror

It’s the year 4163, and humanity has mastered space exploration across the known universe, collecting samples of alien lifeforms from multitudes of planets and placing them on display in “xeno zoos”. Jonathan plans on following in his parents’ footsteps, journeying through the stars to locate and collect extraterrestrials from distant galaxies. His dreams and preconceived notions are laid to waste however, when disaster strikes.

It’s difficult to say more about this gem of a short story without giving too much away. Excellent writing, great world building and characterisation. Highly recommended.

Find the author online:

http://www.downthedarkpath.com

http://www.tesseraguild.com

Twitter: @JEdwardNeill

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/J-Edward-Neill-113610302118735/

On Speculative Fiction and Changing the World

Speculative fiction has always been my favourite genre because it has the potential to explore new ideas, look at important issues in new ways, expose stereotypes and prejudice, and encourage us to think differently. Speculative fiction gives us the potential explore any and every issue, as overtly or covertly as we wish.

Through fantasy, science fiction, and horror, the marginalised can find a voice and representation, no matter how unconventional.

In speculative fiction, anything is possible.

Race issues can be explored through interactions with alien species, gender issues can be explored through fantasy societies with inverted gender roles. Society’s fears, worst case scenarios and cautionary tales can be explored through horror and apocalyptic fiction.

– – ~ – –

But sometimes things need to be said outright as well, all fiction aside. And I feel the need to say this – if you’re a kind, decent, tolerant person who’s not looking to hurt anyone, then I think you’re pretty awesome, and I don’t care about your race, gender, orientation, religion, etc.

The world can seem like a pretty crappy place sometimes, and it needs a little kindness to offset all the anger and hate. I’m not saying we should all just hold hands and sing [insert favourite campfire song here] and everything will be fine, problems all solved (wouldn’t it be nice if it were that easy?). I just think that with all the negativity already present in the world, why would we want to add to it? We’re all just human beings trying to coexist on this little piece of rock flying around in space, do we really have to find so many things to hate about each other?

So if you’re one of those incredible people spreading a little positivity around, you’re definitely awesome in my books. Keep it up. In between all the sensationalism in the media and big personalities that base their entire platform on negativity and fear mongering, the world needs you. No matter how small you think your contribution is, it matters.

 

It’s not hard to be a little kind, and even if you haven’t got it in you (we all have those days), there’s no need to add to the negativity. Remember the old adage, if you haven’t got anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all? I think it needs to make a comeback. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and beliefs, and everyone has bad days, but that doesn’t mean you need to attack or belittle someone who’s just going about their life, trying to get along, just like you are. We can all strive to be the bigger person, be a little less quick to judge, be the better version of ourselves, and make the world a better place.

Hate breeds hate, and leaves a legacy of hate. Is that the kind of legacy we want to leave behind?

 

Well, this post ended up in a rather different place than it started 🙂

Rest assured, I will be returning to my usual cynicism and bad attempts at humour in future posts. In the meantime, just remember:

The Box Under the Bed #flashfiction

 The Box Under the Bed 
An experimental outtake from a collection of short stories I’m working on.

The Box Under the Bed

There is a box under mummy’s bed, it’s been there a really long time. Since before I was born, and I’m nearly nine now. It’s wooden and ugly, but mummy says there’s something real special in it, a doll her gran’ma gave her just before she died, just like great- gran’ma’s mummy gave it to her. It should have been given to my gran first, but she died when mummy was just a little girl, even littler than me, so now mummy has it instead. She says I can see it when I’m lots older, when I’m too old to break it.

I always knew it was special though, even before mummy told me, because it talks to me, ever since I was really little. Sometimes when I’m laying on mummy’s bed I can hear it scratching at the inside of the box. I told mummy that one day and she laughed, ruffling my hair and saying I was still too little to see it, and making up stories wouldn’t change that.

Sometimes when I used to sleep in mummy’s bed after I had a nightmare it would tell me stories, about great-gran’ma, and gran, and mummy when she was a little girl. About how they were allowed to play with her when they were little, but I’m not. It made my angry because it’s not fair, but mummy would be really angry if I opened the box, so I never did. It would get mad sometimes then, scratching on the box and saying mean things. I would wake mummy up with my crying, but she said I just had another nightmare and to go back to sleep.

#

Mummy’s not home right now, said she had to run down to the store real quick for milk, and told me to stay in my room and do my homework. But I can hear it, even from my room today, scratching and whispering. It wants to come out and play with me.

I go into mummy’s room and lay down on the floor next to her bed and look at the box. The scratching is getting louder and louder, and the voice is telling me to open the box. It’s sick of the dark. It wants to play.

I reach under the bed carefully, and just grabbing the box by a corner with my fingertips, I slowly slide it out into the light. It’s all dusty and gross, so I blow on it and wipe at it with my sleeve before I start picking at the latch, keeping an ear open in case mummy comes back. It’s quiet now, waiting, and as the latch finally slides free, I hold my breath as I open the lid.

The doll doesn’t look so special to me. I have plenty that are much prettier. This one is dirty and a bit smelly, and has a crack across one cheek. The painted eyes and mouth are faded and flaking, and it has all different colours and lengths of hair sticking out all over it’s head.

It’s quiet now, but I’m so busy looking at it I don’t hear mummy until she gasps behind me. I turn around and she’s standing in the doorway, looking all pale with her hand over her mouth. I thought I’d be in real big trouble, but she doesn’t look angry.

“What did you do?” She asks.

“Nothing,” I say, jumping away from the box guiltily.

She hurries over and closes the box quickly, then just stands there looking at it.

“You didn’t touch it?” 

“No, mummy, I swear.” I really didn’t want to, with how dirty and ugly and smelly it was.

She nods, and slides the box back under the bed.

“That’s good.” She nods again and finally looks at me. “That’s really good.”

“Why’s that doll so special? It’s really ugly. And why is all of it’s hair different all over?”

Mummy sighs, before sitting on her bed and patting the blankets next to her. I sit down and she puts her arm around me.

“It’s special because it’s very, very old, and also because that hair is from real people in our family. Every time a little girl dies in our family, it’s our tradition to have a lock of the girl’s hair added to the doll’s head.” She sighs. “Some of my aunty’s hair is there, and some of your sister’s.”

I frown. “I don’t have a sister.”

“You did sweetie. A twin. I guess you’re old enough to know now.” Her voice and face gets really sad. “She died when you were both four. Your great gran’ma had her hair added to the doll too. It’s the short blond bit right at the front.”

“Oh.”

“Are you okay sweetie? Does that explain everything for you?”

“I guess mummy. I always just thought it was special because it could talk and move and stuff.”

I’m already sliding off the bed as I’m saying this, but I hear mummy make a real funny noise so I turn around again. She looks scared.

“What’s wrong mummy?”

“What makes you say that it can talk and move?”

“Cause it talks to me all the time. And scratches on the box. It doesn’t like it in there. That’s why I opened it.” I frown. “I’ve told you all this before mummy, when I was little.”

She looks at me, all wide eyed and pale, hand over her mouth again.

“I thought you made that up because you were just traumatised from losing your twin. You pretended the doll was alive because she was gone. I didn’t know it was still happening.”

I shrug.

“It’s okay, it says it can get out by itself now ‘cause you didn’t latch the box, so it probably won’t bother me any more.”

End

#Review: Morium by S. J. Hermann

 Morium Cover 

Lexi, Nathan, and Stacey are senior high school students, mere months from graduation, who are relentlessly bullied and humiliated every day. Lexi and Nathan, particularly, bear the brunt of their tormentors scorn and abuse. When a freak incident gives both Lexi and Nathan supernatural powers, both struggle with the implications of their newfound abilities, and the temptation to use them against the bullies that have made their lives a living hell.

Morium tackles some of the big issues that face young adults and adults alike.

First and foremost is the devastating and long term effects of bullying.

The ethics of vigilante justice and the morality of revenge is explored through the eyes of two characters with very different reactions to the discovery of newfound supernatural powers.

Morium explores how, if we’re not careful, we can easily become what we hate the most, if given the opportunity. That we can lose ourselves, and everything we love, if we let the darkness consume us.

The story ventures into ever more horrifying territory as it progresses, illustrating the slippery moral slope that can lead to ever increasing depths of depravity.

How far into the darkness is too far to be saved?

Morium gains momentum rapidly, keeping the pages turning and leading to a heart-stopping finale.

The writing style is engaging, the characters are well developed and relatable, and the action grows more intense with every chapter.

Highly recommended for fans of the supernatural dark fantasy/horror genre, from young adult to adult.

S. J. Hermann on Twitter: @Writing_Novel

S. J. Hermann’s Website: http://www.sjhermannauthor.blogspot.com

Review: Collapse by John F Leonard

Title: Collapse

Sub-title: An Apocalyptic Horror Novel (Ferine Apocalypse Book 1) 

Collapse is the compelling story of individuals caught up in a terrifying series of events, as the complete demise of human civilisation arrives within the space of just a few days.

The horror is visceral and immediate, as a small band of people unaffected by the virus struggles to survive and find a safe haven from the hordes of vicious, predatory creatures that used to be the rest of humanity.

The first time we meet each of the fascinating cast of characters, it is a quick introduction primarily for scene-setting purposes, giving us a hint of each character’s personality, along with a glimpse of the violent and incomprehensible world that they have found themselves thrown into. Initially, the changes in point of view with each chapter is a little disorienting and fractured, just like the impossible new reality that the characters find themselves inhabiting.

As the story develops, however, it is the characters that keep the pages turning faster as you get to know each one and become invested in their fates. As their paths begin to cross in their quest for survival, and their stories intertwine, the book becomes impossible to put down.
I read the last 250 pages in one sitting, unable to stop turning the pages.

Collapse is fast paced and filled with action and suspense. A creeping sense of dread pervades the pages, as potential disaster lurks around every corner. Tales of heroism and sacrifice are interspersed with those of selfishness and cruelty, and sometimes our characters discover that some of the remaining humans in their midst are far more dangerous than the predatory creatures that hunt them incessantly.

Overall, Collapse is a roller coaster thrill ride with a satisfying and poignant ending. The monsters are truly monstrous, the violence is gory and there is plenty of it, and the characters are flawed and human, and therefore all the more sympathetic and relatable.

There’s a 0.99¢ / 0.99p Kindle Countdown Deal running until 30/03/16 after which it’s $3.43 and £2.35. 

Kindle Dowload Links: 
Kindle US – http://amzn.to/22tPGDc

Kindle UK – http://amzn.to/22tPHH2 
Collapse by John F Leonard

Blurb:

The sweeping sickness, a global pandemic.

Billions lie fallen, gripped by an unknown affliction.

Hope is all the few survivors have. Hope that the collapsed will recover and wake again.

But waking is when the real nightmare begins…

A mystery illness sweeps the globe. Swifter and more virulent than anything ever recorded, enfolding the earth like a savage hand snatching a child’s marble.

The City Flu in Britain.

The Sweeping Sickness in America.

Misnomers, semantics, swirls of the matador’s cloak, the names don’t matter. There isn’t time for that. Normal life is slipping its gears, sliding into unknown territory. The illness is never properly classified, identified or studied. The descent into disaster is too fast, the effects so debilitating that the impact is already catastrophic. Put simply, vast numbers of people become too ill to work and so things stop working.

Horror is here, and greater horror lies ahead.

Because the collapsed aren’t just unconscious, they’re changing.

John F Leonard

About the Author:

John was born in England and grew up in the industrial midlands, where he learned to love the sound of scrapyard dogs and the rattle and clank of passing trains.

He studied English, Art and History and has, at different times, been a sculptor, odd-job man and office worker. He enjoys horror and comedy (not necessarily together).

He is currently working on a number of projects, one of which is a new book set in the ever evolving post-apocalyptic world of Collapse.

Check out his website: http://www.johnfleonard.com

10 Irish Horror and Dark Fantasy Authors You Should be Reading

In Honour of St. Patrick’s Day, here are some great Irish horror and dark fantasy authors you should be reading.


Bram Stoker (1847 – 1912) – Classic gothic horror author.

Best known for: Dracula (1897)


Caitlín R. Kiernan (1964 – ?) – Multi-Award-Winning Author of various horror, dark fantasy, science fiction and weird fiction.

Selected Bibliography:

Novels: Silk (1998), The Drowning Girl: A Memoir (2012), Threshold (2001), The Red Tree (2009)

Short Story Collections: Two Worlds and in Between: The Best of Caitlin R. Kiernan (Volume One) (2011), Tales of Pain and Wonder (2000)

Caitlin R Kiernan Quote


Charles Maturin (1782 – 1824) – Gothic author and playwright

Known for: Melmoth the Wanderer (1820)


Darren Shan (1972 – ?) – very prolific and well known writer of multiple series, including The Cirque du Freak Series (which includes the Vampire Blood Trilogy, the Vampire Rites Trilogy, the Vampire War Trilogy, and the Vampire Destiny Trilogy), The Demonata 10-Book Series, and several other one-off or spin-off books.


Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) – prolific playwright, poet, novelist, journalist and essayist. Perhaps an unexpected inclusion on this list, as Wilde is not really known as a dark fiction writer, however I feel that The Picture of Dorian Gray definitely falls under the speculative fiction category, with a dark edge.

 

(Joseph) Sheridan Le Fanu (1814 – 1873) – Victorian writer of gothic ghost stories and mysteries.

Best Known For: Uncle Silas (1864), In The Glass Darkly (Short Story Collection, 1872), The House by the Churchyard (1863) , Carmilla, The Rose and the Key (1871)

Mildred Darby (1867 – 1932) – Gothic fiction author, published under the name of Andrew Merry.

Selected works: Paddy-risky (1903), The Hunger (1910)


Derek Landy (1974 – ?) – Best known for the Skulduggery Pleasant series

Novels: Skulduggery Pleasant series (YA Books, 2007-2014), Demon Road series (2015-2016)


David Conway (1963 – ?)

Novels: Tokyo Gothic (2009), Death Disco (2009), Kinky Kabuki (2010), Celebrity Bedlam (2010), Metal Sushi (1998)


Gerald J. Tate (1954 – ?)

Novels: Cappawhite (2006, re-released 2009), Beyond the Forest’s Edge (2008), From Sparta (2009)

Short Story Collections: Hot Sand, Cool Sea (2008)

 

Have I missed anyone? Let me know in the comments if your favourite Irish horror/dark fantasy author has been left out.

The Horror Fiction and Satire of Ambrose Bierce, With a Selection of Quotes

Ambrose Bierce (1842 – 1914) was a prolific writer of both fiction and non-fiction, however, for the purposes of this post I will be focusing on his work as a horror short story writer, and as a satirist.

In his fiction, Bierce played freely with concepts such as perspective and reality. Several stories leave the reader questioning not only which parts of the story were delusions of the characters, and which actually occurred, but also the nature of their own reality.

Bierce employed techniques such as unreliable narrators and other deceptive/untrustworthy characters, time skips, the blending of realism and surrealism, and smooth segues from story events into character delusions or hallucinations. For an example, consider The Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge. This story is an excellent example of some of the narrative techniques employed by Bierce, and is considered a classic for good reason.

In other stories, such as The Damned Thing, Bierce focused on extraordinary or supernatural events happening within mundane, everyday settings. In emphasising the mundane setting and also providing a quasi-scientific explanation for the supernatural phenomena occurring in the story, Bierce leaves the reader with the unsettling feeling that maybe the impossible is not so impossible after all.

In both his fiction and satire, Bierce played with conventions, both literary and societal. Particularly in terms of satire, Bierce did not shy away from making potentially unpopular observations, with his wicked sense of humour most evident in The Devil’s Dictionary (if you can excuse the bad pun).


Bierce’s writing, both in terms of fiction and satire, most certainly had the potential to make others think something else.

For free access to the complete works of Ambrose Bierce, go to The Ambrose Bierce Project website, at: http://www.ambrosebierce.org/works.html

Bierce’s works are also available for free download from most eBook sites such as iBooks, etc.

 

Quotes from the Fiction and Other Writings of Ambrose Bierce:

“There’s nothing new under the sun, but there are lots of old things we don’t know.”
― Ambrose Bierce

“Patriotism is as fierce as a fever, pitiless as the grave, blind as a stone, and irrational as a headless hen.”  ― Ambrose Bierce

“As a means of dispensing formulated ignorance our boasted public school system is not without merit; it spreads out education sufficiently thin to give everyone enough to make him a more competent fool than he would have been without it…”
― Ambrose Bierce

“Fear has no brains; it is an idiot. The dismal witness that it bears and the cowardly counsel that it whispers are unrelated.”
― Ambrose Bierce, The Moonlit Road and Other Ghost and Horror Stories 

“They were obviously headstones of graves, though the graves themselves no longer existed as either mounds or depressions; the years had leveled all. Scattered here and there, more massive blocks showed where some pompous or ambitious monument had once flung its feeble defiance at oblivion.”
― Ambrose Bierce, An Inhabitant of Carcosa 

“Death is a dignitary who when he comes announced is to be received with formal manifestations of respect, even by those most familiar with him. In the code of military etiquette silence and fixity are forms of deference.”
― Ambrose Bierce, An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge  

“His act was rather that of a harmless lunatic than an enemy. We were not so new to the country as not to know that the solitary life of many a plainsman had a tendency to develop eccentricities of conduct and character not always easily distinguishable from mental aberration. A man is like a tree: in a forest of his fellows he will grow as straight as his generic and individual nature permits; alone, in the open, he yields to the deforming stresses and tortions that environ him.”
― Ambrose Bierce, Ghost Stories 

“This is only a record of broken and apparently unrelated memories, some of them as distinct and sequent as brilliant beads upon a thread, others remote and strange, having the character of crimson dreams with interspaces blank and black — witch-fires glowing still and red in a great desolation.”
― Ambrose Bierce, The Moonlit Road and Other Ghost and Horror Stories 

“O God! what a thing it is to be a ghost, cowering and shivering in an altered world, a prey to apprehension and despair!”
― Ambrose Bierce, The Moonlit Road and Other Ghost and Horror Stories 

“He thought he was walking along a dusty road that showed white in the gathering darkness of a summer night. Whence and whither it led, and why he traveled it, he did not know, though all seemed simple and natural, as is the way in dreams; for in the Land Beyond the Bed surprises cease from troubling and the judgment is at rest.”
― Ambrose Bierce, The Death of Halpin Frayser 

 

Quotes from The Devil’s Dictionary:

“Birth, n.: The first and direst of all disasters.”
― Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary 

“Dawn, n. The time when men of reason go to bed.”
― Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary 

“Future, n. That period of time in which our affairs prosper, our friends are true and our happiness is assured.”
― Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary 

“Idiot – A member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in human affairs has always been dominant and controlling. The Idiot’s activity is not confined to any special field of thought or action, but “pervades and regulates the whole.” He has the last word in everything; his decision is unappealable. He sets the fashions and opinion of taste, dictates the limitations of speech and circumscribes conduct with a dead-line.”
― Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary 

“Inhumanity, n. One of the signal and characteristic qualities of humanity.”
― Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary 

“Man, n. An animal so lost in rapturous contemplation of what he thinks he is as to overlook what he indubitably ought to be. His chief occupation is extermination of other animals and his own species, which, however, multiplies with such insistent rapidity as to infest the whole habitable earth and Canada.”
― Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary 

“Mind, n. A mysterious form of matter secreted by the brain. Its chief activity consists in the endeavour to ascertain its own nature, the futility of the attempt being due to the fact that it has nothing but itself to know itself with.”
― Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary 

“Novel, n. A short story padded. A species of composition bearing the same relation to literature that the panorama bears to art. As it is too long to be read at a sitting the impressions made by its successive parts are successively effaced, as in the panorama. Unity, totality of effect, is impossible; for besides the few pages last read all that is carried in mind is the mere plot of what has gone before. To the romance the novel is what photography is to painting. Its distinguishing principle, probability, corresponds to the literal actuality of the photograph and puts it distinctly into the category of reporting; whereas the free wing of the romancer enables him to mount to such altitudes of imagination as he may be fitted to attain; and the first three essentials of the literary art are imagination, imagination and imagination. The art of writing novels, such as it was, is long dead everywhere except in Russia, where it is new. Peace to its ashes — some of which have a large sale.”
― Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary  

“Ocean, n. A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man — who has no gills.”
― Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary 

“Politics, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.”  ― Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary 

“Reality, n. The dream of a mad philosopher.”
― Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary 

“Revolution – In politics, an abrupt change in the form of misgovernment.”
― Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary 

One Week Until Release – Wax & Wane: A Gathering of Witch Tales

 

Wax & Wane: A Gathering of Witch Tales

Only one week left until the March 2 release date – have you picked up your copy yet?

Wax & Wane: A Gathering of Witch Tales – 30 Spellbinding Stories.

Available for pre-order from Amazon at this link: http://www.tinyurl.com/jnwsrmu

Wax & Wane: A Gathering of Witch Tales
“Whether wicked or whimsical, few folkloric figures are as iconic as the witch. Wax & Wane: A Gathering of Witch Tales serves up 30 spellbinding stories of witches that are enchanting and terrifying, amusing and enticing. Classic or eclectic, fantastical or historical, these witch tales are a literary incantation to delight any fans of witches and witchcraft.” – via Nosetouch Press.

Visit http://www.nosetouchpress.com for more information and contributor profiles for all of the authors featured in the anthology.

Wax & Wane: A Gathering of Witch Tales
Currently available for pre-order in paperback and Kindle eBook formats.

Wax & Wane: A Gathering of Witch Tales
Hardcover format will also be available to order soon.

Wax & Wane: A Gathering of Witch Tales

Would You Like to See Your Book Promoted on this Blog?

In my earlier post Writers Unite, or Why You Should Support Your Fellow Authors, I suggested that writers should help support and promote one another, in order to help each other succeed.

In the interests of expanding on and further promoting this idea, I would like to begin featuring the work of other independent authors on this blog.

Do do you have a novel about to be released, a cover reveal or blog tour planned, or an already released novel that you would like to see promoted here?

Is your book horror, fantasy or science fiction? This blog is mostly geared towards horror and dark fantasy, but I will also feature other forms of fantasy and science fiction if I feel they suit the tone of the blog, or if I just like the look of them 🙂

Posts on this blog are also promoted across my Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr feeds, and every little bit of exposure can make a difference for an independent author.

If you are interested, please contact me at the email below, and email me a good quality image of your book’s cover, the official synopsis of blurb for the book, an extract from the book (optional), an author bio, author picture (optional), and the release date for your novel. If you have a series of pre-prepared interview questions and answers as part of your press kit, send those as well, otherwise I will send you a brief interview of my own and you can send me your answers.

Contact Me: FlynnGrayWriter at gmail dot com

Please note that any books to be featured on this blog will be selected at my own discretion, depending on how many requests I get and whether the book is a good fit for the overall tone of the blog.

Feel free to spread the word if you know anyone who might be looking for some extra publicity for their book.

Happy writing 🙂