Start off October with a free horror story for your Kindle! My new horror novella Rakasa is FREE for a limited time at Amazon. But don’t wait long, because the special promo ends on Sunday, October 2.
Rakasa at Amazon.com
Rakasa at Amazon UK
Thanks to all who order and read the story!
And please consider leaving a review afterwards!
31 horror movies, one for each day in October, which I will talk about after watching each night. I did this last year and I enjoyed the experience. But I made a mistake: I didn’t make a schedule and show it to others. That changes in 2016! Here is the schedule for 31 Days of Horror 2016 so that perhaps you may join in, watch with me, and discuss the films afterwards.
There’s a lot of uncharted territory here and I can't guarantee all will be horror classics. But let's find out, huh? I’ve added an asterisk * next to films that are currently available for streaming via Netflix. And a double ** next to films on Amazon Prime. You can also read the list at Letterboxd.
My sci-fi novel In the Shadow of Extinction: A Kaiju Epic has been a long time coming. But we're getting closer to release date as artists are being hired and final plans are being made. I have here the first glimpse at some of the book's art, featuring the Tyrant, the novel's main monster.
This piece was created by the artist Wafalo. A finished book cover is coming soon, as well as more kaiju art and other announcements. Stay tuned...
If you like what I do -- or if you disapprove of what I do but you still kinda like me anyway but you're not totally sure why -- you can now throw a donation into my virtual tip jar via PayPal! It's an exciting new world, isn't it?
I see a lot of other writers and the like with similar donation buttons on their sites. So, I figured, what the hell? Doesn't hurt to ask for help... Or does it?...
Don't feel pressured to contribute! It ain't nothin' but a thang.
Might also set up a Patreon account soon. I don't know. We'll see.
Many thanks to everyone who chips in! Every little bit helps.
The City Stained Red might be the first book I’ve read based solely on the author’s social media presence. And that’s not to say that I doubted the book’s quality (I didn’t) or that it didn’t sound interesting (it did). But just that Sam Sykes is one of my favorite personalities on Twitter and it made me curious to read one of his books, even if that book’s genre isn’t my #1 thing (more like a #5). Somehow coming across as both the lunatic and the wise man, Sykes offers wisdom on creative storytelling and also ponders whether or not manatees have strong opinions on anime. I love reading his tweets. So, I bought his book.
The City Stained Red is my kind of a fantasy novel. Instead of focusing on kings, manners at the table, the ranks of knights, and all the other stuff that the royals and their militaries are involved with, this book follows a small group of adventurers, a profession that’s not well regarded in-world.
The adventurers are led by Lenk, a skilled swordsman who wishes to set aside his blade even though destiny keeps calling for further bloodshed. Lenk is joined by his kinda-sorta girlfriend Kataria, a shict (think: elf) who wants to remain with Lenk but only on her terms. They’re aided by the rogue Denaos, a man with a mysterious past and many discarded names. The priestess and healer Asper hopes to be the level-headed member of the group, though she deals with a secret worse than all the others. The most powerful among them is the young wizard Dreadaeleon, but he’s so immature he’s basically a child entrusted with a gun. And filling out the gang in the bruiser role is Gariath the dragonman, who’s basically a bad mood made flesh.
The adventurers arrive in the socially and culturally divided city of Cier'Djaal hoping to collect gold for services rendered. Just getting into the city proves to be a problem at the start, as non-humans (“oids”) are not welcome through the gates. Then, the man who’s supposed to pay them essentially vanishes into thin air, and the gang of adventurers accidentally stumble into the middle of a small-scale holy war. The city of Cier'Djaal is a powderkeg just waiting to explode, so when you introduce a group like Lenk’s gang into the mix… Boom Goes the Dynamite. Hundreds of city folk die, demons crawl out of people’s throats, dragonmen throw down, giant spiders walk down the road like big ol’ cows, and there’s more than a couple moments of sexy fun time to enjoy. Sykes calls it “hot fantasy trash.” I call it 600 pages of fun and madness.
The City Stained Red, like a lot of genre fiction, has a lot on its mind. Each character gets an arc and there’s a great deal of drama and character development. The world-building is rich and detailed, owing little to the giants of the genre (in my opinion, at least) by successfully doing its own thing. And Sykes clearly has something to say about religion and the blood that’s shed in the name of faith and god (any god). The book lets the reader make their own deductions on what to make of the themes, but there’s some deep thoughts lurking beneath the giant spiders and demonic throat coughs.
Mostly though, it’s a fun book. Sykes’ sense of humor that he shows online comes through on the page. His characters deal with dark happenings but there’s always a twinkle of comedy in there somewhere, often with a witty comeback or one-liner. Never is it too goofy that it feels odd to laugh on one page and then recoil in horror on the next, though. Thematic substance is all balanced nicely, and nothing really feels out of place.
The City Stained Red is that rare book where I enjoyed spending time with basically every major character because they were all interesting in some way. Even the one who I didn’t like (the boy wizard is a punk), still featured in some of the book’s finest chapters. The way the character team dynamics work reminded me a bit of a videogame RPG. The characters interact, go off on side quests, report back, and so on. I was reminded of Mass Effect, despite the fact that this was set in a city that owes its economy to giant spiders and was not in fact set in space.
Also: The City Stained Red stars one of my new favorite characters: Gariath the dragonman is the coolest, funniest, meanest badass I’ve read in a long, long while. I would read a book all about Gariath complaining about humans, fighting crime, crushing heads, and saving the world, you know, if he feels like it. Seriously cool character with a surprising amount of depth beneath his hard exterior.
More books need dragonmen.
You can buy The City Stained Red on paperback, Kindle ebook, audio CD, and Audible. The book’s sequel, The Mortal Tally, is available now and is definitely on my list.
Writer of horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy. Lover of fiction and film. Lifelong Godzilla fan. Reluctant blogger.
Blog notice: mostly this blog is for sharing my thoughts and talking about my books. From time to time I will also comment on books, films, music, sports, and/or videogames. During these times I may use images of the creative works under discussion. I'm posting the images under the "fair use" allowance, for purposes such as criticism, comments, reporting, teaching, and research. If you have any issue with images used on this blog, please contact me and the images will be removed.
I am not paid for my reviews and I do not take book review requests at this time.