Richard E. Gropp
Del Rey, $15.00
A biological incident leads the government to quarantine Spokane, Washington under military control. There is no information as to what has happened except for sporadic leaks out of the shutdown metropolis.
Photographer Dean Walker breaches the military sentry around the city to sneak into Spokane with plans to take shots of whatever he finds in order to tell the world and gain fame. He is unprepared for what he sees in the embattled city. Dean is fortunate to meet struggling survivors in a world turned grotesquely anti physics as time no longer flows in the same way and monsters are everywhere and people trapped at the subatomic level within solid items as Dean’s mission changed from informing the world to surviving this inner collapsing world.
This is an exciting cautionary horror tale that uses Dean’s photos to describe the grotesque state of Spokane. PTSD becomes a common link between those still clinging to their humanity and theorizing what happened though like readers not knowing for certain. Although a deeper look at the change in physics would have been appreciated, Bad Glass remains one of top horror thrillers of the year, as fans will relish this profound psychological drama of the end of civilization when a city collapses. Harriet Klausner
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, $14.99
Teenager Killian feels alone as her mom died a few years ago and her dad ignoring her remarried. When she graduates from the Green Mountain Academy in Vermont, her maternal great Aunt Hannah Winthrop invites her to stay at Cuttylea Island with her; she accepts in spite of the isolation with Hyannis being three hours away by boat and limited electronic access.
In a storm, a frightened Killian, who cannot swim, sails in a small boat when the driver picks up Perth, an Olympic Gold medal quality swimmer. Hannah welcomes her niece who will work at the nearby inn. Killian is attracted to Perth, but as a wallflower accepts he is out of her league. When she hears a mother’s plea to rescue her children, Killian is confused as the woman is dead. Meanwhile Perth confuses her as he seems to like her before instantly turning into a grouch. However, Killian becomes concerned when Dr. Davenport and a team arrive ostensibly to study wind energy, but asks questions about Perth’s wheelchair bound father Walter. Wondering what is going on with elderly Lynx warning her to leave, Dr. Davenport’s inquiry and what the birthmark on her lower back has to do with pentagrams inside older abodes. Killian seeks the truth.
Aquarian is an exhilarating young adult paranormal mystery that will have the audience wondering like the heroine what is happening at Cuttylea Island. The storyline starts leisurely as the heroine’s personality and the island setting of “no cell phone service; no cable TV; no mall … and no Facebook” are established. Once done, the plot turns into a fascinating tale as Killian begins to learn the dangerous truth about her ancestry and that of Perth. Harriet Klausner
The Yawning Rabbit River Chronicle
J. L. Kimmel and David Ceccarelli
Spring Tree Press, $17.99
The animals living in the troubled forest called for an emergency meeting due to a life threatening water shortage. No river any longer flowed through their woodlands so the creatures depended on capture rain water and the groundhog’s sense of smell to build spring wells. However, in this drought, that is not enough as food has also dwindled. Leaving the forest is dangerous due to hunters with bows and horrible steel traps. Grandpa the ancient raccoon suggests some must leave permanently. Finn the healer bear reminds everyone the hunters wait just outside to kill them. As a reminder of the peril, injured Meeka the horse arrives sadly saying the beasts caught her mate Mercury. Sean the jackrabbit thief says he has a plan to bring the river to the forest, but everyone scorns and distrusts him as he has stolen from them. His plan based on a book he “borrowed” from the library is to race Violet the river goddess so that when he wins the river comes to the forest. Soon his odyssey will lead to others including humans in a battle against evil.
Using anthropomorphism (Gwen the mole wears glasses and uses a cane) enhanced by B&W drawings, J. L. Kimmel and David Ceccarelli provide a wonderful tweener good and evil saga. The storyline is fast-paced from the opening salvo (described above) and never slows down as several subplots filled with adventure merge into a final stand. A cautionary tale warning the audience (and their parents) of man-made destruction of the planet, young readers will appreciate The Yawning Rabbit River Chronicle as a thieving bunny speaks for the trees, animals and all of nature. Harriet Klausner
Kevin J. Howard
Outskirts Press, $15.95
Emily Locke and Alex Boone were having sex in their tent when suddenly the tent with them inside begins being dragged. When the motion finally stops Alex goes outside to look only whatever pulled them yanked Emily away. Alex flees in terror. Other vanishings also occur in Yellowstone National Park.
Ranger Joe Rand eats sugary cereal with beer for breakfast as he uses alcohol to numb his brain following the recent death of his son Ryan in an automobile accident after they fought. Throughout the day he turns to his flask for further numbing of his guilt and pain
Billings Fire Department Lieutenant Dale Coffey and his crew fight a fire in the park. One of the firefighters Paul falls into a hole, but later is found at the Old Faithful Inn battered and drained of all bodily fluids. Joe knows his alcohol brain is not making up what has been happening, but he needs to stop drinking to focus on the investigation. Dale joins him as they find tunnels filled with smoke from the above ground wildfire and bones everywhere. A beast has apparently left its lair for the surface. The ranger and the firefighter conclude the killer has taken refuge inside the Old Faithful Inn.
This is an exciting thriller that comes across as a throwback horror tale of man vs. beast. The pristine Yellowstone setting is an ideal contrast to a monster forced out of its lair by mankind’s stupid recklessness. Fast-paced and filled with action, fans will anticipate the High Noon confrontation at a fabulous locale the Old Faithful Inn. Harriet Klausner