Archive for vampires

THE PERDITION SCORE By Richard Kadrey – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2018 by stanleyriiks

It’s with such delight that I order the latest Sandman Slim novel, number eight in the series. And then I read it.
I’m all for character development, and the character has developed nicely since he escaped hell, became Lucifer, went back to hell, and has fought vampires, demons, zombies, gods and all manner of mystical powers.
But he seems to be approaching middle age fast, he’s settled down, he’s got a job, and dare I say it, he’s lost his mojo…

The attitude, the enthusiasm for violence, the fuck you, fuck everyone, the punch first and ask questions later thinking. It’s all a bit toned down, a bit “matured”, a bit “civilised”.

Sure, there’s a helping of violence in here. And Kadrey sticks very closely to his formula for these novels, put Stark in an almost impossible situation, making him investigate in his own merry way, and then he has to throw himself on the line yet again to resolve the problem and save the world, which happens far too easily and far too often for my liking.

Kadrey seems to be settling, and our anti-hero Stark is settled into his middle years far too well.

Is this exciting? Yes, it’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s everything you’d expect from a Sandman Slim novel. And may be I’m expecting too much, but I’ve seen all of this before. It’s still exciting, it’s still Sandman Slim. But the novelty is wearing off a little.

I’ll stick around for the next book in the series, but my hopes for the new one will not be so high. At least then may be I won’t be so disappointed.

DEPARTMENT 19 By Will Hill – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 18, 2012 by stanleyriiks

Jamie Carpenter’s dad is a traitor who was killed in front of his very eyes. The murder of his father still haunts him when he returns home to find a vampire kidnapping his mother.

Then Frankenstein appears and saves his life.

Swiftly, Jamie finds himself in The Loop, a secret hidden base of operations for Department 19, the most secret service in the UK. A vampire-hunting group who his father worked for before his death.  Jamie is desperate to find his mother and with the help of Frankenstein, his father’s loyal companion, and a young female vampire who failed to kill him, Jamie will stop at nothing, including hunting down the second most powerful vampire to ever live…

Anyone who is familiar with the Hellboy comics or films with find similarities with the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, this is very much the English version of that, with a hint of James Bond thrown in for good measure.

The story is simple enough, the set up is well thought out, with some nice touches such as the t-bone weapon, and there’s plenty of action here to keep you entertained.

Despite some miss-direction it’s clear from the start who the goodies and baddies are, there’s no shock when the traitor is finally revealed. There is also rather a lot of crying at the end of the book, fair enough there might be some crying, but it just feels a bit forced and fake after the twenty-seventh person in the last thirty-odd pages balls their eyes out. If this is an attempt for us to engage with the characters emotionally then it fails, miserably.

The biggest problem with the book is the distinct lack of decent characters, ok, we have some work put into this area for Jamie, but there’s nothing to flesh the rest of them out. A shame because a little more work in characterisation and this would have been a great book.

Exciting and entertaining, the world of Department 19 is interesting and needs further exploration. The plot works well enough and the action and story carry it through, although it feels a little long, a bit contrived at the end, and the characters are pale facsimiles.

The second book is the series is out now, and I enjoyed the first enough to give the second a try, but I have high standards and expect them to be met, otherwise I will abandon the series after that. Shows promise.

The Function Room: The Kollection By Matt Leyshon – Reviewed

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2012 by stanleyriiks

This is horror pornography. A non-stop and diverse collection of violent and brutal filth. The pages literally drip with ruin. This is horror for horror fans. This is for those wishing to push the boundaries of taboo.

Those familiar with Morpheus Tales will know of Leyshon’s work, the first of the Function Room stories have featured within the magazine’s pages, and these are true works of genius. Uninhibited, utterly sensual in their horroristic descriptions, his stories are thick with atmosphere. Reading the Function Room stories is like watching a snuff movie, hideously depraved and yet so fascinating you can’t take your eyes off it.

But this is just part of the Kollection, although many of the stories are linked and contain familiar characters, there are a few stand-alone, or less obviously connected, stories. There is a wide range here, from the dripping filth of “The Function Room” to mysterious Lovecraftian towns, mass suicides, vampiric creatures, nasty children and loads more. A full bucket of originality, depth, characterisation and atmosphere. Leyshon does not hold back, he is unafraid of exploring the darkness of humanity in the same way Clive Barker or Gary McMahon do.

My favourite are definitely the Function room stories, where his heavily stylised world drips with filth and decay. Leyshon writes stories that are so visceral and dripping with atmosphere and filth you feel the need for a shower afterwards. These stories are written with a knowledge of depravity that makes me smile. Very few stories, and this is especially difficult with short stories, can give you such a feeling of immersion that you feel disgusted and unclean. Leyshon’s twisted vision is sheer genius.

Having read far too many single author collections and anthologies this year (I much prefer novels), there is only one collection that every horror fan should read and that is The Function Room: The Kollection. It will likely disgust some, send others whimpering to their bed, but will also put a sick and disturbed grin on some (including my own) faces.

This first collection from Leyshon promises much and deliveries in filthy, dirty, brutal blood-filled bucket loads. I cannot remember when I felt impure and entertained at the same time. Twisted genius.

Also available through amazon, on kindle and

Morpheus Tales Apocalypse Special Issue – Open to Submissions!

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 1, 2012 by stanleyriiks

Ok, so I didn’t manage to submit anything to the Ripped Genes: Biopunk Special Issue, which closed to submissions yesterday. I hear it’s going to be pretty damn good though. Fortunately there’s another Special Issue from the people at Morpheus Tales, now this one really floats my boat…

Morpheus Tales Apocalypse Special Issue – Open to Submissions!

It’s 2012 – the year our world is supposed to end. Supposedly, on December 21st, we will cease to exist. But how is it going to happen? Fire? Flood? Earthquakes? Or something manmade, such as an unstoppable virus or a nuclear explosion?

You tell us. Morpheus Tales is looking for short stories of how the human race is going to die out. Use your imagination – it can be as realistic (fire, for instance) or as far-fetched (maybe zombies?) as you’d like. Is it quick and painless or slow and excruciating? Make us a little nervous that maybe, just maybe, your scenario is imminent.

We know zombies are the in thing right now – but we don’t want to dig through tons of zombie stories. Try to come up with something unique, something that will stand out in the crowd. We want to be freaked out and blown away by the methods you choose to wipe out the Earth.

What we DON’T want – vampires, werewolves, aliens, fantasy, sword and sorcery, biopunk. Otherwise, regular Morpheus Tales guidelines apply – no simultaneous submissions, standard manuscript format, only high quality character- or plot-driven stories of no more than 3,000 words. 

Please put Apocalypse  Special Issue Submission in the subject of your email and send to:

The Apocalypse Special Issue will be available as an ebook and via print-on-demand services. Contributor copies will be in ebook format.

Deadline 31st of December!

DEAD STREETS By Tim Waggoner – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 20, 2011 by stanleyriiks

You might have thought that our hero and narrator, Matt Richter, Private Investigator, having his head cut off would be the end of the story. But this is Nekropolis, and Matt’s a zombie, so having his head cut off is just the start of his problems. He then finds out that his body has been stolen.

This is, literally, the beginning of a series of events that drive us towards the obvious conclusion, deftly swerved by Waggoner.

To give you any more of the details would be a disservice, and it’s the richness of the exploration of the mystery, as well as the brilliance of Nekropolis, that keeps you coming back for more.

This second book in the Nekropolis series focuses more on plot, whereas the first book with a mystery wrapped inside a guide book to everybody’s favourite strange city of the dead, the strange, the alien.

For anyone who has never read Nekropolis, the first book in the series, the mystery of a stolen artefact offers our zombie detective Richter the opportunity to explore the magically twisted city of Nekropolis, and gives us a back history of this underworld and our hero/narrator. Not the greatest novel ever written, it’s the city of Nekropolis that makes the book. It’s difficult to describe, but a dark adult version of Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas might be the closest you could get. It’s inhabited by wizards, vampires, ghosts, werefolk, zombies and all manner of dark and mysterious creatures.

The second book moves on with the relationships and the world first explored in Nekropolis and moves it all forward. The plotting is better here, but there is still a distinct lack of tension, probably because Matt is already dead and that struggle for life is over. The mystery isn’t so much of a mystery, until the end, but it’s the getting there rather than the result which is the important part.

This is a fun book, it’s enjoyable for the very idea of the city, further explored here to great effect. But with a decent plot and some added tension, this would have been an amazing novel. There’s still the third book to hope for, but I’m not even sure Waggoner of capable of blowing us away.

Reviews – Morpheus Tales Supplement

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Reviews, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 30, 2010 by stanleyriiks

I’ve been doing loads of reviews recently, only a small amount of which have been for the blog (don’t worry, more will be coming soon!). Most of the reviews were for the Morpheus Tales Supplement, where I’m the big chief and head honcho and have to do my bit to fill up all those pages.

My reviews of the following titles will all feature in the next issue, along with my interview with horror editing legend Stephen Jones and loads more:

ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE! Created By Stephen Jones







DEAD BEAT By Remy Porter

I’m also working on my yearly article,  A Year In Reviews and will be awarding my own personal awards to my favourite books of the year.

The Morpheus Tales Supplement is free to read, view and download from the Morpheus Tales website!

The new issue of the Supplement will be out in January, so I’ll be hard at work on that for the next few weeks!

THE STRAIN By Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2010 by stanleyriiks

Mmmm… A modern re-telling of the Dracula story, moved to New York, and with vampirism a mutating virus, turning its victims into blood-sucking fiends with proboscis-like extra tongues that act like blood-seeking whips.

For all its modern-twists, this is a basic vampire story in which the Master plots his domination of the new world, and travels on a plane which is the centre of the story for about half the book. The build up is very well done, but feels like the first part of a trilogy, as the plane lands dark, no lights, no power. When investigators go in to see what’s going on they find the entire plane is dead, including all the passengers. The CDC (Centre for Disease Control) is called in and the investigation begins with Dr Ephraim Goodweather in charge, that is until he is set-up by the Master’s mysterious human aids, and the entire planeful of bodies goes missing from the morgue, returning home to kill their families.

Some parts of the book work well, the build-up with the plane is intense and completely feasible. The second half of the book, as a rodent-killer traces the vampires to the World Trade Centre ruins, and our heroes suddenly become much better as handling the deadly undead, and the vampires act more like rodents or zombies than traditional vampires, and things start to get a bit stretched. Even more so when our unlikely squad of heroes head down into the vampire’s nest and kill most of them with a light-bomb, and almost everything goes back to normal. A rather weak ending.

For all its clichés, and reinventions, it’s still a fairly exciting book to read. With such a lack of originality in vampire fiction, this still rates as one of the better modern takes on the evil breed in many years, despite it feeling a little like a remake.

Not quite up there with Anno Dracula, possibly the best vampire novel since Dracula, but The Strain holds a lot of promise, despite its problems, and I certainly look forward to the second and third instalments to see where this will go.

NEKROPOLIS By Tim Waggoner – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2010 by stanleyriiks

On the cover SF Site says this is an “exciting mystery”, well, I’m not sure what book they were reading, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t this one. This isn’t so much a mystery as a travelogue or an adventure.

Mathew Richter is a zombie, he’s a dead detective who followed a serial killer and warlock to the dark world of Nekropolis, the underworld where all manner of creatures live and non-live. Nekropolis is an amazing land, filled with vampires, were-creatures, witches and warlocks, talking insects, and the aforementioned zombies and other creatures of the dead. It’s a riot of Tim Burton-esque touches that will appeal to any horror and fantasy fan. A kind of really dark Harry Potter world, Diagon Alley after Voldemort takes over!

Anyways, back to the story. Mathew is contacted by a hot blond half-vampire who is in charge of her father’s – one of the five dark lords who rules Necropolis – collection of rare magical artefacts. One of the items in the collection is a powerful magical crystal capable of destroying the entire city, and today just happens to be Decension Day, when the five dark lords and Father Dis (the god and creator of Nekropolis), join forces to re-energise Umbriel, the dark moon that lights the city. And the artefact has gone missing.

So the meagre plot involves Mathew and his half-vampire friend searching the city of Nekropolis to find the artefact. But this is not about plot, it’s much more about exploring the amazing world of Nekropolis. Our protagonist is really the city, and whilst Richter and his squeeze are fairly well developed, there’s not really much to any of the other characters, and many of the citizens only make a brief appearance.

The book fails on many levels, the plot not the least as our hero goes round the entire city meeting up with someone to ask a few questions and then moving on to the next clue, and working his way round the city. The trail of clues (if you can call it that, some are tenuous to say the least!) is fairly easy to follow, or the next trip just takes them to another unexplored section of the city, seemingly at random. There isn’t really a mystery, and there’s no overall tension apart from the situational type as Richter finds himself in some sticky situations during his investigation.

But it’s still so much fun to discover the city. It’s like entering the world of nightmare, which since this book was originally written, has been explored by Tim Burton, Harry Potter and Hellboy. But this manages to be just a little darker than all of those and is all the better for it.

With a decent plot and some new material this book could be scarily good! Well, the good news is that the second and third books have been commissioned! Excellent.

Despite its failures this is still a bloody good book, and you’re unlikely to read anything else like it. It will make you grin with delight and make you want to visit the strange world of Nekropolis. It’s the perfect travel-guide, it’s just not the best novel.

VAMPYRRHIC By Simon Clark – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2010 by stanleyriiks

I quite enjoyed this. It’s not normally my kind of thing, it’s a gentle, old-skool horror novel.

The premise is excellent, Thor (from Norse mythology) made a pact with a family a thousand years ago and gave them a vampire army to destroy all of Christendom. Unfortunately the family didn’t stick to the plan, and now, a thousand years later, David Leppington has returned to the family home to find that he is the last of the line, and expected to take control of the vampire army on its unending march to domination of the Christian world.

That would have been a great book. Unfortunately what we get is this great idea as the back-story. The main plot concerns David Leppington returning to his hometown, the town of Leppington, named after his family, and discovering the legend of Thor’s vampire army from his uncle, and then attempting to destroy the army before they begin their attack.

The first two thirds of the book set up the story as we are gradually given more information about the legend and the town. The story slowly and gently unravels, the vampires begin to escape and attack the human population of Leppington, but it isn’t until the uncle blows a hole in the bars imprisoning the creatures that the action kicks up a notch and David and his new-found friends, must fight for their lives.

Clark is a writer of such potential, as shown by the premise. But here he’s missed a massive opportunity. The book we’re given is in no way as exciting, entertaining or as passionate as it could have been. It seems this is a much more traditional, staid, and middle-of-the-road novel, playing safe rather than provoking any kind of emotion.

The writing isn’t Clark at his best either, his characters are all weak, limp-wristed, wet-wipes. Nothing there to incite any feeling.

Still, being the wrong book, a massive missed opportunity, a complete failure in potential, this still isn’t such a bad book. It certainly doesn’t have much going for it; but it’s a good little standard horror novel, similar to what Richard Laymon used to churn out endlessly.

Typical low-impact horror.