Ania Ahlborn’s The Devil Crept In Is Horrifyingly Real

Ania Ahlborn’s The Devil Crept In Is Horrifyingly Real

Ania Ahlborn’s The Devil Crept In is horrifyingly real and frightening enough to make readers avoid rural Oregon, or woods in general, for that matter.

I jest about the woods as I look at my own patch of dark trees in the yard at twilight and cannot help but worry what might be lurking in there; thanks, Ania.

The Devil Crept In centers around Stevie, one of the best protagonists you could ever have the pleasure to meet.

The following Book Review Of The Devil Crept In Contains **Spoilers** But Not Of The Ending

Stevie is a young boy of around eight or nine, who is likely on the spectrum, has no friends, but one – his cousin, Jude – because of speech difficulties and the missing the bulk of the fingers on his right hand a la Roland Deschain.

Despite his father’s abandoning Stevie, his mother, and his older brother, because of Stevie’s Mom refusing to treat the panic attacks and breakdowns, and despite the physically abusive step-father that is only present to pay the bills and torment his wife and youngest step-child, Stevie remains a good kid.

Sure, he goofs off, he disobeys his parent’s requests, and he goes off on unsanctioned adventures with Jude, but all that is normal kid stuff, and at his core he is very empathetic toward others and genuinely worries over animals and people alike.

The setting in Oregon, from the lush trails and old overgrown paths to the mossy-roof of what is seemingly an abandoned house on the edge of the forest is enveloping.

The characters, from the shop keeper trying to warn Stevie of the danger out in those woods, to Stevie’s horrible older brother – who makes him swear to not have seen the hand job his girlfriend was giving him at the movie theater – are too familiar.

They are too real.

The thought of Stevie’s step-father Terry, a real monster in human form, and the sound of his belt being unbuckled to whip Stevie makes me squirm.

This tale is based on a reality so solid you feel as though you could move there and lose your dog in no time as well.

Stevie worries over people being okay and seems to care for those around him with a golden ability that many young people possess, even if they hide it.

Stevie’s older cousin Jude, on the other hand, is two years Stevie’s senior, and is the small Oregon town of Deer Valley’s brash malcontent.

And for all of Jude’s harsh words, like making fun of Stevie’s speech impediment, he is the only one that has showed any desire to spend time with the boy who lost much of his right hand in a garbage disposal.

When Jude goes missing, Stevie’s world is decimated.

He feels utterly alone.

He seeks frantically to find out what has happened to his only friend, not knowing what his investigations into the long-abandoned trails in the wooded town might bring.

ania ahlborn, small press, The Devil Crept In, fine press, horror, scifi

Around this time, he sees an animal-like creature around this time, that he describes as a yeti, for lack of any other comparable being.

But the adults in his life do not listen to him.

His are the ravings of a madman in a child’s body; a clearly disturbed boy.

Stevie learns of the missing pets in the town.

What kind of town has virtually no pets among them?

The kind of town, surrounded by woods, that is hungry.

The yeti, it turns out, was born out of a night terror rape with what may have been Satan.

A soon-to-be single mother sought refuge from a biker-run crash house, and an old Dead-head one percenter named Rasputin was too kind to grant her wishes.

One night under his care, and nine months later, the white hairy ape-like human is the result.

He is very real. He eats flesh from whatever he can chew. He is not quite human.

The lesson: listen to kids, not the town’s communal rumor mill.

The sad truth is that small towns often look away from the truth as easily as adults ignore what children say.

And children, like the truth, should be heeded.

Ania Ahlborn brings one of my new favorite protagonists, Stevie, and the reader through an agonizing range of emotions, from desperation and exasperation to fear and the internal debate over the compulsion to need to act violently to save one’s self and others.

My only critique is that I would have loved to see a little more of the bearded Rasputin, who appears a couple of times in the book, briefly.

But the imagination certainly spins, like a possessed head, with the thoughts of the possibilities that lurk in and around the character Rasputin.

In Ania Ahlborn’s The Devil Crept In, the reality is set before the reader, as if it is perched on a stone, and when it shakes or falls, the story jars us heavily.


The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)


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“Ania Ahlborn’s The Devil Crept In Is Horrifyingly Real” was written by R.J. Huneke

 

The Last House On Needless Street By Catriona Ward Unnerves

The Last House On Needless Street By Catriona Ward Unnerves

The Last House On Needless Street by Catriona Ward unnerves!

This Preview Review of the upcoming novel The Last House On Needless Street by Catriona Ward that is being released in the US by TOR on 9/28/2021 is **SPOILER FREE**.

You will never read another book quite like this, and I mean that as one of the highest compliments I can give to a work of fiction.

This is a narrative with the most unreliable of narrators.

The main character, Ted, made me so uncomfortable and unsettled with his mannerisms, I had to grasp for anxiety meds.

His admittedly unreliable and past-present-ever-shifting memory, and his worries over what the neighbors may think of the young girl, Dee, a daughter-like figure – if not blood-related – that is only allowed out at certain times in his boarded up, dilapidated home on the end of the road and the edge of the woods, and the frantic frenzy of internal fear that came through Ted made me cringe steadily as I read on.Catriona Ward, The Last House on Needless Street, tor, horror, thriller

The writing from Ward is truly extraordinary, as the voices she emanates and the world she has built become so real that the tale is utterly enveloping.

Dark fiction has rarely been this bold!

The chapters shift to different characters and their point of view, so Ted is followed by the angry young girl, Dee, who lost her sister years ago, and Olivia, Ted’s cat, who has quite the outspoken and insightful feline personality.


Tor Nightfire’s description of the book:

On Sale: 09/28/2021

ISBN: 9781250812629

352 Pages

Catriona Ward’s The Last House On Needless Street is a shocking and immersive read perfect for fans of Gone Girl and The Haunting of Hill House.


Think on that for a minute: the preeminent haunted house of Shirley Jackson combined with thrilling pace and murderous mystery of Flynn’s Gone Girl. WOW!

Make no mistake, The Last House On Needless Street will make you squirm; and the book will make you feverishly turn the pages seeking answers that come in bunches and only make the storyline more complex as more shakily reliable information comes to light.

This is a phenomenal work of writing and a nightmarish-like tsunami of story forcing the reader to pick up the pieces and refit them again and again as the characters feed the frenzy.

 

The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)


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“The Last House On Needless Street By Catriona Ward Unnerves” was written by R.J. Huneke.

 

 

Dark Across The Bay By Ania Ahlborn Coming From Earthling

Dark Across The Bay By Ania Ahlborn Coming From Earthling

Dark Across The Bay By Ania Ahlborn Coming From Earthling Publications in a S/L edition befitting the thrilling new novel.

The Following TFF Preview Review Will Only Contain **Mild Spoilers** To The Initial Plot Of The Book’s Opening.

Dark Across The Bay, Ania Ahlborn, Earthling publications, fine press, horror, suspense

Best-selling author Ania Ahlborn takes a fractured family to a secluded vacation home where unnerving and horrific hauntings rattle the reader and the Parrishs alike, and then the stalking begins to slowly unravel everyone’s nerves.

Dark Across The Bay bleeds mysterious hints at insidiousness growing rampant, from the creepy island rental besieging the vulnerable family to the stalkers intruding on them.

Before a marriage can formally dissolve, or Lark and Leo can attempt to move on, everyone is brought to the beach house Airbnb off the coast of Raven’s Head, Maine, 1000 miles from their family home, for a weekend retreat.

The island has only the one house and only one way on or off its shores: by boat.

The expansive residence contains wonderful window views out onto foggy waters, but it seems to be off somehow.

It makes for a great setting, as everything from the building itself to its innards seem creepily askew.

It holds myriad secrets that are tucked away, like the odd nooks and hallways full of unsettling amounts of fishing paraphernalia and hidden corner cubbies full of shabby books.

And ‘Mom’ wants ‘family time’ to be devoid of cell phones in the house, and so the modern interconnectivity of the world and its people easily communicating is stoppered bringing further isolation at times. When the phones come to back to life it is alarming.

The characters are each well met in the story, and the relatable, familiar family interactions spark lots of memories of growing up.

You may not like each member of the Parrishs, but they are certainly all intriguing, from the nearly divorced parents almost certain of their fate, to their two children, who are young adults struggling through recent trauma.

Lark is a novice novelist, battling through a bad break-up, and her brother, Leo, is distanced from her (and everyone), as he aims to leave the grief of his best friend’s death behind with an escape to the shores of Thailand.

Ania Ahlborn brilliantly keeps the characters off balance, as well as the reader.

The seemingly discernable arcs of each of the characters become further and further confused as their sense of calm and, at times, outright sense of terror is ratcheted up in stark, unexpected ways.

Who would torment the family of four? Is it personal, and if so, why travel 1000 miles to dole out such cruel punishment? Are there any supernatural elements at play?

The prose is wonderfully written, painting clear, boisterous scenes with visceral jolts to the heart.

Suspense and old fashioned, yet modernized, and innovative mystery meets elements of horror in this fantastic phantasm of a tale.

Dark Across The Bay by Ania Ahlborn is an amazing work from one of speculative fiction’s brightest minds.

Dark Across The Bay, Ania Ahlborn, Earthling publications, fine press, horror, suspense

Her use of world building and literary prowess makes for one hell of a story, and Dark Across The Bay debuts on a fine press publisher with Signed and Limited editions from Earthling Publications.

There are 500 numbered, Smyth sewn, offset printed copies, signed by Ania Ahlborn and Josh Malerman, as well as 15 lettered, offset printed, tray-cased hardcovers, with both the book and the tray-case being hand-made using the finest materials, and signed by all contributors.

The gorgeous cover art and interior art is brought to us by renowned illustrator Vincent Chong, and the book contains an introduction from the author as well as best seller Josh Malerman (author of Bird Box and Goblin).

They still have copies available! Take a look here!

If you are not familiar with Earthling, they have made some of the finest hand-crafted editions of books, each with their own unique feel.

An all-time grail for this reviewer is Earthling’s lettered edition of The Hellbound Heart: 20th Anniversary Edition (2007) novella by Clive Barker, and I cannot wait to see what they have in store for the design of Dark Across The Bay by Ania Ahlborn.

hellbound heart, clive barker, lettered, earthling

We already know the cover art from Vincent Chong is outstanding.

We will conduct a more in-depth review after the book is released, going further into the novel and into the book edition.

But for now this has to be one of the most eagerly awaited suspense and horror books coming this year, and our rating is:

The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it! buy it here)


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“Dark Across The Bay By Ania Ahlborn Coming From Earthling” was written by R.J. Huneke

The Forgotten Fiction ANNOUNCEMENT SCHEDULE 3-2021 To 8-2021

The Forgotten Fiction ANNOUNCEMENT SCHEDULE 3-2021 To 8-2021

The Forgotten Fiction ANNOUNCEMENT SCHEDULE 3-2021 To 6-2021: we are going keep TFF’s Eager Readers up to snuff with all of the happenings, from book reviews, to guest reviewers, to giveaway contests, to Rune Works reader-inspired creations.

BIG THINGS Coming To TFF!

Seeing how TFF has grown immensely in just a few short months and less than a year since its launch, I want to thank you all for your support and shared enthusiasm for all that we love as bibliophiles.


ANNOUNCEMENT SCHEDULE 3-2021 To 8-2021

 

  • March 30, 2021 @ 12pm EST

    • TFF Book Giveaway Contest Is Announced & Opened To Enter Free

  • April 5, 2021 @ 1pm EST

    • TFF Livestream & Giveaway Contest Drawing

  • April 28, 2021 @ 1pm EST

    • TFF Book Giveaway Contest Is Announced & Opened To Enter Free

  • May 4, 2021 @ 1pm EST

    • TFF Livestream & Giveaway Contest Drawing

  • May 26, 2021 @ 1pm EST

    • TFF Book Giveaway Contest Is Announced & Opened To Enter Free

  • June 1, 2021 @ 1pm EST

    • TFF Livestream & Giveaway Contest Drawing

  • June 30, 2021 @ 1pm EST

    • TFF Book Giveaway Contest Is Announced & Opened To Enter Free

  • July 6, 2021 @ 1pm EST

    • TFF Livestream & Giveaway Contest Drawing

  • July 28, 2021 @ 1pm EST

    • TFF Book Giveaway Contest Is Announced & Opened To Enter Free

  • August 3, 2021 @ 1pm EST

    • TFF Livestream & Giveaway Contest Drawing

  • August 25, 2021 @ 1pm EST

    • TFF Book Giveaway Contest Is Announced & Opened To Enter Free


And so we will be doing a monthly livestream, via Facebook Live, and in that brief time I will share news for upcoming book reviews and RW Cases or other creations, as well as finish each session with a drawing to choose a winner for a free giveaway contest.

What did I just say?!

Well, yeah, every month there will be a free to enter TFF Giveaway Contest taking place the week before the livestream.

I love reading, and TFF will be spreading the love!

stephen king signature, traycase, Custom Book Case, custom slipcase, hand-made, Dolso, the stand, stephen king, bernie wrightson, trashcan man

The prizes will get better and better – wait until you see this month’s contest! – and most often there will be a choice for the winner (or winners, when we mix it up) to choose from so that if we are giving away books you can hopefully get something you do not have.

Quite a few brilliant authors are interested in writing book reviews on all sorts of fiction.

I spoke briefly last week on Elizabeth Yoo’s upcoming reviews of 1960’s Italian fiction that she will blow us away with, but so much more than that is on the horizon, and since I love almost every type of fiction out there, from horror and sci-fi to historical fiction, there will always be a fun variety to peruse.

So in this site’s NEWS section I will post a TFF Quarterly ANNOUNCEMENT SCHEDULE and I will feature them in a pulldown from the site menu under NEWS too.

What is coming up?

stephen king signature, traycase, Custom Book Case, custom slipcase, hand-made, Dolso, the stand, stephen king, bernie wrightson, trashcan man

Well, besides the monthly contests, I will pick a book of the month that either was or is going to be reviewed during the livestream – a teaser, if you will – and I would like to start some Q/A time too (maybe not every time), but I will play that by ear. I love to live in the moment, so we will see where things take us.

Coming up next in book reviews…

In no particular order, except that CD’s NIGHT SHIFT by Stephen King is almost certainly next, here are the book-newcomers to The Forgotten Fiction magazine:

  • NIGHT SHIFT by Stephen King – Cemetery Dance Gift Edition
  • Ready Player One By Ernest Cline – Lettered Edition By Curious King Books
  • Seed By Ania Ahlborn – Numbered Edition By Suntup Editions
  • Crackle and Fire: An Angela Hardwicke Mystery By Russ Colchamiro – By Crazy 8 Press
  • Alice By Lewis Carroll – Numbered Edition by Amaranthine Books
  • Later By Stephen King – Numbered Edition By Hard Case Crime
  • A Scanner Darkly By Philip K. Dick – Suntup Editions Numbered and Artist Editions
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – Suntup Editions Numbered and Artist Editions
  • More Books by Michael Crichton – requests are open, folks!
  • The End Of Eternity By Isaac Asimov (and pictures of a rare first edition)
  • The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, and The War Of The Worlds, all By H.G. Wells – all Suntup Edition’s Limited Numbered
  • Killer Come Back To Me the unpublished Ray Bradbury book celebrating Bradbury’s 100th birthday by Hard Case Crime

There will be many books that pop up and wedge there way in between the ones above, but these are some of the fiction titles, young and old, to look forward to.

Branching off of both The Forgotten Fiction and my fledgling production company, press and PR agency Rune Works Productions Ltd. are the literary creations crafted by hand in my woodshop, like the TFF Rune Works Book Cases.

Call them traycases, slipcases, or whatever else you want, but do not call them mass produced haha.

These are beloved creations that I have hand crafted for my own library, art to hold my most precious art.

I am busy working on these RW Rare Book Cases:

  • A one-of-a-kind SILENCE OF THE LAMBS 2021 ARC case for the winner of the Unofficial Fans Of Suntup group’s contest, Kyle – this will be a 1 / 1 and like nothing anyone has ever seen
  • THE STAND Case With Licensed Bernie Wrightson Art – for UK and for US 1st printings
  • SECRET Case Project [hint: horror and Ania Ahlborn]
  • CARRIE 1st Edition case
  • FAHRENHEIT 451 case
  • The Gunslinger case
  • The Long Walk case
  • “The Bachman Books” case
  • “Gunslinger” Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction cases
  • A I of I creation customized for an issue of Astounding Fiction from 1953
  • Startling Mystery 1967 and 1969 Case
  • Fight Club cases, with a strip of cartoon film?
  • A Scanner Darkly case for the first edition of Philip K. Dick’s classic
  • Revival Us First Edition for signed copies
  • End Of Watch Us First Edition for signed copies
  • If It Bleeds Us First Edition for signed copies
  • The End Of Eternity Isaac Asimov case
  • And even a non-book case for a rare Star Wars Lego piece!

There are a couple of cases I want to remain a secret for now.

stephen king signature, traycase, Custom Book Case, custom slipcase, hand-made, Dolso, the stand, stephen king, bernie wrightson, trashcan man

These are some ambitious projects that I have undertaken and some will be ready to fly in the near future, while others may take a year or more to develop (some have already crossed into this realm).

These are handmade and planned and collaborated on with usually one person, me, or a very few others, at times.

That takes time.

But I love to make them and I love to see their purpose fulfilled as the books join with them, and much as time is one of our most precious commodities, up there with family and health, I take my time to ensure the quality I feel all of my work, from my written works to my web-made to my hand-made works all are the most they can be.

Be kind to one another, be safe, and go read!

 

Best,

 

~R.J.H.

One of Us: A Tribute to Frank Michaels Errington – A+ Horror

One of Us: A Tribute to Frank Michaels Errington – A+ Horror

One of Us: A Tribute to Frank Michaels Errington – A+ Horror fills a massive anthology featuring Stephen King, Richard Chizmar, Tom Deady, Josh Malerman, Paul Tremblay, and so many more.

This tome is 556 pages of knuckle splitting, page turning, scares.

And all the while, One of Us is moving in its tribute to Frank Michaels Errington, the gifted writer and reviewer that helped critique and nurture some of the best of a genre over the decades.

Proceeds from the book – that came out in November of 2020 – are donated in Frank’s name to the American Transplant Foundation.

A slew of photos and smiles in One of Us, edited by Kenneth W. Cain, share glimpses into the countless joy Frank gave to others while around them, and to honor his spirit, a slew of stories are presented within it in a fantastical nightmare-inducing fashion, just as he would have wanted.

Touching on a few of the stories therein, it is easy to enter into “I Am The Doorway” by Stephen King.

Previously published in Sai King’s first short story compilation Night Shift, the tale merges science-fiction and the macabre in a painfully realistic manner.

SPOILER WARNING For Stories By Stephen King, Richard Chizmar, and Tom Deady.

Why does realism come to mind?

Space seems to be a lifeless void and a quiet vacuum, but the reaches outside the earth’s atmosphere are the truest unknown.

The astronaut recalls little of his voyage to Venus that might note any apparent cause for his current murderous predicament.

But it is the only explanation.

Unlike so many sci-fi voyages and tales, Stephen King attaches the things beyond human understanding to the too oft black and white deception of science.

The returned astronaut has admitted to killing a boy, though it was ‘they’ who made him do it. He is ‘only the doorway.’

What could be more terrifying than intelligent entities, that manifest themselves like alien spores, a disease, or a parasite, in the form of eyes that continue to sprout from the searing, itching fingers of their space traveling host?

We cannot send life into space, but that does not mean that rabid rabies-like pathogens, or non-carbon-based life forms cannot live there, cannot hunt there for a way onto an earth . . . to feed.

The astronaut is their doorway to the earth, and as far-fetched as that terrifying premise may seem, its sheer plausibility is solidified in that we cannot for sure say that Eyes outside Venus’ atmosphere are an impossibility.

Truth be told, I would have loved to hear more about the astronaut in space in the story, the tale is very much grounded (literally and figuratively) but what King leaves to the imagination has me thinking about this one as I re-read it again and again, shivering and itching between my thumb and forefinger.

***

In what was one of the most disturbing stories in the volume, Tom Deady’s “A Tattoo For Joey” can be summed up in one chilling shout: “Grampa, you’re hurting me!”

The grandfather lives alone, has had one sever mental ‘incident’ – an instance of a breakdown of sorts – that seems likely to be a sign of dementia.

He loves his six-year-old grandson Joey, that is clear, and he is helping out his daughter, Monica, while she goes away to catch her husband cheating on her.

You feel for all three of the characters so very much in such a short span, especially for ‘Grampa’ as he struggles to do the near-impossible for any parent or grandparent: keep a young child entertained and safe while watching them for a prolonged period of hours or days.

The prize in the knock-off Cracker Jack box may really be a life-draining temporary tattoo (irony, there, as the tattoo seems hell-bent on staying vibrant and alive while the kid fades), or it may be a delusion of paranoia brought on by stress.

The heart is both warmed and throttled by this story.

And hearing the exasperated Joey say, “Grampa, you’re hurting me!” at the end really shakes the reader violently, as the grandfather ‘goes to work’ on the young boy’s tattooed arm.

I do wish the grandfather had gotten some time alone with the father, but that would like have made this great piece a bit implausible and spoil the bubble of the granddad-grandson world that is built so very well.

***

Some of the greatest short stories create magic in just three or four pages of prose, and that has to be one of the most difficult achievements in fiction, which Richard Chizmar gives us in “Homesick.”

The teenager point of view is frightening enough.

Timmy calls the old house ‘ugly’ and makes fun of the ancient paintings he has come to detest in his loneliness.

Maybe he is a little younger than a teenager; that is not specified, nor is it important (though I kind of wish I knew for sure).

My imagination runs to this being a bad combination.

Combine the lonesome juvenile boy in the White House being called a ‘baby’ by his father and the fact that he has abandoned all parenting time because of the new job, the presidency, and then combine the tragic sense of uprooting that Timmy feels for his hometown, his friends, his school and his ex-girlfriend – who had to find a new boy to go ‘steady with’ in Timmy’s absence – and you have a recipe for wickedness.

So many children are overlooked by their parents. The abuse is a cancer. Could it happen to one of the presidents’ own?

Well Timmy sees no other way to return home than to carefully mix the poison into his parent’s coffee, without getting any of the white powder on the mugs.

As the yelling starts, he is thinking of Sarah, his girl, his old house, and his friends, and he is eating popcorn.

It is such a brilliantly unnerving tale and reminds me a lot of Edgar Allan Poe, were he alive in 21st century America, because it feels all too close to the truth of human fallacy and weakness, and the hurt that the hurt can inflict on others.

***

These are just brief reviews of three of the great tales in this volume, but all of the pieces selected for this anthology are winners.

 

The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)


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One of Us: A Tribute to Frank Michaels Errington, Stephen King, Richard Chizmar, Tom Deady, horror, Frank Michaels Errington

 

“One of Us: A Tribute to Frank Michaels Errington” was written by R.J. Huneke, and the book is a Paperback, 556 pages long, and was Published on November 14th, 2020 by Bloodshot Books.