Sharks and the Walking Dead

Today is release day for my steampunk novel The Brazen Shark! It tells the story of samurai who steal a Russian airship in 1877 to foment war with Russia so the Shogunate will be reinstated. Meanwhile, a couple from New Mexico Territory on their honeymoon work to reveal the plot so the world won’t fall into chaos. This is the third of my Clockwork Legion series and it’s available at Amazon as an ebook and in print.

Admittedly, The Brazen Shark is not a horror novel, and this blog focuses on my horror fiction along with horror that I find engaging and worth recommending. Acheron Highway As it turns out, Sky Warrior Book Publishing, who publishes The Brazen Shark does have a number of fine, frightening novels and anthologies. About a week ago, I listened to the audiobook edition of the dark urban fantasy novel Acheron Highway by Gary Jonas. The novel opens when Miranda Hammond walks into the office of Jonathan Shade. The thing that makes this remarkable is that a stalker literally stole Miranda’s heart. She has an incision in her chest and the heart is just plain missing. Shade himself is no stranger to death, having defeated it once himself. He takes the case and while he does, he must contend with zombies who have been raised by the lovesick goddess Persephone who is seeking the man of her dreams, Charon, the ferryman who has gone missing. Shade reminds me a bit of Jim Rockford from The Rockford Files. He’s the kind of detective who does his best to stay out of the trouble he gets himself into. In one scene worthy of a Ray Harryhausen movie, Shade must fight animated skeletons in a bowling alley. The ending is by turns frightening, shocking, and set up perfectly. If you like dark urban fantasy, be sure to check out the Jonathan Shade novels by Gary Jonas. Acheron Highway is available at Amazon.

Sky Warrior also publishes These Vampires Don’t Sparkle and the Zombiefied series edited by Carol Hightshoe. These Vampires Don’t Sparkle includes my Scarlet Order vampire story “Luftgeist” which tells about Lord Draco’s fateful voyage aboard the Hindenburg. The anthology Zombiefied: An Anthology of All Things Zombie includes my story “The Zombie Shortage,” which tells the story of a community that has recovered after the zombie apocalypse but find finds it has become too dependent on zombies. Zombiefied: Hazardous Materials includes my story “Born-Again Miners,” which is set in the same world as The Brazen Shark. It tells the story of mine owner Randolph Dalton who discovers a cheap source of labor. Dalton was the antagonist in the first novel of the Clockwork Legion series, Owl Dance. So yeah, turns out there’s some scary potential in my steampunk books after all!

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Pendant

This past week, I had the opportunity to read Pendant by Australian author Stephen C. Ormsby. This is Book 1 in Stephen’s “Undead Hunters” series and it tells the story of Conrad, a young doctor from the seventeenth century who is burned at the stake for the brutal murder of his wife and her lover. When Conrad descends into Hell, he gains power and becomes the great wizard Varnok, who seeks revenge against humanity.

Pendant Cover Flash forward to the present day where a woman named Maggie finds one half of a heart-shaped pendant at a sea-side flea market. It turns out this was half of a pendant that Conrad gave to his wife. The other half of the pendant falls into the hands of a reclusive man named Logan, still in pain after the death of his first wife. In the meantime, Varnok has returned to Earth and has unleashed his campaign of terror, while also seeking his reincarnated wife. Maggie and Logan must combine forces to stop the wizard Varnok.

Although the Wizard Varnok isn’t exactly a vampire, he certainly is close kin. He violently rips people apart and my impression was that he drank the life energy of the people and reveled in their pain as much as he was sustained by the actual body parts he consumed. What’s more, there’s a folkloric tradition that witches that rise from the grave come back as vampires. As such, I found the portrayal of Varnok fascinating.

Now, I’ll note that the violence level of this novel went quite a bit beyond my comfort zone. Despite that, I had a hard time putting the novel down. As a writer, I find it important to go beyond my comfort zone from time to time. It helps me keep my own writing fresh by seeing the way another author approaches a subject. I was especially interested in the way Stephen built an engaging and believable love story in the midst of the horror. Finally, one of the interesting side effects I find after reading a novel with such unrelenting and graphic horror as Pendant is that the world somehow seems a little brighter and better place than when I delved into the novel. It’s like a breath of fresh air to realize those horrors are safely confined to the page.

If you are willing to brave the horror, you can find Stephen Ormsby’s novel at Amazon. You can learn more about Stephen at his blog. You can read Stephen’s interview with me here.