Garden of Fiends by Mark Matthews

First the Man takes the Drink,

Then the Drink takes the Drink

Then the Drink takes the Man.

The goal of GARDEN OF FIENDS: TALES OF ADDICTION HORROR is to shine the light on the dark truths of addiction through works of fiction. What happens inside these stories are true, even if they didn’t happen. Each story is a piece of fiction, with characters navigating through the world of drugs and alcoholic, but each story also represents some deeper truth of the internal struggles of an addict.

When putting together the anthology, I wanted the insidious nature of addiction to be showcased in all its gory details, but with a sincere empathy for the plight of the addict. As a recovering addict myself, I wanted Garden of Fiends to reflect a world I have come to know so well.

Here’s a summary of what I think each story says about addiction:

 

A WICKED THRIST

There are so many dynamics of this story that understand the mind of an alcoholic. The unquenchable thirst. The constant searching and yearning for alcohol to avoid living with what they’ve become, followed by a heavy and constant sadness that only leads drinking more. And of course, the damage that is created follows an alcoholic like a specter, haunting the alcoholic and always just a few steps behind. A Wicked Thirst is vintage Kealan Patrick Burke, and I am so honored to have it featured as the lead story for the anthology.

 

THE ONE IN THE MIDDLE

Heroin addicts have their own subculture. There is a tone and a language to their life, and it is best captured by transgressive and shocking fiction, for anything less would fall short. Jessica McHugh did not submit this tale for publication. I was doing research about Addiction Horror Fiction, and came across the Green Kangaroos, and was so happy when she agreed to have this stand-alone excerpt be planted in the Garden. This story captures the abject horror of the life of a heroin addict, with body horror and flesh that is for sale in order to get the next high. The story plays like background music, thumping and thumping, pounding into the readers’ head the thoughts and lifestyle of a dope fiend. And I use ‘fiend’ in all its gory glory, for to crave something illegal, one must become a fiend in order to satisfy the urges.

 

GARDEN OF FIENDS

My own entry into the anthology is a homage to parents of opiate addicts who are always waiting for that phone call hearing their child has overdosed. Who pray that their child can somehow maintain recovery.  In the nightmare featured here, one father watches his daughter continually get triggered to relapse by her boyfriend. Most parents would do anything to protect their child from such a fate, and the father in Garden of Fiends does what he can, takes ‘out’ her boyfriend, and thinks he has ‘cut out’ her disease. Instead he has made it spread, and pretty soon, addicts all over Detroit are trying to get his daughter high. This story tells the truth of the horrors parents face, and about the sacrifices they make.

 

FIRST, BITE JUST A FINGER

A short tale, that lovingly and wittingly demonstrates how many addicts get started as a fad or by that slightly odd friend of theirs. Once they get a taste of the high, they dive in head over heels, yet are certain they can quit anytime (and they do, until Thursday). This piece of flash fiction summarizes the lies that addicts tell themselves about quitting someday while their lives are destroyed.

 

TORMENT OF THE FALLEN

While addiction is a sickness that feeds on itself and exists in its own right, so often substances are used as a way to avoid other types of pain and hurt. Getting high becomes a way to keep away other demons, which can be trauma, loss,  grief. In Torment of The Fallen, Heroin is used to combat actual demons, and this has torn a family apart and made a teenage girl live as an outcast, until she finally visits her dad, with pack of heroin in hand.

 

LAST CALL

“Last Call” features an alcoholic who I know so well. This is the sad-sack alcoholic, full of self-pity, who often shows up at AA meetings drunk. It is there he may get berated by his sponsor out of frustration and multiple failed chances, which only makes him drink more and wallow in self-disgust.  Then he gets desperate to get sober at all costs, and, in the case of “Last Call”, we learn the dangers of trying to take a short cut to sobriety. This is such a great story by a writer who is partially responsible for the birth of this whole anthology.

 

RETURNS

Jack Ketchum didn’t write this story to serve as the perfect closure to Garden of Fiends, but sometimes I pretend he did. When a ghost shows up to see his lover alive but drinking herself to death, he ponders on his purpose in being summoned to that moment. It has to be something besides just watching her implode, right?   This story is about boundaries, about learning what we are responsible for, and what we are not responsible for, and how nothing can stop an alcoholic from self-destruction, as sad and tragic as it is to witness.  The reader, like the ghosts in this story, learn similar lessons, and when the page is closed, we move on, while those inside the book continue to suffer.

 

The best way to tell the truth is in a story, and these stories are filled with some horrific truths. You are invited to see for yourself. Spend some time in the Garden of Fiends.

Hunter Shea – The Jersey Devil Review

Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review

I love it when I see a new Hunter Shea book pop up in my e-mail alerts. To borrow a term used by Stephen King fans, I’m a constant reader when it comes to Hunter’s work. While I wait for his next book to be released I wonder what monster or creature is waiting to scare the holy hell out of me. Hunter does an excellent job with cryptids and legends, which he seems to know a lot about. From aliens in The Dover Demon to the chimaera fish in They Rise and now a winged beast in the The Jersey Devil, the creatures are fantastic. The image on the cover along with the sound this creature makes would make me pee a little if I saw or heard one in the dark woods of the Pine Barrens.

As it usually goes, I find myself reading Hunter Shea books when it’s dark and/or gloomy out. This only adds to further scaring the crap out of me. The early brief sightings of The Jersey Devil gave me chills. Hunter’s monsters continue to scare me, even knowing I’m safe and sound on my sofa. It’s the same heart pounding sensation I get watching a horror movie and knowing I can turn the lights back on. Hunter crafts his monsters, gives them a history, and builds a mythology surrounding them. He then puts them in an everyday landscape and suddenly they have become as real as his characters. Hunter also does a great job keeping the story moving along with constant pacing and action. The final showdown with the Jersey Devil was brutal and exciting and I wasn’t sure anyone would make it out alive. This is one damn scary monster story and one of my favorites books from Hunter Shea. I hope you’re busy with the next one, Hunter. I can’t get enough of your books and monsters.

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Book Info

Length: 352 Pages

Publisher: Pinnacle

Release date:  August 30, 2016

To Purchase The Jersey Devil Click Here

THE LEGEND LIVES
Everyone knows the legend of the Jersey Devil. Some believe it is an abomination of nature, a hybrid winged beast from hell that stalks the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey searching for prey. Others believe it is a hoax, a campfire story designed to scare children. But one man knows the truth…

THE DEVIL AWAKES
Sixty years ago, Boompa Willet came face to face with the Devil—and lived to tell the tale. Now, the creature’s stomping grounds are alive once again with strange sightings, disappearances, and worse. After all these years, Boompa must return to the Barrens, not to prove the legend is real but to wipe it off the face of the earth…

THE BEAST MUST DIE
It’ll take more than just courage to defeat the Devil. It will take four generations of the Willet clan, a lifetime of survivalist training, and all the firepower they can carry. But timing is critical. A summer music festival has attracted crowds of teenagers. The woods are filled with tender young prey. But this time, the Devil is not alone. The evil has grown into an unholy horde of mutant monstrosities. And hell has come home to New Jersey…

Praise for Hunter Shea

“Shea delivers a tense and intriguing work of escalating tension splattered with a clever, extensive cast of bystanders turned victims…An otherwise excellent, tightly delivered plot…Fans of cryptid creatures are likely to revel in this love letter to a legendary menace.”– Publishers Weekly

“Bloody good read!  This guy knows his monsters!”- Eric S Brown, author of Bigfoot War and Boggy Creek: The Legend is True, on Swamp Monster Massacre

“Hunter Shea is a great writer, highly entertaining, and definitely in the upper echelon in the current horror scene. Many other writers mention either loving his work and/or having the man influence their own, and for just cause. His writing suits anyone with a taste for the dark and terrifying!” –Zakk at The Eyes of Madness/The Mouth of Madness Podcast

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Hunter Shea, Biography-

Hunter Shea is the product of a childhood weaned on The Night Stalker, The Twilight Zone and In Search Of. He doesn’t just write about the paranormal – he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself.

Publishers Weekly named The Montauk Monster one of the best reads of the summer in 2014, and his follow up novel, Hell Hole, was named best horror novel of the year on several prestigious horror sites. Cemetery Dance had this to say about his apocalyptic thriller, Tortures of the Damned – “A terrifying read that left me wanting more. I absolutely devoured this book!”

Hunter is an amateur cryptozoologist, having written wild, fictional tales about Bigfoot, The Montauk Monster, The Dover Demon and many new creatures to come. Copies of his books, The Montauk Monster and The Dover Demon, are currently on display in the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, ME.

He wrote his first novel with the express desire to work only with editor Don D’Auria at Dorchester (Leisure Horror). He submitted his novel to Don and only Don, unagented, placed on the slush pile. He is proof that dedicated writers can be rescued from no man’s land. He now works with Don, along with several other agents and publishers, having published over ten books in just four years.

Hunter is proud to be be one half of the Monster Men video podcast, along with his partner in crime, Jack Campisi. It is one of the most watched horror video podcasts in the world. Monster Men is a light-hearted approach to dark subjects. Hunter and Jack explore real life hauntings, monsters, movies, books and everything under the horror sun. They often interview authors, crytid and ghost hunters, directors and anyone else living in the horror lane.

Living with his wonderful family and two cats, he’s happy to be close enough to New York City to get Gray’s Papaya hot dogs when the craving hits. His daughters have also gotten the horror bug, assisting him with research, story ideas and illustrations that can be seen in magazines such as Dark Dossier.

You can follow his travails at http://www.huntershea.com, sign-up for his newsletter, or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Want to feature this book/author?

If you are a blogger, author, or member of the media and you would like to feature The Jersey Devil or Hunter Shea in a review or interview, please contact Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at hookofabook@hotmail.com. Thanks!

T.D. Trask – Banquet of Souls Review

Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review

I’m guessing like most reviewers we tend to revisit an author we’ve read in the past. It was nearly a year ago when I read Deadsville by T.D Trask and Dale Elster. So when given the chance to read T.D.’s latest book I was more than happy to do so. The new book, Banquet of Souls, has a bit of everything for everyone. Being there are a dozen stories in this collection I’ve chosen just a few to talk about. The first story I was drawn to was the title story, Banquet of souls. T.D. Trask may have scared me the most with the question of, “what if our idea of hell isn’t far off?” We get a glimpse of technology being the catalyst the devil needs to take control of humanity. Each time a video viewed it leads to chaos, murder and the end as we know it. Banquet of souls is pretty morbid, and in a strange way it doesn’t feel that far-fetched. In this story technology is the two-sided sword we know it to be.

While Banquet of souls scared me the most, Bus 1309 is probably my favorite. Bus 1309 isn’t in service anymore… or is it? 10 years ago bus 1309 crashed while out on a run during a bad snow storm. Now the bus is back to make one final run and pick up one last passenger. I love the way this story hides just enough but you still know something is off. I was on edge the entire length of the story leaving me with an unsettling feeling. The story, She’s still breathing, is a tale of a women named Crystal who has a gift to ‘see’ others people’s lives are just by touching them. She uses her skills at her job as a home care nurse and I love the idea of this story. It had a good plot and some well written characters but was too short. The story skipped along a bit too fast and some of the details weren’t flush out enough. The glass in the window was a close second for the creepiest story. It is a haunting tale of a man who sees a vague image in the reflection of his window. He never can get a good look at it but he sees it moving in his periphery. That alone is enough to get my heartbeat up a notch. I was given just enough details to let me fill in the rest of the image, and we all know our imagination can be far worse. What the blurry shape in the window wants isn’t given away, it watches and waits…

Book Info

Length:  195 Pages

Publisher:  Downtown Books & Coffee

Release date:  October 12, 2015

To Purchase Banquet of Souls Click Here

Please. Sit. We hope you brought your appetite.

Tonight we have a twelve course offering of freshly procured delicacies, each one specifically chosen just for you, our most discerning guest. Some dishes have a dark, heady flavor, quite delicious, always satisfying. And, as always, we offer lighter fare brought between courses to cleanse the palate.

And, certainly, a final dessert piece, one that’s not too sweet.

This is the Banquet of Souls, a feast where death is one breath away and the wine is blood red and always flowing.

Just remember.

You’ll never dine alone.

T.D. Trask

T.D. Trask, biography

T.D. Trask is a freelance writer, copywriter, and Web site designer living in the great city of Binghamton, NY. His hobbies include following politics, movies, books, and, of course, the paranormal. His novels “Still Waters” and “Legend of the Tiger” are available at online retailers.