“Chimera” by Mira Grant (Orbit, 2015)


In what was originally planned as a duology, now comes to a close in the final, third volume of Mira Grant’s Parasitology trilogy, Chimera. Implanted tapeworms are rising up and taking over their human hosts everywhere, turning them into mindless, zombie-like mobs. The world is in a state of collapse.

The book opens where Symbiont left off. Sal is a “guest,” AKA prisoner of USAMRIID (United States Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases). Her hope is that she will be treated okay because her father is the one in charge until she can come up with a plan to escape. But there are those below her father who see Sal as the cause of all this trouble and wish to take out some vengeance on her.

Eventually Sal escapes and joins her group with Dr. Cale. Then the next step is to work out how to neutralize the tapeworm eggs that another chimera and enemy, Sherman, inserted into the water supply. The water will affect everyone and anyone – chimera, human, sleepwalker alike, all with the goal of creating an army of superior chimeras like Sal and Sherman. They just have to save the world. No biggie.

Chimera moves through very similar stages to the first two books, and actually to Mira Grant books in general, making it feel pretty repetitive and uninspiring to read. While there are some twists, for the most part, things end as expected. A new character and type of chimera does add an interesting element to the mix, but overall the final volume is a somewhat dissatisfying conclusion, with a placid and unoriginal outcome.

Originally written on March 23, 2016 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Chimera from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“Tortured Souls: The Legend of Primordium” by Clive Barker (Subterranean Press, 2015)


For those who have wondered about one of the great horror writers who goes by the name Clive Barker, but have never read any of his work, they would do well to sample the novella Tortured Souls. It encapsulates this talented author in a limited number of pages, showing his skill at revealing a short story, with memorable characters, and some dark and bloody plot that will leave you gasping.

The “first city” of Primordium is renowned throughout history for its upheavals and political changes and at its heart lives a being whose origin is unknown and whose existence is enigmatic to say the least, known by many names, but most commonly Agonistes. If you wish, he will transform you to your heart’s desire, whether it is for love or revenge, but know that it will be an agony you have not felt before.

In this novella we learn of the wondrous city of Primordium and some of its inhabitants and their desires and hates, as well as the power that Agonistes wields and how once you are transformed by him, there is no turning back, whether you wish to or not.

Originally written on November 14, 2014 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Tortured Souls from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“Rolling in the Deep” by Mira Grant (Subterranean Press, 2015)


Mira Grant, of Feed and Parasite, is back with a great novella about mermaids, except these aren’t the beautiful sirens of the sea, but more the demons of the deep type.

The Imagine Network is known for producing quasi-documentary shows that are more a blend of fact and fiction, with some impressive special effects that viewers have come to expect and enjoy. And now they’re going to start filming their biggest and most expensive project yet: to find a real mermaid. Along with the standard film crew, there are a number of scientists, a full crew to pilot the mighty ship Atargatis, and a group of professional mermaids who pretend to be these fabled creatures. The Imagine Network isn’t going to stint on any facet of this production, and the entire group will be heading to the Mariana Trench, located in the extreme emptiness of the Pacific Ocean, at the deepest hole on the planet.

It is here each of the scientists will be conducting their studies and research, while the group of fake mermaids frollick in the waters, and the film crew does their thing. Only no one is really sure what that green light is deep in the water and when something comes up to say hi with all its teeth, everyone starts to become a believer.

Rolling in the Deep is Mira Grant at her best, turning a conventional story completely on its head and giving you some great horror to boot, along with some fun scientific research that will make the reader think. While Grant seems a little fancy free with some of the nautical research, overall the story is just a lot of fun with great characters and a plot that will keep your interest piqued until the last bloody page.

Originally written on January 1, 2015 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Rolling in the Deep from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“The Bazaar of Bad Dreams” by Stephen King (Scribner, 2015)


To date, Stephen King has published seven short story collections, proving that the prolific writer is still a big fan of the short form. This latest collection, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, has perhaps one of the more horrifying and chilling covers to grace the front of a book in some time. But this makes sense, since many of the stories in the pages of this collection are both chilling and horrifying. The Bazaar of Bad Dreams is perhaps King’s best collection of stories since his debut collection Night Shift.

The anthology kicks off with “Mile 81” where there is an old abandoned vehicle at a defunct rest stop that has a tendency to absorb everything that touches it; one might even say eats. In “The Dune” a man can see people’s futures written in the sand. “Morality” is the story of the collection that really makes you think, as a couple must decide whether they will perform a certain act for a large amount of money, and whether their relationship can survive because of it.

What happens when you die? King decides to present his thoughts in “Afterlife.” In “UR” an ereading device has special powers. “The Little Green God of Agony” is a story about pain in its many forms and if it had a physical presence, what it would look like. “Obits” is a story about a journalist who causes bad things to happen to people when he writes their obituaries. The collection also features King’s novella “Blockade Billy” in its entirety, about an old baseball player who had certain “abilities,” as well as King’s most recent short story published in the summer of 2015, “Drunken Fireworks.”

For those wondering why so many readers love everything King does, the many great stories in The Bazaar of Bad Dreams makes it easily convincing. The anthology has a little bit of everything: ghost stories, psychological thrill rides, captivating thrillers, and moving stories of fiction. You will not be disappointed.

Originally written on January 17, 2016 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The Bazaar of Bad Dreams from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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“Dead Ringers” by Christopher Golden (St. Martin’s Press, 2015)

Dead Ringers
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What if you weren’t the only one of your kind? What if one day you saw someone who looked exactly like you, to the point where your friends and family couldn’t really tell the difference, and this doppelganger was also better looking and more successful than you? And what if he or she wanted to kill you so they could take your place?

Tess Devlin runs into her ex-husband in downtown Boston; she notices something different about him. He looks younger, thinner, healthier, and he acts like he has no idea who she is. When she calls him later to vent, he tells her he never saw her because he’s in New Hampshire.

Frank Lindbergh is wondering if it’s time to give up and just die. A few days ago this guy showed up who looks exactly like him, only better. He stripped him naked and chained him to a pole in his own basement where he’s been going to the bathroom in a bucket and eating whatever scraps and leftovers his doppelganger deigns to bring him. He’s withering away and is actually starting to see the basement floor through parts of his naked body. The man who isn’t him is living his life, working his job, and fooling everyone. So does he just give up and die or does he fight?

Not everyone has an exact, evil copy of themselves; it’s only a select group. What they have in common is a special house where bad things happened, where bodies were found that had been buried for a long time. Dark and twisted rituals had been performed there and somehow that’s important. Then there’s the psychomanteum.

As with his previous novels, Christopher Golden has proven he has a talent for writing the out of the ordinary horror story. Dead Ringers is a story about a haunted house and ritual black magic; it’s also about feeling lost and out of control, and what it means to have your whole life threatened by someone who looks exactly like you. It is both terrifying and horrifying on many levels, some of them subtle, some of them painfully obvious.

Originally written on January 7, 2016 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Dead Ringers from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“The Robusta Incident” by Jennifer Fales (Amazon Digital Services, 2015)

Robusta Incident
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The term “corporate zombie” has become a cliche at this point, overused and in some cases misnomered. So, Jennifer Fales decided to write a book about it to the ultimate extreme. The Robusta Incident gives a whole new meaning to the term “weird,” as in this is a weird book where a lot of weird stuff happens, but then if you like all things weird, you’re going to enjoy The Robusta Incident.

Howard Danishefsky is feeling pretty low in his life. Living in a dead-end apartment that gives him little joy other than being a place to crash. His boss, Melinda Carpenter, is an ex, who gives him a really hard time every day, and he really can’t stand, but at the same time she’s very beautiful in all the right places, and he can’t really admit to himself he still has the hots for her. Meanwhile, he works as a chemist for the Robusta Corporation, an international coffee conglomerate, and feels he’s going nowhere face. A dead-end job for a dead-end company in a dead-end world.

His father is a renowned astrophysicist he’s never met, who is an important member in the Consortium of Evil. And then, there’s his Russian mother, who is long dead, but shortly after she passed, he started hearing her in his head, and now, she never fails to give plenty of pointless advice and criticism throughout his day. He’s also a heavy drinker and, after work, seeks to get completely sloshed as quick as possible, and wake up in his crappy bed in the morning, feeling like something that shouldn’t be alive.

So Howard decides to throw everything to the wind and try something different. You see he’s concocted this strange serum that he starts putting in the coffee that everyone drinks at work. Each day, he adds more, and the employees blindly drink more, as they become slower, more lethargic, and spend chunks of time just standing around doing nothing as if in a trance. His main target is his boss, and ex, who he is happy to turn into a zombie and control.||But then, a voodoo queen finds out what’s going on and gets involved, as does an aging professor and someone who seems like he should just back into the coffin he apparently came from. As if that isn’t enough, the corporate zombies start doing what zombies tend to do: eat people; and they’re starting to eye him up like a tasty morsel. Maybe he’s gone a little too far this time? But he’s waiting for that call from the Consortium of Evil any day now.

Readers get to experience a week in the work life of the very strange Howard Danishefsky. The Robusta Incident at times gets pretty repetitive, as we experience Howard at home waking up, getting to work, working, then going home from work, drinking and going to bed over and over. While the author was wanting to show these five days, the book could’ve used some editing out of some of these repetitive scenes that seem to go nowhere and aren’t really necessary. But weirdness and the need for editing down aside, Fales has a very distinctive voice with her character and the story which will certainly catch the eye of many a reader and hook them till the end.

Originally written on August 3rd, 2015 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The Robusta Incident from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“The Scarlet Gospels” by Clive Barker (St. Martin’s Press, 2015)

Scarlet Gospels
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To know Pinhead is to fear him. The demon who is a priest of hell can be summoned with a cryptic little box, and then the hooks and chains come, giving a whole new meaning to the term agony. Barker fans have been waiting for the demon’s return for many years and the creature appears in this final showdown in The Scarlet Gospels.

With a nod to the Divine Comedy, Harry D’Amour soon finds himself sucked into a world of trouble. The lead investigator of all things magical and supernatural has to pull together his cadre of helpers and then they find themselves passing through a portal straight into hell. Harry has one goal: to end Pinhead once and for all. But traveling through hell isn’t that easy, especially after his history of pissing off the paranormal and sending numerous demons back to hell from whence they came.

The gang soon discovers that something is terribly wrong in hell. Things are falling apart and looking way worse than they normally would. Pinhead has started his final plan after taking the life of every known magician, witch and wizard and has absorbed all this power; and now he is bringing hell to its knees. Sending the dead and the demons to whatever there is beyond hell, with plans to take on Lucifer himself and make himself ruler of hell. The question is how is Harry going to bring Pinhead’s existence to an end?

The Scarlet Gospels has been building for years, with readers anxiously waiting for some new material, and sadly the result doesn’t deliver as expected. While the story is a fun romp through hell for Harry and the gang, the last part of the books gets to be a little too much of the same thing over and over again. Barker had said this would be it for Pinhead, one final sure ending for him from which he couldn’t return. But by the end of the book, as the reader is left feeling unsettled with how it all came to a close, they’ll also be wondering if this really is it for Pinhead, as his unmoving corpse was never actually seen.

Originally written on July 10, 2015 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The Scarlet Gospels from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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