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THE DJINN FALLS IN LOVE AND OTHER STORIES ................................................................................................................. 2 THE CABIN By Amy Cross ............................................................................................................................................................... 2 THE POISON EATER BY Shanna Germain ..................................................................................................................................... 3 RUPERT WONG AND THE ENDS OF THE EARTH By Cassandra Khaw.................................................................................... 3 HUNGER MAKES THE WOLF By Alex Wells ............................................................................................................................... 3 SPECIAL PURPOSES: FIRST STRIKE WEAPON By Gavin G. Smith .......................................................................................... 5 THE EVIL IN US ............................................................................................................................................................................... 5 AMONG THE FALLEN By N. S. Dolkart......................................................................................................................................... 5 FEVERISH FICTION #1 By Various ................................................................................................................................................ 7 MYTH OF THE MAKER By Bruce R. Cordell ................................................................................................................................. 7 FOOD OF THE GODS BY Cassandra Khaw..................................................................................................................................... 9 I CAN TASTE THE BLOOD By Various .......................................................................................................................................... 9 FIENDISH SCHEMES By K. W. Jeter ............................................................................................................................................ 10 FEAR, INC ....................................................................................................................................................................................... 10 INHERIT THE FLAME By Megan E. O’Keefe............................................................................................................................... 10 KOJIKI By Keith Yatsuhashi ........................................................................................................................................................... 10 LOST SIGNALS By Various ........................................................................................................................................................... 12 DAMNATION By Peter McLean ..................................................................................................................................................... 12 THE CHAMBER .............................................................................................................................................................................. 14 Edited By Stanley Riiks. Written By Adrian Brady, Stanley Riiks, C.M. Saunders, J.S. Watts. Proof-read By Sheri White. © Morpheus Tales August 2017. Morpheus Tales Back Issues and Special Issues are available exclusively through lulu.com: http://stores.lulu.com/morpheustales For more information, free previews and free magazines visit our website: http://morpheustales.wixsite.com/morpheustales Morpheus Tales Review Supplement, August 2017. COPYRIGHT August 2017 Morpheus Tales Publishing, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reviews can be used, in full or in part, for publicity purposes as long as Morpheus Tales Magazine is quoted as the source.


THE DJINN FALLS IN LOVE AND OTHER STORIES http://www.solarisbooks.com/ I read the twenty-one tales that make up The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories, an anthology published by Solaris, and was suitably impressed. For a mono-themed collection (each and every piece deals with a djinn, jinn, jinni, or genie – there are many spellings of this mythical and folkloric creature), it is an incredibly wide-ranging anthology. Indeed, there are as many interpretations of these beings, which many of us only know from the Arabian Nights, as there are spellings. The stories span the globe (and beyond), multiple centuries, and a range of genres including folk-tale, urban fantasy, science fiction, and horror and the blurred shadows that lie in-between. Authors and writing styles are commensurately varied. Contributors include: Neil Gaiman (a stand-alone extract from American Gods), the award-winning Helene Wecker, K.J. Parker (otherwise known as Tom Holt), and Maria Dahvana Headley, as well as Saad Z. Hossain, Amal ElMohtar, and Nnedi Okorafor and others. Twenty-one stories is a massive number of stories to summarise, and very few resemble the lush tales of silks and brass lamps that I’m guessing many of us think of when someone mentions the word ‘genie.’ So, to pick out a few, there are tales where the divide between the day-to-day worlds of humankind and the djinn are so thin a young boy stumbles through the carpet in his mosque to find, not monsters, but family; a man out of his depth in New York finds companionship from an equally lonely djinn and there is an alternative world where humans and djinn are forced to live side-by-side, with the djinn having the worst of it. There are stories of childhood’s mystery and spite, a medieval plague that threatens to destroy the world, tales of harem-style luxury with the traditional images of silk and brass lamps, a spaceship infested with jinn, a pop star with magical abilities, and military drone operators, a world away from the harm they are watching, encountering a force beyond their comprehension. These are well-crafted and thoughtful stories exploring humanity as much as the myth of the djinn. In these stories it is not always the genie who is the trickster or malevolent presence. Humanity has issues to answer for. In summary, I found The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories to be a lyrical and thoughtprovoking anthology of multiple genres, with a strong literary feel to it. There is something for everyone. Though, as a result, it is unlikely that all of the stories

will entertain all of the people all of the time. Nevertheless, the quality of the anthology is such that it is worth risking the occasional disappointment in order to luxuriate in the collection as a whole. By J.S.Watts THE CABIN By Amy Cross https://amycrossbooks.wordpress.com/

If you hadn’t noticed, Amy Cross has quietly been taking the indie British horror/dark fantasy scene by storm. In the past five years or so she’s published over a hundred books, including, if my maths are correct, 27 in 2016 alone. She has several series, supplemented by various spin-offs and tie-ins, ready to dive into, but personally I prefer good oldfashioned stand-alones. For that reason, The Cabin was my belated introduction to her dark work. At least, I thought it would be a stand-alone, but it turns out a sequel has already been released. This woman is nothing if not prolific. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. So what’s The Cabin about, then? Well, it’s the story of Anna, an English girl who goes on a trip to Norway to visit an old friend. She hopes to spend a nice, relaxing weekend in good company at a remote cabin, but soon realizes all is not what it seems. The people she’s stuck with aren’t really that


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nice, and the cabin has a very dark history. Problem is, by the time Anna finally learns the horrifying truth, it’s too late to escape. For some reason, the plot, combined with the author’s writing style, reminded me a lot of vintage Richard Laymon, right down to the slightly clumsy sexual encounter, stereotypical teen characters, and graphic descriptions of gore and violence. That isn’t a bad thing; I for one have been missing a new Laymon. Though it retains enough surprises to keep you reading, The Cabin’s plot isn’t overly complex or convoluted, which is a trap a lot of indie writers fall into, and with Cross’s preference for shorter works, moves along at a good pace. There are a couple of editing errors, like the occasional incorrect attribution of ‘he’ and ‘she,’ and I’m pretty sure one of the character’s names changes at one point, but these little annoyances stand out because they are the exceptions, rather than the norm. All in all, Amy Cross runs a very professional-looking operation. Without the pressure of a publishing house, she prices her books very reasonably and regularly offers up freebies to readers. Nip over to Amazon right now to see what’s up for grabs this week. You won’t regret it. By C.M. Saunders

(or lives) of Rupert Wong, cannibal chef and servant to Oriental gods and ghouls. Its narrator, Rupert Wong himself, doesn’t mince words when it comes to describing his profession. He will, and does, however, mince anything and everything else. In this novella, Rupert’s mythic employers send him from Kula Lumpur to urban South London to carry out unspecified duties (and cook) for the Ancient Greek pantheon now operating out of Croydon (Poseidon runs a dodgy fish and chip shop and a homeless drop-in). There is friction between the old gods and the modern, up-and-coming pantheons of city finance and horror fiction (if there is worship, there will be gods). Rupert is caught up in the middle of it all and the all is very, very messy. I have gone on record as saying that I do not like splatter-fest horror, preferring my dark fiction nuanced and subtle. Rupert Wong and The Ends of The Earth was, perhaps, not an obvious choice for me to review, but despite the blood, bone, muscle tissue, and ruptured guts, I really enjoyed this book. It is fast paced, dryly and wittily narrated (Rupert Wong is a good man with a speedy quip), and whilst it plays fast and loose in some ways with Classical Greek mythology (and a number of other Indo-European deities), it knows its ancient tales and riffs on them with considered thought (as well as crushed bones, spurting intestines, and heavily bleeding flesh). The writing is smooth and polished and is a highly entertaining read (provided the gods have gifted you with a strong stomach). By J.S.Watts

THE POISON EATER BY Shanna Germain www.angryrobotbooks.com Set in the world of Numenera, based on the SF/fantasy tabletop game, this first book follows Talia who is out for revenge against the creatures that killed her warrior sisters, and imprisoned and tortured her. The world is well-defined, but the main character just feels like she’s missing something. Some of the descriptions are incredibly detailed, offering character insight, but there are also points where you are left with more questions than answers. Ultimately this is a good and satisfying read, and will definitely appeal to fans of the game. By Adrian Brady

HUNGER MAKES THE WOLF By Alex Wells www.angryrobotbooks.com Hob is a mercenary biker, a member of the Ghost Wolves. When she discovers the body of her saviour’s brother, essentially her uncle, and friend on the dunes, Hob will be dragged into a war with Transrifts Inc, the company that runs the entire planet… Wow. Action SF thriller, a cross between Sons of Anarchy and Dune, this is imaginative, compelling, and utterly brilliant. The characters really capture your heart, the action-based plotting captures your attention, and the Dune-like world, captures your mind. Utterly enthralling, this is a book hard to put down. It will linger long in the memory. Cannot wait for the second book in the Hob series. By Adrian Brady

RUPERT WONG AND THE ENDS OF THE EARTH By Cassandra Khaw http://www.abaddonbooks.com/ Rupert Wong and The Ends of The Earth is a novella in the Gods and Monsters™ franchise published by Abaddon Books. Its marketing blurb describes it as a visceral work and it is indeed very visceral, very full of viscera to be exact. It is a follow-up story in the life 3


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SPECIAL PURPOSES: FIRST STRIKE WEAPON By Gavin G. Smith www.abaddonbooks.com 1987 — a Spetsnaz team head into New York city and unleash a deadly zombie virus. They are infected, but manage not to become mindless zombies, and try desperately to get home, ending up on a ship with some survivors. World War 3 is over and Russia has won, destroying the vast majority of civilisation. So, the Spetznaz team with their kidnapped ship’s crew and a handful of survivors head for the UK, only to find pirates and neo-Nazis have taken control… I was expecting a pretty fast-paced action thriller, and for the most part that’s what I got. A decent amount of action. The setting isn’t fully realised, apart from it making setting up the story there is no retro-eighties feel or nostalgia. A bit of a wasted opportunity. The characters don’t really start coming into their own until the second half of the book, and about halfway through there is a lull in the action and reader engagement drifted off a bit. I almost gave up on it, but then the second half of the book seems to refocus and the story speeds up and the action comes thick and fast. There’s nothing new here, nothing particularly exciting. The idea of intelligent zombies, World War 3, and military action aren’t new, but work well together. Overall this is a decent start to what will to be another shared world for Abaddon. Massive potential, as yet unrealised. By Stanley Riiks

This film reminded me a lot of Eli Roth’s classic Cabin Fever. It has the same claustrophobic feel, and is shot-through with the same kind of smutty humour and devil-may-care attitude. It’s actually three story arcs in one: the police investigation, the bunch of dumb, horny teenagers at the cabin, and the obligatory origin thread about where this batch of coke came from. It’s pretty gruesome in places and if you can overlook some cringy dialogue and general predictability, there are certainly some shocks on offer. Considering what we essentially have here is a first-time director working with an unknown cast on a limited budget, the results are extremely impressive and could herald the start of at least one very promising career. Don’t take drugs, kids. By C.M. Saunders

THE EVIL IN US Directed Jason William Lee A police unit is called to a house party to find a bunch of dumb horny teenagers have literally torn each other to pieces. When the lone survivor is giving a police statement from her hospital bed, she pukes up someone’s finger. So far so good, right? The police eventually work out that the party-goers had ingested some very, very sketchy coke, and through the magic of police work manage to trace the supplier who happens to be a very nasty individual indeed. What’s more, they find out he’s heading off to a secluded cabin by a lake with a pocketful of said sketchy coke and another group of dumb horny teenagers in tow. Just what would horror movies do if it wasn’t for dumb horny teenagers? Anyway, as you can probably imagine, things degenerate pretty quickly. As the genius dual-meaning tagline says: Worst. Trip. Ever.

AMONG THE FALLEN By N. S. Dolkart www.angryrobotbooks.com This is the second book in the Godserfs series, and sees our intrepid teens split up following the battle of Silent Hill. This is as much a coming-of-age book as anything, although as the story continues, it is the exploration of the characters that really moves the book along. Intriguing, in-depth and ingenious. Dolkart explores this unique world through the lives of the brilliant characters. True and rewarding fantasy at its best. By Adrian Brady 5


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amongst them, although, with so many different subjects, styles, genres, and themes on offer, some appealed to my personal sensibilities more than others. The collection offers stylish writing, original story-telling, and a variety of applaudable, alternative perspectives. Subjects covered include: life and neighbour harassment in a post-apocalyptic and globally warmed garbage world; murder by sex-bot; a feminist take on a Rumpelstiltskinesque fairy story; a boy who can control both the desert and dead things; a sword-and-sorcery tale with kick-ass female super heroes and a non-traditional take (by sword and sorcery standards) on sexuality, and a deep-space interlude involving inter-stellar jewels made from compressed human corpses. I could go on (for another twenty-two stories) because each story is a unique, perfectly cut gem in its own right. The list of publications that sourced this myriad of glittering stories is equally impressive and includes Tor.com, Clarkesworld, The Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy, The New Yorker, and Asimov’s Science Fiction. A sample of authors indicates work by a good sample of both male and female writers including Joe Abercrombie, Nina Allen, Seth Dickinson, Amal El-Mohtar, Carolyn Ives Gilman, Yoon Ha Lee, and Ken Liu, to namedrop but a few. In conclusion, this is a large and impressive anthology that, in my opinion, is well worth checking out before volume twelve comes along. I couldn’t say if it is the absolute best of what was published last year, but it is certainly outstanding. By J.S.Watts

FEVERISH FICTION #1 By Various https://feverishfiction.wordpress.com/ I’m sure you will agree there’ll always be room in the market for another dark fiction magazine, especially one as lavish, delightfully produced and, for want of a better word, niche as this. Feverish Fiction is the brainchild of editor-inchief Michael Faun, who claims in the editor’s note to have first birthed the idea whilst getting drunk after an Ozzy gig in Stockholm, which is an admirable feat in itself. The prime motivation for this was to, “Bring back to life the gaudy pulps and sleaze fiction writings popular from the 1920s and throughout the 1950s.” This is quite a slim print volume, meaning you can expect quality over quantity, and features an impressive selection of dark art, poetry, cartoons, and weird fiction. Very weird fiction. The first story to assault your senses, thrashed out by Justin A Mank, is about a cheeky leprechaun in desperate need of a slug of whisky. This is the level of weirdness we are talking about. Elsewhere in the issue you’ll find contributions from Alex S Johnson, Ashley Dioses, KA Opperman, Konstantine Paradias, and a stand-out offering from Patrick Winters. Published monthly by Sleazy Viking Press, each edition is limited to just 50 copies, making each issue an instant collector’s item. The debut issue is now sold out. But don’t worry, by the time you read this the latest issues will still be in stock. If you’re lucky. By C.M. Saunders

MYTH OF THE MAKER By Bruce R. Cordell www.angryrobotbooks.com Carter Morrison kills his friends and himself to save the world. Fortunately it is in VR. Except it is really not. Three years later Katherine Manners finds a melting man in a computer room. Complex is the only word to accurately describe this book. Set in The Strange RPG world, this blends the alien VR world with reality in a way that is similar to The Matrix. The technical terminology will find some readers struggling, but the characters are what really hold this book together. Intense, complex, realistic, and intelligent, this is a book that manages to entertain and draw you in. By Adrian Brady

THE BEST SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY OF THE YEAR (VOLUME ELEVEN) Edited by Jonathan Strahan Apparently this is “the first volume of the second decade of the Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year anthology series”, which figures, as it is volume eleven of an annual imprint. To have kept going for so long, one must assume that the editor/publisher has been getting something right. I certainly felt they got it right for volume eleven, a wide-ranging and quality collection of twenty-eight speculative fiction short stories (science fiction, fantasy, and a touch of horror, or at least dark fantasy). I didn’t find a weak story 7


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short, author John FD Taff went out for pizza one night, and decided to use the establishment’s washroom. There, he saw the words I CAN TASTE THE BLOOD scrawled on the wall. The statement (or was it an admission?) stirred something in him. Fast forward several years, and what we end up with is five different novellas by five different writers, all sharing the same title. Opening the collection is current darling of the scene, Josh Malerman. That title is no slight, by the way. It is entirely deserved. Apparently, he wrote forty unpublished novels before 2015’s Bird Box won him a Stoker nomination, widespread acclaim, and, it is rumoured, a movie deal. His effort here is a bleak tale of trickery amongst desert travellers. It seems to be set in the Biblical era, though the time frame, and other details like the location and age of the protagonists, is deliberately left to the reader’s discretion. It is written in such a way as these things don’t seem important, or even relevant. The fundamental questions are the same; chief among them being if you had a young family to protect and someone knocked on your door in the middle of the night asking for help, would you answer it? Next to throw his hat in the ring is twentysomething New Yorker Daniel J Stone with a story of obsession, addiction, sado masochism, and destructive love. His borderline-poetic prose is often a joy to read. But be warned, the graphic depictions of gay sex might add another element of discomfort, apart from all the death and mutilation going on. It’s enough to make a straight man squirm. Heck, it’s probably enough to make a gay man squirm too. You keep thinking... surely, he isn’t going to go there. But he does, and he takes you along for the bloody ride. In the afterword, which is supplied by every contributor, he describes how painful, even torturous, the writing process is for him, something which certainly comes through on the page. At first glance, the contribution from Joe Schwartz doesn’t really belong in what is essentially a horror collection. His gritty depiction of the seedy underbelly of modern America would perhaps be more at home in a noir crime anthology. But to classify it that way would be doing the author, and his story, a great disservice. There are no ghosts or demons, no witches or werewolves. There aren’t even any zombies. Whaat? But this story doesn’t need them. Instead, it focuses on the dark side of human nature and rams home the fact that people are capable of far worse horrors than any fictional entity. This story is one of my favourites in the entire collection. On we go, and next up is a story by Erik T

FOOD OF THE GODS BY Cassandra Khaw www.abaddonbooks.com Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear oh dear. This is the third book in my entire life that I have not finished. The third. The first was the Aliens novelisation by Alan Dean Foster, a book that scarred me for life. I chucked the book across the room and have never read a single novelisation since. The second was a massive horror anthology that I managed to make it about half way through. It’s still on a bookcase somewhere, the bookmark proudly signalling my lack of achievement. The third book I will not finish, ever, is this. Rupert Wong is a sorcerer, cannibal chef, and former triad who is tasked with killing the Furies who killed the daughter of the Dragon of the South. His adventure will see him travelling to hell, talking to ghosts, getting tricked into starting a war between the gods… That sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Except Khaw’s writing style is weird, difficult to get into, and utterly annoying. I lost interest before I made it to the end of the first novella; the book is made up of two, but I persevered, only to be rewarded with a weak ending that left me with more questions than answers. I barely started reading the second novella when I realised life’s too short to read this. I would have suffered. It would basically have been like torturing myself. I’m now over forty, and unfortunately I don’t have enough time left to read all the books on my shelves, so adding in one like this is simply stupid. I wanted to like this book, I really did. But it failed to engage me. The mess of a writing style failed me as a reader. The main characters failed to live up to expectations. The plot simply failed. Not what I was looking for. By Stanley Riiks I CAN TASTE THE BLOOD By Various http://icantastetheblood.com/ I have the utmost respect for Grey Matter press. They work with some of the biggest and best names in the business; from writers and editors all the way through to designers and cover artists, everything they do oozes quality. That’s one reason why I was so keen to get my hands on this book. I was also intrigued by the concept. Originality is something often sadly lacking in these kinds of anthologies and, it has to be said, in horror fiction in general. To cut a long story 9


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Johnson. With the release of his debut collection of fiction imminent, Johnson is a comparative newbie yet displays the range of skills you would expect to find in writers far more experienced and accomplished. He has an impressive turn of phrase, and creates a multi-layered tale full of metaphor and symbolism centred on the weird relationship between a mother and her son. Unfortunately, he lays it on a little thick for my liking and the result is dense, difficult to follow, and never really grips the reader. Not this one anyway, which is probably as much my fault as his. The last word goes to Taff himself, one of the leading names in horror and author of over eighty published short stories as well as four novels. His reputation is such that he has earned the moniker ‘King of Pain,’ and it is entirely justified. If the other contributions to this collection sometimes stray toward the trippy and fantastic, Taff walks up to that line and pisses all over it. Conversely, however, his story also harks back to classic pulp horror in that it is essentially a creature feature which gradually builds to an earth-shattering climax. Like all good stories, there is a message, buried deep within the lines. All in all, I Can Taste the Blood is a remarkable offering from one of the finest publishers of dark fiction on the planet. It can either be utilised as an introduction to some of the best new (and old) talent out there or taken in as a whole, in which case you get a whole load of high weirdness thrown at you with zero fucks given. Which is just how horror should be. By C.M. Saunders

FEAR, INC Directed By Vincent Masciale A bored slacker horror junkie (Lucas Neff) and his friends sign up for Fear, Inc, a service which creates ‘custom scares’ in order to make all your worst nightmares come true. Littered with references to everything from The Shining and Silence of the Lambs to Halloween and Saw, the whole thing plays out like an homage to the horror genre. Throughout the whole film you are wondering how much of it is real and how much is a result of some sophisticated, high-end pranking. This horror comedy will keep you guessing and squirming, right up to the final credits. By C.M. Saunders INHERIT THE FLAME By Megan E. O’Keefe www.angryrobotbooks.com The third book in the Scorched Continent series brings the trilogy to an action-packed close. It’s difficult to outline the plot without giving too much away if readers have not read the first two books, but the characters’ adventures continue as tensions mount between the empire and Hond Steading. Detan seemed to be caught between the two… Other familiar characters return; Ripka is finding her way now that she is no longer the head of law enforcement, and the Throatslitter is given a great deal more humanity in this book. Fans of the previous two books will continue to read; for anyone who has not yet discovered O’Keefe, the first book in the trilogy is the natural place to start. This is a good solid fantasy novel, but is not meant to be read alone. Read the trilogy; it is very much worthy of your attention. By Adrian Brady

FIENDISH SCHEMES By K. W. Jeter www.angryrobotbooks.com This is the sequel to Infernal Devices, and see the return of George Dower in an alternative Victorian England. Jeter doesn’t just insert Victorian England into his novel, he attempts to write in the style of the time. This feels like a Jules Verne novel rather than something written in the 21st century. It’s a pastiche, quite hard to read, very slow and meandering, not particularly likeable or with memorable characters. Jeter may (not?) have invented steampunk, but returning to the genre he helped create is doing neither him nor it any favours. By Adrian Brady

KOJIKI By Keith Yatsuhashi www.angryrobotbooks.com When Keiko’s father dies, he leaves his a cryptic poem and a message about going to Japan. When she arrives, Japan is a city under siege from ancient spirits… Inventive world building, a simple yet effective plot, and interesting characters make this a riveting read. The Japanese flavour of this urban fantasy raises it above the norm, and injects a sophisticated thrill that has been lacking in urban fantasy of late. Intelligent, thrilling, and charming. By Adrian Brady 10


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is something teachers of all levels will be able to relate to when what starts as a simple class project builds to a horrific climax. “Children of a German Autumn” by Matt Andrew is the poignant tale of a prostitute in 1970s Berlin who comes up against much more than an oppressive regime in the search for her son, and “Night Wire” by HF Arnold, first published in Weird Tales in the 1920s, contains some of horror’s best-loved elements (spooky graveyards and a strange mist concealing unspeakable monstrosities) and weaves them into something uniquely chilling. Also worth a mention is “The Small Hours” by Vince Darcangelo, a tale of OCDtainted, technology-enabled voyeurism which could double as one of the most disturbing Christmas stories ever. Elsewhere in this sprawling collection, we have tales about time travel, a Kabul war zone, radio signals driving people insane, top-secret transmissions, government shadiness, and weird shit happening in various guises in all kinds of remote locations. Lots of weird shit, some with echoes of classic Twilight Zone or Outer Limits episodes, and some with a distinctly fresh and modern flavour. Whilst a few of these tales will almost certainly leave you scratching your head, most are memorable and deeply unsettling, in all the right ways. My advice would be to not try and second-guess everything, just enjoy the ride. You don’t need to understand how chocolate is made in order to enjoy the taste. Christine Morgan, writing for the Horror Fiction Review, summed it up nicely when she said, “This book will probably make you paranoid, if you weren’t already.” And she’s probably right. By C.M. Saunders

LOST SIGNALS By Various http://perpetualpublishing.com/ Lost Signals is a themed anthology from Perpetual Motion Publishing about “Radio waves, numbers stations, rogue transmissions, and other unimaginable sounds you only wish were fiction.” It features impressive cover art by Matthew Revert, an introduction by World Fantasy-awardwinning author Scott Nicolay, and contributions from the likes of Tony Burgess, Michael Paul Gonzalez, Betty Rocksteady, Christopher Slatsky, John C. Foster, Damien Angelica Walters, Paul Michael Anderson, and many more, so there’s no shortage of big-hitters. Within its 407 pages you’ll find a total of twenty-three stories by twenty-two writers (Matthew M Bartlett, inexplicably, has two entries) and the vast majority reek of quality. Themed anthologies are, by their nature, an awkward beast to master. Generally speaking, too many stories are shoe-horned into spaces they don’t belong by writers and editors determined to make them fit. That isn’t the case with Lost Signals, with virtually every story benefiting from a sense of belonging. It gets off to a solid start with efforts by Bartlett and Shirley Jackson Award nominee T.E. Grau, setting a dark, creepy, often other-worldly tone for the rest of the volume, which toes the line between sci-fi, bizarro fiction, and horror, without actually ever straying too far into one genre. For me, the bar is raised to new heights with “The Givens Sensor Board” by Josh Malerman, a writer who made a considerable splash with his Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel Bird Box. His contribution here is a breathless account of a graveyard worker faced with a terrible conundrum. The pace doesn’t let up with the next story, another personal favourite of mine, a surrealist tale of loss, despair, and a strange pet by David James Keaton called “Sharks with Thumbs.” And no, the strange pet in question isn’t a shark. That would be way too obvious. “Rosabelle, “Believe” by Amanda Hard is a gut-wrenching tale of tragedy and faith, written with insight and tenderness with the smallest edge of malice, while the “Last Scream” by Gabino Iglesias

DAMNATION By Peter McLean www.angryrobotbooks.com The third book in the Burned Man series again sees Don Drake in a whole lot of trouble. He is in Edinburgh, working for a goddess, until he makes a run for it and tries to deal with the voice in his head by turning to drugs… Magic and drugs definitely do not mix, except to make things even worse for our world-weary antihero. McLean’s punchy writing is what draws you in, and Drake is what keeps you reading. This is dark, brooding, with a wicked sense of humour. Fans of Preacher and Lucifer will love this. Great fun. By Adrian Brady 12


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All this is compounded when the mother ship is boarded by the North Korean navy, leaving them stranded hundreds of meters beneath the surface. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, a serious error of judgement leaves them upside down on the ocean floor letting in water. Don’t ask.

THE CHAMBER Directed By Ben Parker

Random dialogue extract: A: That wasn’t part of the plan. B: The plan’s coming loose. A: You’re coming loose. All the action takes place on board a tiny submarine, so you naturally get that icky sense of, creeping, claustrophobic dread, which is just as well because the military espionage-based plot is waferthin, and seriously lacking any of the twists and turns that usually makes this kind of film worth watching. Instead, you get an insanely improbable love angle. Because when you’re trapped in a submarine on the ocean floor facing certain death, everyone gets the horn. Don’t they? There are, however, a few shocks toward the end, and eventually justice is seen to be done. Another point of interest is that Manic Street Preacher James Dean Bradfield did the musical score. It’s not exactly Motorcycle Emptiness, more of a dark, brooding plod, but it’s still pretty effective. Bradfield’s appearance isn’t a complete surprise, given that the movie was filmed in Pencoed rather than the Yellow Sea and was produced in association with Ffilm Cymru Wales, making it possibly the first ever underwater thriller made in Wales. Something tells me it might also be the last. By C.M. Saunders

Tension is the name of the game in this low-budget survival thriller from debut writer/director Ben Parker which premièred at last year’s Frightfest. The film opens with news reports that the nation of North Korea is becoming increasingly hostile, and has successfully test-launched ballistic missiles in an act of ‘clear provocation,’ conveniently playing on our newly-instilled suspicion of Kim Jong Un’s lot. Once it was the Russians, now it seems as though the North Koreans are the ones we should be scared of. With every other country in the world uniting in panic, an American special ops team led by the pragmatic Alice Edwards (Charlotte Salt) enlists the help of a research vessel in the Yellow Sea to help them complete a mysterious ‘mission.’ The research vessel is equipped with a submersible craft called the Aurora (yep, the ‘chamber’) reluctantly piloted by Mats (Johannes Kuhnke) which is dispatched to search for something. The special ops team won’t say what they are looking for, which isn’t helpful, and as you can probably imagine doesn’t make for a good working relationship with the poor civilian roped into doing their dirty work for them.

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Morpheus Tales Review Supplement September 2017  

20 pages of genre non-fiction: loads of horror, sf and fantasy book and film reviews!

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