Zakk reviews Blood Sacrifices by Brian Moreland

The Eyes of Madness presents “Simple reviews from a simple reader…”

  
Zakk reviews “Blood Sacrifices” by Brian Moreland. 282 pages published by Samhain Publishing, LTD (Samhain Horror) 2016.

“What are you crying about, boy? yelled his grandpa’s voice.

Otis looked up and saw Grandpa’s ghost standing shin-deep in the pigsty. Dressed in the same bloody clothes that he had shot himself in, his single eye glared from his half-blown-off face.

Otis looked away.

Look at me when I’m talking to you, boy! Blevins men don’t cry, you hear me? Now quit your sniveling or I’ll get my switch and give you something to cry about.”

Synopsis:

Some evils require sacrifices.

From the author of Dead of Winter and The Devil’s Woods come four tales of blood-tingling horror.

The Girl from the Blood Coven

In this short prequel to The Witching House, when Abigail Blackwood claims her hippy commune family has been massacred, Sheriff Travis Keagan and his deputies investigate. They discover there’s more than weed smoking going on at Blevins House. Much more.

The Witching House

Sarah Donovan is scared of just about everything, but she helps her adventurous boyfriend investigate the old, abandoned Blevins House, scene of a forty-year-old unsolved massacre. Little do they know the house is hungry for fresh prey…

Darkness Rising

When Marty Weaver encounters three killers who like to play sadistic games with their victims, his own scarred past is unearthed. And when his pain is triggered, blood will flow…and hell will rise.

The Vagrants

Beneath the city of Boston, evil is gathering. While living under a bridge with the homeless, journalist Daniel Finley witnessed something that nearly cost him his sanity. Now, with a book published about the experience, he’s caught between the Irish mafia and a deranged cult preparing to shed blood on the street.

*This is a collection of books previously published in digital format, first time available in print.

“He examined his resurrected body. The pages from his journal had wrapped themselves around phantom legs, arms, and torso—given form to feet and hands. He studied his moonlit reflection in the lake. Staring back was what looked like a head covered in bandages, like some badly burned victim, but it was the eyes—black, hollow, brimming with lake water—that made him look away in fear of his own reflection.”

When I first read Darkness Rising, way back in 2015, I gave it a sleight knock for starting the tale with a familiar cast of baddies. Regular joes in simple masks (animal or otherwise) seemed to be all the rage in film at the time. It felt too easy. Perhaps that was a bit of a knee-jerk reaction on my past as it is a pretty effective visual.

Darkness Rising has stuck with me, rattling around in the old brain pan. It was only my second Moreland read behind The Girl from the Blood Coven (a knock-out short story). So I was far from experienced with his fiction. But as I wrapped up Blood Sacrifices (containing the afore mentioned pieces plus two more, The Witching House and The Vagrants) I realized that my initial reaction to Darkness Rising may have been off, confusing overly familiar with immediately accessible. Brian just has a way of ushering you in a narrative. Quickly, efficiently, viciously.

All four pieces here, three novellas and a short story, are great. They all have a highly enveloping, cinematic quality to them making a fast and fluid immersion process. When you are in these pages you are trapped in these worlds, fighting amongst or against the creatures, human and otherwise. Fantastic creatures at that, of various ilk.

The first two entries, Blood Coven & Witching House, are connected pieces dealing in witchcraft and occult. The later rooted (wink) in the present, the former cuffed to the past, both of these are eerie and atmospheric reads. While I was more into Blood Coven, it seems to delve a little into pure malice, Witching House holds its own pretty well. One of the supporting antagonists in WH comes of a little cliche back-woods-redneck, which lost me for the briefest of moments but the story roped me back with a solid set piece and a pretty awesome… well, you’ll see.

The final piece, The Vagrants, covers the ground of religious fanaticism (to an extent) and old Gods with a touching secondary narrative weaving around and then through the main narrative, that being the emergence of a massive, mysterious cult amongst the homeless population.

It’s a solid angle for a story to begin and again I was immediately connected with this tale and all the characters involved. A charismatic baddie and a charming secondary narrative combine for a captivating read.

Now let’s back track to the third entry in this book, Darkness Rising. A piece that on its own ended up on my year end top ten list. It is one hell of a read and (my feelings only) the pinnacle of this collection. It starts off fast & familiar, wrapping up rather quickly, unexpectedly. Right before immediately giving horrid birth to a core shaking secondary act. This is what calls to me as a reader, a dark, heavy, bleak narrative.

This story gets ugly, and it gets ugly fast. Our protagonist and antagonist are both highly effective and very imaginative nightmares. The history behind the two unfold and boom, you get events that define why I fell in love with horror. It’ll move you.

Brian Moreland has a firm grasp on his craft, that is apparent. His work is dark, difficult to predict, and highly satisfying. It’s exactly the type of material I seek out when I’m choosing a personal read and now that I have blasted through his shorter works I really need to make reading a full length novel of his a priority. Definitely check this one out.

“He didn’t dare look back. To see them again was to accept that nightmares were real.”

Overall score: 4.5/ 5

Zakk is a big dumb animal!

**Note: I received a digital review copy of this book from the publisher/ publicist on the promise of an honest review. These are my unbiased feelings.

  

Brian Moreland, Biography

Brian Moreland is a best-selling and award-winning author of novels and short stories in the horror and supernatural suspense genre. In 2007, his novel Shadows in the Mist, a Nazi occult thriller set during World War II, won a gold medal for Best Horror Novel in an international contest. The novel went on to be published in Austria and Germany under the title Schattenkrieger.

Shadows in the Mist, Dead of Winter, and The Devil’s Woods are his currently available novels, as well as his Kindle short-story The Girl from the Blood Coven and the novella it led into called The Witching House. Now, he has released the full-length The Devil’s Woods. His novella, The Vagrants, was released in 2014, and another, Darkness Rising, in 2015.

He loves hiking, kayaking, watching sports, dancing, and making guacamole. Brian lives in Dallas, Texas where he is diligently writing his next horror novel. When not working on his books or books for other writers, Brian edits documentaries and TV commercials around the globe. He produced a World War II documentary in Normandy, France, and worked at two military bases in Iraq with a film crew.

Brian lives in Dallas, Texas. You can communicate with him online at http://www.brianmoreland.com, Twitter, or Facebook.

  

Praise for Brian Moreland

“For horror fans wanting a healthy dose of the small-town stuff a la Stephen King, be sure to pick up a copy of this (The Girl from the Blood Coven) memorable and frightening short story, a wonderful teaser that will whet your appetite for the main course, The Witching House, where the twisted story continues.” -DarkEva/Hellnotes

” Very much in the tradition of HELL HOUSE, THE WITCHING HOUSE is a creepy, modern turn on the haunted house story.” -Tim Potter

“Far and away the best new piece of fiction I’ve read this year. With Darkness Rising, Brian Moreland reminded me why he’s one of my two favorite (not King, Laymon, Ketchum…etc.) authors out there (the other being Ronald Malfi). I’m a huge fan of his novel, Shadows in the Mist, but I think this novella rivals it.” -Glenn Rolfe, author of Blood and Rain, on Darkness Rising

“Brian Moreland writes a blend of survival horror and occult mystery that I find impossible to resist. I know, when I’ve got one of his books in my hands, that I’m going to be lost to the world for hours on end. He’s just that good.” -Joe McKinney, author of Dead City and Flesh Eaters

“A thrilling, wholly-engrossing read that masterfully crosses multiple genres and leaves the reader breathless. Moreland weaves one hell of a history lesson, rich with brilliant characters and incredible plot twists. Highly recommended!” -Brian Keene, bestselling author of The Last Zombie and Ghoul, on Dead of Winter

“Dead of Winter is an exceptionally well crafted horror novel that tells a gripping story of dark religious doings, a horrific serial killer, and a sympathetic Inspector, in a dark and fascinating historical setting of 19th century Canada. The atmospherics are outstanding and the story offers plenty of surprises right up to its shocking and violent conclusion. Highly recommended.”
– Douglas Preston, New York Times bestselling co-author of The Monster of Florence and Cold Vengeance

“Brian Moreland’s fiction is taut and spellbinding, often blending varied themes to form a dark genre very much his own. From his WWII occult thriller Shadows in the Mist, to the haunting chiller The Devil’s Woods, Brian’s work is at once versatile, original, and deeply engaging.” – Greg F. Gifune, author of The Bleeding Season

“The Devil’s Woods is an awesome horror novel, filled with nerve-wracking suspense and thrilling action!” – Jeff Strand, author of Wolf Hunt

Purchase Links

Amazon
http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Sacrifices-Brian-Moreland/dp/161923467X

Barnes & Noble
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/blood-sacrifices-brian-moreland/1123369598

Samhain
https://www.samhainpublishing.com/book/5784/blood-sacrifices-four-tales-of-terror

  

Want to Feature Brian Moreland?

If you would like a copy of the book for review or to conduct an interview with Brian Moreland, please contact Erin Al-Mehairi, Publicist, at Hook of a Book Media: hookofabook@hotmail.com.

  
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Facebook.com/themouthsofmadness Twitter.com/Zdubbz_at_TMOM

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