Ex Libris The Eyes of Madness presents “Simple reviews from a simple reader…”
“The caverns had not been touched by the presence of man in centuries, but the professor could not shake the feeling he wasn’t alone. He had felt this sensation before many times in his days in the field. He questioned himself for not waiting for Wes as going into caves alone was really against protocol. Yet with his age had come some overconfidence. He excavated many tombs in South America and Mexico and each time the atmosphere was much the same. His heart beat with excitement, knowing he was on the brink of something major. The professor’s helmet lantern cast a yellow circle around him as he explored the underground labyrinths, and at times, it felt hard to breathe as the stone walls crept closer and closer to him. Yet, he would not yield to the anxiety of false suffocation. After hours of traversing those dark caverns alone, marking his trail with white chalk, he found himself standing triumphantly before a set of elaborate stone doors.”
Xibalba, home of torture and sacrifice, is the kingdom of the lord of death. He stalked the night in the guise of a putrefied corpse, with the head of an owl and adorned with a necklace of disembodied eyes that hung from nerve cords. He commanded legions of shapeshifting creatures, spectral shamans, and corpses hungry for the flesh of the living. The Mayans feared him and his realm of horror. He sat atop his pyramid temple surrounded by his demon kings and demanded sacrifices of blood and beating hearts as tribute to him and his ghostly world.
These legends, along with those that lived in fear of them, have been dead and gone for centuries. Yet now, a doorway has been opened in Georgia. A group of college students seek their missing professor, a man who has secretly uncovered the answer to one of history’s greatest mysteries. However, what they find is more than the evidence of a hidden civilization. It’s also a gateway to a world of living nightmares.
“He began to ease into his descent when he felt something give way beneath his weight. The harness was breaking. His rain-slick hands lost their purchase of the rope and in a panic he tightened his grip only to feel his palms burning and blistering. In seconds, he met the stone floor of the chamber below, his shin bones shattered in a violent instant causing them to protrude through his skin. His body went into immediate shock, leaving him gasping for air. Once his lungs were full, he cried out until his throat was raw. He turned to his side to empty the trail mix from his convulsing stomach. He heard nothing over his labored breathing. The shadows wavered as if he were not alone.”
The beauty of dipping my toes in the book/ blog review game is the opportunity to read works that may not have otherwise crossed my path. I don’t have many reader friends, even fewer into dark fiction, so before this I didn’t get much in the way of “word of mouth”. The past couple of years has been littered with first reads, some long overdue and it’s been a hell of a ride. Thanks TMOM, thanks a lot you jerks! (Wink face with kissy lips).
Hence this, Mayan Blue, is my first read from The Sisters of Slaughter, Melissa Lason and Michelle Garza. And it more than likely won’t be my last. It is a great dark adventure and all around good time.
Things ignite early with a gnarly prologue that doesn’t waste any time showing you exactly what you’ve signed up for by opening that cover, that gorgeous cover. Bloodletting. Swift, wet, bloodletting. And nary a moment to catch your breath.
Other than a brief section after the prologue introducing the dramatis persone, Mayan Blue is a fairly nonstop ride. A chase scene to the bitter end. It reminded me a bit/ brought back fond memories of the early 80’s flick Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, a movie I watched often as a kid.
Charismatic antagonists abound fuel this machine as they systematically hunt a group of typical college students. The undead sold this outright. They are a hoot. Mayan Blue was definitely a root-for-the-baddies kind of read. That’s not a derogatory statement. Its something I crave from time to time, a fun state of mind to tap into. It is pure entertainment and I had a great time reading. The pacing is hyper active, the visuals deliver a little something for everyone, and maybe, just maybe you’ll make it out alive. Check it out, make the sacrifice.
That owl, man. He had one job!
“Kelly fought the fingers tangled in her hair, sinking her nails deep into a wrist attached to the hand. She rolled onto her back to see her attacker. A skeletal figure, its skin hung in fetid layers. The flesh had peeled back from its face, revealing the skull beneath. What was left of the long, dark hair clinging to its skull was adorned with feathers, the feathers of an owl. Its eyes were much too large for its face and golden like those of the bird. Plumes of grey and white feathers hung from the decaying flesh of the creature’s naked and sexless body. It parted its thin, dry lips and screeched.”
Overall score: 4/ 5
Zakk is a big dumb animal!
**Note: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher on the promise of an honest review. These are my unbiased feelings.
Melissa Lason and Michelle Garza have been writing together since they were little girls. Dubbed The Sisters of Slaughter by the editors of Fireside Press. They are constantly working together on new stories in the horror and dark fantasy genres. Their work has been included in FRESH MEAT published by Sinister Grin Press, WISHFUL THINKING by Fireside Press, WIDOWMAKERS a benefit anthology of dark fiction.
“From the outset, Garza and Lason let the blood spill, plunging their small cast of characters into the depths of Mayan hell. There’s plenty of action to go around as the group is confronted with a number of horrors, from the labyrinthine and booby-trapped maze of the newly discovered Mayan temple to the angry gods and their owl-headed, sharp-clawed servants.” –Michael Hicks, Author of Convergence
“Their short works are wonderful to read. However this book proves that they can tackle longer works without missing a beat.” –Tom, GoodReads
”These two show no quarter dragging the characters–and by extension, the reader–into the depths of the Mayan version of Hell. There’s vividness to the scenes they craft that made me want to make sure I was reading in full daylight, or at least with most of the lights on.” –John Quick, Author of Consequences
Barnes & Noble
Sinister Grin Press