“Ex Libris The Eyes of Madness, simple reviews from a simple reader…”
Zakk reviews a triad from Duncan Ralston:
*Salvage: a Ghost Story, 347 published by Shadow Work Publishing May 30, 2016.
*Every Part of the Animal, 156 pages published by Shadow Work Publishing June 1, 2016.
*Woom, 90 pages published by Matt Shaw Publications August 6, 2016.
Salvage: a Ghost Story
Something is Lurking Under the Lake…
Struggling to come to terms with the sudden death of his sister, Owen Saddler becomes obsessed with the lake that claimed her life. The remains of a forgotten town rest at the bottom of that dark body of water — along with a host of buried secrets…
Thirty years earlier, the town of Peace Falls had been flooded to build a hydroelectric dam, and its ruins remain below the surface of Chapel Lake. The strange disappearance of the town Pastor, along with many of the parishioners, still haunts the citizens of Chapel Lake. But does the church haunt the lake itself? Is Owen really seeing ghosts… or has he descended into the depths of madness?
Salvage is a rock solid, character driven piece about secrets, how far people will go to to keep them. There are some wonderful visuals with the sunken town and especially as the flashbacks kick in and the mystery unfolds.
A few super dark moments and just enough of a paranormal angle to keep things moving in a tale that doesn’t need gimmick to stay entertaining.
Duncan has the goods for a long and delightful career. His knack for writng compelling characters and believable dialog will see to that.
Overall Score 4.5/ 5
Every Part of the Animal
Bo Lowery and her ten-year-old son have hunted the woods surrounding their Alaskan home for as long as Caleb can remember. What they don’t eat themselves, they sell to local businesses, using every part of the animal. Disgusted by the wolf cull, pop megastar Rainey Layne and her bodyguard Darius travel to Bo’s small town to join a growing group of animal activists. After Bo and Rainey clash during the protest, Rainey pulls mother and son headfirst into her manic, self-absorbed world when she crashes her car on their land. Soon, she finds herself their unwilling guest. But in the age of instant communication, celebrities can’t just disappear without the whole world demanding them found. In a violent showdown between hunter and activist, tensions within the Lowery household are dragged into the light. Both women harbor dark secrets. But Rainey Layne will learn just how far a mother pushed to the edge will go to protect her child.
What’s more timeless than a mother protecting her only son from the horrors of the world?
Duncan takes a great jab at the obsession with celebrity and gives this grounded story a genuine sense of events spiraling out of control.
Honest characters acting and reacting as real people do, saying thing that real people say, it’s a common theme in Ralston fiction and gives it an air of deminsion, believability.
Every Part of the Animal was my favorite Duncan Ralston joint until I read…
Overall Score 5/ 5
The Lonely Motel holds many dark secrets… and Room 6 just might hold the worst of them all.
Angel knows a lot about pain. His mother died in this room. He’s researched its history. He’s come back today to end it, no matter the cost, once and for all.
Prostitute Shyla believes the stories Angel tells her can’t be true. Secrets so vile, you won’t want to let them inside you.
But the Lonely Motel doesn’t forget. It doesn’t forgive. And it always claims its victim.
Whew, this is the one. This is the one that makes you find out what makes me tick, causing you to second guess wanting to be my friend.
What starts as a conversation (using that yearn loosely, see what I did, wink) between two consenting adults quickly erodes into the telling of deprived vignettes. Woom is sick, it’s twisted, and it is guiltily entertaining.
The seemingly random vignettes are left to simmer, to stew a little bit while the main two characters have some witty banter back and fourth. This gives you a few moments to start making connections, to start forming the “what the fuck?” face. And you will, if you make it this far.
Heed the warning on the cover, it’s there for a reason.
Woom is greater than the sum of it’s parts and the revelation is the definition of Dark. This read cements me as a lifelong Ralston fan. It’s time for a shower.
Overall Score 5/ 5
Zakk is a big dumb animal!
**Note: I received a complimentary copy of Salvage from the author and/ or publisher and read Every Part of the Animal and Woom via my paid Kindle Unlimited Subscription. I am reviewing these voluntarily. These are my honest, unbiased feelings. I did not receive any sort of compensation.
Duncan Ralston was born in Toronto and spent his teens in small-town Ontario. As a “grownup,” Duncan lives with his girlfriend and their dog in Toronto, where he writes dark fiction about the things that frighten, sicken, and delight him. In addition to his twisted short stories found in GRISTLE & BONE, the anthologies EASTER EGGS & BUNNY BOILERS, WHAT GOES AROUND, DEATH BY CHOCOLATE, FLASH FEAR, and the charity anthologies BURGER VAN and THE BLACK ROOM MANUSCRIPTS Vol. 1, he is the author of the novel, SALVAGE, and the novellas EVERY PART OF THE ANIMAL and WOOM, an extreme horror Black Cover book from Matt Shaw Publications. He is one-third of the horror podcast Screen Kings, dedicated to dissecting Stephen King movies and miniseries..
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