Another day, another round of Recent Reads, eh, GoH readers? For this one, I’ve got a decent variety, I think. For this one, we went to space and maybe time-traveled a bit, went into a Fulci-esque experience, and finally, explored the horrors of conversion therapy.

Metro 7 Street by Matthew J. Hellscream (ISBN 9781496049186)

Okay, this was a fun Alien/Aliens/The Thing remix filled with nasty body horror, memorable characters, and a creative and immersive universe.

Michael J. Hellscream’s Metro 7 is a horror-thriller about a crew of space farers stumble upon a missing (and massive) cruise ship in space. Climbing aboard to answer a distress signal, they soon face horrors beyond their imagination.

And I do mean soon because this book’s pacing was great for the most part. I was picking up what the book was putting down. It’s got what I was looking for: space horror. This was quite different from what I was expecting, and for the most part, that’s great. I was expecting this would just be humans against alien creatures but we’re dealing with a whole vast fictional universe here. There’s world-building, folks! There’s alien species both evil and benign. Some humans are both evil and benign. I was all here for it.

The characters are all so memorable and likable for the most part. Some characters are easily despicable, you hate them. I like how the author was also able to introduce these characters and make them stand out from each other, despite having a large cast. I love that the book was not just entrenched in horror, it was fully entrenched in sci-fi too. Like, yeah, there are aliens, there’s spaceships but there are also elements working here that are above my usual wheelhouse.

Now, about the horror element, it was fabulous. The monsters were properly gruesome and definitely owe inspiration to the likes of The Thing and Dead Space (the game) but Hellscream has also made the creatures stand out by including elements of their biology that make them different.

All that being said, I did have some issues with the book’s pacing. The front and middle part of the book were amazing. We get into the action almost immediately, which I liked. However, this comes with the caveat of the back half being a bit more slow-paced. There’s more focus on character moments, I think, and that’s not a bad thing but I felt like the action kind of halted by then. I also felt the ending to be just a tad bit abrupt. The ending got exciting again with a showdown but I felt like loose ends were set up for another book to cover. That’s all fine to me…if there was a second book. Alas, I don’t think there was another installment after this, which is a shame because I love a lot of this book. I loved most of it!

With all that being said, this is still a solid read for me, and I implore others to check it out!

Bloody April Fools by Jonathan Tripp (ISBN 9798385531981)

A group of sensitives to the supernatural is gathered at a mansion where a serial killer got offed many years ago. Unfortunately, they arrived on April 1st, which soon proved to be a fatal choice. Such is the plot for Jonathan Tripp’s Bloody April Fools.

I’ll save words on this one as it’s a pretty quick trip but it is all the while worth taking. It evokes the gruesomeness of Fulci flicks and the like with a fast pace and creative kills. I was in a bit of a reading slump and this helped kick me back into gear. I really wish the story was just allowed to simmer for a bit more but for what we got, I’m looking forward to checking more of this author’s work.

score

Camp Damascus by Chuck Tingle (ISBN 9781250874627)

For many a queer person, there is an understanding of what queer horror means. While it is true that horror can be universal, certain fears sadly exist for queer people and I think Chuck Tingle has tackled a lot of these fears masterfully again with this novel. I say again because if you missed it, the author’s first foray into “serious” horror, Straight, warrants a read or two. Having read that novella, I can tell that Chuck Tingle has evolved as a writer of horror with this one. I’ve read a couple of works surrounding the horrors of conversion therapy but I don’t think I’ve seen anything quite like this. This is similar to how I feel about his way of tackling demonic possession. I can’t and don’t want to go into details as discovering the surprises of Camp Damascus is part of its charm.

What I will say about this one to give you an idea is that the life of a young woman by the name of Rose starts to unravel once she scratches the surface of her current life. She will discover horrific things about herself and the people around her, and she will also discover beautiful things also. I love her as a character and I was rooting for her the whole way through. I think Chuck Tingle has successfully crafted a defined arc for this character that has a beautiful evolution to it. Along the way, she meets certain characters that are just as brilliantly written, despite their entries late into the game. I can’t say for certain that I was scared by the supernatural forces that come into play here but there is an unnerving effect to the implications that can be done with them. Plus, there’s no beating the squirmy uneasiness surrounding cults and cult-like behavior. Living in a time and place where phobia towards queer people rears its ugly head when given the opportunity, this read could not come at a more perfect time. I feel seen by the disgusting ways that religious institutions operate are portrayed here as well as a sense of catharsis and hopefulness that comes with our main character’s determination to do the right thing and succeed.

That’s all she wrote in this edition of Recent Reads! I’m trying out this new thing of including the International Standard Book Numbers (or ISBN) for the specific editions of the books I’ve read here, which could help y’all in case you’re interested in these reads. ‘Till next time!

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