FOR PART THREE OF GALLOWS HILL’S CELEBRATION OF WOMEN IN HORROR MONTH WE’RE FEATURING CHRISTA CARMEN, THE AMAZING AUTHOR OF SOMETHING BORROWED SOMETHING BLOOD-SOAKED AND A NOD TO UNNERVING!
Brian James Lewis
Well, I don’t know about you all in reader land, but I missed the celebration of half-priced Valentine’s Day chocolate this year due to the fact that I was quarantined to my home by illness. Still not sure what the hell hit me, but it seems to be leaving and I am very grateful for that! Plus, I already have enough flab protecting my six-pack. So everything probably turned out for the best. Fortunately, I was able to continue our celebration of Women in Horror Month by sharing some excellent female poets with you to match up with week number one’s three “Wall of Fame” authors. So for week three I thought we’d switch things up a bit by celebrating one Woman in Horror. This person won the Indie Horror Book Award for best debut collection of 2018 with her amazing collection Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked published by Unnerving. She’s quiet, powerful, serious, and loves her canine writing companion dearly. But this woman’s work can be downright terrifying. There’s kidnapping, fires, zombies, drug use gone horribly wrong, and something terrible and porcine. Oh and let’s not forget all the blood that runs through the writing of…Christa Carmen!
Inside the beautiful cover are thirteen stories that are going to rock your world! And make some important social statements along the way. Let’s jump right into the thick of it with the front cover model, Priscilla, in Lady of the Flies. Also known to her detractors as Priss-killa because of an unfortunate accident involving dogs, she is a tall and powerful woman, who doesn’t relate well to people. One more thing she’s faulted for by many who think themselves to be perfect. Is there any truth to the creepy stories about Priscilla, or are they just a pack of lies meant to be hurtful? That’s up to you to decide. A crisis begins when her new boss at the farm brings her from behind the scenes, where she’s usually hidden and into the bloody limelight of the annual Halloween maze. Well! This is new, and good, right? Maybe she can finally be a “real girl” and just be one of the gang! Stu even extends a party invitation to her. Do you really think so, dear reader? Do you? Pardon me a second while I get my Vincent Price laughter track going…Don’t read this one alone, because it’s a 5 Star Screamer!!!
Do you like blood, monsters, and plenty of action? Good! Then The Girl Who Loved Bruce Campbellis going to make you smile. I really enjoyed this awesome, fast-paced story that features a female who decides to put her “naughty foot” forward and handle a pack of monsters all by herself. A solid, well-crafted tale that includes a cool tribute to Ash and the Evil Dead’s lead character actor, Bruce Campbell and demonstrates why doing drugs can be very hazardous to one’s health! The plausibility of this story is really very good, including the illegal dumping of hazardous waste. When you start reading, you have no idea where this one is going. The twists and turns are connected well and rest assured that women can kick ass with just as much flair as men. Pow!
How about a more subtle story that keeps you guessing? Time for the novella length piece Liquid Handcuffs. Damn, is this story good! It starts out with Olive, a drug and alcohol counselor at a clinic, helping her patient Nicole to rid herself of a demon by the name of Eddie Vance. While Olive seems very professional and appears to have it together, something is a little off. When her lunch break turns into an emergency, Olive finds herself at the mercy of Angry Eddie and it ain’t looking too good for the home team! He’s going to mess her up real bad and keep her from judging him ever again, or is he? This story alone is worth the price of admission. I had an inkling, but the conclusion is as surprising and dirty as a random employee piss test!
Souls Dark and Deep is not a story to speed read. Take it slow and soak in all the details. You want to savor this like a fine wine. Breathe it in and get the essence of powerful writing that shows that horror is much more than just blood and screaming. You know what’s really scary? People whose beliefs cause misery and pain to others who are doing nothing wrong. When babysitter Belinda arrives at the residence of sisters Annie and Abigail, their parents are charging off to a, um…”dinner reservation.” After they’ve gone, Belinda has some unique dolls for the girls to play with and learn the truth from…
FIVE BIG STARS and a special spot on the Wall of Fame! Something Borrowed, Something Blood Soaked changes what has become the usual horror story dynamic into something better and more empowering for all involved. These stories present female characters who have no interest in waiting for a man to come fix a problem that they can handle just as well. Hell, maybe even better, because they just do it and avoid all the macho swagger. Although I dig Kartya who says to her guy, “Gimme some sugar, baby!” after wiping out all the baddies by herself. Cool! Go to www.unnervingmagazine.com and grab yourself a copy of this snouted beauty today! You can also follow Christa Carmen at her site www.christacarmen.com or www.facebook.com/christaqua or on Twitter @christaqua
I want to take a few lines here to praise Unnerving Magazine and Books. One of the many important things about editor in chief Eddie Generous is the true equal opportunity he offers to writers. All the work is judged on its own merits, not because of who wrote it and I think that approach has brought forth many poets and writers that we might not have heard from otherwise. Eddie Generous has the amazing superpower of finding great writers and displaying their finest qualities. Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked is another gem from this tireless champion of independent horror writers and readers who Christa Carmen describes as, “A beast of an avid reader with an incredible work ethic.” If you haven’t yet spent time enjoying the excellent books available from Unnerving and their magazine which contains a fantastic mix of stories, interviews, and art, please head on over to their site at www.unnervingmagazine.com and dig all the greatness available! You will find many titles by awesome female writers including Breathe, Breathe by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, Stranded by Renee Miller and very soon, Fountain Dead by Theresa Braun which will be reviewed by yours truly for Gallows Hill Magazine!