Review: Darke Awakening by Lee Hall — SDMcKinley.com – indie author / blogger

A tip of the cap to fellow author and blogger S.D McKinley for this wonderful review of ‘Darke Awakening’.

Be sure to head on over to his blog and give it a follow!

I read the first book in this series titled Open Evening and I can tell you that this writer ( Hall ) has evolved. Toward the beginning of the book, with the rocks and the lake, it reminded me of lofty, floaty feelings I got when reading Storm Constantine’s The Ghosts of Blood and Innocence […]

Review: Darke Awakening by Lee Hall — SDMcKinley.com – indie author / blogger

Spooky Season Book Recommendations 2

What’s better than one post dedicated to spooky season book recommendations? Two posts dedicated to to spooky season book recommendations, so come with me on another journey showcasing some reads that are perfect for Halloween…

“Something happened tonight, I don’t know what. Something that ripped the veil between the Chicago of the living and the Chicago of the dead…” 

Undertown: A Novella by [K. Noel Moore]

You should know by now that here at the Hall of Information we love a good novella and this one fuses history with some serious ghostly spookiness. The prohibition era meets the supernatural as K.Noel Moore tells a story that’s readable in just a few sittings and will make for one of those perfect reads for Halloween.

A slow burning tale that twists into the deep shadowy darkness of the unexpected…’

Blood of the Sixth by [K. R. Rowe]

There’s a lot going on under the surface of a story which sits within the realms of gritty urban horror, mystery and witchcraft. While it is a complex story it’s also very well executed by K.R. Rowe. The whole layout of the book from short sharp chapter length, to characters all the way to general story has been well thought out and makes for some perfect spooktober reading. Be warned this one’s a little brutal – I’m kind of numbed to that sort of thing…

Be careful with dreams, they may come true….

Most of us can relate to the struggle of fitting in at school and Kristina Gallo has used that as inspiration to tell this story with a supernatural edge that guarantees to satisfy. It’s a shorter read but still manages to entertain. This one I recommend for Halloween but the other works of Kristina I highly recommend also! You can check out a recent Hall of Information interview with her here.

Page turning space sci-fi full of chills and fun from beginning to end…

I’ve mentioned before that I enjoy space science fiction quite a lot and my go-to author of that genre is Christina Engela who once again provides another awesome series but this one contains some chilling but fun spills that begins with ‘Dust’. The ‘Panic! Horror in Space’ series is well worth a look for some awesome Halloween spooky goodness.

Did you expect any less than a little shameless self promotion? Let’s face it, you’re gonna get that on here but with good reason because my 5th book ‘The Ghost Beside Me’ is FREE on Halloween! This memoir style account relays the story of one lonely soul who connects with another not of this mortality. It’s short, powerful and most probably an important moment for me as the milestone 5th book mark was crossed with it – apparently after releasing that number of books things start to happen and well something good has been happening since on here… What if the greatest love story was also a ghost story?

A twisting unpredictable creature feature set in a small town with a big secret…

A small town, an ancient monster and some history to boot – let’s face it that concept is right up my alley and ‘Rites of Passage’ makes for some decent wintery/Halloween reading. An ensemble of characters band together to fight evil on several fronts with some action and a few twists along the way. I first reviewed this one over on Reedsy Discovery

A modern vampire story that takes the reader on a journey of twists and turns…

Nocturnal blood

Good and original vampire stories are hard to find but Villimey Mist is leading the charge with her gory but always enjoyable ‘Nocturnal’ series that begins with Nocturnal Blood. We see a young lady thrown into the world of vampires while also suffering from debilitating anxiety and OCD. She must endure a journey into what is just the tip of the ice cap as there is more to come from this series which will get the third book next year.

And so that wraps up part 2. Wishing you all a spooky Halloween and see ya’ll in the next one!

Spooky Season Book Recommendations

It’s the season of spooky and what better way to celebrate the nights drawing in and those leaves falling than to read a Hallow-tastic book. Here at the Hall of Information we love a thrilling and chilling reading experience so here’s a run down of some recommendations perfect for the season…

‘In space, not all things were certain… not even death’

Space and horror, simultaneously they are right up my alley and back in 2018 Christina Engela made history by being the first ever author to approach the Hall of Information for a book review. Of course we obliged and the journey of discovery began.

Imagine ‘Alien’ and ‘Event Horizon’ combined with Engela’s immersive writing style and you have the tale of the I.S.S. Mordrake; a ship seemingly stranded and damaged beyond repair in the furthest reaches of space and then it begins… They run into another ship that appears abandoned and just floating there. What unfolds is a tale of mystery and suspense. Check out my full review here and this book is part of the wider ‘Galaxii’ series which I plan on reading more of soon!

‘While some monsters are born, others are created..’

Who doesn’t love a slasher story this time of year? And branding this book only that would most probably be an insult because ‘the Four Before Me’ is so much more. Author E.H. Night blends nostalgia of the 80’s with a twisting initially slow burning story that becomes unputdownable. I even said in my review that this one reads like an early Stephen King with all the sights, sounds and senses captured that make for a chilling read!

Chilling, immersive and full of tension. Everything you want from a crime thriller…

Clowns and horror go hand in hand and Mallory Kelly has put together a chilling tale of shorts that I spent the first half of this year slowly delving into. Each book follows a separate story while the wider plot follows a pair of investigators trying to chase down a murderous clown which is part of this network or shall we say conspiracy. It’s part X-Files meets the irrational fear of clowns and these stories make for perfect Halloween reading. You can read my review of book 1 ‘Dead End’ here.

An enjoyable yet sinister tale of the macabre that’ll keep you turning pages…

Bruce Knapp has managed to pack in the many pillars of horror into one book with Noxious which I found through my Reedsy Discovery endeavors. Having enjoyed his ‘Night Audit’ series of shorts I jumped at the opportunity to take on a book about one town with a dark cloud hanging over it. From gruesome murder, witchcraft, possessions to even something monstrous lurking in the local river this one has it all and will certainly itch that horrific Halloween scratch. Check out my review here

An entirely unique and original page-turning journey of variety on the open road…

It probably doesn’t get any more unique or out there than ‘How LJ and Rom Saved Heavy Metal’ which is a fun road trip story full of variety. Like many awesome authors I’ve become friends with S.D. McKinley reached out to the Hall of Information for a review and I was not disappointed. The supernatural element makes for some great spooky season reading and there’s even zombies! Here’s my review.

And so that wraps up my spooky season book recomendations but some of you probably know by now that I love a sequel so you can expect a part 2 quite soon.

Do you have any spooky season book rec’s? Send them my way via the comments!

Building 51 By Jennifer L. Place – Review

Hello friends and a happy Saturday to you all. Today’s Saturday Re-blog is a chilling book review that I would highly recommend for this spooky season. You can expect a full post highlighting some more reads perfect for Halloween this coming week!

Lee's Hall of information

Urban exploration horror filled with tension and some truth…

51

Building 51 follows the events of seven friends as they embark on an exploration excursion. Their destination the Hudson River State Hospital for the Insane; a real place with a real history that can be described as harrowing to say the least.

Exploration of abandoned places is a specialist niche in the genre of horror and one which I very much enjoy. Films such as ‘Grave encounters’ and ‘House on Haunted Hill’ come to mind but in terms of books, Building 51 is the benchmark and makes for a roller coaster tension filled read.

Fusing elements of real history and the paranormal make this story and the characters in it feel like something is lurking and watching them. Something is and this gradually becomes apparent manifesting itself in a range of unique and creepy ways.

The overall flow of the book…

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The Hell Fire Caves : A paranormal (sort of) Adventure

Ghostly stories shrouded in mystery. A history of speculative happenings deep below. A place where hauntings are said to be frequent.

Turn out the lights and read on, but don’t shower alone or go into the woods because there could be tears before bedtime…….

hellfire

I walked through the dark and cramped passageways that lay below the west Wycombe hill known as the hell fire caves, just the name can suggest what this place could have once been. The cold damp air puts a chill in the atmosphere fuelling ones imagination that this place might even be haunted. The dark can have a way with one’s mind, especially when we begin thinking what could be there.

Hopefully I have enticed you enough to read on because my experience of the hell fire caves turned out to be better than expected. Some could argue it was something from nothing, but isn’t that how good experiences are born?

So there we were putting our token through a flimsy unattended turnstile and heading into an arched white washed corridor. There were pictures and writing displayed, you can read most of that on Wikipedia. There was a level of intrigue for me considering the stories surrounding this place. Stories of the macabre and even one highlighting a type of gentleman’s club that congregated below the hills with prestigious exclusivity.

The man made and cut passages were narrow or low in places. Most surfaces were damp or cold to the touch, every so often we were shown a caged display of some manikins in a hokey museum type of arrangement. If you looked at their eyes they would follow you.

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Pretty scary huh?

Of course during this experience there were the usual high jinks that comes with my group of friends. The ample choice of nooks and corners gave us scope to hide and jump out on each other Maybe that was the design. Deeper we walked and to a grand opening. A banquet hall once. The loose stones below my feet crunching.

At this point there wasn’t anything that really appealed to me or to say ‘yeah go the hell fire caves, check it out’. We delved deeper, the floor slanting angular downwards. Low light hid the many corners and coves as we came to the final chamber. Four or five period dressed manikins were set up in party scene, but maybe more than that happened during the times long ago.

Around we turned with ‘is that it?’ in our heads.

Continuing back up to where we came, the banquet hall again approached. Our group headed up the slope of the cavernous corridor and as we did there was something. In the shadows I saw a small girl clutching a teddy bear.

helllo

Coming out into the larger much better lit banquet hall we all discuss what we just saw. Implications of being the only group in the area meant this little girl was on her own all the way down here. At least five of us saw her so the ghost idea immediately diminished. If she was alone, we should probably take some responsibility. So we decided to turn around and go back to look. It’s worth remembering this cave system is one-way and so  we went back and this little girl was nowhere to be found.

Thinking nothing more of it we continued up and past the banquet hall. All the time on our minds was the girl, for me her safety, to others maybe ghostly suggestions. The hell fire caves had got into our heads. This thriller had now become psychological.

Getting closer to the surface we took the decision to turn back and see if we could find this ‘girl’. The heart was pumping and at this point we ordered those with torches on their phones keep them on.

There was no way she could have passed us, we would have seen her.

Our group split and we took a parallel path each and went separate ways. Along the cold dark we went, several feet crunching on the floor. Coming to an opening there was light, from the other half of our group. We met and then split again as the paths did.

Being a sceptic at the time of such things I led my team. The people behind cautiously peering around corridors as opposed to my clumsiness. We came to another corner where the path of the others would meet. Me being first I stepped out into better light. I looked down to see the girl standing in the centre, with closed eyes and arms wide. The teddy in one hand.

My heart jumped.

The amount of witnesses quickly extinguished any chances of this being a ghost. She was really there and with other people we realised eventually, but for only a second I was in a horror film.

banquet

The Banqueting Hall

The hell fire caves; was this experience heightened because of the place? Is there something else at work playing on our minds? Either way it made a good afternoon. If you check out the Wikipedia page there is a few stories of the ghostly persuasion. Nobody knows what happened during the hell fire club’s short reign, but we all know something certainly did.

But just remember it’s not the dark you should be afraid of, it’s what is lurking in it………

Check out the photo below, is that the arm of a person or someone else in the background? Sleep tight……

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Spooky Season Movie Recommendations

To be perfectly honest I’ve been neglecting my horror/thriller passion since this year kind of turned into one but now October is upon us and for those like me who enjoy Spooky Season; let’s explore what movies I recommend to celebrate this time of the year…

Halloween (2018)

I’ve been a fan of the Michael Myers Halloween saga for quite some time and it probably stands as my favourite slasher film series up to Halloween H20. Yes there probably are a few ropey sequels in that collection but the first one was also the first ever slasher film and it paved the way. Spooky season would not be the same without that piano tune straddled by the good old mask wearing knife yielding speechless murderer who stalks the leaf fallen neighbourhood of Haddonfield in search of kills. The concept has been emulated many times in cinema but without the same effect.

A few years back some wise folks decided to reboot the franchise but effectively started again by discounting every film that followed the original to pretty decent standards. I thought it was so good upon release I visited the cinema twice to watch this sequel that packs one hell of a kill count. Jamie Lee Curtis deserves an honourable mention as she returns and picks up forty years later albeit hardened by the trauma of the first film’s events.

Fun fact: The town which my debut novel is based takes inspiration from Haddonfield and also the name of the high school I went to called Harlington making the name ‘Haddintgon’ – cool huh?

Jaws

Every attempt to create a scary film about an evil fish has fallen flat since 1975’s Jaws which holds up incredibly well for today’s standards. The evil fish or great white shark serves as just a side vessel for the story which is really about people being stupid and knowing there is a threat out there so don’t go out there – this sounds incredibly 2020…

The small town trope (which works in near enough every horror setting) or the quiet Island of Amity relies heavily upon seasonal trade in the summer and now a man eating shark could threaten that. The main character is new in town and also the Sherriff, he tries to balance local politics while taking down this threat which looms every so gradually in a film that is perfectly paced, characterised and overall quite scary. The sheer chemistry later on in the film between the three main characters hasn’t been emulated too often in cinema after making things all the more immersive. The shark, which looks kind of fake and was only used sparsely for that reason just heightens the terror. Don’t go into the water – it’s October anyway…

Grave Encounters

I’m a huge fan of found footage films probably because the concept of reality is heightened with in them. Over the years and since the Blair Witch Project some film makers have gone out of their way to make a film seem real and so comes along ‘Grave Encounters’ which is not only a found footage film but it also ticks a huge amount of horror boxes.

The film is a collection of footage all spliced together in continuity that relays the making of a paranormal investigation show called Grave Encounters. You see behind the scenes shenanigans from a highly likeable team as they put together the last episode of their first series, this one being a ‘lock in’ at a vast but mostly abandoned institution. The setting of this film is harrowingly perfect. Corridors upon corridors lay untouched from the primitive days of mental health care. Wheelchairs and gurneys lay empty, doors are wide open from the hundreds of cells, a bathtub sits unused – trust me they got the location bang on in this one! The first person view of this setting at night is one of nightmares.

You see all the usual stuff that paranormal investigation shows do, they even bring in a physic who is just a guy in shades and a leather jacket. For the purpose of the show, they ask the caretaker to lock them in overnight and that’s when it begins. You’ll have to watch it to find out, but trust me it’s worth a look and it’s terrifyingly awesome.

The Cabin in the Woods

For some this may appear to be an odd choice to include but to me the Cabin in the Woods is an incredible yet wonderfully fun film that turns every trope of the genre on it’s head. We like genre bending here at the Hall of Information and if you didn’t like this film it’s probably because you expected it to just be about a creepy cabin in the woods – that’s been done too many times before and even this film knows that.

Joss Whedon had a lot of involvement in this one, you can tell by the casting and the story telling which starts in one place and takes you to somewhere completely random and unchartered. It’s fun, outrageous and overall unexpected. Give it a try.

The Conjuring Series

Yep, the whole series that falls under the Conjuring umbrella is worth your time. I must start with a fair warning; these films are full of jump scares, but not the cheap jump scares you see in cheap horror, the jump scares in this series normally build to one with purpose and these films are well written, well paced and stand nowhere near the usual hokey-ness of the genre. From the first one all the way through to the creepy ‘Annabelle’ series and even ‘the Nun’; these films are chilling, thrilling and walk the tightrope of paranormal and possessions.

Fascinating Horror Youtube Channel

I might have a problem with being obsessed with true but horrifying tales and although this is not a movie it’s a recommendation because the Fascinating Horror channel over on YouTube is one I cannot get enough of. You can see from the screenshot below how many videos I have steamed into. From bizarre naturally occurring events to man made disasters that have truly chilling outcomes, this is a channel not to be missed. The narration style is clear, concise and well paced. Saying that the subject matter is also very well researched but a little fu**ed up also.

Over to you…

That wraps up just a snippet of stuff I’ve been watching so far but October is a long month so hit me up with any recommendations in the comments below…

‘The Stairs’- a paranormal account

The events relayed in this account are true.

 

There are unexplained moments that happen in our lives. Some remain that way forever in the back of our minds and on the fringes of belief. For the majority, these ‘events’ are far and few between but then again there are some exceptions. My second paranormal experience was just that; an exception to the rule. It also happened to take place in the vicinity of where my previous one happened. I don’t believe in coincidence when it comes to the paranormal simply because of this…   

In the summer of 2017 I joined my significant other, her family and friends on what had become the annual two week trip to the south of France. For those who read my previous account  you’ll know the setting; a picturesque converted farm sitting on the hills of beautiful countryside. It’s remote and peaceful. The weather hot nearly everyday although this year the presence of bugs was way reduced due to a late frost.

Our particular digs like the other years a ‘gite’ which could hold up to 12 and on this trip 10 of us were about to become 12 at the midway point of the holiday when my S.O’s sister and her other half would be joining us. Their room sat opposite ours and my S.O’s in the right hand wing of the place. We had a bathroom between us and little stretch of narrow corridor which then flowed out to the main staircase. This staircase was fashioned out of dark red varnished wood and the steps were separately slotted into the wall. Like I mentioned previously when someone would climb these steps it’s would be difficult to miss with the distinctive wooden ‘drumming’ and vibrations which resonated against the wall whenever they were stepped upon.

On the night before our new arrivals were due I had already gone to bed when I had the rather strong urge to pee. I eventually gave in to those urges and decided to get up, I put the bedside lamp on and made my way to the door which I unlocked and headed out into the dark corridor. At this time the whole place was dead quiet, everyone was in bed by now and so it was dark but the little light from behind me showed the way and so I went into the bathroom, before I walked in I noticed the open bedroom door in front of me where our new arrivals would be staying the next night. The room sat in the shadows and in my grogginess I shuffled into the bathroom and closed the door.

Being half asleep I took the decision to sit on the toilet and during so I heard the distinctive sound of footsteps drumming up the stairs. Was someone up at this hour? The steps pattered on wood as they continued from what I presumed was the ground until they reached our level. I had the distinct feeling someone was rushing into our wing of the gite and flowing past the door I was behind and into the vacant bedroom. What followed was a loud echoing slamming which sounded like what could have been a heavy door closing.

I finished my business and headed out into the corridor. Immediately I put the light on to see nobody in sight. I walked to the stairs to see nobody around. My inspection of the situation pointed towards nobody I knew being around at the same time. That slamming sound, so distinct and even harrowing, I am swaying towards belief that it was something not of this mortal coil.

Some encounters remain unexplained…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book 6 – Darke Awakening is officially released today!

Wanna buy a book? I mean through all of my marketing efforts, tactics and out of the box thinking if that actually works to make a sale then I will be both astounded and not surprised, after all the writing game is poetically ironic at the best of times…

It’s been one hell of a weird journey in getting this book onto the shelves, since 2018 when I first drafted it to now, we’ve all come a long way and then this year happened…

To be able to push through all of the adversity of this shit storm that is covid fest 2020 and have a book to hold in my hands for the 6th time is pretty fuckin special in my eyes. Although this story represents so much it stands as a statement that words, ideas and books cannot be beaten no matter what situation is unfolding outside our windows. Of course I am fortunate enough to be able to carry on and even more fortunate to have so many wonderful, truly wonderful people to support me.

The journey in getting this story out there was a redemption kind of deal way before 2020 and now it’s happened, I am truly happy with it. While I’m eating celebratory halloumi and writing this post, I can honestly say this whole writing malarkey was worthwhile

This year has hit so many people hard and the best thing I can do to get through to anyone is to create content for them and these days people are actually reading it. In my eyes the loyalty of readers coming back time and time again to this site is worth more than any book sale but that’s a slight digression from what is supposed to be a book selling post…

The book sale bit…

Tumbleweeds at the ready because whenever an author tries to sell their own stuff or even think about it everyone suddenly vanishes but you’re getting a sales pitch anyway…

Darke Awakening is the 4th book in my occult, monster, witch, vampire series called the Order of the Following. It see’s two separate story lines collide as they are set in the same universe. The first three books in the series are currently discounted to 99 cents and so now there are 4 books to get yourself into right in time for Halloween/spooky season. Just look at them below, awesome right?

Darke Awakening is an ambitious crossover which throws many different heroes, villains and those in between together in a tale full of twists, turns, revelations and darkness. Anyway it’s officially released today and so because some awesome heroes pre ordered it buying the book now would be very beneficial for chart positioning on Amazon. I am literally 5 sales away from my target. If this target is reached then this whole deal is a success, that can only be achieved through you, potential loyal reader.

Marketing the 4th book in a series that only a limited number of readers have bought has been one hell of a challenge but I think we pulled it off!

Either way September 2020 stands as my most successful month ever for paid books sales, this is before the release of this book. Just look at those numbers as of yesterday…

And because I will always be closing, you can expect a guide book to how I did all these things hopefully next year. I guess that’s this post done, the links for Darke Awakening are below.

Peace out, stay safe, let me know if you grabbed a copy and thanks for reading. Rock and roll man!

Amazon UK Link

Amazon US Link

Amazon Canada Link

Other regions, type this in your Amazon: B08HX1B49G

‘Noxious’ by Bruce Knapp – Review

An enjoyable yet sinister tale of the macabre that’ll keep you turning pages…

There is so much going on in this book and I found myself quickly turning the pages as the events build, unfold and eventually intertwine in what is a clever fusing of several stories that centre around the strange dark small town known as Blackwater. Bruce Knapp has delivered a tale that is dark, sometimes gruesome and wholly satisfying and the setting is delivered well and through the multiple characters. Throughout, the story evolves along with those characters as everything plays out.

Grim shadows loomed over Blackwater, trying to conceal the hatred, but the evil continued to grow like a fungus, a black poisonous mould…

We see those who are looking for faith, some with lust on their mind, religious types, businessmen, lawmen and even those on the fringes of the occult and witchcraft. Hell, there is even something monstrous lurking in the local ‘Suwanee’ river, this tale really is one of variety that even feels like an anthology piece that is all wrapped up in less than a 200 pages and with short but sharp chapters which keeps those pages turning and the flow consistent.

Main character ‘Robert Thompson’ seems to have a dark cloud following him and his choices soon lead to a shocking and gruesome turn of events. It was at this moment I really became invested in the story. Robert is a changed man from this point and his journey is filled with sometimes graphic brutality to himself and others. Of course that cloud hanging over him has a name (‘Nyx’) and plays an influencing role in the form of possession.

Eventually we see the ‘Noxious’ part of the story which kicks in later on but has been cleverly built from the early stages. Of course Robert’s journey culminates during this satisfying finish for a book with so much variety in the horror genre. The town and setting of Blackwater feels like a character in its own right, it’s always there, hanging over everything with a certain darkness. This makes for a great atmospheric feel to the reading experience.

Those who like multiple character led stories with elements of the occult, witchcraft, paranormal that’s a little graphic in places will enjoy ‘Noxious’. Everyone else may just end up in the ‘Otherworld’ on Leap Day.

4 Stars – this review first premiered via Reedsy Discovery. Reviews left on both Amazon and Goodreads.

‘I Will Kill You in My Dream’ by Kristina Gallo – Review

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Be careful with dreams, they may come true….

Everyone who has been through the struggle of fitting in at school can relate to this short story about teens in Croatia during a time of transition for the country. Teachers from the previous political regime don’t help, parents cannot relate and the popular kids don’t help. If you’re not one of them it’s difficult. Even if you attempt to get in on the social scene it involves going to a seedy club where ‘whoever survives could make a story’ which works as a metaphor for the wider environment this story is set.

‘Helena’ like a lot of teens has potential but is otherwise engaged, for this she is berated by the school while also made to feel invisible. She’s not a bad student but perhaps she attracts bad things and then the dreams begin…

‘I will Kill You in My Dream is an engaging and satisfying short story with a supernatural edge about the struggle of being a teen.

4 Stars