Book Review – All Hallows by W. Sheridan Bradford

Defined as ‘literary horror’ by the author, “All Hallows” may be a bit off-putting to some readers. However, for those who like their horror richer and deeper than the usual blood and guts slasher quick reads out there, this novel may be exactly what you’re looking for.

All Hallows follows the old (nay – ancient) and somewhat cantankerous old witch, Maren Glover along as she tries to make her way home on Halloween Night. There is some pre-amble to this stroll through town, which may seem somewhat out of place, until you get further into the book then it all falls into place and makes sense. She encounters other creatures of the night, other witches, an eleven-foot-tall werewolf (But don’t call her that, that only makes her angrier and do you really to make an eleven-foot-tall werewolf even more pissed off at you? No, no you do not.), and a vampire just to name a few. All of them are sorely tempted by a high bounty placed on Maren’s head. But, Maren, old and road-weary as she is, keeps her handy-dandy bowling bag of tricks always on hand and she isn’t about to go quietly or easily into that sweet night. And, oh, does she love her sweets! Maren is a wonderful character. I couldn’t get enough of her absent-minded, somewhat disorganized old lady ramblings throughout the book. All the characters in this book are described with a flourish that keeps them each memorable and unique.

My only complaint about the book is that I think the author went a little overboard with the lengthy wording and word choices in the first half. In a couple of instances, there were sentences that covered almost an entire page.  Yes, a single sentence drawn out with enough commas and semi-colons to drive my high school English teach mad. This is typical of the old Gothic Horror novels that I so love, so it wasn’t terribly off-putting to me in that regard. This, along with wishing I had a thesaurus on hand, made the first half of the book a bit of a struggle. That being said, once I reached the halfway mark, everything changed! The narrative quickened. The sentences and paragraphs shortened. The dialogue and characters blossomed and were a delight. They drove all the action forward at a wonderful pace. It became a book I couldn’t wait to have time to sit down and get back into. Had the first half been written like the second half, I would have easily given it a higher rank without a second thought. It was all worth it in the end and I’m hoping Mr. Bradford puts out more work soon – very soon. Please!

BUY IT HERE: ALL HALLOWS by W. Sheridan Bradford

Raven Rating: 4 out of 5 Caws.

The Raven Scale:
1 Raven: Yuck! Don’t eat that.
2 Ravens: Bread crumbs, but it’ll keep us alive.
3 Ravens: Oh, hey! Peanuts, popcorn and cat kibble!
4 Ravens: Lunch time pizza place dumpster. Hell, yeah!
5 Ravens: Holy Shit, Fellas! Fresh Road Kill!

So, Ya Wanna Be In A Book, Do Ya?

I’ve had quite a few people ask me to put them in one of my books. It’s funny and I wish characters came to me that easily. I can only answer that if a story calls for someone like them, I’ll put them in, but I can make no promises.

One of these requests comes from a woman who works in the café where I work. She’s quite a character herself and I’d love to work her in at some point – even if just for a one-scene cameo. Another person is my uncle. He’s got some wild stories from his youth to tell and thinks I should put them into one of my books. Other friends and family have made it onto the pages in various ways without even asking and probably at least one would rather I hadn’t.

The habit of drawing characters from people I know pretty much dominates my writing, most of the time they are fictionalized to the point that even the person being taken from won’t recognize themselves. In other cases, the characters come to me from some other unknown and mysterious realm of which I haven’t a clue about. The two best examples of that are Lee Yagar and Mary Alice Brown from my psychological horror novel “Dark Hollow Road”. Lee came to me first. One night I was sitting alone by a campfire in my backyard and he told me his name and that he knew what had happened at the house on Dark Hollow Road. He also made it clear that getting that information out of him wasn’t going to be easy. Weird, I know – but that’s what it’s like to be in my head sometimes, the voices – the visions.

All that being said, there’s still a chance you can be in your friend’s book. Is there any way you can help move that dream along? Yes, there are a few methods you can try.

Probably the easiest, and least attractive way is to be an asshole and piss your writer friend off. I write Horror and dabble in the Murder-Mystery genre so if you want to be snuffed out in a gory and unpleasant way, that may just be the ticket to admission. You’ve made an impression and if I detest you enough, I’ll find a way to kill you in the most grisly way possible. Best of all, it’s completely legal. Nobody has to go to jail and nobody has really died – but I feel a whole lot better about things. As a bonus, despite you being a total waste of air in the real world, your most horrible traits have been exposed and you have been made immortal. Don’t you feel special now?

Another, much nicer way, is for me to love you deeply – as a friend, as a family member, as someone I hold near and dear to my heart. I’ll treat you a lot better then. Be a positive inspiration just by being yourself. I love that. I may still have to kill you, of course, but at least the readers will be crying over your death instead of shouting about how you got what you deserved – you jerk.

It’s not just dearly loved friends that find their way into my stories, but common people I remember from my childhood. My memories of tons of those from my hometown and surrounding communities populate my Barnesville Chronicles. Sometimes it feels like I’m cheating so bad when I use them. Small towns are full of quirky characters just begging to be written about.

Lastly, be original. Stand out as someone who I will see and make a mental note of – either by way of your voice, the way you dress, some sort of wild hair-do, something I will remember when I walk out of whatever space we may be sharing when I notice it. I’m really into people watching. It helps to be memorable and unique. This brings us back to that café lady. I’ve no doubt she’ll show up in a book at some point, but I don’t know when or where. Next time a café scene is required, I suppose, as I only know her within that realm. She’s funny and unique and has a certain boisterous loudness about her that may prove quite useful in the future. Notes have been taken.

Book Review – In The Valley Of The Sun by Andy Davidson

At the age of ten, I read my first vampire novel, Dracula by Bram Stoker. Over the past forty years literally hundreds of other vampire novels and short stories have crossed my path. Most of them have been quite forgettable. Andy Davidson’s In The Valley Of The Sun is not one of them.

First, it’s original. That’s really hard to find in the world of vampire novels. The word vampire is never used and the effects of becoming one of the undead don’t adhere 100% to the traditional. Better yet, these particular creatures of the night do not ‘sparkle’. (THANK, GOD!) If you want goody-goody vampires this book is NOT for you.

Set in West Texas (not to be confused with West, Texas – which is located in Central Texas), we follow the wretched and lost life of Travis Stillwell, a deeply disturbed and traumatized Vietnam Vet who travel the roads in search of something he’s lost – what that is, he’s not sure. Even before he meets up with Rue, he’s not a particularly pleasant fellow. After they meet, well – it goes from ugly to absolutely monstrous.

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book of this length (almost 400 pages) in less than 10 days and that’s always a good thing. Loved this book to pieces and would recommend it as a MUST READ to anyone who loves the vampire genre as much as I do.

Raven Rating: 5 out of 5 Caws.

The Raven Scale:
1 Raven: Yuck! Don’t eat that.
2 Ravens: Bread crumbs, but it’ll keep us alive.
3 Ravens: Oh, hey! Peanuts, popcorn and cat kibble!
4 Ravens: Lunch time pizza place dumpster. Hell, yeah!
5 Ravens: Holy Shit, Fellas! Fresh Road Kill!