Book Review: Slasher Girls & Monster Boys Anthology

Synopsis

For fans of Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Lois Duncan, and Daphne Du Maurier comes a powerhouse anthology featuring some of the best writers of YA thrillers and horror

A host of the smartest young adult authors come together in this collection of scary stories and psychological thrillers curated by Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’s April Genevieve Tucholke.

Each story draws from a classic tale or two—sometimes of the horror genre, sometimes not—to inspire something new and fresh and terrifying. There are no superficial scares here; these are stories that will make you think even as they keep you on the edge of your seat. From bloody horror to supernatural creatures to unsettling, all-too-possible realism, this collection has something for any reader looking for a thrill.

Fans of TV’s The Walking Dead, True Blood, and American Horror Story will tear through tales by these talented authors:

Stefan Bachmann
Leigh Bardugo
Kendare Blake
A. G. Howard
Jay Kristoff
Marie Lu
Jonathan Maberry
Danielle Paige
Carrie Ryan
Megan Shepherd
Nova Ren Suma
McCormick Templeman
April Genevieve Tucholke
Cat Winters

My Review:

I do enjoy a good anthology. You find new authors you never knew existed, read stories from some of your favourite authors, and everything is in lovely tasty bite-sized stories that mean you get to read an entire tale in one sitting. Slasher Girls & Monster Boys is a perfect example of this. There were some stories that didn’t float my boat, but hey we don’t all have the same taste, and that’s what makes the world go round (along with money!) but there were a few stories in there that really caught me by surprise and didn’t let me go. Carrie Ryan’s In the Forest Dark and Deep is very evocative and has an almost Twin Peaks vibe (although it made much more sense) I particularly liked it as it has an Alice in Wonderland theme and I’d studied Lewis Carroll’s book for my own twist on the tale Lost in Wonderland. I also loved Cat Winters’ Emmeline, which was gruesome and atmospheric.

From a writer’s perspective, this is a beautiful collection of stories that show the breadth of literary horror possibilities out there, and all the authors put their own spin on them, in their own style.

The front cover is a little cartoon like for me; I would have preferred something more sinister to represent the feel of the stories inside. However, I do appreciate that this is primarily for a YA market, so I can understand the choice.

Overall I’d give Slasher Girls & Monster Boys 5 out of 5 stars. A wonderfully creepy collection of little YA gems.

Find Slasher Girls & Monster Boys on Goodreads

Lost in Wonderland by Nicky Peacock – out now!

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My new series, The Twisted and the Brave has kicked off today with the first book, Lost in Wonderland.

The Twisted and the Brave, 1

Monsters, serial killers, and imaginary friends—being a Wonderlander can be murder… 

Once upon a time, Kayla was lost. Then she found Wonderland, but not the one you know. Run by ex-government agents and funded by an eccentric Silicon Valley billionaire, this Wonderland is the name of a collective of highly trained vigilantes who hunt serial killers. Now Kayla, aka Mouse, works tirelessly alongside her fellow Wonderlanders, Rabbit and Cheshire, baiting dangerous murderers. But even her extensive training hasn’t prepared her for the return of her older brother… 

Shilo has spent most of his life in an insane asylum, convinced his mother was abducted by a sinister Alaskan monster who lures the lost away to feast upon their flesh. And now he’s certain that his sister is in the same monster’s crosshairs. But if Shilo is going to save what’s left of his family, he’ll have to convince his sister that maybe, just maybe, we’re all a little mad.

14+ due to violence and adult situations

Excerpt:

Before I can scream, he stuffs me in his trunk. It is dark, smelly, and contains an empty plain black plastic bag and a dirty shovel; these are not good signs. I put my hands to the top of the trunk and push. It is locked. I wasn’t getting out till he wanted me to. I resign myself to curl into a ball, the acidic-smelling sweat of his palms still imprinted on my bare, narrow shoulders. I should be listening out for the car engine, hearing when it slows for corners or revs on open roads. I should be testing the resilience of all the sides of the black space around me. I should be doing all the things they tell you to do, but I don’t. I simply stay in my little ball, quiet and patient.

The car bounces up and down and I realize we’re not on the main road anymore. He’s taking me somewhere remote…

We come to a soft stop. The slam of a car door shivers through the metal of the vehicle. I know what is going to happen. It’s so inevitable that it’s almost laughable. Death comes to everyone at some point; what is that saying, “No one can avoid death and taxes.” Funny the things you remember when you’re in danger. I suppose your brain tries to distract you with all sorts of useless crap, anything to keep you from shutting down and freaking the hell out. I grab at my forearm, an almost robotic reaction, feeling down it to check that my tracking chip is still there. The hard edges beneath my skin make me smile. My small, metallic friend never lets me down, never abandons me.

The lid to my dark place is pulled up and I see him. His face is blank. There’s no hint of emotion or even intent other than what can be derived through his actions. His hands are sturdy as he pulls me from the trunk and stands me up before him. Being barely five feet tall, I only stand to his chest. I look down to the ground between us and see the cheapest sneakers in the world, ones probably made by enslaved third-world children. Man this guy is pure evil.

“Don’t worry, girl.” He puts a hand on my cheek and graces me with a twitchy smile that doesn’t reach his eyes. The hand lingers longer than usual polite social circles would allow. My eyes widen. I know that I am one of many girls he has brought here—one of the many that he planned to rape and strangle, then leave used and vacant by the side of the road, a hollow tangle of floppy limbs. How do I know this? Because I know him. I was looking for him. I’m not who, and what, he thinks I am. I’m not a fourteen-year-old girl, scared by the death sentence before her. No, I am something else entirely.

I smack his palm from my cheek and use the momentum to reach over with my other hand to grab his wrist. I position myself in front of him and use his own body weight to pull him down and over my now bent back. He hits the ground so hard he cries out. I keep hold of his arm and twist it around and under. He moves his body, angling it in the same direction in an attempt to ease the tension I’m creating.

“Stop!” he yells, those crappy sneakers frantically pumping to find enough purchase to get him to his feet.

I push harder till I hear the bone snap. He screams, but thanks to the remote location he has taken us to, no one hears him. I let go of his wrist and turn to retrieve the shovel from the trunk. I take a minute to loom over him. He is trying to get up, but the weight and pain of his broken arm is putting him off-balance. Funny how fragile the human body actually is, even one that belongs to a sick serial killer.

I raise the shovel and smack it over his knees. He howls and tries to shield himself with his good arm. An arm that is not intact for long, as I turn the shovel and this time use the edge to dig into his flesh. Blood pools on the ground and he begins to crawl. I’m not sure where he’s trying to go. I think his goal is just to get away from me. I walk the few steps to where he’s managed to drag himself to then bring my weapon down hard onto his skull. The splintering sound of bone meeting metal is my cue to get on with the operation. I pull my cell phone from my pink sparkle-covered jeans and dial the only number on it. An automated message greets me. “Off with their heads.” I take a breath and look over at the mangled mess of the serial killer they knew as the Doll Maker. “Here, here,” I say. The call rings off and I know that I have to make my exit now. They will come and clean up the mess. No one will ever know that the Doll Maker was an accountant with really bad shoes, and I mean really bad. It’s not till they’d stopped moving that I see peeling luminous go-faster stripes adorning their sides. Yeesh. The blood splatter does little to hide their ugliness.

I stoop and check for a pulse, finding none. His skin is already clammy and I could swear slightly rubbery, but in truth it is probably just my imagination.

I throw down the shovel and begin the trek back to civilization. The night air is bitter and cruel, so I pull up my lilac hood against it. An unmarked black car zooms past me. They were quick tonight. I rub my hand up my forearm and feel the comfort of my chip. My chip is a constant friend, albeit a chatty one; they will always be able to find me, know where I am, where I’ve been. Not that I’m complaining. I was lost once, when I was very little. And although that fear bubbles in my mind every day, I beat it back with my chip. I’ll never be lost again; or at least that is what my adoptive parents tell me. Wonderland doesn’t lose its operatives.

Buy links:  Evernight Teen  Amazon UK  Amazon US  Amazon Canada 

Interview with…Nicky Peacock

use1So, why do a self-interview?

Well, Nicky at the risk of appearing schizophrenic I thought perhaps I could use this opportunity to ask myself the questions that don’t tend to get asked in other interviews. And of course, be incredibly honest with my answers. You can’t lie to yourself, well you can, but it’s not healthy!

What advice would you give a new writer?

Honestly, only go into writing if you are passionate about it. I love writing, always have, but if you don’t have the time and energy to properly dedicate to it, it’s best to find another hobby/ career. People who are outside the publishing industry tend to not know the efforts that have to go in to getting published, sure they’ve probably read big time author stories romanced up to the point where it’s three steps away from reality, but they’ve not experienced it themselves. To be fair, until they do, they won’t understand. There are lots of friends and even family in my life that only see the end product of the book in their hand, they don’t see the nights I stayed up editing, the lunch times I worked on my blog, and all the spare hours I could get my hands on to actually write. Only other authors truly appreciate these efforts. So, finding other writers to talk to is paramount to keep your sanity!

What question do you dread in interviews?

How did you come up with the idea for your novel? I hate seeing this question as the answer is always awful sounding. There are so many ideas, characters and plots that go into writing a novel and they all spring from somewhere – some can be very personal. I always try to be honest in interviews, so I find it really hard to spin my answer in such a way that I don’t sound psychotic or condescending!

Your new book Bad Timing continues the Battle of the Undead series with Evernight bad-timingTeen. Was writing a second book harder?

Oddly, no. I have an overall plot for the series in my mind, so it kind of felt cathartic to get the story on paper. I love the character of Britannia and I feel a certain sense of duty to get her to her ending, whether it’s happy or not. The one thing I am worried about with it though, is that you have to read the books in order for them to make sense. I’d hate for a reader to start with Bad Timing as they’d have no idea what is going on!

How do you feel about promoting your own books?

I’ve worked in sales and marketing now for 16 years, so I really enjoy it. As the author, I’m passionate about my work so getting it out to the widest audience possible is as much my responsibility as my publishers. Some days I can’t write a coherent sentence to save my life, so it’s nice to have another job to get on with which is just as productive. I also really appreciate it when readers and bloggers help me to get the word out – makes me feel like I’ve done something right.

Tell us something about yourself that you wouldn’t normally reveal…

I’m highly competitive but incredibly lazy. This makes for an interesting combination. My inner self is pretty much always at war. A big part of me wants nothing more than to turn on Netflix and binge watch with a tub of mint choc chip ice cream. The other part of me wants to win, to push myself to my limits and get to the top with hard work and dedication. The latter tends to win more battles, but it’s an ongoing war!

What do you feel passionately about?

Helping other writers find their way. I have a writers’ group that’s really busy and I’m volunteering to do creative writing workshops for local schools and libraries. Writing can really help to focus you, exorcise demons and if all goes well give you an extra income. I’m currently striving to provide the support for wannabe authors that I didn’t get when I was younger. I also really enjoy inspiring other writers. I have quite a busy mind, so playing muse to others is a great way for me to focus too. If I could get a job as a muse, I’d be there like a shot!

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What was the best story you ever wrote?

I love all my stories, I wouldn’t put them out into the world if I didn’t. But there are three short stories that I put my whole heart into. For Audrey appears in the So Long and Thanks for all the Brains anthology – this story is about a zombie dog protecting his child owner in a zombie uprising. It never fails to make me cry! Bad Baby appears in the Bleeding Ink anthology. It was an idea based in science but marinated in emotion. The Red Fingers appears in Grotesquerie anthology, is probably the most ‘out of the box’ story I’ve written, it’s all from the point of view of a musical talent. The Battle of the Undead series published through Evernight Teen is my first sole author books, so these will always have a special place in my heart.

How do you deal with bad days?

Everyone has them, I try to remember this, but I have developed a trick that makes me feel so much better…the montage. Montages are mostly found in scripts but sometimes in prose; it’s where a character skips through a portion of their lives in short scenes; this leads them to their destiny, usually with uplifting music – think Rocky training to Eye of the Tiger. After a bad day, I sit down, close my eyes and imagine my day as a montage of events (usually to the song Nine to Five by Dolly Parton) Once finished I feel better, that I the protagonist of my own story is heading toward my destiny, one country song montage at a time!

What are you working on at the moment?

Well, it’s the last installment of Battle of the Undead, Bad Karma and also the 2nd installment of my new series, The Twisted and the Brave. I also have another story eating away at my brain, like a toothy worm – but I’ll update you all on this one when I know more.

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