Title: Those Who Came Before
Author: J. H. Moncrieff
Publisher: Flame Tree Press
Reviewed By: John Lynch
Those Who Came Before, the latest from J.H. Moncrieff, is part creature horror and part murder mystery. Moncrieff takes elements of Native American history and mythology and uses them to craft a highly readable book that brings gore and intrigue. The story follows two main characters. One is a first-person narrative following Reese Wallace in the aftermath of his friends being slaughtered, and the other is a 3rd person narrative following Detective Greyeyes as she investigates the crime. In addition to the two perspectives, Moncrieff also intertwines a time jump in the narrative which helps to explain the past behind the cursed land of Strong Lake.
Those Who Came Before has a lot to like for horror fans. It tells a super interesting story and features a brutal, vengeful creature that is, simply put, a thing of nightmares. The more I read this book, the more fascinated I became with the creature doing the killings, and was eager to learn about the history surrounding Strong Lake and the curse upon the land. The writing here, for the most part, is excellent, words flow easily and I found myself cruising through the pages. Despite this, I did come across a few things that bothered me. I found the actions of both main characters to not be very convincing in more than one instance. I couldn’t help but think that someone accused of murder wouldn’t act this way, and a Detective on a police force definitely wouldn’t do that. There were a few plot elements that didn’t really work for me and felt like a wasted opportunity, and I wasn’t a fan of the ending. I don’t mean this to sound overly harsh, I still greatly enjoyed the book, so much so that I still highly recommend it.
With her latest novel, J.H. Moncrieff has proven herself an author to watch. A terrifying creature and an excellent story premise rise above the few problems I had, making for a damn good time following the Strong Lake murders. I’ll be on the lookout for further releases from this author.
Title: The Hungry Ones
Author: Chris Sorensen
Publisher: Harmful Monkey Press
Reviewed By: John Lynch
The Nightmare Room by Chris Sorensen was my earliest foray into reading independent horror. I absolutely loved it. Sorensen told a creepy tale that put its hooks in you and never let go until you reached the back cover. I’m excited to discover that The Hungry Ones avoids a sophomore slump and proves that The Messy Man Series is one to watch for.
First off, you should absolutely read The Nightmare Room before The Hungry ones. Without spoiling anything, there’s something similar (but different) to an alternate timeline going on, and you COULD read this without first reading The Nightmare Room, but you’ll be confused about quite a bit. Central to this story is Jessie Voss, a proud renovator and new owner of a motel. She’s convinced by a friend to do a soft launch on her new establishment, and as you’d expect, things don’t go as planned. The Larsons make a return, and because of the ending of The Nightmare Room, they aren’t quite the same family they used to be. Peter and Hannah take a backseat to their son Michael in this go-round. I appreciated the dynamic of Jessie, her friend Steph, and Michael Larson, but I really did miss the Peter and Hannah of book 1.
Sorensen proves again he has no problem writing creepy scenes that are easy to visualize. I’m not saying I DONT get scared or creeped out, but it doesn’t happen easily, and this is two books in a row Sorensen got me. The ghosts in these pages are truly horrifying, you’re not going to catch me in a motel any time soon. I’ll sleep in the car. The whole book was just a blast to read, something about Sorensen’s writing style makes the pages fly by. It’s also worth noting that The Hungry Ones is refreshingly void of typos, something I’ve gotten a bit accustomed to in books lately. The conclusion is satisfying, while simultaneously setting up book 3.
The Hungry Ones is about as perfect a book 2 in a series you could ask for. It feels different, yet connected to book one. Not only that, but it manages to have a clear beginning and ending, while still setting up the third book. The Hungry Ones left me satisfied in a way that I don’t usually feel after reading subsequent entries in a series. 2020 can’t come soon enough.
John is a native of Cranston, Rhode Island. He served 4 years in the United States Marine Corps, deploying twice to Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s a lover of all things horror, pizza and cheeseburgers. When he’s not reading or watching boxing he spends his time with his amazing wife and two beautiful sons.