Tag Archives: Rainstorm Press

Devil’s Island

Devil’s Island, by C.M. Saunders, is a slow-burning psychological horror novel set in the UK. It is the story of Davon Rice, a soldier who has just returned from active military duty. Acclimating to civilian life again has proven extremely difficult. He spends most of his days in and out of the unemployment office, searching for the right job. With no qualifications to do anything but night security, and no car to do even that, he feels trapped and frustrated.

When he happens upon a strange email, an invitation to be the sole inhabitant and caretaker of a government facility on a remote island off the coast of Scotland, he thinks he has finally found what he has been looking for. After a short time there, though, he realizes he isn’t alone. There’s something else living on the island. Davon can feel it. It’s stalking him and aching to get inside.

Saunders writes a very believable character in Davon Rice. It is an intimate and sometimes scary picture of what life is like for soldiers returning home from war. Saunders paints the settings of the facility and surrounding island in vivid details, which made me feel like I was right there with Rice, experiencing everything right along with him. At every page, I felt Rice’s solidarity, loneliness, and paranoia; it reminded me of watching Sam Rockwell’s character maintain the space station in the movie Moon, minus Kevin Spacey’s AI, Gerty.

The majority of the story unfolds slowly, taking on a pace more reminiscent of literary fiction, building character slowly through monotonous routines, flashbacks, and internal conflict. I felt that this slow burn took too long to retain any external conflict, and I often lost interest in the story. Despite his flaws, I liked the character, and I understood what drove him to take the job on the island. Unfortunately, I spent pages and chapters wondering when something was going to happen. When it finally did, though, the story moved at a swift pace, and it sucked me right back in.

Devil’s Island has many unexpected elements, some executed better than others (the ending definitely caught me by surprise). If you’re looking for a short, psychologically-driven story, then go ahead and pick this one up; but if your reading aesthetic requires something a little more action-driven, this may not be a story for you.

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With This Ring, I Bleed, DEAD!

“’Til death do us part” takes on a whole new meaning in the wedding-themed anthology, With This Ring, I Bleed, Dead!, edited by Charlotte Emma Gledson and Lyle Perez-Tinics for Rainstorm Press.

In this short collection (just shy of 140 pages), ten authors share tales of love and loss, murder, lust, supernatural beings, and revenge. Like most men, marriage scares the hell out of me. The horrors within these stories definitely reinforce that fear.

As a reader, I have a love/hate relationship with new anthologies. They expose me to variety of authors and styles, but so many of the stories within tend to range from “I’d love to see more from this author” to “Can I have the last fifteen minutes of my life back?” Unfortunately, this collection is no different. After reading the first couple stories, I wanted to throw my Kindle through the drywall. It read like so many of the self-published works out there that have never crossed an editor’s desk. But I wanted to be fair to all of the authors and read through to the end.

I was glad I did. There are a few real gems in this book that gave it some redemption. While I’m not going to offer a review of each individual story, I will say that my favorites here include “Wendy,” by Bruce Turnbull; “The Axe Bride,” by The Nightmare Jane; and “The Bonds of Love,” by Danica Green.

As a whole, the concepts behind the stories were great. I really wanted to like every one of them; however, I must admit that some authors’ sub-par writing (point-of-view slips, plot holes, etc.) really made it difficult to do so. I wish I could endorse this one, I really do. Even at the $2.99 e-book price (the paperback sells on Amazon for almost $13), I don’t think the few well-told stories here are worth paying for—and sifting through—the rest.

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