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Rich Bottles Jr.’s review of DARKENED SOULS by GARY LEE VINCENT

Posted in Book reviews with tags , , , , , on March 27, 2014 by Gary Lee Vincent

☆☆☆☆☆ Soul Survivor, March 27, 2014

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This review is from: Darkened Souls (Darkened – The West Virginia Vampire Series) (Volume 4) (Paperback) and appeared originally on at the following link:

Darkened Souls by Gary Lee VincentJust when you thought it was safe to go back to Melas, West Virginia, horror author Gary Lee Vincent adds a fourth book to his earlier Darkened vampire series. This time the tale is entitled “Darkened Souls” and it may have die-hard Darkened series fans demanding a second trilogy!

After our vampire-killing hero William McConnellson is laughed out of the Canadian priesthood following his testimonials of dueling with demons and miraculously being resurrected by Christ Himself, it doesn’t take much coaxing for William to accept an invitation to return to West By God Virginia and renew his relationship with his fellow evil-conquering acquaintances.

But the supernatural aura surrounding Melas means that not just the “good” can be resurrected on its unhallowed grounds, but evil can also be restored and rear its ugly head. Consequently, William learns that if he is to defeat the demons that have murdered his friends and family (not to mention haunt his every waking and sleeping hour), he must learn the difference between friend and foe – a line that is frighteningly vague in the unworldly universe encompassing Melas.

The author creates his intricately weaved web of mistruths and misconceptions in such a way that the readers become possessed with the hero’s quest and soon find themselves wanting to warn William that he is just an unknowing pawn in an evil game being played by back-stabbers and double-dealers, proving once and for all that there is indeed no honor amongst thieves. There are also no rules in games where cheaters rule, but will William realize this before it’s too late? His faith, his love, his trust and his resolve will be tested to their human limits before this inhuman end game concludes.

It’s not possible to describe too much of the terrifying plot, because it contains so many twists and turns that any amount of revelation may trigger a spoiler and ruin some of the fun for the reader, thus (like William) the reader shall have to place their trust in someone like me to encourage him/her to experience this surprise-laden thriller via my personal recommendation.

Thus, like the harrowing lyrics of one of Johnny Cash’s famous songs, join William on his vengeful crusade and sing along with him as he warns: “Go tell that long tongue liar; Go and tell that midnight rider; Tell the rambler, the gambler, the back biter; Tell ’em that God’s gonna cut ’em down.”

★★★★★ “Of Floods, and Fires, and Vampires”: A Review of Gary Lee Vincent’s Darkened Waters

Posted in Book reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on July 10, 2012 by Gary Lee Vincent

The following review was originally posted by Joey Madia on his New Mystics Review Blog at the following link:

(Burning Bulb Publishing, 2012, ISBN: 9780615623511)

The Horror (or Sci-Fi) Trilogy, based as it is on the classic three-act model, is a time-honored literary tradition. But as satisfying as it can be, it’s hard to pull off through the final act. To sustain the suspense, slowly unravel the details of and maintain interest in the central characters, tease the reader with cliffhangers without creating alienation—these are the obstacles to the successfully executed trilogy.

It’s a well-known mantra in literary circles that “anyone can write a good first act”—it’s all Expectation, initial IOUs (as my college writing professor termed them), and the setting of the large and small events in motion. To those who have read my reviews of Darkened Hills (2010) and Darkened Hollows (2011)— the first two books of the West Virginia Vampire Series—the reasons why “act one” and “act two” of the trilogy work so well are clear: they serve as a wonderful homage to and pastiche of the oft-told tale of the vampire, mixing as they do the larger international lore with the idiosyncrasies and unique people and places of rural West Virginia.

The best we can do as genre fiction writers is to bring something new to the prerequisites and symbol systems of the particular genre in which we write, and Gary Lee Vincent has done that and more, especially in this final installment, which goes from the local to the national to the truly universal (and therefore mythological). Darkened Waters covers several time periods and geographical bits and pieces, overlaying a mythological array of characters both familiar and unique to Vincent’s blood-drenched world in addition to the returning residents and visitors to Melas, WV and its environs. It breaks out well beyond the framework of the first book, which took many of its names and cues from Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Stephen King’s de- and re-construction of it, ‘Salem’s Lot, and stakes its claim to its very own place in vampire literature.

Similar to the strength of the mining scenes in the second book of the trilogy, Vincent’s detailed and vivid descriptions of landscape and its destruction rivet the reader as Nature is once again unleashed on the small towns of Melas and Tarklin, setting in motion an epic battle of Good vs. Evil, Simple Mortal vs. Massive Monster that moves relentlessly and entertainingly toward its climax.

Complete with adult themes and dark matters, ample twists and turns, and a healthy dose of laughs, Darkened Waters delivers on the promise of Darkened Hills and Darkened Hollows and does so in a satisfying and memorable way.

As always, I end with a few words about the multi-talented Gary Lee Vincent: He has published several non-fiction books as well as the novel Passageway and has a background and Ph.D. in Computer Information Systems. In addition to being an author, editor, and publisher of Burning Bulb, he is also a recording artist, with three albums to his credit. I look forward to what comes next.

“Vampire Pastiche”: A Review of Gary Lee Vincent’s Darkened Hills

Posted in Book reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 28, 2011 by Gary Lee Vincent

The following review was originally posted by Joey Madia on his New Mystics Review Blog at the following link:

(Burning Bulb Publishing, 2010, ISBN: 9781453844854)

I’ve always enjoyed just a little more works of fiction that take place in locales with which I am familiar. It adds something special when I can not only visualize a place, but have actually been there.

Having lived and traveled extensively in the northern half of West Virginia since moving here a little over four years ago, I found the locales in which Vincent places his vampires to be perfectly suited to both their peculiar sensibilities and those of their typical victims.

Darkened Hills is the first installment of Darkened—The West Virginia Vampire Series (the second book, Darkened Hallow, is now available. It’s sitting on my shelf, ready to be read). It is the 2010 Book of the Year Winner from ForeWord Reviews Magazine and shares a publisher, Burning Bulb, with The Big Book of Bizarro, which I also recently reviewed. Vincent was a contributing editor. He has published several non-fiction books as well as the novel Passageway and has a background and Ph.D. in Computer Information Systems. In addition to being an author, editor, and publisher he is also a recording artist, with three albums to his credit.

For Darkened Hills, Vincent draws heavily on Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Stephen King’s de-/re-construction of it, Salem’s Lot. Being that he is so up front and obvious about it, the way King was, makes it solidly a pastiche in the tradition of Nicholas Meyer’s Sherlock Holmes books or Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula, making it all the more fun to read, especially with its West Virginia¬–centric settings (including the fictional town of Melas, a mirror image of the real town of Salem. Yes. Salem. It fits.).

Each section or chapter opens with a quote from Edgar Allen Poe, many of them from more obscure works and all chosen for their appropriateness to what follows. I enjoyed reading them as much as the book itself.

Within its well-known framework and cast of characters, Darkened Hills, both by virtue of its unique setting and the imaginative mind of its author, manages to stand on its own in the town-is-demonized-and-disintegrated-while-unlikely-heroes-fight-the-forces-of-evil subset of the vampire canon, and it left me eager to read the sequel. It is well-paced, deft in its handling of multiple storylines unfolding at once, and Vincent knows the geography and the way it plays on the minds of its inhabitants quite well.

Speaking of the inhabitants, Darkened Hills runs the gamut from small-town and backwoods folk, to occultists, clergy, police, mental health professionals, and, of course, the guy who returns to his hometown with dreams of buying its weird old mansion just in time to find its been bought by a mysterious man (who we later find out is a vampire).

Peppered with just the right amounts of graphic violence and sex (less than, say, True Blood but more than Bram Stoker’s Dracula), the novel has appeal to the vampire story enthusiast as well as the more casual horror reader looking for a quick read with easily understood characters and an uncomplicated storyline.

Look for my review of the sequel to Darkened Hills in the next few months.

★★★★★ Darkened Hollows Delivers!

Posted in Book reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on October 17, 2011 by Gary Lee Vincent

Darkened Hollows Deliveres!, October 14, 2011
By Tell It Like It Is (Vancover, BC, Canada)

This review is for: Darkened Hollows (Paperback)
Review copied from

Darkened HollowsDarkened Hollows seamlessly picks up where Darkened Hills leaves off. It is a gruesome tale with over-the-top sex and violence typical of a “Darkened” tale.

It is an evil story set once again in Melas, WV, that picks at our primal fears (think tight, dark places and claustrophobia). Vincent’s rich, fast-paced story telling takes the reader from a hellish coal mine to a lunatic asylum. Arguably better than the first installment (and it was rad)!

Darkened Hollows is damn scary. Bravo!

★★★★★ The blood is the life…

Posted in Book reviews with tags , , , , , , , on October 9, 2011 by Gary Lee Vincent

The blood is the life…, October 8, 2011
By Teresa Pollak (West Virginia, USA)

This review is for: Darkened Hills (Paperback)
Review copied from

Darkened Hills by Gary Lee VincentThe Blood is the Life….as the quote goes, but for me, the ink is the life, and man does it come alive on the pages of this book!!! I really suspected I was going to love this book before I even began, and, true to form, Mr. Vincent did not disappoint. I ABSOLUTELY loved the tribute to classic Victorian horror novels present in this work. Vincent makes his vampires like they are supposed to be: scary, ruthless, lustful, and INCREDIBLY bloodthirsty. No, their skin doesn’t sparkle when sunlight touches them, so if you want vampires like that, look elsewhere. Who the hell wants to read about vampires that can go out in the sun anyway? That takes away the whole climactic scene in the classic vampire tales where our band of rag-tag heroes wage battle against the vampire just as the last rays of sun disappear beyond the horizon! And so it goes in this book. I think this book is exactly what we, as a vampire obsessed society needs: an example of how great a REAL vampire story can get. I have read some criticism of this work that rabidly insists Mr. Vincent “stole” this idea from Stephen King’s “‘Salem’s Lot”, which is a load of sh*t. That is akin to saying that H.P. Lovecraft “stole” Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” when he wrote his story “Herbert West: Re-Animator” just because both have mad scientists working on bringing corpses to life! So if there is anyone out here who is shying away from reading this book due to such a rabid and uncalled for comparison, let’s put the myth to bed right now: Darkened Hills is as much like “‘salem’s Lot” as “Twilight” is to “Dracula”! (And yes, I have read all these works, so I feel authorized to make the comparison).

Actually, Vincent’s book is MUCH more Victorian and Gothic stylistically. I kept thinking of the layout of “Dracula” and “Frankenstein” because of the semi-epistolary feel of some of the sections. For example, the section in which Harker and William are watching “Ghostowns” and see their hometown of Melas, WV on the TV is described in much the same way that the “Bloofer” lady is described in “Dracula.” Whereas Stoker uses an “excerpt” from the local paper, Vincent uses images of the TV segment, complete with intermediary statements like “Camera cuts to footage of a large prison-like structure going up in flames. Reporter continues:” This type of writing has been lost to the ages, and Vincent gracefully resurrects it in this work. The short chapters, and easily digestible “bits” told from many different characters’ perspectives gives the reader a feel of observation and objectivity, rather than feeling as though we are stuck with one narrator’s version of events through the entire book. It also lends itself to the feeling of serialization that Gothic works often used due to the fact that they were published piece by piece in newspapers of the age. I honestly can’t remember a book that seems so genuinely Gothic in scope, but yet so contemporary at the same time. I really don’t think many writers could pull it off. Kudos, Mr. Vincent.

All in all, I would certainly recommend this book to any and all, ESPECIALLY for this time of the year. This is a very fast paced read, and even if you are an incredibly busy person, you can pick this book up, bang out a couple pages, and easily make it to a “break” until the next time you get a few minutes. Everyone in WV should certainly read this book, and feel proud to have such a talented writer living so close, oozing his oddity amongst us! The characters are very well developed, the plotline is seamless (until the cliffhanger at the end, of course, but that is what the second installment is for!), and the writing is VERY refreshing compared to most of the crap that has been deluging vampire lit for the last decade or so. Thank you SO much, Mr. Vincent, for reminding us all what vampires used to be, and how fun they can still be!

★★★★★ A fun tale of mayhem

Posted in Book reviews on January 25, 2011 by Gary Lee Vincent

A fun tale of mayhem, January 23, 2011
By  Zmortis “Anime Fan” (West Virginia, USA)

This review is from: Darkened Hills (Paperback)
Review copied from

Let me start this review with a little disclosure. I’ve read horror fiction before, but I generally prefer fantasy and science fiction. I’m also a small press author with a work available in the fantasy category which was purchased by someone who also purchased Darkened Hills. I looked at this book and I was afraid this was another example of the “romantic vampire” material deluging the teen reader market at the moment. I just simply don’t care for romantic vampires. I like the Max Schreck “Nosferatu” interpretation of the vampire as representing the core of the vampire myth – a night dwelling, blood sucking, cold blooded killer. I then read two of the negative reviews which are usually more telling about what I might like, and what I might dislike about a book. The first review gave it two stars, and indicated the subject matter was not the preference of the reader which I thought was fair enough. The second lesser review was a hate driven diatribe by a rabid fan of Stephen King. I like Stephen King well enough, and I enjoyed reading his “The Dark Tower” series of books. If someone can complain something came too close to Stephen King without being Stephen King enought to piss off an fan, then I figured this could possibly be a book I’d enjoy. I ordered the book, and finished it in two days.

As I read the Darkened Hills I was pleased to find that no brooding gloomy goth boy hunk vampires were present in the work. These vampires are the kind of smart evil monsters fueled by a hunger for blood which harkens back to Bram Stoker’s Dracula. These are the kind of vampires I can read and enjoy. The author also adds that touch of small home town sensibility complete with oddball personalities, local color, and a evil plot that gets set on its ear by bumpkin redneck good old boy cantankerous behavior. It was fun to read about evil monsters being set on their ears by small town folk with a “get ‘er done” kind of attitude. If I have any quible with the book, it is that Mr. Vincent neglected to pull the favorite redneck tool out of the handyman’s box. Where was the duct tape? Perhaps we’ll be lucky enough to see an appearance in the next book.

★★★★★ Dark and Dangerous

Posted in Book reviews on November 22, 2010 by Gary Lee Vincent

Dark and Dangerous, November 22, 2010
By Rachel Goddard

This review is from: Darkened Hills (Paperback)
Review copied from

Gary Lee Vincent has created a vampire novel that goes against the recent trend for romanticising blood suckers and goes back to the depraved and monstrous fiends of traditional vampire legends. There’s no sexy smouldering coolness like Jean-Claude in Laurell K Hamilton’s “Anita Blake” series or soul searching teenage tenderness like Edward Cullen in Stephanie Meyer’s “Twilight” trilogy. This vampire is pure unadulterated demonic evil, from his talon like hands down to the wings on his back. This is a cold hearted creature that’s the stuff of nightmares, not fantasies!

Pure dark horror fiction at its best, the author will have you recoiling at times as the tale takes a few particularly dark turns. You’ll be kept in suspense as the story unfolds, with secrets hinted at and dark forces slowly unveiled, until the book suddenly reaches it’s awful and horrific climax. With sex thrown in for good measure, you really cannot go wrong with this read that will definitely keep you enthralled until the end (and probably make you want to keep the lights on too!).

At some points I actually found myself closing my eyes in a vain attempt to block out the images created in my mind by the words on the page. I can’t actually remember the last time a book had that effect on me. As the deathly drama unfolds, many of Vincent’s characters are transfixed by the horror they are witnessing, and believe me you will be too!

★★★★★ Darkened Hills

Posted in Book reviews, Teasers on November 19, 2010 by Gary Lee Vincent

★★★★★ Darkened Hills, November 19, 2010
By Brenda Casto (US)

This review is from: Darkened Hills (Paperback)
Review copied from


Since I am from WV I always enjoy reading books written by WV authors. Gary Lee Vincent is a new to me author that in writing Darkened Hills has written one of my favorite genres vampire/horror fiction. The setting is in the great state of WV, in a tiny town called Melas, a fictionalized town that sits about two hours outside of Pittsburgh Pa, the town was once a thriving community but due to the dark forces that enveloped the community it became a ghost town, many of the residents started moving away when people started disappearing, but there are forty-three residents that are unaccounted for, including the town’s doctor and his wife. What could have happened to the residents, and how can that many people disappear without a trace?

Johnathan Harker has come back to his hometown in the hopes of purchasing the Madison House for back taxes, but that doesn’t happen. Even though the house appears abandoned, in truth, the person living there is the worst kind of evil there is. The vampire that lives in Madison House, had been leading a very low profile life for years, hiring a couple of townspeople to bring him people to feed on, people that wouldn’t be missed and then their bodies would be disposed of. As if that’s not bad enough, one night something far worse is unleashed, something that has an unquenchable thirst for blood! Can anyone put a stop to the evil that has the tiny town in its clutches, and will anyone survive?

This story grabs you and sucks you in and doesn’t turn you loose. The whole town of Melas is full of weird, characters, from the guy who likes to “herd cats” to the alcoholic real estate agent who makes a deal with the devil, or the guy who donates “hamburger meat” to the church, and it really isn’t hamburger meat at all! A story that never gets dull, just when you think nothing worse can happen, guess what it does. With the way the story ended it leaves its readers wanting more, and we can only hope for a sequel that gives us the story of Ralphie!

This book is a must read for anyone that loves horror, blood,dark humor, gore, and vampires from your worst nightmare! Be warned once you start reading this book, you wont be able to put it down, its just that good!

★★★★★ Vlad the Impaler would be proud

Posted in Book reviews on November 15, 2010 by Gary Lee Vincent

Vlad the Impaler would be proud., November 15, 2010
By Diana G. Duran

This review is from: Darkened Hills (Paperback)
Review copied from

DO NOT READ THIS BOOK if you thrive on the romanticized version of the vampire because you will not find him here. Gary Vincent here portrays the vampire as the traditional monster grown through the centuries from Vlad the Impaler, the original Master of Darkness–a soul-less, merciless terror. These are the vampires of yesteryear, driven by forces beyond their control to satisfy their bloodlust, and what better place to do so than a small town among the hills of West Virginia? Vincent not only rightly portrays the vampire as the bloodthirsty, cruel monster that he is, the author also totally nails the character and nuance of small town America, which at once can elicit a grimace and a guffaw. Homely little details like “everyone in town had three main phone numbers they kept on hand in case of an emergency–usually on their refrigerator doors or on end tables next to their phones: the sheriff’s department, the volunteer fire department, and the doctor’s office,” to draw you into Melas so that you feel right at home. Do not be fooled; you are not safe.

★★★★★ A blood-curdling, gruesome and intriguing read

Posted in Book reviews on November 15, 2010 by Gary Lee Vincent

A blood-curdling, gruesome and intriguing read, 15 Nov 2010
By Sian Phillips “siano44”

This review is from: Darkened Hills (Paperback)
Review copied from

If you like blood thirsty vampire stories then this book is for you. Mixed with sex, intrigue and gore it’s a great read that gets you gripped from the beginning. You WANT to know the story that Jonathan has to tell about his small hometown of Melas, just south of Pittsburgh. You then HAVE to know the ending which has a few twists along the way with lots of bloodfest and vivid deaths.

The story starts with Jonathan and his young friend William who seem nomads however they have both come from the same town and have a strange story to tell. Jonathan grew up in Melas and returned for the first time in 20 years. William is incarcerated in a children’s home there. There are some pretty strange characters now living in Melas who have no idea what is about to happen to them. Horrific events take place centred around the old mansion on the hill, Madison House and its mysterious occupants. Whilst Jonathan is having a whirlwind sex romp with an ex’s younger sister, death descends on the town like a huge wave wiping out most of the occupants.

Jonathan and William escape before it’s too late for them too but they keep in touch with news of their home town through the media. Melas becomes a ghost town, almost literally, and remaining townsfolk are still disappearing. So Jonathan and William go back to try and thwart the evil still there.

Are they able to stop the demonic forces in play………or not?

It’s a great read for those into bloodfest, sexy, horror stories.

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