Archive for Book Review

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.

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