The review of Crossing Mother’s Grave will be released from Portland Book Review (I will link the moment I know it’s live.)
9am to 11am, I will be signing at Hillsboro Farmer’s Market with other great authors brought together by Jacobsen’s Books,
http://jacobsensbooks.com/jake-elliot (I’ll post more information as news becomes available)
7-9pm at the NIWA’s Bards and Brews event, I’ll be reading alongside four other Portland area authors at Primrose and Tumbleweeds, working in conjunction with Jacobsen’s Books
(I’ll post more information as news becomes available)
7pm I’ll read at St. John’s Booksellers in St. John’s district of Portland
(I’ll post more information as news becomes available)
I have rented table space to meet everyone who goes and to sign for fans at Portland’s Literacy festival known as Wordstock.
Tim Marquitz sent me this book around the time it was released. Tim knows to anticipate an honest review from me. This was not a ‘rounded up’ four-star, it’s an “I can’t quite give it 5-stars” review.
Although this is book 5 in the series, there are a lot of ‘first times’ to mention. This was Tyson Mauermann’s editorial debut. For those who don’t know Tyson, he is ‘the’ book reviewer for Speculative Book Review– and here I have an opportunity to critique his work– heh-heh. The editing was 5-star quality in Beyond the Veil. (Now Tyson, for such nice words, I expect a 5-star review for my next book. Insert cheesy smile here.) In all seriousness, the editing was nearly flawless––a good editor makes a great author look perfect. Tim’s money was well spent.
This is also the first Demon Squad book to have Carter Reid’s masterful art for its cover. This cover screams what will be found inside––lots of action is coming––enough that Frank should hide and save his bullets. Frank looks grittier than ever—the cover fits the book. Again, Tim’s money—well spent.
Here is a first for me too. Normally, I avoid self-published books because the quality is often-times amateurish. Shot from the hip and usually without proper editing, self-published books are frequently nightmarish. Of course there are exceptions. Tim Marquitz is one of them but Tim is not new to the publishing world. Due to the grim nature of his series, I think he has made a wise decision in leaving traditional publishing.
Tim’s expertise is shown by the pros who’ve gathered to help produce a book at this high of a quality. Now, what is inside the book?
Beyond the Veil is either the best written, or the best edited in the series to date, perhaps both. This is the 5th book in the Demon Squad Series, a series that began with Armageddon Bound. If you love Dark Fantasy, stop reading this review, go buy the first book. The story changes dramatically in Beyond the Veil, and I’m not going into the back story – we are five books deep. In fact, I’m going to avoid speaking of the plot entirely. If you’ve read book four, you know where book five needs to go.
Let’s talk about characterization. As we expect with Frank’s narration, this story is rich with sarcasm and colorful metaphors. This was one of the attractions that caught me in Armageddon Bound, and it is consistent throughout each book. Sadly, yet understandably, as Tim’s writing abilities have sharpened, so Frank’s lewdness has also been shaved away. Frank’s inability to keep it in his pants (or at least his hand) was a character flaw that burned Frank as a memorable anti-hero. Here in book five, Frank loves boobies as much as ever––he’s just stopped slobbering so much. Frank has grown considerably.
Frank is an anti-hero. I don’t normally read books where the hero is a borderline villain. We see more of Frank’s anti-hero behavior in this book, more so than in any of the prior books. Still, he possesses enough conscience that we can forgive him and keep cheering him forward. His actions are quite ‘uncool’ in the very beginning of this book, but I will leave it for you to decide if Frank is worthy of your forgiveness. I’d probably done the same thing if given the same circumstances. Luckily, my wife probably won’t get nabbed by extra-dimensional fugitives on the run from God and Satan, but if it does happen, rest assured, I’ll follow Frank’s lead.
The imaginative quality of this story is right on par with earlier books in the series. Tim’s vision of magic is easily malleable and its use is enjoyable to read. His delivery is visual––as is expected by us who’ve traveled this deep into the story.
So with all this great stuff to say, why didn’t I give it 5-stars. I enjoyed this book greatly, but in the end, it just didn’t hit me like ‘At the Gates’ and ‘Armageddon Bound.’ My connection to this story wasn’t as strong.
Most readers will disagree, but I thought there was too much action. I was loving the interaction between Frank and Longinus—and then AMBUSH! Or, Frank is having great dialogue with an alien woman, learning more about the world, and DRAGON ATTACK! Frank is sniffing out clues and “IT’S A TRAP!” (Shamelessly, I quote Admiral Akbar, and that particular scene was very important to the plot.) Some readers will see the constant action as a good thing, especially younger readers who don’t appreciate well-written and long-winded dialogues. They will disagree with this critique the strongest.
Don’t read too far into what I’ve said. I expected a high energy action novel and Beyond the Veil is just that. There is a fight around every corner, and at the scene near the 80% mark–awesomely executed. I felt the action-to-story ratio was a little off for my personal tastes—that is the how and why of 4-stars.
All the same, Tim Marquitz has hooked me for one more future read. I hope this review is helpful to whoever found it. If you like a darker story, start with book one—it is still my favorite in the series. Know this journey is daring.
First off, I have a story in this anthology. ‘I Was Legend’ is a fun play reflective of Richard Matheson’s ‘I Am Legend.’ It is a story where loneliness and desperation turn one man’s hope into his doom. A handful of my friends also found their way into this collection, and to be fair, I will not comment on any of their works, (which I thought were fantastic, but clearly I have a bias.)
Some of my own taboos were stretched a little further than their comfort zone, and I’m no prude. I found all of the stories in this book to be brave, even if there was a serious yuck-factor to some of them. Every story in this collection fit undeniably well to the title, but in my unimportant opinion, fifty-one is too many. Who would I have excluded? None of them—not a one. On the bright side, fifty-one stories of sex and horror is well worth the expense of buying the book.
I also learned that I really hate my Kindle, at least with reading anthologies. Now that the paperback version is out, I’d recommend purchasing the print edition. After reading a story and upon reaching the end I’d say, “Man, that was a kick ass story—who wrote it?” For review purposes, my e-reader is a useless tool.
Speaking of useless tools—I decided to spotlight my absolute favorites in this anthology, and ‘Dead Things Don’t Rise” by Mandy DeGeit had me laughing out loud. The story begins with our drunken narrator stumbling home and taking a shortcut through the cemetery. Luck will have it he staggers into what he thinks is another drunk, this one a cold, yet horny girl, ready for some dirty lovin’. This tale holds a fascinating mix of both hot and gross.
‘Ménage a Trauma’ by Dan Larnerd is another of the dark-comedic stories. Two lovers meet at a 2-star hotel for some hot sex, but the séance taking place a floor above them turns love-making into a fight for their lives.
‘Playing a Game’ by Eric Stoveken was another very naughty story with a horribly dark twist. Two lovers––one tied up and being straddled by his truest––play a game of intimacy, and secrets. Sex is the weapon of choice.
‘Carnage Kandy’ by Teresa Hawk was my absolute favorite in this collection. Two women, now lovers, have found the zombie apocalypse in Las Vegas to be the most liberating experience of their lives. The writing in this weave floored me and I connected with it on a deep level. Killing zombies at the peak of orgasm sounds like fun.
‘Out with a Bang’ by Laura J. Hickman was about a sex-addicted Goth girl who fed her mom to the zombies so as to stop her nagging. Once the batteries of her ‘boyfriend’ ran dry, she devises a new plan to get off, a final plan. I loved the voice of this story.
‘Some Like it Rot’ by John Palisano. There is a new street drug that will expand your mind, or turn you into a zombie. This tale is about a washed-out star and her supposed miracle return to the silver screen. Her publicist finds the starlet in her hotel room, half-baked and zombiefied. His career is on the line if he doesn’t find a cure.
‘Headshot’ by Frankie Sachs tells the sad story of a woman whose recent survival partner has been bitten. She reminisces about her long dead husband, and the difference of ‘fucking’ versus ‘loving.’ This one touched deeper than many of the other tales in this book.
‘Die With Your Boots On’ by Lisa Woods was the one I thought as being the hottest of the sex stories, filled with fantastic visuals for the both the characters and the sex. This was a man and woman sex story, zombies did not participate in the naughtiness.
‘Love in a Laundromat,’ is a self-explaining story by Megan Dorei. It was one of the few to have a happy ending.
My final pick is between ‘Stiff’ by Matthew Scott Baker, and ‘Subject Zero-Zero’ by Alex Chase for my favorite story of how the apocalypse came to be. ‘Stiff’ tells of a radical new drug that will cure erectile dysfunction forever. ‘Subject Zero-Zero’ tells of a man who found sex as being repulsive until one of his lab-mates becomes infected by a chemical weapon they were producing.
So there you have it, the short review of my favorite 20% of these stories. If you like zombies, you will love this book. If you like sex, you’ll like many of the stories. If you like sex with zombies—well, now—looks like you found your book.