Sinister Reads – February 2013

Welcome Back…. again, Sinister Reads

Sinister Reads is back… again!  The poor thing has had a bit of a roller coaster ride of late.  Here’s hoping we’ve hit the straight and it’s a smooth ride here on in.  What am I saying?  We love horror!  Bring on the broken tracks and gouged eyes.  MWAHAHahahaha…

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Australian Shadows Submissions are Closed

Submissions to the Australian Shadows closed at midnight, 28 Feb.  Entries at that point totalled:

Category             Entries
Collected works       5
Edited works           8
Novel                     17
Novella                  19
Short                     81
It’s a great effort from the Australian Horror writing community.

Judges are finalising reading this month, and working on selecting the short lists. To see all the current entries as a reading list, click here.

Midnight Echo 9

Midnight Echo 9 is now available for pre-order.  Go here to read the table of contents and purchase your copy!


Sinister Happenings


Aradale Asylum Creative Retreat


Aradale Asylum Creative Retreat was, according to all attendees, a resounding success.

From Friday 22nd until Sunday 24th of February, seventeen lucky people gathered together at the Aradale Mental Hospital just outside of Ararat, Victoria.

IMG_1587The days were a blend of exploration, conversation and creation. Each night, we were taken on tours of the facility by our hosts, Nathaniel and Adam, historians and ghost tour operators.

While I was arranging the retreat, I was told we would be given access to specific areas of the facility for specific time periods, and then they would be IMG_1585locked up again. In reality, once we were there, our hosts were much more lenient. All the main buildings were unlocked upon our arrival, and we were given free access to them day and night for the entire weekend. We were given basic OH&S  (quality footwear and a reliable torch) and set free to explore to our heart’s content. Some brave souls even chose to sleep in the old wards.

AradaleThe buildings were extremely atmospheric and suitably scary.

As a result of the well-run retreat, our hosts have shown a strong interest in further events of a similar nature, so another event, to be run at Aradale’s sister-asylum Beechworth, is currently under planning for around October.

Another Aradale retreat will also be held sometime in February 2014.

Geoff Brown – president, AHWA


Sinister Reads


Fragments of a Broken Land: Valarl Undead

Robert Hood

Illustrator:  Bob Eggleton (cover)

Publisher: Borgo Press/Wildside Press, US

ISBN no.: 978-1434445896

RRP (Please specify currency):  US$18.99  |   AUS$35.00

Release date:  February 2013

Avalaible here and Notions Unlimited (Aust.)

In a place where no stars appear in the night sky, a group of strangers whose ancestries reach back to an earlier apocalyptic disaster are brought together to track down a resurrected corpse that might hold the key to the End of the World. Described by science fiction legend Jack Dann as “one of the strangest and most interesting visions to come out of the modern horror/fantasy genres,” acclaimed author Robert Hood’s Fragments of a Broken Land: Valarl Undead is an epic tale of greed, dying magic, strange monsters, and a motley group of heroes, with a strange and breathless climax you won’t easily forget. The dark fantasy novel debut from “Australia’s Wicked Godfather” (Black Magazine).

There will be a signing for the release of the book at Notions Unlimited Bookshop in March, as part of the shop first birthday bash.

Notions Unlimited Bookshop
Shop 9, 426 Nepean Highway, Chelsea
(03) 9773-1102
Sat 23rd March, 5–7pm

**Official Launch date to be announced




Kirstyn McDermott

Publisher: Xoum

ISBN no.: 9781922057174

RRP:  AU$9.99

Release date:   December 2012

Avalaible here

Two sisters. One wish. Unimaginable consequences. Not all fairytales are for children.

Perfections is the chilling new novel from the author of Madigan Mine.


Slander Hall Chapman-Tait

Slander Hall

Matthew Tait

Illustrator: Greg Chapman

Publisher:  Dark Continents

ISBN no.:  9780615710150

RRP (Please specify currency): $6.99 (US)

Release date:  26 January 2013

Available here

Fifteen years ago the affluent gated-community of Slander Hall was the setting of the largest mass suicide in U.S history, dozens of men and women committing the ultimate sacrifice and embracing the covenant of their leader to shed their bodies for a life in outer space. Now a modern ghost town, it boasts only the decaying and derelict phantoms of a withered populace. Cedar Jarrell, sole survivor of the holocaust that claimed so many, returns to the dark heart of Slander Hall on a final pilgrimage where not all who take the journey will survive …

Also included in this edition are two more tales – stories that put the reader into a disturbing world of lunacy and paranoia that could be just around the corner for any of us. In Car Crash Weather, childhood trauma will ultimately shape the future of a successful horror novelist. With The Grief School, Matthew Tait evokes unsettling imagery as one man is forced to pay off a debt through a trail by suffering … and discovers a dark saviour in the process.


The Corpse Rat King

 The Corpse-Rat King

Lee Battersby

Publisher*: Angry Robot Books

ISBN no.: 9780857662873

RRP (Please specify currency): $7.99US

Release date: 1 September 2012

A brief synopsis of the story (The blurb on the back of the book is fine): Marius don Hellespont and his apprentice, Gerd, are professional looters of battlefields. When they stumble upon the corpse of the King of Scorby and Gerd is killed, Marius is mistaken for the monarch by one of the dead soldiers and is transported down to the Kingdom of the Dead. Just like the living citizens, the dead need a King — after all, the King is God’s representative, and someone needs to remind God where they are. And so it comes to pass that Marius is banished to the surface with one message: if he wants to recover his life he must find the dead a King. Which he fully intends to do. Just as soon as he stops running away.


“Wry, absurdist, and pleasantly cynical, Battersby’s debut will appeal to fans of Scott Lynch’sThe Lies of Locke Lamora and Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal.”
– Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“If you had a wish list every time you read a book – great characters, story, pace, writing – that you ticked off every time you came across one of them, you’d soon wear out your pencil while reading The Corpse-Rat King.”
– Katy O’Dowd, The British Fantasy Society

 “…the last three-fourths of this book are beyond spectacular. Lee Battersby definitely saved the best for last in this unforgettable tale of death, dead things, and more awesome dead stuff.”
– Liam at The Troubled Scribe

 “This was a novel that I thoroughly enjoyed and will gleefully recommend, without reservation.”
– Bob Milne, Beauty in Ruins

 The Corpse Rat King is fast, furious, and Fun. In a genre that can so often take itself far too seriously it’s a hugely refreshing read. Battersby is a wonderfully fresh new voice.”
– Zoe Oliver, Fantasy Bytes

 The Corpse-Rat King is the very definition of a great story; the perfect concoction of old world fantasy, intrigue, adventure and full-bodied characters that sweep you deeper into the story with each turn of the page.”
– Greg Chapman, Thirteen O’Clock

 “This book was outstanding! The author, Lee Battersby should be proud to have written such an amazing masterpiece of imagination, sarcasm and fantastic inventiveness”
– Melinda le Baron, Melinda’s Bibliophile Blog

 The Corpse-Rat King is different enough to appeal to most readers while the engaging, intelligent and wildly different narrative should keep any reader glued to the pages, a brilliant début from a promising talent.”
– Ant,

 “I like my humor like I like my chocolate… dark. The Corpse-Rat King gave me plenty of those laugh out loud moments. I could imagine the main character played by Bruce Campbell. The story marched along at a fast pace with plenty of gags.”
– Barry Huddlestone, Gnostalgia



Buk and Jimmy Go West

Brett McBean

Illustrator: Pierre Lloga

Publisher: LegumeMan Books

ISBN no.: 978-0-9873028-7-8

RRP: $15.00

Release date: December 2012

Available here

Film obsessed psycho-killer Buk Thompson is on a bloody pilgrimage.  Driving through the American Southwest, murdering his way to Hollywood, home of the stars that have been his only friends since childhood, Buk is having a ball, trimming the extras from this film we call life.

When fate throws him in the path of the innocent Jimmy, Buk decides to take the boy on as a protégé and teach him the killing game.

The script calls for sadism, murder and movie trivia as the pair blaze their way west, but Jimmy is more than some mere supporting actor.
Unexpectedly, old Buk finds he might have a chance at something he’s never considered before. Redemption.

A little bit Badlands, mixed with a small helping of From Dusk Till Dawn, Buk and Jimmy Go West is one road trip that is wild at heart and 100% pure adrenaline.


Ghost stories and mysteries ernest fravenc

Ghost Stories and Mysteries

Ernest Favenc – (edited with an introduction by James Doig)

Title: Ghost Stories and Mysteries

Publisher: Wildside Press

ISBN no.: 9781434445582

RRP: $15.99

Release date: January 2013

Available here and from the Publisher here

Ernest Favenc (1845-1908) is a neglected master of Australian supernatural and mystery fiction. Best known for his History of Australian Exploration, 1788-1888, he was also a prolific author and journalist, writing for some of the most popular and important literary journals in colonial Australia. His considerable output is now largely forgotten, even among aficionados of weird and mystery fiction. This book collects thirty-one of Favenc’s best stories, many published here for the first time since their original publication; and aims to showcase Favenc’s talent as the most important Australian colonial writer of Gothic and supernatural fiction. The stories span the period 1875-1907, and demonstrate the richness and variety of his art, making this a major publishing event for enthusiasts of nineteenth-century crime and weird fiction.



Blood and Dust

Jason Nahrung

Publisher: Xoum (digital only, all formats)

ISBN no.: 9781922057181

RRP: AUD$9.99

Release date:  December 2012

Available here

Kevin Matheson works at his family’s service station in the Queensland outback. Life is all about cricket, fishing, the pub, his girlfriend. Then it all gets blown to hell – Kevin is caught up in a hideous, unbelievable world of cops and monsters in which two rival gangs of vampires vie for control, all while maintaining a charade of humanity.

Caught between vicious bikers and their brutal foes from the coast, Kevin fights to save not only those he holds dearest, but his own soul. In a world without rules, only one thing holds true – blood really is thicker than water


House of Cobwebs COVER

House of Cobwebs

Judith Thomas

Publisher: Really Blue Books

ISBN no.: 978-0-9873736-3-2

RRP: Amazon – $AUD7.30; Really Blue Books – $AUD5.50

Release date:  3rd November 2012

Available from Really Blue Books, Amazon US and Amazon UK.

Sometimes nightmares follow you from sleep and begin to haunt your days.

Neema Harris is eleven years old, and gifted with the ability to invade other people’s minds and discover their deepest, darkest secrets. She is the sole survivor when her whole family is butchered in the night.

Child psychologist, Doctor Winter Fremont is beautiful, successful and outwardly confident. She firmly believes she has left the horrors of her childhood far behind, and now has control of the psychic dreams which disturb her sleep. But when the twinkly-eyed and uniquely wicked Neema Harris becomes her patient, Winter’s ugly past comes back to haunt her, big time.

In his attempts to solve the increasingly baffling Harris murders, the cynical Detective Inspector Len Axton will awkwardly fall in love, and have three psychic experiences that will change him forever.

The first will reveal to him the killer.

The second will lead him to the killer.

The third may not be enough to save his life.

An ideal read for lovers of both supernatural and crime genres, House of Cobwebs packs a serious punch, providing plenty of nail-biting, heart-pounding twists along the way.

Reviews:  8 Reviews – 4.8 stars

  • “A real chiller”
  • “Gripping from the very first page”
  • “Author Judith Thomas delivers thrills mystery and plenty of suspense”
  • “Gripping, eerie – a real page turner”
  • “Horror in Extremis”
  • “Compelling”


Sinister Slices


A Moveable Feast

by Jenny Blackford

Published in Bloodstones

Available here


The Touch of the Taniwha

by Tracie McBride

Published in Fish

What secrets belong only to a fish? Dive in and find out! Explore this genre-bending anthology of 33 delightfully fishy tales. Fantasy, science fiction, retold folklore, new myths, and more await you.


The Loquacious Cadaver

by Kyla Lee Ward

Published in The Lion and the Aardvark: Aesop’s Modern Fables


Cursebreaker: The Jikininki and the Japanese Jurist

by Kyla Lee Ward

Published in The New Hero I


Who Looks Back?

by Kyla Lee Ward

Published in Shotguns vs Cthulhu


A Rhyme For the Crime Publication

by Brian G Ross

Published in The One That Got Away


Hard Boiled Publication

by Brian G Ross

Published in Damnation & Dames


Dom and Gio’s Barber Shop

by Gerry Huntman

Published in Lovecraft eZine



by Anthony Ferguson

Published in MicroHorror webzine


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