Once again, let me say that the author Lennie Grace reached out to me and asked if I was interested in reviewing her book. Since her book sounded quite interesting to me, I said yes but again; This does not influence my review in any way. I will give you my honest opinion.
Now, with that out of the way, I’d like to start by saying that I see a lot of potential in this book. It is a collection of three short stories and I will discuss all of them in my review down below.
I liked that she experimented with different styles of horror. There is one story that is just brutal to read, incredibly gory. Then there are two where she tries to bring some psychological horror into the mix.
All in all, it was not my favourite tale of horror that I’ve ever read, but I see a lot of potential and I am looking forward to future books that Lennie Grace releases. If you are a fan of horror-literature, then you might very well check this one out!
I rate Darkness & Bloodshed a 6,5/10. With two great stories it is a solid book, but I have to subtract a few points for the first story, which I really did not like at all.
Lennie Grace is an American author, who currently writes stories as a hobby. She lives in Oklahoma and loves to read, particularly horror.
You can check out her own website here.
Publisher: Indepentently published
Date of release: 30. March 2019
If you are interested in buying the book, check out this link:
Note that, yes, this is an affiliate link!
So, this book is divided into three short stories and I will give my opinion on each of them below. I will also rate each story separately and will then give the book its overall score. Let’s start with story number one “Blood Moon”.
Here, Nelly is attacked by a werewolf (presumably) and it infects her. Soon, she starts to act weird and one night, she transforms and brutally murders her wife and two children.
My big problem with this story is the brutality. I have stated multiple times that I do not like gore-heavy horror. It grosses me out and it does not contribute whatsoever to a great horror story –at least for me it does not. Unfortunately, this story is solely based on violence and Lennie Grace describes in great details how Nelly murders her wife Meg and how she rips apart her two children.
To me, this is not the way to create suspense and a sense of unease. Just because everyone is getting slaughtered does not make for an enjoyable horror story.
On the other hand, I liked the characters even though I felt like, because it is such a short story, the author had to pack everything that makes a person likeable into Nelly. Otherwise it would have been hard to really identify with the character in time, before she starts transforming. I would have liked to see more focus on Nelly’s internal twist and conflict as she sees herself transform, while she tries to fight back.
Unfortunately, for the aforementioned reasons I liked this story least and I would rate it a meagre 4/10.
However, not all hope is lost as we come to the second story “All That Glitters”. Let me say it right now, this was my favourite story. I said it already, and I will say it again, I love horror that plays with your mind and Lennie Grace does this very well here. I loved the little music box as the source of all the misery. Nobody suspects it at first glance, which leads to everyone having to find out about it the hard way.
Also, by showing what the box does to someone in the first chapter, it enhances the tension when Jenny got the box gifted from Troy, not realising what pain is soon to come. When the box gradually starts messing with Jenny it is oh-so captivating to read, because we know what is going to happen, but Jenny does not.
To me, it was fine having the first owner kill himself. I think as a stylistic choice it makes sense to raise the stakes a little bit. Yet, I do not think the part where his wife is mauled by the shadows was necessary. At least not that detailed. I feel like it was okay to show the reader what can happen but again, I do not like those detailed descriptions. But I was able live with it, since it was only very brief.
Then comes the end. It was very fitting, having another clueless, innocent person find the box, not realising what hell is about to be unleashed upon them.
I think in this story, you can see all the potential that Lennie Grace has in crafting a poignant and engaging horror story without having guts spilled everywhere.
This makes “All That Glitters” my favourite story from the book and I will rate it an 8/10.
Last but not least is “They Came From the Sky”, where after several unusual weather occurrences, suddenly Abby finds herself in the middle of an alien invasion, trying to survive with an old lady named Martha.
This book ranks right in the middle between the other two and I really feel like it is a mix of both stories that came before. If you tone down the gore of “Blood Moon”, while also decreasing a little bit of that tension from “All That Glitters”, I think you would find yourself reading “They Came From the Sky”.
I do not mean this in a negative way. I think it was a fine and enjoyable story, but it was not as good as “All That Glitters”. I am a big fan of SF and thus I loved the fact that Lennie Grace included a story about an alien invasion. I liked the aliens as being an “anti-angel”, almost looking devilish, with the black wings.
I think Lennie Grace crafted a really nice plot around the invasion, although I would have loved it, if she focused more on the weather changes and how people experienced those phenomena. Only once the aliens land, is where the real story begins, with Martha’s very convenient break-in-proof house, being, where all the action takes place.
My favourite scene of this story is when Abby has to patrol the house on her own during the night. This part was especially well written and had me all tensed up, especially when she started to hear strange noises coming from the outside.
At this point I do not think I need to go on once more about the violence that is partially featured in this story, as well. You all know what I think of it.
Then again, I like the ending. It was in character to try and rescue the poor boy. It was a very brave thing to do and I once again liked the way this was written. I desperately wanted to know if she could save the boy but simultaneously did not want to read on because I was afraid of what was going to happen.
Maybe you could omit the last two or three sentences but otherwise it was a fine ending to a solid story. I will rate this one 7/10.
Now, on to my closing thoughts. Even though I did not like the first story at all, I see a lot of potential for future books and I am on the lookout for those. Please, keep in mind that this book was self-published and did include a few errors in syntax as well as orthography but that was not too bad.
I recommend this book to anyone who likes horror books and would like to support an up-and-coming author. The book has its flaws but if you can ignore that you have at least two quite enjoyable stories on hand.