Anyone looking for an in depth breakdown and critique of the writing tools and techniques employed in this book should move along; there's nothing for you here. I'm writing this review because I enjoyed the book and want to support the authors.
I've got no intention of tearing fellow writers to shreds - if I don't like someone's book, then I won't write about it.
As I'm effectively reviewing four stories here I've kept each one fairly short.
Anyway, here goes.
Dark Spells by Scott Nicholson and J R Rain.
If you like your supernatural beings to stick to the norm (no sparkly vampires looking for love) then this collection might interest you.
Now, these are supernatural thrillers - not out and out horror stories. They skillfully blend the everyday and the supernatural into four entertaining reads - all without scaring the pants off the reader (too much).
Albert Shipway's life turns upside down when he is cursed by a little old lady. This weird encounter un-nerves him and triggers a chain of events that leads him to Tabitha, the sister of Albert's, murdered, former lover.
Now, I didn't particularly like the character of Albert (I actually thought he deserved a lot of what he got) and the elements of humour that the author injected made me like him less. I found my sympathies sitting with Tabitha.
None of this detracted from the story or my enjoyment of it though and I found myself willing Albert to succeed - for Tabitha's sake - as they embarked on a quest to try to get Albert's curse lifted.
Ellen and Monty drew are a husband and wife paranormal investigation team called in to look into strange happenings at a college.
Whilst Ellen is naturally gifted and dedicated to her role, Monty is more cynical. He is one of those who needs to see in order to believe. When he crosses the threshold between worlds to save the soul of a little girl, Monty's perception of the supernatural is changed forever.
This was my favourite of the four stories. It was a much darker piece that brilliantly brought out the menace behind events at the college.
The Vampire Club
A vampire studies group go on a quest to locate and free a dormant vampire; little realising that an organisation exists determined to protect the world from the threat of the bloodsuckers.
This one was a bit like Buffy but in reverse. It also reminded me a bit of Scooby Do through some of the characters (no goofy Great Dane though). I'll hold my hand up and admit that this is more a failing on my part than on the story. This was still an entertaining read and I ended up feeling sorry for the principal character when he achieved one of his life aims but lost out on (what I took to be) his main one.
Spider is a vampire. He is duped into helping a girl who appears to be in trouble only find that his vampiric nature is being used for demonic purposes. This story paints a clever picture of the issues of being an outsider who uses their considerable skills to help others on the fringe of things. Unfortunately for our hero, he is blindsided and manipulated so that he becomes the victim. Despite the fact that, as a vampire, Spider is supposed to be a "baddie", his adversaries are worse and I had no problem rooting for him to win through.
All four stories move along at a brisk pace but still build enough depth for the characters to be credible and not flat and shallow. I particularly liked the fact that the pace prevented too much detail being given. The reader gets enough of an understanding of what is happening but is then allowed to use their imagination to complete the picture in their own mind.
All in all these are four easy and entertaining reads.