(Review) THE RUST MAIDENS by Gwendolyn Kiste

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Something’s happening to the girls on Denton Street.

It’s the summer of 1980 in Cleveland, Ohio, and Phoebe Shaw and her best friend Jacqueline have just graduated high school, only to confront an ugly, uncertain future. Across the city, abandoned factories populate the skyline; meanwhile at the shore, one strong spark, and the Cuyahoga River might catch fire. But none of that compares to what’s happening in their own west side neighborhood. The girls Phoebe and Jacqueline have grown up with are changing. It starts with footprints of dark water on the sidewalk. Then, one by one, the girls’ bodies wither away, their fingernails turning to broken glass, and their bones exposed like corroded metal beneath their flesh.

As rumors spread about the grotesque transformations, soon everyone from nosy tourists to clinic doctors and government men start arriving on Denton Street, eager to catch sight of “the Rust Maidens” in metamorphosis. But even with all the onlookers, nobody can explain what’s happening or why–except perhaps the Rust Maidens themselves. Whispering in secret, they know more than they’re telling, and Phoebe realizes her former friends are quietly preparing for something that will tear their neighborhood apart.

Alternating between past and present, Phoebe struggles to unravel the mystery of the Rust Maidens–and her own unwitting role in the transformations–before she loses everything she’s held dear: her home, her best friend, and even perhaps her own body.

 

MY REVIEW:

The Rust MaidensThe Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Gwendolyn Kiste isn’t new to the horror scene, but she is new to me. I’d been hearing about this book that was coming out soon, about this writer and how this was her first novel. Kiste has collections and a novella out there (which I will be hunting down), but this –THE RUST MAIDENS-is her first full-length novel. I managed to get a hold of a pre-release copy, and I must say, I was not disappointed.

Kiste’s novel is not just a good story (It’s a great story), it’s a statement to the literary world: Kiste is here and now, one of the best young writers in the fiction world. I couldn’t understand for the life of me how THE RUST MAIDENS isn’t with one of the big publishers. This book is fantastic.

The story centers around a young woman named, Phoebe, and five of the girls from her graduating class. When the girls, including Phoebe’s cousin and best friend, Jacqueline, begin to change amidst the strike at the mill, and the mothers of the block’s disparate clutch on perceptions, the street, the town, and those families involved are turned upside down. What exactly is happening to these girls? Why would they do this now of all times? When will it all return to normal?

“The flame of the mill burned bright overhead, but its warmth might as well have been a thousand miles away.”
Phoebe finds herself in a battle against loneliness, and an uncertain future. She should be riding out of town with her best friend ,ready for college and a life outside of Cleveland, but instead, she winds up on a quest for answers she may never receive in a place that just wishes she would leave things be.
“I’m a woman with half a century of life experience, who still can’t do a convincing impression of a human being.”

It does feature Phoebe now, decades later returning to the town and problems she eventually runs away from. But most of the story is of that summer of 1980.

Kiste does a wonderful job ingraining us through Phoebe to this place in time, this dying city in 1980. You feel the desperation. The need to get out. To get out before the dead end town claims you next. You feel the squeeze of lean and mean times as her father’s job at the mill is in jeopardy. You feel the fear of being stuck in a place, doomed to give away the world you received in a never ending cycle, and how even though you know this, there’s still no way to change it. The same way Phoebe knows, the girls have a fate that she cannot stand in the way of no matter how hard she tries.
Still, she tries. She refuses to accept that all hope is gone. And Kiste transfers that hope to the reader.

I took my time reading this book because I wanted to stay there and hang with these characters, to take Phoebe’s hand and stand with her against her world. And that’s the best compliment I can offer to the author. I loved this book.

Another thing I loved was the soundtrack. Kiste’s use of a few select artists does wonders in pulling the reader deeper into the experience. You get Tom Petty’s jangly guitars lifting you up and giving you just enough hope that things will be all right. You get The Carpenter’s fraudulent, soothing lullabies that everything is normal, and then you get the all too real, working class it is what it is-our lot in life- of Bob Seger. On the east Coast, we tend to tune into Springsteen for this, but Kiste being from Ohio, uses the Mid-West equivalent and it fits perfectly. Confession time: I went to bed a number of nights after reading a few chapters listening to Bob Seger’s Stranger in Town record.

Not an outright horror novel, but THE RUST MAIDENS is a book I will not soon forget.

I give THE RUST MAIDENS 5 stars! Easily the best first novel I’ve read in a long time.

 

THE RUST MAIDENS will be released Friday November 16th. You should definitely grab a copy.

pre-order yours here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07GVSDYDD/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i0

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Gwendolyn Kiste is a speculative fiction writer based in Pennsylvania. Her work has appeared in Nightmare, Shimmer, Interzone, Daily Science Fiction, and LampLight among others. Her debut collection, AND HER SMILE WILL UNTETHER THE UNIVERSE, was released through JournalStone in April 2017. She currently resides on an abandoned horse farm with her husband, two cats, and not nearly enough ghosts.

 

 

Check out Gwendolyn’s website: www.GwendolynKiste.com

And find her on Twitter: @GwendolynKiste

THE WINDOW, my birthday, and some sweet ass 99 Cent Deals!

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“Glenn Rolfe delivers a chilling tale of demonic possession that keeps you
turning pages all night long.”  -Russell James, author of Q Island

“Never gonna look in a mirror or out a window again! The Window is deep and rich…(and) will surely scare your socks off!” – The Haunted Reading Room

My new novel is out tomorrow!  I can’t believe it’s already here.

What kind of demons await you tonight?

For Richie, life’s constant cheap shots are adding up. When he finds something is watching him, he never dreamed that it would show him everything he ever wanted.

When his son, James, comes to stay for the last month of summer, the changes in his father’s behavior come to the forefront. What is his father doing staring into the window in the middle of the night?
Was the fiery spark in the dark real? Or is Jame’s imagination getting the best of him?

Summer’s almost over.
And life is about to change.
Will James be able to save his father? Or is it already too late?

The Window holds the answers…and the key.

You can snag your Kindle copy here: THE WINDOW

The print edition should be out in the second half of October.

If that isn’t enough for you, a number of my other titles will be on sale all weekend for just 99 cents!  Sunday is my birthday and I figured I’d give you guys some gifts!

Click on the cover photos below to grab you cheap copies.

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So, this weekend is a happy Release Day for THE WINDOW and for me (41 years!).

I hope you’ll help me celebrate by picking up the new book and maybe a couple of others.   All RT’s and shares are , as always, greatly appreciated.

Let’s get Rolfed!

Coming September 28th: THE WINDOW

 

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What kind of demons await you tonight?

For Richie, life’s constant cheap shots are adding up. When he finds something is watching him, he never dreamed that it would show him everything he ever wanted.

When his son, James, comes to stay for the last month of summer, the changes in his father’s behavior come to the forefront. What is his father doing staring into the window in the middle of the night?
Was the fiery spark in the dark real? Or is Jame’s imagination getting the best of him?

Summer’s almost over.
And life is about to change.
Will James be able to save his father? Or is it already too late?

The Window holds the answers…and the key.
The new and terrifying novel from Glenn Rolfe, author of LAND OF BONES and BECOMING

Pre-order now: http://mybook.to/TheWindow  

OUT Friday September 28th.

Stay tuned for Blog Tour stops with INK HEIST, KENDALL REVIEWS, FRANK MICHAEL ERRINGTON, and more TBA.

Also October’s Author-Invite Group Read at Horror Aficionados (GoodReads)

Antho-Palooza! The last few months have been busy.

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I got asked to contribute stories to a lot of anthologies last year.  Here are the four i chose to give something to:

VS: X  US vs. UK Extreme Horror  eBook .99   Paperback  $16.99 

SPLATTERPUNK FIGHTING BACK  eBook  .99  paperback $9.99

THE BLACK ROOM MANUSCRIPTS Volume Three  eBook (pre-order) $4.10

100 WORD HORRORS  eBook $1.49   Paperback $6.55

 

Dawn Cano has done a fantastic job raising money for animal charities with her two VS. anthologies.  I took part in both editions.  I was more than happy to write a new story for the X and I was delighted to share the roster with Jack Ketchum and Wrath James White among many others.  My contribution: “To Be Alive”

Jack Bantry and Kit Power put together a great roster with SPLATTERPUNK FIGHTING BACK, as well. The proceeds to this charity anthology are ALL going to help fight cancer. My brother passed away from his battle with this monster with no cure back in 2010. I was honored to be invited.  I also dedicated my piece to Matt Molgaard (Horror Novel Reviews). Matt was one of my earliest supporters and offered up my first review ever.  He passed away last year, leaving a major hole in the horror community.  My contribution:  “Molly”

Daniel Marc Chant  approached me for a story for this one. THE BLACK ROOM MANUSCRIPTS always delivers a star-powered cast. I didn’t hesitate in jumping aboard.  This one contains stories from Paul Tremblay, David Moody, Adam Nevill, and more. My contribution: “Orson’s Gas N’ Go”

I’ve been trying to find the time to work with Kevin Kennedy on one of his anthologies for quite a while. I’m glad we were finally able to make it happen. His horror drabbles (stories in exactly 100 words) anthology, 100 WORD HORRORS, is full of short goodies from Lisa Morton, Richard Chizmar, Gord Rollo, and many, many, many more. My contribution: “The Came for Me”

How much did I get paid for these stories? $0  Why do it?  Because I love working with this great group of editors and writers, and the ones for charities are causes I believe in and support.

Two of the covers (VS: X and 100 WORD STORIES) were created by the multi-talented Michael Bray.  Check out his website here: MichaelBray.com

My FIGHTING BACK compatriots and I were all blown away and honored to be nominated in a couple categories for the inaugural SPLATTERPUNK AWARDS taking place at this year’s KILLERCON in Texas. We’re up for Best Anthology, plus Matt Shaw, Bracken MacLeod, and myself, were each nominated in the Best Short Story category for our FIGHTING BACK contributions.

VS: X  US vs. UK EXTREME HORROR is also nominated for Best Anthology.  Congrats to Dawn and everyone else involved.

Check out the full list of categories and nominees here:  SPLATTERPUNK AWARDS NOMINATION LIST

 

You can grab all four eBooks for less than $10.  I hope you’ll consider it.

We all appreciate the support.

There is another fantastic collection I’m even more excited about on the way this June or July that we’re waiting to announce.  You guys are going to love it.

Stay tuned!

(REVIEW) EXORCIST FALLS by Jonathan Janz

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“One of the best writers in modern horror to come along in the last decade. Janz is one of my new favorites.” –Brian Keene

EXORCIST FALLS (Sinister Grin Press, 2017)

Chicago is gripped by terror. The Sweet Sixteen Killer is brutally murdering young women, and the authorities are baffled.
When the police are called to an affluent home in the middle of the night, they learn that a seemingly normal fourteen-year-old boy has attacked his family. The boy exhibits signs of demonic possession, and even more troublingly, he knows too much about the Sweet Sixteen killings. Father Jason Crowder, a young priest assigned to the case, must marshal his courage in order to save the boy and the entire city from the forces of evil.

But this is a darkness mankind has never encountered before. It craves more than blood. And it won’t rest until it possesses Father Crowder’s soul.

Jonathan Janz’s brand new release brings the original novella that started it all—Exorcist Road—and a brand-new full-length novel (Exorcist Falls) together for a shattering experience in supernatural terror.

MY REVIEW

Hmmmm. This was my most anticipated release of 2017, so my expectations were high. Maybe unfairly high.
This book starts with the original novella, EXORCIST ROAD, one of my favorite pieces by Janz. It was great to re-read it here and love it just as much.
That brings us to the follow-up, which is maybe a short novel or long novella, EXORCIST FALLS.
This story was pretty great, overall.
I loved not knowing what was going to happen. Every time I thought (or hoped) I knew where Janz was going, he took my someplace else. He really did an amazing job of keeping you off guard throughout.

Father Crowder is definitely the star of the show, and you’ll be praying for Danny Hartman to get his. There’s a lot of great gore and wildly imaginative action going on that is also well balanced with the internal struggle between Crowder and his curse. Janz’s writing is on point.  That said, we had a few characters that fell flat (Liz) or seemed to be a little inconsistent from start to finish (Father Patterson, for instance). That said, neither character ruined the experience for me.

The ending….I won’t give it away, but it was both really awesome and disappointing. Sound confusing? Yeah, it’s a frustrating thing. I LOVE where Janz goes here, but I think he should have taken the time to write about three more chapters and brought the story to an even more amazing conclusion. Oh well. Not everything works the way we want it to.

I give EXORCIST FALLS 4 stars, but this one should have and could have easily been 5.

Still, I know people are going to love it. So I look forward to seeing it on many, many year end lists.
Overall, a terrific start of what is gonna be another great year for Janz.

You HAVE to pre-order your eBook copy now. EXORCIST FALLS by Jonathan Janz

 

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Visit Jonathan Janz’s website: JonathanJanz.com

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And be sure to keep up with all of the great titles and merchandise at SinisterGrinPress.com

And keep you eyes out for all things Janz and Exorcist Falls related from Oh,ForTheHookofaBook

The Haunted Halls: Cover Reveal and Pre-Order from Matt Shaw Publications

Thanks to Matt Shaw for bringing this novel back from the dead!  Near the end of 2015, I signed a contract with Samhain Publishing and Don D’Auria  to re-release my novel, The Haunted Halls. It was set to come out this November.  Don loved this book and said it was my best yet. You know how that story goes. Don was let go, Samhain imploded, and The Haunted Halls was set adrift. Lucky for me, Samhain gave me the rights back and I was free to shop it around again. The Haunted Halls is definitely my most vicious, uncomprimising novel to date. I got in touch with Matt Shaw, the king of uncomrimising British horror, and asked if he’d be interested in looking at adding my novel to his recent venture of taking on up ad coming authors. He read the manuscript, and here we are.

With cover art by Jason Lynch, I give you the new exclusive eBook edition of my terrifying hotel story, The Haunted Halls.

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The Bruton Inn, located outside of the small Maine city of Hollis Oaks, is home to something sinister. An icy presence has made its way from a dark past to the present day. Cold spots, shadows, and whispers permeate the halls, and guests are beginning to change.

For two front desk employees, the dark rumors are about to come to light. They call upon an urban shaman and his connection with the spirit world to dig up the truth. Will they be able to stand against this malevolent force? Or will they come face to face with something beyond their most frightful dreams.

Welcome to the Bruton Inn. The Ice Queen has arrived.

 

This will be an eBook exclusive with Matt Shaw Publications and releases September 3rd. You can pre-order your copy now for just 2.99 !  Get on it.  Buy Now

The Audio edition will be out later this year featuring the fantastic voice talents of Joe Hempel. I’m currently wokring on getting a print edition back into publication, as well.

Again, much thanks to Matt Shaw and to everyone who helped out with this book along the way.

Here’s some praise for The Haunted Halls:

“Creepy, darkly humorous, and absolutely terrifying – yet smart and intelligent, not to mention character driven, there’s a lot going on here that will appeal to the masses. Part Laymon, part King, complete Rolfe, this is a book that any horror fan needs to read. Essential.” -Stuart Keane, author of Cine and Grin 

“…a book that will proudly be displayed between John Skipp and Craig Spector’s seminal novel The Light at the End, and Clive Barker’s The Damnation Game. The Haunted Halls is a tremendous read that is hard to put down.” – Beneath the Underground

“The Bruton Inn is the scariest hotel I have read about since the Overlook…
Glenn Rolfe runs at the front of the pack with the best of today’s emerging horror authors.” –  Terry M. West, author of Heroin in the Magic Now and Night Things: Dracula versus Frankenstein

“Glenn Rolfe’s The Haunted Halls pulls out all the stops in delivering a blood-soaked, sexually charged spook show.” – Peter n. Dudar, author of A Requiem for Dead Flies

 

“…proof that we’re in the presence of a rising star in the genre.”–Ronald Malfi

It blows my mind that one of my favorite writers in the horror fiction scene over the last 10 or so years has endorsed my latest piece, Blood and Rain (Samhain Publishing, October 2015). I’ve admired the hell out of this guy’s talent and the way he has handled himself for a long time.

From when I first read Snow to when I finished Floating Staircase, Ronald Malfi’s style and storytelling ability has simultaneously influenced and intimidated me. He makes me want to write because his words are like magic. Yet, he also makes me say, “Shit, I can’t fucking do that.”

Well, Ronald Malfi is one of only a handful of people to have read my forthcoming novel, Blood and Rain. And this is what he had to say:

“With slashing claws and blood-soaked fur, Glenn Rolfe’s novel will have you howling in terror and delight. A welcome addition to the werewolf mythos and proof that we’re in the presence of a rising star in the genre. Highly recommended!”–Ronald Malfi, author of December Park

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My jaw dropped.

It’s like Tim Armstrong (lead singer in Rancid) hearing one of my punk rock songs and saying, ‘that’s wicked.’

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Soon, you’ll all have the chance to dig into my ‘wicked’ new werewolf novel. I’m excited for my baby beast to make its way out into the world.  You can pre-order the Kindle edition right now on Amazon.com, and soon at all of your other favorite eBook joints. The print edition hits the streets October 6th (and maybe on audio shortly thereafter). If you make it out to Horror Hound Weekend Indianapolis in September, I will have pre-release copies for sale!

To pre-order the Kindle Edition now, click the cover below!

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Also, if you didn’t know…Ronald Malfi has a new book out! Check out Little Girls. Click HERE

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