As seen in the Washington Post.

“Talley is wonderful at crafting suspense.” –Kirkus Reviews

hwwisHello, and welcome to my website.  My name is Brett J. Talley and I’m the Bram Stoker Award Nominated author of That Which Should Not Be, He Who Walks In ShadowThe Voidand numerous other novellas and short stories.   Here you’ll find reviews of my books, updates on what I’m doing, my published short stories, and my reviews of books and horror movies.

Stay awhile, but remember.  There is darkness in this world. Beware the shadows!

If you are interested in JournalStone, the publishing company that made all this possible, visit them at www.journalstone.com!


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The Ritual

p14607106_p_v8_abHorror is having its [latest] moment, and the availability of mediums like Amazon and Netflix mean that horror movies which might have disappeared into straight-to-video oblivion ten years ago have a chance to shine today. But The Ritual is a coup for Netflix. This is a movie good enough to go to theaters, and it is can’t miss for anyone with a Netflix account.

Four friends from University strike off into the Scandinavian hinterland to honor their fifth member, killed in a robbery gone wrong. But at least two of the crew aren’t the athletic specimens they once were, and after an accident gives one a bum knee, they decide to take a shortcut through an uncharted forest. Things get bad when they discover the corpse of a large animal hanging from a tree–gutted–and they get worse when they find an ancient idol in a forgotten farmstead. Now something is hunting them, and what started as a camping trip soon becomes a fight for survival.

The Ritual is based on the novel of the same name by Adam Nevill. I enjoyed that book quite a bit, but it was flawed, particularly in its second half. In adapting Nevill’s book, the filmmakers have taken what made the novel great and fixed its shortcomings. And the creature design is inspired. The beast stays just beyond the frame for most of the movie, but the usual disappointment when the monster is revealed is completely absent here. It’s too good for just one movie, and I hope for more exploration of its mythology in the future.

The Ritual is an unmitigated success. Everyone involved should be proud.

4.0 Stars


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Review: 1922

If you’re in the mood for a thoroughly depressing movie, 1922 is right up your alley. Stephen King is a genius, but his movies have been hit or miss. Still, if you think about it, 1922_282017_film29the adaptations of his novellas/short stories have been remarkably successful. Stand by MeShawshank, Children of the Corn, 1408, just to name a few. So I went into 1922 with a lot of optimism, particularly given that it is a Netflix special. Was I disappointed?

It’s complicated.

1922 is brilliant in so many ways. Beautifully shot. Wonderfully acted, with that slow burn build that the best horror movies have. Thomas Jane simply inhabits the lead character. There will be no awards for his performance, and that’s unfortunate, because he is brilliant. The screenplay is unendingly depressing, as we watch a farmer not only decide to kill his wife, but convince his son to help him carry it out. Things collapse from there, as the contagion that is murder spreads from the farm to the countryside and beyond. No one is spared.

1922 is a good movie. You won’t be bored. But there is something missing.  I can’t say exactly what it is, and I would be interested to know if anyone else sees it. Maybe it’s the inevitability of things, the sense that nothing good is going to happen and there is no way to avoid the doom that is coming.

Maybe that’s part of the movie’s charm. After all, there’s something to be said for creeping dread. Still, for me at least, it kept the film from taking that next step to brilliance.

Am I saying you shouldn’t see 1922? No, definitely do. But I might have something happy ready to watch after.

3.5 Stars

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Review: The Temple (2017)

After a brief hiatus we’re back, and with a review of the 2017 film, The Temple. Of all the ways to come back, this was probably not the best.

large_temple_posterThe Temple treads well-worn territory. Three young Americans head off to mysterious foreign lands (in this case, Japan) and are soon messing with things they don’t understand. After numerous warnings to leave well enough alone, they strike off to visit the forbidden temple where a bunch of people have died. When things get wonky, they end up spending the night. Bad idea. You know where this is going, and there isn’t going to be a twist.

It’s a movie you’ve seen a thousand times–and 993 of those times were better. The characters are woefully underdeveloped, and if you care about these people when they start to die, you are a better person than I. The usual J-horror tropes are present, particularly pale, scary children with haunted eyes and sharp teeth. An homage to an actual piece of Japanese folklore–the tricksy, shape-shifting fox–is a welcome addition, but not enough to save the film. Spend your time elsewhere.

2 of 5 Stars


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The Lonesome October

Dear reader,

I know, as of late, I have neglected you and this site. For that, my deepest apologies. My excuses are likely unsatisfying. Work has overwhelmed me, and I fear it won’t be getting better anytime soon. Recent professional developments also prevent me from continuing my yearly tradition of 31 Days of Halloween. Next year, I’ll do better.

This year I’ll be posting over the course of October, but mostly in the greatest hits vein. So if you see a post you’ve seen before, I apologize.

For now, below are two video reviews of my books, first for That Which Should Not Be and then He Who Walks in Shadow. If you are a fan of an author, know this–these are the kinds of things that keep us going. You may never  know the effect your kind words have on people, so keep it up. Until we meet next time…

From ghoulies and ghosties

And long-leggedy beasties

And things that go bump in the night,

Good Lord, deliver us!

That Which Should Not Be review:

He Who Walks in Shadow review:

Visit https://bugensbooks.com/ for more reviews.

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Walpurgisnacht Comes

The night came, April 30, the May-eve, which some folks call the Beltane. I knew a little bit about it, about the fires the ancients built to chase away the evil spirits that were said to gather on that evening. I’d read about that—and a lot of other things some folks might frown upon. I guess I have a little bit of my uncle in me after all.

–“The Fiddle is the Devil’s Instrument” from The Fiddle is the Devil’s Instrument and Other Forbidden Knowledge


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Get a Free Audiobook of That Which Should Not Be

In honor of the holiday season, I am offering a free copy of That Which Should Not Be in audiobook format to anyone who purchases one of my books from Journalstone–novels, anthologies with one of my stories, or the Limbus books. Just email me at brettjtalley@gmail.com with a copy of your receipt–dated today or after–and I’ll send you a download code.


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Happy Halloween 2016

It’s been a pretty horrific year, all things considered, and not in a good way. So let’s celebrate LAST YEAR’S Halloween. I spent it in Salem, Massachusetts, the Mecca of all things horror and witchy. And it was a blast. Enjoy these photos from the Halloween Ball at the Hawthorne Hotel, and get out there when you have a chance.




I will lead you into the dark.

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31 Days of Halloween: Hell House (and Shia Labeouf)

Today we start with a review and end with a Shia Labeouf. First, the review.

Hell House is a book I’ve been meaning to read for a while. The fact that it took me this long is a bit of an embarrassment. But hey, better late than never right? The synopsis:

Rolf Rudolph Deutsch is going die. But when Deutsch, a wealthy magazine and newpaper publisher, starts thinking seriously about his impending death, he offers to pay a physicist and two mediums, one physical and one mental, $100,000 each to establish the facts of life after death.

Dr. Lionel Barrett, the physicist, accompanied by the mediums, travel to the Belasco House in Maine, which has been abandoned and sealed since 1949 after a decade of drug addiction, alcoholism, and debauchery. Barrett and his colleagues investigate the Belasco House and learn exactly why the townfolks refer to it as the Hell House.

I’ll admit, this book is a slow burn, especially at first. Hell House is often compared to The Haunting of Hill HouseThat book is one of the best I’ve read; Hell House did nothing to supplant it, and honestly, I wasn’t even sure I’d get through it at first. But I stuck with it, and I was glad I did.

I don’t have a lot more to say about it than that. You should read it. It’s a classic. But you probably know what to expect.

4 Stars

And now, Shia LaBeouf, terrifying and hilarious, all at once. (quiet, quiet)


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31 Days of Halloween: Black January

If you are going to release a horror novel, this month is a pretty good time to do it. Now we have Black January, the highly anticipated Lovecraftian novel by Doug Wynne. In honor of this event, I give you my short–but sincere–review of the first book in this series, the excellent Red Equinox.


We are in a Lovecraftian renaissance, and there are a lot of people who are writing Lovecraft these days. But while you can find a thousand short stories and anthologies set in the world of the mythos, it’s not so easy to find full-length novels. And if you do find them, it’s really hard to find a modern take on the Great Old Ones. And that’s why Red Equinox by Douglas Wynne is so refreshing–it does both, and it does them brilliantly.

If you are a fan of Lovecraft, Red Equinox is a can’t miss.

5 Stars for this early favorite for the 2016 Bram Stoker Award.

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31 Days of Louisiana: Marie Laveau

My obsession with Marie Laveau, the voodoo queen of New Orleans, is well documented. I give you the two best songs about her. (You got one earlier this month, but I’m cheating). The first is by Papa Celestin, one of the greatest jazz masters to come out of Louisiana. The other is by Grant Lee Buffalo.

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31 Days of Halloween: Autumn Cthulhu

61dth-khnqlSometimes I feel like Lovecraft’s stories take place on a perpetual late fall day, leaves falling from the trees, the grass dead and  dying, a chill in the air. So it’s surprising that no one came up with an idea like Autumn Cthulhu before.

In case you fell asleep for the last decade, Lovecraft and the Cthulhu mythos are ascendant. In this golden age, we’ve seen some of the best Lovecraftian novels and anthologies ever put to print. But that comes with a problem–over-saturation, a flood of more-of-the-same, cut and paste drivel designed only to capitalize on the phenomenon and make some money.

Which is why Autumn Cthulhu is such a pleasant surprise and a resounding success.

I’m not going to do that thing where I go through each story and rate them. Some are better than others, but that’s always the case. What’s not always the case is that every story is good, and many of them are great.

And I think it is the theme, pulled together by Mike Davis, that sets the stage for that level of quality. Every story is infused with the feeling of autumn. On the hottest day you’ll feel a chill in the air when you read this book.

It goes without saying–I recommend this book highly and without reservation. You will not be disappointed

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31 Days of Halloween: Last Shift

Now I gotta tell you guys, Last Shift is a pretty good one.

last-shift-posterOfficer Loren is working the final shift at a police station that is being closed. The official story is that there’s a new and better station down the street. But hey, when is the official story ever the real one, right? Turns out something crazy went down at that station. And wouldn’t you know it? it was one year ago, to the night. Now she’s got to make it through to the end of her shift. Or the end of the world, whichever comes first.

In my view, there’s little more unnerving than a  story about a person who is facing horror alone. No back up. No one to rely on. No one to even talk to and ask whether you are going crazy. That’s what this movie does best. It’s a big challenge for actress Juliana Harkavy to pull this off by herself, but she does it magnificently. By the end of the movie she is questioning her sanity, and we are questioning everything we see. And it’s all creepy.

The movie doesn’t quite achieve legendary status, though. I’m not sure what it’s missing. The story line and subplots never really comes full circle, and you do start to wonder why someone doesn’t come by to check on her at some point. (I’m also using the alternate poster, as I hate the main one.) And I admit to not loving the ending. Throughout there’s just something that’s not quite right, even if it’s hard to put your finger on it. I’m reminded of Sinister in this respect, a movie that I thought was terrifying at times, but also had something missing.

Still, Last Shift is a great way to spend a late October night. Check it out, and let me know what you think in the comments.

4 Stars

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31 Days of Halloween: The Best Scenes in Horror Movie History Part II

And now five more of the best scenes in horror. Enjoy!

Dawn of the Dead (2004) — The World Ends

One of the best remakes ever–and that’s saying a lot considering the source material–Dawn of the Dead also has one of the best scenes of any zombie film. Most zombie movies, for whatever reason, don’t show the fall. The pick up sometime later. But this movie managed to capture exactly what it might be like to wake up on the last day of civilization.

The Babadook — Dook, Dook, Dook

I loved The Babadook, and I think a big reason is this scene. It starts so innocently, and yet it gets under your skin, unnerving you, making you think you something is watching over your shoulder. And maybe it is.

Sinister — The Lawnmower Scene

Sinister is an underappreciated horror movie in my view. But I don’t know anyone who didn’t appreciate this scene. Perhaps the single greatest jump scare out there. Turn the lights down and the volume up.

Army of Darkness –Hail to the King, Baby

Most horror movies sputter to their conclusion. Not Army of Darkness. It ends with one of the single greatest scenes in all of horror history. I can quote the whole thing. Who can’t though?

A Nightmare on Elm Street — Falling Asleep in Class

This is, without a doubt, my favorite scene in all of horror. It’s perfect. Perfectly written. Perfectly acted. And it sums up everything that A Nightmare on Elm Street is about. (As an aside, Nightmare is my favorite horror movie.


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31 Days of Halloween: The Best Scenes in Horror Movie History, Part I

Yesterday we did the best opening lines in horror novels. Today, I want to share with you some of my favorite horror movie scenes. I don’t know about you, but a good horror scene makes me positively giddy. Like, laugh out loud, smile like a madman, giddy. Am I the only one? No? Yes? Anyway, here we go. Let me know your favorites in the comments.

Oh, and P.S., in the tradition of all great horror, this post will have a sequel. Come back tomorrow for Part II, where I reveal my favorite horror scene of all time.

Suspiria — A Beautiful Death

From the finest Italian horror movie ever made comes this gem. Occurring about five minutes into the film, it sets the scene for what’s coming.

Insidious — Tiptoe Through the Tulips

This scene is everything that quiet horror should be. An ordinary day, a record player (always creepy), no reason to think anything is going to happen. But if you are watching, you’ll spy something out of place early on in the scene. I love this scene, and I get chills every time I watch it.

The Shining — Come Play With Us

This one is almost cheating, but man is it good.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night — The Record Scene

Another scene involving a record player, but very different. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is one of the most visually stunning horror films ever shot, and this scene might be its most beautiful.

Hellraiser — Demons to Some, Angels to Others

The best scene in one of the best horror movies ever made, here we meet the Cenobites in all their glory. I’ll always believe that this scene and our desire to see more, learn more, and know more about the Cenobites spawned the countless Hellraiser sequels. After all, they have such sights to show us.


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31 Days of Halloween: The Best First Lines in Horror

51vefbadjql-_sy344_bo1204203200_A great first line can make a book, and the inability to come up with one has stopped more than a few writers from every getting on with the rest of the story. Here, I present to you some of my favorites (and some of them are more like first paragraphs). Leave yours in the comments.

I am a watchdog. My name is Snuff. — A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny

So intent was Frank upon solving the puzzle of Lemarchand’s box that he didn’t hear the great bell begin to ring. — The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker

The tower, which was not supposed to be there, plunges into the earth in a place just before the black pine forest begins to give way to swamp and then the reeds and wind-gnarled trees of the marsh flats. — Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer

Solving the following riddle will reveal the awful secret behind the universe, assuming you do not go utterly mad in the attempt. If you already happen to know the awful secret behind the universe, feel free to skip ahead. — John Dies at the End by David Wong.

On those cloudy days, Robert Neville was never sure when sunset came, and sometimes they were in the streets before he could get back. — I am Legend by Richard Matheson

Nobody was really surprised when it happened, not really, not at the subconscious level where savage things grow. — Carrie by Stephen King

Searchers after horror haunt strange, far places. For them are the catacombs of Ptolemais, and the carven mausolea of the nightmare countries. They climb to the moonlit towers of ruined Rhine castles, and falter down black cobwebbed steps beneath the scattered stones of forgotten cities in Asia. The haunted wood and the desolate mountain are their shrines, and they linger around the sinister monoliths on uninhabited islands. But the true epicure in the terrible, to whom a new thrill of unutterable ghastliness is the chief end and justification of existence, esteems most of all the ancient, lonely farmhouses of backwoods New England; for there the dark elements of strength, solitude, grotesqueness, and ignorance combine to form the perfection of the hideous. — The Picture in the House by H.P. Lovecraft

A considerable number of hunting parties were out that year without finding so much as a fresh trail; for the moose were uncommonly shy, and the various Nimrods returned to the bosoms of their respective families with the best excuses the facts of their imaginations could suggest. — The Wendigo by Algernon Blackwood

No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone. — The Haunting of Hill House  by Shirley Jackson

This is not for you. — House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski



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