Welcome

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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Now Available: Limbus III

Featuring the work of Jonathan Maberry, Seanan McGuire, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Laird Barron and David Liss. This is the best Limbus anthology yet. Click here, and buy it today.

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Win Free Books!

free-lsat-prep-materialsWho can turn that down, right? Recently, I had a Kindle book giveaway of That Which Should Not Be and He Who Walks in Shadow over on the Lovecraft eZine and I’ve got a couple left to give away. Click below, and good luck.

That Which Should Not Be

He Who Walks in Shadow

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Movie Review: We Are Still Here

we-are-still-here-posterWe Are Still Here is one of those movies that shows up on “Best Horror Movies on Netflix You Haven’t Seen” lists all the time. Tonight I got around to checking it out. All told, it’s a serviceable, if somewhat formulaic (at least till the end, where it reminds you that the same folks responsible for The House of the Devil made it), ghost story with enough fears and chills to keep you interested.

Annie and Paul have moved to the remote countryside after their son’s tragic death in a car accident. But it doesn’t take long before Annie begins to feel an otherworldly presence that she believes might be the undead spirit of her son. When two friends and their children visit to see if they can give comfort/figure out what’s going on, things get hairy.

The great thing about this movie is that it hits the ground running and doesn’t let up. The already short running time of less than 1:30 flies by. The story has enough twists to differentiate it from the standard haunted house fare, but don’t expect anything earth shattering. Which is not to say the movie isn’t creepy. It is, at times very much so. If it has a downfall, it’s that it shows the big bad a little too soon and a little too much. Favorite part? Probably the seance. The move is off and running at that point, and it’s a wild ride.

Well worth your time on a lazy Saturday night.

3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 based on the last thirty minutes, which separates it from the pack (and provides a delightful amount of gore).

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Review: The Hallow

mv5bmjq2mjuzntg5mf5bml5banbnxkftztgwnty1mty3nje-_v1_uy1200_cr9006301200_al_The Irish have taken over from the Japanese the mantle of cutting edge horror. The Hallow is another in a line of strong, independent horror films set in Ireland, with a powerful mix of body horror and traditional Irish folklore. It’s also another in a long tradition of “why do people never listen to their new neighbors?”

Our two heroes are husband and wife (I honestly don’t remember their names) who’ve moved to the Irish countryside to do…something. It’s unclear exactly what they are doing, but it has something to do with the forest. I’m sure this was explained during the film and I just missed it, but it didn’t strike me as particularly important. But I digress. Most of the locals are unhappy with their presence, and one neighbor in particular is keen to warn them about the fairy folk wandering the nearby woods. No one listens of course, and weird things start to happen, all focused around the couple’s young child. Before long we are dealing with changlings, parasitic microbes, woodland creatures of dubious character, and general insanity. And the twist at the end, pretty cool and unexpected.

A pretty good way to spend an hour and a half, if not the best movie I’ve ever see. A good argument for clear cutting forests, but the Ireland tourist board is probably less than pleased.

4 flaming scythes.

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The Night of Walpurgis

Beware.

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Great Interview with My Friend, Mike Davis

Check it out.

I started reading horror by the time I was ten or so. For anyone who knows me, this probably explains much. I stumbled across my first Lovecraft story, “The Shadow Over Innsmouth,” by t…

Source: The Lovecraft eZine: Interview With Mike Davis

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A Review Worth Sharing

25329621It doesn’t really matter what you write–books, articles, blog posts, Yelp reviews–somebody is going to hate it. And sometimes, a lot of somebodies. So when you get a review from a reader who really “gets” what you were trying to say, it’s worth sharing. Here’s just such a review. Enjoy.

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Lovecraft eZine Recognizes He Who Walks In Shadow

25329621In the world of Lovecraftian horror, there is no more recognized or trusted name than the Lovecraft eZine. So to see He Who Walks in Shadow listed among their ten best novels of 2015 is a real honor. Check out the link, and buy some of these books! You can’t go wrong.

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An Eldritch Indulgence

Check out Munkstein if you are curious.

Cthulhu Stein

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Review: Blood and Rain by Glenn Rolfe

25547303Before Graeme Reynolds’ excellent High Moor series, I wasn’t a fan of werewolves. But Reynolds made a believer out of me, and so I’m always on the lookout for the next big thing in lycanthrope fiction. So when I saw that Glenn Rolfe had penned a book called Blood and Rain and when I saw that it had a giant werewolf on the cover, I knew I had to check it out. I was not disappointed.

It’s been years since the “Full Moon Monster” terrorized the unsuspecting residents of Gilson Creek, Maine, leaving death and destruction in its wake. But time has not dulled the memory of some in the town, including the sheriff who may know more about the true nature of the beast than he is willing to admit. Now the full moon is rising again, and the sleeping beast prepares to awaken. Who will live? Who will die? And who will join the ranks of the werewolf?

There’s little that’s more difficult than to take a known trope and make it interesting and new, but Rolfe pulls it off. And he does so by focusing his efforts on the human characters that are hunted by the monster. By the time the full moon rises, we know Gilson’s Creek. We know the people who live there, who frequent Mel’s Diner, who spend lazy afternoons at the lake. And so when they are in danger, we care. We have a great villain to root against, and heroes to cheer for. Many more experienced, more celebrated writers could learn from Rolfe.

If you love werewolves, you’ll love Blood and Rain. But make no mistake, this is a book that any fan of horror could enjoy. So check it out. And when the full moon rises, lock your doors.

4.5 Stars.

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Stoker Award Preliminary Ballot and End of the Year Lists

25329621The year’s started off with a bang. First, He Who Walks In Shadow made the preliminary ballot for the Bram Stoker Award. Doesn’t make it a nominee yet, but it’s a step in the right direction. And a number of end of year best lists included HWWIS in their ranks. I’ve listed them below. Check them out. You could do worse for a reading list for the next year.

Glenn Rolfe Scribbles Madness

Brett J. Talley’s He Who Walks in Shadow was a great supernatural adventure that was part Robert Langdon, part Indiana Jones, and all awesome! Not so much a horror story, but a lot of fun!

Horror After Dark

The sequel to That Which Should Not Be was anticipated with all kinds of excitement, but Talley manages to exceed them all with an intelligent expansion of his established universe. He lovingly re-creates scenes from the early parts of the twentieth century, yet unlike many of Lovecraft’s works, his styles remains eminently accessible. Talley also does not shy away from describing the horrors his characters find on their journey across much of Europe (and beyond), and at one point he pokes a little fun at the master when one of the characters acknowledges that another contemporary writer had the “inability to describe properly the things he has seen”. Pure gold.

Reclusive Reads

This epistolary novel, collecting a series of journal entries, chronicles a suspenseful race against time and the Old Ones, is so much more than just another Mythos rehash/re-imagining. Infusing his tale with both real and weird history (The Russian Revolution/The Tunguska Event), brilliant characters and a real sense of dread, Talley has done something incredible…..he’s not only given life to the Mythos….under his guidance, it is evolving.

Highest possible recommendation.

The Passionate Foodie

And of course, it wouldn’t be fair to include the Best Of lists without also including a WORST OF list, my favorite distinction of the year. Can’t win them all.

Writing About Books

I have read works by Talley before (see my review of The Void here), so when this book came up as an offering as part of LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers, I leapt at the chance to read it. Oh Lordie! Bearing in mind the overall problems I’ve had with reading in general recently, and niche markets in particular, it is no surprise that I had issues with this book.

Little did I know when I put my name forward, that this is the sequel to Talley’s THAT WHICH SHOULD NOT BE. Dr. Carter Weston continues the fight to contain “The Old Ones” and act as a guard to the barrier keeping them from wiping out humanity. His daughter, Rachael Jones, joins him after working with Henry Armitage to rescue Carter from the Nazis.  There is plenty of change in terms of narration – the story is told from various standpoints, including individual journals and other documents, and several key scenes from Weston’s past adventures. In this novel, the focus is on Nyarlathoep –a guardian set upon awakening “The Old Ones” and freeing them from their slumber.

The blurb and the setup of the novel attracted me, and I should have enjoyed things. However, this became virtually impossible to finish – I really didn’t care for anyone well ahead of the ending, so I am ashamed to admit this was a DNF.

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Review: High Moor 3 Blood Moon

26803158The High Moor saga is one of those rare series where each book is better than the last. Graeme Reynolds is a man who loves his werewolves, but he likes them visceral and dangerous. If you’re tired of teen angst and sexy wolves, this is the series for you. And Blood Moon is the best yet.

The werewolves have been exposed, and you can imagine the response by the non-wolf public. Our heroes are hunted, not only by the government that wants to understand and take advantage of their secrets, but by the leaders of the pack who blame them for ripping away the veil of secrecy that had protected the other werewolves. At the same time, people who live ordinary lives—except, you know, for once a month—are now targeted for extermination. And it’s all coming to a head where everything started—the village of High Moor.

Heavy, right? Reynolds is no slouch, and he infuses in what could be a standard werewolf yarn serious issues that any reader will recognize. Illegal immigration, terrorism, government overreach and oppression. It’s all there.

The verdict? A fitting ending to my favorite werewolf saga of all time.

5 Stars

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“He Who Walks in Shadow is one of the best books of 2015.”

Acclaimed horror novelist Glenn Rolfe has released his Best of 2015 list, and He Who Walks In Shadow has made the top 10! Who am I kidding, it actually made the Top 3. Rolfe has one of the best horror novels of the year in his own right, Blood and Rain, and any fan of the genre–especially if you like your horror with some werewolf bite–should check it out. But first, take a look at his site. Here’s what he had to say about me.

He Who Walks in Shadow is author Brett J. Talley’s follow-up to That Which Should Not Be. Do you need to read the latter to get into this new one? No. I think the story is compelling and the characters written well enough to introduce you to them even if for the first time.

In this adventure, taking place in 1933, we follow Carter Weston, Henry Armitage, and Carter’s daughter, Rachel Jones. They are out to prevent the end of the world as we know it. Their number one adversary, Nyarlathotep, is a god of darkness who wishes to vanquish our people to bring forth his own.
Along the way our trio meets others willing to join in the crusade, and are also in a race against one of Carter’s old (human) nemesis, Erich Zann.  Who will survive? Can this ancient evil be thwarted?

He Who Walks in Shadow is one of the best books of 2015. Part supernatural horror, part Robert Langdon meets Indiana Jones, this is a terrific adventure story about a group of people willing to sacrifice all that they love for the greater good of mankind. While not my favorite “horror” story of the year, it is definitely one of my favorite all-around stories.

 

 

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The Gods of H.P. Lovecraft

26241281Looking for a last minute Christmas gift for the Lovecraftian in your life? You cannot go wrong with this beautiful anthology, The Gods of H.P. Lovecraft. I’m in it, but considering the company, I barely make the credits. We’re talking Doug Wynne, Laird Barron, Joe Lansdale, Jonathan Maberry, just to name a few. And the early reviews rave, including a starred review in Booklist who said, “H. P. Lovecraft and his Mythos have seen a resurgence in popularity in the last 10 years, in both popular and scholarly circles, but this collection stands out among the crowd.” And indeed it does. You can say I’m biased–and I am–but I haven’t been prouder to be a part of a project since the first Limbus, Inc. Check it out, and let me know what you think in the comments.

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31 Days of Halloween: The First Chapter of My Next Book

A special treat to close out the month. I’ve been working for a while on my next book, something both different and alike from my other books. You’ll have to wait to find out the details–hopefully not too long–but to get you interested and as my little Halloween gift to you, here’s the first chapter.

Chapter One

The first time I killed a man was just south of Lone Pine, a mile off 395 in a scrub-grass desert that rarely saw the rain. He was a tweaker turned informant who bought meth with cash the cops gave him for his troubles. But it takes a special kind of person to play the rat. You’ve gotta have your wits about you, and maybe even more important, you gotta have luck. Bug—that was what we called him cause of the way his eyes looked and I won’t use his given name here—whatever he was, he wasn’t very lucky. And damn, was he stupid. Still, my mother always said you shouldn’t speak ill of the dead. That’s probably even more true when you’re the one who pulled the trigger.

Bug didn’t know it was the last day of his life until it was almost over. The five of us—me, Bug, Sticker, Rondo, and Goat—told him we were going on a run to pick up a package north of Lone Pine. One of the best meth cooks in California worked out of that desert, and Bug wasn’t suspicious. We took the van instead of our bikes. We had a ready-made excuse—the hollow compartment in the back where we stored the meth for transport. The real reason was we didn’t want to leave his bike in the desert when we could strip it for parts.

It was when we turned off the highway that I knew Bug was scared. He’d been what we called a hang around for just three weeks, barely enough time to have learned everyone’s names. But he couldn’t even keep the deception going for that long. They’d pegged him an informant by his second visit to The Abyss, the bar the Sons of Dagon called their own. Then it was just a matter of time.

They strung it out for a while. Kicked his ass a couple of times. Told him it was part of the process. Show he was tough and all. But they were playing with him. They talked loose and free about crimes that were never committed, runs they said they were planning but that were really other gangs’ business. Bug ended up providing not one useful piece of information to the FBI, the ATF, or whoever the hell it was he was working for. I never knew and never cared.

That night, though, Bug finally got it, finally knew just how royally he had screwed up. We rolled down that dusty, pock-marked back road and it dawned on him, like a deer sitting in the crosshairs of a rifle. Right before you pull the trigger, it knows. And that was Bug.

He knew.

No reason he should have, really. The best crank was cooked in places like that, and it was reasonable to think that the road would end at an old trailer, choked with the smell of rotten eggs dipped in ammonia, like a bucket of cat piss had been splashed on the walls. But there wasn’t a cook; we weren’t there for meth. So when we reached the end of the line and there was nothing but a cliff overlooking a dry riverbed, Bug couldn’t have been surprised. But it was that look from Goat that made him absolutely lose his shit.

Goat, International President of the Sons of Dagon. Less grandiose than it sounds, as the Sons had but one chapter out of Los Angeles.  Might seem hardly worth bothering with for the authorities, but the Sons had a reputation for violence and criminal activity that far outshone their larger and more numerous brothers. The Hell’s Angels were still dangerous, but they’d gone Hollywood, and previous investigations had shattered the Vagos and the Mongols. The Sons were next on the FBI’s hit list, but it sure as hell wasn’t going to be Bug that took them out. I knew that, and he knew it too when he saw the look in Goat’s eyes.

Sometimes I think words like “presence” and “stature” were made up to justify a particular man’s power, to grant unto him the ineffable quality that makes some men wolves in a world of sheep, whether they’ve got it or not. Not so with Goat. That man had it, and it didn’t much matter what “it” was. He had a look that could melt steel, and there weren’t many who felt it fall upon them that came out alive.

But that wasn’t the look he gave Goat that night. No, this was something else. Disappointment, tinged with pity, an emotion I didn’t think he was capable of showing.

“Duncan,” he said, never taking his eyes off Bug, “wait outside.” I didn’t hesitate, for hesitation following a command had been beaten out of me during my three months of serving as one of the gang’s hang arounds, the bottom rung of the organization. I slid open the door of the van and stepped out into the still night.

Crisp, dry air rustled my hair, and the cold-light of long dead stars shone down from a cloudless sky. It was so quiet, but not for long.

Raised voices from the van. The noise of a struggle. A cry. The sharp slap of flesh against flesh, bones breaking, teeth shattering. The back door of the van flew open with the sound of metal on metal, the dark mass of Bug’s body ejected into the dirt. Goat followed close behind, leaping onto the ground as Bug tried to crawl away. “Son of a bitch,” he grunted, punctuating the words with a vicious kick to Bug’s ribs, and I cringed as I heard one crack.

“Hold him up,” Goat said as Sticker and Rondo came around the back of the van and Bug begged through a mouth of broken teeth. Sticker and Rondo didn’t listen. Each grabbed an arm and wrenched Bug up and he cried out in pain so pitifully that I even took a single step forward to help him. That’s when Goat noticed me.

“Hang around,” he said. “You’ve been hanging around long enough. You ready to show your true faith and allegiance to the Sons of Dagon?” Goat’s eyes burned in the desert night, while I stood silent. Bug struggled, and Sticker punched him in the stomach. That was enough to remind me that the next few minutes would determine how many more I had left.

“Yeah,” I muttered.

“What you say, boy?”

I stood up straight. “Yes, sir.”

Goat nodded. He reached behind his back and pulled out the silver Colt 1911 that was his trademark. I didn’t move, didn’t dare to breathe. Goat was going to kill somebody tonight, and if I showed fear, if I hesitated, if I pissed him off in any way, he might just decide to add me to the list.

He pointed the gun in my direction and waved me over with it. Bug sobbed, while Sticker and Rondo held him up, his back to the cliff’s edge. Goat was fifteen paces away from me, but those steps seemed an eternity. Goat took his gun by the barrel and slapped the grip into my hand. He grinned. “Time to earn that patch.”

He stepped back. Rondo and Sticker released Bug, easing far enough away to make it clear this was my show while not giving him any hope of escape. Then it was just me and Bug.

He could barely stand, and his left eye had swollen shut. He’d shit himself, and the stench hung thick around him. I looked down at the Colt. I’d held a thousand different guns in my lifetime, but I still never got used to the weight, so much heavier than I had expected when I was a boy. For a couple seconds, I toyed with the fantasy that this was a test, that the gun was just a bit lighter than it should have been because it was unloaded. That I’d point it at Bug, pull the trigger, hear a click, and that would be it. We’d all laugh and head back to the club and get drunk. It wasn’t true, and I figured if you are going to take a man’s life, you should be honest about it. Bug was about to die, and I was about to kill him.

I didn’t say anything. I leveled the gun at Bug. He started to cry, which must have hurt pretty bad. Rondo snickered in the background. We locked eyes. From somewhere behind Goat shouted, “Do it, boy!” That’s all I needed. I pulled the trigger and blew Bug’s brain out the back of his head. The bullet carried it down into the dry river bed below, and Bug’s body followed.

The crunch of Goat’s boots on gravel. He clapped his arm on my shoulder and growled out a laugh as he took back the gun. He spit a line of tobacco juice down into the dirt valley below. “Son-of-a-bitch was a rat and a liar.” He fixed me with his gaze. “Said you were a cop. Can you believe that shit?” Then he grinned and walked away.  “Come on. I’m tired of this place.”

I looked down to the sand below, turning black from the growing pool of Bug’s blood. He had been wrong. I wasn’t a cop. I was so much worse than that.

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