Author: Holley Cornetto

Epeolatry Book Review: Blood & Bone, ed. A.R. Ward


Our reviews may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through the links in this article we may receive a small commission or referral fee. This happens without any additional cost to you.

Title: Blood & Bone: An Anthology of Body Horror by Women and Non-Binary Writers
Author: Various, ed. A.R. Ward
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Ghost Orchid Press
Release Date: 22nd September, 2021

Synopsis: Since the earliest creation myths, womens’ bodies have been a site of conflict, venerated and feared in equal measure. In this collection, talented female and non-binary writers let rip with twenty-two powerful, visceral body horror stories that explore, celebrate and dissect (sometimes literally) femininity and the female experience. The stories traverse difficult and sometimes controversial ground, digging into subjects like eating disorders, the beauty industry, pregnancy, infertility, body dysmorphia, domestic violence, rape and sexual abuse–all done with passion, humour, and creativity. Approach with an open mind and a strong stomach.

According to the website TV Tropes, body horror is horror “involving body parts, parasitism, disfigurement, mutation, or unsettling bodily configuration, not induced by immediate violence,” which may give you an idea for what’s in store within the latest anthology from Ghost Orchid Press, Blood & Bone: An Anthology of Body Horror by Women & Non-Binary Writers. Most of the stories in this anthology hit the above threshold definition of body horror, with few exceptions. 

In the Foreword, Alex Woodroe mentions, “One of the greatest things about body horror is that it’s unlikely anyone reading this anthology right now is doing so by accident. You know what you want.” I have to hand it to Woodroe, going in to this anthology I had expectations for the types of stories that I would encounter, and I wasn’t let down. Being an anthology about both women and bodies, I expected tales of pregnancy, motherhood, self-image, identity, and troubled relationships. This anthology delivered on all of those expectations. 

 “Siphonophore,” by Saoirse Ní Chiaragáin, opened the collection on a high note. The creative use of point of view and beautiful prose took a tale we all know and created something interesting and original. 

Caitlin Marceau’s story, “Gastric,” took on issues of body image and self-esteem and combined them with gaslighting in a heartbreaking story about a woman who is repeatedly told how she should look and feel. 

Another highlight of this collection was Evelyn Freeling’s “What Goes Down, Must Come Up.” Freeling puts a fresh spin on her story with creative use of second person point of view. This story was at turns intense, disgusting, and heartbreaking. 

“Knit, Purl,” by Nicole M. Wolverton was another horrific tale. Very early in the story, I knew the direction the narrative was going to take, but the inevitability of the outcome didn’t detract from my enjoyment. It was a horrifying accident that I couldn’t tear my eyes from. 

The last story I’d like to mention is Nico Bell’s “Written on her Skin.” This story about the way people speak to (and about) women was absolutely stunning.  

This collection is for more than just fans of body horror. This collection speaks to the deeper horrors that women face on a regular basis, just by virtue of being female. While I didn’t enjoy all of the stories equally (as to be expected with any anthology), the stories listed above make reading the book well worth your time. 

out of 5 Ravens.

Available from Amazon.

Epeolatry Book Review: Floaters by Garrett Boatman


Our reviews may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through the links in this article we may receive a small commission or referral fee. This happens without any additional cost to you.

Title: Floaters
Author: Garrett Boatman
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Crystal Lake Publishing
Release Date: 1oth September, 2021

Synopsis: London 1890s. Out of the Thames’ fetid depths the undead rise to feast upon the living. While floaters seek blood, another army takes advantage of the chaos. Boiling out of their rookeries of crime, marauders swarm through London’s affluent neighborhoods looting and burning.

While the beleaguered police and the Queen’s army battle twin plagues—human and inhuman—London’s criminal youth gangs join forces to save their city. Will Tagget, leader of the Lambeth Lads, together with his enemies Bill Drummond of the Drury Lane Gang, bull-necked George Fish of the Elephant and Castle Gang, shillelagh-wielding Dirk Bogart of the New Cut Gang, Quincy Bird of City Road, along with their female counterparts—Lambeth Kate, Queen Jane, New Cut Beth, Razor Lil and Dirty Deidre—set out on an adventure the telling of which might earn a man a lifetime of free drinks. If he lives to tell it.

Will these violent youths be able to put aside their rivalries long enough to get the job done?

The synopsis of this novella promises rival gangs in Victorian London and zombies. The book certainly delivers. The author did his research on the time period, which is evident in the reading. For the most part this is welcome, although at times there was too much history and too little plot. (This coming from someone who studied history in college). For example, in one part of the book, the author lists all of the different gangs present at a meeting. I’m talking a paragraph of them. When introducing characters and during dialogue, the reader is also often given information regarding what gang said character is affiliated with. I get why; the point is that rival gangs who hate each other have come together to fight the more immediate threat of the undead. But it might have been better handled with more subtlety. As it is, I felt hit over the head with this theme repeatedly.

Another minor complaint I have is the sheer number of exclamation points used in internal monologue, though admittedly, this might just be a pet peeve of mine. Additionally, the repetitive use of certain phrases/ideas bothered me. The biggest offender is the phrase “and no mistake.” 

For this reader, the strongest part of this work was the opening chapters where the characters discover the threat and first come together to face it. Boatman captures the time period and the atmosphere well, and the fear is palpable. The author’s style flows well, and even scenes with blood and gore are written in lovely prose.

Recommended for those with special interest in Victorian England, gangs in aforementioned setting, historical fiction, and zombies. Ideally, all of those things combined. 

3 out of 5 ravens

Available from Amazon.

Building Characters Using Direct Characterization

Building Characters Using Direct Characterization

by Holley Cornetto

To many readers, one of the most important aspects of a story is the characters. Characters, after all, are the window through which the reader experiences a story. As readers, we may not always like a character, but a character needs to be interesting enough to captivate our attention and make us want to read on. 

There are two major ways that writers reveal information about character to the reader. These are known as direct characterization and indirect characterization. In this post, I’m going to discuss direct methods of characterization, what these methods convey to readers, and how.

The four direct methods of characterization are dialogue, description, action, and thought. All of these elements demonstrate something about the character to the reader. 


Epeolatry Book Review: Slattery Falls by Brennan LaFaro


Our reviews may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through the links in this article we may receive a small commission or referral fee. This happens without any additional cost to you.

Title: Slattery Falls
Author: Brennan LaFaro
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Silver Shamrock Publishing
Release Date: 20th July, 2021

Synopsis: Travis, Elsie, and Josh, college kids with a ghost-hunting habit, scour New England for the most interesting haunted locales. Their journey eventually leads them to Slattery Falls, a small Massachusetts town living in the shadow of the Weeks House. The former home of the town’s most sinister and feared resident sits empty. At least that’s what the citizens say. It’s all in good fun. But after navigating the strange home, they find the residents couldn’t be more wrong. And now the roles are reversed. The hunters have become the hunted. Something evil refuses to release its grip, forcing the trio into one last adventure.

The style in which this novella is written draws the reader in quickly. It’s conversational, which makes it easy to build a connection with Travis, our narrator. Speaking of characters… Travis, Elise, and Josh are well developed characters with lovely and dynamic relationships. I particularly enjoyed Josh. I recognized the hints toward Asperger’s, and I appreciated that LaFaro included a differently-abled character as a protagonist in this story. 

My one minor complaint about the story revolves around why the antagonist targeted Travis, Elise, and Josh. We are told that together, they are powerful, but never why or what connection they have to Weeks. It must have been important for the antagonist to go out of his way to target them (and to have watched them for so long), but we are left without knowing those reasons. The book would have benefited from more explanation in this regard.

Slattery Falls was a great read with crisp writing, and characters that I’m sure will stick with me. The friendship between Travis and Josh was beautifully written, and their easy banter made me laugh out loud multiple times. I love the novella format in the horror genre. I believe it is a perfect length to keep the reader’s interest, while maximizing tension and storytelling. LaFaro has used this to wonderful effect, and I’m excited to read what he comes out with next. 

4.5 Stars out of 5

Available from Amazon.

Epeolatry Book Review: Sentinel by Drew Starling


Our reviews may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through the links in this article we may receive a small commission or referral fee. This happens without any additional cost to you.

Title: Sentinel
Author: Drew Sterling
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Eerie River Publishing
Release Date: 13th May, 2021

Synopsis: A monster. A missing boy. And nowhere to run.

Something is lurking in the woods just beyond Aaron and Ellen Dreyer’s new country home, and an evil that has been hiding in plain sight is about to emerge. A neighbor is brutally murdered, their 4-year old son goes missing in broad daylight, and the local town of Bensalem devolves into a cesspool of finger-pointing and chaos. With nowhere left to turn, Aaron and Ellen are forced to venture into the woods to find their son… and the truth. But in the process, they uncover a force larger and more sinister than they ever could have imagined.

Sentinel is author Drew Starling’s debut novel from Eerie River Publishing, and what a way to debut! Y’all, I didn’t want to put this one down. Starling has created some compelling characters, and he put them through the wringer in this story. 

Sentinel is the story of the Dreyer family, who having recently settled into a new home, begin to encounter a sinister and supernatural disturbance. When tragic events begin to occur in the small town of Bensalem, the Dreyer family knows there is a connection between those events and the strange entity stalking their home in the pre-dawn hours. 

But that ain’t all, folks. The novel’s prologue lets the reader know from the start that there’s more to this story than some random monster terrorizing the Virgina countryside. You want to know what it is? You’ll have to read the book. I promise you, it’s worth it. 

Starling writes female leads surprisingly well. In this book, we get sections from Ellen Dreyer and Cheryl McNamara’s points of view, and both prove to be complex and relatable characters. Starling has done an excellent job making the reader feel connected to both women. 

The suspense woven throughout this tale is remarkable, demonstrating Starling’s deft hand at keeping the reader engaged. While reading this novel, a lingering sense of dread creeps in. You know bad things are going to happen, but you keep turning pages because you need to see just how bad it’s going to get before the end. 

While reading, I wondered how Starling was going to tie together the various plot threads in the novel, and I was not disappointed. The fear and horror are upped in the last third of the book, and all the various plots come together in a shocking and horrifying conclusion. Starling shows off his chops at writing horror, with scenes that are disturbing, yet necessary. 

With this debut, Starling has singled himself out as an author to watch in the horror genre. I give this 5 out of 5 stars.

Available from and Amazon.

Introducing #BetaPitchWeek, an Event for Authors and Readers June 11th – 18th 2021

Introducing #BetaPitchWeek, an Event for Authors and Readers

By: Holley Cornetto


So, you’ve written the draft. That’s supposed to be the hard part, right? In order to make your manuscript the best it can be, the logical next step is to find readers to give critical feedback. Some writers are lucky enough to have writing groups or friends to do beta reading for them, but others struggle to find people willing and able to read and critique their work. 

That’s where #BetaPitchWeek comes in. 

The brainchild of Eerie River Publishing’s Michelle River, #BetaPitchWeek is a writer’s solution to where and how to find people willing to read and provide feedback on their work. 

So, what is #BetaPitchWeek? It is a bi-annual online event to help readers and writers connect with one another. This year, the first event will be taking place June 11th – 18th. 

Authors are tasked to post either a 60-second video, or a Tweet with a brief pitch of their story, using the hashtag #BetaPitchWeek and the corresponding genre tags.