Genre: Horror / Dark Fiction
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: 15th Sept 2015
A copy of The Dogmen of Cedar Park (Cedar Park Tales Book 1) was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is self published.
I have had the pleasure of reading one other story by Ricardo Bare and that was his story Worship Hymn which also comes under the Cedar Park Tales banner. When I reviewed that story I mentioned that Mr Bare would be a name to look out for in the future.
When he contacted me to ask if I would like to review The Dogmen of Cedar Park it was a no brainer.
I was hoping for more of the same. What I got this time was the exact same style of writing, but, and this is a big but, Ricardo Bare as honed his writing skills to perfection with this one. This is a contender for short story of the year from Confessions!
Branden is ten years old. He feels so alone since his father disappeared a few years earlier. He lives with his mom but she works a lot and he is left by himself for long periods of time. His town is constantly shrouded in a haze of thick fog. Branden sees strange men all the time. Strange men with dog faces. He knows they are after him and he knows he must run but he doesn’t want to leave his mom.
Mr Walton tends the cemetery. He told Branden when the horn sounds, there will be two doors. You must run to the correct one to escape. Branden can’t wait for the horn. The Dogmen are coming for him.
This is a short story. You will read it in an hour. You may read it quicker if you don’t get interrupted by a thirteen year old wanting onto your laptop or a dog wanting out to chase seagulls. In fact when you pick this up, lock yourself away in a room with no distractions because you will not want to put it down under any circumstances.
Branden is obviously our main character. He is a troubled lad but only because he can see the Dogmen everywhere. He’s too scared to tell anyone in case they don’t believe him. He just wishes his father was there to protect him. He has no idea where he is or why he has gone. The only friend he has is Deirdre. She is also strange. It’s almost like she knows as well but she doesn’t want to talk about it. Mr Walton spends all his time in the cemetery. He definitely knows and tries to warn Branden. Branden’s mom knows something as well but she doesn’t talk about it either.
What is it they all know that Branden doesn’t? I don’t know either. This is where this story is going to develop and grow into something wonderful and people are going to be talking about The Cedar Park Tales for a long time.
This is without doubt one of the creepiest stories I have ever read in my entire life, be it six hundred page novels, one hundred and fifty page novellas or ten page short stories. This story made the hairs on my arms stand up from the very first page until about an hour after I had finished it.
The writing is superb. I talk a lot about books being atmospheric. It is something that makes a story much more powerful for me than say a straight slasher book where you know what is happening and what’s going to happen. In this story you have a ten year old boy. Now imagine you are ten. Imagine you are walking through your small town at night. Pitch black. There is a heavy fog where you can barely see the other side of the street. You can hear dogs barking and growling. You know it’s not dogs though. You know it’s the men with dog faces. Imagine how scared you would feel? Bad eh? Now imagine a thunderstorm starts and all the power in the town goes off? At this point, if I was ten I would be filling my pants. I’m forty six and it had the same effect on me just reading about it. This story for me is the definition of creepy.
This has got to be one of the most powerfully atmospheric thirty three pages I have ever read. When you buy this (because I know you will, you would be stupid not to) make sure you’re alone when you read it. Sit alone, in a totally dark room. I dare you.
To summarise: read what I have said above and buy it. When you read this you will be keeping your eyes open for the name Ricardo Bare.
★★★★★ Short story writing at it's best.
★★★★★ Creepy as hell.
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Branden has never felt safe. His father vanished years ago, and while his mother is present in body, her eyes tell a different story. Meanwhile, the fog that shrouds his neighborhood conceals the worst threat his ten year old mind can conceive—men with black hands and dog faces. They prowl the street corners and scratch in the mist, searching for him. His only hope is to run, but the thought of leaving his mother breaks his heart.
Ricardo Bare was born in Madrid, Spain, the son of an American fighter jet mechanic and a Spanish damsel. Roman aqueducts, crumbling castles, Moorish arches, churros and chocolate, and carving slices off a leg of jamon serrano that hung next to his aunt's kitchen door are still etched in his childhood memory.
It was probably finding an old copy of John Carter of Mars in his grandfather's attic that first seriously ignited his love of reading and eventually led to his high school English teacher recommending he join the creative writing group after finding that a "free writing" exercise she'd assigned turned into a long description of battles between monsters and knights wielding magic swords.
Deeply connected to his love of stories is his love of games. Ricardo grew up playing computer games, board games, and table top RPGs, cutting his teeth on the Commodore 64 version of the Bard's Tale. Many years later, he joined the video games industry as a designer where he helped create the award winning Deus Ex series. Most recently Ricardo worked with Arkane Studios on Dishonored, 2012's Game of the Year.
Eventually he found his way to Texas, the land of tongue-scalding food and infernal summers, where he now lives close to Austin with his beloved family.
Ricardo writes in the slim spaces left between making games, time with his family, and trying to grow all the ingredients necessary for salsa and gazpacho in his backyard garden. He's written dozens of short stories, a few of which have been presentable enough to be shown in public. His first two novels, Jack of Hearts and Fool of Fate are published by Bell Bridge books.
He hopes readers will take as much enjoyment from his works as he's had in creating them.
And for more about Ricardo, visit his site or find him on social media: