Monday 19 October 2015

REVIEW: Evans Light / Adam Light / Edward Lorn / Jason Parent / Gregor Xane - Bad Apples: Five Slices of Halloween Horror

Genre: Horror
Publisher: Corpus Press
Publication Date: 14th Sept 2014
Pages: 225


So it’s my turn to confess. I have had this on my Kindle since it was released last year and have never gotten around to reading it. I am slapping the back of my hand as I type. Know how difficult that is?

As Bad Apples 2 is now out I thought this would be the time to read and review the original and the sequel. This is my review of Bad Apples: Five Slices of Halloween Horror. Tomorrow night I will publish my review of Bad Apples 2: Six Slices of Halloween Horror.

I have read stuff by all these guys, both individually and also in one of their other collections, Dead Roses: Five Dark Tales of Twisted Love. In case you missed it (how dare you), I did a week long Confessions special full of interviews with the crew (see here) and a review of the book itself (see here).

So to the review itself. Was it worth the year long wait?


Ben and Bella are the Riggle Twins. They are no longer alive yet they live. Their master, Sam, who brought them back to life, looks after them in a strange treehouse. They live for Halloween. Each year they prepare everything and go looking for people who are mean and don’t give out candy to the kids. They bring a couple back to Sam. He calls them his “tributes” and he needs them for a very special reason.

OK I know these are Halloween stories and they are supposed to creep the hell out of you, but I wasn’t expecting this. What an opener for a collection of stories this is.

Gregor Xane achieved exactly what was needed in this story and managed to creep the absolute hell out of me with this one. This is old fashioned Halloween horror at its best. It’s straight out of the eighties. A story that had me with goose bumps the entire time I read it. The writing in this is superb. It flows so easily and has you engrossed from the very beginning.

The characters of Ben and Bella are wonderful. They are two young kids, or at least they were. They are having fun and the evil they have in abundance is just so matter of fact. This is what makes this so scary to me. Kelly is an old man. He hates Halloween and especially the kids that go with it. He does everything in his power to escape what comes after him but he is fighting a losing battle.

This is short story writing at its best. A perfect tale for a Halloween read that is so atmospheric you will believe you are taking part in it, although you will wish you weren’t. A perfect opener for a collection. A perfect Halloween Tale. Bravo Sir.

★★★★★ for general.

★★★★★ for horror.


Ted has a deformity. His head has been misshapen from birth. Hence the name Pumpkinhead Ted. He obviously gets bullied about it, even from his own father. The worst bullies however are Carver, Frank and Barry.

Halloween ’87. Ted decides to get one over on the main bully, Carver, by going to his house trick or treating. He feels that it would be a small victory to himself if he managed to pull it off without Carver finding out.

Things don’t go to plan and what follows is the story of three Halloweens spent in the small cul de sac of Shady Court. A place of untold horrors and unanswered questions. A place where no one has the guts to go.

I have made no secret in previous reviews of the writings of Evans Light that I think his short stories are wonderful. Again he has not disappointed. This story is set in the eighties and when you read it you will be transported back to a time of “big hair” rock music and horror films being made that, if you were lucky enough to see them, would stick with you for life.

Ted is the stereotypical underdog. He is certainly hindered by his looks and the evil Carver, Frank and Barry do what bullies do. They use this for their own fun. The idea with this story is very simple. The bullied kid wants revenge on the bullies. Like I said earlier it stinks of the finest films from the eighties. It has you hating the bullies and rooting for the bullied.

But this story has twists. Twists you won’t be expecting. Twists that are perfect for a Halloween story.

Again Evans Light has produced a masterpiece of short story writing. Reading this made me feel like a kid again. It drew me in and scared the crap clean out of me the way a Halloween tale should. Read with one eye closed. Oh and I hope your gag reflex is good!

★★★★★ for general.

★★★★★ for horror.


Bill is at home on Halloween night. He just wants a quiet night. Until his phone rings. His little sister, Monica has called to see what he is doing. It soon becomes apparent she wants to go Ghost Light Road to see if the age old stories of hauntings are true.

Bill soon finds himself in his mom’s car, with Monica and her friends Justin and Cassie. Chasing a light that Monica has claimed to have seen, the car gets stuck. Bill has to go get help and Cassie goes with him. When they come across an old house with some outbuildings, things start to turn horrific for Bill and his friends. He should have stayed at home.

Number three in this collection. An unenviable position, having to follow two fantastic stories. Adam light pulls it off though with this tale of people chasing a ghost that may, or may not, exist.

It’s not a unique plot. Let’s face it most Halloween tales are of the same cut. The thing that Adam does with this though is build the tension slowly and calmly. It’s all going along fine. It’s creepy. It has you wondering when the jumpy bit is going to come. Then BAM! It all goes to hell for Bill, his sister and their friends. The tension builds to a horrific finale with blood and guts and monsters and confusion and sorrow and more blood and guts and a twist that I have never ever seen in a tale like this before.

This could be continued. I sincerely hope it will be because this has potential to be turned into something much more than a short Halloween tale. Again atmospheric and creepy and perfect as a story to get you in the mood for the season! Loved it.

★★★★★ for general.

★★★★★ for horror.


Trevor is a bully. He’s very big for his age so this makes it easy for him. He has been out with his friend, Rascal, hijacking other kids and stealing their candy on Halloween night. It hasn’t been very successful and Trevor is hungry for more.

They see a kid playing by himself and go to see if he has any candy they can steal. Jack says he isn’t playing by himself but is playing with Jacob. Trevor and Rascal can’t see Jacob. They should have left it that way. Looks like the cards have been turned and they are now the easy pickings!

Is anything in this collection going to disappoint me? Jason Parent has, once again, hit the proverbial nail on the head in terms of writing a Halloween tale. The big bully doing what he does best on a night he knows kids will be vulnerable. An unknown force of evil that, if left alone, you would never know was there. On the other hand if you make it angry, it will make you pay.

Again this is very reminiscent of the old eighties horror films where something evil is in town but no one knows it’s there apart from the kid everyone thinks is dumb. Then the bullies get wind of it and try to get their own way and learn a lesson. The way this story is written though I think Mr Parent is trying to teach us all a hidden lesson as well.

This is funny at times. This is scary at times. This is horrifically brutal, gory and bloody at times. In some strange way I also found it quite sad.

In terms of a story to read on Halloween night? You can’t get any better.

★★★★★ for general.

★★★★★ for horror.


The townsfolk of Bay’s End are in for a Halloween treat with a difference. A travelling show known as The Scare Rows is coming to down. Everyone is invited and everyone wants to go. They have no idea why they want to go so much.

Some people have got free tickets from the man who appears to be running the show Mr Stuart Keane. Again they have no idea how they came to be in possession of the tickets. All they know is that they wouldn’t miss it for the world.

The townsfolk of Bay’s End are going to regret the day The Scare Rows came to town.

My word. Where to start with this one? Pure unadulterated Halloween fun, horror and weirdness all rolled into one short story that will leave you totally breathless at the end of it.

We have an abundance of characters in this story (some familiar names from some of my Facebook friends getting themselves in ALL sorts of bother). They all have one thing in common. They want to go and see the show. They have no idea why. This is a tale of a horror / freak show coming to town on Halloween night that is irresistible to anyone who sees a flier for it. Caused by some strange mind control, they have no way of stopping their desire to attend. You know before it happens that once they get there they are going to regret it big style.

What happens at the show and the brutal manor in which it happens is the killer in this story for me. At times the situations are so “out there” that you think to yourself “what the actual……” but it all comes together in a horrific, and sometimes funny way that will both freak you out and make you laugh at the same time. Again perfect pace, perfect style, perfect story.

★★★★★ for general.

★★★★★ for horror.

So there you have it. My take on Bad Apples: 5 Slices of Halloween Horror. I don’t think I have ever given five stars for every single story in a collection before. This amazes me in one way but when you read this collection you will understand why I did it.

Halloween is every horror fans favourite time of year. Whether it’s to go out and take part in the festivities or stay at home and watch a scary movie or read a scary book, it’s the best time of the year.

If you decide to stay at home this Halloween and read some tales to put you in the mood, do not go past this book. It encapsulates everything about the season in words. It stinks of every horror film you have probably watched in the eighties and nineties but you know what? I am a firm believer that if you get a great book, it’s much much better than a film.

This is that book for Halloween.

By the way, don’t forget to come back tomorrow night for my review of Bad Apples 2: Six Slices of Halloween Horror.

General rating:

★★★★★ superb!

Horror rating:

★★★★★ superb!

If you would like to help support Confessions of a Reviewer then please consider using the links below to buy Bad Apples: 5 Slices of Halloween Horror or any other books from the “Bad Apples Crew” or indeed anything at all from Amazon. This not only supports me but also lets me know how many people actually like to buy books after reading my reviews.


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Book Synopsis:

The five freshest voices in horror will make you reconsider leaving the house on October 31st with these all-new Halloween tales:

• A brother and sister creep out of the darkness with bags full of deadly tricks in Gregor Xane’s THE RIGGLE TWINS.

• A boy with a misshapen skull just wants to be normal in Evans Light’s PUMPKINHEAD TED.

• A group of thrill seekers learn that looking for terror is a whole lot more fun than finding it in Adam Light’s GHOST LIGHT ROAD.

• Two bullies go looking for trouble but instead find a young boy and his imaginary friend in Jason Parent’s EASY PICKINGS.

• When a mysterious, Halloween-themed attraction comes to the town of Bay’s End, everyone is dying to pay a visit in Edward Lorn’s THE SCARE ROWS.

EVANS LIGHT has been in love with the written word from an early age, and works in a variety of genres, but stories of the "Weird Tales" variety remain his favorite.

Frequently drawn to uncommon experiences, Evans has thrown himself headfirst into a wide range of unusual situations, from testing low-level-entry parachutes with British Army Airborne units to travelling the vast reaches of inner space using sensory deprivation tanks.

Evans has lived here and there across the United States, from the mountains to the beaches to the desert, and currently chooses to reside in a southern state where the weather is warm and living is easy. He is the proud father of fine sons and the lucky husband of a beautiful wife.

His brother, Adam Light, is also a bestselling horror writer, and the two frequently collaborate as "THE LIGHT BROTHERS".

And for more about Evans, visit his site or find him on social media:

Website - Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads - Amazon Page

Adam Light resides in northeast Florida with his beautiful wife and daughter, and their aptly, though perhaps not so imaginatively named Walker hound, Walker. He haunts a cubicle by day, writes horror stories at night, and virtually never sleeps.

He is the author of several short horror stories, some of which have been published in his first collection Toes Up. He also has stories in the anthologies Dead Roses, Bad Apples, and Bad Apples 2. He is currently at work on a novella, and a novel-length work, with his brother and frequent collaborator, Evans Light.

And for more about Adam, visit his site or find him on social media:

WebsiteFacebook - Twitter - Goodreads - Amazon Page

Edward Lorn is a reader, writer, and content creator. He's been writing for fun since the age of six, and writing professionally since 2011. He can be found haunting the halls of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and Goodreads. He has blogs on both Booklikes and Wordpress, with such popular features as Ruminating On and Randomized Randomocity. 

Edward Lorn lives in the southeast United States with his wife and two children. Not to mention, Ash and Coal (a.k.a. his Goombas). He is currently working on his next novel, EVERYTHING IS HORRIBLE NOW.

And for more about Edward, visit his site or find him on social media:

Website - Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads - Amazon Page

In his head, Jason Parent lives in many places, but in the real world, he calls New England his home. The region offers an abundance of settings for his writing and many wonderful places in which to write them. He currently resides in Southeastern Massachusetts with his cuddly corgi named Calypso.

In a prior life, Jason spent most of his time in front of a judge . . . as a civil litigator. When he finally tired of Latin phrases no one knew how to pronounce and explaining to people that real lawsuits are not started, tried and finalized within the 60-minute timeframe they see on TV (it's harassing the witness; no one throws vicious woodland creatures at them), he traded in his cheap suits for flip flops and designer stubble. The flops got repossessed the next day, and he's back in the legal field . . . sorta. But that's another story.

When he's not working, Jason likes to kayak, catch a movie, travel any place that will let him enter, and play just about any sport (except that ball tied to the pole thing where you basically just whack the ball until it twists in on knot or takes somebody's head off - he misses the appeal). And read and write, of course. He does that too sometimes.

And for more about Jason, visit his site or find him on social media:

WebsiteFacebook - Twitter - Goodreads - Amazon Page

Gregor Xane lives in southwestern Ohio. When he's not writing, he can be found in his workshop bolting little satellite dishes to the foreheads of anesthetized goats. He's the author of the horror novellas Six Dead Spots and The Hanover Block. His short story "It Came From Hell and Smashed the Angels" is available as a free eBook download from just about everywhere.

And for more about Gregor, visit his site or find him on social media:

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