Tuesday 20 October 2015

REVIEW: Evans Light / Adam Light / Edward Lorn / Jason Parent / Gregor Xane / Kealan Patrick Burke - Bad Apples 2: Six Slices of Halloween Horror

Genre: Horror
Publisher: Corpus Press
Publication Date: 4th Oct 2015
Pages: 260


A copy of Bad Apples 2: Six Slices of Halloween Horror was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the authors in exchange for an honest review. This is said review.

OK so I read the original Bad Apples: Five Slices of Halloween Horror yesterday after having it on my Kindle for a year and not getting round to reading it. My bad. It was the first time in Confessions history that a collection or anthology got five stars across the board.

Do you reckon they can do it twice on the trot? Let’s find out!


Dean Laymon owns a very special house. It’s worth millions of dollars, but its history and its contents are worth much more than that to Dean.

It’s called the “Horror House”. Every Halloween people flock to the house to wander through its floors and rooms with the hope of it scaring them more than it did last year. Joe and Richard are two such kids. They are cousins but more importantly friends and they go every year.

The house is full of animatronics. There is something about them though that people don’t realise. They live. They need to be fed candy or they will not be happy. What would happen if Dean wasn’t there to do that? Joe, Richard and everyone else are about to find out.

What a way to open a collection. With a story that smacks you right between the eyes and across both cheeks with a big fat smelly fish. Well maybe not, but this story will leave you feeling more or less the same. It is once again, obviously, a tale of strange goings on at Halloween. It couldn’t be any more perfect at giving you the sights, sounds and smells of a Halloween weekend.

One of the characters is called Laymon. Dare I say this is a bit Laymon-esque? It’s wonderful. It has a haunted house. It has a mysterious house owner who knows a lot more about it than the people visiting it. It has kids anticipating getting the pants scared off them. It has mayhem, blood, guts, arms and legs flying everywhere. It has surprises galore and twists that you will never see coming. It has just about everything.

Another story by Edward Lorn. Another variation on the same Halloween theme. I’m only one story in but my mouth is already watering at the thought of what Mr Lorn will come up with next year!

★★★★★ for general.

★★★★★ for horror.


Bob Talley has just woken up. It’s Halloween. It’s his birthday. It’s also a year to the day that his wife Candie died in a freak accident whilst bobbing for apples. He gets up to get his kids ready for school but something is wrong. Something is very wrong.

Just when Bob thought things couldn’t get any worse than last year, things start to go horribly wrong for him and the kids and things will never, ever be the same.

This is going to be a Halloween like no other.

This is a thirty minute read at most, but so worth that thirty minutes. Although I didn’t say it about Mr Lorns story, even though it applied, this one is very very creepy story and very reminiscent of old horror B movies from the eighties. You can’t help but feel sad for Bob for what he’s going through but at the same time, as a fan of horror and Halloween, you just know this story is going to tick all the boxes the further into it you get.

It is quite horrific in one way due to what needs to happen to make the story but it also has one of the most wickedest ever twists that, if you say you saw it coming, you are a big fat liar liar pants on fire.

I couldn’t help but snigger a few times as what I was reading was painting a very vivid and sometimes very funny picture in my mind. Knowing how Evans Light likes to write, I have a sneaky suspicion it is just how he wanted it to be.
The tongue is firmly planted in the cheek in this one.

Creepy fun for all the family!

★★★★★ for general.

★★★★★ for horror.


Russell is in Mexico. It’s just after Halloween, during a three day celebration Mexicans use to honour their dead. Russell seems to be confused and does not really have any idea why he is there or what he is doing. He does know he’s thirsty though. But thirsty for what.

Russell served in Afghanistan. He was held captive in a cave where he witnessed horrors that had nothing to do with the war on terror. Unless it was the terror living under the ground.

Maybe his thirst has something to do with that? Who knows?

This certainly a Halloween tale with a difference. The story flips between what is happening in the here and now with Russell in Mexico and what happened to him when he was posted in Afghanistan.

What happens in Afghan was absolutely horrific but it didn’t really have anything to do with the war. I’m absolutely dying to tell you what it is about but don’t want to spoil it for you. The only thing I will say is that if you are claustrophobic and scared of monsters then this one will scare the crap clean out of you. These scenes are beautifully written. The pace is perfect. The tension is perfect. The horror is perfect.

The scenes in Mexico are a bit confusing at times. You see things through Russell’s eyes and he hasn’t really got a clue what is happening to him. When the realisation hits both him and you at the same time, you can see the connection to the Afghan scenes and it all becomes perfectly clear. And perfectly scary, and bloody and genius.

This tale could be used as a horror short at any time of the year in my opinion so I was going to possibly drop the score because to me, it didn’t fit the whole Halloween theme as much. But you know what? I have to rate this on the quality of the story itself and the writing and the horror within. That’s a no brainer then.

★★★★★ for general.

★★★★★ for horror.


Carol is sixteen. She is angry because she has to chaperone her little brother Eddy and his two friends Antoine and Jerry as they Trick or Treat this year. Again. She was hoping she could get out of it so she could go to a party she had planned for herself. She decides she will have some fun with them this year though and takes them out to the old Donnerly House on Cypress Lane, where it is rumoured Tommy Rotten hangs out.

Tommy Rotten is lonely. He is always lonely. Halloween night is his only chance at finally getting a friend to come and stay with him in the pumpkin patch.

When he spies Carol, he knows she is the one. Could the joke be on her instead of the little kids?

This is what I call short short. It’s a short, short story. You will probably read this in about twenty minutes. Now that in itself, to me, makes the art of writing something this short very difficult. You need to be able to keep the reader glued to the pages but at the same time deliver the thrills and kills needed in a very short space of time.

In terms of a Halloween tale, Adam Light does this very well. Tommy is creepy. Not really a scary creepy but creepy none the less. The other kids are just that. Kids enjoying their hunt for candy on Halloween night. They have no idea what’s in store. Least of all Carol.

You reach a point in this one where you think everything will be fine and then, in a wicked twist, it all goes to hell. This one could have been padded out for me a little bit more with more on the creepiness side of things than the build-up but it still kicks butt.

★★★★ for general.

★★★.5 for horror.


Caleb sits on his porch with his dog, Rufus by his side and his shotgun on his lap. It’s all he has left. His wife has passed and his children are long gone on their own journeys.

Halloween night is the one night of the year he can’t wait to get over and done with. As soon as it is though, he starts worrying about the next. He hates it. Even Rufus hates it. It’s the one night of the year they come out of the corn fields. Without fail.

Another short, short story. Another half hour read. The first to appear from Kealan Patrick Burke as part of the Bad Apples Crew and a welcome addition he is. If you have never read his stuff before, this is as good a place as any to start.

This is a simple story about a man and his dog, waiting. Waiting on something they fear to come visit. They know it will because it happens every year. They can’t stop it, they will never get used to it and they will never stop fearing it.

This one has the fear factor and the creepiness from the first paragraph. I have been a fan of Kealan’s writing for a few years now and the short stories he writes, like this one, are full of tension. They build up to the finale in such a way that sometimes you need to remind yourself to breath. This one is very laid back. The pace is slow and easy but so perfect for the story and the character of Caleb. He is a troubled man in certain ways. Just trying to see out his days and figure things out. He will never figure it out though when he only has one night of the year to do it.

★★★★★ for general.

★★★★★ for horror.


Jimmy and his “uncle” Shel are on the hunt for missing children. They get a tip off that they may find clues by visiting a puppet show in Medium. The show is run by a mysterious part time resident of the town who no one can get near. His two former business partners have gone missing although two knew puppets in the show, Doctor Proclivity and Professor Propensity are similar to them in many ways.

Jimmy and Shel aren’t all they seem to be either. Especially Jimmy. When the show begins, they are both dragged into a world that they never expected to find in an Opera House. Will anyone get out of this alive? Or will everyone become a puppet?

Now I’m not going to beat about the bush here. This story scared the absolute shit out of me. Puppets or dolls in horror stories turn me to jelly. I sweat when I read them and my heart beats double time. This little ditty did all of that and much much more.

This story, to me, is a mixture of fantasy and horror. I can’t decide whether it fits more in to one or the other so I will tag it as both. Certainly when the “show” starts it enters the realms of a fantasy story but it is definitely scary enough to be called a horror story. I am obviously not going to give anything away but this is one hell of a story. You know Shel and Jimmy are there to try and find missing kids. You know they are going to the show. You don’t know the full answers to Jimmy’s secrets and you certainly have no idea what is going to happen when the show starts.

The build up to the show is slow. Not boring slow but slow enough for you to take in a lot of information and the way Mr Xane has written the story is perfect for this. It’s intriguing at times. It’s funny at times. It’s confusing at others. When the final scenes start to play out is when the fun really starts.

You will be taken on a psychedelic journey through a fantasy realm full of mystery and horror and all things scary about puppets and not being in control of anything you want to do. This could be the definition of my own personal hell!

★★★★★ for general.

★★★★★ for horror.

So there it is, Bad Apples 2: Six Slices of Halloween Horror. They didn’t get the full five stars right across the board this time but believe me, this is one hell of a collection to have on your shelves for any time of the year but especially for Halloween.

To summarise: There is undoubtedly something in here for everyone. Different styles. Different paces. Different scares. All variations on the Halloween theme. All wonderfully written and another perfectly put together book by the Bad Apples Crew.

If there is a Bad Apples 3 next year, do we get seven slices?

General rating:

★★★★★ No tricks....just Halloween treats.

Horror rating:

★★★★★ lovely juicy creepiness.

If you would like to help support Confessions of a Reviewer then please consider using the links below to buy Bad Apples 2: Six 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.


Book Synopsis:

The minds behind the bestselling BAD APPLES: FIVE SLICES OF HALLOWEEN HORROR return this October with another batch of frightful fare. This time, they brought along a friend - Bram Stoker Award-winning author Kealan Patrick Burke!

Dive into the season with these six Halloween treats:

• Two boys enter a Halloween attraction that holds a devilish secret - but one of the boys has a surprise of his own in Edward Lorn's HALLOWEEKEND.

• Halloween was his birthday, and all poor Bob Talley wanted was for his family to be together again. This year, his wish might come true amid whispers of CANDIE APPLE, from Evans Light.

• A deserter seeks to escape the horrors of war and pave a new existence in a foreign land in Jason Parent's DIA DE LOS MUERTOS.

• Does something putrid truly reside in a small town’s pumpkin patch, or is it only a local legend? Find out in Adam Light's TOMMY ROTTEN.

• An old man and his dog await Halloween visitors with candy and a shotgun in Kealan Patrick Burke's THE ONE NIGHT OF THE YEAR.

• Jimmy Stones and his Uncle Shel uncover the dark secrets of Medium, Ohio's annual Halloween puppet show in Gregor Xane's DOCTOR PROCLIVITY & PROFESSOR PROPENSITY.

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:

Website - Facebook - 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:

Website - Facebook - 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:

Website - Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads - Amazon Page

Born and raised in Dungarvan, Ireland, Kealan Patrick Burke is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of five novels (Master of the Moors, Currency of Souls, Kin, The Living, and Nemesis: The Death of Timmy Quinn), over a hundred short stories, four collections (Ravenous Ghosts, The Number 121 to Pennsylvania & Others, Theater Macabre, and The Novellas), and editor of four acclaimed anthologies (Taverns of the Dead, Quietly Now: A Tribute to Charles L. Grant, Brimstone Turnpike, and Tales from the Gorezone, proceeds from which were donated to children's charity PROTECT.)

Kealan has worked as a waiter, a drama teacher, a mapmaker, a security guard, an assembly-line worker at Apple Computers, a salesman (for a day), a bartender, landscape gardener, vocalist in a grunge band, and, most recently, a fraud investigator. He also played the male lead in Slime City Massacre, director Gregory Lamberson's sequel to his cult B-movie classic Slime City, alongside scream queens Debbie Rochon and Brooke Lewis.

When not writing, Kealan designs covers for print and digital books through his company Elderlemon Design. To date he has designed covers for books by Richard Laymon, Brian Keene, Scott Nicholson, Bentley Little, William Schoell, and Hugh Howey, to name a few.

In what little free time remains, Kealan is a voracious reader, movie buff, videogamer (Xbox), and road-trip enthusiast.

A movie based on his short story "Peekers" is currently in development through Lionsgate Entertainment.

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

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