Wednesday 9 December 2015

REVIEW: Mark Allan Gunnells - Fort

Genre: Horror
Publisher: Sinister Grin Press
Publication Date: 19th Nov 2015
Pages: 85


A copy of Fort was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author, Mark Allan Gunnells, in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is published by Sinister Grin Press.

I have only read a couple of other things by Mark Allan Gunnells before. One was his short story, Santa’s Little Spy in the anthology, Widowmakers and the other was his collection, Welcome to the Graveyard and Other Stories. I loved the former but wasn’t that keen on the collection. Unfortunately, I read these before starting the blog so have no review to link to. I had heard good things about Fort so I was delighted to be asked if I fancied a copy. This is what I thought.

A group of college students are trapped in their dorm. Outside, the world is ending. Groups of zombies are roaming the campus searching for food. Human food. Inside, food is also an issue. It’s running out.

Led by the unofficial group leader Alan, an ambitious expedition to the dining hall to raid it for supplies is undertaken. They need something to keep them going until the National Guard arrives to rescue them.

Will they get the food? Will they be rescued? Maybe they just need to sit tight in their dorm, aptly named, The Fort.

This story is somewhere between a short story and a novella. It’s in that grey area that no one seems to have come up with a name for as yet. I can, however, tell you with some certainty that even though it is short, it packs a hell of a lot in and has plenty of meat on its bones, if you will pardon the pun.

We have a real mixture of characters and personalities in this one as you would imagine with students in a college. Main ones would be the unofficial leader Alan. He is the stereotypical “I don’t want to be leader but I will do it cause no one else will”. He isn’t necessarily the strongest person of the group but seems to have his head screwed on. Kat is his girlfriend and to be honest should be the real leader. Everyone knows this, including Alan. We have the normal big bully, the jock, the religious freak and “the rest” who all just mill around in the background without wanting to take the stage for a starring role. This story really does have a room full of normal people. I found this to be very refreshing.

The plot is simple. Food is running out and they need more to survive. If they don’t go get it, then they are in trouble. Problem is, there are a few hundred zombies in the way and it will be dangerous. That I can tell you without spoiling anything for you. What I won’t tell you is how it all pans out for them. Trust me, this is not your normal boring run of the mill run to the shops for some food. There are a few surprises in store.

You know what I hated about this book? That it ended.

You know what I loved about this book? Almost everything. This is such a fresh way of looking at the end of the world. Yes, I know it has zombies and stuff but it doesn’t concentrate on the drooling and the ripping of flesh and munching of bones. It concentrates on the people. It makes the people feel very very real.

Mark Allan Gunnells has done something very clever with this book. He has taken an end of the world scenario and turned it into a human story. Don’t get me wrong, it is a horror story and it is a very good one. But, it’s not your stereotypical zombie apocalypse book. This is built on characters. Strong characters that have you feeling their emotions. You will feel their pain and their anguish and their sorrow. You will also feel their terror and horror.

The story flips between the present day and the earlier lives of the characters. It gives you an insight into what they were like before they knew what was coming. In the present day they have been dealing with things for a while and have settled down in the environment they find themselves in. But, there is an underlying terror and fear that is always in the background and always threatening to boil to the surface. This made this very creepy for me and you do feel tense for much of the story. That clever idea of not much blood and guts in the story but the constant threat of it being there is fantastic.

When the group actually go on the trip to get the food, the tension again is extremely effective. Mr Gunnells writing in this scene is brilliant at basically making you hold your breath for the entire time, always expecting the worst.

I have a request, nay demand of you Mr Gunnells. You must continue this story and make it a full novel. I think it would be an extremely good read.

To summarise: a short zombie story with a real human element to it. Not so much of the blood and guts but written in such a way that it has been proved you don’t need the blood to scare you in this type of story.

General rating:

★★★★ it has almost everything.

Horror rating:

★★★★ scary without the blood!

If you would like to help support Confessions of a Reviewer, then please consider using the links below to buy Fort or any other books from Mark. 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 dead have risen.

A group of college students are trapped in a dormitory. Help should be on the way…but will it arrive too late?

Food supplies are dwindling and the only plan is a desperate dash to the dining hall for provisions. In the world before, it was a simple five-minute walk…now it is a perilous journey through a land of the undead.

Mark Allan Gunnells takes you back to the world he created with ASYLUM and puts you behind the walls of

"Mark Allan Gunnells has written yet another immensely enjoyable horror tale, this one set at the very college he once attended. I loved Mark's tale of zombie mayhem and the very REAL people in the middle of it all . . . . . and this is coming from someone who's sick and tired of zombies! Fun stuff." - James Newman (author of THE WICKED, ANIMOSITY, and PEOPLE ARE STRANGE)

Mark Allan Gunnells loves to tell stories. He has since he was a kid, penning one-page tales that were Twilight Zone knockoffs. He likes to think he has gotten a little better since then. He has been lucky enough to work with some wonderful publishers such as Apex Publishing, Bad Moon Books, Journalstone, Evil Jester Press, Etopia, Sideshow Press, and Gallows Press. He loves reader feedback, and above all he loves telling stories. He lives in Greer, SC, with his fiance Craig A. Metcalf.

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

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