Thursday 31 March 2016

REVIEW: Mark Matthews - All Smoke Rises: Milk-Blood Redux

Genre: Horror
Publisher: Wicked Run Press
Publication Date: 8th Feb 2016
Pages: 151


A copy of All Smoke Rises: Milk Blood Redux was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author, Mark Matthews, in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is published by Wicked Run Press.

I have only read one other thing by Mark Matthews. It was the first part to this story, Milk-Blood. I found it harrowing and disturbing to say the least and to be honest, had no idea what to write in the review for it and sat staring at a blank screen for ages before it came to me. Mark contacted me to see if I fancied a go at the sequel. I thought this was incredibly brave of him to do considering my last review was a bit odd.

It wasn’t a scathing negative review but after just reading it back, it didn’t make much sense either. You can read the review here. Offering me a second pop at his work wasn’t an opening I was expecting so how could I refuse?

Let’s see what I thought of this one.

Lilly’s story has been told in Milk-Blood. But is it just a story. The person who wrote it has just broken into your house and left Lilly’s body in your kitchen along with the manuscript for the story.

You must read it and decide for yourself what needs to be done with Lilly’s body.

Like many of the decisions made for Lilly during her life, this is one you cannot take lightly.

OK. This review is going to be a bit different. I think I said that at the start of the review of book one. I’m not going to give you characters. There are quite a few involved in this story but to give you any insight to their make-up would give you some sort of feel for them and I do not want to do that. I’m not going to give you the plot. Trying to do that in a review would be both confusing and, well, to be honest, bad of me to try and do because the execution of the story in this one is like nothing else I have ever read.

So what can I tell you? Well the first thing that I should highlight to you is that this story is probably one of, if not the most harrowing, horrific and thought provoking urban horror stories you will ever read. For so many different reasons.

This isn’t a monster horror story. Well, not in the thing from the swamp style anyway. I suppose it shows the monsters that are inside all of us off to perfection. It’s not a slasher horror story. Well, not in a Jason or Freddy style but again it does show what some people are capable of doing with a weapon in their hand. It’s not a jump out of your seat horror story. Well, not in a BOO sort of way but again you will jump out of your seat and squirm in it quite a lot at some of the sickening goings on in it.

Can you see where I’m going with this? It is all of the above rolled into a story with only human characters in it, caught up in a world of drug abuse and all the other bad things that go along with it. Health issues. Wealth issues. Mental health issues. The list goes on.

This story will certainly pull at your heart strings. Some of it you may think, I’m not sure that would actually happen, but Mr Matthews has worked in this area for a number of years and should know his stuff. Some of it you may think is, a bit unnecessary. It can be graphic at times and a bit sickening. Horror fans like gore and blood and guts but when it is presented to you in such a realistic way then, that’s when it seems more real and in your face. That’s when you think to yourself, hang on a minute, this is bloody scary stuff.

This story is written in such a way that it could be one hundred percent true. It could be one person’s memory of actual events. That is how it is supposed to come across and believe me, it does. It does switch between characters telling different parts at different times and a couple of those times I got a bit confused as to who said what, but thankfully it didn’t spoil anything for me.

I don’t know what else to say about this story. If you like horror you will like this book. It will probably prove to be scarier than most things you have ever read in the genre. Purely and simply because it could be real.

Mark Matthews completely sucks you into the world he is writing about. You can almost touch it. You can almost taste it. You can most definitely smell it. This is writing of the highest quality. To make you totally lose yourself in a story as dark as this and believe every word of it is no mean feat.

I think I get this world he lives in now. I certainly understand it a little bit better.

It scares the hell out of me though!

To summarise: Urban horror at the top of its game. Brutal and graphic at times, this is definitely not for the feint hearted. As with Milk-Blood, All Smoke Rises will stay with me for a very long time.

General rating:

★★★★★ deserves no less.

Horror rating:

★★★★★ horrific.

If you would like to help support Confessions of a Reviewer, then please consider using the links below to buy All Smoke Rises 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:

Ten-year-old Lilly is the victim of a terrible house fire and a wretched family. Her father is an addict with mental illness, her mother was murdered and then buried across the street, and her uncle got her addicted to heroin.

Lilly’s tragic story has been told in the book ALL SMOKE RISES, and it may be true, for the author has broken into your house, and placed Lilly's body on your kitchen counter. He demands you read the manuscript, before cutting his own wrists and bleeding out on your floor.

Now you have decisions to make, for Lilly's body may not be dead, and her family is coming for her.

Mark Matthews has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Michigan, and is a licensed professional counselor who has worked in mental health and substance abuse treatment for over 20 years. His novel MILK-BLOOD, along with its companion short story, The Damage Done, have been optioned for a full length feature film. ALL SMOKE RISES: MILK-BLOOD REDUX is the sequel and will be available in February of 2016.

He is the author of On the Lips of Children, from Books of the Dead Press, which was nominated as a semi-finalist for the 2014 Best Kindle Book Awards. Matthews has run 13 marathons, and has two running based books, The Jade Rabbit and Chasing the Dragon, also available on amazon. He lives near Detroit with his wife and two daughters. All of his books are based on true settings.

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

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