Friday 16 September 2016

REVIEW: Bad Apples 3: Seven Slices of Halloween Horror

Genre: Horror / Collection
Publisher: Corpus Press
Publication Date: Sept 2016
Pages: 242


A copy of Bad Apples 3: Seven Slices of Halloween Horror was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the publishers, Corpus Press, in exchange for an honest review. This is said review.

This is the final line from my review of Bad Apples 2: Six Slices of Halloween Horror:

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

Turns out I was right! Only thing I can say to that is whoo hoo!

So if you have never read Bad Apples 1 or 2, you have missed a treat, and what are you waiting for? Reviews are at the bottom of the page so go read them and then go buy them.

This is the time of year that if you are lucky enough to get an email in your inbox from Evans Light, the chances are it is with an ARC for Bad Apples. This has become somewhat of a tradition for this book to be released at this time of year so you can go pick it up and add it to your reading list for Halloween. It gets bigger and better every year. It has the same five faces that these collections always have in Evans Light, Adam Light, Edward Lorn, Jason Parent and Gregor Xane. This year though we are given an extra treat with the addition of Mark Matthews, John McNee and Craig Saunders. The only one I have never read before from this lot is Mr McNee so I am super excited to see what he has in store.

I could give much more of an introduction but I can’t wait to get reading, so this is what I thought:


Serge is a troubled man. His history of Halloween night has been horrific. Mostly of his own making. He sees this Halloween as an opportunity to start again.

To be reborn.

Well I think that’s what it’s about. I finished this one thinking what the hell have I just read? This is one that, to be brutally honest, I would not have expected to come from the pens of the Light Brothers.

It’s surreal. It’s psychedelic. It’s definitely out there.

It is horrific in so many ways. Some of the content in this one was teetering on that line that I draw in the sand and don’t like to read past.

The writing itself is superb as always from these two but I kept thinking it was written by someone else. It just didn’t have that distinctive Light feeling about it. I don’t mean to sound so negative because I did enjoy the story, it just didn’t have the same Halloween atmosphere of previous stories from either Evans or Adam.

I think I might need to read this one a few times to truly understand it.

★★★ for general.

★★★★ for horror.


Cam and Becca have moved to Cam's hometown of Hollybrook. It's Halloween and Becca hasn't experienced a proper commercialised Halloween yet.

Cam takes her to Mr Koolters candy store to stock up and starts to tell her tales of his youth when, amongst other things, he used to steal from Mr Koolters store.

That was years ago. Mr Koolters will have forgotten by now. Won't he?

What's that old saying? Be sure your sins will find you out? That's what this tale is all about. This is great. This is what the old Halloween tales are all about for me. An old story of someone wronged and that someone getting revenge.

Whether that revenge is warranted or even humane is another story. It's just inevitable that it will happen.

I was interested to see what sort of writing style John McNee had. I like it. I am smart enough to know that this one specific tale is not really enough to go on but his writing is easy on the eye. It flows well, with a certain confidence to it that makes you feel that he is in total control of what he is doing and you can't get out until he is done with you.

This has whet my appetite for more from Mr McNee. That's what it's all about. Isn't it?

Oh, and this one might put you off candy for the rest of your days.

★★★★ for general.

★★★★ for horror.


Harvey is looking after his grandmother in her ancient house, October's End. Every year he has to deal with the kids trick or treating. It's a confusing time. It feels like Halloween every day. When will October end?

Oh man. This, this blew me away. This is what short story writing is all about.

This confuses you to begin with but once you get the gist of the story, the confusion is an essential part of the atmosphere that will totally consume you.

The feeling of claustrophobia in the story is immense. You feel everything that Harvey is going through in his tortured existence. 

This is like the ultimate nightmare for me and I suspect there will be a lot of people like me that will connect with this story in a way that will leave them feeling very uneasy for a very long time.

This is one that is going to stay with me for a very long time. Bravo Mr Saunders, sir. Bravo.

★★★★★ for general.

★★★★★ for horror.


Invited to a Halloween party by his lust interest, Shelly, an unnamed man tells you the tale of the night the Uncle Taffy’s Girl hosted a Halloween soiree that he would never ever forget.

OK, what the hell did I just read? Surreal wouldn’t be in it. Psychedelic wouldn’t be in it. Unbelievable wouldn’t be in it. This is Gregor Xane at his best.

If you haven’t read him before then this typifies how he writes. Like nothing you will ever read again.

It has weird scenes that will make you think you are on drugs whilst you read. It has weird scenes that will make you think he was on drugs when he wrote it. It has humour. It has scares. It has cringes.

It’s Gregor Xane.

Just read it and enjoy it. I know you will.

★★★★ for general.

★★★★ for horror.


Charli is on her way to a Halloween party to see Tyler. She is on a mission to win his heart. A strange man wearing a mask gets on to her bus and sits beside her.

What he is about to tell her will change her life forever.

This is more like it. A lonely girl on Halloween night. A strange man wearing a mask and telling Charli strange things. Things that scare her. Things that make her want to run away very fast.

Even though this tale only has a couple of characters in it, it is mighty effective. The tension is palpable from the very moment the stranger gets on the bus. Charli is about to be plunged into a world of fear.

Edward Lorn is one of those authors that either wows me or has me nonplussed.

This is one that wowed me. His writing is to the point and punchy and doesn’t leave you much time to catch your breath before the next bad thing happens.
Perfect for a short story with the added elements that make it a very scary Halloween tale.

★★★★★ for general.

★★★★★ for horror.


Keagan is trapped in his house. Trapped between his religiously fanatic mother and his totally unreligious, invalid father.

His mother wants him to take his first communion. His father asks him to promise not to. You see his father is going to die tonight. Halloween night.

If you have never read Mark Matthews before, you really should. You are in for a treat. His stuff that I have read before has been very dark and very moody so I was interested to see how he would tackle a Halloween tale.

He absolutely nailed it. This continues in the very dark and moody vain that he is so good at writing. This is the sort of stuff that if it was in a film, there would be no background noise, no music. Just full of a cold dark atmosphere that makes you hold your breath until it is over.

Horror of the mind more than anything. This is superb stuff.

★★★★★ for general.

★★★★ for horror.


Jaime and his sidekick Wes are off to a Halloween party in the middle of nowhere, hosted by their friend Gunner.

It’s a tricky place to get to and by the looks of things, Gunner is out to prank them all night as is the norm.

Jaime hears a scream halfway through the night that sounds too real to be a prank. He finds a proper killer on the loose but when he tells everyone, they don’t believe him.

This, my friends, is how to round off a collection of stories with a Halloween theme. This is old skool 80’s horror with a bang. In fact, there are so many references to 80’s horror in this one that if that was your bag, you will love this story. Not only will it scare the pants off you but you will enjoy the film links and reminiscing about horror villains from bygone years.

Jason Parent was born to write this sort of stuff. It’s a rehashed plot but at the same time fresh and new and exciting and scary and just damn good fun.

It’s guess the killer time! And I bet you won’t!

★★★★★ for general.

★★★★★ for horror.

So there you have it. Confessions impressions on Bad Apples 3.

If I am being perfectly honest, this is not my favourite of the collections so far. Giving the fact that the overall rating will still be high based on the average scores of the stories, if might seem a little strange saying that but I was a little disappointed.

The new boys in this one kick some serious ass. John McNee and Mark Matthews pull off two seriously good stories but for me, Craig Saunders totally hammered this one big style. He didn’t just nail it. He used a sledge hammer to drive home some drawing pins. Superb stuff.

Of the normal crew, Jason Parent and Edward Lorn are streets ahead in this one. The other guys produced some wonderful stories but definitely not as strong as earlier ones.

If I was to pick out a favourite or two in this collection, then October’s End and Pulp would come out on top.

The one thing that you will always get in a Bad Apples collection is a bunch of stories from a bunch of authors that will be so totally different from the last one you read that the level of variety is just superb. Yeah they are all connected to Halloween but that’s as close as they get to being similar.

To summarise: it’s Bad Apples 3. There is something for everyone in here. This is an essential Halloween read. Go put it on your seasonal shelf!

General rating:


Horror rating:


If you would like to help support Confessions of a Reviewer, then please consider using the links below to buy Bad Apples 3 or any other books from Corpus Press. 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 Bad Apples crew is back with its biggest Halloween anthology yet! Join The Light Brothers, Edward Lorn, Jason Parent, Gregor Xane, Mark Matthews, John McNee and Craig Saunders for a fresh delivery of all-new macabre tales for the haunting season.

On Halloween night, an artist intends to use humanity as his canvas, to mold flesh into his greatest masterpiece. In Adam and Evans Light’s BELLE SOUFFRANCE, suffering has never been so beautiful.

Everyone knows you are what you eat. So Cam probably shouldn’t munch on those chocolate eyeballs he stole. Sins of the past are only one bite away in John McNee’s CHOCOLATE COVERED EYEBALL.

Halloween comes once a year for most people. Unfortunately for Harvey, it might be coming around a little more often in Craig Saunders’ OCTOBER’S END.

The girl behind the counter at the local costume shop reads horror novels and only horror novels. She's perfect. And she's hosting an intimate Halloween get-together in Gregor Xane's THE UNCLE TAFFY'S GIRL.

Charli is usually lonely, but tonight she’s on a bus headed to a party where she hopes the man of her dreams might finally notice her. But when a masked man enters the bus, it’ll be the ride not the party she never forgets in Edward Lorn’s LAST STOP. 

Christians say Halloween is a pagan holiday, and Keagan’s mother doesn’t think Jesus would approve of celebrating it. Little does she realize that they’re about to find out if that’s true from Jesus himself in Mark Matthews’ BODY OF CHRIST.

Any cornfield Halloween party filled with teenagers dressed like iconic horror villains is bound to end with murder and mayhem. But when a grim reaper throws in a twist, the killing really gets out of hand in Jason Parent’s PULP.

(This book contains adult content and is suitable for mature readers only.)


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

John McNee is the writer of numerous strange and disturbing horror stories, published in a variety of strange and disturbing anthologies, as well as the novel 'Prince of Nightmares'.

He is also the creator of Grudgehaven and the author of 'Grudge Punk', a collection of short stories detailing the lives and deaths of its gruesome inhabitants.

He lives on the west coast of Scotland, where he works for a trade magazine.

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

Craig Saunders is the author of over thirty novels and novellas, first published with 'Rain' in 2011. Stories include 'Deadlift', 'Vigil', 'Damned to Cold Fire' and 'Masters of Blood and Bone', called 'A rare treat from a master of horror' by The Examiner. Which is nice, isn't it?

His writes dark fiction/horror with an element of crime or mystery, and epic fantasy. His shorter fiction appears in various anthologies and magazines. Sometimes he dabbles with humour - but only when he's feeling serious.

Born in 1972 in London, England, Craig did some stuff (like growing up - abridged version), then studied Japanese and Law in Cardiff, Wales. After deciding the legal side of the law wasn't much fun, he worked in Japan. Lived there, too. Obviously. Hell of a commute, otherwise. He experimented with jobs as diverse as a translator and interpreter, English teacher, editor, dog walker, carpenter, doorman, and others besides...and hated them all. Except the carpentry bit. I like a nice bit of wood.

Wait what?

He lives in Norfolk, England, with his wife and children. He likes nice people, warm sheds and good coffee.

And for more about Craig, 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

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

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:

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

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Nev - very kind overall, and you liked mine, so you win ;) Cheers!