(Editor’s note: DOUBLE FEATURE is a column where I read at least two horror books per month in 2020 and review them for my website.)
Curfew by UK author Kev Harrison is Book 55 in Demain Publishing’s series titled Short Sharp Shocks! I knew of Harrison through his role as a staff writer for This Is Horror, one of my favorite websites. His story Curfew is about a couple, Jamie and Laura, who are on a trip to celebrate an anniversary. Their destination is a rustic establishment called The Sailor’s Rest run by a strange proprietor named Mrs. Heinz. “There is a curfew. The front door will be bolted at midnight. No exceptions,” Mrs. Heinz tells the couple, setting the stage for the horror yet to come. Apparently, Mrs. Heinz’s husband returns after the witching hour and they require their privacy. Of course, the couple tempts fate the first night, barely arriving by the deadline. Strange noises from below interrupt their sleep and discovering the source of the sound doesn’t exactly solve the mystery of Mrs. Heinz’s odd behavior. The next night, the couple misses the curfew, leading to a disturbing sequence of events. Harrison’s ability to develop his characters quickly is impressive. I immediately liked Jamie and Laura and felt invested in their survival. But the secret behind Mrs. Heinz and her husband’s after-midnight activities is what makes Curfew a vicious little horror tale about what happens when you don’t follow the rules.
The One That Knows No Fear
The One That Knows No Fear by Canadian-based author Steve Stred is Book 45 in Demain Publishing’s series titled Short Sharp Shocks! The story harkens back to the days when stunt daredevils like Evel Knievel were media sensations and childhood heroes who captured the imaginations of young boys like Timmy Wilson. An exhibitionist only known as The One That Knows No Fear is the most impressive daredevil that Timmy has ever watched on television. The motorbike jumper is able to miraculously walk away from spectacular crashes that would kill any normal man. When Timmy and his stepdad Michael attend a live show featuring The One That Knows No Fear, they witness the shocking secret of the daredevil’s ability to survive deadly crashes. Stred’s story is classic horror, but it’s anchored by a surprisingly emotional development in the relationship between Timmy and his stepfather. Because Stred focuses on the heart of their relationship, the author elevates The One That Knows No Fear to a heartfelt and nostalgic tale about a boy learning who his real heroes are.
November’s DOUBLE FEATURE: Dear Laura by Gemma Amor and Night of the Rider by Alyson Faye.