Category Archives: Books

Dead of Night – Reviews

When it was first released back in 2010, my splatterpunk novella Dead of Night picked up some pretty awesome reviews. I’ve gone back through my files and dug up some highlights. Loved the bitch slap at the end of the last review.

“In his zombie-infested novella Dead of Night, C. M. Saunders draws a picture of horror and desperation for his readers as he unleashes a band of undead Confederate bushwackers on an unsuspecting and innocent couple. As I read, I found myself pulled into the action, rooting for the young hero and heroine to make it through the night.”

“This story is not just hacking and slashing and eating brains; there is a fair share of suspense in Dead of Night that I found to be quite effective. Mr. Saunders gives his readers a chance to get to know the hero and heroine before plunging them into mortal danger, and this makes us care about their fate. Dead of Night contains a sense of urgency that will definitely get the blood pumping. Mr. Saunders brings us into the minds of his two protagonists; we share their terror, their pain, their despair, and their hope for survival.”

  • Book Wenches

“Dead of Night is an obvious product of a great many horror films. The departure from realism, the horrendous injuries inflicted on the hero, the coincidences and lucky breaks – all lead directly from the late night horror screen. Evil Dead in particular seems to be a strong influence, especially with the besieged-in-a-cabin sequence.”

  • Dark Fire (UK)

“Although it has lots of gore, it isn’t all about the blood and guts. Instead it is suspenseful and atmospheric. The scene where Nick wakes up in the middle of the night and first spots a zombie is tense. And being in the middle of nowhere, disconnected from the rest of the world with no one to turn to for help, added to the creepiness.”

“At the beginning, C.M. Saunders takes time to establish the characters, and although some may find that part slow, I found their relationship and discussion of Michael Jackson interesting. Since Nick and Maggie were well-developed I cared about them and found the story more interesting.”

  • Little Miss Zombie

“If you are craving a zombie novel that deviates away from the typical “movie-style” theme – this will satiate your hunger. There are the normal horror elements: new love, remote setting, fight for survival, mass burial. However, C.M. Saunders’ Civil War zombies are intelligent; able to work as a team; possess fine motor skills; and cannot easily be killed. In fact, these “bushwhackers” peaked my curiosity. Would the psychological, mental, and physical aspects of fighting in a war end upon death? It is possible that these zombies are unaware that it is no longer 1861 – 1865. If this is the case, it would mean that they are denied the peace and solace they so richly deserve. The plot was very creatively written and flowed efficiently. I did not experience a single dull moment as I read the novel. Many of you will agree, a vast majority of horror novels have at least one character lacking a bit of common-sense. As others so eloquently state, “too stupid to live”. I feel that C.M. Saunders tried to weed the “stupidity factor” out, and he did a great job of it. The zombies were even spared this humility.”

  • Buyzombie.com

“I have this horrible OCD quirk. It’s doesn’t matter how boring a story is, I have to finish it. Fortunately, that didn’t kick in with Saunder’s Dead of Night. This is a fun, short read that carries on with the latest trend of zombie soldiers. While Saunders doesn’t really bring any new to the table, it’s a cool chapter in the great big scheme of zombie stories. This is a great story. It’s a quick read with great cover art, and I do have to say, it’s MUCH better than Saunders’ first novella from Damnation Books.”

  • Swamp Dweller

dead-of-night-reissue

Dead of Night (Revised edition) is available now on paperback and ebook.


Drabbledark II

I’m pleased to announce that my story The Hungry is included in Drabbledark II: An Anthology of Dark Drabbles, out now on Shacklebound Books. The anthology, edited by Eric Fomley, promises, “A ton of amazing dark horror, science fiction and fantasy drabbles.”

The Hungry was inspired by Dan Simmons’s The Terror, itself a fictionalized account of Sir John Franklin’s lost expedition to the arctic. I’ve always thought they should’ve known better than to get on a ship called HMS Terror. They may as well have called it HMS You’re Fucked.

Check out the amazing cover art:

Go here for the full ToC.

Drabbledark II is out now on ebook and paperback.


Trigger Warning – Speaking Ill

My short story Eeva is included in the new anthology Trigger Warning – Speaking Ill, edited by John Baltisberger and published by Madness Heart press.

From the blurb: “Through strange, terrifying, and disgusting horror, these 9 authors ensure that death is no safe space. No corpse will escape their due through death, but will instead be allotted the full measure of what our authors have in store.”

This is your trigger warning.

Eeva is ostensibly a story about getting a Facebook friend request from some murky figure in your past and all the memories that it might dredge up. That’s probably something we’ve all experienced. On a more personal level, its about a Finnish exchange student I met (who wasn’t called Eeva) at university who may or may not have been a vampire. Vampire or not, the bit about her inviting three blokes on a weird group date simultaneously really did happen. By the end it turned into a ‘last man standing’ scenario. Maybe they do things differently in Finland.

Writing for Horror Tree, Rebecca Rowland said, “For those readers trapped in the monotony of working “stuffed in a corporate box,” C.M. Saunders’ “Eeva” revisits the youthful excitement and nostalgic novelty of strange desires. The narrator receives a friend request from a woman he knew briefly in college. Most of his social media inquiries are from “obviously-fake catfish accounts made in the image of busty Russian beauties called Layla, or Filipino women who tell me they love me then ask me to buy them a new phone,” but this notification piques his interest, and that’s because Eeva isn’t a textbook case of lost love. Hidden beneath her bohemic façade was a primal nature that went deeper than the narrator ever could have imagined. To reveal any more would be to spoil the climax, but be warned: readers should go forth with a strong stomach.”

You can read the rest of her review here.

Trigger Warning – Speaking Ill is out now.


Heartless Cat’s Eyes

Cat’s Eyes, my disturbing little drabble about dating dangerously, is included in Heartless, part of the ‘Holiday Horrors’ series of anthologies published by Black Ink Fiction.

From the cover:

What happens when love goes horribly, gruesomely wrong? A red wedding, a sacrifice to Saint Valentine, blind dates gone amiss…there are so many ways romance can be twisted. This anthology, with over 40 international authors, is not for the faint of heart.

Heartless is out now on ebook and paperback


The Plague Pit

So… my latest book Back from the Dead: A Collection of Zombie Fiction recently dropped. It contains two complete novellas (Dead of Night and Human Waste) alongside several short stories that were previously published in Morpheus Tales, Crimson Streets and the anthology Digital Horror Fiction Volume 1. You can read a review by Ginger Nuts of Horror HERE.

The centre piece of Back from the Dead, is a new novelette called The Plague Pit. When I wrote it a couple of years ago, the original intention had been to sell it to a magazine or anthology as I do most of my stuff, but at around 8000 words it was just a bit too long for most markets. Then, I planned to publish it myself as a stand-alone, but wouldn’t you know it, at around 8000 words it was just a bit too short for that. Rather than ask readers to pay for what amounted to little more than a short story, I decided to package it with some other similarly-themed stories.

During the Black Death which swept through Europe 14th Century, people were dying at such a rate that they were often disposed of in mass burial sites. These burial sites, which were usually located away from town centres for obvious reasons, were colloquially called plague pits. Local legend maintains that there’s one such plague pit situated near an abandoned chapel somewhere in the hills overlooking main character Owen’s home town and one summer’s afternoon, he sets out on a hike to try to prove or disprove the myth. What he discovers is far, far beyond his imagination.

Incidentally, the town in the story is Wood Forge, a fictitional place loosely based on my own home town of New Tredegar which I’ve used as the setting for several of my stories over the years including What Happened to Huw Silverthorne, What Happened Next and Never Go Back. Some of these stories are interconnected, while others just reference each other or some past work, the ultimate goal being to compile all the Wood Forge stories together into one book some day. I guess you could say Wood Forge is my version of Castle Rock, kudos to you if you get the reference.

Back from the Dead: A Collection of Zombie Fiction is available now on paperback and ebook.


X5 is OUT NOW!

The fifth volume in my X series featuring ten (X, geddit?) slices of twisted horror and dark fiction plucked from the blood-soaked pages of ParABnormal magazine, Demonic Tome, Haunted MTL, Fantasia Divinity and industry-defining anthologies including 100 Word Horrors, The Corona Book of Ghost Stories, DOA 3 and Trigger Warning: Body Horror.

Meet the local reporter on an assignment which takes him far beyond the realms of reality, join the fishing trip that goes sideways when a fish unlike any other is hooked, and find out the real cost of human trafficking. Along the way meet the ghost which refuses to accept that death is the end, the office drone who’s life is inexorably changed after a drug trial, and many more.

Also features extensive notes, and original artwork by Stoker award-winning Greg Chapman.


Table of Contents:

Demon Tree

Revenge of the Toothfish

Surzhai

The Sharpest Tool

Something Bad

Down the Road

Coming Around

Where a Town Once Stood

The Last Night Shift

Subject #270374

Afterword

WARNING: Graphic Content

X5 IS OUT NOW!


The Bookshelf 2021

It’s that time of year again, when I humbly present to you a complete list of the books I read this year. Or last year, by the time you read this. I’m sure there’s a few missing. This list seems pretty short! In my defence, there are a few 600-page beasts. The pick of the long-form fiction was Stephen King’s Later. I read most of his books, and it can be hard to tell when his form dips because the overall quality is so high. It’s only when you read something as good as Later and then compare it to his existing arsenal that you realize he isn’t called The Master for nothing. I deliberately read some books last year by writers I’d never read before, the pick of which was The Book Club by C.J. Cooper, a thriller my mother urged me to read. I also read a Richard Bachman book for the first time in 20-years, that brought back some memories and reaquainted me with the word ‘rump,’ and A LOT of anthologies. By the way, that isn’t my bookshelf in the photo. It’s just a photo of a massive set of bookshelves I stole from Google. Sorry to disappoint.

The Greatest Survival Stories of All Time by Cara Tabachnick (2019)

Outpost H31 by Sara Jayne Townsend (2020)

Welcome to the Splatter Club by Various Authors (2020)

You Should Have Seen Her by Amy Cross (2020)

Jester of Hearts by Various Authors (2020)

Later by Stephen King (2021)

The Newspaperman by Sal Nudo (2018)

The Chill by Scott Carson (2020)

Dark Places, Evil Faces Volume II by Various Authors (2018)

Suicide Forest by Jeremy Bates (2014)

Moth Busters – Freaky Florida Mystery Adventures 1 by Margaret Lashley (2019)

Nang Tani: She Takes her Vengeance in Blood by Lee Franklin (2020)

Watched by Iain Anderson (2021)

It Calls from the Forest by Various Authors (2020)

The Book Club by C.J. Cooper (2019)

Railroad Tales by Various Authors (2021)

Savage by Richard Laymon (1993)

Terror Tales of the Scottish Lowlands by Various Authors (2021)

JonBenet: Inside the Ramsey Murder Investigation by Steve Thomas (2000)

The Legend of the Dogman by David C Posthumus (2022, ARC)

Handmade Horror by Various Authors (2021)

You can read my 2020 list here.


X5 – Cover Reveal!

My new volume of short stories, imaginatively entitled X5, is up for pre-order now! Dropping in a matter of weeks, it is set to feature ten previously-published pulse-pounding slabs of hoffific fiction, extensive notes, and original artwork from the Stoker award-winning Greg Chapman which I can show you right now.

Let me know what you think!

X5 will be available exclusively on ebook, and is up for pre-order now.


The Colour out of Deathlehem: An Anthology of Holiday Horrors

Season’s greetings, come all ye faithful and all that jazz. Christmas is supposed to be about giving, a sentiment that often seems to get lost in these capitalist, consumer-driven times. It just feels good to do things for other people. Sometimes.

Anyway, back last year, I was about 700 words into this cool little Christmas horror story I was writing about a dude that finds an old Santa suit, puts it on, and then finds he can’t take it off. It starts to grow on him, fusing with his skin. Not only that, but his behaviour starts to change. He’s not the man he used to be. For starters (sorry) he’s hungry all the time. No matter how much he eats, he’s still hungry. He eats, and he eats, and he eats. The story was going well. Right up until the point where I realized I’d subconsciously nicked the plot straight from the Eli Roth film Clown (2014) and just replaced the clown suit with a Santa suit.

Bugger.

I posted in a horror writing group on Facebook complaining about my wasted efforts, prompting Michael McCarty to PM me suggesting what he called a ‘quick fix,’ which between us we adapted into a killer twist. The resulting collaboration, Finders Keepers, can be found in The Colour out of Deathlehem, the latest charity release from Grinning Skull Press. By my reckoning, this is the eighth volume of holiday horrors they have published to benefit the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

The Colour out of Deathlehem is out now on paperback and ebook.


Painted Nails require No Anesthetic!

“We want Extreme horror stories,” the publisher said. “Think Wrath James White, Edward Lee, Shane McKenzie, or J.F. Gonzalez. If you can write a story that will churn our stomachs or make us fear what’s behind the shower curtain, send it in and we’ll read it and decide if it is Extreme enough for our anthology.”

And extreme they got. Check out the awesome cover art.

Sometimes when I finish writing a story I look back on it and think I might have overdone things a bit. It happened with Subject #270374 and it happened again with with Painted Nails, which is about a drug addict who wakes up to find a foreign object stuck in his dick. Don’t worry, it isn’t erect or anything, but it just get worse for the poor guy from there. Especially when he realizes that there’s something in his bathroom.

We’ve all woken up in the morning and not quite been 100% clear about what might have happened the night before. Painted Nails takes that to the next level. On reflection it explores some of the same themes as Grower, published last year in Brewtality, and I wrote both stories at around the same time. I have no idea what issues I was trying to iron out. Fun stories, though. Grower maybe traded on the humorous angle a bit more than Painted Nails which is flat-out brutal.

Painted Nails, wounded penis and all, is my 12th published short story of the year and is included in the anthology No Anesthetic (note the American spelling) out now on Splatter Ink publishing.


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