Blog Book Tour | “Road Ghosts: Omnibus Edition” feat. Four ‘Til Late, Sinking Down, Me and the Devil & the extra ‘short story’ Spectral Delivery by E. Chris Garrison Otherwise known as the Urban Fantasy author who Jorie loves reading due to her wicked sense of wit and wondrous bouts of humour!

Posted Wednesday, 7 March, 2018 by jorielov , , , , , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a stop on the “Road Ghosts Omnibus Edition” Urban Fantasy release tour from Seventh Star Press. The tour is hosted by Tomorrow Comes Media who does the publicity and blog tours for Seventh Star Press and other Indie and/or Self Published authors. I am a regular blog tour host with Tomorrow Comes Media, however, the author and I have continued our friendship since we first interacted via The Star Chamber Show (which I’ll expand on in a moment). I have happily become an avid appreciator of her Tipsy Fairy Tales series, however, I had a personal interest in wanting to read the Road Ghosts series at long last (which I’ll expound upon) and thankfully I had the chance to join the blog tour celebrating the series overall.

I received a complimentary copy of “Road Ghosts Omnibus Edition” direct from the publisher Seventh Star Press in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

On my connection to Ms Chris (aka E. Chris Garrison):

I first discovered the style of Ms Chris’s story-telling when we both appeared on the Star Chamber Show, which is a weekly podcast on BlogTalkRadio sponsored by the publisher Seventh Star Press. Since our first encounter with each other, we’ve developed a friendship I am blessed to have and I appreciate getting to know a bit more about an author whose not only developing a unique style in the world of Fantasy but is receptive to the thoughts readers have as they gain impression by reading the stories themselves.

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with Ms Chris through our respective blogs, the twitterverse, the podcast world, and privately. I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time. For more information, I disclosed a bit more on my first 10 Bookish, Not Bookish Thoughts (read No.7!).

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Why I love reading stories by Ms Chris:

On the comedic writing style of Ms Chris:

Any writer who can work in the phrase ‘le sigh’ is alright in my book! Little bits of cheeky references to exasperation in regards to Minnie on behalf of Skye and Skye’s particular take on her co-workers, the ordinary life she leads whilst it intersects with the extraordinary, and the manner in which the curious creatures she interacts with whilst the rest of us are oblivious is quite golden folly! She exhumes a particular knack for knowing exactly what to express within a scene and what to stitch inside it as far as everyday observations which inherently become social clues towards the timescape in which the story is set around. You can pick up the nuances of pop culture whilst finding a clear definition for writing in her own style for fantasy elements that spin themselves so organically inside this world.

In the past two years I’ve had the chance to get to know Ms Chris a bit better outside of the world of blog tours, I must confess, as I was reading Blue Spirit I felt I could almost hear her voice behind the words as I read the story – as if I somehow have a better understanding of her writerly voice and the approaches she takes towards conveying the story visually to the reader. If this were an audiobook, I nearly have a strong idea already of how it would sound if it were to be read aloud by the author! Little bits of her own personality are definitely threaded into the context but moreso than that, it was a pleasure to notice things I hadn’t seen when I read Seelie Goose!

I found myself enjoying this installment of the series so very much, that I found it quite difficult to put the book down in order to blog! I love when that happens – where your completely committed to the story and the words hopefully will come to you to express out to your readership (if your a book blogger, that is!) as you wick off the hours from the clock consumed by where the author your reading is taking you as you wander deeper into the narrative! The transitions between Skye’s Indianapolis and the elsewhere world of the fairies is seamlessly stitched as you can easily move between the segues.

-quoted from my review of Blue Spirit

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why readers of #Diverselit will love ms chris:

The author is transgender which gives her an inside edge towards how to write stories that are highlighting characters like Skye who are trying to lead lives without their sexuality, gender or orientation leading to prejudicial exclusions inside their everyday lives. This is quite apparent when the laws currently in place in the author’s home state are mentioned in one chapter in regards to marriage equality as well as the perceptions of how some of Skye’s friends or friends of her friends view the relationship she has with Annabelle.

I consider this series pro-positive for both LGBTQIA+ and Allies alike, as everything pertinent to this side of Skye’s life is told organically and shifts between being humourous and serious, depending on the nature of the exchange or the situation at hand. This is positive I think as it has a very realistic vibe attached to it. Skye is not afraid to speak her mind or to live her authentic truth, even if others are not as prepared to accept her on her terms, she still lives her life owning the truth she has within her and that’s something to applaud. She has her faults (who doesn’t?) but her strengths are her willingness to take-on challenges head-on and remain faithful to those she cares about whilst sorting out mysteries of the unexplained.

This is definitely an author to bookmark if your seeking #diverselit and stories of Equality where all characters are realistically written and openly honest about expressing their thoughts, views and feelings.

-quoted from my review of Restless Spirit

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Blog Book Tour | “Road Ghosts: Omnibus Edition” feat. Four ‘Til Late, Sinking Down, Me and the Devil & the extra ‘short story’ Spectral Delivery by E. Chris Garrison Otherwise known as the Urban Fantasy author who Jorie loves reading due to her wicked sense of wit and wondrous bouts of humour!Road Ghosts : Omnibus Edition
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Anne Rosario

Somewhere Between Scooby-Doo and Supernatural

The Road Ghosts Trilogy introduced readers to E. Chris Garrison, one of speculative fiction’s most gifted voices. Presented here for the first time in a single volume, you’ll meet amateur ghost hunters Brett and Liz, along with their friends Gonzo, Jimbo, and Frannie. Go along for the ride as the gang chases ghosts and battles demons, ghouls, and stranger things up and down the interstate highways of the Midwest.

The Road Ghosts Trilogy spawned several short stories (such as “Spectral Delivery,” included here!) and introduces readers to “Skye” MacLeod, whose adventures continue in Garrison’s popular Tipsy Fairy Tales Series. (read the archive of reviews on Jorie Loves A Story featuring them linked within this review)

This omnibus volume includes:

Four ’til Late (Road Ghosts Trilogy, Book 1) Brett, Gonzo, Jimbo, and Liz embark on a road trip with dangerous detours, dreadful dreams and dire warnings. Along the way they discover that some spirits leave you with more than a hangover and regrets. Turn up the radio and get moving, because the road ghosts are waiting.

Sinking Down (Road Ghosts Trilogy, Book 2) Brett and Liz are back in over their heads when a forest hunt for a roadkill-eating creature offers up a ghoulish little surprise. Worse than that, they find that Brett’s fate is linked to the creature’s. So it’s back out on the road, with unexpected pit stops with a greedy ex, a convention of ghost hunters, partying with fake vampires, and drinking and fighting alongside Uncle Gonzo.

Me and the Devil (Road Ghosts Trilogy, Book 3) Brett, Liz, and Gonzo undertake a difficult three-night webcast leading up to Halloween. If they’re successful, they may finally get the recognition Brett seeks. But ever since the events in Sinking Down, Brett has been a little… off. On the first night of the webcast, Brett’s sudden tantrum both boosts ratings and terrifies his friends. As Halloween approaches, Brett’s friends find themselves in a desperate fight to save his soul — and his life.

“Spectral Delivery” (Bonus Short Story) Meet Enid, a pizza delivery trainee who’s stuck riding along with ghost-geek Brett on Valentine’s Day night. Her boyfriend begs her to try to get off early, but things get weirder and weirder as she and Brett encounter the paranormal at every stop.

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

Find on Book Browse

ISBN: 978-1941706886

on 25th September, 2017

Pages: 516

Published By: Seventh Star Press (@7thStarPress)
Available Formats: Softcover and Ebook

The Road Ghosts Series:

Four ‘Til Late (Book One)

Sinking Down (Book Two)

+ Spectral Delivery (companion short story) | *to fit between books 2 & 3

Me and the Devil (Book Three)

Read about how the Road Ghosts series was created & developed via Beauty in Ruins

I, especially loved reading this guest post on the blog tour this month due to the fact I hadn’t known the inside bits of how it was created or what was etched inside it until now. Connecting the dots on who inspired ‘Gonzo’ makes sense but also, how Gonzo embodies the spirit of ‘Uncle Chuck’ – this much I knew from reading ‘Restless Spirit’ ahead of the Road Ghosts series. Somehow I had also missed the fact my dear friend is a paranormal sleuth as well – something I’ll happily have to add to our upcoming convo for the tour! As we share a love of parapsychology! Ha! As soon as I saw her saying ‘Scooby Doo for grown-ups’ I smirked like a Cheshire cat! For one thing, who *didn’t!* watch Scooby Doo!? lol This guest post is delightfully engaging for those of us who haven’t had the pleasure of following the series as it released.

Converse on Twitter: #RoadGhosts & #7thStar

About Ms Chris (E. Chris Garrison)

Ms Chris Garrison

E. Chris Garrison writes Fantasy and Science Fiction novels and short stories. She used to publish as Eric Garrison, but has since upgraded.

Her latest series is Trans-Continental, a Steampunk adventure with a transgender woman as its protagonist. The series is set in one of the worlds in Chris’s dimension-hopping science fiction adventure, Reality Check, both of these series are published through Silly Hat Books. Silly Hat Books released Alien Beer and Other Stories, a collection of her short stories, in 2017.

Chris’s supernatural fantasy stories include the Road Ghosts trilogy and it's companion series the Tipsy Fairy Tales are published by Seventh Star Press. These Urban Fantasy novels are humorous supernatural fantasies, dealing with ghosts, demonic possession, and sinister fairy folk delivered with a “lightly dark” side of humor.

Her novel, Reality Check, is a Science Fiction adventure released by Hydra Publications. Reality Check reached #1 in Science Fiction on during a promotion in July 2013. Chris lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, with her wife, step-daughter and cats. She also enjoys gaming, home brewing beer, and finding innovative uses for duct tape.

*Biography updated: March, 2018

Why I wanted to read the Road Ghosts Series:

Initially, when I first started blogging here on Jorie Loves A Story, I was a reader who was emerging out of a drought of a reader’s rut – which by extension is dearly connected to my decade of dealing with a blockage in my fiction and poetry writings (which I reclaimed during Nanowrimo, 2008). This might be a fact many might have overlooked as I was not actively announcing I was a ‘writer’ per se as in the initial years of Jorie Loves A Story, I was focusing on my path as a book blogger – nowadays, I do at times reveal: I’m a writer who moonlights as a book blogger as my season in publishing has not yet arrived. It’s as true of a statement as I can come to articulate about my writerly life – as I have chosen to focus on the stories which are already published, to advocate for the authors who are writing the stories I love to read and by being a wicked #awesomesauce book cheerleader both in the book blogosphere and in the twitterverse (hence why I also host a bi-monthly chat for Romance & Women’s Fiction readers and writers). As a 5th Year Book Blogger, I’m also co-hosting two book blogosphere events: Elizabeth Goudge Day (in April) with Jean @ Howling Frog Books and the Wyrd and Wonder (Fantasy) event with Lisa & Imyril.

During the years I wasn’t actively reading, I was gathering books for my personal library, researching writing styles and thematics within the literary categories I knew I’d love reading and otherwise was a bit in the dark about language in literature; or rather, what has become a ‘hot topic’ of interest of mine to discuss on Jorie Loves A Story: Vulgarity in Lit. If you fast forward to the fact *March, 2018!* is the month I celebrate my *5th Blogoversary!* as a book blogger – I can hardly believe it myself! Through the years, I’ve learnt a lot about publishing, the craft of writing (of which has re-inspired me countless times to continue to create my own stories) and the controversial subject of ‘vulgarity in lit’ – whilst owning to the fact, it’s not limited to Speculative Fiction – no, I was quite the gobsmacked reader finding most Contemporary Romances & Women’s Fiction stories hold a hefty array of stronger words, too. My notes under my reviews are reflective of the usage of vulgarity but also, the higher frequency of sighting the words in today’s literature as previously (before I blogged) I hadn’t stumbled across them nearly as much.

In fact, if your following this blog tour – you might be curious to learn it was this particular series which kicked-off a lively discussion about vulgarity, how it’s used in literature (or rather, why) and the frequency of how oft you’ll see stronger words used in the collective works by Ms Chris. Except to say, not all of her works have a high frequency of strong language – of her two series (Road Ghosts and Tipsy Fairy Tales), it’s this one: the Road Ghosts series which has the most by half.

You might be asking yourself – then, why is Jorie suddenly doing an about-face on her choice not to read the Road Ghosts series? I’m so thankful you’ve asked, dear hearts! I had a change of heart awhile ago – stemming out of my friendship with Ms Chris and the years I’ve been spending reading her stories – I wanted to right one error in judgement from 2013 which is important now as I’m coming up on my fifth year. As I will be spending time writing reflective essays about my reading life, the journey I’ve taken herein and where the stories have not just taken me but where they have allowed their authors to traverse as well. (this begins the last week of March, right in line to celebrate my blogoversary)

When you read a story by Ms Chris, you are getting the chance to get to know the ‘writer’ behind the stories themselves – she has wicked brilliant wit, sharp humour and a loving capacity to interweaver pop cultural references into her stories as well! She highlights the ordinary moments interspersed with the fantastical – whilst giving your heart a chuckle, your mind a break from the woes of the world and your imagination endeavours to follow suit in her own footsteps for entertaining you with her characters! In essence, you feel wholly uplifted and lighter in spirit for having spent time inside her stories and novels!

Through all of this, as I’ve come to learn more about Skye and Gonzo (especially due to Restless Spirit) I’ve been further curious about the sequences of narrative back-story which led into the Tipsy Fairy Tales – the Road Ghosts series has a cross-over companion effect on the Tipsy Fairy Tales – whilst at the heart of who I am as a reader, I would be remiss to overlook the fact the two are meant to be read in tandem rather than apart. It isn’t so much I’ve relented my distaste for vulgarity in literature – it’s merely the fact, I’ve come to understand Ms Chris’s writing instincts, her passion for telling the stories as she envisions them and even why, sometimes her characters have a smart mouth as honouring the truth of their reactions in those moments.

Ergo, I wanted to explain all of this — ahead of talking about the stories themselves – for my dedicated readers and followers who might think “what was Jorie thinking?!” Also, it should be noted – a LOT of the stronger language was happily ‘masked’ from my eyes with washi tape (removable and re-positional decorative tape, we (collectively!) letter writers love to use on our envelopes) – thereby giving me a wicked sweet ‘clean read’ of the Road Ghosts series! I was inspired to have this done (ie. Mum helped) to the Road Ghosts series due to how Ms Chris had gifted me a ‘clean copy’ of Sinking Down a few years ago.

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my review of four til late:

(play the trailer)

Four 'til Late by E. Chris Garrison
Artwork Credit: Bonnie Wasson

Four ‘til Late begins with a discussion about EVP (electronic voice phenomena) transmissions through a recorder where Brett is trying to gauge Jimbo’s interpretation of the ‘voice’. Erstwhile, the two are awaiting Uncle Gonzo to arrive as they’re all planning to drive down to New Orleans – a road trip both Brett and Jimbo weren’t exactly on board with agreeing to until Uncle Gonzo convinced them otherwise. In my short interludes with Gonzo from Restless Spirit, I gathered it is far easier to agree with him than to go against his wishes. He has a strong and distinctive personality but at the heart of him is someone who cares about those he takes under his wing in life.

My first two observations as the story started to get underway were these: I definitely knew what it would be like to face the high volume of traffic in Indianapolis as you can substitute the city for another of equal size, horrid traffic patterns and the will to survive the ‘route’ you have to take through their highway system! Secondly, when Gonzo and Brett try to rationalise how ‘fog’ can be a simple wisp of atmosphere lying low over the land vs something quite more ominously inclined, I had was brought back to my own experiences in ‘fog’; where the soupier it becomes, the more encroaching it feels. Fog in of itself can be deadly if only for the distraction it causes drivers, as similar to road hypnosis (where your drive on semi-autopilot) – fog can alter your perceptional analysis of the highway. I, personally, liked how the parapyschological elements didn’t take too long to alight in the narrative and thereby, offering a bit of new insight into what could live within the fog or in the elements of which seek to shroud the paranormal.

Clearly, this isn’t your typical road trip – as the paranormal dearly wants to rendezvous with the boys! They wandered into a watering hole where they could score beer and fries, but what they ended up with was a third encounter with a ghost! (if you count the EMF voice) What makes it entertaining is the fact only Brett up to this point believes what they are seeing; Jimbo is nonchalant about the whole ghost sighting but you can see Gonzo is starting to work the wheels round how something could be otherworldly crossing their path!

The camaraderie of the boys proves their loyalty to each other but also how well they play off one another, too! It isn’t too long to see why they’re mates and enjoy being round each other – they have inside jokes, know how far to take the random interludes of comedy without inflicting emotional damage and at the heart of their nature, their just three blokes who want to decompress outside of work and life on a road trip to New Orleans! Of course, life is never that simple – so finding them trying to sort out Jimbo’s love life and Brett’s growing anxiety to meet-up with his now platonic friend Liz (they used to be an item) – this trip is off to an interesting start!

I loved how the locals shrugged off the ‘ghost’ at the bar – almost as if either they were used to the presence and/or they hadn’t seen it at all! It speaks to how observant others are or rather, how unobservant they are to the things you see yourself which are right here for others to see but somehow your one of the few who does? Every notice that?!

My favourite quotation taken from the text as I read Four ‘Til Late:

Brett shrugged. “You know, I’m not sure about that. People often see what they want to see. They’d rather see something that makes sense to them, something that’s within their view of how the world works, than to see something that’d completely upset everything they thought they’d knew about the world.”

– quoted from Four ’til Late by E. Chris Garrison; used with permission of the publisher

There is so much truth inside this quotation – not just about life in general but how the series develops and expands throughout the trilogy.

I’d heard you can stay in state parks – it isn’t something I’ve done yet myself as I’m the navigator who sorts out the hotels or motels along the route we’re taking (when I’m not driving!) as part of the charm of road treks is the unknown! Such as how far you’ll get during the day, where you’ll be when you arrive and what you’ll see as you get closer to your destination. Of course, I have stayed over at rest areas when all else fails or if the weather is not permissible to continue – as let’s face it, tornadic weather isn’t something to mess round and roll the dice! Either way you slice it – travellers have to get creative about finding places to tuck into and catch some sleep – if state parks are closer, or the rest area is well lit and guarded – do what you have to do to stay safe on the highway!

Oh, still my heart! The boys are having biscuits and gravy for breakfast – mmm, yum, yes! This is one of my favourites to find on the road – mostly as each dive has their own version of making it! Yes, you read that right, I said ‘dive’ – I wasn’t just a girl who was happily hearing all the stories on Triple D (the tv series) but I was the girl who loves to find dives (and diners!) as they give such an insight into the local flavour of the townes and cities your passing through!

Gonzo is quite philosophical about the whole aspect of ‘paranormal vs scientific ethical fact’ to where he charms you by how he’s open-minded enough to not just listen to Brett’s claims of the paranormal but to honestly think they through even if he’s on the opposite side and leans on ‘science’ to be the explanation (at least at this point in time). The ribbing he gives the other two is par for course as these are the kind of guys who love to razz each other and keep whomever their joking round with next on their toes!

Isn’t it interesting how people who break-up who aren’t entirely sure if they should have broken up find remorse about their relationships when their in the middle of trying to keep their friendship with their ex in perspective? Such is the predicament Brett is facing with Liz and let’s not forget, Jimbo has his own issues with Frannie as he’d rather she could stand on her own without him a bit more than making him feel he has to be near her all the time for her to have confidence in their relationship.

The Dalek’s make an appearance in a flashback sequence to explain the history between Brett and Liz; must confess though, those Dalek’s are the most fearsome of the evils on Doctor Who – how Ms Chris sorted out a way to bring the terror of their agenda straight into a wickedly timed joke which effectively explains the vexations of technology gone wrong is a nod to how she loves to include pop cultural references into her stories. Of course, it helps if you like the same fandoms she does and can understand the ‘inside jokes’ a bit deeper for having reciprocal memories of what she’s referencing!

There is definitely more to Brett than you originally think – he has a lot of emotional history and rightly so due to the circumstances of his past. You can also understand why Liz became so dearly important to him – of how their friendship grew quite strong and how it led to a relationship as she was there for him when his entire world shattered and splintered. You could see why reunited with Liz meant more to him than what it could be taken for on the surface. Of course, when the boys first arrived in Memphis, you can’t help smiling for how they made their debut on Beale – the outrageous inspirations of their costumes and their willingness to ‘give it their all’ if only to save on the cover charges whilst embracing the craziness of trying to eat a heap of BBQ whilst drinking in the sights and sounds of the Blues – this was a group of friends’ who knew how to have fun and kick back!

Freaky! (shudders) You definitely feel chills reading Four ‘til Late as the encounter Brett and Liz had in the blues club is one for the books, that’s for sure! It isn’t even the nefarious message Brett and Liz hear from the entity near them, it’s the manner in which this creature comes into their personal space and tries to affect them directly by their presence! That’s the freakiest part about the encounter – how personal it feels to both Liz and Brett! Almost as if they are both being singled out and are sharing a haunting!

Reading about Beale street brought back wonderful memories of Bourbon Street in New Orleans – of how you could listen to the music peeling out of the clubs as you walked. Beale was similar in vein of context but also had street performers who would serenade you between the bar hops. Both cities are infamous for their music inasmuch as Austin, Texas! You can see how a performance could mesmorise you, but for Brett, there is something more sinister stirring through the chords – something seemingly nefarious which is hitching itself along the route and causing an unsettling within Brett deep within his bones! In Memphis, the boys were able to start to relax, to feel the reason why they needed to step outside their lives for this trip and to leave their concerns behind them for a spell. Meeting up with Liz proved restorative in of itself due to her zany approach to living, her cheerfulness for spontaneity and her winsome way of encouraging you to live in the moment. It wasn’t all fun and games for Jimbo – his girlfriend Frannie was irking him something fierce for constantly checking in with him and wanting him to put her first above his friends. Your heart went out to him for the twist of guilt she was making him feel without any foundation for it.

When Liz incanted a warning to the spirit haunting Brett you saw how much she still cared for him; despite the distance and separation. It also took a load of moxie to stand that strong in the face of an unknown spirit who was getting more vengeful by the hour! I had a feeling Liz had an internal strength she rarely let out round others – except her compassionate heart is what endears you to her after what Brett went through with his former girlfriend. When it comes to spirits, you have to lead with a strong voice and sound as fierce as Barbara Synwyck if you want them to take you seriously!

There is a scene where Brett imagines his ex-girlfriend has come back to visit him a la A Christmas Carol wherein she’s seen at the time of her exit similar to Beetlejuice (remember how everyone would visit the social worker?) – Ms Chris wrote it so plain of fact it’s not even as horrific to read as you might expect as his girlfriend is simply caught between the living and the dead in how she’s being perceived. Interestingly, the more emotions Cheryl felt the more her spirit decomposed itself and reverted back to the point of her death – it was like a living representation of her moods shifting whilst eluding to the fact she was not a spirit who had sought peace.

It wouldn’t be a proper road trip without music blaring in the background – Ms Chris takes us on a ride full of Classic Rock, a dash of punk and lot of soulful songs in-between owning to the winding roads you’ll traverse before you reach your destination. Music can become the soundtrack for the trip but also, tap into the mood or emotions your feeling at the time your driving through one of the mile markers on the map.

As I observed the group bar hopping, I had to give them credit – they ate little and drank copious amounts of hard liquour with (beer) chasers. Personally, I enjoy a drink with a meal – the best I could have done in this group is have a short cherry vodka over sprite with tapas selections a few times but they definitely would easily drink anyone under the table! They wear well together, have good-spirited fun and aren’t shy about making fun of each other all for the shake of a laugh – the kind of friends who trust each other and know they will come out alright in the end.

Do you remember when you first saw a Death Eater in the Harry Potter films? How cold and vacant they were acting on actions which made your skin crawl? This is how you feel when your reading about the demon stalking the boys and Liz in the van! You definitely can see why this is called ‘Scooby Doo for adults’ because it’s similar to all those episodes I watched as a kid – the gang was always, *always!* being chased by someone untoward evil person – though usually pretending to be a creature of the dark whereas the real McCoy is in this novel!

The inky darkness which was everywhere they travelled was both a thrilling side effect of being chased by a demonic poltergeist and unnerving as it hindered line of sight whenever one of them was driving trying to dodge the person who was in pursuit! The interesting bit is the closer they drew a conclusion about why this was happening to them, the closer they came to meeting their ‘end’ as the creature did not give up easily nor succumb well to failure.

What I love most about how Ms Chris approaches broaching heady topics such as suicide, premature death, demonic possession, clinical depression and the regrets with walk through the anguish of loss is how well she handles them with the grace of owning the truths which are sometimes harder to identify behind them. In Four ‘til Late, the story isn’t just a fun romp through a haphazard route to New Orleans – it’s tucking into the humbling reality of Brett coming to terms with his grief and the self-destructive tendencies he had to overlook what was positive in his life due to how blind he felt to see them after suffering a great loss. This depressive state is further explored through how our emotional health can lead to vulnerability we’re not expecting to cause us physical harm by unforeseen specters of evil. Cross-referencing the state of mental health and the benefit of self-care practices with a supportive network of friends is a healthy way of giving yourself a sounding board of support whilst realising acknowledging your weaknesses isn’t a mark of failure.

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my review of sinking down:

(Play the trailer)

Sinking Down by E. Chris Garrison
Artwork Credit: Bonnie Wasson

You’d have thought since the road trip to New Orleans was such an intense experience, the last place Brett and Liz would want to vacation is in the woods seeking what they hoped was a specimen for Cryptozoology! As despite Brett’s best efforts to seek out the paranormal and the unexplained, he was short on evidential proof of what he’s seen or experienced; not that this is technically a bad thing considering what he’s survived but evenso, in the scheme of the paranormal he’s still considered an experienced novice.

When things star to get interesting is when they decide to lay a trap to see if such a creature is actually living in the woods. Ironically, they end up finding Liz’s ex Larry is camping nearby and has a creepy attachment to them as he routinely watches their web cam feeds. I had a feeling if any of the three were going to find the ghoul it would be Liz! She has a natural instinct about her for these kinds of things and it didn’t surprise me a whit she was the first one who could find a way to approach the girl in the woods! Nor was I shocked she wanted to adopt the ghoul and be her caretaker – much to the apparent shock of Brett, who despite being open to the paranormal had drawn a line or two in the sand about what he would accept into his life and what he’d rather avoid. Apparently for him ghouls fall under the category of ‘do not tempt fate’.

For the ghoul’s sake – I’ve known what she looked like as I helped reveal the cover art for Sinking Down, however, finding out what she looks like in person to Brett and Liz is quite a different affair! For starters, the smell circling her is a bit hard to take-on as due to her nature as a ghoul she doesn’t have the ability to smell human nor does she smell like something feral as she’s betwixt the living and the dead. She’s her own person, that’s for sure – how she instinctively feels drawn to Liz, regards Brett wearily and looks as lost as a young girl would if she were still alive. It is her appetite which mirrors the rest of nature’s scavengers that is a bit harder to swallow as she can’t process regular foods.

You had to laugh. What do you think the first thing Liz wants to do with their ‘little ghoul’ she now calls Ashleigh (out of respect for how the ghoul reminds her of ‘ashes’; ie. the deadness of her condition)? Why the first thing you do whenever you adopt a stray animal – you give them a proper wash and find a way to have them take a nap! Laughs. Liz has caught the mothering bug when it comes to the ghoul – mind you, Brett and even Uncle Gonzo want to keep the ghoul at a proper distance but not Liz! No! She’s found a hidden calling – rescuing ghouls from the woods!

Ms Chris builds on the relationship being rekindled in Four ‘til Late – allowing us an intimate look into how Brett and Liz are reshaping their partnership. Even Gonzo felt inspired to pull up stakes and relocate to Memphis to be closer to the pair. There are moments between Brett and Liz which speak to how easy and familiar couples become to one another – even in the instance of taking home the ghoul, Brett sided with his respect for Liz’s judgement and intuition. Knowing if anyone could sort out a way to help this child, it would be his Liz. She took her extrasensory skills seriously – moreso than most, you can gather – whilst keeping her head realistically grounded by the dangers but trying to listen more to her heart on how to react to the situation, too.

My favourite quotation taken from the text as I read Sinking Down:

The girl’s eyes were so serious. “It’s because you’re not all here. I’m not all here either, but I’m mostly here. You’re only beginning to be here. Or rather, you’re starting to slip away from there. That’s how it starts. You spring a leak after the hole has been punctured, and this is where you leak to.”

The girl watched without showing emotion and sighed. “I know. My time there is almost over, I think. I’m an hourglass and my sand is running out. Yours is slower, but the sand is piling up.”

– quoted from Sinking Down by E. Chris Garrison; used with permission of the publisher

What do you do when a ghoul claims your not entirely yourself as you know yourself to be? If your Brett, you lean on your girlfriend’s passion for researching the unthinkable and take a short reprieve from your life to visit a friend. What is compelling though about his predicament is how this story builds on the remnants of Four ‘til Late – how you can’t interact with darkness and not be affected by the touch. In other words, sometimes when the paranormal comes calling even after you disconnect the connection there could be aftershocks similar in vein to how an earthquake is never quite as it appears either.

Spending time with Gonzo cheers Brett’s spirits especially when he suggests Brett apply for a job at the pizzeria (hence why I’m reading Spectral Delivery next) as he still can’t get solid job placement. It isn’t too long into their beers before they realise Liz and Ashleigh need them to follow them to intersect with Jimbo. With Larry back in the picture (with intentions never entirely benign) Brett is more on edge now than he had been when he was considering the solemn warnings about being partially departed (spiritually speaking). As Gonzo and Brett race off in the van to reach Liz, you have to wonder about the larger picture developing – of how Brett was able to be pulled apart and how his entire essence was in jeopardy of being erased.

As Brett reunites with Liz (as Ashleigh was taken away from her by Larry) they start to realise how complicated all of this spectral business is becoming. It’s not an easy process to unravel – how a human can become a ghoul or rather the moment of when your soul can be compromised past the point of return. Larry it would seem is a rat fink of an ex who is out for profit rather than science and discovery – which of course didn’t surprise me, he wasn’t the most upstanding of gents when you first meet him!

I had to giggle how Ms Chris introduced Skye to Liz and Brett – as Stuart was dressed as a vampire and Skye hadn’t quite been willing to meet the infamous ‘webcam couple’ her beau was so keen on meeting! Their spontaneous meeting though provided the best leeway of giving Brett and Liz an entry into hopefully finding the person they were interested in most if they had any hope of rescuing Ashleigh from Larry! The reason this sequence was such a hoot as it’s the second time in the series where Ms Chris gets super inventive about how costume design can truly give someone a whole new outlook and persona! I loved how she created the different styles but also, how willing her characters were to go the extra mile when it was needed!

After reading their encounter with Skye and the backdrop of the convention inspiring their new outfits, it gave more depth of purpose why the convention scene was re-explored and sharpened within the pages of Restless Spirit. The back-story about why Brett and Jimbo were being haunted in Four ‘til Late is re-explored now to include biographical information about the ghoul’s family – wherein, you really have to feel for them as far as how one tragic set of circumstances upturnt the fragile balance of the family overall. As you start to piece the pieces back together you start to see why everything was starting to pull together and apart all at the same time.

This installment of the series re-develops the narrative arc and acts as a anchour to why we are taking this journey alongside Brett. There were hintings about a lot of what is being revealled in this story but until we had the fuller understanding of what was happening and why, we were left with several unanswered questions. The beauty of this installment is having the benefit of being properly introduced to Ashleigh as she plays quite the important role in Brett’s life – as at first you feel he was meant to save her life.

Ms Chris continues to evolve Brett’s character into seeking out a way to better understand his role in the paranormal realms (as an investigator) whilst giving him a purpose for being paranormally curious (as a man caught between the spirit world and our living reality). The joy here is watching her tether everything together whilst continuing the continuity of having the friendships in Brett’s life be the important fusion of how he’s not just able to survive his adventures but he finds a way to thrive within the life he is choosing to live.

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my review of the short story ‘spectral delivery’:

Spectual Delivery by E. Chris Garrison
Artwork Credit: Kirsten Maloney

We happily find Uncle Gonzo is the shift manager of the pizza joint, where Brett is a new driver and Enid is being warned off him by a well-meaning employee who misconstrues Brett’s paranormal hobby. It’s a good opener for the short story as it shows how someone outside Brett’s inner circle could interpret his interests and seeing him from a different point of reference altogether than the one he honestly lives by.

In true Brett fashion, he is in his element on this delivery route – it’s hard to stop laughing about why he insisted he was right in the advice he gave three guys who haven’t outlived their frat house days! You smirk as Enid realises his point of view was for the best interest of the guys but it’s how he came about knowing the specifics of the ghost haunting them that gave me the most laughter! He is a good poker player, let’s just leave it at that – he doesn’t reveal all his tells. Also, it’s a bit of a forewarning about used household goods and furniture – for even though antiquing has it’s charms, did you ever stop to consider if they are as benign as they appear?

My heart melted when I realised who was the intended delivery receiver for the special pizza on Valentine’s Day! It was truly well-thought out and conceived – so much so, you could almost see Ms Chris writing this as a Historical Ghost Story and rounding out the back-story! I was quite impressed too, how well composed the scene was inserted into an antidote of Brett’s new life at the pizzeria!

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my review of me & the devil:

(play the trailer)

Me and the Devil by E. Chris Garrison
Artwork Credit: Bonnie Wasson

Brett and Liz are upping their game as paranormal investigators – now their going live as they stream their experiences from a haunted location out of state! You have to wonder how they re-draw the strength to keep a foothold in the paranormal realms after finding how much it can takeaway from them at the same time. I think they have more guts than most of us reading their story!

I have to admit, the fact they are on-site at a castle is alluring – this is one reason why I love reading Gothic Historicals which are set on estates – especially the ones in England, Scotland or Ireland. There is something to be said for the supernatural haunting older homes – not just the fact the hidden histories would elude to the potential of a ghost residing there but it’s the expanse of the estate itself which makes it tempting to investigate all the nooks and crannies! Just like we’re observing in the fever of excitement Liz has to go exploring at Loveland Castle!

This story is set-up in a fashion you’d might remember seeing on a ghost hunting show on television – you know you’ve turned it on – your curiosity (like mine) had encouraged your hand to pause on the channel. The paranormal investigators take a cursory look round, set-up their equipment, keep the cameras rolling and set a determined amount of time to find a ‘spook’ which might be present or able to be recorded in a way which is scientifically sound without be debunked. Except to say, when someone likes to toy with the investigators such as someone has done with Brett’s equipment – causing his theories to fly out the proverbial window for a spell in order to seek out the saboteur.

Brett is having issues dealing with ordinary life now that he’s partially not himself, something Liz was trying to explain to him before he started to get testy with her for even broaching the subject. You can understand his anger – after everything he’s recently gone through, having to add another life lesson ontop of it all isn’t suiting him well. Patience is not his strong suit, though he exhibits a bit more than Gonzo; Brett is reaching the point where you can tell he wishes he could just snap back the time he’s lost and resume where he left off before he was affected by the after effects of his investigations.

Instead of taking to the road, this time the crew move from one location to the next seeking out the next paranormal activity they can investigate. They aren’t too particular either in which cases they will take-on which of course, leads them to the more curious locales! As I was reading this novel, I remembered a lot of the urban legends and folklore stories attached to the antidotes of paranormal phenomena explained throughout Paranormal Texas by Tui Snider. I think even some of the events mentioned in Me and the Devil either had composite stories mentioned in Ms Snider’s release or had comparable stories relating to the settings Ms Chris was exploring through this novel. The interesting bit is how cross-relatable it all is – how stories of the paranormal can take on certain general attributes and how the stories themselves become part of the ‘history’ of all paranormal occurrences.

I personally feel the places which hold the most spookiest stories are the ones where the most people have either disappeared or have died. Such as old abandoned school buildings or asylums – there are many sites throughout the states where these kinds of places have the most recorded hauntings outside of hotels, of course! It was not surprising me then, one of the key settings was the Mounds School nor how the interior illustrations were illuminating the threats within this hallowed space!

When Brett isn’t actively investigating he’s trying to sort out his own soul and the condition he’s been in since he first interacted with the demon who altered his lifepath. Even now, he feels he’s growing too distant from Liz – he can’t even properly explain it to her or his friends but he grieves the time he’s losing with her all the same. It’s almost like you can see yourself changing but you can’t sort out how to stop or reverse the changes which are occurring against your own will. He finds a bit of solace in being able to communicate with Ashleigh still but only just.

Ashleigh in this installment isn’t a ghoul any longer – her spirit has been fully restored and she can move in a way she couldn’t previously. In many ways, Brett and Liz gave her a freedom she never felt she would be able to have again. In return, she wanted to give Brett some advice on how to accept his new status as a spirit, except she was misguided on why she felt he was one – this goes back to his main issues with walking too close the entities who sought to cause him personal harm. There is a lot of nefarious things in his world which seek to harm not just Brett but others who cross their paths but one thing I love about reading the stories Ms Chris pens is she balances the good with the evil. In this case, Ashleigh is now acting as a guide for Brett rather than in the reverse!

His antics though have started to have a backlash on his friendship with Gonzo – he never really believed the explanations Brett was giving him about the paranormal as he saw them more as excuses to explain the behaviour patterns he felt Brett was abusing within their friendship. It wasn’t the truth but it was the way in which Gonzo was interpreting the actions he saw in Brett. That’s the sad part because this was the installment where Brett really needed to lean on his friends the most and could use their help to sort out why he is having trouble stablising his spirit with his body.

I loved how Ms Chris clued in her readers to recognising our emotions and our thoughts have importance in our lives – not just for what they are but how they fuell our strength or takeaway our resolve. In regards to when feelings can be used as fuell – did you ever notice the best way to tackle your fears is to refuse to give into them in the height of their appearance but to get angry instead? This is because anger fuells courage and it is through courage we can face what scares us if we remember that we can handle what happens in our lives if we give ourselves the benefit of the doubt to handle everything in due course. It’s not easy, of course, as Brett is finding himself – because the closer you find yourself in a spiral of fear and doubt, the harder it is to control your emotions much less your thoughts! In his case, though he has more to lose than most as he is literally starting to disappear into ether.

There was one moment within this series where I felt the greatest opponent in Brett’s life was going to be himself – as this was partially revealled in Sinking Down where you can become your own haunted spirit. Therefore, it wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination to consider – what if in order to free yourself of what is haunting you most is to take a critical look inside your own soul and see what reflects back inside of the mirror? In other words – sometimes the best way to heal is through self-growth and self-acceptance.

You truly have to decide how you perceive the series and what is truly going on in the background of the series itself. For all the paranormal activities, there are intrinsic moments of personal enlightenment and the difficulties of understanding how to seek out forgiveness for the events of your life you’ve not yet come to understand. Brett’s story-line is part of the larger world he lives inside, wherein you get close to his girlfriend Liz, his best mates Uncle Gonzo and Jimbo whilst the world expands to include Skye, Ashleigh, Caroline and Frannie. In this way, it’s the best juxaposition for the Tipsy Fairy Tales because before Skye went off on her adventures with Minnie, Brett was living through an experience similar to her own.

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further appreciation

for the writing styling of ms chris

I’ve come to love how Ms Chris combines the supernatural with the fantastical – of how she has her own unique style for giving us Urban Fantasy with heaps of quirkified humour wherein the cosier bits of horror which are sometimes laced inside her stories never truly feel oppressively horrific. She keeps the tempo light in her craft but there are keen moments of seriousness abounding in them as well. She hits on harder topics, delves into the emotional and psychological lives of her characters but at the heart of her narratives are rag-tag families who choose to be together (strangers turnt friends who become bonefide family) to take-on whatever sinister forces are out to drag them down.

You get the benefit of having all the lovelies you love out of Fantasy intermixed with supernatural entities which could leave a few hairs standing on end – as they are brilliantly conceived and have their own nod of realistic intensity about them but you also know, your in for one wild and wicked awesome ride of a story! You can easily get caught up walking alongside her characters, seeing what they see and experiencing a bit of their lives as you do. They’re ordinary people who have had the extraordinary enter into their lives without too much interference on their end to jump-start the veils between the worlds to disappear. It’s keen how she writes the stories as if everything happening inside them is as natural to occur to her characters as meteorological phenoms.

In Four ‘til Late, I liked the symbolism used for exploring how Brett was imagining the in-between conversations with Cheryl – how she was being seen and the different forms she took-on. At one junction she was a crow and this reminded me why I loved devouring the stories within CORVIDAE. There is something quite symbolic about crows, ravens and the afterlife but it’s also how she made Cheryl talk and articulate what Brett needed to understand in those moments which felt similar to how Jennifer Love Hewitt talked to the dead in Ghost Whisperer; where information is given even if it’s not readily understood. The series is also reminiscent of pop cultural references, not just the Daleks from Doctor Who but also, Liz does a smashing job at attempting to impersonate Doc Brown from Back to the Future.

One key aspect of parapsychology explored in Four ‘til Late is the quasi-reality of self-projecting your fears and emotional strife outside your body wherein takes an entity of its own (ie. abridged theory behind poltergeists). This then becomes a destructive way for inflicting further pain which can have a boomerang effect on others; in other words, it is best to face what is afflicting you head-on. To acknowledge how we feel and how we process the events in our lives is a healthier way of dealing with what comes along – it’s not going to easy to transition through it all either – but to find a way to repress the emotional effects of living is far worse than attempting to shift through it and make peace with it a bit at a time as we move forward.

Four ‘til Late delves a bit into ‘the walking dead’ theory of how you can be a Zombified corpse or how due to demonic intervention you can be ‘less in control’ of your own body whilst alive. Generally speaking, I shy away from stories of Zombies but for whichever reason, in this one particular instance the story’s climax and arc didn’t upset me – in fact, I almost took it for granted that this was something which would be explored due to the nature of the story-line progressing towards it’s conclusionary chapters. I should be too surprised though, Ms Chris already charmed me with another ‘Zombie’ centred thematic in Restless Spirit!

Within the pages of Sinking Down, Ms Chris continues to add in adages of information about the parapsychological activity she’s crafting inside the Road Ghosts series. Bits of real-life knowledge about the paranormal are peppered into the dialogue and narrative scope of the series – where you can gather a few quick facts about where modern science and parapsychologists take their stances on the subjects whilst using the tidbits she shares to cross-relate to the action she’s creating in-scene. It gives a great foundation for back-story and adds a realistic edge to the world-building because it truly does feel less fantastical and more contemporary when she breaks down the specifics of what each paranormally inclined entity could be in theory even if they slightly differ in practice.

This is why I was charmed by the Tipsy Fairy Tales – Ms Chris writes Urban Fantasy as an off-shoot of what you’d expect to find in an Urban Suspense novel. She likes to bent different elements of genres into the context of her stories – thereby structuring them in such a way you have a wholly original baseline in which to observe how she sprouts new stories within either the same universe (such as Reality Check and the Trans-Continental series) or in companion series (such as how Tipsy Fairy Tales and Road Ghosts co-relate to each other) which not only interconnect but build a wider world in which to explore.

I love how the titles of the stories are the ‘anchour’ chapters within the series itself – wherein, you get the full revelation as soon as you stumble into the chapter which features the ‘title’. In this way, it gives new meaning to how you can select titles for novels – as it reminds me of a trick poets and lyricists use to hide the titles within their prose.

Skye is featured long enough in Sinking Down to give a plausible explanation for how she can see Minnie as part of Skye’s back-story has been connected to how she ‘lost part of her soul’ and the overspill of her spirit is what caused Minnie to become a part of her life. The Skye in this setting and installment is a Skye prior to our encounters of her in the Tipsy Fairy Tales – a preview of who we would get to know lateron if you will.

In Me and the Devil, I felt it was a play on words within the title hinting at the fact sometimes we are each others greatest friend and foe; meaning, sometimes we are our own worst enemy, too. There are a lot of psychological and sociological overtures throughout the series, centred around Brett as he is the main character of the Road Ghosts trilogy – everyone is connected to him in some way, whilst it’s his personal journey we’re reading about in each of the installments. In this final chapter of his personal growth, we start to see how he has had to turn inward in order to better understand the transitions he has undergone since he was first possessed by the demon.

Not everything afflicting Brett can be blamed on the possession as some of it is leftover emotional baggage he hadn’t properly addressed which opened the door for his soul to be vulnerable in the first place. What is beautiful though about his journey is his willingness to take the path he’s been lead to traverse – to seek answers when he’s confused and to be willing to trust in those he places on his path to aide his best interests. It is through his journey we can the most insight of all the characters but also, of the reason why this series and the Tipsy Fairy Tales has so much to share aside from the paranormal and fantastical elements at their heart.

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Favourite takeaway of insight into ‘Liz’:

Liz has a wicked sense of independent style: she can easily be seen in a broomstick skirt, black jeans and hiking boots (at the beginning of Sinking Down) as readily as she can be sporting roller sneakers (as her foot size is still in the children’s section) in order to zip round crowds and act cheeky in bars! She has a compassionate heart with a keen intuitive nature for the paranormal, helped by her self-teaching practices in Wicca wherein she acts as a ‘white witch’ (for the good) and tries to protect Brett and his friends at all costs. She also has a zany way of talking in such a distinctive way, you could recognise her as soon as you heard her ‘voice’ as she likes to speak in a way which elicits laughter and a hoard of smiles.

On the stronger language of the series:

Remember I decided to read this collection for my own edification and personal benefit – as well as for making amends on taking a pass on it originally as I did regret that choice over the years since I’ve had my friendship with the author develop through our mutual love of stories and the ways in which all of us benefit from a well-told tale. I will say the third installment of the series ‘Me and the Devil’ has the most vulgarity of the three.

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This blog tour is courtesy of:

 Tomorrow Comes Media Logo badge provided by Tomorrow Comes Media.Thank you, Ms Chris for giving us such a wonderful back-story for the Tipsy Fairy Tales!

Follow the rest of the blog tour for wicked insightful reviews & more guest features:

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{SOURCES: Book Covers of “Road Ghosts Omnibus Edition”, “Four ’til Late”, “Sinking Down”, “Me and the Devil” and “Spectral Delivery” as well as the author photograph of E. Chris Garrison, author biography, book synopsis, blog tour badge, TCM Host badge and Seventh Star Press badge were provided by TCM (Tomorrow Comes Media) and used with permission. Quotations from “Four ’til Late” and “Sinking Down” were selected by Jorie as she read the book and is being used with permission of Seventh Star Press. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets are inserted due to codes provided by Twitter. Instagram photo inserted due to codes provided by Instagram. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review Banner using (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna and the Comment Box Banners.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2018.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Wednesday, 7 March, 2018 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Doctor Who, Fantasy Fiction, Genre-bender, Good vs. Evil, Horror-Lite, Indie Author, Parapsychological Gifts, Parapsychological Suspense, Speculative Fiction, Supernatural Creatures & Beings, Supernatural Fiction, Tomorrow Comes Media, Urban Fantasy, Urban Life, Vulgarity in Literature, Zombies

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