Mini reviews: quick recent reads — Scanlines, For He Can Creep, and The Caretaker

February 20, 2024

TITLE: Scanlines
AUTHOR: Todd Keisling
GENRE: Horror
PAGES: 83pg

In 1987, Congressman Benjamin Hardy III died by suicide on live television amidst accusations of political corruption. Years later, rumors of a recording surfaced among VHS trading groups and urban legend chat rooms. Dubbed the “Duncan Tape,” after the deceased cameraman who attempted to sell the video, the rumors allege that anyone who watches the tape is driven to suicide.

Or so the story goes. In truth, no one has ever seen the supposed Duncan Tape, presumably because it doesn’t exist. It’s a ghost story perpetuated on the forums and chat rooms of the internet, another handful of bytes scattered across the Information Superhighway at blistering 56K modem speeds.

For Robby and his friends, an urban legend is the last thing on their minds when a boring Friday night presents a chance to download porn. But the short clip they watch turns out to be something far more graphic and disturbing, and in the coming days, they’ll learn even the most outlandish urban legends possess a shred of truth…

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We were ghouls in a graveyard, digging up a dead man’s grave for closure. We never considered he might want to stay buried.

I love horror stories featuring technology and Todd Keisling’s work has been on my TBR for way too long, so I finally decided to pick up this novella. I enjoyed it, though it moved a little slow at times despite its short page count; in the story’s defense, though, I’ve been fighting a reading slump for a few weeks, so it’s possible that it was a “me” issue.

I grew up on the darker side of the early 2000s internet and I remember photos and videos that haunt me to this day, so I found myself commiserating with these characters in a sense. I wasn’t on the edge of my seat, but I liked this novella and really thought the writing had a lot to offer, so I’m looking forward to picking up more of Todd’s stories soon!

content warnings →
WARNINGS (click to expand):

suicide, suicidal ideation, group suicide, smoking, drug addiction, grief, gore, cancer

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TITLE: For He Can Creep
AUTHOR: Siobhan Carroll
GENRE: Fantasy
PAGES: 30pg

Nineteenth century poet Christopher Smart has been committed to St. Luke’s Hospital for Lunatics believing God has commissioned him to write The Divine Poem. But years earlier, he made a bargain with Satan and the devil has come to collect his due–a poem that will bring about the apocalypse.

Saving Smart’s soul, and the rest of the world, falls to Jeoffry, the poet’s demon-fighting cat and a creature of cunning Satan would be a fool to underestimate…

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This cell is his, and this one. The whole asylum is his, and let no demon forget it! For he is the Cat Jeoffry, and no demon can stand against him.

What a delightful little story. Anyone who knows me already knows I’m an absolute cat lady through and through, so I’ll never say no to a little kitty hero like Jeoffry, and he is written exactly the way I like best for feline companions: haughty, smug, and mostly quite confident, but also very fond of his human and protective at any cost. ♥

For He Can Creep is a surprisingly funny piece, too, especially once the Nighthunter Moppet is introduced! I can so easily picture this wild little murderous kitten with demon blood in her veins and I loved her. 😂

He has learned that there is more than one kind of devil, and that the one inside your head, that speaks with the voice of your own heart, is far more dangerous than the velvet coat–wearing, poetry-loving variety.

If you’d like to read this story, you can check it out for free here at Reactor Mag’s website (or you can grab it from an ebook store for less than a cup of coffee)!

Buddy read with Misty 🐈

content warnings →
WARNINGS (click to expand):

vomiting, religious imagery, animals in danger, brief violence

representation →

TITLE: The Caretaker
AUTHOR: Cass Clarke
GENRE: Horror
PAGES: 122pg

Cara, an overworked ICU nurse, could think of one million other things to do than sort through her dead mother’s house. Still, she’s here — cleaning a home she thought she abandoned long ago. Of course, it doesn’t take Cara long before she stumbles upon her mother’s buried secrets and becomes curiously stuck with a haunted hospice bed. Roping in her ride-or-die cousin Dylan and witchy ex-girlfriend Beth into the proceedings, Cara unwittingly drags her beloveds into a gauntlet of horrors. Stitched together with humor and ramshackle nerves, THE CARETAKER is a story that asks: How do you go on after the worst has already happened to you?

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What a fantastic, dreadful little story! I really love horror tales involving characters dealing with the aftermath of lost loved ones, but this story took things to a new level with the mystery surrounding what was happening in Cara’s mother’s house — and, more importantly, *why* it was happening. I was fully invested and couldn’t put this novella down.

The only reason I’m giving it 4 stars instead of 5 is that the writing felt a bit stilted at times, especially during the dialogue. That said, I definitely recommend this story and I can’t wait to read more from this author!

Thank you to the author & BookSirens for the review copy! All thoughts are honest and my own.

content warnings →
WARNINGS (click to expand):

gore, body horror, self-mutilation, torture, violence, murder (including murder of a child), grief, terminal illness, cancer, emotional/verbal abuse from a parent

representation →

sapphic MC and relationship



More about Destiny @ Howling Libraries

Just a horror aficionado/geek girl trying to juggle motherhood, reading, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.


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