Saturday, June 9, 2018

"Nightmare’s Eve" by Stephen H. Provost

Nightmare’s Eve
by Stephen H. Provost

Nightmare’s Eve by Stephen H. Provost

Nightmare’s Eve by Stephen H. Provost is currently on tour with Xpresso Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

A collection of 16 short stories and 10 dark poems in the tradition of The Twilight Zone.
Trapped for eight centuries in a space no larger than a shoebox. What would you do to escape? How far would you go to rid yourself of that parasite in your brain that feeds off the worst of your nightmares? What if the person closest to you were fated to die – and you were powerless to stop it?
What if your savior were also your greatest fear? Would you trade years of your life for a chance at redemption? Would you slay or spare the dragon whose eyes gaze up at you pleadingly in the final moments of its life?
These are the questions that run through the mind when twilight fades and eyelids grow heavy. Fight the onset of sleep. Thrash beneath the covers in futile defiance of what lies beyond. This is the between-time of Nightmare’s Eve, those brief but lingering moments between the waking world and the abyss. It will have you. It’s only a matter of time.

Excerpt from “A Deal in the Dark”
Can you leave the light on, Andy?”
Andy poked his head back around the corner and shook it slightly. “The doc says that won’t help you sleep. You need your rest, Jen.”
“I know, but …”
“No buts.”
Jenny fixed her attention on the sliver of light that was bleeding into her room from out in the hallway. It seemed like a lifeline. This insomnia had been plaguing her for weeks now, and she did need her sleep. But she didn’t need the panic attacks that hit her whenever the room went pitch black. She hadn’t been afraid of the dark since she was a child, when her parents had bought that nightlight for her to reassure her there weren’t any monsters lurking in the blackness, waiting to emerge when it was safe. When she couldn’t see them. Couldn’t find them. Couldn’t catch them to put them back where they belonged in the part of her mind where they no longer existed.
Her parents had told her that’s where they really were.
“It’s all in your mind,” Mom had said. “There’s nothing here that can hurt you.”
She’d always remembered that. It had been reassuring at the time, but the more she thought about it, as she’d grown older, the more troubling it seemed. She could escape a monster that was
hiding in the closet; but if it had taken up residence in her mind …
how could she escape that?
Andy was a lot like her Mom that way. He had always been protective of his kid sister, always trying to reassure her that there was nothing wrong — make her think everything was going to be just fine.
Make. Her. Think.
Think the way he wanted her to think. It was just a trick, she thought to herself. She remembered Halloween night, when she was six years old. “Go to sleep, why don’t you?” he’d said, impatient and demanding. He was three years older than she was, so she’d closed her eyes. But she hadn’t gone to sleep right away. She’d heard someone rustling around in the plastic jack-o-lantern full of candy she’d left on the floor beside her bed, and in the morning, that candy had been gone.
“You sure you’ll be okay?” Andy said, lingering in the doorway.
What was he going to steal from her now?
“Please, just leave the light on, Andy. Or leave the door open, at least?”
He smiled that same smile he had always smiled at her. It magnified the mocking regret that leaked through his teeth in his too- apologetic tone. “I know what’s good for you better than you do,” it seemed to say. Why did he have to be so self-righteous?
“Sorry, Jenny Penny,” he said, using the nickname he’d had for her since they were kids. “Can’t do that. Doctor’s orders.”
I shouldn’t have come here, she told herself.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“The genres in this volume span horror, fantasy, and science-fiction, and each is handled deftly. ... Nightmare's Eve should be on your reading list. The stories are at the intersection of nightmare and lucid dreaming, up ahead a signpost ... next stop, your reading pile. Keep the nightlight on.” ~ R.B. Payne, Cemetery Dance
“Brace yourself. Your nightmares are about to get a whole lot darker. Stephen H. Provost pulls you into a place where reality, imagination, and fear play a brutal game of tug-of-war with your sanity. Keep the lights on, this book should come with a warning label to never read it in the dark.” ~ Vanta M. Black, author of Oubliette - A Forgotten Little Place
“Provost sticks mostly to the classics: vampires, ghosts, aliens, and even dragons. But trekking familiar terrain allows the author to subvert readers' expectations. ... Provost's poetry skillfully displays the same somber themes as the stories. ... Worthy tales that prove external forces are no more terrifying than what's inside people's heads.” ~ Kirkus Reviews
“Stephen H. Provost has nightmares to sell. But be wary, this is no ordinary merchant of dark dreams. These are tales and poems of every sort from a writer to watch, from stories of redemption to those of love, vengeance, and damnation - or a frightful combination of all three. Sample his wares, but beware, many of these nightmares will stay with you long after the book is put aside.” ~ Mark Onspaugh, author of The Faceless One and Deadlight Jack
“Having thoroughly enjoyed Provost's debut novel, Memortality, I was quite eager to read his foray into short stories. Nightmare's Eve didn't disappoint. It's an enjoyably surreal, spooky peek into the things that keep us up at night, and it further solidifies the author's place among fiction's up-and-comers. Stephen Provost is the real deal.” ~ David McAfee, bestselling author of 33 A.D.

My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.

By Lynda Dickson
This is a collection of sixteen stories and ten poems centered mostly on the themes of nightmares and death. They cover various genres, including time travel, science fiction, paranormal, and fairy tales. Some are contemporary, while others are futuristic, historical, medieval, or gothic. So, something for everyone. Each piece is accompanied by a beautiful black and white illustration that gives the whole volume a vintage feel and makes me want to own the paperback version of this book. While some of the stories are a bit predictable, they are all well-written, although there are some editing errors and one major continuity issue (the armchair in “Virulent”).
In “A Deal in the Dark”, strange things happen to Jen in the dark. Is her brother behind it all or is it something more sinister?
In “Will to Live”, a man is stuck in a recurring nightmare.
“Just the Ticket” shows us that you should never make a bargain with the devil.
“Turn Left on Dover”: What would you do if you could go back in time?
In “Mama”, we are left to wonder if the pendulum’s predictions will come true.
“Breaking the Cycle”: How far would you go to end the nightmares?
In “Virulent”, there is a virus on Mars, but not the type you might expect.
In “Anatomy of a Vampire”, a group of anatomy students gets an unusual anatomy lesson.
“The Ends of the Earth”: What happens when you build a wall to keep someone out of your town?
“The Howl and the Purr”: How are cats and dogs involved in an alien invasion?
“Teeth”: What’s worse: the nightmares or the cure?
“The Faithful Dog” is a cautionary tale about seeing what you want to see, regardless of the truth.
“Lamp Unto My Fate”: What would you wish for if you freed a genie?
After reading “Nightmare’s Eve”, you’ll never look at Santa the same way again.
“Stranger Than Fiction”: What would happen if everything you wrote came true?
In “George & the Dragon: The Untold Story”, a young man uncovers his family history.
“Certitude”: Only one thing is certain in life: death.
“Lost Soliloquy”: What thoughts might run through the mind of a dead man?
“Unwound” is about hiding your true feelings.
“Upon Reflection” takes a look at the role of mirrors in fairy tales.
“Merlin’s Lament” is about the May Day massacre of Arthurian legend.
In “Bleed Not”, a woman murders her lover.
In “Lost at Sea”, a man is trapped alone on board his ship, a prison of his own making.
“Torrent of Tears” deals with the struggle with mental illness.
“A Never-Setting Sun”: Would the nightmares come to an end if the sun never set?
“This Vale of Dreams” takes a look at the world of dreams.
My favorites: “Will to Live”, “Mama”, “Nightmare’s Eve”, “George & the Dragon”.
Warnings: coarse language, horror, violence.

About the Author
Stephen H. Provost
Stephen H. Provost is a veteran editor, reporter, and columnist with more than 30 years of experience at daily newspapers in California. He’s currently the managing editor of The Cambrian on the Central Coast, as well as a columnist and assistant city editor for The Tribune in San Luis Obispo.
As an author, he has written historical nonfiction (Fresno Growing Up and Highway 99: The History of California’s Main Street), novels (Memortality and Identity Break), while also exploring the realms of mythology, fable, and ancient history.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a signed copy of Nightmare’s Eve by Stephen H. Provost (open internationally).