Starred Review in Publisher's Weekly for Titanshade!

by Dan Stout


As a writer, the only thing you really control is the words on the page, and the process you use to get them there. Anything else — reviews, sales, feedback, whatever — is out of your hands.

So it’s a surprise and delight to see reviews from readers popping up in places like Goodreads or NetGalley. And this one was a real shock: a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly.


Click the image to go to the review.

Click the image to go to the review.

I’m really thrilled to see Titanshade clicking with early readers, and I’m hoping that other people will pick up a copy at a store or library, and come along for a ride on those cobblestone streets.

by Dan Stout

Hidden Ohio Map

by Dan Stout


I finally picked up a copy of the Hidden Ohio map.

It's a big, beautiful map which points out areas of interest for fans of Weird events. Whether it's Big Foot sightings, UFO encounters, hauntings, or other unnatural phenomena, if you're looking for it in the Buckeye state, the Hidden Ohio map has it. 

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Created and maintained by Jeffrey Craig, the map is available at his website (www.CelticMaps.com) or in locations around Ohio such as Half Price Books, Barnes & Noble, or your local independent bookseller. 

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The front is loaded with areas of interest, and the back is backed with a item-by-item description, grouped into sections such as Hauntings, Native American Sacred Sites, etc.

I've been meaning to grab one of these maps for some time, and I wish I'd picked one up when it first came out. Highly recommended!

by Dan Stout

A techno-thriller for dinosaur nerds!

by Dan Stout


Tyrannosaur CanyonTyrannosaur Canyon by Douglas Preston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A techno-thriller for dinosaur nerds.

Although the cover art and blurbs present Tyrannosaur Canyon as a Jurassic Park knock-off, this book is about humans who chase fossils for both the brief glimpse into a lost world and the financial rewards which accompany it, all wrapped in the cloak of a fast-paced thriller.

Here's a bit of a disclaimer: I grew up wanting to be a paleontologist, and am predisposed to favor any story about this topic which is at least competently written. Douglas Preston's prose isn't brilliant, but it's certainly more than competent, and by the end I was glad that I'd picked this book up. If the story had revolved around stamps or antiques rather than tyrannosaurs and trilobites it would have still been a good airport read, but as it stands it was irresistible for me. (And frankly, the detail and affection with which Preston delves into the world of fossil hunting makes it obvious that he's more than a bit of a dinosaur nerd himself. That bit of passion from an author goes a long way toward giving life to any novel, regardless of topic or genre.)

Preston begins the mystery with the Apollo 17 moon landing, and he quite cleverly uses the actual dialogue from the mission transcripts to build the prologue for the story. From there we jump to the American Southwest in 2005, where a man is about to be killed as he returns from the site of a major find. By chance, a passerby hears the shot and tries to help the dying man. This good samaritan is Tom Broadbent, one of the main characters in an earlier Preston book (don't let this put you off-- I've never read that earlier book, and didn't feel that I was lost or walking into a sequel). Much as you'd expect, Tom and his wife are soon pulled into the crossfire as events spin out of control.

As in most thrillers, there are several villains, attacking our protagonists from several different vectors. As you'd expect, the villains with the most screen time are the most fleshed out, but I was disappointed to find that they were a bit of a mixed bag. While one heavy has outside interests and aspirations that round him out as a person, at least one had motivations which simply didn't ring true to my ear.

The science and weaponry details are there for geeks of multiple stripes; this is the kind of book that specifies what make and caliber of handgun is being waved under our hero's nose, while still finding time to ruminate on the different types of sediment thrown up by the impact which wiped out the dinosaurs.

Preston references paleontologists and bone hunters from the early days of museum expeditions to Bob Bakker, and mixes them effortlessly with car chases and kidnappings. (The desert wandering ex-CIA monk doesn't mix in so effortlessly, but hey-- they can't all be winners.)

Don't let the cover fool you-- it's no Jurassic Park clone, and Tyrannosaur Canyon is worth a read.

View all my reviews
by Dan Stout

Review: A Special Place, by Peter Straub

by Dan Stout


A Special Place: The Heart of a Dark MatterA Special Place: The Heart of a Dark Matter by Peter Straub
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

From the jacket:

"A rumination on the nature of evil, the story centers on a boy, Keith Hayward, who is drawn by his nature to an irresistible fascination with death and the taking of life. His father's brother, the good-looking suave Uncle Till - the infamous ladykiller, who has led a shadowy career as a local celebrity - recognizes his nephew's innermost nature and gleefully tutors him in the art of doing ill without getting caught. Even a cold-blooded sociopath must learn some lessons in survival, it seems and Uncle Till is only too happy to provide a tutorial..."

An extremely well written, truly horrific book, "A Special Place" is compelling enough (and short enough) to be read in one sitting, but the disturbing after-images will linger for much longer.

Though this book is filled with violence -- physical, sexual, and psychological -- the majority of it is implied, as Straub describes its aftermath and lets his readers fill in the gaps.

The story he delivers is something of the Anti-Dexter, as budding sociopath Keith is encouraged in his interests by his magnetic uncle Till. Keith is presented as thoroughly dislikeable and corrupted from the start, but there are moments of shocking sympathy as he loses his last tenuous connections to humanity. There may not be any world in which Keith Hayward could have been a GOOD man, but Straub still conveys a sense of loss as Keith becomes a monster.

As a piece of horror fiction this is masterful, but I would hesitate to recommend it to anyone who wasn't committed to taking a very dark ride.

by Dan Stout

New NinjaCamp Review

by Dan Stout


I just put up a review of Ted Lauterbach's suteF over on NinjaCamp.com. It's a short review, but I'll try to condense it as follows:

"This game is creepy. You should play it."

To read the full review, check it out here.

by Dan Stout