Review: Caitlin Marceau and M. Regan – Read-Only: A Collection of Digital Horror

Review: Caitlin Marceau and M. Regan – Read-Only: A Collection of Digital Horror

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Genre: Horror / Collection
Publisher: Watchmojo
Publication Date: 1st June 2017
Pages: 182

 

REVIEWED BY NEV

 

A copy of Read-Only: A Collection of Digital Horror was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by one of the authors, Caitlin Marceau, in exchange for an honest review. This is said review.

Now, you may not have ever heard of Caitlin Marceau or M. Regan. That wouldn’t surprise me. But then again, I read a lot of stuff from a lot of people you have never heard of before. That’s why you like my reviews. Isn’t it? I have the slight upper hand in this one though. You see, I met Caitlin Marceau last year when we both attended the launch of another anthology, Shadows at the Door.

Now, nothing startling in that fact at all. It was in my home town of Newcastle Upon Tyne and I had been invited along by the Leo Sayer loving, Mark Cassell, who had a story in the book. Caitlin was there because she also had a story in the book.

The difference was that it was not Caitlin’s home town. Oh no. She had travelled all the way from Canada to attend the launch. There were two things you could take from this. Either she was totally mad with a huge bank balance and loads of free time, or, she was dedicated to the cause and full of enthusiasm for what she does. After I read her story in Shadows at the Door, I decided it was definitely option number two. Although she may still have a huge bank balance and I can testify that she is a little bit mad. M Regan is also featured in Shadows at the Door but I wasn’t lucky enough to meet her at the launch.

So, when Caitlin approached me to see if I would be interested in reviewing Read-Only, I was intrigued. When you check out the concept behind the collection, it was a definite no brainer. Horror stories about the technology we hold in our hands every single day? Yes please.

This is what I thought.

 

KINDA STUCK BY M. REGAN

Ellie starts a group chat with her friends to let them know that she is out in the woods and has got stuck. She asks for help and Veronica goes to her aid.

Then the guys get a message from Veronica…..

This, this is just superb! What a way to open a collection. Told to you as if you are actually reading the message thread, this is extremely effective in getting across one thing – fear.

As you read it, you get more and more concerned and more and more scared.

This is perfectly written to give you a sense of actually being involved in the conversation. Right to the very end!

General Rating:
☆☆☆☆☆

Horror Rating:
☆☆☆☆☆

 

TROLL BY M. REGAN

Violet is very troubled. She’s not sure if she is actually depressed or it’s just the side effects of her pills.

Dealing with a tragic event in school isn’t helping.

We all know what a troll is. We all know the effects that one can have on a person. What about when it is taken to extremes though?

This is such an intense story. Violet is not very stable at all. The feeling of pressure that she is under is immense. It’s so bad, you start feeling under pressure yourself.

This is a story that could go either way in my opinion. I think you will either love it or hate it. It horrified me. I loved it!

General Rating:
☆☆☆☆☆

Horror Rating:
☆☆☆☆☆

 

#NO FILTER BY CAITLIN MARCEAU

Ava loves herself. She loves her selfies even more. One thing she cannot stand though is the fact that her friend, Tracey, gets even more attention than she does.

She wishes there was an app to help her out.

This is a story that I couldn’t help but snigger at due to my hatred of those pouting girls that you see by the thousands posing for their selfies.

Then I couldn’t help but feel ashamed at myself for thinking like this when you see just how it affects Ava. I know this is a story but I genuinely felt for Ava as things just kept getting worse and worse for her.

Powerful writing to do that.

The ending was just as I expected it to be. Who am I kidding?!

#DidntSeeThatOneComing

General Rating:
☆☆☆☆☆

Horror Rating:
☆☆☆☆☆

 

HONEY BY M. REGAN

Mel is visiting her friend Vanessa. Vanessa’s daughter, Dana, doesn’t like the bees she keeps. She is scared of them. She has nothing to be scared of though. Vanessa researches everything very carefully on the internet.

This one is a slow burner. It really stinks of a quiet afternoon between two friends drinking honey drinks and chatting about life.

Until things start to subtly change. Just little details. Then comes the sting in the tail. What seems to be a lovely afternoon is going to turn very sour for someone.

Perfectly executed again.

General Rating:
☆☆☆☆☆

Horror Rating:
☆☆☆☆☆

 

THE CLOCK BY M REGAN

During a phone in on a programme called Paranormal Patrol, on a radio show, a lady tells the host, and his audience, about a broken clock on her apartment building.

It seems to have a history and time is running out for this lady.

M Regan is superb at narrative only stories. The end. She has a way of totally drawing you into a story like you were listening to the person telling it round a camp fire. You cannot look away or stop listening until it is over.

The level of fear just grows and grows until the end of the story when you feel totally helpless and totally lost.

Wonderful writing.

General Rating:
☆☆☆☆☆

Horror Rating:
☆☆☆☆☆

 

MOBIUS BY M REGAN

Anna and Blake are on a road trip. For Anna, it’s as monotonous as monotonous gets. She just can’t get over the boredom.

Is this really hell she is living in, or just her mind playing tricks.

This is the first story that confused me a little. I couldn’t really see the point of it until it got closer to the ending. Even when it ended, I was still scratching my head a little.

General Rating:
☆☆☆

Horror Rating:
☆☆☆

 

TRACK 001 BY CAITLIN MARCEAU

Noah is a musician. After taking a break, he is trying to get that all-important track to relaunch his career. The song he thinks might be the one has disastrous consequences though for anyone who listens to it.

A story of greed. Or is it. What would any of us do for that little break if we thought we could get away with it? Problem is, you must be 100% sure of what you are doing. The end result could be horrific.

The tension in this one builds and builds. You don’t initially know where it is going but when you figure it out you end up screaming at the book.

Extremely effective horror once again.

General Rating:
☆☆☆☆☆

Horror Rating:
☆☆☆☆☆

 

BACKWARDS BY M REGAN

A story about how backwards technology is in Japan.

This one is told to you, as if you are the star of the story. I have to say, I didn’t get this one at all. I just couldn’t understand what it was about so couldn’t follow what it was supposed to mean.

My least favourite so far.

General Rating:
☆☆.5

Horror Rating:
☆☆.5

 

AR FORUM BY M REGAN

Ghastyghoul is on a forum for AR users because one of the apps they have downloaded isn’t working right. They can’t delete it from their devices and when they take selfies, there appears to be ghosts in the images. Can anyone on the forum help?

I loved this. You know why? This is a person in need. They are seriously scared about something and lots of people on the forum accuse them of being a troll and take the piss out of them.

What does that say about our society today when people jump on the bandwagon and give people hassle when they are most in need?

On the other hand, who can you believe these days online?

This is a very thought-provoking story, for me anyway.

It shows that when someone is experiencing genuine fear, no one online really cares.

General Rating:
☆☆☆☆☆

Horror Rating:
☆☆☆☆☆

 

MEAT CUTE BY CAITLIN MARCEAU

Ethan is looking for the right one. He has joined a dating site and is nervous about his date for this evening. He hopes everything goes OK. He has what he needs in his jacket so it should be OK. He wonders if his date, Zoe, will be the one.

Internet dating. I’m glad I never tried it after reading this. It proves the old adage that you should never judge a book by its cover. Either your cover or someone else’s.

Brutal but tender at the same time. This story will not be what you were expecting at all.

I guarantee your jaw will hit the ground a couple of times.

General Rating:
☆☆☆☆☆

Horror Rating:
☆☆☆☆☆

 

CONTRACT BY M REGAN

Ever wondered what might happen to you if you go slightly over your contracted allowance? Read this and you will never take on a contract with anyone ever again.

This is genius. Pure genius.

I need say no more.

General Rating:
☆☆☆☆☆

Horror Rating:
☆☆☆☆☆

 

GENERATOR BY M REGAN

Peter and Tony are using random generators online to come up with character names for a story. They end up clicking on other generators that come up. One in particular is rather disturbing.

We all know them. The random links we come across that we just can’t stop clicking, then three hours later give up. We don’t believe any of them. Maybe we should.

This is the sort of story that really intrigues me because I often wonder if anything like this really exists. Why would it not? Who would be able to say one way or the other?

It scares the crap out of me!

General Rating:
☆☆☆☆

Horror Rating:
☆☆☆☆

 

LAG BY M REGAN

Bea and Reina are having a long-distance chat over the internet. When Reina’s internet starts to suffer from lag, things start to get really weird.

Another story about how technology going wrong can end up starting to be scary. You can never be sure whether it is just the technology, or if it is something sinister.

Not my favourite of this style in the book.

General Rating:
☆☆☆

Horror Rating:
☆☆☆

 

DON’T BREAK THE CHAIN BY CAITLIN MARCEAU

Faye is having a normal, mundane day at work. After checking her emails, she is surprised to find a chain email has slipped through the spam net. After trying to delete it without success, she forgets about it.

Until people start to pressure her.

This is a wonderful way to finish a collection. A longer, powerful story that is filled with the same tension and fear that the earlier stories had.

I don’t care who you are, if you get a chain email, you always have a look don’t you.

I guarantee you will after reading this one.

General Rating:
☆☆☆☆☆

Horror Rating:
☆☆☆☆☆

 

So, there you have it. My thoughts on Read-Only.

Fourteen stories in a collection and ten of those stories get full marks from me. I would say that is a pretty successful book.

If I was to highlight a negative, it would be that, towards the end, the stories started to feel a bit samey. I suppose when you are dealing with stories based on technology, that would happen, but I think if the collection had been any longer, it may have caused a problem.

I must say though that the writing in this is superb. Caitlin Marceau and M Regan have a similar style of writing but not identical. You can certainly tell who has written which story without seeing the name.

These two young ladies have a very bright future ahead of them. They can write in so many different styles and moods. Within this book you have narrative only stories that hold fear from beginning to end. You have slower paced stories full of emotion, but with that ever-present fear. You have stories of sheer horror that can be quite brutal at times. For the stories to be written by two relative newbies to the genre, they have very dark streaks running through their hearts.

If you want to pick up a collection of stories that are unique and refreshing, this is one for you. If you want to discover some new writing talent at the beginning of, what I consider to be, a very long writing journey, this is one for you. If technology scares you, don’t read this book. You will never pick up that smartphone again.

Even with a couple of weak stories, I can’t give less than full marks.

 

General Rating:
☆☆☆☆☆

Horror Rating:
☆☆☆☆☆

 

If you would like to help support Confessions of a Reviewer, then please consider using the links below to buy Read Only or any other books from Caitlin Marceau or M. Regan. This not only supports us but also lets us know how many people actually like to buy books after reading our reviews.

Thanks.

 

Book Synopsis:

Stop while you can.

Seriously.

We know you’re curious about this book, about the stories tucked away in its pages, but you need to turn back while you still have a chance. This collection can’t be unread, and once you learn the truth about what’s lurking behind your mobile screens, camera lenses, and newsfeeds, you can never forget.

Read-Only: A Collection of Digital Horror, the inaugural edition of WatchMojo Publishing’s Fiction Quarterly, features fourteen never before seen short stories that reveal the insidious side of your favourite high-tech toys.

We sincerely hope you enjoy the collection in front of you, but remember: read only at your own risk.

 

Caitlin Marceau is an author and professional editor living and working in Montreal. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing, is a member of the Horror Writers Association, and spends most of her time writing for an array of publications. She prefers to focus her time on publishing works of horror and experimental fiction, and if she’s not covered in ink or wading through stacks of paper then you can find her ranting about issues in pop culture or nerding out over a good book.

For more information, or just to say hi, you can reach her through infocaitlinmarceau@gmail.com

 

And for more about Caitlin, visit her site, or find her on social media:

 and 

 

 

M. Regan has been writing in various capacities for over a decade, with credits ranging from localization work to scholarly reviews, advice columns to short stories. Particularly fascinated by those fears and maladies personified by monsters, she enjoys composing dark fiction and studying supernatural creatures.

And for more about M. Regan, find her on social media:

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