Review of By the Fireside by John J.Barnes

Four stars

By the Fireside Cover


The ultimate horror can be found in man…in the making of his inner monster. An overwhelming infestation of crows reveal a small European town’s hidden secret back in the The Dark Ages…A magician must choose between the love of his life or his work, but his decision may have come too late…Religion based on a false God proves treacherous for a couple in the wake of a Satanic cult that involves the entire town…A brand new beauty product attracts more than just the opposite sex: it creates a new pandemic inside a corporate conspiracy…A retired judge receives an unexpected visit from those she’s condemned to death row. Now she must confront her own judgment day…A father becomes the owner of a strange doll he bought for his daughter. The curse it comes with will make the doll his forever… A monster learns what it means to be human through “muscle memory.” But what happens when the side-effect of a monster develops a conscience and soul? A house collector comes across a rare find, and it wants him just as much as he wants it. First they must get to know each other — inside and out…Twin brothers share a telepathic bond, but when one finds out the other is homicidal, he must choose between family and his morals in confronting the madness in his own blood…A pro-cyclist suffers a near-fatal accident and comes face-to-face with a hungry wolf. But that’s not all he will be confronted with in the clutches of death…An old urn holds much more than the ashes of the deceased. It comes with a curse passed on through generations…A man is marked for death by his own tattoo that comes to life in the form of The Grim Reaper. His living nightmares are about to become reality… Inside are a dozen nightmares, daydreams for insomniacs, that come to life and will stay with you long after the lights go out. So come, warm your bones By The Fireside. Let the warmth wash over your soul .

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By the Fireside is a collection of short horror stories. There are twelve stories in all, some of which I loved, while others I found to be less enjoyable; but I think there is something for every horror fan in this great Compendium.

I was particularly enthralled by The Dying Years. A story of a man, who is for the most part portrayed as an ordinary middle aged man, on a search for his missing wife; and what he finds is horrific. What I loved about this story was how a seemingly ordinary man can become a hero.

I also held a great fondness for Expressions of Grandeur, a story that will put terror in the hearts of those who use cosmetics. I will share a word of warning with this story…. DON’T read it before you go to bed! 

For me there was really only one story that I was disappointed with and I say disappointed because I loved the idea behind it. Melinda is the story of a doll that holds a demonic power, similar to voodoo, it really is both terrifying and riveting. However, throughout the story I came upon a few inconsistencies that kept me from enjoying the story as much as I wanted to.

If you’re a fan of horror then By The Fireside is definitely a book you need to read. It holds some fantastic hair raising moments that your nightmares won’t let you forget!

About the Author

John J. Barnes is an eight time published author in SNM Mag with two Stories of the Month and many other top placing stories. He is a native of Florida, currently traveling the world in the Air Force, but hopes to one day settle back into his roots. He enjoys running, rock music, and stories in all forms. His former publications include: Suspense Magazine, Horrorbound, Allegory, The Absent Willow Review as well as The Mothman Files Anthology. Stories in the Bonded By Blood III & IV print anthologies from SNM Novel Publications. He won The Editors’ Choice Award in 2012 from SNM Horror Mag and was named Author of the Year. This marks his debut novel.


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