Monday, 29 February 2016

REVIEW: David Bernstein - A Mixed Bag of Blood

Genre: Horror / Short Story
Publisher: Sinister Grin Press
Publication Date: 1st March 2016
Pages: 130


A copy of A Mixed Bag of Blood, by David Bernstein, was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the publishers, Sinister Grin Press, in exchange for an honest review. This is said review.

Wow, another ARC from Sinister Grin. These boys are going to busy this year. I’m glad to hear it because if the ones I have read from them so far this year are anything to go by, I’m going to enjoy this year!

I have read a couple of things from David Bernstein before. There was the collaborative work, Jackpot. Review for that here. Then I read two books from him in quick succession last year, Skinner, review here and Goblins, review here. This is my first experience of his shorter writing though. I have enjoyed his novels so far but how does he fare with short stuff?

Time to find out!


Brad is in pieces. His wife and daughter have been killed and the man who did it has just walked free from court. A technicality setting him free. When Brad turns to drink, dreaming of revenge, help comes to him from an unlikely source.

This is the type of story you would see on The Twilight Zone. A man looking for revenge for the death of his family using unconventional means to get the revenge.

I liked this because it got straight to the point. It’s the sort of story that could be well padded out for a novella or novel but told in its rawest short form, it is very effective.

★★★★ for general.

★★★★ for horror.


Carl has a big blind date set up for tonight with Beth. He can’t wait. If only he could get rid of that annoying booger up his nose. He has tried everything but it just won’t shift.

OK this is quite possibly one of the strangest stories I have ever read. I am not going to tell you anything about it because you need to follow it for yourself.

Needless to say I have never read a horror story about a booger before but you know what? It was very effective. It was actually very scary at times. I think it was the unmentioned that did it though. My mind wandered to dangerous places. This has to have been done tongue in cheek but then you never know do you.

Again well written and intriguing to say the least.

★★★★★ for general.

★★★★★ for horror.


Remington is a vampire. In a world ravaged by zombies it is getting harder and harder for him to find food. Human food. A distant voice draws him towards a house and possible food.

Things in this world are not always what they seem though. Everyone is looking for food.

This one had so much more possibility to it than I felt it gave. This one definitely could have done with being padded out more to give a bit more suspense and horror.

Not my favourite so far.

★★★ for general.

★★ for horror.


Sally and Georgia are sisters. Very close sisters. They go everywhere together and do everything together. Something has got to give though. Sally is becoming dishonest and Georgia is becoming pissed off.

Another strange one. I am slowly starting to realise that Mr Bernstein’s short stories are nothing like his novels. These little ditties are a bit weirder than his normal stuff.

I’m just trying to figure out if I like this weird.

★★★ for general.

★★ for horror.


An invasion is coming, from planets far away from the earth. A cunning plan to take over the earth in the shape of the humble cockroach is afoot.

For the plan to work, they need to take over a human body and make it their queen. That’s where evil Timmy comes in.

This is what I’m talking about. An alien race trying to take over the world in the form of bugs. Old skool sci fi / horror.

Mr Bernstein does it particularly well to. Slowish build up to a sickening, and brutal scene of domination by the alien race. I loved this one. It was right up my street. It is written in such a way that it will scare the pants off you and make you feel sick at the same time. This would scare the bejesus outta me if it was real life!

★★★★★ for general.

★★★★★ for horror.


Kenji has been summoned by his master. The master is on his deathbed and needs Kenji to confront his brother Makito about his delving into the world of the dark arts. He may be too late.

I liked the concept of this story. It had a really good atmospheric feel to it and the idea of using Samurai in it certainly gave it an air of mystery with the added zombies.

Again though, for me, it needed to be at least novella length to do it justice.

★★★ for general.

★★★ for horror.


Hank picks up prostitutes all the time. Not for the normal reason men pick them up though. He has another use for them. A use that has been going on for decades. A use that is essential to protect his family and his town.

This is more like it. This is horror short story writing. It builds suspense and terror culminating in the ultimate horror.

Unknown beasts and an ancient tradition that have always been.

Sometimes they need to be left well alone.

★★★★★ for general.

★★★★★ for horror.


Dilinger and Virginia are husband and wife. Virginia bought a new knife at a yard sale a few days ago. Something isn’t right with it. Particularly when it speaks to them to try and get them to kill each other.

Another one that is a little bit out there. The concept is a bit comical to be honest and I get the feeling that Mr Bernstein intentionally wrote this one with his tongue in his cheek.

A little bit unbelievable but funny at the same time.

★★★ for general.

★★ for horror.


Marla is forever telling her son Peter to watch his use of bad language. She decides enough is enough and it is time to get the old spell book out to teach her son a lesson.

Hmmm. Can’t really talk about this one without giving stuff away but I hope your gag reflex is good. You are going to need it with this one.

Not sure of this was supposed to be horror or not. Apart from certainly being a bit dark it didn’t really scare.

★★★ for general.

★★ for horror.


Brian has just had a night of passion with Jackie. When he goes to relieve himself, something isn’t right with his manhood. Has Jackie given him something he didn’t want?

Eh…..this is gross. Just gross. Do not read while eating. I did. I threw up.

Yeah this one is rather horrific. Probably one of every man’s nightmares to be honest. And then some.

An interesting take on something taking over a man’s body.

★★★★ for general.

★★★ for horror.

So there it is. My take on A Mixed Bag of Blood. A mixed bag it certainly is. I’m not so sure about this one. I’m not totally sold on the short stories from Mr Bernstein. There is no denying he has a fantastic imagination and comes up with some really interesting concepts for stories. They just felt a little bit rushed to me. Almost like he had this fantastic idea which could have been a full novel but then had to be squeezed into a short.

This will in no way stop me from reading anything Mr Bernstein produces in the future because the novels I had read have been fantastic.

To summarise: a very varied range of short stories that will scare you, gross you out but most importantly, keep you entertained. Not all for me but they may be all for you.

I rate collections based on scores for all of the stories divided by the average.

General rating:

★★★.8 for general.

Horror rating:

★★★.4 for horror.

If you would like to help support Confessions of a Reviewer then please consider using the links below to buy A Mixed Bag of Blood or any other books from David. This not only supports me but also lets me know how many people actually like to buy books after reading my reviews.


Book Synopsis:

From a man seeking vengeance for a dead loved one, to a monster lodged in a person’s nose, to starving vampires and samurai battling zombies, a bully meeting his gruesome demise, along with prostitutes being sacrificed, a boy who refuses to stop swearing and the consequences of one man’s night of unprotected sex comes a dark and disturbing collection of sinister tales filled with dread, bloodshed, humor and the bizarre.

I am a dark fiction writer, a horror writer. I write the gamut, from atmospheric horror to extreme gory horror to dark fiction and dark thriller, oh, and the occasional bizarro tale.

Gory: The Unhinged, Damaged Souls, Witch Island, Apartment 7C, Amongst the Dead

Extreme horror: The Unhinged (you were warned)

Horror with a twist: The Tree Man, Apartment 7C

Zombie fiction: Machines of the Dead trilogy. Amongst the Dead.

Darkfuse horror: Relic of Death, Surrogate, Skinner (coming July 2015)

Dark thriller/supernatural/ action: Tears of No Return, Toxic Behemoth

Monster horror: Toxic Behemoth (Deep Sea/Kaiju book)

Bizarro/Gross out/funny horror: Fecal Terror

And for more about David, visit his site or find him on social media:

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