Book review – for readers and writers – no.136: House of Justice by Vincent Bivona

31 Oct

Today’s book review of a horror short story is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey. If you’d like your book reviewed or to send me a book review of another author’s book, see book-reviews for the guidelines. I am booked up months in advance though. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

Being a writer and editor, I read and review books with both hats. If you’re a writer reading this review and found it useful, do let me know. If you would like help with your writing, do take a look at my online creative writing courses are currently half price.

House of Justice by Vincent Bivona

House of JusticeHalloween only comes around once a year, and the Justices do it right.

They turn their house into a museum of torture, sectioning off each room with a velvet rope.

The exhibits are so terrifying that the local amusement park asks them for their secret.

It’s quite simple, actually. And four lucky–or unlucky–fans get to find out what it is first hand.

Review (of the eBook using Mrs Kindle’s text-to-speech function)

The story starts pretty much with the synopsis as the opening. It is very compact piece, and while I do tend to prefer short stories to novels, it could have done with being longer because it squeezes a lot into a short space. I rarely complain of this but this time it felt rushed. Apart from the  comments below, it was very well written and this is another reason why I would’ve liked more. Perhaps I have been doing these reviews (or just reading books) for too long but I guessed the plot (the synopsis is pretty much it) and would have liked a surprise or two.

And now for writers…

  • I spotted some cliches: ‘baby blue eyes’ and ‘Chris’s eyes, which were nearly popping out of his head’. Although this is a horror story, I would recommend only using phrases like this if it were actually true. Ditto ‘her figure turned quite a few heads’.
  • There are very few reviews in which I don’t mention ‘began to’ or ‘started to’ where they can be chopped because the action actually happens. In this example a paste smelt horrible and stung the character’s nostrils. It is then followed by ‘then it started to burn’. It did actually burn so we do not need the ‘started to’. Ditto ‘the wheel starting to spin’, when it does actually spin.


Although I enjoyed it, the story would have lended itself to becoming a novel. Vincent has written novels (none of which I’ve read yet) so perhaps this is in the works…


Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey (“Morgen with an E”) is a freelance editor, online tutor, prolific blogger, 2015 Head Judge for the annual H.E. Bates Short Story Competition, Head Judge for the NLG Flash Fiction CompetitionRONE 2015 Judge, and teaches creative writing (and writing-related I.T.) for her local county council and online. She is also a freelance author of numerous ‘dark and light’ short stories, novels, articles, and very occasional dabbler of poetry. Like her, her blog,, is consumed by all things literary. She is also active on TwitterFacebook along with many others (listed on her blog’s Contact page) and has created five online writing groups. She also runs a free monthly 100-word writing competition where you can win her online creative writing courses!

Her debut novel is the chick lit eBook The Serial Dater’s Shopping List ($0.99 / £0.77) and she has nine others (mostly crime) in the works. She also has eight collections of short stories available (also $0.99 / £0.77 each) – detailed on

She also helps other authors with an inexpensive freelance editing and critiquing service (free 1,000-word sample), and welcomes, and actively helps to promote, guest authors on her blog – see opportunities.


If you would like to send me a book review, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

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Morgen Bailey Cover montage 2I now run online courses – details on Courses – and for anyone looking for an editor, do take a look at Editing and Critique.

If you would like to send me a book review of another author’s books or like your book reviewed (short stories, contemporary crime / women’s novels or writing guides), see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog. And I post writing exercises every weekday on four online writing groups.

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Posted by on October 31, 2015 in ebooks, review, short stories, writing


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