BOOK REVIEW ICICLES: CHILLING POEMS & PHOTOS by William P. Robertson is a collection of poems published between 1980 and 2002, poems that capture the graphic side of existence and leave goosebumps on one's skin, and he does this with forensic clarity and stunning imagery. From the first page, the poet says: "I write horror poetry not to glorify evil but to expose it!" and what follows is something that immerses the reader deep into the darkest part of the human soul. There is a chill that rubs off on the reader, a rhythm that measures with the reader's heartbeat, and a lyricism that sings in the reader's ears. Here is one of the stanzas in "What Do You Do?" that captures the workings of a psychotic mind: What do you do when it starts to take over/And robs you of reason the few times you're sober?/How do you fight this congenital disease/That comes from the roots of two warped family trees? This stanza is just an illustration of what the reader will find in this rare collection. Exciting, moving, and sometimes unsettling images are sprinkled throughout the book. This collection showcases the author's gift for diction, words, and an evocative style of writing that combines rhythm with wit to offer a satisfying reading experience for poetry fans. At times, it will feel like one is navigating the mind of a serial killer. Sometimes the reader will meet with graphic images that remind them of the vulnerability of life; at times the pictures convey the idea. William P. Robertson's ICICLES: CHILLING POEMS & PHOTOS is deftly composed, and there is a steady confidence felt in the lines. Although these poems are classified as horror poems, readers will find the wit and the insights very appealing. This author knows how to make readers feel the reality they dread. It's a lofty thing of rare beauty.” - Romuald Dzemo

Readers' Favorite

  TERROR TIME REVIEW   Like the two preceding volumes, Lurking in Pennsylvania and Dark Haunted Day, Terror Time is a mixture of stories, poems and photographs by William P. Robertson. Robertson is probably best known for his verse, which is a combination of Poesque creepiness and modern rock lyrics. His black & white photographs of graveyards and old buildings is a nice compliment to his written work. Lastly, Robertson is known for his fine historical 7-book series for younger readers, written with David Rimer, The Bucktail Recruits. Terror Time is a good cross-section of all these aspects of Robertson's writing. What it is not is a collection of modern hnorror writing, so the title may be ill-chosen. The book opens with a few poems then "The Return of Lauren Watson," Robertson's most apt story to go with the title of the book. Writing in something of a Stephen King mode, he tells the second story of Lauren Watson, crazed telekinetic. This is a sequel to a story in Dark Haunted Day. Plenty creepy, it worked best for me before the elements of killer telekinesis show up. Lauren Watson is one nasty piece of work. The Car Wreck" is more typical Robertson, a writer who loves traditional horror models such as campfire stories and creepy local legends. "Ralph Crossmire Hates My Face" and "The Long Way Home" are also in this mode with plenty of local history thrown in to make them especially Pennsylvanian in flavor. "The Long Way Home" is particularly interesting as a piece of autobiography. Robertson doesn't have far to look for the life of a house painter. The locale of "The Long Way Home" could serve as a tour guide of the author's home and surrounding area. All these stories belong in a book called Terror Time. Less so, are my two favorites in the book: "Dangerous Shadows" and "The Gold Heist," both historical fiction stories involving characters from The Bucktail Recruits. You don't have to know the books to enjoy them but for fans of the series, it's a treat. "Dangerous Shadows" takes place after the series when Jimmy Jewett returns home from university where he's been studying law. Three villains from his younger days terrorize him and his family. "The Gold Heist" is more of a Western (is that possible in Pennsylvania?) as the heroes are Boone Crossmire and Bucky Culp, now lawmen looking for Bart Brewer (also one of the baddies from the first story) and his stolen bags of gold. Neither story is horror but both have suspense and action. Robertson shows his fine touch for detail with lines like "This rain's gonna be a frog strangler! Terror Time ends with another surprise. "Evil Love" is a fantasy with strong horror elements. Andrew the Hardy is a Viking under a powerful spell, that of Queen Shera of Innes. After slaying a gigantic boar, Andrew goes to claim his prize only to realize the true horror of being Shera's husband. This story verges on the Sword & Sorcery genre, and I think Robertson would do well in that mode of fantasy. Terror Time is a slim book at only 104 pages, but Robertson packs each page with entertainment punch, whether it is a poem, a photo or a story. I'm happy to add it to my collection of WPR books.” - G. W. Thomas

— DARK WORLDS (Spring 2009)

      REVIEWERS WERE SMITTEN WITH TERROR TIME  I read this book on Halloween, and it was the perfect read for the day! William Robertson has taken a collection of his poetry and short stories and offers readers a book that is both thought-provoking and scary. A couple of the stories are written using characters from his previously published books, but they stand on their own as great stories, too. Several of the poems, while written simply, are haunting and will stay with the reader for some time. Robertson has a real talent for taking everyday thoughts and events and adding a frightening twist. I would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite story. I pretty much recommend them all. You won't be disappointed!                                             --Lauri Coates  Terror Time is a book that is a mixture of horror, suspense, and "I can't believe it!" moments that are tales of which nightmares are made. But one word of caution. These stories are said to be fiction, but the author has portrayed his characters so well, they could be living in your town, your neighborhood, or two doors down. These terrifying stories remain in the reader's mind long after the book has been finished and returned to its shelf.                                                                                                               --Susan Pettrone”


      HOMEGROWN HORROR FOR HALLOWEEN   What is it about Halloween and ghost stories that turn us all into kids? Just looking at the covers of local author William Robertson's two spooky story collections makes me want to grin like a jack o' lantern and cackle like a witch. Lurking in Pennsylvania features a cover photo of two fawns in a patch of trees--a photo that was probably high in the "awwww..." factor (as in, "awww, aren't they sweet?") before the addition of a demonic glow in the eyes of the Bambi twins. (This is probably a much more accurate portrayal, many gardeners will be happy to let you know.) Robertson's newest collection, Dark Haunted Day, displays another familiar northern Pennsylvania scene, that of a weathered farmhouse surrounded by stark trees. This cover is in black and white, as are the rest of the photos scattered throughout the book to accompany various stories. Not that it would matter much if the photos were in color, because for many months of the year, and at serveral times of the day, this is the way our landscape looks. In both his introduction and with the tone of his stories, this McKean County author speaks to the way the atmosphere affects those of us who call this area home, The author remarks that although this climate causes bouts of depression in some people, for him it has inspired the creative spark that allows him to present us with stories, poems, and pictures that bring that childlike pleasure in scaring ourselves. Indeed, as I read through the offerings of these two books, I connected most with the stories about kids. The very first one I read was "Rescue at the Devil's Den," which combines Robertson's two greatest strengths--his knowledge about the Pennsylvania Civil War unit known as the Bucktails, and his writing for children. Bill Robertson marches with the local reenactment unit of the Bucktails, and has penned seven wonderful books on the subject. With co-author David Rimer, Robertson writes about the experiences the young men of northern Pennsylvania had while fighting with the Bucktails. Obviously, Robertson draws on these writings and adds a supernatural twist in creating some of his horror stories. The Boy Scout who is stranded up in Devil's Den on a tour of the Gettysburg Battlefield makes out far better in his encounter with the spirit of a soldier than does the photographer who hasn't been paying child support in the appropriately titled, "Bad Things Happen to Bad Men. Another thrill came from hearing Rob Kathcart give an animated reading of "Mrs. Babcock's ABC's" to a young audience who shrieked in delight as second-grader Perry finds out the truth about his "evil" teacher and principal. And children as well as adults should enjoy the fact that in many stories, ghosts get their revenge on people who deserve it--hunters who needlessly and brutally kill over their legal limit of deer; a home repairman taking advantage of an old widow; the editor of a magazine who enjoys sending rejection letters. Although occasionally Robertson's dialogue or style is a little dated, these two books on the whole offer countless nuggets of enjoyment. I encourage Gazette readers who are looking to share a thrill: support a local author, turn off the lights, and read aloud by firelight what's Lurking in Pennsylvania on any given Dark Haunted Day.  ” - Kasey Cox


      HERE'S WHAT REVIEWERS, EDITORS & FANS ARE SAYING ABOUT GASP!   JIM LEE of SCAVENGER'S NEWSLETTER: "Robertson's tape is an uproarious, standalone success. CATHY BURBURUZ of MIDNIGHT SELECTIONS: "Every single poem conjures eerie images. The poet's voice is a joy to listen to. T. M. GRAY:  "There aren't enough superlatives in the English language to express how awesome Gasp! is. G. W. THOMAS of E-GENRE:  "Gasp! is a treasure for any horror fan's collection.”
      LURKING IN PENNSYLVANIA REVIEW   Ask people to name cities in Pennsylvania and almost everybody can name Philadelphia, most can tell you Pittsburgh, but beyond that, a lot of people start drawing blanks. What people seem to forget is there are a lot of old cities and towns here, and with old places comes legends and ghosts. William P. Robertson, the author of the collection Lurking in Pennsylvania, lives in one of these smaller cities, Bradford, PA, in Northwest Pennsylvania, and has collected some local legends, invented others and written some rather unusual poems. The author claims that among his early influences were the works of Poe and Lovecraft. This is obvious in some of his stories as well as some twists worthy of O. Henry. At the very least, all the works here may be classified as offbeat, some are really spooky and some are everyday slices of rural life. . .if you live on the edge of reality. Fetters and Chains" is a twisted gothic heavy tale of hormones gone awry. "The Brown-Streaked Sidewalk" and "The Revenge of Old Man Mooney" had me howling with laughter, while "When the Hunter Becomes the Hunted" had me howling at the moon. "Graduation Day" could easily have been a Twilight Zone episode. The poems scattered through the book were chosen to accompany the stories they appear near for a reason. All echo the theme of what comes before or follows. I look forward to reading more works from this author. If you're a fan of offbeat spooky stories, check out this collection. If you are more into slice 'n' dice blood 'n' guts horror, this collection will disappoint you.” - PghDragonMan

      INTRODUCTION   Poetry contains a strange paradox. Poems which frighten or chill the blood are rare and yet no other medium is so well equipped to deliver the icy stab of terror. And if words are daggers then William P. Robertson is an accomplished knifeman, a Spring-heel Jack of poets, though not the first. The popularization of scary verse begins with Edgar Allan Poe and "The Raven" though Poe was not the first to pen such poems either. Byron's Child Harolde, Browning's "My Last Duchess," and Coleridge's "Christabel" are all earlier examples of the English Romantics who borrowed from the Germans, the true originators of all things Gothic, writers like Burger, Goethe, and Hoffman. The beauty of the Morbid is also a strange component of Metaphysical poets like John Dunne. All this aside, it is still that "American hack" Poe, that established the horror genre as a legitimate playground for poets, with disciples like Baudelaire, Rimbaud and H. P. Lovecraft. (I won't make any bad puns about "Poe"-try at this time.) To draw blood, to invoke a chill breeze, to call up charnal house images with a scant few words. Those are the things William P. Robertson does in this book. And he does it in so many ways. Some of his best poems are his shortest, like the soft whisper of the dead, caught on a graveyard wind, while in others he has his tongue firmly planted in his cheek as he conjures up the blackest comedies with all the good humor of a lynching. But most of all, Robertson has the poet's power to wield words, his blood-red scalpel. To make you see something you don't want to, to view a banal object like a tree as an object of horror while a crypt will appear merely beautiful. This is Poe's legacy. "What can be more romantic than a dead woman?" the New Englander once quipped. I don't think Bill can claim to have lived as hard a life as Poe (and who would want to?) being a pleasant family man from Pennsylvania, but our modern world offers up its terrors equivalent to anything Poe experienced: gang violence, serial killers, drug addicts, and Robertson looks at these monsters with an unflinching eye. He is a poet of our age, not a throw-back, a mere pasticher, a hanger-on of some past era as was H. P. Lovecraft. Robertson speaks of the here and now and finds terror, beauty, humor and life. And we should thank him very much for that.” - G. W. Thomas


      ROBERTSON RELEASES HORROR STORY COLLECTION   The Dead of Winter captures the essence of Robertson's writing style. His typical story is fast-paced, employs realistic imagery and ends with a twist. Just enough description is given to convey a vivid message to readers, but not enough to lose their interest. Dark humor creeps in from time to time.” - Fran De Lancey


    THE DEAD OF WINTER REVIEW   There is nothing like a good story to capture a reader's interest and imagination.  A well-written story, whether it is horror, suspense, adventure, or drama, should contain the elements that honor the genre for which it has been written.  A prime example of a book that pays homage to the horror genre is The Dead of Winter-The Best Chilling Tales by author William P. Robertson. Robertson is no stranger to the literary world as he has written hundreds of short stories, poems, and articles and several books.  Being no stranger myself this genre, I found myself enamored with this book.  The Dead of Winter is exceedingly well-written and contains a thrilling collection of short stories that both enthrall and entertain.  Within its pages are some of the better creative and fear-inducing tales that I have read.  The detailed stories capture your interest and draw you into the scare-mbued world of the author.  Reading William P. Robertson brings to mind remembrances of other great horror writers; his writing style is unique yet resonates with the spine tingling details that great seasoned horror writers offer.  Creating an environment of fear, these stories do please and are sure to keep you reading as your senses are assailed by the realistic scenes. While all the stories are great, there are several in particular that I found extra enjoyable.  They are "Estranged," "Mary and Emmett," "Bad Things Happen to Bad Men," and "The Price of a Pint."  I personally look forward to reading more by this author.  I highly recommend this book to those with the desire to curl up with a good book, with lots of lights on, during the Dead of Winter.” - Lisa Brown-Gilbert

    THE DEAD OF WINTER REVIEW   Short stories are special in that they accomplish a great deal in a short period of time. The reader is introduced to the characters and the story subject early on. The right choice of adjectives, nouns, verbs, and adverbs is imperative in order to craft a readable tale. The well-written stories included in DEAD OF WINTER The Best Chilling Tales of William P. Robertson are perfect examples of this. Each tale is unique, and they deal with a variety of elements which include shock, adventure, horror, and gore. The stories are filled with messages and symbolism which include revenge, kindness, justice, and evil. In "Fetters and Chains" we meet Jason. "Jason came from a very unloving family." His parents hated each other and as a result he decided marriage was not for him. Because he grows into an attractive young man, he is often pursued by girls. He enters into relationships whereby he uses the girls and then discards them. Suddenly, Hester appears. He is dazzled by her, so asks her to the prom. What transpires when he comes to her home to pick her up is both shocking and satisfying. "Estranged" is a story of love gone wrong which continues to spiral into a tragedy. Charlie's estranged wife, Lauren, unexpectedly comes back into his life and terrorizes him and his unsuspecting mother. The author deftly describes Lauren's evil intentions which lead to shattering results. "The Great Stag" is a memorable tale. Blackie Grimes is a hunter who is searching for the extra doe he is entitled to legally. But, Mr. Grimes' greed causes him to shoot not only a doe but her two yearlings, as well. His murderous acts do not go unnoticed, and the hunter becomes the hunted. He learns that there are consequences and that revenge can come from unlikely sources. Mr. Robertson's tales include triumph and tragedy as well as humor. The characters are skillfully developed, and each story draws the reader into their world. The author is a gifted storyteller. In my opinion, the mark of a good story is that it is remembered by the reader. I will remember these tales. I recommend reading this collection of tales. I received this book free of charge through Review the Book. I give this review of my own free will.” - Evie Harris