Fall Leaves and the Black Dragon

Rated 4.45/5 based on 11 reviews
Liam’s formative years were far from normal. When he was six, there was a huge fire that involved his childhood friend. This horrific past won’t leave him alone. Literally.

Demons want him dead.

Voices beckon to him in the night.

To try and end this nightmare life, this dark coming of age journey reveals a truth more horrifying than the huge fire Liam lived through as a child. More

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Words: 74,760
Language: English
ISBN: 9781458022639
About Erik Gustafson

I am the director of Fantasy at Visionary Press Collaborative.

I spent 20 years serving in the United States Air Force, and have had the fortune to live all over the world, including Iceland, Germany, and in a tent for a year in Saudi Arabia.

Always an artist at heart, I produced many paintings during my adventures. After my service, I settled down with my family (wife, two great daughters, 2 cats and a little white fluff dog) in small town Iowa, where I love to volunteer at the antique carousel. Now, I help people with intellectual disabilities to reach their potential and teach psychology classes at a local college.

I switched from a paint brush to a pen and am now a horror writer, by night.

I am working on my forth novel. I have been published in The Horror Zine, Horrified Press, Sirens Call Publications, Pleasant Storm Entertainment, Crypto and Co., Death Throes Webzine, and several other horror anthologies.

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Reviews

Review by: Connie Dash on Jan. 30, 2013 :
I could not put this book down!!

I truly enjoyed this novel to the point that I stayed up most of the night to finish it! Seamless transitions between scenes, great point of view writing kept the book focused and moving at a good pace and left me unable to find a good point to put the book down, so I just kept reading!

The trama of a young boy (Willy) manifests into nightmares that continue thru his childhood. As the terrors of the night start to pool over into daytime during waking hours, Willy hides his terrors from everyone. Until he confesses to his best friend.

As Willy grows thru childhood, him and Kenny look for explanations to the terrors.... fires, dragons, ghosts... and little plastic army men. Answers will be found, if they can keep the courage to look for them.

I was not disappointed with the imagination of the author. If you like Steven King or Dean Koontz... you will enjoy this novel too.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Collette Scott on Dec. 03, 2011 :
In the vein of Stephen King’s Stand by Me, Erik Gustafson tells a coming of age tale that is sure to tug on your heart strings as it's sending a chill down your spine. When little Willy was six-years-old, he was caught in a fire with his friend and neighbor while playing with matches. That was the first time he had a vision. From that moment on, Willy’s life was never the same. As he grows, he is tortured by visions both during the day and at night. He has nowhere to turn and no one to help him understand. He does have support, though, in his best friend Kenny. Oh, what a loyal friend he was! Together, the two boys decide to try to put an end to the haunting once and for all. They take a road trip that ends with such a dramatic climax that you are sure to be stunned, frightened, and a bit on edge.

A beautiful tale, one that made me pity poor Willy, especially when he tried to explain to his parents. There was just the right amount of suspense to turn the pages, enough tension to keep you on the edge of your seat, and just enough creepiness in there that you will never look at toy soldiers the same way again. Definitely a worthwhile read!
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Mark Lewis on Nov. 06, 2011 :
I do believe that Eric Gustafson outdid himself with this book.

It kept me in rapt, on the edge of my seat attention.

There are only three main characters, Liam/Billy/Willy, Kenny, and Rich. Granted, Rich is dead, but he's still a major character.

You never know weather any of this is real, or psychological. Whatever it is, is awesome.

I HIGHLY recommend this book.

P.S. You may not want to play with Little Green Soldiers anymore either.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Linda Rae Blair on Nov. 03, 2011 :
I enjoyed this journey with Willy. The story is well constructed and certainly keeps the reader glued to the spot. Willy suffers the world's worst day and nightmares and is forced by his own unwillingness to discuss them and the embarrassment they cause him to stifle his problem. It is sad to think that a child had no where safe to turn--until Kenny! When Kenny comes into the story, the friendship between these two misfits is heartwarming and solid.

However there are one or two things that took some of my personal enjoyment out of it. There were quite a few editing issues that should have been caught (many small words missing, usually articles or adverbs that stilted the reading for me). It was also comma-starved. But these issues tend to catch my attention more than the average reader and definitely should NOT keep one from enjoying this story.

It has its gripping moments, it's humorous moments, periods of frustration with the lack of understand from Willy's parents. Don't want to create a spoiler, so I'll just say that the ending was a surprise to me. The author tied up all the loose ends.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Grace Guerra on Nov. 02, 2011 :
Follow Willy on his journey to overcome a childhood tragedy; a tragedy that has left him traumatized and haunted. Haunted, not only by his memories of the event, but also by a black dragon that might not be all in his imagination. Watch as he grows up but can't shake the hauntings or the screwed up memories. As a young man fresh out of high school, now Liam to his friends and family, he needs to find answers to that terrible night.

The author does a masterful job of getting the reader to flow with the story; the reader becomes one with the characters. He doesn't drown the reader with too many characters or places; each piece to the puzzle is memorable. He adds just enough twists to the road to keep the reader hooked till the end.

Mr. Gustafson, has a way with throwing a good scare your way, leaving you with an increased heart rate and a "what the" on your lips. On my list of recommended reads. Overall, this book rocked.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Nicole Storey on Sep. 30, 2011 :
This book totally took me by surprise! When I first started reading it, I assumed that it was about a tragedy that a young man survives as a 6-year-old child and his struggle to remember it, and yet, also forget it. I didn’t expect the story to take the turn that it did!

The main character, William (or “Liam” as he is known as later on) survives a terrible accident when he is a child. I must say that in that first chapter, Gustafson captures that innocence of being a child. He describes “Little Willy’s” imagination and the games and toys he likes to play with perfectly. It brought back many memories of my own childhood. As he grows older, Liam begins to have horrific nightmares about the circumstances surrounding the accident and it almost drives him mad. He begins to have visions and one assumes that all of his problems as a teenager are the product of his imagination; a tragic side-effect of not being able to really get over what happened that dark October day. I suffered right along with him in this story. I could only speculate on the horror that something like this could cause a young child, but Gustafson pulled me in by using beautifully crafted words to help me understand exactly what Liam was feeling. I felt like I was right there beside him. I felt his pain of not having a normal life like other teens did and wanting so badly to help him!

Liam does have one best friend that sticks by him throughout his nightmare-life and that is Kenny. As a last resort to try and help his best friend, Kenny agrees to go with Liam back to where the whole thing started; back to the place where Liam’s life began to fall apart; Iowa. And ladies and gentlemen, it is then that the story takes a complete 180-degree turn and the reader is left breathless. There was one part that I read that left me in goosebumps and I had to fight the urge to look under my bed that night before going to sleep!

I’m not one for giving away spoilers, so I really have to watch what I type here! The twist that the story takes and all of the mind-blowing revelations are so excellently executed that it’s hard for me to maintain my usual degree of savvy-reviewer! LOL! Just trust me on this; you need to get this story; download it on your e-reader TODAY! You won’t be disappointed. I give 5-stars to Erik Gustafson on this book and I can’t wait to read more of his work!
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Jackie Williams on Sep. 02, 2011 :
I really enjoyed this book. It's horror, mystery and suspense, with a twist in the tale. All the ingredients that make a great story. Top marks to the great imagination of this author! Erik Gustafson.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: David Green on Aug. 05, 2011 :
Update on my review below :

Erik Gustafson has informed me that it looks like i got one of the older versions of this book that had not had a proper read through before publication.

So like i mentioned in my review below once the errors have been corrected ( which hopefully they will have been in the new draft) i would give this a 4 star rating as the story is enjoyable.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: David Green on Aug. 05, 2011 :
This is a very good paranormal themed story about a young man haunted by an event in his past and decides to confront his terrors.

The story is told from the view point of "Willy" or Liam (as he later calls himself) and the characters involved are easy to get involved with and get attached to.
Something is happening to Liam and his best friend, Kenny ( who goes on the journey with him) all the way through, which makes the reader want to carry on reading and the final relevation finishes the story well.

Although there are ghosts, fiery dragons and general creepiness happening regularly throughout the story it does not grab you and have you hiding behind the sofa so even those who are a bit squeemish about this type of story will enjoy it.

It's a nice change for an author to tie all the ends up and actually finish a story instead of leaving the reader wondering "yeah but !!! "

However ;
The first 30% or so of the story is pretty much written well but after this it's as if the author suddenly loses his ability to write or only bothered to get the first 30% of the book proof read before publishing.
The mistakes after the first 30% are glaring at you off the page with either whole missing words or words the wrong way around in a sentence as well as numerous general typo errors.
This makes the book difficult to read and it's only the power of the story that got me through to the end.
If the author could get this book properly beta read or proof read it would be much better received by the reader.

However i still believe that this is an enjoyable story so it's definately worth a look at.

I have only marked as three stars due to the amount of errors.
Once these are corrected then i would give this 4 stars.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Jo on May 27, 2011 :
Very nice twists! It was easy to bond with the characters
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: C.C. Cole on April 13, 2011 :
Mr. Gustafson creates an interesting story of a horrific event through a child's eyes that follow him into young adulthood as a recurring paranormal experience. As the main character Liam matures, he seeks resolution by traveling back to the place of tragedy he witnessed many years prior. The story gives a superb illustration of how the past stays with us all and how imagination often has a source stemming from disturbing real-life issues that plaque society. Well done!!
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

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