Book Review: The Hemotophages by Stephen Kozeniewski

April 17, 2017 Book Reviews, Horror 2

Book Review: The Hemotophages by Stephen KozeniewskiThe Hematophages by Stephen Kozeniewski
Published by Sinister Grin Press on April 1st 2017
Genres: Horror & Ghost Stories
Pages: 326
Source: Purchase
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Doctoral student Paige Ambroziak is a “station bunny” – she’s never set foot off the deep space outpost where she grew up. But when she’s offered a small fortune to join a clandestine salvage mission, she jumps at the chance to leave the cutthroat world of academia behind.
Paige is convinced she’s been enlisted to find the legendary Manifest Destiny, a long-lost colonization vessel from an era before the corporations ruled Earth and its colonies. Whatever she’s looking for, though, rests in the blood-like seas of a planet-sized organism called a fleshworld.
Dangers abound for Paige and her shipmates. Flying outside charted space means competing corporations can shoot them on sight rather than respect their salvage rights. The area is also crawling with pirates like the ghoulish skin-wrappers, known for murdering anyone they can’t extort.
But the greatest threat to Paige’s mission is the nauseating alien parasites which infest the fleshworld. These lamprey-like monstrosities are used to swimming freely in an ocean of blood, and will happily spill a new one from the veins of the outsiders who have tainted their home. In just a few short, bone-chilling hours Paige learns that there are no limits to the depravity and violence of the grotesque nightmares known as…THE HEMATOPHAGES.


When I see a new book from Stephen Kozeniewski, I buy it. There are not many authors that I do that for. Mainly because my “to read list” is just way too long and I would constantly be reading authors that I already know instead of being introduced to amazing authors that are new. Stephen’s work, however, is always top notch, chew your nails off intense, bloody, horrific, and so fun to read!

With a name like The Hematophages, I knew this was going to get good. It starts innocently enough, introducing the reader to the main character Paige while she’s in an interview. I love this because it allows us to see exactly how she thinks. With what she’s going to face the reader has to believe that she’s smart enough to get out of the frying pan without putting herself into the fire. In this interview she is basically told that she cannot know what the job is without being a part of corporate espionage. Paige is smart enough to understand the concept that this job is so extraordinary that a normal layperson cannot know about it. It’s sort of like “if I tell you, I have to kill you”. Paige gets the picture and decides it’s worth the effort to find out.

“How you feeling, virgin?” I’m breathing into a paper bag, so I suspect the question is rhetorical.

I was worried that this being placed in space would throw me off but it was like reading The Event Horizon, scary as all get out. Plus, even scarier was the fact that, much like Event Horizon, although a completely different plot, they were going to salvage a ship that was lost in space 200 years ago. They had no idea what they were getting into or if a competing ship was going to try to blast them out of the sky once they were there. I was just telling my husband that I was sad that horror films and books today allow the reader to see what is happening. This is not the case here. Nobody has an idea of what is going on so of course the reading wouldn’t either.

So much happens at the beginning of the book. What bit of hesitation I had about this being in space was squelched almost immediately.  It doesn’t take long to see that Paige is intelligent and can fight back but she is not just a fighter she is also vindictive, assertive, and ambitious but people are looking to her for answers. She’s supposed to be the expert on a ship that hasn’t been seen in hundreds of years and she only found out about it the day before! Talk about pressure.

The other characters are just as interesting although I don’t remember reading why there were only females. Zanib was really interesting and I love her zeal for other lifeforms. She’s as excited for blood suckers as I get over butterflies. This gal is awesome!

But Stephen doesn’t just stop at crafting unique characters, his ideas would be great for this world. I could imagine some of this in our actual future, which makes the story even better. Maybe not the horror though. He has some horrific ideas as well, and that could stay in his head. Or in some strange Clive Barker universe.

This is action packed from start to finish. I felt like there was a reason for every word. From the interview to the drama and excitement surrounding the crew. It also seems like he put a lot of foreshadowing into the story. There also isn’t gore added in just to have gore. People die. This is a horror. But there are reasons for every drop of blood, especially considering we’re talking about blood drinkers.

She leaves chunks of her body and a long slug’s trail of blood behind her.

For hard core horror lovers this will be a walk in the park but with some elements of surprise that’ll leave you wanting more. There weren’t any parts that freaked me out, and I didn’t have nightmares, although I purposefully stayed up just to finish this. The story is fantastic with horror elements thrown in.

I feel like Stephen Kozeniewski must have had a lot of fun writing this. I certainly had fun reading it.

In short: Exciting, horrific, fantastic! A must read for fans of horror.

Also, the ending was awesome!


Rating Report
5 / 5
Character Development
5 / 5
Writing Style
5 / 5
Personal enjoyment
5 / 5
5 / 5
Overall: 5 / 5



About Stephen Kozeniewski

Stephen Kozeniewski lives with his wife and two cats in Pennsylvania, the birthplace of the modern zombie. He was born to the soothing strains of “Boogie With Stu” even though The Who are far superior to Zep, for reasons that he doesn’t even really want to get into right now.

During his time as a Field Artillery officer he served for three years in Oklahoma and one in Iraq, where, due to what he assumes was a clerical error, he was awarded the Bronze Star. The depiction of addiction in his fiction is strongly informed by the three years he spent working at a substance abuse clinic, an experience which also ensures that he employs strict moderation when enjoying the occasional highball of Old Crow.

He is also a classically trained linguist, which sounds much more impressive than saying his bachelor’s is in German.








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2 Responses to “Book Review: The Hemotophages by Stephen Kozeniewski”

    • Christina

      It was! So glad you enjoyed Braineater Jones. I think that one got me into urban reading. A bit more anyway since my hubby loves reading urban fantasy. If you want to dip your toe into horror, this would be a great place to start. Probably just don’t read before bed. 😀