Mar 24 - Apr 29, 2013
The Gyre Mission: Journey to the *sshole of the World
In the frighteningly near future, man's excess and lack of respect for the planet have resulted in a massive garbage heap off the coast of California. Concerned at the gyre's swift growth, the government sends a crack team to investigate. Unfortunately, they lost contact and disappeared without a trace. So a not-so-shit-hot team is assembled (because you can't lose TOO MANY great employees in THIS economy) to unfold not only the mystery of the trash, but to find the missing team members from the previous unsuccessful foray. But what they discover is even more horrifying than an island made of garbage three times the size of Texas, and they have no way of knowing just how bad Garbage Island can get...
Adventure. Gore. Kinky sex. These are the things that give me the warm and tinglies. In the good way, I mean. Not the flies-that-lay-eggs-in-your-head kind of tinglies.
Although, because I'm sick, this also gives me the tinglies.
God, I'm a mess.
Anyways, when I got this book in the mail, I was pumped. Not only because the subject matter tickled me just so (again, not unlike those sweet little bot flies) but because the book was freakin' MASSIVE and I was totally in the mood (heh heh) for a good, long, epic adventure (double heh heh). And the thing is, a book has to be GOOD if it wants to be an epic epic, and not just a snooze-a-thon like the dictionary - though the dirty words were always good for some giggles in my younger years. And lucky for me, The Gyre Mission did not disappoint (yes, I'm giving you the shifty side-eye, dictionary).
Edgar Swamp has a rare talent for combining the best of both literary worlds: on the one hand he's got a crazy cast of over-the-top characters, sex, violence, and gore, and a redonkulous situation. Well, I'm hoping it's redonkulous. You never know, though, with these government types and their secrets and conspiracies and the assassinations GLAVEN. But basically, he's got all the hallmarks of classic pulp horror in place. However, Swamp also takes the time to introduce his characters, giving us a chance to get to know them and even *gasp* care about what might happen to them. At the very least, a chance to recognise them by name. Actually, the majority of the characters were introduced with their own chapters in the beginning, which was a mighty handy cheat sheet for someone like me who has difficulty recalling where I leave my keys every morning. The other thing Swamp does for us is attempt to offer an explanation for his zany situation, instead of "It's beyond our comprehension" or " 'The secret is...' and then he was carried off by mermen TO BE CONTINUED, LOSER" or "Aliens":
Did I mention his vocabulary is pleasantly surprising?
I loved the characters (and loved hating the assholes) couldn't get enough of the monsters, and the pacing was delightful - a slow rumbling that built up and just got more and more awesome until shit went totally cray-cray (in a good way-way). I was actually just telling one of my buddies about a particularly rad moment involving a massive carpenter ant/centipede/nightmare and its delightful accompanying birth scene. My friend was suitably impressed. And grossed out. I can't say enough how much I enjoyed this book, and the looks on my friends' faces when I read them bits of it.
Basically, Edgar Swamp isn't treating us like some stupid bimbo he doesn't care about satisfying that he plans to punp-and-dump out of a Bang Bros. bus on the side of a highway. No no NO. Instead, he wants to wine us and dine us, slip a little LSD in our drink, take us on a magical fantasy ride and make us quiver with excitement until the very Gods themselves stand up and applaud. Or at least Jenna Jameson. Old Jenna, though. Not new Jenna. She frightens me.
To put it more simply (and PG) The Gyre Mission has the style of pulp and the substance of fiction. I was most definitely pleased.
All those points alone would have made The Gyre Mission a 10/10. The reason I've given it a 9/10 is because there was a major ass-load of editing atrocities. Pretty much all of them involved the abuse of the apostrophe and the dash with the issue being the distinction between "its" and "it's", and not putting a space on either side of the dash when interjecting a thought into an already existing sentence, and instead making really strange compound words. Seriously, editing errors piss me off to no end and are ridiculously distracting to someone as neurotic as I am. I read with a pencil on hand at all times so I could circle them all; losing the pencil regularly and then hunting for it became a companion sport to keep me nimble in the face of all the perusing. So I'm just putting this out there: Edgar Swamp, if you're going to write another book as rad as The Gyre Mission, I will be happy to offer you my proof-reading services, free of charge. Because if I get my hands on another one of your books and I have to find that many errors again, it won't be pretty.
All in all, my neurosis aside, I had a blast reading this. Go get The Gyre Mission, guys. And then prepare yourself for some sleepless nights and an even greater desire to recycle.
PS: Did I mention his book is dedicated to a dog named Lily Swamp? So now not only is Edgar Swamp a dude with an extremely dirty mind filled with some disgusting ideas (my favorite - swoon!) but he likes animals, too. Double swoon.
Mar 4 - Mar 23, 2013
In the seemingly benign town of Chapel Harbor, an ancient evil broods - waiting for the right moment to initiate a destruction so complete that the entire town is in danger of obliteration, and the only ones who can stop it have no clue as to the parts they'll play in the final battle...
Infernal Machines was a really REALLY well-written book; there were numerous notable elements, and I couldn't help but greedily devour it every damn time I picked it up.
Unfortunately, my kobo was pulling a Lindsay:
(As in, it quit working and starting acting like an complete asshole) which meant that I was getting a whole half hour of perusing before I had to plug it in for a 12-hour charge. So it took me AGES to finish this book. It got to the point where I wasn't sure if I was more pissed off at my e-reader when it went moron on me, or more excited to read when it worked. I'd like to go with excited, because Infernal Machines was that badass. There were two things about this book that really caught my eye. The first was that the protagonists were youth (yet it most definitely wasn't a YA read) and it was still written in an intelligent, adult manner - no pandering here! And Millar certainly didn't shy away from adult situations, even though his characters were kids. Basically, he treated them like people, instead of like delicate flowers. It actually really reminded me of The Thief of Always by Clive Barker (which I love so much I'd write mash notes to it) because it also had a young person at the forefront, but didn't shy away from all the horrors of the world
by hiding behind childish writing and "safe" or "appropriate" situations. By treating the characters like halfway cognizant creatures, the author does us the same service. I totally dig it. The other thing that really grabbed me was the atmosphere. Christ on a bike, was I EVER creeped out. From the moment I picked it up to the moment I put it down, Infernal Machines gave me a terminal case of the heebie jeebies. Almost as if by magic (possibly Cardiff's brand) Millar would turn an everyday, normal situation:
Into the stuff that nightmares are made of. Magic tricks in a bar? Awful. A grad party? Tragic. How about a train ride? You might as well just kill yourself now, or at least gouge your damn eyes out. So for a horror junkie like me, this was absolutely delightful. You know, when I wasn't shivering in terror under my sheets like a frightened child with a boogeyman under the bed. Ugh. The characters were spot on and terrifically done. Really human (well, most of them were human...) and relatable. Hell, some were even lovable. Dammit, I cared. And to drive my previous point home, Stoner (and can I just mention how much I love the fact that there's a character named Stoner?!) Paulie, and Dee were teenagers, but they were also allowed to act like real goddamn people, not an approximation of what an author THINKS a teenager should be. A book with youth protagonists but written for intelligent adults. Brilliant, and as rare as celebrities covering their vaginas from 2006 - 2010 (God, those were some good times, though). And don't even get me started on the adults. The bad guy was so intriguing that
he was hardly detestable, and the good guys all had some skeleton or other in their closet. No one in real life is at the is at the opposite ends of the spectrum of good and evil; instead they fall somewhere in between. An author who can reflect that will inspire all kinds of complicated and intense feelings in their reader (not unlike puberty). And I can't help but love a book that gives me complicated and intense feelings. Not people, though. I can't just break their spines and hide them
under a bed when they agitate me. One of the many reasons I prefer books. Infernal Machines was so SO well done. And although I found myself confused at times, I'm chalking that up to my sporadic reading *cough shitty kobo cough* rather than attributing it to the writing. Bravo. Definitely worth a read. And a reread, no doubt. And all the subsequent night terrors.
Those too. Best of all, y'all now get a chance to enjoy those night terrors with me! Just click HERE for a chance to win your very own autographed copy of Infernal Machines, written by the ridiculously talented (and hunky!) Will Millar.
Feb 18 - Mar 3, 2013
Thomas M. Disch
Billy was just an ordinary boy, until he discovered a talisman that allowed him to control sickness and health on anything alive. Now, Billy has all the power he needs, and woe to those who cross him...
Uggghhhh. This book was so FRUSTRATING. It started off so well, too; great premise, decent writing, awful scenarios, the works. A kid with absolute power? Making everyone who give him guff pay? Oh, don't think they won't pay. Casual racism? A kite flying excursion gone terribly awry?! ABUSIVE NUNS?! All of those things were awesome! Except racism, obviously. But casual racism... well, reading about people who just shamelessly make remarks like that in a regular setting is incredibly novel to me. No one talks like that, outdated book! Are you going to talk about tram rides to the cinema for a Nickelodeon, too?
Anyways, all these things made for a really great buildup for the first half of the book and I was stoked to see where all this was leading...
And then it turned out to lead no-damn-where.
Basically, Billy grows up and the latter part of the book is set in the near future, where things are mildly future-y but not really. He turns out to be a boring, non-evil doctor who barely wields his awesome power stick, and about a billion more characters get introduced. Once that happened I wasn't particularly interested in picking The M.D. up, so I kept putting it down for longer and longer, so when I finally did get to reading it again, I was pretty much confused and frustrated and bored. I finally forced myself to finish it, which wasn't so terrible because as I said, the writing was good. Really good, actually. Disch definitely has a way with words, I just wish he'd use them in a scarier way. Less this:
And more this:
Feb 13 - Feb 17, 2013
Allan Mann had everything: good looks, physical prowess, a keen mind, and an adoring girlfriend. But a single stroke of fate has changes everything for Allan, and now all he has is Ella. Ella, his helper monkey. Ella, his companion. Ella, his friend. Ella, who he has developed a very special relationship with, one that no one understands...
See that? See what I did there? I made y'all think he was "spanking his monkey". In the vagina. With his penis. Don't worry, the back cover and front blurb on Monkey Shines made me think that, too. But I can assure you, no monkey/man Literotica occurred in the writing of this book.
Hey, don't look so disappointed (secretly, I was a little disappointed, too).
Now, don't think this book was all sunshine and rainbows. There was definitely some inappropriate stuff going on, but more along the lines of "blurring-the-distinction-between-man-and-animal" than "the-mysterious-unlabeled-VHS-collection-at-the-bottom-of-your-dad's-sock-drawer". Which is probably for the best, because Monkey Shines ended up coming across as rather intelligent and thoughtful. Hell, sometimes a little overly so, as I haven't had the luxury of attending a prestigious Ivy League school or have a degree in research science. There were definitely some bits that just went way over my head. In my defense, I'm only 5'3.
At times, I found the leap from overly bright beloved helper money to psychotic murderous monster a little unrealistic, but then I remembered I was reading about a killer Capuchin and had to admonish myself for being too lofty. I knew what I was getting into when I picked this up.
No, Monkey Shines wasn't actually half bad. It was an unusual premise (certainly) but unique. It was definitely intelligently written and treated maturely for the somewhat comical subject matter. I mean, no matter how seriously I tried to take it, I still spent a lot of time imagining Ross and his monkey, Marcel, from Friends.
Capuchins are way too cute to be scary. But this book managed to by mighty creepy all the same.
And as a bonus, check out the trailers for the 1988 movie (directed by George A. Romero!) based on this book:
Jan 27 - Feb 5, 2013
lost boy lost girl
The Underhill family is no stranger to tragedy, and for one young member of the clan, his story begins with a decades-old crime and culminates in murder... and maybe even redemption...
I hesitate to classify this as straight horror; while awful, scary, horrific, and supernatural events occur, lost boy lost girl also had the dreamy quality of fantasy. Unexplainable events were taking place, with no explanation (duh, I did just say unexplainable) or reason; they just happened on the faith that you'd accept it, and even some of the events themselves were left vague and ambiguous. Luckily, this book was one of those rare exceptions to the "I have no idea what I'm doing so I'll purposely try to confuse people in the hopes that they think THEY'RE stupid for not understanding when in actuality I'M the dill hole who has no idea what I'm banana"rule.
Here, it worked. I'll give Straub that.
Really, the writing was quite good, and I have not much to rumble about regarding technical skill. Mark (our young protagonist) was drawn exceedingly well, and was intriguing and easy to relate to, as well as lovable. All the ghostly counterparts were spooky as shit and definitely drew me in. No complaints character-wise. I will say that starting out I found the sentence structure to be overly wordy and busy - occasionally I was confused and irritated, not unlike a kid who doesn't get why I won't sell him weed even though I work at a head shop. Because obviously I would also do that as a side profession while at my current profession. Even though weed is still technically illegal. And I'm pretty sure the first place anyone would be busted for selling weed would be at a head shop. So obviously I should definitely be selling weed to strangers all day every day from behind the counter at my work place. *that was extreme sarcasm, if you didn't get that* But the more I read, the more familiar I became with the rhythm, and I settled in. Not unlike closing your eyes and thinking of England.
That's a euphemism for unpleasant sex, BTW.
No, my biggest issue with the book was that it took so damn long to get scary. I was halfway through the damn thing... Chapter 17, page 159 to be specific, before anything really exciting happened. If I was your average reader, I might have ditched this book long before that. But books like THIS are the reason why I DO read the whole damn thing, no exceptions. Because the second half was killer (pardon the pun). Really dark and twisted, but with just enough hope to keep you from losing faith in humanity.
High brow horror, for sure. Make sure you have an ascot and monocle when you read this puppy.
Jan 3 - Jan 5, '13
The Woods Are Dark
Originally published 1981 - This edition published July 2008
Deep in the woods in a back country town, a tribe of monstrous creatures dwell - all the more horrifying because these savages were once what they hunger for most: human. And woe to those that stumble into their trap, for they face a fate worse than death...
Oh delightful novel, how do I judge thee? Let me count the ways:
1) As a regular piece of literature?
2) As pulp horror?
Now, since I KNEW this was pulp horror when I picked it up, I didn't think it would be fair to hold it to my average standards. Because if I did that, then the fact that it was ridiculous and disgusting and awful would become a detriment. So pulp horror it is.
Laymon is a decent enough writer, and you can tell he's educated, book wise, by his character Landers, who spouts literature references left, right, and at the center of some pretty macabre situations. Sure, Laymon's style is a little WHAM, BAM, THANK YOU CANNIBAL with no lingering or dilly-dallying with purple prose, but that also makes for a real quick and dirty read. And THAT always makes me feel like a genius. "Oh, this? Yeah, picked it up yesterday, pretty much done. Guess I'm just into the arts like that." Pretentiousness at it's finest, but I feel like a boss nonetheless.
The story was one of those dime a dozen attacted-by-cannibals-in-the-woods-and-must-survive-the-murder-and-the-rapes-and-the-flesh-eating-and-the-GLAVIN kind of deals. Nothing too spectacular in this day and age... or even for this genre, or this author, even. But I bet it was a real humdinger back in the day, when nickels had bees on them and you wore an onion on your belt.
So yeah, probably stirred shit up back then with the subject matter, and the same goes for the gore. Nasty to be sure, but not Family Guy ipecac scene nasty.
No, the real treasure here was all in the characters. They were so over the top ridiculous that my sour disbelief in them quickly turned to awe as I watched them go from average Joes to people that murdered, raped, fell for their captors, and professed their dirty, shameful, unrequited lesbian love for their best friend that they only hung out with for a chance to see them naked coming out of the shower; all in the span of one day (or about 75 pages)! Literally, they got kidnapped in the evening, and by the next evening they were doing all that shit I just detailed. One day. A 24-hour time span. I think some people are just looking for an excuse... Seriously, it was so ridiculous
that I couldn't help but enjoy it. I can only hope that it takes the average person more than a day before they're rolling in the entrails of the woman they just raped and mutilated. I HOPE. So it was a decent read, made most enjoyable by the fact that it was totally ridiculous. The Woods Are Dark also contained an excerpt from "Beware" and I'll say that Laymon's writing has definitely matured and the premise is intriguing. Well played, publishers. Well played. Actually, since it's Leisure Horror Fiction, I can't really say that. Appearantly they ripped off a bunch of their authors and raped kittens while preforming hate crimes or something. They were pretty heinous at the very least. Check out this interview HERE for a pretty friendly view of what happened...And click HERE for a view of what happened from the awesomesauce Brian Keene, one of the authors Leisure dicked around.
Dec 7 - Dec 27, 2012
The People Next Door
The monster McMansion that went up next door to the Nash family residence has finally got some occupants, and they're unlike anyone they've ever known...
There's nothing worse than being interrupted in your reading - usually it's some irritating asshole who just won't give up on trying to get your attention ("No, I haven't seen Cats. Indeed, I have already heard about the Lord. Yes sweetheart, sometimes dogs are brown.")
However, for this book, I had the whole holiday season working against me. Copious amounts of work (hey, bong shops can be demanding, too!) social gatherings, and drinking. Good Lord, the drinking. Plus the after effect of drinking, the delightful creature known as The Hangover. All these things together made my reading life something akin to a scene from Pan's Labyrinth: Fucking Pointless. So since my reading was disjointed as fuck, I've only got so much material to work with. My shitty brain (mind like a sieve, I've got) is the reason I started keeping book reports in the first place, but I'll do my damndest to give you something.
The writing alone made it an excellent read; lots of dark atmospheric creepiness that began as a wee tickling here and there and then ramped up to a full blown tickle attack of horror. Which doesn't sound that threatening, but if you're ticklish like I am, you'll understand that heart-pounding terror I experience when a motherfucker comes at my feet.
The book started off with a bang, then lulled me into a false sense of security, thus disorienting the shit out of me. Stealthily, Ransom dropped in some weird bombs here and there, until I got to the point where I'd be mumbling "What the fuck is happening?!" at 3AM while hiding under the bed covers, jumping at all the mysterious creaks my apartment makes that always crop up when I'm reading an uber creepy book.
The characters were so realistic that it was easy to understand their reactions, no matter how outlandish. There was a particular scene where Mick and Amy (our upper-middle-class husband and wife protagonists) were having one of those life-shattering fights; while the things they said to each other were gut-wrenchingly deplorable, I could totally identify with both of them. Oh, the things you say to those you love in the heat of the moment.
The story itself was definitely original, as was the setup. But you know what irks me? The back blurb went on and on about this book having the best twist of the year and blah blah blah - that kind of ruins shit, dontcha think? Aren't twists supposed to be unexpected? If I was Ransom, I would have roundhouse kicked that shit right off the cover of my book so my readers could be surprised. Certainly the work is good enough that they didn't need to resort to that kind of gimmickry.
But all in all, Ransom has flair.
The good kind.
Nov 8 - Nov 21, 2012
Benjamin Kane Ethridge
Published Oct 30, 2012
A nameless woman awakes to find herself in an unfamiliar room with a body she doesn't recognize. She's starved and isolated, but for the molestation she suffers from her sadistic nurse, Maggie. Our protagonist must somehow escape her torturous existence and discover who she truly is... but does she really want to...?
Sometimes, you pick up a book and have no idea what you're about to get dummied with. You flip a page and start reading, and the next thing you know it's 1AM you're going on another night of no sleep because you HAVE to find out what's going to happen next. Dungeon Brain is one of those books.
It has such a weird premise, and the weirdness runs the entire story. It doesn't just peter out into an orgy of senseless sex and gore (not that I don't appreciate that, sometimes) or spiral into the abyss know as "Unrealistic Character Action Development". It starts off with a woman trapped in an institution with a head full of deviates and sickos. Her caregiver is a psychopath obsessed with haircuts and touching people in places their bathing suit covers.
Oh, and did I forget to mention a little something called ALIENS?!
Yeah. shit just got REAL.
And that's just the beginning. Literally, all that happens only about a third of the way through the book. After that, all kinds of crazy shit goes down, and at no time could I expect what might come out of the blue next. Not that the situations were so outlandish that nothing made sense (duh, aliens obviously have to exist) but it was more so that I'd never read anything similar, so I couldn't know where things were headed.
Another standout point of the book was our protagonist (whose identity I'll leave you to discover, rabid readers). She goes through a remarkable change of countenance; from drug-addled victimized wreck to... well, if I tried to describe what she becomes, it would seem crazy unless you actually read the book yourself. And that's where her beauty lies: her transformation is so organic and realistic that she comes across as a rare genuine heroine. She's not perfect; in fact she's decidedly flawed. She allows thing to happen that no other protagonist would (well, no other writer would, anyways) and yet maintains the reader's affection. Hell, is easier to love her, because she does things we would do, as opposed to your average hero. But with all that, she not written in such a way that she appears weak, and I really appreciate the author didn't turn her into some blubbering wiener or glorified sex toy (not that I don't like that either) because there are so few strong female characters that I like one every so often to make me feel more badass.
Seriously though, she's one of my favorite characters in forrrreeeeeever.
And can I mention that the writing was superb? Not one thing out of place, no editing issues (at least none glaring enough that I consciously thought about them) and some pretty beautiful sentences peppered here and there. It was terrifically readable, and just picked up more and more steam with every page I turned. Now THAT'S writing. I also appreciate the fact that the sci-fi stuff was very slowly introduced and I could enjoy it all without either being overwhelmed by techno gibberish or feeling completely incredulous of the situation. Ease me in, go gentle, and let me get used to it, said Kat only once in her life during one book review ever.
I wish I could get more into it and tell you all my favorite parts; however, I'd be giving too much away and would spoil some of the fun of the read. Lord know I want to punch a motherfucker in the teeth when they give away key plot point too early on. It just gives me something to be antsy about getting to. So I won't do that here. Instead, you can go out, get the book, read the shit out of it, and then we can chat about it. So, yeah... don'r you have a novel you should be purchasing?
Oct 31 - Nov 6, 2012
A Hunger Like No Other
Published April 2006
Lachlain MacRieve is a badass psycho werewolf. Emmaline Troy is a half-breed at best (cue the Cher):
And she's got an overly healthy dash of wuss. But when fate thrusts these two together, they must overcome it all to follow their hearts...
I fucking love this paranormal romance series. You hear that? FUCKING LOVE IT. These are words that I never though would come out of my mouth (or out of a pen, or onto a computer). This was right up there on the "Zero Probability of Ever Saying List", along with "No salt for me, I'm watching my cholesterol!" and "Family Guy? Can't we watch C-SPAN?" as well as "There's too many books in here and we need to burn them to make room for my bunny skinning station." I've had a pretty bad impression of romance novels of any kind, as a few of the first books I'd read in the genre were pretty predictable and bland. Bad luck for me because I'm also a big fan of sexy sex, and apparently I've been missing out.
Now, I won't say this was without flaws. I mean, it's still romance. There wasn't enough focus on the actual penetration and the sex was a little soft for me (said the chick who reads some pretty fucked up erotica thanks to the internetz). I can live with that. This is aimed at suburban upper-crusty housewives who actually have enough time to read:
As opposed to the internetz, which is aimed at emotionally disturbed 17-year-old boys:
And I was surprised by how little doggy style there was, considering the protagonist is a goddamn werewolf.
I will also fully admit that I took issue with the stunning lack of communication between Lachlain and Emmaline that drove the majority of this plot (as it seems to in most romance novels, paranormal or otherwise). But again, to be fair, miscommunication is a common occurrence in the lives of the general populace. "Do I tell her she's my mate?" "Should I let him know about my horrific visions?" "Should I tell him I have herpes even if I'm not having an outbreak?" (Seriously, the last situation is one I read in a zombie anthology... though zombies probably don't worry about herpes so that character ended up being in the clear). This illogical ritual of keeping the people you care for in the dark out of some strange desire to protect them or yourself makes for a convenient but irritating as fuck plot device. Hell, maybe it's just that us readers can see that what the characters are doing isn't going to end well, just like movie watchers who yell at the chick for going into the spooky attic after midnight to have sex with her boyfriend after a naked swim.
But I can forgive all that, because this is some of the bast damn fluff EVER.
Sexy monsters and werewolves and vampires, sexy battles between these sexy creatures, sexy sex... A Hunger Like No Other was a stimulating book in more ways than one. Trying to read this at work was the most deliciously awkward nightmare you could possibly imagine. If you ever come into my shop and I yell, "Hello!" into your face at max volume and I look like I've just run a 5 minute mile, it's because I've been reading stuff like this at work.
Liking our female protagonist Emmaline is easy as fuck. Who wouldn't love a character that starts out shy and insecure (just like most of us) and just gets stronger and more badass as the story progresses? Lachlain, our manly male protagonist is even easier (to love, that is): he's ridiculously tall dark and handsome (and also buff) as well as a sex crazed king with unlimited wealth. I kind of imagine him as looking like Gerard Butler:
But with less clothes.
It was written pretty well enough; the author has a fertile imagination and she's got this massive Lore Universe that has unlimited potential for storylines. And I love books that have recurring characters but don't necessarily have to be read in order. That way I pretty much know what's going on but I don't have to read them one after the other in one massive orgy of the same damn shit. You know what I mean, right? If you're going to have an orgy, you want variety, not just vanilla after vanilla after vanilla, if you catch my drift. And the author throws in tons of culture references, and while I normally hate that (it dates the book so quickly) here it works. Look, ma! I can identify with this!
I really enjoyed the read (a few times even!) and I'm stoked to try out the next one in the series. Consider me stimulated.
Oct 9 - Oct 29, 2012
Fear: A Modern Anthology Of Horror And Terror - Volume One
A horror anthology comprised of indie authors (yay!) with all proceeds benefiting Barnardo's and Medecines sans Frontieres (or Doctors Without Boarders, for us English speaking types). Hoe do you not love this book already?
Of Events At Lowkirk Cemetery by Michael Cail - A deceased gentleman's personal effects are not the only thing troubling his friend...
A nice classy (and classic!) Gothic horror story to start things off right. Beautifully written, and a bit racier (and by that I mean bloodier) than your average Gothic tale, it was a good traditional beginning to this anthology.
Dead Ding Donger by Wayne Via - Woodrow Harper has got something sinister in mind for the young folk who prank him on Halloween...
Very simple and somewhat outlandish. Besides the adult language, it totally reminded me of something I would have read as a preteen. Like R.L. Stine for... ahem... "mature" (read: fucked up) kids.
Old Mabel's Stray Cat by Cameron Trost - Old Mabel's cat is far more dangerous than she could ever imagine...
This story actually make me mutter, "Ugh, creepy!" out loud; I literally could not contain myself. To be fair, I talk to myself more often than most people, but still. I thought I knew where it was going, but was completely shocked by where it ended up. I was genuinely disturbed by this read and I'm sure I'll have nightmares because of it. I'll say it again: Ugh, creepy. And I'll throw in a shudder for good measure. Definitely a favorite.
Last Call by E. L. Norry - A bitter man makes the worst of a bad situation...
So well written (except for "whilst" being used twice so close together) that I was totally cheesed when it ended so abruptly! Definitely read like a first chapter as opposed to a short story.
Don't Break The Glass by Jennifer Martin - A zombie outbreak is no place for a family...
Wasn't so sure about this one to begin with. The protagonist was a little juvenile starting out, but once I got past that the story ended up being great! I would love to see this as a full-length novel. Just lose the phrase "WTF", please. Only Valley girls talk like that, and while Clueless was UH-MAZ-ING, it shouldn't be done anymore.
What Goes Around by Carmen Jenner - Keeping the woman you love captive in a basement can have far greater ramifications than one could ever imagine...
GREAT story. Went in a totally unexpected direction and turned out so SO well. I had a hard time figuring out who I liked and who I felt sorry for - the protagonist or the antagonist. Which means we had some complicated, realistic, and well done characters. Did I mention there was also gore? I'd love to see this turned into a novel. Well done.
Breaker One Nine by Connor Rice - Being an ice trucker can be mighty dangerous, and not just for the most obvious reasons...
Another favorite. So creepy and surreal as well as unique - I'm a big fan of new monsters. As opposed to being a huge metal fan:
Which I actually am, by the way. My only complaint? Editing mistakes a-plenty. Enough so that the ending (while being totally epic and awesome) was fucked up because of a misplaced word that distracted me from the final shebang. Turn it into a full length read and hire an editor. I'd buy it. Little Darlings by Ginger Nielsen - Maybe the creepy old woman across the street really IS all the fearful things you think about her... Definitely had a promising start; creepy and intriguing. But I felt like it transitioned really abruptly and unrealistically. It almost felt like reading two different stories. Two stories is fine. Two SEPARATE stories. Not two stories mashed together like awkward teens in an arranged marriage.
And what about Wickers?! What's his deal?! Salvation Sign by Brad Cobb - Opal Hodges is a good God-fearing woman, but the feelings she's been having lately are less than charitable... I had trouble with this one. Basically, the old woman feels weird. Page after page of how weird she feels. It definitely gets repetitive after a while (especially for someone who feels weird all the time anyways). Then the ending just kind of blasted me in the face, coming way out of left field (I bet there's a sex euphemism for something like that... A Houdini, I think?) and while it was interesting for sure, it was also pretty vague. Either it was too subtle for me, or someone spiked the old bat's communal wine with LSD:
Church Farm House by Patrick O'Neill - Living in the home of a notorious killer can have grave consequences... I liked this one. Well written and creepy (especially one certain scene... nasty in every sense of the word). And hell, there was even a surprise! You have to be pretty good to surprise the likes of me when I'm reading horror, so good show. Harvest Home by Linton Robinson - There's no safety at the homestead in THIS community... A delightful little short. Loved how descriptive the author was; well detailed and realistic. And as a bonus, it was just gross enough to make me smile. A really weird and wonderful take on the traditional zombie tale. I'd love to see this as a longer book. The Book by Lyn McConchie - Fable and legend have to start somewhere... At first glance, this appeared to be a fairy tale. But quickly it revealed itself to be the old dark kind, not the fluffy Disney kind. Enough blood and murder in this one to stand with the best of them. So far the most different of the lot in this anthology in style and subject - a beautiful prodigious interlude. Well done. Synesthesia by E. E. King - If we knew all the wonders the world had to offer, it could drive a person mad... Bizarre. Totally freakin' bizarre. but delightful in a gruesome sort of way. Well written and thought provoking. And another character who may very well have been high on LSD. Hell, at least he tried to go with it... Would love to read this as a novella or even a novel. Another favorite. Octavia by Chantal Boudreau - A phobia can be a powerful mental disorder, but the cure can be much MUCH worse... This had a great opener. Straight up grabbed me from the word go. Very traditional in writing style, and was straightforward and easy to understand - just the way I like my reading. It definitely reminded me of Dread by Clive Barker, but in a good way. The Wild Huntsman by Skander Lafif - Venturing into the woods at night can have disturbing consequences... Now THIS reads like a traditional ghost story. I could expect to find this in one of those spooky as books I loved so much as a kid. But with more sophisticated writing. Tho Storm by Sara Fowles - This apocalypse begins with tiny animals and lots of itching... Skillfully done. A fantastic tense buildup and purple prose that wasn't too damn purple (almost always an issue for me). Kind of finished by winding into Christ-knows-what, but still definitely good. A Cloud Over The Sun by A. A. Garrison - Wishes don't always turn out like one would hope... Wonderful, original, creepy and upsetting. All the good things a horror story should be. A great read. Dave And The Raven by Duncan Jones - There's something more sinister than shoddy service at your local retailer... Hilarious and bizarre; loved the combo horror and humor. So rarely done this well because it takes such immense skill. Though it was missing a really goddamn important writing element (no paragraph breaks whatsoever) I still really enjoyed this. If All Else Perished by Kiona Smith-Strickland - Running a zombie recovery service can be a mighty tough gig... Very professionally done. Realistic characters and reactions not usually seen in the protagonists of zombie stories. Unique and thoroughly enjoyable. A Quiet Corner Of Town by Angel Propps - It takes more work than you think to keep up a trailer park... Interesting. Neat concept. Occasionally over complex sentences, and mildly confusing, but I liked it because of the characters and the alternate realities presented. Which are always damn confusing, now that I think about it. Seamless by Shirley Golden - The perfect woman is, by no means, quite perfect... Whoa. Neat. One of those rare stories that start out confusing as hell and resolve themselves so effortlessly. The writing was ace, the story was weird, and reading it was fun. I really liked this. Possibly because I imagine having one of these little creations for myself.... for research purposes, you understand. Luther by Jay Wilburn - Rehabilitation with the monks isn't quite what we'd think it is... While the writing was good and the characters and concept were interesting, I definitely didn't get what was going on. Not enough explanation for me. But I've never been good with subtle. Granma's House by Tara Fox Hall - Who'd have thought staying in the house your granma died in would be spooky... I thought the monsters/ghosts were particularly disturbing in this one. Nightmare worthy to be sure. And while I would have liked more of an explanation, it was a good ghostly read. The Glass Eye by J. L. Petty - This ventriloquist and dummy have a mighty strange relationship... Because I've been reading horror forever, I pretty much had the idea where this was heading as soon as I got into it. And while the antagonists were better done than most ventriloquist/dummy horror stories, the protagonist had a pretty weird adjective ("almond hair" just makes me think of weird hippie cookies). Plus, the author was using semi-colons incorrectly: "I checked my watch again; which read 4:15 am. I put my hand in my pocket and clutched a silver revolver; with a tight grip. Afraid of whom I'd meet; I quietly concealed the gun in my pocket... I turned towards my car; with hopes of going home."Which was the most disturbing part of the story, really. This is why editors are so damn important. Stuff like that is REALLY distracting. Disturbance Of The Natural Pecking Order by Brandon Swarrow - When children go missing, parents will go along with just about anything to get them back... Extremely sinister and definitely creeped me out; possibly because it pretty realistically depicted how people can get into really fucked up situations (though I'm hoping this particular situation is none too common).
Would make an excellent full length novel. Hurbane Wulf by Raymond John Clarke - Lost love is a terrifying prospect... So there was definitely some lacking punctuation and punctuation where it wasn't supposed to be in this one (I had to lean that 'it's' and 'its' are two different things with two different meanings, and so should other people). But aside from that nasty bit, this was a lovely traditional horror story that, surprisingly, didn't have any werewolves. Alarming by Gregory A. Carter - This car is far more alarming than most (see what I did there?)... There were some missing words in this one, which always confuses and irritates the shit out of me. Luckily, the story was damn good and original, so I was appeased. I thought the idea was very Stephen King-esque (mega compliment in my books) and I liked how the author played the protagonist's relationship; that is, nonchalantly. Awesomely horrific and just the right amount of bizarre. Red by Rick Allden - There are worse things than your child disappearing... like your child coming back... Gripping as hell. Really enjoyed this story and the way it was written. I was totally creeped out by the description of the characters (definitely a good thing). Another Ghostly Figure by Chris Morton - A stroll though a haunted village might not be the best way to spend Halloween... A nice classical English horror story... with a subtly disturbing twist. Well written and nicely done with lots of creeping horror and a shy hint of weird. House For Rent by Phil Richardson - A cheap price on a place to live is never a good sign... Eerie. Reminded me of something I'd read as a kid (if authors and publishing houses didn't think kids were total wieners that can't handle a little murder). The protagonist is definitely worth getting to know better and I think the author could make a novel out of this one that would be worth buying. Last Dance by Peter Lingard - Being lost in the woods can be a frightening experience... A well done little horror story that didn't end up being a horror story at all... at least in the traditional sense. The protagonist was realistic and and situation was well done; it was definitely a nice way to end the book. Altogether, Fear: Volume One was a better than usual anthology. While occasionally the need for an editor cropped up and I usually prefer my reads longer, these facts were more than made for for by the variety and profusion of stories. No matter what you like, you'll find something here to suit your fancy, and it's definitely worth picking up.