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.
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 11 - Jan 16, 2013
The Hunger Games
In the not-too-distant future, the known world is a new and terrifying place. The wealthy and poor have been divided into twelve districts, and the Capitol rules them all with a silk glove thinly veiling an iron fist. Every year, two children are chosen from each district to fight one another to the death, so the winner can be crowned champion of The Hunger Games; they win security and safety for themselves and their loved ones, food for their district, and maybe a chance at a better life. But the real winner is President Snow, who uses these games to show the world that HE controls their very fates, down to the last child...
I tried to resist. I did. I'm not about hopping on the Popular Book Bandwagon (I'm giving you the shifty side-eye, Heather) just because it's got a big purple sticker on the front:
Or because Oprah sang its praises:
But you know what? I actually LIKED the last Oprah book I read. And with that in mind, I finally decided to read The Hunger Games.
JESUS CHRIST this was a good book! Action, action everywhere! Shit happening all the goddamn time, and explosions, and PEW PEW PEW and spear hurling and death and starving and possibly WEREWOLVES! Shit, son. It just got real.
I hardly even had time to throw shade at our protagonist Katniss for her stupidity regarding the manlier sex (not that men are necessarily manlier in all instances) because there was so damn much going on. Hell, I could almost understand her confusion, because who the hell has time to think about boys when you're trying to shoot an arrow through another person's throat? And while Peeta, her pretend-but-maybe-for-real love interest, was kind of a wiener, it was pretty refreshing to have the chick save the day, so I'll let it pass.
I'd like to mention that the author also didn't talk down to her audience. I notice that shit. She did a fine job writing for a youth demographic without treating the lot of them like a bunch simpering, mouth-breathing, slack-jawed morons. In fact, I can honestly say that I'll make this series required reading for my kids. You know, that way they can acquire an interest in survival for when I leave them in the woods because they won't stop eating my gingerbread house. Or something to that effect.
So I read it. I enjoyed it. I groaned in anticipation when I finished the very last line. And now I'm going to read the next one.
Peace out, bitches!
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.
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.
Sep 24 - Oct 8, 2012
Iggy Parrish has had one hell of a year. His girlfriend has been murdered, the whole town hates him because of it, and he just might hate himself even more (no mean feat). But after a night of blackout drinking, Ig finds himself with a brand new problem - he's grown himself a set of honest-to-goodness horns. And that's just the beginning...
I can definitely say that while I had no idea what to expect from Joe Hill, I hoped for the best. I mean, my fingers were crossed and everything. Because while he's gotten some badass accolades and his book summaries looked pretty legit, Hill IS the son of my all-time favorite author, after all. That stroke of genetic luck could have worked for him ("I'll throw this manuscript into the Derry sewer system and feed you to the Langoliers if this turns out to be bullshit, son.") or horribly horribly against him ("Send this to print, or I'll feed your whole publishing house to the Langoliers! Now bring me my Ranch Dressing hose!")
(I have to assume that evil Stephen King acts like a Sultan as well as engages in smarmy bouts of nepotism.)
Luckily, what happened was a case of the former, as opposed to the latter.
Horns has got a great premise: totally original (especially considering half the horror books coming out are either zombie or vampire themed) but still manages to be simple and straightforward enough to be read easily. I like a fast read that I can pick up and put down at my leisure without losing the general thread of the book.
Ig was definitely the star of the show, seemingly straightforward but possessing the same character complications that plague us all. Hell, everyone in the damned book had their own little (or big) secrets. If Hill puts out a Lee Tourneau book, I'll be in there like swimwear; he's definitely worth getting to know better.
The writing was as good as I'd hoped (I'd hoped big) and I was delightfully surprised to see that Hill pays the same attention to detail that his dad does to his characters. Hill really draws some lifelike quips out of them.
The downside? After giving away the big secret about halfway through, we spent a big chunk of the book in the past leading up to the big reveal... which has already been revealed. And I was damn well ready to get to the action! Also, the ending was a little soft and sweet for me. Too dreamy and vague. Which can irk the shit out of me. But hell, I'll live.
July 30 - Aug 4, 2012 The Cabin in the Woods Tim Lebbon Horror/Movie Tie-In Published April 2012 297 pages 10/10 It's the classic horror movie set up - a group of sexy young adults take a trip to a spooky remote locale for some unsupervised debauchery. We all know what happens next. But in this case, what actually occurs is so far outside anyone's imagining, that NO ONE could have seen it coming... Can I just tell you? I was riveted. RIVETED. I started reading, was lulled into a false sense of detached skepticism ("THIS is supposed to be the horror experience to turn all the ones before it on their ears? This is just like any other horror setup! Mysterious plot lines, incredibly sexy but otherwise average Joes going somewhere totally inappropriate, casual sex... Oooh, sex.") But then I got hit by the runaway Weird Train at the What The Fuck Is Happening crossing in the center of Jesus Christ This Is Bizarreville. Not only was I enchanted, but I was also STOKED. I was weird! I want strange! I want different! I want this: "A unicorn gored a scientist against a well, its horn probing through his stomach and chest, grinding, tearing, and his spurting blood painted its gorgeous flowing mane red." I tell you, I don't see this in your average horror novel. Though I will say that I can definitely see similarities between this plot and The Midnight Meat Train by Clive Barker (read my review HERE)
and dashes of Bentley Little in the writing style - strange, dry humor, and viscous gore. If Barker and Little got together and made sweet sweet love at a fetish club in an abattoir during comedy hour, Tim Lebbon would be their freaky fuck trophy.
The writing was fast paced and kept similar time to a horror movie plot. Which makes sense, because the book is based on a horror movie. It was all laid out quite well, and I found it utterly delightful to find telling signs of the author's UK heritage. I can peg one of those Limey bastards from just a handful of pages.
Now, I can't really heap credit on the author for how unique this book is (seeing as how it's a movie novelization and all) but I can applaud him for taking what he was given and doing it a great service. It's not terrifically often that I find a book where the characters are likable and believable.
And you know who I loved most? Besides all the awesome monsters? Marty. That's right, the stoner. Are you surprised, though? I mean, the things that guy could do with a bong made me weak in the knees. And while he was definitely a stereotype, he was definitely given a treat treatment. Now THAT'S a fictional character I'd marry! Or screw. Whatever.
And finally, I just have to say that the ending was FANTASTIC. Seriously great.
Anyone who likes horror should read this, unless they've ruined it for themselves by watching the film first. To those people I say, Fuck you, cinephiles! Bibliophiles is where it's at!