A reclusive couple's power goes out and they are forced to use their scarce survivalist supplies to live off the grid.
Sometimes I can be too damn liteA reclusive couple's power goes out and they are forced to use their scarce survivalist supplies to live off the grid.
Sometimes I can be too damn literal for my own good -- and resistant to anything mind-bendy, trippy, weird, or otherwise Weird. That one sentence plot summary above (not to mention the snappy title and awesome cover art) had me salivating to get my hands on this Grindhouse novella. I love any kind of a survival story, especially if you throw in off the grid and possibly end of the world elements.
Survival makes strange bedfellows of us all. It brings out the best (and worst) in us. It makes allies of enemies and makes us kill (and sometimes possibly eat) our allies. For dramatic purposes, survivalstories are the sweetsweetsiren song in my wheelhouse.
This story? Well, it's kind of false advertising in a way. It *is* a story about a couple losing their power, and it is *sort of* about a couple trying to live "off the grid" but it is in no way a literal interpretation of these things. This is not a survival story.
If anything, it is much more a dark, grotesque psychological exploration of paranoia and our often tenuous relationship with reality and our construction of it. Any other time, and *that* could have been in my wheelhouse too, it's just I was expecting (due to my own penchant for literalness) a grabby, clawing "oh my god the water's turned off and our cupboards are bare" survival story and what I got was an unsettling, weird, examination of one couple's descent into Hell? madness? bad hygiene? a horrible toxic marriage? a fifth dimension?
Normally, I love it in the shadowy, shaky corners of The Twilight Zone, it just didn't work for me here. Effective, evocative writing though!!! Kudos for that. And some fairly, squishy, glucky, squirmy scenes for those who appreciate things of an effluvium nature. ...more
I wasn't super hopping crazy for Beukes's The Shining Girls, but with Broken Monsters this woman has now got my full attention. I'm here to tell you t I wasn't super hopping crazy for Beukes's The Shining Girls, but with Broken Monsters this woman has now got my full attention. I'm here to tell you the lady's got mad skills.
It helped a lot I think that I picked this book up at the exact right time. I was ready. I was primed if you will. That kind of timing doesn't always work out. But I'd just come off my binge listening, over analyzing obsession with Sarah Koenig's Serial podcast where I lost countless hours pondering motives, cell phone logs, cell tower pings and an anti-Glee cast of Baltimore teens. I was in an arm-chair detective frame of mind. I was already down in the rabbit hole before the first page was turned. The exact right place to be for where Beukes was going to take me.
And where was that exactly? Broken Monsters is unique and surreal and dark and weird, but there's some lingering familiarity of remembrances past that give the story texture and resonance. And what the hell do I mean by that?
Well, think of the gritty procedural elements to be found in True Detective, Seven or Silence of the Lambs. That's a start. There's a substantive case here and a seasoned kick-ass woman detective chasing down clues and following a trail that's twisted (and broken!) and could run cold at any moment. There's pacing and reveals. Tension and release.
Then there's the atmosphere, mood and vivid -- vivid! -- descriptions of crime scenes, urban decay, and violence that bleed across the page -- an artistic fusion of destruction with creation -- visual feasts in the mind's eye both terrible and beautiful.
The following images may be offensive to some so I shall hide them behind a spoiler tag. However, fans of True Detective and NBC's Hannibal should click (because you know you want to).
I mention these two television shows not just for the obvious authentic procedural similarities found in Broken Monsters, but for each show's masterful artistic vision and gobsmacking cinematography. Whatever inky black well these kinds of hellish tableaux originate from, Beukes has a bucket of her own and is drinking her fill to bursting.
Something else she's mastered with Broken Monsters is a rich cast of characters whose stories intertwine and crash together then rip apart again. She is a maestro here -- a mad puppet master -- creating a symphony of action and reaction. I surely do not want to be Job when this woman is God.
With so many characters running around you really have to sit up and pay attention as a reader. Beukes is not slacking so we can't either. It's easy to get a bit lost and confused in the early stages getting to know everyone and their back stories. It wasn't a smooth transition for me -- I had to go back and re-read a few sections just to orient myself before I read on. But that's okay. With that kind of investment comes huge reward.
I can't say I was completely satisfied with the crashing cacophony that was the book's climax. In some ways it was effing brilliant -- in others it was a hot mess (get on board the Lindsey Lohan/Charlie Sheen train to hell!!!!) Still, as Charlie would say: WINNING!
I agree Charlie. This is definitely a check mark in the win column for Lauren Beukes. I'll be coming back for more.
(Sorry, but nobody puts Charlie in a corner under a spoiler tag. Deal with it people) ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Welcome to Area X. Ecologically pristine. Cut off from civilization. Hostile to humans. What lurks there? Does it have a name? Will you live to tell a Welcome to Area X. Ecologically pristine. Cut off from civilization. Hostile to humans. What lurks there? Does it have a name? Will you live to tell about what you've seen? Who will believe you?
If one can be said to "do" weird, then I don't think I do it very well. Annihilation -- the first book in the Southern Reach Trilogy -- is Weird with a capital 'W' with its roots in H.P. Lovecraft and Algernon Blackwood. It has a post-modern mindfuck vibe as well reminiscent of House of Leaves.
That is to say, there were parts of this book that worked really well for me (especially the first half). I felt the epic creep and that twisting, squirming sense of dread of what I couldn't see, of what was lurking right in the corner of my eye. But as with most Weird fiction I've tried, there was a lot of "huh?" and a growing sense of impatience that acts like a maddening itch I can't scratch.
Ever sit on a sneeze that just won't happen for more than 15 minutes? Yeah, kinda like that. Or put another way, lots of really great, thoughtful foreplay that does not deliver on that big finish (I'm a fan of the big finish. The journey is nice and all but I need to know there is a final destination and that there will be fireworks when I get there, that this all means something. I hate ambiguity. It is not my friend).
This book is also well-written. If you are a fan of the word-smithing and an author who is in complete control of creating mood and atmosphere then this is something you might want to check out. There are scenes that practically pulse with claustrophobia and paranoia. The dread is definitely present and some of the reveals are quite shocking and satisfying. I just needed more. What should have been leading towards a crashing climax and a crescendo of realizations simply just....peters out with a whimper, instead of delivering on the bang. Did I mention how much I love the bang?
For you Weird aficionados out there and fans of the unreliable narrator (I'm primarily looking at you mark monday) you might want to give this a second look. ...more
I don't know what went wrong with this book. I liked it. It was okay, but I expected so much more after reading such blurbs as:
The number one horror
I don't know what went wrong with this book. I liked it. It was okay, but I expected so much more after reading such blurbs as:
The number one horror novel of all time!--The Guardian (London)
If you are easily upset...stop right here.--The New York Times
Not one to usually be influenced by such things, I couldn't help myself when even Paul Newman went out of his way to blurb this book: "I'm something of an insomniac. I read The Watcher and stopped sleeping altogether". How could I resist such an endorsement as that?
I think the biggest problem I have with this book is that it's miscategorized as horror, when really it's a psychological thriller/crime/mystery ... maybe with supernatural overtones (something that's never made explicitly clear one way or the other). I was expecting to be disturbed, creeped out, unsettled, but I didn't experience any of that. Rather I spent my time reading trying to figure out what the hell is really going on here. Is he crazy, or isn't he? Is what he's seeing real, or a product of an over-taxed, diseased mind?
Rightly or wrongly, this book is considered a "horror classic". Originally published in 1982, Penguin Books re-released it this year with a brand new eye-catching (pardon the pun) cover:
I can tolerate some ambiguity. I don't need to have everything explained or all loose ends tied up neatly into a bow. But too much uncertainty drives me crazy, especially when nothing is really resolved and pretty much the novel's entire set-up is left shadowed in doubt. You turn the last page hoping for some resolution, but are left only with more questions.
There is a decent atmosphere here. The set-up is contagious. I needed to know how it was all going to end. The only trouble is by the time I got to the end I was left feeling meh and really, that's it? But we still don't know. I pretty much had the same reaction when I finished reading Threats by Amelia Gray. If you're going to get me all worked up like that with lots of foreplay, don't leave me hanging goddammit. I hate that.
Anyway, all of that to say I really wish I'd liked this one more. ...more
I can dig weird. I can dig really weird and fucked up to boot. But it doesn't happen a lot. Weird usually only works for me if it's scary, head-trippy I can dig weird. I can dig really weird and fucked up to boot. But it doesn't happen a lot. Weird usually only works for me if it's scary, head-trippy, and ultimately satisfying. I experienced none of that with Gray's Threats. The prose feels heavy and overwrought -- pretentious even -- weird for the sake of being weird. What is this story even about? A grieving husband? Sort of. His delusions? His mental illness? Is the odd behavior of everyone around him really happening, or is it a part of his psychosis? Is he even psychotic?
(view spoiler)[What about his wife???? What about his goddamn wife? What am I supposed to do with that ending? Is she even dead? Did she write the notes? Was she crazy too? Why were other people seeing her (like Aileen?) Or were all these people a figment of David's imagination? (hide spoiler)]
I don't mind when writers keep me in the dark shadows and dusty corners of a book, maintaining an off-kilter sort of dreamlike experience for the reader, but as such they better have a plan, an ultimate point, a significant final destination that's going to scratch that maddening itch that's tormented me for the duration. This doesn't mean I expect all loose ends tied up in a neat little bow. I'm okay with a little ambiguity, but for chrissake, give me something to hang my hat on, or what's the point of going on this journey in the first place?
Ironically, this story really drew me in at first. The imagery, the cloying atmosphere, it all felt portent of something big. Instead, it quickly descends into a lot of sloppy foreplay that ultimately goes nowhere. My excitement level did not peak, and there was no big "O" moment.
Here is where I will say I am simply not the book's intended audience. If you like your narrative fiction more on the experimental side, that deals in a lot of dreamlike, metaphorical language, you could really dig it. It's possible. Not this gal though. This gal feels ripped off. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This is so awesome. For anyone (like me) wanting to try Lovecraft for the first time (or to read more of him) this complete collection is available FOThis is so awesome. For anyone (like me) wanting to try Lovecraft for the first time (or to read more of him) this complete collection is available FOR FREE in both EPUB and Kindle format. Enjoy!...more
Solid collection of unsettling and weird (with a capital W) short stories. First, I want to put a plug in for Crowinator's review here. It was her rev Solid collection of unsettling and weird (with a capital W) short stories. First, I want to put a plug in for Crowinator's review here. It was her review that brought the book to my attention and made me want to read it. I also love how she breaks down all the stories and gives you a chance to figure out if this collection is for you or not. And hey, the best part? If you feel like taking a chance, the ebook is on sale right now for 0.99 cents. That is some serious bang for your buck. What have you got to lose?
Love the title and the cover. These things should never be underestimated. Each on their own has the power to persuade readers to read. I find the big publishing houses are getting lazy of late, or they've stopped caring, or they've sacrificed their creative marketing departments to save on the bottom line; whatever the reason, most of their covers suck or at the very least are uninspired. But the smaller, independent presses? They know they are fighting for their lives and our attention and dollars. Proof is in the covers, and in their willingness to approve some pretty audacious titles. Evidence please? Book covers are clickable.
I don't even need to know what these books are about to want to read them. But maybe that's just the magpie in me.
J.R. Hamantaschen has great titles that almost tell a story in and of themselves. He's also got the patter of Weird down without being overtly obnoxious about it, or coming across as trying too hard. Yet these stories feel modern and young, so much so that some of the awkward word choices just felt right anyway in spite of themselves. Like any small press/independent work, it is rough in places and could do with some editorial spit and polishing, but overall it reads very clean.
The author has a unique and distinctive voice that excels in creating unsettling and/or haunting images. Crowinator refers to the writing as "cryptic and suggestive" and I agree. The stories are more about allowing the reader to think the worst, providing our imagination an opportunity to flex its muscles.
More than titles or prose, what really made these stories hum for me were the ideas behind them. A good story idea that hasn't been regurgitated a thousand times in a thousand different ways is hard to come by. Hamantaschen must have a tree growing in his back yard where he can go pick one off it any time he chooses. My favorites:
Endemic: a nasty little story about rape and misogyny and the creation of a device to ensnare men in the act. Mixing sci-fi elements with that twist of horror and Weird, this story becomes the next evolution of To Catch a Predator.
A Parasite Inside Your Brain: I loved this one just because the idea of something crawling inside my head and laying eggs there creeps me out more than any other concept. This is a nice riff on the classic Night Gallery episode, but with a very different outcome. In a more serious way I find its dealing with depression and perhaps questioning whether your doctor always knows best a refreshing angle.
Come In, Distraction: I can't put my finger on what I enjoyed so much about this one, and I can't really talk too much about it without ruining the surprise. I guess I loved the slow creep as it builds to its reveal. This English wanker -- is he exploiting, or is he being exploited in turn? I would say both really. The subtleties work here extremely well, but I longed to know more...(view spoiler)[the outbreak in England sounds so far out and monstrous, I could barely get my head around it, those loooooong arms (shudder). Here's where your imagination has to flex its muscles. (hide spoiler)].
Sorrow Has Its Natural End: this one worked for me only because it tapped into my other primal fear, which is going blind. I have bad eyesight as it is and have worn glasses since childhood. I am remiss in my checkups and have floaters that could indicate a high risk of retinal detachment (wow, I just made myself sound really sexy there, didn't I?) This story is about a guy whose retinas detach in both eyes making him nearly blind. But he has a lead on a cure.
Jordan, When Are You Going to Settle Down, Get Married and Have Us Some Children?: okay, I have to include this one because the idea is so extreme, outrageous and funny in a dark and horrible way. There's a Seinfeld episode where George is out on a date with a woman in her apartment and finds himself really needing to go number 2. But her little bathroom, with no buffer zone, is not going to give him the privacy he knows he will need. This story is that situation except with unimaginable results.
There Must Be Lights Burning Brighter, Somewhere: great title, the longest story in the collection, and my favorite. The set-up is three desperate, frightened people hiding out in a closet from some unnamed threat. As the story progresses it is revealed how they ended up in the closet, what they're hiding from, and how they escape. Survival will come at a high price. This one gave me the heebie-jeebies.
This review can also be found at Busty Book Bimbo. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
These two short novellas are quite disturbed (and disturbing in turn). It is writing that you can either despise or admire, but you absolutely cannot These two short novellas are quite disturbed (and disturbing in turn). It is writing that you can either despise or admire, but you absolutely cannot ignore or remain unmoved.
My first introduction to Pablo D'Stair was with his collection of four novellas entitled: they say the owl was a baker's daughter (an outstanding piece of work which amply earned all five of my stars). The novellas appearing in baker's daughter are psychologically driven, representing a searing examination of human paranoia and anxiety. I loved them all.
"The Unburied Man" and "The People Who Use Room Five" however -- great titles by the way -- are much harder to love. These are tales of body horror, physical grotesquerie, and metamorphoses. Upon finishing, I am convinced D'Stair is not only scatologically obsessed, but could conceivably be David Cronenberg's long lost love child. If you are only familiar with Cronenberg's later Oscar nominated films such as A History of Violence and Eastern Promises then you are missing out. Cronenberg is the crowned godfather of Canadian horror. His lasting influence and contribution to the genre overall cannot be overestimated. Love him or hate him, you cannot ignore him (sound familiar?) If you've seen any of the following -- The Brood (1979), Videodrome (1983), The Fly (1986) and Naked Lunch (1991) then you will understand where I'm coming from when I make comparisons between he and D'Stair.
While you could easily fling the adjectives sick, gross, unnecessary, self-indulgent meandering at both of these stories (and they would all stick), I also found the writing inexplicably compelling and engrossing. There is raw talent here that is undeniable. D'Stair creates atmosphere thick and unsettling, so much so that as a reader you never know what to expect understanding fully that you are in completely unfamiliar territory. There are no identifiable landmarks. This is unbroken, heretofore untrodden terrain. I will leave it up to you to decide whether or not the author should have left it as such.
Who the hell is Pablo D'Stair? What kind of a mad maniac is he anyway? Jesus wept. The four novellas brought together in this collection represent som Who the hell is Pablo D'Stair? What kind of a mad maniac is he anyway? Jesus wept. The four novellas brought together in this collection represent some pretty messed up shit, but the writing (as unpolished as it can be at times) represents the REALDEAL people. There is a palpable energy to the prose and a paranoia that drips over everything that cuts so deep like acid it will unsettle you in ways I can't even begin to describe.
First of all, I think it is important to establish whether this collection is for you (because I will be the first to admit it certainly isn't for everyone).
1) If you require prose that has been put through the editorial rock polisher to produce a perfectly smooth reading experience, then this collection might be hard for you to swallow. There are misspelled words, missing words, made up words and the like, that sporadically pop up. As for myself, this kind of thing usually jars me, taking me out of the story. What can I say? It works here. Whether intentional on the author's part or not, D'Stair's narrators use a stream-of-consciousness style and the "broken" words and sentences perfectly capture minds on the cusp of breaking. You could just see it as sloppy and one of the drawbacks of ill-edited self-published fiction. I think in this case you would be missing the point though.
2) If you derive much of your reading enjoyment from having all your questions answered, than this may not be the collection for you. Each novella deals with a narrator who has become "unhinged" shall we say, causing said narrator to act out in very real and unpredictable ways. We don't know why, they don't know why. There is no rumination on the dark heart of man or any such thing. Shit happens and then it's done. There is none of that satisfying resolution that comes with the linear progression from unexpected chaos to the reestablishment of order. All four endings will leave you with more questions than answers, that I can promise.
3) If graphic descriptions of bodily functions like vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea and excess saliva make you queasy than this book is probably not for you. You have been warned.
Okay, if you have made it this far into the review and you're still with me, what comes next is the best part. D'Stair plumbs the depths of human paranoia and anxiety, the overall result an exceptional effort that's as unshakable and easily as memorable as Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart. I'm not shitting you.
These are stories about following and being followed -- about fear of discovery and the siren song of confession. I think Megan hits it perfectly when she writes: "I could see these characters come to life, to the point of waking up at 3 am and thinking one of them might be shuffling around in my bedroom closet." These stories are so steeped in paranoia, that your brain will succumb to the itchy fingers of paranoia as a result. You will be like Michael Douglas' character in The Game, where everyone around you is suspect and a possible threat.
I'm also going to throw out two other cinematic gems that these novellas caused me to think about: Memento and Jacob's Ladder. The former because of the stream-of-consciousness narration by an untrustworthy and possibly delusional narrator; the latter because of the sensation of absolute mindfuck (pardon my French).
Okay, I'm beginning to feel paranoid that this review has gone on too long. One more thing before I wrap this up though; I would never have even known of this book's existence if it weren't for Jacob first bringing it to my attention. When Jacob gives anything five stars I perk up and pay attention. When he said he needed to "gather his brain chunks back together" before he could write a review, reading this was a foregone conclusion (though he tried to warn me!)
Eyes adjusting to the dark, I looked at the closed door to the room, half expecting the knob to jiggle, for there to be some pock-marked face behind the opening, a face as large as a train station clock...
...thought about my hand to the peephole of thirteen, someone's eye to the other side of the hole, only a door thick of wood separating their blinking lash from my sweating palm.
...it seemed if I could stay awake I could bear it, but if forced to wake to it I'd disintegrate utterly, whatever crumb of me was left moistened, pulped, mawed and gone.
Imagine if Dr. Seuss got drunk off his ass one afternoon, did a few lines of coke, and decided to write a little somethin’ somethin’ for the grown-upsImagine if Dr. Seuss got drunk off his ass one afternoon, did a few lines of coke, and decided to write a little somethin’ somethin’ for the grown-ups. Welcome to World House.
How do you refrain from recommending that everyone read a book, when in your heart of hearts you know that not everyone is going to love it? In fact, there will be those who will hate it … or worse … be left bored by it. It takes a stronger person than me. I can’t stop myself recommending The World House as loud and as sincerely as I can … because those who will like it are going to like it a lot.
Here’s what I know for sure: Guy Adams is a writer of awesome audacity and imagination, who has retained his sense of childlike wonder. He infuses this story with all the charm and spectacle found in the best fairy tales, writing the utterly impossible with such conviction it reads as entirely plausible. Not as someone’s dream or a far-off fantasy landscape on some distant moon … but as something in our midst, impacting our world, happening to someone that could be us.
There were moments I was reminded of being inside the The Dark Tower itself, or the Agincourt Hotel from The Talisman. Having made the comparison, The World House is not that serious or frightening; in fact, if you come to this novel expecting terror and dread then you really will be disappointed. While the premise has all the potential to go dark side, it remains throughout a swashbuckling tale of whimsy, delight, and outright foolishness – more Indiana Jones than Hellraiser -- or Cube -- definitely more Clue (see karen’s review here) than House of Leaves. The premise is addictive, and even though the horror fan in me can't help but be disappointed I didn’t get the wits scared out of me, I surely did appreciate the originality, the silliness and the nonstop action. For me it became an intoxicating winsome brew.
As karen points out, like Clue, The World House is “a book about a bunch of strangers trapped in a house, trying to solve a mystery”. Adams has assembled quite the diverse, ensemble cast. As with Clue, or the more dramatic Gosford Park, to really enjoy this book the large cast has to please you, rather than become an annoying obstacle (and a fast way to eject you out of the story).
You won't find three-dimensional dramatic characters with in-depth histories and story arcs. It is true they are more caricature than character, but it works here in this context. Adams expertly juggles all his characters like a bunch of colorful scarves; each is unique enough to follow with ease. I love the voices he uses, and the frequent changes of perspective jumping from cliffhanger to cliffhanger is invigorating. It adds an element of suspense and tension that kept the pages turning almost faster than I could read them.
While Adams’ story may fall on the too fluffy side to be taken too seriously, within its pages he introduces a gargantuan idea and I really can’t wait to see where he takes it in Book 2 – Restoration. This is the second novel I’ve read coming out of the weird but ultra cool publishing house Angry Robot (the first was Slights). I usually don’t take notice of the publisher but these guys have got something exciting going on. I for one will definitely be keeping my eye out for more of their books. As for The World House, read it!!!! ...more
Just on originality alone this book gets full four stars all fat and juicy -- I also had a rollicking good time reading it being that it's so goddamnJust on originality alone this book gets full four stars all fat and juicy -- I also had a rollicking good time reading it being that it's so goddamn funny in parts and running on high-octane adrenaline in others. It's such a mish-mash of genres it left my head spinning in places, but at its core, after you strip away all the fun bells and whistles, this is a "noire-ish" hard-boiled detective story. There's an anti-hero on the run, trying to solve a mystery before time runs out, there's a best friend, a couple of beautiful women, some double-crossing and betrayal (and oh yeah, a few talking kitchen appliances thrown in for good measure!)
The wonderful thing about Smith's take on this "traditional" plot, is that he takes it to a whole new level and delivers it up with some crazy twists. The devil is in the detailed world-building. The "mystery" itself is pretty standard fare, it's the unraveling of it that's so very entertaining. And I really liked the characters, an unexpected bonus for a book that's so pulpy and plot-driven. The chemistry between Hap and best friend Deck is so very awesomely awesome -- Butch and Sundance worthy.
Smith's writing style is snappy and irreverent very much to the point. Here is one of my favorite examples:
Up until then the situation I found myself in had merely been disastrous. Now it had sailed blithely into a realm where adjectives didn't really cut it anymore. It would have taken a diagram to explain, one showing the intersection of a creek and some shit, and making clear the lack of any implement for promoting forward propulsion. Deck stared back at me. "You're fucked," he said.
Now what's not to like about that? :) If you're not completely sold, I would highly recommend you check out Stephen's fantastic review here: he will convince you where I have failed and make you fall over laughing to boot!...more
Proof that very great things can come in tiny little packages. First, I love that whacked out cover ... seriously dude, wtf? I never wanted to read a Proof that very great things can come in tiny little packages. First, I love that whacked out cover ... seriously dude, wtf? I never wanted to read a book so keenly based solely on the cover art. Do I want to know what's beyond the door? Goddamn straight.
Secondly, this little book has some creepy, weird secrets to tell, but very quiet like, it wants to whisper them in your ear. Sans flash, pizzazz, or the implementation of jazz hands, my attention was grabbed and held. The stories are sneaky, the creep subtle, leaving me feeling uneasy and a little off kilter by the time I was finished (or it was finished with me). It reminded me of how I felt after seeing the video for Soundgarden's Black Hole Sun for the first time. Remember that mind bender?
I can't even really describe what I read, I'm left more with an impression than a clear picture, like my memory's been wiped.
I would give this book 4.5 stars just for sheer originality, overall weirdness and supreme creepiness. The book totally enthralled me at every turn anI would give this book 4.5 stars just for sheer originality, overall weirdness and supreme creepiness. The book totally enthralled me at every turn and I love that I didn’t know where it was going to go, or how far. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve read anything by Tabitha King and after reading Small World, I really wish she had written more.
There’s such bite and ferocity to this story – a hell hath no fury feminine version of The Incredible Shrinking Man. It smacks of pulpy drama, and would have made an awesome Twilight Zone or Night Gallery episode. I can just hear Rod Serling now:
Our first painting submitted for your approval is a bizarre landscape cast in miniature. You won’t find this particular item of real estate advertised in any classifieds. There’s light and heat and running water, and the furnishings are luxurious - if a little small.
Not what I was expecting AT ALL. It had its moments in the first 50 pages, then it just went downhill for me after that. I skimmed and jumped around aNot what I was expecting AT ALL. It had its moments in the first 50 pages, then it just went downhill for me after that. I skimmed and jumped around and was never genuinely engaged. I guess I just missed the point....more
I couldn't wait to get my hands on this; word-of-mouth promised a heady, hilarious horror romp. Unfortunately, it did not live up to the hype for me.I couldn't wait to get my hands on this; word-of-mouth promised a heady, hilarious horror romp. Unfortunately, it did not live up to the hype for me. Think Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure meets Ghostbusters (or depending on your frame of reference, maybe “Ghostfacers” a la Supernatural), with Lovecraftian-style monsters, a twist of Rod Serling and a dash of psychotropic drugs to really mess you up. Sounds promising, no? Brilliantly mad? Genius even? The only problem is it falls way short of sustaining the insanity in any meaningful or satisfying way.
It is moderately amusing in places (I smiled but did not laugh out loud). Our heroes are basically doofuses (and that’s the point) but I wasn’t given the opportunity to really invest in them. The plot is outrageous and just too ambitious. It was like "enough already!!! C’mon!!!" Because the entire novel reads like one long, really whacked acid trip, you never know what’s going to happen next. Normal rules just don’t apply. Everything has a dreamlike (nightmarish) quality. That should be a good thing, but in this case I eventually just got terribly bored – oh look, another creature with eyes on stalks and baby arms for legs. Oh jeez, see that jellyfish hanging from the ceiling? Watch out for the wormhole!!!!
This book had sooo much potential and "Wong" certainly has a vivid imagination, but overall, it boils down to a "much ado about not a whole helluva lot". ...more
Loved this! So unexpectedly weird and creepy. I was not expecting to become so enthralled in a story told strictly with pictures and no text. The horrLoved this! So unexpectedly weird and creepy. I was not expecting to become so enthralled in a story told strictly with pictures and no text. The horror of House sneaks up on you and I for one, did not see it coming. Thanks to Jessica for passing this along to me about a year ago, and helping me remember it today!...more
What a wicked, intoxicating combination of weird, creepy, horrific and funny; the last thing I expected when I picked up this book was to laugh my assWhat a wicked, intoxicating combination of weird, creepy, horrific and funny; the last thing I expected when I picked up this book was to laugh my ass off in parts, doing so was such a bonus. So I can't say this book is going to be for everyone, but if you're looking for something truly different, that's well-written and a bit depraved, then this just might be for you.
The setup: Jamie is a bit of a wanker -- a well-meaning guy, but without much ambition or direction in his life. Let's say he's surviving by being spectacularly dull, hoping Fate will leave him the hell alone if he keeps flying under the radar unnoticed, unnoticeable. He then makes a stupendous error in judgment when he spies on some nefarious clown activities late one evening and retrieves a small bag one of them discards and brings it home with him.
This act will get him noticed by forces so much worse than Fate -- this act gets him noticed by the Pilo Family Circus and once in its clutches, at the mercy of some pretty deranged and hostile clowns, Jamie will be lucky to escape with his life, let alone his sanity. Once trapped on the circus grounds, he is forced to become a clown and he soon discovers much to his dismay that his clown alter-ego -- J.J. -- is a total dickwad and dangerous to boot. Suddenly Jamie is at war with himself in a twisted, sometimes hysterical battle of wits a la Dr.Jeckyll and Mr.Hyde.
I don't want to say much more because the delight in this book is not knowing what the hell is going to happen next. ...more
This one was a bit weird for me, but I found it compulsive reading anyway. The content is a little brutal at times, falls on this side of disturbing,This one was a bit weird for me, but I found it compulsive reading anyway. The content is a little brutal at times, falls on this side of disturbing, and plays mind games to boot. The six interconnected stories are essentially mysteries; there is a puzzle to solve for each one and the explanations can be fun. But that's not quite my thing.
What did intrigue me were the two main characters, and the parade of killers they cross paths with. Upon reading the author's afterword, I'm convinced now that these stories are not meant to be taken as "an exploration of humanity's dark side". The killers we meet are inhuman and for the most part, lack human motivation. They have a desire and compulsion to kill that is inexplicable -- and this is what separates them from the rest of us. At one point the narrator explains to the reader:
It was clear enough that some humans killed other people or wanted to kill people, for no reason at all. I didn't know if they became that way as they grew up, or if they were simply born that way. The problem was, these people hid their true nature and lived ordinary lives. They were hidden in the world, appearing no different from ordinary humans. But one day they would have no choice but to kill. They would have to leave their acceptable lives and go hunting.
This is a chilling observation that may carry a fair amount of truth in it. Sociopathic killers who walk among us bereft of any moral compass or empathy may not be broken humans, but an entirely different species; in fact, not human at all. They've just learned to walk and talk like us. Thinking about that scared the crap out of me and why the world Otsuichi creates is one in which I was eager to escape from, and one I'm not eager to return to. ...more
What is up with this book? I was so looking forward to reading it, absolutely loved Blindness, but hard as I tried, I just COULD NOT get into this oneWhat is up with this book? I was so looking forward to reading it, absolutely loved Blindness, but hard as I tried, I just COULD NOT get into this one. I know Saramago's writing style can be a challenge, but I was ready for that. By page 120 when the story still had not engaged me (and I found myself skipping whole pages) that's when I knew it was over and laid the book down. I simply found it too inaccessible. One long, rambling parable with no real characters to identify with. Wonderful idea but this time Saramago just does not hit it out of the park. Hell, I couldn't even get to second base, forced to give up in frustration. ...more
Weird, wild stuff. I'm not sure if I'd be able to read a full novel by Gahan Wilson, but these stories were definitely a unique reading experience. AWeird, wild stuff. I'm not sure if I'd be able to read a full novel by Gahan Wilson, but these stories were definitely a unique reading experience. A little Hitchcock, mixed in with some Night Gallery, served up with a twist of Twilight Zone. I especially liked the one where a young boy steals the finger from a kid's corpse, and the kid comes back looking for it!...more
This is a weird one. It had enough in it to keep me reading, but I think I only stuck with it because it was on the short side. Lots of people have coThis is a weird one. It had enough in it to keep me reading, but I think I only stuck with it because it was on the short side. Lots of people have commended McGrath for his writing style, but I found it a bit over done and taxing. I appreciate what he is trying to accomplish here, but it just didn't work for me. No one is sympathetic, let alone the narrator, and the ending bit the big one. Witty? Insightful? Clever? No. No. No. Great idea, poorly executed. ...more
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is one of the creepiest, most memorable stories I've ever read. It's the kind of subtle, psychologicaThe Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is one of the creepiest, most memorable stories I've ever read. It's the kind of subtle, psychological horror that worms its way into your psyche and lingers long after the reading is done. Doesn't pack the same punch to the solar plexus as Shirley Jackson's The Lottery, but comes pretty damned close....more