This is a seriously creepy graphic novel series. Definitely in the classic horror vein and unrelentingly dark in theme. This book deals with witches aThis is a seriously creepy graphic novel series. Definitely in the classic horror vein and unrelentingly dark in theme. This book deals with witches and witchcraft, and in a disturbing way. One of the reasons that witches are so detestable to me is their tendency to take over and control people's wills and casting curses against and on people. These are the kind of witches that Baltimore is dealing with. Baltimore is searching for the way to bring the Cult of the Red King down for good, and his cohorts split up in the search for leads and they all end up in extreme danger. Baltimore and Co end up in a Russian village deeply under the spell of evil witches. His other brothers (and sisters) in arms are in just as deep as they land right in the middle of a practicing Red King cult.
Baltimore has lost so much and he's about to lose someone very close to him. He is the ultimate tortured hero, and also very stoic and stonelike. And he's a bad*ss. I am glad that the world has Baltimore to protect them from these supernatural horrors. I hope this series continues indefinitely....more
I was thrilled that my library finally got the audiobook for this latest release in the Lockwood and Co. series. I've been listening to it from the beI was thrilled that my library finally got the audiobook for this latest release in the Lockwood and Co. series. I've been listening to it from the beginning and I hated to have to change format. The narrator is a different person, but she was very good. She brings Lucy, George, Lockwood and the other characters to life distinctively.
I was slightly less impressed with this than the previous books, but it was still very good. I wasn't sure I liked the addition of a new agent to the team. The trio has such a good vibe, but the advent of Holly causes some tension and throws off the chemistry. Lucy is violently jealous of her. Lucy is very possessive over Antony, and it seems as though she has a raging crush on him. Lockwood is a dashing figure (if you're a teenaged girl). I think he does have a lot of gravitas and maturity. I wish that he wasn't so oblivious to the emotions roiling around him at times. Lucy practically seethes, but he doesn't seem to pick up on it. I didn't dislike Holly, but I'm not sure exactly why Stroud chose to add her to the team. Maybe me and Lucy are on the same page here. George is his same endearing self. He's such a character. I liked that the Lockwood team actually joins forces with Quill Kipps and his two agents for the investigation of the department store that is frightfully haunted.
Lucy is delving deeper into Antony's past, and developing her ability to talk to ghosts, one that is admittedly dangerous. Like the other books, there is a spectacular climax, but that's not the end of the tension, since this one ends on a cliffhanger. I wasn't too happy with that. I hate cliffhangers.
I'm a huge fan of ghost stories, and I love Stroud's take on it. Ghosts are anything from irritating to downright lethal. And with each book, the layers get pulled back more, revealing how dangerous and disturbing a world in which ghosts are everywhere and can do humans harm might be.
Eagerly awaiting the next book in this series....more
"Veil" is an effective horror graphic novel from a proven writer in Greg Rucka. It's about a creature who was summoned from dark magic but seems to re"Veil" is an effective horror graphic novel from a proven writer in Greg Rucka. It's about a creature who was summoned from dark magic but seems to retain an innocence and vulnerability that makes predators want to prey on her and protectors want to keep her safe. The artwork is beautiful but also disturbing. The prevalence of sewer rats will creep out those with musophobia. They have a weird psychic connection with Veil that adds a disturbing connotation to the story. The urban setting adds to the atmosphere of fear in that the urban jungle is full of predators of all kinds. Add a secret group who resorts to black magic to achieve desired goals and the creepy factor gets very high. Although a dark story, there is some light in it that makes the ending satisfying for me. I would read further volumes....more
Andrew Bennett evil brings to mind Angelus from Buffy. Absolutely hateful. I didn't enjoy seeing him that way. I think the world is a much better placAndrew Bennett evil brings to mind Angelus from Buffy. Absolutely hateful. I didn't enjoy seeing him that way. I think the world is a much better place without an evil Andrew Bennett!
This is definitely dark Vampire-themed horror. The storyline is twisty and it's not in any way predictable. Villains become heroic and vice versa. We get a little backstory on how human Andrew Bennett became a vampire long ago, and why Mary, his eternal bride, hates humans so much.
Throw in some Biblical lore, such as Cain and Lilith, and some shocking losses, plus a few cameos, and I had to give this four stars. It was very good for what it is. Don't go into this expecting sweetness and light. This is for vampire fiction readers who like their vampires dark and depraved.
This follow-up in the Lockwood & Co series lives up to the promise of The Screaming Staircase. Stroud does good when it comes to ghost fiction. WhThis follow-up in the Lockwood & Co series lives up to the promise of The Screaming Staircase. Stroud does good when it comes to ghost fiction. While his characters are all by nature children (an important plot point of the series, since only children can clearly see and deal with the ghostly threats that are plaguing England), Stroud doesn't go easy on them. They face some very nasty ghostly threats, and the reader is fully along for the ride.
I am a huge fan of a good and scary ghost story, and there are parts of this novel that are genuinely thrilling. I strongly recommend grabbing this on audiobook. Katie Lyons does an excellent job.
The trio of main characters, Lucy, George and Lockwood, make a great team. Lucy is the 1st person narrator, and the readers feels everything she experiences. Lucy has the 'talent' of hearing ghosts. There is a ghost attached to a skull that George stole from his former employers. George is a geek when it comes to ghosts, and he is nearly obsessed with the idea of communication with a type three ghost, the strongest communicators among the spirits. He performs all kinds of weird tests on the skull, but thus far, it has only communicated with Lucy. Lockwood is the dashing head of the Agency. Lucy still holds him in awe, but she is starting to know him better and realize that he needs her and George as much as they need him. I liked how Lucy and George are like siblings they way the fight with each other and trade insults, but also look out for each other and have each other's backs.
Aptly named, this story is about the growing communication with the skull that Lucy is experiencing, and the dire consequences of that. The skull itself is pretty creepy and disturbing, and I could definitely see why Lucy hated the skull.
I really like how the story builds so well in these books. While I can't say that things start out calm, by the end of the novel all the stuff has hit the fan, and the risk to the leads is very real. Not only from ghosts but from morally bankrupt human beings as well.
Atmosphere is probably the number one requirement of a ghost story. If one asked any of the ghost story masters, they would agree with me, I'm sure. Stroud has endowed this novel with plenty of fantastic atmosphere. He also knows that building tension is also important. Check! There are scenes in this story that almost brought goosebumps on my skin. The ghosts in this book are genuinely lethal, and even the harmless ones are still plenty creepy. The manner in which these hauntings manifest definitely helps to make the most of both atmosphere and tension.
I really like this series, and this book was equally good as the first, if not better. There were a rare few moments where I felt like my interest wavered and the story lost momentum. But overall, the plotting was excellent. While I didn't expect to find a good mystery, he definitely delivered one, and I was happily satisfied and surprised at the reveal. I definitely have to give this 4.5/5.0 stars
If you don't read juvenile/middle grade fantasy or horror, you need to start doing it now, and add this series to the top of your list of future reads....more
This series is definitely for fans of Gothic vampire stories. Andrew is the reluctant monster, a morally good vampire fighting the dark aspect of hisThis series is definitely for fans of Gothic vampire stories. Andrew is the reluctant monster, a morally good vampire fighting the dark aspect of his nature and using the power it gives him to do good. There is no question of his power and his determination, and the force of his love. Yet, his fatal flaw is his love for Mary, self-titled the Queen of Blood. She embraces all the darkness that becoming a vampire has created in her, and wants her vampire species to rise up and decimate humanity, while Andrew wants to protect them. Andrew travels in her wake, seeing to derail Mary's plans. Along the way, he gains allies in his fight against the bloody vampire uprising.
I enjoyed this book a lot. The artwork is dark and not very colorful, other than the red tones of blood. I think the art is a bit murky for my tastes, but I understand that author wanted to add to the dark, Gothic feel of the storyline. One real advantage of this art is it captures motions so effortlessly. The writing is excellent, and I appreciate the shifting POVs between Andrew, Mary, and other pivotal character.
While I wouldn't exactly call this scary, it definitely has sense of suspense and thrills to the storyline. The ending is quite a cliffhanger that makes the reader want to run for the next volume. I'll definitely keep following this series....more
For a supernatural fiction-attracted person like myself, the idea of a Justice League sub-group with members who are alThe short of it: This is weird!
For a supernatural fiction-attracted person like myself, the idea of a Justice League sub-group with members who are all gifted in the magical/supernatural arena was too awesome to resist. It has some pretty weighty DC magical members, such as John Constantine, Zatanna (one of my new favorites), Madame Xanadu, and Deadman. Add some new to me character like Shade The Changing Man and Mindwarp, and you have an interesting cast of characters. Madame Xanadu is a powerful seer who foretells the end of the world, unless this specific group of people can work together long enough to set things right. That is much more difficult than it seems, with differing agendas and levels of commitment on offer. Not to mention a very powerful, very dangerous adversary, Enchantress, who has lost her human host and is going on a rampage.
Yeah, this was weird. I think the thing I liked the most was the ensemble cast. The storyline didn't really capture my interest. It was pretty gruesome and just plain kooky. Overall, made the book hard to follow. Also, some characters had stronger roles than others. I think that lacking backstory on some of the characters left a few question marks for me. I consulted the DC Comics Wikia and that definitely helped.
Of course, I'm not done reading this series. It's sort of a mediocre start, but I can see some promise. Plus, I just love Zatanna and I do have a sort of thing for that rogue John Constantine.
I confess that I started reading this series out of order. I can't say if that affected my rating. I will say I was disappointed with this first readI confess that I started reading this series out of order. I can't say if that affected my rating. I will say I was disappointed with this first read of Constantine in the graphic novel format. I have read a novel with him Hellblazer: War Lord, and I liked that more.
In all honestly, I am completely square when it comes to free love sex, drugs, and alternative religions. None of that are things I would choose for my life. Yes, that's an obstacle with this book, because they play a big part in this story. However, I believe all humans are equally worthwhile, and I care about the connection you form with a character, even if I don't necessarily agree with their choices.
John Constantine is on the run, implicated in a series of brutal murder with occult elements (when he actually saved the world in that situation and didn't kill those people). He runs into a group of earth-religion practitioners and bonds with a strange young girl with precognitive abilties named Mercury. Her mother Marj, is the poster child for an aging flower child/hippie chick. Her friends are all good-hearted, kind people who have a penchant for psychedelic drugs, earth spirituality, and living off the land. They generously take in Constantine, and he bonds with them. Constantine has led a rough, cynical life, but I get the impression that he is a kind person at heart, and goes out of his way not to harm others. When Mercury is kidnapped, he vows to get her back, even though it takes him back into the eye of the dark, occult storm he is trying to escape.
My biggest issue with this story was the graphic violence and the horrible murders that took place. I admit I am sensitive to that kind of thing. Ritual murders and stuff, and pretty much any kind of heinous murder or violence like that disturb me. This was all done by the bad guys, of course. So it's perfectly warranted to dislike them. ( I wish they had gotten more comeuppance in the end.) The Fear Machine concept was interesting, but stomach-turning. I think fundamentally, I hate when people's fears and weaknesses are manipulated, and I certainly hate innocent people getting harmed for whatever reason. Also, some aspects were confusing and didn't translate in the visual medium well. I had some question marks, even when I finished this book.
Constantine himself, is a likable character, what I'd consider an amiable rogue (and I do have a weakness for them and antiheroes). I think ultimately he does save the day, but I wish he had done so a little sooner, and the methods he used were kind of questionable and didn't make a lot of sense to me. I love the graphic novel format, but I feel that prose would have worked better for this storyline, and I might have liked this more.
Will I keep reading this series? Yeah. I really like occult detective stories. And while I didn't like some aspects of this particular volume, I am hoping that I will find other storylines that appeal to me more than this one did. Your mileage may vary....more
I think I just need to hang up the towel and admit this series is not for me. It's gruesome and dark in a way that doesn't appeal to me. The characterI think I just need to hang up the towel and admit this series is not for me. It's gruesome and dark in a way that doesn't appeal to me. The characters are either sadistic or they fall prey to other sadistic characters. I wouldn't say I'm too squeamish to enjoy any horror, but this kind of horror I don't like. I was drawn in by the story within a story format and the idea of a house between dimensions. But those things don't overshadow the unappealing aspects for me. I feel the series really jumped the shark with one event. I was like, seriously! I did kind of like the cameo though. I guess I'm going to have to say that this is the last volume I will read. My sister is tough and I'll ask her to hold me accountable not to pick any of these up. It's a shame. I want to know how things end. I suppose I'll have to do what I did with the Under the Dome show. I had my sister keep me honest! I stepped away and haven't looked back, other than drooling over pictures of Mike Vogel. I don't think that there's a hot actor in this series to tempt me to reading more of this series.
Three stars because it's not really bad quality or poorly written. It's just not my taste....more
Still not in love with this series. I think I will continue to read it, but it might be too dark and twisted and it's definitely somewhat incomprehensStill not in love with this series. I think I will continue to read it, but it might be too dark and twisted and it's definitely somewhat incomprehensible to me.
I really like the idea of stories within stories, which is a prominent feature of this book. I just wasn't that fond of the stories, except I did kind of like the one written by Bill Willingham about a man trapped in a castle with the last surviving servant and the creatures who are stalking them. I despise cockroaches and I found the tale from the viewpoint of a cockroach utterly disgusting. Your mileage may vary. The Constantine story was interesting but sad. The poet, Eduard's backstory, not sure how I feel about it.
I'm not loving the overlying thread of the Conception and Cain. I guess there is some dark humor in the fact that Cain continually kills Abel (who then resurrects), but I am not a huge fan of that plot device. It's just kind of mean, honestly.
I do like some of the characters, like Fig and Harry and Pirate Mary, but this is one of those series where you never know if someone is going to get killed off soon, so better not to get too attached to anyone.
I'm trying to figure out what is inhibiting my enjoyment of this series. I really do think I have an issue with a lack of clarity in the concept. I feel that things are getting even more difficult to understand (instead of the opposite) and the subject matter is really quite unpalatable.
I would like to hold out and see where things go with this series, especially with the Constantine connection. And I hate the fact that I am so clueless about what's going on here. I'm stubborn. Always have been. I won't throw in the towel just yet....more
Sadly, I like this series less with each book. I am not giving up on it yet, but I'm getting icky feels that leave me disenchanted. I have to be honesSadly, I like this series less with each book. I am not giving up on it yet, but I'm getting icky feels that leave me disenchanted. I have to be honest and say I don't really get the kernel of thought behind the story. I feel like it's out of reach of me and I don't think the expected revelation is coming as I read. I feel like my chain is being tugged, and I hate being manipulated.
I feel that it teeters on the edge of being the kind of horror that doesn't appeal to me. Stories with darkness that don't make sense. Seeing bad things happen to good people for no good reason. Where things seem random and unclear. I'm sure that some readers of this series understand, and if you do, I'd love to hear what you think of it. For me, it's just starting to be the law of diminishing returns.
I think my litmus test will be the next book. If I feel that way about it, I'm going to throw in the towel on this series. ...more
This volume was a mix of emotions: "wow", "that's so sad", "I don't get it", and "not so much". I do have to say that Love Stories for Dead People defThis volume was a mix of emotions: "wow", "that's so sad", "I don't get it", and "not so much". I do have to say that Love Stories for Dead People definitely canvasses the theme of this collection. Love is so much more than a four letter word, with infinite potential to shape our lives for the best and worst. This volume delves into that with a dark, twisted, and often gruesome collection of stories.
I loved the backstory on Ann, who was a pirate back in the day. I am all for a kickbutt, take charge, dangerous woman, and that's definitely her. I can see how deeply she was hurt, and why love isn't something she focuses energy on. And of course, I am a pirate theme lover. As far as Miranda, once a waitress in the House and a part of the crew, what was that about??? I didn't get it! The bits about Fig and an important person from her past were interesting. I can see that she has an ability that is going to play a huge role. I didn't understand what Cress did to Simon, but I know it has something to do with her terrible luck with love. Simon reminds me of John Constantine so much, it isn't funny! I loved the fact that Cress's doctor suitor looks exactly like Peter Cushing. Anyone else pick up on that, I wonder?
I feel like I didn't understand a lot of what was going on. The whole Cain/Abel thing and the nightmares that Harry had to battle. I could use some Cliff Notes for this book, but thankfully, I did find a Wiki, and I'll read some of that and hope I don't get too spoiled.
It's hard to give a good analysis of this book because I was feeling so lost for a lot of it. I saw a mix of nightmarish images with some events that had a little more clarity. I think the best part of this book was getting more of a backstory on two of the main characters: Ann and Cress, and finding out about Harry's earlier days in the House and his decision to make it into a bar. Oh and finding more about Fig's relationship with her father.
I hope I don't feel so lost in the next edition of this series. ...more
Dancy Flammarion is quite an unusual character. A young teenager who has been on her own for a while, guided by a seraph who leads her to monsters sheDancy Flammarion is quite an unusual character. A young teenager who has been on her own for a while, guided by a seraph who leads her to monsters she needs to kill. I first became acquainted with Dancy in Alabaster, and I was drawn to her character. I wanted to protect her, even though she is much more fierce than I could ever see myself. In Alabaster, I wasn't quite sure of how much was real and how much wasn't, as the writing was quite surreal. In this graphic novel, I think you pretty much know that Dancy isn't living out a psychosis of what's happening to her. Sometimes graphic novels don't tell stories well, but that is not the case with this one. This story leads itself very well to the visual medium, so I am glad that they decided to make it into a graphic novel.
The artwork is beautiful. Although some imagery is dark and disturbing, I still see a lot of beauty in the manner in which Dancy's fine features are drawn and painted (as well as another young woman she encounters), and even the choices of color and design in the darker scenes. The motion of the wolves is conveyed very well, even down to their musculature and sinews. Dancy is an albino, and the artist captured this excellently, from her white hair, white skin, and to her red/pink eyes. The artwork also brings the Gothic Southern atmosphere to vivid life. It is spot on with that otherworldly feel of the South, where a bloody history and rich folkloric heritage (slavery and Civil War) has tinged the land in so many ways. Even in the daytime scenes, the hot sun seems barely able to protect against the dark monsters lurking in the shadows.
The stories are nicely sinister, with just enough menace to make for a scary/slightly disturbing read without going over the line into the grotesque and unpalatable. The lettering captures the feel of Kiernan's prose very well, and I could clearly hear the syrupy thick Southern accents as I read. I was holding my breath as I read, not sure if Dancy was going to make it out of the very sticky situations she faces. She's very good at what she does, but she's not invincible, so she faces very real threats along the way. I appreciate how things ended. I'm not ready to say goodbye to this special young lady.
I think this is a good read for those who are inclined more to classic horror, because it has such great atmosphere, and the storylines are tailored towards the older themes of horror. As I mentioned above, the Southern Gothic feel, but also a bit of the Lovecraftian sort of mythical feel. It makes me think of those occult detectives who are alone in their fight against the monsters of darkness, such as Manly Wade Wellman's Silver John and Kolchak. This is awesome because Dancy is a young woman, and she doesn't need a man to rescue her.
I have to give this one 4.5 stars because it was very nearly perfect. I hope for more Dancy adventures in the future....more
It took me forever to get into this book. If it had not been a book I committed to review, I would have DNF'd it. Finally, I reached a breakthrough anIt took me forever to get into this book. If it had not been a book I committed to review, I would have DNF'd it. Finally, I reached a breakthrough and I was able to finish it. It turned out to be good, but I feel the writing needed more work to be more accessible. I love British just about anything, but I think some of the Britishness of this book didn't translate very well on paper.
A dark, twisted, and at times, incomprehensible urban fantasy novel.
The Unwritten strikes me as being somehow 'impressive'. It's hard to clarify what I mean, but the idea of it and the execution was very well done. ItThe Unwritten strikes me as being somehow 'impressive'. It's hard to clarify what I mean, but the idea of it and the execution was very well done. It delves into the very fruitful literary territory of metafiction, where reality and fiction intersect. I find I truly enjoy metafiction, probably because of being such a lifelong bookworm and having my head stuck in a book for most of that life (since I was four).
In the case of Tommy Taylor, it's a painful intersection. His father is a famous novelist of children's books (in the vein of Harry Potter) who suddenly disappeared. Tommy is left depending on the uncertain income from coasting on his identity as Tommy Taylor, the eponymous character of the books his father wrote. When a lady shows up at a comic book convention and challenges his identity, the stuff hits the fan, and the adoring fans of the books become hateful, vengeance-seeking stalkers. Tommy's life implodes. But things only get worse, when he develops enemies that hail from the so-called mythical landscape of the books.
One of the things I liked the best about this graphic novel was the illustrations. It is clean and elegant. The lettering is also well done and distinctive. My eyes wanted to stay on the page and observe every detail, whereas with some graphic novels, there is too much to look at (so I pick and choose), and some aspects of the frames seem to fade into the woodwork because they are deemed less important. This book is a great midpoint where neither clarity or detail is compromised.
I also liked the prose and the storytelling. I felt sorry for Tommy. He really got a rough deal being who he was, and in effect powerless to change his life. I hope that he does gain some agency and authority in his life situation.
I do have to say I didn't care much for some aspects of one of the sections. The idea of tackling horror conventions since they were at the house at Lake Geneva in Switzerland, where Mary Shelley (and apparently John Milton earlier) wrote the famous masterpiece they are known for, was a good one. I just didn't care for the gory turn of the story. I think it pricks a sore spot I have about the horror genre in general--the sacrifice of story and genuine narrative content for splatter and gore. I understood the purpose of this, but it just seemed gratuitous (although I admit it was still tastefully done).
The last section was rather odd initially. I didn't get why Rudyard Kipling was the narrator, until well into the story, and then the lightbulb came on. It ties in very well with this developing and expansive story and endows it with increased sense of threat and risk.
I still have a lot of questions, and I want to keep reading this series because it has my interest and attention. I hope that Tommy will come to understand his troublesome situation and discover the hero within.
I'd recommend this novel to lovers of books and literature in its various forms. ...more
This was more creepy than Baltimore: The Plague Ships, and that's saying something. Baltimore is still on the hunt for his one-eyed, scarred vampire nThis was more creepy than Baltimore: The Plague Ships, and that's saying something. Baltimore is still on the hunt for his one-eyed, scarred vampire nemesis, but he comes across a cult of demented nuns who follow an occultist bent on rebirthing a powerful sorceress.
I think this series is for readers who loved the Monster of the Week type programs such as Night Gallery or Thriller, or even episodic television like The Incredible Hulk where our lone hero conquers a different situation each week. I could see this as a good television adaptation in the right hands.
The artwork is as beautiful as The Plague Ships, and the writing just as atmospheric. Although this was more scary. It delves deeper into the themes of diabolism and occult dealings with dark entities, and this town that Baltimore goes to is full of a sense of wrongness, death and murky secrets. I did read this at night and I didn't have nightmares, but that was because I read something else before I went to sleep.
Baltimore has to balance his selfish need for revenge against the greater good, and he teams up with an American journalist who is writing a book about vampires after discovering they were real in the Great War. I thought the reporter looked a lot like Edgar Allen Poe, and I wouldn't be surprised if that was a deliberate choice of the creators of this graphic novel. Part of the narrative even includes as passage from "The Bells" by Poe.
I think this was just as good as The Plague Ships if not better, but it's more disturbing and disarming than that prior book in the series. I know that's because it focuses on occultism, black magic, and people who trade the lives of others for ultimate power. Those subjects are inherently more affecting to me than, say zombies and vampires.
Baltimore is a very effective dark hero with an antiheroic bent. He is the dark hero that fights against the darkness, and strives to recover his own lost soul in the process. Those kinds of heroes always get me.
The Plague Ships is bonafide horror. Not only does our intrepid hero battle vampires, but he also battles Hessian zombies infected from nasty fungal bThe Plague Ships is bonafide horror. Not only does our intrepid hero battle vampires, but he also battles Hessian zombies infected from nasty fungal blossoms! Baltimore is a relentlessly driven man with a soul full of vengeance and hurt. An act driven out of fear leads to his whole life being destroyed and the subsequent quest for vengeance against all vampires, and in particular one with a vicious scar on his face.
Mignola is an auto-read for me. His imagination is expansive and he plumbs the nightmares and dreams of the collective consciousness, offering up his resulting creations for the reader's enjoyment and consideration. This graphic novel is actually more true horror than his Hellboy stories, which straddle the dark fantasy line as much as horror. But the visions in this novel are right from the darkest depths of horror. The horror is of the more overt kind: vampires, plague and zombies, but also emotional. The endless quest of Baltimore and his non-healing heart wound from the loss of his family through his own well-meaning actions. The fact that he can never go home again, either emotionally or physically.
As much as the writing is a strength, so are the illustrations. They have a clarity and a concreteness, even though they are all almost monotonal (blacks, tans, reds). They convey action beautifully, making this graphic novel as much an action work as a horror work. The dialogue is rather spare, but the pictures give you the whole picture even when there is no narrative.
For readers who enjoy the enigmatic, dark loner on a quest for justice, knowing that he can no longer call any place his home, this is worth reading. I also recommend it to readers who enjoy the more traditional brand of horror, where the monsters aren't human, and where good fights against evil, even though man often struggles against the evil in his own heart.
It doesn't feel like a five star book, but it's definitely close.
I found the writing clever. I was transplanted into the cutthroat world of college politics. Who knew that the wives could be just as fierce as their faculty husbands? And that they would resort to sorcery and witchcraft to keep their husbands (and themselves by relation) in power? Things get pretty nasty!
I think that there is some very interesting commentary about male and female relationships here. That old Venus Versus Mars argument. I felt at first that Norman was a rampant sexist (in a way that is very common even today). He had a superior attitude towards his wife, while simultaneously being in awe of her at the same time. He seemed to view her as an alien creature, constantly analyzing the way her mind worked, as if it was so different from his. I liked how his feelings of mental superiority over her backfired when he realized that she was in fact the one who was right about what was really going on, and how he had to rely on her knowledge of the situation. I liked how things turned around and it was clear how much he did care for his wife. How he fought for her well-being, willingly putting aside his hard-headed scientific skeptical thought processes to save her.
I feel that there is a heavy tone of satire cleverly mixed in with well-executed psychological horror. Norman's internal dialogue engenders a tone that is analytical and observational (although he doesn't seem to be as observant as one would think for a sociologist), wry and sarcastic at other times and quite laden with a menace that sneaks up on the reader. At first, I found him to be a bit of a pompous twit. I admit I can't stand when men treat women like their brains and mental capacities are limited. But I couldn't stay angry at him. He learned the hard way not to underestimate women, particularly his own wife. I think in this, Leiber is making a point. For all the men did have a tendency to view their spouses through a skewed lens, not realizing just how much power the women truly had in their lives and over them. Leiber seems to throw sexist ideas out with a wink and a nod, as if he expects the readers to reject those thoughts, or perhaps to poke fun at those who believe what he's saying. My take, anyway.
I wonder what the reception was to this book in the 1940s. The ideas of male/female relations are probing and insightful in a way that seems a bit subversive. But what do I know? At any rate, I liked this story very much. It's beautifully subtle in the slow building of menace and fear, and the ideas about society seem to be relevant today in how men and women and spouses relate to and view each other. Also it speaks to the often venomous way that women can sometimes turn against each other, belying what some (including myself) naively believe about the sisterhood of women. On the horror level, the truly heinous and scary nature of witchcraft used as a tool for power and control is enough to send a shiver down my spine. It makes you wonder just how much witchcraft may be going on behind the scenes today.
I loved the brotherhood bond between Cal, Gage and Fox. They had been friends for a very long time, and you cYay! I finished it!
Thoughts on the Story:
I loved the brotherhood bond between Cal, Gage and Fox. They had been friends for a very long time, and you could see that that bond was titanium and strengthened by their horrific mutual experience and legacy. I liked how they were three very different men, and I could see a distinction in their personalities throughout this book. I loved how the book started in the past, where we see how horrors begin in Hawkins Hollow, but also the three main characters as kids. It made me think of Stephen King's "It", "The Body", and also "Needful Things" and "'Salem's Lot". While I saw sort of an homage to King, I think Nora Roberts distinguished herself very well and gave this story her own stamp.
Additionally, I liked Quinn, Layla (writing this makes me laugh because I always thought of the Black Dagger Brotherhood when I heard their names in the same sentence, which also has a Quinn and Layla, although Quinn is spelled differently), and Cybil. I liked how their characters complemented Cal, Fox, and Gage's characters. While the other characters don't get as much page time, I got a sense for the local color and the world in which the main characters lived, how they related to their friends and family. I am a huge fan of small town fiction, and I think Roberts did a great job with creating this small town which seethes with dark secrets, anguish, but also loving families and friends, who are suffering with a difficult legacy and curse.
One of the best things about this book was the horror element. Roberts spectacularly imbues this book with a dark, horrifying atmosphere. I suppose this is a romance more than anything, but it really stands on its feet as a horror novel. The scary scenes were vivid and quite effective. I won't go into detail because I don't want to spoil anyone, but wow! Stephen King would probably give Roberts a pat on the back.
I have to say that the horror aspect engaged me more than the romance. I liked the romance, but I didn't feel any strong bond or connection to Cal and Quinn as a romantic couple. It could be that I like my romance intense and this wasn't that intense. It was more everyday to me, like when you see your friends meet and get together, and eventually get married. Nothing wrong with that. Just not as enthralling as the horror aspect of this book.
I had mixed feelings about the narrator. He made some of the characters sound kind of goofy, but I liked how he made Gage's voice really deep, and how he did Giles' Scottish accent. I didn't like the way he did the female character's voices. They sort of sounded like men in drag. I think I might have connected more with the females if they sounded more authentically female. I think he did a good job of making each character have a different voice, so points there. On the good side, I loved the sound effects and music. It added to the eerie feel of this story. I listened to this at bedtime, late at night, and I had a couple moments where I questioned the rationality of that. Since audio is a good way to get a book read and still stay on my reading schedule, I'll probably get the other two on audio as well.
Overall Thoughts: I liked this book, but I didn't love it. I think the horror part makes this a higher rated book for me. As I said above, the romance was sort of average to me. Not a big draw in this book. I did love the bonds between the characters and the small town feel, so that's another plus. I want to see how this series concludes, so I'll keep reading. It was a pretty good way to spend some hours listening.
This was a very dark, intense vampire action horror novel. There were some blasphemous elements that I found disturbing, which knocked my rating down.This was a very dark, intense vampire action horror novel. There were some blasphemous elements that I found disturbing, which knocked my rating down. Readers who like dark vampire horror might enjoy this. But be warned. Not for the faint of heart.
War Lord manages to be shockingly dark and laugh out loud funny in various parts. John Constantine is an amusing and fascinating fellow in this book.War Lord manages to be shockingly dark and laugh out loud funny in various parts. John Constantine is an amusing and fascinating fellow in this book. He gives out this vibe of the bumbling ineffectual, who could give a flip about anything. However his ability with magics and the arcane is inestimable. A drunk, chain-smoker, and a bit of a lecher. His sense of morality doesn't seem to fit into the boxes that you might usually ascribe characters. However, he does have a sense of honor, just believes in doing things his own way. All in all, hard to pin down and not one to be taken for granted.
The storyline itself is very harsh. It's about war, and the fact that many use war to profit. That's no secret, but seeing it written down on paper emphasizes the wrongness of glorifying in human suffering, causing it for one's own ends. In this case, a dark cabal is stirring up violence to awake an ancient War Lord to bring about the apocalypse, so they can rule. However, that's not going to go over well, not with Constantine on the opposite side (even if he dislikes the fact that he has to choose sides).
I found myself laughing at some of the admittedly coarse humor. But it was very funny. I loved the side joke in which Constantine remarks about the parallel worlds that exist, one in which he has black hair and wears a black coat, and lives in Los Angeles. That might sound familiar to some folks.
Some parts are off-putting, even repulsive. The dark magics are rather disturbing (in the fact that some folks might choose to go down those roads). However, those who like reading fiction about the arcane and esoteric might appreciate this book. There's even a cameo by a descendant of Aleister Crowley. Some stuff went over my head as far as the Hidden World, but I'm okay with that.
I can't give it a high rating because it has a very slow start and the pace was too uneven in parts. Not to mention the fact that the atrocities committed to see the dark purposes of the cabal to fruition didn't sit right with me (even though they make sense for this book). However, it was a good read and I enjoyed it. So it's easily 3.5/5.0 stars....more
Fear is the mind-killer indeed. Mr. Collins writes an effective short novel about that subject. His writing is evocative and distinctive. Definitely oFear is the mind-killer indeed. Mr. Collins writes an effective short novel about that subject. His writing is evocative and distinctive. Definitely one to check out.
I found this on the clearance rack at Half-Price Books (go clearance rack!). I picked it up because of the Karl Edward Wagner and Manly Wade Wellman sI found this on the clearance rack at Half-Price Books (go clearance rack!). I picked it up because of the Karl Edward Wagner and Manly Wade Wellman stories. Those two stories definitely met my expectations. I found it enjoyable reading overall. This is horror and weird fiction, and the "new terrors" mantle is appropriate. And it isn't the screaming scary kind of horror. It's the 'that's kind of messed up' horror, which is infinitely more chilling to this reader. This was one I read during the day and I was glad I did. These stories gave me that uneasy feeling I don't want to go to bed on, much like an overly full stomach.
This book has the first story by Robert Aickman I read, "The Stains." When I think of him now, I will think Refined British Gentleman writing, and definitely weird fiction. Nothing that I've heard about him from fans has disagreed with this description. I found that Ramsey Campbell is also a bit on the refined side, and more sinister, but equally weird.
Like most anthologies I've stumbled across, this one encouraged me to seek out more works by most of the writers included in this genre. Probably not a good thing for my pocketbook, but a great thing for my horror collection.
If you can find this and you like modern classic horror (horror from the mid-century and up to the 70s), I'd recommend picking it up, especially if you find it for a good price at your neighborhood used bookstore. Recommended.