OK, how to describe this book? First let's say you have an evil twin. You know your twin is a bit of a bad seed, but you love hi...moreOne word: Disturbing.
OK, how to describe this book? First let's say you have an evil twin. You know your twin is a bit of a bad seed, but you love him anyway. He's your twin, for pete's sake, and your best friend, or he would be if he weren't such a loner. And you share each other's secrets, including the secret inside the old tobacco tin.
Now let's set the stage: June 1935, the long hot summer stretches ahead of you: fishing trips to the creek, jumping from the hay loft, making home-made root beer, visiting the local carnival, putting on magic shows. The idyllic joys of childhood.
But underneath the pastoral beauty, Connecticut 1935 is a lot like Wisconsin 1895 (Wisconsin Death Trip). Accidents happen on the farm, people get sick. Death is a part of life. First published in 1971, The Other is iconic psychological horror that reads like Dandelion Wine and packs an unexpected punch like it, too. Told largely from a child's point of view, you are not sure what is happening until.... but that would be telling.
Before there was Stephen King, people read Thomas Tryon for their dose of creepy chills. A bestseller in its day, this book is said to have inspired K...moreBefore there was Stephen King, people read Thomas Tryon for their dose of creepy chills. A bestseller in its day, this book is said to have inspired King's Children of the Corn, and it has often been compared to The Wicker Man, which came out the same year. Investigating a series of fairly minor-sounding mysteries in an idyllic rural town, the narrator--a seemingly good guy--becomes more and more convinced that the town's agrarian traditions hide far deeper secrets. It's meticulously-plotted and a strange combination of leisurely, respectful, bucolic and cliched in its description, which leads me to say...
Never have I been more perplexed over the concept of author's intent than reading this book. As the story unfolds, the first person narrator's actions become more reprehensible and his excuses more repellent than the conspiracies he is trying to uncover. I'm giving this four stars because my best guess, based on Tryon's other work, suggests he's giving us an unreliable narrator with a dark side of his own. If that is *not* the case, then this book has a really ugly streak of 1973-era anti-feminist backlash going on. Either way, it's unsettling and ultimately thought-provoking, and I appreciate a horror story, if that is what this is, that makes me think.
A TV miniseries was made from this in the 1970s, and several of the plot twists and shock moments - as it turns out, quite faithful to the book - have stayed with me for many years. (less)
Ocean at the End of the Lane is that exquisite dream that is vivid when you wake but fades throughout the day until you are left with the memory of a...moreOcean at the End of the Lane is that exquisite dream that is vivid when you wake but fades throughout the day until you are left with the memory of a memory of swimming in some primal ocean surrounded by constellations of light and electricity, blanketed in comfort. Written with the persuasive nostalgia of memoir and the terrifying beauty of an archetypal dream, Ocean made me forget I was reading a novel (and a fantasy at that) and believe I was reading a deeply personal story about Neil Gaiman's own childhood. Beautiful and terrifying, it is Coraline for adults from the perspective of age looking back to childhood, one of the most frightening fantasy books I've ever read (because the narrative feels so very real and personal), yet one of the loveliest and most comforting. I bow before writing of this caliber.(less)
Part meticulously-detailed historical novel and part blood-spattered fairy tale, The Accursed is like reading the darkest of Hans Christian Andersen t...morePart meticulously-detailed historical novel and part blood-spattered fairy tale, The Accursed is like reading the darkest of Hans Christian Andersen tales (think Marsh King's Daughter or Girl Who Trod on a Loaf) set in 1905 Princeton and featuring (among less historical figures) Woodrow Wilson, Upton Sinclair, and (in a brief cameo) Jack London. Nothing short of brilliant... and perverse. (less)
Robert Shearman writes such stuff as dreams are made on. These gorgeously-written dream landscapes are da...more4.5 - with some of the stories a definite 5.
Robert Shearman writes such stuff as dreams are made on. These gorgeously-written dream landscapes are dark and dirty and filled with wtf moments. They make you chuckle, shudder, admire the pitch-perfect turn-of-phrase, and best of all - think. And that's all in the space of a sentence. Shearman really has something to say here. And the writing is SPOT. ON.
After reading most of these short stories, I noticed that Shearman wrote an episode for series one (the Eccleston series) of Doctor Who. The same mix of humor, terror and social commentary that marked Shearman's Who outing in the stellar episode, Dalek, is evident in these well-crafted gems.
Joe Hill decks out old-school horror in modern urban fantasy duds and it really, really works. Highly recommended.
Complex, believably flawed character...moreJoe Hill decks out old-school horror in modern urban fantasy duds and it really, really works. Highly recommended.
Complex, believably flawed characters, genuinely original ideas that play beautifully into ingrained pop culture imagery, and once again, Joe Hill can WORK a PLOT to a nail-biting fever pitch of doom and then pull out just enough happy ending that his readers can sleep at night knowing there is still good in the world. (less)
I picked this up because I really enjoyed NOS4A2's modern twist on old-school horror. This one is a very respectable first novel that offers interesti...moreI picked this up because I really enjoyed NOS4A2's modern twist on old-school horror. This one is a very respectable first novel that offers interesting characters with complex back-stories; highly recommended for horror fans, but not my personal cup of tea (hence, 3 stars). Graphic violence.
That said, Joe Hill knows how to work a plot: just when you think things couldn't get worse for the characters in his books, he manages to pull out a satisfying ending. And for the horror fans, lots of strong images - especially towards the end - would make for a very creepy film in the right hands. (less)
(3.5) A year after his girlfriend's brutal murder, Ig Perrish wakes from a night of drinking with a hangover and ... well, devil horns. He soon discov...more(3.5) A year after his girlfriend's brutal murder, Ig Perrish wakes from a night of drinking with a hangover and ... well, devil horns. He soon discover that those who see the horns are compelled to reveal their innermost secrets. The results are immediately deeply horrifying and humorous by turns. Ultimately, they lead Ig to his girlfriend's murderer.
As in Hill's other works, his strength lies in his ability to create believable complex characters - even in the strangest of situations. Much of the backstory leading to the murder is told in flashbacks, and this too works well - creating a "Stand By Me" sense of nostalgia threaded with horror when we realize one of these people is a sociopath.
Definite 4 star moments, but a bit uneven and one bit of explanation not adequately addressed for my taste, so 3.5.
I look forward to seeing the film - although the horns in the stills are not at all as described in the book which clearly specifies devil horns like those on the Red Devil deviled ham cans. I hope that Daniel Radcliffe can pull off an American accent, because this book (set in New Hampshire) is very New England. (less)