Advance reader's copy review. Leucrota Press did a nice job on the presentation.
It’s quite a few years since I read any British books that came anywher...moreAdvance reader's copy review. Leucrota Press did a nice job on the presentation.
It’s quite a few years since I read any British books that came anywhere near to fitting into this sort of genre. Perhaps it was a Shaun Hutson, when he was trying to pull free from all the supernatural/mutated nature elements that were common in his more saleable works to get back to straight gorefest bad situation thrillers. Unfortunately it was the supernatural elements that first attracted me, perhaps trying to reclaim some of the guilty pleasures of gorefest authors such as Guy N.Smith and the early career of James Herbert that I overdosed on during my teens. Shaun Jeffrey’s Kult has no carnivorous slugs, hordes of hungry rats (well maybe a few) or giant crabs bent on mutilation and dismemberment but it does have some folks in a very, very bad situation.
At first, during the first fifty pages or so, I found I was having problems with Shaun Jeffrey’s writing. Whenever he settled into any extended sections of narrative his sentence structure would became much longer and convoluted. Many times I’d be immersed in the flow of the writing only to be dragged back to the printed page by yet another awkward sounding sentence. Fortunately this seemed to pass after we left behind the first rash of Oracle/victim chapters and introduced Prosper Snow.
Jeffrey writes decent dialogue (though sometimes cheesy) and the story rattles on at a decent pace. The characterisations did seem to be only thinly pencilled in at times, which is fairly common in books of this type, but I do feel characters like Liz deserved more back story and personality. Perhaps she occupies a space in the story only to ask awkward questions of Prosper but I think she needed fleshing out more. A little more restraint with the naming selection would have been good too. The five Kult members all sound like they’ve been culled from Alexis Carrington’s little black book. I get the feeling that this might have been the author entertaining himself. Even though The Kult is generally quite dark, Jeffrey does sometimes dole out a little amusement from time to time. The prose is dotted with little similes and metaphors, some quite clumsy and some even get more than one outing, but if you are in the mood some can also be quite fun. My favourite is:
Prosper didn’t think his heart could sink any further, but if a spiritual Marianas Trench existed, he was in it, three miles down in a bathysphere buckling under the pressure.
There’s nothing particularly bad about Shaun Jeffrey’s work here. There’s nothing to particularly recommend it either. I’ve read worse in the genre and I’ve read better. I felt like giving this two and a half stars but I suppose I can stump up for an extra half star considering this is a British writer still fairly close to the start of his career. (less)
To me this rates up there with Dickens' Signalman or many of M.R. James best stuff. Really good ghost stories are so hard to find so all seekers of a...moreTo me this rates up there with Dickens' Signalman or many of M.R. James best stuff. Really good ghost stories are so hard to find so all seekers of a supernatural chilling should throw another log on the fire and reach for The Woman in Black.(less)
I'm not going to add my review to the millions of previous reviews but I will say I thoroughly enjoyed it yet again. The last time I read this I was s...moreI'm not going to add my review to the millions of previous reviews but I will say I thoroughly enjoyed it yet again. The last time I read this I was staying at an old schoolhouse (rented and now sadly converted into a hotel) at Sandsend a few miles north of Whitby, not far from Mulgrave Woods that Mina & Lucy hike to. I was going to finish the book on my last day there, which I'd planned to do from the cliff tops overlooking the harbour mouth and the final doomed course of the Demeter, near the Abbey and the graveyards (during the day of course) but the weather turned stormy and I had to complete it indoors.(less)
I didn't enjoy this one as much as her other two Horror books. I think the setting of an oil tanker didn't really help; there are only so many ways yo...moreI didn't enjoy this one as much as her other two Horror books. I think the setting of an oil tanker didn't really help; there are only so many ways you can describe metal boxes and bulkheads. Still better than a lot of supposedly scary books out there though.(less)
Review from blog. This is one of those novels that might be better enjoyed if the reader comes to it without the knowledge that this is a ghost story....moreReview from blog. This is one of those novels that might be better enjoyed if the reader comes to it without the knowledge that this is a ghost story. Although it does have strange goings on at the big house, it has a lot more going for it than just a few ghostly chills. The story is told to the reader by a country doctor, who documents a year in his life, slowly becoming embroiled in the struggles of the last three members of the local landed gentry. A glamour of nostalgia draws him to their manor house even though its best days are long past. The old and the new collide again again throughout the story; from the doctor's country practice to the proposed NHS; superstitions and science; traditional remedies and the doctor's new treatments; the old manor encroached by new cheap housing; even poetry gets a mention - "What's wrong with nice long lines and a jaunty rhythm?" asks the old lady of the house, comparing Tennyson to Emily Dickinson. An air of melancholy slowly builds into foreboding before the first terrible event rips into the family. It's all very well written with lots of little undertones that keep the narrative interesting. The old matriarch lost in her memories and clinging to a world that has largely been washed away. The young son, scarred inside and out by the horrors of war, driven too far by the responsibility expected of a male heir. The doctor falling in love, but with the young daughter, or the house, or an ideal and too quick to fit everything into what is rational or reasonable. I lived in Warwickshire when I was away at college back in the early 1980s and I felt that the place depicted here could just as easily have been any rural area in an English county. The book doesn't really work as a ghost story. It's too long and not paced right but I don't think that matters, because I don't think the book was ever even trying to fit into that genre.(less)
Full review from Badelynge I love a good ghost story. M.R.James is one of the best at the short form of the genre. Ghost Stories of an Antiquary is pac...moreFull review from Badelynge I love a good ghost story. M.R.James is one of the best at the short form of the genre. Ghost Stories of an Antiquary is packed with some of his best. All the stories here were written between 1894 and 1904 and were originally read to the author's friends at Christmas at Kings College, Cambridge where James was a noted British medieval scholar. I'd guess the best way to experience these chilling little stories would be to have them read to you on a dark night, in the depths of winter, perhaps on Christmas Eve itself. It is probably easier to imagine, listening to the words, that the story is being told to you by someone who has heard the story from another, and that such a tale might be true - just for a short time anyway. James usually cleverly distances the storyteller from the actual protagonists who are often of a scholarly type, quite sanguine (at least at first) in their rejection of the supernatural.(less)
Mick Farren's book is about a colony of modern day vampires living in a large town house in New York. The vampires have curbed their natural instincts...moreMick Farren's book is about a colony of modern day vampires living in a large town house in New York. The vampires have curbed their natural instincts to kill to feed and now use I.V.. Every seven years the urge gets too much and they are compelled to feast for real. The colony is split into two factions: the old vampires wanting to keep a low profile and the younger vampires lead by a young hothead who thinks they should be true to their natures and go back to killing for good.(less)