I first read 'The Woman in Black' back in 1990 - I loved it then and I still love it now. I re-read it especially for my 'All Hallows Eve' event and I...moreI first read 'The Woman in Black' back in 1990 - I loved it then and I still love it now. I re-read it especially for my 'All Hallows Eve' event and I'm so pleased I revisited this amazing book.
The eeriness of the story is combined with delicious descriptive prose. This is what I love about Hills' writing. She's able to describe the world surrounding her characters with such detail I could actually be there, smelling the morning dew, feeling the biting wind on my skin, sensing the fear that grips Arthur Kipps that fateful day...
Her writing mesmerises me and I cannot bare to put her books down, and I've read many, all with their own uniqueness, but none, for me, come close to the darkly atmospheric 'The Woman in Black'.
The reader is pulled into the story with teasing snippets as we learn about Kipps' ghostly past. We first meet him in old age as he sits around a roaring fire on Christmas Eve with his beloved family. But the experiences of his past still haunt him so he decides to exorcise them by writing about them in detail and this is where we, the reader, learn what those experiences were which have caused him so much anxiety and many sleepless nights.
Kipps takes us back to when he was a young junior solicitor working his way up the ladder, when one day his boss gives him the responsibility of attending the funeral of a client. Little did Kipps know that this assignment would change his life forever. He takes the trip to Crythin Gifford, a small place in the country, sparten and desolate surrounded by marches and cold November fog.
The village folk greet him well until they hear he has arrived for Mrs Drablow's funeral and tend to her estate and he's baffled by their reaction. But after one night in Eel Marsh House, Kipps begins to understand as he's scared beyond all imagination. Although I knew how it ended, as this is my second reading, it's still shocking and sad.
This is one of my favourite books - it's a brilliant old-fashioned ghost story packed with bone-chilling suspense. Everything is written in wonderful detail and you're pulled into the story from the very first page. A fabulous read - I can't recommend it enough! (less)
This is a horror novel involving vampires and although it was written in the 1950's, it is written in such a way that it would fit in well with today'...moreThis is a horror novel involving vampires and although it was written in the 1950's, it is written in such a way that it would fit in well with today's graphic culture.
The story is told in the third person about a man called Robert Neville who seems to be the last human on earth. Not only does the author describe the characters fear and disgust of the creatures but also his immense loneliness and despair. The instinct to remain alive is intense and between bouts of alcohol induced blackouts, Neville obsesses over finding a cure to what he believes is a disease.
The book is full of tension and you will the character to live and find the cure he is searching for. It is not just a horror story but a portrayal of the human spirit and how the instinct to stay alive is strong, no matter what the odds. The ending is sad, abrupt and totally unpredictable.
I absolutely loved this book and highly recommend it.
NB: The movie is nothing like the book and the ending is totally different. If you haven't seen the movie then read the book first it is so much better.(less)
One by Conrad Williams is about one mans journey to find his son following an apocalyptic event. The United Kingdom is a scorched and desolate place,...moreOne by Conrad Williams is about one mans journey to find his son following an apocalyptic event. The United Kingdom is a scorched and desolate place, covered with a glittering dust, rubble and corpses.
The book is broken into two parts and the opening first few chapters are just pure brilliance. The pace was fast and the characters vivid. It wet my appetite for what was going to be something special, or so I thought.
After the first few intense and profound chapters the pace slowed to a virtual stop. The main protagonist, Richard Jane, realising that an extinction level event had taken place, begins his journey to London on foot to find his son. The journey to London is at least two thirds of the book, and goes on for far too long. It is this section of the book that, for me, didn't really work. I found it difficult to connect with Jane and although this book is written in the third person narrative, we didn't get to hear the voices of any of the other characters. It would have worked better if the narrative was in the first person, then maybe I would have been able to identify with the main character more.
When Jane and his two companions finally get to London, the second part of the book begins. It jumps a decade into the future and in my eyes begins the best part of the novel (other than the beginning). However, as with pages preceding there are more questions than answers, and Williams leaves us hanging on to find out what happened to the world and to his son. It was frustrating rather than a page turner. I am all for keeping the reader in suspense and anticipation but this was too much. It was just plan frustrating and so became annoying.
The most tangible aspect of One was Jane's love for his son, Stanley, and his relentless search for him against the hard truth of reality. The visual imagery that Williams gives us of the post apocalyptic world is vivid and realistic, and this is something Williams does superbly throughout the book. Jane's memories and thoughts about his son are touching but unfortunately, although understandable, become monotonous and too sentimental - a quote from the book where Jane is thinking of his son, "I miss you so much. Do you know, there's a little Stan-shaped hole right in the middle of my heart? Maybe there's a Daddy shaped one in the middle of yours..." I'm sorry, but am I reading a horror novel??
There are many excellent scenes in the book and one of my favourites is where the women are giving birth. I wont give too much away but it is horrific, nauseating and just what a horror novel should be. The creatures, called the Skinners are pretty foul and probably as close to zombies as Williams wanted them to be.
As I read through the chapters there were remnants of The Rising, by Brian Keane and I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson, but unlike both of these horror novels, this novel didn't really keep my attention. I understand that Williams was trying to keep his story fresh and not rehash old ground, but it lacked the tension and the despair of I Am Legend and the gut wrenching terror I felt when reading The Rising, and it certainly didn't give me nightmares, which for me, is a requisite when reading horror.
However, what I really like about Williams is his writing. It is very edgy, very raw and very British, and after all the negative points I have made about this novel, it hasn't put me off from buying The Umblemished, which won the International Horror Guilds Best Novel award. Maybe I will like this one more. I will let you know!
'Killing Kiss' is the story of Gabriele, a Seventeenth Century vampire, and a Manchester University student. It...moreReviewed by Laura for Book Chick City.
'Killing Kiss' is the story of Gabriele, a Seventeenth Century vampire, and a Manchester University student. It is a dark, and somewhat edgy book.
Gabriele is entirely alone in the world since he was accidentally turned into a vampire, and then abandoned by his maker. He lives in the outskirts of society.
To keep his existence under the radar he only allows himself one feed a year. The choosing of each year's victim is an all consuming and important task for Gabriele. He seduces and stalks the woman like the serial killer that he is. That woman always has the same characteristics. She is dark, slim, quiet, reserved and a virgin.
It is very difficult to turn a human into a vampire and no-one knows why one person survives and another dies. So every year Gabriele chooses carefully, and every year devastatingly, she dies. He would know, he has four hundred trophies to remind himself.
This year is unlike any other, he has chosen his prey and has begun stalking her with single minded determination. But, this year something distracts him. A beautiful and curvaceous woman called Lilly, who has every male student on campus panting. Of course she is not Gabriele's type. Gabriele has already chosen the dark haired Carolyn who fits his requirements perfectly.
However, despite hundreds of years of planning and control, Gabriele quickly discovers it only takes one small action to disrupt even the best laid plans. It comes in the shape on a simple spiked drink and suddenly everything changes.
The story is mixed in equal parts with Gabriele or Jay's, as he is known currently, life in the modern day and his reflections of his past. As his thinks about how he became a vampire and his life since. The women he's loved and killed, some even his wives. He takes us on a macabre and occasionally desolate journey.
When I first started the book I struggled to engage with Gabriele. Instead of coming across as a dark, sexy and gothic hero, initially he seems more like a horny, teenage boy. There's something sleazy about his pursuit of the innocent Carolyn that was not only sinister, but made my skin crawl. But on reflection, I think this was perhaps the author's intended effect.
I can't really talk about them without throwing in some spoilers which I'm reluctant to do, but there were a few things in the narrative that made me feel uncomfortable. In particular an unexpected revelation towards the end. But, again even as I think about it, I think this is on purpose. It is meant to set the reader slightly on edge and to break stereotypical moulds. To make this an unusual and deliberately different vampire novel.
This book is deceptively compelling. Like that alcoholic drink you shouldn't like but can't resist having just one more of. It is a purposely different, contemporary horror. And I find I am curious despite myself, to know where the author takes it next.(less)
So, I was struggling with the book I was supposed to be reading (sadly, as I had been really looking forwa...moreReviewed by Vickie for www.BookChickCity.com
So, I was struggling with the book I was supposed to be reading (sadly, as I had been really looking forward to it) so I stuck that down the side of my chair ready to pick up again later, and grabbed the next book in my TBR pile. Turns out that our lovely Carolyn had slipped me a sneaky one, and sent me some Horror!!! Woah… it’s sooo long since I read horror… years and years!! I decided to give it a go though as lately paranormal romance seems to be very hit and miss for me, and I am not sure if it’s because I have become rather stuck in my ways, so this has come at a good time for me to try a something a bit different (no Carolyn, no Zombies.. not yet at least!).
What can I tell you about DAMNABLE? Well, we start off in a cafe, listening in on a conversation between a chap called Garrett and a bit of a slimy character who is trying to have Garrett bump off his wife… she wants a divorce and he doesn’t want to cough up… oh… but her being pregnant isn’t a problem is it?? Nice chap I hear you say! No, not really, but that’s neither here nor there as he isn’t really an issue, and neither is Garrett… not for much further than the prologue at least. Garrett ends up meeting a rather sticky end whilst trying to be something of a hero (he turns out to be quite a nice chap really for his brief part in the book).
Enter Jacob (Jake) Hatcher, a specialized military man, wrongly convicted of a crime, slung in prison and slowly passing his time whilst waiting to be released. He receives a call from his mum to tell him that a brother he didn’t know he had has been killed and she would like it if he could come out to the funeral. Jake is liked by someone in the right places and it ends up that he is allowed to leave in order to attend the funeral, and this is where it all starts getting somewhat complicated for the poor fellow! And also for me if I am honest.
The plot revolves around Jake trying to solve what exactly happened to his “brother”, which then opens a really huge can of worms, involving very beautiful women that exude sex appeal, and leads him down paths he never knew existed, and he wishes he still didn’t.
Then there is our baddie, Mr Demetrius Valentine, a super wealthy nutcase (naturally) that is desperately trying to even the playing field where Heaven and Hell are concerned, by summoning a demon that will in turn enable him to set off a chain of events in order to destroy Heaven. Unfortunately he needs to bump off a few women along the way to help him “train” his demon, and so he uses a stooge to pick the ladies. Sadly, this gets him and his stooge noticed by the local PD and this is where we meet the main female character in DAMNABLE, Detective Amy Wright, who is trying to solve the case of the missing women.
I didn’t find myself being drawn in by any of the characters despite it being an enjoyable read. Jake was a full on sort of bloke, and I found his back story quite interesting, but I would have liked a bit more information on his past history. Detective Wright was ok, but I didn’t feel like we got to know her very well, and certainly not enough to make her important to me, which I feel is necessary when you get to the end of Damnable.
Whilst I enjoyed the storyline, and appreciated the twists and turns I did find some aspects of the plot hard to follow. Perhaps if I had a slightly better understanding of some bits of demonology I might not have struggled however I didn’t feel that it took away from the book as a whole. I just had to concentrate a bit harder during those bits, and re-read some of the paragraphs more than once. I was rather disappointed with the ending too, I found it somewhat, well, meh, but that could just be me wanting a happy glowing PNR sort of ending, which I guess wouldn’t fit in a horror, but even so, I do think more could have been done with it.
Whilst I was intrigued by the storyline in DAMNABLE, I didn’t feel a connection to the characters, which I rather missed. The plot was sometimes hard to follow and didn’t flow well, I was re-reading and checking back and so for me it’s going to be a 3.0. A good book, but nothing I am going to be yelling from the roof tops about.(less)
The story opens up with a prologue, which definitely sets the scene and is one of my favourite sections of the book. The characters are well written a...moreThe story opens up with a prologue, which definitely sets the scene and is one of my favourite sections of the book. The characters are well written and believable. I really liked Reggie and her determination to fight the Vours and save her brother from a life living in his worst nightmare. Aaron is also a good addition as you felt that Reggie had someone she could count on. I also like the twist with Quinn's character, which I didn't see coming.
The Vours are evil, children devouring demons, that feed on fear and are seriously scary. They are sinister and manipulative and really rather horrid. Younger horror fans will love the few gory sections in the book. I also loved the poems, such as the one on the back cover (above). These are the kind of poems that you would expect to be chanted around a camp fire.
The bulk of the story is creepy and suspenseful. My senses were heightened as I read this book. I don't think it helped that I was home alone, in a room that was barely lit except for a small low wattage lamp. The story has great atmosphere and the inclusion of spiders as Reggie's worst fear and drowning as Aaron's probably didn't help my nerves as they are my worst fears too. The scenes with the small spiders climbing over Reggie had me brushing my arms and jumpily checking my body for spiders long after I had read the scene.
The story kept a good steady pace, which had my attention from beginning to end and I read the book in one sitting. This is a fairly short book, with only 217 pages, so it's easy to do. The ending is satisfying, although you are left with a cliffhanger, which suggests a sequel. Can't wait!
I love both the UK and US covers, but now I've read the book I think the UK one is much more appropriate. The US cover doesn't really make sense or have any connection to the story itself in any way; it's far too demure.
"She grabbed the spider with both hands. It wriggled in her grasp. We are the cure. Her jaw hurt from gritting her teeth. We devour your fear. She brought the spider to her mouth. Devour your fear."
"The surgeon rounded the corner. Her mask was gone, and beneath her eyes was only a black pit that billowed smoke. One of her rubber-gloved hands raised a bone saw, and the circular blade whirred to life."
Although this book is aimed at the Young Adult market, I would say that it's more suited to younger readers, 12-14, than the older teenage market as the writing is fairly simple and doesn't contain too much bad language or scenes of violence. However, it's still a great read for any age, especially if you are a horror fan; it had my skin crawling.
This is a definite halloween read, so if you haven't read it yet, I recommend that you do! It's just as creepy as hell!(less)
The Harrowing is marketed as 'Scream meets The Exorcist' and I'd say that is a fair description. This is the debut novel of an author who's also a scr...moreThe Harrowing is marketed as 'Scream meets The Exorcist' and I'd say that is a fair description. This is the debut novel of an author who's also a screenwriter, and it shows. This book reads like a movie; it's scary, jumpy, spine-chilling and keeps you on the edge of your seat. It's well written and yet has a nice easy flow to the prose without being too simplistic. The imagery is vivid and the atmosphere is tense.
Robin, the main character, starts out as a very paranoid, self-pitying young woman who is being crushed by the knowledge that her father didn't want her and her mother's a drunk. Life is difficult and she feels unloved, invisible and totally alone. She's mistrustful of everyone, until she meets four other students who also didn't go home for Thanksgiving, and comes to realise that she isn't the only one who feels lonely, and there are people who are just as unhappy as she is.
The other four characters also play a major role in this movie book and they are somewhat predictable but great reading all the same. Patrick: the jock, who's big and tough, but is really just a puppy dog inside and shows what a true hero he is by the end of the book. Cain: the brooding, cynical, good looking musician who comes to believe and helps Robin in her quest to find out the truth. Lisa: the sexy, bitchy bimbo who really has more substance than people realise, honest. And Martin: the quiet, scholarly geek who suddenly becomes the center of attention.
After a night playing on the Ouija board and witnessing fairly spooky goings on, this unlikely five form a bond that changes their lives forever. At first they think what is happening is a joke, a prank set up by one of them. But soon they realise it isn't a joke at all; it is all too real and they have to fight to stay alive.
"Violent longing stabbed through her - a wish that something would happen, that someone would hear, move, respond, that a door would open and everything, everything would change. There was a sort of electric tingling under her fingers... The planchette suddenly moved..."
"The whole energy of the attic room had changed. Robin could feel it - the intense, curious focus of the five of them, and a sense of almost conspiratorial intimacy from the board. She felt vaguely that they were being lulled, that whatever they were talking to was working toward something. The thought made her cold with fear."
This is a really great read, especially if you like horror and even more so if you like scary teenage horror movies!
I actually give the 7/10 by Goodreads doesn't do half starts, grrr.
Monster Republic is the first book in a new series by Ben Horton. It's told in the third person narrative and although there are several interesting c...moreMonster Republic is the first book in a new series by Ben Horton. It's told in the third person narrative and although there are several interesting characters, it focuses mainly on the character of Cameron.
Cameron is popular, sporty and good looking. He has everything going for him, including the prettiest girl at school as his girlfriend. But there is one thorn in his side and that's Carl, the school bully. While visiting a nuclear power plant there is a huge explosion after which Cameron wakes up to find his life has changed forever and he's not sure who to trust. Then he realises he's not the only one who's changed when he comes face to face with his girlfriend, who sure sounds a lot like Carl!
A young girl brakes him out of hospital and takes him back to a group who call themselves Monster Republic. They have formed the group so all unsuccessful experiments, like Cameron, have a safe haven. But Cameron doesn't want to just hide away and so sets out to bring down the man who made him into a monster.
This is a really fast-paced, gripping novel. It may be aimed at the young adult reader, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book and in fact couldn't put it down. Although there were times, as an adult reader, I felt a little more detail was needed, this didn't deter me from this very well written action packed story. The writer is successful in making the characters believable and well rounded and gives them enough emotional depth to enable you to either love them or loath them, depending on if they are the good guy or the bad guy.
"The eye that gazed out from the metal plating looked more like a camera. It's cold, glassy lens stared back at him from alongside a living, human eye, daring Cameron to keep looking. Sending him the clear and brutal truth: This is you."
"'No,' he whispered to the monster in the glass. And he watched it shaking its hideous head. 'That's not me. You're not me.'"
I wish the story continued for longer than its 275 pages, as it ended way too soon for me, which only makes me that much more impatient for the next installment in this brilliant new series. I have a feeling that this book is going to be hugely popular in 2010! I highly recommend it, so when it's released, go guy it, you won't be disappointed!
This is another book I've read recently that reads just like a movie. It reminded me of SAW. Although the story is different, it has the same level of...moreThis is another book I've read recently that reads just like a movie. It reminded me of SAW. Although the story is different, it has the same level of violence and tension, with a typical movie style ending. This is a long way from the Shaun Hutson novels I remember reading (Slugs, Spawn,) but it worked well and I wasn't disappointed.
We are introduced to Detective Inspector Joe Chapman, who's typically flawed with an unhappy marriage, an affair with a work colleague under his belt and a runaway daughter who can't deal with her dysfunctional family. All he needs to complete the stereotype is to be an alcoholic, but fortunately Hutson refrains from the conventional. However, I think that because of these flaws the character is actually quite likeable and believable.
The plot is a good one (which I wont go into as it will give too much away). It is a slow burner but it eventually kicks into high gear when Chapman becomes the hunted rather than the hunter.
This is a very violent book with a significant amount of bad language. Some of it made me wince, and the rape scene was pretty horrific, but it embedded itself well in the story and didn't feel out of place, although it did make for uncomfortable reading. However, it's suppposed to make you feel like that; it is Shaun Hutson after all.
This is a phychological horror which is full of brutality and bloodshed. It is well executed and I would definitely read more from this author. However, I would only recommend it to like minded people who enjoy horror and can deal with, or are used to, reading books of this nature.(less)
Most of the time I see Shaun Hutson as comfort reading, especially when I'm in the mood for a gruesome horror. And by comfort reading I mean knowing t...moreMost of the time I see Shaun Hutson as comfort reading, especially when I'm in the mood for a gruesome horror. And by comfort reading I mean knowing the author you're reading, like slipping on an old pair of slippers. I know how Hutson writes, I know what to expect and I know that I will be pulled into the story from the get go.
Last Rites didn't disappoint regarding these aspects. In fact, the first chapter jumped in with both feet when we are introduced to the main character, Peter Mason, who is being beaten to near death by a gang of youths. It's brutal, violent and full of swearing. It's not for the faint hearted. But I'm used to Hutson and this is the 'norm' and most of the time it doesn't bother me.
I like Hutson's writing. It's not the most beautiful prose you will ever read but it has a realness about it that sucks me into the character's lives, they become real. They always have a lot of baggage, history and depth. They are well rounded. That's another thing I enjoy about his books, he makes his characters totally believable.
However, although Last Rites succeeded on many levels, unfortunately it also failed. In the beginning, getting to know the characters and their back story was interesting, especially with Peter Mason. I enjoyed that with each chapter it focused on a different character. Unfortunately this went on for far too long and you didn't actually get to the meat of the story until at least two thirds of the way in. Then everything was rushed, which made the actions of Mason less believable and before I knew it, it was the end of the book.
There were a couple of surprises at the end I didn't see coming, which prevented the book from being a 4/10. But to be honest this wasn't really Hutson's best work so it ended up being a 5 (view rating system on my blog).(less)