There is a red and angry world. Red things happen there. The world eats your wife. And eats your friends. It eats all the things that make you human. And iThere is a red and angry world. Red things happen there. The world eats your wife. And eats your friends. It eats all the things that make you human. And it turns you into a monster.
As a youth I didn’t get Swamp Thing. And reading this as an adult it’s rather easy to see why. Before I get into any details, I have to just say that the prose in here is breathtakingly beautiful at times. This is not a book for children; it is a book for people who have seen a bit of the world and have experienced some loss, some fear, some responsibility, some of the things that come with adulthood. Because, frankly: how else could you identify with what happens here?
It is also not a conventional “superhero” story by any definition. Consider the following:
Moore's Swamp Thing had a profound effect on mainstream comic books, being the first horror comic to approach the genre from a literary point of view since the EC horror comics of the 1950s, and he broadened the scope of the series to include ecological and spiritual concerns while retaining its horror-fantasy roots - Wikipedia
Ecological and spiritual concerns? As a child this was far, far removed from my mind. Other than that, there are a multitude of things writhing beneath the (thin) veneer of “superhero” story: the nature of good and evil, what it means to be human, friendship and love, the effect of fear et al… (consider, for example, the story and eventual fate of the Monkey King). I should also mention the complex relationships between Alec Holland and his handful of friends, and specifically Abigail. And now I have.
It's raining in Washington tonight. Plump, warm summer rain that covers the sidewalks with leopard spots. Downtown, elderly ladies carry their houseplants out to set them on the fire-escapes, as if they were infirm relatives or Boy Kings.
Sometimes hopeful, sometimes bizarre, often crushingly depressing, but always beautiful. Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing is one of the best examples of this type of thing that I have read in, well, probably ever.
He’ll be pounding on the glass right about now… …or maybe not now. Maybe in a while. But he’ll be pounding. And… And will there be blood? I like to imagine so. Yes, I rather think there will be blood. Lots of blood. Blood in extraordinary quantities.
It gets violent, yes. And quite so at times. But not in the most likeliest of ways. I was often surprised at the turns that the story takes. It really is a marvellously atmospheric Southern Horror. And, in a stroke of ingenuity, the artwork is often just as bizarre and off-beat as the rest of the affair.
It’s quite apparent that Moore was very careful to not walk the same ground that other writers were covering. He was taking the road less travelled.
And, even though they don’t really feature in the story, describing the Justice League:
There is a house above the world, where the over-people gather. There is a man with wings like a bird. There is a man who can see across the planet and wring diamonds from its anthracite. There is a man who moves so fast that his life is an endless gallery of statues. In the house above the world, the over-people gather... And sit... And listen... ...To a dry, mad voice that whispers of Earthdeath.
So what is the down side here? Nothing really, but I do think readers have to at least bear the following in mind: Alan Moore only came aboard for the second run of this series, which means that by the time this book kicks off all the fundamentals had already been covered. That’s to say, Moore didn’t create Swamp Thing and he doesn’t tell the Origins story of the character. This had come before, and, since I haven’t read that yet, I do not know how that differs from, or impacts on, this particular part of the Swamp Thing mythos.
Have you ever been under? All the way under? Like I have? Oh like I have? - John Hiatt ...more
I’ve long been meaning to read The Keep. It is the first in the Adversary Cycle, and ties in with the (later) RepairmanHe was dead. And yet not dead.
I’ve long been meaning to read The Keep. It is the first in the Adversary Cycle, and ties in with the (later) Repairman Jack novels. I have also seen it mentioned on numerous top-ten lists pertaining to Vampire Horror (although, to be fair, the author is very specific about the nature of his antagonist – but this is spoiler territory so I won’t go there).
So, does it live up to expectation?
Something in that air caused the hair on his arms and at the base of his neck to stand on end.
If you have read any of the Repairman Jack novels, you will already know what to expect from this book, although admittedly The Keep leans more toward straightforward horror whereas the Jack books follow a genre mishmash template. That said, you will not often feel too upset when characters get killed, since they’re mostly portrayed as fairly villainous themselves.
Something as dark and as cold as the chamber he had entered was awake and hungry and beside him.
I found this to be a fairly visual read, that’s to say it would probably make for a good film what with all the fantastic set pieces, not to mention the World War II backdrop. There are scenes here that are genuinely eerie and / or scary. What’s more, at times the story is quite ingenious, especially the concepts of Light and Chaos that the author introduces.
He was no longer in command of the keep. Something dark and awful had taken over.
Two gripes. There is a love story here that feels forced and awkward. It certainly has a place in the story, but at times the author lathers it on a bit thick and the fluttery-eyed sugary-sweet gloop is hard to stomach. In my experience when it comes to this sort of thing less is more.The second gripe that I do have comes from a rather abstract place. The cover art of the new Tor editions are rather unimaginative and, frankly, boring. I much prefer the artwork of some of the older editions.
She would fear the dark forever.
In closing, there are some nice conspiracy theories thrown in for good measure. You know, just to thicken the broth.
The Keep is a fairly solid entry in the Vampire Horror genre. Added bonus: it has some novelty value, especially if you already read Repairman Jack.
3.5 stars (which I have to round, because Goodreads doesn’t give me any other option)
Trying to review The Burning is turning into a bit of a chore. I’ve restarted this review quite a few times, and I am as yet unable to put into wordsTrying to review The Burning is turning into a bit of a chore. I’ve restarted this review quite a few times, and I am as yet unable to put into words just exactly what I liked, or didn’t like, about the novel.
Some books are just like that, I suppose.
I read The Burning cover to cover; it wasn’t great, and it wasn’t bad. It has a ghost train, which is always awesome, and as a matter of principal garners it a bonus star. There are some good ideas here, but they don’t all come to fruition. Some of them, however, do. If I really had to name a downside to the story it would have something to do with the way events are wrapped up: I thought the ending was rather bizarre and OTT enough to cross the line into cheeseville. Other than that, if you enjoy 80’s style horror as King and Koontz used to do it, you might enjoy this. I’ve read other books by Little that I thought were better, though, so don’t expect a total mindblast. Except, of course, for the fact that it has a ghost train. Or have I mentioned that already?
There are some truly sinister scenes here, which do deserve a mention, but there were also some things that didn’t make a lot of sense. Or maybe it was just because I was reading this with a sun baked and rum addled brain on a beach somewhere in the Indian Ocean.
Hence the fairly non-committal rating of 2.5 (rounded up because of, yes you guessed it, the ghost train). ...more
Thanks to my parents, for allowing me to grow up strange. - From the author’s Acknowledgments
It’s clear, as early as the prologue, that Bentley Little Thanks to my parents, for allowing me to grow up strange. - From the author’s Acknowledgments
It’s clear, as early as the prologue, that Bentley Little isn’t afraid to write about things that scratch at the door of your comfort zone. You may argue that some of this is uncalled for. In fact, you wouldn’t be wrong, but in this particular instance there is some method to the madness. So read on.
"I like the dark."
This is a novel about a twisted serial killer. Which is a bit like saying Jason Voorhees has “homicidal tendencies”. The killings in here are uniquely grotesque and macabre. Even though most of it is only described post mortem, it’s still mucho disturbing. If you have a craving for a story that will freak you out a bit, then chances are you’ve come to the right place.
He smelled the nauseous odor of violence.
Suffice to say, this is a frigging uneasy read. Shelve it under Horror and not under something as incongruous as “Thriller” or “Mystery”. It isn’t particularly frenetic, pacing-wise, but Little manages to maintain a level of tension throughout that is just, well, uncomfortable.
The police procedural aspects and investigative techniques described also keep things interesting. This is something that is often lacking in similar novels.
In fact, the whole affair has some good plot development and event progression.
What kind of person would commit a murder like that? And why?
My wife often asks me why I read books like these (i.e. books that make me squirm a bit). Truth be told, I’m not sure... but I do tend to keep coming back for more.
I’m not sure just how “politically correct” this book would be deemed to be, given some of the revelations toward the latter end of the story, and I found the bizarre sexual themes somewhat abrasive and messed up. H.o.w.e.v.e.r. this is a Horror novel so it’s not supposed to be an easy read.
The thing with a book like this: it raises a number of questions that I would typically like to speculate on, but I can’t do it here for spoiler reasons. If you read this for the right reasons, and if you are a Horror junkie, there’s no reason not to enjoy it. You could argue there are some flaws in the Author's logic concerning some aspects of the story, but Horror fiction is full of apparently omnipotent baddies that aren't properly explained (Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers et al). At least Little comes up with an explanation of sorts for his antagonist. In the end, when it comes to this kind of thing... it just ain't about the "logic" after all...
There might be a method to this madness as well, but it was still madness, and he did not understand it.
First the whispers were in a dream. And then they weren’t.
What do you get if you take a strange town in the moors, Halloween, eerie rituals, psychiatr First the whispers were in a dream. And then they weren’t.
What do you get if you take a strange town in the moors, Halloween, eerie rituals, psychiatric problems, a history of tragedy, ghostly sightings, and, well, one or two other things, and dump it in the smelting pot?
”We call it the Blood Harvest.”
What you don’t necessarily get is a fast paced page turner. This is not a criticism. I happen to enjoy a slow burner that handles plot development well.
This is a finely written, but fairly slow, novel about obsession and the terrible things that people do. Or, to be more accurate, the first half of the novel is reasonably slow, but it redeems itself nicely in the second half. In fact, there is a fairly clear divide between the not-so-exciting portion and the quite-a-bit-exciting-what portion.
So this was what it was like then – the nighttime – soft and scented and strangely warm, a place where all the colours had gone, leaving black and silver and moonbeams in their place.
A book like this is always going to be eerie. What with kids playing around in an old crumbling graveyard, at night… and naked, painted men burning effigies every once in a while… and disembodied voices… and mass graves… et al
What in the name of God was going on here?
There are some twists and shocking reveals, of which at least one is a real humdinger insofar as creepy factor is concerned. If I had to describe Blood Harvest in one word, it would be shivery.
”She’s been watching us for a while now,” he said. “Sometimes it’s like she’s always there…”
In a nutshell then – it’s a suspense / mystery book with some dark elements. It doesn’t bring anything particularly new to the table, but it is nicely written and should appeal to most suspense-heads, particularly those who enjoy psychological thrillers.
[He] opened the door to the church crypt. The stale smell of things long since forgotten came stealing up towards him. ...more
When I finished this, yesterday evening, I was filled by a tremendous sense of melancholy, not just because t Gus and his pig were aggravating company.
When I finished this, yesterday evening, I was filled by a tremendous sense of melancholy, not just because the book was finally finished, but because of its introspective nature. By far one of the best I’ve read, Lonesome Dove is a dense book in more ways than one, and runs a gamut of emotions that will leave you feeling giddy. Hysterically funny the one moment, heartbreakingly tragic the next, it alternately delighted and depressed me to an extent I have seldom experienced before (in so far as literary fiction is concerned).
[He] didn’t cry, but he was so shaken he went weak in the legs.
It is also one of the most complete novels I have ever read, and you have to read it cover to cover before fully appreciating its power. It isn’t just a tale about a cattle drive to Montana… it is a tale about transitions, the passing of time, and the ending of (all) things.
They were on a plain of grass so huge that it was hard to imagine there was a world beyond it. The herd, and themselves, were like a dot, surrounded by endless grass.
If the book is sometimes a bit gritty or raw, it’s because it’s a tale of hard folk making a hard living in hard country. Lonesome Dove is an occasionally hilarious, occasionally bleak glimpse at frontier life (and frontier justice), and it may not be what you expected. You will come away from this one deeply affected, for better or worse. It will also make you think. A lot.
“I don’t know what to do. It’s been so long since I done anything right that I can’t remember it.”
The characters are marvellously colourful and often larger than life. In fact, the author should be applauded for managing to keep them from coming across as caricatures. Even though the story itself is fascinating, the fantastic characterisation undoubtedly forms the very foundation of this novel. It’s hard not to love a story that revolves around the likes of Captains Woodrow Call and Augustus McCrae, polar opposites and saddle buddies. Not to mention the fantastically endearing supporting cast.
The Captain turned and handed him a holstered pistol and a gun belt. “Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.”
It’s a big book and I’m guessing many of us have had this lying around for ages, but you really should make the time to read it. It’s worth every minute. Something that is worth a mention: the author has the uncanny ability to seamlessly change character viewpoints mid stride, which gives the story a nice flow.
Highly, highly recommended.
“Why would you want to hang them? They’re already dead.” “I know, but it’s a shame to waste that tree. It’s the only tree around.”
Not only is the protagonist uniquely psychopathic, but the novel also contains scenes of an erotic and This pulpy little western really surprised me.
Not only is the protagonist uniquely psychopathic, but the novel also contains scenes of an erotic and psychological nature that would not have been out of place in a psychological horror story. The story is pretty damn dark and even though the kill count isn’t particularly high the violence is described as vividly and lovingly as I have ever read.
It’s hard to classify Black as Death (the title of the book is rather apt, by the way). It isn’t a typical revenge Western, since that bit of the story is dealt with quite early on. The rest of the book explores the protagonist’s psyche, which is a wormy affair, and features some flashbacks that flesh out the back story. While this is going on, our anti-heroic Undertaker moves from location to location, smoking cheroots and either scaring or killing the odd varmint. I’m guessing Acid Westerns might have been an influence.
It’s a quick read and a fascinating one. I daresay that this won’t be everybody’s cup of tea shot of rotgut, but if you’re looking to scratch that violent Western itch this is as good a place to start as any. It has all you need: enigmatic gunslinger(s), crooked ladies of disrepute, cool action sequences… and, of course, a touch of depravity.
I was tempted to give this one 5 stars. It has the makings of a cult classic (in my lowly opinion) and in particular because it seems to be out of print. On the other hand, I came away from it feeling slightly soiled distressed, which is reason to subtract one star, I should think. Now, I’m going to have to see if I can get hold of the rest of the books in the series, starting with Destined to Die. ...more
It's been mentioned in other reviews, but this particular book does seem to suffer from a bit of an identity crisis: it doesn't quite seem sure of itsIt's been mentioned in other reviews, but this particular book does seem to suffer from a bit of an identity crisis: it doesn't quite seem sure of its main protagonist. You'd think it would be Joe Leaphorn, but it just may not be after all.
That said, it's certainly a rather interesting book. Navajo symbolism and mythology permeate the writing to such an extent that I initially found it somewhat difficult to follow the story, but once you get used to the writing style it actually reads quite fast.
It's a fairly sinister story too, with some scary characters prowling around in the desert. I would have liked to rate it a bit higher, but it isn't quite there yet. There's a lot of promise here, though, and it has atmosphere in spades. This is only book 1, after all, so the characters are still finding their feet at this point.
I'll definitely be looking into the next instalment in the series (Dance Hall of the Dead) and in particular Skinwalkers since it seems to be the book that made Joe Leaphorn "famous" (so to speak).
Recommended to mystery readers who are looking for something unique, as far as setting is concerned. ...more