33 A.D. is not the usual type of book I would pick up if I saw it in a bookstore. But, one thing reviewing does do iReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
33 A.D. is not the usual type of book I would pick up if I saw it in a bookstore. But, one thing reviewing does do is open you up to new stories and writers. 33 A.D. takes us back to a world where vampires are evil, vile, frightening creatures in a vision that would make Stoker proud.
The setting of the book is the part I found particularly clever and unique. Set in Jerusalem during the time of Jesus Christ, it rewrites the events leading up to Jesus’s crucifixion with an evil, vampiric twist.
33 A.D. is one of those books that makes me regret that I opted out of Religious Studies at school. Because I know that McAfee has without a doubt used some creative licence in his retelling, it does after all include vampires, but I cannot tell you how closely he knitted it to the original. The writing is original, fresh and unique. The concept of the novel cleverly crafted. The plot is a jagged, crooked thing of unexpected events and plenty of gore. Although it did meander on occasion.
The story is told from various character’s point of views, beginning with Ephraim, the vampire converted to religion after an encounter with Jesus. Then we have Theron the vampire assassin, Marcus the Centurion, Taras the Roman soldier and secret assassin, Mary the Jewish merchant’s daughter and Gordian, also a soldier under Marcus’s command. Each of them playing their part and their stories threading through to the end.
What I struggled with the most was this jotted narrative style. It was not immediately clear, perhaps not even until the end, who the hero of the book was. And even then the hero is a complicated character who plays his own part in Jesus’s death. As a reader I very missed the idea of a central hero, some of the characters I liked more than others, but at some time or other in the book I disliked each and everyone one of them. This was a real sticking point in the story for me, I lacked someone to identify with at least at some level and truly route for. I think it would be fair to say I didn’t really care for any of the characters, with perhaps the exception of Taras, which meant the story did fall a little flat at times.
The conclusion is a bloody, deadly affair, so bloody I wasn’t sure if it was going to give a Shakespearean tragedy a run for its money. I had kernels of hope for some of the story lines but McAfee takes things in an entirely different direction to the way I expected.
I don’t think that this is a series I will continue on with. A lot of this is down to personal taste, this is not generally a genre I read often. But that aside, to coin a Bonnie Tyler phrase, ‘I need a hero…’ and 33 A.D. had a bit of an empty void where one should be. But it was an interesting concept, a clever rewrite and it’s nice to read about vampires back in the nightmare arena once in a while.
THE WITCHES is a horror novel that was originally published in 1960 and tells the story of a school mistress (Miss MReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
THE WITCHES is a horror novel that was originally published in 1960 and tells the story of a school mistress (Miss Mayfield) who goes to teach in a small town in Kent, where things are not quite as they seem. The story is written by Peter Curtis, who isn’t fact a man, but a pseudonym for Norah Lofts.
The 1960s setting gives the book a slightly old fashioned, if not historical feel. But actually suits the tone of the story and mystery perfectly. There were a few points that made me chuckle, forty described as middle aged for instance, at only eight years away from it myself I viewed this a combination or horror and amusement.
The story begins when Miss Mayfield begins to suspect one of her students is being abused. The discovery leaves her to suspect something much more sinister is going on. The book is as much a psychological one as a physical one. The isolation of Miss Mayfield is a single woman in a town where she doesn’t know anyone, doesn’t know who she can trust and subtly begins to be manipulated by those around her until she’s questioning her sanity is chilling.
"She had a second in which to taste fear to the full, time to think that there was such a thing as Evil which could take palpable and visual form, and that she was here alone with it."
The tension builds slowly, with a real eeriness that really did give me goosebumps at times. The feeling that something very dark and sinister is lurking underneath the veneer of this pretty village was potent.
Miss Mayfield is a slightly weepy heroine, I understand that it was related to the fact that she wasn’t sure if she was losing her mind during certain sections of the book, but she was a big change from my usual kick-arse urban fantasy favourites. But by the end of the book she showed sheer guts, determination and bravery in her own prim way.
The story has you guessing until the very end about who is involved in the dark plot and who isn’t. I had my suspicions, but it didn’t fail to surprise me. Because of the era the book was written in, you have to read between the lines a little bit during the end, as the writing is not as explicit as we’re used to in more modern writing. For example:
Then she lifted the cup and, saying, ‘Here is his blood,’ offered it to Granny Rigby, who did with it something so degrading that Miss Mayfield shut her eyes…
Now my imagination took me to a few places about what could be that degrading, but that was explicit as things got, you don’t actually know what she does that is so awful, you can only guess. And if you’re a modern horror reader this is quite a step change. It didn’t hamper my enjoyment at all, it was just stylistically different.
A classic, chilling horror novel where the atmosphere and psychological games are as scary as the actual final events. THE WITCHES is a chilling tale of evil that has corrupted a small picturesque Kent village and the one woman who dares to challenge it.
I’m finding it quite hard to summarise what I feel about ONCE UPON A NIGHTMARE. I think it’s easier if I split the bReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
I’m finding it quite hard to summarise what I feel about ONCE UPON A NIGHTMARE. I think it’s easier if I split the book into two parts. The story and plot which really is superb, but then there’s the violence which to be honest is pretty horrific.
Let’s start with the first element. ONCE UPON A NIGHTMARE is a gruesome, frightening murder mystery. Our main heroine is Sara. The book opens with Sara feeling an intense sense of foreboding, followed by a horrendous nightmare where she is raped and murdered. As the plot unravels it soon begins to become apparent that Sara’s nightmares are some sort of clairvoyant gift, as she discovers each of them begin to come true, starting with the murder of someone she loves dearly.
The writing is tight and pacy, the twists of the serial killer plot are brilliant. Moylan throws in several red herrings, by the end I was suspecting everyone, but had no idea who the awful killer was. In fact, I would have put my money on someone else. The scenes were gripping and the sense of terror and escalating horror palpable. It was a complete thrill-ride.
The relationships between the characters were cleverly portrayed and added further depth to the growing tension and horror. Isolation and fear surrounded Sara as the novel progressed. Which only grew worse as she begins to suspect everyone, along with the realisation that the killer is someone close to them all.
But then there’s the violence. To be clear, I read what I believe to be quite a lot of violence in the genres I like to read. I’ve read scenes of gore, torture and rape. But ONCE UPON A NIGHTMARE seemed to take things to the next level. It’s important to state that this book is in no way suitable for younger readers. The violence is abundant, explicit and quite hard to take.
The scenes that were hardest for me were the rape ones. There are scenes of very, very graphic, violent rape. I’m talking the killer keeping his victims awake, raping and mutilating them at the same time. There were a couple of occasions where I had to put the book down, because I felt faintly nauseated and needed a break from the writing.
This is my major criticism of the book, I think the violence could have been taken back a little bit and still have the same impact. But the level of it tipped over to gratuitous. On a personal level, it was just too much for me.
This is what makes this a hard review for me to write. The writing is great, it’s horror and thriller combined brilliantly. The characters are multi-layered, engaging and dark. But violence is shocking. And it’s making it virtually impossible for me to rate this book. The story would be a 4/5, but the violence would be a 2/5, but I don’t think the book deserves a 3, so I have compromised on a 3.5/5.
A scary, well written thriller for people with stomachs of steel! If you’re not a fan of violence don’t even think about picking it up. If you don’t mind it, then this is great, gory, page-turner.
BLOOD AND SILVER is book two in James R. Tuck’s Deacon Chalk series, a man whose family were murdered by a supernatuReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
BLOOD AND SILVER is book two in James R. Tuck’s Deacon Chalk series, a man whose family were murdered by a supernatural evil and since then has dedicated his life to stopping them. The writing has definitely much improved in this book in comparison to the first. Ok, there were times when you can tell that Tuck is quite a new writer. For example there were several parts of the back story that were repeated on more than one occasion. However, overall it’s definitely tighter.
The story is a bloody, gritty and violent urban fantasy fest. Weapons, bombs, guns and explosions galore. What has really moved on is the world building, it’s worth reading just for the imaginative different were-creatures Tuck keeps coming up with. Just when I thought he’s come up with the best with a were-shark, he chucks in the ultimate terrifying were-baddie in the finale. I’m not telling you, you have to read it
The book opens with a bang, Tuck certainly knows how to grab your attention and I was sucked in within minutes. Submerged into the action. Chalk is a great, dark hero. There are times he really reminds me of a male Anita Blake, even with some of his lines:
I stared back, deep inside the cold place that lets me kill.
Hamilton fans might find that it sounds familiar? He’s a hit first type of guy and very much wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s the kind of guy who will die for his friends and those he believes needs protecting. And most importantly he’s cool.
When he comes across a pregnant shifter in desperate need of help, you know that Chalk will blow up everyone in his way in order to do so. Even if by doing so he ends up pulled right into the middle of a were-animal war. Luckily he has plenty of grenades ready for the job!
He’s got a great group of sidekicks too. Now I’m a huge arachnophobe, but I found myself growing very fond of Charlotte the were-spider. Never thought I’d say that! It was great to see Larson back in a new mature form, we met him in book one where he was terribly injured. He’s moved on and found his place in the group. I’m not sure where he got all of his medical skills from, but in the end it didn’t really matter.
One part of the story I’m not totally convinced on is the love story. Chalk is one hell of a man, and Tiff just seems too young for him. I like the fact he is moving on, but I feel like he needs more of a woman. Now a Charlotte/Chalk love story that could be interesting…! I suspect though that Tiff may be here to stay, and developments at the end of the story might help her become the woman I want for him.
Fans of gritty urban fantasy should have their eye on Tuck. Deacon Chalk is a dark, violent and caring hero that gives the baddies a reason to be scared. I suspect the writing in this series is only going to improve as it progresses. I look forward to book three.
'I am Legend' is as much a psychological novel as a horror one. Robert Neville is the last surviving human of an apocalyptic plague that has turned ma'I am Legend' is as much a psychological novel as a horror one. Robert Neville is the last surviving human of an apocalyptic plague that has turned mankind into vampiric zombies. Written in the 1950s, it is as relevant to a modern day reader as it was fifty years ago.
Slow moving at first, the book focuses on Robert's every day plight for survival. The hum drum routine of foraging for food and supplies, to the horrific night time isolation when the vampires come calling for him.
But it soon becomes evident when the horror of the vampires has passed, it is the loneliness, lack of focus, routine and looking forward into a future of nothingness that terrifies Robert more.
We watch Robert crash between alcoholism and insanity through frenzied internal dialogues as life begins to no longer hold any meaning to him. Yet, a survivor to the core it is not in him to end his existence. But, when life no longer holds any meaning, how do you go on?
The writing is extremely intelligent, the prose detailed and poignantly descriptive. The narrative rises and falls in unnerving crescendos, propelling the reader through Robert's desperate highs and lows.
The ending was a surprise and eminently unpredictable and oh so very clever at the same time. It might sound like a cliche, but this is a book that will keep you thinking well after you have turned the final page. ...more
Just like the first book in this trilogy, 'Futile Flame' is a dark, dark tale of obsessionReviewed for www.BookChickCity.com (7 out of 10 on the blog)
Just like the first book in this trilogy, 'Futile Flame' is a dark, dark tale of obsession. While the book begins and ends with Gabriele and Lilly our main characters from the first novel, this is Lucrezia's story.
I found Lucrezia slightly aloof in the first book, but her tale is a bitter and terribly painful tale of survival and in the end I enjoyed it far for than Gabriele's. There are lots of elements in this book that does at times make it uncomfortable reading. With scenes of abuse, incest, rape, violence, murder and gore be warned it is not for the squeamish. But despite the difficult elements explored in this book it was very readable and un-put-downable, even, in certain sections.
Lucrezia's story opens in sixteenth century Rome, set in the Vatican. The daughter of a corrupt Pope, she falls victim to her brother's macabre and brutal seduction. Lucrezia is so terribly innocent that her journey from abused young girl to woman is a painful one. This is a relationship that ends up defining her very existence, and one even in immortality she is unable to escape.
The narrative is a turbulent ride, you cruise from watching Lucrezia the victim, to Lucrezia the stalker, vampire and murderess. Perhaps one of the least savoury parts was Lucrezia's change from rape victim to rapist herself. But the clever nature of the writing is that there is something compelling and seductive about witnessing this transformation. Interestingly, despite the dark nature of the vampire, at the heart Lucrezia still wishes to be a good person.
The relationships in this book are at best strange, the revelation at the end of book one about Gabriele and Lilly is addressed and when Lilly discovers it, she doesn't appear to be in the least bit bothered. I found I struggled more with this than reading the scenes of incest between Lucrezia and her brother.
Of course, the whole point of Lucrezia retelling her story is to find out who the demon stalking Gabriele and Lilly is. And the last chapters of the book take a very unexpected turn. There is little I can say here without giving away too much, but it does move the story into a place you could never guess it would go, it's also quite surreal. I'm not quite sure how I felt about it, it felt perhaps a little too far fetched for me. Yes, I know I'm reading a book about vampires! But, I think the scenes will become more defined and hopefully make more sense in book three.
I do have to comment on a quote on the back cover of this novel: "Recommended for fans of the Twilight saga." Other than the fact that this book is about vampires, it is in no way like 'Twilight', in fact I believe it is totally unsuitable for a young adult reader.
This trilogy is a different twist on the vampire story. Vampires are put firmly back in the horror genre, they are a species to be feared and are above the normal rules of society. Despite some of their horrific acts, you are seduced and absorbed into their lives. A book I would definitely recommend to horror lovers.
I'm very much looking forward to finding out how it all ends in 'Demon Dance'. ...more
It's no secret that I have a love of the classics. The Brontës reaching the top of my favourites list. In fact, I diReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
It's no secret that I have a love of the classics. The Brontës reaching the top of my favourites list. In fact, I did my final project for my English Degree on the novels of the three Brontë sisters.
I've seen the trend for horror rewrites in my local bookshop and I've warily avoided them. Odd seeing as I love classics, romance and horror alike, it should have been a great mashing of worlds for me.
So it was with a certain amount of trepidation that I picked up this book to review. Worried that the introduction of zombies would somehow detract from the beauty of the original.
'Jane Slayre' is a somewhat tongue-in-cheek rewrite of 'Jane Eyre' and in many places was almost a recount of the original.
For those of you who haven't read the 'Jane Eyre'. In a quick nutshell, it is the story of orphan Jane who goes to live with her aunt and cousins, the Reeds, a selfish and unkind family who treat her with disdain. Eventually, Mrs. Reed sends Jane to boarding school and she enters into the cruel and barren world of Lockwood Institution. Much of Jane's early life is about suffering and endurance. At eighteen she escapes and finds employment working as a governess for the taciturn, but oddly charismatic Mr. Rochester, with whom she falls in love. However, the course of love does not run smooth and this is a gothic tale with a dark secret. Jane is a tough and beautifully humble woman who more than deserves her happy ending.
This version, of course has some very notable changes. The Reeds are vampires, Lockwood is overrun with Zombies and Rochester's wife is a werewolf. All written in with a sense of fun and a nice amount of delightful ghoulishness.
The author has kept very true to the original text. So much so in fact that I had to pull out my copy of 'Jane Eyre' to compare some passages. The only thing I really noticed is that there have been a few changes to make it more readable for a modern audience. For example:
Original: "You are afraid of me, because I talk like a Sphynx."
'Jane Slayre' edition: "Are you afraid of me?" he asked, his brow arching. "You think me a monster?"
As you can see the affect is cleverly, very subtle.
There are some genuinely amusing moments. The vision of Jane out for a quiet evenings stroll where she whips a stake out from beneath her skirts to slay an unbeknownst vampire did make me chuckle.
The book has been written with obvious deep affection for the classic. But, maybe I'm a purist, but part of me would hate for people to read this version instead, or least before they pick up the original.
'Jane Eyre' is magical and wonderfully dark in its own right. But the darkness in the original is born of human behaviour which in many aspects is more cruel than the acts of the undead.
This is a well written fun rewrite that will entertain horror fans. If you're a fan of the other mash ups then I don't think you'll be disappointed. It just wasn't quite my thing....more