Brian Evenson is an evil man. “Las Days” is the first book I’ve read that makes me feel dirty for liking it (and not *sexy* dirty, but like I had eateBrian Evenson is an evil man. “Las Days” is the first book I’ve read that makes me feel dirty for liking it (and not *sexy* dirty, but like I had eaten something from the trash), and yet I can’t help but feel that this is a remarkable piece of fiction. I hate you Mr. Evenson. Where were you when I had to explain to my mother what this book was about without making her think about all the things she had done wrong regarding my moral education? And how could you blame her? I mean, really, how sick do you have to be to enjoy a story as twisted and disturbing as the one narrated in “Last Days? And how do you tell a loved one that your current source of entertainment involves a smart mockery of religious hierarchy that makes you want to read it and bleach your brain at the same time?
That was a distinct feeling I got while reading “Last Days”: a growing sense of disgust mixed with the knowledge that I couldn’t stop reading, not even if I wanted to. In case you’re still curious, the book begins with the ineffective attempts of a private detective to survive a case of severe depression, generated by a rather unfortunate confrontation with a “gentlemen with the cleaver” that led to the chopping of his right hand. In the middle of this personal crisis he’s approached by two… hum… “Peculiar” men, who seem to believe that the detective’s misfortune makes him uniquely qualified to take care of a mystery their brotherhood is facing. The personal characteristics of these two individuals, added to the nature of the group they belong to and the hesitation of our protagonist to get involved with them, make for a very compelling read that also presents a strong comment on the evils that religious fundamentalism can unleash on the world.
A part of me wants to talk long and deep about the many, many factors that made “Last Days” so disturbing for me, but I don’t want to rob anyone of the chance of discovering them for themselves. There is a lot to feel uncomfortable about in this novel (I’ll never think about the idea of a strip-tease in the same way again) and I think that it has a lot to do with our sense of self-preservation, and our refusal to even consider other lifestyles that would willingly harm it. What made it all worse for me, however, was realizing that groups such as the ones depicted here could actually exist; there are already so many people willing to take their faith to new and crazy heights by means of interpreting religious texts in rigorous ways that, well, the possibility of a real “brotherhood of mutilation” doesn’t require such a stretch of imagination, and that's a pretty scary thought.
In conclusion, I don’t regret reading “Last Days” at all, even if now I’m forced to wash down the unpleasant images it left on my mind with tons of fluffy romances and happy endings. Brain Evenson has won a fan and I plan to read more of his books in the future, with a good dose of pretty unicorns and kitties on the side. ...more
I came across this collection while looking for “Southern Gods” on Amazon. At 99 cents it didn’t look as if I had anything to lose by giving it a tryI came across this collection while looking for “Southern Gods” on Amazon. At 99 cents it didn’t look as if I had anything to lose by giving it a try and what would you know? That little investment turned into a couple of hours well spent. The stories in “Fierce as the Grave” are short, twisted, and greatly increased my desire to read some of Hornor’s longer work.
“Verrata”, the first tale, takes place in futuristic New Orleans that is far from being ideal. Hornor takes ghosts to the next level here, and introduces lots of elements that were confusing at first but made “Verrata” memorable in the end.
“Heaven of Animals” is a mix between zombies and the Wild West. It was my least favorite, perhaps because I needed a few more pages to really feel something for the characters. If you happen to like zombies, however, this one is definitely for you.
“Bone China” is the story of two women, a birthday celebration and a family reunion. It’s by far my favorite tale from this book; it’s set in the South and the atmosphere really shines through the text, which just makes it all that much creepier.
In “Sneaking in” a small town kid learns that every action has a consequence. This tale marks the end of the collection and it left me wanting more, which I guess was Hornor’s intent from the beginning. The creepiness here, to me, lies not in the supernatural element, but in the protagonist’s system of beliefs, that justifies abuse as long as you can get away with it.
Overall, “Fierce as the Grave” is one solid collection, and if you have the time to spare, a great read. ...more
Peter Pan was never a favorite character of mine growing up. Maybe it was because I never watched the movie, or because wars and battles weren’t subjePeter Pan was never a favorite character of mine growing up. Maybe it was because I never watched the movie, or because wars and battles weren’t subjects that I found appealing in a fairy tale. As a child, I was enchanted by Snow White, and the Brother Grimm’s tales of unfortunate kids and terrible witches. There weren’t witches in Peter Pan! Or hungry wolves! All I ever knew about it was that it talked about a crazy kid that could fly, a bunch of orphaned children, and a crazy (and a bit stupid) captain with a hook for a hand. Oh! and a crocodile.
So, people might ask, what am I doing reading a retelling of a story I never cared for? I…. I don’t know. All I can say in my favor is this: I don’t regret it. Not one bit. This is one of those books that has you on the edge of your seat the entire time, and stays with you long after the last line is finished. Brom presents a story that really analyses the implications of the seemingly cute and candid happenings of “Peter Pan”: The kidnapping of gullible children, the war between them and grownups with swords and guns, the fact that they can never grow, and the untold consequences for those who do, are all of them explored in “The Child Thief” and given new and incredible dimensions.
Without a doubt, the most intriguing character of all is Peter. He’s the hero we’re used to root for: the symbol of our wild and untamed side, the representation of everything that’s good and playful. That is, of course, until we are faced with his dark side: the one that is so invested on his mission, so stuck in his ways and prejudices, that becomes blind to death and to the sacrifices others make for him. Who knew that an eternal boy could be so interesting?
And speaking of interesting characters, the Captain blew my mind, but I can’t say anymore without marking this review with a big SPOILER tape on top of it. So let’s speak about my other all-time favorite character: Nick. When we first meet him, he’s running away from home with a bag full of provision and methamphetamines. The tenants of his house are drug dealers and Nick, blaming his mother for the abuse these people put him through, decides to go and make a life with the money he hopes to get in exchange for the stolen drugs. Unfortunately things don’t go as planned, and he’s in the process of getting his ass kicked when Peter makes an appearance and saves the day.
Nick is a fantastic character. We see him grow and confront his own demons while being the only “devil” that can see through Peter and his schemes. He doesn’t always do the right thing, but who does? Being thrown into a world you know nothing about, with dangers that surpass your wildest expectations, and surrounded by a little kingdom that stands on the cult of a kid that, at the best of times, has little idea of what to do with himself, is no piece of cake. But Nick pulls it off and deals with trouble in a realistic way, showing the author’s mastery with words and a great ability in terms of character developing.
Avalon and its mythology are also a strong point. The island is all that remains of a once world full with magic, and is now seriously threatened by “flesh eaters”, or men that are determined to extinguish it by destroying its leader, the Lady. Peter wants them dead at all costs, using as his main weapon the disposition of the children he manages to transport to Avalon and turn into little killing machines, or “devils”. The climax of this war, and the end of the book, was the only part of the book that left me wanting more (and heartbroken, but I can’t tell you why), and the reason I almost took a star out of the book. It felt like a rushed way to end it all: You build up the tension to eleven, set the stage for a battle of epic proportions, and deliver something good, but not incredible. (view spoiler)[(You also kill everyone I cared about, so by the end I couldn’t care less about Peter and his epiphany) (hide spoiler)] However, this does not mean that the book is in any way, shape or form bad or not worthy of any fantasy fan’s time and energy. (I’m giving it 5 stars!!) As you can probably tell I’m no expert when it comes to retellings of classic children’s tales, but it seems to me that there aren’t a lot of ways anyone could actualize Peter Pan better than Brom. It was a magical experience that will stay with me for a long time. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This is a very intense novella, bordering on the line of senseless gore and torture porn; not for everyone... maybe not even for me, now that I thinkThis is a very intense novella, bordering on the line of senseless gore and torture porn; not for everyone... maybe not even for me, now that I think about it. Very satisfying though, especially because it makes you care for the characters and that makes everything 100% worse. I'm not giving it 5 stars though because, unlike other reviewers, I didn't find the ending that uplifting. Honestly, I thought it was terrifying (view spoiler)[ The whole "We all have a purpose and for some, like Jamie and Tooth, it is to die in unspeakable pain while Roger gets to survive mentally scarred for life" exemplifies some of the reasons I have so much trouble with the notion of God and his "mysterious ways" (hide spoiler)] and did not help my current existential crisis one bit.
The other reason has to do with the portrayal of mental illness. (view spoiler)[ Writers find it very convenient to present serial killers as nutcases hunted by voices because it eliminates the need to come up with a complex backstory, and it perpetuates the stigma of people with mental illness as insane monsters waiting to happen. How many people have been denied basic opportunities in life due to outdated fears? So yeah, enough with the "sick people are evil" trope please (hide spoiler)] Nevertheless, this book put me through hell in a good way, and for that I think the 4 stars are well deserved. If I get back into the habit of writing proper reviews this one's definitely getting a longer one.
Sometimes things have to hit rock bottom before going up again. I feel that this is the case with vampire stories: over the years the image of the monSometimes things have to hit rock bottom before going up again. I feel that this is the case with vampire stories: over the years the image of the monster became less frightening and more desirable, no longer giving voice to our fears but embodying the danger and sexiness of the “bad boy” we all wanted to be with at some point in our lives. Halloween parties are filled with slutty vampire costumes, successful movies make money with vegetarian blood suckers, and the typical paranormal romance library shelf is brimming over with vampire teenage drama.
But, as I said before, maybe this had to happen before writers felt the need to go back to the basics and started delivering good, old fashioned bloody plots with the evil monsters I loved and feared so much as a little kid.
In “Draculas” you won’t meet lost souls looking for redemption. You won’t find sexy-looking children of the night willing to make your fantasies come true (unless your biggest dream consists of being torn apart and having your organs ripped by huge monster fangs), and you definitely will not come across sparkly teenagers wanting to blend in with the oh so lovable human crowd. Absolutely NOT.
What you will find though, is a fun story with crazy vampires that look like a mix between a shark from hell, a zombie (think fast, filled with rage, zombies), and a b-movie abomination. I’m talking about vampires that will stop at nothing to suck you dry, that need to be constantly in search of blood, and that at times can reason to the point of becoming even more terrifying, or hilarious. They’re not stopped by crosses, garlic, the bible, a stake through the heart, or daylight. The only way to kill them is to aim for the complete annihilation of the head, and even then, sometimes, you’ll find trouble. These are the monsters you don’t want to find outside your window looking in, or trying to kiss you in your sleep. Oh no. And if you showed up to a Halloween party looking like one of these beast you’ll turn heads, and then cause a few cases of nausea and pant wetting.
“Draculas” starts with a fresh, original premise: A millionaire with terminal cancer centers his last hope of recovery on what seems to be the skull of Dracula, found in Romania. After stabbing himself in the neck with the thing’s inhuman fangs, he’s transported to a rural hospital, where all hell breaks loose. Throughout the book we follow several characters as they try to survive the horror (or gather as much delicious blood as possible), and the ride is a lot of fun. There is plenty of gore to keep you gagging, and the over the top scenes abound with clichés that make you laugh and be afraid at the same time. The action is non-stop, (I sometimes wished for a slower pace), but in every scene you could tell that the authors had fun writing this novel, trying to top each other and letting loose parts of their imagination that probably wouldn’t fit in their “normal” work. They also proved that the vampire genre still has potential for reinvention, and that horror fans can hope and expect future novels that will just barely come short of literary sucking the blood out of them.
So anyway, awesome, fun story. Highly recommended for people who think that true vampire books are extinct. ...more