I've been thinking about this book a lot, which to me is an indicator of a great novel. It's the kind of book that leaves unanswered questions and dro...moreI've been thinking about this book a lot, which to me is an indicator of a great novel. It's the kind of book that leaves unanswered questions and drops hints throughout to let you draw your own conclusions. There are things I'm not really sure about and I will definitely have to read this again later.
Other reviewers have summarized this book pretty well, so I won't do that, I'll instead just give my impressions of it. As someone who is familiar with the struggles of mental illness and being a social outcast in school, the narrator's language and feelings resonated with me. I felt that he wrote with both social naivete and startling insight into people, if that makes sense. The part where he saw guys beating up the fat kid and the teacher not caring much showed that he did understand the darker parts of human nature. The descriptions he gave were lyrical and creative. One of my favorite descriptions was from a walk in the woods, "The mounds of pine needles feel all brown and rubbery, which is nice to step on, all splotched with gray like blood from clouds." I felt like I was given little treats throughout with phrases like that.
If you're a frequent horror reader, you probably do not expect a happy ending. Sometimes I feel like authors tack on some saccharine ending to keep the reader from feeling sad inside when it's over. You know what? I hate that. The ending of this book was a bit ambiguous, but I did feel chilled inside and a bit unsettled when it was over. Another reviewer stated that they felt the ending had a hopeful note to it. Either way you interpret this book, I think at least it makes you FEEL. Any book (or movie for that matter) that evokes an emotional response from me is a good one. I also believe any book that can have multiple interpretations has to be a layered, complex, masterful work.
In summary, WILLY is an amazing novel. It made me think of Shirley Jackson, Joyce Carol Oates, or Henry James (if James didn't ramble on so much). WILLY deserves to become a classic of literary horror.(less)
WOW! This book cannot be recommended highly enough! Aside from being extremely well-written (in a wonderful homage to Lovecraft), it's got everything...moreWOW! This book cannot be recommended highly enough! Aside from being extremely well-written (in a wonderful homage to Lovecraft), it's got everything a Weird Tales fan could want. I loved how masterfully Talley melded bits of previous mythos with his own creations; such as the wendigo origin story, the secret of Miskatonic U library, and the descriptions of places like R'lyeh. This book is just one treat after another for a reader like me. The little touches like the main character being named Carter Weston, the ship being called Kadath, and a mention of Erich Zann are a few examples that come to mind.
This is one of the darkest, most disturbing books I've read. I hesitate to recommend it readily, as I can understand why many will not like it.
Langan...moreThis is one of the darkest, most disturbing books I've read. I hesitate to recommend it readily, as I can understand why many will not like it.
Langan is a truly gifted writer, great at character development, and totally unpredictable. I cared for all the characters, but no matter how much you may like someone in this book, that alone won't keep them alive to the end. Part of me was hoping some characters could be saved and the other part of me relished every tragedy.
If you're looking for a happy ending that ties everything up in a neat package, stay away. If you like fast paced, well written horror where no one is safe and nothing is off limits, you may love this one.(less)
This is my second Langan read, after Audrey's Door, and I do think Langan's stories have a particular flavor. Troubled young women struggling with men...moreThis is my second Langan read, after Audrey's Door, and I do think Langan's stories have a particular flavor. Troubled young women struggling with mental illness are featured in both. Both books are quite dark and can be difficult to read at times. There are definitely moments in both of them that are gut-wrenchingly sad. But Langan writes in a readable style that keeps me going throughout no matter what. She shines at character development. People in her books are very realistic and many times, sympathetic. She will be an auto-buy author from now on.
You know the general idea from goodreads already, that this book centers on a small town called Bedford and a girl named Susan Marley. Susan was born different. Something about her attracted the darkness of others, and she could hear their worst nightmares. This would drive anyone mad, and she becomes the tragic figure of the 'town crazy'.
What happens during the course of the story makes Susan both horrifying and sympathetic to the reader, a great combo. Universally feared and hated, even by her own family, only friend to speak of is a drunken disgrace who takes advantage of her sexually. Her character kind of reminds me of Kirie and Reika from Fatal Frame, for you gamers out there. Langan really builds the tension during the first half, and unleashes hell for the second. I could picture the happenings quite vividly, and in a few parts even wished this could be a movie. Not that I think the feeling could be captured too well that way.
The ending is just what I wanted out of this novel. No "everything will be ok" kind of crap some horror novels like to wrap up with. It was kind of abrupt though, so I am going to have to read The Missing soon and see if anything from The Keeper is further mentioned.(less)
Please, PLEASE do not pass this book up because it's somehow classified as Young Adult. I almost did when I first heard about it, but I am so glad I d...morePlease, PLEASE do not pass this book up because it's somehow classified as Young Adult. I almost did when I first heard about it, but I am so glad I decided to read it! I am not sure what makes a book YA, all I know is if this was a movie, it would so be rated R, and probably have several scenes cut from it.
There's not a whole lot to say that everyone else hasn't already said. I will say that even though I consider myself a seasoned horror reader (it's the primary genre I read), this book was very graphic and intense at times. There was even one part (at the sanitarium) that I found I was reading with one hand clenched over my mouth in horror.
This book is also extremely well-written, and I don't give out that kind of praise very often. Much of the book is written in a flowery Victorian style, and some parts seem to take on a contemporary-of-Lovecraft hyperbole. Stygian depths and other terms that remind me of Weird Tales. Very recommended if you love classic horror and/or pulpy horror.
I am very impressed with Yancey for essentially inventing his own monster. There aren't many other mentions of Anthropophagi out there, and he really goes in depth in creating them. That's a level of creativity that sadly seems lacking in much of the horror genre, not that I don't love a good conventional horror story too. I did also like most of the characters, especially the central characters of Will Henry and the Monstrumologist. They both have their flaws, as any very human characters do, but they can be quite relatable.
So, really I'm just here to urge you to read this book! I bet you'll be glad you did!(less)
I'd split this book into two parts: The King in Yellow story arc and the other stories which seem to be here to add length to the edition.
The King in...moreI'd split this book into two parts: The King in Yellow story arc and the other stories which seem to be here to add length to the edition.
The King in Yellow story arc (The Yellow Sign, The Repairer of Reputations, Mademoiselle D'ys, The Mask, and In the Court of the Dragon) are very good. Very original, imaginative, and mysterious. The Yellow Sign and The Repairer of Reputations shine brightest, and if you are only mildly interested in reading Chambers, definitely read those above all else. Not every story is really horror, but I think they are all good and well worth reading. The Mademoiselle D'ys and The Mask are really more dreamy fantasy than anything else. Overall, Chambers does a wonderful job creating an air of dreadful mystique surrounding The King in Yellow. I'd give this part of the book 4.5/5. I can definitely see why these stories would have influenced Lovecraft and other luminaries.
The second part of the book consists of various other stories written by Chambers, not all of which are horror. These are widely varied in quality, especially the last three stories, which have the same basic plot. I'd say this half of the book could be taken or left at your leisure. You're not going to miss much if you skip these. The only story I'd say is really good out of these is The Messenger.
Overall, not a bad book to have in your collection if you're a fan of classic horror. If you enjoy reading on your computer/tablet/whatever gadget, you may enjoy reading The King in Yellow story arc online for free instead of purchasing this. I still enjoy having paper books, myself.(less)
Not really a collection of actual ghost stories, more like a collection of non-fleshed-out story outlines. Some are literally paragraphs long. I'm not...moreNot really a collection of actual ghost stories, more like a collection of non-fleshed-out story outlines. Some are literally paragraphs long. I'm not familiar with the author and his abilities, but it seems like he should have been able to elaborate on these a bit to make them more interesting. Some, like the title story, read like a short blurb in a newspaper. I was not actually engaged enough to read every story, someone please enlighten me if they feel there's a worthwhile Bierce story I should read.(less)
I just read this book a little here and there, so it may not have had the impact it should have. All I know is after all the great build-up, I expecte...moreI just read this book a little here and there, so it may not have had the impact it should have. All I know is after all the great build-up, I expected more from the outcome. Ever finish a book and think you liked the characters at first, but by the end you didn't care about any of them?(less)
This is a very good little collection of supernatural tales by a sometimes overlooked writer. Some of the very best classic tales I've read are here,...moreThis is a very good little collection of supernatural tales by a sometimes overlooked writer. Some of the very best classic tales I've read are here, "The Dead Smile" and "The Upper Berth". Other noteworthy tales included are the title story, "The Screaming Skull", and "Man Overboard!". I don't care too much for "The Doll's Ghost", it's a little bit too sickly-sweet.
In all, a recommended collection for readers of classic horror. I enjoyed it very much, and I'm glad I took the time to read more Crawford.(less)
This was a great Halloween read. It doesn't waste any time anywhere, it gallops along at a quick pace and keeps you interested. I liked the story, it'...moreThis was a great Halloween read. It doesn't waste any time anywhere, it gallops along at a quick pace and keeps you interested. I liked the story, it's one of those when you're not really sure who you're rooting for because it's not really clear who's evil, at first anyway. It's an extremely short read, which is good if you're looking for something specifically to read on Halloween.
I did have a few issues with it. The narrator (whose identity is never given) addresses the reader as "you" and accuses "you" throughout of already knowing these events that happen every Halloween, because they happened to "you" before. I kept thinking I would discover who the narrator, or at least who the reader was supposed to be.
The writing style is very direct in a way that would get on my nerves in a longer book, but it worked all right here. I did want more background information on the Harvester's Guild that is mentioned in the book several times; like how it started and how long it had been around. I suppose the ambiguity on that front works in the books favor somewhat, as too much explanation could take away the magic of the story.(less)
Nothing much new, innovative, or even scary here. I can tell Bloch is a good writer and I will try not to judge his work based on this book. I forced...moreNothing much new, innovative, or even scary here. I can tell Bloch is a good writer and I will try not to judge his work based on this book. I forced myself to finish it because it's short, but I didn't pick it up for days at a time. I'd compare this most to Matheson's collection Button, Button: Uncanny Stories which I enjoyed probably an equal amount. Matheson is an amazing horror writer and can't be judged from that stinky collection!(less)
This was my first crack at reading MR James, and I must say I really enjoyed it. Probably not much can be said about his writing that hasn't already b...moreThis was my first crack at reading MR James, and I must say I really enjoyed it. Probably not much can be said about his writing that hasn't already been said, but I will give my impressions anyway.
James writes in a much more readable and direct way than some other writers of classic or gothic horror, for example LeFanu. The prose is still elaborate enough to be very satisfying to a reader of classic horror.
I am definitely interested in reading more MR James in the future. My favorite stories in this collection were 'Lost Hearts', 'The Treasure of Abbot Thomas', 'Mr Humphreys and his Inheritance', and 'The Ash-Tree' (because I hate spiders!).(less)
I didn't really like this book, but I didn't exactly dislike it either. It was definitely better than I expected, but not exactly a gripping read.
Ther...moreI didn't really like this book, but I didn't exactly dislike it either. It was definitely better than I expected, but not exactly a gripping read.
There were some problems reading this book, which are why it took me so long to read. First off, the editing is terrible. Words are totally wrong or misspelled often, and punctuation is frequently left out. The almost complete lack of sympathetic characters becomes grating. There are a few you may like in the beginning, but if you're like me, you'll change your mind. I could describe almost all the characters in this book by saying they're murderers, sexual deviants, drug addicts, or philanderers. That doesn't exactly create a very readable book.
The positives of this book are the lack of fluff to the story, it isn't bloated with subplots or forgettable characters. However much I didn't care for many of the characters, I didn't have a hard time keeping them straight. The writing of this book would have come off as more than decent if the editing had been better. As it is, I think Shirley is a competent but not remarkable writer. The gore is rather strong in parts of the story. I didn't really have a problem with it, but I'm a somewhat jaded horror reader. I think readers that are unbothered by gore in say, Clive Barker's writing, will have no problem here. The story involving psychic vampires and tentacled, wormy Elder God-like creatures is interesting. I still believe Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons is the ultimate masterpiece on psychic vampires.
I wouldn't recommend this book but I wouldn't warn you not to read it either. It's just mediocre light reading.(less)