The Shelter is a novella by the independent writer James Everington in the style of Stephen King's The Body which resonated with me in the fact that iThe Shelter is a novella by the independent writer James Everington in the style of Stephen King's The Body which resonated with me in the fact that it is about a group of children (in this case four boys) getting up to no good during a school summer holiday. Set in England, it brought back memories of those long six week holidays, with not much to do except going exploring with friends. It is something we probably don't let our children do today but, without Foxtel, Apple, X-box or PC's, our options for entertainment back when I was a teenager in the late 70's and early 80's lay in the outdoors.
The story of The Shelter is related by a thirteen year old Alan Dean who, with his best friend Duncan and two older boys that he knows from school, goes in search of an old air raid shelter that supposedly lies outside of their village. When they get there it's location seems a bit bizarre with the shelter being located in the far corner of a field, the atmosphere changes too with the incessant buzzing of wasps and a feeling of rising anger that threatens to overwhelm the boys themselves.
Driven by excitement and fear, and wondering if this is the resting place of Martin, a local schoolboy whose disappearance has dominated the news reports lately, they open the metal lid that covers the entrance to the shelter. Everything appears normal until a simple prank leaves Alan in a terrifying situation and open to a supernatural event. But did it really happen?
As children we are ready to accept the unknown, and in a state of heightened terror we can imagine any amount of horrors. Yet for all those nights of being too afraid to look under the bed, or in the closet or at that bundle of clothes thrown on the chair that looks like something unimaginable.......... did any harm ever come to us? This then brings doubt and cynicism into the mind of the adult, and the realisation that there never was anything there at all. This is the thought that the older Alan will ponder as he reviews the events of that summer.
The writing style does need some polishing, and the idea itself of using a group of bored children to propel the story along isn't all that original - just read Stephen King and Dan Simmons - but I found that I really liked it because of the memories that it stirred up for me and I almost (almost mind you) felt a pang for a genuine English Summer. ...more
It is spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobblestreets silent and the hunched, couters'-and-rabbits' wood limpingIt is spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobblestreets silent and the hunched, couters'-and-rabbits' wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowback, fishingboat-bobbing sea........... Love it! I love Under Milkwood, I've read it a few times and saw a one man show which was awesome a few years back. This time I listened to it - Richard Burton was the narrator - it was fantastic....more
After enjoying some very positive reviews for his first novel Niedermayer & Hart (my favourite ‘Indie’ read of last year) Martin has presented usAfter enjoying some very positive reviews for his first novel Niedermayer & Hart (my favourite ‘Indie’ read of last year) Martin has presented us with his psychological thriller Roadrage.
Forget the why’s and wherefore’s of the plot and just accept the fact that there are potentially some dangerously crazy people out there and, if they had hold of your personal information, how much damage could they do to your life? One such person sets his sights on destroying the life of Gil Harper, an unassuming illustrator, who is learning to live again after the tragic death of his wife. What starts out as a brief incident on the motorway one rainy Christmas night sends Gil’s life spiraling out of control.
There are some nice touches here and there; I liked the gear shift chapter headings, and dear old Spike…… what a lovely brave little character he is. Some of the other characters I suspect are based on people Martin has known from his acting days (Sally, Gil’s love interest, is involved with the theatre). I was suspicious of Sally from the start, and I was trying to work out how she would fit into the scheme of things, but you will need to read the novel to find out why she is so secretive.
This novel will get you thinking about the danger of being a creature of habit, and the security of your own personal information. After all, we all live in the age of the internet where everything is accessed by passwords – and you can’t possibly remember them all, you have to write them down……….. somewhere……. don’t you?...more
Wow, Shantaram is one heck of a read. I've spent so much time with these characters that it will be hard to start a new novel.
There's so much to ShantWow, Shantaram is one heck of a read. I've spent so much time with these characters that it will be hard to start a new novel.
There's so much to Shantaram, though how much is based on the author's actual experiences in Bombay is anyone's guess, but what I enjoyed most about this novel was the insight it gave me into the Indian culture such as friendship, love and the meaning of that curious Indian head wiggle.
The story is told in the first person. There is plenty of humour at the start of the novel but it does get darker and darker, until you wonder if there is going to be light at the end of the tunnel. The characters range from slum dwellers to members of the Bombay Mafia, and I had to keep reminding myself that the mafia guys were criminals and violent men, yet it was so hard not to like them because we follow their developing friendships with the narrator Lin.
'Lin' is an Australian who has escaped from prison and who has arrived in Bombay on a fake New Zealand passport. He is befriended by Prabhakar a young Indian tourist guide, and a truly wonderful character who totally enriches this novel. Prabhakar takes Lin to his home village for six months as their friendship strengthens and finds Lin a hut in the slum where he lives in Bombay. This hut eventually becomes the slum clinic thanks to Lin's knowledge of first aid, and the slum dwellers inability to obtain healthcare anywhere else.
Lin is eventually recruited into the Mafia and he finds himself prepared to risk his life just for the love of the mafia boss who he desperately wants to see as a father figure. The father figure dreams are shattered towards the end of the novel and only the friendships that Lin has made over his years in Bombay will help to pull him through the hard times.
Despite its size, Shantaram is very easy to read, though I did find the constant metaphors and similes annoying and in places quite cringe worthy ("Our lips met like waves that crest and merge the whirl of storming seas."), and and at times it did annoy me when 'Lin' gave the occasional sob story about his time spent in prison. I felt like saying "so what, you committed the crime...."
With this aside though Shantaram is a cracking read and it will probably rate up there with my favourites....more
I really liked this book but I didn't like the narrative style at all, I found i had to keep re-reading passages and it did become laborious towards tI really liked this book but I didn't like the narrative style at all, I found i had to keep re-reading passages and it did become laborious towards the end....more
When I first picked up this book I was a bit wary of reading it. I was worried that it would read a little like Bram Stoker’s The Lair of the White WoWhen I first picked up this book I was a bit wary of reading it. I was worried that it would read a little like Bram Stoker’s The Lair of the White Worm, an awful piece of work that I am definitely not a fan of. Stuck for something to read the other day I decided to give The House on the Borderland a go – and I couldn't put it down!
Published in 1908 it has obviously served as inspiration to H P Lovecraft and the like and if I had read this horror/sci fi at the time of its publication I would have been terrified, as it was I was excited by it although the long sci-fi passages midway did serve to bore me a little.
The story is told by way of a manuscript which is found by two young men who are out camping and exploring in the English countryside. They come upon a strange garden and ruins of an isolated house, and are unnerved by the unusual sounds in the area. When they return to their camp they begin to read through the manuscript …… and as I was reading it, two images came to mind – the ending to the Italian horror movie The Beyond and movie scenes from the original The Time Machine.
It turns out that the original house was inextricably linked to another house beyond known space and time, located on an unending plain, and watched over by ancient evil beings. The attacks on this house by swine like humanoids are also experienced on the earthbound house, which would have been a very original idea at the time. During a respite from the attacks the despairing writer of the manuscript, along with his trusty dog Pepper, investigate a large pit in the garden and a cavernous cellar under the house, from which strange chuckling noises are heard......
Many of H P Lovecraft’s stories are written in the same vein as this one, with the story being told by the protagonist who is, in the last pages of the novel, frantically scratching away pen to paper telling us the story whilst the monster is at the door trying to break in! But despite this device it really is quite a gripping tale - if just a little dated now....more