Quick and dirty review, here. I really enjoyed this, my first Clegg novel (although I do love the creepy little illustrated story Isis). I see a lot o...moreQuick and dirty review, here. I really enjoyed this, my first Clegg novel (although I do love the creepy little illustrated story Isis). I see a lot of comparisons to Salem's Lot in the reviews here, but beyond a surface similarity involving creepy kids (among others) terrorizing a small town, I didn't get that vibe. Also take note of the cheesy stock "creepy kid" cover on this edition. It's right out of the John Saul school of the 1970s, and doesn't do much to dispel those kinds of comparisons.
Although this novel was written in the 90s, Clegg's approach is all bleak 21st century horror, and far less sentimental than King's.* Though the characters are well-drawn, and the flashbacks to their youth key to the story, there's very little romanticizing of childhood, or small town life, or of anything really, in The Children's Hour. (Okay, there is a lost first love subplot, but even that is mostly a catalyst for some seriously disturbing sh*t.) It's pretty relentlessly grim, even nihilistic at times, and comes with a vastly higher body count than any King novel I can recall.
Also, the entities that haunt The Children's Hour? Are. Not. Vampires. They are more like horrible meat puppets, vampiric in some ways, yes, but definitely not your standard-issue bloodsuckers. This menace is a lot more unsettling, unearthly, demonic. (My comparison: in an upside-down and backwards way, this book recalls Lovecraft's "The Dunwich Horror," and freakish Wilbur Whateley hiding that nightmarish entity in his farmhouse.)
I don't want to telegraph much more of the plot -- suffice it to say I was actually unnerved by some of the imagery in The Children's Hour. One night I left my bedside lamp burning after reading. That's one of my highest compliments. It's a good thing he's prolific, because I'll be reading more Clegg.
* For the record, I love King and his elegiac, nostalgic, sentimental side. This just isn't that. (less)
This grisly tale of a Miami cop's descent into hell courtesy of palo mayombe* is not for the faint of heart, but it's pretty gut-punch great supernatu...moreThis grisly tale of a Miami cop's descent into hell courtesy of palo mayombe* is not for the faint of heart, but it's pretty gut-punch great supernatural noir. Alas, it's far too short! Looking forward to more from D'Enfer . . . maybe a collection?
*Palo mayombe originated in the African Congo and is said to be the world's most powerful and feared form of black magic. The titular nganga, which is a consecrated cauldron filled with sacred earth, sticks (palos), bones and other items, is dedicated to a specific spiritual energy. This cauldron is also inhabited by a spirit of the Dead, which acts as interface for all magical and religious activities which are performed on the nganga. (less)
Having recently lost his wife and child in a car accident while he was at the wheel, Dr. Sam Hatch is drowning in grief and self-recrimination. Driven...moreHaving recently lost his wife and child in a car accident while he was at the wheel, Dr. Sam Hatch is drowning in grief and self-recrimination. Driven to abandon his old life, Sam has set out on a cross-country journey to nowhere in particular . . . until he finds himself compelled by a ruin of a house on the periphery of Chesapeake Bay. And, despite his uneasy feeling and the local rumors, he also feels compelled to buy it and fix it up. And the rest . . . well, you should read it.
The Mourning House is a real chiller of a haunted house story, boasting excellent detail and atmospherics, as well as a twist you might not see coming. A surprising and original take on what really haunts us. 4.5 stars.(less)
A great, creepy little story -- until it ends on a complete cliffhanger! Not surprising, as it's kind of a teaser for The Narrows; still, it felt like...moreA great, creepy little story -- until it ends on a complete cliffhanger! Not surprising, as it's kind of a teaser for The Narrows; still, it felt like libris interruptus. Darn it . . . guess I'll need to read that novel!(less)
Though bleaker than the first book -- if that's even possible -- The Curse of the Wendigo is another cracking adventure in monstrumology from Ri...more4.5/5
Though bleaker than the first book -- if that's even possible -- The Curse of the Wendigo is another cracking adventure in monstrumology from Rick Yancey. This time, Pellinore Warthrop and young Will Henry trek to the trackless wilds of Canada, seeking a fellow monstrumologist who has gone missing in search of the infamous Wendigo. Their ordeal in the virgin forest nods to a certain other tale of The Wendigo, but this time it doesn't end there: the "curse" follows them home to America, and in its ravening hunger, this beast will leave a trail of bodies strewn across Manhattan . . . some of them belonging to beloved friends. This monster is even more dangerous than the slavering, subhuman Anthropophagi of the first book . . . for the cunning Wendigo not only hunts its prey, it knows its prey, and once you hear it call your name, there is no escape.
Darker, scarier and far more devastating than its predecessor, The Curse of the Wendigo once again serves buckets of blood and viscera, but also engages more deeply with the emotionally scarred monstrumologist, and baldly shows how punishments for our past actions can reverberate on our present. I'd say the themes are actually fairly adult -- the moral weight of guilt, love lost, hope slashed, and aspirations denied sits heavy on the book; even the "victory" is imbued with loss and a sense of failure. Definitely for older teens, who may better intuit the emotional world this book charts.
Though I did miss the slightly quippier tone of the first book, The Curse of the Wendigo is certainly haunting, and beautifully written in a style that would please Mr. Blackwood immensely. I'm fully invested in this series -- cannot wait to read The Isle of Blood(less)
I waited for The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All to be released for what seemed like years, and began devouring it immediately. Because Laird Barro...moreI waited for The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All to be released for what seemed like years, and began devouring it immediately. Because Laird Barron is about the best thing going in the horror branch of the weird, it's no surprise that it gets my five glowing stars. Barron's prose just gets richer and his cthonic mythology more resonant with each publication.
I did find some surprises in this collection, but I want to do this book justice, so I'm starting my second read through now. Stay tuned. But if you can't wait . . . no fan of Barron, cosmic horror or the new weird will be disappointed by The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All.
Okay . . . one surprise? The gracefully and ominously and oh-so-Laird-Barron-y titled title story doesn't exist in its own collection, except as a throw-away reference to another, much maligned, quasi-fictional author's work in the book's satirical closer "More Dark." Yep. Barron's gone more than a bit postmodern here. I am officially weak in the knees.
What a wonderful, terrible, hilarious, disgusting, compelling adventure yarn The Monstrumologist is! I've never read anything even remotely like it. In a nutshell, here's why you should read this book.
1) The monsters -- Anthropophagi -- are completely terrifying. Savage, headless man-eaters, fierce, fast and thoroughly disgusting, they have inexplicably appeared in a small New England town and embarked on a feeding frenzy. These nasty beasties are a welcome development for horror fiction, which has nurtured too many romanticized monsters of late. You do not want to date one of these fellows, of that you can be sure. On they other hand, they'd love to have you incubate their offspring . . ..
2) The sweet-and-sour relationship between the Monstrumologist himself (who is rather like a bizarro-world Sherlock Holmes on one of his manic benders), and our narrator, the plucky and resilient twelve year-old orphan Will Henry. Will has recently inherited his father's position as the peculiar monster-hunting scientist Dr. Pellinore Warthrop's assistant, and is about to be plunged into the kind of mayhem that would make even professional monster-hunters quail. Before the tale is told Will will see (and do!) unthinkable things in the name of science, and forge himself a new family from the ashes of tragedy.
3) Yancey's writing is wonderful. Densely descriptive without being dull; poetic without being pretentious. Top notch plotting as well. I've seen reviews say it was slow in the middle, but I couldn't put it down at any point. When the action slows down, the character development picks up the slack with sharp, funny dialogue and moments of painful honesty about the human (and inhuman) condition. Also, the feeling of dread that builds throughout, especially in the quiet moments, leads to a spectacular payoff.
4) It's viscerrific! The Monstrumologist may be one of the bloodiest (and brain-iest, and pus-iest, and maggot-iest) books I have ever read. The gore is so over-the-top that sometimes I laughed and cringed simultaneously. I know it's considered a YA novel (and has the Printz-prize sticker to prove it); however I'm pretty sure it would have terrified me as a kid. Granted, I was kind of a wuss, but there were at least two scenes where the jaded, adult me felt the need to avert my gaze and skip ahead because I really didn't want any more detail about the disgustingness happening. (No, no, no, no, NO. A world of no.) You'd better be sure your kid can take it -- I'd read it first, just to be sure.
Grotesque, rollicking and unique fun, The Monstrumologist has made a Rick Yancey fan out of me. I can't wait to get my hands on the second installment, The Curse of the Wendigo.(less)
First thoughts: Why would anyone ever want to climb Everest? (The famous rejoinder "Because it's there" really doesn't clear it up for me.)
This one wi...more First thoughts: Why would anyone ever want to climb Everest? (The famous rejoinder "Because it's there" really doesn't clear it up for me.)
This one will be short and semi-sweet, as I see my feelings are pretty much echoed in all the long, thoughtful reviews below. I'm a long-time Dan Simmons fan, and have read and enjoyed the majority of his novels, both horror and sci-fi (though I have not read the Joe Kurtz books). I was really excited when my pre-order of The Abominable showed up on my birthday . . . I could not wait to get home and crack it. (Yeah, I spent my birthday evening with a book. That's just how I roll.)
So last night I finally finished it. (It might tell you something that my birthday was three weeks ago.) And, much like the expedition recounted in its pages, parts of this book were beautiful and exciting, but most of it was hard work, spent in long, slogging preparation for the actual adventure. I loved the characters -- the Deacon and Cousin Reggie in particular -- but frequently felt overwhelmed by the mountains of information (if you'll pardon the pun) about 1926 climbing gear and techniques that Simmons felt the need to include. He obviously enjoyed his research, and almost despite myself, I felt thoroughly schooled and ready to join the expedition by the time our intrepid heroes finally set out from Darjeeling.
Unfortunately, that prelude to Everest is almost 400 pages -- nearly 2/3 of the novel. But at about that point, the story takes a jarring, dark turn at a Tibetan sky funeral and the long-awaited suspense and sense of foreboding kick in. If you make it this far, the story pays off, albeit not in the way one might have imagined. I'm no history buff and I won't presume to question Simmons' references to actual people and events, but when political intrigue starts to compete with the mountain for the lives of the characters, the pace picks up immensely, and that last third goes down like an icy shot of vodka.
The Abominable earns three stars from me. It's not a bad book, and sometimes beautiful, moving, and exciting . . . but it really could have benefited from losing about 100 bloated pages up front.
The tale of a mysterious and deadly "Curse" that ravages the upper crust of Princeton society in 1905 and 1906, Joyce Carol Oates' newest novel plays...moreThe tale of a mysterious and deadly "Curse" that ravages the upper crust of Princeton society in 1905 and 1906, Joyce Carol Oates' newest novel plays with Gothic conventions masterfully. An attempt to patch together the story of those dark years, The Accursed is the manuscript of amateur historian (and descendant of a "Cursed" family) M.W. van Dyck II. He presents a series of excerpts from journals, letters, newspapers, even a coded diary, written during the time of the "Curse," in an attempt to piece together the strange and horrible events that appear to have begun with the abduction of the innocent and beautiful Annabel Slade from the church on her wedding day.
Between the covers you will find demon lovers, murderous jealousy, miscegenation, beckoning apparitions, even a fairy kingdom. Also, an absolutely enormous cast of characters, some entirely fictional, like the sorely afflicted Slade family; others "real," like Woodrow Wilson (at the time President of Princeton University); ex-U.S. President Grover Cleveland; and Socialist writer Upton Sinclair. What I did not expect to find was a darkly satirical commentary on Christian piety, ivory tower backstabbing, gaping class division, the rise of Socialism, and, of course, the "Gothic novel" itself.
An excellent new-Lovecraftian anthology. Each of the tales is unique; none of them lean too heavily on a mythos pastiche, instead largely paying homma...moreAn excellent new-Lovecraftian anthology. Each of the tales is unique; none of them lean too heavily on a mythos pastiche, instead largely paying hommage to Lovecraft in the form of evocative squirmy things and an enormous and mindlessly carnivorous universe. Highlights come from Laird Barron, Caitlin Kiernan, Michael Chabon, and Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear.(less)
Meantime, I will say that no matter how scary this book is (and it is), Joe Hill is a completely good egg. I wa...moreWow. Thoughtful thoughts to come soon.
Meantime, I will say that no matter how scary this book is (and it is), Joe Hill is a completely good egg. I was lucky enough to hear him read and meet him at a signing last night in San Francisco. In addition to being one of the best writers of this generation, Joe is also very funny, amazingly nice to his fans, and draws groovy little pictures in your books when he signs them.
That being said, NOS4A2 is not a nice book. In fact, it pings the disturb-o-meter on about the second page, and rises from there throughout the remaining 687. NOS4A2 is relentless, in both pacing and subject matter. It's a giant ball of unease. It's also not actually about vampires, despite what the title might imply.
3.5 really. Black & Orange won the Bram Stoker Award for Outstanding Achievement in a First Novel in 2010. My first reaction says the concept is f...more3.5 really. Black & Orange won the Bram Stoker Award for Outstanding Achievement in a First Novel in 2010. My first reaction says the concept is fresh and the writing and characterization are excellent, but aspects of the hierarchy and politics of Ethridge's world are less clear than they might have been. In that way, Black & Orange reminds me a bit of The Night Watch (etc.) books by Sergei Lukyanenko, which I had a hard time warming to for similar reasons. If Ethridge is planning a sequel, which I'd read, maybe the aggregate exposure will bring the Church of Midnight and the Church of Morning into clearer focus. Still, I'm curious to read more from him. (less)