The Good: Similarities to Stephen King's "The Mist" aside, the book has an interesting plot and premise. The author gives excellent descriptions of pl...moreThe Good: Similarities to Stephen King's "The Mist" aside, the book has an interesting plot and premise. The author gives excellent descriptions of places, things, technologies, and overall atmosphere (I'm jealous of his vocabulary). There is usually a steady supply of action and monsters to keep the plot, most of which takes place in life boats stranded on a "dead sea", moving along.
The Not So Good: Too much of anything can be a bad thing. There is a fair amount of repetition in the description of both the characters' surroundings and the characters themselves. Establishing characters with their actions is much more effective than straight-forward exposition (show me don't tell me). Metaphors should be kept at a minimum too. It's usually sufficient to describe the thing itself without mentioning how much it's "like" something else. A constant stream of metaphors is just a distraction.
The Verdict: I would disagree that this is a Lovecraftian story, though it does have Lovecraftian moments. It's more of a haunted house story where the haunted house is another dimension. If there had been less telling and more showing I would have given it four stars. Overall, it was a fun read with lots of monstrous weirdness but would have been even better as a shorter, more streamlined story.(less)
Before I read this book, I was only familiar with Neil Gaiman via the Sandman comic and I hadn't read anything by Terry Pratchett so I didn't know wha...moreBefore I read this book, I was only familiar with Neil Gaiman via the Sandman comic and I hadn't read anything by Terry Pratchett so I didn't know what to expect. That was years ago. Going back, I can now see which parts were most influenced by whom. The book is a nice blending of Gaiman's mythological world-building with Pratchett's cleverness and dry wit. To really appreciate it requires a working knowledge of Christianity and an extremely dry sense of humor. Not for everyone but I really enjoyed it. (less)
To me, Thomas Ligotti's work is a good demonstration of how horror is most effective in small doses. These illustrated adaptions of a handful of his s...moreTo me, Thomas Ligotti's work is a good demonstration of how horror is most effective in small doses. These illustrated adaptions of a handful of his stories haul you in but don't give you enough time to become acclimated (and therefore desensitized to) the premise before bringing things to an abrupt (anti) resolution. Ligotti is one of the modern masters of weirdness and the artwork ranges from decent to downright spooky. Interesting stuff.
James Pratt, author of "When Dead Gods Dream" (less)
Protagonist Howard Roark is an eccentric genius who lives by the philsophy that people shouldn't pay him to do what THEY want, they should pay him to...moreProtagonist Howard Roark is an eccentric genius who lives by the philsophy that people shouldn't pay him to do what THEY want, they should pay him to do what HE wants. Anything else would be a compromise of principles. With the exception of the place-holder love interest, all the other characters fall into two distinct categories, those who respect Howard but just can't live up to his standards or those who hate Howard because they can't live up to his standards. It's a very black and white story with no gray areas. Like John Galt, Howard Roark is a mystery to lesser men. The mystery to me is how anyone consider this an admirable, much less realistic, mentality. Roark isn't principled, he's a diva. Flat broke, he turns down jobs because he only wants to do what HE wants to do. Imagine having that conversation with a physician:
You: Doctor, I've got this weird growth and it keeps getting bigger. Doctor: Oh, sorry. I don't do growths. My only passion in life is treating rashes with topical creams. You: But I'm really worried. What if it's cancer? Can't you run some tests? Doctor: Nope, sorry. That would be compromising my principles. Why would you ask me to do that? Come back when you have a rash.
It isn't a story about principles, it's about a grown man with the mentality of a spoiled child who wins in the end only because he's a character in a story. Holding oneself to a high standard is admirable. So is pursuing a dream. But in the real world necessity and practicality are also (major) considerations. There's no shame in doing a day's work for a day's pay. It doesn't make you sheep, it makes you a responsible adult. I think Rand's message is that if everyone is serving their own best interests they will give 100% and society will benefit as a consequence. But most people don't want to pay you to follow YOUR dream or achieve YOUR vision. They want to pay you to provide a good or service that matters to THEM. Doing so isn't a compromise of principles, it's just how society works. (less)
An obvious follow-up to "Cthulhu Unbound", this collection of Lovecraftian tales appropriately spans across space and time. As with most Lovecraft ant...moreAn obvious follow-up to "Cthulhu Unbound", this collection of Lovecraftian tales appropriately spans across space and time. As with most Lovecraft anthologies, the stories vary in level of sophistication and connection to the mythos, but pretty much all these are at the least decently written and entertaining in their own way. And as always, there are a few standouts (for me, "The Tenants of Ladywell Manor" and "Tomb on a Dead Moon"). All of the tales seem firmly rooted in the Cthulhu mythos, as opposed to simply "Lovecraft-esque", making them a "conventional" collection thematically if not structurally. It might be my imagination but there does seem to be an emphasis on tongue-in-cheek tales, though straight-forward horror is certainly represented here too. Long story short, if you like tales with traditional Lovecraftian props and themes set in not so traditional Lovecraftian settings, you should enjoy this book or at the least find a few tales that appeal to you.(less)
Clive Barker is best known for the Hellraiser movies which is sort of a mixed blessing. I assume he's made piles of cash off of Pinhead and his fellow...moreClive Barker is best known for the Hellraiser movies which is sort of a mixed blessing. I assume he's made piles of cash off of Pinhead and his fellow Cenobites, but Barker's real strength lies in his writing, most of which is far more visceral than overt and just wouldn't translate well to the big screen. He isn't so much a horror author as an amazing writer who happens to set most of his tales in the horror genre. Even his mediocre stories consist of a decent hook bolsterd by clever pose and imagery ranging from artfully understated to squirm-inducingly vivid. As it turned out I'd already read some of these stories as part of another Barker collection ('Books of Blook vol. 5' contains the same stories as 'In the Flesh', I believe), but it was fun to revisit them. Stand-out stories include 'Revelations' (I love Barker's take on ghosts and hauntings), 'Down Satan!' (a quick little tale about obsession), 'In the Flesh' (a weird tale that would have done H.P. Lovecraft proud), and 'The Life of Death' (a great demonstration of the fine art of dread). Long story short, Barker rules. (less)