I love Ronald Malfi. There. I admitted it. Though it shouldn't come as a surprise if you follow my reviews. His Floating Staircase was haunting. The NI love Ronald Malfi. There. I admitted it. Though it shouldn't come as a surprise if you follow my reviews. His Floating Staircase was haunting. The Narrows? Frightening. And The Mourning House is the single finest piece of modern horror fiction out there today. But here's the thing. Typically, when I read a book I really like, I don't read more by that author. I know, I know. That sounds strange. But I have this fear that the next book I read will be lacking, that it will somehow take away from what I've read before. Greatness, after all, is hard to maintain. So when I picked up December Park, I had concerns. What if it wasn't as good? What if I was disappointed? Oh but my friends, how foolish I was. I had nothing to fear. Well...almost nothing.
December Park is a part of a sub-genre I don't particularly like--the coming of age tale. I don't really enjoy stories about kids, especially teenagers. Not sure why. I know it's popular. But not for me. So I approached December Park with some trepidation. That was the first page. By the last one, I was tearing up. I had connected with the characters in a way I could not expect.
The story is one you are familiar with. A group of kids find their peaceful town under siege by a serial killer who is stalking their own numbers. They begin to realize they are the only ones who can defeat this evil, and they must face it, no matter what the cost. If it sounds like It, that's what I thought too. And the comparison isn't favorable...for It at least. That venerable Stephen King bestseller pales in comparison to December Park.
Put simply, Malfi has knocked it out of the proverbial park again with this one. You cannot go wrong with Malfi, no matter which of his books you decide to pick up. But you could do far worse than starting with December Park.
Wow. I devoured this book, and that's no pun. Some people say zombie stories are a dime a dozen these days, and maybe they are right. But Plague TownWow. I devoured this book, and that's no pun. Some people say zombie stories are a dime a dozen these days, and maybe they are right. But Plague Town takes the old walking dead and delivers the kind of combination of scary, sexy, and funny (sarcastic, if you want to keep the consonance going) that you don't really see all that often. If you like stories of the undead, then this is a must read. If you don't like zombies, it's a should read, cause you might just find yourself changing your mind. Now I must leave you. The sequel awaits!...more
Music has a strange power over us. It can alter our emotions, inspire us to buy things we don’t want, cement a love affair between two people. But canMusic has a strange power over us. It can alter our emotions, inspire us to buy things we don’t want, cement a love affair between two people. But can it make us kill? Is any song that powerful?
It’s a question poets and writers have been asking since the first satyr strung the first lyre. Whether it’s Robert Johnson at the Crossroads, Charlie Daniels and the Devil down in Georgia, or Manly Wade Wellman and John the Balladeer, there’s something undeniable about the power of song. In Mark All’s Death Metal, he shows us just how dangerous that power can be.
The band Penumbra is washed up, the heart of the band killed in a car crash, the members gone on to regular jobs that pay the bills. But when the spirit of their dead band mate returns with music that can capture not only the heart but the soul, the needle is set to a record that might just destroy the whole world.
Robert Johnson's devil at the crossroads might have been terrifying, but he's got nothing on Mark All's Death Metal. Written with a lyricism that will suck readers in and get in their heads like a dark ode to a malevolent rock god, Death Metal grabs on and doesn't let go till the final chorus. A creative, innovative, horror opera you don't want to miss. ...more
We are in a Lovecraftian renaissance, and there are a lot of people who are writing Lovecraft these days. But while you can find a thousand short storWe are in a Lovecraftian renaissance, and there are a lot of people who are writing Lovecraft these days. But while you can find a thousand short stories and anthologies set in the world of the mythos, it's not so easy to find full-length novels. And if you do find them, it's really hard to find a modern take on the Great Old Ones. And that's why Red Equinox by Douglas Wynne is so refreshing--it does both, and it does them brilliantly.
If you are a fan of Lovecraft, Red Equinox is a can't miss. ...more
One of the dangers of being a writer, particularly a horror writer, is that on occasion people read what you’ve written and it freaks them out. You caOne of the dangers of being a writer, particularly a horror writer, is that on occasion people read what you’ve written and it freaks them out. You can see it in their eyes, and they never quite look at you the same way again. You’d think that being a writer would protect you from that prejudice. Then comes along Chantal Noordeloos, who in her author bio describes herself as having a “wacky, supportive husband, and outrageously cunning daughter.” Sounds sweet, right? You might think so, but you’d be wrong, very wrong.
Her Angel Manor is the kind of book that will freak you out, and it does so from the very first page. I’ve rarely read a first chapter that did a better job of grabbing me immediately. There’s no easing you in, no calm before the storm. You are dropped right in, to the blood, the pain, the torture, and the sacrifice. It doesn’t really let up from there.
All told, Angel Manor is an incredible book, a great haunted house story, and a thrill ride from beginning to end. You can’t go wrong reading it, though I also can’t say you won’t regret it… ...more
Sea of Ash is a delightful book, the lone criticism of which is that it is too short. From the first page, Scott Thomas packs this slim tome with a leSea of Ash is a delightful book, the lone criticism of which is that it is too short. From the first page, Scott Thomas packs this slim tome with a level of creativity we are seldom fortunate enough to see. His New England is every bit as rich, as mysterious, as witch-haunted as anything Lovecraft ever conceived. And the story within a story within a story presentation is masterfully delivered.
Sea of Ash is a treat, but I do wish it was longer. There's room for more from Thomas, and while I understand from the prologue that it was always intended to be a novella, I do wish the author had stretched it further. I would have loved to know more, to see more, to understand more.
But that's no reason not to seek this one out. The Lovecraft eZine has made a name for itself as the premier venue for new weird fiction. With this offering, Mike Davis has cemented his role in the genre. The future is bright, both for the eZine and for those of us who love this kind of horror. ...more
Much like the first book in the Southern Reach trilogy, Authority is easy to read, engaging, somewhat addictive, and beautifully written. And yet, I sMuch like the first book in the Southern Reach trilogy, Authority is easy to read, engaging, somewhat addictive, and beautifully written. And yet, I still can't say that I enjoy this series as much as I would like to. I still get the feeling that there's no there there, that I am going to finish the third book and none of the questions will be answered, that the author has created a world too rich, too complex, too mysterious to ever adequately explain it. Authority answered some questions, but no where near as many as I had hoped and no where near as completely as I would have liked. It also seems as though the book is filled with inexplicable decisions/stubbornness by the various characters that seemingly had no purpose but to stretch the plot to where it could be sustained for 300 pages.
I find myself in a strange place with these books. I like them, I really do, and yet the reviews I've written for the first two entries have been somewhat negative (not to mention rambling). In part, I am still reserving judgment until I have read the last book. I am, however, beginning to wonder why these books weren't one or two volumes. Yes, they'd make a long single book--900 or so pages. But I think a good editor could have shortened book two considerably without losing anything necessary, and I wouldn't be surprised to learn the same thing about the third one. Not that much of a big deal--I've never been a fan of editing just for the purpose of editing--but I feel like this series is a somewhat large financial investment given the return.
Anyway, I really am rambling now. To put it more succinctly, these books are worth reading, but something seems to be missing. And I'm not sure I am going to find it. ...more
I sorta wonder if I'll come back to this book after reading the rest of the trilogy and like it even more. You've read the synopsis, so I won't botherI sorta wonder if I'll come back to this book after reading the rest of the trilogy and like it even more. You've read the synopsis, so I won't bother to repeat it here. I will, however, echo what has been said in previous reviews. The book is beautifully written, surreal, uncanny. It's an easy read, and you'll finish it in a few days. But as much as I liked the book, I didn't love it as much as I wanted to. I'm honestly not sure why. The book seemed empty, in a way. Sorta like when you go to a fancy restaurant and the presentation is stunning but there isn't all that much food? I need a little bit more meat and potatoes in my diet. Still, well worth the read, and I am excited about the next one. ...more
I was not at all surprised to find that Chain of Evil is an essential tool for anyone who dreams of writing horror. Dr. Michael Collings has proven toI was not at all surprised to find that Chain of Evil is an essential tool for anyone who dreams of writing horror. Dr. Michael Collings has proven to be a master in his field, and the bits of wisdom he shares are immensely helpful. But I was somewhat surprised to find that this book was so readable, so enjoyable, to the point that even someone who has no interest in writing horror would find it a terrific ride. A must own for horror writers and a should own for horror readers. ...more
To sum it up in one sentence--Jade Sky is a fun novel. It's action packed from the get go and never really lets up. The first in what appears to be aTo sum it up in one sentence--Jade Sky is a fun novel. It's action packed from the get go and never really lets up. The first in what appears to be a series, author Patrick Freivald has obviously put a lot of thought into the world he is trying to build. Because of that complexity, the first few chapters are confusing and a couple border on almost too conveniently expositional, but readers are encouraged to stick with it. Once Jade Sky hits its groove, it's off to the races.
Some may be put off by the violence and the gore, but if so, why are you reading this book in the first place? You know what you are getting, and Jade Sky gives it to you. Frankly, that's why I gave it five stars. Jade Sky does exactly what it seeks to do, and does it well. Is it as good as Freivald's Twice Shy? No. That book was, in my view nearly perfect. The plot in Jade Sky isn't quite as good, and the characterizations pale in comparison. But when toe-to-toe to other similar thrillers? Jade Sky shines.
If you love action, if you love thrillers, if you love a little sci-fi magic, don't let Jade Sky pass you by.
So this is not going to be a loving or particularly in depth review of Neuromancer. It's famous, it's beloved, and there are thousands of reviews thatSo this is not going to be a loving or particularly in depth review of Neuromancer. It's famous, it's beloved, and there are thousands of reviews that will provide you that. I'm giving it four stars because it is creative, well-written, and I am sure when it was published in the early 80s, genre-shattering and mind blowing.
But really, it was more of a three star read for me. Why you ask? Put aside all the trappings, its influence, all that you've heard about it, and it just doesn't hold up all that well. It's filled with jargon, most of which will mean nothing to you. It drags at times. The story line is hard to follow. The ideas of what the Internet is/will become seem hopelessly outdated. And because it has influenced so many other works, it comes across as derivative, albeit anachronistically so.
In the end, finishing Neuromancer was an accomplishment for me. I did not particularly enjoy it, and it was a struggle to complete. Still, it's probably one of those books that everyone should read.
I received an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for an honest review. That's always dangerous. Somebody gives you a free book and you want to be able tI received an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for an honest review. That's always dangerous. Somebody gives you a free book and you want to be able to say nice things. I mean, what if you hate it? Do you just not review it at all? Stick it in a dark corner of somewhere and hope they never ask about it? In some cases, writing the review is the most terrifying part of the book.
Not this time. This time it's the book that's terrifying, nightmare inspiring, and "Oh my goodness what did I just read" inducing.
Honestly, I don't know what's wrong with William Holloway. I don't think that normal people can come up with this stuff. And to take the horror and spin it into a package that is unputdownable? That's some deal with Satan level mischief.
Lucky also has a talent. He cannot be resisted. He's like Jim Jones, the sirens, and Adolph Hitler all wrapped into one. When he speaks, people listen, and no matter who they were before, once Lucky has them under his sway, they are never quite the same. Kenny McCord knows this all too well. He was Lucky's best friend, one of the few people Lucky has ever seen as something approaching an equal, as opposed to just another weak mind to be manipulated. He's also one of the only people who has ever successfully rejected Lucky. And now there's something awakening on Grove Island in their childhood hometown, something old and something evil. Something looking for just the kind of talent Lucky has.
Lucky's Girl is a superb work of fiction from an up-and-coming talent with limitless potential. It bubbles over with cosmic horror and Lovecraftian dread, and should be on the must-read list for anyone who is a fan of those genres. Honestly, the only negative thing I have to say about Lucky's Girl is that it is not for the faint of heart. This is not quiet horror. It's raw and it's visceral and it gets in your head and stays awhile and messes with your brain while it's at it.
This book simply was not for me. It is incredibly well-written, but that's about all I can say for it. I hated the characters, hated the plot, and strThis book simply was not for me. It is incredibly well-written, but that's about all I can say for it. I hated the characters, hated the plot, and struggled to finish it. The last forty pages were a death march.
I give it three stars because of the aforementioned writing quality, and because I am sure that those who have different tastes when it comes to characterization and plot would love the book. Plus, any book that can make me hate it with such a fiery passion has something going for it.
In any event, I will be reading more of Ms. Flynn's work. ...more
It approaches impossibility to review Gravity's Rainbow in any coherent way, much as it is impossible to read the book in any coherent way. Gravity'sIt approaches impossibility to review Gravity's Rainbow in any coherent way, much as it is impossible to read the book in any coherent way. Gravity's Rainbow is without question an accomplishment. It displays a supreme knowledge of history, culture, sexual dysfunction, humor, rhyme scheme, and just about every other discipline, literary and otherwise. Bringing all that together in one book is something to applaud, without doubt.
And yet, like so many great works of post-modern art, it's hard to say that Gravity's Rainbow is a pleasure to experience. Most readers are likely to discard it in frustration, and few can be said to actually enjoy it. Which is not to say I ever grew bored with it--an accomplishment in of itself given the length and complexity. But a book that can barely be understood--and the point of which utterly escapes me--is not, in my view, worthy of the title "great."
Read it for the cultural experience and sense of accomplishment, but don't expect to like it. ...more
A Pretty Mouth is one of those books I had heard a lot about well before I ever decided to purchase it. Molly Tanzer has an obvious talent for the weiA Pretty Mouth is one of those books I had heard a lot about well before I ever decided to purchase it. Molly Tanzer has an obvious talent for the weird and eldritch, and the praise that preceded her and her book was not to disappoint. APM is not exactly what I expected, however. It is not a novel, but rather a sort of connected short story collection, centering around a central novella, all focused on the family history of the house Calipash, told in reverse chronological order. If that sounds confusing, it can be. But if you stick with it, everything becomes clear and you will find yourself with a powerful desire to reread the book from the beginning, lest you not know what you've missed.
A definite recommendation for anyone who likes there horror on the weird and Lovecraftian side.
It’s a rare thing that I read science fiction. Generally, I’m a horror guy, even if The Void did have some sci-fi elements. So when Carl Alves sent meIt’s a rare thing that I read science fiction. Generally, I’m a horror guy, even if The Void did have some sci-fi elements. So when Carl Alves sent me a copy of his latest, Reconquest: Mother Earth, I was skeptical. But then, with some trepidation, I opened it up and started. I didn’t stop again until I’d read the last page.
Reconquest has everything. The characters are both likeable yet realistic, and the bad guys are as bad as they come. There’s action from page one, and it doesn’t stop until the bitter end. In between, there are twists and turns, with everything from guerrilla warfare against a dominant alien species to gladiatorial combat on intergalactic television.
The story begins with Navy Seal Mitch coming in contact with an alien species that claims it comes in peace. A surprise attack later, he is almost killed, falling into a coma that lasts five years. He is only saved because of the kindness of another alien, the species of whom was also enslaved by the attacking aliens. Mitch discovers that humanity has been defeated and enslaved, with small pockets of settlers struggling to stay hidden lest they become fodder for labor camps. Mitch decides to take action, forming a resistance that challenges the alien domination. But how to defeat an enemy that is so advanced?
I honestly believe that Reconquest can be enjoyed by anybody, sci-fi fan or not. The ending is a little deux ex machina, but honestly I think it is the only realistic outcome that fits the conclusion of the book. All and all, a great book, one that surprised me almost as much as it entertained me.