An excellent read from Kirkman and Azaceta, Southern Gothic is a really awesome genre. Creepy, unsettling and even if it was a slow burn it was greatAn excellent read from Kirkman and Azaceta, Southern Gothic is a really awesome genre. Creepy, unsettling and even if it was a slow burn it was great to see it handled well. Recommended. ...more
Stephen King is the master of the horror genre and one of my favourite writers, however oddly, most of the stuff that I’ve read by King hasn’t been part of the genre that he’s most renowned for, 11.22.63, The Dark Tower series – they’ve all come from different genres, with a few exceptions. And when I spotted Revival on the bookshelves of my local supermarket, I knew I had to check it out and for the most part, the book is a success, even if it is a little flawed in places and not quite as memorable as I’d hoped for, which is a shame, but then again, it’s still a Stephen King novel, and at the end of the day, even if a fairly average Stephen King novel is still going to be a pretty good read.
Told like a few of King’s previous novels, Revival follows the protagonist looking back and narrating past events that happened to him, a device that’s often frowned upon as a way of telling stories but there is an exception to every rule and King handles the narration incredibly well. The book tells the story of a guitarist named Jamie Morton, who finds himself crossing paths with the mysterious priest Charles Jacob, who has a deep obsession with electricity and sees it as the be all and end all.
Revival focuses a lot on character and it feels very much like King’s works in the past – you know you’re reading a King book as he does nothing to break the norm of his writing. The character Jamie himself is an interesting protagonist and his lifestyle from rock musician to the studio overtime allowed for a good backdrop of the story, but Charles Jacobs was by far and away the most mysterious character here and the story kicked up a gear whenever he showed up with his mysterious intentions. However, that said, his character development didn’t always feel even, often changing gears completely depending on the scene, always being incredibly inconsistent.
The plot itself was unfortunately, mostly forgettable, and I wasn’t shocked or especially left jaw-dropped by Revival as I probably should have been. There were enough fascinating elements about the book to make it worth reading regardless, with the style of writing and its quality being the main draw as King’s pageturning narrative managed to keep my attention throughout.
The first act is where the best part of Revival is as King portrays Jamie’s character development and coming of age childhood incredibly well. We really got an insight into his life, but then, when the second act comes into the picture, everything starts to go wrong. Revival feels predictable and dull as it struggles to the finish, and even though it almost redeems itself in the final act, building on the fantastic atmosphere that runs throughout the novel, Revival never quite reaches that stage unfortunately.
The book almost feels like a victim to its own hype. It’s far from the greatest horror story that King has ever written and I actually enjoyed Joyland more than I did this, so it’s not his best novel in a while yet either. But it’s still an entertaining one and should be worth a look anyway, especially if you’re a fan of Stephen King’s work.
Derek Landy is one of my go-to authors for reliable fun young adult series with an air of the supernatural. His Skulduggery Pleasant series featured a colourful skeleton Detective lead character and now he returns to the supernatural again with another solid start to a new series, entitled Demon Road, that follows the life of a sixteen year old girl named Amber who is, at first, just a normal American teenager until she finds herself pulled into the world of demons, vampires, and undead serial killers and finds herself heading on a road trip across America to escape her own family.
One thing that Landy is great at is getting the interactions between the characters right and the dialogue was as fun and clever as ever. The characters themselves are strong, Amber is a well developed lead character, and the rest of the cast are also impressive. There’s several fast paced action sequences and the overall story has echoes of Supernatural, down to the cool car that the main characters use, but echoes are all that’s there, making it a perfect fit for fans of the series looking for some young adult novels to read.
The characters are fresh and exciting and actually original. Amber, the lead protagonist, is not your typical chosen one that falls into a love triangle early on and seems to get everything right all of the time. She falls into the morally grey category which few young adult main characters actually fit into, and she has an interesting powers that would typically paint her as the bad guy in any other series – case in point, Supernatural would have Amber as the villain. Here though, she’s a demon, and can shift into red skin. Another character that are also included in the book are Milo, and is the protective character with secrets of his own, who lacks a distinctive sense of humour. And rounding out the main trio is Glen, who is the one who wants to fit in and always just seems to be there, ever present in the background, working his way into the group, as the kind-hearted, well intentioned, if at sometimes, idiotic character in the book.
Refreshingly well written and full of plenty of snark, Demon Road is a fast paced, engaging start to the series from a veteran author who isn’t afraid to kill off major characters at will. The difference between Amber and Valkyrie from the Skulduggery Pleasant series will be clear to all those familiar with the latter, and Landy manages to create a whole new character which is refreshing, to say the least. The ending of course wraps things up on a nice basis and will leave readers on a strong note and will almost certainly have readers coming back for the sequel, which should come out next year. I certainly will be looking forward to Desolation, which sounds just as interesting and entertaining as this one does.
A flawed but fun DC series that's perfect for people looking for something different than your normal superhero fare. Shame it didn't last that long,A flawed but fun DC series that's perfect for people looking for something different than your normal superhero fare. Shame it didn't last that long, though, but it probably never stood a chance. ...more
“A fun, action packed read that although suffers from a poor main character, is for the most part, entertaining and enjoyable – and allows for a great new take on zombies.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields
The first volume in D.J. Molles’s bestselling series, now in a special edition with the bonus novella The Remaining: Faith.
In a steel-and-lead encased bunker a Special Forces soldier wait on his final orders.
On the surface a bacterium has turned 90% of the population into hyper-aggressive predators.
Now Captain Lee Harden must leave the bunker and venture into the wasteland to rekindle a shattered America.
I’ll read pretty much anything post apocalyptic, not only because I love the genre, but also post apocalyptic fiction 8 times out of 10 will zombies and zombies are awesome. So with that in mind, I gave The Remaining a try, the first novel in the titular Remaining series by D.J. Molles, set in a world where a bacterium turned 90% of the population into aggressive predators.
We follow Captain Lee Harden, a Special Forcethe-remanings soldier in this world, and he’s our eyes and ears in the book for the most part – which like most stories of this type, take place in America. (Not a gripe about the book or anything, but I would love to see a zombie survival story set in London (or anywhere else in the UK for that matter) that isn’t Sean of the Dead for a change). Lee Harden is a fairly fun character to have as the main narrator, and unlike certain zombie fiction where the survivors aren’t normally involved with the military, Lee is a trained soldier – and this of course gives him an edge when it comes to fighting the new, hyper-aggressive predators.
However, don’t mistake the zombies for Walking Dead or World War Z copies. Rather than just being mindless fast or slow creatures, they can still talk. They’re smart too, and can plan tactics. You think mindless zombies are scary? Imagine what zombies could do if they actually could do more than just walk about in a large horde until they find something to eat? This change from the norm makes for an interesting read, but unfortunately there are several parts that didn’t make this book quite as good as it could have been.
First of all, for an Army Captain, Lee Harden makes a lot of stupid decisions, which was bugging me throughout the book. Molles’ character isn’t as well developed as he could have been, and unfortunately doesn’t have the sticking power that other characters have done in debut novels which is a shame because survival stories typically have a very small amount of cast, so if you don’t like the main protagonist then unfortunately there’s normally very little else. Take Alden Bell’s The Reapers are the Angels for example – one of my favourite novels from the sub-genre. Although obviously they’re different – Temple has a far greater impact on the reader than Harden does which is a shame. However, that said – there are more books in the series though, so it there’s a chance that he could grow on me as a character.
The combat sequences are fun to read, with some well written action from Molles. Whilst characters aren’t necessarily his strongest suite, he manages to deliver some entertaining action that does not disappoint – which is unfortunately falling into the trap of your average zombie read – good action, but the characters are usually poor.
Molles gets the pacing pretty much spot on however, the book moves fast. Despite any problems that I had with it, The Remaining managed to be a good page-turner, and I really sped through this book finishing it quickly. It’s also a decent enough start that I wouldn’t mind returning to the series if I was able to get ahold of the second book. It’ll be interesting to see if Moles improves, that’s for sure – because he’s got all the templates for a great storyline. Just improve the character work and we could have a great zombie thriller.
If you love zombies and want a refreshing twist on the sub-genre then this book may be up your street. Character development aside, The Remaining is a relatively solid book that’s action packed with some well written fight sequences – and as a result, it comes cautiously recommended – but obviously some will enjoy this more than others.
“A thrilling ride that proves Farnsworth is a very awesome writer. For those of you who are not on board with this series yet, all you need to know is that a Political Thriller with added vampires and other supernatural creatures make this book one hell of a read.” ~The Founding Fields
I love a good thriller novel, and when it comes with added supernatural element, the better. Christopher Farnsworth’s Blood Oath introduced us to the Vampire Nathaniel Cade, the Secret Agent working for the President of the United States and Zach Barrows, Cade’s ally. Whilst I completley missed the chance to read The President’s Vampire, the follow up, I was relieved to see that there was no cliffhanger ending for that book and Red White and Blood poses as a great returning point for readers who perhaps tried out the first book but didn’t get the second for whatever reason. That also applies to readers who are yet to read any of Nathaniel Cade’s adventures – what the hell are you waiting for? This is some seriously awesome stuff and Christopher Farnsworth is a really strong writer, having two books under his belt already and has ended Book three with a fantastic cliffhanger that really sets the stage for Book Four.
"A political operative and a volunteer are brutally murdered. Written in their blood on the wall of the crime scene: IT’S GOOD TO BE BACK.
In 145 years, Nathaniel Cade, the President’s vampire, has fought one particular evil over and over again: the source of urban legends and nightmares across the country. It has gone by many names and guises, but is best known by the one that all children instinctively fear: the Boogeyman. No matter how Cade kills him, the Boogeyman always comes back. When the killer begins targeting the president’s people on the campaign trail, Cade and his human handler, Zach Barrows, are tasked with cleaning up the mess before it spills over into the upcoming election. Cade and Zach must stop the one monster Cade has never been able to defeat completely. And they must do it before the Boogeyman adds another victim to his long and bloody list: the President of the United States himself."
As expected from a thriller/horror blend, the book itself is very gory, bloody and doesn’t let up throughout the book. There are deaths right the way through the book and all the victims of the Boogeyman are dying in gruesome ways. Cade is really tested to his limit in this book and Farnsworth has managed to make the book unpredictable, making it a very entertaining ride particularly as Cade and Zach are as strong characters as ever.
Farnsworth sets the book against the backdrop of an election campaign and it’s very interesting to see the political plotting of both sides and the lengths that they will do to control the White House. The political thriller aspect of Red White and Blood is very strong as well, and I would have enjoyed this book on its own if it was just a human serial killer being traced by an agent of the FBI in this political setting. But it’s more than that, the supernatural side of the book that Farnsworth brings to it manages to make it doubly entertaining, especially as vampires actually behave like monsters. There’s no Twilight nonsense here, and fans of the series will already be aware of what Cade is like as a vampire.
The book itself, much like the first one, has a very cinematic feel and at times you feel like you’re reading an action movie. This book fits right in with the books that you’ll find on display in airport shelves but it still remains a welcome addition to any horror or political thriller fan’s library, and that comes at a cost. There’s little room for character development, which is probably the only thing that I disliked about the book, as the characters are in some cases one dimensional and difficult to attach to as it feels like you’re reading a novelisation of a script. However, the premise is enough to draw you in – a vampire secret agent hunting a supernatural serial killer, complete with shadowy government conspiracies and an intense, thrilling read, you’ll soon find yourself not caring about the characters.
The book manages to be gripping, page-turning and very awesome. If, like I said above, horror and/or political thrillers are your thing, then you’ll want in on this book regardless of whether you’ve read Books One and Two. Superb stuff.
“An excellent book. Neil Gaiman fans will love this. A strong contender for the Best Book of 2013.” ~The Founding Fields
I’ve only read two Neil Gaiman book before – Coraline and American Gods (not counting graphic novels). And have loved both of them (and his Sandman Volume 1 was incredibly awesome), so needless to say – I was super-pumped for The Ocean at the End of the Lane. If I’d have remembered to make a Most Anticipated List for 2013, then this book would probably be very near (if not at) the top. As it was Gaiman writing his first proper adult novel since Anansi Boys in 2005, the expectation was, no doubt high. And there are two things that you’ll notice about The Ocean at the End of the Lane, one – before you start reading, the other after you finish. The first, is that the book is actually quite short. It’s not your average length for a hard-cover book, nor the average size. It’s short, clocking in at 200-300 pages. The second – is that apart from a sex scene, this could easily be a young adult novel. But that hardly detracts from just how incredibly awesome that this book is.
"Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.
Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.
A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark."
One thing that you’ll notice is that there is no reliance on the usual mythology here that populates urban fantasy. There aren’t any Vampires, Werewolves, and certainly no Gods from any ancient Pantheon. But then again, it’s Neil Gaiman. You shouldn’t expect him to write an average, stereotypical urban fantasy featuring either a badass Buffy ripoff or an equally badass Harry Dresden ripoff. No, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is different. Unique.
Not many authors can write a story with a lead character that doesn’t even have a name, but Gaiman succeeds. His take on the seven year old boy is realistic, and deals with several themes – stuff that has been forgotten, dreams and the questioning of reality. This book, like Coraline before it, provides some creepy scenes, and yet – the book isn’t quite all horror. It doesn’t quite feel at home on a horror shelf, nor urban fantasy – nor fantasy itself for that matter. Every so often you come across a book that can’t quite fit into one clear genre, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane fills that category. It’s a superb book.
A strength in Gaiman’s writing was that he has managed to add a little extra to the ordinary, making his stories feel something more than they would in the hands of any writer. Even the most mundane moments of the book are given that extra feel – and thus has unfolded a wonderful tale. Fans of Gaiman only need three words of convincing in order to pick this book up, and they are “By Neil Gaiman.” His output is incredibly awesome, and he’s really good in a wide variety of settings as well - his two Doctor Who episodes were incredible, even if Nightmare in Silver may have not been as awesome as The Doctor’s Wife, and Sandman is one of my favourite graphic novels – although I am seriously behind on my reading, having only read Volume 1.
The book itself is written beautifully, describing a lost childhood in a wonderful way. There’s a nice nod to Batman that fans will appreciate, and that made me smile when I saw it. It’s not so overly glaring in your face in a way that it feels like the author is trying to include as many pop-culture references as possible (which is a similiar problem to what I’ve had with other books), and it just feels like it fits. I don’t want to spoil too much, but Gaiman’s work is best left going in with as limited knowledge about the plot as possible. All you need to really know is that Gaiman wrote it, and that should be enough.