I've said it before and I'll say it again ... there's something about Dries's books that simply blow my away. And 'A Place for Sinners' is no differenI've said it before and I'll say it again ... there's something about Dries's books that simply blow my away. And 'A Place for Sinners' is no different. They are impossible to predict, cunningly put together, beautifully written, and weirdly moving. Oh, and did I mention horrific? Because this one sure is. Very.
It tells the story of Amity Collins, a young deaf woman who goes on a long-in-the-waiting trip to Thailand with her gay brother. The two Collins kids have been desperate to get out from under their mother's loving, but constrictive grip, and away from their small Australian town (it's a real place - and I've been there!) where their family is still whispered about after a tragic event some years before. Along with Amity and her brother, we meet a small collection of characters, some good, some very evil, some linger in that wonderful place in between. All of their stories converge on an island off the Thai coast, where ... suffice to say ... all hell breaks loose!
Dries takes his time setting things up, but infuses all the build up with foreboding and suspense. You know something is coming, but you really can't tell what. And then it hits. Bigtime. It's as if Dries knew that the buildup would be big, but the PAYOFF had to be EPIC. The 'when the sh*t hits the fan' scene (trust me, you'll know it when it happens) is one of modern horror's great set pieces -- true, old fashioned carnage choreography. Subsequently, the following pages fly by. There are twists, turns, suspense, and that kind of Jack Ketchum-esque violence that so few people do well. And Dries being in that minority.
All of this leads to an ending that left me shaking and satisfied. But that's not it ... Where I thought the book was going to end, was only the beginning of a truly unexpected epilogue. These final thirty pages, to me, are comparable only to the ending of Hannibal by Thomas Harris. I couldn't believe Dries would drag me, as a reader, into the dark like that. I wanted to stop reading actually. But I couldn't. That was the point. That's horror. Real horror. Suffice to say, my jaw was on the floor.
But that's not to say that Dries is all gore. He's not. The prose is impeccably put together. And his characterizations are flawless. I love how he writes female characters, isn't afraid to make them ugly or unsympathetic, whilst always making them (frighteningly) easy to relate to. I like how he writes about homosexuality, too. I love how his characters have disabilities (the ways he describes Amity's silent world is just incredible, and easy to relate to; and Amity's mother is a borderline compulsive hoarder (very interesting/sad!)).
So what more can I say? I wish Dries would write more. And faster! And I wish he was more widely read. I need to talk to more people about this book lol. So what are you waiting for? Go and read it now!!!! ...more
Man-oh-man, what a book. I'm still in shock. Shaking - and in the best possible way.
I was terrifically impressed with Dries' first novel, "House of SiMan-oh-man, what a book. I'm still in shock. Shaking - and in the best possible way.
I was terrifically impressed with Dries' first novel, "House of Sighs" a balls-to-the-wall page turner, so I'd been waiting for his sophomore effort with baited breath. I consider myself lucky to have devoured an advance readers copy, and WOW, it was worth the wait. It's a blood-splattered masterpiece that makes Richard Laymon read like a walk in the park.
Like Jack Ketchum before him, Dries does disturbing in a way that manages to not feel exploitative. Added to this, "The Fallen Boys," like Ketchum's best (The Girl Next Door) genuinely moved me. I was 100% on board with Marshall Deakins, a father who journeys into hell (a madman's basement) in the hope of discovering why his young son has committed suicide. We watch, helpless as he falls into a trap that we know will undo him.
And on this note, I think it's important for readers to know that this novel explicitly deals with the topic of teen suicide and internet bullying ... taken to a very sad, and inevitable conclusion. It's also about the fight against vigilantism and revenge, and how that temptation can change victim into villain, a theme that was also explored in "House of Sighs".
And that's why it gets under your skin. And stays there. This is not the kind of book you can shake off easily. It lures you in with its layered mystery (how does a child's suicide relate to murders on the other side of the planet?), then drags you in further with its morality play (how far would you go to find out the truth and how would it change you?) and then, about half way through, TRAPS you in a terrify situation (think Stephen King's "Misery") and never lets you go - not even to the very last sentence. And it's very dark and disturbing down in that grimy basement. Dries is one of those authors who puts you in a nightmare scenario and refuses to let you out or offer you release. And to me, that's the very essence of horror. Otherwise, what's the point?
This is a descent into darkness with subtext to spare. I'd dare even say it's an important novel. It also helps that it's absolutely terrifying. There may be those who believe that it goes too far - but that's the nature of cautionary tales. The good ones, at least. Which this one very much is.
The characters are richly layered and humane; it's gut-wrenching to watch them fall from grace. The plot is labyrinthian and truly unexpected, throwing superbly constructed twist after twist after twist. It's also wonderfully written in an evocative style that never becomes over-written. It's touching too, the little details of Marshall's marriage, the code words and memories ... The violence is explicit in parts, yes, but it DOES serve the plot - it's cannily delivered, may I also add. You experience a sequence of extreme horror that plants in your mind a dread of what's to come, only to have that inception never eventuate, instead taking you in a COMPLETELY different (and often much darker) direction.
I'm not easily caught off guard, but this damn book did it to me over and over and over again. Kudos where it's due, Mr. Dries.
"The Fallen Boys" is a story ripped straight from the headlines. I'm sure the author believes, above all else, that the greatest evil a man can do is manipulate a child into believing they are not loved. You wouldn't think it at first, but this book has a very moral core. And that's why it soars.
It'll upset you. It'll disturb you. It may offend. It will trick you with its plot. It will make you wince - but it's certainly NOT torture porn (the purpose of porn is to titillate and this most certainly does not). And above all else, it's impossible to not be moved by.
Reading this book is something you'll never forget. In fact, it'd make one hell of a movie. HIGHLY recommended.
This book is twisted and marvelous fun. It has all the verbal trickery found in the Lemony Snickett books only with a hell of a lot of blood shed. ThiThis book is twisted and marvelous fun. It has all the verbal trickery found in the Lemony Snickett books only with a hell of a lot of blood shed. Think Mean Girls with a body count. I so wish that Handler would write more. ...more
I have read this book a bunch of time and there is always something new to enjoy in it.
Bloch was a master and this is him at top form. In many ways iI have read this book a bunch of time and there is always something new to enjoy in it.
Bloch was a master and this is him at top form. In many ways it's the ultimate Bloch book. It's got the thrills, the satire, the humor, the insanity and the vicious puns that litter his entire output.
I wouldn't dare give away the ending.
I so wish Hollywood had the balls to adapt this book instead of going with the film they eventually put out (although granted, it wasn't too bad). But this book is really something else. The choices Bloch made were so bold- it really reminds a reader of who is boss when it comes to books: The author. The whole experience reminded me of reading Hannibal for the first time. I was a little awed.
The world is a sadder place without Robert Bloch in it. ...more
I liked this book- but I didn't love it. I actually wonder what all the fuss is about. It reads like a more emotionally vapid Thomas Harris imitationI liked this book- but I didn't love it. I actually wonder what all the fuss is about. It reads like a more emotionally vapid Thomas Harris imitation than anything else . . . but that said, it is entertaining. And the plot kept me going right through to the end. Salander is a GREAT character, but I'll be damned if everyone else isn't boring and one dimensional.
I haven't seen the film adaptation but I'm curious with what David Fincher might do with the material.
There isn't anything original here, or even particularly moving, but hell, it's a breezy fun trip, bogged down every now and then with stupid details about characters meals and business talk. It could have done with a major edit as well. But oh well. A nice enough experience, just nothing earth shattering. ...more