This book is a historical thriller where Bram Stoker and his literary friends fight Jack the Ripper, and these events are supposedly the inspiration f...moreThis book is a historical thriller where Bram Stoker and his literary friends fight Jack the Ripper, and these events are supposedly the inspiration for Dracula. Sounds pretty fantastic, right?
Unfortunately the Dracula Dossier doesn't really live up to its premise. It starts off slow, and continues even slower. It picks up when the murders finally start, and this final section of the book is interesting enough to make me even more disappointed in the dull mess that came before it.
The story is presented as a newly-discovered secret dossier made up mostly of Stoker's journal and letters. There are many other aspects of the story that either mirror or reference Dracula, unfortunately the author tends to point them out in the footnotes instead of just letting the reader enjoy picking up on them.
And that's far from the only footnote-related offense. Yes, a few of the footnotes are interesting. Some of them point out an alleged bit of marginalia that Stoker added to an article or a necessary piece of historical knowledge. But other historical footnotes seem more about showing off the author's research than advancing our understanding of the story or characters.
And there are quite a few footnotes that come across as both unnecessary and a little condescending. The vast majority of people who will be interested enough in this idea to read this style of prose will understand that Whitman means Walt, Holmes-like means Sherlock, and that Miss Shelley's monster is a reference to Frankenstein. The constant footnotes jerk you out of the novel, so it's frustrating when that happens for no reason. Seriously, at one point there's even a footnote pointing out a pun.
This was a great idea, but the few highlights at the end aren't really worth it.(less)
The main idea of the story is interesting, but there's too much filler. There are a lot of bits about the local children that don't seem all that nece...moreThe main idea of the story is interesting, but there's too much filler. There are a lot of bits about the local children that don't seem all that necessary, and the best character from the previous book didn't put in an appearance until halfway through.
It also could have been edited better. Sure, there are a lot of characters. But having one whose name changes back and forth between Nona and Nora is just sloppy.
Some of the action scenes (especially the ones that involve Crowley) are fantastic, but others felt kind of dull. As a horror buff, I'm still not exactly sure how a pack of dogs ripping off a guy's face can feel dull. But just like some of the story, some of the horror scenes were hard to get into.
Most of this book still feels like setup, so the third one better have one hell of a payoff to make it worthwhile.(less)
Only a few of the stories in this collection either involved the supernatural or were all that frightening to me, but I enjoyed it anyway. I'd suggest...moreOnly a few of the stories in this collection either involved the supernatural or were all that frightening to me, but I enjoyed it anyway. I'd suggest going through it slowly. Reading more than a couple a day made them get a little tedious, though I'm not sure how much of that is due to the translation, which seemed awkward at times.
My favorite stories were the strange ones that most felt like nightmares, "A Night in Paris," "The Dead Girl," and "Who Knows?" Some of the stories about obvious madness were also really compelling. I had less luck with the tales that focused just on sheer human meanness. The little frame stories in some of these selections also didn't work for me, though again, maybe those parts where the narrator tells us about meeting the person who told the story flow better in the original French.
Some of the stories have a more dated feel than others. There were, for example, three stories that involved quartering Prussian troops in the French countryside. The wide influence of de Maupassant will also make some of this book very familiar to horror readers. His story "The Inn" has the same general "snowed-in winter hotel caretaker driven mad" premise as The Shining.
I'd recommend this for anyone who likes atmospheric horror or is interested in getting into the roots of the genre.(less)
A mysterious force is killing little girls in Renaissance Village. It's also giving the women in the area spontaneous orgasms. I'm not joking. That is...moreA mysterious force is killing little girls in Renaissance Village. It's also giving the women in the area spontaneous orgasms. I'm not joking. That is actually the plot of this book.
It's a ridiculous exercise in kitchen-sink plotting, full of red herrings, wrong science, and a twist towards both ancient mysticism and sci-fi at the end. All of the characters are frustrating.
(This is excerpted from my old Amazon review from 2002, which several other reviewers hilariously called me out on in their own reviews of the book. After all these years, it's still the worst book I've ever read.)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Fangland starts with great idea, but the author couldn't pull it off. Evangeline's trip to Romania and her time spent in the hotel held a lot of promi...moreFangland starts with great idea, but the author couldn't pull it off. Evangeline's trip to Romania and her time spent in the hotel held a lot of promise, but then the book devolved into various other characters talking. A few genuinely interesting things happened, but the events always seemed to take a backseat to a character's thoughts or discussions about what was going on.
There was a tedious amount of focus on the details of running a news show. That's boring, especially in the context of a horror novel. The characters weren't developed to the point where I cared about what happened to them, and the ending was a confused mess.(less)
This is an atmospheric story that had an interesting premise, but it went downhill fast after the first two hundred pages. When I realized that I'd be...moreThis is an atmospheric story that had an interesting premise, but it went downhill fast after the first two hundred pages. When I realized that I'd been skimming for at least two chapters, I decided not to bother finishing it.
I found the heavy indie music references kind of obnoxious, like I tend to when books name-drop bands - especially more than in passing. It's too often like an attempted shortcut to characterization. But I need more from protagonists than "hey, these guys are majorly cool, they listen to some of the same stuff you did, dear reader, back when you were an insufferable teenager."
I must not have connected with these people at all, because I don't really mind not knowing what happens to them.(less)
King's take on the werewolf story is a quick read. It has some elements that are now considered clichés for King, and it's pretty mild compared to the...moreKing's take on the werewolf story is a quick read. It has some elements that are now considered clichés for King, and it's pretty mild compared to the rest of his work. It's got a little gore, but I wouldn't call it scary.
I enjoyed the illustrations, especially the color ones.(less)
This is one of the best historical horror/fantasy novels that I can remember. Those familiar with either fictional vampires or novels set in the Victo...moreThis is one of the best historical horror/fantasy novels that I can remember. Those familiar with either fictional vampires or novels set in the Victorian era will be entertained by the references. My detailed review can be found here.(less)
Feed is a near-future thriller about zombies, politics, the internet, viruses, and the news. It takes place in a world where fear and paranoia can be...moreFeed is a near-future thriller about zombies, politics, the internet, viruses, and the news. It takes place in a world where fear and paranoia can be valid survival strategies, because a social gathering, a family pet, or a trip outside of carefully controlled safe zones can lead to disaster. If any of this sounds even a little interesting to you, give it a try.
The main characters are Georgia and Shaun Mason, adoptive siblings who, along with their friend Buffy, are news bloggers hoping to make the big time by covering a presidential campaign. When traveling with the candidate threatens to make Georgia and Shaun part of the story, they're forced to decide if their push for the truth is worth risking it all.
The world-building in Feed really shines. Both the zombies and the way that people have learned to live with them are well thought out. There are a lot of little details that will be especially fun to horror fans, and I enjoyed learning about the rules and conventions that had developed to help keep people safe. I found Georgia easy to sympathize with, Shaun was a little less so but he was a fun character. Things moved along at a page-turning pace, and there were a lot of surprises in store, both in terms of action and emotion.
There were times when I got a little weary of the constant infection testing. I totally get why it was important and some of those scenes were beautifully tense, but it became repetitive to read about. I was left wishing that one quiet but interesting character had played a little more of a definitive role during the end of the book. The wrap-up felt too abrupt, though that could have been because I wanted the book to keep going.
I've seen a few reviews claiming that the book has a misogynistic angle, thanks to one skeezy female politician. I'm a feminist, but I think that the misogyny callout is off the mark here. There are many women present that show various types of strength and power. Georgia is in charge of the team as a whole in addition to managing the hard news section their website. Buffy is a poet but she also runs their equipment, and she's the best technical expert in the entire book. Emily Ryman is an important advocate for what she cares about, and Georgia and Shaun's mother is a badass but publicity-savvy adventurer. The book also has female bodyguards, scientists, and political activists. Yes, there's a stripper politician. But to me that character was a representation of how occasionally ridiculous their media-drenched society had become, and maybe a playful reference to attempted and even successful porn star candidates of our own time.
Underneath the action and the drama and the political circus of the plot there's a solid story that deals with fear and power and sacrifice, and just how much people are willing to take for safety - or at least the illusion of it. Like in all the best zombie movies, the characters here learn that their fellow humans can be even more dangerous than zombies. This is a point that a lot of zombie novels don't express nearly so well, which makes Feed stand out in the genre.(less)
This is more hooked in to the overall plot than the previous book, making it more satisfying, but it doesn't feel as catchy as the first two. I think...moreThis is more hooked in to the overall plot than the previous book, making it more satisfying, but it doesn't feel as catchy as the first two. I think that having so many barely-there new characters thrown at me in every slim little installment is starting to wear thin.(less)
Before the Village of the Damned or the Children of the Corn, there was Rhoda Penmark. Rhoda seems like a perfect young lady, but those that get to kn...moreBefore the Village of the Damned or the Children of the Corn, there was Rhoda Penmark. Rhoda seems like a perfect young lady, but those that get to know her well enough eventually start to notice something off about her behavior.
I love that rather than setting things up as a mystery, the reader is left with little doubt about Rhoda's true nature. The story here is more about Rhoda's troubled mother, Christine, and her struggle to both accept the truth and to decide what to do about it.
The other people around Rhoda were also interesting. They were characterized fairly tightly, but each had some significance that made them more than flat "sulky janitor" or "drunken mourner" types. The gossipy neighbor, for example, entertained me because she took pride in her analysis-fueled perceptions of others, but she overlooked everything of importance.
As the original (and still the best) killer child story, this book was influential on the horror genre, but don't expect fast-paced thrills. It's that older kind of scary, the better kind, where everything builds towards inevitable plot points that, even though you see them ahead, you hope won't come to pass.(less)
I don't care for Parker's writing style. The tortured phrases and constant overdone descriptions kept tempting me to skim to the next part of the book...moreI don't care for Parker's writing style. The tortured phrases and constant overdone descriptions kept tempting me to skim to the next part of the book where something actually happened. And the characterization doesn't always fit the show, which wasn't that big a deal to me but may annoy some fans.
Mostly I just didn't care for the story. A woman who looks exactly like Angelique buys the Old House, but she lives in the woods with a bunch of hippies. Barnabas is having second thoughts about his cure, partly because there seems to be a new vampire in the area. There's a parallel story about a witch who lived in Salem in the days of the witch trials, at times this plot really dragged. If devoting that many pages to a historical situation was really necessary, I'd have preferred more of a focus on the Collins family of the time.
The setup had potential, but I thought the supernatural elements of the story were poorly handled and the ending was a bit of a mess. (less)