Saturday, February 28, 2009

Crimson by Gord Rollo

Gord Rollo's Second novel is in my humble oppinion, far superior to his first. Where Jigsaw Man was an interesting new take on the Mad Scientist tale, Crimson is much closer to the "small band of kids take on monster who lives in their small town" tale that so many horror writers eventually touch on. Stephen King's being the most notable IT then we have Dan Simmons with Summer of Night and even fellow Leisure Author Brian Keene with Ghoul.

Though Crimson starts out much as all of the others, we quickly take a different turn. The opening scene of this book is a real kick in the gut and will thrill the most avid of gore hounds. From there we travel to about 20 years later. The small farmhouse where our opening scene took place has sat abandoned for all of those years, quietly awaiting new blood to move in. When an unaware single mother and her young son move into the house, there is a stirring in the well out back. Soon four young friends end up playing at the house and discovering an ancient evil trapped away. The four boys fight for their lives as their worst nightmares come to pass.

Crimson follows these kids from the time they unleash the monster through their lives as it revisits them, bringing all new terrors with them each time it shows back up.

The writing in this book is very strong and the book is extremely interesting. I only had three minor annoyances that I was able to forget and still enjoy the book. The first being that there were too many characters who's name started with "D" I don't know why that bothered me, but for some reason it did. The second was that the characters age significantly from the beginnning of the book through the end, but they never seem to grow mentally to match their ages. And the third was that towards the end of the book there is a large bit of exposition that sort of explained everything that had been going on... I would have preferred for some of it to have been left to the imagination and other bits of it to have been figured out throughout the tale rather than having it all explained at once. Still that was not enough to keep me from really enjoying this read. I recommend it to anyone looking for a good fun scare.

Recommended reading ages - 15 and up depending on maturity

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward - HP Lovecraft

Lovecraft is a special writer, capable of twisting the mind of the reader in ways that all of the visual horror we are forever shown in this day and age can never accomplish.

What WAS the thing at the bottom of the pit? What was it that the good Doctor saw? So many open questions to let our minds fill in the blanks with the things that horrify us above all else.

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward is Lovecraft's longest work (at least that I've encountered) and there is so much in the meager 120 or so pages that it's amazing. We follow the Doctor as he relates the tale of his patient Charles Dexter Ward and his supposed decent into madness. In doing so we learn of an ancient relative who may have gone beyond dabbling in the black arts. Though the case revolves around Mr. Ward... the true story is that of his ancient relative.

Lovecraft has a grasp of the language that is beyond beautiful. He is eloquent, descriptive, engaging and thought provoking without ever coming across as pompous or arrogant. His description is effective without being obnoxious (Unlike J Fenimore Cooper), his dialog is realistic and meaningful (not like Jane Austin)and his plot is engaging, grabbing the reader from beginning to end (unlike "The House of the Seven Gables"). Highly recommended for those who like either the writing style of the time, or simple horror fans.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Sirens – William Meilke

Poor cover art may turn many away from this book… a poor synopsis on the back will discourage many more. In fact, the synopsis on the back is completely irrelevant to the book – the phone call mentioned does occur… however it has no bearing on the actual story what so ever.

A true synopsis – After their previous case involving an amulet (which I assume is the first in the series) our PI, Derek Adams and his agoraphobic sidekick are hired for what should be a simple case. An old woman wants Derek to head north to a small town and retrieve her son so that he can attend his father’s funeral. What follows delves deeply into the ancient Norse mythology including sirens, Odin, Loki, a shape shifter and some not-so-friendly locals.

Although this is classified as horror, and it does contain a monster… this book is more of an irreverent supernatural crime thriller. If it weren’t for the heavy use of profanity, I would recommend this as a young adult novel. For adults, they may have a tough time buying into everything that occurs. However, even though it lacks gore and is really never frightening, it is a fun book. The characters do all have similar voices and there is very little physical description of the different characters. It would have been easier to keep them mentally separate if the author hadn’t suffered from a penchant for names starting with the letter “D” or if they had each been given a distinctive voice. The character who stands out the most is the elderly chain-smoking widow, and even she is a dichotomy in that her personality shifts as the story needs it to.

The plot itself is quite wild though the author does manage to keep a handle on it, keeping it as restrained as anything containing this much magic in modern day times can be. It is enough to keep your attention from beginning to end, and to be honest I’m still not entirely sure where the ending came from, but I’ll buy it.

If you are looking for a light read that never takes itself too seriously then this can be quite an enjoyable time. The gore is light, and there is sexual contact told in the past tense (and the men have the wounds to prove it). The book does contain heavy profanity from a specific character, adult subjects such as suicide, and gore. If this were a movie and they cut the profanity down this would be a heavy PG-13 rating.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austin

This is a classic.
It deserves to be a classic.
That does not make it exciting.

Perhaps it was my mood while reading... or perhaps I've just read too many books from the time period in too short a span... but I had a difficult time digging into this one.

If I were doing a study on manners, protocol, and society from that time period, this book would be my reference guide. As far as a fun filled story... I struggled at times to keep going. The opening was rather boring, very little occured to draw the reader in other than some interesting conversation. Then in the middle, the intrigue just didn't intrigue me. I'd never seen the movie but I can spot a liar in both book and film pretty quickly... so all of the drama around poor Mr. Darcy was more irritating to me than anything else. I mean, the poor guy, he deserved way better than he ended up with.

I guess my difficulty with this book begins with the fact that I'm a non-romantic woman. I'm also incredibly self reliant and even though I've read tons of books from this time period... I still can't figure out what these people did with their lives to make a living, I assume it's just land ownership but none of them seems to contribute anything! So you take that and apply my opinion that each of the girls in this book needed a severe reality check and a firm slap out of their rose petal glasses and maybe I was just a big angsty while reading. The men were complete mysteries who you never really got to know other than through the perceptions of the sisters... and since they seemed so warped to me, the men were alien.

I just felt bad for Mr. Darcy. I really wanted him to run off and find a decent woman. True the book picks up a bit in the middle and then through the ending, where everyone rides off into the sunset on their white horses to their fairyland castles full of rainbows and unicorns and everyone lives happily ever after and they all eat marshmellow fluff and candy corn for every meal

Soultaker - Bryan Smith

This is the second book by this author that I have read, and I have to admit… that he really doesn’t draw me in. Sure the writing was fine, there is sex, violence and little green scaly critters romping about… but I have the hardest time investing myself emotionally in his books.

So we’re in a small town, and some goth girl turns out to be Lamia, an ancient half snake deity who needs a jump start of souls… so she’s possessed the women of a small town and turned them into psycho witch-like priestess hoes. So we’ve got a pack of male teens and an older brother who are trying to stop it all.

I had a hard time determining whether or not our author is deeply terrified of women… the women in this book are evil, corrupt, vengeful, lustful and extremely dangerous to the men… except of course for the lesbian. There are some really strange psychological ideas you could take from the author.

I did like the idea of his use of one of the more rarely mentioned mythological monsters rather than simply going with the standard vampire/werewolf/alien/zombie fare. I really wish I had been able to get into this book more. As it was, I had a hard time keeping my mind on it and struggled to get to the end. I’m not sure why either… the writing was fine, the concept was fine… perhaps it was the characters, I didn’t really care for any of them… and we never really had the opportunity to know any of the women prior to their possession so we couldn’t really regret their transformation. The men were just SO weak that they were hard to root for, granted we wanted someone to stop what was happening… but it’s hard to root for a bunch of guys who think like pervs.

Moral of the story: men – Keep it in your pants

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Not a book! The Kindle 2 is coming out

Ladies and Gentlemen - the new Kindle has been announce, and I have to admit, it's much spiffier looking than the last one. Since I don't own either - I can't make a real comparison. But I'm told that if you really enjoy reading new or self published authors that this thing is the way to go. Be sure to check it out, even if it's way out of your price range - you can add it to your wishlist like me and dream.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Traumatized by Alexander S. Brown

Traumatized is a short story book containing 15 tales of horror, and nothing else. The reader is saved from reading an introduction, any sales pitch for additional books, or even author information. The tales contained within the book range from thrillingly creepy and horrific to mediocre. There are stories of serial killers, demons, vengeful spirits, psychotic cults, voodoo curses, and even a bigfoot creature. Where Brown really shines is in his haunted house stories. The opening tale – “Bloodlines” is one of the two strongest in the book. A tale of four people called for a “treasure hunt” in a mysterious house learn that there is far more to the treasure than what they bargained for. Tied for my favorite is the story “It’s all True” another haunted house tale that ends is a terrifying and gruesome way. Brown is in his element when writing about haunted houses. I found his murderer tales to be the weakest in the book, specifically “April” which seems to have been written long before the author really hit his writing stride. It comes across as forced and stilted with problematic dialogue and unbelievable characters. The final tale in the book “Zoe’s Swan Song” is both gruesome and familiar, one knows how the tale of someone offering to show a vindictive person their “inner beauty” will turn out. Other than the haunted house tales, “The God Complex” was very interesting.

On the whole this was a collection of horror stories that is well worth the purchase. The percentage of excellent versus weak stories is in the reader’s favor with there being far more good than not. Any collection will have stories that are stronger than others. This is an excellent short story collection that I recommend to horror fans.

Rating is defiantly an “R” with profanity, gore, sex, rape and murder.

Original Review for

The Chair - Graphic Novel

I'll admit that I own no graphic novels other than the spawn compilations, so when they sent me a copy of "The Chair" to review, I was rather excited. The cover is well drawn, although the printing on my copy seems to be shifted to the left, cutting the last letter of each of the authors/illustrators names half off. A quick flip through reveals that the entire book is in black and white, nice touch.

Now our story follows a man on death row, surrounded by the criminally insane of the worst types, awaiting his final trip down the hallway. Quickly we determine that the prison is not all that it seems, the body count is too high with out anyone making a trip to the room containing the chair. Reality twists and churns as our perceptions of what is really happening bubbles in the foam.

The concept of this novel is excellent... unfortunately the execution leaves something to be desired. The background artwork is fantastic, unfortunately the artwork of the people in the story is weak, they are improperly proportioned and sadly all look too similar to distinguish anyone other than our main character... and that's only because he has a beard and is almost always sitting. Another negative is the Dialogue, which is cryptic and bland. Sure the reader gets the gist of what is going on, but having more fluid and specific dialogue would have greatly added to the reader's enjoyment. Though this is not the worst graphic novel I have read, it certainly does not rank among the best.

Kiddie rating for this book is PG 13 possibly R for profanity, violence and adult subject matter along the lines of child murder/rape/serial killers.

Originally reviewed for