Ginger Nuts of Horror
Over the course of close to three decades, between 1986 and 2014, Robert Hood had written forty-four stories concerning ghosts: many short and bite-sized reads, a few novelettes for passenger-side driving, and a single novella that’ll last you at least a couple visits to your doctor’s waiting room.
These collected works (along with notes on the inspiration of each tale) are divided into what the writer has called “thematic categories”, a sort of grim and deathly taxonomy -- a directory of “haunted” things, if you will; and they come together to form the volume, Peripheral Visions. These categories are as follows: haunted places, haunted families, haunted minds, haunted youth, haunted vengeance, and haunted realities. The book itself is a whopping thing, whether we’re talking paper or megabytes – about two-hundred twenty thousand words, not including the author’s notes.
A zombie novel doesn’t need many of the elements that most other novels require: tight plot, character development, believable dialogue. They’re nice things to have when you can find them, but when you’re reading a story of men vs. zombies, you want brain-splattering action, frights, and horror.
In Insurgent Z: A Zombie Novel, you get the brain-splattering action, and that’s it. The dialogue is stilted, the characters wooden, the descriptions repetitive, and the writing generally amateurish throughout. Even with lowered expectations in a horror field filled to the brim with zombie stories, Insurgent Z has little to offer. Which is a shame, because it had a lot of potential as a cautionary tale of military experimentation gone haywire.
I don't know if the author was going for an Abbot and Costello meets.... approach with this story, as Cult of The black Jaguar reads as though it was written in the era long long ago. From wide eyed local guides who just happen to be double crossing guardians of an ancient secret, to the Ain't Half Hot Mum band of scientists and explorers this book really needs a cliche removal. Perhaps the biggest disappointment is the way in which the author thinks he is injecting sexual tension with the introduction of Jenny, the daughter of one of the expeditions explorers. "her plain t-shirt and hiking shorts accentuated her pinup-girl figure to the fullest". Talk about creating a one dimensional character only for the titillation of teenage boys. Why couldn't he just have her as a normal person "red hair like lava" I half expected Roger Rabbit to poke his head out of the jungle and say hello.
When a story is only 60 odd pages long the writing had better be tight, sadly this isn't the case this story is peppered with such amateurish phrases as "trailing ghostly streams of odiferous smoke" and "two soft mounds of womanly flesh pressed against his back". Phrases such as these just show a writer who really is out of his depth. The rest of the narrative is a workman like drone, peppered with action scenes that are as exciting and thrilling as watching two old men fight over a Werther's Original toffee. And i get it the Jaguar was important to the Mayans, you don't need to keep reminding me every couple of paragraphs. This book really needs to get lost in the jungle.
I have a small confession to make; I've been promising to read James Jobling's debut novel for a while, now. Unfortunately, life and all its wonderful and frustrating demands and setbacks kept getting in the way. Still, no excuse. First, he sent me an early draft to have a look at; then, when a publication date was announced, I promised I would read it for a release review. Finally, I had to travel down to the launch event at Southcart Books in Walsall and obtain a physical copy which I promised I would get to as soon as I could.
Which brings me to this, my review of James's first novel - first published and first written, I believe, which is worth keeping in mind - National Emergency.
Peter Crombie is a typical, ordinary young teenage boy, or so it seems at first. The only interesting thing that ever happened to him was when he was seven and a boy of a similar age wearing a cape and sunglasses snuck out of his closet one night, smiled in apology and jumped out of his bedroom window. Of course his parents are a little odd - his mum turns curtains into dresses and his dad is a mad scientist. But other than that, nothing of interest ever happens to Peter. Until now...
Let me start by saying that William Malmborg’s Blind Eye is not technically a horror novel. It’s more of a thriller with plenty of horror bits thrown in for good measure.
When I heard this author was straying away from his horror roots, I was a little concerned. Authors don’t always make successful jumps into other genres, and I was already completely in love with his horror books. For those unfamiliar with his work, William Malmborg is the author of books such as Jimmy and Text Message. If you haven’t checked out his books, do so now. Right now!
It's not often that I finish a book feeling hungry. Not just hungry for more of the story, but hungry for cake. I mean really hungry for cake. Ishbelle Bee's wonderful debut novel; The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath is a book were everyone seems to be obsessed with eating, and not just cake, we have characters whose diet may be on the little extreme side. One even likes to eat people so he can gain their power It may be a bit drastic, but the character is question is the most dastardly to creep through the pages of a novel in many a long year.
Before I start this review, here's a warning; the blurb on the back of the book - my copy at least - kind of 'spoils' the story. I'm going to repeat it her, so if you don't want to know, don't go any further; get the novel, read it (without looking at the blurb) and come back here.
This is what it says (my memory ain't great, so I'm kind of paraphrasing...):
'Stevie is a serial killer. When she kills someone, she asks them "What do you see?" She's about to find out.'
With a foreword by Leeman Kessler of “Ask Lovecraft” fame and an afterword by noted Lovecraft scholar S.T. Joshi, the short story anthology Cthulhu Lives! drags the Cthulhu Mythos flopping and gibbering into the 21st Century, making it relevant to today’s technological culture. Across the board the stories are of fairly high quality, with a number of stand-outs and a few that did more to elicit a trip to the Dreamlands than the insane asylum. Some of the highlights include: