Ginger Nuts of Horror
I have to admit to having an ulterior motive for picking this one up. As a writer, I'm intrigued by experiments in form, and the notion of 99 horror stories, each written in 99 words, proved to be an irresistible pull. I had two questions going in: could the authors actually pull this off? And if they did, what on earth would it be like to read?
Bottled Abyss is unique tale centering on Herman and Janet, two parents who lost their daughter when she was involved in a hit and run accident at her daycare. As they try rather unsuccessfully to put their lives back together, the family dog disappears. Herman goes out to find him and discovers his dog near death after a coyote attack. Herman prepares to say goodbye to the pet as a stranger approaches and saves the dog with an odd liquid in a strange-looking bottle. After Janet almost dies, Herman develops an obsession with the bottle and its mystery liquid. One thing leads to another and all those who encounter the bottle meet an ugly demise.
Guns of the Dawn is an historical fantasy novel and my first time reading Adrian Tchaikovsky’s work. On the face of it, the novel would seem to fit into the current vogue for steampunk and historical mash-up, but it has a number of elements which make it stand out on its own. The heroine is Emily Marshwic, a gentlewoman from the royalist country of Lascanne which shares its borders with the newly-Republican Denland. Following the end of a bloody civil war, Denland turns its eye to its neighbour and soon the two countries are at war. Through Emily’s eyes, we see the men and boys of her family and household marched away to fight in a war which King Lascanne’s propaganda continually promises is almost won. Soon enough, it is the turn of the women to join the frontline and it is here that Emily Marshwic learns the truth about the war and what she is really fighting for.
Blood Vengeance is a ghost story mixed with a coming-of-age story, with a dash of police procedural added in a flashback near the climax. Like the protagonist, it didn’t know what it wanted to be when it grew up, and unfortunately, that necessary maturity will never come. There were hints of a horror story in there, with a few gratuitous gory bits and attempts at character development through peril, but not enough work was put in to weave them into a compelling narrative.
I am passionate about the horror genre, it is a genre when at its best allows us to look deep inside ourselves at the minute things that make us tick. To those unaware of what the genre is capable of it looks like the lowest of the low. Full of stupid plots, cringe worthy dialogue, and writing so bad, even a sixth form pupil would cringe at it.
So many writers think that it is an easy genre to write in. One where all you have to do is put a load of terrible stock phrases, piss poor characters and bucket loads of gore on a bit of paper and upload it up to the the internet for all to bask in its glory.
Well it isn't, and if you think that then you should be ashamed.
This so called writing guide does nothing to eliminate these terrible misconceptions. After a brief how to section, this book becomes just a catalogue of descriptive phrases which are so bad that even Garth Merenghi would be ashamed to use them.
If you are a horror writer and you really think you need this book, or worse actually use this book to help write your magnum opus, then you really need to put down your pen and stop writing. If you don't even have the imagination to come up with evocative phrases on your own then you have no right to be a horror writer.
This book makes me so angry. Why does an author who nobody has heard off think they have the ability to tell others how to write, especially when this so called author thinks that phrases such as
"a pillar of gushing life shot up from the wound, painting the ceiling"
"the relentless axe chopped again and again"
"the knife was a crimson stinger and hate was its venom"
are what constitutes good writing. This is both an affront to both writers and the genre.
So writers, do yourselves a favour and actually hone your craft by reading some of the greats of the genre, don't fall back on lazy, ignorant methods like this.
Sebastian Junger performs a rear-naked chokehold, also known as a “blood choke,” on his readers by restricting the vital fluid to their brains in A Death in Belmont. But instead of pinching his readers’ carotid arteries, he squeezes their emotional, moral, and psychological veins in this deeply descriptive, and disturbing, work of narrative nonfiction.
The series of murders highlighted in and around the City of Boston in the 60s, earmarked by increasingly dramatic staged sexual assaults and post-rape humiliations, serves as the book’s catalyst. Most readers will be shocked to discover the perverse arrangement of victims as the killer’s blueprint maintains consistency through ninety percent of the killings. One of this book’s strengths is its descriptive fact checking; Junger and his editors at W.W. Norton spared no expense in regard to their collective and expansive foot-noted road map of the Boston Strangler saga. The story’s rich treasury of details is somewhat reminiscent of Caputo’s In Cold Blood. Even as the aforesaid is a strength per my opinion, some may consider the vastness of Junger’s details a caveat. I hope not because any story firmly entrenched in the workings of the judicial system needs to be both comprehensive and meticulous in scope and sequence, especially in regard to a storyline like the Boston Strangler that has so many loopholes (pun intended).
Let me begin by saying that I read – a lot. Although I have recently narrowed down what I read to horror and thrillers, I have read plenty of books in other genres. Some of the books I’ve read left a lasting impression and one series even had me in tears for days when a beloved character died an unexpected death. However, Monster is one book I know I will never forget.
I can’t recall a book ever having the same effect on me as Monster. I read it in one sitting, (I couldn’t stop reading!) and by the end, I was speechless. I wrestled with a number of different emotions as I read and they ranged from anger, to disgust, to extreme sadness. I’ve read almost everything Michael Bray has released and I’ve read so many Matt Shaw books, I’ve lost count. I thought I knew what to expect from these guys. I was wrong.
They say, "he who sups with the Devil should eat with a long spoon." If that is the case then I suspect that Simon Kurt Unsworth not only has a long spoon, but one that is also cast from solid silver. His debut novel The Devils Detective is one of those books, that if you believed in such things, was penned by a writer who had made a deal with the devil.
This review of Milk-Blood by Mark Matthews is the result of a copy sent to Ginger Nuts of Horror in exchange for an honest review.
As I like to do with review requests coming into Ginger Nuts, this is the first time I have read Mark Matthews. It won’t be the last but this one has left me, eh, disturbed is probably the best description.
The haunted house story is one of the oldest tropes in horror fiction. It is one that nearly every writer falls back on at some point in their career. Many think that this it is an easy option. It's not, personally I think this is the hardest of all sub genres to write.
At the heart of Haunted House story there a couple of things, the sense of loss of control from the protagonist, and the sense of isolation from the normal world. A writer has to get these spot on otherwise their story is just going to feel like a PG-13 version of Rentaghost. Where all sense of atmosphere is lost to cheap shocks and cringe worthy dialogue.