Ginger Nuts of Horror
I love novellas, small enough to devour in one sitting, yet big enough so it doesn't feel like you have been short changed. When a novella is done properly it should distill the very essence of the story into one concentrated hit of pure storytelling.
The Waiting is the latest offering from Hunter Shea. From my previous experience of Shea's work I was expecting another balls to the wall, pedal to the metal all hell breaks loose powerhouse of action horror. To my surprise Hunter has put on the brakes, eased up on the gas, and written a much more measured novella.
Struck down on her wedding and rushed to hospital for life saving surgery, and trapped in a coma is not what I would imagine is not how most women would want their wedding to pan out. Sadly this is what happens to Cassandra,kept alive by hospital equipment and watched over by her loving husband Cassandra is trapped. But Brian isn't the only one watching over her. The phantom of a young boy also watches over her visible to her husband, is this by an angel or is he something much worse?
I was a big fan of Shea's previous works, he has repeatedly shown that he is a master of action horror, so does this change of pace and style work? Well you'll have to read on to find out....
I'm a creature of habit, I love routine, and I hate change. So as to why I decided to read this I'm not really sure. Perhaps it was the atmospheric cover ( don't listen to those who say don't judge a book by its cover), or it may have been the synopsis with it's mention of "mysterious barrows and stone circles" and the worlds first detective. Whatever it was Talus and The Frozen King ripped me out of my comfort zone and plonked me smack down in the middle of a prehistory Celtic land where murder is afoot. The King is dead, seemingly murdered, and all the signs point to one of his sons being the killer. Talus the Bard and Bran the Fisherman arrive just as the heinous crime is discovered and quickly find themselves at the centre of the biggest shock to ever hit the Island.
Going Cold Turkey, I bet that's something a lot of you can relate to, hell I've gone Cold Turkey more times than I can care to remember. It's a horrible process, where your life is reduced to small individual packets of time, a constant struggle of will. Which is the total opposite of Carole Johnstone's Cold Turkey. If going Cold Turkey was this enjoyable I'd have done it years ago.
Centered around Raymond (Raym) Munroe and his desperate battle to quit his addiction to cigarettes, it marvelously accounts the slow and painful destruction of his life and all that he holds dear. Is the Tally Man real, or are we just witnessing the heartbreaking, scandalous and chilling descent into total madness?
Has it really been been eighteen years since David Moody first published his debut novel Straight To You? How time flies. It feels like just the other day that I was introduced to a new thrilling author, whose brilliant take on the apocalypse made me sit up and take notice.
So here were are 18 years later, hell that's almost as long as I have been with partner, David Moody still remains one of my must read authors, so when he announced that he was going to release a totally new and rewritten version of this story I was intrigued to say the least.
Straight to You, despite the trappings of first novel syndrome was a very good book, it was clear that David was going to be an author to look out for, a strong confident style that balanced the horror of a dying world with a much more personal narrative. Straight To You hinted at just how good David would become.
So how does this new addition hold up.....
Zombies, zombies, zombies, no matter how hard I try I just can't seem to escape from their relentless pursuit. I swear that I will stop reviewing these books every time I review one. So why do I continually come back to these books? It is rather simple, when the man who gave us brilliant existentialist horror with The Respectable Face of Tyranny, and Emergence and Mythos busting horror with Conjure House decides to tackle the shambling dead you better sit up and take notice.
Gary Fry is an author who always brings some new and unique to the genre. He's not content to just sit back and knock out the same old cliches, so the thought of him tackling the most cliched of all horror genres is a prospect that should make for a very good read.
I've got this feeling down deep in my soul that I just can't lose.
Or so Lionel Richie tells us. I have a similar feeling, but I don't think it's the same feeling as our dear friend Lionel. My feeling is that the beneath the effervescently crazy and jolly exterior Jasper Bark is one of the sickest and most twisted people walking the planet today. Those familiar with Jasper's previous work in the horror genre will be aware that there has always been dark and twisted side to his work, hell who can forget the zombie sex scene in Way of The Barefoot Zombie, I can't despite spending All Night Long in therapy.
With this latest release from Mr Bark, he throws away all pretence of normality and delivers on of the most sick and twisted stories of recent memories.
Every once in a while a novel comes crashing in from the left field burning like falling star with pure white hot brilliance. A novel so brilliant and beautifully written, it makes you wonder if you can do it any justice in a review.
When something resembling a meteorite crashes into the ocean three strangers each isolated by their own problems must come together to save not only themselves but the fate of the world as well. Bound together by Ayodele, a visitor from beyond the stars these three will embark on the most wondrous adventure since The Wizard Of Oz.
Those of you who like me have any involvement with The Scouts will know all to well the horrors of going away on a Scout Camp. Camping in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by lots of smell spotty kids, the thought of something straight out of a horror movie finding your camp and working it's way through the kids is one that will come to you every night.
So when Scoutmaster Tim Riggs leads a troop of boy scouts into the Canadian wilderness, he will live the dream that all Scoutmasters secretly dream of.......
The world of horror is full of old tropes and rehashed ideas, it's a genre that is often accused of being unoriginal, musty and stale. Scratch beneath the surface, brush away the dust and peer beneath tarnished glass and you will find a genre brimming with talent and brilliant ideas. Some of these books like Enter at Your Own Risk: Dark Muses, Spoken Silences will command your attention. They force the genre to pull itself up from the gutter,. Dark, dense stories that command your attention, devoid of blood soaked horror, the stories held with in it's pages illicit feelings of fear and terror, via a subtle, macabre style of story. These atmospheric tales take their inspiration from the genres past masters,such as Poe, Lovecraft, and Irving. Using these past masters most famous works as a foundation for their tales, some of the genres modern masters take us the readers on a re-imaging through the gothic heart of horror.
There are certain books out there that are so immersive that they transcend the printed medium. Their narrative if so tight that the act of reading them makes you forget that this is a book you are reading. Drawn into it's plots and protagonists the book transform from a written story into a full blown assault on the senses. You begin to see the action unfolding in your minds eye, the sounds and smells of the story's landscape fill your head and add extra depth to the brilliant narrative. Gary McMahon's Reaping The Dark is one such novella. Combining gritty crime, tense siege, and chilling supernatural narratives into one lean mean beast McMahon shapes this novella into something special.
The ominous prologue introduces us to the dark and dangerous world of black magic, hinting at what to come,a Revenant has been called into to world. Tasked with a job this dark beast will not stop until it has completed its task.
Cut to the story's hero, Clarke, a getaway driver for hire, a man who likes to think he is in complete control. Brought up as an orphan Clarke is a man with very few ties.
"Never buy anything you can't afford to leave behind"
That's his motto, and that goes for everything, friends and family included. Those that work with him only know him as Driver Z. Only his partner Martha, and his confident / gobetween Oakes really know who he is. So when a drug deal on which he has been hired goes South, Clarke only has these two people to turn to. Pursued by gun toting crime boss and a creature from the abyss Clarke must fight for his very existence.
Remember those golden years of cinema when cool ruled? When Clint Eastwood and Steve McQueen ruled the silver screen. Well Reaping The Dark captures that essence of cool beautifully. Clarke has the same ice cold coolness about him that made Dirty Harry and Bullitt so great. The narrative is so lean and perfectly honed it races along like a classic Dodge Charger. No word or phrase is wasted as McMahon steers the narrative to its ice cold finale.
In many ways the books reminds of Kill List. Both of them have lean, tense and shocking plots, and both of them succeed in that nigh impossible task of merging reality and the unreal. A lot of the time when books like this try to mix reality with the supernatural it feels forced, almost tacked on. Reaping The Dark, feels real, the two worlds combining effortlessly to create a narrative that just feels natural. Clarke's plight at rescuing Martha from the calm yet psychotic McKenzie, plays out perfectly alongside the Revenant and his shadowy masters the Order of The Dark Veil. And as for the ending, WOW!.
Reaping the Dark is one of the best novellas I have read in a long time. McMahon has always been one of my favourite authors, but with this book he cemented his reputation as a master of the genre.
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