Reviews - Books

Guardian Article: Chapter and curse: is the horror novel entering a golden age?

I don’t normally do this, but today I wanted to share an article from the Guardian that made me happy.

Horror fiction, says author Stephen Graham Jones, is booming right now. “It’s blooming, it’s blossoming. I mean, night blooms, of course, with a bloody centre. Probably some flies crawling over those petals.”

Jones, a Blackfeet Native American, should know: his terrifying tale about a spirit out for reveng, The Only Good Indians, swept the boards at last year’s horror fiction awards, taking both the Bram Stoker and Shirley Jackson awards for best horror novel. Opening as Ricky is beaten to death by white drinkers at a bar, the novel moves back in time to show how he and his friends slaughtered part of an elk herd on their reservation as teenagers, including one pregnant elk. Now they are dying, brutally, as adults, while asking if their past is catching up with them.

Keep reading on theGuardian.com

Reviews - Books

Review: Watchers by Dean Koontz

Today I want to talk to you about Watcher by Dean Koontz, while this is not typically thought of as a horror novel, rather it is listed as suspense, I feel it works well enough as a horror to look at it here.

The book was published in 1987 and is credited as being on of the books that raised Koontz’s status to that of a best-selling author.

Summary

Our main character Travis is a former solider and retired real estate salesman, who has become depressed due to his previous life experiences and now feels that his life is pointless. While on a hike, he encounters a golden retriever which follows him, and they take an instant liking to each other. Travis takes the doggo home and calls him Einstein due to the pooch’s high intelligence levels. The dog does not speak but clearly understands English and can respond in such a way that his intelligence in unmistakable.

We also meet Nora, who is being stalked by a creepy asshole, Arthur. Eventually Travis and Nora meet when Travis rescues Nora from Arthur, with Einstein’s help. Travis, Einstein, and Nora become a family and Travis and Nora keep working to find better ways to communicate with Einstein.

However, through the story it is apparent that Einstein is afraid of something. That something is the outsider. Einstein and the Outsider are both genetically modified creatures, hence Einstein’s intelligence. However, where Einstein only had his intelligence modified the Outsider is an amalgamation of various animals with the soul drive to kill Einstein.

Federal agents are also in pursuit of Einstein, and finally they are also pursued by an assassin who was hired to kill those who know how to kill the Outsider but also wants Einstein to sell.

I don’t want to spoil the ending here, it’s best experienced first-hand. There’s a reason this book is credited with being on of the ones that made Koontz a best seller.

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Reviews - Books

Review: Something Wicked This Way Comes

Today I want to talk to you about a novel by Ray Bradbury, it was published in 1962 and tells the story about two 13 year old friends who have a terrifying encounter with a passing carnival. I am of course, talking about Something Wicked This Way Comes.

For those of you up on your Shakespeare you’ll recognise the title as a line from Macbeth, spoken by the witches.

This book has an interesting backstory, as it was not written as a book initially, it started out life as a short story, which Bradbury turned into a film treatment for Gene Kelly, but when no studio would purchase the treatment Bradbury (over a five year period) turned it into a novel. A transformative past if ever there was one.

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Reviews - Books

Review: Dr Sleep

Today I want to talk about Dr Sleep, which is the sequel to Stephen Kings 1977 novel The Shining. Dr Sleep was published in 2013 and one the 2013 Bram Stoker award for best novel.

Summary

The book opens with Danny being educated by Dick Hallorann, who is now a benevolent spirit, on how to control the ghosts from the now destroyed Overlook hotel who are pursuing him. Danny is taught to lock the ghosts in imaginary boxes in his mind, which is enough to protect him. We are also introduced to a cult, led by Rose the Hat, this cult effectively feed on people who have the shining ability is this extend their lives.

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Reviews - Books

Review: Island of Dr Moreau

Today want to talk about the island of Dr Moreau, was written by HG Wells and published in 1896. This remains one of Well’s best-known books and is considered a science-fiction classic.

The novel is been adapted multiple times, in various mediums. There are several direct adaptations via film, as well as several films taking inspiration from it. Lets also not forget the Simpsons treehouse of horror parody. Several books claim inspiration from the Island of Dr Moreau such as Heart of a Dog, and perhaps the more recent and well-known Sherlock Holmes: The Army of Dr Moreau.

However today we will be looking at the original book.

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Review: Salem’s Lot

Today I want to discuss one of my all-time favourite King novels, it also happens to be one of his favourites as well. I am, of course, talking about Salem’s Lot.

King’s take on vampires was published in October 1975 by Doubleday and has since been made into an illustrated book, an audio book, a radio drama, and a film/ two-part television miniseries. There was a sequel film, Return to Salem’s Lot, the town was mentioned in the Castle Rock series and lastly, after the success of IT, the two-part miniseries has also been earmarked for a remake, though no release date has been announced, it only got its director in April 2020.

All that aside, this review will focus on the book, released in 1975. Spoilers ahead!

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Review: Ghost Story by Peter Straub

Today I want to talk to you about Ghost Story, a novel by Peter Straub. The book was published in 1979 by Coward, McCann and Geoghegan and was turned into a film in 1981. Today we will be talking about the novel, not the film.

I’ve been struggling to write this blog for a while as I find it tricky to express what it is I liked about this story. I also think its one of those ones that is best experienced first hand rather than second hand after having everything spoiled by me in a review. So, with that in mind, this will be brief.

Summary

As I said above this is a difficult story to summarise as I really don’t want to spoil it, so I will be brief.

The story is told by five men, all of whom are lifelong friends, Frederick “Ricky” Hawthorne, Sears James, Lawrence Benedikt, John Jaffrey, and Edward Wanderley, who has been dead for one year. They have dubbed their little group the Chowder Society and meet every so often to tell ghost stories.

However, since Edward’s death they have all been suffering from nightmares and fear that their own sordid past is coming to get them. They write to Edwards nephew, Donald, for aid. Donald arrives and tells his own story of a broken relationship and a suspected murder which he cannot prove.

The chowder society reveal their past, a story of Eva Galli, a beautiful woman, who met an untimely fate. Don suspects that she was a shapeshifter and has returned for revenge.

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Review: House of Leaves

House of Leaves, was written by Mark Z. Danielewski and released in March 2000

Fundamentally this is a story about a house which is revealed to be larger on the inside than is strictly possible. This drew me in as I am a Doctor Who fan, and this immediately put me in mind of Time Lords and the TARDIS.

While, I initially struggled with the unusual layout of the book, I’m extremely glad I stuck with it. The story is marvellous and compelling. As always I will discuss the plot below, but I am going to be making an effort not to spoil to much of the story as it is such a great mystery and one you really need to experience yourself.

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Review: Heart-Shaped Box

Today I want to look at Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill. 

Heart-Shaped Box was published in 2007 and was Joe Hill’s first novel. It won the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel. 

Being a huge Stephen King fan, I was naturally drawn to this book by his son and I was not disappointed. Joe certainly shares his father’s skill for storytelling with well-crafted plots, believable characters and a firm grasp of what makes the horror genre great.  

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