In honor of one of my favorite holidays of the year, I thought I would read some scary horror. Personally, when it starts to get chilly and there is that kind of cloudy gloom in the air indicating the presence of fall – I feel like it is time for some scary books served with a warm mug of coffee (or hot cocoa or possibly some alcoholic beverage – you choose). So for you my readers I have two (yes TWO) book reviews and a list of some horror reads that you may want to check out for Halloween.
The first book I read is Those Across the River by Christopher Buehlmann, the author’s first novel. It has such a good title…replete with images of shadowy evil figures just waiting across the river but just out of sight. Here’s the dl : Frank Nichols and his almost-wife Eudora have moved to his ancestral plantation home in Georgia in order to escape their lives. Frank was a successful academic until he took up with Dora, most recently another powerful professor’s wife. Now he has no job, no prospects, and no money and it is right in the middle of the Depression so he is SOL. When his aunt dies and leaves him the plantation Savoyard, it seems like a gift from God. However, he receives a strange letter from his aunt asking him NOT to move to the plantation because there are horrors that are waiting for him. Frank decides that he doesn’t really have a choice and they move there anyway. Besides, Frank has decided to write a novel about the horrific crimes his ancestors perpetrated on this plantation, mostly having to do with some sort of sexual sadism and misuse of slaves although this is only hinted at and not fully explained.
Enter creepy Southern town in Georgia, chock full of bigotry and weird Tennessee Williams-like alcohol-soaked townspeople. Frank and Dora try to fit in but have a hard time doing so. Frank is warned away from the woods over on the other side of the river, but of course he goes there only to be encountered by a strange half-naked little boy who doesn’t speak. CREEPY. For a little more added fun, the townsfolk typically send two pigs into the woods to appease “whatever is out there.” Suddenly they decide they can’t afford to send out pigs anymore and decide to stop. That is when the craziness really starts to happen…
I really enjoyed most of this novel. The creepy and stifling feeling of the town, the people in it, the weird boy in the woods, the strange goings-on all gave me that unsettled feeling. I had no idea what would happen next. Where I think the book was not very successful was the climax…it felt like a little bit of a let-down after all the tension that had been built up. The actual horror across the river was not as crazy as I had built it up in my mind. After that, it felt like Buehlman was desperately trying to rush and finish the story. It was a good ending but certainly didn’t live up to the first three-quarters of the book. All in all, I give the book six and a half shoes – definitely worth a read but maybe didn’t live up to all my expectations. I will be on the lookout from more books from Buehlman…let’s hope he gets better with age.
Three Appeals: Creepy Atmosphere, Interesting Characters, Tension-filled
Red Flags: Sex, Violence and Gore, Language No drugs unless you count lots of alcohol
Next book review : a graphic novel named Locke and Key: Welcome to Lovecraft Vol. 1 by Joe Hill with art by Gabriel Rodriguez. That’s right I said a graphic novel! I know many of my readers will scoff and make faces at the though of reading comics (said with sneer and pulled face) but you have GOT to try it. So many of these are fantastic stories with creative plots, interesting characters, original ideas plus awesome art! What’s not to love….so stop judging and give it a try. Plus all of the graphic novels I read are meant for adults, no kiddie stuff allowed.
Locke and Key is the story of the Locke family. We jump back and forth through time showing what is happening in their lives. The husband and father has been murdered. The wife is moving the family with their three traumatized kids, Tyler, Kinsey and Bode back to their ancestral home in Lovecraft, MA. Bode is only six years old but sees things that the other do not at the house including a seemingly friendly spirit in the well and using keys to open doors in the house that seem to have strange powers. Meanwhile, one of the teenagers who murdered Mr. Locke is also talking with the spirit in the well who is helping him with a plan to escape the mental asylum he is in. When he does escape there is only one place he is going to go: Lovecraft.
This was an awesome graphic novel. The story was interesting, full of plot twists, sinister evil, teenage angst and family issues. The characters are slowly developing. The art is amazing having both a realistic and cartoon-like quality that serves the graphic nature of many of the events well. I really enjoyed this novel and am looking forward to reading Vols. 2,3 and 4. I give the novel eight shoes – a great read.
Three Appeals : Complex and Scary Story, Interesting Characters, Visually Stunning
Red Flags : Violence, Gore, Scary, Sex,
Now on to my list off good Horror reads from 2011. This was partially taken from the blog http://raforallhorror.blogspot.com – please check them out for even more horror recommendations.
1) The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian
In a dusty corner of a basement in a rambling Victorian house in northern New Hampshire, a door has long been sealed shut with 39 six-inch-long carriage bolts. The home’s new owners are Chip and Emily Linton and their twin ten-year-old daughters. Together they hope to rebuild their lives there after Chip, an airline pilot, has to ditch his 70-seat regional jet in Lake Champlain due to double engine failure. The body count? Thirty-nine. A creepy ghost story with literary leanings (taken from Fantastic Fiction)
2) Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
‘R’ is a zombie. He has no name, no memories, and no pulse, but he has dreams. He is a little different from his fellow Dead. Amongst the ruins of an abandoned city, R meets a girl. Her name is Julie and she is the opposite of everything he knows – warm and bright and very much alive, she is a blast of colour in a dreary grey landscape. For reasons he can’t understand, R chooses to save Julie instead of eating her, and a tense yet strangely tender relationship begins. This has never happened before. It breaks the rules and defies logic, but R is no longer content with life in the grave. He wants to breathe again, he wants to live, and Julie wants to help him. But their grim, rotting world won’t be changed without a fight…(taken from Fantastic Fiction)
3 ) American Vampire Vol. 1, 2 & 3 by Rafael Albuquerque, Stephen King and Scott Snyder
Volume 1 follows two stories: one written by Snyder and one written by King. Snyder’s story is set in 1920’s LA, we follow Pearl, a young woman who is turned into a vampire and sets out on a path of righteous revenge against the European Vampires who tortured and abused her. This story is paired with King’s story, a western about Skinner Sweet, the original American Vampire– a stronger, faster creature than any vampire ever seen before with rattlesnake fangs and powered by the sun.
4) Bed Bugs by Ben Winters
FOR RENT: Top two floors of beautifully renovated brownstone, 1300 sq. ft., 2BR 2BA, eat-in kitchen, one block to parks and playgrounds. No broker’s fee.
Susan and Alex Wendt have found their dream apartment. Sure, the landlady is a little eccentric. And the elderly handyman drops some cryptic remarks about the basement. But the rent is so low, it’s too good to pass up. Big mistake. Susan soon discovers that her new home is crawling with bedbugs . . . or is it? She awakens every morning with fresh bites, but neither Alex nor their daughter Emma has a single welt. An exterminator searches the property and turns up nothing. The landlady insists her building is clean. Susan fears she’s going mad—until a more sinister explanation presents itself: she may literally be confronting the bedbug problem from Hell. (taken from Amazon.com)
5) Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
It’s been 14 years since First Night, when the dead came back to life. Six billion people have died (and reanimated) since then, and America has collapsed into isolated communities living within the great “Rot and Ruin.” Benny is 15, which means it’s time to get a job or face cut rations, but his general laziness leaves him with only one employment option: join his stuffy, sword-swinging,
Japanese half-brother, Tom, as an apprentice bounty hunter. This means heading beyond the gates to slice and dice “zoms,” but Benny quickly begins to see the undead in a new light—as well as realizing that Tom is much more than he ever
let on. (taken from Booklist)
6) Willy by Robert Dunbar
In an isolated school for boys with emotional problems, a disturbed adolescent struggles against a mire of superstition and oppression. Then he meets Willy, and the other boy – charismatic and strange – saves him … or damns him. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)
7) Houdini Heart by Ki Longfellow
child. But now? She’s alone, tortured by a horrifying secret no woman could bear. Pursued by those she can’t outrun, anguished by a guilt she can’t endure, and driven close to madness, she flees to the one place she’s ever called home: a small town in Vermont where River House still stands. To a child, the splendid hotel was mysterious and magical and all its glamorous guests knew
delicious secrets. Cocooned in its walls, she will write one last book. Her atonement? Or her suicide note? But life is never as you dream it, and River House isn’t what she’d always imagined it was. (taken from Amazon.com)