I must admit that given the prevalence of zombie literature out there I can get a bit fed up with the whole walking dead thing. Whether, as Coleridge put it, ‘they groaned, they stirred, they all uprose…’ they’d better do so in a manner of story that isn’t boring, and leaves me wanting to provide them with a cranial drill, a drinking-straw and simply let them have at my frontal cortex.
In a way Tim Waggoner’s Dark War, starring ‘self-willed’ zombie Matt Richter, is something of a tonic for folks like me. It’s tongue-in-cheek enough to overlook the otherwise single-eyebrow raising moments, fresh enough to revitalise areas that might be seen as clichéd, and Waggoner’s writing is strong enough to drag you from one scene to the next without dishevelment. That it’s also far from being a ‘zombie book’ is also relief indeed. Click here to read more.. »
Bag of Bones, a 1998 horror novel by genre emperor Stephen King, is in some ways a typical book for its author. It’s got extremely strong characterisations backed with a rich weft of story-telling. There’re also multi-plot sequences spuriously kicking off alongside, but not necessarily synchronously to, one another atop a freaky picket-fence township and paranormally-infused Maine, New England setting.
The style of its opening is as trademark to King as furtive glances from diminutive clusters of pale-green skinned, atavistically challenged web-toed sea-shanty dwellers are to Lovecraft. We get to know our narrator via a touching retelling of the events surrounding his wife’s death some years prior to the main events of the book, and along with that a cavalcade of other innocuous, irrelevant, minor, major and crucial players in this story are marched out into the narrative. Click here to read more.. »
A Matter of Blood sees Sarah Pinborough craft a bleak, near-future semi-dystopian setting for this the first in her horror-thriller trilogy The Dog-Faced Gods. The government and population are broke: the financial system has collapsed, handed a life-line via a global corporate behemoth The Bank. The NHS is at breaking point and is available for few people, a woeful situation compounded by a new, more virulent strain of HIV that’s rapaciously claiming more victims.
As if this state of play wasn’t sufficient enough to depress, criminal atrocities that play an immediate backdrop to the novel include the daylight shooting and murder of two children, and a brutal serial killer slaughtering citizens in a brazen, yet sickly creative manner. Make no mistake, the London, and atmosphere, which this book sets up provokes discomfort as one realises that given a few small nudges one way or another in the global-macro fiscal state alone, it could be a city that’s much more realised. Click here to read more.. »
Susah Hill writes amazing supernatural tales. I figured it’s better to flag my status as being ‘in awe of Susan Hill’ as soon as possible; not that there’s usually any room for confusion. Hill is a modern day expert as regards the ghost story, and her novella The Woman in Black one of the finest examples of supernatural literature to date. When it comes to setting a scene, and soaking the reader in a world written in spookiest ink, Hill knows the score.
John Keats once wrote a letter to an acquaintance, J. H. Reynold, as to how he would impress him with emotionally charged prose: “I’ll cavern you, and grotto you, and waterfall you, and wood you, and water you, and immense-rock you, and tremendous sound you, and solitude you…” he promised. As in a similar style to the Romantic poet, Susan Hill has a toolset to effect all of the finest literary gothic traditions. Click here to read more.. »
Christopher Farnsworth’s Blood Oath is a fast-paced and supernaturally-charged action horror-thriller that introduces us to government vampire Nathaniel Cade, and his ongoing duty to protect the people and interests of the United States. There are powerful forces of evil at work around the globe, and it’s Cade’s duty to take care of things too dangerous, or secret, for mere mortals to become embroiled in.
The book opens in a remote, ex-East European Bloc state where we’re soon introduced to Cade and his powers. We’re also given a hint of even greater things afoot, but not full disclosure, at this junction. As throughout the book, secrets lurk at the periphery. Some of these are revealed gradually, others remain buried in enigma. Click here to read more.. »