It’s been a little too long since I last spent a minute in the blog-o-sphere. While the time away has enabled me to catch up on some much needed writing, amidst other things, I felt a need to reconnect to all those bots who follow me here! 🙂
But for the rest of you who are looking for some book recommendations, I’m commited to catching up on the reviews from what I’ve read since April, and let me tell you, there are some good-uns here. Scott Thomas, Robert McCammon, C.V. Hunt, Jeremy Hepler, Tim Lebbon, and Michael Patrick Hicks… as solid a stable of writers as you can find out there.
I’ll be sharing more about some of my writing projects in a future post, as well as adding reviews from books by Glenn Rolfe, Stephen King, Duncan Ralston, Jason Parent, and more. For now, here’s the first batch of book reviews I’ve failed to post over the past few months. And as always, happy reading!
Kill Creek by Scott Thomas
Kill Creek is one of the most memorable books I’ve read this year. A perfect set up with 4 horror authors coming together to spend an evening in a supposed haunted house, Scott Thomas thankfully avoids a lot of the cliches inherent in the genre while still paying his respects to all that’s come before. But really it’s the characters that shine here, with glimpses into their work that will make you wish their books were actually real and you had a chance to dive into their fictional backlists.
For a haunted house story, I loved that so little time was actually spent in the house. This is slow-burn horror at its best, and the build up intensifies into a wild conclusion that will satisfy even the most blood-thirsty readers out there. And if psychological horror is your bag, well, plan to walk away with a heavy load.
Kill Creek has gotten a lot of praise over the past year, but is a book that’s earned the buzz. It does so many things right it’s easy to forgive the few faults you might find. I’m looking forward to where Thomas’ career leads.
The Listener by Robert McCammon
Most stories are like coloring books, the design is already on the mat, to some degree, and authors add their interpretation of what colors to use and dressing to add. But occasionally you come across a story where the execution is so unique, the window into the world so perfectly drawn, that the only summation is that no one else could have told this same story. This is the best way I can describe my experience reading McCammon’s latest, The Listener.
From the setting and time period to the complexities of the characters to the multiple genres from which the author draws from, this novel is as close to a masterpiece as one might find. And even more importantly, it’s a lot of fun. McCammon isn’t showing off here, he’s performing, and doing it with an air of expertise and mastery of his craft.
Hands down, one of my favorite reads of the year.
Home Is Where The Horror Is by C.V. Hunt
In order to review a book, it helps to know how you feel about what you’ve read. This being my first CV Hunt novel, I can honestly say—even a few months after reading this one—that I’m not sure what exactly I read, let alone how I feel about it.
What I can tell you is that this is dark. Graphic. Shocking. And that it won’t go where you expect it to, in both good and bad ways. And yet I plowed through this book, needing to know, with a sick fascination, how the story ends.
I’ve never quite read something like this novel, and if you look at this book from a macro level, the entire book would be the first few chapters of what another novelist might begin their story with. Hunt isn’t intimating anyone here, but carving out a place at the dinner table where no one will want to sit beside her.
A truly unique experience, but recommended with a warning that once you go in, you might not like where you end up. A solid 3 1/2 stars.
The Boulevard Monster by Jeremy Hepler
The Boulevard Monster is a highly unique read, and quite an accomplishment for a debut novel. While the concept for this story is rather simple, its that simplicity that enables Hepler to draw the reader in, and then hit them with a left hook they never saw coming.
One of the things that continued to surprise me during the course of this novel was how relatable our protagonist Seth Fowler remains, despite the terrible actions he participates in. Hepler deftly navigates this line while causing the reader to continually ask what we might do in a similar situation. This morale quandary, coupled with an antagonist that was just fun to witness, kept this novel moving at a great pace.
If this is a novel you’ve skipped over, I’d recommend remedying that. Just be prepared to not know what to expect.
Relics by Tim Lebbon
I feel compelled to begin this review noting I’m a huge Tim Lebbon fan. He’s one of the hardest working authors in the industry and he’s got the talent and dedication to his craft that will only carry him to further heights.
This being said, Relics is a novel I struggled with, and while I love the concept, I never felt connected to our protagonist or involved in the story. The separation of loved ones that was the driving force and motivation for some highly out of character actions just never felt real enough to me, and I found myself frustrated, and worse, bored.
While I won’t be picking up the sequel, I will be continuing with more of Lebbon’s work, and one of the beautiful things about books in general is that what works for one person might not for another. It doesn’t necessarily mean the book isn’t good, it just didn’t connect with me the way I had hoped.
Mass Hysteria by Michael Patrick Hicks
|There are horror novels, and then there are HORROR novels. You know, the ones with blood dripping off the letters (and pages) and sinking deep into the pit of your soul, causing you to question the decency of humanity and existence itself. Mass Hysteria, by Michael Patrick Hicks, certainly falls into this latter category.
As I started this book, I recognized a very Richard Laymon type vibe. Now I’ll be the first one to say there are various degrees of horror, and I’m not typically a fan of the bloody gore for gore’s sake type of tale with little character development and a whole lot of shock factor. I was expecting Hicks to go in this direction with the set up of the novel, as this would be the path of least resistance, so to speak. Thankfully, and while there is more gore and shock factor in this book than three typical horror novels combined, Hicks has the chops to create more than cardboard characters, allowing those terrors to actually have an impact.
This was a brutal read, but like watching a car accident take place in front of you, I couldn’t stop myself from watching. And every time I thought I knew where Hicks was going with the story, he would turn things on its head. This is a novel where no one is safe, where the most awful depravities take place, but I couldn’t help but smile at its conclusion and the dark journey through which I was brought. Masterful storytelling, but NOT for the feint of heart. You’ve been warned.