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Posts Tagged ‘cults’


Ever since read The Siren and the Spector and Savage Species, Jonathan Janz’s horror writing has become as a warehouse-sized blood bank with me, as a vampire, trapped inside of it. Another way of saying it’s like being a kid in candy store … oh who am I kidding … I’ve got brilliant folks that take the time and come read my humble little blog. Dreadfully sorry. I truly hope that Hollywood would put some of his work on screen because, seriously speaking, the horror scene in Hollywood SUCKS. Badly. Case and point: millennial themed Truth or Dare and Wish Upon. And the list goes on … and I won’t rant on this bollocks … for now. So when The Nightmare Girl by (my newly minted favourite) horror writer landed on the stacks, I basically went feral and pounced on it. Interesting note: this my third Janz book within a six month period. But who cares? And enough with the pleasantries and other such bollocks, and on with the bloody review. Yes?

Joe Crawford is a contractor that repairs homes. He has a beautiful wife, Michelle, and a daughter named Lily. Delightful little family. One day as Joe was filling up at a gas station, Joe observed what can be easily pass for child abuse as a young feral –looking mother scolds her child viciously. Though others simply watch on (or resorting to tosser acts such as recording on their smartphones) Joe decides to take action and intervene. He soon finds himself assaulted by not only the child’s feral-looking mother but also the child’s grandmother (who is quite a bit of work herself). The authorities arrive arresting the mother (Angie) and grandmother (Sharon). Leaving the child, Stevie Waltz, with the Crawfords for a few days until foster reassignment. Several days after her release from jail, Angel Waltz pours some gasoline on her body and lights herself afire … but not before stalking the Crawfords and menacing them. When Joe sneaks into the cemetery to observe the funeral of Angie Waltz, he finds it not only odd but unnerving since it is not like your typical funeral: strange rituals and utterances in a Latin-like language. Unknown to the Crawfords is that they have stumbled onto an ancient fire cult that is very vicious with strange dark rituals, and are not exactly the type to invite you over from tea and crumpets. Soon strange things start to happen to the Crawfords as Sharon Waltz (the grandmother) threatens retribution on the entire family for not revealing where her grandson, her only ties to Angie, foster home location. Police Chief Daniel Copeland is tall Afro-American, wisecracking, no-nonsense police chief and is thrown in to this strange conflict that is brewing between the Crawfords and this cultish clan. He’s also an avid Nicholas Sparks reader.
Just when things couldn’t seem to get any better, an old house that next to the Crawfords that went unsold for many months was finally bought by a charming older, high-society type (and somewhat sexually adventurous), couple called the Markers: Mitch and Bridget Marker. What’s even more intriguing is that they seem interested in hiring Joe Crawford for a lucrative remodeling of the large mansion type house. And though Joe is appreciative of the work, there is in the back of his mind that there are too many coincidences, especially when Bridget seemingly has the hots for him … with ulterior motives. To add to this, his assistant, Kevin Gentry, has started to behave a wee bit odd. And as the world seems to close in on the Crawfords, they find an ally in Daniel Copeland which they will need as things quickly take a frightening and sinister turn as some twists, in the story, would reveal that some people aren’t whom (or what) they appear to be.

Nightmare is one of those atmospheric horror pieces that keeps teasing you into believing that scary stuff is waiting on the next page but it doesn’t yet it builds in the anxiety at each turn of the page. Legs will be crossed, bladder and bowel systems stifled because when the shit hits the fan it will be brutal and vicious and prisoners will not be taken. And it will happen as casually as a stroll in the park. You won’t see it coming. And as always, I caution folks as they venture into a Jonathan Janz terrorscape: try not to get too attached to characters.You will thank me for that bit of advice. Mr. Janz, you are spoiling me.

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Yes, it is almost the end of 2017 and it has been quite a year. A year that most of us would love to “edit” out of our collective memories. Lost a lot of good folks along the way both in body and spirit. Hopefully, 2018 will offer a bit or sliver of hope’s ray of a most delightful year … which is what I wish for everyone out there: those who read my blog, and those who don’t (give them time, I’m as patient as an Arctic wolf) … and even regardless of how you voted (yes, I mean that). So in light of the strange, topsy-turvey, dark and gloomy year, and just before you rush of to freeze your nips and other body parts in watching balls drop (aye, there is a dirty joke in there somewhere), I have to mention Strange Weather. See it even has the word “strange” in the title.

Ever since having read NOS4A2 and The Fireman, I’ve become fascinated with Joe Hill’s writing and … yes … he has written other titles that I’ve yet to read, but all in good time. Of course, the fact that he is Stephen King’s son did not play into this until I discovered this fact much later (after having read The Fireman). I guess, like father like son … good show, Stephen, good show. So there I was, sitting at the reference desk, allowing myself to calm down (moving from green back to normal skin colour) after having kicked out a bunch of disruptive teens, when I noticed the strange Joe Hill cover on the New Arrivals stack. Slight detour here: whatever happened to folks plugging their phones into their ears? Why is it that so many folks, especially teens, seem to feel the need to “share” their listening/viewing experiences with the rest of the public … in a bloody library? Alas, the devolution of civilization. I’ve detoured enough. To the review. Yeah?

Strange Weather is actually a compilation of four stories (or novellas) that are eerily strange, dark, disturbing, and/or all of the above. In other words, great reading material on a cold, dark windy night … possibly in wooded area.

In Snapshot, we encounter an awkward teenager, Michael Figlione, who becomes an unwitting hero. Mike lives with his father and apparently are bunch of nerds since Mike attends some kind of robotic club during the weekends. Note this is set in the early 80s, so, yes, no smartphones, social media or any of that bollocks (such simple times yet so much fun). They also live next to an older couple, the Beukes, whom Mike is rather fond of. The husband use to be a bodybuilder that now owns a chain of fitness clubs. Mrs. Beukes stays at home and occasionally asks Mike to run errands for her which he does lovingly. But something sinister is happening to Mrs. Beukes, as she claims that someone called The Polariod Man is stealing her memory. Sure, sure you might say, that’s just some old codger losing her mind and imagining things. That is until Mike (and us) encounters someone known as the Phoenican who is this strange character with a Polaroid type camera (Solarid … whatever) that actually steals memories snap by snap. And then the crap hits the fan. Any more will be spoiling the story for you and that would make me a tosser.

In Loaded, there is a bunch of intermingling stories: a philandering tosser and his female teenage lover; a young (ill-fated) Afro-American on his way to attend a dancing school in London; an ex-military type turned security guard that’s dealing with separation from his wife and daughter; an Afro-American journalist dealing with a ghost from her past and trying to change the world. The common denominator in all of these stories: guns. When Jim Kellaway, during his shift as a security guard, stops what could have been a mass shooting at the mall, he is hailed as a hero. That is until Aisha Lanternglass starts poking around, finding holes in his story and causing him to unravel viciously and in a way that would leave most gasping (though maybe not so shocked). It is a nice twist on one of the NRA battle cries about when “bad folks with guns run into good folks with guns”. Just saying, mates.

In Aloft, there is Aubrey, Harriet and June. Aubrey is in love with Harriet and Harriet is in an indie band (called The Junicorns) with June. Aubrey passes up tons of awesome musical opportunities just to be in The Junicorns, simply because … well, it’s a chance to be closer to Harriet. Sort of like a Duckie and Andie thing going on there … and for those you that are wondering, that was a Pretty In Pink reference. Ah, Molly Ringwald, I was supposed to be married to you. A wee bit of detour … ( and too much information). Somewhere along the line June dies of cancer, and so to memorialize the passing of June they decide to … skydive. Personally, a good swig at the pub with a few pints, some Mazzy Star in the background as a DVD plays a looped photo montage of the departed would be fine … and safe. But that’s just me … something about jumping out of perfectly good planes and all that bollocks. So Aubrey, after finding the nerve to jump finds himself stranded on what seems to be floating cloud island. Of course, with his tandem instructor along with the harness being blown off the cloud leaves our man with little more than vertigo to worry about. And then the strange odyssey begins, as the cloud seems to offer all sorts of strange, delightful, erotic (yes, you are reading correctly) and terrifying possibilities. Fascinating, strange stuff that’ll keep you wondering how this poor chap will find his way down to earth. Don’t be surprised to hear Iron Butterfly’s In A Gadda Da Vida playing in your head. Or is that only going to be me?

In Rain, we get the visit a near future Boulder, Colorado through the eyes of a young gay woman named Honeysuckle Speck. Honeysuckle lives with her lover, Yolanda, in possibly one of the most strangest neighbourhoods. Below her apartment lives a Russian meth dealer with his stripper girlfriend Martina (also Russian) that are always fighting. A few blocks down the street is an end-of-the-world cult, led by an enigmatic Elder Bent, who is known to prowl the streets singing Phil Collins songs. Only from the mind of Joe Hill. And to top things off, Honeysuckle babysits a charmer named Templeton Blake who thinks he’s Dracula and lives with his (single) mom Ursula. And then it begins to rain … nails. Yes, again you are reading correctly. Mother Nature decides to go postal and instead of nice, soft, wet, delightful water, people get showered with nails. Yolanda gets caught and in the downpour and dies saving Honeysuckle’s live. I guess being perforated by nails via nature will do that to a person. And so as Honeysuckle makes her towards Denver to inform Yolanda’s parents about her passing she encounters psychotic cult members, a strange Billy Jack drifter type that saves her, the National Guard, murderous, homophobic neighbours and creepy crows (yes, birds). On top of that, in lieu of all the nailstorms happening across the country, we have president in his bunker tweeting about “biblical retribution and payback” on North Korea. Yes, nothing like that will EVER happen in real life, because that would like a really bad dream of sorts. Aye, a president using social media platform to mouth off absolute bollocks … nope, never … only in fiction. Preposterous. Absolute balderdash and rubbish. Aye … we’ve strayed and detoured again. Now you’re wondering what would be the cause of those strange nails and it is in the exciting conclusion to this story. A twist that you’d never see coming.

Strange Weather is indeed a potpourri of strange stories. Dark, disturbing, creepy, occasionally trippy with little touches of heartwarming pecks on the cheek and definitely entertaining as it keeps you riveted as you hurtle towards the end. Rock on, Mr. Hill. And Happy New Years, America. You are already GREAT in my books (pun possibly intended). Cheers.

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