Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘horror’

deadsouls_cvr
Once in awhile, though seemingly quite often for me, a book cover or synopsis catches your eye and that’s all it takes to send you hurtling down that literary rabbit hole. December is a month of wishes. Wishes for things under your Christmas tree/mistletoe like Gillian Anderson, and before the day is done there will be wishes for the New Year. And we could really, really use some good stuff for the new year, since 2016 has been a wee bit surreal (and that’s just saying it nicely). So when I came across Dead Souls on the “New Arrivals” rack I was intrigued and like a heroin addict that’s been working overtime at a heroin factory… I had to get my fix. What was all that bollocks about “wishes” about, you might ask? Stick around, mate.

Fiona Dunn is having a tough time in her relationship with some bloke named Justin and on one rainy night in Oakland (California) she sees him getting in a car with a strange blonde woman on his way to a “business trip” to Seattle. It is also important to mention that lady was standing in the rain, bare feet, in pajamas, and locked out of her own apartment. So what’s a bare-footed, rain-soaked, woman to do when she’s locked herself outside of her apartment? Seek solace in the nearest drinking hole. There she meets a strange, enigmatic fellow named Scratch who chats her up, buys her drinks and makes an offer for her soul with the obligation of special favour that will be demanded of her at anytime. Yes, you didn’t read the last part incorrectly. Being the avowed atheist, she is, she thinks it nothing more than small talk and goes along with it. And then the shit gets real … and strange. First, Fiona discovers that she sort of project herself, invisibly, into places and spy on people. Apparently, she’s always wished that she was invisible. And if that didn’t make her stop and pass rabbits, then there is Scratch’s strange ability to be able to contact her at any place at any time. And then … when things couldn’t get any more weird, Justin shows up … with that strange blonde who is actually his (yes) sister and it turns out that Justin is down with something terminal. As Fiona drives around California trying to assess the how much crazy pills she’s been taking, she comes across another strange fellow, taking photos in a cemetary, named Alejandro and he seems to fancy her. Turns out that Fiona and Alejandro has a lot in common: Scratch. He introduces her to a sort of support group called the Dead Souls (hence the name of the book), sort of a support group for folks that may have unwittingly sold their souls to the Devil. And quite the motley crew they are: Renata (a professor of queer studies that wished to be straight and pretty crapped on her career and former gay relationship), Gary (a tech startup founder who wished that his company traded well), Jasmine (a woman that wished for the gift of clairvoyance), and of course, Alejandro (who wished that his photos will make successful). Sounds like a cute version of Daniel Webster meets an intervention. Not quite. The book gets really dark faster than the Northeast in early fall and people and things aren’t all that they seem. And as people wait for that dreaded favour to come in, many try to solve their way out of their contract with Scratch only to find that they are all part of some sick Macheveillian game.

To call Fenn’s tale creepy would be like calling the Mona Lisa a drawing. It’s dark like night in the swamps and as vicious as the serpents that slither through it as every page turn keeps you biting your nails as you brace for revelations within revelations. Don’t expect any happy endings in this one … just maybe a few silver linings and that’s it. In some strange way it might explain some of the unspeakable things that happen in this world: active shootings, terrorism, strange politics, Kanye West, the Kardashians. But what do you expect … when you make a deal with the Devil. Sure he delivers … but when it’s time to pay those dues… that’s the killer. So just be careful when you’re at the pub and some hip bloke “playfully” offers to buy your soul, you might want to walk away from that one … regardless what you believe. Just saying, mates.

Read Full Post »

diviners_cvr

I’ve always looked at reading young adult books in public the same way I would walking into a Hello Kitty shop filled with middle-school teenage girls: with some apprehension and the feeling that I am violating some law. But since I am put in charge of the reading advisory for young adult at my station, I have no choice but to swallow all my apprehensions and unnerved feelings … and simply read some young adult books. Work, work, work. And so when The Diviners whispered to me sweet-nothings from the corner of a YA shelf, I knew I had found my book. It also occurred to me that when books started whispering sweet-nothings to me, that there is a critical need for me to go out more. And so we begin.

Set in the 1920, Bray introduces us to a delightful protagonist named Evie O’Neill. Yes, the good old 1920s: Prohibition, Clara Bowe, the jitterbug, speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, two-cent newspapers, and back-alley abortions. It starts with Evie, gathered with her friends at her home, in sleepy Ohio, playing with a Ouija board (and after countless horror films with this premise, it is needless to say that this a bad start) and ends up contacting an ominous entity named Naughty John. Yes, this all happens in the first chapter, but it is so delightfully sinister that it is all you need to suck you in. And it gets better.
What makes Evie O’Neill quite appealing is her charm, her intelligence, her brashness, her boldness and her bluntness. And on top of that, she’s got a mouth that writes more checks than her mind and body can cash. It is that mouth of her that gets her shipped off to New York to spend some time with her Uncle Will. Uncle Will runs the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult (also famously known as the Museum of the Creepy Crawlies). Think Louis Vendredi from Friday the Thirteenth minus the part about making deals with the Devil and other such bollocks. Aside from the items displayed in the museum, the only thing that is more hair-raising in Evie’s encounters is the cross-section strange personalities she meets in New York City (not much has changed): Jericho (Uncle Will’s tall, handsome, and mysterious assistant), Memphis (a Harlem numbers runner, who has the ability to heal with his hands), Isaiah (the younger brother of Memphis, that goes into trances), Theta Knight (a Ziegfeld girl with a secret pass), and Sam Lloyd (a smooth-talking pickpocket with the uncanny ability to render himself invisible). And the list goes on, but I can’t have all the fun now, can I? Aye, that would make me a bloody tosser and less enjoyable read for you.
There are gruesome ritualistic murders that start occur in New York City as Naughty John materializes into the world … and Evie’s mind. Needless to say, Evie is a bit special. And as a dark mysterious force threatens the world with a frightening apocalypse on the night of a comet’s passing, these collection of characters race against time, and a white supremacy cult (from upstate New York) to defeat Naughty John and his plans. Spine-tingling terror and roller-coaster suspense, keeps you riveted and eager to turn every page, as you defy the need to eat, sleep, and take care of pesky bodily functions. And there are hints that the world (and Ms. Bray) is not quite done with Ms. Evie O’ Neill. Needless to say, I can’t wait. And YA has come a long from Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and the Twilght Saga (yes, I’m afraid I did go there).

Read Full Post »

bazaar_cvr

As we plow headlong into 2016, I couldn’t help noticing the latest King book (finally!!!) sitting in my stacks and eventually … in my hands. Unlike many of his novels, this was an actual collection of stories: some scary, some downright disturbing, and a few that were pretty much WTF. Throughout the book, King would offer a “behind the scene” moment at the beginning of each story which was rather interesting. For some it was an eye opener, whilst others were basically fill in the blanks. The one common ground with all those behind the scene moments was that it gave the reader some insight to his genius/madness and I suspect it was but a mere peek through the curtains.
Best of all, Bazaar seemed geared toward engaging more than a few emotions, rather than the usual ones solicited by fear and suspense. The stories are a strange myriad: a stalled car, on a highway, that is a Venus fly trap for unwary humans; a sand dune on a small island that, mysteriously spells out the names of those that will soon die; an indecent proposal to a struggling couple of the twisted variety (and no, it is not quite like that Robert Redford/Demi Moore slap and tickle bit); a pink Kindle that predicts the future; a rich burn victim who realizes that pain is something that might be literally (lurking) in his head and elsewhere in his body; a news writer whose fake obituaries create real deaths and even more dire tragedies; the strange world of two families who have the strangest July Fourth fireworks competition. And there are more. Confused? Befuddled? Scared shitless? Tickled pink (are you kidding … uh, no)? Yes, all these emotions and thought processes will be addressed in reading Bazaar. In some parts, it might bollocks up your view of the world, scare you senseless, appreciate baseball (aye, you’re reading correctly), or even question how much acid did King drop back in the days. Premium King, as usual, with a story for (dare I say) everyone to curl up to on a warm El Niño winter night.

Read Full Post »

strain_cvrfall_cvreternalnight_cvr

Co-author: Chuck Hogan

Yes, it is a new year, so why not start it off with a bang. So there a triple review.
Guillermo Del Toro is known for his handiwork in films such as Hellboy I & II, Blade II and the ever-talked about Pan’s Labyrinth (which I must admit that I have not seen). So last summer when FX decided to premiere a series called the Strain and it was about vampires, I pretty much went into a bloody eye-rolling hysteria … that was until I found that it was being directed by Guillermo Del Toro. Even better, I found out that the series was based on trilogy: The Strain, The Fall and the Night Eternal. Now you’re probably wondering if the Evil Parrot has finally lost his bloody mind reviewing three books instead of one at time. In all honesty, these books are best enjoyed … serially. And they will be reviewed likewise … that’s how the Evil Parrot rolls. So enough with tbe bollocks and on with the review … shall we?

When a Boeing 777 lands on a JFK tarmac and just sits in complete radio silence for a long while, the airport officials suspect the worst. No, it’s not ebola … though compared to what was in store for the unwitting NYC population, ebola would have been a much prefered pathogen. Enter Drs. Ephraim Goodweather and Nora Martinez from the CDC to determine what was the cause. The discover a plane filled with “dead” passengers and few “survivors”. Also on the plane, and unknown to the passengers, is a very large box with delicate ancient carvings and strangely filled with dirt. So needless to say, the passengers are evacuated and the live ones are quarantined and the “dead” one carried to the city morgue. And then the fun begins. Add to the chaos is the super-rich, sinister Eldritch Palmer with ulterior motives, that …let’s just say … doesn’t have the best of interest for humankind. Sure enough, the FX adaptation may have added a few creative elements such as the foxy Euro-type female hacker that supposedly slows the Internet down (insert a big bloody eye roll here).
In first book, The Strain, we get to see the formation of a rag-tag group of what will become resistance fighters against the strigoi (that’s the word being used for vampires): Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, Dr. Nora Martinez, Prof. Abraham Setrakian (a man obsessed and with a past with dealing with the strigoi), Vasiliy Fet (a New York City rat exterminator, though more intelligent than he sounds) and Gustavo (a Mexican gangbanger). We are also introduced to the one known as the Master, who is the archnemesis and head vampire (or strigoi) that is viciously cunning as he is lethal. There is treachery, betrayal, the occasional hot sexual encounter (mostly between the docs) and the suspense practically clenches your sphincter.
In The Fall, our rag-tag goup is engaged in a constant game of cat and mouse as the strigoi population grows around them. It is during this period of time they learn two things: the Master can communicate telepathically with the roaming strigoi, hence he can track his enemies and secondly, there is the existence of a book called the Occido Lumen that holds the key to the Master’s origin and destruction. Of course there is race that is on to find the Occido Lumen. Now I’m sure you can probably guess what is going to happen. How it does it happen …well, well, well my dear readers you will have to find out on your. Yeah, I’m not going to be tosser and spoil all the fun for you now. To besides reading about it is the best part.
In The Eternal Night, the strigoi has populated the world and using various weapons they were able to create a disruption in the atmosphere where the Earth is covered by a polluted sky and sunlight is only available for a few hours (and that’s on a good day) daily. It has become a world where some humans have become collaborators in order to improve their own standing on the food chain (somehow this doesn’t shock me) and others simply become … sustenance. Aye, think of cows being milked … and you’ll get the idea on that last part. Now try to get a good night’s sleep with bollocks swimming in your mind. Though I suspect many of us have already watched the first season of The Strain, and like yours truly, just can’t wait for the second season to begin … and of course, decided to simply just read ahead. The books are just as intriguing and suspenseful as the televised adaptation, though I must admit that after having seeing the show I’ve carrying the faces of these actors attached the character through the entire trilogy. The Strain Trilogy hooks you in from the first chapter and keeps you breathless with anticipation to get to the other page to see what will happen next. It is the evolution of the vampire like you’ve never read about or seen (unless if you watched Blade II … which just happened to be directed by Del Toro) and makes the Cullens and the Voltari (or whatever) look like a bunch of flower-gathering-dancing-in-the-meadows nancies. There is violence (mostly quick, vicious and dirty), despicable human beings, surprising allies and climactic ending that will blow you way. In other words, just the book(s) you need to keep that adrenaline flowing. And for the most (as the immortal Martha Stewart would say) that is a good thing.

Read Full Post »

doctorsleep

Back in the 80s, I remember sitting under this house with a bunch of people in a makeshift cinema that was comprised of several benches, a large telly and a Betamax video player (the size of the Hoover dam), watching The Shining. Aye, in Guyana they tend to build houses on pillars, that way you get to use the full yard and still have a very large house with two stairs. I was in my early teens then, and along with a few of my mates, I had paid my two quid to get the bollocks scared out of me … and let’s just say that The Shining didn’t disappoint. What I got from that movie was about a week of sleepless nights and me pledging to never accept any carnal proposals from any strange naked women, I encounter, emerging from bathtubs, in strange hotels. Then again … about the last part … oh come on, just kidding. Maybe.

The last time we heard of (or saw) Dan (Danny) Torrance, he was escaping, along with his mum and chef Dick Hollaran, from the Overlook Hotel … and the psychotic wrath of a possessed father. Up until then no knew what happened to Danny Torrance beyond Overlook. Apparently, for many fans, inquiring minds wanted to know and this specter may have raised its head at several of King’s signings (or so I had gleaned from his Author’s notes … aye, I tend to be a bit thorough with King’s prose sometimes). And so, the much anticipated sequel to The Shining was born: Doctor Sleep. Here we find a middle-aged Danny Torrance, drifting around America, a full-blown alcoholic and occasional drug user (if there is ever such a thing), from job to job. His mother had passed on (now please folks, this is not much of a spoiler, for you will learn this early o’clock in the book … and no, I would never be such a wank). We are also introduced to a group called the True Knot that travel by RVs and Winnebagos across the country and they seemingly have an appetite (literally!!!) for young children that have the shining ability. Immortal and viciously terrifying, they are lead by the charismatic Rose the Hat; a woman whose viciousness and charm are so bloody terrifying that it makes Hannibal Lechter looks like a dolled-up children librarian that wears lots of pink (the colour … and not the Victoria Secret brand … it is troubling that I know this). If you look closely on the cover you’ll see a depiction of the sultry Rose (yes, it took me awhile to figure that out … and to notice the outline of her tophat) which more or less dampens the pure malevolence that hides beneath the surface of this bird. The paths , between Rose the Hat and Danny intersect, when both (sort of) encounter Abra Stone: a young girl that is born with the shining, very powerful and is perceived by the True Knot as some sort of Holy Grail. Aye, sick, twisted and bloody creepy. And so a battle royale begins, as the Rose and her True Knot cult try to capture Abra. For Danny, it is déjà vu all over again where Abra is the same shoes as Danny was at Overlook and Danny, now, has to become a mentor of sorts, as chef Hollaran was to him, to her in face of an emerging and terrifying battle.
King does not hold back nor spares any punches as this terrifying sequel explodes, on your senses, with the force of high yield megaton atomic bomb as it often not only makes your hair stand on end but bloody glow with tension and anxiety. There is a mixture of everything for every emotion in this book … and most of it …very twisted. We learn about Dick Hollaran’s disturbing pass as a young child. We get to cheer (a bit) when Danny finds his way to recovery whilst working in a New Hampshire hospice and because of his shining “ability” he has this unique way of helping people to pass from this life into the other (hence the title “Doctor Sleep”). And of course, there is one of the most touching endings I’ve read in Stephen King book that almost got me sobbing like a little nancy. Okay, my eye got a wee bit glazed over … but THAT’S IT. (Forgive me, Jason Statham, Patron Saint of Manliness).

Needless to say, it is premium King at its most thrilling, frightening … and yet, oh so touching. An adrenaline-induced, horrifying, roller coaster ride that you never want to end. The much anticipated sequel was well worth the wait. Though now I am a bit ever more cautious about RVs and Winnebagos that I may encounter on travels on the highways of America, for you never know who …or WHAT is in them (also echoed in the Author’s notes). Mr. King you are one scary bastard … a loveable scary bastard.

Read Full Post »

blackhouse

In French Landing, Wisconsin, there is a killer (known as the Fisherman) roaming the streets, kidnapping and killing children. And the bad news is that this not even the creepy part, for the killer also takes pleasure in eating certain parts of their bodies (preferably the butt). Aye, I did warn you that I didn’t get to the creepy part. Enter Jack Sawyer, former star LAPD detective who has very special, outerworldly abilities. I mention “outerworldly” because the killer has certain supernatural capabilities and shows up in the form of a creepy, perverted, boogeyman named Charles Burnside. Now I know what some you might be a saying, and I hate to break it to you that the last statement is not some bloody spoiler, because you’re basically clued into this early o’clock into the book. The story takes places in two parallel worlds: French Landing, Wisconsin and an outerworld called the Territories. In French Landing, King and Straub introduces us to the strangest and most delightful combination of characters: a blind disc jockey (with multiple radio personalities), the Thunder Five (an intellectual yet tough biker gang that is most likely to get into bar fights over discussions of literature and politics), and an embezzling nursing home director that is occasionally orally serviced by a secretary that has a penchant for imitating an Irish brogue. And that’s just a generous sampling. Yes, only from the mind of King and Straub.
Now I’ll be a bit up front and on the level with you. The book starts off a bit slow and with strange experimental narratives, but patience (being a golden virtue and other such bollocks) will reward you with a riveting story that may give some of you the hibby-jibbies, and maybe the possible need of dry and clean undies. As the two worlds collide and intersect, the book becomes this terrifying roller-coaster ride that’ll have you gripping the pages and possibly the light switches in your house (preferably to the ON position).

Read Full Post »

77shadow

Welcome to 77 Shadow Street. It a dreamy luxury apartment building … filled with the strangest potpourri of personalities clustered under one roof. Neurotic sisters, single mom with special need children, psychotic killer with murder and rape on the mind, a pissed off anarchist with murder in the mind, and a troubled war veteran. And that’s just the good news. The bad news … well … there’s an entity in the building that wants to some pretty interesting things to them and THE WORLD, and no, it does not involve tea, scones or biscuits. So just when you thought it was safe to read with fewer lights on (possibly because electricity bills are ridiculous or you’ve decided to go “green”), Mr. Koontz decides to launch another ditty that’ll make you either say to hell with the light bill or face the risk of crapping and pissing on yourself in bed every time the wind blows or that annoying tree branch scrapes against the window. But Mr. Koontz is not, apparently, satisfied that his literary skills might do the job and has decided to make a website to have the reader get an “interactive” experience. Aye, just don’t do it on a full bladder with your Altec Lansing Dolby 7.1 speakers tweaked at half of the maximum volume. Good show, Mr. Koontz. Good show.
Shadow Street is a good bump-in-the-night thriller that can still creep the crap out of us “grown ups”. And in some cases it literally did (damn upstairs neighbour should fix their bloody creaky floors). Every turn of the page feels like your peeking around the corners, in anticipation of things leaping out of shadows with your demise in mind. Aye, there’s a sobering thought. Better stock up on the Ambien. And maybe some new dry changes of underwear.

Read Full Post »