Posted in horror, supernatural, thriller, tagged book review, dead souls, demon, devil, faustian, gillian anderson, horror, j. lincoln fenn, kanye west, kardashians, supernatural on December 31, 2016|
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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.
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Posted in fiction, supernatural, thriller, tagged amy carlisle, brandon lee, clash by night, max factor, supernatural, the crow, thriller on October 15, 2015|
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It is October, the month of Halloween and horror movie marathons doting most channels on cable that can. So I have to break out an oldie but goodie. It was 1994, and (an ill-fated) Brandon Lee was starring in movie called The Crow (also part of my Valentines Day movie ritual), an adaptation from the series created by James O’Barr. Yes, many of remember those times, especially those of us that were going through a semi-goth phase. The dark clothing, dark Chuck Taylor Converse sneakers, dark boots, and dark Max Factor lipstick (or so I’ve heard … um, not a bloody word).So for many of us back then, we couldn’t get enough of all things Crow. So whilst going through my private library (yes, I actually buy and own books that I’ve read more than once), I came across Clash By Night. It was great to re-read it for the umpteenth time, and I’ve just had to mention it.
Meet Amy Carlisle. She’s got the perfect marriage to a wonderful chap named Rick Carlisle and she runs, with three other women, a successful daycare center. As perfect as Amy’s life may seem, there is but one thorn that has stuck itself in Amy’s side: Amy is unable to have children. She is content to live in a childless marriage yet extending that maternal love to all the kids she watches over that she encounters in her daycare. Life despite its lemons, seems to be producing some real great peach-flavoured lemonade when a visiting Senator chooses her daycare to have press conference. Amy and her co-founders, see it as a great opportunity for some great PR for their daycare. Please keep in mind this book was written in time when there was no such that as (thank goodness) social media and the World Wide Web was just a whisper in the wind … so yes, people relied on being on the telly as PR tool. I’ve detoured … oh so slightly. What is seen as great opportunity for Amy is also, unfortunately, seen as great opportunity by Rip Withers, the leader of a local, crazed, white-supremacist militia. When an assassination attempt on the Senator’s life fails (due to the Senator cancelling the visit) and instead claims the life of Amy, her co-workers and the children, it is where Amy and Rip unwittingly cross paths. Amy is drawn into the world of the Dark-Winged One: the Crow. And unfortunately, Rip Withers and his militia is drawn into the world of hurt that they can’t quite comprehend. And deservedly so. The action and suspense is viscereal, as Amy, the first female Crow, doles out vigilante justice that would make even then Punisher stew in envy. And language can be literally disemboweling at times (political correctness be damned … seriously … not for PC sensitive). After all, we are dealing with a bunch of racist, misogynist psychopaths. Aye, that pretty sums it up. Be warned.
Reading Clash by Night is sort of like a literary time trip back into the nineties. There is talk about the Clintons, Waco and Janet Reno. Techies would enjoy the mention of AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS files, also known as the files that we had to constantly tamper with in order to play Doom really well without our computers crashing. We’ve really come a long way.
Clash By Night, is an oldie but goodie. A nice addition the Crow series, and yes, there are several others out there I have still yet to read (sadly). Vicious, suspenseful and a delightful guilty pleasure it is quite a tour-de-force.
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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).
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