Wednesday, November 25, 2015

nEvermore: Tales of Murder, Mystery and the Macabre, edited by Nancy Kilpatrick and Caro Soles. Edge, 2015

‘nEvermore’ is a collection of 21 tales inspired by Edgar Allen Poe. Some are updates of Poe stories- ‘The Orange Cat’ is a modern day “The Black Cat’- while another, “Street of the Dead House” is a retelling of ‘Murders in the Rue Morgue’ through the eyes of the ape. Others simply have the aura and atmosphere of Poe. The anthology features some great authors, including Tanith Lee, Michael Jecks, and Margaret Atwood(!).

Most short story collections have many stories that I either don’t like or just don’t do it for me; to my surprise, I appreciated every story in this one. If you are a Poe fan or a  horror fan, give it a try. 

The above is an affiliate link. If you click through and buy something- anything- Amazon will give me a few cents. 

I received this book free in return for a fair review.

Neither of these things influenced my review.  

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Children’s Home, by Charles Lambert. Scribner, 2016

Morgan, acid scarred son of wealth, lives alone in a mansion. He spends his days cataloging the maps and books collected by his wandering grandfather. Morgan has had a troubled life; a mother ill both physically and mentally and an isolated childhood have left him ill-equipped to deal with the outside world he has never seen.

Then children start to arrive at the estate. The youngest are infants; the oldest is five year old David. Where they come from and how they get there is a mystery. They just are. They are preternaturally well behaved, quiet, and smarter than normal for their ages. David is their leader; he talks and acts like a small adult. They provide needed company for Morgan. They simply accept his scarred face as he accepts them. When one of the children becomes ill, the housekeeper calls in a medical man, Dr. Crane, who accepts both Morgan and the children just as they are. He completes their family odd little family.

The children obviously have a purpose, but Morgan cannot figure out what it is. They learn from his books and instruction. They disappear into the many rooms of the house for hours, sometimes finding truly odd and rather macabre items.

Outside the estate, a dystopian world lies. When it intrudes in the form of officials who say he cannot be harboring children, Morgan must face the outside world- and his family’s place in it- for the first time. What he finds is grim and bizarre.

I’m not sure what to call this novel. It’s like a dystopian fairy tale, a fable written by Kafka. After a ways into the story, I would not have been surprised if Morgan had turned into a giant cockroach. The story is uneven; the first part is very good but as it heads into the ending it changes tone completely, and, frankly, I am left thinking “WTH was that about?!?!” If I could, I’d give the first part of the book a 4-star rating and the ending a 2-star rating. 

The above is an affiliate link. If you click through and buy something- anything- Amazon will give me a few cents. 

I received my copy of this book free from Net Galley in return for an honest review. 

Neither of these things changed my review.  

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Bridge, by John Skipp & Craig Spector. Bantam Books, 1991

This science fiction/horror tale is totally agenda driven. It’s about the day that toxic waste, thrown into the creeks, rivers, and earth, become sentient and rise up against humans. It’s about as subtle as a sledge hammer with its message that we are destroying the earth.

Written in 1991, the novel is sited in the town of Paradise, Pennsylvania, a small to medium sized city. It’s large enough to have some industry, and that industry creates waste. So there is a company that deals with relieving businesses of their waste. Problem is, they are not very particular about disposing of said waste. Their subcontractors- redneck yahoos who consider ‘out of sight, out of mind’ a good working plan- aren’t any more particular. One day as they dump 55 gallon drums into the creek, the creek itself- joined with the waste already there- rises up. Then there is the nuclear power plant in the county that is starting to sing to itself as all hell breaks loose…

It’s a very grim novel, with lots of vivid gore; the descriptions of what happens to the humans is revolting. I didn’t realize until after I read the book that they authors are considered splatter punk kings. There are a lot of characters in the book; sometimes it’s hard to keep track of them. Sadly, none are fleshed out at all. They are just puppets doing their jobs for the story. The plot is also lacking. The book is powerful, but still a letdown because of that.

The above is an affiliate link. If you click through and buy something- anything- Amazon will give me a few cents. This in no way affects my review.