Category Archives: Horror

Insanity – Cameron Jace

I’ll be honest, I knew nothing of Cameron Jace…never heard of him, never seen any of his work when one day I received an email from an ebook service that I subscribe to that described one of his books that was on sale (OK free) and the description intrigued me…since the price was right I went and “purchased” it.  I didn’t get around to reading it for quite some time but finally did just before the holidays.

According to Mr. Jace’s web site, he isn’t a professional writer but likes writing stories that he always wanted to read but couldn’t find already done. There’s really not much more I can tell you about the author…which bothers me as I tend to like to know at least something about the author I’m reading so I can get an idea of how their background and experiences have molded their writing.

Insanity is the first book of a series of books that he refers to collectively as Insanity; however, I think a more accurate title would be the Wonderland Wars….but, we’ll see.

Years ago, I purchased and absolutely adored a computer game called American McGee’s Alice.  It tells a very dark tale of Alice (as in Alice in Wonderland) who accidentally set fire to her home as a child which resulted in everything and everyone she loved to be destroyed or killed.  She gets institutionalized in an insane asylum and is eventually called back to a much more dark and twisted Wonderland.

The reason I mention this game is because Mr. Jace’s stories have a striking resemblance to the concept (but not execution).  In Insanity, Alice Wonder is in an institution for having killed her classmates on a school bus.  There she meets Professor Pillar, a serial killer (a-la Hannibal Lector) who believes that she is “THE” Alice and that he is The Caterpiller from Wonderland.  Together they are trying to stop a Wonderland monster that is in the real world who is brutally killing people, leaving a sewn up grin on their faces.

The story is at turns bizarre, humorous, educational and dark…very much like the real Alice In Wonderland books.

Honestly, I could not put the book down (a rarity for me).  Once finished, I actually wrote a review on Amazon.com…which I seldom do and have never done so for a freebie.  I have since purchased the collection for the first 3 ebooks and will likely buy books 4 and 5 (I think that’s as far as it goes so far).   Honestly, I was afraid to start book 2 since often books that may have been intended to be one-off frequently doesn’t translate well into a series, completely changes the characters or changes the sense of wonder…..so far, I’m happy to report that book 2 “Figment” is every bit as much fun as book 1 although perhaps a bit darker.

 

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Blood Price – Tanya Huff

Tanya Huff is a Canadian writer who writes fantasy, paranormal romance and sci-fi, often involving strong female main characters.  Unfortunately, my personal knowledge and research hasn’t raised much in way of a background.  She was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia and has a Bachelor of applied Arts in Radio and Television Arts from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in Toronto, Ontario and currently resides with her wife Fiona Patton in rural Ontario.

This novel is the first of the “Blood” books involving a former police officer, Vicki Nelson, who was forced from her position as detective by Retinitis Pigmentosa which causes failing eyesight, and Henry Fitzroy, a historical romance writer who also happens to be a vampire and the 1st Duke of Richmond and Somerset.

Vicki witnesses the brutal murder of a young man and is hired to investigate by his girlfriend, Coreen Fennel who claims that her boyfriend was murdered by a vampire, which she of course does not believe and even after seeing the killer disappear she chalks it up to her failing eyesight.  While investigating, she’s knocked unconscious and wakes up in an unknown apartment with a strange man looking through her purse.  The stranger, Henry Fitzroy, explains that he isn’t the killer but a demon is, oh and he’s a 450-year-old vampire…so begins a guilty indulgence of a series of 5 novels and a short story involving these two and several other characters.

The stories are cheesy, to be honest, but enjoyable much like watching the silly Sci-Fi series.  Cleopatra 2525 and much like the first few years of Smallville, the stories are “monster of the week”. This first and the last are probably the best of the series, probably due to them being more character based.  My biggest complaint has to do with the simplicity, i.e. it’s very, very straight-forward and other than the main vampire, all of the characters are stereotypical with clear delineation between “good” and “evil” and little depth or background; however, that can be part of it’s charm as well since it doesn’t require any “deep thinking” either.

The series of books was also the basis for a Canadian/Lifetime channel television series, called Blood Ties, which ran for two seasons.  The series was “OK”, just a cheep, Canadian cable television series…but, if you can get it cheap or off of Netflix, it’s still watchable…but, like so many books turned into movies or series imagination and visual media never quite match up.

If you enjoy this, please read the remainder of the series:

  • Blood Trial
  • Blood Lines
  • Blood Pact
  • Blood Debt

The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror – Christopher Moore

I know I’ve written about Christopher Moore before, so I won’t describe him much here other than to say that this story proves that he is one man with a fertile, wickedly funny and weird imagination.

I chose this book to write about merely because it’s getting so close to the Christmas season and frankly, I’ve been dying to do so.  This story has it all, Santa Claus (well someone dressed up as one), murder, betraying, Christmas angels, and zombies, what more could you ask for?

The angel Raziel, last seen in Moore’s “Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal“, comes down to Pine Cove (a small coastal California town which is frequently a location in Moore’s novels) to grant one child a Christmas wish.  Raziel is not the sharpest tool in the celestial shed…and when he grants the wish of a small boy (who saw the local land developer dressed up as Santa killed and buried in a shallow grave on a Christmas tree farm a short distance from the town’s cemetery) to not let Santa be dead, he mistakenly resurrects not only “Santa” but all of the dead in the cemetery all of which reek mayhem and death and terror on the towns folk collecting for a Christmas gathering.  Will anyone survive?  Will anyone want to?

This is one of Moore’s funniest (and shortest) books to date and the first of Moore’s books to begin production into a film (although others have been discussed, options sold, etc..).  The films web site is claiming that principal photography is supposed to begin in 2013, they’re kind of running behind if they haven’t at least started.

If you like this, read:

  • Practical Demonkeeping
  • Bloodsucking Fiends
  • Island of the Sequined Love Nun
  • The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove
  • Fluke, or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings
  • Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

Towing Jehovah – James Morrow

James Morrow is a self proclaimed scientific humanist. His most famous series of novels is referred to as the Godhead Trilogy and are religious satire with elements of apocalypse.  The Godhead Trilogy (i.e. Towing Jehovah, Blameless in Abaddon and The Eternal Footman) are epic tales about God’s suicide and the aftermath, men coming to grips in a world without God and yet finally knowing that he did exist.  Religion and the religiously obsessed tend to be recurring themes in many of his stories and while many treat his novels as athiest (he considers himself to be one, I think this is too simplistic.  Blameless in Abadon, for example, is about a man who has suffered more than anyone should ever have to and taking God to task for his suffering. And while irreverant, whether the story is an affirmation of religion or of anti-religion is in the eye and mind of the reader.

In Towing Jehovah, the first in the Godhead Trilogy, the massive body of God is found floating in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.  The Vatican secretly hires a supertanker to tow the body to a tomb being carved out of ice in the Artic.  Along the way, any number of challenges along the route including a group of atheists discovering the body and attempting to destroy it to prevent everyone from knowing that, while now dead, God did exist which now proves they were wrong all along.  The supertanker’s captain, Van Horne, struggles with guilt over damage caused to the ecology (think Exxon Valdez) as well as the usual that everyone struggles with (girlfriend and father), but hopes for redemption in his devine task.  Even worse are crew mutinys and the results of the devine corpose decomposing in ways never expected.

The novel is equal parts religious satire, and naval adventure drama.  The story is funny, scary, and critical of every faction you can imagine (feminists, athieists, organized religion, you name it).  Noone is off limits and everyone is lampooned in action and statement, yet, underneath there is a overwhelming question…”Can we, whether we say we believe in God or not, survive without Him?”

If you enjoy this, read:

  • Blameless in Abaddon
  • The Eternal Footman

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal – Christopher Moore

Christopher Moore writes some of the most bizarre, deranged, and heart worming stories out there.  This was my introduction to his work and after reading his others it is not his best, but, it is still quite funny and entertaining…you may take religious offense to some of Moore’s humor, particularly if you forget that even in the Bible, Jesus was a man.

Lamb is about Biff, yes, Jesus Christ’s childhood pal.  He is resurrected in modern day by a cranky, inept angel at Jesus’ request to correct a wrong, the fact that Biff doesn’t have a book in the bible and is never mentioned.  The angel puts Biff up in a hotel room to recount his history with Jesus (Joshua by name).  There’s some history of Biff and Joshua as small children which is interesting, but, it really takes off finally when Biff and Jesus (Joshua) travel to the east in search of the three wise men who were present at Joshua’s birth.  Along the way, Joshua learns about being human, learning and adapting beliefs from other cultures and what it is to be human.

The story is funny, irreverent, touching and sacrilegious at every turn…sometimes for good, sometimes for bad.

It’s worth reading if you can get it cheap, but, if you really want entertaining, try just about any of his other books.  I’ll do a review of some of the others later.

If you enjoy this, try:

  • Practical Demonkeeping
  • Bloodsucking Fiends
  • Island of the Sequined Love Nun
  • The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove
  • Fluke, or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings
  • The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror

 

 

The Stand – Stephen King

Mr. King’s long career has had many successful novels, many of which have been turned into movies or mini-series (although in my honest opinion few of them worth watching).  This was my first foray into King’s volume of work (oddly enough my paperback copy has an added label that says “Soon to be a major motion picture by George Romero”, I wonder if it’s a collectors item since it never happened)…and my favorite by far over every other one of them.  It’s a massive epic spanning the inception of a planetary cataclysm, the travels through the ruins of what’s left of humanity with all of it’s proclivities and an eventual divide where the deviants, evil and just nasty dregs of humanity end up on the western side of the Rocky’s (go figure) and what’s left of the good of humanity on the eastern side.  There will be and is a war between good and evil with both sides suffering loss.

The book is engaging, creepy, prophetic and fascinating in the typical King minutia of detail. Interestingly enough, I’ve also read the “Uncut” version and found it less engaging and with so many unrelated and unnecessary plot lines that it just wasn’t a good read.

Weaveworld – Clive Barker

One of the more fascinating and complex novels in the horror/fantasy genre I’ve ever read.  Clive Barker, who’s known for his gruesome and bloody horror novels has written a massive volume that covers hidden worlds, ancient creatures, ancient evil and, well, gruesome horror.

The novel begins with a young man “falling” into a massive woven rug (i.e. Weaveworld) left after an old woman passes away, where the he discovers a world woven into the rug’s knots and threads.  This world is inhabited by a race of people, ancient, powerful and magic that are hiding and protecting themselves from an ancient evil that awaits the day they leave their hiding place.

Now, they must leave their hiding place as the magic that holds it together is beginning to weaken and the other reaches have begun to unravel and be lost.

In the first part of the book, the young man (Calhoon “Cal” Mooney) and the granddaughter (Suzanna Parish) of the woman who was protecting the rug must protect it from Immacolata (a member of the ancient race in the rug) who wants to destroy her kind for banishing her from the rug.

In the second portion of the book primarily takes place inside the rug itself and the internal struggles over whether to leave their hiding place or continue to hide.

The final section of the book again is outside the rug and revolves around the struggles of the weaveworld folk back in the real world and the ultimate battle with their ancient enemy.

The book has it’s strong points and it’s detractors…but, ultimately, it’s captivating despite some incredibly dark and somewhat disgusting and disconnected scenes.

If you enjoy this book, try:

  • Stephen King’s – The Stand
  • Neil Gaiman’s – Neverwhere
  • Neil Gaiman’s – American Gods