Book Review : Monsters Exist – horror shorts

Monsters Exist – Edited by Jesse Deadman & Theresa Braun

Why I read:  Monsters, urban tales, spooky shorts.

Book blurb: “From the time we are young, we fear the monster under the bed or in the closet, making it impossible to sleep without a nightlight. Then, we hear stories of Bigfoot, and maybe even the Mothman around campfires. When we are adults, we wonder if there might actually be supernatural creatures lurking in the shadows. Are these tall tales and urban legends only metaphors for what horrific things humanity is capable of—or do monsters exist?

Go to some terrifying places with this cast of authors. You will be dragged into mystifying realities where demonic fairies hide, where devil monkeys lure carnival-goers to their demise, where Goatmen seek to destroy their prey, and where the goddess of death puts out a hit on victims of her choice. These shocking tales will have you biting your nails and locating that childhood nightlight. Because, in the end, we all know monsters do exist.”

My review

A creepy mixture of 14 short horror stories featuring monsters.  Packed into these short tales are twists and mutations of the typical creature stories.  Really quick reads, loaded with monsters to haunt your nightmares. Mythological and cryptozoological critters.  Stories that bring urban legends to life. That play on your fears.  These are the monsters that lurk within your imagination, and the ones that live next door, or down the well in the woods.  There’s demonic sacrificing fairies, The Goatman, devil monkeys, dog sized rats, seductive mer-woman, predatory spiders, blood-thirsty Chupacabras and The Mothman  to name a few.

It was hard to pick a favourite from the mix but The Voice from the Bottom of the Well by Philip W. Kleaver just clipped it with this memorable and well written tale.  A 10 year old girl Johanna discovers a thing at the bottom of the well that is especially hungry. Johanna must feed it and yeah she did.  Awesome.

There’s something here for every horror fan with a diverse range of writing styles and tones.  There’s creepy, atmospheric  and gore filled tales.   The monster theme pulls it all together as one anthology which makes all the stories gel as they explore this from different angles.  I loved that after each short story you got a bio of the author and other work they had published.  I’ve found a few that I will check out.   Its a great way to sample an authors writing style before going on to read a longer story. Its a mixed bag and I enjoyed some stories more than others.   This made it hard to rate but I settled on a 4 for overall enjoyment.

I’d recommend to anyone who likes: horror, urban legends, monsters, quick spooky reads, short stories.

****

I received a free advanced reader copy via Netgallery in return for an honest review.

Published July 1st 2017 by Deadman’s Tome
ISBN 9781521468
Advertisements

Book Review: The Graveyard Book – ghosty spookiness

The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman

Why I read: Ghosts and graveyards and everything spooky.

Book blurb: “After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod’s family…

Beloved master storyteller Neil Gaiman returns with a luminous new novel for the audience that embraced his New York Times bestselling modern classic Coraline. Magical, terrifying, and filled with breathtaking adventures, The Graveyard Book is sure to enthrall readers of all ages” 

Select quote ” “It’s like the people who believe they’ll be happy if they go and live somewhere else, but who learn it doesn’t work that way. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you. If you see what I mean.” ― Neil GaimanThe Graveyard Book

My review

What a fun and captivating read.  I don’t usually reading children’s books but this one intrigued me with the cast of graveyard characters.  A toddler is the sole survivor  after his family is murdered.  He wanders into a graveyard where he is promptly adopted by the ghostly inhabitants.  He is named Nobody Owens, “Bod” for short and spends his childhood playing amongst the graveyard and meeting its inhabitants.  We follow Bod as he grows up and ventures into the world outside the graveyard.  All under the threat of Jack who slaughtered his family and is still out there looking for Bod so he can finish the job.

The story is beautifully crafted, filled with sadness, hope and charm.  Neil Gaiman has a way with words that you can only admire.  He creates the spooky atmospheric world with real skill, it draws you in so you believe you are living there too.  The book really appealed to the side of me that believes in magic and fantasy.  Bod is a brilliant character.  It was pure joy reading about him growing up and interacting with the world.  He has a balance of inquisitiveness, humour, loyalty and bravery.   His life in the graveyard is fascinating as he learns magical lore from the dead.   The cast of graveyard characters were unique and memorable.  I felt the story a bit predictable and simple.  But this is in keeping with it being a tale for children.

The illustrations in this book were gorgeous.  I loved coming across them at the start of chapters.  My favourite was the witch.   Chris Riddell has done an awesome job of capturing the creepy spookiness of the book with the artwork.

This is a book I’d give to children, teenagers and adults to read. There’s something within the pages for all.  There are potent quotes within the book, real insights into life scatted throughout that warm the soul.   A wonderfully entertaining book that captivates from start to finish.

“You’re alive, Bod. That means you have infinite potential. You can do anything, make anything, dream anything. If you can change the world, the world will change. Potential. ” ― Neil GaimanThe Graveyard Book

I’d recommend to anyone who likes: ghosts, graveyards, spooky tales, children’s horror

****

Paperback, 289 pages

Published December 2008 by Bloomsbury (first published September 30th 2008)

ISBN 0747598843

Book Review : I Am Behind You : Surreal atmospheric horror

I Am Behind You – by John Ajvide Lindqvist

5 star read

Why I read:   New horror by the author of Let the Right One In – how could I resist.

Book blurb: “A new heart-breaking and terrifying novel from John Ajvide Lindqvist, the author of international bestseller Let the Right One In

Molly wakes her mother to go to the toilet. The campsite is strangely blank. The toilet block has gone. Everything else has gone too. This is a place with no sun. No god.

Just four families remain. Each has done something to bring them here – each denies they deserve it. Until they see what’s coming over the horizon, moving irrevocably towards them. Their worst mistake. Their darkest fear. And for just one of them, their homecoming.

This gripping conceptual horror takes you deep into one of the most macabre and unique imaginations writing in the genre. On family, on children, Lindqvist writes in a way that tears the heart and twists the soul. I Am Behind You turns the world upside down and, disturbing, terrifying and shattering by turns, it will suck you in. ”

 My review

What did I just read?  It’s surreal, confusing, horrific, disturbing, filled with unpleasant people, with horrific things happening to everyone.  Its a totally original horror story.  One that will stay with me.  Hauntingly grotesque.  I want to make everyone read it.  Then tell me their interpretation of what the hell just happened.

The true beauty of the book is how well written all the characters are.  The dark side of people’s nature is thoroughly explored.  All the characters were fleshed out humans, people who made mistakes, had dark thoughts and deeds.  They were flawed and Lindqvist takes you right to their darkest secrets and their shame.  Most were unpleasant people but a child Emil and dog and cat were quite innocent.  Within there is also the warmth of friendship, parenthood, kindness and consideration for others.   I did find I was still able to emphasise with most of the characters because of the solid backstories Lindqvist paints for them all, you saw how they were driven to dark deeds and got a deep insight into their heads.  You might not like the characters but you can get them and this makes the horrors that happen all the more terrifying and fascinating.   Its a book about people, about society, supernatural and darkness.

The first half of the book is mainly spent exploring the characters.  However I don’t want to speak too much of the second half of the book for fear of spoiling it for anyone.  There are many unpleasant incidents, acid rain, tortured beings, fears brought to life.  You never find out why or what is really happening.  Why are they even there and how did they get there?  I loved the mystery of this but if you like horror neatly tied up with explanations then this is not the book for you.   It’s all very surreal and the 2nd half of the book especially is darkly unsettling and scary.  I’d really love to see this book turned into a horror film.  A seriously creepy horror film that gets under your skin and stays there.

I gave it a solid 5 stars because I enjoyed it so much.  I read it slowly as I wanted to enjoy the descriptive writing and fully experience the surreal atmospheric horror.  Its a book to put away and read again in the future.

I’d recommend to anyone who likes: horror, surreal atmosphere, weird happenings, exploring the dark-side of people’s nature.

*****

I received a free advanced reader copy via Netgallery in return for an honest review.

Pub Date 07 Sep 2017  by riverrun (first published August 1st 2014)

ISBN 9781786480392

Original Title: Himmelstrand

Book review – The Travelling Bag – And Other Ghostly Stories

The Travelling Bag And Other Ghostly Stories by Susan Hill

Why I read:  I’ve previously enjoyed spooky ghost stories by Susan Hill.

Book blurb: “From the foggy streets of Victorian London to the eerie perfection of 1950s suburbia, the everyday is invaded by the otherworldly in this unforgettable collection of new ghost stories from the bestselling author of The Woman in Black.

In the title story, on a murky evening in a club off St James, a paranormal detective recounts his most memorable case, one whose horrifying denouement took place in that very building.

A lonely boy makes a friend in ‘Boy Number 21’, but years later is forced to question the very nature of that friendship.

‘Alice Baker’ tells the story of a mysterious new office worker who is accompanied by a lingering smell of decay.

And in ‘The Front Room’, a devoutly Christian mother tries to protect her children from the evil influence of their grandmother, both when she is alive and afterwards.

This paperback edition includes the chilling ‘Printer’s Devil Court’ in which three medical students make an unholy pact whose consequences will pursue one of them to the grave – and perhaps beyond.

This is Susan Hill at her best, telling characteristically creepy and surprising tales of thwarted ambition, terrifying revenge and supernatural stirrings that will leave you wide-awake long into the night.”

 

 

My review

The Travelling Bag and other Ghostly Stories contains 4 short  tales all eloquently written in Susan Hill’s gothic style.    They are all spooky stories that slowly creep up on you rather than gory horror.   As the atmosphere within each one slowly builds up like a  crescendo of eeriness to  their creepy finale.  Most are in the traditional Gothic style but a couple have a more contemporary setting.  These are all beautifully crafted to leave a chill down your spine.     You do have to  let your imagination run wild from the subtle suggestions contained but this just adds to the traditional style.

If you’ve loved previous books by Susan Hill definitely give these tales a spin.  They are not her best  stories however  fit beautifully into her collection of work.  I enjoyed all the tales.   Each one was different enough to keep my attention.  There is nothing groundbreaking in them but all are fine examples of gothic spookiness.   They are a quick and easy read I think the total page count for all is less than 200 pages. Perfect to read tucked up in bed on a dark stormy night.

Recommended for fans of: traditional ghost stories, spooky tales

I received a free advanced reader copy via Netgallery in return for an honest review.

***

EDITION
ISBN

Book review – The Three Body Problem – Hard sci-fi

The Three Body Problem – Cixin Liu

4 star read

Why I read: Hugo award winning sci-fi.  I read a review on Helen’s Bookshelf which sold it to me as a must read book.

Book blurb: “The Three-Body Problem is the first chance for English-speaking readers to experience this multiple award winning phenomenon from China’s most beloved science fiction author, Liu Cixin.

Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision.”

Select  quote : “To effectively contain a civilization’s development and disarm it across such a long span of time, there is only one way: kill its science.”
― Liu CixinThe Three-Body Problem

 

My review

The book begins during China’s Cultural revolution where Ye Wenjie witnesses her fathers death at the hands of the Red Guards, this event shapes her view on humanity and we see later  how this has an impact on the rest of mankind.  Years later Nanotech Wang Mayo infiltrates a secret organisation and immerses into a virtual world  ruled by the interaction of its three suns.   This Three Body Problem is the key to scientists deaths, a conspiracy which spans light years and the extinction level threat facing humanity.

Its hard to talk about this book without giving anything away!  I absolutely loved how much this book had science at its core.  I didn’t  always understand all of the physics and some I was unsure if it was current physics knowledge or it was fictional science for the story but this did not impact on my enjoyment.   The virtual reality system was amazing and really spoke to my inner gamer geek.  I loved how game theory and physics intertwined as Wang tries to solve the Three Body Problem and work out the pattern of the Stable and Chaotic eras which occur within the VR.   It’s a real hard thinking book full of huge ideas.   There’s so much going on within the speculative fiction including concepts on astrology, aliens, religion and humanity.    Like most good sci-fi it shines a light upon humanity so you see both the good and bad and possible futures based on this.   I took my time reading it as felt I would miss out on so much if I read it quickly.  I still got a little lost in places as there is just so much going on.  There are many themes than run through but all get tied together nicely at the end.

The characters are all well thought out, quirky people but realistic.  I think its a fine example of gender equality writing.   There were women scientists in the book and these were presented as it being completely normal and they just happened to be women.  Not super-hero women who had exceptional talents so could do science but real normal women.  I’ve tagged it as a feminist book because of this.  Not because it deals with issues to do with women but because of the strong sense of equality present throughout.  Its a really positive way of writing which I hope to read more of in the future.

I prefer writing that is more descriptive and evocative. I don’t know if its the translation but it is written quite plain speaking.  This does however fit in with all the science that is packed into the book.   The translator did a  great job, throughout the book are a few footnotes that explain aspects of Chinese culture and history relevant to what is happening and these added to my understanding.  This book is highly original so is a must read for anyone who enjoys hard sci-fi.

I’d recommend to anyone who likes: Hard science fiction, physics, Chinese sci-fi, strong female characters, thought-provoking books, big idea books.

“Science fiction is a literature that belongs to all humankind. It portrays events of interest to all of humanity, and thus science fiction should be the literary genre most accessible to readers of different nations. Science fiction often describes a day when humanity will form a harmonious whole, and I believe the arrival of such a day need not wait for the appearance of extraterrestrials.” 
― Liu CixinThe Three-Body Problem

****

Hardcover, 400 pages
Published November 11th 2014 by Tor Books (first published 2007)
ISBN 0765377063

Short Story Review: These Deathless Bones

These Deathless Bones  by Cassandra Khaw (short story)

4 star read

Why I read:  Free short horror story

Story blurb: “A horror tale about the Witch Bride, second wife of a King, and the discord between her and her young stepson.” 

 My review

An original short horror story about the Witch Bride.  Beautifully written with hauntingly evocative phrases it reminded me of a dark fairy-tale.   It blends fantasy and reality into a captivating tale.

I loved the main character she was strong and suitably evil for a Witch Bride.  The young stepson is a horrific and chilling child.  Together you wonder which is the most evil.  An intriguing tale I hope the author writes more based on this.

 

Its a great short read for when you need a little dose of horror but only have 10 minutes or so to spare.

I’d recommend to anyone who likes:  dark fairy tales, horror, witches

****

You can read it for free on tor.com :  https://www.tor.com/2017/07/26/these-deathless-bones/

“These Deathless Bones” copyright © 2017 by Cassandra Khaw

Book Review: Animal Graft

Animal Graph by M Black  (Graph World Book 1)

3 star read

Why I read:   I couldn’t resist the concept of animal grafting combined with dystopia.

Book blurb: “Never-Before-Seen-Concepts

Hunted in the Amazonian jungles 42 years after a nuclear war, Jin and Adan fight to survive in a dystopia gone very wrong. Grafted to Amazon animals, such as blue dart frog or bullet ants, against their will, Jin and Adan will have to learn the secrets of the Graph if they are ever going to win this war. 

With Graphed Borran soldiers on their tail, this will be a hard war to win, especially when King Borran Khan doesn’t fight fair. With Jin’s madre kidnapped and a secret hidden in Jin’s own DNA, will she find the truth before it’s too late? Will Jin and Adan survive, and can the Earth survive against the mad dictatorship of the current ruler of the Americas? 

Find out in this page-turning, edge of your seat, YA Amazonian Eco-Fic Dystopia!”

 

My review

Jin escapes from a prison where she was experimented on to have animal cells and neural tissue grafted into her.  This gives her a range of   unique abilities including a connection by brain waves to a chosen animal.  She has to try and survive out in the Amazonian jungle of an eradicated world whilst being tracked by Graft Soldiers.  The book follows her escape as she learns more about the world and herself.

I don’t read many YA books as I find the style a bit too simplistic for my normal tastes but I was drawn to this one by the fun premise of animal grafting.  Before getting the book I read a review that said it was like the Hunger Games meets X-men and I wholeheartedly agree with this description. Its fun escapism fantasy. The characters have extraordinary abilities from their animal Graphs but these also come with weaknesses. Its a really good balance. The science in the book such as the grafting with animals is glossed over but this just adds to the easy read factor along with the simplistic language used.  The science wasn’t detailed enough for me but I still really enjoyed the book and think it works well for teen fiction.  There’s lots of fun fight scenes where the characters use their awesome abilities with interesting effects.  The book ends mid-air which to me left it feeling very unfinished. I like most ends tied up in a story and I felt that this was just setting up for a sequel.

The main character Jin is likeable and I got behind her, egging her on to defeat the next obstacle in her escape. Adan fits into the stero-typical dreamy supporting character/love interest for the heroine to fall for that I’ve seen previously in young adult books.

A really fun, quick and easy read but if you want to know how things end you would also need to read the next book in the series.

I’d recommend if you like: young adult fiction, super-hero abilities, eco-sci-fi, young adult dystopia.

***

I received a free advanced reader copy via Netgallery in return for an honest review.

 Paperback  (I read PDF ARC)
Published May 23rd 2017 by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
ISBN1546895841