Book Review: Cthulu and Other Monsters – gory horror shorts

Cthulu and Other Monsters  by Sam Stone

Why I read:  I love Cthulu tales and have enjoyed other books by the author.

Book blurb: “Sixteen tales of terror from the blood-soaked pen of Sam Stone. Enter if you dare and discover nine stories inspired by the nightmare visions of H P Lovecraft: Elder Gods returning to the Earth to wreak havoc, tales of death and destruction and betrayal and the last flickering embers of humanity … Alongside these are seven further stories featuring the monstrous creations of Stone’s own imagination: a hungry and jealous sea; wolf-creatures prowling the fashion industry; a terrifying creature held captive in a cellar … Open the cover and let Sam Stone’s nightmares guide your way into horror … ‘Entertaining and original’ Brian M Sammons ‘Mistress of the grisly and the glutinous’ Graham Masterton.”

 

Select quote ” Lucy could make out a bulbous shape, and long thick appendages that moved in a a sinuous flow as the creature shifted,  like a giant octopus or some creature from the deep.  This could not be a land dweller….”

My review

This collection of short stories featuring Cthulu’s Old Gods and a variety of other monsters is a fun read.   Its a very adult themed book with lots of gore, gruesome horror scenes and some sex sprinkled throughout the pages.  There’s a diverse mixture of themes contained as the author brings in elements of sci-fi, romance, steam-punk and tales set in the past, present and future.  There is a brilliant range of new takes on Lovecraftian ideas and wonderful twists in the stories that you don’t see coming.  My highlight was Of Gods and Blood – with plenty of references to Lovecraft and the Old Gods its an exciting read with so much packed into this short tale.

I really enjoyed the writers fun style and the originality  but overall found it a mixed bag.  Some stories I really enjoyed and got into, others I just skimmed through.   A wonderfully entertaining book perfect for fans of horror shorts.

You  can read a short extract of the book over on Amazon.

I’d recommend to anyone who likes:  horror, gore, cthulu,and  monster stories.

***

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Book Review : Sleep Over – an oral history of the Apocalypse

Sleep Over: An Oral History of the Apocalypse by H.G. Bells

Why I read:

5 Star Read

Book blurb: “For fans of the oral history genre phenomenon World War Z, a worldwide plague of insomnia creates a devastating new apocalypse.

Remember what it’s like to last an entire night without sleep? That dull but constant headache. The feeling of your brain on edge. How easily irritated you were. How difficult it was to concentrate, even on seemingly menial tasks. It was just a single restless night, but everything felt just a little bit harder to do, and the only real comfort was knowing your head would finally hit the pillow at the end of the day, and when you awoke the next morning everything would return to normal.

But what if sleep didn’t come the next night? Or the night after? What might happen if you, your friends and family, your coworkers, the strangers you pass on the street, all slowly began to realize that rest might not ever come again?

How slowly might the world fall apart? How long would it take for a society without sleep to descend into chaos?

Sleep Over is collection of waking nightmares, a scrapbook of the haunting and poignant stories from those trapped in a world where the pillars of society are crumbling, and madness is slowly descending on a planet without rest.

Online vigilantism turns social media into a deadly gamble.

A freelance journalist grapples with the ethics of turning in footage of mass suicide.

A kidnapped hypnotist is held hostage by those at wit’s end for a cure.

In Sleep Over, these stories are just the beginning. Before the Longest Day, the world record was eleven days without sleep. It turns out most of us can go much longer.”

 

My review

A wonderfully chilling apocalyptic book that questions what would become of the world if no-one was able to sleep?  We follow the story as the world breaks apart, bit by bit.  The horror created by the insomnia of the entire human race is easily comparable to that of zombies or killer viruses.  Its a highly original and thrilling read.

The book consists of a number of personal testimonials from different characters.  There are tales from an amazingly diverse range of  people with different backgrounds, all scattered around the world.  You get to see the effect of insomnia through the eyes of scientists, policy makers, a taxi driver, gamers, nurses, to name but a few.  The stories are grouped into time frames and each one reveals more about what is happening to the world.   Some of the people’s stories show humanity descending into its worse traits, others show survival and there are some touching tales demonstrating real caring and the best of humanity.  The writing is beautifully haunting, vividly capturing the horror each person experiences but with brief moments of hope and joy scattered throughout.   There are loads of brilliant thoughts and ideas packed into the 300 pages as we see the apocalypse through many different viewpoints.  I don’t want to give away any spoilers so will just add this is a book I really enjoyed and will read again in the future.

Overall this is a brilliant and original apocalyptic thriller.  It’s a thought provoking book that I’d suggest all sci-fi fans read.

I’d highly recommend to fans of: horror, apocalyptic thrillers, dystopia and  sci-fi

*****

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

Paperback, 300 pages
Expected publication: January 16th 2018 by Talos
ISBN  194045669X

Book Review : White Bodies – psychological thriller about twin sisters

White Bodies by Jane Robins

3 star read

Why I read:   Dark, psychological thriller with unreliable  narrator

Book blurb: “Felix and Tilda seem like the perfect couple: young and in love, a financier and a beautiful up-and-coming starlet. But behind their flawless façade, not everything is as it seems.

Callie, Tilda’s unassuming twin, has watched her sister visibly shrink under Felix’s domineering love. She has looked on silently as Tilda stopped working, nearly stopped eating, and turned into a neat freak, with mugs wrapped in Saran Wrap and suspicious syringes hidden in the bathroom trash. She knows about Felix’s uncontrollable rages, and has seen the bruises on the white skin of her sister’s arms.

Worried about the psychological hold that Felix seems to have over Tilda, Callie joins an internet support group for victims of abuse and their friends. However, things spiral out of control and she starts to doubt her own judgment when one of her new acquaintances is killed by an abusive man. And then suddenly Felix dies—or was he murdered?”

 

 

My review

A dark, twisted psychological thriller about two twin sisters obsession with each other. When Tilda meets Felix, charming but with controlling tendencies, Callie becomes fearful for her safety.    Callie narrates so we see the story unfold through her eyes and observations,  occasionally delving into the past to shed more light on their entwined lives. I found the relationship between the twins fascinating  and it kept me hooked throughout the book. With its themes of love, manipulation and violence.  Jane Robins writes the sisters characters brilliantly, neither are particularly likeable, they are flawed, weird and interesting to read about.  Tilda’s narcissism and Callie’s compulsion to consume things that belonged to Tilda demonstrate how their mental states distort their reality.  Which creates a dark book full of clues, red herrings, twists and suspense that keep you reading and guessing.

Overall White Bodies is an enjoyably unsettling page turner.

I’d recommend to anyone who likes: psychological thrillers, unreliable narration, twisting storylines and sibling relationship drama.

***

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

297 pages
Published September 19th 2017 by Touchstone
ISBN  1501165089

 

Book review – The World of Lore, Volume 1: Monstrous Creatures

The World of Lore, Volume 1: Monstrous Creatures by Aaron Mahnke

Why I read:  Monsters and folklore – fascinating.

Book blurb: “A fascinating, beautifully illustrated guide to the monsters that are part of our collective psyche, from the host of the hit podcast Lore, soon to be an online streaming series.

They live in shadows–deep in the forest, late in the night, in the dark recesses of our minds. They’re spoken of in stories and superstitions, relics of an unenlightened age, old wives’ tales, passed down through generations. Yet no matter how wary and jaded we have become, as individuals or as a society, a part of us remains vulnerable to them: werewolves and wendigos, poltergeists and vampires, angry elves and vengeful spirits.

In this beautifully illustrated volume, the host of the hit podcast Lore serves as a guide on a fascinating journey through the history of these terrifying creatures, exploring not only the legends but what they tell us about ourselves. Aaron Mahnke invites us to the desolate Pine Barrens of New Jersey, where the notorious winged, red-eyed Jersey Devil dwells. He delves into harrowing accounts of cannibalism–some officially documented, others the stuff of speculation . . . perhaps. He visits the dimly lit rooms where seances take place, the European villages where gremlins make mischief, even Key West, Florida, home of a haunted doll named Robert.

In a world of “emotional vampires” and “zombie malls,” the monsters of folklore have become both a part of our language and a part of our collective psyche. Whether these beasts and bogeymen are real or just a reflection of our primal fears, we know, on some level, that not every mystery has been explained and that the unknown still holds the power to strike fear deep in our hearts and souls. As Aaron Mahnke reminds us, sometimes the truth is even scarier than the lore.”

My review

A nicely written guide to the areas of folklore that surround each type of monster.   Chapters are filled with  legends and history on each creature type.  Vampires, werewolves,  sea monsters and  ghosts are just a few of the monsters encountered within.  Cute illustrated prints that enhance the text are scattered throughout.  Its a great introduction to monster legends with a biography at the back for if you want to explore even more folklore.

I’ve always been fascinated by the history behind supernatural beings and monsters and this book didn’t disappoint. I enjoyed some sections more than others, but mostly to do with where my interests lay with monster types.  The book seems geared towards an American audience with focus on American folklore but there are still plenty of background and tales from other areas of the world creating a rich tapestry of supernatural encounters.   Mahnke injects his own views and humour throughout the book making it engaging and easy to read.   A perfect Halloween book that will leave you wondering if there is more to the world than meets the eye.
I’d recommend to people interested in:    monster myths and legends,  monster folklore, supernatural history
 ***

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

Hardcover, 320 pages  (I read a pdf version)
Published October 10th 2017 by Del Rey
ISBN 1524797960

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
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