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Search tags: 70s-Horror
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review 2020-05-29 21:26
The Revenge of the Wizard's Ghost, Johnny Dixon #4 by John Bellairs
The Revenge of the Wizard's Ghost - John Bellairs

This is the first, and only?, direct sequel in the 'Johnny Dixon' series, and it may be why I remembered not liking this one as a kid. Most of Bellairs' work can be read independently, but 'Revenge' jumps right into one of Johnny's patented freaky dreams. An old man threatens Johnny, saying he's done his family a wrong, and that the ghost of Warren Windrow still roams. Warren Windrow is the 'Sorcerer' whose bespelled skull caused so much trouble last time.

 

Of course, Johnny doesn't tell anyone about the dream. This series. They either keep supernatural events a secret because they're embarrassed, or they disbelieve each other. Johnny starts sleep-walking and acting ornery, and has strong visions of saloons and gambling dens. Eventually, he becomes comatose and even an impromptu exorcism attempt by Father Higgins doesn't help.

 

As a kid, this one left me a little confused. I didn't read these in order so the abrupt revenge-plot left me in the dark. Also, with Johnny out of the picture we have the Professor and Fergie on a multi-day expedition to the Windrow estate to find ancient magical talismans (straight out of the Bible) that may be Johnny's last hope. 

 

The saving grace of this book, as with many others of Bellairs, are some genuine horror elements out of nowhere that keep a reader off guard, and the period details that evoke midcentury American boyhood and, in this case, Gold Rush-era California. 

 

Johnny Dixon

 

Next: 'The Eyes of the Killer Robot'

 

Previous: 'The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull'

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text 2020-05-29 14:00
#FridayReads 5.29.2020
Survivor Song - Paul Tremblay
These Evil Things We Do: The Mick Garris Collection - Mick Garris
A Collection of Dreamscapes - Christina Sng
Caliban's War - James S.A. Corey

 

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review 2020-05-28 14:13
The Feast of All Souls
The Feast of All Souls - Simon Bestwick

by Simon Bestwick

 

The beginning of this story took a while to grab me. There were hints of the main character, Alice, having survived a tragedy which is partially explained by the end of the first chapter, though details were to come later. The dialogue was a little stilted, though not enough to make me stop reading. It's in British English, which is a plus for me. By the end of the chapter, I remembered why I had requested this book. Behind the story of moving into a new, large house, of over protective parents and of the loss of a child, there are hints of something eerie to come.

 

The second chapter threw me because it takes the reader somewhere else entirely, to what reads as a journal entry from someone far back in time, Mary Carson, hired as a secretary in the house that occupied the property in an earlier time. Her story is interesting in its own right and alternates with Alice's story.

 

It doesn't take long for Alice's experiences to become truly frightening. However, the various time changes were too abrupt. One chapter gives us a flashback and important background information, but keeping up with where you are can be a challenge. until later in the book where Mary Carson's full story is revealed.

 

I felt let down by the later chapters in the book. What was shaping up to be a ghost story might have got away with adding pseudo-science to explain certain phenomena, but instead of following through it turned to pure fantasy with no real explanation, even in the imaginary Physics of a fantasy world, to satisfy the mind's need for things to fit, even in imaginary worlds. The end was also abrupt and could have used some resolution beyond what it gave.

 

The story was an interesting read in itself, but suspension of disbelief didn't really happen and there were too many changes in scene or direction for it to flow smoothly.

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review 2020-05-28 14:00
The Elf
The Elf: A Christmas Horror Short Story - I. Clayton Reynolds

by I. Clayton Reynolds

 

This was a short Christmas Horror story with an interesting twist. I should mention trigger warnings but how to do so without spoiling the twist?

 

It starts out much like an old Twilight Zone episode. There is an elf decoration with evil doll aspects and a little girl who is blind seems to hear it speak and describes things she cannot see because the elf saw them. Standard creepy stuff, but it doesn't go where I expected.

 

I thought it was very well done and the surprise ending caught me off guard, unpleasant though it was. A good one for those who like Christmas Horror and don't mind when things get icky.

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review 2020-05-28 13:55
The Elementals
The Elementals - Michael Rowe,Michael McDowell

by Michael McDowell

 

You have to love a Horror story that starts with a funeral. This one had a weird aspect, but that soon got explained in a perfectly plausible manner. The deep south accent comes over easily and actually helped transport me from reality into this alternate southern world.

 

I found the author's voice engaging and didn't mind a slow build up in the beginning. A southern family have two holiday homes in a place called Beldame which consists of three houses on a beach with sand dunes. The third house is unoccupied and no one is sure who owns it, but it is getting slowly buried in a sand dune.

 

13-year-old India gets curious about the place and notices that her father, uncle and grandmother are afraid of the third house. They warn her about the more practical dangers of sand dunes and structurally unsound properties, but her driving curiosity makes her keep looking through the windows and photographing things. Things start to get a little strange.

 

This is well written and the characters are distinctive. The plot builds slowly, revealing inter-family relationships and how they've developed over time. Towards the end everything that has been experienced in the third house comes out and the action goes berserk, leading to a breathtaking conclusion.

 

There was a time or two when someone didn't see something obvious, but otherwise it was believable as far as anything involving supernatural activity can be believable and definitely had some chills and tension to satisfy the Horror enthusiast.

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