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review 2020-05-27 19:00
THE TAINT AND OTHER NOVELLAS by Brian Lumley, narrated by Joshua Saxon
The Taint and Other Novellas - Brian Lumley,Joshua Saxon

Welcoming the chance to get my Lovcraftian horror on via the excellent narration of Joshua Saxon, I tore into THE TAINT AND OTHER NOVELLAS. What fun!

 

A collection of 5 novellas which were written back in the mid to late 1900s, these tales do not have the polish of Lumley's later works, like the Necroscope series. These stories are more the work of a writer starting out, (while serving in the military), a writer bewitched by Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos. The fun parts of the mythos are here, but they lack the racism and other issues of Lovecraft's work.

 

My favorites of the 5 were: LORD OF THE WORMS This tale featured Titus Crow, a name I remember from back in the day, though I can't quite remember the tales in which he featured. In this story, he's invited to a home under the pretense of cataloging a large book collection at an old estate. Of course nothing is as it appears. Throw in some mesmerizing hypnotism, (see what I did there?!), some maggots and some spiked wine and you have yourself a great time!

 

THE TAINT was a fun tale involving fish-men. That's right, fish-men. With all the creepiness inherent in that phrase. It's not as much a pulp tale as one would think, with just the right mix of horror and perhaps a bit of social commentary, (but that's just my take.)

 

Finally, the last story THE TEMPLE HOUSE takes the form of a man inheriting an old estate from his uncle. He takes a friend and goes to Scotland to inspect his inheritance, and soon finds a letter from his uncle asking him to destroy the place. Why? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

Regarding the narrator, Joshua Saxon-I've only listened to one other performance of his, which was the excellent THE CIPHER by Kathe Koja. In that book he was voicing only one character while in this collection, he voices all kinds of people and he does it quite well. English, American, Scottish, he does them all and never for a moment did I doubt the origins of any of the characters. Well done, sir!

 

This was a collection full of fun Lovecraftian monsters, fish people, maggots and worms. If these are the things that delight you, then you'll enjoy the hell out of this volume!

 

Recommended!

 

You can get your audio here: THE TAINT AND OTHER NOVELLAS

 

*I received this audio download free from the narrator, in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

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review 2020-03-17 17:30
BORNE OF THE DEEP by Michael Patrick Hicks
Borne of the Deep (The Salem Hawley Series) - Michael Patrick Hicks

After the events in THE RESURRECTIONISTS, Salem Hawley is on a quest to find Al Azif, the mysterious grimoire stolen at the end of that book. Now, prepare yourself for a rip-roaring ride to Arkham!

 

In a horse drawn carriage on the way to find the book, Salem deals with racism and other problems. Even though he is a free man, he doesn't command much respect. Once he arrives at Arkham, he meets a mysterious woman named Louise LaMarche. Together they will have to face the most serious threats yet, namely, Dagon and the Deep Ones. Will he and Louise be able to find Al Azif? If so, will they find it in time to prevent Dagon and the others from overtaking Arkham? Lastly, will Salem and Louise survive? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

BORNE OF THE DEEP features some of the best battle scenes I've read in a long time. I thought a lot of blood was shed in the first book, but this one goes entirely off the rails. Salem is a brave, brave man to stand strong against what Dagon has in store. Fans of Lovecraft will recognize these names and see them brought to life more vividly than I've ever read before, and that includes Lovecraft's writing itself!

 

With a great historical background, and the integration of cosmic horror to boot, (most better than the original, [sorry, Lovecraft]), there is no way this series could fail to please or satisfy serious horror readers. I initially rated this 4 out of 5 stars, but after thinking about it overnight, I boosted my rating to the full 5. I couldn't have asked for anything more-other than the next book be released. Right now!

 

Highly recommended!

 

Kindle copies available now, just in time for social distancing! BORNE OF THE DEEP

 

*Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!* 

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review 2020-01-01 17:18
THOSE WHO GO FORTH INTO THE EMPTY PLACE OF GODS by Curtis M. Lawson & Doug Rinaldi
Those Who Go Forth into the Empty Place of Gods - Jared Collins,Curtis M. Lawson,Doug Rinaldi

 

After losing on a televised quiz show by giving an incorrect but bizarre answer, Brewster Gilligan's life continues to roll downhill. He doesn't realize it yet, but his wrong answer set in motion a series of powerful events-events that could change the world forever. Will the thoroughly unlikable Brewster be able to save the world? You'll have to read this and see!

 

I love books that revolve around themes like opening doors to other worlds, ripping through our reality to get the other side, and ancient organizations or cults whose only purpose is to make those doors open right now. THOSE WHO GO FORTH INTO THE EMPTY PLACES OF GODS is none of those, exactly, but it's close. I love this paragraph, from the introduction, talking about artists, (authors, musicians, etc...), getting random glimpses of things:

 

I do know, though, that when they reached down into the recesses of their brain buckets to pull an idea up from nothing, that a little of that nothing came back up with the idea. It's worming its way into existence, one story and one song at a time. Pretty soon there will be no nothing left on the other side.

 

 The writing here is seamless and often beautiful. Also, it's concisely descriptive and gory as well. I found at times that scenes were unfurling in my head like a movie. Most especially one scene where all the guardians, (You'll see), strutted into town, (Sheba) like superheroes in a Marvel movie, or better yet, like something out of Tombstone.

 

Even though Brewster is a pompous jerk I couldn't help but feel for him and what he went through. I wish I could tell you that everything turned out all right. I wish I could tell you that the gate stayed closed and that humanity remained untouched, unharmed. Or maybe I'm lying to you right now, and it did stay closed? I guess you'll just have to read this to find out!

 

THOSE WHO GO FORTH INTO THE EMPTY PLACE OF GODS was my last read of 2019 and what a way to close out the year! If cosmic horror, or the themes I mentioned above are your cup of tea, then you need to add this book to your 2020 reading schedule.

 

Highly recommended!

 

*Available January 15th, but you can pre-order here: THOSE WHO GO FORTH INTO THE EMPTY PLACE OF GODS

 

*Thank you to Curtis Lawson and Douglas Rinaldi for the signed, paperback ARC in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2019-11-26 01:28
KILL SWITCH by Jonathan Maberry, narrated by Ray Porter
Kill Switch: A Joe Ledger Novel - Jonathan Maberry

I know I’ve said this about previous books in this series, but this is my favorite entry as of now. 

 

 Having the advantage of starting a series once it’s already finished-I know Joe will make it through. Everyone else though? I genuinely was afraid for Top, Bunny, Church, and the gang. 

 

I enjoyed the references to Lovecraft and other pulp fiction writers and combined with the real tension I felt for these characters- I feel this volume surpassed the others. 

 

Bring on the next book! 

 

* I downloaded the audio of this book free from my local library. Libraries RULE! *

** Listening to these free library downloads has hooked me on this series. As such, I’ve rejoined Audible so I don’t have to wait for library holds to arrive. So, attention publishers! Free access to books and audiobooks at local libraries can and does lead to actual sales. **

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review 2019-09-24 18:45
A LUSH AND SEETHING HELL by John Hornor Jacobs
A Lush and Seething Hell: Two Tales of Cosmic Horror - John Hornor Jacobs,Chuck Wendig

After reading THE SEA DREAMS IT IS THE SKY, I became an instant fan of John Hornor Jacobs. A LUSH AND SEETHING HELL reassured me that my respect and high esteem for the man was earned and well placed.

 

This book is comprised of two stories, the first a novella, (the aforementioned THE SEA DREAMS IT IS THE SKY), and the second, a short novel titled MY HEART STRUCK SORROW. This review is going to focus almost solely on the second tale. When I saw on Twitter that this book was coming out, I clicked the pre-order button right away. (There wasn't a description there yet, and I didn't know that THE SEA DREAMS IT IS THE SKY was going to be included. When I did discover that, I didn't care because...support.) You can find my review of THE SEA DREAMS IT IS THE SKY here:

 THE SEA DREAMS IT IS THE SKY

 

I went into MY HEART STRUCK SORROW almost totally blind. I was excited to find out that music was a central theme to this tale. I'm a lover of Blues music and I'm fascinated by many of the old artists who were the basis for a lot of the popular music of today. You cannot imagine how stoked I was to find a deep connection with music from the old south in this book.

 

Cromwell and Harriet are called in to the Parker estate to itemize and catalog Parker's extensive collection of old acetate recordings and journals. I loved this way of framing the story as we are then taken to Parker's point of view for much of the book. He was traveling the south interviewing and recording musicians as an ethnomusicologist, (like the real-life Alan Lomax), dedicated to capturing and preserving music. He traveled with a SoundScriber, the heavy, awkward machine with which he recorded said musicians.

 

These artists and the areas in which they lived were brought to vivid life in my mind's eye. I easily pictured them. I smelled them. I felt the humidity and heat of the south. I felt the humanity in their songs, and how they changed from one town to another, especially the songs about Stagger Lee. (Or Stacker Lee, or whatever title was used.)

 

"In Mississippi, in the delta of Arkansas and northern Louisiana, they speak in harsh tones, clipped syllables, as if their entire morphology of communication were angry and inflamed."

 

One of the men he interviews, Honeyboy, is actually in prison. Parker is able to obtain permission to interview and record him. During those scenes I came across this passage:

 

"Even the guards laughed at this, and for a while the barracks were full of the laughter of incarcerated men. They sounded like any group of men gathered together. Each full of his own particular sorrow, his mirth, his guilt, the comet's tail of his existence pulling wreckage after him."

 

This got me to thinking about my comet's tail and what kind of wreckage I carry around within it.

 

Jacobs deftly weaves the threads of the past and the present, most especially those of Parker and Cromwell. Turns out they had a few things in common. I didn't see what they were at first, but as this tale unraveled, I did. Grief, loss and most of all, guilt, come to each life-how we handle those things, or not handle them as the case may be, made for an engaging and stunning denouement.

 

I find myself lacking the words and/or skills to properly communicate to you how this book made me feel and why I think you should read it. The tales within are distinctly different from each other, one more a tale of torture, politics and cosmic horror, the other- for me, being at heart a story of loss, guilt, and grief, well framed and partially hidden in a tale about blues and folk music. I'm not going to pretend that I "got" everything there is to get with this story, I already know I will read it again. I'm not going to pretend that I know a lot about ethnomusicology, but I can say I want to learn more about it and about Alan Lomax in general.

 

Leaving behind my inadequacies in getting across how this tale made me feel, I'll wrap with saying that both stories here are extremely well written, unique, thought provoking and powerful. I'll leave you with this quote:

 

"We are sound waves crashing against the shore with no SoundScriber to take down our likeness, our facsimile. Words like these are just echoes of that original sound. We are but small vibrations on the face of the universe."

 

With that, my fellow small vibration on the face of the universe, I give A LUSH AND SEETHING HELL my HIGHEST recommendation!

 

Available everywhere October 8th, but you can pre-order here: A LUSH AND SEETHING HELL

 

*Thanks to Harper Voyager and NetGalley for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest feedback. I'm buying the book anyway, but I got to read it sooner this way!*

 

**Please forgive me for the quotes, but I felt they were necessary to help convey me feelings.**

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