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Search tags: Dark-Fantasy
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review 2017-10-12 18:45
The Trials of Solomon Parker by Eric Scott Fischl
The Trials of Solomon Parker - Eric Scott Fischl

 

The Trials of Solomon Parker is a difficult novel to define, other than awesome!  Set in Butte, Montana in the early 1900's, it features Native Americans, deep ugly coal mines, mob bosses, boxing, lots and lots of drinking and, oh yeah, second chances.

 

Solomon Parker is a hard working man who has fallen on some hard times. His wife seems to be suffering from postpartum depression, his infant son is colicky and never stops crying, and Sol just wants to gamble and drink it all away. Add to that a fire in the coal mine and an ugly scene between mine owners and union organizers, and things only get worse. Then, Sol meets Marked Face and has the opportunity to gamble for a second chance. Will he do it, and more importantly, will he win? You'll have to read this to find out.

 

I requested this book from NetGalley, solely based on the description and the cover. I ended up seriously impressed-most especially with the quality of writing. There were scenes during that mine fire where I felt like I had trouble breathing-they were so smoky, claustrophobic and scary. I felt like I was there.

 

Interspersed with the main narrative was a bit of Native American back story. This wasn't tribe specific, but it did involve a number of traditional stories that rang true to me, (and really weren't all that different than stories from other religions and belief systems.) The skill with which this was all woven together was admirable, easy to follow, and hard to break away from.

 

Thinking about this story overnight, I raised my rating a little. This book captured and kept my imagination. It brought Butte, Montana to life, and showed real prowess depicting what the day to day was like for people back then. And that's before all the really cool stuff is taken into account!

 

So however one wants to label this book, be it historical fiction, a western, a native American fable, or a story about second chances and fate, you can be sure to label it DAMN ENTERTAINING and unique. I highly recommend it!

 

*Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the free e-ARC of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

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review 2017-10-09 19:00
Coraline, written and narrated by Neil Gaiman
Coraline - Neil Gaiman,Neil Gaiman,HarperAudio

A very cute nightmarish story for the young adult market.

 

This audiobook version was read by Neil Gaiman himself and was totally charming.

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review 2017-10-07 00:00
A Torch Against the Night
Untitled - Sabaa Tahir Untitled - Sabaa Tahir
A Torch Against the Night - Sabaa Tahir

Wow there were some twists to that ending that I did not see coming. Great, deep character development and the three key POVs were well done.

 

This was definitely pushing the line for me of too dark/violent/depressing though, what with the level of dystopia and widespread murder and such. It pulls through on the strength of the characters, some unexpected developments and the extra splashes of magic around the edges. Also, some excellent use of language - keep an eye out for the awesome adjectives.

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review 2017-10-03 18:44
Cthulhu Blues by Douglas Wynne
Cthulhu Blues (Spectra Files) - Douglas Wynne

 

Cthulhu Blues is the third and final book of the SPECTRA FILES trilogy. I'm sad to see the series end! 

 

In this volume, Becca Phillips is in the hospital trying to find a way to get some sleep. While being monitored overnight, Becca begins to sing, while asleep, and weird things begin to happen-not the least of which is the mirror in her room coming alive with... something. Something from the other side?

 

Jason Brooks, Becca's friend and colleague is still around, and working for SPECTRA, albeit under a new director, when he hears about Becca. He also discovers that a few children have been singing while asleep as well, and now those children are disappearing, one by one. He invites Becca to stay at his house, (turns out he's having trouble sleeping too), and together they begin work on the mystery of the song. They work together, that is, until Becca filches an important artifact from the SPECTRA stores, and joins the missing children to sing WITH them. What will come through, if the chorus is allowed to continue until completion? What will happen to the earth and all of mankind as a result? You will have to read this to find out!

 

It would be hard to pick up this volume without knowing what happened in the first two, but it's not impossible. (However, I recommend reading the first two because they're creative and a lot of fun!) I have developed quite a liking for both Becca and Jason over the last 2 years as their stories have unfolded. Neither of them are perfect people; they are dealing with PTSD, sleep disturbances and all kinds of other problems that make them come across as more real to me. Even Becca's dog, Django, has a place in my heart. SPECTRA itself is an interesting entity, being the group that helps keep cosmic horrors out of our realm. 

 

Speaking of which, there is no shortage of imaginative cosmic horror here. There are all kinds of Lovecraftian creatures and there never seems to be a shortage of people willing to give up everything, even their lives, to help them take over. 

 

The last entry in this trilogy delivers on the great storytelling that took place in the first two. I have no problem recommending it, or all of the books, really. They're innovative, full of engaging characters, and fascinating monsters. They're everything a horror lover could ask for! 

 

 

You can get your copy here: Cthulhu Blues

 

*I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

 

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review 2017-09-26 18:45
The Wilderness Within by John Claude Smith
The Wilderness Within - John Claude Smith

 

The Wilderness Within blew my mind! I should be used to that by now, as John Claude Smith never presents anything boring to his readers.

 

Novelist Derek Gray responds to his friend Frank's letter asking for him to come for a visit. Frank Harlan Marshall lives in the forest, miles away from civilized life. Together, they're awaiting a third friend and while passing the time, Derek notices Frank is in dire straits mentally. He's not himself, he's barely even present when they talk. Derek also meets Frank's neighbor, Alethea, former singer of Dark Angel Asylum. Together, all three will face something-something in the forest, something that is ancient and will change them all, forever.

 

John Claude Smith is always exploring new ideas and this book is no exception. My favorite parts happened in the forest-the first time Derek and Frank take a walk in the woods together is truly creepy.

 

"I sensed in my mind, something picking through my thoughts, as if my skull had been opened up and something was looking for whatever special thoughts, memories and imagination that it fed on, and was diligently feeding: beetles picking the carcass clean."

 

The creative minds of authors and musicians are interesting things to explore. I'm reminded of U2's lyrics from The Fly: "Every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief, all kill their inspiration and sing about the grief." John Claude's take is: "But I know creative individuals and know the madness and intensity that is part of their make-up. There has to be a lack of inhibition in allowing the madness full reign in order to really capture the gist of what one really needs to express creatively."

 

All of this makes it seem as if this book is focused on the inner lives of artists, and in a way it is, but it's also about the forest, nature, what is going on around us, and just maybe...how small we are in the bigger scheme of things. That part of the story and what's really wrong with Frank-these are things you have to discover for yourself. But be prepared because the truth is scary and often ugly too. Not only do we not know everything there is to know about nature and how the world works, we often don't even know the people we think we know the best.

 

Surreal, intense and brave, The Wilderness Within is a unique story that delivers on the creep factor and explores deeply the inner lives of the creative and the broken. At the same time, it makes me want to stay away from the forest, at least for now.

 

Highly recommended!

 

You can pre-order your copy here: The Wilderness Within

 

*I was provided an e-ARC of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

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