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Search tags: Evil-in-a-Small-Town
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review 2018-09-27 19:35
HEX by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
HEX - Thomas Olde Heuvelt

 

HEX was not what I expected. At all. It had some very creepy moments and for that reason I'm glad I read it, but I didn't find it to be the end all-be all of dark fiction like most of my friends did. I'm a little bummed about that because my expectations were high.

 

I'm not going to get into the plot much as this book came out several years ago and everyone knows it's about a witch. She haunts the town, but her type of haunting mainly consists of showing up at weird times and places, creeping the hell out of everyone by just standing there, and then she vanishes. Okay, there's more to it than that, but that's the gist.

 

As I mentioned above, there were a few genuinely disturbing moments and I could almost feel the stifling atmosphere at times. The few scenes that unsettled me were effective and creative. However, my enjoyment of them was often marred by breasts. That's right: breasts. What is the fascination with them in this story? Also, the poor lady with the high forehead. OMG, get over it already! Every single time this character was mentioned, so was her forehead. Lastly, I think the (I'll just call them) portents of doom, were overused and unnecessary. Owls all over the place looking at you, and peacocks...peacocking themselves about. Enough! Get on with it!

 

I cared for almost none of the people in Black Spring, nor did they deserve my care. For the most part they were all terrible human beings. It's partly because of that that I LOVED the ending! From what I've read and my discussion with my online friend Lillelara, who buddy read this with me, the denouement was completely re-written from the original Dutch version. I think it worked wonderfully for an American audience, (or at least me),especially in today's world. (Lillelara was less impressed than I.)

 

In short, I really liked the first half and I found the creepy times to be genuinely eerie and disturbing. The second half seemed to ramble... foreheads, breasts, peacocks, etc. The ending rocked. I don't know what else to say, other than I'd love to hear your thoughts about it.

 

I read this for my 2018 TBR challenge, (to read books I've owned for years and still not read), and I also read it for the TERROR IN A SMALL TOWN square in Halloween Bingo at Booklikes.

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review 2018-09-09 20:34
THIRTEEN DAYS BY SUNSET BEACH by Ramsey Campbell
Thirteen Days by Sunset Beach (Fiction Without Frontiers) - Ramsey Campbell

 

Quiet horror is one of my favorite sub-genres and with that in mind I was looking forward to this release from one of the masters. Admittedly, my expectations for this were high and I'm sorry to report that THIRTEEN DAYS BY SUNSET BEACH didn't meet them.

 

A man, Ray, takes his wife and extended family on vacation to an island in Greece. It's the first time that the entire family has vacationed together and everyone has been looking forward to it. It's not long, however, before they begin to notice strange things. Why are there no mirrors in their hotel rooms? Why are different members of the family having similar dreams each night? Even more intriguing, why are those same family members displaying bite marks on their bodies? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

First,  I did like the writing style and quality, and I enjoyed the foreshadowing. (At times, I think the foreshadowing was the only thing that kept me reading.) What brought me down quite a bit was the pacing and some of the characters. I didn't feel much for any of them, other than Ray, the elderly protagonist and Jules, whom I couldn't stand. (Really, I couldn't stand him-a more annoying, fussy, controlling man you couldn't find anywhere.) I hated him enough that I considered quitting this book more than once. Between him and the pacing, I came *this* close. But every time I said to myself "This is it! I'm done!" something happened that kept me going.

 

Overall, I'm sorry to say that this book didn't work well for me. The writing quality is there though, which is why I'm going with 3 out of 5 stars. What doesn't work for me might work exceedingly well for you, so if the synopsis sounds good, go ahead and give it a shot. Ramsey Campbell is a master of the horror genre after all!

 

*Thanks to Flame Tree Press via NetGalley for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

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review 2018-08-30 18:45
The Siren and the Spectre by Jonathan Janz
The Siren and The Spectre (Fiction Without Frontiers) - Jonathan Janz

 

Alexander House is the most haunted house in the state of Virginia. David Caine is perhaps the most well known debunk-er in the United States and as such, he is called in to stay at the house and write a book about it. The current owners are hoping that David will be persuaded into believing that the haunting is real, and that the resulting book about the matter will draw visitors/tourism to the home. Is David finally persuaded that ghosts and hauntings do exist? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

My brief synopsis above doesn't do this story justice. Unfortunately, that's part of the problem I had with this book. There's a LOT going on-and to be honest? I thought it was too much. I loved the portions about the history of the house, the area where it's situated, and its former inhabitants-specifically Judson Alexander. I would have been happy with a book about him alone.

 

I understand that this story has several layers and I respect what Jonathan Janz tried to do. However, I think the focus of this tale became too wide, what with tons of information about David's old girlfriend, his old friend Chris and Chris' new wife Katherine, the CRAZY neighbors down the way, the local sheriff, and I haven't even mentioned the siren yet! I was fine with all of it through about 2/3 of the novel, but by the last third it just got too busy for me.  Yes, there were thrills aplenty and lots of surprises, but I felt like the denouement went on a bit too long, and tried to cover too much material.

 

The writing itself though, was excellent, as I've come to expect from Mr. Janz. He created  a tense and dense atmosphere-at times I felt I would surely suffocate from it. I also felt the characters were mostly realistic and while David Caine wasn't perfect by any means, I did come to care for him and I wanted him to pull through. This tale was imaginative and to restate, my only problem was that I wished it had been more focused.

 

I seem to be almost the only one who isn't all-out raving about this story, so it's definitely possible that I read it wrong. Even with my complaint, I still enjoyed the heck out of THE SIREN AND THE SPECTER. You probably will too. Jonathan Janz is always worthy of your consideration and if you decide to give this one a go, feel free to come and share your thoughts with me when you're done. You can tell me how wrong I am!

 

Recommended!

 

*I received an e-ARC of this book from FLAME TREE PRESS via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2018-08-23 18:45
OCCASIONAL BEASTS: TALES by John Claude Smith
Occasional Beasts: Tales - John Claude Smith

 

For a few years now, I have been a big fan of John Claude Smith's twisted view of the world. This collection of tales only serves to remind me how skilled, (and twisted!), he really is.

 

I'm not going to get into each tale, as there a total of 14 stories in this volume, but I am going to touch briefly on the ones that affected me the most:

 

DANDELIONS: There was something about this story that put me in mind of Shirley Jackson. Maybe it was the feeling of the characters that something was wrong with the geometry in the hotel in which they stopped for the night? Other than that portion though, I doubt Ms. Jackson would have recognized the warped reality to which Mr. Smith delivered us, kicking and screaming. Bravo!

 

PERSONAL JESUS: Be it Depeche Mode or the Johnny Cash version, I will never hear this song again without thinking of this story. Creepy. Imaginative. Horrifying!

 

THE JOHNNY DEPP THING: Perhaps some would find it tasteless of me, or maybe even inhuman, but this story had me gleefully chuckling the whole time. It's just messed up.

 

THE GLOVE: I felt a bit of a Science-Fiction vibe from this tale, and I'm not sure why. Whatever the genre label, all I know is that if I come across a stray glove somewhere? I'm not touching it! (Also, fake psychics suck.)

 

Both THE WOUNDED TABLE and THE LAND LORD I've read before in another collection. Even though I was already familiar with them, I mention them both again here because they're still fantastic tales of...intensity? Both give the reader peeks into that aforementioned warped reality that belongs to John Claude Smith alone.

 

Now that he's again sharing that reality with us, I think any dark fiction lover would be remiss by not stashing a copy of of OCCASIONAL BEASTS on their shelves. It will call to you, and you will be unable to resist!

 

Highly recommended! *I received an e-ARC of this book from the author in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it. *

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review 2018-08-10 22:30
BENEATH A RUTHLESS SUN by Gilbert King, narrated by Kimberly Farr
Beneath a Ruthless Sun: A True Story of Violence, Race, and Justice Lost and Found - Gilbert King,Kimberly Farr

The reason I requested this book from my library was because of Megan Abbott's 

excellent, succinct review, which can be found here: BENEATH A RUTHLESS SUN

 

 

This is the shocking true story of a mentally challenged white man who was railroaded into confessing to a rape and who was then sent to a state hospital for over 14 years WITH NO TRIAL. It's a story of racism, small town corruption, networks made up of good old boys, and most importantly, a tenacious reporter named Mabel who never, ever gave up.

 

You know, I say it's a "shocking" story, but unfortunately, it's really not. Black or white, (mostly black), mentally challenged, and ALL poor-many people have not received a fair shake in this country over the years. It's unfortunate to note that many of them STILL are not receiving a fair shake. This book only proves how important a free press can be to the causes of justice and fair play.

 

Even though she has since passed of cancer, I feel the need to say WAY TO GO, Mabel! If it weren't for you, poor Jessie Daniels would probably have died in the state hospital.

 

Thanks to Megan Abbott for her intriguing review and thanks to my local library for providing the audiobook for free. Libraries RULE!

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