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Search tags: Horror
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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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review 2020-05-28 13:43
The Day of the Triffids
The Day of the Triffids - John Wyndham

by John Wyndham

 

I didn't really know what to expect from this one apart from evil plants, so enjoyed the thrill of discovery as the plot slowly unfolded in the early chapters. It surprised me that there was so much of the plot focused on the issue of everyone going blind from an unrelated source before it got to any significant story about the carnivorous plants.

 

It did help set up the end of the world situation though, and showed much of the moral dilemma involved with deciding how much to help others in an unprecedented situation and whether your own survival would be compromised.

 

I'd class this as a Dystopian novel, though the man-eating plants do lend a Horror aspect. More of the plot involved survival in difficult circumstances long before the plants feature significantly.

 

There were times I wanted to shout at the characters "Why don't you..." or "Why haven't you..." and get them to do a few obvious things to improve their situation. I even wondered why it had become such a classic of Horror because much of it was more tame than I had expected. It wasn't what I expected at all, but it still made for an enjoyable read.

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review 2020-05-28 13:35
The Dark Portal
The Dark Portal - Robin Jarvis,Peter Glassman

by Robin Jarvis

 

This is a whimsical children's story but it's not just a cutsie mouse story, there are elements of Horror for children. The rats peel mice, as in skinning, so probably for slightly older children with the disposition to enjoy things like Goosebumps.

 

It is mostly about a mouse family who travel, one by one, through a grate that they know takes them into the territory of the rats. First the father goes on a whim, then his daughter goes to look for him and soon several mice are where they shouldn't be in a dangerous place.

 

I don't often read stories directed at very young readers, but I liked the tone and the writing in this one. Adventurous mouse stories formed an essential part of my own childhood reading and I think this one could easily sit on a shelf next to The Secret of Nimh.

 

It's a surprisingly multi-layered story with a spiritual element, but mostly adventures of the child mice. Imagine Nancy Drew stories or the Hardy boys in mouse form. The quality of the writing holds up all through and this is a story I would happily buy for my nieces and nephews who are appropriate age for stories that don't write down to a child's level, but concern young characters with whom they could identify. One of the better contributions to children's literature that I've seen for a while.

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