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review 2018-10-09 11:49
The Moor
The Moor - John Haysom

by Sam Haysom

 

This story is divided in an odd way. It starts with a news clip about two missing boys. There are occasional time jumps forward, written in present tense alternating with memories, which is all rather jumpy.

 

When it gets to a proper chapter one, the story becomes mostly linear. There are other news clips and time jumps interspersed, but basically the story is told from the pov of five different boys involved in the camping trip that led to the boys going missing, each of them having their own section, though each one progresses the story further forward.

 

First is James, the overweight boy who doesn't really want to go but gives into peer pressure to be part of the group. Then Gary who has an unfortunate habit of playing sick practical jokes. He's followed by Tom, a bigger boy who defends James against his friend Gary's jokes when they get out of hand, then Tim who is a small boy, son of the responsible adult leading the group and doesn't have many friends. The sequence of events is finished up by Matt, who is the sharpest of the boys and takes us through the climax of the story, which was very well done. The details and built up suspense were definitely worthy.

 

Through these various points of view, we slowly learn what happened, why each of the boys took part in the camping trip, what sort of person they appear as to the others and how the two boys went missing. Some of the story gets rather horrific. I sort of guessed what had to happen in the end, though not how it would play out.

 

This is apparently a debut book by a young author. I think he's going to be one for the Horror enthusiasts to watch.

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review 2018-09-28 10:24
Hark! The Herald Angels Scream
Hark! The Herald Angels Scream - Christopher Golden

by Christopher Golden

 

A collection of Christmas stories in the Horror genre was just too good of an idea to pass up! This one is a collection of 18 stories by a variety of authors. I had actually heard of three of them and read something by two of those, which gave me confidence of a certain level of writing.

 

To be honest, not all of the stories held up to expectation but enough of them did to make the collection worthwhile. Just two of them were written in present tense, which I find difficult to read, and two others were written in second person, which I don't see often.

 

There were some interesting ideas explored; zombie elves, creepy children, melting babies, obsessive or robot pets, a great twist on revenge, and an abusive husband returning from the dead among others.

 

The stand outs for me were Love Me by Thomas E. Sniegoski, Not Just For Christmas by Sarah Lotz, It's A Wonderful Life by Christopher Golden, The Second Floor of the Christmas Hotel by Joe R. Lansdale and Darrow Street by Elizabeth Hand.

 

Also very worthwhile were Fresh as the New-Fallen Snow by Seaman McGuire, Good Deeds by Jeff Strand (a very humorous entry), Mistletoe and Holly by James A. Moore, Home by Tim Lebbon and The Hangman's Bride by Sarah Pinborough.

 

The collection is definitely worthwhile for the Horror fan.

 

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review 2018-09-25 15:20
John Peters in the Land of Demons
John Peters in the land of Demons - A.H. Matai

by A.H. Matai

 

This one confused me in that the writing was stilted, much of it in short sentences like you might see in a children's book, but the characters were university age. There was some off sentence structure and weird word choices and eventually I decided that it must have been written by someone whose grasp of English is being seen through a foreign grammar structure. I tried to look up information on the author to see if they came from a non-English speaking country, but couldn't find anything.

 

There were some interesting ideas but the story just didn't flow. I do generally find stories involving demons very interesting. There was a lot of 'telling' as far as the character's feelings were concerned, mostly when they got angry. The premise of the story really attracted me but I just couldn't get into it.

 

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review 2018-09-16 12:04
Unsettled Spirits
Unsettled Spirits - J. Matthew Saunders

by J. Matthew Saunders

 

Workers at a tractor and farm supply company play a common prank on Bobby, a new guy, by having him go into the factory after hours on a ruse, but things go wrong. There is genuine gossip about the factory being haunted and when Bobby hears a child laughing just before the lights go out, he is terrified. A subsequent unfortunate accident brings the incident under investigation.

 

Zed & Penelope make such investigations their business and are called in. They also consult an associate, Charles, who is an adept magician. The company owner brings in a magician of his own, but won't say who.

 

The story is fairly short, yet has a lot of strands. I thought it had too much description of minor characters and sometimes seemed unclear what was going on.

 

Apart from the beginning, I can't say there were a lot of scares and the story falls more into a detective story than chilling Horror, until near the end. There is even some doubt cast on the legitimacy of the hauntings.

 

Some interesting supernatural shenanigans happen towards the end, but then the story just stops. No explanation, no resolution. Presumably it's a serial, but there is no warning in the description to say so. There were some interesting ideas involved and the writing was fairly good, but the plot didn't have me riveted enough to compel me to read another book to tie up all the loose ends left hanging.

 

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review 2018-09-15 13:27
Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab
Barnabas Tew and The Case Of The Missing Scarab - Columbkill Noonan

by Columbkill Noonan

 

There's something about Victorian era book settings that brings out the use of language to fit within that setting and gives the story a certain flavour.

 

Barnabas Tew wants to be like his hero, Sherlock Holmes, but so far it's not going too well. He isn't nearly as clever and pretending to understand things when his assistant, Wildred, gets a reference that he doesn't does him no favours.

 

They've been given a case by Anubis to find a missing god. The trouble is, searching for clues in the underworld requires being dead! Traversing a landscape where they have to learn the rules as they go along leads to a constant state of confusion for the detectives.

 

This is a light, fun story. The journey through the realms of Egyptian gods added an interesting touch, although purists will wonder how the author assigned personalities to some of them, especially Maat and Hathor, who seemed way out of character.

 

It was a little slow moving in parts and had a sort of comic feel to it, but was overall enjoyable. The obvious set up at the end for a next book in series was actually rather well done, but the story works fine as a stand alone.

 

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