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Search tags: Weird-Tales
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review 2017-04-11 22:24
The Late Breakfasters by Robert Aickman, narrated by Matt Godfrey
The Late Breakfasters and Other Strange Stories (Valancourt 20th Century Classics) - Philip Challinor,Robert Aickman,Matt Godfrey

It pains me to say it, but I did not like this book. At all.

 

I knew going in that it might not work for me. I've read one of Aickman's collections so far, and many of the stories left me unsatisfied. But, it was just one collection; maybe I read it wrong? It happens. But after listening to this wonderfully narrated story, I think it will be a long time before I attempt to read the other Aickman collection that I own.

 

The man writes beautifully, there's no doubt about it. He is also capable of sly social commentary and has a keen eye for the reasons behind certain behaviors; I appreciate that. But, and forgive me for asking, where is the damn story? This seemed more like a rambling tale about repressed sexual feelings, that sometimes features a nice enough lady named Grizelda. There are a few, I stress FEW, weird moments...and that's about it.

 

The narration here is fantastic and to be honest, if it weren't for Matt Godfrey's soothing voice, I would have ditched this book without finishing. It seems like with such promise in the voices, the story just HAD to get better, or at least show up. But sadly, it never did.

 

As I mentioned, the prose itself was excellent as was the narration, hence my 3 star rating. If I were rating on narration and quality of prose ONLY, it would be 5 stars. But for me, there has to be a story, and here I could not find one. This is obviously how I and I alone feel about The Late Breakfasters. Your mileage may vary.

 

*I received this audiobook free from the narrator in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

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review 2017-03-06 15:36
The Secret of Ventriloquism by Jon Padgett
The Secret of Ventriloquism - Jon Padgett

 

The genre of fiction that I identify as weird tales has always appealed to me, though it's hard to describe. There are also...flavors of weird tales, they're not always the same, even though they may belong to the same genre. For instance, Thomas Ligotti may be described as an author of weird fiction. While I love his style, I often find his work too nihilistic for me. Laird Barron could be described as an author of weird fiction as well, though his style generally leans toward cosmic horror. Lastly, Robert Aickman is admired as an author of weird fiction, but I often find his stories to be rather...unsatisfying. Jon Padgett, however, satisfied ALL of my wants and needs as a reader of dark and weird fiction. These stories have a clear beginning and end, (though some continue on, in other stories), and are as utterly satisfying as short fiction can be. In fact, I'd call them brilliant. That's right. BRILLIANT!

 

Starting with the appealing cover, (what horror fan could resist it?), and ending with Little Evie singing, in the story "Escape to the Mountain," (which makes me shudder just thinking about it.) These amazing stories are beyond impressive, each and every one of them.

 

After "Origami Dreams" I will never look at folded paper in the same way again. I will never see the word "appendage" again and not think of Solomon Kroth and his endless research in the University Library. I will not pass the abandoned paper mills in nearby towns without thinking of those ugly "paper mill days" and the filth they spewed upon the town of Dunnstown. I will never again pass a swamp without thinking of the room in "Indoor Swamp":

 

"Perhaps there is a room that contains a worn vintage tea party set with frilly dressed dolls, but one of those doll's heads gradually rotates completely around, going from an expression of knowing, smiling perversion to an open-mouthed, silent O of horror and back again."

 

I cannot possibly give this book a higher recommendation. As you read it, you may feel dizzy at times, or maybe even a little sick.

 

"You may begin to imagine you hear something that sounds like static or even the roar of an airliner. you may feel lightheaded like you are going to pass out. Ignore these feelings. They are normal."

 

They are a trifle. YOU are a trifle.

 

If you want to fully understand the meanings of these things, you MUST read this book. For me it started with the cover. It was the cover that made me BUY this book, rather than accept the free copy submitted for review to Horror After Dark. That's right, I bought it. You should too. Seriously. Right. Now.

 

Go here: The Secret of Ventriloquism

(You can add the audio for only $1.99 more!)

 

Usually this is where I say I was provided a free copy in exchange for honest feedback. However, (see above), I bought this book, and this is my honest opinion.

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review 2016-11-14 14:19
Eat the Night by Tim Waggoner
Eat the Night - Tim Waggoner

 Eat the Night really worked for me!

 

At first, this story features 3 plot-lines which, (of course), eventually end up coming together. Joan and Jon discover a hidden door which leads to a basement, something they thought they didn't have in their new home. Kevin works for Maintenance, an extremely important job, the details of which become clear as the story moves on. Debbie's story is the third-a woman subjecting herself to the whims of cult leader/heavy metal star, Maegarr.

 

The world-building regarding Maintenance and the Gyre is definitely something I'm interested in reading more about. This relates to cosmic horror but without any Lovecraftian Old Ones or anything of that sort. For this reason my curiosity about this world is piqued. I want MORE!

 

These three lines came together in a more than satisfactory way. I loved the ending and I believe if the story were any longer, it would have been difficult to maintain the level of tension that hummed throughout. I do have one question though: will there be more stories set in this world? I am hoping the answer is YES.

 

Highly recommended, especially for fans of cosmic horror, (with or without Old Ones)!

 

You can get your copy here: Eat the Night

 

*Thank you to Net Galley and Darkfuse for providing an e-ARC of this story in exchange for my honest review. This is it!*

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review 2016-11-07 19:25
Shadow Moths by Cate Gardner
Shadow Moths: Frightful Horrors Quick Reads - Cate Gardner,Simon Bestwick

 

Shadow Moths collects two short stories into one very slim book.

 

We Make Our Own Monsters Here is a very short story about a puppeteer of sorts going on an audition. It's strange, but I liked it! Check Harding checks in to the Palmerston Hotel, a place he's planning on staying for the night before he goes on an audition in the morning. The hotel is strange, his room is strange and Check himself is VERY strange. He passes the night practicing his shadow puppets on the wall and the next morning, takes the bus to his audition. I can't say much more without spoiling this weird tale, but I can say that I loved it and I wish it were longer. I have a thing for puppeteers, (shadow or otherwise), and if you do too, I think you will enjoy this eerie little tale.

 

Blood Moth Kiss was another short, but strange story. It was rather surreal and well...shadowy. I'm not quite sure I understand what happened, but in my opinion, I think this was a vignette about war and our fears; be they real or imagined, like the blood moths exploding throughout this tale. In either case, war is sad for everyone involved, on all sides, and that's what I'm taking away from Blood Moth Kiss.

 

Both of these stories are beautifully written and evocative.

 

I've not heard of Cate Gardner until earlier today, but now that I've read a few tasty treats from her library, I think I'd like to read a few more. Highly recommended!

 

You can buy your copy here: Shadow Moths: Frightful Horrors Quick Reads

 

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

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review 2016-11-03 15:44
Paupers' Graves by James Everington
Paupers' Graves - James Everington

 

Katherine is tasked with putting together an exhibit based on the lives of the forgotten souls buried in the paupers' graves at the Anglican cemetery. Being the uptight woman that she is, she wants to ignore all the horrible things these people went through while they lived. (Poverty, disease and mental illnesses, to name just a few.) Unfortunately, the dead want the truth to be told. They will do whatever they need to do to Katherine and her research team to make that happen.

 

The cemetery on which this story is based is real. Here's a picture of a small part of it. What a place to set a story! I could easily picture what Katherine's team, (Katya and Alex), were going through after getting a look at the location. Imagine a place where all the bodies/bones were just tossed in together, with only small markers to give a general idea of where a person was located.

 

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The characters in this story were where the action lived. What happened to each of them had a lot to do with who they were and their outlook on the world. This tale also drew some parallels between the past and present. Maybe we no longer toss the bones of the poor into pits or clapboard boxes, but has the world really changed that much since those days? Have we eliminated the problems of homelessness, drug addiction and/or mental illness? With all of our science and knowledge, have we brought about the changes that such wisdom should bring?

 

Pauper's Graves makes the reader think about that and I'm usually a fan of books that me think. I did have a few issues, though-at one point Katherine's name was used instead of Katya's, and there was one point where Alex drew in her breath, even though he's a guy. For these couple of items, I did deduct one star.

 

To wrap up, this is a beauty of an atmospheric, dark fiction story that puts the reader right into the thick of things. In the dark and the fog, the dead insist that their stories be told. Are you brave enough to hear them? Highly recommended!

 

Get your copy here: Paupers' Graves

 

*I was provided a free e-copy of this novella in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

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