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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-02-13 13:13
The Devoured by Curtis M. Lawson
The Devoured - Curtis M. Lawson,Jason Sprenger

The Devoured by Curtis M. Lawson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Desperately on the trail of his missing son, an old Confederate solider will stop at nothing to reunite the remnants of his family, even if he has to slay every trace of Utgard filth along the way. Finding unexpected companionship in a young orphan, the gunslinger closes in on the god responsible - Thurs, he who hails beyond the stars.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Curtis M. Lawson for giving me the opportunity.

If I wasn't so pessimistic about book to movie adaptations, I'd say this would make a brilliant film - in fact, I imagined it as such; Lawson's stunning use of words did wonders to create vivid imagery inside my head. I found myself thoroughly impressed by the intelligent, highly attractive prose, and by how each scene seamlessly came together to tell an exciting yet ultimately tragic tale. Despite being a short novel of less than two hundred pages, it expressed itself with a lot more substance than other full-length books I've read. A part of me wishes it was longer, but I realise it may have lessened the overall impact.

The character of the "old man" was probably the pinnacle; he was so utterly badass, and believe me when I say I don't use that term lightly. Smart, skilled, and completely unapologetic about his paternal devotion - he's someone I won't forget anytime soon. I'm not saying he was a perfect man, far from it, but he owned every scene he was in. He was the sort of being that would draw an entire room to his entrance, and not just because of his (suspiciously) large size. Emmett, however, whilst starting out with good intentions, truly lost his way as he succumbed to the unsavoury power of Utgard. I could relate with him in a way, in that I'm well aware of the pain of watching a parent slowly fade away. Nothing compares to that feeling of hopelessness, and if given the same opportunity, I'd have likely welcomed the same solution.

Moving on from that painfully honest bit of information.

As with all books I read, I tend to look deeper into things; for meaning in aspects that are probably meaningless. Both Emmett and his father shared a particular trait of being tall, bulky and at times, questionably strong. The fact that Utgard's a stronghold of giants, I was left contemplating a connection. Could it be, that the old man's ancestry is intermingled with otherworldly blood? If anything, at least, I can have my theories, incorrect and insignificant as they may be!

I can't say the Old Western theme has ever appealed to me, but I now feel inclined to seek out similar tales. Of course, few, if any, are going to have such a factual and accurate setting seeped in unforgiving folklore. The historic element of the American Civil War worked wonderfully with the touch of Norse and Native American mythology, and I was impressed with the knowledge poured into it. Either Lawson did his homework, or he simply knows his stuff. I also loved the brutality of the surrounding world- cannibals and witches, oh my! Seriously, sometimes witchcraft should be punishing, rather than glamorous.

In conclusion: The unnamed hero has been one of the coolest characters I've ever had the pleasure to read about. Whilst including both history and the supernatural, Lawson makes a short novel seem like an epic best-seller.

Notable Scene:

"Thought - critical, logical thought - that's what separates a man from an animal. That's what keeps us progressing further and further. That ability to think our way around any and every problem is why the Devourers fear us."

"And what about memory?" Hank asked.

"Memory is what keeps us strong in the toughest times, and it's what prevents us from becoming monsters when our hands are forced to kill. It's the memories of love and happiness that let us come home from the dark places where the world sometimes takes us. It's memory that lets a man find the strength to fight the gods themselves for what's right."


© Red Lace 2018

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/02/13/the-devoured-by-curtis-m-lawson
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review 2018-01-11 18:45
After the End of the World by Jonathan L. Howard
After the End of the World (Carter & Lovecraft) - Jonathan L. Howard

 

At the end of the excellent CARTER & LOVECRAFT there was a major cliffhanger and I felt compelled to request an ARC of the next book. I have to admit I was disappointed with AFTER THE END OF THE WORLD.

 

The things I loved most in the universe that Jonathan Howard has created was the weirdness of it-the mysterious Mr. Weston who started everything off by showing up and awarding Dan Carter ownership of a bookshop, run by Emily Lovecraft. (Emily is black and you can almost hear Lovecraft turning over in his grave.) I also enjoyed an area called Waite's Bill, an isolated place on the shore where creepy, mysterious people live. (Not to mention the large amphibian-like creatures emerging from the water!) Unfortunately, other than Dan Carter and Emily, most of the mysterious fun things I liked from the first book were not here. 

 

The world has unfolded, (the major event which ended CARTER & LOVECRAFT), and we're now in a universe where we are great friends with Germany and the Holocaust never happened. A group of Germans working at Miskatonic University are trying to build a machine that will provide unlimited power without draining any natural resources. Mr. Weston makes a brief appearance and Carter gets involved as a security guard at MU.

 

From there, I feel like the tale crept away from the components that I enjoyed and veered into the area of weird science-fiction, with the entire group of scientists, (as well as Carter and Lovecraft),  traveling to the Aleutian Islands to continue their work on the power machine. The pacing slowed way down and I really couldn't have cared less about the machine, the Germans, or anything else for that matter. Events degenerated until the story was more like an action movie than the dark fiction horror story I was expecting. I don't care for action movies.

 

I still love Dan and Emily and am fascinated by Mr. Weston and the weird creatures, but I'm not sure I'll continue with the series if there is another book. This case is one of those "It's me, not you" situations, I think, because everyone else seemed to love this book. While I admired the world building and the banter between my favorite characters, the meat of the story just didn't appeal to me. 

 

*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it. I'm sorry it's a little late.*

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review 2017-12-28 13:30
Bubba and the Cosmic Blood-Suckers by Joe Lansdale
Bubba and the Cosmic Blood-Suckers - Joe R. Lansdale

 

With a title like BUBBA AND THE COSMIC BLOOD-SUCKERS and an author like Joe Lansdale, how could anyone not want to read this book? Throw in the fact that this is the prequel to the awesome story BUBBA HO-TEP, and how could I refuse?

 

I've never seen the film of BUBBA HO-TEP, but I loved the tale with all of its warped humor and fun characters. There was less humor in this book, which I found disappointing, but there were some cool inter-dimensional monsters, as well as some freaky shadowy vampire-like creatures as minions and what's not fun about that?

 

The characters here were a mismatched bunch and I would like to see an entire novel based on the character of The Blind Man. (He may not be able to see, but all of his other skills as well as his psychic abilities are well honed.) I would also love to know more about Johnny, (sometime narrator of this tale) and John Henry, wielder of the giant hammer. Lastly, the horny house ghost also interested me. Unfortunately, this short novel moved so fast that I didn't get to know these characters as much as I would have liked.

 

BUBBA AND THE COSMIC BLOOD-SUCKERS was full of bloody horror action and a lot of fun, but I guess I was expecting a little more from the Champion Mojo Storyteller Joe Lansdale. But hey, a so-so Lansdale book is better than most good books by other authors, so if this premise sounds interesting to you, I say give it a go! You could do a lot worse.

 

*Thanks to Subterranean Press for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2017-11-02 17:51
The Devoured by Curtis Lawson, narrated by Jason Sprenger
The Devoured - Jason Sprenger,Curtis M. Lawson,Curtis M. Lawson

 

THE DEVOURED is an insane read. Insane, I say!

 

A man leaves his wife and child to fight in the civil war. His wife, (and therefore his son, Emmett), are of native American heritage and while the man is gone, his wife becomes ill. Emmett, big for his age of 16, decides to seek out his mother's father, a Shaman, (from whom she's been estranged), to request a cure for her illness. Can she be cured? And if so, will she be cured? Lastly, what is the price for that cure? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

This book seems to have elements of everything. By that, I mean it has a western feel to it, along with some Norse mythology, (Thurs, giants, Utgard, at one point there was a large tree- Yggdrasil?), witches, cannibals, and I don't even know what else. You might think that there is just too much going on, but somehow Curtis Lawson pulls it all together within the framework of a man trying to save his family.

 

I especially liked the characters of the old man, (I'm not sure if he was ever named?), and his companion, a young black boy named Hank. At first, I liked Emmett, but his turn down a dark road changed that by the time it was all over.

 

It took a while for everything to gel for me, because there was a lot going on, but when it did, I was impressed by the skills on display. Lawson's knowledge of history and mythology is impressive. I was feeling slightly off balance due to all the different aspects of the tale, but I finally stopped worrying that I was missing something and just let the story sweep me along. And that it did, right up to the brick wall that is the denouement. It was just the type of ending that I love!

 

I listened to this book on audio, which was narrated by Jason Sprenger. I've never listened to his narrations before, but I thought he was excellent. His voicing of the different characters was very good, but his main voice was the BEST, reminding me of Sam Elliott at times.

 

Overall, this book was just plain FUN! A mixed up combination of genres, mythology, American history and more, I can't think of another book or author, (well, maybe Tim Curran?), that can blend such things successfully. Curtis Lawson did so, and did it in spades.

 

Highly recommended!

 

You can get your copy here: The Devoured

 

*I received a digital copy of this audiobook from the author in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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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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