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review 2017-09-14 08:49
Beast, monster, man
The Island of Dr. Moreau - H.G. Wells

This went places I did not expect it to go.

 

For so short pages, I though it'd make a straight story of what we know would be the subject matter, with a tension building, a reveal and a violent resolution. Those elements where there, after a fashion, but not in the order or at the page number a reader would expect. I was surprised, and pleasantly so. For me, it was a truly horrifying read.

 

It takes a bit to get to the Island, setting up the atmosphere, and the MC's seeming passiveness or detachment, but also raising some interesting questions with the aftermath of that shipwreck. Things come to a head early and the story follows from those into unexpected paths.

 

Moreau could have made fast friends with Megele. After that lengthy explanation, when I though I had grasped his cold evil, there were still little pockets of surprise horror to make me shudder, like:

 

He told me they were creatures made of the offspring of the Beast People, that Moreau had invented. He had fancied they might serve for meat,

 

Gah! Every time I read it I'm swamped with a wave of... Ick!

 

I kept thinking back to Frankenstein. The moral burden is a lot less debatable here: Moreau is the indisputable monster. Actually, it's a bit like human nature is the monstrous part. Like the bit about the leopard?

 

It may seem a strange contradiction in me,—I cannot explain the fact,—but now, seeing the creature there in a perfectly animal attitude, with the light gleaming in its eyes and its imperfectly human face distorted with terror, I realised again the fact of its humanity.

 

And Prendick seems to subconsciously think it so too, given his sequels. I feel for the guy. Seriously, I was melancholy by the end. Talk about connecting.

 

Hats off to Wells for this one. Even if he need a synonym dictionary, because "presently" appeared more times than the characters' names combined.

 

 

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review 2017-09-09 01:24
Looking for a scary book this Halloween?
The Cabinet of Curiosities: 40 Tales Brief & Sinister - Emma Trevayne,Katherine Catmull,Stefan Bachmann,Claire Legrand

If you enjoy creepy short story collections then I think I might have found the perfect book for you. (Maybe this could be your Halloween read!) What makes this collection even more interesting is that it was compiled by 4 different children's authors. Claire Legrand, Emma Trevayne, Katherine Catmull, and Stefan Bachmann banded together to write The Cabinet of Curiosities: 36 Tales Brief & Sinister (the Internet has 36 and 40 which is thoroughly confusing even though I've read the book). This book has a little bit of everything and with the added benefit of different author's voices it is certainly never boring. There's magic, mystery, and straight up horror (just to name a few). The black and white illustrations that accompany each story are absolutely perfect (Great job, Alexander Jansson!) and were honestly one of the reasons why I picked up this book in the first place. They've laid out the narrative in a very unique way as they've styled the chapters like the different drawers and cubbies of a traditional cabinet of curiosities. The authors are the 'curators' of this unique cabinet and the stories are the background for each of the 'items' they've collected for the separate compartments. This helps to connect all of the disparate stories into one cohesive collection and keeps the pace moving. All in all, a solid collection that I might find myself drifting back to for the spooky season. 10/10 

 

 

Source: Goodreads

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-09-05 08:26
Magnificently Unnerving
The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson,Laura Miller

By the way, I went looking into the publishing date, and in typical wiki walk style, ended up learning about the difference between horror and terror. I need a new shelf, because this one goes into the second without question.

 

Points I can praise without spoiling (much):

 

The way everyone chats and snarks, cool as cucumbers while all the shit is going down. At times it made me laugh, at times I would tilt my head and wonder whether everyone was just crazy, and at times I would go back a paragraph wondering if I had miss-read

 

about the freaking blood/writing/thumping.

(spoiler show)

 

The dialogue (again), and how it crosses, goes over each others lines, interrupts, repeats, mixes conversations. Very natural. And sometimes confusing. You have to be engaged, because it goes fast.

 

Eleanor's thought process. Yeah...

 

All the commentary on social interaction. Jackson is a scary observant woman.

 

"She knew, of course, that he was delighting in exceeding his authority, as though once he moved to unlock the gate he would lose the little temporary superiority he thought he had—and what superiority have I? she wondered; I am outside the gate, after all. She could already see that losing her temper, which she did rarely because she was so afraid of being ineffectual, would only turn him away, leaving her still outside the gate, railing futilely. She could even anticipate his innocence if he were reproved later for this arrogance—the maliciously vacant grin, the wide, blank eyes, the whining voice protesting that he would have let her in, he planned to let her in, but how could he be sure? He had his orders, didn’t he? And he had to do what he was told? He’d be the one to get in trouble, wouldn’t he, if he let in someone who wasn’t supposed to be inside?"

 

Not able to comment on without spoiling:

 

The deep uncertainty that comes from viewing this story from Eleanor's head. Was she just that deranged, lonely, needy and possibly in-denial-lesbian? Or was she not deranged (the other are more or less foregone) and the house gave her a last push? There is also the opening, that if I were take on the context of Eleanor's situation, could mean that when all her illusions and daydreams were ripped from her, she had no avenue left but suicide. She could not cope with her absolute reality.

(spoiler show)

 

At any rate, an excellently written spook.

 

“God God—whose hand was I holding?”

 

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review 2017-08-22 07:26
Brilliant mind spook
The Talented Mr. Ripley - Patricia Highsmith

This is an unsettling book.

Ripley is a non-entity, whiny, unimpressive. A nobody, as Marge very insightfully observes in a letter. Which makes him eerie, and by all rights not a character we should wish to root for. Yet from the middle on, I found myself anxious over the instability of his position. That's some writing for you.

The other way the book is brilliant is the subtle, but steadily rising, feeling that Tom is... not right. Even from page one there is this undefinable wrongness. Then there is some point around a third in where all the exclamation progress-posts start, and I totally got it when I reached it. That's one scary, sick puppy.

Think about it: he's a fast stepper, but he's no genius, and he likes to take chances; but he's a cool cucumber, and can mimic to convince even himself. No one realizes. Translate it to the real world now.

It is the horror of the uncanny valley, made all the scarier because we understated the only reason we know it is that we are reading from the inside of his head. Cheery though for before bed, huh?

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text 2017-08-20 03:38
Reading progress update: I've read 70 out of 249 pages.
The Talented Mr. Ripley - Patricia Highsmith

By the time his money ran out, Tom thought, Dickie would probably be so fond of him and so used to him that he would take it for granted they would go on living together. He and Dickie could easily live on Dickie's five hundred a month income.

Unsettling delusion

 

Tom stopped as Marge's window came into view: Dickie's arm was around her waist. Dickie was kissing her, little pecks on her cheek, smiling at her. They were only about fifteen feet from him, but the room was shadowed compared to the bright sunlight he stood in, and he had to strain to see. Now Marge's face was tipped straight up to Dickie's, as if she were fairly lost in ecstasy, and what disgusted Tom was that he knew Dickie didn't mean it, that Dickie was only using this cheap obvious, easy way to hold on to her friendship. What disgusted him was the big bulge of her behind in the peasant skirt below Dickie's arm that circled her waist. And Dickie -! Tom really wouldn't have believed it possible of Dickie!

 

Leads to jealous stalker in a rage tantrum, which leads to

 

'Marge, you must understand that I don't love you,' Tom said into the mirror in Dickie's voice, with Dickie's higher pitch on the emphasised words, with the little growl in his throat at the end of the phrase that could be pleasant or unpleasant, intimate or cool, according to Dickie's mood.

 

Ok, now THAT is seriously creepy... and it ramps up. OMG, this guy is seriously wrong in the head.

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