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Search tags: gothic-horror
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review 2017-04-22 08:15
10 Short Horror Stories Vol:1 - Steven Havelock

A collection of short stories always present the same problem, some stories are good, some are not so good.This collection does not really represent horror, as we normally understand it, but is more of a hybrid, horror, yes,but also a faint flavour of mystery and fantasy. Unfortunately the editing isn't quite finished and frankly,that's disappointing...

Still, it's an easy read as most of the stories are very short indeed and therefore never reach the stage were they become boring or long-winded .

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review 2017-04-10 15:20
The Girl from Rawblood: A Novel - Catriona Ward

This is in the first place an attempt to write a classic gothic tale.A family, living in a lonely manor on Dartmoor,is haunted by" something ".All the right ingredients for a gothic success story and yet...the first part, although confusing due to several different timelines, was mysterious enough to keep one's attention but then the book becomes even more incoherent and messy and seems to lose all purpose...

The story  ( if ever there was one) is completely lost. Too bad because it has the right building stones....

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review 2017-04-01 16:24
The Devil's Prayer - Luke Gracias

A woman has been horrible betrayed by trusted friends, so in order to seek revenge she concludes a pact with the devil.Well, the first half of the book is quick paced  ( and although the descriptions and details of the revenge killings are unnecessary gory and after the second killing have lost all their necessity) it reads well, barring numerous platitudes such as " more people have died in the name of religion than any other disease ".And then, not only is the devil implicated but also a lot of  ( not always accurate ) historical facts and myths.In this case the Nag Hammadi codices, a 13th century Benedictine manuscript, red monks and to top it off, climate change is brought into the whole lot.The writing doesn't get any better and frankly it feels as if the emphasis lies on writing a blockbuster. And the end is a complete disaster, as a matter of fact,there is no"end".

This book is often compared to Dan Brown 's work, but unfortunately it has the same flaws and pluses.Not very well written, dubious historical data, a certain artificial flavour and yes, it is fast paced, horror and mystery merge and it is an easy read. But just not good enough....

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review 2016-11-08 19:26
Going beyond an author's famous work
The Lair of the White Worm & The Lady of the Shroud - Bram Stoker

Sometimes you come across a lesser known work by a famous author (especially if they're famous for one work only) and it's astonishing just how different it is from their crowning achievement. This is what happened when I came across two books by Bram Stoker which were collected into one volume. Bram Stoker's name is nearly synonymous with vampire because of Dracula but that was not the only book that he wrote. The introduction to the two books discusses how Dracula eclipsed his later (and earlier) writings and he goes on at length about Stoker's merits as a writer. I give all of this background because if I hadn't already read Dracula then I would be very hard-pressed to do so after reading The Lair of the White Worm and The Lady of the Shroud. It's not that they were the worst books I had ever read but there wasn't anything noteworthy about them and truly it took me far longer to plod through them than I would have liked.

 

In brief, The Lair of the White Worm focuses on a young man named Adam Salton who discovers that he has a relative outside of his native Australia who very much wants to meet him. After arriving, he is drawn into a supernatural melodrama which concerns virtually everyone in the neighborhood. As the title of the book suggests, there is a myth concerning a giant white worm which was thought to once be a dragon that terrorized the land. Myth states that the lair may still house the creature but by this time it may have evolved into a more human shape. Adam and his co-conspirators are charged with discovering if the myth is indeed factual and if so then to destroy the creature before it causes irreversible damage. There's romance (much sped up), intrigue, racial slurs (addressed in the introduction which didn't help), and Drama. Yes, I said Drama. If this was supposed to leave me quaking in my boots then it utterly failed. I didn't find this in the least frightening. However, I did find it incredibly predictable. I'd give it a 4/10 and that's probably being generous.

 

The second book in the collection, The Lady of the Shroud, was somewhat better. For one thing, it was slightly less predictable than The Lair of the White Worm. There were definitely more twists and turns so the danger that the characters faced seemed more ramped up and exciting. There were a few things working against it though. For example, the two main characters were completely without flaws which kept me from fully immersing myself in the story. A giant of a man who is good at every single thing that he does? A woman with stars in her eyes (I am not paraphrasing. This was the description of her eyes every single time.) who merely by a look conveys every emotion that imparts grace and goodness? Besides that, it was most definitely too long. I am convinced that the story could have been told in a much more concise manner. By dragging things out, my interest was eventually strained and I was looking ahead to see how many pages I had left until the end. And that was not in the "oh no I'm nearly finished whatever will I do with my time now?!" kind of way either. I'd say this was probably a 5.5/10.

 

As always, I encourage you to take a look at the book(s) and form your own opinions. It could be that I was expecting too much because Dracula created a precedent of excellence. Ah well!

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2016-10-23 04:27
A Man Who Wants to Be Bad
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson,Dan Chaon,Vladimir Nabokov

Like me, many of you out there in Booklikes Land probably have never read this story and only know it through images like this (though since this is Booklikes then I suspect more people have read the book than the general population):

 

http://animatedviews.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/BugsHowl-03.jpg

 

 

This is not surprising since many of the stories that we have grown up with have been so butchered by Hollywood that we actually don't know the real story that is behind them. For me, all I could tell you was that this story is about a good man named Dr Jeckyl who creates a potion that turns him into a monster, and that is basically about it. Okay, there are scenes where he runs around scaring people, but the actual story, well, I couldn't tell you anything about it.

 

What surprised me about this novella is that it is more of a detective mystery than a horror story, though there are a lot of horror elements in it. As one person has suggested, you can actually skip a large portion of the story and go straight to the last chapter, which is a letter written by Doctor Jekyll about what had come about of him, and where he ended up.

 

The funny thing is that I find it difficult to accept that Dr Jeckyl is actually a good and pure hearted man when he is performing experiments to pretty much unleash the side of him that is basically a monster. However, I do not get the impression from this book that the monster that is Mr Hyde is a monster in the sense that we see in the Bugs Bunny cartoons. Rather the monstrous aspect of the character is that he simply has no morals whatsoever, and no sense of guilt over what he had done. Seriously, why on Earth would a human, who is actively trying to suppress that side of him, suddenly want to unleash it through the use of drugs.

 

Now this is an interesting concept, and it is something that was sitting at the back of my mind as I was reading this book: the connection with drugs. Now, at the time of writing people were using drugs, and as far as I am aware, one could get access to drugs like cocaine and morphine quite easily, but I suspect that it also applies very much to alcohol as well. The funny thing is that what Stevenson is writing about is a substance that basically reduces your inhibitions and that in many cases are what drugs and alcohol do. I have heard many times that beer is referred to as a social lubricant.

 

However, there is another aspect to this, and that is the fact that alcohol can cause you to do things that you would not do when you are sober. Currently in Australia, particularly in Sydney, due to the death of another person who had been caught up in alcohol fuelled violence, there is a debate as to what to do to prevent it (they have since introduced lock-out laws and mandatory closing times, which has effectively destroyed Sydney's nightlife – not to mention the bouncers that are everywhere). People have also suggested that violence caused through the use of alcohol be treated as an aggravated offense (and even then, the defense of 'I was drunk and did not know what I was doing' isn't a defense that will hold water in a court of law). Yet sometimes I wonder whether this is simply an Anglo trait because when I was in Europe I noticed that the Germans, who are famous for drinking their litre glasses of beer (though is it turns out that is actually a myth that is not true in places of Cologne), did not seem to be as loud and raucous as the English were when I was wondering around the streets of London late at night (or even what I notice when I am wondering around the streets of some unnamed Australian city).

 

In a way many of us want to put the story of Dr Jeckyl and Mr Hyde purely into the fantasy realm, but I suspect that maybe this is not where Stevenson was intending. As I have explained, we don't need to lock ourselves in a laboratory and attempt to create a potion that will turn us into a monster, that potion already exists, and can be purchased at any number of shops as long as you are able to prove to the vendor that you are of an age that will allow you to purchase the product (though of course not everybody turns into a monster when drunk, but in many cases they will still do things that they will unlikely do when they are sober).

 

 

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/839386626
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