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review 2018-04-21 19:35
Zombie Abbey
Zombie Abbey - Lauren Baratz-Logsted

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley. ]

A story with Austen undertones… and zombies. (I’ve seen it compared to ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’, but not having read that one, I honestly can’t tell.)

At Porthampton Abbey, a couple of years after World War I, the Clarke family has to contend with the problem of the entail, just like in ‘Pride and Prejudice’—meaning that if one of the daughters (preferably the elder, Kate) doesn’t marry very soon and has a male heir, their family will lose their estate after the death of Earl Clarke. Which is why the latter has invited a couple of potential suitors to stay for the weekend, including an older businessman from London, a duke, and a recently discovered cousin who’s very likely to inherit anyway, considering he’s the only male heir (but here’s to hope he’ll marry Kate, and all will be well in the world). And the story would go its posh, merry way, if not for the strange death of a villager, found half-devoured… A villager whom his widow has to kill a second time with a bullet to the head.

The beginning of this story definitely has its appeal: the Clarkes display a comical mix of common sense (Kate when it comes to hunting, for instance) and quirky, whimsical inability to grasp that other people are not only their servants, they’re, well, human beings with their own lives, too. This was a conflict in itself in the book, with the ‘Upstairs’ people having to realise that they have to pay more attention to the ‘Downstairs’ people. The build-up to the part where zombies actually make an appearance was a little slow, but in itself, it didn’t bother me, because discovering the characters (and rolling my eyes while trying to guess who’d kick the bucket) was quite fun. Granted, some of the characters weren’t very likeable; the earl felt too silly, Kate too insensitive… but on the other hand, I liked where Lizzy and Grace started and how they progressed—Lizzy as the girl whom everyone thinks stupid, yet who turns out to be level-headed when things become dangerous, and Grace being likely the most humane person in her family. The suitors, too, looked rather bland at first, however a couple of them started developing more of a (pleasant) personality. And I quite liked Fanny as well, the quiet-at-first but assertive maid who refuses to let ‘propriety’walks all over charity.

After a while, though, the style became a little repetitive. The way the various characters’ point of views were introduced at the beginning of each chapter or sub-chapter, for some reason, tended to grate on my nerves, I’m not exactly sure why; and while I don’t have issues with casts of more than 2-3 POV characters, here the focus regularly went back to some action already shown in a previous chapter, but this time from another character’s point of view, which felts redundant.

I also thought that while there -were- zombies, I’d have liked seeing a little more of them. There was tension, but I never felt the story was really scary (for me and for the characters both), and the moments when a character got hurt was usually due to their being too stupid to live and doing something that no one in their sane mind should’ve done anyway.

Finally, I’m not satisfied with the ending: I don’t know it there’ll be a sequel or not, but if it’s meant to be a standalone, then it leaves way too many things open.

Conclusion: 2.5 /3 stars. I’m curious about how the situation at Porthampton Abbey will unfold, and if there were a sequel, that’d be good, because it’d mean the characters could finish growing, too.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-04-21 19:02
The Nightmare Room by Chris Sorensen
The Nightmare Room - Chris Sorensen

The Nightmare Room by Chris Sorensen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After a personal tragedy strikes Peter and Hannah Larson, they find themselves picking up their lives and moving house. Said house isn't what it seems - something lurks within, seeming to originate from the dark and gloomy basement. As the presence continues to focus upon the two, its determination only grows, causing obvious and damaging rifts between husband and wife. It appears to already know Peter in some intimate way, and shocking, deeply hidden secrets soon come to light.

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Chris Sorensen for giving me the opportunity!

This turned out to be an extremely difficult book for me to form a solid opinion on and subsequently rate. After a lot of thought, I came to the conclusion that I didn't really consider this one an outright horror novel, at least in regards to my own personal taste. When I instead thought of it as a supernatural tale with some horror elements, it made better sense in my mind. You see, in no way did I at all feel that uncomfortable, yet riveting unease that comes with something that ticks all the right boxes in the scary department. The typical tropes were there; the ghostly encounters, the ominous house, but something also felt missing and I had one hell of a time trying to figure out what. It could've been the absence of a sufficient build up, where time is given to properly establish a sense of dread, or maybe the haunting scenes merely didn't offer anything frightful. Essentially, it wasn't my sort of horror, I'd even go so far to say it was relatively tame in the scheme of things, yet I did appreciate the storytelling - twists included.

Peter and Hannah Larson were the sort of married couple you'd roll your eyes at - they were sickeningly perfect for each other. Their chemistry jumped out from the page, and despite dealing with the anguish of great loss, they found strength. They, of course, had their faults, which became evident throughout, but that only made them more relatable as people. I liked them, and I especially liked what Sorensen did with Peter. What revolved around Peter were secrets heavily linked to his past, and whilst the revelations kept coming, I too shared in Peter's shock. The two other characters that had a significant presence - that being Riggs and Ellen Marx, added a pleasant sprinkle of entertainment. I notably enjoyed Ellen's legitimacy at being an expert; she was no quack. If I could, I'd read a book all about her.

Despite the cleverness of some aspects, I can't deny that I felt that the story dragged at times. For me, there's nothing worse than feeling the onset of boredom, and there were moments that came dangerously close to that. I felt that the first half in particular could've used more time with the couple in the house, and less time in the Blind Rock bar for instance, which is where my interest really waned. I understand such scenes were for the benefit of character development, but my engagement primarily lay with Peter.

Sorensen's imagination certainly took me by surprise as I reached the end of Peter and Hannah's ordeal. Granted, the conclusion was all rather complicated, perhaps a little too complicated to understand right away, but it surely had a distinctive quality. It's rare that I come across an ending that changes everything so drastically, to the point where I need to pause and ponder over what I just read. I applaud the bold approach to implement such a memorable outcome.

In conclusion - Whilst the horror elements didn't do it for me, I mostly liked the story and background. It definitely had its ups and downs, but Sorensen is one author I'll be keeping my eye on.

Notable Scene:

The woman rushed toward him, and for a second he thought she was going to strike him him. Instead, she took his head in both of her hands and pressed her mouth over his. Peter felt her inhale abruptly - a reverse resuscitation.

© Red Lace 2018


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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/04/21/the-nightmare-room-by-chris-sorensen
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review 2018-04-20 18:30
SHOCK Anthology edited by Joe Pruett
SHOCK Anthology - Joe Pruitt

 

SHOCK Anthology is a collection of short stories told via comics. Being a lover of short stories, and taking into consideration that super cool cover, how could I resist? As with any anthology, some of the stories worked for me and some did not. One thing I learned was that I needed to go through this volume slowly, otherwise moving from comic to comic, each being totally different in writing and artwork styles, was too jarring.

 

That said, these are the tales that stood out for me:

 

THE LAST DANCE WITH YOU: was a beautifully told story and even though the clues were there, I didn't catch on to where the story was going until we arrived.

 

DUMB BITCH: Don't you touch that dog!

 

ISTANBUL: I loved this one because the art work was gorgeous and evocative, even with no words.

 

THE DEAD CITY AWOKE: This tale was super short and had few words, but the art was simply breathtaking. (Probably my favorite graphics in this collection.)

 

LIVE OR DIE: A spooky story taking place in the middle of a war battle.

 

DEVOLUTION: I loved this dystopian tale of caution even if it was a bit implausible. I see seeds of this in our day to day living right now and I often wonder where it's going to end up. DEVOLUTION presents its own ideas as to how things will turn out.

 

MOMENTS: With tongue firmly in cheek, this tale about social media and how far it could, (will?), go was hilarious and disturbing all at once. With so many people paying way too much attention to their online lives and so little to their actual lives, I thought this tale was a fun and unsettling way to look at what the future might bring.

 

Overall, I enjoyed the concept of this book and the book itself. With lots of variety and something for everyone, I recommend this fun volume to fans of short stories,comics and graphic novels!

 

*Thanks to NetGalley for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest opinion. This is it.*

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text 2018-04-20 16:59
Weekend Reads
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text 2018-04-20 14:30
Friday Reads

 

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