BROTHERS OF THE SNAKE By Dan Abnett – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2017 by stanleyriiks

This is a bit of a weird one, part circular short story collection, part novel, with the Iron Snakes of Ithaka as its heroes. The story starts with the primuls (dark Eldar) attacking the backward world of Baal Solock who can barely attempt to stave off the aliens and must call upon the Iron Snake Space Marines to aid them. The Iron Snakes send a young marine called Priad to deal with the problem. A few short stories later and Priad is now Brother Sergeant and back at Baal Solock to finish what he thought he’d finished all those years before. The stories in between may seem disconnected, but all of them are tales of the growth and development of the Iron Snakes.

Again, I’ll repeat, this is a bit of a weird one. Not really a novel, it doesn’t have the drive, energy or depth of a longer piece, although the novella at its end, which ties some of the stories together, makes up for some of that. The separate stories feel disjointed, despite sharing the Iron Snakes as a major theme they are often too dissimilar to feel like part of a single story.

Abnett creates some great set-piece battles, and his action sequences are top-notch, but here the structure of the book fails to draw the reader in enough.

Not quite a themed short story collection and not quite a novel, this book fails before it even begins.

Other novels by Abnett in the 40K universe are much worthier of your attention.

THE NECROMANCER By Douglas Clegg – Reviewed

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 16, 2017 by stanleyriiks

This book feels very similar to the previous Cemetery Dance book I read by Chet Williamsons, except where The Story of Noichi the Blind, the set-up feels strained and overdone, here it works.

This book is based on the diary of a young man on his journey to becoming the apprentice of The Necromancer of the title. Justin Gravesend is born and brought up in a mining town in Wales in the mid-1800s, believing his father is a murderer who killed his twin brother as a baby, James heads off to London, as much to escape his family and life down the pit as to seek his fortune. At University he becomes friends with some toffs who take him to a brothel, where a man is waiting for him, the owner of the brothel, and the Necromancer.

Will James survive the initiation?

It all ends rather abruptly just as the story starts getting interesting. Perhaps that’s because this is part of a series of books, but I still felt a little cheated. I expect a book to be a whole story, and to a certain extent it is, that of James’ discovery and initiation and maturation into an apprentice, but at that point it ends. The rest of the story is told in Clegg’s other books in this series, which are currently only available on the Kindle (yuk yuk yuk, technology!).

A traditional and well told tale of horror, which ends too quickly. More a prelude than a proper story, but I guess that’s what you give with chapbooks.

THE SCARLET GOSPELS By Clive Barker – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2017 by stanleyriiks

It’s rare that I buy hardbacks, but I have quite a few of Barker’s. When I heard that the infamous Pinhead would be returning there was no way I was missing out.

Pinhead is one of the quintessential horror anti-heroes, like Jason, Michael Myers, Leatherface, Freddy Kruger, he appeared in the eighties (ok, so Michael and Leatherface led the way in the seventies) when I was approaching my teens and basically robbed me of my childhood sleep and left indelible memories of terror that I still have today. Exciting recollections of terror that instilled my on-going love of all things horror.

Pinhead was the only character to actually originate in a book, one of Barker’s Books of Blood, which was a series of collected stories that really didn’t impress me at the time, but introduced the world to splatterpunk. The books were a gore-fest.

The story was adapted into a film, very loosely based on the original story. Barker wrote and directed a film that was already a classic by the time I saw it. When I did watch it I was underwhelmed, but the Chinese puzzle box and that vision of the lead Cenobite and his symmetrical “pin-head” stayed with me, and the violence and nastiness was impressive.

Here again, Barker impresses.

The first four chapters, before Book One starts, are one of the greatest character introductions in modern horror. A group of magicians is holding a meeting to discuss the rapid decimation of their kind, and call upon the ghost of one of their recently murdered number. But the meeting is interrupted by chains and hooks and the infamous Cenobite, known as Pinhead, who has been slowly tracking down and killing every magician in the world.

What ensues is, as you would expect, horrifying, terrifying, and exactly the kind of start to a Barker book that gets a horror fan excited.

Then things go normal very briefly, as Norma, a blind woman who talks to the dead, and her friend Harry D’Amour (private investigator) do a job for a dead man that ends up with Norma being kidnapped and Harry following her and Pinhead into Hell as the Cenobite sets out to kill Lucifer. I said very briefly!

It’s a bit of a strange one this. The best part of the book is the beginning, after that the mystic of the Cenebite begins to fall apart, despite his perversions and evilness being just as bad down in hell. You kind of get numb to it as he’s doing all his evil doings to demons, so there’s little sympathy. His treatment of Norma, a nice old lady, is pretty horrible and as times quite startling. Barker isn’t afraid to hurt his characters or his readers.

The ending is a bit strange, not really satisfying all that has gone on before.

But this is the return of Pinhead, and a nasty and deliciously twisted return it is.

Barker is back, returning to create a world of horror (hell) and then sending in a terrifying creature of chaos in the form of Pinhead to destroy it.

Good, nasty fun. Pinhead returns!

THE STORY OF NOICHI THE BLIND By Chet Williamson – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 5, 2017 by stanleyriiks

Bit of a weird one this. It’s presented as an old Japanese Fairy Tale of sorts, possibly written by a writer at the turn of the century, and found by Williamson’s son in a box of papers in an antique shop.

The story is set in medieval Japanese, where Noichi is a wood cutter, and one day is finds a young woman, hiding after accidentally killing a samurai. He takes her home and looks after her and they eventually marry. Then she gets sick and dies. But Noichi doesn’t realise she is dead, and the animals of the forest, who he has made friends with, inhabit his wife’s body, making it as live as possible, crawling inside it to remove the rotting flesh, and wriggled inside to make it feel alive. Noichi continues to feed his wife and make love to her. Then she gives birth to a Tengu, mountain demon, who eats all the creatures of the forest, but lies to Noichi, who believes everything his child tells him.

At the end is an essay saying it’s unlikely the work of the turn of the century writer.

The actual story is pretty weird and fairy-tale like, and pleasant, or rather unpleasant, enough. But the non-sense surrounding the authenticity of the story seems a bit contrived. A brief paragraph would have been suffice, it feels like unnecessary padding.

Definitely a strange tale.

Taboo Special Issue

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2016 by stanleyriiks

I’m delighted to announce that my story “The Tape” has been published in the Morpheus Tales Taboo Special issue, edited by the multi-talented Sheri White.

To give you some idea of the content of that very special issue, my story about a young Hitler and his mother was rejected. “The Tape” is a more subtle tale about a couple of teenage boys finding a VHS tape in one of their parent’s bedrooms. I bet you can imagine what’s on that secret tape… You perves! 😉

Nope, that’s not it. It’s something much more disturbing…

The free preview of the magazine is available here:

Try not to be too disappointed but there’s no preview of my story as it’s pretty short and it would give too much away. You’ll have to buy a copy to get your hands on my bit…

 

The ebook in various formats is available here:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/648109?ref=morpheustales

The ebook is available on amazon for the kindle.

The printed digest size edition is available here:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/stanley-riiks-and-ken-goldman-and-adrian-ludens-and-sheri-white/taboo-special-issue/paperback/product-22778122.html

The printed perfect-bound edition is available here:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/stanley-riiks-and-ken-goldman-and-adrian-ludens-and-sheri-white/taboo-special-issue-perfect-bound-edition/paperback/product-22778129.html

WAR DOGS By Greg Bear – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 23, 2016 by stanleyriiks

The Earth has been invaded, but the aliens (Gurus) are friendly and offer technological assistance and warnings of an impeding invasion by evil aliens (the Antags), who start the war against humanity on Mars.

The desolate planet is a battle-ground into which Master Sergeant Michael Venn is ejected, but the drop with his fellow marines and their supplies and weaponry goes wrong. Venn finds himself on the planet with little air or supplies, and just a few rag-tag remnants of his platoon.

Up until this point it’s kind of like a more military version of The Martian, it’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s desperate and kind of scary. But about half way through the novel Bear seems to lose the plot a bit, adds in more politics as some officers turn up, and a local human Martian who takes them to a shelter, where they are soon the target of the infamous Antags.

Then the book goes completely off the rails, adding in more politics, conspiracies and things that complicate the book no ends and serve only to distract from what could have been an excellent military adventure on the desperate wind-swept planet of Mars.

This is not the novel you are look for, if, like me, you wanted some action adventure military SF. Starts well, ends badly.

WEED SPECIES By Jack Ketchum – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2016 by stanleyriiks

I don’t know how Ketchum does it, but he does it every time. He has a way of saying stuff that just makes it feel really really wrong. And although the stuff would be wrong anyway, it feels really wrong when Ketchum says it in his raw, open-wound kind of style.

Here we follow the sordid adventures of Sherry, who starts off by drugging her teenage sister so that her husband can rape her. You see Sherry has been helping her husband rape for a few years, and they’ve also been murdering these girls, and now that young Talia is of a certain age, and Sherry is getting older, she’s just not doing it for her husband anymore and is going to help him rape her little sister. Except that things swiftly go wrong and the girl ends up dead.

This short book chronicles the further adventures of Sherry and the consequences of their sordid escapades.

This is pretty nasty stuff, and Ketchum shows us the true horror of the world, despicable humans. Horror has never been quite so nasty as when Ketchum writes it. The man is a devil, he is truly terrifying, by showing us the capacity of humanity to do wrong. A nasty little book, such great fun!