Archive for book review

RED By Jack Ketchum – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 9, 2010 by stanleyriiks

Avery Ludlow is an old man fishing with his dog. When three teenagers try to rob him he offers them all the cash he has, barely twenty dollars. The teenagers aren’t happy and shoot Ludlow’s dog, blasting off its head with a shotgun and laughing as they make their escape.

So far, so Ketchum. I was expecting a huge and hideously violent revenge tale.

Erm, that’s not what happens. Instead, we get Ludlow trying to get justice, but by traditional, conventional methods; visiting the boys’ parents, going to the police, appearing on TV. But Ludlow’s efforts come to nothing and each time he tries something new, they retaliate against him, with bricks through his window, and burning down his store.

This isn’t really a violent book, it doesn’t make your squirm. It’s a quiet novel from Ketchum, who doesn’t deliver the nastiness he normally does. This is a nice book, more subtle than regular Ketchum readers are used to. It’s good, Ketchum still provides the goods, but not in the way you expect. It’s a nice horror novel, more like a Richard Laymon or Dean R. Koontz book. A horror novel that turns out right in the end, not the bloody massacre of Off Season.

Obviously the publishers have realised that what Ketchum readers want is blood, violence and nastiness, and so they’ve provided us with the novella “The Passenger” in this edition. Classic Ketchum. When her car breaks down late one night Janet is pleasantly surprised to be picked up by a former classmate. So she wasn’t exactly friends with Marion, but she doesn’t have too far to get home. Then they crash into a group of murderers and rapists after Marion refuses to let Janet leave the car, and things start to get really nasty.

When humans goes bad, it could be the tag line of most of Ketchum’s work, and “The Passenger” is no exception. Think of all of the evil possibilities and them throw in some more and then ramp it up a notch, and that’s what Ketchum delivers.

Red isn’t Ketchum at his best, but it’s still a good novel, and nice and short. But “The Passenger” is classic Ketchum, and classic Ketchum always delivers. It’s not like reading, it’s like experiencing pain and torture. Somehow, you don’t know how, you managed to survive and you know that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

NEKROPOLIS By Tim Waggoner – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2010 by stanleyriiks

On the cover SF Site says this is an “exciting mystery”, well, I’m not sure what book they were reading, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t this one. This isn’t so much a mystery as a travelogue or an adventure.

Mathew Richter is a zombie, he’s a dead detective who followed a serial killer and warlock to the dark world of Nekropolis, the underworld where all manner of creatures live and non-live. Nekropolis is an amazing land, filled with vampires, were-creatures, witches and warlocks, talking insects, and the aforementioned zombies and other creatures of the dead. It’s a riot of Tim Burton-esque touches that will appeal to any horror and fantasy fan. A kind of really dark Harry Potter world, Diagon Alley after Voldemort takes over!

Anyways, back to the story. Mathew is contacted by a hot blond half-vampire who is in charge of her father’s – one of the five dark lords who rules Necropolis – collection of rare magical artefacts. One of the items in the collection is a powerful magical crystal capable of destroying the entire city, and today just happens to be Decension Day, when the five dark lords and Father Dis (the god and creator of Nekropolis), join forces to re-energise Umbriel, the dark moon that lights the city. And the artefact has gone missing.

So the meagre plot involves Mathew and his half-vampire friend searching the city of Nekropolis to find the artefact. But this is not about plot, it’s much more about exploring the amazing world of Nekropolis. Our protagonist is really the city, and whilst Richter and his squeeze are fairly well developed, there’s not really much to any of the other characters, and many of the citizens only make a brief appearance.

The book fails on many levels, the plot not the least as our hero goes round the entire city meeting up with someone to ask a few questions and then moving on to the next clue, and working his way round the city. The trail of clues (if you can call it that, some are tenuous to say the least!) is fairly easy to follow, or the next trip just takes them to another unexplored section of the city, seemingly at random. There isn’t really a mystery, and there’s no overall tension apart from the situational type as Richter finds himself in some sticky situations during his investigation.

But it’s still so much fun to discover the city. It’s like entering the world of nightmare, which since this book was originally written, has been explored by Tim Burton, Harry Potter and Hellboy. But this manages to be just a little darker than all of those and is all the better for it.

With a decent plot and some new material this book could be scarily good! Well, the good news is that the second and third books have been commissioned! Excellent.

Despite its failures this is still a bloody good book, and you’re unlikely to read anything else like it. It will make you grin with delight and make you want to visit the strange world of Nekropolis. It’s the perfect travel-guide, it’s just not the best novel.

THE KULT By Shaun Jeffrey – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 25, 2009 by stanleyriiks

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THE KULT By Shaun Jeffrey

www.leucrotapress.com

 

It’s rare that I get excited by a book, but Shaun Jeffrey’s The Kult really grabbed me.

The book was sitting on my sofa when my girlfriend picked it up and started flicking through, the next thing I know she’s over a hundred pages in and won’t let me have it back. My girlfriend doesn’t read horror, SF or fantasy, she reads romances and crime thrillers and she’s usually not willing to deviate despite my best attempts to educate her. She’ll gladly watch a horror film with me, hiding behind her hands, but I’ve not seen her manage ten pages of a novel before throwing it back at me and spitting, “that’s disgusting!”

So when I discovered she was a hundred and twenty pages in after only one day, I asked for it back so that I could review it and was a little taken aback when she said I could have it when she was finished and not until. I had to pry it from her cold dead fingers, but it was worth it!

Prosper Snow is a detective on the hunt for a serial killer called The Oracle. The Oracle is a nasty piece of work who sends photos of his mutilated victims to alert the police. He leaves no clues, no bodies, nothing for the investigating team to work with except the photos. And the photos of the bodies are starting to pile up.

When one of Prosper’s oldest friends enlists the help of their revenge group, called The Kult, he has little choice but to help out. But this time the retribution the group is seeking isn’t a simple beating to avenge a bullying as in the past, like when they were kids, when the group started. This time it’s vengeance for a rape. And the penalty for the perpetrator is death.

From the start this is a dark and atmospheric story that absorbs the reader. This is a mystery that keeps you guessing as Prosper and his friends are drawn further into the machinations of the serial killer, eventually finding themselves on the hit list. The tension continues to ramp up as members of The Kult turn up dead and we run out of suspects.

This is edge of your seat stuff and it’s difficult to put the book down as you haveto keep going. I polished the three hundred odd pages off in two days, and read the finale with a grin on my face, loving every minute of it. The final few pages will see you sighing with relief as you travel through the novel with the protagonist and feel his every effort to remain alive.

Just thinking about The Kult fills me with excitement, it’s like the feeling you get coming out of the cinema after watching a really good film, you feel alive. You just want to dive back in and experience it all again.

When I started reading this book I was thinking about making references to the British best-seller Shaun Hutson, whose novels are also fast-paced, action packed and furiously tension-filled. Jeffrey shares these attributes, his story is similar brutal and nasty as well, but The Kult leaves you not only deeply satisfied but also somehow wanting more.