Archive for brutality

SOUL MASQUE By Terry Grimwood – Reviewed

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 12, 2013 by stanleyriiks

Printed with the kind permissions of Morpheus Tales Publishing.

Confused. Having read this it’s clear this is an ambitious story, but I learnt almost as much about what was happening from the back cover description as I did from the contents of this limited-edition chapbook. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it; Grimwood writes in a way that makes you want to read more, he makes you want to know more, about the characters and the strange world he creates. But I think he needs more space to work, a story double the length may have made a lot more sense.

Soul Masque is about the battle of good against evil, that age- old tale, but looked at through a brief period in the lives of four flawed and failing characters, when things all come to a head: a woman with cancer held in check by her allegiance to religion, a preacher addicted to drugs, a dominatrix with an angel as a client, a man who must kill to survive…

The more I think about the story the more layers I think I find. The struggle for faith, the struggle to live, dealing with death in its many forms, the very concept of good and evil; there’s a hell of a lot going on here in these 30 pages.

This is a very different book from the Spectral Chapbooks published before this, and yet it sits right at home within them as well. It’s challenging, intelligent, and wholly original. Although it’s not as creepy as Gary McMahon’s effort, or as gory and bloodthirsty as Paul Finch’s, this is horror at its most morally ambiguous.

It is a sad tale of brutality, of abuse, of disease, slaughter, madness, and faith. It is as frustrating as it is enjoyable, leaving the readers with a slightly bitter taste in their mouths like they’ve just had arsenic. A lingering sense of unease and discomfort remains after putting the story down. Grimwood achieves his desired effect of making us think far beyond the story he’s put down on paper. This is a very very clever little book.

Spectral Press again shows why they are at the top of the UK’s small presses.

spectralpress.wordpress.com

Advertisements

SANDMAN SLIM By Richard Kadrey – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2013 by stanleyriiks

I saw Devil Said Bang in Forbidden Planet before Christmas and knew I had to read it. OCD sufferer that I am, I can’t start a series with book number four, so this one (Sandman Slim) went on my Christmas list. Fortunately Santa listened and I unwrapped this along with another twenty-odd books (Santa’s good!). I thought I’d start with this one because it’s fairly short, and I wanted to start working my way towards that fourth book in the series, the one I really wanted to read.

Fortunately the first in the series is a rock-hard, ultra-violent, action-fest!

Jimmy Stark was sent down to hell eleven years ago by his magic circle. Since then he’s been trying to survive as the play-toy of demons, and has managed to become a monster fighter and assassin. But when his ex-girlfriend is brutally murdered by the very same man who put him in hell, Stark escapes, killing one of Lucifer’s generals in the process. Now he’s in LA, looking for revenge on the magic circle that sentenced him to hell and their leader who killed the only woman he ever loved.

What follows is a cross between David Gunn’s Death’s Head (the attitude, the action, the raw brutality, and the protagonist from hell [this time literally]), and Tim Waggoner’s Nekopolis (a city [this time LA] riven with hellish creatures and magic), although it’s all under the surface here.

Stark is the perfect host (first person narrator), a revenge-driven psychopath, willing to kill himself and whoever gets in his way. The first person he encounters he cuts of their head. He doesn’t get any friendlier as the novel goes on, and it’s great! Hard-bitten, filled with venom and pithy comments, Stark is a true urban anti-hero with a bad attitude.

Kadrey has produced a real character in Stark, a unique individual you can’t help but remember, and may be not for all the right reasons. He’s fantastically caustic, and all the better for it in the urban sprawl of LA. An LA filled with angels, demons and Kissee, along with magicians, G-men from Homeland Security, murderers, skinheads and all manner of human-pus.

Sandman Slim is a unique and terribly entertaining mix, an urban fantasy that is vile and brutal and brilliant because of that. Stark is a hero that demands your attention, he has mine, and I’ll be back for the second in the series, and the third and fourth. I can’t wait!

PYGMY By Chuck Palahniuk – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2011 by stanleyriiks

Pygmy is a diminutive teenager from an unnamed totalitarian state, who arrives in the United States, with several of his comrades, to infiltrate and destroy the corrupt nation of America. Having been fully trained and brainwashed from a young age, Pygmy is an assassin and terrorist, who one family of Americans takes into their home.

Not really material for a comedy you may say, not exactly something that sounds like a social satire. But that’s exactly what this is. When Chuck isn’t poking fun at the totalitarians, he’s poking fun at the Americans. There’s also some teenage angst and hi-jinks involved.

Not only does Chuck provide a few laughs, but some brutality (made all the more disturbing by the humour), and some poignancy. This isn’t comedy or horror or sf, although it could claim to be any of those. This is literature, a marvellous mix of all of them, told stunningly well.

Despite the initial difficulty in getting into the first person prose (in broken English by Agent Number 67, otherwise known at Pygmy), you find yourself involved and urging him on, or not, as the case may be.

There has probably never been a funnier terrorist novel, and as Chuck goes where few writers have gone before – a Walmart toilet anyone? – he does it with style, substance and a light touch that makes it all worth while.

THE STEEL REMAINS By Richard Morgan – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 18, 2009 by stanleyriiks

THE STEEL REMAINS By Richard Morgan

Ringil is an aging hero, hiding out in the country years after his glorious victory at Gallows Gap which earned him a reputation that he’s living on, where he helped save the world from the scaled invasion of the lizardmen. He enjoys his life of drunkedness and having sex with boys. Your quintessential hero, sort of. But he’s given the task of finding his cousin, a job he can’t refuse as it’s his mother asking for the favour. So Ringil barges back into the city where his father rules, intent on making as much trouble as he can whilst visiting home, and goes in search of his cousin, slaughtering the slave peddlers as he goes (his cousin having been sold into slavery by a ruined husband).

There are a couple of others, a savage dragon-slayer whose brothers gang up with a shaman to depose him as clan leader, and a Kiraith, an ancient and alien race that fled from the world many years ago, leaving only Archeth the half-breed.

Ringil is really the hero here, although almost equal time is given to the other two. The story is fairly basic sword and sorcery, except that the sorcery is vaguely alien in nature and feels very SF in style.

Ringil is great fun, and he really should have taken a much larger part in the book. The other alien race, the dwenda, are strange and their world is weird, taking us away from the story to bring in a larger world invasion plot that is just an excuse for a big battle at the end. The dwenda don’t really fit, it feels like the SF elements are a bit forced.

This should have been an epic tale of brutality and debauchery, instead it’s finished fairly quickly, with the characters just about introduced. The sequel is already underway, and hopefully the second novel will see a lot more Ringil action.