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PRETTY LITTLE DEAD THINGS By Gary McMahon – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2011 by stanleyriiks

Harrowing. If I had to sum up this book in one word it would be that one. Disturbing, horrifying, terrifying, creepy, gruesome, unsavoury, rotten, nasty, filthy would all work too. This is the kind of book that makes you want a shower afterwards. The kind that leaves a lingering sense of decay, one that takes a little part of your soul with it. There are horror novels, and there are Gary McMahon horror novels. He is simply in a different class.

Thomas Usher’s was driving when a car crash killed his wife and daughter. He survived, but quickly found he had been left with a terrible, horrible gift. Usher can see the dead. But if you think this is going to be Haley Joel Osmond in The Sixth Sense, or Jonah Hex or Odd Thomas, then you are so very wrong. Usher’s guilt-filled existence is horrible enough, but he happens to be following a young woman who is murdered (the third to be hung), and his friend is related to a young girl who is abducted. How are the abduction and the murders related, and can Usher uses the powers that he’s been trying to suppress for the past year to help solve the cases?

McMahon builds a gritty world of urban decay, his human characters are just as revolting, gruesome and disturbing as the supernatural elements. Our narrator and protagonist, guilt-riddled as he is, is the only faint hope we have.

As depressingly realistic, as nasty and brutal as this novel is, you have to read on. You must. There is a grinding darkness that saps your will to escape. McMahon’s first Usher novel is a stupendous feat of hideousness. In the best possible way. This is horror as it’s most revealing. You cannot read this book and not feel unclean, untouched. McMahon does what the best writers do, he makes you feel. You feel disgust, you feel slightly sick, you feel relief. McMahon makes you hurt. Pretty Little Dead Things should be McMahon’s break out novel, this should be a best seller, every horror fan must read this book. They will find out what they’ve been missing all these years. Pretty Little Dead Things is hardcore. Unrelentingly dark and terribly atmospheric, you have not read a horror novel until you have read a McMahon horror novel.

Never, in over twenty years of reading horror, have I been so intensely disturbed by a novel.

Pretty Little Dead Things is sublime. Real horror at it’s very worst (meaning best). Hardcore horror. Not for the faint of heart.

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.