Archive for depth

The Function Room: The Kollection By Matt Leyshon – Reviewed

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2012 by stanleyriiks

This is horror pornography. A non-stop and diverse collection of violent and brutal filth. The pages literally drip with ruin. This is horror for horror fans. This is for those wishing to push the boundaries of taboo.

Those familiar with Morpheus Tales will know of Leyshon’s work, the first of the Function Room stories have featured within the magazine’s pages, and these are true works of genius. Uninhibited, utterly sensual in their horroristic descriptions, his stories are thick with atmosphere. Reading the Function Room stories is like watching a snuff movie, hideously depraved and yet so fascinating you can’t take your eyes off it.

But this is just part of the Kollection, although many of the stories are linked and contain familiar characters, there are a few stand-alone, or less obviously connected, stories. There is a wide range here, from the dripping filth of “The Function Room” to mysterious Lovecraftian towns, mass suicides, vampiric creatures, nasty children and loads more. A full bucket of originality, depth, characterisation and atmosphere. Leyshon does not hold back, he is unafraid of exploring the darkness of humanity in the same way Clive Barker or Gary McMahon do.

My favourite are definitely the Function room stories, where his heavily stylised world drips with filth and decay. Leyshon writes stories that are so visceral and dripping with atmosphere and filth you feel the need for a shower afterwards. These stories are written with a knowledge of depravity that makes me smile. Very few stories, and this is especially difficult with short stories, can give you such a feeling of immersion that you feel disgusted and unclean. Leyshon’s twisted vision is sheer genius.

Having read far too many single author collections and anthologies this year (I much prefer novels), there is only one collection that every horror fan should read and that is The Function Room: The Kollection. It will likely disgust some, send others whimpering to their bed, but will also put a sick and disturbed grin on some (including my own) faces.

This first collection from Leyshon promises much and deliveries in filthy, dirty, brutal blood-filled bucket loads. I cannot remember when I felt impure and entertained at the same time. Twisted genius.

Also available through amazon, on kindle and

DAY OF THE DAMNED By David Gunn – Reviewed

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 3, 2012 by stanleyriiks

I’m a huge fan of the Death’s Head trilogy, and particularly our reluctant hero, soldier and narrator Sven Tveskoeg, but despite Gunn’s unique and thrill-a-minute story telling, this is the weakest of the three novels.

For a start Sven is almost too utilitarian, the ultimate soldier is without his humanity (the Aux) for most of the book, and when they do turn up nothing much happens for them to be of any use. The plots of previous novels, Sven going from mission to mission, or sent on a huge suicide mission, here give way to political (high clan) intrigue. Sven feels out of his depth, and the reader awaits the action. Alas, it does not arrive. The damp squib of an ending is let down all the more because there is no fight, the “baddy” gives in, and the battle that should be hard-won is escaped.

Where’s the fighting, the action, the battles and near-death experiences? Where’s the edge of your seat/seat of your pants sequences that leave you dripping with sweat and physically exhausted? The first book int he series delivers and then some! It’s a full-on, over-the-top, action-fueled SF adventure! The third book… not so much. A couple of good action scenes, but poor plotting and a wasted opportunity of an ending just didn’t do it for me.

Not the best of a great set of action-packed SF thrillers. Sven deserves better, and I hope Gunn isn’t finished with his brilliantly-realised grumpy supersoldier.

TRIUMFF: HER MAJESTY’S HERO By Dan Abnett – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 7, 2010 by stanleyriiks

Set in an alternative England, where Queen Elizabeth the first married Spain’s King Philip the Second, setting in motion a series of Queen Elizabeths to follow, leaving England and the Empire to discover the joys of magic, but not those of the industrial revolution or mechanisation.

Sir Rupert Triumff is an adventurer who has recently discovered Australia for the Queen, but refuses to give her back his letter of passage and return the country back to her.

This is used by plotters to set Triumff up as a traitor in their own attempts to kill the Queen and take over the Empire in the name of Spain.

Fans of Dan Abnett’s gamesworkshop novel should be made fully aware this is nothing like the full-on action-packed adventures of the Space Marines. The king of battle-writing tones down the action for much of this novel, although the intrigue and scheming are ramped up to compensate.

The style of the writing also shows Abnett’s depth, as our narrator, one William Beaver, continues to pop up at odd moments and imbues the proceedings a little light relief.

The plotting is well worked, and the tension continues to grow as the plot to kill the queen gets closer, and Triumff and his friends get closer to discovering the truth behind it.

Although not as action-packed as Abnett’s 40K Universe books, and despite a swashbuckling start, the novel is heavier on machinations and tension. Abnett’s talent doesn’t go to waste, and the world he creates is cleverly portrayed with many layers. Nothing like his tie-in novels, but providing an equal amount of enjoyment and entertainment.

If there is a sequel, I’ll be there.

THE BROKEN SWORD By Poul Anderson – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 17, 2010 by stanleyriiks

The story begins when Scafloc, born of Orm  and Aelfrida, is stolen from his human parents by an Elf doing a favour for a witch, and replaced with a troll-child who looks exactly the same.

Only years later is it revealed that the child – Valgard –  Orm and Aelfrida have brought up isn’t there own, but by then it is too late, as Valgard kills his brothers after being tricked into it by that witch who had him swapped all those years ago.

As Valgard comes to realise his true troll nature he joins with the troll forces as they attempt to take over all the Elf lands, enslaving them and torturing Imric, the Elf father to Scafloc.

Fantasy-operas don’t get much more convoluted than this! What starts out as a nice fairy tale swiftly becomes a full-on drama, throwing in family histories, incest and all sorts. Of course, this doesn’t detract from the remarkable pace of the book, as Scafloc attempts to stop the troll invasion and must take the broken sword of the title to the gods to have it fixed.

Anderson creates a world of great depth, and his characters almost breathe, the fine-line between cold, hard elf and human warmth is balanced well in Scafloc, just distant enough to be different, but mortal enough to be relatable.

The depth of the writing, and Anderson’s concise style, make this book feel like an epic, despite it being only a little over two hundred pages, but that’s not to say this book feels long. It feels vast, the description of the story above barely covers half of it, but to describe more would give away secrets that are so worthy of discovery it doesn’t feel right to divulge them.

This book feels like an ancient epic, a story told orally and kept alive through generations by its retelling. Here Anderson puts his own mark on the tale of the war between the trolls and the elves, and such a mark it is.

GARDENS OF THE MOON By Steven Erikson – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2010 by stanleyriiks

In the author’s introduction to this novel he says that he’s unapologetic for the “throw you straight in” style of the book and he leaves readers to either sink or swim. He also says that the book was always ambitious in scope, and readers will either love it or hate it. Well, I did both.

For the first hundred pages I loved this book, the richly portrayed fantasy world, the sheer depth, and the fast-paced action drew me in. Then we get to the second section of the novel, where the various factions and their plotting to take over the city of Darujistan come to the fore and things start getting complicated, very complicated, and I admit that I got lost. Not with the plot which is fairly simple, lots of factions attempting to take over the city or using whatever means necessary to stop someone else taking it over: from the Empress’ Adjunct; the Bridgeburners (Imperial Army but almost outcasts); a young girl being used as the pawn of a god; a thief, also being used; Captain Paran; the Council of Darujistan; the Ruler of Moon’s Spawn; the Alchemist Barak; The Guild of Assassins; and the list continues. It is the sheer scale of the story that gets in the way of its telling. Fantasy isn’t normally this plot-orientated, and in some ways this feels more like a science fiction epic.

That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the complete lack of characterisation means that none of the characters is even noticeable. The scale of names to remember and the fact that several characters have more than one name, and it just gets confusing.

As the various threads of the story begin to come together for the denouement, everything begins to make sense again, but Erikson chooses then to get the gods more heavily involved than they already were. A couple of hundred pages towards the end everything suddenly becomes clearer, although still muddied.

Ambition is no bad thing, but here the ambitious scale has meant good characterisation is sacrificed. Yes, we have one of the most in-depth worlds ever created, possibly due to Erikson’s gameplaying background, a world with several sets of humans, other species, gods, and a full background history. But we have no good characters to follow other than standard cardboard cut-out stereotypes, a young love-struck thief, a world-weary Sergeant, a ruthless Empress… Again a victim of Erikson’s gamer background?

For every plus with this first book of the tales of Malazan there is an equally important minus. Erikson’s sacrificed character for scope, he’s thrown away clever plotting, and thrown in everyone (including the kitchen sink) in an attempt to make the story more complex than it really is, just confusing everything.

The fact is this book shows great potential. I’m just not sure I’ll be willing to put in the effort to read another of the Malazan books to find out if Erikson can reach that potential.

Not the best introduction to a world, and not the worst. A shame that it wasn’t better, as I could have been completed hooked.

BAG OF BONES By Stephen King – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2010 by stanleyriiks

Michael Noonan is a writer suffering hideous writers’ block after the tragic and unexpected death of his wife. But the block, resulting in all manner of symptoms including migraines, stomach cramps and vomiting, seems to disappear entirely when Michael heads to Sara Laughs, his holiday home on the lake.

There, Mike meets Kyra, a three year old girl, walking down the centre line of the high street in town. And shortly thereafter he meets Kyra’s mother, a teenage widow who is in the middle of a custody battle with a billionaire father-in-law who will stop at nothing to grab her child away. Without meaning to Mike gets caught up in the drama and decides to help out.

What Mike gets himself into will turn all of their lives upside down.

Only King could get away with the first hundred pages of the novel just warming you up, hardly anything happens and yet he still manages to keep you attention. The book builds slowly, developing towards the epic finale which continues in intensity, depth and astoundingness the further into it we get.

King always feels the need to put in some kind of supernatural entity, and here, like in Rose Madder, it feels like its being forced. This could have been a shockingly horrific action thriller, without the supernatural element. But King refuses to deny his roots (normally such a good thing!), and produces not only bad ghosts but good, friendly and helpful ghosts too. A stretch too far perhaps?

Of course, even bad King is good. And this certainly isn’t bad, it’s one of the better novels, although slightly over-the-top in terms of the supernatural, and a little long-winded, but what King novel isn’t. It’s too easy to pick criticisms when you have such a great deal of choice and such a wide range of novels, but some of those criticisms are certainly justified. On the whole Stephen King is a story-teller who grips the reader, entertaining us wholeheartedly, and providing lifelong memories.

Bag of Bones is one of King’s better novels, which puts it towards the top of any pile of horror novels. It sucks you in and makes you feel, and really, what more could you ask for.