Archive for gentle

IMAJICA By Clive Barker – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 10, 2010 by stanleyriiks

Wow, this is a big epic. I mean huge. 1136 densely packed pages. It’s a marathon of a novel. It feels long. It took me six solid weeks of reading to finish it, and by the time I had I was exhausted and numb.

I understand that Barker and his publishers want to give the readers value for money, but this would have worked so well as two novels. The first would chart the plots and conspiracies surrounding Gentle, his former girlfriend Judith, her husband, the assassin he’s employed to kill her, and the mysterious world of the other four dominions. It would follow the story of their travelling through the wondrous worlds of the other dominions, as they attempt to discover what the Reconciliation is and their part in it. Would have been a good book at about 500 pages.

Book two would have seen the return to the Fifth Dominion, Earth, by those involved, and their attempts and machinations to Reconcile all of the Dominions, struggling to stay alive and one step ahead of the mysterious and dangerous Maestro of Yzordderrex, and discovering how the equally dangerous and mysterious Goddesses fit into things.

Instead we get two books for the price or one, and who can argue with that? Well, I can. (Some later editions were split in two!)

Reading any novel should be fun. It should be exciting, entertaining, and with an epic it should be even more so. More involving, more moving, more of everything.

Except here it’s not. Don’t get me wrong, I love epics. The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Peter Hamilton’s Night’s Dawn trilogy, the Dune Saga… I like to read collections and trilogies in one go, so the depth of this novel doesn’t terrify me at all, I was actually looking forward to it. But it felt like a marathon, and one I wasn’t prepared for. It took longer than expected, it felt longer than it was, it was damn hard work, and I was already prepared for a lengthy read.

The book is not unenjoyable, it’s just that it’s inability to keep you entertained at a sufficient level means that half way through you feel as though you have finished and should be rewarded with a nice ending. And that’s what you get, the book clearly ends and loses energy before getting its second wind and then the book continues and the second half just feels like a very long, drawn out epilogue that never ends.

So is it rubbish? No, the characters, particularly for an epic of this length, are barely more than cardboard cut-outs, and the plot is simple enough, but its the telling of the story, the complexity and depth of the five dominions that really keep you reading, (ok, the only thing that keep you reading). Just about entertaining enough, or perhaps that’s just stubborn determination that kept me reading till the end despite it feeling like a chore.

If you haven’t read Weaveworld try that one instead, the same depth but for a third of the time and effort.

Probably the weakest Barker novel I’ve read so far. A hard slog, and unfortunately not really worth it.

VAMPYRRHIC By Simon Clark – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2010 by stanleyriiks

I quite enjoyed this. It’s not normally my kind of thing, it’s a gentle, old-skool horror novel.

The premise is excellent, Thor (from Norse mythology) made a pact with a family a thousand years ago and gave them a vampire army to destroy all of Christendom. Unfortunately the family didn’t stick to the plan, and now, a thousand years later, David Leppington has returned to the family home to find that he is the last of the line, and expected to take control of the vampire army on its unending march to domination of the Christian world.

That would have been a great book. Unfortunately what we get is this great idea as the back-story. The main plot concerns David Leppington returning to his hometown, the town of Leppington, named after his family, and discovering the legend of Thor’s vampire army from his uncle, and then attempting to destroy the army before they begin their attack.

The first two thirds of the book set up the story as we are gradually given more information about the legend and the town. The story slowly and gently unravels, the vampires begin to escape and attack the human population of Leppington, but it isn’t until the uncle blows a hole in the bars imprisoning the creatures that the action kicks up a notch and David and his new-found friends, must fight for their lives.

Clark is a writer of such potential, as shown by the premise. But here he’s missed a massive opportunity. The book we’re given is in no way as exciting, entertaining or as passionate as it could have been. It seems this is a much more traditional, staid, and middle-of-the-road novel, playing safe rather than provoking any kind of emotion.

The writing isn’t Clark at his best either, his characters are all weak, limp-wristed, wet-wipes. Nothing there to incite any feeling.

Still, being the wrong book, a massive missed opportunity, a complete failure in potential, this still isn’t such a bad book. It certainly doesn’t have much going for it; but it’s a good little standard horror novel, similar to what Richard Laymon used to churn out endlessly.

Typical low-impact horror.