Archive for hell

THE SCARLET GOSPELS By Clive Barker – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2017 by stanleyriiks

It’s rare that I buy hardbacks, but I have quite a few of Barker’s. When I heard that the infamous Pinhead would be returning there was no way I was missing out.

Pinhead is one of the quintessential horror anti-heroes, like Jason, Michael Myers, Leatherface, Freddy Kruger, he appeared in the eighties (ok, so Michael and Leatherface led the way in the seventies) when I was approaching my teens and basically robbed me of my childhood sleep and left indelible memories of terror that I still have today. Exciting recollections of terror that instilled my on-going love of all things horror.

Pinhead was the only character to actually originate in a book, one of Barker’s Books of Blood, which was a series of collected stories that really didn’t impress me at the time, but introduced the world to splatterpunk. The books were a gore-fest.

The story was adapted into a film, very loosely based on the original story. Barker wrote and directed a film that was already a classic by the time I saw it. When I did watch it I was underwhelmed, but the Chinese puzzle box and that vision of the lead Cenobite and his symmetrical “pin-head” stayed with me, and the violence and nastiness was impressive.

Here again, Barker impresses.

The first four chapters, before Book One starts, are one of the greatest character introductions in modern horror. A group of magicians is holding a meeting to discuss the rapid decimation of their kind, and call upon the ghost of one of their recently murdered number. But the meeting is interrupted by chains and hooks and the infamous Cenobite, known as Pinhead, who has been slowly tracking down and killing every magician in the world.

What ensues is, as you would expect, horrifying, terrifying, and exactly the kind of start to a Barker book that gets a horror fan excited.

Then things go normal very briefly, as Norma, a blind woman who talks to the dead, and her friend Harry D’Amour (private investigator) do a job for a dead man that ends up with Norma being kidnapped and Harry following her and Pinhead into Hell as the Cenobite sets out to kill Lucifer. I said very briefly!

It’s a bit of a strange one this. The best part of the book is the beginning, after that the mystic of the Cenebite begins to fall apart, despite his perversions and evilness being just as bad down in hell. You kind of get numb to it as he’s doing all his evil doings to demons, so there’s little sympathy. His treatment of Norma, a nice old lady, is pretty horrible and as times quite startling. Barker isn’t afraid to hurt his characters or his readers.

The ending is a bit strange, not really satisfying all that has gone on before.

But this is the return of Pinhead, and a nasty and deliciously twisted return it is.

Barker is back, returning to create a world of horror (hell) and then sending in a terrifying creature of chaos in the form of Pinhead to destroy it.

Good, nasty fun. Pinhead returns!

ALOHA FROM HELL By Richard Kadrey – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2013 by stanleyriiks

I hate Richard Kadrey. I hate his books. I hate Sandman Slim, one of the greatest anti-heroes to ever be captured on the page.

Kadrey writes books I wish I’d written. He had created a world and characters that I can only dream of creating. He has plots that make me want to read the whole book in one sitting because I want to find out what happens so bad. But also I want to read slowly, to savour every sentence, and respect every line because there is such a wit and darkness in these pages.

This is the third book in the amazing Sandman Slim series, featuring Slim who is a magician returned from hell after turning monster fighter and demon killer. He lives in an LA underworld ruled by Sub Rosa (old magical) families and factions. And finds himself involved as a bodyguard to Lucifer, a private-detective and monster hunter. Slim is my hero. The dude rocks my world, and I wish, I so wish, that he was mine. We would have such great adventure together. But what am I saying? We do have such great adventures together, but that bugger Kadrey creates them! I don’t want to share, I want Slim all to myself.

The third book in the series see Slim having to head down to Hell as his nemesis is having success building an army of hellions and plans to head up to Heaven to destroy it, and then destroy the rest of the world. Of course, there’s excommunicated priests, demons and gods, magic, fighting, betrayal, lies, and all manner of excitement to get in the way of things moving along smoothly.

Slim narrates with a unique voice that entertains with a brisk pace and style that you will find hard to match. The closest comparable voice stylistically would be Joe Lansdale’s East Texas drawl. But Kadrey goes further, where most are afraid to go. He seems unafraid to deal with difficult and controversial issues such as religion and faith, all the while having a wicked sense of humour, and one hellish, fetid darkness that sucks the reader in.

Like the very best fantasists, Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman at the top of their game, Kadrey creates a magnificent world that drips reality, characters that ooze personality, and plots that truly capture the imagination.

The third book in the series continues on the success of the previous two books. You must read the Sandman Slim novels. You MUST read one of them.

I hate Richard Kadrey, I want to be Richard Kadrey. I love Sandman Slim. I look forward to most adventures together.

Darkly brilliant.

Demented genius.

ANNO MORTIS By Rebecca Levene – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 8, 2010 by stanleyriiks

Zombies in ancient Rome? Gladiators and zombies? I bet the publishers were wetting themselves hearing the idea for this. Unfortunately somewhere along the line the idea got a little watered down as the plot developed.

A female gladiator, a rich young playboy, a pampered slave and a mysterious red-headed man join forces when they discover there is an ancient Egyptian Sect planning on opening the gates of death in Caligula’s Rome. Fighting not only the all-powerful sect, which has infiltrated all of high society, but also staying out of reach of the crazy Caesar, will keep our company occupied.

Ok, so the passion and excitement that swelled with the idea is a little tempered. But it could still be a pretty good book.

And it is, until the end, when all goes to hell, literally, when our heroes have to go to the land of death, visiting with the Gods themselves in their efforts to put things back to normal. While the Roman zombies are set up nice and plausibly, the ending just goes too far, breaking through the thin web of believability, heading into unknown realms. It just goes too far, the “twist” ending, which takes up the last fifty odd pages, just makes all of what happened previously a waste of time.

The characters are pretty good, and the book starts well, but the ending virtually ruins it.

Abaddon Books can be praised for virtually starting the current trend of historical zombie stories, but unfortunately for them other people are doing it much better.

So much promise, so much disappointment. A worthy effort, but only for those obsessed with the undead, otherwise there is better on offer.

Credit Crunch: A Survivor’s Guide – Debt: The Enemy

Posted in Life..., Personal Finance, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2010 by stanleyriiks

Most of us have some form of debt.

If you don’t think debt it bad then think about this: the whole entire world went into recession in 2008/9, the main cause of this was debt. Too many people owed too much money and couldn’t afford to pay it back. Debt is always, and will forever be, the enemy.

The list below is not comprehensive, but it gives you an idea of the vileness of the debt. Each one is another layer further into the rings of hell. We start off with the cheapest form of debt, only two of which can be considered acceptable. After that you’re on the rocky road to hell!

Student Loans – From the Student Loans Company or a similar body. The rates on these are based on the rate of inflation, so they cost very little. Unfortunately you are limited by the amount you can borrow per year and you have to be a studying full-time. You don’t have to pay these back until you have a certain monthly income, rather than having to start paying it back as soon as you finish your studies.

Mortgage – Likely to be the largest amount of debt you will ever have (hopefully!). Although it may actually cost you £300,000 to pay off a £150,000 house, mortgages are generally the cheapest form of debt available. But, by overpaying your mortgage you can save thousands. By changing your lender and getting the best deals you can save hundreds of pounds a month, which you can use to pay it off faster, hence saving you several years of debt.

Unsecured Loans – Loan agreements vary, depending on the length of time, the amount you want and the lender. 7-15% is normal for a high-street leader. You can get them for home improvements or buying a new car. Also popular is consolidating credit-card debt.

Credit Card – Get back hellbeast! With rates of 18 to 35% normal, you could be paying off an iPod for 20 years if you only pay the minimum payment. Credit cards are basically a way for banks and merchants to lull you into a false sense of security, and slowly and methodically rob you of all your hard-earned wages.

There is only one reason to use a credit card, and there is only one sensible way to deal with the debt: pay it all off every month. Use a card that has added benefits, such as cash back or airmiles, or BA miles, but always always always pay off the credit card balance every month.

If you already have credit card debt (and don’t worry, it happens to us all) this is the biggest obstacle to have to deal with, and you do that by transferring your balance to 0% interest card for the length of the 0% period and trying to pay off as much as possible, and then moving the balance again once the period is up, preferably to another 0% on balances card and continuing to pay it off. If it’s too large for you to ever be able to pay it off in 18 to 24 months then it would be worth looking at an unsecured loan.

Storecards – The actual devil! I kid you not! Rates for storecards have come down a little in recent times, but 20 to 50% is not unheard of. Some of them do nice introductory offers, which might be worth looking in to, but read the fine print and know what you are signing up for. It could well be your soul you’re signing away! The storecard is the ultimate enemy!

You have to try to work your way out of the debt. The way to do this is to work your way out of the hole. The less you pay to service the debt (overdraft fees, interest, etc), the better off you are.

Try to never get into debt. Having debt means your money is not your own. If you’ve budgeted and you have £400.00 left and you have a load of credit-card bills then that £400.00 won’t last long. Most of what you will be paying back will be interest, which just means you’ll be paying nearly the same amount next month and the month after and the month after that! Don’t fall into the debt trap, and if you do, try to escape as soon as possible.

If you have debt what you are basically doing it throwing your money at your bank manager, or credit card company, or loan company. Throwing it, picking up big piles of cash and throwing it away.

Don’t do it, it’s wrong.