Archive for pain

SILENT VOICES By Gary McMahon – Reviewed

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 8, 2012 by stanleyriiks

This review is published with the permission of Morpheus Tales.

Wow! It’s very rare for me to be this impressed by a book. McMahon has produced a fantastic novel, a book of friendship, loss, heartache, and sacrifice.  If you have not read McMahon before, then this is the perfect book to start with.

The second book in the Concrete Grove Trilogy (but a stand-alone novel that works just as well if you haven’t read the first book in the set, although I would recommend it as the first book really sets the changes and starts things off with a bang), sees the reuniting of a group of childhood friends, who twenty years ago went into the abandoned tower block known as the Needle and lost a weekend, only to be found abused and bloodied with no memory of what happened. Finally back together, they head back to where their lives changed, the Needle, to fight whatever demons are there and try to remember what happened that fateful weekend.

The Grove is a hellish place, and if you grew up on a council estate it may ring a little too true, and feel a little too close to home. The unease McMahon creates with his setting is perfectly and sadly authentic.

McMahon’s novel is so well put together, the sense of foreboding, the creeping unease, and the disturbed atmosphere McMahon gradually builds, grow through the novel towards a heart-wrenching climax that leaves you torn and wounded. The characters here are real, you know them.

This is not just a horror novel, this is an intelligent and insightful social commentary; a literary, character-driven novel that delves deeper into our hopes and fears, our shame, guilt and pain, than many other writers dare look.

I always come to a McMahon book with high hopes; his Pretty Little Dead Things is a brutal and twisted vision of genius that is in my top ten books of all time. But that means expectations are high, and that can be a double-edged sword. I look for failures and weaknesses in everything, and usually have no problem finding many, but Silent Voices is good. Really good. Bloody good.  McMahon has done it again; he’s impressed the hell out of me. He’s written an extremely accomplished, intelligent and insightful novel that goes far beyond the genre boundaries.

All horror writers should read McMahon; he shows them how it’s really done. Silent Voices is a disturbing tale of friendship and sacrifice, and McMahon is a master craftsman.


FILGRIM By Graham McNeill – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 23, 2011 by stanleyriiks

The next instalment of the Horus Heresy shows us the other side of the massive conspiracy, which will see the Imperium at war, brutal treachery and betrayal, and the birth of chaos.

Up until now we have seen bare glimpses of chaos, but only hints at the power and control it will eventually have. We have seen brother fighting brother, massive and brutal betrayal. Now, with Fulgrim, we get to see more of the other side. The chaos side of what will be an epic battle. Fulgrim picks up a weapon from an alien planet after a massive battle to subdue it, a sword imbued with evil. But the changes are subtle and gradual, and we also get to see Saul Tarvitz and the lead up to the massive slaughter on Isstvan III. But this is the gradual unfolding of chaos as it slowly and cleverly ecks its way into the cracks, finding a home for itself in the egos of those weak or easily manipulated. It isn’t until the final hundred pages that we see the true power of chaos to corrupt in a massive orgy of violence, and then we have another massive battle as the forces of the Emperor realise they have been betrayed.

Despite a slow start the end of this book is huge, brutal and devastating. It’s utterly shocking, just like the first book in the series, the hurt and pain as brother fights brother is palpable.

McNeill’s second book in the series provides another great instalment. The Black Library is doing very well with this series. Such a massive story to tell, a grand job is being done of telling it. Brutal, murderous, worth buying for the final one hundred pages alone.

CIMARRON ROSE By James Lee Burke – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 19, 2010 by stanleyriiks

Lucas Smothers is arrested for murder, except he was unconscious at the time. He’s put in prison between two hardened criminals, both murderers, one of whom brags about how he killed an old woman, the other escapes killing a guard in the process.

Billy Bob Holland is a pain in the ass according to most of the people who know him, that’s what makes him a great lawyer, and when Vernon, Lucas’ father, asks him for help, Billy Bob can’t refuse. You see, Lucas is in all likelihood his own son.

Add into this a whole lot of Texas mess, a massive back-story, DEA, outback mob, rich kids gone bad, and shake in some other family dramas and you have a Southern American crime novel the likes of which you’ll be familiar with if you’d read any of Burke’s novels before. Burke has a unique voice that’s compelling, his stories are riveting and his characters have such a back-story it’s hard to believe he just thought them up.

American crime thrillers don’t get much better than this.

Reading, Controversy and Horror

Posted in Life..., Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2009 by stanleyriiks

Wow, I’ve just finished a marathon session reading The Kultby Shaun Jeffery, which is definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year. A brutal thriller. I felt exhausted after the finale, like I’d experienced it right alongside the protagonist.

The reading part of being a writer is going well! It took my only two days to polish offThe Kult. Before that I dug deep into my book pile and got out The Gobbler by Adrian Edmondson, which was pretty good. Comedic novels aren’t my favourite genre, but it’s good to have a laugh every now and then to relieve the horror and terror that are my usual entertainments.

Before that the Eyewitness Guide to Stockholm, which is a bit of a strange one, trying to take on all these facts and marking off almost everything in the book because I want to see it when I go visit with my girlfriend next month. Woohoo! A holiday! Desperately needed, I must say.

In between the reading I managed to write one story. It’s pretty raw still, needs major editing, but I think it’s pretty good. Bit controversial. It’s about a young teenage boy who kills his thirteen year old sister by accident when playing an erotic asphyxiation game. The fact that both of them are underage I consider a problem ethically. Normally I’d steer clear of anything underage, just because it makes me feel uncomfortable. But I felt the story needed something extra to make it more… horrifying.

And then I got to thinking about what makes a horror story. Some of them make us feel disgusted, some of them make us feel pain, hurt, horror, lonely, neglect, uncomfortable… Horror is such a limited categorisation in some ways. I think the point of all art is to make the reader/viewer feel. The works that have impacted most upon me: The Lord of The Rings, Star Wars, Dracula, are the ones which had the biggest emotional impact.

So, if a story makes you feel uncomfortable, if the point is for you not to enjoy it, does that mean it works? And does that make it legitimate? Or is it just best to steer clear of controversy?