Archive for Stephen King

THE BIG SLEEP BY Raymond Chandler – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 3, 2016 by stanleyriiks

Chandler’s classic novel introduced us to Philip Marlow, a no nonsense ex-soldier turner Private Investigator, who is called to the home of the Sternwoods, a rich family living the highlife in LA.

Although the mission Marlow is given by the ailing old patriarch is to resolve a case of blackmail, he rapidly becomes involved in a series of murders, and must wade through the seedy underbelly of the city to find out what he needs to know.

This all seems very familiar, probably because it’s been copied to death, and has influenced pretty much every crime novel and movie ever since it was published.

Marlowe is the quintessential gum-shoe. What more can you say about a novel that inspired a genre?

Well, how about the Sternwoods are about as lifelike as the Kardashians, rich cardboard cut-outs, the dying old wheelchair-bound man is the most life-like and likeable, his daughters are a pair of spoilt rich sluts, alternatively using their money or their bodies to get what they want.

Marlowe, our hero (of a sort), doesn’t fare much better, although I suppose we have to give Chandler the credit for creating the stereotype. I guess I expected more, a bit of attitude, a bit of flair, a down at heel, hard on his luck James Bond type (you can clearly see where Marlowe inspired Bond). What you get is a man following his nose into trouble, with little wit, energy or intelligence.

And the plot hobbles along, following the barest morsel of investigation to a weak and ultimately unsatisfying ending.

It seems Chandler’s novel hasn’t fared as well as the pulp heroes before it, or the superheroes and Bond-villains who followed. May be the realism of Marlowe is what made him great and has made him age just as badly.

Chandler’s unique style isn’t noticeable present here either.

Perhaps the film version is better?

Disappointingly pedestrian.

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THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE By Neil Gaiman – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2015 by stanleyriiks

How does he do it?

As a reader he manages to captivate, inspire and surprise me. As a writer he terrifies me. How can I compete?

Our narrator is a middle-aged man who visits what’s left of his childhood home and remembers a brief episode: after he sees a man commit suicide in their family car, he runs away to the house at the end of the lane, and in that house is a family of women, including a young girl slightly older than him, who have been there since the Doomsday book was written (who have a duckpond that they call an ocean). After a magical trip with the young girl our narrator returns home to find things have changed… When he gets a new nanny, she turns out to be some form of magical creature and is intent on imprisoning him in the attic.

Gaiman weaves tales like no one else. This book most reminded me of Hansel and Gretel, it’s a modern-day fairy tale. It’s riveting, absorbing, poignant, intelligent, and captivating. It’s a fantasy like a Roald Dahl book. A book of memory and the fantastic, it’s beautiful and heart wrenching.

Mr Gaiman is a true genius. It’s impossible to review his books with any kind of critical eye because he just sweeps you up in the story and characters. This isn’t his best book, American Gods and Anansi Boys both have more depth, and I’m not sure any book could better The Graveyard Book. But this is an amazing book. It’s simple and straightforward and brilliant. It’s short and insightful and poetic.

The modern teller of fairy tales has created another masterpiece of fiction.

I will follow Mr Gaiman (not in the stalker sense, just his writing!) wherever he goes and I have no doubt I will enjoy every step.

Fantastical genius.

Morpheus Tales Supplement Out Now!

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2014 by stanleyriiks

The latest issue of the FREE Morpheus Tales Supplement is out now! It’s got an exclusive interview with Dan Abnett (Horus Heresy and 40K Legend!) and Nik Vincent, loads of articles and columns from the usual crew (marvellous!), and a load of book and film reviews including some from me (which are fabulous, obviously!).

http://issuu.com/morpheustales/docs/mt25reviews

Morpheus Tales 23 Supplement is OUT NOW!

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2014 by stanleyriiks

Finally it’s here! Months in the making, even longer in the writing, but the review supplement is out now! Featuring author interviews, some amazing articles and columns, and a whole heap of great reviews (some written by yours truly!), it’s 44 pages of horror, sf, and fantasy non-fiction and it’s all for you, and it’s all free!

Go get yourself a copy:

http://issuu.com/morpheustales/docs/23reviews

It’s great, it’s free, what more could you want?

January Issue – Morpheus Tales Supplement

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 10, 2013 by stanleyriiks

Been so busy working and reviewing for the next issue of the Morpheus Tales Supplement that I haven’t even had time to write a blog! There’s more still to come, but here’s a good idea of what will be contained in those hallowed pages…

MARAUDER By Gary Gibson
THE LORDS OF SALEM
Ramblings of a Tattooed Head By Simon Marshall-Jones
DREAM LONDON By Tony Ballantyne
THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST NEW HORROR 24 Edited By Stephen Jones
MEAT By Joseph D’Lacey
GARBAGE MAN By Joseph D’Lacey
SHADES OF MILK AND HONEY By Mary Robinette Kowal
DRAKENFELD By Mark Charon Newton
SHAME THE DEVIL By Michael Lejeune
A BRIEF GUIDE TO GHOST HUNTING By Dr Leo Ruickbie
KNIGHT OF SHADOWS By Toby Venables
The Most-Visited Grave in Swan Point Cemetery By Hunter Welles
DEEP STORM By Lincoln Child
FROM THE FATHERLAND, WITH LOVE By Ryu Marakami
THE EIDOLON By Libby McGugan
THE CONJURING (2013)
DARK SKIES (2013)
JOYLAND By Stephen King
SPLATTERLANDS: REAWAKENING THE SPLATTERPUNK REVOLUTION By Various
ABRAHAM LINCOLN VS ZOMBIES (2012)
World War Z (2013)
THE WITCH’S DAUGHTER By Paula Brackston
THE WINTER WITCH By Paula Brackston
TIGER’S CLAW By Dale Brown
PLASTIC JESUS By Wayne Simmons
THE EMPEROR’S BLADES By Brian Staveley
BOUNTY KILLER
THE IRON WOLVES By Andy Remic

The FREE Morpheus Tales Supplement will be out in January… You can read and download the current and previous issues from the Morpheus Tales website: www.morpheustales.com

 

GARBAGE MAN By Joseph D’Lacey – Reviewed

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 4, 2013 by stanleyriiks

A year after the miracle of horror that was MEAT, D’Lacey was back with a new novel and I had to read it. Garbage Man was a very different book, but it had that same raw intensity, it had that same passion and an underlining ecological theme. For his second book D’Lacey goes all B-Movie on us and brings us a powerful vision of a future corrupted by humanity and the toxic results! My original review is below:

This book is absurd. It’s ridiculous. And it’s bloody marvellous!

In D’Lacey’s debut novel MEAT he teased us in, providing a stark, gritty realism to draw us into his world, and then slamming us face first into the dark, depraved heart of his brutal, unforgiving, twisted reality.

Well, he’s back!

Shreve is a small mid-England town, a normal enough town with a normal enough set of individuals populating it. Shreve is also home to one of the largest landfill sites in the UK.

The populants of the town are Shreve are a varied bunch, there’s the Smithfields, their son Donald, a young paperboy having sex with one of his married neighbours, and Aggie, the wannabe model and teenage temptress. There’s Miss Ahern the nosey neighbour and religious nut. There’s Kevin and Tamsin, the married couple on the verge of breaking up. Ray and Jenny, two students whose relationship has run it’s course and who may find happiness in the arms of that married couple. And then there’s Delilah, an Earthy goth chick. And Mason Brand, former star photographer and now caretaker of one of the strangest creatures to ever grace the printed page…

In a superbly Frankenstein-esque moment during a lightning storm several piles of rubbish from the landfill awaken into creatures. But only one of the creatures survives as Mason finds it and starts feeding it, with his own blood. The creature, made of rubbish, feeds and grows. This truly gives a new meaning to recycling, as the creature consumes everything given to it, or it can take, and uses it to heal itself, to upgrade itself. It’s like a Transformer made of rubbish and when it eventually feeds on an entire human it starts to get the taste and realises that it shouldn’t be alone, it should be the commander of a massive army of other garbage creatures, and so it sets its army on a path of destruction that will change Shreve and the world forever.

This really shouldn’t work. It’s too ridiculous, except that it’s not. This does work, and it works well. The town of Shreve is set up very realistically, and the characters and their bad habits are all presented to us well before the actual horror starts. And when the horror does kick in it’s hard and fast and furious.

Not only does D’Lacey provide his knack for brutal realism, he creates a creature you care about almost as much as the other characters. The Garbage Man, although certainly a villain, is also something of a hero, and at the end you can’t help but feel a certain empathy with him in an almost King Kong moment.

The final ending is even harsher and more brutal than the attack of the garbage men and deserves mention as one of the spookiest endings I’ve read in a long time, one that will not only leave you pondering the sheer wretchedness of it all, but leaving you aching for more. The last few chapters show us the true power that D’Lacey can unleash.

It’s not a perfect package by any means, our ensemble cast provide little in the way of emotional involvement. The best character is Delilah and she doesn’t appear until the book is halfway through. And Aggie’s adventures in London are cut far too short, and probably could have been quite a decent book on their own.

D’Lacey’s tendency to use pertinent socio-political themes doesn’t detract from the entertainment, it enhances it. You cannot help but smile at the clear message, whilst enjoying the bloodlust and nastiness that D’Lacey uses to such great effect. A bloodlust and nastiness that is akin to Jack Ketchum’s brutality and is highly entertainment for the horror connoisseur.

Garbage Man is ridiculous, but in a good way. It is the skill and subtlety with which D’Lacey tells the story that raises this so far above beyond the ridiculous.

This is what horror should be like, no-holds-barred brutality, nastiness in an action-packed package.

www.oaktreepress.co.uk

MEAT By Joseph D’Lacey – Reviewed

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2013 by stanleyriiks

I originally read MEAT in 2008, it was the first novel by an unknown (to me) writer named D’Lacey. I was actually shocked, shocked, by one scene. I’d never been shocked before, and having read horror for twenty-odd years I didn’t expect to be shocked. I was surprised to be shocked (of course since then I’d read Gary McMahon and Andy Remic!).

I enjoyed MEAT immensely, and have been a fan of D’Lacey ever since, he is a story teller with an agenda, but he never lets that get in the way of a good story. MEAT is being re-released by Oak Tree Press and it’s about damn time. If you want to read a scary book then you need to read this one, it’s sheer brutality is a joy to behold. It’s shocking in a way that very few books can ever be. This is D’Lacey at his brutal best, the original review and I stand by it. Read this book people, read it now!

It’s very difficult to review a book without giving away the basic premise, but I’m going to have to try because it’s such a good surprise that I really don’t want to spoil it for you.

But you should read this book, and you should find out what the surprise is for yourself.

I devoured it in three days, and had to chuck my girlfriend out of the flat so that she would not distract me. And she’s a pretty nice distraction!

Richard Shanti works at Magnus Meat Processing, a huge slaughterhouse that provides all the meat, and through methane processing, the power for the town of Abryne. He’s known as The Ice Pick and he’s MMP’s top stunner, the man who puts the bolt into the brain of the cattle. But Richard starts to think that something is wrong at MMP, something very wrong.

There are various other strands to the plot, including a mad, half-starved prophet intent on ruining MMP whatever the costs, someone trying to find out the truth about the Ice Pick, Magnus himself protecting his monopoly at any cost.

This is so much more than a horror novel, although it contains one of the most horrifying scenes I’ve ever read, and I’m a veteran of the splatterpunk era and video nasties. It’s at once, a horror, science fiction, and morality tale.

Brutal and tender at the same time, MEAT is a highly accomplished first novel from an author who shows a lot of promise.

www.oaktreepress.co.uk