Archive for supernatural

HELL TO PAY By Shaun Hutson – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2012 by stanleyriiks

This book from 2004, follows a similar pattern to Hutson’s other “horror’ thrillers of the time such as White Ghost.  Around this time, Huston seems to leave the supernatural horror of his previous books behind and head into this new “thriller” territory. Normally there would still be plenty of violence and disturbing gruesome descriptions (that Hutson’s known for) to up the ante on the usual thrillers out there.

Hell to Pay follows the same principles, including the various plot-lines intersecting towards the end for a climactic showdown.

Nikki Reed is in trouble, big trouble. Her and her husband owe the local gangster twenty thousand pounds, most of it spent down the bookies and gambled away, the rest spent on Playstation 2s and similar unrequired accessories. They have until the end of the week to find the money, or they’re likely to be killed by the loan shark, who is already threatening them with violence.

Roma Todd is having an affair. Her husband is virtually estranged, spending all of his time at work and providing little in the way of parental support for their ill daughter Kirsten.

Detective Inspector Fielding is called to another murder. A young boy found washed up by a lake. The third child to be killed. Is it a serial killer they are looking for or a paedophile? Or both? With few clues to follow the police are searching for any lead they can get.

So these three plot lines will eventually intersect, but the climatic action denouement that you would expect ultimately fails to be realised. There is a slight twist, but not enough to satisfy.

One of the great things about Hutson’s novels is the pop-culture references, but reading a book that’s eight years old mean searching through the annals of history. That’s not Hutson’s fault obviously, the fact the book has been lying on my shelf for eight years though is down to the dissatisfied feeling I had after reading White Ghost. That is Hutson’s fault.

Ultimately Hutson is a decent writer who has moved away from what he was good at, writing horror novels, to have a go at the more lucrative thriller market where he does not excel. Nowadays Gary McMahon does urban horror with a much better grasp of the intricacies of modern youth culture, and a better handle on violence and atmosphere.

To write off Hutson as a has-been based on a book written eight years ago is far too harsh. Some of his novels, those that I grew up with such as Nemesis, Death Day, and Relics, are classic British horror. I need to read a more recent Hutson novel to make a more informed decision, and because of his former skill he can’t be written off after a couple of decent, if not impressive, horror thrillers. Decision pending…

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.

DARK DEBTS By Karen Hall – Reviewed

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

Randa Philips gets a call from her ex-boyfriend telling her to come to meet him quickly in the middle of the night. She goes, not even knowing why. But when she arrives, she’s too late. He’s already thrown himself off the top of his building. After committing an armed robbery where he killed someone.

Jack is the last member of his family, he’s not sure how he knows, but he does know that his brother is dead. His third brother to die, the first committing suicide (or possibly killed by their father), the second being executed by the state for murder, and the third again dying at his own hand. The same as their mother and father, both of whom committed suicide. As the town outcast Jack hides in a basement flat and awaits his fate.

Michael is a Jesuit priest struggling with his faith when his grandfather dies. Torn between love and the church, Michael is drawn into a battle between good and evil when he is called upon to be part of an exorcism.

These three very different characters are brought together to be part of the eternal battle as Satanism and devil worship, rape and family curses all come together.

This is a kind of modern retelling of The Exorcist, but not quite as scary. Although this is nice and dark throughout, the end gets a bit too Jesusy for me. I can quite easily believe in demons and dark ghostly figures, but seem to find it much more difficult to believe in good and helpful spirits.

This is a pretty good book, developing nicely as the tale continues. Hall can certainly write, and keeps your intrigues to see how all these disparate threads of plot will come together.

There are a few cringe-worthy moments when you feel Hall is attempting to convert you to Catholicism, but generally these are few and don’t detract too much from the story.

It’s a mystery thriller with a supernatural bent which will keep you reading with excitement to the end.