Book Review: Strange Weather by Joe Hill

AuthorJoe Hill
Release Date: 24th October 2017
Genre: Horror, Supernatural, Dark, Short Stories
Series: 
Edition: Hardback
Pages: 448
Publisher: Gollancz
Blurb:
Four short novels from the author of THE FIREMAN and HORNS, ranging from creepy horror to powerful explorations of our modern society.
One autumnal day in Boulder, Colorado, the clouds open up in a downpour of nails, splinters of bright crystal that tear apart anyone who isn’t safely under cover. ‘Rain’ explores this escalating apocalyptic event, as clouds of nails spread out across the country and the world. Amidst the chaos, a girl studying law enforcement takes it upon herself to resolve a series of almost trivial mysteries . . . apparently harmless puzzles that turn out to have lethal answers.
In ‘Loaded’ a mall security guard heroically stops a mass shooting and becomes a hero to the modern gun movement. Under the hot glare of the spotlights, though, his story begins to unravel, taking his sanity with it…
‘Snapshot, 1988’ tells the story of an kid in Silicon Valley who finds himself threatened by The Phoenician, a tattooed thug who possesses a Polaroid that can steal memories…
And in ‘Aloft’ a young man takes to the skies to experience parachuting for the first time . . . and winds up a castaway on an impossibly solid cloud, a Prospero’s island of roiling vapour that seems animated by a mind of its own.

REVIEW

★★★

This book turned out to be an okay read. I had a lot of expectation from this one, mostly because I had heard a lot about Joe Hill’s writing but also because he is one of the offsprings of my favourite writer. Overall, I liked the concepts of the stories, but what I did not like was the way they started to feel “lost” after a good beginning. The writing was good, no doubt, but the narration seemed to have faltered a lot as the story reached a certain point and then it went downhill from there at a fast speed.

Snapshot – 3/5 – Being a king fan, I felt this was very much like his works. I liked this story, but do feel that the ending was a slog. Hill could have totally ended the story 10-20 pages before and it would have been a great read rather than having over-stretched it.

Loaded – 1/5 – I read the first 2 pages and I left it there itself. I didn’t find the writing very appealing in this one nor did the story made any sense to me (I mean it is a short story, it has to make some sense in the first 2 pages, right?!) So… DNF

Aloft – 4/5 – A very good story. I loved the backstory more than anything else but overall, I really enjoyed this one. This book was a big relief and felt like a glass of chilled water in the desert heat as after such average stories, it was good to read something Hill is famous for – his unique imagination and style.

Rain – 3/5 – I really liked the beginning of this story and thought that this one would be my favourite one from this collection but towards the end, it started to feel like a burden and I was not sure where was it even headed to (something that I felt in the first story, Snapshot, too.)

You can also read this review on Goodreads
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Book Review: Ghost Tribes: The Ghost of Africa by Venancio Cadle Gomani Jr.

Author: Venancio Cadle Gomani Jr.
Release Date: 1st January 2019
Genre: African Fiction
Series: Ghost Tribes (Book #1)
Edition: Ebook
Pages: 199
Publisher: Venancio Gomani Books
Blurb:
In a semi-fictional verisimilitude of the continent of Africa, all the tribes are ruled by kings, smaller breakaway tribes are ruled by chiefs, and all are governed by the council of paramount—a legion of the noble tribes of the continent.
The principal story follows the tale of Likando and the war of the brother kings. Likando is the Lozi tribe’s princess, heir-elect to the throne, and the only legitimate child of the Lozi king, Simasiku Lumeta. However, growing without the presence of her mother, and her father never having told her the story of who her mother is or where she is or if she is even alive today, causes her to begin searching for the truth against her father’s permission and/or consent. She stumbles upon darker truths that result in her to learn that her birth may not have been a result of love or mere chance, but a carefully considered and planned series of events. This leads the princess into taking courses of action that bring her tribe, family, and overall kingdom to the brink of near-extinction.
The second part of the tale which begins eight years before the events of the first novel follows the story of Kaleya, the lost son of nothing who, after waking up alone in the jungle with no memory of his identity or his past prior, goes on a quest to discover the truth behind his stolen memories but entangles himself in a series of circumstances that result in him having to fight for his survival more often than not. The second part of the story simultaneously chronicles the Ghost of Africa, an enigma thought to be a demon that terrorizes tribes around a territory it claimed as its own three years before the events of the novel. Before the Ghost of Africa occupied the territory it occupies, there lived a thriving tribe with an organized structure and an army of possessed soldiers, ten thousand strong. However, when the Ghost of Africa first emerged, it led an army of exiled tribesmen-turned cannibal, who form the population referred to as the cannibals tribeless in the millions, against the growing tribe and thus, overwhelming its army and having the cannibals devour the raw flesh of the men, women, and children of the tribe. After wiping out of existence the tribe that existed in its territory prior, the demon goes on to fence that very territory with the skulls of the tribe’s populist on barbed wooden stakes in the hundreds of thousands all around that territory as a warning for anyone who ever dared to trespass.
The first book in the series, The Ghost of Africa, opens with Likando, the heir-elect to the Lozi throne, preparing for the maturity ceremony who gets ambushed by a gang of purported ‘mixed-breeds’. This series of events leads her to come face-to-face with the Ghost of Africa.

REVIEW

★★★★

Ghost Tribes: The Ghost of Africa by Venancio Cadle Gomani Jr. is a beautiful book that is culturally so rich that it is impossible to not like it. It is an enriched and captivating tale which I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

The book opens with a bang and ends on such a high note that I was left thoroughly impressed by the author’s ability to pull off something like this, which is conceptually so heavy, with such ease and precision. The writing is commendable and I am looking forward to reading more works by the author.

The characterization could have been better, but it is one of those books in which story is the main hero and the characters come next. So overall it proved to be a pretty good read and I’d recommend it to anyone who likes reading books with more emphasis on the story than characters.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: The Subject And The Scientist by Montana Stayer

Author: Montana Stayer
Release Date: 6th February 2018
Genre: Science Fiction, Dark Fiction
Series:  
Edition: E-book
Pages: 187
Publisher:
Blurb:
The Scientist’s daughter was dying and he was desperate to save her by any means necessary. He illegally and artificially created the Subject, the perfect donor body, but was taken by surprise when the Subject turned out to be a fully conscious child. Faced with the choice of taking care of the child he accidentally created or saving his daughter, the Scientist chose the latter. He kept the Subject locked in the basement with full intent to kill her to save his daughter.
The Scientist’s plan ultimately failed and his daughter died, leaving him with the “thing” meant to save her.
It’s been years since his daughter died and the Scientist has kept the Subject locked up alone in the basement, refusing to acknowledge that she is a child and treating her strictly as an experiment. He keeps a rigid routine when visiting her and attempts to be completely objective, which proves to be difficult as the Subject has grown to be a very friendly child who insists on trying to build some sort of relationship with him.
Nothing’s changed in a long time. The Scientist begins losing sleep because of his worsening mental and emotional states and his exhaustion leads to mistakes, which cause problems with the Subject. When the Subject’s health starts rapidly deteriorating because of him, the Scientist’s forced to reconsider his objectivity but he is adamant about remaining indifferent, endangering the Subject’s life.

Review

★★★

The Subject And The Scientist by Montana Stayer is an unusual sci-fi tale about a man who does something he never intended to do and then ends up, quite unhappily, living with the consequences of his acts.

The plot described in the blurb of the book is simple enough, but the story is not; it is way more than one might expect after reading the summary. For one, the emotional aspect of the story was something I really found interesting, especially the detachment of The Scientist, the lead character, towards the girl, The Subject.

The writing style was simple and okay but the characterization was something I wasn’t overly impressed with. Overall, I feel that the story demanded two very, very strong characters to take the story to another level and that was something I found missing. The ending was different and made sense.

I’d recommend this book to light sci-fi fans and readers of the dark genre.

this review is also posted on goodreads and amazon

Book Review: Purgatorium by J.H. Carnathan

Author: J.H. Carnathan
Release Date: 27th May 2016
Genre: Dark Mystery, Thriller
Series:  
Edition: E-book
Pages: 430
Publisher: J.H. Carnathan
Blurb:
When his watch resets to zero, his morning starts again. Everyday his time always ends right at 60 Minutes, giving him only 5 minutes to stay at one particular place in his normal routine. The empty streets and familiar places are strange facsimiles of his previous life. He keeps reliving these same events over and over, barely able to remember anything and unable to maintain mental order as he stumbles through a strange existence. He soon learns that his physical body is in a coma and his consciousness is currently in a purgatory-like realm. As his body lies in a coma, his mind has been living a lavish lifestyle at a price: his sinful memories and his autonomy. After finding out his life support is coming to an end he must now run the last race for his life to decide if he is a “soul survivor” ready for a second chance at life or a lost soul willing to give it all up. He needs to outrun reapers, outthink the clock, and chase down his inner demons if he is ever going to get free. The race is on, and if he is going to survive, he’ll have to confront the world he’s always been so desperate to escape from.

Review

★★★+1/2

Purgatorium by J.H. Carnathan is a unique book with a story so intricate you wouldn’t mind being lost in it for hours.

When I first read the summary of the book, I was very intrigued and that was the main reason I picked it to read. Initially, it took me some time to get a hold of the theme of the story (obviously I knew it, but it took some getting used to) and once I got into the rhythm of the story flow, it only got more and more interesting.

Without giving away much, I’d just say that this book is more like a puzzle than a story; it has lots of clues and red-herrings and takes you on a mind-bending journey only to leave you baffled at the end. This is the first book of this kind that I’ve read and I did enjoy it. Though, my only problem was that I wasn’t able to feel a connection with the main character. I do get the abstractness of his identity, still, I wasn’t able to root for him to find himself amidst all the chaos.

I’d recommend this book to dark fiction lovers and to anyone who loves solving peculiar puzzles.

this review is also posted on Goodreads and Amazon

Graphic Novel Review: Manga Classics – The Stories Of Edgar Allen Poe

Author: Edgar Allan Poe
Adapted By: Stacy King
Illustrator: 
Several
Release Date: 17th October 2017
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Short-Story Collection, Graphic Novel
Series: 

Edition:
 PDF
Pages: 308
Publisher: Udon Entertainment
Blurb:
The Tales of Edgar Allan Poe is a brilliant collection of some of his best-known stories: The Tell Tale Heart (a murder s haunting guilt), The Cask of Amontillado (a story of brilliant revenge), and The Fall of the House of Usher (an ancient house full of very dark secrets). Also included in this collection are The Mask of the Red Death (horrors of ‘the Plague’), and the most famous of all his poems: The Raven (a lover s decline into madness). Best read in a dimly-lit room with the curtains drawn, Poe s brilliant works come to life in darkly thrilling ways in this Manga Classic adaptation.”

Review

★★★

The Stories Of Edgar Allen Poe is another adaptation by Stacy King, who has adapted several other Manga Classics including Sense And Sensibility. This was my first encounter with any of Edgar Allen Poe’s works, and to say that the stories creeped me out would be an understatement considering that I write horror and creep-worthy fiction myself.

To be honest, this book did not please me like some of the other Manga Classics did; maybe it was because I wasn’t able to connect with Poe’s writing, or maybe because there were only a couple of stories. Either way, I didn’t like this book enough to get and read other works by Mr Poe because having previously read Stacy King’s other adaptations, I know that that it wasn’t because of her or the illustrations, which were beautifully done, to say the least.

The illustrations, as mentioned above, were awesome and spell-binding (literally!) They felt eerie and many times I stopped reading only to examine the illustrations more closely as they had such amazing details. Unfortunately, I received a very early ARC edition of this particular book, so some of the illustrations were only in black and white. Nonetheless, the illustrations were remarkable.

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If you’re anything like me and dread reading most fo the classics, then go ahead and give this one a read. It never hurts to have read the condensed and illustrated version of the most famous works of one of the greatest authors of their time.

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Review also posted on: Goodreads and NetGalley

Book Review: Something Needs Bleeding: The Final Novel by Thomas Singer by Christopher Long

Author: Christopher Long
Release Date: 28th September 2015
Genre: Horror, Dark
Edition: E-book
Pages: 334
Publisher: Wallace Publishing

Rating: ★★★★★

Blurb:

Kensington Gore is a man on a mission. He always aims to give his readers something fresh from the world of horror. Only this time he is offering you something a little different. This time he is offering you a piece of horror history to call your very own. Collected in this volume are the final works of one of the great unsung heroes of horror, Thomas Singer. Singer was a man who truly knew how to terrify his readers with his strange, nightmarish tales. Sadly, though, he never received the acclaim in life he so rightly deserved. Following the mysterious death of the reclusive writer earlier this year, Kensington Gore Publishing author Christopher Long was invited to help edit Singer’s final five bone chilling tales and introduce them to the world. There are many rumours and theories about what secrets these stories may hold. Singer himself selected them from his extensive back catalogue and held them back to be released only after his death. So read Something Needs Bleeding, if you dare. See what you can find hidden in the final pages Thomas Singer had to offer the world. Just be careful you don’t come away with blood all over you.

Review

Something Needs Bleeding by Christopher Long is a compilation of horror stories by  Thomas Singer, a talented but recluse author and wanted who wanted these stories to be published and read by his readers only after his death.

The fact that this book has stories by a dead author who wanted them published only after his death is disquieting in itself. I did feel a queer feeling when I finished reading the introduction and started reading the first story and once I got started there was no turning back. The uncertainty that these stories could very well have been real experiences of the author made my nerves stand on end throughout the book.

I liked the introductions by Christopher Long, mostly because they added a layer of intrigue and uneasiness to the stories that followed. They were also quite informative, as not having known Thomas Singer at all, they helped me know a lot about him and hence, develop a connection with the stories. They added a layer of intimacy between the stories and the reader and it felt like I’ve known Singer all my life.

The stories… well, they were all masterpieces. And I say this being a horror author myself. They weren’t outrageously spooky or even scary, but they were quite firm in holding the reader’s attention and the detailing and the easy flow of the writing and the beautiful progression of each and every story was spot on and more than enough for me to give this book a full 5/5 rating.

In fact, I’m going to dig up other books by Thomas Singer and read them all because his writing deserves to be read and relished. I’m sure he’s smiling from up there reading this review and I hope that he did not meet his end in the way one of his stories end (Something Needs Bleeding – 3rd incision.)

I found each and every story to be a work of genius. I loved each and every single story and I found myself completely losing in them and losing the track of time. The narration (and the first person POVs) were written in such a way that it made me feel as if I was right there and it was all happening right in front of me. The imagery (the proper term for what I just said) was superb!

I’d recommend this book to all the horror readers and to those who won’t mind reading dark and creepy stuff. If you love the horror genre, then you simply can’t afford to miss this one.

More from the author: Author Interview: Christopher Long

Goodreads and Amazon

Novella Review: Fly And Other Stories

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Author: Anneliese Poelsma 
Release Date: January 12, 2015 
Series: None
Genre: Short Stories |Dark Fiction | Psychological Fiction | Adult
Edition: E-Book (mobi) 
Pages: 68
Publisher: Self-Published 
Source: Author
Buy it here: Amazon

Blurb

A book of six short stories.

Winner of the 2014 Ada Cambridge Prose Prize, ‘fly’ tells the story about a power struggle between two women whose relationship is doomed from the start yet neither can let go, one because of a desire for power and control, the other because of an inability to let go of her need for escapism and change.

‘I live in the bathroom. My husband locked me in here in a fit of rage…’
Winner of the 2002 Verandah Literary Award for fiction, ‘I Live in the Bathroom’ is an unsettling psychological tale about a woman’s disturbing fight to retain her sanity in a domestic setting gone awry. After being locked up by her grieving husband, she takes us on a dangerous journey into the bugs and viruses of the human mind as she struggles to make sense of her reality and the consequences of her dark feelings of jealousy and rejection.

Jennifer… an innocent, socially awkward woman being bullied by her chic office colleagues, or an obsessed, narcissistic stalker capable of the darkest of deeds?

‘Where Maisy Went’
Longlisted for the 2014 Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize.
Desperate for a baby of her own, a stroll through the inner city gardens turns into an impromptu kidnapping for middle-aged, mentally challenged Georgia. Ill equipped for the sudden demands of motherhood and with the mind of a child herself, Georgia unwittingly embarks on a journey towards infanticide.

The food the food the food…
‘Skin’ tells the story about the role food can play in the struggle against self-loathing, the fear of rejection and the fight for control and preservation of self in the face of psychological manipulation and abuse. Skin outlines one lesbian woman’s battle to free herself not only from the power of false love but the demands of a society and its concepts of what constitutes feminine beauty.

‘Jump’
One man’s search for his family in a busy shopping center becomes a search for meaning and purpose in his life. As he loses hope at every wrong turn and the resulting disasters continually test his lacking confidence, the man must decide if his life is worth the continued struggle against disappointment, disapproval and death.

‘fly and other stories’ explores human strength and fallibility in the face of failed emotional connections. It investigates the fragility of sanity and the desire to hold onto hope, sometimes where there is none. Each character seeks to achieve a sense of self-improvement, freedom and happiness, sometimes successfully, sometimes misguided, sometimes with horrific consequences as they struggle to force their worlds to make sense.

Rating

5-stars

Review

Fly And Other Short Stories is a short-stories collection of 6 brilliantly written short stories. The main theme of the story is exploring the dark rooms inside a person and the author has done it to perfection.

I enjoyed each and every story and was left craving for more. All the stories were short, to-the-point and smart. I really liked reading them and they really creeped the hell out of me (yeah, I just made that up. But you get the drift, right?)

To be honest, when I first saw this book on Goodreads, I had no idea what to expect from it. I mean the name itself felt bizarre and then as soon as I read the blurb, I was sold! I immediately accepted the review request and now, that I’ve read it, I’m really happy that I read it.

If you like the works of Stephen King and Gillian Flynn then this book is a must read. It’s a novella, but it packs a serious punch. All the stories are 5/5. In fact, they are so good that I can’t even pick a favorite one.

I’d recommend this book to all the readers of dark fiction, especially those who have a thing for creepy stuff and don’t mind the negative side of things.

You can also read this review at:
Goodreads and Amazon

Other Stuff

Opening Line: I sit on the edge of the couch, perched and stiff.

Highlights: Brilliant storytelling.

Lowlights: None.

Final Thoughts: A brilliant short story collection.