Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Book Review: Darling by Brad C. Hodson

Darling by Brad C. Hodson

383 pages Bad Moon Books

Darling is a horror novel, it doesn't gross genre, or try to break any daring new ground but that's OK. At it's heart is a classic style horror novel. While the setting is modern it is the tone and creepy atmosphere has a great 80's horror novel feel. Similar to the kind of book you might have found in the Abyss line by dell books. I loved many novels in that line. Reading this novel is kinda like slipping on a favorite old shirt.

The story centers around Rayham Place an apartment building and land with a history of violence and death that goes back more than a century. It was the sight of a civil war battlefield before it became a Tuberculosis hospital. The setting might sound like old hat horror, but it is set up with style and unfolded perfectly in the plot. The story is set off when Dennis decides that his younger friend Mike needs to get away from his over bearing parents. They move into the Rayham place.

Once in the building, strange things are a foot. Behavior of of main characters change and the past of the building is slowly revealed.

Hodson has a strength for plotting, everything from the background of the building to the history between the main characters are carefully revealed to perfect effect. The other strength of this novel is the creepy tone, combined this makes for a perfect building of suspense that makes the whole thing work.

This is an excellent horror novel. Readers looking for a new voice telling classic style horror have a new author to check out.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Run Run Shaw tribute: My favorite shaw movies in trailers

With the passing of Run Run Shaw in tribute I present my favorite Shaw trailers. (Minus Heads for sale which is not on you tube) Five element ninjas: Fist of the White Lotus Come Drink with Me: and the sequel Golden Swallow: 36th Chamber of Shoalin: Executioners of Shoalin: Legendary Weapons of China: Five fingers of death: Infra-man: One armed swordsman:

Book Review: The Healer by Michael Blumlein

The Healer by Michael Blumlein, MD

359 pages Hardcover PYR

I have certain friends and colleagues whose opinions are a lock for me. This author was suggested to me by one such lock. Any author he tells me to read, I do. Although this novel was not specifically recommended to me I got it because it was the one the library had. Once I saw the blurbs on the cover from Kim Stanley Robinson and Ursula K. Leguin I brought it home and started right away.

At first I was annoyed by the inclusion of MD after the author’s name but in this case Blumlein being a doctor is a valid thing to point out. One of my favorite genre authors F.Paul Wilson is also a doctor. He explored the act of healing and the spiritual nature of such in a great classic horror novel “The Touch.” This novel is an interesting cousin to that novel.

The Healer is an almost surreal deeply political exploration of healing as an art. It has many moments of beauty, but many more disturbing moments. The world building here is vague. Is this a purely fantasy world, or a far future dystopia I can’t say? Blumlein leaves that a mystery and open to the imagination. Don’t get me wrong it is a well realized world. Set in four different locations ranging from a mine, a Las Vegas like city and a prison. It is all very interesting but not as cool as the character aspects.

The story follows Payne who is born to a deformed off shoot of humanity called Grotesques or tesques. The tesques has a deformed heads and a extra orifice in their chests. Something in their biology gives them the ability to heal humans collecting illness, injury and disease in their chests. There is a mythology that follows the healers. At times they are treated with great respect other times they are feared.

This feels like the theme that Blumlein seems is exploring through-out. The prose is effective and powerful. The story is well plotted and entertaining. Several moments are so disturbing I found the story deeply effecting.

Consider me a fan, I intend to check out more work by this author.

Book Review: The Other by Matthew Hughes

The Other by Matthew Hughes

231 pages Underland Press

I happened across this novel at the library and picked it up based on the strength of the press. Underland Press. A Portland based indie press who released books by two of my favorite authors Brian Evenson and John Shirley. Hughes a Canadian author is new to me but has novels published with both Nightshade and Angry Robot. I can’t say where this novel fits in with his greater style I can only judge this one.

The story centers around a character named Luff Imbry, (A few minutes of research told me Luff has been in other novels by Hughes) he is an overweight ne’er do-well who starts off the story being abducted and dumped on the planet Fulda. A far off world that was founded by humans but long since forgotten. Imbry tries to get off the world and has many adventures while he discovers that the people of the planet founded their civilization on a belief of total conformity.

The best thing about this novel is the tongue in cheek tone and the many laughs throughout. The setting is interesting with effective and quick world building that doesn’t bloat the word count. Luff is a funny character, I can’t say I cared much about him, but the laughs carried me through. It seems to be influenced heavily by Vance's Dying Earth books, almost to the point of being set in the same universe.

The novel seems to explore the concepts of individuality, and that should have been more interesting. While I was amused thorough-out I found the setting of Fulda a little uninteresting after awhile. While I was not a huge fan of this novel, it had good enough moments that I probably will try another Matthew Hughes novel.