Just my opinions on new and old Horror novels.
Merry Christmas to everyone!
I've got too little reading done these past few days to bother with an update, but I wanted to share a freebie that Horror lovers might enjoy.
A Christmas Tale by Austin Crawley
This one had a title change from A Halloween Tale and someone put the wrong author on it, but hopefully it will all get straightened out.
Free until Dec 29 so grab it quick!
A well written short story about a guy who inherits the duty to care for a cemetary. It's the "family business". His father taught him not only the care duties, but the need to keep themselves apart from the people in the town because if they develop friendships, they will find themselves burying friends and their children and it's too much to take.
Michael, the protagonist, buries his parents and inherits the yard, as the cemetary is called, but has thoughts of marriage and a real life for himself. A murder thwarts his plans and leads to some serious juju to try to find out who the killer is. Dealing with the local witch has some Twilight Zone type drawbacks and consequences.
All things considered, it was a good short story and had a neat ending. There were a few typos that could use correcting, but the writing was generally good and had the desired effect. Not a bad effort for a short.
I'm glad I saved this one to read in December. I've enjoyed several movie versions of A Christmas Carol and loved the original book, so the idea of someone having a seance to raise the spirits of Christmas was really appealing.
This has been done extremely well. The three female characters don't seem all that likeable at first, but like Scrooge, they experience flashbacks to their pasts that make it possible to understand them better and see their development into what are actually typical examples of a lot of young women today. But it's the changes that happen as a result of the ghostly visitations that really make the story.
I love how the progression mirrors that of Scrooge, yet is specific to each of these characters. I was drawn deeper and deeper into their lives and the terrible things they've seen or experienced. Naturally the third ghost brings it all to a frightening and even surreal crescendo before the end. I think I'll remember this story for a long time to come. I might even make it an annual Horror Christmas read.
Human is a cute little story, told in present tense, about a little girl ghost who befriends a human boy when his family moves into the house. She is trapped within a limited area of the house and cannot be seen by adults, only the boy.
It's nothing too exciting, but the story does take a dark turn when we learn how the little girl died and why she is so restricted in her movements. For a short story, her character and that of the boy are actually developed fairly well.
It's a nice, short read for when you're in the mood for a ghost story, but nothing too intense.
I see why there is such a high page count now. 150 pages in and the story is still being set up. I'm not complaining, just noting the style.
There could be spoilers ahead so this is really written for those who have already read it (that would be everybody except me) and are vicariously enjoying my first trip to Derry.
So, so far there has only been one murder seen in 1958, but after reeling ahead to 1985, the individual stories of a group of people who were kids at the time who made a pact to return if it ever started happeneing again, there are suggestions that a lot more happened in 1958 than the story has shown so far and we're going to learn all about it as we go along. These individual stories have left me bored, fascinated, angry, but most of all, invested. I can't quit now. I have to find out what happened.
King, you bastard!
The Last Ghost is a short, just 32 pages, told in first person. The story description says: " In his ancestral home, a man puts his family's affairs in order, alone except for the ticking of a clock. But he soon finds that he is not alone as he is visited by a succession of ghosts."
It starts out as a nice little story that sounds like it will go on this way, the protagonist making observations as he is constantly watched by a ghost in the house and others come along, each with their own distinct personalities.
Then it takes a dark turn, leading to a great twist.
This is one of those hidden gems we're always hearing about that you only find by wading through the slush. It's an easy five stars and I will be looking for this author again.
Would make a great Halloween read for anyone looking for some spooky entertainment tonight that isn't too long to finish.
This one almost lost me at the beginning. There's a fast paced prologue written in present tense and fairly gory, followed by a slow paced first chapter. Add to that a protagonist named Rooster (so I have a mental picture of him as a chicken every time his name is mentioned) and it was only the creepy scarecrows that held me.
Lots of Ak 47's, high testosterone stuff. But then there are increasing hints of horrors to come and things get pretty cryptic. The scarecrows made me wonder if we had some Children of the Corn type Horror in store, but then it took a different turn. Having finished now and assimilated the great reveal, I'm tempted to say this is more of a piece of avant garde art than a story. Objectively, it was very well done. The ideas were above the pale and stimulated a lot of analytical thought.
However, as a story, it was non-linear and very confusing at times. First a guy is dead, then he's alive again, then... you get the picture. It all makes sense in the end, but that feeling of not knowing what's going on along the way isn't what I look for in a story. It would probably appeal to Tarantino film fans. Personally, I'm hoping the next story I read is a little more straight forward with the old fashioned beginning, middle and end formula.
I kind of feel bad just giving this story two stars, but ratings are supposed to reflect enjoyment level, right? The story could have been good if the writer would SLOW DOWN and set the scene, give the reader some idea of where, when and who within the first few chapters. Grammar was fine and the dialogue was even good, but I started the story feeling like I came into the middle of it and had no idea what was going on or who was who. By the third chapter, I went back to the book description to try to remember what it was supposed to be about.
What I would advise this author is to learn to set the scene, introduce your characters and don't be in such a hurry to get to the next thing that happens. It's a 71 page story according to Amazon, but reads like a 200 page story told my someone high on Meth.
Fill in the detail, bring the readers into what you're seeing in your head. We're not already there!
I've collected up a batch of short stories and novellas from the Horror category, mostly while they were free. I have no idea if any of them are going to be any good. My expectation is that I'll find a mixed bag; some good, some not worth reading. Being free doesn't mean being bad, it's just modern marketing.
There are more than I've pictured here. I figure if one in ten turn out to be worth the time spent reading, I'll be doing well. Reports will follow as I absorb each one.
DNF at 17%
This might actually appeal to someone young and female who enjoys Romance. However, although the writing itself is good, the research is non-existent. Carnival acts? Really?
I wonder if these books are written by people who didn't get taken to carnivals or circuses as children. The difference is plain to see the minute you step on the fairgrounds or into the circus tent. Yes, they are both amusement business, but they are not the same!
I might even concede that it's not unknown for a special occasion that a circus *and* a few carnival rides might get organized on the same site. It's not usual though, and the author lost me at "carnival acts" when she was talking about clowns and Big Top acts. That's the circus dear, the carnival has rides and games. The closest thing to a carnival act would be a freak show, and those are only photographs on a wall these days.
Why don't writers do their research?
The protagonist was young enough to worry about whether she had permission from her mother to wear a particular dress, but old enough to have a crush on some guy. This could be for the YA readers, if the author wasn't completely ignorant of her chosen setting.