Just my opinions on new and old Horror novels.
I got this out of the Horror section but until late in the story I didn't know if it was going to turn out to be supernatural or human monsters. That would be telling though. Part of the fun is trying to work out that point.
The story had a lot of action once it got going. The first half is basically character development before things heat up. There was some foreshadowing that never really went anywhere and a few things didn't quite fit together, but I enjoyed the read. The only real niggle was one of the explanations near the end that was the reverse of known science. Let's just say that inbreeding tends to produce mutations and that's one of those everybody knows that facts.
There was also too little explanation of how the guardians managed to get close to the family without ever being seen. I was a little disappointed by the ending, but at least it tied everything up. The writing itself was good and made it hard to stop in the later chapters. I guess sometimes you just have to enjoy a read for what it is and not worry about realism.
I love a good monster story and this one definitely qualifies. A local legend about a winged beast that sounds part goat, part bat and a few other things makes the woods a spooky and desolate place, yet occasional campers and the odd person hiding a body brave the solitude of the trees. Some don't make it back.
As monster stories go this was better than many, but it still lacked something. I think some more of the folklore on the Jersey Devil would have added to the feeling of horror.
It was still a good story. Plenty of blood and gore and suspence about when they're going to attack, kind of like in The Birds.
I've preordered this for 99 cents. It says the price is going up after the October 1st release.
The plot idea sounds like something very original and I've enjoyed another book by this author, so at least I know it will be well edited and probably good writing if he's consistent.
Really looking forward to it now. My Halloween read is booked.
The page count on this book was something I found daunting, but I kept hearing that it was one of King's best, so eventually I took the plunge. It started out slower than I expected. Just a quick introduction to Derry and what happened there in 1958 followed by some individual stories of people in 1985 when they each get a call, asking them to come back and fulfil a pledge. I guess you would say it's a slow reveal of what actually happened.
For a while there are short glimpses of 1985, but the story of what happened in 1958 unravels at what I thought was a slow pace. There are enough weird happenings to keep interest, but basically it's the story of a group of boys and a girl, growing up in a small town, but with child murders and a few other frightening occurrences. For a while I was beginning to compare it to Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer with the exploits of the children dominating the narrative, but eventually the supernatural happenings increase and the story starts to really get going.
Just before halfway, it switches back to 1985 and the reunion of the gang. King shows his special talent for describing changes in a small town over time and how the memories of an adult who grew up in the town's earlier version can be superimposed over the place it has become. I get the feeling that King reminiscences his own childhood a lot in some of his books.
The appearances of Pennywise, the clown they call "It", becomes more of a regular feature and the Horror aspect of the book finally unfolds fully while the group go their separate ways in Derry to try to remember exactly what happened when they were kids and how they made it stop. I don't want to drop spoilers so that's all I'll say about the plot.
What I will say is that I found the whole book long and drawn out and didn't feel the payoff warrented the time it took to read it, though I'm glad I did so at least now I know.
The rest I have to say does contain spoilers so don't read beyond here if you are thinking of reading the book for the first time.
SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT
One thread left untied really bothers me. What happened about Henry's body in the hotel room? Surely a hotel maid would have come in to clean before the flood happened? If this was a recent release, I would accuse Mr. King of starting to lose it.
And, after making we read a thousand pages of build up, a spider? That's the best you got Stephen, a f-ing giant spider?!? I expected something really scary, scarier than an evil clown.
Then there was the thing about the children having sex. I can get what he was trying to do there, but it felt shoehorned in. Like something he was planning to include and just had to find a place to put it. It didn't feel either natural or realistic. A girl that age having sex for the first time wouldn't be likely to have her first orgasm with an inexperienced boy either, no matter how big his dick is, not to mention two. King needs to talk to his wife more.
I found the last few chapters a slog. I'd rather be gripped and unable to stop reading, but I was counting off pages and feeling relief that it was almost finished so I could get on and read something else.
I appreciate that a lot of people really liked this book, but we'll just have to agree to disagree. I love King, I really do. But I'm going t be wary of his longer books after this. They're just not for me.
Pretty appropriate page number to stop I thought.
There's been some pockets of very weird activity, but I'm in another slow spot now. Part of me feels like I'm in a Twilight Zone episode where I keep reading the same book forever. It's good though. I can see how all the background about the kids sets it up for later on. We're getting closer to finding out what stopped it in 1958 now. Occasionally I remember the more human threats on their way too. It would be easy to forget all about them when a hundred or so pages of flashback goes by. I'm past the halfway point so hopefully it won't take me months to finish.
The Cankerworm of Memphis
by Clinton A. Seeber
I needed to read something that would have a quick conclusion, so got this short one and its sequels while they were up for free.
Doctor John Benoit is a French Canadian archaeologist who visits the Sphinx in Egypt with his assistant from Alabama, Suzanne Bridges. They have a permit to study the site, but sneak in after hours and unsupervised, which in real life would get them deported.
The writing was decent, but fell into beginner traps like giving a laundry list of what the characters wore right at the beginning. There were a couple of typos that slipped through, even in just these ten pages.
It was still interesting enough to go on to the second part. It's the start of a five part series, but reads more like a first chapter. It's just enough to start to get to know the characters and have one weird thing happen to grab interest.
For quite a long time, I've been mulling over why Fantasy books are somehow different now than they were in say the 1960s. Since Twilight, vampires have moved from the Horror Genre into Paranormal Romance and these books are often found under Fantasy on Amazon, yet their target demographic is very different from that of older Fantasy.
Add to this the trend for fae, mer people and other fantasy creatures in a lot of YA and Romance books and the result is a certain level of genre confusion. Readers who love these newer books that take them into a romantic fantasy realm often don't like what they find in books by Tolkien, Moorcock or Zelazny, while readers of the older Fantasy genre dismiss these newer stories as young female Romance.
So, I've mulled this over for some time now. You can have a relationship between characters in the old Fantasy books, yet it doesn't read like a Romance book. You can have fairies, werewolves, vampires, and all sorts of supernatural creatures in a story and still it reads like a Romance. Where do you make the division?
Some authors have started differentiating by bringing in another new genre, Fantasy Romance or Romantic Fantasy. This is good, but with marketing advice telling them to put their books under as many categories as possible, the books still show up when a reader does a search for Fantasy. Some readers are even looking under Fantasy to find those books.
Some old style Fantasy writers are tagging their books with Traditional Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery, etc. to try to indicate their type of Fantasy and that it isn't Romance. The trouble is, a lot of stories don't actually fit into any of those categories and used to be just categorized as general Fantasy, so we're back in the slush pile of books mixed together but two very different audiences searching for something they want to read.
I had an epiphany last night that I wanted to share. It doesn't solve the category problem, but it provides an insight into the difference that makes some books target a mostly female, romantically minded audience and others appeal to the Sword & Sorcery and other older style Fantasy readers.
Do the non-human characters have very human attributes? Alluring vampires, hunky werewolves, most modern stories about fae, share a level of humanity in the characters that makes them human enough to stimulate romantic fantasies. Most 'shifters' stories are populated with characters that although they acknowledge a provocative, shadow animal nature, are inherently human in their thinking processes and emotional attachments.
Contrast this with similar creatures from stories in the other camp; Anne Rice's Lestat, who although he displays some human characteristics, has a vampire nature that deals with human interaction in shockingly callous ways; Traditional werewolf stories, where the savage nature of the wolf precludes any chance of romantic entanglements; a certain story about goblins that raised some controversy because the mating customs of the non-human species includes injecting a male with a paralysing venom before the female takes him sexually. To a human, this would be a consent issue (although the goblin in question is established as psychic and would have known if there was an objection), but compared to a black widow spider, the guy gets off easy. Watch chickens, dogs or cats mate and you don't see human considerations in their methods. To the female goblin, she is only doing what is considered normal and acceptable in her society.
This comes up in science fiction a lot, both books and movies, when aliens are involved. What is normal for humans or aliens is very different. Those books that are being classified as Science Fiction Romance require human characters to have human relationships. If an alien gets included in the story, it only works as a Romance if he has been humanized.
So the demarcation for the reader demographic really comes down to whether the reader is looking for a Romance or YA story that has some Fantasy elements to spice it up, or whether they want a Fantasy story that will take them to completely different worlds where creatures are not human and don't act like humans, but have their own customs and cultures that humans may not understand. This is sometimes the basis of stories, finding the conflict in these different ways of life.
I'm a Traditional Fantasy reader. I don't really like Romance and see the YA and Romance books in the Fantasy category and feel that they don't belong there, but under Romance. I love a good Fantasy with alternate worlds and creatures and they are still being written, but they have become harder to find in the Fantasy category among the Romance stories targeted at young women. This is an issue that isn't likely to go away soon, but is more likely to increase.
All I can say to the readers of this material is to enjoy reading what you like. We're all entitled to that. But when you come across a story with creatures who don't behave like humans or fit your romantic ideals, just remember that we were there first. The non-human creatures of traditional Fantasy stories are what once defined the genre. There is no other place for us to go.
I'm still not even halfway through this and it feels like I've read nothing else in forever. It's starting to get good though. Some supernatural stuff has been getting more prevalent and now it looks like we're about to spend some time with the kids as grown ups.
I can appreciate that drawing it out allows time for extensive character development, but come on Stephen! This could be cut by half. I almost got bored and gave up. It's only faith in those reviewers who say it gets really good that has kept me going.
I like the bird though. It reminds me of something I read really happened to someone.
I'm slowly making my way through this. We're finally getting to the kids working out that there's a monster.
Up to now it struck me as similar to Mark Twain's Adventures of Tom Sawyer in that it has been largely about the things boys get up to when allowed free reign like they were when we were children, before you had to watch your kids every moment.
Building dams, avoiding bullies, all that boy stuff. But I think it's about to diverge into more of the horror story elements, if the incident with the photo album is anything to go by.
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!