Bark at the Ghouls

Stay chill, it's only a silly book review.

I read the good, the awful & all of the "meh" in the middle. Mostly horror & romance of all kinds.

Black Wings by Megan Hart

Black Wings - Megan Hart

“My mad feelings just want to come out so much.”

Black Wings is a brooding tale about a mother being ravaged by her own internal feelings of guilt and the escalating terror posed by her young daughter and her new creepy raven friend. 

Briella is only ten when she begins to lose all of her childhood friends. She has a terrible “I’m smarter than everyone” attitude that doesn’t exactly sit well with, well, anyone. But she doesn’t particularly care what anyone thinks and she is quite content to do her own thing and hang out with her new raven buddy. But mom is concerned. When Briella earns a free ride to a school for the gifted her dad isn’t thrilled. He says it’s the place where they stick the weird kids. But Briella loves it. Her ego, oddness, obsessiveness and creep factor soon start to bloom out of control.

I’m just going to flat out say it. I despised this kid. She was rude, full of herself and, as I was reading, I kept thinking to myself how lucky I was that I birthed two sweet kids instead of two holy terrors. It probably could’ve gone either way, haha, but I know I would not be equipped to handle a little monster like Briella. I felt for Marion even when I wanted to give her a good shake for allowing her brat to disrespect her and everyone around her. This story is told from Marion’s point of view so we see everything from her eyes which leaves you wondering what, exactly, Briella is up to almost all the time. Marion is a little clueless and has a bad habit of ignoring all warning signs. She also talks herself out of her gut feelings out of a sense of guilt and maternal love. It’s a complicated thing, motherhood is, and this story does a great job of putting it all out there similar to the mother in Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage. I think I may have enjoyed the character of Briella more had we seen things from her perspective but alas, as written, she was an arrogant, insufferable brat with some very dangerous thoughts.

The dread hides in the shadows for a long time before horrorish things begin to happen so you’ll have to hang in there with this one. I admit I struggled at times, but I was rewarded in the last quarter. If you have a black heart you’re going to LOVE this ending. Or maybe it’s just me.

Without Condition by Sonora Taylor

Without Condition - Sonora Taylor

I fell into this dark character study from the very start and never fell out of it which is a bit of a rarity for me.

Without Condition takes its time building the story and focuses on the coming of age of a lonely little girl named Cara who lives on an isolated former pumpkin farm with only her mother and a farm hand for company. Cara looks forward to school and meeting kids her age but a bad encounter in kindergarten sets the tone for the rest of her school years. She’s bullied and whispered about and as a result she withdraws and doesn’t bother making friends with the girls. It’s easier with the boys anyway because they don’t whisper about her. But as she grows older she realizes they do something even worse. They talk and they embellish and her reputation gets trashed by everyone. Those ugly voices Cara hears whispering in her head get louder and louder until she finds an outlet to quiet them . . . 

I LOVED the first half of this story. It’s a slow build but it is such an interesting tale. I was 100% invested in Cara as a character. She is most definitely “off” but it’s an understandable type of “off” because we get to know Cara intimately. She is prickly and she is intense but I never disliked her. It’s dark as hell and it doesn’t shy away from any of the viciousness dwelling within people and Cara most especially. Would she have turned out the way she did had she not been bullied and shunned and failed by the adults in her life? That’s hard to say. I thought the author did a great job creating Cara and all of the life events and complexities filling her tortured mind. 

About halfway or so in the book changes focus and it becomes a dark romance. Cara meets a man named Jackson. He’s the first man that she hasn’t wanted to kill, lol, and things get very complicated in Cara’s head. Her life of work and spending time with her slightly off mom, who supports her long truck rides to “quiet” the voices, starts to morph into something else. Cara is falling in love but she has so many secrets that a normal life with Jackson may be impossible no matter how badly she now desires it. This section of the book is most definitely a romance with some wickedly dark edges. That’s my favorite kind, to be honest, so I was the perfect reader for this one. Cara isn’t the only one with painful memories in her past. Jackson is a wounded person and his head is a wee bit messed up as well but is he damaged enough to accept someone like Cara? 

This is not an action packed, slice and dice type of horror novel and it’s a little slow in the middle but that worked just fine for me. The entire book is a deep dive into the tortured mind of characters deeply scarred by the words of others and I found it endlessly fascinating. The writing grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. I can honestly say my heart was worried for both Cara and Jackson which lends itself to the strong character development. Without Condition is about 75% dark romance and 25% horror novel so if you enjoy the two as much as I do you’ll want to put this moody little gem on your must-read RIGHT NOW list.

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

An Anonymous Girl - Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen, Barrie Kreinik, Julia Whelan

I gave The Wife Between Us five stars when I read it in 2017. It was so twisty and so turny and filled with dark surprises that kept me in a constant state of anxiety. I loved everything about it so when I saw this one was releasing, I put it at the very top of my list.

 

I don’t think any follow up would have lived up to my expectations after loving The Wife Between Us so hard but An Anonymous Girl was definitely a decent, if not mind-blowing, follow up. It didn’t reach 5 star territory for me because I am spoiled and I didn’t think the reveals were all that shocking. It’s highly likely that I am probably terribly jaded too. So my four star may well be your five star. Despite that, it was an entertaining thriller/mystery/secret filled read that kept my attention.

 

The story revolves around a broke makeup artist who is riddled with guilt over something in her past. She has secrets and I love secrets! She decides to take the place of another young lady in an interview that promises to pay $500 bucks simply to answer a few questions. Well, wouldn’t you?!

 

But, of course, you know it entails far more than that for our hapless heroine, don’t you?

 

She is chosen by the doctor running the study to step out from behind the laptop and handle some real life situations as part of a morality and ethics “study”. To say more will ruin things so I will say no more about that strange situation.

 

The doctor is cold and calculating and manipulative and frankly, creepy as hell. Especially when you’re listening to the voice in your ear! What is that doctor up to? This is one of those books you’ll have to keep reading just one more page until the whole thing is done because you HAVE TO KNOW. Or maybe it’s just me because I am so nosy.

 

Jessica, our hapless heroine, soon becomes entwined in quite a nasty little web of deception and I enjoyed watching everything unravel but as I said earlier, the secrets weren’t so big as to shock me very much. I was expecting more to happen, something truly terrible and earth-shattering, but alas perhaps I am twisted. As written, An Anonymous Girl is a perfectly entertaining and often unsettling way to spend a few hours. If you listen to the audiobook I think it’ll be another experience altogether. Hearing the doctor’s voice in my head still haunts me. It was done perfectly; cold and unemotional and it made my skin crawl a little. The other voices suit as well. Thomas sounds a little dull which was fitting (he was not my favorite) and Jessica had a youthful tone that struck all the right notes.

 

“Sometimes an impulsive decision can change the course of your life.”

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

Geek Love (Audio) - Katherine Dunn, Christina Moore

I’ve read this book numerous times. It’s one of the few books I’ve ever reread, never mind more than once! This time around I read it on unabridged audio which made the story all the more intimate for me. I also buddy read it with a great group of reading friends. We don’t always agree on books (see my Ghost Story review for more on that) but this time we all LOVED it. Whew, I was so relieved because I’ve been pushing this book on everyone for years and sometimes people do not like it. At all.

 

This is my most favorite book in the entire world and this fourth or so reread of it did not change my opinion. GEEK LOVE, written in the '80's, satisfies all of my reading needs. It is character driven, the plot is highly disturbing and it always hurts my heart even when I know what is coming but I LOVE it so very much.

 

I could tell you all about the plot and the dastardly and innocent characters that inhabit the pages but this book is something you must experience on your own. The twists and the turns should come as a surprise and a terrible shock to the system or you won’t get to live out the full impact of Geek Love. I will only say that it is most definitely NOT a romance, despite its name, and that it might crawl under your skin and stay there for a very long time. Give it a read and tell me what you think!

 

The audiobook version I listened to was narrated by Christina Moore and I thought she did the story justice, imbuing the words with innocence and with rage and despair and narcissism when called for.

January 2019 all Wrapped Up

I posted some stuff on my blogger blog this month:

 
January 2019
 
Reviews Posted
(clicking on cover will bring you to my review @ blogger)
 
                                                               
 
 

Ladies of Horror Fiction

 
 

The Ladies of Horror Fiction have started a new feature called LOHF Shelf Edition where we feature a blogger and show off their ladies of horror fiction shelves. You can see the first installment showing off Alex's shelves here. We'd love to show yours off too! Just leave us a comment on Alex's post and someone from LOHF will be in touch.

New Purchases/Review Copies

I used an Amazon holiday gift card to buy myself a little something. I've seen people raving about this book all over Twitter and the blogs so my hopes are high!

 

Patrick's not too sure about this one, haha

 

This book was sent in for review for my blog and LOHF courtesy of author Sonora Taylor. I'm about 80 pages in as I write this and so far it's a well written tale of a lonely little girl's evolution into a murderess.
 
 
Flame Tree Press sent me these two brand new horror novels and I'm so excited to start them!
 
 

Movies

Shudder watches this month:

I managed to get through 3/4's of the much talked about Mandy, starring a grizzled Nicholas Cage, before falling asleep during the carnage and haven't felt an undying urge to finish it up. It was so weird. I also watched Starry Eyes which was filled with some glorious body horror and is about a young starlet doing whatever it takes to become famous. My husband wasn't nearly as thrilled with it as I was.

Netflix watches this month:

Bird Box, who hasn't seen this one already? It was a nail-biter and enjoyable and I am thankful it was much different from the book which I read after the fact. They both stand on their own as similar but very different things and I recommend them both. I also watched a chilling documentary about the fashion industry and dirt cheap labor called The True Cost. I tend to keep my clothes until they fall apart but I'm going to make an effort to buy sustainable items when I need to replace something in the future and if I can't afford that I'll be hitting up thrift stores and Thred Up instead of buying new and cheap.

I hope your January reading life has been fantastic! 
 
 
    
 

Elevation by Stephen King

Elevation - Stephen King

This was a perfectly meh weird story. It didn't offend me but do you know what does? The fact that Goodreads READERS awarded it the best HORROR novel award only because it had Stephen King's name on it. Do these people even read the genre they are voting on? Do they even read the books? 

Anyway, this is the story of a perfectly bland middle aged white man who got off on the wrong foot with his new neighbors. He's also suffering from a very odd affliction. When he steps on the scale he loses weight at the rate of a pound or so a day, even when he's holding bags of coins but he's not losing body mass. He's just getting lighter and lighter and soon he knows he will simply drift away. 

I don't know about you, but this plot doesn't excite me in any way. It's hard to work up worry about a man who can eat whatever he wants and lose no weight. Worst case scenario? He'll either die or leave this terrible planet and float out into the universe to see things never seen by human eyes. The latter option doesn't sound too bad to me right about now! The side plot about his relationship with the married lesbian couple is only mildly interesting. It felt forced and didn't hit me emotionally at all. Likely because I've read/seen these people a million times before starting this story and there was nothing unique about any of them. I wish their pooping dogs had a bigger place in the story. But at least it's short and I'm out nothing but time because I borrowed the audiobook from my library. It's read by Stephen King so you're either going to enjoy his nasally narration or not. Personally I don't mind it but the story gets a 2 because it just wasn't that great, if you ask me.

The audiobook includes another short story called Laurie. It's about a grieving old coot who has a puppy foisted upon him by his worried sister. After much grumping and complaining he grows to love Laurie and Laurie, like all good dogs, loves him right back. This story I loved. I loved the grumpy old man and Laurie's relationship and there's a moment of suspense that had my heart in my throat. I'd give this one a four. It could've been a five if it were longer. 

Combine these two together and this version is getting a three from me.

When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica

When The Lights Go Out - Mary Kubica

I was going to write a real review for this book but it doesn’t deserve it. This book made me so crazy-mad that I am not going to waste my time. Up until the last quarter or so I would’ve rated it a 3 ½. It was holding my attention even though some of the themes; the insatiable baby-lust, the absent husband who may or may not be cheating, etc. were all too familiar after just finishing up this author’s novel Pretty Baby and I may have mixed them up a time or two in my head but it wasn’t awful by any means. There were lots of secrets lurking and I really did want to keep reading to discover them all until the big reveal was unleashed upon me. It was weak, manipulative, over-used, unoriginal, and the lamest of lame-ass plot reveals. I couldn’t believe what the author had just done to me. I still can’t! I feel cheated, misled and more disappointed than mere words can say. 
And for that this book is getting a VERY generous 2.

Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica

Pretty Baby - Mary Kubica

This is one of those domestic dramas where the people are all slightly off and keeping secrets but you don’t know that at first. At first they all seem pretty normal. Getting to the reveal of all of the secrets is my favorite thing about these books. Well, that and reading about messed up people because that is always a good time.

 

Heidi is a do-gooder. She’s always tried to help out the less fortunate and has a decently cushy life so when she spies a young lady with an infant out in the elements she offers the girl a meal. And wouldn’t you know it, soon enough she’s offering her a warm place to stay inside her home. The home where her bratty 12 year old daughter and husband also live. She doesn’t check with either of them. She just brings this bedraggled stranger and her smelly, screaming baby into her home . . .

 

Chris, the husband is not happy about this turn of events but he travels so much that Heidi basically shrugs off his worries and does what she wants. And what she wants is to care for that beautiful baby.

 

“My eyes staring at the baby with longing, craving another chance to do this right.”

 

You know things aren’t going to end well, don’t you?

 

I’m not going to spill the details because the little details and secrets are what make reading a book like this so addictive and so much voyeuristic fun. This story kept me hooked from beginning to end and I particularly enjoyed that it was told from multiple points of view and that it flipped around in time to keep me on my toes but it never confused me. The author would you give one delectable little tidbit and then move on, leaving me desperate to read more - to read it all. I had to know ALL of the messy little secrets and messy they certainly were!

 

I recommend this story, if this is your sort of thing.

The Haunting of Henderson Close by Catherine Cavendish

The Haunting of Henderson Close - Catherine Cavendish

I received this book in for review from Flame Tree Press. I’m going to do my best this year to read as many new ladies of horror fiction as I can and I snapped this up as soon as I noticed it was available without even reading the blurbage. I love all kinds of horror but the creepy, slow atmospheric kind has been working for me lately and this story has all of that and a little bonus gore too!

 

Way back in 1891 a do-gooder is brutally murdered in front of Henderson Close. Many moons later, the building is now a tourist trap where tours are given and it’s reputed to be haunted. When Hannah arrives as a new tour guide, the ghosts all seem to come out of hiding and it’s on her to figure out what the heck is truly going on. Is she losing her mind? Is she in danger? Why is she experiencing time jumps where she’s certain she’s been thrust back in time to 1891? What is going on and why won’t her bitchy employer believe her? Why am I asking so many annoying questions?! Hell if I know, these reviews write themselves.

 

Anyhow, this book has incredibly well written atmosphere. The author has taken care to create and set her scenes and create her characters and I appreciate that so much. You can nearly smell the stench that permeates the streets in 1891 and the dark corners of Henderson Close when the ghosties appear. It’s also very moody and creeptastic and the reader, as well as Hannah and a few friends, are left in the dark to figure out what the heck is going on. When the reveals are made in the last quarter, I have to admit that I was a wee bit confused by it all because there was too much going on and too many characters involved and it made my head hurt a little. Still, what I understood was pretty satisfying . . .

 

But up until that point, I was digging the story. There may (or may not) be ghosts, demons and gargoyles and there was even a surprise moment of serial killing gore. Call me crazy but I wouldn’t have minded a little more of that sort of thing!

 

Ghost Story by Peter Straub

Ghost Story (Audio) - Peter Straub, William Windom

I originally read this book back in my early 20’s, back before I obsessively reviewed everything I read, and the only thing I could remember about it was an intense feeling of boredom. I later tried to read Mystery and Julia thinking it was me and not the writing. But I couldn’t get through either of those without wishing they’d end with every page I struggled through. At that point, I put Peter Straub down for good. Or so I thought. Back in December, I decided to use my Audible credit on Ghost Story to torture myself, it turns out.  Also, my book buddies were reading it and talked me into joining them but truly I only have myself to blame for thinking I’d matured enough to enjoy it now. Haha. Jokes on me! It was just as boring the second time around. Maybe even moreso . . . 

 

It was just as tedious as I’d remembered. It was so plodding, so slow to me, that I hadn’t realized I had sleep-read the last third. I had to rewind the entire seven hours of this audio because I was left so confused at the ending (who were these people and what the hell was going on?!). SEVEN HOURS. I want them all back and the previous seven too, ffs! What is the matter with me? At any rate, once I forced myself to listen again, this time with all of my faulty listening skills, the book made a lot more sense to me but it was still not very interesting. I tried, damn how I tried, but apparently not all books are made for every reader. Someday I will learn this about myself.

 

This book is not really a ghost story in the traditional sense. It’s about a group of elderly fellows who call themselves “The Chowder Society”. They spend nights sharing “ghost stories” with each other, smoking cigars, drinking spirits and keeping secrets as old fellows do, I suppose. I don’t really know as I’m not an old fellow. The old friends who tell the tale are most definitely haunted but they are haunted more by something that happened in their youth. Something they cannot escape, mwahaha. I don’t want to give the thing away so that’s all I’m saying about that. When the book begins one of the old fellows in the club has died and this stirs up a series of events and endless pages of tangents and memories in which the reader gets dragged along until the conclusion eventually happens. It’s easy to get lost and confused in this story so do yourself a favor and either DNF it or pay very close attention. Don’t be like me.

 

I found some of the stories interesting and there are some disturbing and pervy bits that I found rather comical but the book just went on and on and I felt like I had been reading/listening to it for my entire life. Eventually it did come to an end though and for that I am grateful. My two friends enjoyed this book very much while all I did was complain about the old coots, their roving eyes and their cheating ways and bitch about how confused I was about the time jumps and the plethora of unnecessary characters popping in and out of the story. This may be the last time I’m invited to a buddy read again, lol. So what I’m getting at here is don’t go by my opinion because my taste is atrocious. Also, don’t sleep read your way through this because it will not make any kind of sense.

 

Now I will leave you with my favorite quote courtesy of one of the many side characters whose name I have long since forgotten.

 

“There’s no teaching without beating.”

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Bird Box - Josh Malerman
I saw the film before reading the book because I figured my wait at the library would last an eternity. It didn’t because this is how my life works and now I’ve gone and spoiled everything for myself!

Actually, the film is quite a bit different from the movie. The bones are the same but characters, deaths, and many other plot points are very different so it was almost like reading something that wasn’t totally spoiled for me. The only slightly disappointing thing to me was the fact that the threat went unexplained in either version. I was hoping for a little enlightenment because I like answers. Instead I am just going to assume it was Cthulhu's minions come to call and call it a day because that works for me.

As for the audio? It kept me entertained and the narrator was competent and professional but I didn’t feel she voiced Malorie in a strong enough way. With that said, I never wanted to pull the plug and listen to something else and that’s saying something because the last audio I read was rewound at least eight times. At one point I had to rewind 7 hours because I had tuned out. I wish I were kidding (curse you, Ghost Story!).

The characters in Bird Box weren’t as fleshed out as I’d hoped. I didn’t get to know much about Tom besides the fact that he was wise and kind and a natural leader and I was disappointed that the kids weren’t fleshed out at all. Malorie was a sympathetic character because of her predicament but I never felt a strong emotional attachment to anyone which is a bit of shame and a bit of a missed opportunity. Still, the story and atmosphere and creepfest of a plotline almost made up for that fact.

 

The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste

The Rust Maidens - Gwendolyn Kiste

“Pray for the Rust Maidens

Even after all these years, those words suck the breath right out of my chest.”


After hearing about this book from several book pushing friends, I had a loud niggling feeling that I was going to enjoy this story from the very beginning but I wasn’t prepared for just how much I was going to LOVE it because I am such a grumpy, jaded reader most of the time.


The Rust Maidens is a look at a town falling to ruin and the people hanging on for dear life because they have no other choice. There’s an overall feeling of inertia, decay and depression as folks attempt to go about their lives as if nothing terrifying were happening to their town, to their lives, to their daughters . . .

Phoebe returns to the childhood home she left 28 years earlier to help move her dad into a nursing home. The return triggers memories of the past and the terrifying occurrences that forever after left an enormous blight on the town. When Phoebe was a teen five girls, one of them her best friend, began to suffer from a strange affliction. The affliction starts to change them physically and earns them the moniker “The Rust Maidens” and it appears the affliction has returned to strike again. The body horror is real and it is horrifying and that’s all I’m saying about it. 

Once I started The Rust Maidens, I had a difficult time putting it down to live my life because I needed to know what the heck was happening to these girls. There aren’t a lot of stories that manage to hook me the way this one this did. The writing is intimate and beautifully disturbing. I’m a huge fan of body horror when done for more than gross-out effect (well, ok, I do like those too if they look like Jeff Goldblum in THE FLY) but this story gets it all right. There’s just something about losing control of your entire self and transforming that terrifies and calls to me to read more . . .

I thought Phoebe was a terrific character and a faithful friend who feels all of her attempts to help only succeed in making matters worse and she shoulders far too much guilt. She’s a tough girl, a troublemaker and her return shakes up the lethargy that continues to plague the town. 

There is a dark beauty in the decay that permeates this story and I think anyone looking for a unique horror story as well as a beautifully crafted heroine will love it too.

 

Bones by Andrew Cull

Bones - Andrew Cull

This lovely author sent me two copies of his newest work (all the way from Australia!) so that I could release them in the Little Free Libraries in my care. I'm going to release this one asap when I visit the mall tonight and read the other asap before setting it free at the other park location because I can't NOT read it!

Here are my thoughts now that I'm finished:

Bones is author Andrew Cull’s debut collection of short fiction and it is pretty fantastic if you like a story where the creep factor is high and quickly settles under your skin and festers. 

Did You Forget About Me?

A man returns to his childhood home. He, his mother and sister fled from it 23 years earlier leaving behind an abusive man to simmer in his ugliness. The trip back home brings back all of his deeply buried memories to terrify and to haunt him because some things just don’t want to stay buried. 

This is some immersive storytelling that is eerie and atmospheric and steeped in childhood fears, abuse and a terribly tragedy. There was no way I was putting this down once I started it because I HAD to know how it ended.

Hope and Walker

“We were both 10. But he was dead. And I sat drawing him”

This was my favorite story in the collection. It tells the story of a young girl who grows up in the family mortuary. Is it weird that she finds it calming to say goodbye to the dead by drawing a final picture of them in her notebook? I vote no, I loved her. Some might think it’s a little morbid but it's also very sweet until one day one of the dead begins talking back to her . . . 

The characters are well written characters and there are some pitch dark images in this story that will linger around in my brain for a long while to come. 

The Trade

“I was seven and that was the summer death stalked our home.”

All of these stories are haunting and grounded in realism but this one hit me a little harder than the others. It’s set in the sweltering heat as a young child watches his family disintegrate knowing there’s nothing he can do about it. The feelings of helplessness and the fear of an unknown future will knock you down with its accuracy. Then the author throws a monster in the mix! A monster that is leaving dead carcasses on the doorstep and wants something in return . . . 

Knock And You Will See Me

“We buried dad in the winter. It wasn’t until Spring that we heard from him again.”

A woman’s elderly father passes away and soon after she begins to smell the stench of decay that is followed up with a note written by her dad demanding to know the reason she left him behind. Soon the notes take on an ominous tone. Is she going mad from grief or is it something far more sinister?

You’ll have to read it yourownself to find out and it’s worth the read. Like all of the stories found here it is unsettling and it may rob you of sleep.

The Rambling Man

This story is only four pages long but it is a disturbing little gem about sacrifice and betrayal and I loved it. 

This is an excellent debut and I am looking forward to whatever the author puts out next.

And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich

And the Trees Crept In - Dawn Kurtagich

This is a difficult book to review because it was a difficult book to read. Much of the story was repetitive, confusing and dreamlike and honestly I think I was too distracted at this moment in time to allow myself to fall into its world. I also had difficulty connecting to the characters. It felt like reading a pitch black fable of yore.

 

Here's what it's sort of about: two young girls and their aunt who are trapped in a house infected by madness. They cannot leave as the woods won’t allow it and they are slowly starving to death. There is a love interest that bravely makes his way into the house who may or may not be a nefarious character. I admit I groaned when he entered the scene because I was not in the mood for any teen angsty romance but I quickly grew to appreciate his character and it didn’t go the way I feared it might.

 

This book has some truly haunting images within and a reveal that makes sense of the confusion that I suffered through for most of the story. This is why I'm so afraid to DNF a book. Once in a while a book will turn around and prove me all kinds of wrong. This one did that.

 

If you enjoy dreamy writing and ghastly images and can go with the confusing flow, you might enjoy this as much as most of the other reviewers here did. Me? I’ll have to try again when I’m less distracted by life.

The Listener by Robert M. McCammon

The Listener - Robert R. McCammon

I have had a terrible and stressful few weeks (months, really) and am having a difficult time focusing or finding the energy to write a review so this will be much shorter than it deserves.

 

First off, I have to say that The Listener has an opening scene that will cement the villain as one of the worst of all time in my mind. He is truly one of the vilest, evilest, most selfish of monsters that my eyeballs have come across in quite a while. Be warned, be warned, beeeee warned! If you can get through that scene you are good to go.

 

Anyhow, without spoiling things, that vile creature sets off to do more evil and pairs up with a lady who is just as monstrous as himself. Together they plot to hurt innocents for their own selfish gain. But what they don’t expect is a little supernatural twist between the innocents caught in their twisted little plan.

 

This story is disturbing and horrifying and 100% captivating. McCammon is one hell of a beautiful writer and he draws you into his world of villains and innocents and prejudice and pain and kindness and if you don’t root for the good guys to win after all they’ve been through, you might just be a monster as well.

 

The writing in this novel is simply beyond compare. My heart broke time and again and all of my emotions were engaged. This is a story that I will never forget and I say that about almost nothing because things no longer stick in my brain unless they engage my heart.

 

I don’t know what else to say besides READ THIS BOOK. I do not think that you will regret it.

Creature by Hunter Shea

Creature (Fiction Without Frontiers) - Hunter Shea

CREATURE surprised me. I’ve only read one Hunter Shea book, THE JERSEY DEVIL, and that thing was pure madness from beginning to end with its out of control body count and frenetic pace. I was expecting a crazed people eating monster to pop out of the woods and eat everyone and the pup before moving on to town and slaying more innocents but this is a completely different type of horror story. This one is about the physical and emotional toll an incurable disease has on a woman and those who love her. It’s slower paced and allows the dread to slowly creep in as the characters face an ever present and unconquerable monster.

 

Kate has Lupus and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, both are incurable diseases that are managed with pain medication and surgery to fix body parts as they break down. The diseases and multiple surgeries have all but stolen her life. She’s housebound with her dog Buttons and a devoted husband who has turned into her caretaker. After a grueling trial of an experimental treatment, Andrew takes a leave of absence from work and surprises Kate with a getaway to a cabin in Maine where she can recuperate and they can spend some quality time together with Buttons. But it’s not long before strange events begin to taint their tranquility.

 

This book was incredibly hard to for me to read. My sister and two family members suffer from EDS, have all had multiple surgeries and were all disabled in their 30’s. Shea’s portrayal of Kate’s pain was heartbreaking and grueling and viciously accurate based on everything I’ve heard and seen. This is why it was a difficult read for me but I imagine it will be the same for most anybody who picks up this book because it is a punishing depiction of chronic pain, that insidious destroyer of lives.

 

If you’re looking for a stomp ‘n’ chomp this isn’t it, for the most part, but it isn’t any less of a horror novel than The Jersey Devil. It’s a different kind of horror novel. One that is slower paced and thoughtful and full of all the emotions. There is so much pain and suffering and guilt and love that when the slow creeping dread begins to interfere on the couple’s idyllic sabbatical, you’ll need to hang on tight to your heart. It’s breathtaking how well the author weaves it all together. I wasn’t expecting this type of story at all but I wasn’t disappointed. Very highly recommend if you enjoy a book that’ll tear you to pieces.

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