Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Book Review #SpringHorror #Readathon Lost Boy Lost Girl by John Saul


Book number two in my Spring into Horror readathon choices.

Synopsis: A woman commits suicide for no apparent reason. A week later, her son—beautiful, troubled fifteen-year-old Mark Underhill—vanishes from the face of the earth. To his uncle, horror novelist Timothy Underhill, Mark’s inexplicable absence feels like a second death. After his sister-in-law’s funeral, Tim searches his hometown of Millhaven for clues that might help him unravel this mystery of death and disappearance. He soon learns that a pedophile murderer is on the loose in the vicinity, and that shortly before his mother’s suicide Mark had become obsessed with an abandoned house where he imagined the killer might have taken refuge.

As we can expect from the author who gave us the ultimate ghost story back in 1979, Lost Boy, Lost Girl eventually takes us down the path of being another haunted house masterpiece.  The house at 3323 North Michigan Street becomes a living breathing evil character in its own right. It has everything haunted houses should have including poltergeists, hidden rooms, and hidden staircases.

From the opening page, this story oozes a creepy Gothic style atmosphere, which we have all seen in our most disturbed dreams, and thus , we can relate.  And the story just gets spokky and creepier , every turn of  the page.  There are two subplots in this story that "never the twain shall meet."  One involving a ghost, and the other, a serial killer.  We are left guessing Mark's fate throughout the book.

Excerpt: "Gradually his panic left him, and he got out of bed and went to his window. Out in the night, something happened: a bloated, dark shape melted through the barbed wire at the top of the wall....Mark's reawakened terror, cold as dry ice, brushed his stomach and his lungs."

Peter Straub has a distinct writing style, unlike any author I have experienced.  I read Ghost Story a long time ago, and still remember the ongoing underlying dread that was always wriggling at the back of my mind while reading it.  I felt the exact type of dread while reading this book.  There are many story tellers out there that smack you in the face with gore horror, then there are some that raise the goose pimples on your flesh and stand the hair up on the back of your neck, with a subtlety that few can match.

This book is a fine example of the latter. No huge jump scares, no huge crazy twists you didn't see coming. But a story of fantastic imagery and writing that makes the reader think and visualize every page of the book. Different readers will interpret this book entirely differently than myself. That is the beauty of this story. The reader must invest themselves in this novel, draw their own conclusions and be rewarded by a literary masterpiece that you will want to read, again and again.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Book Review #SpringHorror #Readathon The Dead Run by Adam Mansbach


This is my first book choice in the Seasons of Reading Spring into Horror Readathon.

Synopsis: "On both sides of the border, girls are going missing and bodies are beginning to surface. It’s a deadly epidemic of crime that plunges a small-town police chief into a monster of an investigation he's not equipped to handle. An ancient evil has returned, and now everyone—the innocent and the guilty—must face their deepest terrors."

The main character, Jess Galvan, is wrongfully imprisoned in a Mexican jail.  His only hope of escape comes with a deal to transport a weird package across the Mexican border within 24 hours.  If he succeeds, he will be a free man.  Along the way he will encounter all the typical horror types (not really typical at all) .. corrupt police officers, prostitutes, biker gangs and of course demons/zombies.

When I picked up this book to read, I really had no idea what I was about to experience.  I must say I was pleasantly surprised by the book, that was written by the author who I knew wrote "Go the F**ck to Sleep", although, I still have not read that book.  After I read this book, I couldn't get the smile off of my face.  Not because the book is funny, although, in some high tension spots, it is exactly that.  Not that I felt fulfilled after reading the book, because that is not the type of read it is.. at all.  No, it was because this book was absolutely FUN to read.

Oh, sure!  There was tons of gore in the book.  Mostly described at a topical level that kind of makes you swallow twice, just to make sure nothing comes up.  Sure, there was a lot of characters that didn't make sense and a story line that borders on the absurd...but it all comes together and works beautifully.  This book was a fantastic read and really hard to put down.  A real "page turner" as it were.  The lead character may curse mightily throughout the story, but the plot grabs you from the first page and doesn't let you go.   This is a horror/thriller/supernatural/zombie/noir  story that really shouldn't work, but it absolutely DOES!  Part of the magic is Mansbach's writing style.  His character development is solid, the action scenes are vivid and the plot twists are numerous and seamless.  You are on a roller coaster ride with no brakes, and at Mansbach's mercy to let him throw whatever piece of action/horror he wants to throw at you.

The plot is impossible to predict because the author injects a bit of paranormal fun into the story at just the right times.  As a result, anything can happen... and it usually does.  The story does stay rooted in the real world in Mexico which just adds to the believability of the story and the characters. Although violent, The Dead Run is a first-rate horror novel, written to entertain to the fullest.  I absolutely recommend this book for the pure fun of reading something, in a style you have never experienced before.