Horror October: The Travelling Bag and Other Ghostly Stories by Susan Hill #BookReview #HorrorOctober

horroroctofficial2016

a2Title: The Travelling Bag and Other Ghostly Stories
Author: Susan Hill
Series: N/A
Format: Hardback, 160 pages
Publication Details: September 29th 2016 by Profile Books
Genre(s): Short Story Collection; Supernatural; Ghost Stories
Disclosure? Nope I bought it! 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

 

Walter Craig was a clever scientist. As a young man he took away all the honours and prizes and some of his work was ground-breaking. But after he became seriously ill, his genius faded, and he needed the help of an assistant. When Silas Webb was appointed to the job he seemed the perfect choice, but he always preferred to work alone, even in secret. Then, quite suddenly, Webb disappeared.

Why ?

Later, Craig opens a prestigious scientific journal and finds a paper, containing his own work, in detail, together with the significant results he had worked out. The research is his and his alone. But the author of the paper is Dr Silas Webb.

Craig determines that he will hunt Webb down and exact revenge.

Were it not for a terrifying twist of circumstance, he might have succeeded.

Review

As I mentioned in my recent review of Self-Made Man by Poppy Z Brite, short story collections are always a bit ht and miss for me. I find short stories in general to be too vague, too brief, or just downright confusing. However, I do think an exception to the rule is generally when concerning ghost stories.

I think ghost stories tend to work in this medium. Being short and snappy and not too complex is often what make a great ghost story in my opinion, and so I was hoping for good things from this new Susan Hill collection. And I wasn’t disappointed.

I enjoyed the titular story very much. Hill mastered the whole eerie atmosphere/building suspense thing a long time ago, and you can see it here in spades. Plus, the pay off is worth it too. This story creeped me out because I, like one of the characters, am terrified of moths. They’re just gross. No need!

Other stories include Boy Twenty-One, a gentle story about two friends, one whom disappears, and then returns…but no one else can see him. This had to be my least favourite. It wasn’t bad, just a little predictable.

Alice Baker, however, the third story in this collection was by far my favourite. Hill has such a stunning way of making ordinary things seem spooky. Like a new girl in an office of close, seemingly-too-nice-to-be-true colleagues.

The fourth and final story, The Front Room is one I can barely remember to be honest. It features an evil mother taken in by her son and daughter-in-law and that’s about all my caffeine-addled brain can squeeze out right now. Obviously it didn’t blow me away!

So there you have it. A mixed bag but very enjoyable overall. A great book to batten down the hatches with this Halloween.

horroctrating-3

The Travelling Bag is available in a stunning pocket hardback, and is 30% off at The Book Depository now. 

 

The Selection Stories [insert squeal here] by Kiera Cass.

18172471 (1)Two novellas set in the world of Kiera Cass’s #1 New York Times bestselling Selection series are now available in print for the first time. The Prince and The Guard both offer captivating views into the hearts and minds of the two men fighting to win America Singer’s love. This collection also features exclusive bonus content, including a sneak peek at The One, the eagerly anticipated third novel in the Selection series.

Before America arrived at the palace to compete in the Selection, there was another girl in Prince Maxon’s life. The Prince opens the week before the Selection begins and follows Maxon through the first day of the competition.

Raised as a Six, Aspen Leger never dreamed that he would find himself living in the palace as a member of the royal guard. In The Guard, readers get an inside look at Aspen’s life within the palace walls–and the truth about a guard’s world that America will never know.

Just in case you’ve missed my previous fangirling installments, I’m a teeny bit obsessed with Kiera Cass’ The Selection Series, certainly more obsessed than any 30 year old should be (shudder)! But I’ve never been one to read novellas, especially when they’re only available online, so I was pretty stoked when this was released last month to add to my collection of pretty covers.

Oh Maxon. Swoon.

There’s not a great deal to The Prince and The Guard really, but they still quenched my Selection thirst and will tide me over until The One is released next month.

Both novellas let us see the selection process from different perspectives than the books. In The Prince, we see Maxon prepare for the arrival of the girls, his anxieties and fears. And we also get more of an insight into his relationship with the king.

I liked finding out what he thought of America and the other girls, and becoming king. He’s just so cute, and slightly damaged which obviously hot. TEAM MAXON all the way.

In The Guard, we get a better insight into the royal guard and Aspen’s plans to win America back, set at the time of the second book, The Elite. We also see more of the sinister underbelly of the court, and the rebel attacks.

Also, there was this weird part about the guards taking drugs to enhance their abilities, which never really developed into anything but was a welcome element of intrigue. Hopefully it’ll develop into more in The One.

I think it would be hard to recommend this to anyone who hasn’t read the books, but it could be a good taster. The series is definitely not for everyone, but I think it’s a masterpiece in YA trash. I can’t get enough.

Is it May 6th yet???

unicorn rating 4

Disclosure?: Nope, I bought it!
Title: The Selection Stories
Author: Kiera Cass
Details: Paperback, 227 pages
Published: February 4th 2014 by HarperTeen
My Rating: 4/5

Zombies Vs Unicorns…if only it were that simple!

A Short Story Collection Edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier

zomIt’s a question as old as time itself: which is better, the zombie or the unicorn? In this anthology, edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier (unicorn and zombie, respectively), strong arguments are made for both sides in the form of short stories. Half of the stories portray the strengths–for good and evil–of unicorns and half show the good (and really, really bad-ass) side of zombies. Contributors include many bestselling teen authors, including Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson, Meg Cabot, Scott Westerfeld, and Margo Lanagan. This anthology will have everyone asking: Team Zombie or Team Unicorn?

For me, the question of who is better Zombies or Unicorns is pretty ridiculous. I’m fairly renowned for my obsession love of unicorns so when I found out that Holly Black had compiled this collection of short stories I had to put it on my wishlist, even though I’m not a huge fan of the short story.

There were a lot of things I liked about this book, the set up for one. Holly Black is in charge of Team Unicorn (Yesssss) and Justine Larbalestier, Team Zombie (Boooooo). The stories are alternated between TU and TZ and have a little introduction (sometimes more like a pep rally cheer) by each respective Team Leader followed by a rebuttal from the opposing team. At first I found this a bit too kitsch. It felt like two friends playing up to a crowd. Oh aren’t we funny, how we love to bicker with each other…that kind of thing. But I warmed to them eventually. If you can’t beat them, join them, right!?

And the collection itself? It was definitely a mixed bag for me, as most short story collections are, and it really, really pains me to say that I found myself enjoying the zombie stories more than the unicorn ones. In fact, it really made me want to write a good unicorn story to prove that it’s possible.

That might be a bit harsh, they weren’t all bad. I really enjoyed The Care and Feeding of Your Killer Baby Unicorn by Diana Peterfreund – a spin-off to her Killer Unicorns series which I haven’t read but want to now. In Peterfreund’s stories ‘real unicorns are man eating beasts with razor sharp fangs and a fatal venom in their lethal horns. And they can only be killed by the virgin descendants of Alexander the Great’. Fun!

As for the Team Zombie stories, there were a few stand-outs but Maureen Johnson’s The Children of the Revolution was my favourite. A girl who had followed a boy out to England to pick berries all summer long finds herself needing to get away from him. Homeless and jobless, the perfect solution arises when she is offered the job of nannying the children of a Hollywood superstar. But of course, they are not normal children. Johnson totally nails the satire of the rich and the famous, and the celebrity in question bore more than a passing resemblance to Angelina Jolie. Picturing her amused me no end.

I also really enjoyed Alaya Dawn Johnson’s Love Will Tear Us Apart, a cute boy/boy zombie romance in a similar vein to Warm Bodies, and also Scott Westerfeld’s Inoculata which reminded me little bit of the film Stakeland, but with Zombies. See, there’s something for everyone!

Overall, I’m really glad I own this book, and not just because it looks pretty and sounds badass. I’d definitely like to revisit a few of these stories, and I feel like it’s getting me one step closer to embracing the medium of the short story.

I feel like maybe I should switch to a Zombie rating for this book, but alas, I cannot. Unicorns til I die!

unicorn rating 3

Disclosure?: Nope, it was a gift!
Title: Zombies Vs Unicorns
Author: Various
Details: Paperback, 418 pages
Published: April 3rd 2012 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
My Rating: 3/5