This Week in Books- Horror October Edition #TWIB

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Welcome to This Week in Books, where we share what we’ve been up to in bookland this week and look ahead to next.

Happy Wednesday, Everyone, and perhaps more importantly, happy Halloween!

As you may have noticed, Horror October this year has been a tad sparse – soz. But I have read a few good books over the month.

Here’s what I got up to last week…

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NOW: I’ve just started Painless by Marty Thornley so not much to report there. I’m also dipping in and out of a new collection of Frankenstein stories. Bit miss and miss so far. 

THEN: I finished Hark! the Herald Angels Screams a collection of Christmas themed, horror short stories, which I loved. 5 stars from me. My review is here. Before that I finished Kill Creek, and The Life we Bury, which wasn’t technically a horror, but certainly had dark elements. I’m yet to review that one. 

NEXT: After Painless, and the Frankenstein collection I’ll probably have a break and read something “nice”. 🙂

 

What have you been reading this week? Let me know in the comments below, or why not join in and publish a TWIB post of your own. Leave the link to your post and I’ll come take a look.

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Horror October: Hark! The Herald Angels Scream #BookReview #ShortStoryAnthology

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Hark! The Herald Angels Scream // Christopher Golden (Editor) // October 23rd 2018 // Anchor Books // Goodreads

A collection of Christmas-themed horror stories!? What could be better! It’s like ordering two desserts. You know it’s in no way good for you, but you just want to do it anyway. 

You could be forgiven for dismissing this book based on the cover. It screams cheap and nasty, doesn’t it? But rest assured, the contents of this book are total class. There’s a mix of established horror/paranormal writers and some new names (well, to me anyway), and I was pleasantly surprised by every single one of them.

There’s a terrifying home invasion story to kick us off, a very, very, weird babysitter, a potty-mouthed robot dog and a haunted hotel room to name but a few story-lines, and they’re all fun and creepy in very different ways. 

The one that stood out the most to me was Love Me by Thomas E. Sniegoski – a writer that was new to me. It’s a creepy-ass tale about a desperate man who plans to rob an old pawn/antiques shop. When he breaks in, the lady who owns it and lives above, catches him in the act and invites him upstairs. Now, this isn’t quite the tale of revenge it seems to be. Without ruining it too much for you, it involves a stuffed toy, with teeth, who just wants to be loved. So wrong, but so good!

Usually when reading anthologies, I end up skipping some of the stories, and I fully expected to do that here too, but there honestly wasn’t a dud story amongst them, and each one made me want to finish it from the off. Golden has done a great job in selecting these. If you like horror, and you like (or hate, actually) Christmas, then this is the book for you!

I feel well and truly in the spirit now. I’m just not sure if it’s for Halloween or Christmas! Oh let’s face it, it’s both!!!

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Horror October: Kill Creek by Scott Thomas #BookReview #HalloweenReads

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Kill Creek // Scott Thomas // October 2017 // Inkshares // Goodreads

Kill Creek has been on my Horror October TBR list for two years running so I’m glad to have finally gotten round to it. I thought it would be a classic haunted house story, and in a way it was, but it was also so different to what I was expecting.

In this perfect-for-Halloween read, four famous horror writers are invited to an infamous haunted house for an unconventional all-night interview  with controversial online journalist Wainwright, in what seems to be an homage to the classic film House on a Haunted Hill. But really, that’s where the similarities end.

After a lot of bickering, some ruffled feathers, and classic haunted house hi-jinks, the writers survive the night and go home. The End. Not reeeeeally. I mean they do head home, but the story is far from over.

I felt like this major twist on the classic haunted house tropes was a double-edged sword. On one hand I thought it was genius as it was the last thing I was expecting, but on the other, I felt deflated. I wanted the predictable people Vs the house story. It had been set us as such and I felt cheated.

However, that’s just me being petulant. What followed was a story in itself, one that felt new and while it held my interest, I did think it could have been condensed slightly.

Overall, Kill Creek was a surprising take on the genre, one that is certainly in need of a bit of a shake up, so I applaud Thomas for that. It’s a perfect read for All Hallow’s Eve.   

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Horror October: Spine Chillers & The Birds #Review #RadioPlays

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Welcome to Horror October 2018!

If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know that I only recently started listening to audio-books.  I find their success very dependent on the narrator, but on the whole I like the medium as it enables me to get through some ‘reading’ whilst doing other things, which is pretty much necessary these days.

I was looking for some Horror-October suitable audios on my app when I came across two which caught my eye, and weirdly they are both turned out to be BBC radio plays, something I haven’t really listened to before either. 

The first one I listened to was Spine Chillers, a collection of ghost stories by M.R James.

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I’ve read some of James’ ghost stories before and quite enjoyed them so I thought this would be a great thing to listen to on an Autumn afternoon walk in the woods.

Unfortunately, because I was walking, I don’t think I was able to give it my full attention, and to be honest I found it quite difficult to figure out where one story ended and another began. 

What I did really enjoy was the actual  radio dramatisation aspect. The sound effects were great; there’s a lovely nostalgia in hearing the wind howl, and a window smash and picturing someone in a sound studio surrounded by props. 

It might be obvious to some, but I was surprised at just how different to an audio-book it was. 

“In ‘Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad’, Professor Parkins embarks on a terrifying journey of discovery after he removes a curious artefact from the ruins of a Templar preceptory; while ‘The Tractate Middoth’ sees diligent curator David Garrett caught up in the machinations of the mysterious Dr Rant when he’s sent to retrieve an obscure manuscript from the library stacks. ‘Lost Hearts’ tells of a young boy haunted by two ghostly children, and in ‘The Rose Garden’, terrifying forces are unleashed when the Goodmans tear down their old summer house. Finally, ‘Number 13’ takes us to the Danish town of Viborg, where Dr Anderson puts himself in terrible danger as he investigates why the hotel he’s staying at does not contain a room 13.” – Goodreads

The Tractate Middoth was my favourite of the stories, unsurprisingly as it’s about a library LOL, but not particularly spooky. The Rose Garden did provide some welcome creepy moments however. 

All of these tales are family-friendly, and would make a really nice alternative to watching a spooky film on Halloween. Gather around a fire with a hot drink and enjoy a ghost story or two, but don’t expect to be scared…unless you have a very low horror threshold.

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The second one I picked was a dramatisation of Daphne Du Maurier’s The Birds.

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I’m most familiar with the Hitchcock film – an absolute classic – but I did know a bit about the original story too, although I’ve never read it.

This was a different experience than the James collection altogether. The Birds gripped me from the get-go, and although one of the actors had a really piercing, irritating voice (sorry, but ow! My ears.!) it was great!

The tension builds very slowly, and is helped by the fact that the father is a bird-lover and at first reluctant to believe that the birds are dangerous, but of course, we know that they’re deadly.

The sound effects in this were great too, it added to the suspense and terror perfectly. A great listen for Halloween.

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Revisiting I Am Behind You by John Ajvide Lindqvist #HO18 #BookReview

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It has become somewhat of a Horror October tradition for me to revisit the best/scariest/weirdest book I read the previous year. This time, like previous years I haven’t chosen the book I actually enjoyed the most, but the book that has stayed with me.

I Am Behind You is a book I’ve thought of often this past year. It was just so strange. Every now and then something will remind me of it and I try to remember what it what about…but as you will read in my review, I have NO IDEA what it was about. But it was creepy. Which is only ever a good thing in my book.

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Title: I Am Behind You
Author: John Ajvide Lindqvist
Series: Platserna #1
Format: Digital ARC, 416 pages
Publication Details: September 7th 2017 by riverrun
Genre(s): Horror
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads 

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Molly wakes her mother to go to the toilet. The campsite is strangely blank. The toilet block has gone. Everything else has gone too. This is a place with no sun. No god.

Just four families remain. Each has done something to bring them here – each denies they deserve it. Until they see what’s coming over the horizon, moving irrevocably towards them. Their worst mistake. Their darkest fear.

And for just one of them, their homecoming.

This gripping conceptual horror takes you deep into one of the most macabre and unique imaginations writing in the genre. On family, on children, Lindqvist writes in a way that tears the heart and twists the soul. I Am Behind You turns the world upside down and, disturbing, terrifying and shattering by turns, it will suck you in.

Review

 

I’ve had a hit and miss (but mostly miss), relationship with Lindqvist so far to be honest, but I loved the sound of this book. And I’m pleased to report that this has been my favourite of his so far!

I Am Behind You, is hands down one of the weirdest books I’ve ever read, and thus a perfect read for a dark October evening.

It’s about a myriad of different families who wake up in their holiday caravans to find that the caravan park is gone. They’ve been moved, or have they? There is nothing around, and when they drive, they don’t get anywhere. The ground is strange and smells like blood.

Not only that, but there are these white human-like creatures stalking around. Before long, the families realise that they all see these creatures as different things; a tiger, a salesman, John Wayne characters… what does it all mean?

And then it starts to rain acid.

Out of all of the Lindqvist books I’ve read, I Am Behind You was definitely the most readable. I don’t know whether the translation was just better this time, but the pages flew by. I was totally submerged in this strange, creepy place and had to keep reading to get to the bottom of it.

But here lies the problem. We don’t get to the bottom of it, of anything really. Which was really frustrating. There’s only so many crazy things that can happen without even an iota of an explanation before you stop caring. But read on I did!

Apparently this is the first in a series, so maybe it will be addressed in the next book, but I wish he would have given us something more concrete as to what the hell was going on, you know!?

The star of the show were the characters for me. Each of the families bring something different, and alarming to the story. A few of them are loveable, but mainly they’re all troubled in some way, especially Molly, the token creepy child who was once left in a tunnel and has never been the same since.

I hate to liken every horror writer to Stephen King, but parts of this really did remind me of him and his great characterisation. If you liked Under the Dome, I think you’d enjoy this too.

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Previous choices:

Revisiting Self-Made Man by Poppy Brite #HO17

Revisiting An English Ghost Story #BookReview #HorrorOctober2016

Revisiting Wakening the Crow by Stephen Gregory #HorrorOctober2015

Revisiting The Coldest Girl in Coldtown #HorrorOctober2014

 

Welcome to Horror October 2018 #HO18

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Welcome to Horror October

If you’ve followed my blog for some time, you’ll know that I do a Horror themed month each October with lots of special posts and interviews, all culminating in a Flash Fiction battle between some great independent horror writers.

Sadly, due to other commitments I haven’t got time to do that this year, but I will of course still be celebrating everything I love about horror this month. I have a list of great-looking books to (try and) read.

Here’s what to expect… 

Kill Creek // Scott Thomas // Oct 2017 // Inkshares // Goodreads

At the end of a dark prairie road, nearly forgotten in the Kansas countryside, lies the Finch House. For years it has perched empty, abandoned, and overgrown–but soon the door will be opened for the first time in many decades. But something waits, lurking in the shadows, anxious to meet its new guests.

When best-selling horror author Sam McGarver is invited to spend Halloween night in one of the country’s most infamous haunted houses, he reluctantly agrees. At least he won’t be alone; joining him are three other masters of the macabre, writers who have helped shape modern horror.

But what begins as a simple publicity stunt soon becomes a fight for survival–the entity they have awakened will follow them, torment them, threatening to make them part of the bloody legacy of Kill Creek.

Creatures: The Legacy of Frankenstein // Various // Oct 16th 2018 // Abaddon // Goodreads

A new anthology bringing together five great new and established writers to explore the world of Mary Shelley’s all-time classic, Frankenstein

“My spirit will sleep in peace; or if it thinks, it will not surely think thus. Farewell.” 

Victor Frankenstein was the first to unlock the key to life, but he would not be the last. Through two centuries of scientific enquiry and relentless advancement, five more minds found the secret, and five more creatures were made. Five more stories ended in tragedy.

From the 1840s to the modern day, from the race to publish the first anatomy to the desperate search for weapons to win the Second World War, telling the stories of the creatures that never were.

Hark! The Herald Angels Scream // Various //  Oct 23rd 2018 // Anchor Books // Goodreads

Eighteen stories of Christmas horror from bestselling, acclaimed authors including Scott Smith, Seanan McGuire, Josh Malerman, Michael Koryta, Sarah Pinborough, and many more.

That there is darkness at the heart of the Yuletide season should not surprise. Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is filled with scenes that are unsettling. Marley untying the bandage that holds his jaws together. The hideous children–Want and Ignorance–beneath the robe of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. The heavy ledgers Marley drags by his chains. In the finest versions of this story, the best parts are the terrifying parts.

Bestselling author and editor Christopher Golden shares his love for Christmas horror stories with this anthology of all-new short fiction from some of the most talented and original writers of horror today.

Painless // Marty Thornley //  Jan 2018 // CreateSpace // Goodreads

The debut psychological-horror novel from author Marty Thornley is a page-turning ride, a front row seat to a clinical trial gone horribly wrong. 

For Greg Owens, this was supposed to be a chance to end years of back pain and escape his reliance on pain pills. If it all worked out, he could maybe even get back the life he left behind as the pills took control.

Instead, as the patients are cured of their physical pain, they encounter a different sort of pain building inside them – obsessive thoughts, depression, self-destruction. The side-effects grow worse, and the suspense ratchets tighter. The patients want answers and violent revenge, setting them on a collision course with a crazed doctor, determined to protect his life’s obsession.

The Life We Bury // Allen Eskens // Oct 2014 // Seventh St Books // Goodreads

College student Joe Talbert has the modest goal of completing a writing assignment for an English class. His task is to interview a stranger and write a brief biography of the person. With deadlines looming, Joe heads to a nearby nursing home to find a willing subject. There he meets Carl Iverson, and soon nothing in Joe’s life is ever the same.

Carl is a dying Vietnam veteran–and a convicted murderer. With only a few months to live, he has been medically paroled to a nursing home, after spending thirty years in prison for the crimes of rape and murder.

As Joe writes about Carl’s life, especially Carl’s valour in Vietnam, he cannot reconcile the heroism of the soldier with the despicable acts of the convict. Joe, along with his sceptical female neighbour, throws himself into uncovering the truth, but he is hamstrung in his efforts by having to deal with his dangerously dysfunctional mother, the guilt of leaving his autistic brother vulnerable, and a haunting childhood memory.

Thread by thread, Joe unravels the tapestry of Carl’s conviction. But as he and Lila dig deeper into the circumstances of the crime, the stakes grow higher. Will Joe discover the truth before it’s too late to escape the fallout?

Do you fancy any of these? Or maybe you’ve already read them, let me know in the comments!

Happy Horror October 2018! #HO18

It’s that time of the year again, Folks. I’ll be sure to let you know what I have planned for this year’s Horror October in the next few days or so, but for now I’ll leave you with this…

Credit to Goodreads.

My nightmare is Toxic Clown under your bed. It couldn’t be more accurate. EEK!

What’s yours?