Bloody Good Fun (pun intended): The Eye of the Moon (Bourbon Kid #2) by Anonymous – A Mini-Review.

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Following a massive rampage that left the streets of Santa Mondega soaked with blood, the elusive supernatural serial killer known only as the Bourbon Kid is now himself being haunted. Hot on his heels are several vampire gangs, the Secret Service, a couple of werewolves, corrupt cops, and the Dark Lord himself, and none will rest until he is dead. But the Kid has a vengeance of his own to wreak, and young lovers Dante and Kacy, hapless bartender Sanchez, Peto the Hubal monk, and the mysterious Jessica will each be drawn into the escalating vortex of violence.

Let me start by saying that this book is not for everyone.

  • If gory, mindless violence offends you, you shouldn’t read this book.
  • If colourful, constant swearing offends you, you shouldn’t read this book.
  • If laughing at religion and sexism offends you, you shouldn’t read this book.

And most importantly, if you only like your vampires to be the sparkly kind, you really shouldn’t read this book.

However….

If the idea of Elvis as a Hitman, a vampire clan of corrupt cops called the Filthy Pigs, a useless rap-star werewolf and a cowardly bartender who serves his own piss instead of whisky sounds like your idea of a party, then you are going to LOVE this series.

If you’ve seen any of the Tarantino/Rodriguez Grindhouse films or trailers, imagine the most ridiculous and gory one, convert it to a novel and BAM – there it is. If you have no idea what I’m referring to then this quote from the back of the book also sums it up pretty well:

Possibly drug-induced lunacy of a book – 4 stars” [Zoo Magazine]

With all of these ridiculous, mainly evil characters trying to get their hands on the Eye of the Moon and avoid The Bourbon Kid at all costs, this sequel to The Book With No Name is a fast-paced blackest-of-black comedy that is a whole lot of fun. I felt that the plot wasn’t quite as strong as the first book but I enjoyed finding out more about The Bourbon Kid and where he came from and I hope I can get my hands on the next one in series soon.

Details: Paperback, 384 pages. Published April 1st 2009 by Michael O’Mara (first published 2008)
Unicorn Rating: 4/5
Is it a keeper? Yes!
Start With: The Book With No Name.

A Confused Werewolf in Pennsylvania: Hemlock Grove by Brian Mcgreevy

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An exhilarating reinvention of the gothic novel, inspired by the iconic characters of our greatest myths and nightmares.

The body of a young girl is found mangled and murdered in the woods of Hemlock Grove, Pennsylvania, in the shadow of the abandoned Godfrey Steel mill. A manhunt ensues—though the authorities aren’t sure if it’s a man they should be looking for.

Some suspect an escapee from the White Tower, a foreboding biotech facility owned by the Godfrey family—their personal fortune and the local economy having moved on from Pittsburgh steel—where, if rumors are true, biological experiments of the most unethical kind take place. Others turn to Peter Rumancek, a Gypsy trailer-trash kid who has told impressionable high school classmates that he’s a werewolf. Or perhaps it’s Roman, the son of the late JR Godfrey, who rules the adolescent social scene with the casual arrogance of a cold-blooded aristocrat, his superior status unquestioned despite his decidedly freakish sister, Shelley, whose monstrous medical conditions belie a sweet intelligence, and his otherworldly control freak of a mother, Olivia.

At once a riveting mystery and a fascinating revelation of the grotesque and the darkness in us all, Hemlock Grove has the architecture and energy to become a classic in its own right—and Brian McGreevy the talent and ambition to enthrall us for years to come.

I feel like Hemlock Grove desperately wants to be Dracula (but y’know with Werewolves) when in fact it’s just one big mess. I finished reading this over a week ago and this whole time I’ve just been thinking what the hell WAS that!?’ I honestly didn’t know whether to rate it 1 or 5, it was that baffling.

Initially I appreciated the style, Mcgreevy was clearly trying to mimic the old school gothic lit of the past and give it a fresh going over, but it just didn’t work….I don’t think. The more I read the more I realised that his writing is so over the top and so laden with unnecessary symbolism that I had no idea what was going on, but I couldn’t stop. It was like watching a car crash.

For some reason I was interested in the story. The murders were brutal and gory (to my liking) and I enjoyed the ‘whodunnit’ element. Peter goes around telling everyone he’s a werewolf so obviously he’s prime suspect number one, even though no one really seems that bothered that he’s a werewolf, and I don’t really understand why they believe him in the first place because we don’t actually see any Werewolf action for most of the book. Or did I miss that? I honestly have no idea.

The other suspect is Roman. who’s a bit of a dick. That’s pretty much all I have to say about him, but I did like the dynamic between the two who then team up to discover the real truth about what’s going on. They definitely had some kind of homoerotic bromance going on, which kept me reading, obviously.

Shelley is a character who provides some Gothic Horror GOLD. She’s practically a giant with blocks on her feet, who is mute, glows demonically and is clearly supposed to be the Frankenstein’s Monster of the story. I think Shelley did work in that she pertains to the gothic atmosphere and provokes the questions ‘what/when/how/who’ but I don’t really understand how she fits into the ‘normal’ small town without people batting an eyelid. Odd.

I did really enjoy the setting though. The mystery and creepiness of the Biotech facility -which you can’t help but suspect is behind Shelley and the deaths – created an industrial, gothic feel to it which is new. Industrial Gothic…now there’s a genre we’ve been waiting for, no? The White Tower at least made the story plausible in that you can pretty much explain everything on scientific experiments, right?

I think that if McGreevy wasn’t concentrating so hard on nailing the Gothic Horror genre, and concentrated on just telling a good story that Hemlock Grove could be 100% better. But as it is it just seems a bit pretentious. The terrible grammar and inconsistencies made each sentence a chore. A CHORE. And the dialogue was just laughable.

Some of my favourite baffling lines:

She pulled Peter into a hug and kissed his cheek and gave his ponytail an annoyed jerk and harangued him didn’t he have a girlfriend to cut his hair.

So many things wrong with that sentence. WTF?

He pronounced ‘this’ in the phonetically correct fashion, but somehow it still rhymed with ‘us’.

???

‘Her Heart was a flicked mold of gelatin’ – What the hell does that mean???

A quality of thereness was missing from his face, his green eyes were windows to nothing. He was mercurial.

“Of course, minute as its impact may be in our physical universe, the fact of quantum entanglement is this: If one logically inexplicable thing is known to exist, then this permits the existence of all logically inexplicable things. A thing may be of deeper impossibility than another, in the sense that you can be more deeply underwater–but whether you are five feet or five fathoms from the surface you are still all wet.” You what now?”

Not to mention chapter titles such as ‘God doesn’t want you to be happy, he wants you to be strong’, Peter’s hierarchy of shit he can live without’ and ‘The most fun a girl can have without taking her clothes off’. Brilliant.

So yeah, Hemlock Grove is entertaining in a way but so overwritten it’s hard to get to the actual story. I hope they did a better job with the TV series.

Details: Paperback, 319 pages. Published March 27th 2012 by FSG Originals. Thanks to Di for lending me this(I think)
My Rating: 3 out of 5 Unicorns (I think)
Is it a keeper? It’s not mine, but err no.
If you liked this try: Dracula

Favourites Friday #8: Under The Dome and those pesky trust issues!

I’ve read some pretty bad reviews of the TV adaptation of Stephen King’s Under the Dome but I’m really intrigued to see it. I used to be a fan of his when I was a teenager but I feel like I kind of grew out of it or something (which is hilarious when you consider which books I love to read now *cough* Twilight *cough* The Selection). So I was surprised by how much I loved Under the Dome. Here’s a review I wrote some time ago for some website or other.

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As far as Stephen King fans go, I’d say I’m barely on even the spectrum. I’ve never really trusted him as an author since that part of It when it just goes batshit, (you know the one…right?) or the end of Cell which was such a let-down I wanted to throw the book out of a window and demand the twelve hours of my life back that it took me to read it. He seems to have a problem with endings, that or I just have a problem with his endings.

So when it came to UTD – a mammoth tome even by King’s standard – coming in at over 1000 pages, I was understandably hesitant. I’d given him a wide berth since Cell but one trusted friend plus one enthusiastic book seller convinced me to give it a go, and once I’d got past the quite frankly daunting list of characters that would give George RR Martin a run for his money, the opening chapter had me hooked with a capital H.

UTD is the story of Chester’s Mill, Maine; a small, relatively normal town which is suddenly enveloped by an invisible and seemingly indestructible dome. The dome not only cuts the inhabitants off from the rest of the world but also hacks off a few body parts and slices a woodchuck in two in a suitably bloody fashion as it slams down. As you’d expect, panic ensues and the pages actually fly by.

At its core, UTD is a story about a community and its power struggles, and I almost hate to say it – politics. Like all good microcosms of society there are good guys and bad guys and their varied reactions to the bizarre situation leads to incidents of rape, arson, murder, even a bit of Necrophilia, and thanks to King’s stunning characterisation it’s all entirely believable, enthralling, and disturbing.

I might have to rethink my trust issues; I even enjoyed the ending. A lot.

I’ve only read this once, because y’know- long! but I’ve been longing to read it again ever since I finished it which is a sign of a true favourite.