Hunter of the Dead by Stephen Kozeniewski #HorrorOctober2016 #BookReview

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Just as you thought Horror October was done and dusted…no it really is. But here’s a review I didn’t get to publish in time. Some may say I saved the best til last…

a5Title: Hunter of the Dead
Author: Stephen Kozeniewski
Series: N/A
Format: ePub, 314 pages
Publication Details:  August 15th 2016 by Sinister Grin Press
Genre(s): Horror
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads // Amazon

 

Someone has begun targeting vampires.

Vampire leaders of the thirteen Houses attribute the string of recent losses to over-zealous vampire hunters. Only Cicatrice, the most ancient and powerful vampire in the world, suspects that the semi-legendary Hunter of the Dead may be the real culprit.

Carter Price, a vampire hunter who despises the way his profession is becoming centralized and corporatized, begins to suspect the Hunter of the Dead is back, too – and no longer distinguishing between vampires and mortals. Against his better judgment, Price agrees to work with Cicatrice.

The uneasy allies attempt to uncover the truth about the Hunter, while a vampire civil war brews in the background. But perhaps most difficult of all, they must contend with their new apprentices, who seem to be falling in love with each other against every rule of man and monster…

Review

Hunter of the Dead is one epic vampire novel. If you’re looking for sparkly, over-possessive pretty boy vampires then you should probably just move along. But if you’re looking for a vamped-up Game of Thrones with The Red Wedding-level of bloodshed then you’ve come to the right place.

Hunter of the Dead has a large cast of characters and an intricately woven plot built upon a well thought-out mythos. There are warring vampire houses, each with their own version of vampire royalty, and human vampire hunters called Inquisitors. But the hunter himself is a whole other entity. A boogeyman. A thing of legends that no one quite believes. Until seemingly indestructible immortals start being…well, destroyed.

Caught up in the middle of this are two unlikely heroes, Carter and Nico. Gas station attendees turned vampire hunter and apprentice, the dynamic duo banter their way through the brewing war and attempt to find out the truth behind the one thing that both vampires and Inquisitors are equally as afraid of – The Hunter of the Dead.

This book had everything I could want in a vampire story. Blood, guts, bants and even a splash of romance in there too. The vampires themselves were diabolical yet alluring, and the plot was paced well despite its scope of epic proportions.

I did have some issues getting into the story to begin with though. The mixture of a vast array of characters and a jumping timeline would usually have me tearing my hair out, but after a chapter or two it really seemed to work. It certainly gave the book more mystery and depth.

But the one thing I did find frustrating was that a few of the characters were called by two or three different names – first name, surname and even a nickname –  so until I got to know the characters better it was really hard to understand who was who sometimes.

And while we’re talking about names, I spotted a few familiar ones in there. Whatever you do, don’t befriend Kozeniewski or he’ll steal your name for a character only to rip out their (YOUR) heart or make you live out the rest of your days with only half a face. Fellow horror writers beware!

Overall, this is not your average vampire novel. It’s not really your average anything. But whatever it is, it’s all wrapped up in Kozeniewski’s trademark tongue-in-cheek horror bow that I’ve come to know and love.

horroctrating-4

Hunter of the Dead is available now in both paperback & digital versions.

My Soul Immortal by Jen Printy

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Title: My Soul Immortal
Author: Jen Printy
Series: Fated Eternals #1
Edition: Digital Review Copy, 310 pages
Publication Details: February 15th 2014 by Red Adept Publishing, LLC
Genre(s): Paranormal Romance
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Amazon

An endless love, for an endless price.

Jack’s immortality is exposed when he prevents a liquor store heist, forcing him to flee to protect his secret—a secret not even he understands. But when he meets Leah Winters—a mirror image of his decades-lost love, Lydia—his very soul is laid bare. He begins to question his sanity. Is she real, and if so, what does that mean for Jack and his secret?

Jack’s not the only mystery man in town. A stranger named Artagan hints at knowledge Jack is desperate to possess. But can he trust Artagan, or does the dark newcomer harbor deadly secrets of his own?

As Jack’s bond with Leah grows, so does the danger to her life. Jack must discover just how much he is willing to risk in order to save the woman he already lost once

Review

My Soul Immortal was such a shock to me; I could not put it down, and found it to be a well-written, unique take on the paranormal romance genre, which let’s face it – gets pretty tiresome pretty quickly.

The first book in the Fated Eternals series introduces us to Jack. He’s tall and handsome, he loves books, and he’s immortal…what more could you want?

When Jack gets shot playing the hero in a robbery he has no choice but to pack his (minimal) belongings and choose a new place to live. He can’t risk being found out. A dart to a map decides his fate, and fate it really is, as once there he bumps into Leah (literally), who is the spitting image of his soul mate, Lydia, whom he has spent years trying to forget.

As Leah and Jack realise that their bond is stronger than anything they have ever known, and Leah finally understands that her weird dreams were in fact memories of her past life with Jack, they find themselves in increasing danger, and Jack is not prepared to lose her again.

Like I said earlier, I couldn’t put this book down. I read it in two sittings, over two days and I loved it! I thought the whole past-life, fated eternals thing really made this a different kind of paranormal romance story, and I loved that Jack was simply immortal, not a fang in sight. 🙂

The only slightly negative things I have to say about this book is that at first I thought Jack’s characterisation was a bit off – I think Printy struggled in writing from a male point of view and some of the things he said and thought about didn’t quite ring true to who he was. And the other, was that I didn’t write this review straight after finishing the book (my bad), and when I came to start it, it took me a while to even remember what had happened, so as much I enjoyed it at the time I can’t say it was a memorable read for me.

However, I do remember how hooked I was, and how much I enjoyed Jen Printy’s writing. I hope to read more from her; I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up the next in this series!

unicorn rating 4

Horror October: A Mortal’s Guide to Vampires

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Here is my guide to some of the best (questionable) Vampires in literature and celluloid. Happy Slaying!

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Details: Published in 1897. Stoker was the first to define the modern form of the vampire as we see it today, spawning numerous theatrical, film and television interpretations.
What’s the story? Vampire Count Dracula attempts to move from Transylvania to England, which ignites a battle between Dracula and a small group led by Professor Abraham Van Helsing.
USP: By feeding his victims his own blood Dracula can communicate telepathically with them and control them.
Best Vamp: Dracula, obviously

Once again…welcome to my house. Come freely. Go safely; and leave something of the happiness you bring”

The Immortal Kiss: Traditional: Vampire bites human, human drinks vampire blood, human dies and awakes as one of the Undead.
Hotness: Hmm jury’s still out on this one. But he proves pretty hard to resist: 6
Evilness: You’re pretty much a goner if he takes a shine to you. And he definitely has some anger issues but he hides beneath the mask of a gentleman. Pretty deadly: 8

The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice
Interview_with_the_vampire

Details: Published in 1975, the first book in the series Interview With the Vampire was Anne Rice’s debut and based on a short story she wrote a few years earlier. The film was released in 1994.
What’s the Story? A vampire named Louis tells his life story to reporter. Starting in 1791, Louis is a young indigo plantation owner living south of New Orleans. Distraught by the death of his brother, he seeks death in any way possible and is approached by a vampire named Lestat who makes him his immortal companion.
USP: These Vamps cannot be harmed by garlic or crosses. But they can’t walk in the sunlight and they sleep in coffins. Stakes through the heart merely set them back and they have extra gifts such as mind control. The longer they have been vampires, the stronger they are. They have superhuman strength, speed, senses, and agility and can heal themselves.
Best Vamp: Lestat de Lioncourt
The Immortal Kiss: Traditional
Hotness: They are beautiful and deadly:10
Evilness: As Louis proves, they do have consciences. But the yearning for human blood is often too strong. Their strength and abilities render them pretty damn dangerous. And they’re hot. Ultimate deadly combo. But they can feed without killing: 9
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Lost Souls by Poppy Z Brite
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Details: Published in 1992, Lost Souls was Poppy Z. Brite’s first horror novel. It is the only novel-length adventure of Steve and Ghost, popularized in numerous short stories. The novel is an extended version of “The Seed of Lost Souls”.
What’s the Story? Best friends and almost lovers Ghost and Steve are drawn into the pleasure-seeking, depraved world of three vampires Zillah, Molochai and Twig. The androgynous trio are fuelled by sexual frenzy and human blood, and Steve and Ghost try to save Nothing from them, a teenage vampire raised by humans.

Those who know enough to drink Chartreuse at Mardi Gras are lucky, because the distilled essence of the town burns in their bellies. Chartreuse glows in the dark, and if you drink enough of it, your eyes will turn bright green.”

USP: These are the most ‘unique’ vamps I’ve read. Punk Rock androgyny with insatiable thirsts… Hot. The vampires are a separate species who are born vampires. Most feed on blood but some find alternative sustenance such as love and beauty. The older vampires have naturally sharp teeth, are sensitive to sunlight, and cannot eat or drink. But younger ones have normal human teeth that must be filed, are OK in sunlight and can both eat and drink (as demonstrated by their liking for chartreuse.
Best Vamp: Zillah
The Immortal Kiss: N/A
Hotness: Homoerotic, bi-sexual, drunk and insane…yep, pretty hot: 10
Evilness: You will want to party with them even knowing they will kill you (let’s face it, the sex will be probably be worth it). They can be killed if the heart or brain is destroyed and female vamps can also be killed by childbirth because vampiric infants kill their mothers in the womb: 8

The Lost Boys
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Details: 1987 American teen horror film starring Jason Patric, Corey Haim, Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Feldman, Dianne Wiest, Edward Herrmann, and Alex Winter. The title is a reference to the Lost Boys in J. M. Barrie’s stories about Peter Pan and Neverland.
What’s the Story? Two Arizona brothers move to California and end up fighting a gang of teenage vampires led by David.
USP: These vamps looks pretty normal but they sleep upside-down during the day and drink human blood at night. They can also fly.
Best Vamp: David (Kiefer Sutherland)
The Immortal Kiss: Not a kiss as such. Michael drinks blood masked as wine and shortly after displays signs of becoming a vampire. He must then drink blood from a human until death to complete the transformation.
Hotness: They have motorcycles working for them, and dubious dangly earrings, but they do have a certain charm. And they seem pretty fun-loving: 7
Evilness: A stake to the heart and they’re dust. Plus, kill the head vamp and all the half-vamps are cured: 5

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
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Details: Film (1992) starring Kristy Swanson, Donald Sutherland and Luke Perry, and TV show starring Sarah Michelle Geller, Antony Head, David Borenaz and Alyson Hannigan (1997 – 2003) created by Joss Whedon (AKA God!)
What’s the Story? Buffy Summers is the one and only Vampire Slayer, chosen by fate to battle against vampires, demons, and other forces of darkness. Buffy has the help of her loyal friends the ‘Scooby Gang’, her watcher and a vampire with a soul. Amazingness ensues.
USP: The vampires in BTVS have superstrength, bumpy foreheads when they get angry, and have no humanity (unless they’ve been cursed by Romanian Gypsies, of course!)
Best Vamp: Most would probably say Angel, but I say Spike. Hands down.
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The Immortal Kiss: Traditional

To make you a vampire they have to suck your blood. And then you have to suck their blood. It’s like a whole big sucking thing. Mostly they’re just gonna kill you.”

Hotness: Lots of hotness to choose from, whether you like your vamps cuddly or evil: 10
Evilness: Vampires are just one of many creatures Buffy has to worry about, they are generally pretty dangerous, but also oddly amusing. Plus, Buffy kicks their asses on a daily basis: 6

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
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Details: The first book in this 4 book series was published in 2005 and have subsequently been turned into 5 films. You may have heard of them.
What’s the Story? Teenager Bella Swan, moves to Forks, Washington, and falls in love with a 104-year-old vampire named Edward Cullen. They make out and stuff.
USP: OMG they sparkle yo!
Best Vamp: Edward…I guess.
The Immortal Kiss: One sided: A bite from a vampire spreads venom through the body, after 3 days the heart stops and you wake as a vampire.
Hotness: Edward is supposed to be the hottest thing ever. Which is why I try really hard not to picture that Robert Pattinson fella, who looks like Lurch: 8
Evilness: Let’s face it, they are pretty lame. They sparkle for god’s sake (I still love them though, obvs: 1

I could continue (Carmilla, Sunshine, Sookie Stackhouse, The Vampire Diaries, The Morganville Vampires, The Hunger, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown…) but I have to go and watch Buffy now.

Favourites Friday #6: Tuck Everlasting and why Immortals are so hot!

Click to view on Goodreads
Click to view on Goodreads

When Winnie stumbles across a spring which can bestow the gift of everlasting life, she also stumbles across the unforgettable Tuck family. The Tucks, having drunk from this spring, will never age, and will never die. With a calm clearsightedness they have kept the spring’s whereabouts secret, realising the harm and chaos full knowledge of it would bring. But the Tucks need to take grave measures when the spring’s secret is in danger of being revealed…

Disclosure: I think this is the first book I’ve chosen for Favourites Friday that I didn’t give a full 5 stars to on Goodreads and that I have read less than 3 times. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not great! I think one of the main reasons for deducting a star was that it was too short. I wanted MORE.

I discovered this book late. Like really late. It was first published in 1975 (and you can tell…it has that great old whimsical style to it where every word counts) and I probably first read it when I was about 20. If I’d read it when I was younger I know for a fact that I would have fallen in love with it even more than I did then. That weird thing happened on my first discovery of it too, I went to look it up thinking ‘I feel like this should be a film’ only to find out that Disney had released it a few years earlier (2002). And then literally about a week later, it was shown on TV on a Saturday afternoon. I went from being completely oblivious to it being everywhere. Weird how that happens, huh? I LOVE the film too btw…but more on that later.

I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of immortality. Vampires are my favourites, obviously, but there’s a lot to be said for just your average boy that can’t grow up. Peter Pan was probably my first ever fictional crush, (does he really count as being immortal? Anyway…) but after reading this Jesse Tuck was a big contender too. He’s quite clearly the cutest thing ever even if he’s a bit aloof initially. He’s funny too.

You mustn’t drink from it. Comes right up out of the ground. Probably pretty dirty” he began to pile pebbles over it again. “But you drank some,” Winnie reminded him. “Oh. Did you see that? Well, I’ll drink anything”

Man after my own heart!

There’s something really sweet in the way tries to discourage Winnie from drinking the water from the spring that has turned them immortal, you instantly realise that maybe living forever isn’t quite the gift that it sounds.

The rest of the book is basically the Tuck family keeping Winnie ‘hostage’ until they figure out what to do, or until they believe that she won’t tell anyone about the spring, and to convince her of that they have to tell her the truth.

Do you understand, child? That water – it stops you right where you are. If you’d had a drink of it today, you’d stay a little girl forever. You’d never grow up, not ever.

It’s heart-breaking really, the whole story is just mega sad, but beautiful too. This is the line that always particularly sticks in my head whenever I’m thinking about immortality (happens a lot):

You can’t have living without dying. So you can’t call it living, what we got. We just are, we just be, like rocks beside the road.

It’s that old chesnut isn’t it? You can’t have good without bad, or how do you know what good is? There’s no good without evil after all.

So, you should definitely read the book. It really reminds me of Alice Hoffman too, it has that magical, sleepy summertime prose to it that makes it perfect for a quick sunny Sunday afternoon read.

But, can we talk about the film for a second? I think I love the book even more after seeing the film, which never happens to me.

Here are some reasons why the film is awesome:

1. They made Winnie older (she’s only 10 in the book, and Jesse is 17) so they could play a bit more on the romantic element between the two characters. In the book they have a beautiful childish and harmless love for one another but in the film they can get down to sexy time (they don’t really, I think they just kiss…but SWOON).

2. Winnie is played by none other than RORY GILMORE…and I’m not being funny but who ISN’T in love with Rory Gilmore, right?
RORY

3. Jonathan Jackson. Nuff said. I knew Jesse was going to be hot, and Disney did good. I nearly spat out my coffee a few months ago when I saw him being all hot in Nashville and was like ‘IT’S JESSE TUCK GONE SEXY’ I’m sure he’s been in loads of stuff but that’s just not important.

4. I mean SRSLY, look how hot they are!

They are too perfect. I hate them.
They are too perfect. I hate them.

5. Sissy Spacek as Mae too, the casting was OWNED.

I’m going to hunt down the film now. Or maybe just watch Gilmore Girls.

HAPPY WEEKEND!!!