Horror October: Revisiting Wakening the Crow by Stephen Gregory #HorrorOctober

HorrorOct2015

I can’t quite believe how, but yes, Horror October is here already! Last year, I started a tradition of reblogging my favourite Horror October read from the previous year as a way of officially kicking off the proceedings.

Last year I reblogged the wonderful Coldest Girl in Cold Town and this year, I’ve chosen Wakening the Crow.

Wakening the Crow was certainly not my highest-rated read of last year’s Horror October, (and in fact it was the last book I reviewed and didn’t actually post it until November BUT THAT’S NOT THE POINT), however it’s the only one that has really stayed with me.

It was such a unique, haunting and uncomfortable read, I definitely feel like it was the most ‘Horror’ or all the books I read. I loved how classically gothic it was, amongst other things.

So without further ado, here is my original review….

A Vestry, Edgar Allan Poe, and a Mischievous Crow…

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Title: Wakening the Crow
Author: Stephen Gregory
Series: N/A
Edition: Paperback, 256 pages
Publication Details: November 11th 2014 by Solaris
Genre(s): Horror; Gothic
Disclosure? Yep! I received a copy from the author/publisher in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads
Purchase

With the looming shadow of Edgar Allan Poe falling over one family, Gregory takes the reader into a world of uncertainty and fear.

Oliver Gooch comes across a tooth, in a velvet box, with a handwritten note from 1888 to say it’s a tooth from the boy Edgar Allan Poe. He displays it in his new bookshop, and names the store Poe’s Tooth Books.

Oliver took the money from his small daughter Chloe’s accident insurance and bought a converted church to live in with his altered child and wife. Rosie hopes Chloe will came back to herself but Oliver is secretly relieved to have this new easy-to-manage child, and holds at bay the guilt that the accident was a result of his negligence. On a freezing night he and Chloe come across the crow, a raggedy skeletal wretch of a bird, and it refuses to leave. It infiltrates their lives, it alters Oliver’s relationship with Rosie, it changes Chloe. It’s a dangerous presence in the firelit, shadowy old vestry, in Poe’s Tooth Books.

Inexorably the family, the tooth, the crow, the church and their story will draw to a terrifying climax.

 Review

Everything about this synopsis intrigued me; the bizarreness of basing a story – and indeed a horror bookshop – on the discovery of Poe’s tooth, the idea that a manky crow can have an impact on the characters’ relationships, and the gothic setting. Sounds good right?

Well, I’m pleased to say that it was…for the most part.

Oliver Gooch is a very strange protagonist and narrator. From the start it’s evident that he’s not altogether what you would call a loving father and husband, or even a good, decent person. Honest maybe, but loving, no.

He frequently refers to his daughter as fat, disgusting and petulant, and his wife as not much better, but all of this adds to a growing unease.

Previously a mobile library driver, Oliver is now about to open his own horror bookshop in the church they have recently bought to also live in. The money came out of a tragic accident when Chloe got stung by a wasp in the mobile library, ran out into the road and suffered a head injury which changed her completely.

Now mute and compliant, with a constant sweet smile upon her face, Chloe is a different daughter entirely, and Oliver is relieved. So much so that he fears the day that she might actually recover.

Stephen Gregory does a great job of creating suspense here. The more we are led through this story by Oliver, the more disturbing it gets. He sees himself as becoming the Poe-like character he dreams of; he stops washing;  he drinks constantly, and tries to ‘write’. He seems to think that the more dishevelled he becomes, and the more grim the bookshop appears, the better. But all of this is at the expense of his family.

The only problem I had with this book was that I couldn’t understand Oliver as a character. I almost felt sorry for him at times, but it’s hard to empathise with someone who laughed at their daughter when she got stung by a wasp, resulting in her being brain damaged. I always felt like there was a good person trying to get out of him, but it never came.

I also expected more of a climax to the story, but overall this was a great read for a dark and stormy night, filled with gothic imagery and a overriding sense of unease.

unicorn rating 3

Wakening the Crow is available from November 11th, or to pre-order now at Waterstones

UP NEXT ON #HORROROCTOBER: Arrows of Darkness Promo

A Vestry, Edgar Allan Poe, and a Mischievous Crow…

Wakening the Crow by Stephen Gregory

netg2
Title: Wakening the Crow
Author: Stephen Gregory
Series: N/A
Edition: Paperback, 256 pages
Publication Details: November 11th 2014 by Solaris
Genre(s): Horror; Gothic
Disclosure? Yep! I received a copy from the author/publisher in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads
Purchase

With the looming shadow of Edgar Allan Poe falling over one family, Gregory takes the reader into a world of uncertainty and fear.

Oliver Gooch comes across a tooth, in a velvet box, with a handwritten note from 1888 to say it’s a tooth from the boy Edgar Allan Poe. He displays it in his new bookshop, and names the store Poe’s Tooth Books.

Oliver took the money from his small daughter Chloe’s accident insurance and bought a converted church to live in with his altered child and wife. Rosie hopes Chloe will came back to herself but Oliver is secretly relieved to have this new easy-to-manage child, and holds at bay the guilt that the accident was a result of his negligence. On a freezing night he and Chloe come across the crow, a raggedy skeletal wretch of a bird, and it refuses to leave. It infiltrates their lives, it alters Oliver’s relationship with Rosie, it changes Chloe. It’s a dangerous presence in the firelit, shadowy old vestry, in Poe’s Tooth Books.

Inexorably the family, the tooth, the crow, the church and their story will draw to a terrifying climax.

 Review

Everything about this synopsis intrigued me; the bizarreness of basing a story – and indeed a horror bookshop – on the discovery of Poe’s tooth, the idea that a manky crow can have an impact on the character’s relationships, and the gothic setting. Sounds good right?

Well, I’m pleased to say that it was…for the most part.

Oliver Gooch is a very strange protagonist and narrator. From the start it’s evident that he’s not altogether what you would call a loving father and husband, or even a good, decent person. Honest maybe, but loving, no.

He frequently refers to his daughter as fat, disgusting and petulant, and his wife as not much better, but all of this adds to a growing unease.

Previously a mobile library driver, Oliver is now about to open his own horror bookshop in the church they have recently bought to also live in. The money came out of a tragic accident when Chloe got stung by a wasp in the mobile library, ran out into the road and suffered a head injury which changed her completely.

Now mute and compliant, with a constant sweet smile upon her face, Chloe is a different daughter entirely, and Oliver is relieved. So much so that he fears the day that she might actually recover.

Stephen Gregory does a great job of creating suspense here. The more we are led through this story by Oliver, the more disturbing it gets. He sees himself as becoming the Poe-like character he dreams of; he stops washing;  he drinks constantly, and tries to ‘write’. He seems to think that the more dishevelled he becomes, and the more grim the bookshop appears, the better. But all of this is at the expense of his family.

The only problem I had with this book was that I couldn’t understand Oliver as a character. I almost felt sorry for him at times, but it’s hard to empathise with someone who laughed at their daughter when she got stung by a wasp, resulting in her being brain damaged. I always felt like there was a good person trying to get out of him, but it never came.

I also expected more of a climax to the story, but overall this was a great read for a dark and stormy night, filled with gothic imagery and a overriding sense of unease.

unicorn rating 3

Wakening the Crow is available from November 11th, or to pre-order now at Waterstones

WWW Wednesday 05.11.2014

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To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading? • What did you recently finish reading? • What do you think you’ll read next?

Welcome to another WWW Wednesday!

I hope you are all having a good week. I’m still trying to catch up after my Horror October frenzy, but I’ll get there. Here are my answers this week:

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Currently Reading:
I’m reading Back to Blackbrick by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald. I’m liking it so far, it’s a little strange, much like her other book The Apple Tart of Hope which I really liked.

Recently Finished:
My last read was Wakening the Crow by Stephen Gregory which I had mixed feeling about. My review will be up tomorrow. I also finished and reviewed Killer Spiders, here.

Up Next:
So many to choose from as always. I have loads of ARCs and review request books to get through before the end of the year! Dying for Christmas by Tammy Cohen is one I’m particularly looking forward to!

WWW Wednesday 29.10.14

www_wednesdays4

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading? • What did you recently finish reading? • What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m quite sad that this is the last WWW Wednesday of Horror October.

I hope you’ve been enjoying some creepy reads this month as much as I have!

wwwho4

 

Currently Reading:
I’m reading Wakening the Crow by Stephen Gregory, which is a gothic tale about a family who open a horror bookshop in a church after being given a box with Edgar Allan Poe’s tooth in it. So far, I’ve found this odd in the very best way, and it’s getting more and more disturbing as it goes on.

Recently Finished:
The last one I finished was Killer Spiders by Lex Sinclair. EEK. Review should be up by the end of the week.

Up Next:
The possibilities are endless. But, I’ll probably take a break from the horror reads for a while and go with Back to Blackbrick by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald.

 

What about you guys? Leave a link to your answers and I’ll come take a look!

WWW Wednesday 22.10.2014

www_wednesdays4

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading? • What did you recently finish reading? • What do you think you’ll read next?

Welcome to another WWW Wednesday! Here are my answers this week:

wwho3

Currently Reading:
I just started Killer Spiders by Lex Sinclair…I HATE spiders so I don’t know why I’m doing this to myself. Oh yes I do, Horror October of course! Not much to report yet other than it being very King-esque. There is a large cast of characters and it’s very descriptive. I’m yet to be hooked in though.

Recently Finished: I finished Ice Massacre by Tiana Warner which was a gruesome, action-packed Mermaid story. I really liked it. Check out my my review here.

Up Next:
I actually got through my Horror October reads quicker than I expected…I’m just a bit behind on the reviews, but watch this space. The books on the list that are left are An English Ghost Story by Kim Newman, and Wakening the Crow by Stephen Gregory, which is an ARC. They both look great!

WWW Wednesday 15.10.14

www_wednesdays4

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading? • What did you recently finish reading? • What do you think you’ll read next?

Welcome to another WWW Wednesday! Here are my answers this week:

WWWHO3

Currently Reading:
I’ve just started Ice Massacre by Tiana Warner. Not much to report so far but I’m really intrigued by the premise.

A mermaid’s supernatural beauty serves one purpose: to lure a sailor to his death.

The Massacre is supposed to bring peace to Eriana Kwai. Every year, the island sends its warriors to battle these hostile sea demons. Every year, the warriors fail to return. Desperate for survival, the island must decide on a new strategy. Now, the fate of Eriana Kwai lies in the hands of twenty battle-trained girls and their resistance to a mermaid’s allure.

Recently Finished:
I’ve been on a bit of a Horror October roll and have finished Doll Bones by Holly Black, Printer’s Devil Court by Susan Hill and Dark Satanic Mills by Julian and Marcus Sedgwick this week. All reviews will be up soon, Doll Bones, hopefully tomorrow.

Up Next:
More Horror October madness in the shape of Killer Spiders by Lex Sinclair (shudder) or Wakening the Crow by Stephen Gregory.