A Good Marriage (2010) by Stephen King

Happy Halloween!

I’m currently working on a longer review of Stephen King’s Night Shift, but I wanted to post a review of a horror story today, Halloween 2020. So here is a brief review of King’s A Good Marriage. It was published in 2010 as part of the novella collection: Full Dark, No Stars. The story was adapted for the big screen in 2014.

Publisher’s Synopsis

What happens when, on a perfectly ordinary evening, all the things you believed in and took for granted are turned upside down?

When her husband of more than 20 years is away on one of his business trips, Darcy Anderson looks for batteries in the garage. Her toe knocks up against a box under a worktable and she discovers the stranger inside her husband.


My Thoughts

How well do you really know someone? Could a close member of your family be hiding an incredible secret? In “A Good Marriage”, Stephen King explores these ideas with the skill of a truly gifted writer.

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Hellblazer: Dangerous Habits (1991) by Garth Ennis & Will Simpson

My horror-themed month continues with one of the best John Constantine, Hellblazer stories: Dangerous Habits. For this, we have to go back in time to 1991 when Garth Ennis became the regular writer of DC Comics’ horror title Hellblazer. This was in the days before the Vertigo imprint existed. (Alas, it is no more!) Hellblazer was “suggested for mature readers,” and was one of a group of “mature” titles being published at that time. These included Swamp Thing, Sandman, Animal Man, Doom Patrol, and Shade the Changing Man.

Cover Art by Glenn Fabry

My Synopsis

John Constantine has faced all manner of ghosts, demons, and even serial killers before. But this time it’s serious! Years of smoking 30 cigarettes a day has left John with terminal lung cancer. That’s right, he’s going to die, and there aren’t any magic spells he knows to make it go away. In fact, he’s even contemplating giving up and ending it all. Who would’ve thought it? “Conjob” Constantine not even trying to talk or trick his way out of something? Unbelievable! But hang on a minute. Perhaps there are a couple of possibilities still open to him. Now you think about it, if anyone can actually pull this off, it has to be John Constantine, right?

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Gray Matter (1973) by Stephen King

“Gray Matter” first appeared in the magazine Cavalier in October 1973. It’s taken from Stephen King’s first collection, Night Shift (1978), which contains twenty of his earliest short stories. These stories were originally published between 1970 and 1977. This collection includes Children of the Corn, Quitters Inc., The Lawnmower Man, Trucks, The Ledge, Jerusalem’s Lot, and more.

Cavalier Magazine

My Summary & Thoughts on “Gray Matter”

A young boy runs into a 24-hour convenience store during a heavy snowstorm. He looks terrified and asks the owner, Henry, to sell him a case of beer for his father. Henry and the two locals in the store know the boy well. He is Richie Grenadine’s son Timmy, and his father often sends him to buy his beer, making sure it’s the cheapest beer in the store. Richie used to come and buy it himself until fairly recently.

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The Dunwich Horror (1928) by H.P. Lovecraft

‘Outsiders visit Dunwich as seldom as possible, and since a certain season of horror all the signboards pointing toward it have been taken down.’

Lovecraft wrote The Dunwich Horror in 1928 and it was first published in the April 1929 issue of Weird Tales. He is said to have rated it highly and described the story as being “so fiendish” that his editor at Weird Tales “may not dare to print it.” It is now considered one of the core tales of the Cthulhu Mythos.

Cover Artist: Howard Winters from the 1972 Lancer edition
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Halloween Reads 2020

It has finally cooled down over here in Yonago, Japan, after a late and hot end to the summer. The leaves are starting to fall and we can feel autumn in the air. This time of the year is one of my favourite times for reading and I like to bring in a Halloween theme to my selections for October.

I don’t read as much horror as I used to. As I get older, I find that I enjoy weird fiction more than the gore-soaked horror of my teenage years. So, what exactly is weird fiction? Instead of consulting wikipedia, here is a brief definition from Penguin Random House:

 “It’s a literary style that can blend speculative fiction with elements of horror, fantasy, magical realism, Lovecraftian Cosmicism, and others to create a genre that is surreal and deeply unnerving.” 

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The Sandman Universe Presents: Hellblazer #1 (Oct. 2019)

Written by Simon Spurrier, Art by Marcio Takara, DC Black Label

“I’m a nasty piece of work, chief. Ask anyone.”

HAPPY HALLOWEEN 2019!!

Being a fan of the original run of Hellblazer (1988-2013), I was delighted to hear that DC were bringing the “nasty piece of work” himself, John Constantine back to comics. If I’m being honest, I was also wary of what it would be like after the last couple of uninspiring interpretations of the character. Well, if this special one-shot is a sign of what’s to come, I needn’t have worried. The sarcastic, foul-mouthed trickster magician is back with a vengeance. And I’m delighted to say The Sandman Universe Presents: Hellblazer #1 is a powerful, dark, chaotic blast of magick from start to finish. Check it out now!

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Holt House (1972) by L.G. Vey

‘When you watch someone, you know them. You know them better than themselves.’

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My Thoughts

Is memory the ultimate unreliable narrator? In L.G. Vey’s creepy novella Holt House, memory plays an integral part in the story. It is a childhood memory that has led Raymond to camp out in the Holtwood as he searches for the truth. Just what exactly did old Mr. Latch show Raymond all those years ago? It was something horrible in the wardrobe of the spare room, something that terrified Raymond as a young boy. Continue reading

The Murders of Molly Southbourne (2017) by Tade Thompson

To run or fight is the most important rule, but there is also the blood rule. Don’t bleed.’

 

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My Thoughts

I’ve been hearing great things about author Tade Thompson over the last couple of years. ‘Rosewater,’ his 2016 Nigeria-set sf novel, has been receiving high praise around the blogosphere. (I recently bought a copy and will be reading it in November.)

I chose The Murders of Molly Southbourne as one of my 2018 Halloween reads. It’s a very readable horror novella about coming of age, survival and murder. It has a nonlinear narrative, opening with a tense scene that occurs right near the end of the story. Learning how we reach that scene is both compelling and disturbing. Continue reading

The Fog Horn (1951) by Ray Bradbury

‘I’ll make a sound that’s so alone that no one can miss it, that whoever hears it will weep in their souls, and hearths will seem warmer, and being inside will seem better to all who hear it in the distant towns.’

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Ray Bradbury’s The Fog Horn was first published in 1951 in The Saturday Evening Post. I came across it in his 1953 short story collection The Golden Apples of the Sun, which is a HUGE recommendation if you haven’t yet read it. This is the first of my Hallowe’en Reads 2018.

The Fog Horn is a tale of two men who work at a secluded lighthouse and what they witness there on a cold November night. It contains themes of loneliness, isolation, companionship, the power of nature, as well as how little we know about the vast depths of the ocean. Continue reading

Hallowe’en Reads 2018

The sky before a typhoon. View from my garden.

Happy Autumn!

As the days cool and grow shorter and the darkness spreads its ebony fingers, are you ready for some chills and thrills?

Yes, it’s that time of year again when I make – and often fail to complete – a plan for my October reading. As the theme is Hallowe’en, my chosen genre is horror or any kind of weird fiction. I’m planning to focus on novellas and short stories this year as my reading-time has shrunk over the last few months. So, without further ado, here is my list of stories to read as I tentatively set foot into the October country. Continue reading