RIPXII Challenge

I’m a sucker for a reading challenge, especially when it coincides with one of my own. The last two years in October, I’ve taken my own *All Hallow’s Read challenge (*from an idea by Neil Gaiman). I limit my October reading choices to tales of the supernatural.

Two years ago, I read Richard Matheson’s Hell House and Stephen King’s The Shining. Last year, I chose Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes, Bag of Bones by King, again, and Nightmare Magazine#37: Queers Destroy Horror!

This year, I am joining the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XII Challenge which runs from September 1st to October 31st. Here is a link to the sign-up page. Continue reading

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Hammers on Bone (2016) by Cassandra Khaw

“My face is older than I remember, the lines longer, more entrenched in coarse brown skin. Puckered flesh details a history in bullet wounds, knife scars, burns. Ugly but human.” (p.75)

 

Hammers on Bone is a 2016 novella by Cassandra Khaw, the creator of Rupert Wong, Cannibal Chef. It’s her first story to feature John Persons, a private investigator based in Croydon, South London. You could describe Persons as a Transformer-detective because there’s more to him than meets the eye. To say any more would be to spoil a fascinating plot device that Khaw uses. His latest client is a ten-year-old boy who has an unusual job for the PI. Continue reading

Providence: Act 1 (2017) by Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows

“Still casting around for ideas, I took another look at Leticia Wheatley’s crayon drawings. I confess that I hadn’t really paid them much attention beyond observing that they looked like the work of somebody who was mentally disturbed,” (p. 156)

 

Providence: Act 1 collects issues #1-4 of the twelve-issue Avatar comic book penned by Alan Moore with art by Jacen Burrows. Opening in New York during the summer of 1919, we experience the story through the eyes of Robert Black, a reporter for the New York Herald. Black sets out to explore a lead on a scandal concerning an infamous book, “Sous le Monde,” which allegedly sent some of its readers insane. His initial inquiries lead him to the apartment of one Doctor Alvarez, a local doctor with a strange health condition which forces him to keep his apartment permanently chilled. Continue reading

The Changeling (2017) by Victor LaValle

“This fairy tale begins in 1968 during a garbage strike.” (Loc 102)

 

9780812995947The Changeling is an adult fairy tale by American author Victor LaValle. Last year, I read his 2016 novella The Ballard of Black Tom, a reimagining of H.P. Lovecraft’s short story The Horror at Red Hook (1927). It was an impressive, very readable story which depicted the events of the original, infamously-racist Lovecraft tale from a different character’s perspective. LaValle’s 2009 novel Big Machine won the Shirley Jackson Award. He has also written a collection of short stories Slapboxing with Jesus (1999), and the novels The Ecstatic (2002) and The Devil in Silver (2012).

Recently married couple, Apollo Kagwa and Emma Valentine, lives in New York. Emma is a librarian and Apollo a used bookseller. After the birth of their son, Brian, life seems good as they both enjoy adapting to parenthood. LaValle takes his time setting the scene of this young couple’s life, revealing their characters in the tiny details: Emma’s difficulties with breastfeeding, and Apollo’s penchant for uploading blurry baby-pics onto Facebook. But after some unexplainable images start appearing on their smartphones, a staggering event takes place in their apartment turning Apollo and Emma’s’ world on its head. Continue reading

Broken Monsters (2014) by Lauren Beukes

“Kids can’t cope with the darkness, supposedly, but how else are we supposed to wrestle with it? How else are we supposed to prepare for this moment when you have to open the door not knowing what’s behind it?” (p.250)

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Lauren Beukes is a South African writer who was recommended to me when I was compiling a list of essential books to read by female authors. Three of her works were suggested by blogger friends: Moxyland (2008), Zoo City (2010), and Broken Monsters (2014). She also wrote the 2013 time-travel thriller The Shining Girls, which I have heard very good things about. After reading Broken Monsters, I’m keen to read more of her writing.

Broken Monsters is a serial-killer thriller with supernatural undertones set in modern Detroit. Detective Gabi Versado leads the search for a killer after the mutilated body of a young boy is found on the street. On the wall beside the body is a simple chalk drawing of a door. As the hunt for the killer continues, the author takes us on a tour of some of the darker places of this struggling city, introducing a group of characters who initially seem unrelated. Continue reading

Halloween Reads 2016

What scares you?

Is it that BUMP in the middle of the night that only you hear?
Is it the walk home through the woods with only the moonlight to guide you?readings__1224527389_9277

How about that movie you watched that gave you nightmares for a week? Or the dream that felt so real that you fought to wake up and escape it, a cry on your lips?

What was the last book or short story that REALLY scared you? As I’ve got older, I find a scary movie affects me more than a ghost story. Is that because a visual shock is more immediate than a comparable scare in a story? The filmed image is there, right in front of you, without you having to do any work creating it in your head. Is it just me? Continue reading

The Shining (1977) by Stephen King

‘Jack Torrance thought: Officious little prick.’

I chose this as my second ‘All Hallows Read‘ book after finishing Richard Matheson’s Hell House earlier in October. At over 650 pages it’s a big read, yet it rarely felt like a slog. I’m not a huge fan of King, but I’ve always found his work very readable. I went through a phase of reading his novels in my teens spanning from Misery (1987) to The Dark Half (1989). Unfortunately, this included The Tommyknockers which was a slog to finish.

The Shining is one of King’s most famous novels as well as being very highly rated. It’s basically a haunted-house story, but I also found it to be a fascinating look into alcoholism and self-control. The main character, Jack Torrance, is a recovering alcoholic with a fiery temper, so well portrayed by Jack Nicholson in Kubrick’s movie. In the book, the characters are a lot more fleshed out than in the film. This gives us a chance to feel more attached to them, making their eventual fates that bit more distressing. Continue reading