‘So intent was Frank on solving the puzzle of Lemarchand’s box that he didn’t hear the great bell begin to ring. The device had been constructed by a master craftsman, and the riddle was this–that though he’d been told the box contained wonders, there simply seemed to be no way into it, no clue on any of its six black lacquered faces as to the whereabouts of the pressure points that would disengage one piece of this three-dimensional jigsaw from another.’
I watched the original Hellraiser movie (1987) back in the late 1980s. I thought it was such a unique idea for a horror movie and can still remember being freaked out by the Cenobites, especially the teeth-gnashing one. What are Cenobites? They are demonic beings that will “tear your soul apart” if you summon them. The hell priest who became known as “Pinhead” didn’t scare me, I just thought he was cool. What a fantastic character design!
Its voice, unlike that of its companion, was light and breathy—the voice of an excited girl. Every inch of its head had been tattooed with an intricate grid, and at every intersection of horizontal and vertical axes a jeweled pin driven through to the bone. Its tongue was similarly decorated. “Do you even know who we are?” it asked.”
After learning that writer/director Clive Barker based the film on his novella The Hellbound Heart, I saught it out. I didn’t know Barker was already a published writer when he made Hellraiser. I quickly went on to read his excellent Books of Blood stories and his 1987 dark fantasy novel Weaveworld. I recommend the Books of Blood but Weaveworld left me cold. There are some good ideas in the book, but I found it to be too meandering and it kind of lost me in its weaving narrative. As far as I remember, many of the stories in Books of Blood are very good examples of the genre; I must get around to re-reading them.
‘Tusk filled the doorway across the hall. His gigantic gray head, made larger by those fanlike ears, sat atop an imposing body. He would have been terrifying if it weren’t for the fact that he was wearing a well-tailored suit.’
‘It’s 2001, and the WyldBoyZ are the world’s hottest boy band, and definitely the world’s only genetically engineered human-animal hybrid vocal group. When their producer, Dr. M, is found murdered in his hotel room, the “boyz” become the prime suspects. Was it Bobby the ocelot (“the cute one”), Matt the megabat (“the funny one”), Tim the Pangolin (“the shy one”), Devin the bonobo (“the romantic one”), or Tusk the elephant (“the smart one”)?
Las Vegas Detective Luce Delgado has only twenty-four hours to solve a case that goes all the way back to the secret science barge where the WyldBoyZ’ journey first began—a place they used to call home.’
The Album of Dr. Moreau is a hugely entertaining locked-room mystery featuring the most unforgettable boy band you never knew you needed in your reading life. This is the second book by Daryl Gregory that I’ve read in the last month. In fact, I bought this book right after finishing the author’s 2017 extrasensory tale of the incredible Telemachus family: Spoonbenders. I had a blast reading Spoonbenders and I can say the same for this one. My only criticism is that I wish there was more of it. The Album of Dr. Moreau is a novella and clocks in at just 176 pages.
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.
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.
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.
Author: K.J. Parker Title: The Devil You Know Series: Saloninus #2 Format: Kindle Edition Length: 124 pages Rating: ★★★★☆
The greatest philosopher of all time is offering to sell his soul to the Devil. All he wants is twenty more years to complete his life’s work. After that, he really doesn’t care.
But the assistant demon assigned to the case has his suspicions, because the philosopher is Saloninus–the greatest philosopher, yes, but also the greatest liar, trickster and cheat the world has yet known; the sort of man even the Father of Lies can’t trust.
“The tram in question is a design of the djinn,” he explained. “It is endowed with a machine mind imbued with magic. The tram is thus capable of thought, which it uses to guide itself and its passengers safely.”
P. Djeli Clark’s The Haunting of Tram Car 015 is a story set in an alternate 1910s Cairo where supernatural beings such as djinn and angels exist alongside the regular citizens. It’s a population which includes mystics and sorcerers, as well as our two main characters: agents Hamed and Onsi of ‘the Egyptian Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments, and Supernatural Entities.’ They are called in to investigate the reported haunting of a tram car.
The case seems simple enough at first. After a meeting with the tram company’s Superintendent Bashir, the two agents proceed to the haunted tram car to see what they are dealing with. Continue reading →
I’m a fool for a challenge, especially a reading challenge. I’m already undertaking my own Short Story Tarot Challenge-attempting to read 78 short stories over 78 weeks, one for each card in a Tarot deck. Its purpose is to both get me back into reading more regularly and to finish a few collections from my TBR pile. I’ve kept it going for seven weeks so far and I am enjoying the short story format.
So, onto this latest reading challenge. As we all know, there is so much great fiction out there that is just waiting to be read. But–like you I’m sure–my reading time is limited. Therefore, I am launching a 2020 Novella Reading Challenge. My aim is to read more works by more authors, especially authors new to me. So I think the novella format is a great way to achieve this goal with its shorter length and reasonable price. Continue reading →
‘I want to leave a record of what has happened to me, so that if someone comes for me, and finds me dead, he will understand.’
TRACKING SONG by Gene Wolfe was originally published in 1975. It first appeared in the anthology In the Wake of Man, which also featured stories by R.A. Lafferty and Walter F. Moudy. The story’s next appearance was in Wolfe’s own collection The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories and Other Stories (1980). It is 70 pages long. (You can find it here in issue #90 of Lightspeed Magazine.)
Cover art by Nick Aristovulos
Brief Summary The protagonist of the story has lost his memory and his way. He wakes up in a wintry landscape after being found by a local tribe of animal-like humanoids. He cannot remember his own name nor where he is from. The tribe members call him “Cutthroat” due to a birthmark on his neck. They tell him they discovered his unconscious body in the snow after the ‘Great Sleigh’ had passed. What the Great Sleigh is, he also can’t recall. Cutthroat sets off on a journey to find the Great Sleigh, seeking answers to who he is and where he came from. Continue reading →
‘When you watch someone, you know them. You know them better than themselves.’
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 →
‘To run or fight is the most important rule, but there is also the blood rule. Don’t bleed.’
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 →
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 →