Char's Horror Corner

 Welcome to my Corner! I specialize in Dark Fiction reviews including Horror, Dark Fantasy, Splatterpunk, Horror of the 70's & 80's, and Graphic Novels. I also read and review classics, true crime, thrillers and audio books of all genres except Romance.

 

 

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THE OUTSIDER by Stephen King

The Outsider - Stephen King

 

I loved the first half of this book so much, I hardly knew what to do with myself. I just wanted to be reading every minute of the day. Don't get me wrong, the second half was good, it just didn't impress me quite as much.

 

I'm not going to rehash the plot, because today, only one week from the release date, there are already hundreds of reviews that do that. I'm just going to give a few of my thoughts and impressions:

 

The first quarter of this book was outstanding. It reminded me of all the reasons I love King in the first place. Then the second quarter? It was even better! I know that my mouth dropped open when I was reading quite a few times and who doesn't love being surprised? The third quarter brings us Ms. Holly Gibney, (who was probably my favorite character from the Bill Hodges crime trilogy which began with Mr. Mercedes), but the pacing began to slow. The fourth quarter just got draggy and I wanted things to wrap up.

 

Overall, I was prepared to go all fangirl over this book and at first THE OUTSIDER deserved that and more. By the time we approached the denouement, I was still enjoying myself, but not as much. Perhaps it's because I expect so much from King and it's just not possible for anyone, even him, to live up to my expectations? Perhaps, it's because I was also reading CARRIE at the same time for a book club meeting, and that short novel reminded me how lean and mean King can be?

 

Whatever the reason, I do recommend THE OUTSIDER, I just can't give it my highest recommendation. Even so, a 4 star King book is worth 2 or 3 of most other author's 5 star books, so you should still read it! I hope you enjoy it, if you do!

THE ROAD TO JONESTOWN by Jeff Guinn, narrated by George Newbern

The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple - Jeff Guinn

What a sad, sad, story. Even while I was listening, I was hoping for a different ending. 

 

Jeff Guinn is an excellent author of true crime. He is somehow able to relate the facts of the story without passing judgement. In this case, I learned a lot. The Peoples Church, (no apostrophe!), did a lot of work in the area of desegregation. Jim Jones and his wife even adopted a black child. In fact, they did a lot of good works together, for the elderly and for the members of their church. 

 

But as so often happens, absolute power corrupts and all that. Jim ran his church with an iron fist. He slept with many partners and somehow made it so that it was okay within his church. He began to do drugs-a lot of drugs. There was corporal punishment for those who did not follow the rules. He began to become paranoid and unbearable to be around, at times. 

 

Follow this to the end that we all knew was coming. I didn't realize how many people were involved in this mass suicide/mass murder, but I know now it was over 900. I say mass murder because children, (children!), were killed by having a syringe full of poisoned flavor-aide shot down their throats. It's one thing when your twisted beliefs cause you to kill yourself, it's another thing entirely to kill infants and children. It's just such a waste of life. 

 

Despite my attempts, I will never understand this mentality. I'm fascinated with it, I admit, but I can't understand it. Perhaps, it's just not understandable? It's certainly not sane. 

 

If you want to learn more about the Peoples Church and Jim Jones, then I highly recommend this book. I listened to it on audio, narrated by George Newbern and he was excellent. 

 

*I downloaded this audio-book from my library for free. Libraries RULE!*

Friday Reads!

 

Reading progress update: I've read 62%

The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple - Jeff Guinn

I will never understand quite a few things, but today, ( or lately),  the main one on my mind is the cult mentality. This doesn't only apply to organized cults, but to some churches and/or religions as well.

 

The church cult of Scientology, for instance, has fascinated me for a long while. Same thing with Charles Manson, and now: Jim Jones. Is it the charisma of their leaders? Did they start out "good", (for lack of a better descriptor), and then turn "bad", or were they bad deep down at the core to start with? 

 

My interest doesn't just stop with these "leaders", but also the people attracted to them. What draws people in? Many of these folks are not stupid, in fact some, if not many of them, are well educated. Are they missing something in their lives? Are they  missing something in themselves?

 

I watch/listen/read to/or about people drawn into these types of things, but I still can't figure it out. Why can't they see when things start to go wrong, or when things don't make sense? Why don't they rebel when asked to kill someone, or asked to commit suicide? 

 

I guess the answers to these questions would be quite valuable if we could answer them, wouldn't they?

PARDON MY GHOULISH LAUGHTER by Fredric Brown

Pardon My Ghoulish Laughter - Donald E Westlake, Fredric Brown

 

PARDON MY GHOULISH LAUGHER is a collection of mystery stories from the detective pulps. Most of these tales were originally written back in the 1940's. What fun!

 

All of these stories have the possibility of being supernatural tales, but all end up having a perfectly reasonable explanation. What's fun is the getting to the explanation! I enjoyed every single tale here, but I think my favorites were:

 

TWICE KILLED CORPSE- which had a nice little twist as well as a hero that wanted to be a detective.

 

PARDON MY GHOULISH LAUGHTER- which had a lead character that reminded me of Jimmy Olsen. (I'm showing my age here!)

 

DEATH IS A WHITE RABBIT- which was a strange little tale with a remote hint of Dr. Moreau and his experiments. These things never go well.

 

This book was a boatload of fun and reminded me of my pre-teen and early teen years when I read these types of collections. The old Ellery Queen's and Alfred Hitchcock's were always a source of entertainment, but somehow I missed Frederic Brown back then. With this collection and NIGHTMARES AND GEEZENSTACKS, (which I listened to last year), Mr. Brown has made made my list of memorable and witty short story writers. I'll be on the lookout for anything else of his I can get my hands on.

 

*I received this book as a gift from my friend Tigus, at Booklikes, with no strings attached. Thank you once again, sir! *

ARTIFICIAL CONDITION by Martha Wells

Artificial Condition - Martha Wells

 

ARTIFICIAL CONDITION is the second novella length installment of THE MURDERBOT DIARIES.

 

This one worked better for me than the first. I'm not going to go into the plot as the synopsis and many other reviews already do that. I just wanted to say that the humor seemed more innate this time around, which I appreciated. Murderbot is leaRning more about the massacre that supposedly occurred, (that it partially remembers), and I am interested in learning more along with it.

 

I'm anxiously awaiting book 3 in the series!

 

*I obtained my copy from my local library because 1. LIBRARIES RULE!! and 2. $10.00 for the e-book of a novella is a bit too rich for my blood.*

#Fridayreads

 

Reading progress update: I've read 40 out of 144 pages.

Artificial Condition - Martha Wells

And I already like this installment better than the first. Something about murderbot’s snark works better for me this time around. 

HARK! THE HERALD ANGELS SCREAM - Exclusive Cover Reveal!

Just look at that fab cover! Look at the authors involved! 

How could this not be FUN?!

 

 

I had the opportunity to ask Christopher Golden a few questions about this project below:

 

 

 

CHAR: How did the idea for this anthology come about?

 

CHRISTOPHER GOLDEN:  I had the title in mind for years.  Ages ago, I encouraged Thomas Sniegoski to use it and do a Christmas themed installment in his Remy Chandler novel series, but that never happened.  Then one day Tom and I were on the phone and I told him about this Christmas horror story I wanted to write—“It’s a Wonderful Knife”—and if I remember correctly, he suggested I do a Christmas horror anthology…which I’d always wanted to do and hadn’t gotten around to.  I immediately insisted that he write a story for the book. As soon as I realized that I was really going to do it, I started making my wish list of authors, and I think you’ll be as thrilled as I am with the results.

 

 

 

CHAR: When did your love of Christmas horror stories begin?

 

CHRISTOPHER GOLDEN:  A bunch of things flood into my head with that question. The first, of course, is A CHRISTMAS CAROL. It’s an unsettling story, and some of the film versions are creepy as hell.  There’s SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT, the homicidal Santa movie that came out when I was in high school, and which I saw in the theaters. But one of the most memorable creepy Christmas stories, for me, is a story within the movie GREMLINS, when the character played by Phoebe Cates tells the incredibly dark story of her father’s death. He’d dressed as Santa and tried to come down the chimney to surprise her, gotten stuck there, and died. It’s hideous and twisted—a great Christmas horror story.

 

 

 

ABOUT THIS BOOK...
Eighteen stories of Christmas horror from bestselling, acclaimed authors including Scott Smith, Seanan McGuire, Josh Malerman, Michael Koryta, Sarah Pinborough, and many more.

 

That there is darkness at the heart of the Yuletide season should not surprise. Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is filled with scenes that are unsettling. Marley untying the bandage that holds his jaws together. The hideous children--Want and Ignorance--beneath the robe of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. The heavy ledgers Marley drags by his chains. In the finest versions of this story, the best parts are the terrifying parts. 

 

Bestselling author and editor Christopher Golden shares his love for Christmas horror stories with this anthology of all-new short fiction from some of the most talented and original writers of horror today.

 

ABOUT THE EDITOR...


Christopher Golden is the New York Times #1 bestselling, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of such novels as Snowblind, Ararat, Of Saints and Shadows, and Tin Men. He co-created (with Mike Mignola) two cult favorite comics series, Baltimore and Joe Golem: Occult Detective. As an editor, he has worked on the short story anthologies Seize the Night, Dark Cities, and The New Dead, among others, and has also written and co-written comic books, video games, screenplays, and a network television pilot. A frequent lecturer and speaker at libraries, schools, and conferences, Golden is one-half of River City Writers (with James A. Moore), providing writing workshops, seminars, and editorial services, and one-third of the pop culture podcast Three Guys with Beards (with Moore and Jonathan Maberry). He was born and raised in Massachusetts, where he still lives with his family. 

 

 

Pre-order here, (you KNOW you want to!): HARK! THE HERALD ANGELS SCREAM

 

Thank you to Christopher Golden for taking the time to answer a few questions and thank you to Mandy at Blumhouse Books/Anchor Books for this exclusive opportunity! 

BAD PENNIES by John Leonard

Bad Pennies - John F Leonard

 

Chris Carlisle's life is going to hell and he's taking us with him! It starts when Chris witnesses an accident wherein a gentleman dies. As good citizens do, he gets out of his car to see if the man is okay, but he's not. On a sudden impulse, Chris takes the dead man's wallet, gives his statement to the police when they arrive, and then goes on his way. He later discovers money inside and agonizes over it all day while working his stressful, low paying job. He decides he's going to go back and leave the wallet at the scene of the crime, but in the end it never happens. Instead, he decides to spend a little money on drinks and cocktails, and once he gets home, he discovers the money he spent has reappeared in the wallet. He still has the same amount he started with! How can this be? Will he do the right thing and return the wallet and/or report what he did? Or will he keep the wallet, (after all he is in dire need of money), and treat himself to a few things he really needs-like new clothes for work or a new car? You'll have to read this to find out.

 

This is a novel of supernatural horror and terrible things occurred on the pages of BAD PENNIES. Every time Chris decided on a course of action, I couldn't help but ask myself what I would have done in the same situation. When his actions lead to the deaths of innocents, animal attacks and doors opening where there previously were none, the situation escalates quickly, and I just hung on for the ride. I really felt for Chris and I could easily understand why he did what he did. Would I have made the same choices? Maybe so and I think that's the main reason I kept reading. That and my fascination with the Scaeth and what he/it might do next. I'm not going to say anything more about it, because that should be related to you by the author, not by me. I loved the imagination and creativity that went into several different scenes, and I truly felt afraid once or twice, which is a rarity.

 

The issues I had with this book were twofold and not too bothersome-the pacing was a bit off and it took a while for the story to really get going. (Once it did, though, it went quickly.) The second problem I had, (and this was probably just me being picky), was that there was too much foreshadowing going on. It seemed like every chapter ended on a sentence foreshadowing a future event. I don't mind a little of that here and there, but it was used a bit too often for my comfort.

 

BAD PENNIES had a lot of interesting and intriguing world-building going on that I need to know more about. Who was that Sammael guy? I want to know more about Brian MacGuire and his club. I want to know more about the Scaeth, what it wants, why it's here, and more about where it lives, (between the walls.) So now I'm left to waiting for Mr. Leonard to fill me in and I can't wait!

 

Strongly recommended for fans of supernatural horror!

 

*I received a paperback copy of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!* You can get a copy, (with it's super-cool new cover) here: BAD PENNIES

KILL CREEK by Scott Thomas, narrated by Bernard Setaro Clark

Kill Creek - Scott Thomas, Bernard Setaro Clark

Simply said, KILL CREEK was AWESOME! I've long been suspecting that a really good haunted house book was a thing of the past. I'm happy as hell to be proven wrong on that.

 

At first, I'm not going to lie, the standard trope of four people staying overnight in the oh-so scary house, did not impress me. But between the characters themselves, the background of the house, and how everyone came together, slowly this story began to win me over. In this case, we actually had 6 people staying overnight, on Halloween, to boot. Four famous horror authors, Wainwright, the man who orchestrated this affair, (being the founder of a website dedicated to all things horror), and his girlfriend Kate who is there to photograph any happenings. Then, (and get this surprising twist), not all that much happens and everyone goes home! So where's the scary stuff? What occurs that makes so many people rave about this book? Don't look at me, I'm not going to spoil it. You'll have to read it for yourself.

 

These characters burrowed down deep into my psyche, and I felt like I knew them all intimately. Every single one of them changed throughout, and be they good changes or bad, they were all different people by the denouement. I love that. I love unpredictability in both my books and my characters-who wants to read about boring flat Stanley?

 

The writing had a vivid feel to it and the author is terrific in his descriptive passages as well as with his dialogue. It all rang very true to me. I have to admit that I am impressed-even more so when I take into account that this is a debut novel. For many years, my favorite book was GHOST STORY by Peter Straub, and in my mind, I can't help but compare the two and KILL CREEK holds up to that comparison. That's the highest praise I can give.

 

Lastly, the narrator: Bernard Setaro Clark? You rock, man! You nailed it! What else is there to say?

 

I'm sure this audio will be in my top ten at the end of the year and as such it gets my highest recommendation. You should read it. Right now! Why are you still here? 

You can get your copy here: KILL CREEK

 

*I bought this e-book and the audio with my hard-earned cash and this opinion is my own.*

Friday Reads!

 

That Moment When...

Artificial Condition - Martha Wells Saga Volume 8 - Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples

 

You are doing a happy dance because both of your latest holds at the library have arrived, wayyyyy ahead of time! Then you realize how bogged down with great books you already are. What a problem to have, right?

 

 

I've read 30 out of 163 pages...

Pardon My Ghoulish Laughter - Donald E Westlake, Fredric Brown

 

and I was totally tickled by the first story, THE INCREDIBLE BOMBER, as well as by the introduction by Donald Westlake.

 

Next tale (or should I say tail?) up:  DEATH IS A WHITE RABBIT

 

 

SAGA, VOLUME 7 by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Saga, Volume 7 - Fiona Staples, Brian K. Vaughan

 

There's really not much I can add to the boatload of reviews of this volume. So I'm just going to say that this was my favorite volume so far and that I'm heartbroken. HEARTBROKEN!

 

As irreverent as PREACHER was, but with more humor, (and humor that appeals to a wider variety of people, in my opinion), SAGA may just turn out to be my favorite graphic novel series of all time. (SANDMAN will be hard to beat, but it's going to be damn close!)

 

If you enjoy comics & graphic novels, and you're not reading SAGA, you're missing out. Period.

TERROR IS OUR BUSINESS: DANA ROBERT'S CASEBOOK OF HORRORS, by Joe & Kasey Lansdale

Terror is our Business: Dana Roberts' Casebook of Horrors - Kasey Lansdale, Joe R. Lansdale

 

Joe Lansdale always delivers and now we know that Kasey Lansdale does too!

 

In the foreword, the "Champion Mojo Storyteller" shares with us a little bit about his character Dana Roberts, and how she came about investigating what she calls the "supernormal." This being what most people call "supernatural," but what Dana believes are just events that science cannot yet explain. I enjoyed her tales a LOT, mostly because I loved the framework of Dana being asked to share her stories with a group of skeptical men, (and sometimes women), in a smoky club. In the last two tales, Dana hires Jana, (Kasey Lansdale's creation), and they investigate a few cases together. While Dana is the skeptical, professional and beautiful lead "investigator," Jana is the irreverent, less polished, but also beautiful, sidekick. Having these last tales be from her POV was brilliant, giving us a different look at Dana's work while also highlighting the fact that Dana is kind of hoity-toity and not as willing to get her hands dirty as this reader first thought.

 

My favorites of the bunch were:

 

THE CASE OF THE LIGHTHOUSE SHAMBLER I'm a sucker for haunted lighthouse stories and this one was a doozy.

 

THE CASE OF THE FOUR ACRE HAUNT was the tale of a haunted house. What made it special for me were the descriptions of the shadows; some of them honestly gave me the heebie-jeebies, and that doesn't happen often. Well done!

 

 

THE CASE OF THE ANGRY TRAVELER featured one of my favorite tropes-the whole city discovered beneath today's city type-thing. Now you know that Dana and friends found something down there, but what was it, exactly? You'll have to read this book to find out!

 

Of the two Jana and Dana stories, THE CASE OF THE RAGMAN'S ANGUISH stood out the most for me. This was more of a novella than a short story, but there were different aspects to it than in the other tales, (I won't say what those aspects were), which made it unique and my favorite story of the bunch.

 

TERROR IS OUR BUSINESS was just plain fun and reminded me of the flat-out horror tales Joe Lansdale wrote back in the day. Joe's famous sense of humor may not be the prominent one in this collection, but Kasey's, (or Jana's) humor is, and it turns out? She's funny too!

 

Highly recommended for fans of short, scary stories that have a healthy side of humor and skepticism!

 

*Thanks to the authors and to the publicist at Cutting Block Books for the chance to read this book free, in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

Currently reading

Hope Never Dies by Andrew Shaffer
Progress: 30%
Darkest Hours by Mike Thorn
Progress: 22%
Hysteria: A Collection of Madness by Stephanie M. Wytovich, Steven Archer, Michael A. Arnzen, Teagan Gardner
Progress: 65%
Lucifer Book Two by DEAN ORMSTROM, Various Authors, Peter Gross, Mike Carey
Progress: 60%
Detours by Dean Koontz, Michael Koryta, Clive Barker, Stephen King, Kelley Armstrong, David Morrell, Michael Marshall Smith, Michael Marshall Smith, Owen King, William Peter Blatty, Mark Stewart, Chet Williamson, Poppy Z. Brite, Brian James Freeman, Peter Straub
Progress: 125/400pages

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Horror Aficionados
Horror Aficionados 11358 members
If you love horror literature, movies, and culture, you're in the right place. Whether it's vampi...

Books we've read

The Stand
Dread in the Beast
The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Tales
Horror Library, Volume 1
Butcher Shop Quartet
Family Inheritance
'Salem's Lot
A Treasury of American Horror Stories
Heart-Shaped Box
20th Century Ghosts
The Revelation
Lowland Rider
Off Season
Neither the Sea Nor the Sand
The House Next Door
The Ceremonies
Nazareth Hill
The Light at the End
Ghoul
Billy


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