Editor: Terry M. West
Publisher: Pleasant Storm Entertainment, Inc.
Number of Pages: 297
Format: Print (Electronic)
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars aligned
Sating that appetite for the weird while supplementing the idea of found footage, Terry M. West and Pleasant Strom Entertainment, Inc. have manifested from dark vaults, Journals of Horror: Found Fiction. 29 uncomforting tales of delusion and terror that will have you locking your doors, checking your phone settings and finding your journal so you can chronicle the onset of madness that may inevitably take hold. 29 authors who were fortunate enough to be released from their own straightjackets to pen some disturbing literature, instead of screaming their tales or spelling them out in missives with their medication. Oh, but enough with the Crypt Keeper treatment, lets open up this dark tome.
Anything from sensationalized pulp, to eloquent horror will be found while traveling through these pages. I myself found many of the stories to be entertaining, yet there were few that made me pause my reading and recollect my thoughts. Those were the best tales. There were stories that read like standard weird fiction, and some that read like submissions to Creepy Pasta. However, though these tales are works of fiction, the tales that teetered on the edge of truth were the ones that dragged me in. Some of these entries, for example; West’s “Bagged, Tagged & Buried,” Rolfe’s “Killing Jessica” and Leflar’s “Letter to Grandma,” exhibited masochistic tastes with dashes of schizophrenia and paranoia for flavor which, along with some other minor ingredients, developed a fun psychotic recipe for great found fiction. Bellow is a list of the stories and the authors behind them.
- Bagged, Tagged & Buried by Terry M. West *
- Turn Me On, Dead Man By Robin Dover
- Truant By D.S. Ullery
- The Book of Flesh and Blood By Jeff O’Brien *
- Beyond Castle Frankenstein By Paula Cappa
- Dying Scrawl by DJ Tyrer
- Girl in the Woods By Evan Purcell
- Going Home By Michael McGlade
- Hamburger Lady By Darryl Dawson
- Hole By Joseph Ramshaw
- Human Resources By Todd Keisling
- In the Woods, We Wait By Matt Hayward
- “Killing Jessica” By Glenn Rolfe *
- Letter to Grandma By Crystal Leflar *
- Look Up By Michael Seese
- Lucca By John Ledger
- Night Terrors: Journal By Michael Thomas-Knight
- Finders Keepers By Paul D. Marks
- The Anniversary By Sonja Thomas
- The Breath Within The Darkness By Essel Pratt
- The Devil’s Irony By Lori R. Lopez
- The Note By P. D. Cacek
- The Seahorse Speaks By Erik Gustafson
- Vermilion A Traveler’s Account By Stuart Keane
- Whispers on the Wind By Robert McGough
- There’s something in my house By Wesley Thomas
- Tweets of Terror By Robert Holt
- Self-Consumed By Terry M. West & Regina West *
- Note-To-Self By Christopher Alan Broadstone
Now, not having read much “found fiction,” I began to wonder if this is/would/could be a new genre of fiction. Yet after a second thought, and reading, I believe that found fiction is more likely a subgenre rather than a leading criteria for any fiction. After all, some of the best stories in history are technically “found fiction.” Brom Stoker’s Dracula, Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, or more notably, H.P. Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu. Though I know Dracula and Frankenstein are more well known than Lovecraft’s work, I can’t help but first think of The Call of Cthulhu first because of it’s opening statement, “(Found Among the Papers of the Late Francis Wayland Thurston, of Boston)”
Though TCoC isn’t an epistolary formed story like Dracula or Frankenstein, by simply stating that the documents were found and are reviewed (within the story) simply opens the door for use of the term found fiction. Yet the reason I claim that found fiction would be best suited as a sub genre, is due to the fact that the three classics I mentioned are primarily categorized as horror fiction, or even in the case of H.P.’s story, weird fiction. Any genre can contain the elements of found fiction, though they may not be as potent as a horror setting, they are out there.
It took me longer than I originally expected to get through this book, as I am sure it took longer than Mr. West anticipated for me to complete the reading and an honest review in exchange for some pretty thought provoking and unsettling fiction. In that regard I ranked this collection a 3 out of 5 stars. The book could have been condensed to 20 tales and maintained a stronger consistency of quality, and a more digestible overall length of the book. As you may see above I marked, with a *, certain stories as favorites or plots that when looking back stick out the most in my mind. I have more selections from Terry M. West’s library of publications; such as, The Giving of Things Cold & Cursed: A Baker Johnson Tale, What Price Gory?, and Heroin in the Magic Now, along with a couple others. I am excited to dive into those soon and share my thoughts with everyone.
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Title: Halloween Tales
Editor: Kate Jones
Publisher: Omnium Gatherum
Number of Pages: 230
Format: Print (Paperback)
Rating: 2 ½ out of 5 stars aligned
Some of the best pens of the Los Angeles chapter of the Horror Writers Association have been conjured by Omnium Gatherum to summon tales of fear and fancy for this Halloween season. 19 tales from literary horror veterans and newbies to the genre that together make a wonderful coffee table read for the season. As you can see by my rating I wasn’t too impressed with the contents of this book, however there are few pieces of sweet fiction in this candy sack that outshine the other sour suckers and kept me going through the collection in hopes of finding other good pieces at the bottom of the bag.
- Lisa Morton – The Devil Came to Mamie’s on Hallowe’en *
- Michael Paul Gonzalez – Worth the Having
- Hal Bodner – Donuts
- Terry M. West – The Hairy Ones *
- Janet Joyce Holden – The Deal
- John Palisan0 – Outlaws of Hill County
- David Winnick – The Cross I Bear *
- Kate Jonez – By the Book
- R. B. Payne – Ankou, King of the Dead
- Steven W. Booth – The Lurker *
- Maria Alexander – Harvest of Flames
- Eric Miller – The Patch
- E.S. Magill – Beneath It All
- Tim Chizmar – Farkleberry Forest Cemetery
- Robin Wyatt Dunn – Halloween in East Hampton
- R.B. Payne – Hollywood Ending
- P.S. Gifford – Johnny Jackson’s School Dare
- Xach Fromson – The Old Magic
- Nancy Holder – Dead Devil in the Freezer
Unfortunately there weren’t many of these stories that left me chilled or stunned. If not for stories like Terry M. West’s “The Hairy Ones“, and bits and pieces of Steven W. Booth’s “The Lurker” I would not have felt those feelings at all. However I must give full credit and appreciation to Lisa Morton’s “The Devil Came to Mamie’s on Hallowe’en” and David Winnick’s “The Cross I Bear. ” Those two tales were two amongst a few that were narrated or seen through the eyes of a child or early teen, and I found those stories to be the most interesting. The innocence in Mr. Winnick’s story really left me in aw, though some have said it was funny, to me it was honest and dark.
Though it’s not a book I would recommend to everyone, I would say it is a nice piece in a collection of stories to have on hand for this time of year. Al 19 tales are easily digestible, and short enough to read in one sitting. True, some are better than others, but that is how a well built anthology is, unfortunately I wish the stories were a little bit more balanced. By that I mean I felt all the greats were in the front of the book and not so much in the middle or tail end. Either way it was good to dive into some suitable fiction for the month and season and am glad to have been introduced to a few of these authors fiction. I will be keeping an eye out for them.
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Editor: Salomè Jones
Publisher: Ghostwoods Books
Number of Pages: 272
Format: Print (Paperback)
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars aligned
At the time of his death in 1937, American horror writer H.P. Lovecraft was virtually unknown. The power of his stories was too great to contain, however. As the decades slipped by, his dark visions laid down roots in the collective imagination of mankind, and they grew strong. Now Cthulhu is a name known to many and, deep under the seas, Lovecraft’s greatest creation becomes restless…
This volume brings together seventeen masterful tales of cosmic horror inspired by Lovecraft’s work. In his fiction, humanity is a tiny, accidental drop of light and life in the endless darkness of an uncaring universe – a darkness populated by vast, utterly alien horrors. Our continued survival relies upon our utter obscurity, something that every fresh scientific wonder threatens to shatter.
The dazzling stories in Cthulhu Lives! show the disastrous folly of our arrogance. We think ourselves the first masters of Earth, and the greatest, and we are very badly mistaken on both counts. Inside these covers, you’ll find a lovingly-curated collection of terrors and nightmares, of catastrophic encounters to wither the body and blight the soul. We humans are inquisitive beings, and there are far worse rewards for curiosity than mere death.
The truth is indeed out there – and it hungers.
Cthulhu Lives! Or so I have been told, And I believe that is true…to some extent. In fact, in the minds of many of H.P. Lovecraft’s contemporaries, devotees, or worshipers, all his creations are real. Whether taken literally and practicing such worship or devotion with a cult, or simply creating a space in your mind whilst reading Lovecraftian fiction, creations such as Cthulhu, Nyarlathotep or Yog-Sothoth have made their place in our world for better or worse. Yet it is the high priest to The Old Ones himself, Cthulhu, who is most recognizable both in form and in unpronounceable name. Whether it be a symbol of a tentacle faced god, or the megalithic shadow beneath the waves that speaks to you in your dreams, this star spawn has solidified its place amongst most of todays weird/cosmic horror fiction. Cthulhu’s presence within these tales is what connects, not only the stories that lay within the Cthulhu Mythos, but also the authors and readers of said stories under the ever growing membranous Lovecraftian banner. These and more were the thoughts I bore as I dipped my mind into Ghostwoods Books newest anthology of Lovecraftian fiction.
17 very unique tales are what make up this collection. Some better than others, and others way better than some, the satisfying content this book has to offer is evenly distributed throughout. None of the tales are too long, the longest being 18 or so pages, allowing for easy digestible reads.
- Universal Constants by Piers Beckley
- 1884 by Michael Grey
- Elmwood by Tim Dedopulos
- Hobstone by G.K. Lomax *
- On the Banks of the River Jordan by John Reppion *
- Dark Watters by Adam Vidler
- Ink by Iain Lowson
- Demon in Glass by E. Dane Anderson
- Scales from Balor’s Eye by Helmer Gorman
- Of the Faceless Crowd by Gabor Csigás
- Scritch, Scratch by Lynne Hardy *
- Icke by Greg Stolze *
- Coding Time by Marc Reichardt
- The Thing in the Printer by Peter Tupper
- The Old Ones by Jeremy Clymer
- Visiting Rights by Joff Brown
- The Highland Air by Gethin A. Lynes
There are a few authors in this collection, one of them G.K. Lomax, who are emerging authors into both the writing scene and the Lovecraftian scene. Upon my initial inspection of the cast of writers I was expected to read, I was a little weary of the unfamiliar names. However, I was incorrect in my judgment of quality these stories possessed. Not being able to choose only three favorites, I settled on four that I believe were the most memorable and entertaining. Hobstone by G.K. Lomax, On the Banks of the River Jordan by John Reppion, Scritch, Scratch by Lynne Hardy and Icke by Greg Stolze. All four of these tales possessed an essence that I believe to be truly Lovecraftian. It was the vague suggestion at a grander menace, or entity with out necessarily giving it a name or advertently connecting it to the Cthulhu Mythos. It was stories like these that convinced me that this book should have been titled Lovecraft Lives! Simply because of the true theme of cosmic horror and fear of the unknown that Mr. Lovecraft is so aptly known for expanding if not creating.
Unfortunately though, there were just one to many stories that left me with nothing. Either ending so abruptly that it borderline made the story incomplete, or just the shear lack of engaging writing to keep me hooked through out the story. These stories made reading feel like work. All in all it was a pleasant and enjoyable book, wrapping up with a sincere afterword from resident H.P.L. scholar, S.T. Joshi. I would recommend this book to those who are looking for some new ideas and easy reads revolving around the Cthulhu Mythos. I hope to see some of these authors again, and also hope to see more publications from Ghostwoods Books that resemble this style and format.
Weirdlings who’ve enjoyed Cthulhu Lives!: An Eldritch Tribute to H.P. Lovecraft, or Salomè Jones’s stuff, have also checked out:
If you have checked out Cthulhu Lives!: An Eldritch Tribute to H.P. Lovecraft, let me know what you think by leaving a comment. And if you like all the tasty bits we gibber about here, become a follower or submit to receive email updates with every new post! Check us out on Twitter @UnspkbleGibberr and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/UnspeakableGibberer.
Author: Robin Spriggs
Publisher: Anomalous Books
Number of Pages: 208
Format: Print (Paperback)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars aligned
Metafiction or monograph, biography or balderdash, demonic revelation or divine obfuscation, The Untold Tales of Ozman Droom is at times deeply disturbing, at others weirdly sublime, yet ever enigmatic and profoundly haunting throughout-an ouroboric shadow play of strange wonder, mad prophecy, and inescapable dread.
It’s not often I am asked to review a book that I actually end up liking, yet throughout Spriggs’s latest anthology, The Untold Tales of Ozman Droom, I became entranced by the way that each sentence is carefully crafted to carry the reader along these incredibly dark journeys that have been laid bare for all to attempt to understand. Each passage in this book is capable of standing alone as a piece of solitary fiction, yet when confined between covers and anthologized as it is, The Untold Tales of Ozman Droom becomes an eldritch tome of prose and sinister plots that none can easily forget. Like horrible things you can’t unsee, these tales are fashioned to implant themselves in your mind until insanity takes hold and you lose yourself in a world, eternally searching for a man with the last name of Droom.
The only refuge from such a fate can be salvaged from the first passage in the book in which the author describes that the stories that lay ahead are told to be absolutely true, but can at times smell of absolute bull-shit. As it should.
All fun aside, because it’s all there is to be had while reading this book, you are meant as a reader to buy into this world that has been created by Spriggs. By not doing so, one would simply jeer at these tales as things of nonsense and loose the rhythm that is so elegantly constructed to impact the reader from story to story. And although I do find the annotations to be a little distracting, they are fun tidbits to read after finishing each tale while taking on the entertaining task of deciphering truth from fiction. I often found myself needing to reread each story, not out of misunderstanding, but because each ending left me with many questions. Yet after a second reading, and possibly answering said questions, I would be cursed with more perplexity than the first go around. But that is a great tool in weird fiction, to deliver more questions than answers. It is what engages the reader’s imagination and hooks them into the story while they hope that something will be explained.
Usually with an anthology the reader isn’t obligated, or at least shouldn’t feel so, to read the book cover to cover. It is the beauty and curse of the anthology. The reader has freedom to pick it up and put it down, story by story instead of chapter to chapter until it’s done and over. However, in this case, the reader would be missing out on the bigger picture that is painted when most of these pages are read in succession. This is apparent when understanding the themes and motifs amid the book. For instance, it would seem that Mr. Spriggs has a fetish for the number 9. This begins with one of the first stories, The Sigil, in which the character (either created by Droom, or Droom himself) is in attempt to summon a nonagonal sigil, nonagonal being a nine sided shape. There’s the story of The House of Nine, and mentions of nine rooms, and a pantheon of nine in other tales as well.
I also found myself wondering if there was a sentimental value behind the authors use or fascination with the letter I and the word “eye.” Like the ongoing theme of nine, in many stories the reader will notice close attention characters eyes, or the significance to the letter I. I was lost on this motif at times, but enjoyed the incorporation of it in a few of the stories.
I had fun reading this book. Whereas usually these types of review are more work than leisure, I rather enjoyed having to pick this one up and digesting all the little goodies that lay within. The only momentary dislike I felt was in the use or reuse of some of these stories from his previous work, including Diary of a Gentleman Diabolist. I first became aware of Robin Spriggs, while reading issue#22 of the Lovecraft eZine. The prose poem, The Dance, had something in it that I had forgotten existed until reading The Untold Tales of Ozman Droom. I am hoping that the next publication from Robin Spriggs has some fresh material that will further enlighten and grow the hordes of acolytes he has surely developed through his craft.
Well done, sir.
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Author: Scott R. Jones
Publisher: Martian Migraine Press
Number of Pages: 130
Rating: 3.75 Out of 5 Stars Aligned
ANSWER THE CALL
ENTER THE BLACK GNOSIS
The Great Old Ones: hideous monster-gods that populate the pantheon of weird-fiction writer Howard Pillips Lovecraft’s increasingly popular milieu, his so-called Cthulhu Mythos. Protean, nebulous, unimaginable, and impressively persistent in their psychological and spiritual presence.
In When The Stars Are Right, author Scott R. Jones deftly breaks down the barriers between the bright logic of our daytime intellect and the fearful non-Eucliean symmetries of our darkest dreams, revealing the Black Gnosis: a radical mode of being that anticipates a new appreciation of humanity’s place in an increasingly dire and indifferent cosmos. When The Stars Are Right asks the reader a simple question: “Are you keeping it R’lyeh?” The answers may surprise you.
“When all is madness, there is no madness”
A few months ago I was contacted by publishing company, Martian Migraine Press, and asked to review a fairly new book that explores a new spirituality based potentially off of the works of the late H.P. Lovecraft. Being primarily reviewer of weird fiction, I was a little reticent at first to consent to analyze anything non-fiction, let alone something set in a religious context. However also being a fan of Mr. Lovecraft, I had to see what this was all about.
For years I have been familiar with the H.P.L’s work, and for those years I have been submerged in minor research dealing with Lovecraft’s nihilistic world views, and how they influenced his writing. His outlook on human life as being meaningless paved the way for giant aliens, monsters, and deities that break our sanity only to put to scale how insignificant we humans really are in this vast universe. Though we might be able to stop these creatures from taking over our realm, there is always that underlying theme that beyond the veil of reality, there are always hellish entities scratching at the membrane of our dimension to break a passage through and reign supreme. But something that may be forgotten is that most of the time there are people behind these nightmarish creatures whose life’s purpose is to open the gates to let these things in. Cthulhu cults, worshipers of Yog-Sothoth, Witches of Azathoth all are bent on assisting their deities on ruling the universe, whether it be through some occult magic, or sacrifice. But that is not what Scott R. Jones preaches in his new book, When the Stars are Right: Toward an Authentic R’lyehian Spirituality.
What Mr. Jones has accomplished is beyond any Cult of Cthulhu, or Esoteric Order of Dagon. It is not so much a practice of occultism, but rather a philosophical approach to what Lovecraft may have been hinting at in his writings. Taking a more poignant stance behind Shub-Niggurath, Nyarlathotep, and Dagon and unveiling a study in character of each of the gods, taking into account what they stand for and what teachings they have in store for those who are enlightened by what Jones identifies as, The Black Gnosis.
“The Black Gnosis is madness, yes, and that madness is infinite and all engulfing and will consume a mind in order to free it, but the R’lyehian recognizes that there is nothing there to be consumed in the first place.”
This is technically the Zen of the R’lyehian. The knowledge and understanding, of what it means to truly believe the dreams that Cthulhu is broadcasting, and the acknowledgment that Nyarlathotep lies behind every message, both heard and unheard. But this is a level of clarity that is not reached through meditation, but rather through Divinely inspired Madness. It’s that moment, Jones explains, when the protagonist catches the merest glimpse of Dagon’s form as it embraces the white monolith and is plunged into a madness. The moment when Danforth peaks out side of the escaping plane in Mountains of Madness and sees the Plateau of Leng. That is the Black Gnosis.
Amid the teachings and direction induced by Jones, are personal events that endeavored the author to write such a tome. It is through these shared experiences that we begin to see a partial biography that guides the reader down the path Jones took toward finding his own R’lyehian spirituality.
I say his own, because this book does not possess a formatted practice for each follower. Rather asserts each reader to discover their own path, create their own altar, and write their own tome/Necronomicon to follow. There are no gods to worship, yet through the teachings that are presented through Cthulhu, Yog-Sothoth, Shub-Niggurath, and Dagon, one can find the advice and guidance needed to creating their own path. This outlook on religion being about philosophies and not consistent worship is a method of spirituality that allows the practitioners of it’s faith to find inner strength and peace of mind – or lack of it through the Black Gnosis – *wink wink.*
I myself am not very religious and don’t find much significance in the daily worship, but rather in the ideas that religions have to teach and be used toward humanity. Though Jones may have a darker outlook, it is a structure that is more appealing in today’s environment. I admit I did not agree with every theory he has to share, yet I felt a connection to this book that alone says good things.
In the beginning of the book, Jones immediately attempts, though respectfully, to dismiss Lovecraft’s doing in this spirituality. But what I think readers might not understand right away is that the dismissal is toward what the public has done with Lovecraft’s creations, and not what the man himself created. By which I mean, when reading this book, for the love of Cthulhu, don’t think of tentacle face slippers, Nyarlathotep plushies, or cutesy anime cartoon adaptations of any of Lovecraftian creations. Those things aren’t in the nature of Keeping it R’lyeh.
While reading this book I experienced some issues with my heart, which inevitably scared the hell out of me and my family. With doctors unable to explain what was happening, I was left with a mind full of anxious fear. Temporarily forgetting about the book in the midst of all the excitement, I found myself in a very negative frame of mind, and one day decided to pick it back up. Full of fear, and anger I found a new hope and acceptance in Jones’s words. Though, as I said, the book may have some darker spots than I needed at that time, it was all about the message that can be found within. No, I am not a R’lyehian, at least not yet, but I did take something away from my reading. And I believe there is something in there for anyone who may be looking for a sense of identity, or searching for a purpose in their life. You don’t have to pray to Cthulhu (though it might help,) nor do you have to partake in any occult worship. Just listen to your dreams and don’t be afraid of what they have to show you, and what messeges they might convey.
If you have checked out When The Stars Are Right: Towards An Authentic R’lyehian Spirituality, let me know what you think by leaving a comment. And if you like all the tasty bits we gibber about here, become a follower or submit to receive email updates with every new post! Check us out on Twitter @UnspkbleGibberr and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/UnspeakableGibberer.
Author: Joe Hill
Publisher: William Morrow (An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers) 2013
Number of Pages: 704
Format: Print (Hardcover)
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars aligned
COME TO CHRISTMASLAND
What would you do for a lifetime pass to a place where every morning is Christmas and unhappiness is against the law?
Don’t give up on wonder! Don’t give up on dreams!
We’re looking for go-getters who love children and aren’t afraid of adventure!
“NOS4A2 is a fast-paced, wind through your hair, stomach-flipping roller-coaster ride that will make you white-knuckle the binding and refuse to let go. We follow Victoria McQueen, a Brat (as her father lovingly calls her) with enough snotty attitude to earn the name. However, Vic has a quality that will make you fall in love with her: imagination. Through the power of her mind and her Raleigh Tuff Burner bicycle, she is able to dream up ‘bridges’ that allow her to find things. Whether it be a family heirloom, a photograph, or just looking for trouble, Vic is able to find it with the help of her Shorter Way Bridge – a long-destroyed covered bridge that fell into the water. Unfortunately it is this same bridge, and Vic’s adolescent rebellion, that inevitably send her to Charles Talent Manx.”
That is an excerpt from my review of NOS4A2, for Haunt of Horrors Press. As you can probably tell by reading the above passage I am absolutely in love with this book. Hill has accomplished something special with this novel which officially places him in the running with the rest of the worlds best horror writers. Though most already know that he is an offspring of the King himself, he has done a damn good job of writing under his pseudonym, earning his way with the absence of his family name.
Hill utilizes an excellent tool within this horror/fantasy and that is the use of a portal. Both Manx, and Vic find there way through Hill’s “inscape’s” that he has mentioned in his other great novel, Horns. Through these inscapes, Vic, with the help of her Shorter Way Bridge, finds Maggie, a junkie who loves scrabble. She helps explain to Vic how her bike and bridge are part of these inscapes; “Big old hole in reality… I am reaching into my inscape to get the tiles I need. Not into a bag. when I say your bike or my tiles are a knife to open a s-s-slit in reality, I’m not being like, metaphorical.”
These inscapes are an excellent adaptation to the use of the portal tool. Hill has begun to create and expand a new universe that I wish I could join. Whether it be ‘The Treehouse of the Mind,” the Crooked Alley, a sack of scrabble tiles, or a bike, these “knives,” as Maggie calls them, are used to poke a hole in reality allowing the user to manipulate or alter it to there choosing. This opens up so many opportunities for Hill’s characters, and increases anticipation and cravings to see him continue to play around in this realm of thought.
This is a novel that every reader, casual or avid, horror fan or not, should have on their book shelf!
Check out the whole review HERE!
If you have checked out NOS4A2, let me know what you think by leaving a comment. And if you like all the tasty bits we gibber about here, become a follower or submit to receive email updates with every new post! Check us out on Twitter @UnspkbleGibberr and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/UnspeakableGibberer.
Title: John Dies at the End
Author: David Wong
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Number of Pages: 469
Format: Print (Paperback)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars aligned
- You should not have touched this book with your bare hands.
- No, don’t put it down. It’s too late.
- They’re watching you.
THE IMPORTANT THING IS THIS:
- The drug is called soy sauce, and it gives users a window into another dimension.
- John and I never had the chance to say no.
- YOU STILL DO.
“If H.P. Lovecraft and Hunter S. Thompson sat down, tolerated each other, got drunk and composed a novel, this book would be the result. David Wong’s John Dies at the End is a witty, comedic horror novel that uncovers the world behind the curtain we call reality, and shines light unto an otherwise known darkness that encapsulates our world, possibly the universe, as we know it.”
That is an excerpt from my review of John Dies at the End, for Haunt of Horrors Press. This is a great book with lots of fun crazy stuff going on inside. If you are a fiend for the weird, then this is a novel you should have in your happy little hands.
Check out the whole review HERE!
If you have checked out John Dies at the End, let me know what you think by leaving a comment. And if you like all the tasty bits we gibber about here, become a follower or submit to receive email updates with every new post! Check us out on Twitter @UnspkbleGibberr and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/UnspeakableGibberer.
Author: Chris Lackey
Publisher: Witch House Media UK
Number of Pages: 128
Format: Print (Paperback)
Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars Aligned
WHAT MAKES YOU HUMAN? YOUR BODY? YOUR MIND? YOUR RELATIONSHIPS?
IMAGINE A UNIVERSE WHERE ALL OF THESE ARE PROGRAMMABLE. THE LIMITS OF YOUR CURRENT BODY NO LONGER APPLY. YOU ARE DIGITAL AND IMMORTAL.
James Watson is suffering from a delusional disorder known as capgras, or so he’s been told. Nothing seems to feel entirely real since the accident. His wife, his kids, his friends, all feel disconnected from what he once remembers, like no one is who they seem. Feeling misunderstood, James finds help with a local psychiatrist who specializes in capgras delusions. Hoping to find his place again in the ‘real’ world, he agrees to meet with other sufferers to talk, and learn from one another. However not all of the capgras sufferers believe what they’ve been told. After hearing them out James encounters a strange man with a strange purpose. Suddenly a door has been opened to James possibly revealing the answers he is looking for. Will he be able to cope with the truth? Or more importantly, will he be able to live in a Transreality?
Chris Lackey has come out of the gate in full force in this, his first solely written and illustrated graphic novel. Captivating illustrations, varnished with vibrant colors and detailed cel-shading, bring each panel together along with dynamic writing to tie together both the emotion and expression of each fantastic character. Though the story is, at times, derivative of other plot lines like The Matrix, Inception, or even Total Recall, there was one part of the book that made me think of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. When Septimus arrives, initially saving James, I immediately thought Lackey had used George Carlin as a model for the character and creating his own ‘excellent’ Rufus – Morpheus cross over. It was little remembrances like this that amused me and kept me going. But something more interesting were the themes Lackey induces unto the reader.
I am a complete stranger when it comes to the concept of trans-humanism, which is the belief or theory that humans will evolve beyond its current physical and mental limitations by means of technology. I have heard small talk about the singularity and mind-melds with computers, and frankly it kind of freaks me out. Though immortality and information at the request of a thought sound pretty cool, to me, there seems to be nothing human about being downloaded and coded into a digital world. I think that is one of the themes of this story. How does one maintain a sense of humanity in a world were humans aren’t the only ones in charge. There are many levels to Transreality ‘branching’ off too; what defines humanity? How does one maintain that sense while being practically detached from a physical body? Who’s behind RainBird Industries? Who is behind the control panel, so to speak, that keeps all the simulations and digital consciences in check? All are great things to think about and to hope Lackey someday expands on in either a series of comics, or more Transreality world based graphic novels.
This is a story that anyone can enjoy whether or not science fiction is your genre of choice. I myself am more attracted to horror/fantasies but this has switched on a new found interest in trans-humanism Sci-Fi. I was able to read it in one sitting, which isn’t always easy due to time or general interest in the story, and was able to follow the storyline easily. Stay up to date at the official Transreality site to find out when and where you will be able to pick up your copy. As of right now, publication in the U.S. is due out in March. Keep your scanners on and ready to locate and digest this fabulous work.
Editor: Dan Lockwood
Publisher: Self Made Hero
Number of Pages: 128
Rating: 4.75 Out of 5 Stars Aligned
“That is not dead which can eternal lie…” Out of the uncharted places of the world and the prodigious imagination of Howard Phillips Lovecraft, renowned master of the eerie, come nine nightmarish tales of terror. From the dreaded remnants of long-dead civilisations to unhallowed monstrosities scheming in the darkness, Lovecraft’s stories have never lost their power to astound and unsettle. This graphic anthology breathes new life into classic works of weird fiction. “…and with strange aeons even death may die.”
Self Made Hero has done it again. like its predecessor, The Lovecraft Anthology: Volume 1, Dan Lockwood has ushered into this realm a beautifully illustrated hoard of horror. I am of coarse talking about The Lovecraft Anthology: Volume 2, incase you didn’t realize already.
Looking back on my review for The Lovecraft Anthology: Volume 1, I have reflected on some of my comments. To this day, I still visit the pages of volume 1, and have to disagree with some of those late comments. Though I still believe the illustrated panels are what make up an efficient comic/graphic novel, it is the words we rely on when our eyes get ahead of us and we need to read whats happening to interpret the image. After all, we’re readers not viewers of these works. That said, most of these works are illustrated so brilliantly that my eyes hardly touched a word. I am very familiar with Lovecraft’s work, and know a few of his tales like old songs. So for a lot of these addaptations I was fortunate enough to know what was happening and only needed the images to carry me through.
In the tradition of how I formatted the review for Volume 1, I have listed each adaptation and have a small something to say about each.
Pickman’s Model, adapted by Jamie Delano, illustrated by Steve Pugh, Staging by Jon Haward: Right out the gate Dan Lockwood enlists one of his best choices for this collection. Delano, Pugh, and Haward have worked magic into bringing this piece to life. Every panel, every phrase took me down into the cellar with Thurber and Pickman and had me filling in the blanks as to what damnable creations Pickman was responsible for. Great stuff!
The Temple, adapted by Chris Lackey, illustrated by Adrian Salmon: Everything about this entry is spot on. The hard shapes, thick lines, and heavy shading are appropriately placed for the era this story is set in. You can tell Lackey has a fondness for the tale and does what he can to capture the images meanings.
From Beyond, adapted by David Camus, illustrated by Nicolas Fructus: Another grandslam for this graphic collection. Great accompaniment by Camus, but anyone can tell, Nicolas Fructus gets what this story is about. Amazing fuscia/violet panels that has set my pineal gland a fire!
He, adapted by Dwight L. MacPherson, illustrated by Paul Peart Smith: I really dislike Lovecraft’s original story, however I believe MacPherson and Smith have done and excellent job with a crappy tale. The illustrations weren’t my favorite but I did enjoy the protagonist looking just like H.P.L.
The Hound, adapted by Chad Fifer, illustrated by Bryan Baugh: I feel this adaptation took on a bit of the Harley Warren/Randolph Carter archetype, St John being the dominant male figure. Baugh’s sepia skinned panels stand out from the other adaptations in this book, while Fifer adds a comedic style to the dread he portrays.
The Nameless City, adapted by Pat Mills, illustrated by Attila Futaki, Colored by Greg Guilhaumond: A clever recreation of a fundamental Lovecraft piece. The ending was unfamiliar, though it may have hinted to a possible “origins” tale of the Terrible Old Man…Maybe…
The Picture in the House, adapted by Benjamin Dickson, illustrated by Mick McMahon: To me the story is best told as a literary tale, maybe even a short film. Unfortunately the backwater dialogue is pretty hard to follow panel to panel, and McMahon’s illustrations did not captivate my attention.
The Festival, adapted by Simon Spurrier, illustrated by Matt Timson: This is my favorite adaptation in this collection. Changing up the format a little to more of a picture book quality, Spurrier and Timson have portrayed a horrifying experience that leaves the reader still wanting to visit Kingsport again and again. I only wish this was the closer in the collection.
The Statement of Randolph Carter, adapted by Dan Lockwood, illustrated by Warwick Johnson Cadwell: I don’t have much to say about this adaptation. Closing out the collection and with one of H.P. Lovecraft’s best known short works, I thought this would have been done better. Didn’t care for the illustrations, and the writing did little to keep me interested.
All in all, I would recommend this volume over the first. Both are a must if you are an H.P. Lovecraft fan, and just necessary to have to stimulate ones imagination. Again, Dan Lockwood has done an amazing job gathering these brilliant artists and writers to collaborate in creating such great work. This is what feeds the Lovcraftian community and what grows the population of new readers of the late mans legacy. As I said while closing my review for volume 1, I really hope that these volumes continue to be made. I know there are only so many short stories that one can adapt (We’ll leave the larger adaptaions to I.N.J. Culbard!) but maybe new artist can give their take on a tale and give us some new perspective. This review took me a pathetic one year to complete, and in a way I am happy it did. I read it in a white heat, immediately following The Lovecraft Anthology: Volume 1, and didn’t have the best opinions of the work. After a year of continuous viewing of volume 2 I have come to the conclusions you have already read. My thoughts on volume 1 have changed as well, however I must leave my initial thoughts on the piece as they are. Either way I hope you enjoy both volumes as I have and continue to do. Cheers.
People, who’ve enjoyed The Lovecraft Anthology: Volume 2, also enjoyed:
If you have checked out The Lovecraft Anthology: Volume 2, let me know what you think by leaving a comment. And if you like all the tasty bits we gibber about here, become a follower or submit to receive email updates with every new post! Check us out on Twitter @UnspkbleGibberr and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/UnspeakableGibberer.
Title: My Name is Dee
Author: Robin Wyatt Dunn
Publisher: John Ott, San Diego (August 28, 2013)
Number of Pages: 230
Format: Print (Paperback)
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars aligned
John Dee is a magician in Los Angeles. He is going Insane.
That single sentence captured my interest. It is also that sentence that begins the blurb on the back of the book. I have always found stories with mad magicians/wizards to be fairly destructive and entertaining, so I was sold, but the rest of the description is laced with plot outline and intriguing sentences such as, “…a novel for the educated reader who enjoys noir action, intrigue and dark romance, for the child in all of us who wants to go on adventures, and for the fearful adult who marvels at the terrifying scale of the universe.” With those words I felt a challenge, as if I was supposed to say, “Yes, yes I am an educated reader who, for the child in me, likes adventures and as an adult am fearful and marvels at the scale of the universe!”
I was contacted by Robin Wyatt Dunn back in March in regards to reviewing his forthcoming novel, My Name is Dee. I didn’t even hesitate in answering his query by telling him I would love to do so. It took a couple of weeks to receive the review copy, and a little longer before I was able to read it. But as I waited to dive into the book I looked up Mr. Dunn and his previous work. Robin Wyatt Dunn lives within Echo Park located in Los Angeles, California. The 33 year old writer has been a very busy the last couple years, publishing over 40 short stories, poems, and flash fiction in a number of places, such as Phantasmacore, and The Blue Hour. He also has contributed stories in anthologies from West Pigeon Press, Echelon Press, and Postscripts to Darkness. Robin was kind enough to send me a free version of his prose poem, Son and Woman, published with Smashwords. Dunn’s style is like nothing I have seen before. Which is good. Though sometimes a little difficult to follow, he always manages to punch the reader in the chest with strong emotion, giving his pieces a mood that helps carry the reader along. This pre reading of the authors work made me more excited to enjoy his book. Unfortunately I was not as impressed with the novel as I had been with his shorter works.
As I began My Name is Dee, I noticed a series of breaks on the pages that jumped from scene to scene. I thought it might only last through the first few pages, like a series of flashbacks that feed the story, but it turns out that that’s how the book is formatted. Along with the jumps I found some of the character dialogue to be awkward and hard to follow at times. Time has become muddled through some rift, I think, causing the breaks. Or is everything so out of place because the main character has gone insane? I don’t know. Finding the book hard to follow lead me to reading it out loud to myself. Somehow that made things a little easier to put together, though with the constant setting and character shifts I felt like I was putting together a complex puzzle. Each new scene representing a disassociated piece of info that is intended to fit with another piece of the story, ending with all the bits falling together, if you can remember them all.
The plot itself was an interesting concept. The reveal of an opposing force, the Foo, a.k.a. aliens, and the greater reveal of Chai, the powerful presence that Dee has gotten the attention of, were nice highlights. I especially enjoyed the idea of writers being this profession that needs protecting. As I read I kept waiting for some Lovecraftian reference to the John Dee copy of the Necronomicon, as mentioned in H.P. Lovecraft’s, “The Dunwich Horror“. Unfortunately no mention of that, at least that I saw, but a small mention of Cthulhu in regards to the Children of the Corn movie.
Overall I found reading the book to be more work than pleasure. The effort it took to stay focused on the bits and pieces needed to build the story was exhausting at times and caused me to do a lot of back tracking to previous scenes. Maybe after all I’m not the educated reader I thought I was, or I just couldn’t find the right setting to read it. Either way it just didn’t jibe with me. I cant say I recommend the book, but I urge readers to take a look at Dunn’s other works. A list of them can be found here.
If you have checked out My Name is Dee, let me know what you think by leaving a comment. And if you like all the tasty bits we gibber about here, become a follower or submit to receive email updates with every new post! Check us out on Twitter @UnspkbleGibberr and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/UnspeakableGibberer.
Title: Horns: A Novel
Author: Joe Hill
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Number of Pages: 370
Format: Print (Paperback)
Rating: 4.5 Out of 5 Stars Aligned
When it comes to revenge, the devil is in the details.
Ignatius Perrish’s girlfriend, Merrin Williams, is dead. One year to be exact and good ol’ Ig hasn’t taken it very well. Once a prime suspect in his beautiful Merrin’s rape/murder, he has lost friends and has become the town pariah. After a night of debauchery and hell raising to commemorate his hate for the god who took his love and a wish to find her killer, Ig wakes feeling like hell and with no understanding of the night before. But what ever happened he just can’t mentally justify the sudden growth of two pointy horns that seem to be sprouting from his skull.
Horned and aching from the previous nights ramble, Ig heads out into the dark world and begins to glimpse things of an even darker nature. Any who notice Ig can’t help but to spill their darkest secrets of sin, be it lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, envy, pride, wrath, or a combination of any cardinal vice imaginable. Even when encountering his family, they tell him how much they hate him and wish he would die for killing Merrin, even though he didn’t do it. With a single touch Ig can suddenly swim in everyone’s thoughts and memories and see their inner evils, good deeds, and triumphs. Equipped with what he starts to believe is the power of the devil, hence the horns, Ig finds new purpose in life as he walks the line between good and evil, and punishes those who cross over to the wrong side. After all, “…if God hates sin and Satan punishes the sinners, aren’t they working the same side of the street?”
Horns, is Joe Hill’s second novel and third (I believe) book publication, his first two being 20th Century Ghosts, and Heart-Shaped Box. I genuinely liked this book and I will just say it outright, that this is one I recommend to everyone. Joe Hill’s ability to penetrate his characters psyche and let us in is at times a frightening and beautiful experience. Some moments, I caught myself sneering away from the words on the page, feeling disgust (in a good way) toward some of the situations in the book. This onset of discomfort or general unease made me admire Hill’s style. It’s been a while since an author has made me feel such emotions that kept me turning the page and not putting the book down.
It may sound weird, but along with all the double entendre’s placed so delicately in the story (The Pit restaurant, deviled eggs, Terry’s show Hothouse, and the devil matches), I also felt that Horns had qualities of Dante’s, The Divine Comedy. Even though the laughs aren’t scarce in Horns, I feel it was a parallel allegory to Dante’s tales, in which a man’s soul takes a difficult journey towards God, where in Ig Perrish’s case, it’s an allegory to Ig’s journey toward the Devil and finding his loves soul. Like I said, an impression I felt while reading.
Something I found interesting is a close resemblance to Joe Hill’s fathers work. By the way, in case you didn’t know it, Stephen King is Joe Hill’s dad. Besides an obvious interest in the darker side of fiction, I found the flashback sections to be a touch of King’s style. Where I don’t usually like it when King utilizes this tool, though he does it effectively, I feel it is a risky move to stray away from the current plot to past experiences that don’t always come full circle and can feel like dead information in the story by the end of the story. Hill however takes the chance of stepping back from Ig’s current problem with his horns and masterfully ties up all the loose ends before the book is over.
Over all, this is one of my new found favorites. I plan on moving on to his other works in the future, and am looking forward to the live action adaptation of the book staring Daniel Radcliff. Hope Hollywood doesn’t ruin this one like they have half of his father’s book to movie productions. Also, something to look forward to is Hill’s upcoming novel, NOS4A2,coming out in the end of April. Follow the links to pre-order your copy today!
If your interested in the works of Joe Hill and want to take a look at some of his other publications I suggest the following choices. It’s a start in the least, and a selection that I will hopefully get to rifle through soon. Enjoy!
If you have checked out Horns, let me know what you think by leaving a comment. And if you like all the tasty bits we gibber about here, become a follower or submit to receive email updates with every new post! Check us out on Twitter @UnspkbleGibberr and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/UnspeakableGibberer.
Title: For When the Veil Drops
Publisher: West Pigeon Press
Number of Pages: 187
Format: Print (Paperback)
Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars Aligned
West Pigeon Press is honored to present its newest anthology, a collection of resonant, unbridled dark fiction. Unburdened by genre and disparate in subject, these stories find common cause in their emphasis on mood, style, intelligence, and emotional depth. West Pigeon is proud to release these stories under its banner, and is proud to have you as a reader.
As unorthodox as it may be to admit this on a back copy, the less revealed about these stories – and the more left to the reader to discover – the better.
Once again the folks over at West Pigeon Press are out to strip you of your hopes and sanity with a brand new anthology. That’s right, those who released unto the world, J.R. Hamantaschen’s You Shall Never Know Security now bring us a new dark tome. For When the Veil Drops, is yet another brilliant flame in a dark hall that West Pigeon Press is building. 15 unfiltered short tales that deserve the title of “resonant, unbridled dark fiction,” and make the reader say, “I’ve never read anything like that.” Each one of these stories impacted me in some way, whether it was out of fear or discomfort. It is important to understand when reading these stories, that you don’t judge the literature necessarily by the words on the page, but the mood they put you in.
Not all of the stories are great, and some definitely outshine others, but something that I will admit is every story at some point made me uneasy, or left me feeling freaked out. A couple on my favorites list include Doug Murano’s savage “The Chopping Block,” Michael Wehunt’s epically evil “A Coat that Fell,” BV Lawson’s revenge tale, “Beside Still Waters,” and Samuel Minier’s horrific holiday fable, “The Third List.” I was impressed with the opening story by Christian A. Larsen, “724,” which certainly puts the reader in the mood, and is just how a West Pigeon Press anthology should start, with a big “WTF!?” moment. And wrapping up the anthology is, “Still Life” by Michael Trudeau, with a poignant reminder that the horror is everyday life.
724, by Christian A. Larsen
The Chopping Block, by Doug Murano
The Persistence of Fondu, by Yarrow Paisley
Bless You, by C. Bryan Brown
A Coat That Fell, by Michael Wehunt
The City Underneath, by Robin Wyatt Dunn
Beside Still Waters, by BV Lawson
The Condition She’s In, by Nick Medina
St. Mollusks, by Paul L. Bates
Thicker Than, by Lydia Peever
The Third List, by Samuel Minier
Nothing Bad Has Ever Happened Here, by A. A. Garrison
Oh Abel, Oh Absalom, by J.R. Hamantaschen
Misery Don’t Wait on Me?, by Joshua Clark Orkin
Still Life, by Michael Trudeau
Over all it was a good read. Most of the stories aren’t too long, and some are written smoothly enough to carry you through. I suggest giving it a look if you’re having too many sunny days and you feel like life is great and nothing can go wrong. Because after you read this, you won’t feel the same.
“Does anyone really know the true cost of evil? Or to take it a step further, is the loss of innocence a cause or effect of darkness in the human soul.” – BV Lawson
If you have checked out For When the Veil Drops, let me know what you think. And if you like all the tasty bits we gibber about here, become a follower or submit to receive email updates with every new post! Don’t forget to check us out on Twitter @UnspkbleGibberr and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/UnspeakableGibberer.
People who enjoyed For When the Veil Drops might also enjoy:
Title: Where’s My Shoggoth?
Writer: Ian Thomas
Illustrator: Adam Bolton
Publisher: Archaia Entertainment, LLC (October 9, 2012)
Number of Pages: 56
Format: Print (Hardcover)
Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars Aligned….Uh oh!
Your tentacled friend has gone missing. What can you do? Go looking for him of course!
Travel from the deepest cellars to the highest spires of a sprawling mansion. Search the grounds from the forest to the lake. On the way you’ll meet monsters and demigods, aliens and Old Ones, and all manner of other creatures from the Cthulhu mythos. Surely something, somewhere, has seen your shoggoth?
An affectionate homage to the works of H.P. Lovecraft, beautifully illustrated by Adam Bolton, and rhymes by Ian Thomas. For mythos dabblers and shoggoth owners of all ages.
Back in June I posted an update on this project by Ian Thomas and Adam Bolton, and mentioned a contest they had to see if anyone could guess where the Shoggoth was. Turns out I won with the best answer which earned me a signed copy of Where’s My Shoggoth?, and a canvas print of a double-page spread of my choice from the book. I first learned of this book in September of 2011, when researching a new wave of Lovecraftian Children’s books, and was very excited to get my tentacles on it. At the time there were only a couple images that teased at what the book would look like, but it was enough to catch my attention. Since then I have been watching its progress and patiently waiting for my copy to arrive in the mail.
Signed copy in hand, I am happy to have finally received this amazing book! As I sat down to take a look at it my wife, who knows only a little about the Lovecraft/Cthulhu Mythos (We’re working on it), plucked it from my hands and began thumbing through the pages as I watched on. After a few giggles and Praises she said she loved it and could see herself reading it to our little one that is on the way. This of course slated my plans to brain wash my child to loving everything Lovecraftian, and it seems my wife just might be on board.
Ian Thomas and Adam Bolton (who is enjoying this as his first publication) have brilliantly created an excellent addition to the Lovecraftian Universe. Where’s My Shoggoth? is a silly joy ride through H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos that anyone, adult or child, will enjoy. The book follows a young boy as he searches for his pet Shoggoth through creepy mansions and the damned grounds that surround it. Through the tale we encounter a plethera of Lovecraftian goodness and get to meet some interesting characters. Along with Ian’s seussian rhymes, Adam brilliantly illustrates the young boy’s journey and captivates the reader with minute details that brings cause for many re-reads.
The book is a thick stock hardcover, making it very durable to thrashings from your joyfully insane child, and has a detail that I found very appealing. When I was a kid one of my favorite books was about a witch who flies on a broom for the first time and all the things she sees, it’s kind of similar to Where’s My Shoggoth?. And though I enjoyed the material, what really appealed to me was that it could glow in the dark. The pages of Ian and Adams book don’t have this capability, but I found it a nice touch that the cover is webbed with invisible luminesces so that you’re any little Lovecraftian will be able to spot their favorite book, like an unnatural color out of space, in the dark as they drift off to sleep. And when they wake up and might be slightly tired of reading, they can play the board game, Stairs and Tentacles, that is located on both the front and back cover.
All in all Where’s My Shoggoth? has brought a modern appeal to children. Growing up in today’s world holds many visually arresting things. Video games are no longer only 8-bits, movies and TV are now in 3D, and books are now read on electronic devices. So how do you capture a child’s attention long enough to physically flip through pages of a book? You give them Where’s My Shoggoth? I know I am looking forward to sharing this with any who have kids and who love to read to them.
If you are interested in this book, check out Ian and Adam’s website at www.wheresmyshoggoth.com. And if that’s not enough and you’re wondering how this book sounds, check out a free audio version at http://wheresmyshoggoth.com/audio/Shoggoth.mp3. And please visit both Adam and Ian’s official sites by clicking on their name anywher in this post, and see what there up to.
One final note. With this amazing prize, I also received an amazing sketch done by Adam Bolton, along with a hand written note. It was very kind and I thank both Adam and Ian for sending me these goodies, and I hope to see more from these two in the future! In the sketch you’ll see the Unspeakable Gibberer that Steve Santiago created for me, playing chess with Adam’s Shoggoth. I’m not sure what struck me more, the amazing art, or the fact of seeing my creature playing with another from the mythos. Really cool!
People who enjoyed Where’s My Shoggoth? might also enjoy:
If you have checked out Where’s My Shoggoth?, let me know what you think. And if you like all the tasty bits we gibber about here, become a follower or submit to receive email updates with every new post! Don’t forget to check us out on Twitter @UnspkbleGibberr, and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/UnspeakableGibberer.
Publisher: Dark Horse Books
Number of Pages: 205
Rating: 3 Out of 5 Stars Aligned
January 1972. Resenting his unexpected fame and suffering from severe writer’s block, America’s premier “gonzo” journalist decides to reinvent himself. He creates a new persona–Uncle Lono– and hatches a scheme to return to his roots, reinvigorating his patriotism and his writing in the process. On a freaked-out journey to Arkham, Massachusetts, and the 1972 presidntial primary, evidence mounts that sinsiter forces are on the rise, led by the Cult of Cthulhu, and its most prominent member–Richard M. Nixon! Will the truth set Lono free or simply drive him insane?
Hunter S. Thompson and H.P. Lovecraft were two very influential writers from two very different times. Though they shared no commonality in the genre in which they wrote, the two authors always seemed to have a way of captivating my literary attention. Lovecraft, a writer of cosmic fear, never let us forget that we were an insignificant force in this universe. His writings in the early 1900’s helped to define the weird genre and opened up doors to aspiring writers of fiction. Thompson wrote to an already fearful generation that craved information, no matter how twisted it was, about the world at war and how insignificant the American dream and its people were to the white collared swine in charge… Namely Nixon.
Both wrote in times of war, and held correspondence with numerous folks. When standing back and seeing some of the silly similarities they share, along with some of the serious ones, I find it unusual that Lovecraft passed away March 15th, of 37′, and Thompson was born 4 months later on July 18th. Now I like to entertain the idea of reincarnation, mainly because the thought of continuing to another life intrigues me, so I always thought it would make for a smash-up story if somehow Thompson was the reincarnation of H.P. Lovecraft. Bad news is im too late.
Good news is Brian Keene and Nick Mamatas, another pair of great authors qualified for the job, have collaborated to create, The Damned Highway: Fear and Loathing in Arkham. Though there is no connection of the two’s death/birth dates made in the book, I finished the last page and closed the book with a grin on my face.
Fans of both Lovecraft, and Thompson, it seems, are pretty picky when it comes to new additions to either Gonzo writing, or to the Cthulhu Mythos. Granted, Hunter S. Thompson fans are a little harsher to those breaking into the art, both sides seem to be fairly happy with what Keene and Mamatas have produced.
I have been reading both H.P.L and H.S.T for years, so I was no newbie to some of the references Keene and Mamatas successfully pulled off with a strange grace. The mastery of Thompson’s language. Perfectly sewn-together plot of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos into Thompson’s time during the 72′ election campaign. Interweaving truth like Senator Eagleton’s electroconvulsive therapy, and exposing how it was connected to an occult ceremony that had gone awry.
The story took a little bit to get jiving for me at first. The plot was always moving, but some of the begging of the book was slow and seemed a little heavy the usual Hunter S. Thompson references. But after trudging on I kind of felt that it was needed for those who might not be well read in Thompson’s work and his view on the world. Even still I would recommend reading some of both H.P. Lovecraft and Thompson’s work, or at least looking them up and reading about them and their life.
From dead peacocks, to fungi from Yuggoth. From Woody Creek Colorado, to Arkham and Innsmouth Massachusetts. This book fully satisfied that weird little hunger pain I get from time to time for Lovecraftian fiction. Especially Lovecraftian fiction that is seen and heard through the eyes and ears of Hunter S. Thompson.
In the end I recommend reading this one. If you’ve got a small bit of cash and some time to spare, I’d say sit down with this baby and learn how Nixon almost succeeded awaking Cthulhu and damning us all.
Next on the docket is Horns by Joe Hill. Stephen Kings kid gets a shot at showing us how twisted his mind has become. You know, being raised by King himself…might be interesting.
Cover Line: One picture is worth a thousand screams.
Back Line: Every Picture Tells A Story
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars in alignment
Book Description: Greg thinks there is something wrong with the old camera he and his friends found. The photographs keep turning out wrong. Very wrong. Like the snapshot Greg took of his father’s new car that shows it totalled. And then Greg’s father is in a nasty wreck.
But Greg’s friends don’t believe him. Shari even makes Greg bring the camera to her birthday party and take her picture. Only Shari’s not in the photograph when it develops. Is Shari about to be taken out of the picture permanently? Who is going to take the next fall for… the evil camera?
Autumn is her folks and with the fall season comes the best month of the year, October, which in turn brings two very awesome holidays, Halloween and … my birthday. Ok so my birthday might not mean much to anyone else, but for weirdos like me All Hallows’ Eve is the best holiday year round. Maybe it’s the hoodie weather, scary movies, candy, the creative costumes, or the display of wild yellow and orange trees contrasting with the blue sky. I don’t know. It’s like Christmas, but in October, and I say that mainly because I get presents this month… so it’s basically early Christmas for me. Yah know?
Anyway. You know what October also brings? The long-awaited review of Say Cheese and Die! #4 in R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series. I know I mentioned that this was next back in April, after I posted my thoughts on Monster Blood, so after a long summer and few days of procrastination, I’m dusting off the right side of my brain and getting back to work.
The story begins in Pitts Landing, a place with a great motto, Pitts Landing is the pits. We find our main characters, Greg, Shari, Michael, and Doug a.k.a Bird, bored and looking for trouble. Not really, but that is what happens when a group of kids get bored. Eventually someone gets the idea to break into the old Coffman house where supposedly a homeless man named Spidey lives. See I told you, breaking and entering.
While exploring the abandoned home they find themselves in the basement where Greg discovers a secret compartment that is hiding a peculiar camera. He asks one of his friends to strike a pose on the stair case leading upstairs when suddenly the railing breaks and sends Michael plummeting to the basement floor. The loud crash disturbs something upstairs as the gang hears footsteps heading their way. They narrowly escape out a cellar door leads to the back yard. Once away from the house, or after achieving a successful break-in, Michael demands to see the photo. Everyone, at first, is shocked but then decide the camera must be broken because it took a photo of Michael as he was falling from the stairwell.
Everyone splits up for the night and goes home. Broken camera toting Greg is excited to see a brand new Station Wagon and can’t help but try another picture. The polaroid-like camera spits out the developing picture. When finally upstairs Greg is confused to see that in the picture the car looks totaled. He is then nervously gathered with the rest of the family to go for a ride in the new wagon. Thankfully everyone arrive back home safely, barring a close call with a truck, but Greg is just not sure what is up with the camera. To prove one more time to see if it’s broken he asks his brother if he can take his photo. The result is completely different, Terry, his brother is standing outside in the photo and not inside where he took the picture and he has a terrifying expression on his face. This reassures Greg that the camera must be broken, because what kind of camera takes a picture with different backgrounds….
After another weird incident at his friend Bird’s baseball game and Greg’s sees his brothers terrifying expression and finds out his dad actually got into a wreck and totaled the car after all, Shari asks Greg to bring the camera to her birthday party because she thinks it will be fun. Why? I don’t know. But after a couple of shots of Shari standing by a tree, the pictures develop without Shari in them. Everyone brushes it off and decides to play hide and seek, when Shari actually disappears for real. The cops come send Greg home after he tries to explain how his broken camera might be magic because of the things that are happening after he takes photos of people.
Worried about Shari, Greg gets home and finds his room has been destroyed. He quickly figures that Spidey has been looking for the camera. He quickly gathers Bird, and Michael to plan a way to get rid of it, when they are harassed by two bullies who try to take the camera and accidentally take a photo of Greg during the struggle. After escaping and making it back home, Greg goes nuts for a moment after he sees the photo taken of him portrays him and Shari at the baseball diamond cowering under a tall shadow. In a sudden rage he tears up the two photos of the tree sans Sheri, because as if puberty isn’t rough enough the poor kid is dealing with supernatural forces too. Two hours after they are destroyed, Shari calls Greg.
Happy his friend is alive he asks to meet with her the next day at the baseball diamonds… for some reason he wants the picture to come true obviously. Once there they try to make a plan to get rid of the camera, but are interrupted by Spidey, the tall shadow in the photo, who chases them down until a neighbor sees them and threatens to call the cops on the creepy guy chasing two children, good job neighborhood watch!
Safe and sound they decide to just meet at the Coffman house the next day to get rid of the trouble for good. Of course this happens while a storm is building in the background. Naturally, to set the mood and give you goose bumps. Inside the house they confront Spidey, who actually explains that he is pretty much a mad scientist named Dr. Fritz Fredrick’s. He makes the classic villain mistake of telling his whole evil life story, down to when he was just an assistant to a dark arts master/scientist who created the cursed camera to take souls… yeah souls. But it gets confusing when Spidey, now Dr. Fritz, explains that he stole to camera for his own prosperity, but after it killed so many people he dedicated his life to hiding it so it could not do its evil anymore. So does that make him kind of a good guy? Maybe, but then he tells the kids that they cannot leave because they know too much, implying he is going to kill them too… so I guess he’s not much of a good guy after all. A déjà vu struggle over the camera occurs which leads Shari to accidentally snap a photo of Dr. Fritz. The kids run away but stop when they see the good Dr. is a senseless heap on the floor. They go back down and review the photo, showing Dr. Fritz lying on the floor, eyes bulged, dead.
From breaking and entering to murder, see how fast kids can progress. As far as I am aware, at least so far, this is the only human bad guy that gets done in by kids… the only human character that gets killed.
The cops come and the kids lie and say that they went into the house to escape the rain and found the Dr. Dead. And the local P.D. buys it, forever assuring these kids to think they can literally get away with murder. The friends are all happy again, and alive. But before the big THE END, after the gang rides off into the sun setting on the town of Pitts Landing, the two bullies from before jump out and have the camera. The book ends with one of them taking a picture of the other. FIN
I remember this book being one of the scarier ones when I was a young hoodlum looking for trouble. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens way down the road in the sequel, Say Cheese And Die–Again!. Either way this one wasn’t as bad as Monster Blood, and in some sense I still kind of liked it.
Below I found the full version of Say Cheese and Die! Featuring a very young Ryan Gosling. Not a whole lot of difference really from the book, except the ending. Enjoy!
Next up on the list is The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb
Author: Will McIntosh
Publisher: Night Shade Books
Number of Pages: 283
Rating: 3 Out of 5 Stars Aligned
Finn Darby life isn’t perfect, but it’s fair. While enjoying the success of Toy Shop, a weekly comic strip he illustrates, he is still silently dealing with the simultaneous loss of his wife, Lorena, and Thomas Darby, Finn’s grandfather. Trying to move on, Finn began a new life starting by resurrecting his grandfather’s comic strip and adding new characters, and even began dating.
But that life gets quickly disrupted when a massive terrorist attack cripples Atlanta with an anthrax outbreak. All over again Finn is dealing with the loss of friends, when suddenly he begins to croak out uncontrolled words and phrases in the forgotten voice of his grandfather. Soon people learn that a new epidemic is arising from the grave, as people begin to become slowly possessed by dead but persistent souls.
Banding together with a new-found group of friends, Finn is in a race to figure out what the “hitchers” (as they call the possessors) want and why they’re here. But as time runs out his grandfather, Thomas Darby slowly begins to ruin his life, and take control of Finn’s body.
My first introduction to Will McIntosh was through The Drabblecast when they covered his story Fantasy Jumper and again when they did Followed. It was after Followed that I became interested in his style of writing, something that I believe could be something called “doomed emotion”. Meaning that at some point of the story the main character/characters revolve through a mixture of emotions but only through their “doomed” feeling, (in Followed this is portrayed when the main character realizes he will never shake the zombie child that stalks him) does the character find solace, or meaning to their troubles.
Hitchers is no exception to this theme in my opinion. Sure there is action that moves the story from place to place, but the way McIntosh uses emotion to carry the reader to each place is something I like in his writing. The opening scene with the Anthrax outbreak, and the death of over half of Atlanta was enough to get me started, but the struggles that each character had with their past, and the stories behind the “hitchers” that possessed them was what kept my attention throughout the book.
At first I was not amused by the comic strip portion of the novel, but as time went on I found myself enjoying them as something tangible from the story, and in the end I could almost imagine McIntosh drawing these.
Though the emotion of the characters is a big part of my liking the story, I did find it hard at times to believe that the grandfather could honestly be that much of an asshole as he was. Something else that bothered me was how every time Finn and his friends had to find someone, or something they usually happened upon the right spot right away. I suppose though, it’s better than them wandering through Atlanta looking for people, even with half a million people suddenly gone.
This is the second book from Will McIntosh his first being Soft Apocalypse. He is the winner of a Hugo-Award and a Nebula finalist. He has published over twenty short stories in magazines such as Asimov’s, Daily Science Fiction, Interzone, Lightspeed Magazine, and Strange Horizons. Soft Apocalypse is a finalist for The 2012 John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best SF Novel, The 2012 Locus Award for Best First Novel, and The 2012 Compton Crook Award for Best First Novel. He also has a story, Over There, forthcoming in Asimov’s January 2013 issue.
All in all Hitchers is something worth reading. I found myself laughing at parts, which is great, but I wish that there was a little more terror and suspense involved. The story is emotional and moving, but on the balance could have had more spine… no pun intended. I do plan on reading Soft Apocalypse, but I do hope it’s as good as they say, and hopefully at least a little better than Hitchers.
Next on the docket is The Damned Highway: Fear and Loathing in Arkham, by Brian Keene and Nick Mamatas. Mixing the worlds of H.P. Lovecraft, and Hunter S. Thompson for what looks like a sanity blasting trip. Buy the ticket and take the ride my friends.
Before I brought Unspeakable Gibberer to its current home, I started it on BlogSpot.com and generated a post about a new wave of Lovecraftian fiction for children. I was reminded of this silly post by a recent email from Adam Bolton, co-author and artist behind “Where’s My Shoggoth”, due out this month. Kindly, he informed me of a competition he and fellow co-author Ian Thomas threw together to celebrate the “release/escape”, as he put it, of the book this June. For details on how to order/preorder check here.
Entry is free and welcome to all who dare to answer the question, “Where, exactly, is the shoggoth?” The best answer wins a canvas print of a double-page spread of your choice from the book “Where’s My Shoggoth?”, signed by Adam Bolton and Ian Thomas, and a signed copy of the book. And the runner-up also receives a signed copy of the book. Check it all out at http://wheresmyshoggoth.com/competition/
I am very excited about this book and hope to share it with my child someday. If this tasty morsel has stirred your appetite, then maybe you should check out these other mouldering text for the little cultist in your family:
Summoned up by renouned Lovecraft aficionado, Kenneth Hite, and crafted by Andy Hopp, “Cliffourd the Big Red God” features over 30 pages of illustrated madness and is the third in a mini-mythos series developed by the two madmen. The other ones being “Where the Deep Ones Are”, and “The Antarctic Express”
And don’t forget “Baby’s First Mythos” as well! I is for INNSMOUTH, a hell of a town, Where the people wear gold, and are quite hard to drown. Learn your ABCs and 123s – Mythos style! In the tradition of Gorey’s The Gashlycrumb Tinies, comes a children’s book based on H.P. Lovecraft’s writings. Blast your child’s soul as they learn their letters and numbers.Written by award-winning author, C.J. Henderson and drawn by Erica Henderson. Contains a forward by Robert M. Price and an afterword by Professor William Jones.
Cover Line: It’s a monster blood drive!
Back Line: BLOOD, BLOOD, EVERYWHERE…
Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars Aligned
Book Description: While staying with his weird great-aunt Kathryn, Evan visits a funky old toy store and buys a dusty can of monster blood. It’s fun to play with at first. And Evan’s dog, Trigger, likes it so much, he eats some!
But then Evan notices something weird about the green, slimy, stuff – it seems to be growing. And growing. And growing. And all that growing has giben the monster blood a monstrous appetite….
Another great entry in the long (and I do mean long) series of Goosebumps books. This is the third book in the original series, and I am happy that I did not decide to journey through all the Goosebumps books that follow the original 62 books. The plot is nonsensical, the characters (except one of them) are terrible, and the ending has got to be the worst ending in the Goosebumps repertoire. So… with that in mind here we go.
The story begins with whiney Evan Ross, who is twelve of course, pleading with his mother to make him stay with his aunt Kathryn, who is eighty years old and deaf. Unable to hear, read lips, or sign with her hands Kathryn greets the two at her front door while gripping a bloody butcher knife she’s using to cook. And at this point I thought, at first, was pretty bad parenting, but then I realized that his folks were smart in dumping the whiney brat on the doorstep of someone who can’t listen to his crap.
After meeting his aunt, Evan is even more convinced that his life sucks and that he and his dog, Trigger, are doomed for the summer. Especially after Kathryn orders Trigger to be tied up outside for the remainder of their stay so that he doesn’t scare her cat, Sarabeth. The cat is an unessential character so just forget about it.
Now left alone with his aunt, Evan takes a tour of the old house and then decides to take Trigger for a walk around the unfamiliar town. Along his tiny journey he meets Andrea, or as her friends call her Andy. Let me just side note that if Stine would have just made Andy the main character, this story would have been 13x more enjoyable. As they get acquainted, calling each other stupid, they head off toward down town so Andy can show Evan around some shops.
In need of a gift for her cousin, Andy leads Evan into one of the two, yes two, local toy stores for a look around. As the two look through the must shelves of Wagner’s Novelties & Sundries the come across something that peaks both their interests. In the back lies a can with the label, ‘MONSTER BLOOD: SURPRISING MIRACLE SUBSTANCE.’ The “substance” intrigues the two so much that they begin to fight over who gets the only one available. At this time the shop owner shows up and sternly tries to dissuade either of them from purchasing the Monster Blood, but breaks down and gives it away to Evan for two dollars.
After leaving the shop, Andy and Evan head back to Kathryn’s house to check out the Monster Blood. Does anyone remember GAK? You know, that stretchy, goopy stuff that Nickelodeon came out with in the 90’s. Well that is monster blood, or at least what it starts off as. As they play around with this stuff they have sort of a Flubber moment and discover it’s extremely bouncy. But it leaves stains on the ceiling and the carpet, so they decide to take it outside, where they begin to toss it back and forth. And of course one of them drops it and the dog Trigger, in a total plot shocker, eats part of the monster blood.
The next morning Evan gets dolled up in his denim cut offs, and a red GAP t-shirt to go see Andy. On the way he comes across the Beymer twins. While being pushed around by the two thugs Andy comes to Evans rescue. Though she seems to not be much help when the two push her in the dirt and steal her bike. To which she calmly replies, “I’ll get it back. They’ve done this before. They’ll leave it somewhere when they’re finished.”
The two take the walk of shame back to their houses, where Evan finds Trigger being strangled by his own collar. It’s clear that the dog has grown as a side effect of devouring the monster blood, but a very concerned Evan kneels down to ask his dog, “What made this collar shrink like that, boy?”
Understanding the dog has grown a little, and may have something wrong with it, Evan does nothing about it. The next morning Evan wakes up and wonders around the town to find Andy trying to let a cat, which had been tortured by the Beymer twins, go. Instead of helping the jerk just stands around and watches, then they head back to Evans room to check out the monster blood.
Upon re-inspection, they see that the blood has grown. It’s no longer gooey, more liquid, and is warm instead of cold. So of course instead of being worried of making a big mess with the stuff they have a monster blood fight. And again we have a couple pages of them playing with it again, which in Goosebumps pages is a chapter sometimes two. When they stop Evan points out the window to show to Andy that Trigger has grown considerably. Suddenly they watch the dog break through the fence and start running down the street. As Evan is running after the dog he sees that it is transforming into a terrifying monster. Then he wakes up. And finds that he himself is way too big for his bed, and has grown like Trigger. Then he wakes up again.
Im not exactly sure where the dream starts. So for my own amusement I decide to do a little dream analysis for everyone. Andy saving the scared cat is actually how Evan sees himself in Andy’s eyes. As a scardy cat!, and when Trigger gets so big and runs away is a simple comparison of the responsibility that comes with taking care of a dog, and how Evan is not very good at taking care of his. Hence the eating of the foreign substance, and being choked in his collar. But what do I know?
*End Side Note*
Anyway after the dream scare, Evan and Andy take Trigger to the vet, who says that the dog is experiencing a late growth spurt and sends the kids on their way. Andy heads off to piano practice, and Evan buys himself an ice cream. Enter Beymer twins. On a mission to make Evan their bitch, the twins make an attempt to ruffle his feathers. Trigger doesn’t agree with the new attention Evan is getting and begins to hound… sorry chase after the twins.
When Evan finally catches up to Trigger, the twins are gone. Back home he finds he has a bigger problem and calls Andy immediately to meet up at her place. As he shows up Andy is surprised to see how full the bucket is with the monster blood, the stuff is growing. Realizing that the stuff is alive, they figure out, finally, that this must be what’s behind Triggers “growth spurt”. Andy agrees to help and take some. Satisfied Evan leaves only to once again run into the Beymer twins.
Not very happy, and ready to officially execute that bitch owning idea, the Beymer twins actually, in detail, beat up Evan. Now I know no one should be excited when the protagonist gets his ass whooped, but I was clapping at this point. Once again Andy comes to rescue Evan, and the twins run away, further proving that Evan is a pussy cat.
Andy helps Evan scoop the spilled monster blood back into the bucket and comes up with the most amazing plan so far; to go back to the toy shop and inquire about the monster blood. Genius. When Evan gets home he realizes he needs to find something bigger to hold the monster blood. After a little looking he finds a bathtub just sitting in the garage. While filling the tub Sarabeth, the cat, jumps on his back and knocks him into the makeshift vat of monster blood. After a really tense struggle, Evan frees himself from the grasp of the green ooze.
The next morning he tries to tell his aunt about the problem but she just scoffs at him, as would anyone else. Following through with their plan, him and Andy head off to Wagner’s Novelties & Sundries, dragging along two trash bags worth of monster blood. I had to pause at this point again and wonder how many hours have these two spent scooping and placing this stuff in different containers, and how come no one has noticed. In my city that would look pretty suspicious. Bad news though, the store is closed. My guess, one toy store bought out the other. Fail.
Upon their return back at Kathryn’s, Evan sees his mom has sent him a telegram telling him she’s on her way! Evan freaks out and rushes to go tell his dog. When they see Trigger, they see that he is actually doubled in size, and of course he runs away. As he runs away Evan and Andy give chase, and on the way knock over the can that held the monster blood bags. The spilled monster blood begins to chase after Evan and Andy, and while it does the Beymer twins show up again only to be inhaled by the blood. Not slowing down while eating the twins the blood follows the kids, but stops when Kathryn pokes her head out to see what’s up, causing the monster blood to change course toward her.
*Warning This Ending Might Go Fast*
So the kids rush in the house to save Kathryn, and find her backed into a corner. Suddenly she screams that she is responsible for the monster blood, and that it won’t stop till she’s dead. Just to get one last word in, as usual with him, Evan begins to accuse Kathryn of almost killing him and potentially destroying Trigger. Then Kathryn pulls a reverse and says it wasn’t her and points to Sarabeth, the friggin cat. Sigh
And then just like that the damn cat turns into a pretty woman who admits to spell casting the monster blood, and begins to threaten the kids and Kathryn that she will kill them all. Trigger, the still doubled in size, jumps through the door and pushes Sarabeth into the undulating mass of monster blood. Then POOF! and the monster blood shrinks to a puddle and the twins fall out, run away and Trigger turns back to his normal size.
There I got through it, wow the pain.
The twist: As Evan and Andy are saying their good byes, Andy asks to keep some of the monster blood as a souvenir. Evan agrees to it, probably hoping she will use it as a token of remembrance of him, and when they go to collect, they see the monster blood vanished.
So there you have it, that’s Monster Blood. Really. I know when I was a kid I really like this one, as I am sure a lot of other young readers did. Once again, as it will probably be for them all, im sure looking at it from an older perspective changes the way I read these things. I may have been harsh by saying it’s the worst book, or even the worst ending. Even if it IS the worst ending, I’ve still got a long way to go.
Next up on the list is Say Cheese and Die
Found the T.V. episode of this book and thought you might like to see some differences.
Stay Out Of The Basement
Cover Line: Something’s waiting in the dark….
Back Line: Live Plants…Dead People?
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars in alignment
Book Description: Dr. Brewer is doing a little plant-testing in his basement. Nothing to worry about. Harmless, really. But Margaret and Casey Brewer are worried about their father. Especially when they…meet…some of the plants he is growing down there. Then they notice that their father is developing plantlike tendencies. In fact, he is becoming distinctly weedy–and seedy. Is it just part of their father’s “harmless” experiment? Or has the basement turned into another little shop of horrors?
Margaret and Casey are confused. Their dad, Dr. Brewer, hasn’t been himself ever since he was fired from his job at PolyTech. He hardly speaks to them, he’s wearing baseball caps, he stays up late, he spends all day in the basement, and he puts all his time and money into his hobbies. But what Margaret and Casey don’t know is that dad is probably going through midlife crisis. Or at least that’s what I thought.
As the story goes, After Dr. Brewer is fired from his job at PolyTech, due to some experiment gone wrong, he moves his work to his basement at home. There he establishes a lab that he locks and forbids anyone from entering. And already you have to think that even Mrs. Brewer might be a little suspicious of what her husband’s really up too. But oblivious to her husband’s change in personality she leaves town to help her sick sister.
When their parents leave to the airport, Margaret and Casey, along with their friend Diane, debate taking a look at Dr. Brewers work. Finally cracking, they all decide to go take a look and as they descend the stairs into the basement, they discover dozens of tall, fruit bearing plants. They find this odd considering that their dad only started work down here a few weeks ago. It’s hot down there and for some reason Casey takes off his shirt. As the kids continue to look around, they begin to hear heavy breathing coming from the plants.
After being freaked out by the human sounds emitting from the plants they decide to leave the basement. As they enter back into the kitchen they notice Dr. Brewer pulling into the driveway, and that’s when Casey realizes that he left his shirt downstairs. As he hurries to retrieve it, Margaret notices that Dr. Brewer gets caught up talking to a neighbor, leaving Casey more than enough time to hurry back up with his shirt. Right? As Dr. Brewer wraps up his chat and starts to come inside, Margaret starts to scream to Casey who in the process of grabbing his shirt, is grabbed in return by one of the heavily breathing plants.
Hurrying downstairs Margaret rushes to help Casey so they can run back upstairs in time before their dad returns. But as they begin to trot up the steps they see Dr. Brewer in the doorway. Instead of freaking out, he sits them down and calmly explains that someday he will explain what he is doing in the basement, but until then, he insists the children stay safe and out of the basement. To be sure they follow this decree, the next day locks are newly placed on the basement door.
Later on Margaret talks to her mother on the phone and tries to explain her concern. But Mrs. Brewer isn’t buying it (because she realizes that Mr. Brewer is going through mid-life crisis, and Margaret is growing into her rebellious teen years). Anyway, after Margaret hangs up, she heads downstairs to talk to her father. When she enters the kitchen that leads to the basement, she is startled to see her father at the sink. Curious of what he’s up to she watches him from around the corner. As she spies him, she notices that he is eating something and quite ravenously at that. After finishing, throwing something in the trash, and heading back to the basement, Margaret creeps out to investigate. When she opens the trash she discovers a freshly emptied bag of plant food!
Soon after finding this, she tells Casey who seems to not want to put the obvious puzzle together. But a few days later as the two are playing Frisbee, Casey excitedly sails a throw to his father who isn’t paying attention. The Frisbee knocks of his Dodgers cap revealing a balding head with tiny leaves sprouting from the scalp. Pretty freaked out, the kids are sat down, and Dr. Brewer explains how it’s a side effect from the work he’s doing in the basement.
What big daddy Dr. Brewer tells the kids is, that he has been working with both plant DNA, and animal DNA, and pretty much trying to play God. Basically. And though Casey gets sold on this, Margaret still feels that something’s not right. Later that night, while lying awake, she hears her father walking in the hallway and decides to try to confront him again. Finding that he is in the bathroom, she peeks in and is frightened to see her father unwrapping his hand and revealing a gash oozing green blood.
The next morning, while explaining what she saw to Casey, Dr. Brewer announces that he has made them lunch. Suspicious the two sit at the table and quiver as they are served a dish of what is best described as green mashed potatoes. Saved by the door bell, Dr. Brewer goes to answer it giving the kids enough time to scrape their plates clean, only to announce they ate it all.
At the door is Mr. Martinez, Dr. Brewer’s old boss. Feeling somewhat guilty for firing Dr. Brewer, he wanted to swing by and see how his “work” was coming along, and if it was good enough, maybe he could get his job back at PolyTech for him. Surprised, Dr. Brewer guides him downstairs.
The next day while Dr. Brewer is out helping a neighbor fix a sink, the siblings get bold again, and go down in the basement. Although not very smart, we get to see Casey’s bright future as he picks the lock to the basement. I do believe he’s like 11 years old. Anyway, while snooping they come across Mr. Martinez’s neatly folded suit. Realizing they never saw Mr. Martinez actually leave the house yesterday, the two begin to speculate what actually happened to Dr. Brewer’s boss. Suddenly they hear footsteps upstairs, and rush up to the kitchen but are caught once again by their father. Startled to see the siblings holding the suit, Dr. Brewer explains how yesterday Mr. Martinez got hot in the warm climate of the basement and took off his suit coat and left without it. Fully understanding this, especially because Casey had done the same thing, they accept their father’s lame excuse.
Upon awaking the next day, the kids are excited to hear from their father that their mother is coming home that day. As Dr. Brewer leaves, Casey becomes so happy that he insists that he and his sister fly kites until their mother returns. Sounds like a good idea, but the kites are in the basement. So after they break in, again, they go in search of the kites, and stumble upon Mr. Martinez’s shoes and pants. It is then they begin to realize that Mr. Martinez probably didn’t leave the house half naked. Suddenly they hear a bunch of thumping and knocking coming from a supply cabinet close by. After breaking into that too, they find some pretty disturbing plants, some with faces, and some with arms.
Through the anthropomorphic foliage though, Margaret spies a couple pairs of feet with human legs attached. Pushing past the weird plants they find Mr. Martinez, who we must think is gaged in his boxers, and their father! As the two help the captured men out of the closet the one that looks like Dr. Brewer quickly tells the kids that he is their real father, and that the other man on the way to the airport, is a plant clone of himself. After being untied the new Dr. Brewer leaps to a corner grabbing an axe and heads for the stairs. But as he does the “imposter” Dr. Brewer comes rushing down the steps with Mrs. Brewer.
Ok, this is where it gets a little confusing to describe. So, the Dr. Brewer with an axe has no hat on, so he’s cap less Brewer, and the other is capped Brewer. Okay? Okay, so, cap less Brewer with the axe tries to convince he’s the real father, the same for capped Brewer. Finally Margaret charges cap less Brewer and retrieves the axe. Then she is faced with the choice of who is her real father. To make it quick; she gets a knife from Casey and she slices cap less Brewer only to see his red blood. So that automatically makes him the real dad supposedly. She gives him the axe and he splits cap wearing Brewer right in two down the middle.
The book is concluded with Dr. Brewer explaining that some of his blood got mixed with the plant DNA and started the whole mess. Completely sold on that, even though he has leaves growing out of his head, the family goes on with its happy life. Dr. Brewer destroys the mutant plants and actual plants a few normal ones in the backyard. One day as Margaret is in the back yard she becomes frightened when she notices a small yellow flower actually nudging at her ankle. And it spoke “Margaret, help me. Please — help me. I’m your father. Really! I’m your real father.”
Wow, a natural M. Night Shyamalan stuff right there. So what do you think? Yes, yes, I know it’s a children’s book, but it is quite fun to go back with adult eyes and re-see and re-read these things and how you interpret them now that your older. I initially thought this one was better than Welcome to Dead House, but still found some parts pretty cheesy.
But on the contrary there are some pretty funny passages that I found, and makes me wonder if R.L. Stine was trying to get a few chuckles in there as well.
“Why do you want to do this?” Margaret asked her friend. “Why are you so eager to go down there?” Diane shrugged. “It beats doing our math,” she replied, grinning.
“So what are you trying to say, that Dad is out of his tree?”
There are many others as well but you will have to give it a read and find them for yourself. I did this review differently from the last. Its longer, and more in depth in the story, and I was wondering if this is better, or if I should keep it shorter and smarter. What do you think? Let me know by dropping a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. All in all I kind of liked this one, I just hope they get a little better down the line. Cheers!
Welcome to Dead House
Cover Line: It will Just kill You.
Back Line: Look Alive!
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars in alignment
So a few months ago I was looking for something, that of which I can’t remember right now, and came across some old boxes from my childhood. It’s always fun to rummage through old keepsakes and memories, and as my wife and I went through them we came across my old Goosebumps books. Yep those cheesy horror pre-teen novels that everyone had to have. My selection spans the first 49 books in the “classic” series, and it got me to thinking about what any of them were about.
Although I don’t remember reading them all, I remember reading a few of them for sure. A few that stand out in my mind are; Monster Blood, The Haunted Mask, Night of the Living Dummy, and my favorite The Beast from the East. Typically plot based around one to three child protagonists who endure some evil/supernatural downfall, and are forced (usually without the help of able adults) to conquer it.
I guess im bringing all of this up because I plan on rereading through the series. And although I am missing the last twelve or so books, I think if the series is going good after 49 of books I might pick them up. Besides my kids my like them someday. So I began with #1 Welcome to Dead House, and decided to log this little challenge as I go and review each yarn as well.
Book Description: Amanda and Josh think the old house they have just moved into is weird. Spooky. Possibly haunted. And the town of Dark Falls is pretty strange, too. But their parents don’t believe them. You’ll get used to it, they say. Go out and make some new friends. So Amanda and Josh do. But these new friends are not exactly what their parents had in mind. Because they want to be friends… …forever.
So the new kids in town just don’t quite fit in with the rest of the folks in Dark Falls. By the way, who the hell would pick up leave their old life behind to move to a town called Dark Falls, seriously? Anyway, as the family tries to settle in, make new friends, the kids can’t help but feel a sense of dread, which turns in to paranoia for young Amanda. That was kind of annoying, but I guess it guilt up the suspicion in the story that the reader endures with the protagonist.
The story proceeds with strange encounters with what sound like pale emo pre-teens, who become Amanda and Josh’s friends. The family dog Petey seems to dislike everyone in the town including the real-estate agent that turns over the house, Mr. Dawes. No foreshadowing there. One day the dog runs off and the kids spend all day looking for it.
While the parents head off to a neighborhood party, the kids decide to head to the cemetery and look for the dog. On the way they encounter Ray, one of the emo pre-teens, who warns them that it’s dangerous to go to the cemetery at night. Duh. But they go anyway and discover more than their dog. Turns out the town is dead, and they find this out when they stumble upon the tombstones of the “friends” they’ve made the last few weeks. As they turn a flash light on Ray to inquire about this the kids face melts off from the bright light. Learning that everyone is dead including their dog, Petey, they realize that they are probably next.
So in a mad dash they head home to find their folks, but no one is there but the dead kids. Mr. Dawes shows up looking like a hero gaining Amanda and Josh’s trust and whisks them away in a car supposedly to see their parents. But it doesn’t take long to find out that Mr. Dawes is one of the town’s ghosts… zombies… vampires. I’m not sure what they are cause they’re out in the day, they just can’t be in direct light of any kind, they need fresh blood, but they appear and disappear like ghosts.
Anyway, the kids find their folks after melting Mr. Dawes, and crash a tree through a shaded area to expose sun light melting all the towns’ folk awaiting their bound parents sacrifice. So the kids save the day, and everyone is safe. They decide to move again and as they are leaving after everything is packed up, a new family rolls up the driveway and announces that they are the new owners of the house. But the worst part is that as they pull away from the home, Amanda sees who she believes is Mr. Dawes ushering the new occupants in the house. So she pretty much condemns the new family to murder. Nice.
Definitely not the best one in the series I can tell already, and im not entirely sure why or how this story kicked off the series, or helped in its popularity. The writing is obviously meant for younglings and I appreciate that. I’m hoping that the future books are at least a little better. Below is a little desert for those who want a mental refresher, I found the Welcome to Dead House episode that aired on Fox quite a while ago. Enjoy the commercials!