The Mansion by Ezekiel Boone (Book Review)

Ezekiel Boone is the writer of The Hatching Trilogy, and if you’re interested you can read my reviews of these books via the following links:

Book 1 – The Hatching

Book 2 – Skitter

Book 3 – Zero Day

 

The Mansion is his stand-alone science-fiction horror techno-thriller, which merges artificial intelligence with an old-school haunted house story. With a creepy location reminiscent of the Overlook Hotel, and a sinister AI technology, this book comes across as a mix of Stephen King horror and a Michael Crichton thriller.

 

With his marriage on a precariously balanced tipping point, debts up his eye-balls and substance abuse issues, life has taken a turn for the worst for Billy Stafford. But when his old multi-billionaire pal Shawn Eagle calls him with an offer he can’t refuse, things brighten up for Billy and his wife, Emily.

Nellie, an AI program first developed by Billy and Shawn shortly after graduating University, had been shelved after the boys parted ways. But now, years later Shawn’s made giant leaps in the programming and technology world, and finally brought Nellie to life. However, she currently has some issues. So Shawn invites Billy and Emily to his renovated Mansion, so that Billy can test drive and fine tune Nellie’s programming.

 

The vast majority of this book has numerous similarities to The Shining by Stephen King, everything from the location, to the weather, to character personalities, and even the writing style and plot. It’s almost a re-write of that novel coupled with the typical stereotypes found in stories such as this: Alcoholic father, beats wife, beats kids, kids grow-up with issues and go on to become alcoholics who beat their kids etc. ad nauseam, but with some AI and sci-fi thrown in, and not forgetting the all-important love-triangle. Despite this, and probably because of it, I really enjoyed the beginning of The Mansion. However, I got a little bored through the middle when the story began to feel stretched out, with very little of importance happening.

I was hoping for more of a horror feel to The Mansion and while there are a few horror elements, unfortunately the story is primarily techno-thriller. I’ve never been the biggest fan of this genre, or indeed of the premise of self-driving cars, despite them now becoming a reality and not just a figment of sci-fi imagination, and I always found myself squirming in discomfort every time the characters got behind the wheel of such a vehicle.

At 2 out of 5 stars I’d say the overall concept is mediocre, the AI aspects intriguing, but with all the similarities to The Shining I thought there was a lack of uniqueness to the plot which lets this book down terribly. If you’re a fan of Stephen King’s The Shining as a novel, and also enjoy techno-thrillers then you might appreciate the base concept behind The Mansion. However, be forewarned that once you pass the initial set-up and scene setting, the plot becomes slow and laboured for a long time before finally reaching its conclusion. I really wanted to love this book, but it dragged on so long in never-ending ways, with large chunks of time where absolutely nothing happens.     

 

See also:

The Hatching

Skitter

Zero Day

The Hatching 3: Zero Day by Ezekiel Boone (Book Review)

Zero Day is the third instalment of Ezekiel Boone’s terrifying spider apocalypse trilogy, and after reading all of the edge-of-your-seat suspense and action in The Hatching, I had high hopes that this would be a really exciting and creepy set of books.

In The Hatching the world has been overrun with an extremely ancient species of cannibalistic, human-eating spider. After wreaking absolute chaos all over the planet, these terrifying spiders suddenly retreat, appearing to die in the process. At first, the monstrous threat is believed to be over. Then, thousands of egg sacs are discovered in various locations all over Los Angeles, including a large infestation covering the interior of the Staples Centre. These egg sacs are soon discovered all over the world.

Unfortunately in Skitter, book 2 of The Hatching trilogy, just when people begin to think that they are handling the situation, burning these egg sacs before they have a chance to hatch, it quickly becomes apparent that the problem is far too large and widespread for their initial efforts to be successful; Many strategically hidden egg sacs will survive and the spiders will return. Also as if all of this wasn’t bad enough, a massive glowing, pulsating egg sac as large as a pickup truck is discovered in Shinjin Prefecture, Japan.

Now, faced with the knowledge that 10% of the people in Los Angeles who survived the first wave of spider attacks are carrying egg sacs inside them, and that a large proportion of these individuals have been released from the quarantine zone, the President of the United States of America must accept that the spider problem is no longer contained, and drastic measures much be taken to ensure the survival of the human race.

How far will the American government go to safeguard their country, and how many people will die as a result? Can these spiders be defeated? Is anywhere safe from this terrifying threat? And just what is up with these giant glowing egg sacs?

 

Zero Day, like both of its predecessors, contains rather a lot of unnecessary dialogue, and persistently jumps around from one location to another. Some of these locations and events are meaningful and play an integral role in the story, however some are only briefly mentioned and simply serve the purpose of showing the epic scale of the disaster. As mentioned previously in earlier reviews, I think it would have made more sense to have stuck with a smaller number of strategic locations, helping to slim down the story a little and helping readers to keep track of events with a more limited number of characters.

Since this is the final book of The Hatching trilogy I had expected there too be far more action, and squeamishly terrifying events than there actually turned out to be. As such it was a little disappointing, rating at just 2 out of 5 stars. It did however, wrap the story up with a nice neat bow, bringing all of the different strands of the story together and coming to a satisfying conclusion.

 

See Also:

Book 1: The Hatching

Book 2: Skitter

The Mansion

The Hatching 2: Skitter by Ezekiel Boone (Book Review)

Skitter is the follow-up novel to Ezekiel Boone’s terrifyingly creepy debut The Hatching.

An extremely ancient, calcified egg sac has been unearthed beneath the Nazca Lines of Peru, and despite having been buried deep in the Earth for 10,000 years, the egg sac hatches releasing a cluster of creepy, ancient, flesh-eating arachnids upon the unsuspecting world.

Unfortunately, Peru isn’t the only place that these scary, carnivorous spiders have been discovered. With outbreaks in China, India, Europe and now the USA, the entire planet has descended into chaos, as these human, flesh-eating, carnivorous spiders quickly take over major cities across the entire world.

However, just as soon as the spiders appear they seem to suddenly die out. At first glance you might expect this horrific threat to be over, but in reality the real threat is only just beginning.

As scientific experts, government officials and the armed forces race to destroy the egg sacs which have popped up all over the globe, a disturbing discovery in Japan heralds a much larger, and more devastating problem, a second wave of spiders are coming.

 

Skitter is the second book in Ezekiel Boone’s spider infestation trilogy, and to properly understand and get the most out of this terrifyingly creepy story, it would be best to have already read its predecessor The Hatching. For those familiar with the original outbreak of arachnids, Skitter pushes forward with the spine-tingling reality that the spider situation is only going to get worse.

In similar fashion to the earlier book, Skitter is littered with a large number of different characters and locations. Some, many readers will recognise from the events portrayed in The Hatching, while others are newer, and quite often short-lived. It can be difficult and frustrating to keep track of such a wide variety of characters and locations, and I know many people will dislike the novel for that reason, myself partially included.

Unlike its predecessor though, it takes a little while before the real action of Skitter begins. While The Hatching was a ferocious onslaught of creepy-crawly, skittery things on eight, hairy legs, this is essentially the calm before the storm, in that quiet place between the first and second attacks. Therefore it can feel as though the reader is cheated a little when the story fails to reach a satisfactory conclusion, especially when the story hasn’t moved very far forward, and there are many questions requiring detailed answers. We’re asked to be patient, and wait for the release of the final instalment, if we wish to know how this terrifying story ends.

As much as I love the premise of this quite well-written, but creepy, arachnophobia inducing tale of terror, it has some problems and is unfortunately, nowhere near as entertaining as The Hatching resulting in a rating of just 3 out of 5 stars. I hope that the final novel will bring all of the numerous characters, locations and action sequences to a rewarding and satisfying end.

See Also:

Book 1: The Hatching

Book 3: Zero Day

The Mansion

The Hatching by Ezekiel Boone (Book Review)

The Hatching, debut novel from writer Ezekiel Boone is a horrifyingly creepy, skin-crawling tale of apocalyptic proportions that will have you terrified of anything you see scuttling around on eight hairy black legs.

The book begins with a hiking expedition in Manú National Park, Peru, where a swarm of spiders attack a rich businessman and his associates. These scary, human flesh eating carnivorous beasts bury themselves in the body of Bill Henderson as he flees from the carnage, unwittingly transporting the deadly arachnid back across the border to North America.

Meanwhile, Peru is not the only place that this new, never before encountered species has hatched into existence, as it soon becomes clear that swarms of spiders are being spotted all over the globe. From Peru, to China, India and even the most remote of Scottish Islands are soon overrun by the black poisonous beasties, in a worldwide epidemic of devastating proportions.

But when the masses of spiders seem to suddenly die out, people mistakenly begin to think that the threat is over. Surely we can’t possibly be THAT lucky?

 

The Hatching is not for those unlucky enough to suffer from arachnophobia, or a squeamish disposition towards insects or any other creepy-crawly things.

Ezekiel Boone fills his novel with a large number of different characters, many of whom serve only to signify the global extent of the crisis rather than to play any real importance in the narrative, and as such it can be difficult to keep track of the wide variety of characters and locations.

While I understand the purpose behind it, I can’t help but feel that it may have been more beneficial to stick with a smaller number of characters scattered across a few major locations. While I enjoy seeing my home country, Scotland being mentioned in a novel, I don’t feel that the short snippets of dialogue bring much of any real importance to the novel, other than to convey the fear of isolation during such a terrifying event.

The Hatching is also another novel that leaves the reader very unfulfilled as the ending paves the way for its sequel, Skitter. However, at 4 out of 5 stars, it remains a highly recommended thrill ride through fear and the true night-time terror of all things that skitter around in the dark, as an ancient species reawakens.

 

Favourite Quotes:

“Own your mistakes and move on, or pack your shit and get out.” – A Henderson Tech company mantra. (p77)

 

‘He sneezed. He saw a fine spray of blood coat the wall. Snot dripped from his nose. It felt like something was skittering around in there, and when he wiped at it, he realised something was skittering out of his nose. He felt the hairy, hard leg and pulled it. Holy fucking shit. It was a spider. He just pulled a fucking spider out of his nose.’ – (p81)

 

‘Mike started to reach for his gun, but he quickly realised that shooting a spider might be overkill.’ – (p100)

 

“You think because you kill one spider in your bathroom that there aren’t others hiding somewhere else in your house?” – Melanie Guyer. (p266)

 

See Also:

The Hatching: Book 2 – Skitter

The Hatching: Book 3 – Zero Day

The Mansion