Suicide Forest by Jeremy Bates (Book Review)

World’s Scariest Places: Book 1 – Suicide Forest

I took an interest in Jeremy Bates’s World’s Scariest Places series as it focused on real locations, which can sometimes be a nice change from made-up places usually found in fiction. However, as I began reading I remembered that what had originally piqued my interest in Suicide Forest, was the film which I had reviewed a few years before for a previous incarnation of the blog.

So I decided to post my movie review of The Forest first, and those interested can read it here.

 

I really wanted to enjoy this book, as suicide and depression are issues that are quite close to my heart, and I thought that some of these aspects of the story might be quite fascinating. However, the writing style and prose itself were very tedious, and I found myself struggling to continue reading beyond the initial 20% of the book.

My many issues with this novel include the monotonous plot – vastly different from that of The Forest – and the characters who deliberately set off for hiking and camping without proper equipment and clothing, then leaving the proper trails and paths behind, despite numerous signs and warnings not to do so.

I had expected this book to be immensely creepy or scary, considering the location, but in reality there were very few creepy moments and nothing that truly scared me. The characters plodded slowly along through this boring and overly descriptive story, until finally something of significance happened about halfway through, after which the plot dissolved into somewhat predictable and fairly ridiculous events.

At just 1 out of 5 stars, I couldn’t wait for Suicide Forest to be over, and I could move on and read something much more exciting. Frankly, and probably surprisingly, despite my negative review of the film, The Forest had a much more engaging plot than this snoozefest of a novel.

Pick up Suicide Forest by Jeremy Bates, at your own risk, by following this link to Amazon.co.uk.

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The Forest (Movie Review)

Natalie Dormer (Margaery Tyrell from Game of Thrones) stars in the horror movie The Forest as Sara Price, a young woman who travels to Japan in a bid to find her twin sister Jess, a school teacher believed to have gotten lost during a routine school trip.

Aokigahara Forest is a real place in Japan, lying at the base of Mount Fuji. A place that suicidal people tend to visit when they no longer wish to continue living, and is therefore known as the Suicide Forest. Legend also has it that if you enter the forest with sadness in your heart, supernatural forces can drive that person to despair.

Despite protests from the locals, Sara is convinced that her sister is still alive due to their special spiritual connection and wishes to scour the forest in search of Jess. When she meets Aidan (Taylor Kinney – Chicago Fire), a writer who intends to journey into the forest the following day, he volunteers to accompany her to ensure that she doesn’t get lost.

When they discover Jess’s tent deep inside the forest just as night is closing in, Sara refuses to heed the advice of their guide and leave to continue their search in the morning. Instead she stays and as darkness falls, she endures strange sounds and terrifying visions.

 

When I first clapped eyes on the trailer for The Forest, I was excited to see this movie. With Natalie Dormer and Taylor Kinney, two actors that I admire from Game of Thrones and Chicago Fire respectively, coupled with an intriguing storyline surrounding the suicide forest, I thought ‘this looks really creepy with plenty of ghost filled jump scares’.

Oh how wrong I was. The film was definitely not the tense and scary ride that I had expected, instead being a mediocre trot around a fairly ordinary looking forest, during which time very little of interest really happens, except for an overuse of jump scares.

However, kudos to Natalie and Taylor for making The Forest a little more watchable, but by the time I reached the end and the inevitable twist, I had mostly lost all interest. The conclusion is a bit confusing and also a bit implausible. There are holes in both plotlines, regardless of whichever one you decide to believe.

The main niggles I have with the movie is that her injured ankle healed itself fairly quickly, and let’s not forget the smartphone batteries that last for well over 24 hours, despite being used as Dictaphones and torches?

This was a great idea, just very poorly executed.

At 3 out of 5 stars The Forest is worth a watch if you enjoy plenty of scares, just don’t expect too much from it. Check it out on Amazon.co.uk here.

 

See also:

World’s Scariest Places: Book 1 – Suicide Forest (Book Review)

Supernatural: Bone Key (Book Review)

Bone Key is the third book in the series of TV Tie-in novels from the CW show Supernatural, and the second written by author Keith R.A. DeCandido. Once again we join the monster-hunting Winchester brothers, Sam and Dean, on another action packed adventure. Bone Key takes place during season 3, between episodes 8 (A Very Supernatural Christmas) and 9 (Malleus Maleficarum).

 

In this spooky tale, the boys travel to Key West, Florida, where some famous ghosts are terrorising tourists and murdering people. Can Sam and Dean figure out what’s causing the spirits to become supercharged, and save the day?

 

First of all, with numerous references to prior events, Bone Key isn’t suitable for anyone new to Supernatural, and those unaware of recent plot points which play major roles in the first three seasons of the TV show. Spoilers may ruin the suspense if you intend to watch the show at a later time.

However, for everyone else, this book has a creepy doll reminiscent of Chucky (Child’s Play) or Annabelle (The Conjuring) which I always find very unsettling, As well as famous ghosts, such as Ernest Hemingway and Harry Truman.

With lots of different characters, I found it a little difficult to keep track of everyone, and as far as story goes I’m not sure that it’s quite as strong as Keith’s earlier book, Nevermore. Thankfully though, this time around he manages to get Dean’s eye colour correct, and the characterisations of both Sam and Dean appear much more accurate.

It has a few adult themes that were somewhat questionable, such as the guy who attempts to sleep with numerous women, and unknowingly takes photos of them, just to get back at his ex.

Anyhow, at 3 out of 5 stars I found this book to be enjoyable, but not necessarily a story that appealed to my particular tastes. It had a slowish pace and didn’t have quite as much action as some of the other Supernatural books. If anyone wishes to check it out you can pick yourself up a copy of Bone Key from Amazon.co.uk here.

 

See also:

Supernatural: Nevermore

Supernatural: Witch’s Canyon

Horns by Joe Hill (Book Review)

Almost a year after Merrin Williams is found raped and murdered; the main suspect in her death and boyfriend, Ignatius Parrish wakes up to discover that he has horns growing out of his forehead.

At first Ig thinks he’s suffering from hallucinations due to a brain tumour, or some other terminal disease, but soon discovers that despite the fact that his horns are clearly visible to the people around him, no-one pays them much attention. Instead, they inadvertently reveal to him their deepest, darkest, most evil thoughts and desires, almost as if they are requesting his permission to commit atrocious acts or confess their darkest sins.

The horns provide a unique insight into the minds of the people around him, providing answers to what really happened the night the love of his life was murdered, and Ig sets out for revenge on those responsible for Merrin’s death.

 

Favourite Quote:

“The devil is always there to help those who are ready to sin, which is another word for ‘live’. His phone lines are open. Operators are standing by.” – Ignatius Martin Parrish (p254)

 

Unlike Joe Hill’s previous novel ‘Heart-shaped Box’, at 4 out of 5 stars Horns manages to captivate the reader, as it flows neatly along. It delves into a simple notion that most people have longed for at some point in their lives, the ability to read someone’s mind. Joe reminds his readers that knowing what goes on inside other people’s heads may not necessarily be something you wish to know, that the knowledge of a person’s deepest, darkest desires is not a pretty thing at all.

Those interested can pick up a copy of Horns from Amazon.co.uk here.

 

 

Horns, has also been adapted into a movie starring Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame, along with James Remar and Heather Graham. Although it’s a little different to the novel, it retains the basic fundamentals of the story and provides a pretty good adaptation of this entertaining and rather unusual tale from Stephen King’s son, Joe Hill.

 

See also:

20th Century Ghosts

Heart-Shaped Box

NOS 4A2

The Fireman

Strange Weather

Haunted Cruise: The Shakedown by Tanya R. Taylor (Book Review)

In the midst of divorcing her husband of seven years, Dellie Hayworth sets off to work on a test cruise across the Atlantic Ocean. The ship, known as The Caesar, will be her home for the next 14 days.

 

Haunted Cruise is my first book by horror writer, Tanya R. Taylor and I found it to be one of the better short novels that I have read in quite some time. The story has a quick pace, yet doesn’t feel overly rushed. The narrative flows along easily, hooking the reader into the story with sharp and pertinent prose. It is very well-written and highly compelling, so much so that I couldn’t help but read this in one quick sitting.

It took quite a while before the horror elements made an appearance, and I began to wonder if I was mistaken in believing Haunted Cruise to be a horror story. However, occult spectres did eventually appear and were remarkably creepy, as you would expect. Unfortunately, I’m not sure I’d class this story as a typical haunting, however there are ghosts. I felt that the ending may have been a bit rushed, but overall this is a good short horror novel, at a little less than 200 pages, perfect for anyone seeking a quick read.

At 4 out of 5 stars I highly recommend Haunted Cruise to anyone interested in the horror or occult genres, or those looking for a short introduction to Tanya R. Taylor’s extensive catalogue. I’m definitely now interested in checking out more stories by this writer, and anyone else thinking of doing so can purchase a copy of Haunted Cruise via Amazon.co.uk here.

 

Hopefully, sometime soon I’ll be checking out Tanya’s Cornelius series of books, so watch out for those reviews in the coming months.

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill (Book Review)

54 year old musician, Judas Coyne has a penchant for all things grotesque and when Danny, his personal assistant discovers a ‘ghost’ for sale on an online auction website, Jude just cannot resist the temptation to be the one to purchase it.

When the dead man’s suit arrives, carefully packaged in a black heart-shaped box, Jude has almost forgotten his spur of the moment purchase. However when an apparition of an old man appears to him that evening, Jude feels a little spooked.

He asks Danny to track down the female seller, so that he can make some enquiries about her late step-father only to make a startling discovery; Jessica Price is the older sister of one of Jude’s old fortune teller girlfriends, Anna May McDermott. When Jude broke off their relationship, Anna’s depressive emotional state intensified, resulting in the girl committing suicide. On his own death-bed, their hypnotist step-father, Craddock McDermott swore revenge against Jude for ruining his daughter’s life.

The ghost of Craddock is determined to haunt Jude and his current girlfriend, Georgia (AKA Marybeth), until Jude gives in to the old man’s demands and kills himself. Can Jude find a way to destroy the ghost, before it can destroy him?

 

Joe Hill is the son of Horror maestro Stephen King and Heart-Shaped Box is his first full novel. It is difficult not to compare father and son as you notice subtle similarities in their writing styles, and in a way typical to Stephen King, I feel that Joe fails to keep the reader interested in his story.

The plot of Heart-shaped Box seems interesting at first with the odd notion that ghosts can be bought and sold almost like property, but it soon begins to feel really dull and stretched out as the story slowly meanders along, with the creepy aspects being very few and far between.

At 2 out of 5 stars Heart-shaped Box has a good basic premise but doesn’t quite seem strong enough to warrant a large novel, being better maybe as a smaller, thinned down novella. Unfortunately, I soon lost interest and just willed this spooky tale to come to an end.

 

Anyone interested in learning more about Joe Hill and his first novel can pick up a copy of Heart-Shaped Box from Amazon.co.uk here.

 

See also:

Horns – Joe Hill

Supernatural: Witch’s Canyon (Book Review)

Witch’s Canyon is the second book in the series of TV Tie-in novels from the CW show Supernatural, featuring another brand new story from the monster-hunting Winchester brothers, Sam and Dean. This book takes place directly after book one, Nevermore and during season 2, between episodes 8 (Crossroad Blues) and 9 (Croatoan), and is written by Jeff Mariotte.

 

After Sam and Dean conclude their business in New York City – see Nevermore for details – they travel to Cedar Wells, Arizona, where once every 40 years, a string of unexplained murders decimate the small American town.

 

Witch’s Canyon didn’t grip me in the same way that its predecessor did, and the story is a bit slow burn for my taste. It takes a little while for events to get interesting, or connect together and gives off a feeling of disjointedness in its concept. Each murder almost appears unique, differing in almost every aspect, which makes it difficult for both the reader and the Winchesters, to visualise and decipher the real source of the mayhem.

The narrative also spends far, far too much time repeating basic background facts about Sam and Dean; including information on John and Mary Winchester, Sam’s girlfriend, Jessica, and their training as hunters. I understand the need to provide key details, especially those that will help unfamiliar readers learn more about the main characters. However, given that the majority of people who are likely to read this book are already fans of the TV series, repeating this information regularly after every few chapters seems to be completely unnecessary. Jeff also gets Dean’s eye colour wrong, which really irritated me.

All in all I think Witch’s Canyon would have been better off as a TV episode, rather than a novel. The overall story is ok, but nothing spectacular. At just 3 out of 5 stars, it’s only for the die-hard Supernatural fans, I think. Those interested however, can pick up a copy of Witch’s Canyon from Amazon.co.uk here.

 

See also:

Supernatural: Nevermore

Supernatural: Bone Key