The Catacombs by Jeremy Bates (Book Review)

World’s Scariest Places: The Catacombs

The Catacombs is written in first-person narrative, mostly from the perspective of an American called Will, though includes some shorter chapters from the perspective of other characters. Will has relocated to Paris with the intention of starting over, after a boating disaster turned his life upside down, killing his younger sister and best friend, on the night before his wedding.

He befriends a local girl called Danièle, who shows him video footage of an Australian woman lost in the Catacombs beneath the city. She convinces him to join her on a night-time trip, deep into the caverns and tunnels on a hunt for this missing woman, along with her friends, Pascal and Rob. Although reluctant, Will later agrees to accompany them, after an unexpected conversation with his ex-fiance spurs him on.

 

Initially I was a little sceptical going into this book, I’d read the previous novel in the ‘World’s Scariest Places’ series last year and was a bit underwhelmed by the story. Suicide Forest didn’t live up to the creepy goose-pimply tale I’d been expecting, but I was hoping, considering the location, that The Catacombs would make for a much scarier story.

…possible spoiler warning…

Continue reading “The Catacombs by Jeremy Bates (Book Review)”

Revenger Series: Book 3 – Bone Silence (Book Review)

Bone Silence is the third of the 3 Revenger series books by Alastair Reynolds, and continues the story of Arafura and Adrana Ness, and their rag-tag crew aboard the Revenger.

…potential spoiler warning for those who haven’t read the preceding novels…

You can check out my reviews of book 1, Revenger here via this link, or book 2, Shadow Captain here.

Continue reading “Revenger Series: Book 3 – Bone Silence (Book Review)”

Revenger Series: Book 1 – Revenger by Alastair Reynolds (Book Review)

Having read a few Alastair Reynolds books before, I decided to pick up his three Revenger novels: Revenger, Shadow Captain and Bone Silence, hoping for more of his gripping hard sci-fi adventures. However, I later discovered that these are actually young adult books and so are not quite up to the same standards as earlier reads.

…potential spoiler warning…

Continue reading “Revenger Series: Book 1 – Revenger by Alastair Reynolds (Book Review)”

The Shining: Book 2 – Doctor Sleep (Book Review)

For those not already in the know, Doctor Sleep is the sequel to Stephen King’s famous novel The Shining, and the book begins almost exactly where The Shining left off.

You can read my review of The Shining here via this link.

 

…warning: spoilers ahead…

Continue reading “The Shining: Book 2 – Doctor Sleep (Book Review)”

The Shining by Stephen King (Book Review)

When it comes to Stephen King, I tend to struggle a little. A lot of books begin with a fabulous premise, full of promise and excitement, but somewhere along the way, they branch off toward tedious side streets and monotonous never-ending twisty plots. In a nutshell, I end up bored and these type of books can be difficult to finish. However, The Shining is one of those rare masterpieces that keeps me turning those pages and staying awake to read long past bedtime. Binge-reading chapters for hours on end.

Most people by now are probably familiar with this story: Recovering alcoholic Jack Torrance begins a new job as Winter Caretaker at the Overlook Hotel in Colorado. He relocates his family, wife Wendy and five-year-old son Danny, to the remote location with him. As Jack struggles with his sobriety and anger management issues, the family hope that this will mark the start of a better future for them.

The main premise follows Danny, who has the supernatural ability known as The Shining. This essentially means that he has precognition or clairvoyance. He is more susceptible to paranormal activity, such as seeing ghosts of the past, and can also catch flashes of other people’s inner thoughts and feelings, or witness events before they happen.

As the Torrance’s arrive at the Overlook, Danny instinctively knows, thanks to his ESP (extra-sensory perception) that bad things are going to happen there. He’s not wrong, slowly but surely things go downhill for the unlucky family.

 

This is a bit of a slow-burn novel that gradually develops over time, it might not be to everyone’s taste as it’s a lot more thriller than it is horror. However, for me personally, I love this story with its leisurely pace and isolated location. It also has good character development, with the subtle change of Jack Torrance from his sober state to that of a mallet-wielding madman.

Having read this again after the passing of many years, I can understand the bad reviews and harsh critiques this gets for being dull and long-winded, but I honestly find it really enjoyable. I can always binge-read The Shining in a few days, despite struggling desperately with loads of other Stephen King stories. I also prefer it to the film, which for some reason didn’t really appeal to me much. The two formats are vastly different, and I find that most people will connect with one, but not the other depending on their own individual preferences.

Initially, this used to be a 5 star novel for me, but now I’d probably have to give it 4 stars at most. I love the little flecks of humour that are interspersed within the story, which always get me laughing-out-loud and cracking a smile. However, I often forget that Danny is only a five-year-old kid, as his character and inner dialogue quite often comes across as more mature and adult at times. My one other negative note is that my copy of this book had a few quality issues with spelling, which really shouldn’t exist in a professionally printed Stephen King paperback.

Beware if you’re looking for this book to scare you though, as you’ll be sorely disappointed.

 

See also:

Book 2 – Doctor Sleep

Suicide Forest by Jeremy Bates (Book Review)

World’s Scariest Places: 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.

See also:

World’s Scariest Places: The Catacombs

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.

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

Break Point – James Patterson with Lee Stone (Book Review)

I’d like to apologise for the lack of book reviews lately as I have been a bit distracted from my usual reading. One of my favourite rock bands, Backyard Babies, released a new album on March 1st (Sliver and Gold) and as a result I’ve rediscovered my love for this band’s music, listening to all of their albums pretty much for the last month straight, so there’s been very little reading going on. Anyone interested can check out the Backyard Babies music videos on their Official Youtube account here. I’ve been a fan since I was 16 year’s old, when a friend loaned me his copy of their debut album, Diesel and Power, back in 2000.

 

Anyway, since I don’t have a new review for you I’m reposting an old one that I did for an earlier incarnation of my blog; Break Point is a deviation from my normal repertoire of science fiction, fantasy and horror, instead focusing on my Mother’s favourite writer, James Patterson. Speaking of Mother, it is Mother’s Day tomorrow (Sunday) here in the UK, so I guess this works out quite well really.

I arrived into the midst of a family situation a couple of years ago, which left me waiting around and twiddling my thumbs, and having not had the foresight to bring along a book to read in case of emergencies, I was a little restless. As a result I ended up diving into one of my Mother’s piles of James Patterson crime thrillers that were sitting close at hand, and coming out with one of his ‘Bookshots’ or short novellas under the advice that “that one about the tennis players is quite good.” With nothing more interesting to pass my time I decided to give Break Point a chance to amuse and enthral.

 

Kirsten Keller is a tennis pro on the verge of winning the French Open, when an unexpected noise from the crowd terrifies her so completely that she flees the court in fear for her life. It soon transpires that Kirsten has been receiving mysterious death threats, and after the embarrassing circumstances in France she decides to employ the services of ex-Metropolitan Police Officer turned Investigator, Chris Foster, to protect her at Wimbledon, and provide some much needed piece of mind allowing her to focus on her career. Can Chris find a way to capture the person responsible for Kirsten’s torment and save her life?

 

Despite my misgivings about reading crime thrillers, which aren’t necessarily my usual cup of tea, I must confess that I rather enjoyed this brisk, straightforward story which at only 119 pages can be easily read within an hour or so.

Not being very familiar with either James Patterson or Lee Stone’s other offerings it’s a little difficult to truly do a review of Break Point justice, however the book is long enough to provide enough depth to the story for it to feel properly complete, which is a feat that even some full length novels often fail to achieve.

At 3 out of 5 stars it is perfect for those who enjoy crime thrillers that can keep you guessing until very near the end, and/or you’re a little too short on time to read a full novel.

Wayward Pines: Genesis (Book Review)

Genesis is a Wayward Pines Prequel by Steven Konkoly. Steven builds on Blake Crouch’s original Wayward Pines series, by crafting a story which aims to answer some of the burning questions left behind by the original trilogy. Mainly, how did David Pilcher create the fenced off town of Wayward Pines in the first place, with all those abbies surrounding the Superstructure.

 

Genesis begins with David Pilcher and his elite crew emerging from the suspension pods, to discover that they are all that is left of humanity. With the help of Adam Hassler, Pilcher begins his massive project to recreate the town of Wayward Pines, by constructing the 12 foot electrified fence that will eventually surround and protect the idyllic little town.

Steven Konkoly does such a great job with this novel that had I not read his name on the front cover of the book, I wouldn’t have known that Genesis wasn’t actually written by Blake Crouch himself. It remains true to the original series in every way imaginable, and is a fantastic addition to the world of Wayward Pines. This book is perfect for old fans already familiar with either Blake’s series, or the TV adaptation, as well as for unfamiliar newbie’s who are looking for an introduction to the story.

There were one or two points that I noticed didn’t correlate with the original novels, but these were extremely minor issues that most others wouldn’t notice, and which aren’t overly relevant. Otherwise, this is a great book, if a little short. At 5 out of 5 stars I would highly recommend Genesis.

 

Those who haven’t already done so can watch the trailer for the Wayward Pines TV series here:

 

Or check out my reviews of Blake Crouch’s original Wayward Pines trilogy here:

Book 1: Pines

Book 2: Wayward

Book 3: The Last Town

Wayward Pines: Book 3 – The Last Town (Book Review)

Dr. David Pilcher has dedicated his life to the planning and implementation of a scientific research model that he hopes can preserve and prolong the survival of the human race. The small town he created is flanked by mountain cliffs, and nestled in amongst a large grove of pine trees, it is the last town habitable by humans, situated amidst a hostile environment.

Local Sheriff, Ethan Burke, has finally chosen to inform the residents of Wayward Pines, about the harsh reality that surrounds them and the reasons behind their old-fashioned ways of living.

David Pilcher, angry that Ethan has betrayed his trust, powers down the electrified fence that surrounds his idyllic town and opens the door to the danger that lies beyond. His town is no longer a safe haven, the last town in which humans can live in peace and tranquillity, instead it is about to become overrun with monsters.

Ethan’s rash actions have dire consequences on the town’s inhabitants, but can he save the lives of those he’s put in danger, including those of his own family?

 

Favourite Quotes:

“I’ve found in my life that sometimes the best company is your own”. – Belinda Moran. (p79)

 

“I think I finally understand why God went away and left the world to destroy itself”. – David Pilcher. (p168)

 

“I alone have the key to what will save us all”. – Adam Hassler. (p197)

 

“I think you got your scripture wrong. God didn’t get exiled. It was the other guy”. – Ethan Burke to David Pilcher. (p258)

 

The Last Town is the third and final instalment in Blake Crouch’s sci-fi mystery trilogy, Wayward Pines. Book 3 is not as strong as Blake’s earlier novels, with the feeling that it is being fleshed out a little too much, just to extend his story that wee bitty longer than is strictly necessary. However, with a rating of 4 out of 5 stars, it does provide a fitting conclusion to the overall mystery.

 

Wayward Pines has now been edited for the big screen, combining all three novels:

  • Pines
  • Wayward, and
  • The Last Town

Into a ten episode mini-series, directed by M. Night Shyamalan and starring Matt Dillon and Shannyn Sossamon.

 

There are a number of differences between the book and the TV show but the main plot themes remain in tandem.

 

You can watch the trailer for it here:

 

See also:

Wayward Pines: Book 1 – Pines

Wayward Pines: Book 2 – Wayward