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    IT is by far my favourite King novel I've read. Though admittedly I still have yet to read the Stand, I just highly doubt it would supersede IT.


      The Club Dumas - Arturo Perez-Reverte

      "The rainbow is the bridge between heaven and earth. It will shatter at the end of the world, once the devil has crossed it on horseback."

      Fans of the Polanski movie, The Ninth Gate, may recognize this book as the source, although the differences between the two are extensive.

      Written in Spanish and translated by Sonia Soto, we begin with Lucas Corso, a cynical ‘book detective’, who is hired to authenticate an extremely rare Alexander Dumas manuscript, an original chapter of The Three Musketeers. Over the course of his investigation his search becomes entwined with the legendary book, The Book of the Nine Doors of the Kingdom of Shadows, reportedly written in conjunction with the devil himself. His travels take him throughout Europe, where he compares notes on the three existing versions of the Nine Doors, eventually finding subtle differences although all three are considered authentic. The shrewd and experienced Corso is an expert at his job, but is in a constant struggle to understand what’s happening to him, in parallel with the reader.

      There is a need to emphasize the story's differences between the film version, which was a fine supernatural mystery, and the book version, which is highly complicated mystery with a few supernatural elements. The film streamlined this like you wouldn’t believe, eliminating huge portions of the plot, combining characters, and ignoring the Alexander Dumas storyline entirely. It works for the movie, but the book contains constant references to The Three Musketeers, including many of the characters assuming roles from that earlier story. Corso as d’Artagnan, Liana Taillefer as Milady, etc. The film was complicated enough without these elements, but they certainly enrich the book. There are also plenty of compelling moments of insight, caution and humor.

      This isn’t the lightening-fast read that we sometimes find, but it never bogs down which is an achievement considering its complexity. An occult mystery diving into the history of Dumas, it’s interesting on every page and difficult to set aside.

      “The lost word keeps the secret.”

      5- stars







      Note: A special thanks to forum member Plasticine, whose post and outstanding pics of the book compelled me to look closer. A deep bow and sweep of the plumed cavalier hat to you, sir.
      Last edited by bugen; 05-13-2016, 09:55 AM.
      “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
      -John Barth


        Salome - Written and Directed by Mick Garris

        "I though I hated my wife. Until she was murdered." This is the opening line in Salome. Mr Garris is much better known as a writer and producer. With Salome I feel he is finding his voice as a novelist. I have enjoyed his earlier works, especially Development Hell, but this story just had a more natural flow to it.

        The story is about the death of former child star Chase Willoughby, and her husband James Tourentine. Their marriage has devolved into hatred and loathing and when he gets home one night to find her gone he thinks nothing of it. Early the next morning he gets a call from a small town 300 miles away informing him that his wife has been murdered.

        The story is told from the view of Mr. Tourentine as he works through the aftermath of Chase's death, and tries to determine who killed her as well as Chase Willoughby as she explains the evening of her death and how she got to be in the town she dies.

        Salome is a very well tod story and worth checking out. As of this writing it is still available as well

        3.5 Stars
        Last edited by Martin; 03-22-2015, 08:26 PM.


          ^Sounds mighty interesting. Might have to try to get a copy.


            Thanks for the great write-up - love that opening line!
            “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
            -John Barth



              Burnt OfferingsRobert Marasco

              An unlikely pairing of smoldering dread and greased lightning, Burnt Offerings tells the tale of a married couple who happen upon a great deal for a summer home getaway, their young boy, the father’s aging aunt, and the few weeks they all spend together at the summer house to escape the pressures of city life.

              There’s a catch, and while the vacationing couple rents the house for the summer at a ridiculously low rate, they are obliged to care for the owner's mother, a shut-in living in the home, by bringing her a prescribed meal three times a day whilst the owners leave for the season. They assure the couple the old woman will be no trouble; will likely not even be seen. After some hemming and hawing, they agree and move in.

              Things start out normally enough, but soon there is an incident at the pool where the father, Ben, loses control while roughhousing with his boy, scaring the boy badly and injuring himself in the process. Something in the house is beginning to work on their emotions, Ben’s wife Marian is becoming distant, and the elderly lady they’re supposed to be caring for has yet to show herself…

              This book succeeds wonderfully in an area where competitors are few - slowly building terror while rocketing you through a story. If it sounds to you like those two are incompatible, I believe I’d normally agree, pretty much by definition. So it’s difficult to say why this book works so well here, but I’ll tell you it does, and avoid getting into it any further by using my Avoiding Spoilers card that all reviewers get for free.

              The book comes with a pedigree as well. It appears on Centipede’s top 100 horror novels of all time at #41, and on Stephen Jones’ top 100 list at #71.

              It’s solid, fast, scary and hypnotizing, and if you’re able to tear yourself away from it congratulations, you win.

              4+ stars






              Last edited by bugen; 05-14-2016, 04:24 AM.
              “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
              -John Barth



                Ghost Stories of an Antiquary - M.R. James

                "I expect you're right: he has got in. And if I don't mistake, there'll be the devil to pay in one of the rooms upstairs."

                8 stories make up this 1904 collection, and they hold up well. The language of the time isn’t much of a barrier here, and though it may take a couple of pages to find the proper cadence for you, every last tale here accomplishes the feats of being interesting, supernatural and easily recognizable as horror. In its way, this is a pure book instead of hitting a few, missing a few, that we’re used to from modern collections. And it’s not varied, with a couple of horror, a couple of fantasy, a thriller here and there, etc. Pure supernatural horror stories, told with a mystery bent, and not a one of them reached down to the level of fair. No gore, just story.

                We begin with ‘Canon Alberic’s Scrap Book,’ my lowest rated of the eight (3 stars, which = good), where our subject discovers a valuable book its owner is keen to rid himself of for a fraction of its value.
                Next is ‘Lost Hearts, where a young orphan boy is transferred into the care of an eccentric, alchemist-like character.
                ‘The Mezzotint’ is a supernatural mystery regarding a picture that changes, and gave me my first dose of palpable fear from the collection, picturing what was described like I was seeing it myself.
                ‘The Ash Tree’ is about getting to the bottom of multiple deaths, possibly related to the execution of a witch in earlier times.

                Then there’s the kicker. ‘Number 13’ maintained the themes of interest and spookiness, but elicited howls of laughter, enough so that the tears were flowing. The antics of two gentlemen trying to get to the bottom of a mystery hotel room foreshadowed the straight-faced, who-done-it buffoonery that would eventually be perfected in the movie, Clue. Not any of the slapstick of Clue, mind you, but I couldn’t get the befuddled Colonel Mustard out of my head while reading. Roaring in laughter, I tell you. I sure hope that’s what Mr. James intended, and I certainly sobered up in the last couple of paragraphs. One of the best short stories I’ve had the pleasure to read.

                We continue with ‘Count Magnus,’ the tale of a travel-book researcher, who uncovers and dives into the history of a devilish, Vlad the Impaler type of personage.
                ‘Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad’ is the story of a whistle found, and a man’s troubles after using it.
                And finally, ‘The Treasure of Abbot Thomas,’ concerning a man’s for hidden treasure by deciphering cryptic messages left in an old church.

                Most of these tales are told through second or third person, a story-within-a-story type of setup, so we’re generally reading about something that happened rather than while it is happening. This adds a more scholarly, learned air to the book, often because those doing the storytelling are researchers or academics in one field or another, uncovering the mystery for themselves. That extra degree of separation allows us more of a full, birds-eye view of the tale as opposed to the nightmarish, up in your face monsters where you can’t run fast enough. It’s harrowingly effective, but lets you keep your monocle on. I’d heard of the book many times, and seen it quite a few, before finally taking the plunge. My mistake.

                4 stars




                Last edited by bugen; 05-14-2016, 04:38 AM.
                “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
                -John Barth



                  The Slow Regard of Silent Things - Patrick Rothfuss:

                  One of my reading goals of 2015 is to read several authors I have either never read before or one I have read a small sampling from and was intrigued by.

                  Patrick Rothfuss is an author I have previously only read only read his Princess and Mr. Whiffle stories from Subterranean Press. In looking at his other works I only found a couple of large fantasy novels and they did not really interest me. Then late last year while browsing Powell's books I found a new novella by him that was signed, he had recently been in store, and had several cool illustrations. In reading the synopsis on the dust jacket it turns out that this is a small story about a character in the fantasy novels I had seen. I decided this little story would be a good jumping of point and would give me an idea if I wanted to go back for more.

                  "You might not want to buy this book" is the first line in the author's forward. Had I read that while still in the store I am sure I would not have purchased the book. He then goes on to explain that if you had not read the first two novels you would probably be a bit lost in this one. He also states that this is a strange story that "doesn't do a lot things a classic story is supposed to do". I agree with him on that point, this is a rather odd tale about Auri. A young woman, with faerie like qualities, who lives in a series of passageways below and within an old building. The stories tells 7 days of her life, and does not have a traditional story arc. Although I agree that it is not a typical story, I do not agree about not buying the book. I will say that I really enjoy the voice the Mr. Rothfuss writes in. This was not a traditional story but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

                  Would I recommend it? If you like fantasy I would but probably not otherwise. I would highly recommend his Princess and Mr. Whiffle stories!

                  2.5 Stars


                    Sweet. I've never read a Rothfuss, and keep meaning to get to his Kingkiller Chronicles. The Slow Regard of Silent Things is such a cool title, and the books seems to be making the rounds, but I think your review helps me to stick to the plan of starting with The Name of the Wind.
                    “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
                    -John Barth



                      If this was my introduction to Rothfuss, I wouldn't have gotten too far. I'll have to try this one again. I do love the Name of the Wind, like Wise Man's Fear, that bad boy could've used some editing in my humble opinion. looking forward to the next Kingkiller.


                        Web of the City - Harlan Ellison

                        This is Ellison's first novel, and the first story of his I have read. It seems that he's more famous for his sci-fi, horror, and weird fiction than the crime works that he started with. Nonetheless this was a great introduction to his works.

                        The story is about a 17 year old boy who has recently quit his life as leader of a youth gang called the Cougars, and the problems he faces trying to distance himself from his past life. However clashes with former gang mates, rival gang members, teachers and a curve ball out of left field threaten to drag him back into his old ways.

                        Web of the City (formerly Rumble) is an emotional and gut-wrenching thrill ride. One moment may have your stomach turning with explicit violence while the next you will have tears welling your eyes. Ellison excels at writing a believable protagonist, one who is moral and relatable, but also flawed. Someone who you can cheer for and fear for. The story is also a unique take on youth gangs of the 50's and 60's, and the burgeoning drug scene of the time, and Ellison's tone for the novel fits it perfectly.

                        I'll definitely be checking out more of Harlan Ellison's works, though I have to admit after reading this one, I am more interested in further crime fiction he has penned more than his more infamous weird works. Fortunately for me there is another couple short stories at the end of the Hard Case Crime edition of this book.


                          Thanks for posting an awesome Ellison review, Theli! I haven't heard of this book, but it sounds good.

                          The collection Deathbird Stories was my introduction to Ellison, and it comes with my highest recommendation, but contains mainly the weird/speculative fiction you mention you're currently less interested in. For short story collections focused mainly on crime/noir themes you might enjoy Gentlemen Junkie and The Deadly Streets. There are probably other collections he's written that are largely outside the realm of speculative fiction but these are the only two that I've read, and I liked them both a good deal.
                          “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
                          -John Barth



                            Those were the two I was looking at picking up next. Debating between the trades or the signed slipcased set from Sub. Press.
                            Last edited by Theli; 04-05-2015, 05:06 AM.


                              WildwoodJohn Farris

                              “Reckon maybe there’s a law of physics would explain how that could happen. Or else it’s one of them black arts secrets that’ll stay secret until somebody figures out the answer.”

                              Part horror, fantasy, mystery and thriller, Wildwood is the story of a father and son traveling to a remote section of forest where the dad, Whit, is tasked with a survey from his company and the son, Terry, is on a pseudo-vacation visiting his father during his period of visitation rights. The woods are practically inaccessible, so Whit, a retired army colonel, asks his old sergeant-major Arn, who lives in the area, to help him reach sections of the forest that no one else can.

                              The particular section of forest is, for a while, a character into itself. Stories abound concerning the 18 square mile impenetrable overgrowth, including that of a massive ‘cottage’ built decades earlier up the mountain, vanished into thin air along with all 500 of its guests. It seems a Mesopotamian occult scholar had uncovered secrets of how the world worked thousands of years ago and was implementing some of their deceased technology with the help of the brilliant architectural engineer Travers and the insights into energy of Nikoli Tesla.

                              Strange creatures out of place and time are rumored to exist there today, and as the story unfolds we’re treated to our main characters solving the mystery from without while flashbacks to the past enlighten us to the building mystery within, and the elements combined result in a book that challenges classification.

                              An odd mix of Apocalypse Now, Dennis Wheatley's occult fiction and The Chronicles of Narnia, a couple of times the book threatens to shift into the fever-dream state that accompanies other Farris works such as All Heads Turn When the Hunt Goes By, but that never actually occurs. Those surreal moments are dealt with in a linear fashion shortly after introduced so at no point in the story are you wandering blindly in the dark in this strange but well-illuminated mystery. A fantastic, fast-paced read filled with imagination and wonder.

                              “People will always believe what makes them comfortable, and doesn’t overagitate their brains.”

                              4+ stars






                              Last edited by bugen; 05-14-2016, 04:53 AM.
                              “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
                              -John Barth



                                Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury

                                ‘Boy!’ yelled Will. ‘Folks run like they thought the storm was here!’
                                ‘It is!’ shouted Jim. ‘Us!’

                                Jim and Will, two thirteen year old boys, are filled with wonder as a mysterious carnival unpacks itself before their eyes during one of their midnight (3am) excursions from the house. The two have contrasting personalities but are the closest of friends, at an age where perhaps magic is at its strongest. The boys take an interest in an out-of-order carousel at the carnival, and accidentally witness the carousel subtracting years from its passenger, 1 for every spin around. The man steps off a 12 year old boy and heads out for mischief.

                                The boys follow the man/boy (Mr. Cooger) around then back to the carousel, where he rides it in reverse adding his years back. Will hits a lever and the carousel spins out of control, and Mr. Cooger barely survives. Mr. Dark, the carnival proprietor also known as the Illustrated Man, begins to chase the boys down, attempting to corner them with every boy’s wish to be grown. The boys mistrust Mr. Dark, witness an old lady from the neighborhood transformed into a little girl and crying about her misfortune, and begin working against the Illustrated Man. They get Will’s father, a philosophical janitor at the local library and a mystery himself, to help.

                                It’s a good story, told with unmistakable style, but the style imposes somewhat. I spent most of the read thinking about the book in the 3+ to 4 range, as the eccentric flourish of the telling occasionally pulled me back a bit.

                                Then I reached the final few chapters of the book, where my perception shifted in a big way. The style began working in itself, feeding off itself, and the last 10% was a dead sprint to the finish line with the father, Charles Halloway (this is me, this is you) taking center stage in a battle to save his son, his son’s friend, himself and everyone in the world who wants to be saved. An ending such as this requires the stylistic language, because you have to speak this way to get across as much of the emotional and human issues being confronted as is possible. Words don’t quite suffice; you need the underpinnings. You need to see and be able to read the space between them, what the book has prepared you for, and doing so delivers an unforgettable end.

                                This is a special, magical work about boyhood and adulthood, how they are in many ways the same, and how concepts like right and wrong can be so badly manipulated. In many ways it’s also about what I like to call ‘the space between the strings.’ The days of our lives that exist between events. It can be somewhat of a challenge if you’re not used to the style, but you’ll get it if you stick with it, and you just might love it.

                                What an amazing, pleasant surprise.

                                If I run, he thought, what will happen? Is Death important? No. Everything that happens before Death is what counts.

                                5- stars






                                Last edited by bugen; 05-14-2016, 05:26 AM.
                                “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
                                -John Barth