Thursday, March 05, 2015

A Head Full of Ghosts

A Head Full of Ghosts is not what I'd normally expect to see in a book where a character is said to be possessed. I mean that in a good way.

This book is told from the point of view of a woman who as a young girl who saw her older sister suffer from schizophrenia. Unfortunately, there father has recently lost his job and found religion. This combination causes him to become convinced that the elder girl is possessed and to get the family to take part in a reality show culminating in his elder daughter's exorcism.

There are no obvious supernatural elements. Instead of being a horror story about a girl's head doing 360° turns while projectile vomiting pea soup, it's about what happens when the horrors of mental illness, religious fanaticism, and the reality TV culture intersect.  This makes for the sort of book that is as likely to appeal to people who don't read horror as it will to those of us who do.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Dark Screams Two

The good folks at Cemetery Dance were nice enough to send me a review copy of Dark Screams: Volume Two for reviewing Dark Screams One. As much as I enjoyed the first volume, I thought number two wasn't anywhere near as good.

The first story in the volume is one of the reprints, "The Deep End," by Robert McCammon. Despite being a reprint, I had never read it, and I enjoyed this tale of a fathers quest for revenge against a terror lurking in a public swimming pool.

The Second story is "Interval," by Norman Prentiss. This one is a bit slower moving, and revolves around people at an airport waiting for word on a plane that is late.  It's a good enough story, especially the big reveal ending.

Next is "If These Walls Could Talk," by Shawntelle Madison. This is a creepy story about people getting a rural house ready for a TV crew, but something strange starts happening. I enjoyed this one, too.

Then we have "The Night Hider," by Graham Masterton. This was probably my favorite story. It revolves around a wardrobe that's haunted by the ghost a horribly burned man.

The final story is another reprint, and it stank so bad that it dragged the rest of the book down. The story in question is "Whatever," by Richard Christian Matheson. I have no idea what this story is even doing in this anthology, as it's not horror by any definition I'm familiar with. There are no ghosts, monsters, aliens, or serial killers. It's just the story of the rise and fall of a mega rock band in the 1970's told through song lyrics, letters, and excerpts of magazine articles. It's long and boring.

I think the ebook edition is worth it just for the first four stories, but you might as well skip the last one.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Red Equinox

I have to say that Red Equinox, by Douglas Wynne, is probably one of the better Lovecraftian novels that I've read. It's not a particularly original one, but  Lovecraftian horror usually isn't.

It uses the standard plot about a secret society who is plotting to release the Great Old Ones and bring about the destruction of humanity. This is a plot that H. P. L. himself used, so it's not all that original. Even the addition of a secret government agency tasked with stopping  supernatural evil doesn't help, as that's been done so much it's rapidly becoming cliched.

I think what really set this story apart for me was the characterization. I don't know why, but I found myself genuinely caring about the characters, even to the point that when the protagonist was temporarily grabbed by the aforementioned secret government agency, I found myself getting angry on her behalf.

This is a book that I'd recommend to any fan of Lovecraftian horror.