Book Review: The Monk by Matthew Lewis

 

The Monk is widely regarded as one of the greatest horror novels ever. I don’t think it lived up to its reputation. I think the book shocked people back when it was written because people didn’t speak ill of monks and priests. Priests were revered as holy men. Since that time, priests have fallen from societies graces. I would sooner trust my daughter in the hands of your average beggar than with a priest (an un-average beggar). Starting the book with a view that most priests are sexual predators at the worst and sexual deviants at the best, I didn’t see anything shocking in the slightest in the entire book. I would say, if you own the book and don’t want to dredge through the entire thing, read the last 25 pages. It is the most action in the whole book and really a great ending.

The thing that struck me most was the way the book is told. The drum that is beat loudest in creative writing circles is to always show the story, not tell it. Lewis basically runs the gambit of he said-she said for the whole of the book. Styles change, and perhaps when it was written it was the style of the day, but it was a poor example of a well written book in today’s terms.

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Book Review Across the Ocean

I just finished reading a fantastic book by a new writer on the rise, Hawa L Crickmore’s Across the Ocean. This book was unlike most books that I read in that it was serious. It took itself serious. The content was serious. Even the writing style was serious. It was quite different than most fiction that I read which is always a bit tongue and cheek in its delivery. I have often said that horror writers are all comedians, but we are the only ones that get the joke. Not that I only read horror of course, but even most serious literature that I read, and Across the Ocean is certainly serious literature, is still playful in the delivery. Part of me wants to contribute the seriousness of the book to a failure or inexperience on the part of Crickmore, but I may be wrong. Perhaps the subject matter just doesn’t lend itself to a playful attitude. Regardless, the stories seriousness made it a quicker read and one that worked on multiple levels.

The story of the book is a very interesting one. A white British cage fighter comes down with a rare illness that requires a bone marrow transplant from a family member, the only problem is that he was an only child and is orphaned. Dumb luck was in his favor when a new friend, an African American, tested to be a match for donation. This wonderful, lifesaving rarity does not come without questions.

Research is then done to try to find if the pair were related. The book then moves through time to different countries and different people to illustrate how the relationships of drastically different people can be traced to common ancestors. It really is a small world after all.

One place Hawa really excelled was the chapters on slavery. They are heart-wrenching and beautiful.

The place that I thought this book could have been improved was in possibly hiding the conclusion from the reader a bit more, as I felt the outcome was certain right from the beginning.

All in all, a powerful book that I would recommend.

Book review: Finders Keepers by Stephen King

Even when King is off, I still find him to be the best. This one is a miss for the master. This is the second book in the Bill Hodges/Mr. Mercedes Trilogy. It is the story of Morris Bellamy, a fan of a JD Salinger type of writer, but imagine if Salinger had turned Holden Caulfield into a sell-out advertisement agent before he stopped writing. You may not be outraged by the indignation, but Bellamy was. He was driven completely insane by the idea, driven to the point of murder. Bellamy’s monomaniacal fan-boydom is the driving force behind the book. While I would say it is a miss, I enjoyed the hell out of it and would still recommend it with gusto. I look forward to reading book three.

Book Review: Winesburg Ohio by Sherwood Anderson

I picked this book up again recently because my recent project had me thinking about it. I last read it fifteen years ago, and loved it. After reading it again, I still enjoyed it, but not on the same level I did when I first read it. I found that all the best parts I still remembered, but the bulk of the book, the parts I forgot, were very forgettable. It is a short read, and if you haven’t read it, you should. But don’t read it twice.

Book Review: The House of Thunder by Dean Koontz

I have never been a huge Koontz fan. I view Dean Koontz as the McDonalds of genre fiction. Nobody really likes it, but a lot of people go there. Or maybe Coors Light is the better comparison since Coors light can do the trick, but you aren’t going to like it while it’s going down, and you may need to chase it with whiskey just to get the burn you need. The House of Thunder is very much a Coors Light. It is a novel with promise but no punch. It has a pulse but lacks a soul. Enough mixed metaphors? Okay, then let’s talk about the book.

First let me say that if you want to read this book, I suggest you don’t. It is crap, but if you insist, then stop reading this now. I will not hold back on spoilers. Deano spoiled it enough for everyone just by writing it.

Still reading? Okay then, let’s continue. The House of Thunder is a book about a young woman that wakes up in a hospital with no knowledge of how she got there. Then she starts seeing people from her troubled past, people that murdered a childhood boyfriend. There is some wonderful scary bits in this first 100 pages, but Deano being Deano, spoiled it all to shit by having her start to uncover a conspiracy in the hospital. This fragile, emaciated woman that had just came out of a coma begins running around and seducing the doctor. Just when the whole story becomes completely unbelievable, Deano outdoes himself by having it be a town wide conspiracy. Everyone is in on it except for lover-boy Doc. Around this time you as a reader will be ready to leave the book on the transit bus for the next poor sucker to pick it up and waste several hours reading it, but I wasn’t that smart. I finished the book. Want to know the big kicker, the big surprise ending? It was Russians. Yep. Russians. Now, go read something else, something that really burns going down.

#Bookreview: Moonwalking With Einstein by Joshua Foer

This book was an interesting duality of fascinating subject matter about a subject that I really couldn’t care less about. Joshua Foer wrote a very good book about his personal journey from being a B-rate journalist to the National Memory Champion. The problem is, training for a memory competition is pretty boring stuff, incredibly boring really, mind numbingly god-awful boring. Yet Josh was able to write a book about it and make it interesting. The trick he used? It was the same trick that won him the championship. You take something boring and make it memorable by adding perverse, tantalizing details. By dispersing glimpses into the drunken debauchery amongst memory athletes, scathing accusations of savant fraud, and humorous antidotes Foer has made this a book I won’t soon forget.

#Bookreview: The Wretched Wall by Brian Kaufman

If you are looking for something original and horrifying unlike anything you have read before then The Wretched Walls is not the book you should read. It is a book of the standard haunted house variety with vengeful and lurking specters dancing through the walls and cryptic messages being found. It is, however, a lot of fun. Brian Kaufman dove into the standard haunted house story and didn’t shy away, with strange discoveries happening throughout and mysterious element building to a conclusion that is both satisfying and unclear. As someone that reads a lot of horror, The Wretched Walls was nothing new and nothing extraordinary, but as someone that writes a lot of horror, I can also appreciate the angles and methods used throughout this book to make a creepy good read. Download a copy, nestle yourself into a cozy chair, and try not to look down the dark hallway.    The Wretched Walls