Tag Archives: Review

A Long December – Richard Chizmar (Kendall Review)

A Long December is a massive 519 page book consisting of 34 short stories, and one novella.

I was aware of the name Richard Chizmar through his work with Cemetary Dance, but was not familiar with his writing at all. After a friends recommendation and seeing that Chizmar was about to release a book co-authored with Stephen King I took the plunge.

A Long December covers a range of genres, including mystery, thriller, horror and crime. Some of the stories have a very strong Twilight Zone vibe, and the collection as a whole would make for an excellent TV anthology. To write a mini review of each story would spoil the journey any future reader would be about to take, it’s the uncertainty of what genre and mood of each tale that adds to the whole experience.  I really wanted to savour each tale, but it was such an enjoyable read it became a case of ‘just one more’ until I had finished the beast of a book in quick time.

There is a fairly common theme to a lot of these stories, namely the horrible things that go on behind closed doors and drawn curtains. But it’s of great credit to the author that he lets you get emotionally connected to some of these characters before revealing their secrets…secrets which left me reeling at times, having to put the book down and just take in what I’d read.

Chizmars writing style just demands you to keep reading. In A Long December I have a collection of stories that I’ll return to again and again, and in Chizmar an author that has now moved into the ‘must buy’ category.

34 short stories, 1 novella, 519 pages, a rollercoaster of emotions AND NO FILLER!

A truly brilliant collection, I just wish I’d discovered Richard Chizmar the author earlier!

Star Rating (out of 5): 5*****

Gwendy’s Button Box – Stephen King & Richard Chizmar (Kendall Review)

This 164 page novella, covers a decade in the life of Gwendy Peterson, a body conscious 12-year-old  trying to address her suffering at the hands of cruel bullies and prepare herself for the step up into middle school and adulthood. Her life’s thrown a curve ball when, after finishing her daily exercise routine of running up the ‘Suicide Stairs’ she meets a mysterious man, who offers her a button box.

This box has a power, the power to make you better, to make you faster, stronger, smarter, even more beautiful. On the flip side, the box with just the press of a button, could change the world. This novella follows Gwendy as she grows and matures with the box and how her choices change her life and the people around her.

I found this a thoroughly enjoyable quick read, but it’s not without flaws. I felt the story needed fleshing out more. There is a larger book hidden away in here. I understand that not spoon-feeding the reader and leaving them something to think about once the book snaps shut is sometimes a good thing, but for me there were too many questions left unanswered. There is not quite enough meat on a very interesting  set of bones.

Saying that, it certainly didn’t spoil Gwendy’s story, as I followed her with a delicious sense of unease and tension.

I really do hope we get to find out more about the button box in the near future.

Star Rating (out of 5): 4****

The Guns Of Santa Sangre – Eric Red (Kendall Review)

A tale of three gunslingers who hear of a small town church full of silver, trouble is, between them and unlimited riches, a band of brutal werewolves!

Does this western/horror hybrid have teeth or is it shooting blanks?

‘Guns’ is a punchy, action packed novel that plays up to the old movie clichés of the rugged gunslinger. The novels leads Tucker, Bodie and Fix are classic examples of your usual hard-drinking, tobacco chewing, guns for hire. They have a bounty over their heads and are on the run. Constantly trying to stay one step ahead of the law they’re approached by a young peasant girl named Pilar who begs them for their help. Her village has been pillaged by ‘Men Who Walk Like Wolves’, with the promise of all the silver from the villages church as a reward, the trios unspoken leader, Tucker, agrees to go and help.

Moving from set piece to set piece at a fantastic pace, only slowing for an unnecessarily long passage where the gunslingers are travelling across the desert to the werewolf infested village , this is high-octane, gore filled entertainment. The first chapter sets the stall out perfectly! Consisting of a high-speed stage-coach chase across the desert, with howling werewolves in pursuit. It was so visual and had me hooked.

Characterisation of the three gunslingers is well written. Everyone else, bar the lead werewolf, Mosca and the old drunk with a werewolf history,  are just there to push the story along. I didn’t really want endless back story, but I’d liked to of seen more about the drunk (How about a prequel Eric?) This is gunslinger v werewolves after all.  Eric Red has given the reader just about enough to create a set of characters that you root for, or against.

The werewolves brutality is wince inducing, they have no limits to satisfy their blood lust. So can Tucker, Bodie and Fix save the villages survivors? These survivors are caged up and pulled out one by one like some macabre pick ‘n mix  to be eaten or worse!

I say worse as this is where my one issue with this novel lies. I’m a horror fan, I have no objection to violence and gore if it’s deemed necessary to the plot,  Eric Red has nailed the violence/gore ratio but what is in the book to degrees with which I found unacceptable was the brutality toward women. There was so much sexual violence it was uncomfortable for me as a reader, it took me out of the story at times sadly.  The ‘meat puppet’ description is one of the most disgusting things I have read in a book for a long while!

Despite my criticism, which I know will put some people off, THE GUNS OF SANTA SANGRE is a fast paced, action packed, blood soaked novel that i’d thoroughly recommend.

Star Rating (out of 5): 4****

I can’t wait to read the upcoming sequel THE WOLVES OF EL DIABLO which is out in August through SST Publications.

I’d like to thank Paul at SST Publications for kindly sending me a copy of ‘GUNS’ to review.

GUNS OF SANTA SANGRE is out now and can be ordered directly from SST using the following link

The Hatching – Ezekiel Boone (Kendall Review)

After 60 or so pages of Ezekiel Boones novel The Hatching, there were nukes dropped in China, multiple victims eaten by spiders. an epic plane crash and the suggestion that the world is on the brink of the apocalypse. None of the above comments are spoilers as they are mostly detailed on the back of the UK paperback but it gives you an idea of the scope of this novel. This is Ezekiel Boone channeling Roland Emmerich to create a story that rockets along at a fantastic pace throwing everything at the reader, and producing a thrilling novel that is such fun to read.

Each chapter tells the story of the spider invasion from different viewpoints, be it the army or civilians, the spider specialist and the FBI agent, to the US president and how she tries to deal with the world being ravaged by flesh-eating spiders. It’s credit to Boones writing that there is a pretty large cast of characters, that are not just spider fodder, they’ve been fleshed out pretty well, so that you actually care about what happens to them.  The chapters are mostly punchy with lots going on, the story moves forward at a frantic pace, although for me there were two chapters that were too long, and caused the story to drag slightly (the survivalists setting up their camp and the President talking to Manny about initial plans), but that’s a small criticism as soon you are back with grandiose set-pieces and spider mayhem aplenty.

Sadly the novel did finish with a bit of a whimper, which based on all that has gone before is a shame. My disappointment at how The Hatching ended was somewhat tempered by the fact that I knew there was a sequel entitled Skitter, due May 2017.  Were these books originally one large volume and split ala Peter Jacksons adaption of The Hobbit?  Saying that, The Hatching is a well written, fun novel that manages to stay fresh within a sub genre that has many entries. It’s only now I have finished the book that I can see it’s the foundations for what could well be the definitive spider invasion story, I absolutely loved reading The Hatching my expectations are through the roof for Skitter.

Star Rating (out of 5): 4****

 

I’d like to thank the author Ezekiel Boone for writing such an engrossing novel.

Thanks and gratitude also go to Stevie Finegan and Gollancz  for sending me The Hatching to review.

 

Final Girls – Riley Sager (Kendall Review)

Quincy Carpenter is a Final Girl. She’s the sole survivor of the Pine Cottage Murders, a killing spree that saw her friends all die at the hands of a maniac. It’s been ten years since that fateful night, Quincy is still trying to rebuild her life, she doesn’t remember much, but still remembers ‘Him’. The flash of steel in the moonlight and the cold piercing agony as the knife struck down on her.

The death of another Final Girl, Lisa Milner, brings the only survivor of the massacre at the Nightfall Inn, Samantha Boyd,  out of hiding and straight to Quincys doorstep…but why?

This is an incredibly well written début novel. The pacing is perfect, with its slow introductions and gradual peeling back of layers, only revealing  enough information to pull you into the next chapter, this process continues, picking up pace till the novel reaches a very satisfying conclusion.

The story is full of twists, plenty of red herrings and a lot of baking. (Quincy runs her own baking blog). I thought I had the book worked out twice, and twice Riley Sager laughed at my schoolboy detective work.

Final Girls is a psychological thriller that’s also an homage to those classic slasher movies of the 80s & 90s. What happens to the girl at the end of the movie, with the blanket round her shoulders, covered in blood, sitting in the back of the ambulance?  In Final Girls, Riley Sager has managed to keep an old slasher film fan like me enthralled, and kept me guessing right till the end.This would make for a superb movie, the books slow build , snappy dialogue and excellent set pieces would be perfect for the big screen. I could see it developed into a screenplay that David Fincher would have a blast filming, it really is that good!

Star Rating (out of 5): 4****

Final Girls is released 13th July 2017 by Ebury Press.

Thank you to Ebury Press and Joanna Bennett for sending me an advanced copy of the book.