Slender Man by Anonymous #spooktasticreads

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Image credit: Photo by Mark Tegethoff on Unsplash

Today I’m reviewing Slender Man and including this as part of Wyrd and Wonders Spooktastic Reads.

Slender ManWhat better way to creep your way through October than to read a copy of Slender Man.  This is a novel that is quite addictive and very quick and easy to read.  I would mention that I didn’t find this as scary as I expected it to be but it has a certain creepiness going on and is a compelling read.

Matt and Lauren both attend an elite private school in New York.  Highly cliquey, this is the type of place where you only attend if your parents are rich or famous or both.

First, a little bit of background information.  As the story begins we learn a little about Matt and Lauren.  Matt is not part of the ‘popular’ crowd, Lauren is, although she has a dark side that she keeps secret.  In spite of their different social standing the two have been friends for many years due to the long-term friendship between their parents although their friendship is not widely known at school.  Matt has been suffering nightmares – or night terrors – and his parents have organised therapy for him to try and work through the situation.  Late one evening, and with no apparent reason, Lauren walks out of her apartment block in the early hours of the morning.  Caught on CCTV she appears to be alone.  She didn’t return home.  What follows is the police investigation and all the rumours that spread like crazy as her disappearance lengthens.

As mentioned above the story makes for compelling reading.  It’s told in epistolary format which makes for very quick reading indeed.  Journals, emails, therapists reports and police interviews combine with online chats and social media sites to provide a gripping and modern style of storytelling.

I have to admit that with a couple of provisos I really enjoyed this and I confess to being curious about the ‘anonymous’ author.

I’ve not read a great deal about the Slender Man but he seems to be a fairly recent addition to the fictional world.  A tall and scary creation that stalks or abducts the young or causes nightmares or other terrors.  The SM haunts the dark and abandoned places.  He can rarely be seen although sometimes a shadow or shape in the trees can capture an outline.  As the story progresses it appears that Lauren has either become intrigued by him or he has taken an interest in her.  Following her disappearance rumours run rife, Matt’s nightmares become much worse and other strange events begin to occur.  It soon becomes apparent to Matt that he needs to take action – even though he’s scared to do so.

Matt is a quiet student.  He doesn’t really interact a lot with anybody, well he has one friend although it wouldn’t appear that they’re particularly close.  Rumours begin to circulate after the police interview him for a second time – word of the secret friendship surface and finally a local newspaper circulates a story which without naming Matt certainly points a finger of suspicion and nobody has any doubts as to which direction the finger is pointing.  To be honest, in some respects he’s his own worst enemy, he’s very closed off and a little bit unapproachable and taciturn.  That being said I felt really bad for him and the way he becomes singled out for such vindictive attacks.

As I mentioned, if you pick this up expecting a real clutch the cushion read then you might be disappointed.  To an extent the SM takes something of a back seat.  There are mentions and sightings, shadows and shapes but nothing really concrete.  There is a sense of things about to go horribly wrong and the overall mystery of the disappearing school girl all tangled in with the general rising hysteria from the school and the poor handling of the case by the detectives leading the investigation.  You know that something is going to go wrong and the anticipation is what keeps you reading.

In terms of any criticisms. This is definitely the sort of read that takes the ‘less is more’ approach.  Much is left to the reader’s imagination and whilst I quite like this approach at the same time it’s something of a double edged sword because ultimately it feels like there is little real explanation or closure.  Ultimately, I really enjoyed the story but I did feel a little bit let down by the ending.  It put me in mind of something else but I won’t say more because I don’t want to spoil the read for others.

Criticisms aside this did make for compulsive reading for me and I virtually read the whole story in one sitting because I simply couldn’t put it down.  If I find out who the author is I would definitely be intrigued to read more.

I received a copy through Edelweiss, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Toll by Cherie Priest #spooktasticreads

Spook

Image credit: Photo by Mark Tegethoff on Unsplash

Today I’m combining Can’t Wait Wednesday with Wyrd and Wonders Spooktastic Reads – because it’s all about the creepiness at this time of year and this book is aimed at fans of the strange and macabre.  Colour me happy.

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : The Toll by Cherie Priest – I am so excited for this book’s release.  Still a tiny bit of a wait but in book terms – pah, this is nothing.  Due for publication July 2019.  I wants the precious.  Read the blurb and weep at the anticipation – and check out the cover – it’s ace.

ThetollFrom Cherie Priest, the author of The Family Plot and Maplecroft, comes The Toll, a tense, dark, and scary treat for modern fans of the traditionally strange and macabre.

State Road 177 runs along the Suwannee River, between Fargo, Georgia, and the Okefenokee Swamp. Drive that route from east to west, and you’ll cross six bridges. Take it from west to east, and you might find seven.

But you’d better hope not.

Titus and Davina Bell leave their hotel in Fargo for a second honeymoon canoeing the Okefenokee Swamp. But shortly before they reach their destination, they draw up to a halt at the edge of a rickety bridge with old stone pilings, with room for only one car . . .

When, much later, a tow-truck arrives, the driver finds Titus lying in the middle of the road, but Davina is nowhere to be found.

“Your love of the Halfling’s leaf has clearly slowed your mind.” #Spooktasticreads

Spook

Image credit: Photo by Mark Tegethoff on Unsplash

I’m combining today’s Top Ten Tuesday post with Wyrd and Wonder’s Spooktastic Reads because it works really well.  Today’s topic is ‘Villains’.

ttt

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday (created and hosted by  The Broke and Bookish) is now being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future week’s topics can be found here.

  1. The White Witch from CS Lewis The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe.  I actually just do not understand the White Witch.  Why on earth does she want to create a place that lives in permanent winter.  I actually quite like all the seasons to be honest so I just have a problem with her reasoning.  Plus, turning all the little critters into statues!  Okay, it’s probably a lot cheaper, not to mention more realistic looking than purchasing statues but even so.  I just can’t be friends with someone who turns Mr Tumnus to stone.
  2. Dolores Umbridge from JK Rowling’s Harry Potter.  Pink cardigans, lots of fluffy pictures of kittens and cats, an array of tea cups and saucers.  Come on, how bad can she really be.  Pretty bad.  She turns into a little dictator, taking over Hogwarts and coming up with a whole wall of ridiculous decrees, punishing students and just generally being a bad egg.
  3. Mr Croup and Mr Vandermeer from Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere.  These two are perfect villains.  Assassins actually – creepy as you could wish for if you were crazy enough to waste your wishes.  If they knock on your door you’re in serious trouble.  That is all.
  4. Joffrey Baratheon.  Oh my lordy, how I love to dislike this character.  I probably shouldn’t get started but, well, he’s cruel, he’s despicable and a total sadist.  He caused a LOT of trouble for many characters.  He’s perfectly horrible.  You really can’t find a single redeeming thing about him.  I applaud you Mr Martin.
  5. Saruman, JRRTolkien’s Lord of the Rings – yes, I will use every opportunity to include this book.  Saruman – dirty turncoat, destroyer of trees, conspires with The One.  Saruman the White needs a new name.
  6. Kevin from We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver.  This is a chilling book indeed.  It did take me a little while to get into the story because to be honest it’s very bleak – but then the subject matter really isn’t all about rainbows and unicorns so there is that.  OMG Kevin really is a terrible character.  He’s the sort of character you read about with a mounting sense of dread and horror, you can’t tear your eyes away from the page even though you know it’s all going to go to hell in a handcart and really you want to stop reading and go hug a cushion.  I’m surprised his mother didn’t check the back of his head for the sign of the beast!
  7. Professor Moriarty from Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes.  Sherlock Holmes’ famous adversary and a villain you can just love to read about.  He’s clever and cunning, machiavellian and an absolute criminal mastermind.  He’s a wonderful antagonist. the sort who enjoys trying to best Sherlock and sees any defeats as small hurdles – you can imagine him twirling a moustache and saying “I’ll be back” before disappearing through an open window, his long dark cape snapping behind him.
  8. Mr Dark, Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury.  I love this book.  Supernatural fantasy.  Mr Dark is the ringmaster of a very unusual carnival.  He’s very long lived and quite diabolical – someone who enjoys his villainous role.
  9. Posy (also known as Not Posy) from GX Todd’s Hunted.  I don’t want to give too much away about Posy because Hunted is the second book in series.  I will say though that he is a great villain of the piece.  Sorry that I can’t say more for the sake of spoilers.  The Voices series is set in a world gone crazy.  People started hearing voices in their heads and they weren’t always whispering nice thoughts.  I’m loving this series so far.
  10. Melisande Shahrizai from Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey.  Melisande has got to be one of my favourite villains of all time. Brilliant, beautiful and driven by wild ambition.  She knows no bounds.

 

 

 

 

Dracul by Dacre Stoker, J.D. Barker #Spooktasticreads

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Image credit: Photo by Mark Tegethoff on Unsplash

Today I’m reviewing Dracul and highlighting this as one of my Spooktastic Reads – an event being led by the lovely Wyrd and Wonder team.  Details here.  Yesterday, I posted 13 Vampire books that you might want to give a shot – today I’m adding No.14 to that list.

Dracul2Dracul is described as a prequel to Bram Stoker’s Dracula and so of course I was intrigued, in fact no, I wasn’t intrigued – I simply had to read it, it’s really that simple.  I’ve read Dacre Stoker before (his sequel to Dracula) and whilst that book was an okay read for me it didn’t really capture my attention the way this one did.  This one hooked me from the get go.

So, where to start.  Well, I confess that thinking of a prequel I had some wild notions of a story about Dracula himself and his earlier life.  Of course, if I’d read the description I would have been disabused of that foolish notion but, sometimes, going into a book with little idea of what to expect or even being on the wrong tack entirely can work out incredibly well as I proved to myself here.  That being said, prequel?  I’m not sure I would call this a prequel.  I don’t know how to describe it really.  Certainly this involves some intriguing storytelling, particularly as it uses Bram himself as one of the main characters, but it’s almost as though this is the ‘real’ story.  Not a retelling, not a prequel, but ‘dear reader this is what actually happened’!  (Cue ominous thunderstorm and goose bumps).  There are recognisable threads throughout that any Dracula lover will easily pick up upon, and I’m fairly certain I will have missed some of the nods contained herein – but don’t worry overly about that.  Focus on the story itself,  I really do think this is a wonderful creation and I liked it a lot more than I ever anticipated or hoped.

The story is told, similar to the original, in an epistolary format – which is just something that I really enjoy – and jumps back and forth between two timelines – another aspect of storytelling that I also really enjoy.

One aspect of the story takes us back to a young Bram, living in Ireland with his family and their rather mysterious Nanny, Ellen Crone.  I absolutely loved this storyline and thought it was not only an ingenious idea to use but also compelling to read and fascinating.  I could quite easily read a piece of nonfiction about Bram Stoker on the strength of this book.  Bram was a sickly child and on one occasion was not only knocking on Death’s door but had taken a step over the threshold.  Bram and his sister share an easy  going camaraderie getting into and out of trouble together and on one particular dark night, their curiosity having got the better of them, they follow their Nanny as she ventures out of an evening.  Of course, the two get much more than they bargained for, they receive a thoroughly good scare but their escapade also results in their beloved Nanny leaving them without a word.  They’re both bereft and certainly Bram’s sister never really gets over the loss.

The other storyline takes us to an adult Bram.  The first few chapters see him enclosed in a room within what appears to be a castle.  A locked door stands as the only protection between him and what lies contained within but his defences are starting to crumble and things look desperate.  These scenes are equally gripping, so much so that I almost resented being pulled away – but, bear with, all good things to those who wait after all.

I don’t really want to delve too deeply into the plot, I felt my enjoyment of this book stemmed from not only the plot and the writing but also the lack of knowledge going into the read.

The writing is really good.  I didn’t experience any lulls or periods where my attention roamed.  The combination of the two timelines was strangely addictive and in fact, when they eventually conspired to collide I almost missed the jumping back and forth and the suspense created and yet conversely, at the same time, I thought the timing was perfect.  I was really impressed at the point at which the story combines.  For me, the original story has an element of breakneck speed, rushing to the conclusion towards the final chapters and this story is perfectly timed in much the same way.  Then there are all the little instances that you’ll pick up as you read that relate to the original story but told differently here.  I wish I could be more specific.  Twists and turns.

The characters are well drawn.  Bram, his brother and sister all share chapters.  We meet an early Van Helsing which was such a surprise and so good but, the absolute star of the show is the nanny.  There are moments of scary here without doubt and yet at the same time the conundrum of the children really caring for her and their feelings being reciprocated.

I’m not sure what else I can really elaborate on.  The vampire elements and the myth are all here but with slight twists.  We have the inclusion of a Dearg-Due – you’ll have to read it if you want to find out more about that particular myth.  There is a love story running through the novel but not the one I expected.  We have minions, castles, rats, snakes, asylums and ships at sail.  We travel to Scarborough and the Abbey – before it was reduced to ruins.  There is such a lot here to delight readers – not just even with the original Dracula but with other fiction of the era – I definitely had a Wilkie Collins feel going on at one point for example.

And, the cherry on top of the icing is that this is told as though it’s a true story – using original notes from Bram’s earlier creation.  Trying to discern the fact from the fiction and also catching storylines and having a lightbulb moment were all part of the experience and I just loved it.

Gushing over, I did have a couple of minor criticisms but nothing that spoiled the read.  The final plot points felt a little sensational but I won’t go into why and there was also a feeling of reading certain scenes that feel like they’ve been written either with potential movie prospects in mind – or feel like scenes from a movie you’ve watched.  But, in fairness, I’ve seen so many vampire movies (and read so many books) that really I think any author would be hard pressed to avoid that feeling.

Overall this was totally gripping.  I thought it was clever, well written, tense, evocative and definitely scary when and where it needed to be.  And, it’s made me want to go and read about Bram Stoker so it’s a double win.

I think regardless of whether you’ve read the original or not – you should give this a go. In fact it would be really interesting to see how those who aren’t familiar with the original get on with this story.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

 

“But, oh, Mina, I love him; I love him; I love him!” #Spooktasticreads #Vampires

Spook

Image credit: Photo by Mark Tegethoff on Unsplash

As part of Wyrd and Wonder’s #Spooktasticreads I thought today would be a good time to shine the light on some Vampire stories.  I’ve not tried to capture everything here but have gone for a selection of some of my favourites.  Tomorrow I will be reviewing my most recent Vampire novel – Dracul by Dacre Stoker

  1. Dracula by Bram Stoker one of the earliest vampire stories.  A classic and a firm favourite.  Told in epistolary style this really is a must read.Dracula
  2. The True Blood series by Charlaine Harris.  The Sookie Stackhouse books are a great deal of fun.  They’re saucy and have everything from vampires and shapeshifters to fae.  I did kind of tail off a little towards the end but even so a series that’s well worth picking up.Dead until
  3. I am Legend by Richard Matheson.  This is not a book that you could ever class as fun – watching one man’s slow spiral into loneliness and madness is difficult – but this book is worth the read.  The ending – that is all.I am Legend
  4. Twelve by Jasper Kent.  This is the start of a series about the voordalak (vampires by another name).  Set in Russia during the Napoleonic Wars this is a series that spans time concluding during the final years of the Romanov family.  This is not a tale for the faint of heart.  Twelve
  5. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice.  This is one of a few books where I actually saw the film first and whilst I can’t deny that Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise and Christian Slater were running around in my head during the read I still thoroughly enjoyed this.Interview
  6. The Coldest Girl in Cold Town by Holly Black.  A YA standalone.  Coldtowns are places where vampires, the infected and humans mix together.  Once you’ve entered you can never leave. Coldest
  7. Sunshine by Robin McKinley.  Set in an alternative universe where ‘others’ exist Sunshine is the main character who’s own special abilities lead to a partnership with her worst enemy.Sunshine
  8. Fevre Dream by GRRMartin.  Well, George Martin doesn’t do anything by half measures and his vampire novel is no different.  Think the antebellum era, The Mississippi and steam ships – then fill them with dangerous creatures and let the blood flow.Fevre
  9. Vampire Empire by Clay and Susan Griffith.  Ahh, I loved this series – the two main characters are just so good.  Yes, there is a romance but on this occasion I can safely say I really didn’t mind at all.Vampire
  10. The Fifth House of the Heart by Ben Tripp – this book has so much going for it.  I had an absolute blast reading it, there are some nasty critters and the central character Sax is a total show stealing, over the top, antique dealing maniac.  The setting ranges from dusty chateau, damp and creepy cave to vampire laboratory and the action is pretty fast and furious.The fifth
  11. The Complete Double Dead by Chuck Wendig.  Another unflinching book.  The central character, Coburn, is a vampire.  He’s been having something of a long sleep (not self induced) and when he awakens it seems like most of the population (and his food source) have turned full on zombie.   This is a fast paced, blood soaked ride.double dead
  12. Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.  OMG I loved this book and I’ve stolen the following description from Google Books because, well, it’s just spot on ‘combines elements of Latin American mythology with a literary voice that leads readers on an exhilarating and fast-paced journey. Welcome to Mexico City, an oasis in a sea of vampires’.  Yes, read it.Certain Dark Things HC Mech.indd
  13. Salem’s Lot by Stephen King – what can I say.  Stephen King is just ‘it’ when it comes to writing anything dark, spooky, creepy or down right horrific and Salem’s Lot is as you would expect – brilliant. Salem's lot

I expect there’s something here for everyone, ranging from fun to downright horror.  This isn’t intended to be an exhaustive list though, I haven’t read everything after all so feel free to share your recommendations with me.

 

 

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