July 8th, 2008

there!, Hello

Admitting defeat, Father O'Brien pulled off the road and into the service area.

I haven't posted my completed reads for a while... Time to get caught up.

44) Tower Hill by Sarah Pinborough. (2008, Leisure Books, 368 pages).
A horror novel about a small, university town in Maine. Three new students find themselves embroiled in the effects of a supernatural menace. A nice opening and a delightfully slow build of brooding supernatural terror (and very human based creepiness) lead to a "Good Forces of God versus The Baaaaaad People (read: everyone else)" resolution. Ugh. For this kind of moral simplicity, the book gets a heavy duty thumbs down and is lucky that I finished it at all.

A much more thorough review will appear at Horror Reader, soon.
there!, Hello

Neala O'Hare slowed her MG as the narrow road curved.

45) The Woods Are Dark by Richard Laymon. (2008, Leisure Books, 215 pages)

Released for the first time in its original, uncut, unaltered version, Richard Laymon's second novel (originally published by Warner Books in the 1980s) is the literary equivalent of a grindhouse splatter movie penned by a perverse Stan Lee.

A small town is essentially surrounded by cannibals, and several traveling strangers are presented as sacrifices. What follows is a cavalcade of monstrosity over the course of a single night and day as these victims try to endure the horrors and find their way free... Let's all sing along: "Who will survive and what will be left of them?"

The keys here are imagery (delivered with some gusto) and plot (which is a rocket ride). Characters are left mostly undeveloped, and the horror stemming from the slow disintegration of the civilized mind to a savage survivalist one is not even remotely convincing. There are a couple of good parts, and plenty of not so good ones.

A more thorough review might follow.
there!, Hello

The icy wind whipping through the brown, sheer-walled chasms of the Kezankian Mountains seemed...

...colder still around the bleak stoned fortress that gre from the granite flank of a nameless mountain in the heart of the range.

(whew, now that is a mouthful of a first line!)

46) Conan: The Invincible by Robert Jordan (1982, Tor, 284 pages).

I am an absolute sucker for pulpy adventure stories, and I dig Robert E. Howard's fiction. There is something absolutely delightful to it, with its colorful world, his obsession with the complexities between civilization/barbarism, and larger than life adventures (my personal favorite of his Conan stories has to be "Queen of the Black Coast", because in addition to a fine savage adventure, the romance with pirate queen Belit makes me all warm and fuzzy). It was only a matter of time before I ventured into the land of Howardian pastiches.

Before his Wheel of Time epic, Robert Jordan penned no less than seven Conan novels. Though the author is no Robert E. Howard, here he offers a fun adventure tale in the Howardian style.

Conan: The Invincible finds a young Conan (nineteen or so) living as a thief in the wicked city of Shadizar. When a stranger hires him to steal some gems (gifts to the local lord from a neighboring king) for a veritable mountain of gold, of course he agrees. Nothing is easy, and soon Conan is on a cross country adventure after the already stolen gems, encountering a mysterious race of serpent folk, no less than two sorcerers, a fell god (called the Eater of Souls), and a band of brigands under the command of the fierce bandit babe Karela (aka The Red Hawk).

The language is colorful, the plot is exciting, and there are plenty of well drawn characters on display. The key word for this one is fun, so let me repeat it a few times. Fun, fun, fun. I grinned like a fool all through the reading. The ending is a little, uhm, sudden but overall, a delightful, pulse pounding read.

Currently Reading: Ghost Walk by Brian Keene, Black Order by James Rollins, and the Dungeons and Dragons Player's Handbook (Fourth Edition).