Monday, June 17, 2013

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

Advance copies, the perk to being a bookseller.

Ah, a fantastic fantasy/sci-fi/horror movie that blew me away. Stephen King's son certainly knows how to write a story, and I'm glad one of my coworkers got me all riled up for it. If you're looking for a thriller with a great plot and appealing characters, take a look at this book that is well worth the time, and is to me a 5 out of 5 star suspense.

From the publisher:
NOS4A2 is a spine-tingling novel of supernatural suspense from master of horror Joe Hill, the New York Times bestselling author of Heart-Shaped Box and Horns.

Victoria McQueen has a secret gift for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. On her Raleigh Tuff Burner bike, she makes her way to a rickety covered bridge that, within moments, takes her wherever she needs to go, whether it’s across Massachusetts or across the country.

Charles Talent Manx has a way with children. He likes to take them for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the NOS4A2 vanity plate. With his old car, he can slip right out of the everyday world, and onto the hidden roads that transport them to an astonishing – and terrifying – playground of amusements he calls “Christmasland.”

Then, one day, Vic goes looking for trouble—and finds Manx. That was a lifetime ago. Now Vic, the only kid to ever escape Manx’s unmitigated evil, is all grown up and desperate to forget. But Charlie Manx never stopped thinking about Victoria McQueen. He’s on the road again and he’s picked up a new passenger: Vic’s own son.

My thoughts:
The beginning was confusing and tough to follow, because it doesn't just discuss Vic and Manx, but several other minor characters, and the story sets itself up in a strange way-- Manx in a coma, Vic as a child, and Bing Partridge before we find out who he is. There was such a lack of connection between the early chapters that I wasn't initially sure how I would feel about the book. 

Needless to say, I got over my apprehension very quickly and am very glad I did. Joe Hill does a fantastic job bringing everything together, and doing so in a way that seems both natural for the story progression and keeps the reader entertained and interested in what's going on. NOS4A2 is a compelling, suspenseful read that kept me guessing. I didn't know what would happen with Vic and her family till the final pages, whether they would defeat Charles Manx and save the children of Christmasland, or if they would become the next victims of his.

Hill did a great job adding different elements of fantasy and science fiction into this horror novel, incorporating a concept of alternate dimensions and traveling between worlds. That's not to say that I would want to visit Christmasland, but I think the idea of some people being able to visit inscapes and get away from reality is an interesting one, and it'd be interesting to take a look at some of the research and topics that Hill looked into when putting this into his story.

Not only does Joe Hill add a fantasy element to his work, he does so in a way that makes it almost compatible with reality. Imagine you can travel through an inscape in your mind. How do you think people would react if/when they found out? Chances are, you would end up undergoing intense psychiatric observation. Vic herself developed a defense mechanism against her visits through the covered bridge by making up stories to explain where she found the missing objects, to deny to herself the existence of the bridge that led her to the objects. She sought medical help and was taking medications to restore her sanity, which is what most people would do if they had the same experiences she did. It makes the story so much more relatable, particularly  events and experiences that are clearly unrealistic and would almost never happen (because who knows, maybe they do exist).

I rarely give out 5 star reviews, reserving them for books I am more likely to re-read and recommend to other people, but Joe Hill's NOS4A2 is deserving of this rating, and I recommend it to everyone who can handle the occasional gruesome scene or inappropriate language.

Justin :)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

FREE THIS WEEK!! The Dark Horde by Brewin

1989, rural Victoria, Australia. Something is preying upon the township of Howqua Hills. Brian Derwent, head of the local Police Station, must simultaneously grapple with the investigation, his disintegrating personal life and unseen forces that are not of this world.

Part thriller, part crime-fiction, all supernatural horror, The Dark Horde tells of the return of an ancient evil that is neither stoppable nor comprehensible...

If anyone's looking for a compelling horror story that will keep you up late at night (and that you can read with an Australian accent), look no further. Brewin's novel The Dark Horde is available for free in e-book format from Amazon this week, through June 14th. I have a link to the book here, and I also have a link to my review of the book here. Definitely an interesting novel worth taking a look at, but like I said, try not to read it late at night ;)


Monday, June 3, 2013

Banished: The Gods Among Us by William and Pamela Deen

Quick review for now, as I have work in a little bit.. Another indie author, and another good story that puts a new series on my to-read list.

There's something about mythology that always gets me interested, and almost always leaves me satisfied with the story in question. Banished tells the story of the god Inlil, banished to Earth for his indiscretions and harassment of the other gods. While I'm not familiar with the ancient Sumerian pantheon or any of these stories, I was still intrigued and thought I would take a look at this novella (the first of four). I don't regret this decision, and Banished is a 4 out of 5 star story in my book.

From the publisher:
Banished, begins the story on the gods' home world of Nibiru and is the first twelve chapters of The Gods Among Us. There, the malevolent god Inlil commits and is found guilty of crimes against a reigning goddess, Sud. In the past, Inlil's father, Anu, God-King of Nibiru, has overlooked his son's indiscretions. However, in this instance, he cannot ignore the heinous deed committed. After confrontations with Sud's father, Haia, the greatest warrior god of Nibiru, and advice from his consul, another son, Enki, Anu banishes Inlil to Earth. There he is allowed to reign within the realm of canid, as a wolf. The only decree placed on his banishment, "Do not encroach upon the realm of man".

Inlil cannot resist.
In the year 10,000 BC, he attacks and slaughters a tribe of humans. He learns from the experience. Death, pain, and suffering of humans empowers him.

In response, Anu is forced to send Enki for the purpose of returning Inlil to Nibiru and imprisonment in Irkalla, the underworld. Enki, taking the form of a great white eagle, confronts his half-brother. Inlil escapes, althought not unharmed, into the dense forest and the battle for humankind begins.

My thoughts:
While there were parts that I thought could have been written a little better, I was pleased with this story and am likely to pick up the rest of the Gods Among Us novellas. I feel like the dialogue left a bit to be desired, but the Deens do a great job with descriptions and plot development. Again, I'm not savvy on this world of mythology, and cannot speak as to the 'poetic license' that other reviewers claim Deen took in retelling the story of these gods, but it is a quick novella that is sure to catch your attention and pull you into the characters' lives. I would definitely like to learn more about the big events that have brought the gods to this juncture, and hopefully some of this is highlighted in the rest of the series.

Justin :)