The Dunwich Horror – H.P. Lovecraft

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In my quest to discover the works of one of the most influential writers in all of horror, I immerse myself into yet another story by H.P. Lovecraft. This time it is The Dunwich Horror and I find, yet again, its hard to go wrong with Lovecraft.

In the backwoods town of Dunwich, Mass., Wilbur Whateley is born to his disfigured albino mother Lavinia. The father’s identity is unknown but later in the story it is alluded that the father is Yog-Sothoth by Wilbur’s half-mad and witchcraft practicing grandfather, Old Whateley. Wilbur grows at an abnormally fast rate and reaches maturity by age ten and continues to grow. The locals try to avoid Wilbur and his family and animals detest him due to the smell he gives off. Wilbur continues to grow into a freakish size and learns sorcery and black magic from his grandfather. The locals begin getting suspicious as Old Whately always seems to be purchasing cattle, yet his herd never seems to grow and the cattle that are seen in the pasture have open sores on them.
Wilbur attempts to secure an unabridged Latin version of the Necronomicon in an effort to summon the “Old Ones” into this world. As the years go by, Wilbur and his grandfather continually remodel their home to larger proportions and strange rumblings are heard inside the house. Soon afterwards, Wilbur’s grandfather and mother mysteriously die and the rumblings get worse and more frequent. What could be going on in the Whateley house?

Lovecraft’s tale continues the revealing of Yog-Sothoth, the Old Ones, and the Necronomicon. It is wonderfully written with lots of suspense and eerieness. Its impossible to miss his influences on so many well-known horror stories and movies of the past and present. I’ve really enjoyed this journey into discovering Lovecraft. I’m looking forward to the next chapter of our journey together….into the macabre.

5 out of 5 stars
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The Face of an Unlikely God – Gord Rollo

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What an absolute gem! This is my third story of Rollo’s that I’ve read and it serves as a wonderful tie-breaker. Let me explain. My first exposure to Gord’s work was The Jigsaw Man and it blew me away. So much so, that I ranked it as my favorite read of 2014 and that was no easy feat. That led me to pick up his first novel, Crimson. Unfortunately, that one was a mixed bag of nuts for me. If you’d like to learn more on why that was, I encourage you to read my review for an in-depth analysis of it. So, that left me wondering where Rollo stood in the batting order. Was Crimson simply an example of a debut covered with warts but still holding a layer of potential underneath while The Jigsaw Man showcased what he could really do now that he had cut his literary teeth? Or was The Jigsaw Man an anomoly? I let The Face Of An Unlikely God be the tiebreaker and oh what a slap to the face wake up call it was. I’m pleased to anounce that Rollo has indeed matured into one hell of a writer.

In 1963, Professor Leonard Harris can’t believe his good fortune as he becomes the first white man to be allowed to research and observe the Huaorani tribe that live in the remote Amazon jungle. He learns that they worship the Great Jaguar as their deity. The nearby tribe, the Quatuani, whom they’ve been warring with for hundreds of years worships the pirahna as their deity. When professor Harris finds himself involved in a sacred ritual of the Huaorani, the tribe believes they have unlocked Harris’s destiny.

Rollo has packed so much into so few pages, there is no way you can resist not finishing The Face Of An Unlikely God in one sitting. It simply pulls you into the story with its mesmerizing qualities with images so vivid, you’d swear you were there. I cant say this enough – get this story and read it NOW!

5 out of 5 stars
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TWITTER – @KenMcKinley5

Necroscope III: The Source – Brian Lumley

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Ah those Cold War Russians. They always seem to be up to no good, especially in a Lumley’s Necroscope tale. Mikhail Simonov, aka Michael “Jazz” Simmons, is a British agent that is sent into Russia’s Ural mountains to investigate what he thinks is a new Soviet weapon buried underneath the bedrock of the Perchorsk Pass turns out to be a portal into another world. And what a world it turns out to be. It seems that those pesky vampires didn’t just suddenly turn up in Transylvania in the middle ages. Oh, no, no, no. They originated elsewhere in another world and found their way here when they were banished from their world and made to enter the mysterious one-way portal.

Lumley’s third chapter of the Necroscope saga is chock full of unique and interesting information on the origins of vampires and I’ll be a monkey’s uncle if it isn’t a fascinating AND entirely plausible to the mind. As much as I loved The Source, I will have to admit that from time to time the info dump cumbersome. With that being said, the premise is so unique and I loved the direction that he took the story. Of course, we have Harry Keough involved as he’s looking for his wife and son that have been missing for eight years ever since the final battle with Yulian Bodescu. Harry is sucked into the world of the wamphyri as his search and the events at Perchorsk reveal a common denominator. Necroscope III is the best of the three Necroscopes and that’s saying a lot. Looking forward to Part IV.

4 1/2 stars out of 5

Earthworm Gods: Selected Scenes from the End of the World – Brian Keene

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Earthworm Gods: Selected Scenes from the End of the World is a tribute to Brian Keene’s fans. People paid to have themselves as characters inserted in his Earthworm Gods mythos. Keene interviewed each person to get a feel for them and then created a short little story where they star in getting killed off in uniques ways inside his deluge. While I think it’s a very cool thing for an author to do, it kind of loses steam about half way through the book.. What was once a cool read turned into a chore to get through. His writing style and characters are always interesting and well done. Unfortunately, by the time I got towards the end, I felt like I was seeing deleted outtakes from a movie that I had watched. Now while this is cool seeing a small handfull, it begins to get really tedious as it goes on…and on…and on…
So, Earthworm Gods: Selected Scenes from the End of the World, is only for those that have read Keene’s previous two wonderful Earthworm Gods stories and you may want to bite of a little at a time to keep from the indigestion that you will surely fall vicitim to if you try to eat all of this in one sitting.

3 out of 5 stars (less)

Bullets and Fire – Joe R. Lansdale

imageRevenge is best served…hard and fast! And that’s exactly how Lansdale dishes it up. A short story about a guy looking to do whatever it takes to join a gang. We quickly learn that his motivation is to get inside the gang to enact revenge on the very thugs that are responsible for his brother’s murder and led to their grief-stricken father to commit suicide. While the story may be predictable, it’s a fast-paced and enjoyable adrenaline ride with Lansdale’s writing style being it’s strength.

4 out of 5 stars

The Sound of Midnight – Charles L. Grant

imageI introduced myself to Charles Grant’s writing a little over a year ago. I started reading his novels in chronological order and The Sound of Midnight is his 2nd in a series that takes place in his twisted little town of Oxrun Station. For those of you that haven’t discovered Grant yet, think of Stephen King’s Derry where strange things always seem to happen. The Sound of Midnight was published in 1978 and his writing was progressively getting better with each novel. His atmospheric dread or “quiet horror”, if you will, was always there. However, the problem that I have had with his writing, up until now, has been the helpless, dim-witted female characters and the annoying, chauvenistic male characters. Charles Grant’s The Curse was a perfect example. His “Hour of the Oxrun Dead” still had it, but was better. With The Sound of Midnight, the female character is better yet, but the male character still holds on to some of those annoying characteristics.
With that out of the way, The Sound of Midnight is an eerie tale of mystery. Dale’s parents were killed and left her a mom & pop toy store in Oxrun Station. Her boyfriend is a teacher at the local HS. One day, Dale is sitting by a pond in the park and is thunked in the head with a rock. She comes to and finds that one of the boys that frequents her toy store is face down in the pond with a few of his classmates looking on. This begins a string of strange deaths that take place and that involve fire and water. Dale and her boyfriend Vic find themselves in the middle of it and the local police chief isn’t liking it. With no one to turn to and not knowing who they can trust, its up to the two to find out what is going on and what it has to do with the town’s children before Dale and Vic end up being next.
As I’ve said, The Sound of Midnight is full of atmosphere that builds up in almost a hazy, dreamlike way. The characters still hold on to a little of those annoying characteristics that seem to be prevelent in many of the novels from the 1970s – helpless females that want to run away from every problem, chavenistic males that try to be way too funny and cute in everything they say, etc. But, to be fair, not nearly as much as Grant’s earlier works. This helps the reader to be able to focus on the story and it is Grant’s best one up to this point. I look forward to seeing his further progression as I go through his catalog of Oxrun tales.

3.5 out of 5 stars