A Debt To Be Paid – Patrick Lacey

image

Gillian receives an unusual and mysterious letter in the mail. Soon afterwords, she is stalked by nondescript shadowy figures that don’t quite grab her. Feeling like she’s losing her mind and her husband thinks she needs to be committed, Gillian takes their young daughter away to “escape” the shadowy figures. Twenty years later, her mother IS committed and Meg also receives a mysterious letter and is soon called at the bank where she works only to hear strange noises on the phone. She then also begins being stalked by the shadows.

Oh boy. Where to begin with this one? A Debt to be Paid is a raw first effort from Lacey that probably should’ve been screened a little harder by the editor. The story telling is thin, the characters are wooden and not very interesting, the shadow people are never explained nor do we find out why they’re stalking the characters. Even Meg’s dad and boyfriend has the same name, Brian, for no apparent reason. There are only four main characters in the whole story. Why in the hell would you name two of them Brian unless there was a point to it? It makes the storytelling muddy at times. On top of that, the story isn’t scary, realistic, break any new ground, have a point and not very interesting. Not much here folks. It feels like I killed an hour watching a bad Lifetime Channel movie.

2 unexplained shadow out of 5
I was given a free digital copy of this story in exchange for an honest review

You can also follow my reviews at the following links:

https://kenmckinley.wordpress.com

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5919799-ken-mckinley

http://www.amazon.com/gp/profile/A2J1JOKW56F2YT

Failure – John Everson

image

Three losers… Cind was cheating her way through high school. Sal couldn’t get a girl and Raymond botched multiple attempts at killing himself. When a mysterious stranger offers Sal the best weed he’s ever smoked if he’ll get two other people to have sex while the stranger watches, he wonders “what’s the catch?” Did the stranger fail to mention that they would be having the sex on the floor of the basement covered with a huge pentagram drenched in blood while the stranger recites strange incantations? Probably not. But the pot IS really good and besides, what could possibly go wrong?

While reading Failure, the AC/DC song If You Want Blood… kept popping up in my mind and rightfully so. This is my first Everson story and this one is full of the red stuff. It is definitely not for the squeamish and the story is told in a very tongue-in-cheek way that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Its a fun tale that I thoroughly enjoyed and I suggest that you give it a try too.

4 sacrifices out of 5
You can also follow my reviews at the following links:

https://kenmckinley.wordpress.com

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5919799-ken-mckinley

http://www.amazon.com/gp/profile/A2J1JOKW56F2YT

The Rain Dancers – Greg Gifune

image

Will returns with Betty to attend his father-in-law’s funeral and settle his estate. While staying at the house on a rainy night, a stranger arrives claiming to be an old friend of Betty and her dad. Although Betty has no recollection of Ed, they let the elderly gentleman in and she soon becomes enchanted by his stories of her and her dad from when she was young. Will, feeling like the left out stranger, finds it strange that this man knows so much about his wife and yet she doesn’t remember anything about him. Even more strange is how comfortable she becomes with him, a trait he has never seen her display in 20 years of marriage. Is he being paranoid or is there more to Ed that meets the eye?

The Rain Dancers is a great tale by Gifune. The man knows psychological horror better than about any other author out there. He paints an amazingly uncomfortable setting that you keep putting yourself in Will’s place and asking yourself, “What would I do if I were in his shoes?” As the story unfolds, the tension ratchets up to point where it almost feels hallucinating. This is Gifune at his best. Highly recommended.

5 rain soaked strangers out of 5
You can also follow my reviews at the following links:

https://kenmckinley.wordpress.com

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5919799-ken-mckinley

http://www.amazon.com/gp/profile/A2J1JOKW56F2YT

Thumbprint – Joe Hill

image

A veteran from the Iraqi war comes back to the states to live in the house of her recently deceased father and begins bartending at a local bar. One night she finds a patron passed out in the parking lot and promptly steals the money out of his wallet and the wedding ring off of his finger. Soon afterwards, she mysteriously begins getting photocopies of thumbprints and we learn that she was made to do some unsavory things during her deployment in Iraq.

While Hill’s writing is always good. This story falls flat due to main character being unlikable. While she didn’t have it easy while in Iraq, it simply feels like she wasn’t that nice of a person to begin with. It makes it hard to have any sympathy for her plight back home.

2 waterboarded prisoners out of 5

You can also follow my reviews at the following links:

https://kenmckinley.wordpress.com

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5919799-ken-mckinley

http://www.amazon.com/gp/profile/A2J1JOKW56F2YT

Tommy Rotten – Adam Light

image

Ten years ago, a boy named Tommy disappeared in a pumpkin patch next to the old haunted house at the edge of town. Every year after that, Tommy waits for someone to come into the pumpkin patch at Halloween to be his companion. Is this the year that someone dares to enter the old patch filled with rotten pumpkins and the decaying remains of Tommy?

Your typical urban legend type of story aimed at a teenage audience. Not bad, but nothing great either.

3 rotted pumpkins out of 5
You can also follow my reviews at the following links:

https://kenmckinley.wordpress.com

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5919799-ken-mckinley

http://www.amazon.com/gp/profile/A2J1JOKW56F2YT

The Stand – Stephen King

image

For many, The Stand needs no introduction. If you’re a King fan, chances are you’ve already tackled this behemoth. Others seem to be intimidated by the sheer size of this monster and move on to his other stories that don’t weigh as much a Buick. For those of you who may be trying to decide on whether to jump into this tome, here’s some more info to help you make your decision:

A strain of superflu created by the military/government gets loose and wipes out 99% of the earth’s population in a matter of a few days leaving dead bodies to litter the world and everything shuts down. The roads are clogged with the dead in their cars. The hospitals, government buildings, police and fire stations, prisons, hotels, office buildings, houses, everything – full of dead people and no one alive to keep things running. A few survivors who find themselves immune to this superflu begin wandering around trying to find someone, anyone who might still be alive. As they band into small groups, they begin having dreams of an old black woman in Nebraska named Mother Abigail and are drawn to her like a homing device. They also begin to feel an evil presence that calls himself Randall Flagg, among many other things, and hurry to meet up with Mother Abigail. They all congregate in Boulder, Colorado and begin to try to restore civiliazation as Flagg builds up his army to wage war on “The Free Zone” and its people.

The version of The Stand that I read was the unedited version. This may have been a good thing or a bad thing. I don’t know. King delivers some powerful characters and scenes that you won’t forget for years to come. The character development is impeccable for a novel of this size. You don’t get lost or confused among the sea of characters in the book. They all stand apart from one another quite well. With that being said, I didn’t like all of the characters. Some in a good way – I thought Harold was an absolute ass and I found that I wanted to thunder-punch him in the throat many times during the book, just the way King wanted you to. Others, like Mother Abigail and Randall Flagg, I really didn’t care one way or another for. I found Mother Abigail to be too preachy and not fleshed out enough and Flagg wasn’t that scary for me. He seemed to be the devil’s imp, but little explained why he was doing what he was doing or how much he was responsible for the end of the world. I also found myself surrounded by amazingly powerful scenes (The opening one where the soldier, Campion, is weaving towards the gas station in Arnett, is amazingly good) with a filling of “lets get on with it already” type of fluff. I don’t know if its a good thing or not that I found myself seeing how many pages I had left. I’m guessing thats a negative thing. So where do I stand on The Stand? It was a good book with great characters and some powerful scenes, but too long-winded to be a great book. For you King purists, you may want to stop reading now, but for myself, I liked Robert McCammon’s Swan Song much better. I know, I know. Blasphemy, right? Now, one other thing, this was also a re-read for me. I first read The Stand a decade ago and what I found this time while reading it, I couldn’t help but keep thinking about AMC’s The Walking Dead. Not for zombies or anything like that, but for the end of the world setting and I think it actually made this book less enjoyable this time around for me. Maybe I’m reaching my limit for dystopian story lines. I don’t know. But if you haven’t read The Stand yet, I encourage you to and keep in mind that this was written in the 1970s and was considered ground breaking for its time.

4 snotty noses out of 5

You can also follow my reviews at the following links:

https://kenmckinley.wordpress.com

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5919799-ken-mckinley

http://www.amazon.com/gp/profile/A2J1JOKW56F2YT