Songs of Dreaming Gods by William Meikle

October 11, 2017 - 9:10 pm No Comments

Songs of Dreaming Gods by William Meikle
Published by Crossroad Press on 8th September 2017
178 pages
Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

Called in, whilst on sick leave, Detective John Green is asked to head up the investigation to a gruesome multiple murder. On his team is Janis Lodge and Todd Wiggins and whilst they worry that he is not up to the job, they will always have his back. The house where the murders happened has history, but as the investigation unfolds, they not only find out about the cause of the murders but things that were hidden in themselves.
John Green was a no-nonsense copper; however, he was willing to put himself in danger to save others. Injured in the line of duty, he was on sick leave when he had the call. The further John investigates the more you find out about his past, and you realise what a troubled childhood he had, tormented by demons, but always wanting to do the right thing. Janis Lodge thought the world of John Green and even when there was doubts that he was up for the job, she always had his back. Even when he was recovering from his injuries, she was always there for him.
This story started out like any murder/thriller, but as the story progressed it became more sinister. The house had a life of its own and the flashback scenes were used to explain its history. John’s journey through the house and his confrontation with his childhood demons the Reapers, made me feel that there was no hope for John and that he was fighting a losing battle. Although I did find a bit of humour with John’s dialogue with Death. Some of my favourite scenes involved Janis and the porcelain dolls. Tapping into Janis’s childhood phobia, the dolls stalked her wherever she went. There was a lot of minor details, that all played an important part to the story and it was when items were removed as evidence that the scenes in the Police station became graphic. This story draws you in and you feel the oppression of the house. The repetitive song “He Sleeps in the Depths” really plays with you mind and I had it running through my head for days. The ending tied up the story perfectly.
This book grabbed my interest from the blurb and whilst I recognised the author this is the 1st book that I have read, but will not be the last.

The Last Namsara Kristen Ciccarelli

October 9, 2017 - 12:03 pm No Comments

The Last Namsara (Iskari Book One)

Author: Kristen Ciccarelli

Publisher: Gollancz

Page Count: 432pp

Release Date: 5th Oct 2017
Review by Michael R. Brush

This is a young adult fantasy book, probably more ‘female friendly’ than normal. So what do I, as a long in the tooth bloke with a penchant for Tolkien, Goerge R. R. Martin (nevermind my love of Tolstoy and Dostoyevski) have to say about this first time outing of Kristen Ciccarelli? On the whole, I loved it. It deserves to go in the main section of fantasy and to slug it out with the best of them.
The first line gets you straight in and tells you that this voice is fresh and bold. It’s what we need from up and coming authors. It starts off following a youngster in a way that reminded me of Raymond E. Feist’s Magician, and if it had continued that well I would have given this book 5 out of 5. If you want to think about how hard it is to be that good – Raymond E. Feist can’t always stay at that level of the game. While the first line is a corker and so is the first encounter, we soon find Asha having feelings for a young slave. It seemed a bit obvious to me and a bit strained to start with, but with time and space, Ciccarelli dusts herself down and lets the characters develop.
The result is a grand endeavour where prejudice and abuse are faced with passion and loyalty creating a tale where you care about the characters and the world they live in. And fear for them – and that’s not easy. I admit I’m a harsh critic, and I’m giving this 4 out of five because sometimes it felt a bit shaky and (being somewhat long in the tooth) not everything was new to me as it might be to a younger audience – but to get 4 stars is still an achievement. If I was marking out of ten, maybe I would have given a nine…
Maybe…
4 out of 5

 

 

Quiet Places: A Novella of Cosmic Folk Horror by Jasper Bark

September 29, 2017 - 4:41 pm No Comments

Quiet Places: A Novella of Cosmic Folk Horror by Jasper Bark
Published by Crystal Lake Publishing on 29th September 2017
123 pages
Reviewed by Yvonne Davies


We first come across Sally caring for the folk of Dunballan, who are in a comatosed state. Following the past events, you get to find out what happened in the little town. David is the last of the McCavendish line, suffers from an ancient curse. Stalked by a beast and suffering dark depressive incidents. With only a creepy voice in the hedgerow to help Sally, can she break the curse and get her David back.
Whilst Sally is researching the beast, you get to learn more about David’s heritage and the aftermath of his ancestor’s dabbling with ancient folklore. Told through Matthew’s journals, the scenes with Matthew meeting had a mystical feel to it and you have a sense that something will go wrong.
Usually when I read any of Jasper Bark’s books, I am reading it with a grimace on my face, but this book was so different. This played more with my mind. The repetitive voice sounded sinister and for me Hettie was more horrific than the beast as it certainly knew how to play Sally. Whilst reading the scenes in the forest I had goosebumps and you could sense that it was leading up to a final showdown. The suspense carried throughout the story, but even I could not predict the outcome. You could feel the desperation in Sally and the need to help David and his dark moods.
I read a shortened version in the Green and Pleasant land anthology, and this new revised version had more depth. It felt more intense and as it is a novella a quick read. Another great story from Jasper Bark

 

The Sandrian Chronicles: Written in Blood by Keith Montgomery

September 25, 2017 - 8:32 pm No Comments

The Sandrian Chronicles: Written in Blood by Keith Montgomery
Published by Optimus Maximus Publishing on 12th July 2016
425 pages
Reviewed by Yvonne Davies


Sandrian’s are vampires with a heartbeat and Adalius was one of the finest of their clan. Troy Thomas was a slayer, trained by one of the best slayers, his father. Both were on missions to rid the world of rogue vampires, both after the same prey, Anna the evillest of all, the vampire that killed their loved ones. With Lycans, other slayers and even the odd regular vampire baying for Anna’s blood, it is going to get bloody.
Although different breeds, Adalius and Troy were very much alike. They were both loners, dedicated to their cause, and had few people who they trusted with their lives. Working on their own they were dangerous but as a team they were a deadly force. Throughout this story you find out more about their past and you understand what makes them tick.
Anna on the other hand was a complete and utter bitch. Killing anything thing that got in her way, she went around thinking she ruled the world. She had no conscious and always tried to get what she wanted. Having her followers, she was one dangerous vampire, and she got off knowing that others were after her blood.
There are quite a few characters in this book and I hope that some get developed as the series continues. It will be interested to see what happens to New Carrollton’s finest. One of favourite minor characters was Kyle, a vampire whose nature was very liken to Spike, my favourite type of vamp and I would love to know more about his story.
The illustrative way the author wrote helped you imagine what was going on, and with each new character, I had a perfect imagine of what they looked like. The story immediately was full of action and you knew what you were getting yourself in for. The fight scenes were fierce and I needed to carry on reading as I wanted to know who was going to live or die. To calm down the intensity of this book, there were some great comedy moments. Some of my favourite one liners came from Taine the Lycan doorman from Club Détente, and he came across as a gentle giant. The banter between Troy and Adalius increased when another Sandrian came into the picture.
I was so engrossed in this story that I did not want it to end, and whilst it did finish on a slight cliffhanger, I am left wanting book 2. This is a great story if you like your paranormal creatures to be strong, dangerous and deadly, then this is the book for you. This is the first story I have read by this author and whilst I have heard nothing but praise for this story, I was still surprised just how good it was

Electric Dreams Philip K Dick

September 24, 2017 - 6:57 am No Comments

Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams

Published by Gollancz on 14th September 2017

213 pages

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Philip-K-Dicks-Electric-Dreams-ebook/dp/B071X4RMZ4/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1506236010&sr=1-1&keywords=electric+dreams

Reviewed by Chris Stocks

35 years since the death of Philip K. Dick his work seems as relevant as ever. The sequel to Blade Runner is being released next month and Electric Dreams, a ten-part anthology-series based on his short stories, has just started on Channel 4. To coincide with the latter, Gollancz has released this book containing the stories on which the episodes are based, each with an introduction written by the writer or director of the corresponding episode.

In Exhibit Piece, a historian living in a future totalitarian society enters a 20th Century exhibit that he has helped create – and finds himself living in the 1950s with a job, family and memories to match. Which world, if either, is real?

The Commuter deals with similar themes. A harassed commuter tries to buy a season ticket to Macon Heights – only there is no such station. However, when a curious train employee investigates, he finds that Macon Heights is gradually becoming real – and in turn affecting his world.

Impossible Planet concerns a 350-year-old woman who wants to visit Earth before she dies – but Earth is just a myth. However, a pair of dodgy spacers agree to take her there. Obviously, their destination is not Earth – or is it?

The Hanging Stranger and The Father Thing both combine 1950s paranoia with alien invasion. In the former, a man is horrified to find a dead stranger hanging from a lamp-post in the small town in which he lives – yet no one else seems to notice. Is he going mad – or he is the only one not under alien control? In the latter, a young boy discovers that his father has been killed and replaced by a cold, emotionless doppelganger. But who will believe him – and who is next to be replaced?

The Hood Maker is set in a future world where some humans, known as teeps, have become telepathic and where being unwilling to be scanned by them is considered suspicious. So, when devices that block telepathic scans are secretly distributed, the teeps are determined to find those responsible and stop them.

In Autofac, the remnants of humanity in a post-nuclear world are provided for by vast automated factories programmed to manufacture and distribute anything that mankind needs. But then a group of survivors, wanting to start fending for themselves, ask their local Autofac to stop supplying them…

Sales Pitch and Foster You’re Dead are both consumer satires; one darkly comic, the other more chilling. In the former, in a far-future world where advertising is ubiquitous and inescapable, a couple’s home is invaded by a robot, programmed to demonstrate its abilities and sell itself – and which won’t take no for an answer. In the latter, consumers are encouraged – indeed expected – to buy their own bomb-shelters. But with each shelter quickly becoming obsolete as new weapons are developed, who can afford to keep up? Or rather can one afford not to?

In Human Is, a woman’s spouse changes from a cold, work-driven man to a kind, loving and attentive husband after a trip to an alien planet. He’s been replaced by a shapeshifting alien. But has he become more or less human as a result?

These stories were all originally published in SF magazines in the 1950s and concern themselves with the same themes as most other works of the period; cold-war paranoia, post-apocalyptic scenarios, aliens etc. But they also share the same concerns that Philip K. Dick addressed in his later stories and novels. What is the nature of reality? What makes us human? How can one distinguish the real from the counterfeit?

If you are already a fan, then you don’t need me to recommend this book to you. However, if you haven’t yet discovered the weird and disturbing world of Philip K. Dick, then my advice to you is: read this book, watch the TV series and let them blow your mind. Or as Timothy Leary might have put it: read on, tune in and freak out!