Tag Archives: horror

Review: NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

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Let me just start this right off by saying: gosh diggity dang this book is fantastic.  I’m a big fan of the Locke and Key series by Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, namely because Hill does such a fine job really tapping into the wonder of the fantasy genre.  And like Locke and Key, in Hill’s newest, the hefty NOS4A2, the reader follows along in a multiple decade spanning adventure.  The characters are quirky, unstable even, and a near disproportionate amount of them are big time comic nerds, but they never read as artificial (Plus I am biased, I rooted for Lou, the chunky comic nerd father more than anyone).  Hill works with a largely female cast, deftly tackling the theme of what it means to become an adult and the real life and imaginary horrors that accompany that.  It’s a long, arduous journey through hell spent with Vic McQueen and one that never falters though at times she does. 

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Perhaps it is his years of experience in the comic business, but Hill has a knack for writing extremely clear, no-fuss dialogue. It is what really allows the reader their greatest insights into the characters, as well as making less work for the Narrator, so that he can focus on the all important plethora of gruesome, horrifying and fast-paced action scenes that will assure the next time you hear Jingle Bell Rock playing that you will shudder more than usual.

What really sets NOS4A2 apart from most of the other fantasy/horror out there, in my opinion, is the self-awareness present throughout. Nothing bugs me more in horror movies or novels than when some over-referenced mythological creature goes on a killing spree, and the world acts as if they have never heard of the notions of aliens, werewolves, or vampires.  Unless the time period is antiquated enough where people would not have heard of those types of things, it really just doesn’t make sense.  Half the TV shows and movies that exist right now are about those things.  Hill embraces the worlds created before this one, those of his own previous works and other authors as well (even some of Stephen King’s worlds, he has not forgotten the face of his father apparently).  There were multiple times while reading that I found myself thinking “wow, this is just like this book or that book,” and on cue Hill basically says to the reader’s face: ‘Yes, I know it seems like that world, but it isn’t.  That world is next door.’ 

NOS4A2 marks an exciting new chapter in Joe Hill’s career. I highly recommend this one!

 

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REVIEW: I Travel By Night by Robert McCammon

I have a Robert McCammon bias.  I’ve read nearly all of his books, including the awesome ongoing Matthew Corbett series.  It’s always struck me as odd that none of his novels or stories have ever made it to the big screen (then again maybe that’s a good thing).  I tend to regard him as the cult-status equivalent of Stephen King in my mind, but the truth is that bunching him in there with King isn’t quite right.  McCammon’s writing style is unique in the world of fantasy and horror.  I’ve heard him called verbose by some, but I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing.  McCammon creates extremely visual characters and scenes, action sequences that pop off the page, and hardly ever at the expense of the story or the depth of the characters.  He is one of the few authors that on multiple occasions I actually found myself missing my bus stop because my hands were gripped around one of his novels.

More people than usual laughed at the cover of an older novel, Wolf’s Hour by McCammon when I was reading it, and telling them that it was about a British/Bolshevik spy who is also a werewolf, battling Nazis did not help the matter (I think it’s a cool cover…).

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The fact of the matter is, cover and back cover blurb aside, Wolf’s Hour still remains one of, if not my favorite McCammon novels.  There is romance, political drama, a coming of age story, and yes a ton of great Nazi massacres at the hands of our werewolf hero.  Check it out.

But that’s not why we’re here.

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“He had not been born this way.  No one was.  It was lost in the mists of time who the first one had been and what agreement had spawned such a condition, but now they were legion.”

McCammon’s newest, a much too short novella entitled I Travel By Night follows Trevor Lawson, a southern Civil War soldier turned vampire living in Louisiana in the wild west era.  He works as a for hire vampire fighting against vampires, and shape shifters, as well as hunting down the omniscient and mysterious Dark Society, the key to Lawson’s humanity.  Though the length of the story bothered me a bit, it is mostly for selfish reasons because I could not help myself and read it all in one sitting.  The truth is McCammon packs in a wealth of information about the characters we meet, their pasts, and the new and interesting twists on the vampire myth that he throws into the mix.

McCammon balances gracefully as he does on the edge of ‘fantasy/horror’ and ‘literature’, finding the humanity in each of his characters, and using it to give life to his story, driving it along at breakneck speed.  Already with a vampire novel under his belt, I appreciate that McCammon chose to go in a new direction with this one.  They Thirst is a great play on the vampire myth as well, and I Travel By Night is a reorganized version: new rules and a new history, set for a fun serial where we learn bit by bit about Lawson and the world he lives in, his abilities, and about the Dark Society that is both his enemy and his last hope of redemption. I highly recommend this one and all of McCammon’s works!

Let’s just hope that there’s a plan for another one soon.

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