12/05/2013 § Leave a comment
Three troubled townies set about renovating a derelict house on an isolated island; soon discovering just how literally the abandoned hamlet can be described as a ghost town. Meanwhile, across the malevolent waters, a young doctor is forced to relive his grief when a series of freakish felonies all seem to have his son, who disappeared without a trace, in common. The seemingly disparate threads of crime and horror are entwined in a truly unpredictable way, with plenty of cliffhangers en route. These tense parallel plots, interjected with increasingly frequent and fervent paranormal activity, are a creep-inducing read.
30/03/2012 § 1 Comment
In 1785 a young engineer is instructed to remove the vast cemetery of Les Innocents in Paris, which is poisoning its city; literally and figuratively. As he commences his work John-Baptiste and those around him are consumed by the hellishness of their task; to purify the dead whilst fearing becoming them. This novel is enriched with parable and metaphors without being buried by them, and from the ashes rises a quirky story that is poetically written, often quote-worthy, and wickedly funny. Miller makes the engineer’s plight against madness and toward modernity a pungently gripping and compulsive must-read.
09/03/2012 § Leave a comment
Chrissie is unable to hold onto her memories as she sleeps. She is forced to trust the devoted stranger she wakes up to every morning, who tells of a terrible accident that robbed her of her history. That is, until Chrissie begins to keep a secret journal, the truths of which slowly unravel her fragile and transient existence, seeming to reveal everyone as dishonest and unfamiliar, including herself. An intriguing concept is subsumed by the necessarily repetitive narrative, which Watson fails to overcome. The anticipatory nature of the plot is dampened by consistent predictability making this a rather bland and feeble read.
29/01/2012 § 1 Comment
Sixteen year old Jacob has long ceased believing his manic Grandfather’s farfetched tales about a childhood spent with ‘peculiar children’ and hunted by monstrous beings. But a traumatic experience has Jacob questioning his own sanity, and whether there was in fact some truth behind the old man’s fictions. Punctuated with genuine, thought provoking photographs, this novel has a unique pulling power. Unfortunately the story’s substance fails to equal the eerie intrigue or excitement that its images suggest, with an inconsistent narrative voice hindering the characterisation of its central figure. Peculiar children is an overly ambitious children’s novel, which unfortunately fails to translate for an adult audience.
05/01/2012 § 1 Comment
Watson, after the death of his beloved companion Sherlock Holmes, sets out to recount one of his early ventures with the most famous of detectives; one too monstrous to be released to a contemporaneous audience. It’s abundantly clear why The House of Silk was officially approved by the Conan Doyle estate. Horowitz has succeeded in capturing the essence of Homes and the narrative style of Watson to create an entirely original adventure. Horowitz satisfies modern bloodlust with controversy unthinkable to Conan Doyle, but remains faithful to the original characters and style. This novel is impeccably researched and a cracking mystery.
17/10/2011 § Leave a comment
Investigate the ‘phobic disorder’ of Jack Miller, a young disenchanted scientist who participates in an ill-fated expedition to the artic in the 1930’s. As his journal’s pages turn the tone alters from excitement to eerie disconcertment amid rumours of his destination’s penchant for ‘bad luck’. As the mission’s members are picked off by fate, the eternal darkness of the arctic begins to permeate Jacks very being. This atmospheric novel’s plot centres upon the value of companionship and the disastrous consequences of isolation. Read this alone by lamplight and you too will begin to wonder at what lurks in the shadows.
12/10/2011 § 3 Comments
Rebecca is the story of a young girl’s transformation from lowly companion of an insufferable Lady to wife of Maximillian De Winter and mistress of Manderly, a grand coastal estate. Far from a rags to riches romance this brooding gothic tale centres upon a naïve girl haunted by the memory of her recently deceased predecessor, the interminable Rebecca. Du Maurier draws upon Bronte to create an eerie and quietly brilliant landscape polluted with paranoia and self doubt. Likeable characters may be kept in the background but the heavily flawed antiheroes simply make the novel all the more enticing.
12/07/2011 § 2 Comments
After his disappearance, Dr Forrest’s friends watch as the abyss that lies in his wake inexplicably consumes their every lead and the Grim Reaper’s touch edges closer to those they hold dear. A foreseeable plot that is typical of gothic literature does not detract from the gripping mystery laid down in this book. A subtly sinister tale of partnership between Hubris and the femme fatale pays homage to the masters of the field (Dante in particular) without being weighed down by them. Kelly’s skilful displacement of the gothic dialect to the modern day lays the foundations for a neo-gothic genre.
05/07/2011 § Leave a comment
Eric, a doctor specialising in trauma care, is persuaded to resurrect his long buried gift of hypnotism to extract information from the sole survivor of a ferocious massacre. But, when Eric’s son is kidnapped it seems that the secrets of his past have caught up with him. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? Don’t be fooled; the level of awkwardness in the narrative gives this book a childlike feel, and the plot is strung together by the most tedious of tendrils. The Hypnotist was clearly engineered to emulate Larsson and its sole achievement is that it exceeds itself. It is even more appalling.
20/06/2011 § Leave a comment
The earliest version of this famous story bears witness to the mysterious disappearance of Lieutenant Thornhill, the details of which only his faithful dog seems privy to. The mutt proceeds to obstinately skulks around a certain barber shop on Fleet street, which lies in close proximity to the famous Lovett’s Pie shop. Its mysterious persistence leads interested parties to unravel a unique story of murder, treasure and love. Sweeney Todd is darkly humorous, with a quintessentially British eccentricity and matter-of-fact divulgence of gloriously gruesome discoveries. The deliciously bizarre plot and wit as sharp as Sweeney’s barber blades make the original version an undervalued gem.