Category Archives: horror

Review: Elsewhere by Dean Koontz

Elsewhere by Dean Koontz

The fate of the world is in the hands of a father and daughter in an epic novel of wonder and terror by Dean Koontz, the #1 New York Times bestselling master of suspense.

Since his wife, Michelle, left seven years ago, Jeffy Coltrane has worked to maintain a normal life for himself and his eleven-year-old daughter, Amity, in Southern California. It’s a quiet life, until a local eccentric known as Spooky Ed shows up on their doorstep.

Ed entrusts Jeffy with hiding a strange and dangerous object-something he calls “the key to everything” – and tells Jeffy that he must never use the device. But after a visit from a group of ominous men, Jeffy and Amity find themselves accidentally activating the key and discovering an extraordinary truth. The device allows them to jump between parallel planes at once familiar and bizarre, wondrous and terrifying. And Jeffy and Amity can’t help but wonder, could Michelle be just a click away?

Jeffy and Amity aren’t the only ones interested in the device. A man with a dark purpose is in pursuit, determined to use its grand potential for profound evil. Unless Amity and Jeffy can outwit him, the place they call home may never be safe again.

Published 29 October 2020 |  Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Australia  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

My first ever Koontz’ and it did not disappoint!

But yes, I am familiar with this author’s name but horror isn’t a genre I read a lot of, tbh. However, this parallel world trope is something that I’m fascinated with so I really had no choice but to dive in.

The father-daughter relationship in this novel is truly the highlight for me. And that little bit of romance of looking for the missing wife/mother didn’t hurt at all; it’s so not at all a romantic novel but it’s subtly there (or maybe I just chose to read it as such ;p). The parallel worlds are quite fascinating but I find that I wanted more… it just wasn’t enough travels to other worlds and each travel so short that we barely got a glimpse of each.

At the end, I felt that this novel has a similar vibe to Stephen King’s 11/22/63, which I loved, but just a shorter briefer sort of version with better ending 😉 Maybe ‘better’ isn’t the correct description but I don’t want to spoil you for either books. I am now keen to explore more of Koontz works.

Thanks to HarperCollins Publishers Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Dean Koontz is the author of more than a dozen New York Times No. 1 bestsellers. His books have sold over 500 million copies worldwide, and his work is published in 38 languages. He was born and raised in Pennsylvania and lives with his wife Gerda, and their dog Elsa, in southern California. Dean Koontz is the author of more than a dozen New York Times No. 1 bestsellers. His books have sold over 500 million copies worldwide, and his work is published in 38 languages. He was born and raised in Pennsylvania and lives with his wife Gerda, and their dog Elsa, in southern California.

Find author on:  goodreads  |  website  |  twitter  |  facebook  |  instagram

Blog Tour: The Drowning God ~a Review + Giveaway

The Drowning God

The Drowning God_1The Drowning God by James Kendley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Detective Tohru Takuda faces his own tragic past to uncover modern Japan’s darkest secret–The Drowning God.

Few villagers are happy when Takuda comes home to investigate a foiled abduction, and local police enlist powerful forces to shut him out. Takuda sacrifices his career and family honor to solve the string of disappearances in the dark and backward valley of his youth, but more than a job is at stake. Behind the conspiracy lurks the Kappa, a monstrous living relic of Japan’s pagan prehistory. Protected long ago by a horrible pact with local farmers and now by coldly calculated corporate interests, the Kappa drains the valley’s lifeblood, one villager at a time.

Takuda and his wife, Yumi, are among the few who have escaped the valley, but no one gets away unscarred. When Takuda digs into the valley’s mysteries, Yumi’s heart breaks all over again. She wants justice for her murdered son, but she needs an end to grief. Even if Takuda survives the Kappa, the ordeal may end his marriage.

With Yumi’s tortured blessing, Takuda dedicates his life to ending the Drowning God’s centuries-long reign of terror. He can’t do it alone. A laconic junior officer and a disarmingly cheerful Buddhist priest convince Takuda to let them join in the final battle, where failure means death–or worse. The journey of these three unlikely warriors from uneasy alliance to efficient team turns THE DROWNING GOD’s mystery into an adventure in friendship, sacrifice and courage.

Review (3 stars)

I am always drawn to Japan.  It started with reading mangas in my teens though these days, I’d prefer Japanese literature (translated into English) and whatever other fiction set in Japan.  As I’ve mentioned to a friend, I’ve just finished Colourless Tsukuri Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami before reading The Drowning God and will be picking up The Peony Lantern by Frances Watts for a read along next week.  It is the Japanese culture that I am fascinated with and I can’t get enough.

The Drowning God is a mystery/horror novel in contemporary setting though with a flavour of the supernatural.  Detective Tohru Takuda is no longer young and with his scars (both physical & emotional) he is just about ready to blow this case apart, even if it blew him apart too.   Supported by his protégé, Officer Mori, and an old acquaintance, the monk Suzuki, Tohru forged ahead in vengeance as well as saving his home village.

The story is told from the perspective of Takuda and while, I quite like him, I’m really curious about Mori.  I wished the POVs were alternated between the three protagonists as I think it will boost the dimension of the narrative.  On the other hand, the local superstition / religion ensconced in some sort of conspiracy was quite brilliant.

It is a fairly easygoing read with some sword-swinging actions.  Unfortunately, I didn’t quite find any surprising twists in the story but it seems to be (from the ending) that this book is the first instalment of a series so it could be a huge set up and I’ll be interested in the next book.

Thanks to Harper Voyager Impulse for copy of ebook in exchange of honest review

About Author

James Fendley

James Kendley has written and edited professionally for more than 30 years, first as a newspaper reporter and editor, then as a copy editor and translator in Japan (where he taught for eight years at private colleges and universities), and currently as an educational publishing content wrangler living in northern Virginia. He has a taste for the macabre, and he hopes you do, too!

Connect with James: website  |  facebook  |twitter

Giveaway

The publisher is kindly giving away One ebook per tour host so make sure you visit all the stops below.  For your entry on this blog, please comment below: which countries have you visited, vicariously, in your reading this month.

Winner to be drawn on Sat, 22 Aug 2015.

Tour Schedule

August 3 –3 Partners in Shopping

August 4 –Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

August 5 –Review From Here

August 6 –Bent Over Bookwords

August 7 –C.A. Milson

August 10 –Around the World in Books

August 11 –Sapphyria’s Book Reviews

August 12 –Voodoo Princess

August 13 –Undercover Book Reviews

August 14 –I’m Shelf-ish

August 17 –Crystal’s Chaotic Confessions

August 18 –Words I Write Crazy & The Dark Phantom

August 19 –Tien’s Blurb & The Literary Nook

August 20 –Chosen By You Book Club

August 21 –Queen of All She Reads

Blog Tour: In Midnight’s Silence ~a review

In Midnight's Silence

midnights silence

In Midnight’s Silence (Los Nefilim: Part One) by T. Frohock

The fate of mankind has nothing to do with mankind…

Born of an angel and a daimon, Diago Alvarez is a singular being in a country torn by a looming civil war and the spiritual struggle between the forces of angels and daimons. With allegiance to no one but his partner Miquel, he is content to simply live in Barcelona, caring only for the man he loves and the music he makes. Yet, neither side is satisfied to let him lead this domesticated life and, knowing they can’t get to him directly, they do the one thing he’s always feared.

They go after Miquel.

Now, in order to save his lover’s life, he is forced by an angel to perform a gruesome task: feed a child to the daimon Moloch in exchange for a coin that will limit the extent of the world’s next war. The mission is fraught with danger, the time he has to accomplish it is limited…and the child he is to sacrifice is the son Diago never knew existed.

A lyrical tale in a world of music and magic, T. Frohock’s In Midnight’s Silence shows the lengths a man will go to save the people he loves, and the sides he’ll choose when the sidelines are no longer an option.

My Blurb (4.5 of 5 stars)

Angels is far from being a favourite of mine in fiction BUT I might just change my mind now. In Midnight’s Silence is a dark fast-paced novella incorporating angels, daimons, music, sacrifice and love set in beautiful Spain. I keep having images of men in white flowing shirts (they don’t actually wear “flowing shirts” in the book but… what I see in my head is my prerogative!) playing guitars and gorgeous ladies doing the flamenco.

I love these characters with all their faults & strengths. Their world within world with its layered complexity of ancient heritage and hierarchy where nothing seems to be what they appear to be. The plot was tight in structure and very intriguing. In Midnight’s Silence just grabbed you on the spot and will not let go. It was a terrific single-sitting spine-tingling read and I can’t wait for the next instalment.

The Author

frohockT. Frohock has turned her love of dark fantasy and horror into tales of deliciously creepy fiction. She is the author of Miserere: An Autumn Tale, a dark fantasy, and has written several short stories. T has long been accused of telling stories, which is a southern colloquialism for lying.

author’s website  |  twitter  |  google plus

Review: Night Walker

night walkerNight Walker by Aaron L. Speer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Source: ebook courtesy of author

Night Walker piqued my interest mostly due to its setting; Sydney. I’m always keen to read a books set in my hometown so when the author, Aaron L. Speer, approached me, I really couldn’t refuse. He stated that he didn’t think there was a vampire story in connection to the Australian history before… I can’t think of one either so, I was really quite curious.

I had quite a bit of expectation of some historical content with some well-known historical characters with some being, secretly, creatures of the night who are alive (or rather, undead) now. The historical part of the story was only at the beginning of the book with only references to the past later on in the story.

The unfortunate bit was that I struggle to sympathise with any of the characters so it really took me a long time (maybe halfway) before I started enjoying the story. I don’t think I’ll go into exactly why because that’ll take a long time; suffice to say that I found each character to be annoying in a different way. There are characters that I don’t think I’d get along well, in life, at all.

I feel this novel to be plot heavy –lots of characters talking and doing things but I’m missing the atmosphere of this world. I’m just not quite sure what it’s supposed to be like! I’d like a bit more of world building –more descriptions on the surrounding (the colours, the smell, the feel, etc). And then, the ending… hhhmmm, I was utterly exasperated by the turnaround!!!

Honestly, I think I have been completely spoiled by All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness so please bear this in mind when you are considering my review knowing where my perspective lies. Night Walker has an appealing premise but I’ve only found delivery to be average.

Thanks to Simon Aaron L. Speer for copy of book in exchange of honest review

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Review: The Dagger in the Desk

the dagger in the deskThe Dagger in the Desk by Jonathan Stroud
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of publisher

I’m not usually one who reads short stories that are in between series. I got overexcited when I saw this title on NetGalley and automatically, requested it as I thought it to be the 3rd book. In any case, I still read it and it was still a very fun read.

This li’l book basically is about a case taken on by Lockwood & Co. It is basically an adventure/horror tale with a moral lesson. If you’re after something fun to read to squeeze in whilst waiting for the doctor or during lunchtime, this is a good one to pick up as it really doesn’t require too much brain power but will amuse greatly. If you’ve not read the series yet, you could read this as a sample that’s still a full story with an ending. If you’ve read the series, you don’t really have to pick this up as it doesn’t have any bearing on the continuity of the series.

I just wish, though, that if Stroud is writing a short story that there’d be an #0.5 –a story about Anthony Lockwood or about Lockwood & Cubbins Before Lucy.

Thank you, RHCP Digital for copy of eARC via NetGalley

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Review: The Whispering Skull

the whispering skullThe Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of publisher

I read the first book of Lockwood & Co. at the beginning of this year and was completely enamoured with the whole setup. Whilst I first started with the thought of finding out what’s available in the children’s sections these days (my son is starting school next year, eep!); I truly completely loved The Screaming Staircase that I didn’t hesitate to request The Whispering Skull when I saw it on NetGalley. I enjoyed the company of Lockwood & Co. even more this time around.

The book opens with a creepy scene with action quickly following on its heel; an investigation of Lockwood & Co. that didn’t quite turn out as they wished. This was such a terrific and most engaging start. It also promises a more sinister tone to this book than the first instalment. A promised well-fulfilled, if I may say so. The Whispering Skull gives us scary situations, frightening creatures, & spine-chilling items that threatened the well-being of the whole world.

What I mostly loved about this book, however, is the development of characters, not only of Lockwood, George, and Lucy but also of Kipps & co. I loved how Kipps is (whilst being the most annoying nemesis) ‘humanised’ and all are called to sympathise with him. I also loved the development of friendship between Lockwood, George, & Lucy – that there’s ups and downs in friendships & that trust is a requisite in a well-oiled relationships.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough to all children and parents out there looking for an adventure. You will love the characters and be thrilled by the plot. Girls & Boys, get into it!

Thank you, Disney-Hyperion, for copy of eARC via NetGalley

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Review: The Descent

the descentThe Descent by Alma Katsu

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of publisher via NetGalley

Note: this is a review of the third and last book of the trilogy, The Taker, please note there may be spoilers in relation to earlier books

A finale to The Taker trilogy and I was sooo excited! I was really looking forward to whatever twisted end in this last book of the trilogy. I have loved the earlier books with their dark warped beginnings amidst the glittery glamorous setting and the suspenseful hunt / race across the world. They were such exciting moments I never really know where it will take me. I had very high hopes for something equally exhilarating in The Descent

A “mystical island home” sounded somewhat haunting and thrilling, to begin with. However, when it is but a rock and characters don’t go anywhere else, it lost its allure in a very short time. All right, so there were shifts in time and also in ‘dimension’ but in reality, all’s very still… The shifts in ‘dimension’ were what I appreciated most in this novel. It was a completely different world with entertaining characters and overall, quite hopeless in atmosphere. The shifts in time, however, whilst I enjoyed reading through them, in the end, when all was revealed, I felt like it was nothing but page fillers because I don’t understand the pages and pages of it when it really all was but a wisp of nothingness.

In addition, the chapter headers were dead giveaways –I don’t remember this from the earlier books unless if I ignored them… they were easier to ignore since I read physical copies but with ebook, all it took was the nth second I needed to swipe pass to read the header and guessed where it was heading… did I mention that I love how I just never knew where the earlier books will take me? Oh, and yes, there were 2 other minor characters on the island who, at the ending, I’m at a complete loss to understand the purpose of… how can they exist or be there at all when Adair prove to be completely different?

One of the disappointing parts was that we barely got to view Adair’s transformation as he’s basically a changed ‘man’ in this book. The twist about Adair’s nature was what I most appreciate about this book. It would’ve been something I’d given 5 stars for except that moment where he’s revealing his ‘secrets’ to Lahni that completely fell flat to my ears (eyes? brain?). Again, I don’t understand the big shame of this ‘secret’ with all the Greeks & Roman history & mythologies around… this ‘secret’ seemed to me would be something of the norm that I just couldn’t see what the fuss is all about.

I’m afraid my lack of understanding of this novel contributed heavily to the relatively low rating I gave. I would be very happy to hear from someone… anyone… who can answer my above questions. I really feel that I’ve somehow missed the point 😦

Thank you, Galley Books for preview of eARC via NetGalley

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Review: The Screaming Staircase

staircaseThe Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of publisher via NetGalley

Until the last few years, I rarely read children’s books as I find that I’m usually a bit impatient with them. However, I’m trying to change this habit because I’d like to know what my son will be reading when he’s ready to read on his own. Not only that, I’d like to be able to recommend books to him with the gusto of a contemporary (I’ll probably be one of those really embarrassing mums!). Hence, my picking up one or two children’s books these past few years. The particular reason that this book attracted my attention was the title and the similarity of it to a favourite series I read when I was growing up.

The series was called Alfred Hitchcock and The Three Investigators with the particular title I had in mind being The Mystery of the Screaming Clock. This was a series loved by my family, the screamingbooks were passed from brother to sister, sister to sister, aunt to nephew, etc (I’m not quite sure where they are at this point in time, overseas, but they are a family treasure). The three teen detectives are made up of the quirky chubby genius boy, the not-so-intelligent-but-athletic boy, and a smaller boy who’s very good at research. These characterisation I found to be similar to Lockwood & Co., not necessarily the same but more of a mix-match sort of similarity.

The basis of this story is not something new or totally unique. There are a lot of ghost stories out there and who doesn’t know Ghostbusters? But Jonathan Stroud has successfully created an exciting world full of old wonders and new adventures. It is a world where only the talented young are able to detect these spectres and therefore have the capabilities of banishing them.

The characters were mysterious, appealing, and (some are) quite repulsive. There were quite a few suspenseful moments thought I can’t comment on the level of scariness as I am an adult and I didn’t find it scary at all. However, know that I rarely read horror novels because I am a scaredy cat. There were a few back and forth jumps in time at the beginning of the novel which may make for a shaky start but I completely enjoyed the smooth (though spine tingling) ride later on. This is definitely not a world I would like to live in, for real, but definitely one I love to read.

Needless to say, I absolutely adored The Screaming Staircase. With a great plot, fun characters, and marvellous world building, you will not fail to love this book. I, for one, am impatient to, one day, introduce this to my son and at the same time, will watch for the next instalment of this series so I can read it for my own enjoyment. I highly recommend this book to all adventurous sorts out there (real or vicariously) 😉

Thanks to Doubleday Childrens & The Reading Room for the eARC via NetGalley

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