This tale had one of the most fascinating antagonists I've come across in recent years. I would read a prelude or sequel based on that character's development alone.
There are so many quality true crime works out there that do not have audio versions; I'm certainly perplexed why such a mediocre one was recorded. You can learn more about this case - which *is* quite compelling - with an afternoon of perusing crime library sites online. This work doesn't assemble the story in a fulfilling or worthwhile manner.
Those of us who have shared lifetimes of reading and re-reading Stephen's The Shining have eagerly awaited it's long overdue sequel, Doctor Sleep. The Shining was written when Stephen King himself was suffering with addiction problems and is often seen as an allegory for substance abuse. Doctor Sleep, written by an author many years sober, casts The Shining's protagonist, now grown, as a recovering addict who has to deal with the demons of his drug-addled past while he faces the demons that King pens for him. This book was worth waiting for, and the audio version features an explanation and insight read by King that is most certainly worth the price of admission.
The premise of this novel nears the precipice of my suspension of disbelief but that doesn't spoil the story; those who are familiar with neuroscience and psychiatry might enjoy certain aspects of this novel for their plausibility alone. It's not a horror novel, but a thriller based on the self-deception our minds can be capable of spinning. Koontz writes psychiatric conditions skin-crawlingly well; if you've seen or experienced severe phobias or obsessive compulsive processes you'll recognize that right away. The conditions woven throughout this book are real, and that alone reminds you that horror is all around us.
The wonderfully crafted dark beauty of the setting in this book may inspire you to channel your inner tortured artist and paint the Christmas Town of your own nightmares. A five star horror novel for sure; Joe Hill has just ensured that I will pick up everything he pens from here on out.
Joe Hill does not disappoint with this one. It's a bit of a ghost story trope, not a unique premise, but the oldest tales, told well, have longevity for a reason. I was particularly impressed with the fact that the protagonists were realistically flawed to the point where I didn't *like* any of them (just as in real life... if we knew one another's inner selves there'd be a lot more misanthropes) and I had to wonder what I'd do next in their unfortunate, haunted shoes.
Without putting forth any spoilers, I will say that this was almost an awesome book, and had it gone the direction I'd hoped, I'd be raving. For the first two-thirds, I was genuinely impressed, but after the 'insanity or for-realsies or supernatural' plot resolved I was wickedly disappointed. That said, I'd read another contribution from this author, just to see what he had kicking around in his head. Also, itchy.
When two hardcore horror writers do a collaboration "just for fun," you get a no-holes-barred (there's a dirty pun in there) sexy, crunchy, bloody, twisted, good time. I wanted ten more of these stories.
Kudos to the author for doing the scientific research necessary to allow suspension of disbelief to be a background concern on this one. Creepy and grotesque but also raunchy with some great visuals to make you shudder, this book delivered what I want in my horror pulp.
Perhaps because I recently listened to Kilborn's Endurance, which was fantastic, this one fell pretty short. Kilborn is a master of sadism and gore, and Afraid delivers, but the pacing and story aren't as solid as in Endurance and it was sorely missed. I didn't care about the characters much, although I admit there was a scene toward the end that involved a monkey that had me actually crying boo-hoo tears of sadness, but I'm a sucker for critters. The bad guys are some kind of military creation, leave it at that, which somehow isn't as much fun as accidents of nature. That said, I couldn't stop listening until the end, so not bad at all, if you're a fan of the genre!
Kilborn has the unique ability to combine gorgeously horrific visual imagery, antagonists, and setting with consistent and enthralling action and character development. Too often, authors simply can't deliver any semblance of plot within the genre of graphic or dark thrillers, and never have the elements come together so well as in Endurance. The setting alone was so wonderfully flushed out that an entire novel could have been written about coming across the area later on - even without the deformed and twisted inhabitants that brought it to life (and death! Muhahaha!). Christopher Lane delivered the performance of a lifetime in this book, I listened to it twice just to marvel at his vocal characterizations.
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