Fans of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter will want to follow the further adventures of vampire Henry Sturges as he navigates his way through the centuries. Tag along as Henry meets almost every pivotal individual in history: Teddy Roosevelt, Adolf Hitler, Bram Stoker, and my personal favorite, Tesla, to name just a handful. Fun and smart [...]Add a Comment
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Blog: PowellsBooks.BLOG (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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I was watching the third Hobbit movie the other day (bear with me – I’m going somewhere with this) with no particular pleasure. There are few things in life more painful to a children’s librarian than watching an enjoyable adventure for kids lengthened and turned into adult-centric fare, then sliced up into three sections. Still, it’s always interesting to see how filmmakers wish to adapt material and as I sat there, only moderately stultified, the so-called “Battle of the Five Armies” (which, in this film, could be renamed “The Battle of the Thirteen Odd Armies, Give Or Take a Few) comes to a head as the glorious eagles swoop in. “They’re the Americans”, my husband noted. It took a minute for this to register. “What?” “They’re the Americans. Tolkien wrote this book after WWI and the eagles are the Yanks that swoop in to save the day at the very last minute.” I sat there thinking about it. England has always had far closer ties to The Great War than America, it’s true. I remember sitting in school, baffled by the vague version I was fed. American children are taught primarily Revolutionary War, Civil War, and WWII fare. All other conflicts are of seemingly equal non-importance after those big three. Yet with the 100 year anniversary of the war to end all wars, the English, who had a much larger role to play, are, like Tolkien, still producing innovative, evocative, unbelievable takes that utilize fantasy to help us understand it. And few books do a better job of pinpointing the post traumatic stress syndrome of a post-WWI nation than Frances Hardinge’s Cuckoo Song. They will tell you that it’s a creepy doll book with changelings and fairies and things that go bump in the night. It is all of that. It is also one of the smartest dissections of what happens when a war is done and the survivors are left to put their lives back together. Some do a good job. Some do not.
Eleven-year-old Triss is not well. She knows this, but as with many illnesses she’s having a hard time pinpointing what exactly is wrong. It probably had to do with the fact that she was fished out of the Grimmer, a body of water near the old stone house where her family likes to vacation. Still, that doesn’t explain why her sister is suddenly acting angry and afraid of her. It doesn’t explain why she’s suddenly voracious, devouring plate after plate of food in a kind of half mad frenzy. And it doesn’t explain some of the odder things that have been happening lately either. The dolls that don’t just talk but scream too. The fact that she’s waking up with dead leaves in her hair and bed. And that’s all before her sister is nearly kidnapped by a movie screen, a tailor tries to burn her alive, and she discovers a world within her world where things are topsy turvy and she doesn’t even know who she is anymore. Triss isn’t the girl she once was. And time is running out.
From that description you’d be justified in wondering why I spent the better half of the opening paragraph of this review discussing WWI. After all, there is nothing particularly war-like in that summary. It would behoove me to me mention then that all this takes place a year or two after the war. Triss’s older brother died in the conflict, leaving his family to pick up the pieces. Like all parents, his are devastated by their loss. Unlike all parents, they make a terrible choice to keep him from leaving them entirely. It’s the parents’ grief and choices that then become the focal point of the book. The nation is experiencing a period of vast change. New buildings, new music, and new ideas are proliferating. Yet for Triss’s parents, it is vastly important that nothing change. They’re the people that would prefer to live in an intolerable but familiar situation rather than a tolerable unknown. Their love is a toxic thing, harming their children in the most insidious of ways. It takes an outsider to see this and to tell them what they are doing. By the end, it’s entirely possible that they’ll stay stuck until events force them otherwise. Then again, Hardinge leaves you with a glimmer of hope. The nation did heal. People did learn. And while there was another tragic war on the horizon, that was a problem for another day.
So what’s all that have to do with fairies? In a smart twist Hardinge makes a nation bereaved become the perfect breeding ground for fairy (though she never calls them that) immigration. It’s interesting to think long and hard about what it is that Hardinge is saying, precisely, about immigrants in England. Indeed, the book wrestles with the metaphor. These are creatures that have lost their homes thanks to the encroachment of humanity. Are they not entitled to lives of their own? Yet some of them do harm to the residents of the towns. But do all of them? Should we paint them all with the same brush if some of them are harmful? These are serious questions worth asking. Xenophobia comes in the form of the tailor Mr. Grace. His smooth sharp scissors cause Triss to equate him with the Scissor Man from the Struwwelpeter tales of old. Having suffered a personal loss at the hands of the otherworldly immigrants he dedicates himself to a kind of blind intolerance. He’s sympathetic, but only up to a point.
Terms I Dislike: Urban Fairies. I don’t particularly dislike the fairies themselves. Not if they’re done well. I should clarify that the term “urban fairies” is used when discussing books in which fairies reside in urban environments. Gargoyles in the gutters. That sort of thing. And if we’re going to get technical about it then yes, Cuckoo Song is an urban fairy book. The ultimate urban fairy book, really. Called “Besiders” their presence in cities is attributed to the fact that they are creatures that exist only where there is no certainty. In the past the sound of church bells proved painful, maybe fatal. However, in the years following The Great War the certainty of religion began to ebb from the English people. Religion didn’t have the standing it once held in their lives/hearts/minds, and so thanks to this uncertainty the Besiders were able to move into places in the city made just for them. You could have long, interesting book group conversations about the true implications of this vision.
There are two kinds of Frances Hardinge novels in this world. There are the ones that deal in familiar mythologies but give them a distinctive spin. That’s this book. Then there are the books that make up their own mythologies and go into such vastly strange areas that it takes a leap of faith to follow, though it’s worth it every time. That’s books like The Lost Conspiracy or Fly By Night and its sequel. Previously Ms. Hardinge wrote Well Witched which was a lovely fantasy but felt tamed in some strange way. As if she was asked to reign in her love of the fabulous so as to create a more standard work of fantasy. I was worried that Cuckoo Song might fall into this same trap but happily this is not the case. What we see on the page here is marvelously odd while still working within an understood framework. I wouldn’t change a dot on an i or a cross on a t.
Story aside, it is Hardinge’s writing that inevitably hooks the reader. She has a way with language that sounds like no one else. Here’s a sentence from the first paragraph of the book: “Somebody had taken a laugh, crumpled it into a great, crackly ball, and stuffed her skull with it.” Beautiful. Line after line after line jumps out at the reader this way. One of my favorites is when a fellow called The Shrike explains why scissors are the true enemy of the Besiders. “A knife is made with a hundred tasks in mind . . . But scissors are really intended for one job alone – snipping things in two. Dividing by force. Everything on one side or the other, and nothing in between. Certainty. We’re in-between folk, so scissors hate us.” If I had half a mind to I’d just spend the rest of this review quoting line after line of this book. For your sake, I’ll restrain myself. Just this once.
When this book was released in England it was published as older children’s fare, albeit with a rather YA cover. Here in the States it is being published as YA fare with a rather creepy cover. Having read it, there really isn’t anything about the book I wouldn’t readily hand to a 10-year-old. Is there blood? Nope. Violence? Not unless you count eating dollies. Anything remarkably creepy? Well, there is a memory of a baby changeling that’s kind of gross, but I don’t think you’re going to see too many people freaking out over it. Sadly I think the decision was made, in spite of its 11-year-old protagonist, because Hardinge is such a mellifluous writer. Perhaps there was a thought to appeal to the Laini Taylor fans out there. Like Taylor she delves in strange otherworlds and writes with a distinctive purr. Unlike Taylor, Hardinge is British to her core. There are things here that you cannot find anywhere else. Her brain is a country of fabulous mini-states and we’ll be lucky if we get to see even half of them in our lifetimes.
There was a time when Frances Hardinge books were imported to America on a regular basis. For whatever reason, that stopped. Now a great wrong has been righted and if there were any justice in this world her Yankee fans would line the ports waiting for her books to arrive, much as they did in the time of Charles Dickens. That she can take an event like WWI and the sheer weight of the grief that followed, then transform it into dark, creepy, delicious, satisfying children’s fare is awe-inspiring. You will find no other author who dares to go so deep. Those of you who have never read a Hardinge book, I envy you. You’re going to be discovering her for the very first time, so I hope you savor every bloody, bleeding word. Taste the sentences on your tongue. Let them melt there. Then pick up your forks and demand more more more. There are other Hardinge books in England we have yet to see stateside. Let our publishers fill our plates. It’s what our children deserve.
On shelves May 15th.
Source: Reviewed from British edition, purchased by self.
Like This? Then Try:
- Daugher of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
- Doll Bones by Holly Black
- Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz
Other Blog Reviews:
- Here’s the review from The Book Smugglers that inspired me to read this in the first place.
- And here’s pretty much a link to every other review of this book . . . um . . . ever.
Spoiler-ific Interviews: The Book Smugglers have Ms. Hardinge talk about her influences. Remember those goofy television episodes from the 70s and 80s where dopplegangers would cause mischief. Seems they gave at least one girl viewer nightmares.Display Comments Add a Comment
Blog: Death Books and Tea (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: book review, horror, lou mora, strength 3, strength 4, Add a tag
Links:Amazon| Author Website | Goodreads
Blog: Wands and Worlds (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: circus, contemporary setting, cybils, cybils 2014, fantasy, ghosts, high fantasy, horror, paranormal, young adult books, Add a tag
I love the seven books my panel selected as the finalists for YA Speculative Fiction. I'm really proud of our shortlist as a representation of the best YA Spec Fic books of 2014. However, there are always the ones that got away, the ones that didn't quite make it. When seven people are deliberating, compromises have to be made, and sometimes, no matter how passionate you are about a book, you can't convince your fellow judges. Here are some of the 2014 Cybils nominees that I loved, but which didn't make the cut as finalists:
Divided We Fall Trilogy: Book 1: Divided We Fall
This is a frighteningly believable book about a near-future conflict between a state and the Federal Government, with the National Guard caught in the middle. Exciting plot, credible and distinctive teen male voice, and well-developed protagonist.
For anyone who has ever wanted to be Circus. Part mystery, part circus story, and a bit of magic, this story of a young wire walker trying to overcome her family's past and prove herself is dripping with atmosphere and loaded with teen appeal.
Love Is the Drug
Alaya Dawn Johnson
Federal agents investigating Washington DC prep school student Emily Bird may be more of a danger to her than the rapidly spreading global pandemic. An exciting thriller that shows the stark contrast between the power elite in Northwest DC and the working class in the Northeast, and the racism that exists in both.
Shadowfell #03: The Caller
The conclusion of a terrific high fantasy series that started with Shadowfell. I've loved all the books in this series, but sadly I've been unsuccessful at convincing my fellow judges to shortlist any of them. With well developed characters, a page-turning plot, and themes of sacrifice and choice, this may be the best book of the trilogy.
The Girl from the Well
A creepy paranormal horror story told from the point of view of a centuries-old ghost. With distinctive voice, an almost poetic writing style, and a strong dose of Japanese culture, The Girl from the Well has a lot of teen appeal. This one came very close to making the shortlist, but we had some concerns about the mentally ill being used in a stereotyped way for horror effect.
A Creature of Moonlight
As the daughter of a dragon and a princess, Marni is torn between two worlds, the wild and beautiful but dangerous forest, and the equally dangerous life at court. A beautifully lyrical, character-driven fantasy with a theme of choice and being true to yourself. Add a Comment
Blog: Manga Maniac Cafe (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Horror, Review, Vampires, Young Adult, Add a tag
May Contain Spoilers
This series is proof that even if the first volume doesn’t work for you, maybe the rest will. I couldn’t get through The Farm – I’m not sure why. I don’t know if I just wasn’t in the mood, or the pacing left me feeling impatient, or if it was just the wrong day of the week to start reading it. I set it aside and moved on, forgetting about it, until I was given the opportunity to review The Lair. Now there was a book I couldn’t put down!
I really enjoyed creepy darkness of Emily McKay’s nightmarish world. A virus has ravaged America, turning its victims into mindless, violent monsters with a never-ending craving for blood. To stave off the annihilation of humans, young Americans have been quarantined onto Farms, their blood collected and fed to the starving Ticks. After forming an uneasy alliance with a vampire, Lily and Carter, two teens, are determined to save the world. Their little rebellion faces one challenge after another, and Lily lies in a coma at the end of The Lair, victim to the virus.
The Vault picks up right where The Lair left off. Carter is desperate to obtain the cure for virus, which Sebastian claimed is hidden in his territory. Carter and Mel, Lily’s twin sister, can’t enter the lab where they think the cure is secured because of the security measures the vampire left in place to guard his domain. They need Sebastian, or at least parts of Sebastian, to get inside. The problem? Mel left Sebastian staked to the ground after the battle with Roberto. While she goes back to see if he’s still alive or salvageable, Carter heads to Sabrina’s territory. The cruel vampire is rumored to have some vials of the cure, and a desperate Carter will do anything to get his hands on them if it means saving Lily’s life.
The Vault kept me on the edge of my seat as Mel and Carter attempt to save Lily from turning into a monster. Told from all three characters’ POV, they all struggle to survive in their new deadly world. Lily wakes from her coma, and she knows that it won’t be long before she turns into a Tick. She can already feel her humanity and her reasoning skills slipping away. Together with Marcus, Ely’s brother, she heads for a Farm, where she thinks she’ll find safety and medical assistance. I enjoyed her POV the most, and was a bit disappointed when her voice went silent for part of the book. I would have loved a first hand account of her experiences, instead of relying on Carter to narrate that part of the story.
There’s a lot of action in The Vault, which made it a rollercoaster read. My biggest nit-picks? Sabrina was such a one-dimensional character I had a hard time taking her seriously, and Carter got a little (okay, a LOT whiny) near the end. I just didn’t have the patience to deal with his sudden hang-ups about his relationship with Lily. They both survived the end of the world, for goodness sake! Just cherish the love that somehow flourished amid so much death! Lily did, and even Mel got a HEA, so Carter’s reluctance to take things at face value grated on me.
Review copy provided by publisher
There is no rest for the damned in this thrilling follow-up to Emily McKay’s The Lair and The Farm, in a series New York Times bestselling author Chloe Neill calls, “Equal parts Resident Evil and Hunger Games.”
In a world where vampires rule and teenaged humans are quarantined as a food source, there is only one choice—resist or die. But fighting the vampires comes at a terrible cost to twin sisters Mel and Lily and their best friend Carter . . .
With Lily exposed to the vampire virus and lying in a coma, it’s up to Mel and Carter to search for the cure. Time is not on their side. With every passing heartbeat, Mel is becoming more and more purely vampire.
Desperate, Carter and Mel decide to split up. Carter will recruit human rebels from the Farm in San Angelo to infiltrate the guarded kingdom of the vampire Sabrina and steal the cure. Mel will go back to her mentor, her friend, her betrayer, Sebastian, who is the only one who can access an underground vault that may house the secret to the cure.
That is, if he’s still alive after she staked him to the ground. Now her worst enemy may be their best hope for curing Lily—and saving the human race.Add a Comment
Blog: Sharon Ledwith: I came. I saw. I wrote. (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: 13 Days of Christmas, Fantasy, Free Ebooks, Holidays, Horror, Musa Publishing, Paranormal, Romance, Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Thrillers, young adult, Add a tag
I can’t resist zombie stories, so I was intrigued when I saw Accumulation. Nothing quite gets one in the mood Christmas mood than having their pants scared off, so check out the excerpt and giveaway for this frosty zombie tale.
G. Nykanen was born and raised in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. This small, rural land mass seems to cultivate a wide variety of colorful characters who provide a plethora of inspiration. The Point, Nykanen’s first novel, is filled with nuances of these local characters and the landscapes one might find in the north woods.
Well traveled thanks to her husband’s government career, she has lived in Europe and many of our United States over the last twenty years. She has recently returned home, moving back to her beloved Upper Peninsula where she resides with her husband and three children.
With The Point now completed, she will continue working on her next novel, Accumulation, along with continuing to develop other stories in the works.
Laney glared at her daughter; the stress of the morning had built quickly. Once again she faced the digital display on the stainless steel microwave, which was mounted above the induction cook-top. With her hands planted firmly on each side of the stove for support, she eyed the numbers: 7:20 and already on the verge. She studied her reflection in the microwave door. With professionally tousled hair and covered in the finest embellishments available for purchase at the local mall, her polished exterior was no indication of the mess that squatted within. She’d struggled, the last year or so, with some emotional issues. Her court-appointed therapist had suggested she visualize a gauge, “let’s call it your snap gauge,” she’d offered. Laney Riley stood in her high-end kitchen, visualizing the needle on her snap gauge, which was already in the orange, as she struggled with the stress of her rowdy sons and the promiscuity of her teenage daughter.
Elle, who at seventeen had the attention span of a gnat, had returned to surfing the Net.
“Mom! Mom, come see this, look what I found on YouTube.”
“You know I don’t like to watch anything on there, and besides, you shouldn’t be watching it either. I think restriction from the computer and a week of being grounded is on your schedule.”
“No, really, it’s crazy.”
Laney approached her daughter. “Move over a scosche would ya’, my ass is too big—I’ll hang off the end.”
Elle slid over in attempt to provide enough bench for her mother’s behind. “I can’t believe this footage.”
“What’s that? Oh my… is that a man?”
Mesmerized, they watched what appeared to be an African man in the midst of what seemed to be a series of seizures. He was lying on a dirt road, the fine dust clinging to his skin; it gave him a ghostly appearance. Several villagers had gathered around the poor soul. None of them came to his aid; they just kept their distance, simply spectators to the events that were unfolding before them.
Convulsions ripped through him in waves, every tendon in his body visible as his muscles tensed under the extreme strain of the violent episode. Dark, thick blood began to run from every orifice, cutting a path through the dust on his skin as he shook and flailed. With his back arched and his head thrown forward, he gurgled and groaned through his clenched teeth.
Laney was suddenly overcome with the impulse to shield her daughter’s eyes.
“What the hell, Mom?” she swatted her mother’s hand away from her face. “I’m seventeen, you don’t need to protect me.”
“I can’t look anymore.” Laney shut the laptop. “That’s one Internet hoax that’s gone too far.”
“It doesn’t look fake to me.” Elle re-opened the MacBook with every intention of viewing the video.
Laney couldn’t help but take one more peek herself. I’m sure if I really concentrate, I’ll find proof that it’s fake. “He does seem to really be suffering,” she was suddenly uneasy at the thought that whatever was happening to him could be real.
Once again they were sucked in, mesmerized by what unfolded before them. They both watched as he underwent this horrifying and seemingly real metamorphosis.
“You know,” Laney began to explain to her daughter, her head tilted to the side as she contemplated, “It kind of reminds me of those lycan movies… like he’s shifting.”
With his hands open and his palms facing skyward, he lurched and writhed as though he were pleading for divine intervention.
“Is that the sound of his bones cracking?” Elle gawked as his form twisted on the screen before them.
The bent and tensed fingers broke, each snapping loudly under the intense strain of the relentless spasms.
He was suddenly still, his joints bent and locked into configurations now more animal than human. His teeth were exposed to the gums, his mouth drawn into a snarl like some unknown force had pulled back his lips.
“Holy shit!” Elle cried. “You don’t think that’s what all the talk’s been about lately, do you?”
Laney cringed. “Don’t let your brothers see this.”
Just when they thought it was over, he popped up, lunging forward; the crowd scattered.
Startled, they jumped, the intense moment palpable even through the computer screen.
With great speed and agility, he moved, as he swept a man to the ground and tore into his flesh with his jutted jaw and extended teeth. He snapped, his head popping back and forth from his now distended neck. The camera kept filming as this now-rearranged man mauled an onlooker. Flesh was torn from tendon, as bits of tissue and sinew stretched from prey to predator, each tear followed by a gush of blood.
Unable to contain his horror, the filmmaker gasped with his heavy British accent, “Oh my god!”
The creature, now crouched on all fours, snapped his head, and turned in the direction of the camera. That’s when the filming stopped.
“What did we just see?” Laney sat mired in disbelief.
Elle was emphatic in her response. “I think we just saw a guy turn into something and then eat another guy.”
“Nonsense. I won’t believe it…I can’t. It’s just a farce, special effects.”
“Well, I’m convinced,” Elle crossed her arms at her chest.
“Convinced of what,” a familiar voice called from the kitchen doorway.
Laney turned to find her father-in-law, the shock of his presence plastered on her face. “What’re you doing here?”
Sue Riley, (Nan to the kids) crossed her arms and tapped her foot, already striking her judgmental posture.
Laney eyed her in-laws and then the dog. “Good job, if it was an intruder we’d all be dead.”
Spencer was still sleeping soundly, his nose stretched and pressed against the crack under the back door.
“My gut was telling me to flee Vegas. Weird news reports, brownouts, watering bans, felt like they were building up to something, made my ball hairs tingle, I didn’t like it. So I packed Ma into the car and started the drive north. I figured if the shit was going to hit the fan, this was the place to ride it out. I mean, could you imagine trying to survive out in that desert once the system broke down. The goddamn highway would be littered with bodies for miles. No water or air conditioning—certain anarchy.”
Elle harassed her grandfather. “Is this another one of your conspiracy theories, Pop?”
Now worked up, with his eyes glossed over, he flexed the tendons in his neck while his stiff and wiry gray hair stood at attention. It was unwavering as he flailed and gestured (in his typically violent fashion) while he explained his theory.
“No. You know they never tell you the whole story; trying to control the masses, manage the chaos by keeping us in the dark, only out to save themselves. Why do you think they try so hard to discredit people who’ve had encounters?” His thin but muscular arms tensed as he made air quotes. “And even if they don’t discredit them, they make them come off as crazy.”
The five o’clock shadow that coated his tanned and wrinkled face darkened the deep creases activated by his overly animated expressions. “Besides, it seems we got here just in time. If I hadn’t listened to that little voice telling me my government was lying to me, I wouldn’t have been able to get into town. National Guard vehicles were setting up a checkpoint.”
“What? What are you talking about? Why would they be doing that?” Laney’s anxiety multiplied. First the video, now a checkpoint, what the hell… With her hand now jammed into her sweater pocket, she rolled the pill bottle through her fingers, the sound of the powdery white pills tapping against the amber plastic a soothing lullaby for her tired nerves.
“To keep people in, or something else out. Probably whatever illness, or virus, or whatever’s been mentioned on the TV lately. Where is my son?” he transitioned abruptly as though it just occurred to him that he wasn’t present.
“He’s already down in his office. The ever-pressing needs of his job, I guess.”
Doolin Riley had left his station in D.C. when he was granted a virtual position to move his sick wife to a quieter setting. So now he analyzed his slice of the bureaucracy from his basement office.
Laney wished he were upstairs now; she didn’t think she could deal with the in-laws alone. (They made her self-conscious).
Both rail thin, she felt judged by them for her size and the size of her kids. They weren’t fat by any means, just thicker than Pop and Nan who subsisted on coffee and cigarettes.
Suddenly a high-pitched alarm blared from the television, cutting through the momentary lull in the kitchen. Laney clutched her chest, startled by the sudden noise.
“This is the emergency broadcast system. THIS IS NOT A TEST.
Please stand by.”
Blog: Writer's Digest Questions and Quandaries (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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BY DREW TURNEY
Author Joe Hill worked as a writer for nearly a decade before revealing his relationship to legendary horror author Stephen King. (For the uninitiated, Hill is King’s son.) Hill has stated that he wanted to prove himself on his own terms, and so chose to work under a semi-pseudonym. His three novels—Heart-Shaped Box, Horns and NOS4A2 (pronounced Nosferatu)—are all bestsellers, and his collection of short fiction, 20th Century Ghosts, won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Fiction Collection in 2005. And now his novel Horns is a movie starring Daniel Radcliffe, and his latest release is his bestselling book yet.
Here, Hill talks about his family, his writing, and what it’s like to step back and let someone make a film from your book.
Are you ready to write an engrossing thriller that readers can’t put down? In this series, bestselling authors share their firsthand experience and techniques both in writing thrillers and in getting their careers established. Get the inside scoop on the changing publishing industry, explore strategies for portraying point of view and pacing your story appropriately, examine the ins and outs of writing villainous characters, authenticating your story with psychological details and using forensic evidence. With help from these experienced authors, you’ll be ready to create edge-of-your-seat suspense and complete a thriller novel that agents can’t resist.
DT: How involved were you with writing the screenplay for Horns?
JH: I spent about three years writing Horns, and after that length of time I was ready to be done with it. Mandalay optioned it and wanted to make a film, and they asked if I had any interest in writing the script. I said ‘Not really,’ so they passed it onto Keith Bunin, who did a wonderful, wonderful job.
In terms of my contributions, we had a lot of great conversations when Keith was working on the script including Keith and I, Cathy Schulman who is a producer at Mandalay, and Adam Stone who’s also a producer on the film. And eventually Alexandre Aja when he came onboard.
We had lively arguments and broke the story down a dozen times and built it back up. It was a lot of fun. When Alex actually began filming, I viewed my role as to not get under foot and not to create trouble so I showed up on set for a couple of days to goof off and watch what people were doing and then I made myself scarce again. I came back in on the end to talk about editing, as they put the film together and I had some suggestions and some ideas. But at the end of the day, I felt like the film could only work if it was Alexandra Aja’s version of the story.
I told my version; it was time for him to tell his. I hoped that he would be true to the spirit of the characters and he was. Daniel Radcliffe and Juno Temple made sure of that. But beyond that I wanted Alex to feel free to have fun and to make a movie that lived on the screen, not something that was trying so hard to be faithful it just kind of plods along. I think he found a nice balance.
You know the thing about the film and about Alexandre Aja, he has a very light touch. And I know that’s a strange thing to say about the guy who directed The Hills Have Eyes, but he does have a very light touch. The film has this kind of lush romanticism to it. You know, I think that Alex has a romantic heart, and that’s sort of wonderful. It comes through in the film even in the most painful scenes.
DT: Do you have the distance yourself from it to some extent because it’s someone else’s baby?
JH: Yes, this is why I didn’t write the screenplay, too. I have written screenplays and I have fun doing that but I’ve never tried to adapt my own work. I don’t think I’d be a good collaborator if I were the screenwriter of something I spent three or four or five years writing as a novel because after I’ve spent three or four years meditating on a set of characters and on the situation, I’ve really got to have it my way. I just don’t think I could be flexible. I don’t think I could adapt.
I can do that if that’s my starting point. I wrote a pilot for a TV show called “Dark Side,” which is a reboot of an 80s TV show, “Tales from the Dark Side.” My version’s pretty different. But I had no trouble taking notes and collaborating and working with the network on that. It was fun and exciting. And I liked the challenge—if something’s not working, coming up with a fresh set of ideas. But there my starting point was the screenplay; however, with Horns I [had] just spent so much time with those characters and situations. Best to stay out of the way in a situation like that.
DT: Is it tricky to keep that distance?
JH: Yeah, it is. I always feel uncomfortable saying this. I was in so much pain when I wrote it. And you always find people like that annoying, right? Because it’s like they sound so self-important, so full of themselves and so full of their own sense of drama, you just want to smack them up the side of the head. But I kind of understand. I was in a really bad place mentally when I wrote Horns.
It’s a really unhappy and paranoid book by a really unhappy and paranoid man. That’s not to say I’m not very proud of the book—I think it’s a lot of fun, I think readers enjoy it. But I have a hard time revisiting it. And so for me, it’s actually easier to enjoy it as a film than it is to enjoy it as a book. I just don’t like thinking about where I was mentally when I wrote the story. … But it all turned out okay at the end.
My first novel was Heart-Shaped Box and it was a tremendous success. And I know it’s a cliché, but fell into that second-book trap and at one point I had 400 pages of a novel called The Surrealist Glass and every scene was terrible. Everything about it was bad. I was 50 pages from the ending and I threw the whole thing away. I just couldn’t stand it and I remember thinking, Forget it, I’m done. If there’s never another book, there’s never another book. I don’t want to be a guy who wrote a crappy book just to have a follow up. I’d rather just be a one-book writer.
And so I stopped the writing for a little while. And then at some point after I stopped writing, the mental fist came unclenched. I started thinking about what I needed to make a story work. I decided that what I needed was the devil. Stories always come to life when the devil walks on stage, a character to tempt people into sin and to reveal secrets and that was sort of the starting point of Horns.
DT: Were you afraid that the rich inner lives of your characters wouldn’t translate to the screen?
JH: Well, it is hard, but that’s the challenge—that’s an actor’s challenge. One of the things I’ve said over and over again is that, in the course of the story, Perrish (the hero) covers this enormous emotional terrain. He experiences grief and loss and rage and madness and delirious joy. He goes from innocence to experience, and a lot of that is internal. Daniel Radcliffe was able to bring all those emotions to the screen and make it look easy, make it look effortless. I always think that whenever you see an artist do something that’s difficult and make it look easy, you’re seeing someone who’s worked incredibly hard. I do think that Dan is a really remarkable young actor, and with every role he shows more range and an almost athletic range of skills. We were just so lucky that he wanted to play the part.
DT: So do you have any plans or action on movies of any of your other books?
JH: Some good things have happened with a short story called “Best New Horror.” Some interesting things have happened with my novel NOS4A2 that I’m not allowed to talk about yet, but they’re sort of trucking along in an interesting way. Universal is waist-deep in the preliminary work on adapting Locke & Key as a film trilogy. My understanding is they have a pretty big chunk of the script that they’re all really happy with. My tendency is not to say too much about any possible film or TV stuff until the cameras are actually rolling because until then I don’t really believe in it.
DT: Have you ever thought about acting?
JH: Well, I’m a former child actor. I was in Creepshow. I was the little kid with the voodoo doll. My feeling is that that particular performance was gold, and so perfect that there’s really no reason to return.
I explored everything there is to explore in the field of acting with that film and there’s no reason to tarnish the greatness of that initial performance with another role. I view myself as very much like Daniel Day-Lewis, you know—years and years between parts. Daniel Day-Lewis and I are almost exactly the same guy.
DT: You definitely showed some incredible range in that role.
JH: I think so. It was right there. Way better, way better than those, way better than those second-rate child actors who worked on Harry Potter. Oh my God, blew that right out of the water!
DT: That Daniel Day-Lewis guy, what’s he got on you really?
JH: Nothing. He’s got longer hair.
DT: You and your father seem happy for the worlds of your books to cross paths a little. So it seems that you don’t want to be too disconnected from his work.
Well, not so much anymore. When I was a younger guy, I was really insecure. I was afraid if I wrote as Joseph King that publishers would publish a lousy work because they saw a chance to make a quick buck in the last name. I was afraid of that. So I decided to write as Joe Hill. I was able to keep it a secret for about a decade.
In the course of that time, I made my mistakes in private—which is where you’re supposed to make them. I worked my craft and learned the things I needed to learn and, eventually, when I did sell my first book of stories, I sold it to a small press in England. I felt like it sold for the right reasons because the publisher didn’t know anything about my dad. He didn’t know anything about my family. He just really liked those stories. Each of the short stories sold individually for the same reason, in little magazines where the editor said ‘This is great, we really like this story. We’d be happy to publish it.’
I desperately needed that encouragement. I needed to feel like I was succeeding on my own merits, not because my dad was someone famous. I’m a little bit more secure now, and in many ways NOS4R2 has a lot of joking references to Stephen King novels in it. In some ways, NOS4R2 is a book about Stephen King novels. It is a kind of response to my dad’s book It, which I loved as a kid. If you scratch the surface, it’s possible to see that NOS4R2 and It share the same underlying structure.
A brain isn’t very big. It’s just a few pounds of gray matter stuck in a very small living space. You’ve only got so much space to move around in, and so you are stuck writing about the facts of your own life. You may be inventing fiction, but you’re stuck using your own childhood and your own experiences and your own emotional responses to things. So it’s really impossible to have a lifelong career as a novelist and not write stuff that is occasionally reflective on my parents.
Far off lands set among the stars. Creatures that go thump-bump-crash in the night. Stories you can’t wait to sink your teeth into. With this exclusive collection from Writer’s Digest, you will be on your way to being the next Isaac Asimov, Stephen King or Charlaine Harris.
Drew Turney is a filmgoer, movie industry watcher, technology expert and books and publishing reporter with more than ten years experience. He writes about everything from the latest mobile phones to special effects to book reviews to author profiles, and everything in between. Find more at drewturney.com and filmism.net.Add a Comment
Blog: A Chair, A Fireplace and A Tea Cozy (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: 2014, Bethany Griffin, Greenwillow, horror, retelling, reviews, Add a tag
The Fall by Bethany Griffin. Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins. 2014.
The Plot: A retelling of The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe.
The Good: Did you not see what I said? A retelling! Of The Fall of the House of Usher!
OK, it's true that not every retelling or re-imaging is done well. And it's also true that there are many ways to revisit a story. So you need more from me, to let you know that this one is well worth the read.
The Fall is an emotional, character driven retelling, making the doomed Madeline Usher the main character.
It is Madeline telling the story, and it is fragmented. Madeline at eighteen, trapped, buried alive; Madeline at nine, when her family is strange but still together and alive. The story jumps back and forth in time, ending, as it began, with Madeline at eighteen. Along the way, the reader, along with Madeline, learns of the curse of the Ushers -- a curse on both the physical house and the bloodline. A curse that allows the family to continue, yes, but attacks each generation, physically and mentally attacking family members. They remain rich and well off and with a grand house -- but they are doomed and the house is decaying, as the family decays. As Madeline decays.
And let me say how much I loved that the telling is non-linear, because it makes the reader as unsure as Madeline is, as unaware of what is really going on. Doubting and believing, uncertain and sure.
And what is really going on? Madeline and her family are cursed, of course. Along with Madeline, the reader learn about the origins of the curse, and how it touches each generation, with hints of abuse and madness and incest, and how it twists and turns the people living in the house.
Or, maybe not.
One thing I liked about The Fall, and I hope I'm not alone in this, is that it may all be in Madeline's head. That she may be mad, yes, but not because of a curse. That Madeline sees things and interprets things because of both her own madness, but also because those around her are convinced there is a curse so she chooses to see the world, and herself, as victims of that curse. That some things may be things she made up, or she believes because her parents believed and she's been isolated with no one to balance anything.
Or, maybe yes, and there's a curse and even when Madeline seems mad it's the proper reaction to the situation she is in.
Another thing I liked was that The Fall doesn't veer far from Poe's story. OK, I admit, I haven't read the story in years and years. So I'm going more on memory of the story and the Vincent Price movie. But The Fall kept the focus tight: Madeline, her twin brother Roderick, his friend from school. There are also doctors treating Madeline and that may be new but if it is, it makes sense and it kept the story and plot tight.
And, finally, The Fall stays within the confines and setting of the original story, which was written in 1839. A year is never given, but there are coaches and servants and the time period is clearly "long ago" and "not now." What I love is how this setting is shown and created without much detail. Ask each reader of The Fall to sketch the house and its gardens and rooms, and each drawing will be different from each other. Madeline is telling the story and she is showing us her emotional truth. I love that Griffin trusts us, the reader, to not need those extra bits and doesn't give into the temptation of unneeded details.
And yes . . . I do plan on rereading The Fall of the House of Usher! So I'll revisit this review once I've done so.
Assorted links: Guest Post by Bethany Griffin at Uncorked Thoughts, talking Gender; review at The Book Smugglers; review at Wondrous Reads; review at Bookish.
Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.
© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy
Blog: PW -The Beat (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Digital Comics, Helloween!, Holidays, Top News, 24 hours of halloween, 31 days of halloween, horror, sam costello, split lip, Add a tag
Split Lip is a long running—and critically acclaimed— horror comics anthology (ANOTHER)began online in 2006 and ventured into print in 2009. It’s the creation of writer Sam Costello, who enlisted artists including Kyle Strahm (Spread), John Bivens (Dark Engine), Sami Makkonen (Deadworld: Slaughterhouse), T.J. Kirsch (Amy Devlin Mysteries), Christine Larsen (Valentine), David Hitchcock (Springheel Jack), and Felipe Sobreiro (The Strange Talent of Luther Strode) to do the drawing. A new series of stories just relaunched on Wednesday, after having been retired in 2012 by Costello. But “even though I tried to move on to other things,” he writes. “I kept having ideas for new short horror stories. As I wrote them, I realized that these stories—in their tone, style, and approach—were Split Lip stories and that I had to relaunch the series.”
The relaunch includes five months worth of comics already completed and an additional four stories underway.
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The new stories begin with “Victims,” a story of missing memories, twisted families, and emotional trauma written by Costello and drawn by Steven Perkins.
Upcoming stories include “Lone and Level,” a meditation of materialism and mortality, with art by Max Temescu, and “8 Days Alone,” drawn by Matthew Goik, in which a man believes that his girlfriend has come back from vacation a different person.
To celebrate the relaunch of Split Lip, all 5 Split Lip trade paperbacks are 30% off through Halloween at http://store.splitlipcomic.com
The relaunch of the series will be followed in November by a new design for the Split Lip website. The improved design will offer a better reading experience, less clutter, and a tablet-friendly size. The new stories are also optimized for display on high-resolution screens like Apple’s Retina Display, delivering the art and lettering in super-crisp detail.
“As every horror and comics fan knows, nothing really stays dead. I’m thrilled that Split Lip, whether undead, zombified, or simply relaunched, has risen from the grave and is back among the living,” said Costello.
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Timing is everything, and Humble Bundle has just launched a horror themed bundle with many comics including Shadowman, afterlife with Archie, Buffy and prose works by Stephen King, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Joss Whedon, Joe Hill, Max Brooks and many more.
Customers can name their price for Shadowman Vol. 4: Fear, Blood, and Shadows, Song of Kali, The Mocking Dead #1, Houses of the Holy, The Last Zombie, Zombies: The Recent Dead, plus two songs by band-on-the-rise, A Sound of Thunder. Those who pay more than the average price will also receive Buffy Omnibus Vol. 1, Clive Barker’s Hellraiser: The Dark Watch Vol. 1 & 2, Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer, Swan Song and Knights of Sidonia, Humble Bundle’s first ever manga title. Customers who pay $15 or more will receive all of the above, plus Darkness: Two Decades of Modern Horror, the Eisner award-winning Locke & Key Vol 1: Welcome To Lovecraft and the first two issues of the acclaimed series Afterlife with Archie.
“Humble Bundle is proud to include so many quality horror titles in one place,” said Humble Bundle’s Director of Books Kelley Allen. “From vampires to witches plus a horde of zombies, this bundle has everything a horror reader could want by some of the genre’s biggest names.”
PS: did anyone catch how much the Star Wars bundle made?Display Comments Add a Comment
Blog: Read Roger - The Horn Book editor's rants and raves (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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The Cabinet of Curiosities:
36 Tales Brief & Sinister
by Stefan Bachmann, Katherine Catmull, Claire Legrand, and Emma Trevayne;
illus. by Alexander Jansson
Middle School Greenwillow 488 pp.
6/14 978-0-06-233105-2 $16.99
Four “curators” — Bachmann, Catmull, Legrand, and Trevayne — travel to lands peregrine and outré to fill their Cabinet of Curiosities museum, sending back grotesqueries and objects of wonder as well as the tales behind them — tales that often bend to the tenebrous and unearthly. The table of contents lists the Cabinet’s “rooms” and “drawers,” each with a theme (cake, luck, tricks, flowers) and four or five tales to explore. In “The Cake Made Out of Teeth” (“collected by” Legrand) a spoiled-rotten boy must finish an entire cake made in his image, despite the sensation of teeth chewing him up with every bite. “Lucky, Lucky Girl” (Catmull) stars a young woman whose good luck seems to depend on the very bad luck of the people around her. In “Plum Boy and the Dead Man” (Bachmann), a rich and opinionated lad has a conversation with a corpse hanging from a tree…and ends up unwillingly changing places with the victim. “The Book of Bones” (Trevayne) features Eleanor Entwhistle, a plucky girl whose courage halts the work of a grave-robbing sorcerer. The stories are remarkable both for their uniformly high quality and for their distinctness from one another; the abundant atmospherics, including occasional stark black-and-white illustrations, provide a unifying sense of dread. The framing device — the curators send letters from the field introducing their latest discoveries — adds depths of mystery, danger, and idiosyncrasy to a book already swimming in each.
From the September/October 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.Add a Comment
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JacketFlap tags: *Featured, Books, Literature, Oxford World's Classics, A Sicilian Romance, gothic, halloween, Heart of Darkness, horror, horror story, in a glass darkly, OWC, reading list, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, The Vampyre, Add a tag
People have enjoyed the horror genre for centuries, reveling in the spooky, toe-curling, hair-raising feelings this genre elicits — perfect for Halloween. Whether you’re trick-or-treating, attending a costume party, or staying home, we’ve put together a list of Oxford World’s Classics that will put you in the mood for this eerie night.
The Vampyre and Other Tales of the Macabre by John Polidori
“The Vampyre”, a gothic horror that’s sure to push you to the edge of your seat, is considered the first to incorporate a vampire into fiction. And that’s just one of the many squeamish stories in store; from a bloodthirsty vampire to obsessive revenge, let the ghastly atmosphere overwhelm you with this collection of stories.
Follow the terrifying story of a young man whose descent into madness leads into a life as a serial murderer. In the second half of the novel, the murderer tells his side of the story, revealing his true madness. This psychologically unnerving novel will probably leave you sleepless. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
A Sicilian Romance by Ann Radcliffe
Perhaps a story about an arranged marriage wouldn’t garner the usual horror fan’s interest. But after nearly (and unknowingly) being stabbed by her jealous stepmother, the protagonist escapes from the arrange marriage into the labyrinth of the passages underneath Sicilian castles. With Ann Radcliffe’s weaving of psychological terror in a gothic setting, this is a perfect book to lose yourself in while (perhaps accidentally) ignoring the trick-or-treaters at your door.
Heart of Darkness and Other Tales by Joseph Conrad
In a story highlighting the horrors that humans can wreak upon one another, Marlow (the narrator in the story) tells of his experience in Africa and of his witnessing Kurtz’s descent into power hunger and madness. The dark themes present throughout Heart of Darkness will sit at the forefront of your mind, an ever-present reminder that humans can be just as frightful as any monster.
Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Tales by Robert Louis Stevenson
The first story in this four-piece collection is the horrifying story that tells of a doctor conducting experiments that cause him to transform into a violent, murderous man. Is Hyde really a separate “being”? Or is he simply Jekyll unleashed from the confines of moral society…? This classic story is bound to find its way on the list, and with a number of other chilling short stories by Robert Louis Stevenson in this book, you can’t lose.
In a Glass Darkly by Sheridan Le Fanu
You’ll claw your way out of being buried alive in The Room in the Dragon Volant. Or you’ll go mad as a demon haunts you with the intent of destroying you psychologically in Green Tea. With supernatural creatures and nightmarish circumstances, this collection of five short stories will highlight any horror lover’s Halloween.
Headline image: Caw! Caw! Photo by Wayne Wilkinson. CC BY 2.0 via Flickr.
Blog: Reading Teen (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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"Review My Books" Review by J THE FALL by Bethany Griffin Hardcover: 432 pagesPublisher: Greenwillow Books (October 7, 2014)Language: EnglishGoodreads | Amazon Madeline Usher has been buried alive. The doomed heroine comes to the fore in this eerie reimagining of Edgar Allan Poe's classic short story "The Fall of the House of Usher." Gothic, moody, and suspenseful from beginning to end, TheAdd a Comment
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13 macabre Twist in the Tale offerings, not for the faint hearted!Add a Comment
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JacketFlap tags: Shelf Talkers, Staff Pick, Horror, Lauren Oliver, Literature, Add a tag
If ghosts are real, they are probably like these: cantankerous, prone to snits, and deeply curious about the warm bodies living in "their" rooms. Oliver's dysfunctional family reunites in a lost-and-found whirlwind of mystery and secrets, with the housebound spirits as unexpected guests. Books mentioned in this post Rooms Lauren Oliver Used Hardcover $17.95Add a Comment
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The latest issue of the venerable British horror/dark fiction magazine Black Static includes my latest story, "Patrimony", and is now available both in print and as an e-book in various formats. I'm thrilled with the accompanying illustration by Richard Wagner, and thankful to Andy Cox for buying the story and rushing it into print, because it's one of the strangest and most disturbing things I've ever written, and not the sort of thing that just any editor would get excited about.
For a preview, here's the first paragraph:
For most of my life, I worked in the gravel pit as an overseer. There had been gravel there for a long time, but there wasn’t much left. Mostly, we spent our days trying to decide where to set off dynamite. We didn’t have a lot of dynamite, so we wanted to be precise. We would go for weeks and even months without lighting a single stick. I spent my days – ten-, eleven-hour days – telling the workers to try over here, to look over there, to dig here, to prod there. We sought the best rock, the least sand.Add a Comment
Blog: Reading Teen (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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The Maze Runner (Book 1) Age Range: 12 and up Grade Level: 7 and up Series: The Maze Runner Series (Book 1) Paperback: 375 pages Publisher: Delacorte Press; Reprint edition (August 24, 2010) If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human. When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone. Nice to meet ya,Add a Comment
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Fall is in the air, and we’re celebrating by hosting a Halloween Thrills and Chills event! Some of our favorite blog friends will present fantastic guest posts and interviews by three Disney Hyperion authors with books releasing this year, including Mary: The Summoning‘s Hillary Monahan, Welcome to the Dark House‘s Laurie Faria Stolarz, and The Whispering Skull‘s Jonathan Stroud. Check out the full tour schedule below, and be sure to enter the giveaway at the very end for a box of horror books that will be delivered to you in time for Halloween reading! We’re kicking off the event tour with Jonathan Stroud, author of the The Bartimaeus Sequence and many other novels. His second book in his Lockwood and Co. series just came out, and if you like the idea of coolly competent young British ghosthunters with a Sherlock-type vibe, you’ll certainly enjoy this series. I love how the... Read more »
The post Halloween Thrills & Chills: box of horror giveaway + Jonathan Stroud interview appeared first on The Midnight Garden.Add a Comment
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May Contain Spoilers
I enjoyed Alison Kemper’s Donna of the Dead, so when I saw Dead Over Heels on Netgalley, I was all over it. I was expecting a continuation of that story, but Dead Over Heels features different characters. It is set during the same time period, in the mountains of North Carolina. It’s not as campy as the previous book, but once again, I was hooked and couldn’t step away from the zombie apocalypse.
Ava’s parents purchased a vacation home in rural North Carolina, so she’s stuck in the cold mountains during Thanksgiving break, instead of prowling the mall with her friends in Florida. After her parents head to town, a 45 minute drive from their new digs, Ava’s world comes crashing to a halt. Cole, who has been doing yard work for her father, comes pounding up the porch steps with unbelievable news – the zombie flu has arrived from China, and a band of zombies are about to eat them both.
Ava doesn’t believe him at first, but a glance at the shambling corpses quickly convinces her. Grabbing her purse, which holds her live saving EpiPen, she races into the woods with Cole. She’s desperate to stay alive and find her parents. With zero wilderness survival skills, it’s a miracle that Cole was there to shepherd her away from the zombies. He is familiar with the woods, he has extensive camping experience, and he has hunted on the mountain his entire life. And oh, yeah, he’s drop dead gorgeous.
I am not a big fan of roughing it, so Ava’s extreme roughing it adventure was spellbinding. She and Cole have practically no supplies, and did I mention that she is allergic to everything? One insect bite and she goes into anaphylactic shock. She is toast without her EpiPen. She has spent her entire life avoiding the great out doors, and now she’s fleeing through the woods from zombies, trying to avoid wasps, bees, and every other stinging creature out there. The zombies are the least of her worries. While they are certainly a threat, she can outrun them. A bug is a death sentence.
Dead Over Heels is a frantic race through the woods, battling hunger, the weather, bears, and the walking dead. With all of the adrenalin pounding through their systems, Ava and Cole are constantly in a state of distress. They hit it off like oil and water at first, due to their very different backgrounds. Cole thinks of Ava as a Floridiot, and Ava rudely calls Cole a redneck. As they are forced to rely on each other, and as they save each other from death time and again, they begin to develop feelings for each other. Who could blame them? They have no idea if anyone else is still alive, or whether everyone on the planet is now a stinky zombie. It’s comforting that they have each other.
Told in alternating POV, I found both Cole and Ava likable and relatable. I charged through Dead Over Heels, and I can hardly wait to see what’s next.
Review copy provided by publisher
The end of the world just might be their perfect beginning…
Glenview, North Carolina. Also known—at least to sixteen-year-old Ava Pegg—as the Land of Incredibly Boring Vacations. What exactly were her parents thinking when they bought a summer home here? Then the cute-but-really-annoying boy next door shows up at her place in a panic…hollering something about flesh-eating zombies attacking the town.
At first, Ava’s certain that Cole spent a little too much time with his head in the moonshine barrel. But when someone—or something—rotted and terrifying emerges from behind the woodpile, Ava realizes this is no hooch hallucination. The undead are walking in Glenview, and they are hungry. Panicked, Ava and Cole flee into the national forest. No supplies, no weapons. Just two teenagers who don’t even like each other fighting for their lives. But that’s the funny thing about the Zombpocalypse. You never know when you’ll meet your undead end. Or when you’ll fall dead over heels for a boy…Add a Comment
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Hope you like this book trailer for my macabre Twist in the Tale compilation of short stories. Perfect to read at Halloween, and certainly NOT for children!!Add a Comment
Blog: Becky's Book Reviews (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: 2014, books reviewed in 2014, Horror, J Fiction, j historical, library book, MG Fiction, mg historical, YA Fiction, YA Historical, YA Horror, Add a tag
I loved, loved, LOVED Jonathan Auxier's The Night Gardener. It may just be my favorite new book published in 2014. I loved so many things about it: the atmospheric setting, the creepy world-building, the storytelling, the writing, and the characterization. (Yes, those overlap, I imagine.) I could just say that I loved all the elements of this one; that I loved it absolutely from cover to cover. (Which does more justice for the book?)
Here's how the story opens. I'm curious if it will grab you like it did me!
The calendar said early March, but the smell in the air said late October. A crisp sun shone over Cellar Hollow, melting the final bits of ice from the bare trees. Steam rose from the soil like a phantom, carrying with it a whisper of autumn smoke that had been lying dormant in the frosty underground. Squinting through the trees, you could just make out the winding path that ran from the village all the way to the woods in the south. People seldom traveled in that direction, but on this March-morning-that-felt-like-October, a horse and cart rattled down the road. It was a fish cart with a broken back wheel and no fish. Riding atop the bench were two children, a girl and a boy, both with striking red hair. The girl was named Molly, and the boy, her brother, was Kip. And they were riding to their deaths. This, at least, was what Molly had been told by no fewer than a dozen people as they traveled from farm to farm in search of the Windsor estate.I loved Molly and Kip. It wasn't that either protagonist was perfect. It was that I felt both were oh-so-human. These two do find the Windsor estate. And they do manage to stay on as help. Even though they don't necessarily receive wages--just room and board. This country estate is...well, I don't want to spoil it. But the people who warned them to stay away from the estate, from the sour woods, well they had good intentions. The book is creepy in all the right ways. It is a WONDERFUL read if you love rich, detailed storytelling.
I also loved Hester Kettle. She is the old woman--Kip thought she was a witch at first glance--who tells them the directions to the estate. She also proves to be a friend and kindred spirit. She is, like Molly, a story-teller.
Hester touched the button, "Funny things, wishes. You can't hold'em in your hand, and yet just one could unmake the world." She looked up at Molly. (214)
"You asked me for a story; now you call it a lie." She folded her arms. "So tell me, then: What marks the difference between the two?"I loved the story. I loved the pacing. It was a great read!!! Definitely recommended!
Agitated as she was, Molly couldn't help but consider the question. It was something she had asked herself in one form or another many times in her life. Still, Molly could tell the difference between the two as easily as she could tell hot from cold--a lie put a sting in her throat that made the words catch. It had been some time, however, since she had felt that sting. "A lie hurts people," she finally answered. "A story helps 'em."
"True enough! But helps them do what?" She wagged a finger. "That's the real question..." (214)
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews Add a Comment
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These are the songs that wake me up, take me out of my worries and anxieties, wash my brain cells, and send me to the keyboard to write with new vigor. 1. "It's My Life" by Bon Jovi This is a song I associate with my beloved vampire hero, Lestat, today. I imagine Lestat loving [...]Add a Comment
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October conjures up images of crackling fires, shivering leaves, the grinning teeth of a jack-o-lantern … and, if you’re a fan of classic horror, that iconic, fanged master of the night, Count Dracula. We feel there’s no better time than October—National Dracula Month—to share some writing tips and techniques that authors can learn from Dracula and apply to their own horror stories.
As you read this excerpt from chapter one of Dracula, try reading Bram Stoker’s text first, and then go back and read it again, this time pausing to digest the annotations from Mort Castle, in red.
Thirsty for more? Writer’s Digest Annotated Classics: Dracula, by Bram Stoker with annotations by Mort Castle, is available now! More than just an annotated version of the novel, this edition presents sharply focused, valuable techniques for writers who want to learn more about the techniques Bram Stoker used—and why he applied them.
JONATHAN HARKER’S JOURNAL
(Kept in shorthand) 
 That Harker’s diary is kept in “shorthand” immediately reveals something of the man’s personality: With shorthand, he can record his impressions rapidly. Even a modern, ultra-fast-paced, totally plot-driven thriller has to have some characterization by finding small ways to provide “a bit of character” such as this.
3 May. Bistritz.—Left Munich at 8:35 P.M., on 1st May, arriving at Vienna early next morning;  should have arrived at 6:46, but train was an hour late. Buda-Pesth seems a wonderful place, from the glimpse which I got of it from the train and the little I could walk through the streets. I feared to go very far from the station, as we had arrived late and would start as near the correct time as possible. The impression I had was that we were leaving the West and entering the East; the most western of splendid bridges over the Danube, which is here of noble width and depth, took us among the traditions of Turkish rule. 
 Stoker, had he been writing in our era, might well have launched Dracula far later into the story at a much more dramatic moment, giving us, perhaps, Harker’s escape from Castle Dracula.
Television and films frequently use a technique called in medias res, starting “in the middle of things” (from the Latin) in order to hook the audience. Then, with the hook set, the writer fills in, usually via flashback, what readers need to know to get back to “the middle of things.” (More about flashbacks later.) Modern fiction writers have latched onto this technique. Beginning writers often begin way before the true beginning of the action. It is a typical flaw. What Stoker gives us here is almost in medias res; while there is no great dramatic action, Harker is placed in a physical location at a specific time. We know he is a traveling man, and we sense that he is a man on a mission. After all, he is concerned about the trains running on time. He has, we sense, places to go, people to see, things to do.
The narrative arc of the story has just about commenced.
 Observe, writer, an absolutely masterful transition. Transitions get characters (and readers) from “there” to “here,” from “then” to “now.” It is easy to mess up transitions by thinking it necessary to detail every moment/movement between “there” and “here” and “then” and “now.” That is simply not so.
It will keep the story moving to simply write the equivalent of: He took the bus across town. This is Stoker transitioning a la “took the bus across town,” and it offers something more than a movement between locales: It shows Harker’s journey from the familiar Western European locales to the exotic East.
We left in pretty good time, and came after nightfall to Klausenburgh. Here I stopped for the night at the Hotel Royale. I had for dinner, or rather supper, a chicken done up some way with red pepper, which was very good but thirsty. (Mem. get recipe for Mina.)  I asked the waiter, and he said it was called “paprika hendl,” and that, as it was a national dish, I should be able to get it anywhere along the Carpathians. I found my smattering of German very useful here, indeed, I don’t know how I should be able to get on without it.
 It is with Harker’s little note to self that he begins to really come alive. This little note of domesticity reveals much of just who Husbandly Harker is. We start to like him because we are getting to know him.
A well-developed fictional character is someone who is every bit as alive and just as unique an individual as anyone we know—really well—out here in RealityLand. When a character is well done, we get to know the character so well that we like or dislike, love or hate him.
Having had some time at my disposal when in London, I had visited the British Museum, and made search among the books and maps in the library regarding Transylvania;  it had struck me that some foreknowledge of the country could hardly fail to have some importance in dealing with a nobleman of that country. I find that the district he named is in the extreme east of the country, just on the borders of three states, Transylvania, Moldavia, and Bukovina, in the midst of the Carpathian mountains; one of the wildest and least known portions of Europe. I was not able to light on any map or work giving the exact locality of the Castle Dracula, as there are no maps of this country as yet to compare with our own Ordnance Survey Maps; but I found that Bistritz, the post town named by Count Dracula, is a fairly well-known place. I shall enter here some of my notes, as they may refresh my memory when I talk over my travels with Mina.
 Time to bring it out, this Ancient Commandment for All Writers: Write what you know.
You might be thinking: But Bram Stoker never visited Transylvania.
And if a writer doesn’t know it, he or she must conduct research. We must therefore assume Stoker, like Harker, did serious research—research on a deeper level than might be provided even by that respected canon of our time, Wikipedia. It’s credibility that is at stake. (At stake … sorry. Can’t help it!) You never want your reader to think that you, the author, do not know what you are writing about.
In the population of Transylvania there are four distinct nationalities: Saxons in the South, and mixed with them the Wallachs, who are the descendants of the Dacians; Magyars in the West, and Szekelys in the East and North. I am going among the latter, who claim to be descended from Attila and the Huns. This may be so, for when the Magyars conquered the country in the eleventh century they found the Huns settled in it. I read that every known superstition  in the world is gathered into the horseshoe of the Carpathians, as if it were the centre of some sort of imaginative whirlpool; if so my stay may be very interesting. (Mem., I must ask the Count all about them.)
 With the derisive word superstition, Harker reveals himself again as a sober and reasonable man. He’s preparing us for his becoming royally unhinged not so long from now. This is foreshadowing, albeit done in a subtle manner.
Effective foreshadowing can give readers the feeling of “uh-oh” long before a character has any such feeling. It can therefore contribute to the mood of a scene and build suspense.
I did not sleep well, though my bed was comfortable enough, for I had all sorts of queer dreams.  There was a dog howling all night under my window, which may have had something to do with it; or it may have been the paprika, for I had to drink up all the water in my carafe, and was still thirsty. Towards morning I slept and was wakened by the continuous knocking at my door, so I guess I must have been sleeping soundly then. I had for breakfast more paprika, and a sort of porridge of maize flour which they said was “mamaliga”, and egg-plant stuffed with forcemeat, a very excellent dish, which they call “impletata”. (Mem., get recipe for this also.)  I had to hurry breakfast, for the train started a little before eight, or rather it ought to have done so, for after rushing to the station at 7:30 I had to sit in the carriage for more than an hour before we began to move. It seems to me that the further east you go the more unpunctual are the trains. What ought they to be in China?
 Queer dreams = Foreshadowing again. These are unusual dreams, somewhat disconcerting dreams, strange dreams … they are not horrible dreams that bring on sweats and shrieks. Were Harker to be in such an elevated emotional state at this early point in the narrative, it would be nearly impossible to build to the sustained claustrophobically smothering terror that falls upon him when he becomes the Count’s guest/prisoner.
 A fundamental writing rule: Show, don’t tell. If your words put a picture on the reader’s mental movie screen, you are following the rule. If you evoke a sensory response in the reader, you engage the reader.
Author David Morrell advises in any significant scene—that is, one meant to be memorable and not just “something happens”—that it’s a good idea to come up with three sensory triggers.
All day long we seemed to dawdle through a country which was full of beauty of every kind. Sometimes we saw little towns or castles on the top of steep hills such as we see in old missals; sometimes we ran by rivers and streams which seemed from the wide stony margin on each side of them to be subject to great floods. It takes a lot of water, and running strong, to sweep the outside edge of a river clear. At every station there were groups of people, sometimes crowds, and in all sorts of attire. Some of them were just like the peasants at home or those I saw coming through France and Germany, with short jackets, and round hats, and home-made trousers; but others were very picturesque. The women looked pretty, except when you got near them, but they were very clumsy about the waist. They had all full white sleeves of some kind or other, and most of them had big belts with a lot of strips of something fluttering from them like the dresses in a ballet, but of course there were petticoats under them. The strangest figures we saw were the Slovaks, who were more barbarian than the rest, with their big cow-boy hats, great baggy dirty-white trousers, white linen shirts, and enormous heavy leather belts, nearly a foot wide, all studded over with brass nails. They wore high boots, with their trousers tucked into them, and had long black hair and heavy black moustaches. They are very picturesque, but do not look prepossessing. On the stage they would be set down at once as some old Oriental band of brigands. They are, however, I am told, very harmless and rather wanting in natural self-assertion.
It was on the dark side of twilight when we got to Bistritz, which is a very interesting old place. Being practically on the frontier—for the Borgo Pass leads from it into Bukovina—it has had a very stormy existence, and it certainly shows marks of it. Fifty years ago a series of great fires took place, which made terrible havoc on five separate occasions. At the very beginning of the seventeenth century it underwent a siege of three weeks and lost 13,000 people, the casualties of war proper being assisted by famine and disease. 
 One more splendid transition. There is not a wasted word here, yet Harker and readers travel from 8:30 in the morning until past twilight, from Klausenberg to Bistritz.
Count Dracula had directed me to go to the Golden Krone Hotel, which I found, to my great delight, to be thoroughly old-fashioned, for of course I wanted to see all I could of the ways of the country. I was evidently expected, for when I got near the door I faced a cheery-looking elderly woman in the usual peasant dress—white undergarment with a long double apron, front, and back, of coloured stuff fitting almost too tight for modesty. When I came close she bowed and said, “The Herr Englishman?” “Yes,” I said, “Jonathan Harker.”
She smiled, and gave some message to an elderly man in white shirtsleeves, who had followed her to the door. He went, but immediately returned with a letter—
“My friend.—Welcome to the Carpathians. I am anxiously expecting you. Sleep well tonight. At three tomorrow the diligence will start for Bukovina; a place on it is kept for you. At the Borgo Pass my carriage will await you and will bring you to me. I trust that your journey from London has been a happy one, and that you will enjoy your stay in my beautiful land.
 Here Stoker chooses to use subtle irony. Whatever Dracula is, he is no friend to Harker. As a writer, you can do a lot with irony. For example, how many patients likely heard Hannibal Lecter say he wanted to help them?
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1. “So where do the ideas—the salable ideas—come from? They come from my nightmares. Not the night-time variety, as a rule, but the ones that hide just beyond the doorway that separates the conscious from the unconscious.”
—Stephen King, “The Horror Writer Market and the Ten Bears,” November 1973, WD
2. “The first thing you have to know about writing is that it is something you must do everyday. There are two reasons for this rule: Getting the work done and connecting with your unconscious mind.”
3. “I hope people are reading my work in the future. I hope I have done more than frightened a couple of generations. I hope I’ve inspired a few people one way or another.”
4. “When one is writing a novel in the first person, one must be that person.”
—Daphne du Maurier
5. “When I write, I try to think back to what I was afraid of or what was scary to me, and try to put those feelings into books.”
6. “[Horror fiction] shows us that the control we believe we have is purely illusory, and that every moment we teeter on chaos and oblivion.”
7. “Beauty is the sole legitimate province of the poem.”
—Edgar Allan Poe
8. “I have always loved to use fear, to take it and comprehend it and make it work and consolidate a situation where I was afraid and take it whole and work from there.”
9. “Writing is writing, and stories are stories. Perhaps the only true genres are fiction and nonfiction. And even there, who can be sure?”
10. “I always wanted to be in the world of entertainment. I just love the idea of an audience being happy with what I am doing. Writing is showbusiness for shy people. That’s how I see it.”
11. “I don’t think there is enough respect in general for the time it takes to write consistently good fiction. Too many people think they will master writing overnight, or that they are as good as they will ever be.”
12. “What I love about the thriller form is that it makes you write a story. You can’t get lost in your own genius, which is a dangerous place for writers. You don’t want to ever get complacent. If a book starts going too well, I usually know there’s a problem. I need to struggle. I need that self-doubt. I need to think it’s not the best thing ever.”
—Harlan Coben, WD Interview, January 2011
13. “My reason for writing stories is to give myself the satisfaction of visualising more clearly and detailedly and stably the vague, elusive, fragmentary impressions of wonder, beauty, and adventurous expectancy which are conveyed to me by certain sights (scenic, architectural, atmospheric, etc.), ideas, occurrences, and images encountered in art and literature.”
Want to write your own horror, thriller or suspense novel? Then learn from a master with The Writer’s Digest Annotated Classic: Dracula.
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