Tag: horror


Twitter Tuesday: Twittering from the Circus of the Dead

Posted 17 December, 2013 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Twitter Tuesday: Twittering from the Circus of the DeadTwittering from the Circus of the Dead by Joe Hill
Published by Harper Collins on August 6th 2013
Genres: Fiction, Short Stories (single author)
Pages: 100
Goodreads
four-stars

Come one, come all. The show's about to begin. Step right up for the Circus of the Dead: where YOU are the concessions. #CircusoftheDead

I found this short story to be delightfully scary. It’s narrated through a series of tweets from a snarky teenage girl with the appropriate amount of teenage angst. In short, it’s just a Twitter feed. 

Things go from mundane to spooky to downright scary. 

TYME2WASTE begins by hating her mom, hating her dad, hating her brother and definitely hating that she’s going to have to spend the next 40 hours in a van with them. Her mother is concerned she’s too disconnected from the real world, so being a teenager, TYME2WASTE starts a Twitter account from her iPhone. When dad decides to make a pit stop at a spooky circus, things get interesting. 

The ending is expected but that doesn’t take away any of the charm or fun of this story. 

Excellent.

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Wednesday Wasteland: The Road

Posted 4 December, 2013 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Wednesday Wasteland: The RoadThe Road by Cormac McCarthy
Published by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group on March 20th 2007
Genres: Fiction, Literary
Pages: 245
Goodreads
five-stars

A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don't know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other.The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, "each the other's world entire," are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.


AH-MAZE-ING. 

Depressing. 

A few weeks ago I shared my review of  Alas, Babylon which I also highly recommend. The Road seems to be the flip side to that book. 

Alas, Babylon is about a community in Florida that overcomes the horrors of nuclear war, whereas The Road is definitely about those who are not so lucky. 

It is as poignant as it is depressing, probably the most depressing novel that I have read in a long time, if not ever. Father and son travel across a desolate and wasted landscape ravaged by the horrors of nuclear war. They seek food and shelter and the reader keeps questioning why the continue on and constantly wonder about the futility of their struggle to get to the West Coast. 

I’ve read quite a few reviews that describe this book as too depressing, but I prefer to see it as a cautionary tale on what we as humans have the ability to do to both our environment and each other. 

It’s a brilliantly written book that completely drew me in and made me feel, it may not be for everyone, but if you have a love of apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic novels, this is a must read. 

I believe McCarthy’s two other successful novels (Blood Meridian and No Country for Old Men) are on the ‘1001 Books to Read Before You Die’ list, but I haven’t tried them yet as the descriptions seem to suggest western-style novels. Have you read them? How did you find them? How did you find The Road?

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Halloween Horror: The Haunting of Hill House

Posted 31 October, 2013 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Halloween Horror: The Haunting of Hill HouseThe Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Published by Penguin Genres: Classics, Fiction
Pages: 245
Goodreads
five-stars

First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a "haunting"; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.

Yep. I’m going to agree with the pros. The Haunting of Hill House is a defining piece of literature within it’s genre. This is the first time I had read this book and thinking back almost every supernatural horror novel that I’ve read before it contains some echo of this novel.

It’s creepy and horrible in the best way and immediately draws you in with Eleanor, who has been unable to create a life of her own because she’s spent the past 11 years as the caretaker for her dreadful mother. I especially liked this passage:

Eleanor Vance was thirty-two years old when she came to Hill House. The only person in the world she genuinely hated, now that her mother was dead, was her sister. She disliked her brother-in-law and her five-year-old niece, and she had no friends. This was owing largely to the eleven years she had spent caring for her invalid mother, which had left her with some proficiency as a nurse and an inability to face strong sunlight without blinking. She could not remember ever being truly happy in her adult life; her years with her mother had been built up devotedly around small guilts and small reproaches, constant weariness, and unending despair. 

Hill House, like Eleanor, waits, empty for someone to fill it up. The haunting may seem mundane by modern standards, but it’s the atmosphere and the character of the house itself that really creates the atmosphere which makes this novel so effective. 

One note about the forward in this edition. IT CONTAINS SPOILERS! Luckily it’s a relatively heavy piece of literary analysis and I was ready to go so I skipped it and read it afterwards. If you’ve already read this book then definitely read the forward as it is excellent, if you haven’t, then definitely take the time to read it afterwards.

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Psycho Saturday: Goodbye Nothing

Posted 19 October, 2013 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Psycho Saturday: Goodbye NothingGoodbye Nothing by Beck Sherman
Published by Beck Sherman on September 3rd 2013
Goodreads
three-stars

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange honest review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Since the night of the accident, Cain Emmerick has felt different. Empty. What was important to him--family, friends, his job--doesn't matter anymore. His new life revolves around that Nothing inside of him and the extraordinary highs he gets from committing random acts of violence. Seventeen-year-old Joey Morgan is blind, but that doesn't stop her from seeing. Something bad is about to happen. Something that could tear her world apart. For Joey, college life isn't quite turning out like she planned, because before good grades, fitting in, and love, comes survival.

Two words: Violent and gory. 

This book is was purely middle of the road for me. It felt like a cross between Silence of the Lambs and The Mayfair Witches with less writing talent. If you enjoy horror and suspense with a dash of the supernatural then this might be an enjoyable read for you. Sherman is skilled in his attention to detail but the plot and the ending are a bit stilted and forced. 

The title is unfortunate as well, it conjures up thoughts ofGoodnight, Moon. Perhaps that’s an intentional juxtaposition with the violence.

I really don’t have much to say about this one, super helpful in a book review, I know. It’s a middle of the road novel for the most part with it’s outstanding feature being that it’s only a half step down from what I would classify as ‘ultra-violent’. 

With Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained being a ten on the violence scale and Goodnight, Moon being a zero, Goodbye Nothing probably ranks a 6.5.


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World War II Wednesday: Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account

Posted 9 October, 2013 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

World War II Wednesday: Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eyewitness AccountAuschwitz by Miklós Nyiszli
Published by Arcade Publishing on 1960
Genres: General, History
Pages: 222
Goodreads
five-stars

When the Nazis invaded Hungary in 1944, they sent virtually the entire Jewish population to Auschwitz. A Jew and a medical doctor, the prisoner Dr. Miklos Nyiszli was spared death for a grimmer fate: to perform "scientific research" on his fellow inmates under the supervision of the man who became known as the infamous "Angel of Death" - Dr. Josef Mengele. Nyiszli was named Mengele's personal research pathologist. In that capactity he also served as physician to the Sonderkommando, the Jewish prisoners who worked exclusively in the crematoriums and were routinely executed after four months. Miraculously, Nyiszli survived to give this horrifying and sobering account.

This is a fabulous book. I’ve read a lot on the Holocaust and the Nazi death camps. This is the only first hand account on Mengele and the way the crematoriums functioned that I’ve ever seen. The writing is simplistic but clear — and horrifying.


I didn’t particularly appreciate the forward in this volume as I found it to be a bit … sanctimonious. Demanding to know why the only Sonderkommando that ever attempted to rebel was the 12th? Seriously? You’re going there?

This is a must read for everyone with any interest at all of WWII and should be a must read for everyone.

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Sequel Sunday: Doctor Sleep

Posted 6 October, 2013 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Sequel Sunday: Doctor SleepDoctor Sleep by Stephen King
Published by Simon and Schuster on June 10th 2014
Genres: Fiction, General, Horror, Supernatural, Suspense, Thrillers
Pages: 560
Goodreads
four-stars

Stephen King returns to the character and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, The Shining, in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance and the very special twelve-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals. On highways across America, a tribe of people called the True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky twelve-year-old Abra Stone learns, the True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the steam that children with the shining produce when they are slowly tortured to death. Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel, where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant shining power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.” Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of devoted readers of The Shining and satisfy anyone new to this icon in the King canon.

Another fabulous book by Stephen King. This is a perfectly executed sequel to The Shining.

I love that little Danny Torrance has grown up and manages to get some hard sobriety time in AA. In the afterword King speculates what might have happened to Jack Torrance if he had found AA instead of trying the ‘white-knuckled method’ of sobriety. Danny’s ‘bottom’ is powerfully written and is a story that many struggling with addiction can relate to.

I would have loved to get more time in with old Dick Halloran, but I guess this wasn’t really his story anyway.

Rose the Hat and The True Knot were formidable foes for Danny and Abra, also just scary people.

I found The Shining scarier for different reasons. King really addressed serious family issues and the horror that addiction can wreak upon people. Doctor Sleep is excellent and definitely worth the read but it lacks some of the depth and power that The Shining has because Danny, while always struggling (as addicts are forever doomed to do ) to stay sober, does stay sober, and while his ‘bottom’ is terrifying and terrible, it’s nothing compared to what Jack Torrance’s bottom was. (That is, of course, almost murdering his family while employed as a winter caretaker at a certain Overlook Hotel.)

Anyway, read it. It does not disappoint.

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Stephen King Saturday: The Shining

Posted 5 October, 2013 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Stephen King Saturday: The ShiningThe Shining by Stephen King
Published by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group Genres: Fiction, Horror
Pages: 464
Goodreads
five-stars

With an excerpt from the sequel, Doctor Sleep.Terrible events occur at an isolated hotel in the off season, when a small boy with psychic powers struggles to hold his own against the forces of evil that are driving his father insane.


I re-read this book in anticipation of Dr. Sleep and holy poop on a stick is this book scary.

I had read it years ago and during the intervening years watched the Kubrick film countless times. Since I had forgotten much of the book, I couldn’t understand why Stephen King was rumored to be so displeased with the Kubrick film. 

Well after completing the re-read, I completely understand! The film, while brilliant, is nothing like the book.

The Shining explores addiction, child abuse, wounds we harbor from our own parents aaannnd ghosts! (But aren’t all those old mistakes and scars from childhood ghosts? So deep and important.

Fantastic. Don’t short yourself by only watching the film and if you haven’t watched the film… READ THIS FIRST!! 

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#295 – 1001 Books to Read Before You Die (2010)

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Frightening Friday: Heart-Shaped Box

Posted 4 October, 2013 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Frightening Friday: Heart-Shaped BoxHeart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
Published by Harper Collins on May 1st 2007
Genres: Fiction, General
Pages: 528
Goodreads
four-stars

Judas Coyne is a collector of the macabre: a cookbook for cannibals . . . a used hangman's noose . . . a snuff film. An aging death-metal rock god, his taste for the unnatural is as widely known to his legions of fans as the notorious excesses of his youth. But nothing he possesses is as unlikely or as dreadful as his latest purchase, an item he discovered on the Internet: I will sell my stepfather's ghost to the highest bidder . . . For a thousand dollars, Jude has become the owner of a dead man's suit, said to be haunted by a restless spirit. But what UPS delivers to his door in a black heart-shaped box is no metaphorical ghost, no benign conversation piece. Suddenly the suit's previous owner is everywhere: behind the bedroom door . . . seated in Jude's restored Mustang . . . staring out from his widescreen TV. Waiting—with a gleaming razor blade on a chain dangling from one hand . . .

I figured since I plan to have finished and reviewed Doctor Sleep by Sunday (fingers crossed – some family things have come up), we might as well just have another Joe Hill. (I hear he’s divorced, my husband already knows I’m leaving him if I can find a way to get into the King family :>) ANYWAY. 

This is one of the best books that I have read in a long time. It takes you places you didn’t think you were going and turns somewhere else just when you’ve figured out where you are. For those with a penchant for suspense/horror/supernatural novels, this is a must read. 

Many people preferred Horns, but I like Heart-Shaped Box better because in its deepest essence it is an old-fashioned ghost story. It’s written to make you feel that old thrill of ghost-stories around the campfire that’s so hard to capture in adulthood.

Hill’s writing style, while dealing with horror elements, is all his own. Definitely a force in his own right. Lovelovelove.

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Thursday Thriller: Horns

Posted 3 October, 2013 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Thursday Thriller: HornsHorns by Joe Hill
Published by Harper Collins on February 16th 2010
Genres: Fiction, General, Horror, Thrillers
Pages: 624
Goodreads
four-stars

Ignatius Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things. He awoke the next morning with a thunderous hangover, a raging headache . . . and two horns growing from his temples.

Horns is an absolutely fantastic novel. It presents an idea of what becoming a devil might be like. Not necessarily an ‘easy’ read, but enjoyable and propelling nonetheless. What I find fascinating about Hill’s novels (the two [including this one] that I’ve read) depict a protagonist that comes from money. At first I thought that Ig was trailer trash. He was not in the least, though Lee still came off as that. Anyway. Great. Excellent. 

Hill is a writing force of his own. Extremely distinct from his father.

Definitely should be a to-read.

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Scary Saturday: The Store

Posted 28 September, 2013 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Scary Saturday: The StoreThe Store by Bentley Little
Published by Penguin on July 1st 1998
Genres: Fiction, General, Horror, Thrillers
Pages: 432
Goodreads
four-stars

In a small Arizona town, a man counts his blessings: a loving wife, two teenage daughters, and a job that allows him to work at home. Then "The Store" announces plans to open a local outlet, which will surely finish off the small downtown shops. His concerns grow when "The Store's" builders ignore all the town's zoning laws during its construction. Then dead animals are found on "The Store's" grounds. Inside, customers are hounded by obnoxious sales people, and strange products appear on the shelves. Before long the town's remaining small shop owners disappear, and "The Store" spreads its influence to the city council and the police force, taking over the town! It's up to one man to confront "The Store's" mysterious owner and to save his community, his family, and his life!


I came upon the author when I read one of Little’s short stories in the collection 999: 29 Tales of Horror and Suspense. I liked the story so much that I sought out a novel.

The Store is fun. I highly recommend it for anyone who dislikes Wal-Mart or other major corporations/big box stores, especially discount retail outlets. It’s extraordinarily satirical and spooky at the same time.

It’s also dated (published in ’98 I believe). I don’t suppose that’s really the author’s fault, though.

Fun read. Do it.

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