Lovecraft feature

A Horror Fan’s View on H.P Lovecraft’s ‘At The Mountain of Madness’ and ‘The Shadow Over Innsmouth’

Let me start by saying I’m not an avid H.P.Lovecraft fan. In fact the only reason why I started looking into the work of Lovecraft is because my other half is a huge Lovecraftian Fanboy. Personally, I never got what was so terrifying about his stories. That was because I never knew what Lovecraft was about, that and I’ve been absorbed into what I think is scary. Freddy Kruger, Jason, Chucky, and the Jigsaws of my generation. A conversation with my other half, which steered into the background of Lovecraft’s work, peaked my interest. And, as my long-term readers know, I’m a sucker for anything that will scare the living daylights of out me. That does not include Spiders, Spiders can leave the planet and I’ll be a happy bunny.

Anyways, the conversation was generally about our favourite horror authors, I explained what I thought about Edgar Allen Poe and he said Lovecraft. Upon telling me about a Lovecraftian creäture that whispers the details of the end of the world to you while you sleep. He stated:

‘ Insanity is the scary part.’

The common theme in Lovecraft’s novels is insanity. Characters seeing a glimpse of something and going insane, figuring out what no human being should know and their minds completely giving out. I hear the term, ‘ It’s indescribable’ a lot when talking to the other half about Lovecraft’s creatures. That is true. When reading ‘ At The Mountain of Madness’ the narrator describes every inch of the creäture and I could not picture it in my head, I simply could not get my head around the words on the page. I could picture the human and dog remains that were ripped a part. I could see the blood across the snow, but I could not imagine the looks of these creatures with Star Fish like tentacles for heads. ‘The Shadow Over Innsmouth’ was a little easier to imagine, before reading the book I watched a Let’s Play of a video game that was loosely based on the story. I knew what Innsmouth Eyes looked like, or at least another person’s idea of what they look like.

Lovecraft’s insanity and my term for insanity are completely different, I understand the concept of seeing something so horrific that you literally lose your mind, it happens in real life, I have an idea of what would make me lose my mind. The popular concept of Insanity being locked inside your own head with the nightmares that you can not escape from is kind of scary. When I think of insanity being scary, I think of something like the video game Outlast, where you play a person that who is locked inside an insane asylum with the residents on the loose and trying to kill you. You can not fight them, you can not protect yourself, all you can do is run, hide and pray they don’t find you. You could argue that it is the same, both concepts of insanity have you being locked inside of a place that you can not escape, whether it is voices, something you’ve seen, done or just a person stalking you in the shadows.

The location and story of ‘At the Mountain of Madness’ made me think of John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’ aka ‘Who Goes There?’ by John Campbell Jr. Humans in the Antarctic discover something alien that has been there for thousands, maybe millions of years. It kills them leaving only two, both shaking from the experience, one survivor is on the brink of insanity. Both are stories about Isolation, Paranoia, insanity, and stumbling on to something that should be left alone. Being chased by an unknown that you can not or do not want to see.

My other half always says that what he loves about Lovecraft is the no win scenario, there is no happy ending. Eventually Cthulhu will awaken, a person who has seen a Shoggoth will have something taken from them, you will die, it will happen and there is nothing you can do about it.

‘The Shadow Over Innsmouth’ has this element in it. The narrator just stumbles into Innsmouth and learns of its history, only find out about himself in the end. He can not do anything about it. It is going to happen, no matter how hard he looks in his mirror, no matter how much he denies it. He is getting older, he will change. His video game counter part does not fair better either. Due to our ‘there is always a happy ending society’, I assume that the idea of a no win scenario doesn’t exist for some of  you. If you are finding it hard to comprehend think of it like this:

One day our sun will die and when it does, our solar system will end. That is Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune will no longer be around. Our sun will swell up and extend to Jupiter’s orbit, that means the inner planets will be swallowed up by the Sun. We will die. There is no surviving, no escape, all we can do is wait for it to happen. Even if some of the outer planets survive they will become rogue planets floating in the frozen depth of space. There is no happy ending for us or them. It is human nature to try to rationalize the fear away, we have billions upon billions of years left, the human race will die out by then. That doesn’t change anything. It will still happen. There is no escaping it. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing every day and expecting the out come to change, we go about our lives thinking that everything we do will change the outcome of life. Like fish we swim about our daily lives but it doesn’t change the fact that there is no happy ending. There is merely insanity.

 

About these ads
The Jester

The Jester (A Riyria Chronicles Tale) by Michael J Sullivan

What can I say about Riyria? Well for starters they are 100% complete

Hadrian and Royce

See, Royce totally could be Garrett’s dad.

and utter win. Okay, maybe I can’t say that for sure since I only just started reading, Theft of Swards; the first Volume in the Riyria Revelations series, but it does look that way.

Riyria Revelations are three novels within the Epic Fantasy genre written by Michael J Sullivan. They were published by Orbits Books in 2011 and 2012, but they were around long before that since they were self-published by Sullivan and were originally six volumes. Once Orbits began publishing Riyria, six became three and these books are incredibly long. Harry Potter can eat it’s dust. By the way when Riyria Revelations was self-published it sold 90,000 copies, thus proving that anyone who says self-publishing is a waste of time or stupid can go to hell.

I’m not going to start talking about the Riyria books until I’m at least finished with ‘Theft of Swords and knee deep in the second Volume, Rise of Empire. But I am going to talk about the Short story that got me interested in the series, The Jester.

Originally written for the ‘Unfettered’ Anthology, a compilation of short stories by some of the biggest names in Epic Fantasy. It was made to help fellow writer, Shawn Speakman, pay his medical bills. At the time Speakman had battled and survived cancer. He had the disease previously and apparently this meant that he couldn’t get health insurance. One would think that him beating cancer was a good thing and helping a man fight for his life would better than kicking him when he’s down but what do I know I’m just a human being who writes articles about books that I’ve read on the internet and not politician nor a doctor. Anyway out of this came ‘Unfettered’ and while I am happy for the anthology, I am sad that it came to be under such unfortunate conditions. I do hope to find and read it some day.

So The Jester was among these high fantasy stories, it is part of the prequel series named The Riyria Chronicles and takes place after the last book ‘ Rose and Thorn’ from Chronicles and before the first book ‘Theft of Swords’ from Revelations. Sullivan himself states that readers don’t need to read the Riyria Series to jump into The Jester. It is a stand alone story and was made to be enjoyed by readers fully. That’s cool but I kind of wish it was attached to the previous books because I would love to have seen the character of Wilma in the main book for reasons I’ll make clear when we get to the characters.

The story begins the way all stories should begin, with the characters falling to their deaths. They are Royce, Hadrian, Wilma and Ms annoying herself, Moira. Of course she is the only female character in this story and is the most annoying. She is a middle aged woman who thinks she is some kind of treasure hunting warrior and decides everyone is wrong and an idiot except for her. Oh joy. Yes she annoys me to no end. I might as well call her Ms Irritating, and I shall. Continue reading

Books From My Youth

BFMY: The Best vs The Worst: Nobody True by James Herbert

So we have come to up date.  There are tons of other book series that I haven’t touched on, but I would really rather get this  out of the way since it is going to open the flood gates that I won’t close for a while. Through out my childhood I have read series after series that I have liked and never really met anything that I didn’t really have a taste for. Those books didn’t come until adulthood; well not adulthood — more late teens.

James Herbert is a great writer, and sparked my interest in adult themed fiction, obviously paving the way for Karen Moning with her Fever Series and others. If you haven’t noticed from reading the ‘Books From My Youth’ Series (with the exception of Anita Blake, which was written by Chris Carlsson), my taste in books has evolved and shaped the type of books I like in my adult life. ‘Goosebumps’ led to ‘Grizzly Tales,’ ‘Bluford’ led to ‘Point Horror,’ ‘Remember Me’ led to ‘Nobody True,’ James Herbert led to Karen Moning; you get the drift.

Like I was saying, James Herbert is a great writer.  Well, he’s more of a mixed bag. See, when he’s good he is very good and can produce the likes of  ‘Nobody True’ and ‘Creed.’  When he is bad, he is very bad and produces the likes of ‘Once’ and ‘Moon.’  I don’t have the time nor patience to go through The Herbert Collection book by book.  I’m doing that with Bluford and it is taking very long, which is why I started doing five books at a time and an analysis, and I still haven’t finished it. No, I won’t be going through all of the books; I will just concentrate on the best and the worst: ‘Nobody True’ and ‘Once.’

Let’s start with, in my opinion, is the best book by James Herbert. ‘Nobody True’ is about James True who has outer body experiences which he can not control. One night, while having an OBE, True returns to find that he has been brutally murdered. The killer has now set his eyes on True’s family and it is up to True to catch this killer.   Unfortunately for him. he’s dead, so that is going to be an interesting task to undertake.

As I said in my ‘Remember Me’ article, the premise of these two books are very similar.  Shari Cooper is killed and finds that she is walking the earth as a ghost and must find out who killed her so she can have peace.  James True is not really dead but he isn’t alive either and he must find his killer. The only difference is that the stakes are higher for True; his killer is targeting his own family and True must find a way to stop the killer from striking again.

If I were going to put these two books side by side, I would say that ‘Remember Me’ is better. Its characters are well rounded and flushed out a little more than ‘Nobody True.’   Both books are told in first person, but it seems that James is the only person in that book to have a personality. The family we are meant to care about aren’t very likeable and unfortunately, there aren’t any sequels to flesh out the other characters like ‘Remember Me’ did. I did enjoy ‘Nobody True’ and I do think that is one of the best of Herbert’s Collection. I picked up and didn’t put it down. Though the repetition in ‘Nobody True’ was a bit cringe worthy at times, I enjoyed Herbert’s writing style. Over all it’s a pretty nice book and a solid read. It is, however, 600 pages long, so if you do pick it up you will be in it for a while.

That is the best of James Herbert, and then there’s the worst, the one I hate with all my heart: ‘Once.’

remember me

BFMY: Remember Me By Christopher Pike

After the Bluford Series (Yes, I will be getting back to that next month), I was in a different place, a different school and even a different country. I marked this time as my Pike/Rees years, when I became a huge fan of authors Christopher Pike and Celia Rees. While Celia had books that I found cool, like ‘Witch Child’ and ‘The Vanished,’ it was Christopher Pike’s story ‘Remember Me’ that made a long lasting impression on me. “Remember Me” was published in 1989.  It was a New York Times Best Seller and sparked two sequels, both of which I have read. While I enjoyed “Remember Me” and “Remember Me: The Return,” I wasn’t a huge fan of “Remember Me: The Last Story.” However, I do admit that ‘The Last Story’ was a fitting end to the series.

So, what is “Remember Me” about? Death, plain and simple. Yes, death was in Animorphs and Grizzly Tales and the Bluford Series, but they were told from the perceptive of the survivors.  They focused on how the death of a friend or loved one had an affect on the surviving characters.  “Remember Me” looks at death from the point of view of the person who died. Shari Cooper is a normal 18 year old, until the day she dies. She sets out to find the person that killed her. :Remember Me: The Return” is set around another character, Jean Rodriguez, who dies but you don’t follow her; you follow the person who takes over her body.  “Remember Me: The Last Story” follows Shari once more as she is given a second chance at life.  This time her life has meaning, but while following that meaning she stumbles onto a horrible secret.

I don’t want to spoil the books for you; it is better for you to go out and read them yourself and make up your own mind about them.  Christopher Pike is an awesome writer.  His look at death is something to be admired. The characters are all strong.  Shari is a strong female protagonist and is a good magnet keeping the books connected to each other.  Jean, is also a strong female protagonist that serves as a person we all can relate to. Peter as a male lead is also a well flushed out character.  His trials are interesting especially in the second book. My issues with the third book, the ‘Last Story,’ comes with its premise.  While I won’t tell you what that is, I will admit that it does make the world of “Remember Me” bigger.  Of course there would be a life after death, but it doesn’t really touch on that.  You would think it would go onto looking at the concept of heaven or hell or some kind of after life but instead it looks at the beginning of humanity and that is where the story lost me.

Nevertheless the “Remember Me” Series is very much worth a read. For a story that was aimed a teenagers the concept of what happens after you die is well handled. If I could define the books by a genre, “Remember Me” would be a solid murder mystery.  “Remember Me: The Return” is a solid drama and “Remember Me: The Last Story” is a fair but flawed Paranormal Science Fiction story.

The “Remember Me” series made me love stories that looked at what happened to you after you die.  It lead me to James Herbert and his book “Nobody True,” which had a similar premise but a key difference and I’ll talk about it when I get to that book.  But, for now, look for the “Remember Me” Series on Amazon or in your local book store.  It is totally worth it.

20140109_202644

Book Review: Poe – A Life Cut Short by Peter Ackroyd.

This is a biography of legendary American writer Edgar Allan Poe. It begins with his death detailing the strange 20140109_202644circumstances surrounding it. Ackroyd follows Poe’s steps and actions during his trip to New York, which stopped in Baltimore then on to Philadelphia and back to Baltimore, where he met with members of his family. The writer’s death is treated with the utmost respect and mystery.  Ackroyd frequently refers to his research and the words of colleagues to paint a picture of Poe’s travels. It shows that he was a true Poe admirer.

The chapters that follow paint a larger picture of Poe’s life from birth, and you do find several revelations surrounding the author’s life. For example, his birth name is Edgar Poe; Allan was the name given to him by his adoptive parents. While he had a well-maintained relationship with his adoptive parents, Poe lacked a view of his birth parents. He wrote this later in life about his mother:

‘ I, myself never knew her and never knew the affection of a father. Both died within a few weeks of each other. I have many occasional dealings with Adversity, but the want of parental affection has been the heaviest of my trials.’

The pages continue to follow his life with the adoptive parents Frances and John Allan, an upper class couple, his time at school, and slowly flows into the the man who we have come to know. There are also tons of little nuggets of shocking and interesting truths that will have you awkwardly looking away for a moment as well as stating the occasional ‘Oh, so that’s where he got that from.’ Continue reading

wpid-20131112_185711.jpg

Book Reviews: Close Up On Death by Maureen O’Brien

Today we’ll be talking about a murder mystery set in that London Town. ‘Close Up on Death” was written bywpid-20131112_185711.jpg Maureen O’Brien and  was a part of the Arcturus  Crime Classics collection.

A collection of crime focused books by different authors.

Close Up on Death is part of a bigger collection, however.  Checking the website of the author, it would seem that there are 5 books that feature Inspector John Bright, we’ll come to him when I talk about the characters.

Millie Hale finds a body in an empty house in Belsize Park, North London. It’s her best friend, Liza Drew, famous, beautiful TV star. A CID inspector turns up.  He’s small, dark. dressed in a scruffy leather bomber jacket and looks more like a crook than a copper. He’s DI John Bright. The story hinges as much on the sizzling relationship between Bright and Millie as it does on who killed Liza Drew.

Ooh exciting! What a plot. That is basically it:  Mille Hale finds her best friend dead while meeting her at a house viewing.  The story is told in first person from the point of view of Millie. It also chooses to concentrate solely on four people throughout the whole book:  Mille, Paul, Liza’s mother Mrs Drew and Inspector Bright. I guess it’s a good time to talk about the characters then.

The Characters

Like I said, the book is told in first person from the point of view of Millie. It’s done for a reason and a very good one at that. Millie is also an actress and through the story it seems that she is the second fiddle to the talented Liza Drew. While you walk with her, you do find out a lot about her.  She’s a very closed off person, she is a very good actress and she cares extremely for one other person, Liza’s boyfriend Paul, who was incidentally her boyfriend once upon a time.

While reading, you do feel for her.  She lost her best friend, she was second best to her friend, her friend’s mother hates her and she is trying to keep everything together for her best friend’s boyfriend who has his own demons he needs to deal with.

Next then is Paul, a threatre actor and boyfriend of Liza Drew. He is caring, almost to the point of being completely clueless to what is happening around him.  While he’s close to Millie and Liza’s mother Mrs Drew, he is very quick to withdraw himself from them too.  In the book, you find out that he had an affair with a fellow actress and this makes him a suspect in Liza’s murder.

Mrs Drew (Liza’s mother) is possibly the most bitter person in this whole book. You will end up hating her character for good reason. She seems to think that she is perfect and has something against Millie, almost to the point of hating her out right. Her story is revealed as you read on, and she is bitter for a reason, and its her own failing. She becomes a suspect because it is hinted that she is in love with Paul.

 Inspector John Bright comes off as the villain of this story.  I’m not sure how the police in London behave, (not very well, since they are on the news a lot lately) but it seems as if Bright is really harsh to all of the characters throughout the whole.  I spent most of the story hating him.

Setting

I couldn’t really pinpoint what year “Close Up On Death” took place, but some of the references made me think it was around the late 1990s to early 2000s.

After doing some research I found out that it was actually written in 1989, so I was kind of close. 

The overall story takes place in North-Northwest and West London, Suffolk and Sheffield. I found it very amusing when the character mentioned Willesden Green Lane and then, scowling,  said it was less to be desired.

Overall “Close Up On Death” is a great read, if you are looking for a nice run-of-the-mill crime mystery with solid characters.  The ending is one the makes you think as well as leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

Hood - FB Banner

The Torch Spotlights: Hood – An Action Noir Graphic Novel

You’re familiar with the Robin Hood stories right? He returns from fighting in the Crusades to find that his home is under the thumb of the Sheriff of Nottingham.  He robs from the rich and gives to the poor.  Well, what if Robin Hood didn’t come back from war, but from prison? What if the story was a noir?  And what if the Sheriff was not really a sheriff but an organized crime lord?Cover

It sounds so awesome, doesn’t it? It’s sad that the story doesn’t exist. Wait a second!  Yes it does!  On Kickstarter, Anthony Jones and Armin Ozdic have revamped the Robin Hood legend with a modern day twist. Now before you freak out, we should mention that ‘Hood’ is loosely based on Robin Hood.  The names have been changed but the characters are there Continue reading

The front cover of Demonhunters Handbook

(Sortof) Book Review: Demonhunters Handbook (Swedish book, English review)

Demonjägarens Handbok, or Demonhunters Handbook in English, is a Swedish book that has not reached international publication. This is not a novel, but it’s not really a children’s book either. It’s like a children’s flip-book, but for adults.

The book contains information on the most iconic of beasts from the horror genre, from vampires and succubi to hellhounds, presented in a different way. What makes the book unique is the way it is presented as the journal of writer Abelard Van Helsing. This pen-name is taken from Abraham Van Helsing, the co-protagonist from Bram Stoker’s classic novel, Dracula. Abelard claims no relationship to Abraham, in fact he doesn’t even mention him or his experiences. Instead, he writes the journal as if Dracula was only one part of a much longer adventure and it differs a bit from the novel.

The journal is addressed to you, the reader, the next adventurer, as you are Abelard’s apprentice. You are about to go through the portal to Hell itself, a place Van Helsing visited long ago.  As the apprentice of Van Helsing, he has written this journal to help you on your way.

Abelard starts off by showing you the different weapons a demonhunter needs and what each weapon is used for, as well as what things these weapons will have no effect on. Everything from simple “grenade,” made from vials of holy water, to the mythological Excalibur itself is described in great detail. He even offers you a map of where you can get each of these items. When it comes to the mythological weapons, he points out where he either hid it himself or where the fight against evil forced him to lose it. When it comes to the regular weapons, he’ll point you to which smith or covenant makes the highest quality. Van Helsing also gives you a sealed letter within this book that will ensure that the smith or covenant will provide these weapons for you, free of charge, for the cause of saving the world. Continue reading

Metro2033

Metro 2033 and Dmitrij Gluchovskij’s way with words

This review will be a bit different. I’m not as fast a reader as Kennie, I’m the kind of person that reads a book in three or four months. I have not yet completed Metro 2033, so this will not be a review of the story itself, rather a deep dive into the writing style of Dmitrij Gluchovskij, for it is a very unique style.

This review will still contain spoilers, both from the book and the games that followed the book, just as a comparison to what goes on in the game and what happened in the book. Since the book is my latest impression of the story, I will refer to the names in the book rather than the names in the game when names are given. Some names are different in the game! With that little disclaimer out of the way, let’s dig into the meat of it.

Metro 2033 follows the adventures of Artiom, a young man in one of the edge stations in the Moscow Metro after the fall of mankind. The fall was brought on by a global nuclear war that left Earth scorched and uninhabitable, the sun burning and the very air contaminated. The creatures that survived the initial fallout are now mutated beyond recognition and mankind as we know it now resides in the Metro, as it was built during the Cold War to be able to house people in this very scenario. Artiom’s home, the station known as VDNCh, lies on the edge of one of the less traveled lines and other than a few traders, they rarely get visitors. Artiom is, like most men able to work, a guard at the outer post, a fire pit 150 yards from the entrance to the station, as well as a mushroom farmer. He’s interested in the written word and other people’s way of looking at life. He was born topside and still have vague memories of life before the fallout, but he was very young when it happened so the memories are dim at best. He is also one of the very few in the Metro that has seen the Dark Ones, horrible creatures that seems to come from the top, looking like charred men, but with holes instead of eyes, and a big, grinning mouth covering most of the face. Guns seems useless against them and everyone who sees them or even hear their shrieks are filled with a deep fear, unable to take any action as they are slowly walking towards them… then they disappear. Continue reading