Adult Book Reviews by Genre: Horror

Frankenstein
Shelley, Mary
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is a book about the horrors of creating life. The book succeeds in developing most of the sidecharacters. You learn in depth about all of their pasts, and the story fits together well. The tragic plot line of the book shows how the decisions made by Frankenstein, the creator of the monster, comes back to haunt him. It almost becomes a game of cat and mouse when Frankenstein chases around his creation for revenge when really, the monster is haunting Frankenstein for his own revenge. Most of the book's themes include loneliness and rejection, and are explained well throughout the back stories of the characters. I feel that the book's only weak point is how the characters face their end. While the characters do indeed learn many life lessons, they never really accomplish anything. None of the characters have sentimental deaths, other than Frankenstein; the book just tells the reader that the character you have just grown attached to...well, dies. The book moves on from their deaths, and then the cycle repeats for the rest of the book. Overall, Frankenstein is a really good book, and I'd recommend it to people that like horror or mystery fiction.
Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Steven L.
Frankenstein: or, The modern Prometheus
Shelley, Mary
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

Frankenstein was a disappointment to me. As per the Romantic period, this novel used lots of scenes in nature to explain the characters’ emotional states. I do not mind a few good cries in a storm, but this novel borders on incessant outdoor melodrama. I decided to disregard both the plot and the setting in a vain attempt to enjoy the novel. I would only focus on the characters. As this was written by a female author, I looked forward to the female characters, which were awful. One, Justine, is a servant and seems only to exist in order to die. Elizabeth, who also seems to share this quality, is regarded as an object to be owned in a creepy incestuous manner by her cousin; she is apparently superior and virtuous only because of her noble birth. So, I dismissed the female characters to focus on the males, none of which were believable. Victor, his friend Henry, and his monster all were overly emotional, and they inspired no sympathy from me. With no likable characters and emotions running everywhere, I would only read Frankenstein if required.
Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Caroline J.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Grahame-Smith, Seth and Jane Austen
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Back in the zombie heyday of 2009, the idea of combining one of the most feminine pieces of literature with the oft masculine-marketed gory violence seemed like an interesting idea. I, for one, didn’t particularly care to read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice , but this take on the romantic classic certainly piqued my interest. Because of the addition of zombies to this plot, I was impelled to read this story to see how these drastically different archetypes were combined. I certainly wonder if the book would have been more enjoyable if I had read Pride and Prejudice beforehand, or if I would have remained far abreast of it altogether.

Partly due to the severe dichotomy of the original story and the zombie additions, there were certainly moments where I could tell what segments of Jane Austen’s plot were modified to fit the new, apocalyptic sensibilities.
The two concepts worked together somewhat, occasionally adding action to a scene that would have likely been boring in its predecessor, but in maintaining the story and outcomes of the original, the whole experiment didn’t quite “gel” as it could have. Perhaps the addition of the prequel and sequel to this book helps to round out these distinct edges, but I have yet to read those books yet.

When it comes right down to it, I struggled to get through this book. With the language and verbiage retaining is feel from the original, the archaic nature of the dialogue was not as easy to read as I would have hoped. In the end, I was practically just reading Pride and Prejudice, but occasionally “changing the channel” to a zombie film whenever anything became boring.
I applaud Seth Grahame-Smith for following through on this ambitious idea, but it almost seems like anyone could easily merge zombies to a romantic classic if they maintain the majority of the source material.

An intriguing idea that never quite fully “connects,” I give Pride and Prejudice and Zombies 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Awards:
Genres:
Psycho
Bloch, Robert
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Once again, I find that the source material on which a famous movie is based is equally as good and equally as famous. What strikes me as interesting is that the quick turn on some of these literary masterpieces from page to screen has largely remained unchanged. Gone with the Wind only took three years before its film debut, The Martian took four years, and Psycho only took one. Clearly, these stories are practically screaming to be made into movies, and most have done quite well as the cultural icons of their age.

Of course, having already seen the film on which this book was based, I was well aware of the twist ending. Nevertheless, reading through this book was almost enhanced by this a priori knowledge as one would probably not have guessed the twist if they were reading it for the very first time. There are just little hints here and there that something is off, but it’s not until close to the end that we find out that everything is not as it initially seemed. Even the visuals provided in the film version helped to aid my imagination in establishing the setting and characters.

And yet, as there always is, there are some differences in the book that did not make it into the movie. I wonder if Norman Bates was made a lot slimmer in the film partly due to Hitchcock’s portly frame. In the book, his overweight body adds a layer to the character (both literally and metaphorically) which helps flesh out (Har har. OK, I’ll stop) more of the explanations as to why Bates ended up this way. Much like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, being able to get into the mind of Norman Bates was a fascinating examination of someone with a severe mental illness.

A fantastic read equally on par with the Hitchcock classic, I give Psycho 5.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions
Gaiman, Neil
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

As someone who has to read many short story submissions for the anthology my writing group puts together each year, I can appreciate a well-written short story. I have not read much of Neil Gaiman, but in his collection of anthology short stories, Smoke and Mirrors, I was able to see what kinds of stories a professional writer writes for an anthology. While quite a few stories were interesting, not all of them were necessarily in genres I typically read. Then again, I consider erotica and stories submitted to Hustler as pornography, which is why I do not read these kinds of short stories.

Furthermore, it is a little more uncomfortable listening to erotica, as was the case with this audiobook. Fortunately, Gilbert Gottfried did not read it, but it still is uncomfortable to hear it nonetheless. Sure, the concepts in these short stories were somewhat interesting, but the sex ruined it for me. At least there were enough other stories that I found fascinating to make it worth my while to get all the way through it. The simplicity and genius of these ideas merely verify Gaiman’s writing talent, even if a few were hard to follow. At least a few of them followed the title of the book, which helped tie these separate stories together.

Perhaps my biggest qualm with this book was its structure. Moreover, maybe it was a limitation of a direct transferal to the audiobook format, but it is almost impossible to go back to the first section of the book and listen to the intro for each story before reading that story. Instead, it dispensed pertinent information on every short story before I even had a chance to get to them. If I were to appreciate each story fully, it would have been better to introduce each one with background information, so the context is fresh in the listener’s memory.

A collection of well-written short stories, I give Smoke and Mirrors 3.5 stars out of 5.

For more reviews of books and movies like this, please visit www.benjamin-m-weilert.com

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin
Swamp Thing: Volume 1, Raise Them Bones
Snyder, Scott
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"Swamp Thing: Volume One, Raise Them Bones" is the beginning of Scott Snyder (author) and Yanick Paquette (illustrator)’s visceral, mythic run on the comic, which I recommend heartily to fans of horror/grotesque gothic stories.

Detailing the eternal conflict between the Green (plant life), the Red (animal life) and the Rot that would consume and twist everything, Snyder’s interpretation of Swamp Thing is full of haunting imagery and interesting worldbuilding. Later on, the comic run is taken over by Charles Soule, who does a lovely (albeit very different) job carrying on the story.

For now, though – renowned botanist Alec Holland has been chosen by the Green to shed his humanity and become their knight. Will he go willingly? And what will become of him now that he’s been claimed, whatever he chooses to do?

Warnings:

-- This book is suited for older audiences, in my opinion, and definitely not children. The illustrations are often what one might call “graphic.” Be warned. It is something of a horror comic.
-- If you like this first volume and keep on with the series, just know that during the Rotworld arc, "Swamp Thing" crosses over with Jeff Lemire’s "Animal Man." It may behoove readers to pick up "Animal Man: Volume Three, Rotworld," at least, in order to get a complete look at the story. :)

Reviewer's Name: Kate
Broken Monsters
Beukes, Lauren
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Broken Monsters is a thriller set in Detroit in which a detective investigates a serial killer who murders people with a nail gun and then attempts to meld their bodies with those of animals -- or at least, that's how it starts out. The chapters rotate between the perspectives of Gabriella Versado, the detective investigating the case; Layla, her teenage daughter (currently embroiled in a plot to lure out and expose pedophiles); Jonno, a journalist who quit his job and moved to Detroit to reinvent himself by reporting on their art scene; TK, a homeless man working to protect his friends and community; and our serial killer, who finds himself infected by a dream that seems to have the power to rewrite reality itself. While it initially seems like a pretty standard thriller, the murders quickly veer off into the realm of the supernatural. The book is a bit uneven as a result, ending up as a mix of magical undertones plus serial killer crime investigation plus family drama that never quite came together for me. The writing wasn't amazing by any means, but it got the job done, and the plot managed to keep me turning pages. Despite having heard some rave reviews from others, I wasn't wowed by it, but if you're a fan of horror/thrillers this is definitely unique.

Reviewer's Name: Lauren
White is for Witching
Oyeyemi, Helen
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

White Is for Witching is a difficult book to describe. I suppose you could say that it's the story of a young woman, Miranda Silver, who suffers from pica, a condition which compels sufferers to crave and eat inedible foods: chalk, plastic, metal, rubber. The story follows her life -- loosely -- from her mother's death when she was a little girl up until her mysterious disappearance in her late teens/early 20s. The story is told from the perspectives of Miranda, her twin brother, her college girlfriend, and the (possibly evil) house/bed & breakfast she lives in, along with a few brief POV sections from side characters. They're nominally piecing together the events that led up to Miranda's disappearance, but that thread often gets lost in the meandering chapters. Fair warning: the plot is difficult to follow and it wasn't until I reread the opening that the story started to click into place. There's a strange, dream-like atmosphere, none of the narrators are anything close to reliable, and it wasn't always clear to me (read: it was almost never clear to me) what was going on. To give a sample of just a few of the plot threads: There are a string of assaults/murders of refugees happening in Dover, England, where Miranda and her family live. Is she connected to them somehow? Some passages seem to suggest so, but we certainly never find out. The house she lives in seems to hate immigrants and may or may not have eaten her female ancestors to keep them from leaving, but don't expect either of these points to be brought to any sort of conclusion. The closest thing to a central thread was the obsession with the possibility that Miranda was or was controlled by a soucouyant, a sort of vampire/shape-shifter in Caribbean traditions. So race, identity, and immigration are obviously big themes, but it's less clear where Oyeyemi is going with everything.

For me, the actual story-line wasn't very satisfying, but the writing style and atmosphere made it worth it. I've read almost everything Oyeyemi has written, and a lot of her stories fall apart at the end; she's great at creating interesting characters/evoking an eerie, ominous mood, but in my opinion resolving a plot is not her strong point. This might be frustrating for some readers, but if you're interested in something a little more experimental and don't mind that it's a bit rough around the edges, you might like this book. I would recommend Oyeyemi's first book, The Icarus Girl, for anyone interested in reading something a little more accessible by her. If this had been the first thing I read by her I might not have picked anything else up, but I enjoyed it for what it was.

Reviewer's Name: Lauren
Awards:
Slade House
Mitchell, David
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Such a great story, and only 238 pages! I bought this book in an airport since I forgot to bring anything to occupy my time on a long flight. Boy am I glad I did! I could not put the book down until I finished it! Interesting tale, set over many decades, with notable references to eras that made it easy to get lost in the story. If only there were more of the story to read!

Reviewer's Name: Jessica Henry
Awards:
Genres:
The Fireman
Hill, Joe
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The world is burning, one person at a time. A new sort of plague, a spore known colloquially as Dragonscale, is infecting hundreds of thousands around the globe. It begins with something small. It gets into your head. It grows. You feel fine until you see it on your skin-a small stripe, like a gold-flecked stain. You might even mistake it for a bruise at first. But then you know you have it. You know that you’re going to burn, and it’s only a question of when. No one knows exactly how it spreads, and there’s no sign of a cure short of being killed before you ignite. You’ll smoke a bit first, and then you’ll combust, unless someone decides to end your life before then.

In the midst of the chaos is Harper Willowes, a Portsmouth nurse who sincerely wishes for nothing more than to be able to help others through the crisis. She volunteers her services caring for the infected while her husband Jakob works for the Public Works Department, helping to clean up the devestation left behind by the burning infected. It’s at work that Harper first meets the Fireman. He brings a child in for treatment, not for the Dragonscale covering him, but for a ruptured appendix. After the boy, Nick, is taken in for surgery, the Fireman vanishes. A few days later, Nick is gone as well, leaving only questions in his wake. Then, disaster strikes and the Portsmouth Hospital burns to the ground. Harper escapes, but soon makes two discoveries. She’s pregnant and she has the ‘scale. Believing himself to be infected as well, Jakob snaps and Harper is forced to flee for her life and that of her unborn child.

When all seems lost, the Fireman intervenes. He rescues Harper from Jakob’s pursuit and secrets her away to a small camp where over a hundred and fifty infected are living in hiding, including Nick. Living and thriving, to Harper’s great surprise. While there’s no cure for the spore, the people of the camp have found a way to live in harmony with the Dragonscale, under the leadership of Nick’s grandfather. Harper’s medical skills quickly make her indispensable. The camp, however, is no paradise. As panic grips the nation, marauders seek to eliminate any infected. Harper only wants to survive long enough to deliver her baby, but internal power struggles in the camp threaten to expose them all to the roving Cremation Crews. The Fireman may be the only one who can save them all, but he hides a dark secret of his own.

Joe Hill takes on an apocalypse of his own, one that rivals The Stand in scope and violence (not to mention pop culture references). As the world around them burns, his characters must face the fact that other humans may be a greater threat to them than the Dragonscale ever was. The Fireman is a hell of a ride from beginning to end, and is every bit as intense as the flames it evokes. Go check it out.

Reviewer's Name: Philip
Awards:
Genres:
Frankenstein
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book definitely isn't like the movies, but it is still really interesting to read. The main character, Victor Frankenstein, goes through a lot of crazy times. He creates a so called monster by many and everything that comes after keeps you wanting to read more. There is a lot of melancholy feelings and struggles that many go throughout the book. It uses a lot of diction and has foreshadowing throughout giving you hints here and there of what might come. I highly recommend this book because it's a very cool story.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Dominique R.
Frankenstein
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Frankenstein begins with Robert Walton, an explorer, writing letters to his sister about his journey to the North Pole. Along the way, he rescues a man named Victor Frankenstein from an ice drift. The story follows Frankenstein down memory lane as he tells Walton about his pursuit for knowledge and the deadly consequences that followed.

I really enjoyed this book. I've always been meaning to read it, so I'm glad that I finally did. I loved how it was written; the characters were highly intelligent, and the word choice did an excellent job of showing it. The only thing that I wasn't so huge on was the end. It felt a bit too abrupt to me. Regardless, I found this to be an excellent book.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Alex M.
King, Stephen
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I've never really been a Stephen King fan. I liked Night Shift, but read it a long time ago. However, I decided to give him a try again and go old school. WooHoo!! This was a superbly crafted work of fiction. The premise and plot development was textbook and the narrative was engaging. I flew through this book, feeling for Carrie the whole way. Perhaps the post prom narrative could have delved farther into Carrie's mind, but that's my only suggestion. Perfect horror novel. I'm reading The Shining next.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Crouch, Blake
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Pines is the story of Special Agent Ethan Burke, who has found himself in the creepy little town of Wayward Pines, Idaho. He wakes with an injury and temporary amnesia. And as he starts to put the pieces together about how he got in a place that is a little too Norman Rockwell for its own good, well, things get really strange. And scary. An action-packed story that is equal parts horror, thriller and science fiction, Pines will keep you up all night turning the pages. Extra kudos because this author is from Colorado. Watch for the TV Series that will be based on this story

Reviewer's Name: Kirk

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