Dead Bad Things – Gary McMahon

HE SOUGHT TO FLEE HIS TRAGIC PAST, but when Thomas Usher hears a clockwork voice on the phone, and sees ever-more disturbing visions in a derelict warehouse, Usher realizes that he has to return home – for the sake of his own sanity.

Meanwhile, a deadly figure from Usher’s past threatens to undermine the very fabric of reality.

My goodness. This book. If I had a list of top five things that have creeped me out this year, this would be on it.

The writing is good for the most part, the story broken into three lines – at times I wondered how they would ever meet up, but they did, and in a way I hadn’t predicted.

I hadn’t read the first book in the series (though I will be going back and doing so, now!), so I was a bit behind the eight ball when it came to the story so far. I think it might have helped, but I enjoyed it a lot regardless.

Don’t read this if you don’t like to be scared though. Just walk away now and don’t look back. Consider yourself warned. Personally, I love to be freaked out, so it’s right up my alley!

As I was working my way through it, I’d often read before bed, and any time I had to get up for a drink or whatever I would switch on every light in every room. I would keep my back to the wall. I would avoid looking in mirrors, or any reflective surface, keeping my eyes averted from windows and picture frames. And then I would bolt back to bed, barely stopping to switch the lights off as I went. My husband would ask ‘what are you doing?’ to which I’d simply shiver and shake my head at him. He didn’t want to know. I couldn’t explain it to him in just a few words, other than perhaps ‘Good book! CREEPY!’.

If you like the creepy, if you like the dead and the bad, then this thing, this book, is certainly one you should look into. I’m going to be keeping my eye on Gary McMahon, and the next time I want my skin to crawl, I’m going to be picking up a book of his.

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Roil – Trent Jamieson

Where once there were twelve great cities, now only four remain, and their borders are being threatened by the growing cloud of darkness. The last humans are fighting back with ever more bizarre new machines. But one by one the defences are failing. And the Roil continues to grow.

With the land in turmoil, it’s up to a decadent wastrel, a four thousand year-old man, and a young woman intent on revenge to try to save their city – and the world.

Publisher: Angry Robot
Release Date: 30th August, 2011

I picked this book up via NetGalley as it sounded like an interesting read. While a little confusing to begin with, it didn’t take long to get a picture of what was going on. The author really does throw you in the deep end, though it is well worth sticking with because even if you feel like you’re playing catch up, it’s an exciting place to be in!

It’s been a long time since I’ve hit upon such a richly imagined world. It was so alien, so new, so fascinating, and so beautifully described. I easily lost myself in it, and look forward to having that opportunity again in the second book in the series.

The Roil – the rolling, hot, massive darkness that seems intent on devouring the whole world – is a character in it’s own right. Populated with scary and intriguing creatures, we learn throughout the book the ways in which is has evolved. I particularly enjoyed the ‘witmoths’, beautifully creepy critters which infest humans to bring them to the Roil’s side.

The other characters are all unique and interesting as well. The heroes of the tale are a drug addicted guy, an Old Man (who is creepy and dangerous), and a young woman who has escaped a fallen city and is intent on getting revenge against the Roil, which took her parents. Initially their story lines are individual, but they all meet up eventually, and find that they are walking the same path. Cadell, the Old Man, in particular is a fantastic character. I really loved learning more about the Old Men, they are so creepy, and horrific in some instances, but definitely working against the Roil.

Wound throughout this are secondary characters with their own back story and motivations – a lot of those political – which add to the depth and richness of the story. It’s a complex world, with a lot going on it it. Over the course of the novel we learn a fair bit about the history of the cities, the Roil, the world and the different groups of people that populate it.

This is a pretty dark book, with lots of unpleasant things happening in it – LOVED it. If I had to say a few negative things it would possibly be that while I enjoyed reading the characters and found them unique, I didn’t really connect with any of them on an emotional level. Also, while you are thrown into action initially, it takes a little while for the story line to really get moving. By the time I hit half way I was well and truly caught up in it, but if it’s not up your alley, you might struggle a little to begin with. I lost track of how far through I was and the end hit me pretty quickly. When I read it, I didn’t realize it was the first book in a series so that came as a bit of a shock – I really can’t wait for the next book to come out so that I can immerse myself in this world again.

Darkness Falling – Peter Crowther

It was a typical all-American backwater – until the night the monsters came. When four employees of KMRT Radio investigate an unearthly light that cuts off communication with the outside world, they discover that something has taken the place of their friends and fellow townfolk, and imbued them with malign intentions. Little do they know, the phenomenon is not unique to the town of Jesman’s Bend…

Publisher: Angry Robot
Release Date: 27th Sep, 2011
Book One of the Forever Twilight series.

I wanted to love this novel. I really did. The cover made me giggle (in a good way – zombie type things with gloves and aviator glasses? HA!) and the blurb sounded interesting. Sadly,  it just didn’t live up to my expectations.

Don’t get me wrong, the writing was okay, the characters a true-blue motley crew, but the bulk of this book was about bringing the different groups of main characters together into one place and the real plot only starts when we get to the end of the novel. This is a pet peeve of mine at the moment – I really feel like all of a novel should contribute to the story the novel  is trying to tell, and this just doesn’t. It’s like four hundred pages of character and world exploration. Some of it’s really interesting, and exciting, but in the end, it doesn’t do anything other than gather everyone up and let the reader and characters in on some of whats going on.

Anyway, let me tell you some of the good things. I really did like some of the characters, and was creeped out by some of the others, which I’m pretty sure was the authors intent – why else would you put a serial killer or a lady who has the voices of her myriad of invisible children chatting to her almost constantly. They were certainly a unique bunch, and while I couldn’t relate to them all, I enjoyed the interactions between them, the interplay of secrets and suspicions. Contrary to the blurb above, the four characters mentioned are not the only main ones at all, in fact they don’t come into play until a good chunk of the book has already passed.

One of the negatives, for me, about the way each set was introduced is that each time you get their experiences of pre-flash, the flash of light and then afterwards. This can get quite repetitive and slowed the novel down for me. It was interesting the first time, but not so much each time further through the story. The author really does draw the characters well though, giving lots of history and detail to really build them up in your mind.

I also quite liked the bad guys – I know they are not going to appeal to everyone, but I found them genuinely creepy. Their slow movements, their strange behaviours and the quirk of having them all wearing aviator glasses and gloves added to their ick value, kind of making you wonder whether you should take them seriously, and then seeing what they can do, made them scarier than they might have otherwise been.

The novel reads almost like a script in some senses, and I think that a movie adaption would probably be quite riveting. There is a lot of interesting stuff going on, and I am curious enough about the characters and what might happen next to want to read the next book in the series and see how it pans out, but as a first book to a series? It wasn’t fabulous.

I’m going to be generous and give it 3 stars as I really am intrigued.