Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Review: Slights by Kaaron Warren (Angry Robot)

Slights is the first novel from Kaaron Warren and what a debut it is!

It is being labeled as a horror novel but there isn't a vampire or a zombie in sight here; in Slights Kaaron Warren explores a different kind of horror, one that is chilling, brutal and all too human.

Slights chronicles the slow descent into madness of Stevie, a young woman with a damaged soul.  When we meet her, Stevie and her mother have gotten into a car accident.  Her mother dies but Stevie finds herself in "a dark room" filled with every person that she has ever slighted in her life, who are waiting to exact their revenge on her.  She survives the accident but is curious about the dark room, what it means and if others experience the same thing and from here her curiousity becomes a terrible obsession.

Warren has won the Ditmar Award for Best Novel of 2010 and the Shadows Award for Best Fiction of 2009 for Slights and it is a no brainer as to why.  The novel is beyond brilliant, a depraved masterpiece of psychological horror.  I don't believe I've ever read anything quite like it and it has definitely quenched my thirst for a truly disturbing read that I couldn't put down.  There were passages that were brutal to read yet I soldiered on and believe me when I say that this book will live with me for a long time. Yes, I thought it lengthy, with a slow buld up but the pay off in the end is completely worth the journey that Warren takes us on. What Warren has done with Slights is to have written a book that will be talked about for years to come, a book that is a shining example of how literate and beautiful horror can be while keeping all those zombies and vamps in its formidable shadow.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Review: Asylum by Mark Allan Gunnells (The Zombie Feed)

ASYLUM is a new novella by Mark Allan Gunnells from the micro press The Zombie Feed. I am a HUGE fan of apocalyptic zombie fiction and with Gunnells setting his story in a gay bar, I immediately tore into it, curious to see how his twist on this claasic horror staple would play out.

Gunnells had me from the first sentence. ASYLUM starts off with a hook up in the parking lot of a gay night club and just skyrockets from there.  Curtis and Jimmy are the two friends who first realize that the impossible has happened, that they are being surrounded by a growing hoard of shuffling, fleah eating zombies.  They flee into the club and have to convince the other club patrons that all their lives are in danger and that they have to barricade themselves in.

What Gunnells does from here is tell the story from multiple viewpoints, allowing each character to take center stage while giving us a glimpse at their backstory.  This helps us to care about these people and what happens to them.  Knowing that they probably won't survive to see the morning makes each of them react in different ways and Gunnells handles it all with great skill, keeping the story fast paced while adding depth to his characters.

The tension builds nicely as the story unfolds and the ending is perfect.  For me ASYLUM is more tragic than horrific, so fans of the more blood splattered, hard core zombie fiction may think this too tame for them.  However, I found it an original, worthy addition to both the wide ranging zombie genre and to the gay horror field.  Kudos to Mr Gunnells for this fresh new zombie tale and to The Zombie Feed for unleashing it upon us!

Monday, January 17, 2011

2011 Stephen King Challenge

I came across this reading challenge through Twitter; it comes from the fabulous ladies at Book Chick City.  The challenge is to read 6-12 Stephen King novels by December 31 2011.  I'm totally going to join in since this will give me the motivation to read some of his more recent work; Cell, Duma Key and Under The Dome are definitely on the list.

If you'd like to join in as well, you can see the details here.

And we're off and running!  :)