Reviewing the Pages: I Died Yesterday

32329693

Revenge. Respect. Regret.

Sometimes doing the ‘right’ thing brings out the wrong in people.

I Died Yesterday – A evening with an old friend becomes a morning after that lasts for ever.
Chopper – A young man’s pursuit of his dream unearths a nightmare.
A Decision at Dusk – If you could bring someone back from the dead, would you use the power to help or hurt?
Sunflower – When the establishment fights back, they break more than the rules.
A View – Some noises are best left uninvestigated.

These stories are not happy, but they leave their mark. Some are set in our world; some are set in an alternate world (that of the Lords of Misrule series). This anthology combines dark humour, psychological terror, horror, and a splash of brightly coloured gore. It packs an emotional punch made even more harrowing by the paper-thin divide between reality and fiction.

Five uniquely individual short stories; each one uniquely crafted to bring a different sort of horror to the reader. As the author mentions, two of the short stories are not of our world, and I felt that those are the “weakest” of these five stories. I only say that they are the “weakest” because I don’t know the world that they are based in. However, they are not bad stories at all. Some of the references and things in those stories are lost on this reader, which I may have to remedy one of these days. But, other than that, the three stories based in this world are incredibly horrifying. Sometimes you can see the twist coming; but other times you won’t see it until it’s right on top of you. And it’s exciting. I would highly recommend this short story collection. Borrowing this from R.L. Stine: “Reader beware, you’re in for a scare.”

Wow.  That first story man.  That was BRUTAL.  At the very beginning of “I Died Yesterday”, you would have thought that the MC of the story was the one that died.  But then, it changes.  Quickly.  The MC is very unreliable, and even though you can figure out the ending, it’s the way that Graham gets to it is suspenseful.

The second short story, “Chopper” was much more confusing, and wasn’t as…enjoyable…as the first (not that the first story’s subject material was enjoyable, but it was a good story).  Our narrator here is not as unreliable as the first one, but isn’t all there with his imagination running wild.  I was excited about the twist that I wasn’t expecting to come out of this, which made the ending that much more interesting.

“A Decision at Dusk” gives us a unique perspective into necromancy, even if the story doesn’t flat out say it.  I like the premise that this druid is battling with resurrecting her brother vs the happiness of her niece, while also flaunting that she does this again and again to the man that killed her brother.  Though, the jaunt down to the village at the end gave me something to think about.  One little line made me pause…and think.  Is there more to Mia than we thought? Is that why the rumor about arms most prevalent? Another excellent story here.

“Sunflowers” is another horrifying tale.  This time, I’m unsure on just who to blame here.  The MC seems to have gotten herself into this mess by sticking her nose into business that doesn’t belong.  That leads her to getting kidnapped, tortured, and maybe even raped? I’m not sure about that last bit.  But, the unspeakable horror comes at the very end.  I was wondering where all this was going with the mentions about her brother.  Another hair raising story.  Just don’t take this one lightly.

“A View” is a read that reminds me of something that I think about constantly, and talk to people about on a regular basis.  If a character doesn’t do this particular action, would we actually have a story? This is one of those cases.  If our MC, with a very distinctive body…modification, wouldn’t have tried to satisfy his curiosity, would the ending of the story be different.  There are so many questions that I have that I want answered, and I’m not going to find them in these pages.

Reviewing the Pages: The Shadow Fabric

24059516

A dark fantasy novel of demons, devices, and deceit.
 
Leo remembers little of his past. Desperate for a new life, he snatches up the first job to come along. On his second day, he witnesses a murder, and the Shadow Fabric – a malevolent force that controls the darkness – takes the body and vanishes with it.
 
Determined to get answers, Leo has no idea where to turn. Revelations come in the most unlikely places, and secrets of witchcraft and ancient artefacts unfold. In particular, a device used in the 17th century to extract evil from witches proves key to his discoveries. With these truths long hidden from humankind, his memory unravels. Not only haunted by the past, a sinister presence within the darkness threatens Leo’s existence and he soon doubts everything and everyone…including himself.
 
The relentless and destructive power of the Shadow Fabric compels Leo to fight not only this growing darkness, but also the entity beneath the Fabric’s surface. While these supernatural horrors rage and his world crumbles, Leo must confront his past before he can embrace his future. But the future may not exist.
 
Bringing witchcraft and demon fiction into the 21st century
THE SHADOW FABRIC is a British horror novel revealing the unknown history of the witch, the paranormal, and demons. With a slice of occult horror and an insight into the true cause of the Great Fire of London, the story opens up history and spreads it raw.

The evil contained in this book is relentless. Seriously, just when you think that something good has happened, it snatches it away. With fury too. This read takes you through a journey through a somewhat-unreliable narrator, and the all-too-mysterious Shadow Fabric and the revolving world within. I’m pretty sure that there are mysteries that are still left unsolved, even with everything that get explained.

All the characters are distinct, and though each one of them have their own motivation (which may or may not be their own), it certainly is a fun thing to read such a varied cast of characters. There are some moments where I didn’t want to know about a thing for the 50th time, but that’s just because it had been repeated so many times that my brain went “enough already!”

For those of you who like supernatural horror, and want something to keep you on your toes, then you should check this one out.

Well, this one certainly kept me on my intellectual toes anyway.  Trying to figure out where all the information about the Fabric, or the Witchblade, or anything else in general was going to lead me kept my brain moving.  Which is a good thing.  I feel like I still don’t have all of the pieces of the puzzle, and with all the people that were handing out puzzle pieces now dead, I’m just as lost as Leo was for most of the book.

And this book makes sure that you stay lost.  And in despair too.  Just when you think that something good is finally happening to our characters, the rug gets pulled out from underneath us and we fall back down into that hole of despair again.  There are some things that concern me about the ending of the tale, primarily when it came down to the stitching.  Yes, he was holding a shadowleaf, but, how could the effect of the pure white leaf do any good when he was wearing a glove? Maybe he did take it off and I just missed that line.  I’m not sure.  Or maybe it’s just the fact that the white leaf was counteracting the effect of the black leaf? Maybe that’s it.  Either way, left me a bit puzzled.  Also, I don’t know if there is a sequel in the works, or it just continues on in short form, but the ending left me wanting much, much more.

Seriously, check this read out.  I promise, it’ll make you think more about light and the darkness it battles in a slightly different way.

Reviewing the Pages: The Graveyard Apartment

28220806

A terrifying tale of a young family who move into an apartment building next to a graveyard and the horrors that are unleashed upon them.

One of the most popular writers working in Japan today, Mariko Koike is a recognized master of detective fiction and horror writing. Known in particular for her hybrid works that blend these styles with elements of romance, The Graveyard Apartment is arguably Koike’s masterpiece. Originally published in Japan in 1986, Koike’s novel is the suspenseful tale of a young family that believes it has found the perfect home to grow in to, only to realize that the apartment’s idyllic setting harbors the specter of evil and that longer they stay, the more trapped they become.

This tale of a young married couple who are harboring a dark secret is packed with dread and terror, as they and their daughter move into a brand new apartment building built next to a graveyard. As strange and terrifying occurrences begin to pile up, people in the building begin to move out one by one, until the young family is left alone with someone… or something… lurking in the basement. The psychological horror builds moment after moment, scene after scene, culminating with a conclusion that will make you think twice before ever going into a basement again.

I saw this book somewhere, whether it was on Goodreads or through a website that did book lists, and were like “this is a horror book that you should read”. And I decided to go pick it up. Cause an apartment building in the middle of a graveyard is sure to leave us full of laughter and joy. Which, this book doesn’t have. At all. Sure, there are some snarky moments given by Teppei, but for the most part, there seemed to be too many aside and thoughts that should have been said. Which, may be the Japanese way. I’m not entirely sure.

Now, there are some minor cultural hiccups, like the mentioning of the Golden Week, and a couple other customs that us Westerners don’t come across in our daily life. But that’s perfect. I most certainly enjoyed the small peek into Japanese life that we got in this book, especially with the time period that it was happening in (which was 30 years ago. Makes me feel old just thinking about it).

As far as the horror, I felt like I was reading a horror movie. I think I’ve said that before in a review, but it really felt that way here. I also felt like there wasn’t a real motivation for the ghosts. I’m not entirely sure if there was an explanation given, other than some of the larger story points.

However, if you are a fan of ghost stories, and want to experience a different setting than one in your native home land, than you should check this read out.

Ok.  As I said above, this reminds me of a horror movie.  Well, I was specifically thinking of Annabelle, but with ghosts instead of a creepy possessed doll.

Anyway, I really missed out on the motivation here.  Sure, our setting primarily takes place in an apartment complex that was built on a Buddhist graveyard, and that the spirits were not happy that there were living people living in their final resting spot.  That’s about it.  I would have much rather had this attack happen because of Reiko finally getting enough energy to start haunting the holy heck out of the family.

I did appreciate this read, just wasn’t so keen on the lack of the motivation of the haunting and the general portrayal of the characters, especially the brothers.  Yes, I know brothers can fight and get jealous of each other, but it just didn’t seem to work for me here.  However, I do urge you to check this read out, and enjoy it.

Resident Evil VII: Biohazard: Diving Back into Horror

Hello everyone, and welcome back to another video game review.  Now, I haven’t done very many of these.  Well, technically this is my third one.  But, I don’t beat very many games.  Instead, I play through one and skip over to the next one.  And so on and so on, leaving a plethora of unfinished games in my wake.  One of these days, when I can start being a LPer/streamer, I’ll have to go back and finish a lot of those games.

But, in the meanwhile, we’ve got this game.  Since the first whispers about the game at E3 2015 with KITCHEN, and later updates a year later with the demo known as Beginning Hour, which to my knowledge is the first demo to get updated as time progressed.  And boy were there secrets in there.  But, enough about Beginning Hour.  Let’s get right into the game that I finally finished.

If you haven’t played this game before, and are wanting to experience this game for yourself, be warned because there be…

Ok.  So, since playing Layers of Fear, I’ve been really into the first-person exploratory style of games.  Both in terms of horror, and what people like to call walking simulators.  Either way.  I really love that style of game.  I love being able to go out and explore the world.  And yes, this game is a little bit linear.  But, up until a certain point, you can backtrack to retrieve things that you weren’t able to in the past.  Different items like the grenade launcher, more ammo, and secret in-game items that one would find along the way.  But that’s ok.  Yes.  I, a man who loves open world exploration, find that it is ok that we have a mostly linear game.  It works out well here.

Like some of the other Resident Evil games that I’ve played (which, isn’t a lot, considering I won’t touch 4-6), inventory management is vital to your survival in this game.  Towards the end, I was debating over which weaponry I wanted to take with me, so that I could have a chance of surviving the end game (more on that in a minute). Each weapon has their own advantages and disadvantages, and using the wrong one in a certain scenario could spell disasterous for Ethan.  I did find myself constantly switching between weapons, not only as a way to save ammo on the shotgun, but also to better use my environment to my advantage.  Taking on multiple Molded is a lot easier with the handgun rather than the shotgun.  But remote bombs would better if you could cluster them up.  And the Grenade Launcher would be just as good, but better not to run out of ammo for it.  Oh, can’t forget about health packs.  Should I fashion first aid kits with this chem fluid I’ve found, or should I go for some ammo.  In my case, I did go for health packs.  By the end boss, I had plenty of ammo to burn through.

But, let’s get right into why I’ve got the spoiler tag up above.  The ending.  After injecting Eveline with that serum that you created, she become mega-mold monster and attacks.  Then, Umbrella swoops in, drops down a very powerful weapon, and you defeat Eveline.  The kicker.  After Eveline crumbles, and Redfield address Ethan, Ethan says something along the lines of “about time you guys showed up.” Does Ethan work for Umbrella? Or did Ethan contact Umbrella before he left for the Bakers? There are so many questions that don’t have answers.  And like an impatient child, I want them.  And speaking of the final fight, since I’m here…it didn’t seem very involved.  You were locked up in the attic with Eveline to start, and all you could do is fire.  You couldn’t hide.  You couldn’t have any strategy.  You were just firing away.  And that kinda soured on me a bit.  After all, there were some loose plot ends that we had to work with.  Like Lucas. We don’t see Lucas again after surviving the Happy Birthday trap area, but we don’t hear from him again.  One would figure that he’d stick around to be a thorn in one’s side after killing off his parents.  But, is there something in store for Lucas? I don’t really know, and I’m interested to see where the developers are going to go from here.

Now, I’m still in the process of trying to get my DLC to work (at this time, I went to play “Banned Footage”, and the game kept crashing on me.  So, I decided I’d try to uninstall and re-install the game.  Maybe I’ll get some answers there.  For those of you who really like first-person survival horror games, and want to try a new foray into the Resident Evil series, then you should totally check this one out, and prepare to jump out of your seats.

Reviewing the Pages: The Shining

1429235

What of the penetrating cold terror of an old hotel, a haunted place of seductive evil with a malevolent will of its own—and a five-year-old boy of innocent beauty whose mind mirrors the nightmarish secrets of its past?

Behind every door of the Overlook’s 110 empty rooms there is a chamber of horror. Little Danny knows of these things because he has the terrible power—The Shining

I forgot how tiny the font is in the edition I read. But, 8 point font aside, The Shining is a book that you have to read to experience the terror. Of a family that started out on a bit of a rocky point; a man who has his inner demons to battle, and a kid with some sort of psychic ability (undefined, but a bit of mind-reading and precognitive aspects). To top it all off, there’s a malevolent force that wants that ability for itself, and it all takes place in the middle of nowhere in a snowy Colorado winter.

To me, that’s where all the horror lies. The scenery. The vast…aloneness in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. If we took this tale somewhere else, it wouldn’t have that exact same impact. Stephen King does a marvelous job of letting the atmosphere sink into the horror, and catches you when you let your guard down.

Now, having read this book again, I can see why King despises Kubrick’s movie so much. While I do like Kubrick’s film; this book is much better because it draws out the suspense a little bit; drawing you in until the very, very end.

So, how’s everyone doing? Sorry that I haven’t been here for a while.  I was originally going to read The Blood Lives: In The Blood to start out, but quickly realized that the electronic version I have…is just a preview.  Which irked me.  Because I read the preview.  And I wanted more.  So I skipped over that, and went to this book.  And then I couldn’t find my copy of this book.  I looked through my entire Stephen King collection shelf at least a half-dozen times; pulling books off and putting them back on the shelf.  I even checked some other spots just in case I happened to rearrange it wrong; I even went through some of the boxes I moved with to see if I happened to leave it in there.  Nothing.  So, I did the next best thing.  I finally went and got myself a library card, and checked this book out.

So, rant about getting to read this book aside, I forgot how much I liked this book until I dove into the pages.  I said it above in my Goodreads review, but I do like that King stretched out some of the suspense.  We see the slow (yet, quick) descent into insanity that the hotel brings upon him.  Which, speaking of, the time frame that the bulk of this book takes place is incredibly short.  It takes about four months from the time they get “locked” in to the time the Overlook explodes.  But, it feels so much longer than that.  And I love it.

For those of you who like King’s work, Kubrick’s version, or suspenseful horror that will stick around for quite some time, then you should check out this story.  Just…make sure you find a version with large font.

Reviewing the Pages: The Strain

7196959

In one week, Manhattan will be gone.

In one month, the country. In two months . . . the world.

At New York’s JFK Airport an arriving Boeing 777 taxiing along a runway suddenly stops dead. All the shades have been drawn, all communication channels have mysteriously gone quiet. Dr. Eph Goodweather, head of a CDC rapid-response team investigating biological threats, boards the darkened plane . . . and what he finds makes his blood run cold.

A terrifying contagion has come to the unsuspecting city, an unstoppable plague that will spread like an all-consuming wildfire—lethal, merciless, hungry . . . vampiric.

And in a pawnshop in Spanish Harlem an aged Holocaust survivor knows that the war he has been dreading his entire life is finally here . . .

Hogan and del Toro take vampires in a whole new direction with a great tale of the beginnings of a vampire apocalypse. They even go so far as to take the established tropes of vampires and disprove them in this world through Setrakian’s knowledge of the strigoi. It starts out simply enough with a plane that just suddenly…stops, and quickly escalates.

One of the small problems I have with this book is the dismissal of what really went on with the plane. Sure, it’s a small part of the story that doesn’t really have any impact on the plot. But, are we just supposed to forget that an entire plane just went dark without any warning. Some of the loose ends can be a bit jarring, but as this is the first book in the trilogy, some of the overarching plot points just get started but should get resolved at the very end.

This book also gives us a wonderful insight into the minds of rats. Yes. I did say rats. There are a lot of comparisons to rats in this story, and it’s quite a nice way to include something from the real-world into this dystopian world. For those who like vampires, but want something a little different from their cross-fearing stereotype (or to wash the taste of sparkles out of their mouth), then this tale is for you.

So, vampires that have a very different physiology than anything that I’ve seen (at least in terms of vampires anyway).  There’s a creature that their stinger tongues remind me of, but I can’t remember what it is for the life of me now (if someone could let me know just what that is, I greatly appreciate it).

So, I listed one of my minor grievances with the tale above, but here’s another.  Dr. Goodweather takes an interesting evolution.  From hard-lined scientist to unbeliever, to later vampire killer; it all seems unbelieveable.  Especially after his first kill.  It felt like he should have a little more remorse than he did, but..he didn’t? Seemed a little too forced for me.  Granted, his actions toward the end of the book; with him wanting to find and kill the Master for taking Kelly is understandable.  But, there is some suspension of belief that has to happen here to make me want to follow Eph around and like him.

Meanwhile, the other stories that we follow, from the survivors that we follow that turn in different ways, to the interludes of Abraham’s past are nice changes of pace from the main tale.  Granted, each of them weave their way into the main story so by the end of it all, we get a lot of plot lines that do get closed up, but not all the way.  I really like Fet though.  His character just seems very likeable to me.  I couldn’t tell you why though.

As I said before, I would recommend this book to anyone who like vampires, and want something with a different taste to it.  I’ll be ready to dive into the second book in this series, and get further into the vampire apocalypse.

Reviewing the Pages: Horror Girls

26859071

Get ready for a non-stop thrill-ride through the forgotten, lonely places of the world: Cemeteries, Swamps, Forests, and Haunted Houses… perhaps even your house! Meet the monsters who dwell within: Demons, Ghosts, Mutants, Psychos, and Vampires. All the hungry beasts who lurk just out of sight, waiting to devour and destroy.

You get 8 great stories, including an H.P. Lovecraft-inspired Cthulhu Mythos shocker, plus grisly poems like, “These Teeth Will Love You,” and “Black Gloves, Sharp Knife.”

If you love horror, you don’t dare miss these demented stories of Demons, Ghosts, Vampires and more…

Ok. Now, I’m a horror fan. I love me some scares. And this book…doesn’t quite scratch that itch. Well, I should say collection of short stories. Some of them are rather short, while others aren’t nearly as short. Now, while I don’t mind the use of teenagers as protagonist, I also felt like there needed to be something…different about some of the characters. All of them, save one, had a severe lack of depth to them. These girls have some sort of problem, whether it’s with a boy, or because their lives aren’t what they want them to be. I don’t know. Except for the last story, I wasn’t very thrilled with this as a whole. If you enjoy brief snippets of horror, then this read is for you.

Alright fans of the horror genre, this is a very tame foray into the spooky.  There’s just not enough here to grasp my insides and chill them with fear and dread.  The only two stories I liked were about the house doing the possessing, which is something that you don’t necessarily see all that often in stories.  The other was a tale that skirts the very outer edges of the Cthulhu Mythos, but I can actually see fitting in a little bit (since I’m only really familiar with some of Lovecraft’s major works, I’m not sure what sort of powers the other Older Gods have).

Other than that, I just wasn’t thrilled that the primary character type was teenage girl that had some sort of issue, and ended up getting taken with the supernatural to solve it.  Whether it took getting turned into a vampire, or getting possessed by the devil, they just didn’t work for me.   Yes, there isn’t much room for plot development for some of these characters, but they could be so much more motivation and drive for these characters if the author didn’t also focus on a very specific character typing.  One story in particular really bugged me because the “horror” aspect of it was a last second addition that seemed very hokey.

The other thing that bugged me about this is that some of these stories are a bit too short.  Just when I got into them, they ended.  But, don’t let my hatred of certain aspects of this collection deter you from reading it.  If you are a fan of horror, and want to have a quick read, then you should check out this collection.