Thursday, 30 March 2017

‘THE DEVIL CREPT IN’ BY ANIA AHLBORN

 

The first half of Ania Ahlborn’s THE DEVIL CREPT IN (Gallery Books) kicks major ass: the disappearance of a child, the family and closed ones hovering over the tragedy, the tears, the pain, the hope—then something big happens, a dramatic turn of event that makes you smile as a horror reader but also makes you say, WTF!? The kind of unexpected twist that gives you one more reason to drop everything and persevere in your reading. Did I hook you already?  Good. 

I wish I could say that the second half is as strong if not stronger but alas it is not. What I will say however is that Ania Ahlborn is one heck of a storyteller. She has a way of luring her readers into submission with her sense of style but more importantly with her wicked, wicked pen. What happens to her protagonist—a 1o year-old loner with a speech impediment, a few missing fingers (don’t ask) but a will of ten men when he decides to find his missing cousin and best friend—will hook you from the get-go. Her strongest ally is the way she creates fleshed out characters which drive this whole story. Whether they turn out to be good or bad they are worth following. 

Unfortunately, despite or because of that, the plot takes a step back to become somewhat predictable. Indeed, what starts out as original suddenly feels less so as we persevere. I’ll even go as far and say that most of the plot twists can be guessed ahead of time. Which is a shame since everything else is so perfect, especially the creation of her antagonist which is rather original, especially for the way he got there (I don’t want to say too much). Still, THE DEVIL CREPT IN is worth the read if only for the great narrative and characterization. As a bonus, you’ll probably feel like you’ve just entered The Twilight Zone. I know I did.

 
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

 

Until next post—Martin

 

 

 

Sunday, 26 March 2017

‘BAD GIRLS’ BY REBECCA CHANCE


 
Picking up a Rebecca Chance novel is always a treat for me. Rain or shine she always delivers. So it comes as no surprise that her 2010 BAD GIRLS  (Simon & Schuster UK) is just what the doctor ordered.  Set mostly in a rehab to the stars, the novel introduces three main sufferers who, different as night and day, all have one thing in common: they are the addictive kind. Whether it’s to pills, to blow or even to sex they all need help. Or so it seems. Because, you see, one of them is admitted under false pretenses. The reason? Simple: to catch a celebrated star under compromising positions (wink wink). Not as easy a task as it seems, however, especially when the heart interferes.  

Be forewarned: once you pick up this book you won’t be able to let it go. It is that addictive. Rebecca Chance delivers a one-sitting read worthy of any Jackie Collins offering. Yes, I keep referring outstanding novels to the work of the late author. How can I not when the bar’s aimed that high? BAD GIRLS reaches that plateau quite easily. The author keeps the ball rolling with effective plot and characterization, and a sense of style that can only be envious. Color me enchanted but I predict even better and bigger things from her, whether it’s under her own name or the one she uses to pen those fabulous reads. The world is her oyster.  

OK, OK, I’ll calm down. But promise me this: you’ll check out BAD GIRLS ASAP. If you ever wondered how to write a glam-fiction novel that has wit and heart and possesses a smooth narrative that still packs a punch then look no further. This is the one to get, folks. I promise, it’ll be just as fun studying it as witnessing just how bad this fictitious other half lives.

 
BAD GIRLS is still available wherever digital or conventional books are sold.
 
 

Until next post—Martin
 
 

 

 

Sunday, 19 March 2017

‘THE SILENT FOUNTAIN’ BY VICTORIA FOX




I could sum up this blog entry with one phrase: grab this book now, and move on to the next topic but that would be unethical of me. Besides, I’m sure the publishers and NetGalley expected more than just four little words when they agreed to let me read this gem in exchange for an honest opinion. So without further ado: Victoria Fox’s latest THE SILENT FOUNTAIN (HQ) is all about secrets, secrets from the past mainly. We have Lucy who is running away from a London affair. Without giving away too much let’s just say that her reasons for doing so are more than valid. Then we have Vivien, the Hollywood actress who shies away from the spotlight for a chance at love, but with all the mystery surrounding her dashing beau, is it really worth it?  

Trust me on this, the less I say about the plot the more you’ll savour this novel. Fair warning though: the author’s usual glam fiction approach is a bit toned down, replaced mostly by a gothic-like approach that reminds those captivating but quickly made mass-market paperbacks from the late ‘60s and ‘70s. You know the kind, those that usually highlight on their covers a beautiful heroine on the run from an intimidating castle. Except that in this one everything is top notch, from the rich narrative switching from first to third person to the end of chapter hooks that make it impossible to put the novel down, not to mention the well-thought-of setting that goes back and forth in time. 

But first and foremost THE SILENT FOUNTAIN is a love story. A different kind of a love story, perhaps (again I don’t want to say too much but be ready to reach for some tissues), but one that still packs a wallop. If Miss Fox’s main aim is to give more sense of realness to her characters and plot by going full gloom, well, I’m happy to say that the mission has indeed been accomplished.  So much so that it may even elevates her already celebrated career to a whole new level: that of a dark fiction writer. 

 

Until next post—Martin

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

‘ONE LAST WISH’ BY ELLA HARPER


 
When I saw that the latest novel from Ella Harper (formerly Sasha Wagstaff) was available in exchange for a review on NetGalley my spirit just soared. Here was the chance for me to finally do this author justice. Not that I have ever done her wrong. I mean how could I when all she had ever shown is a knack for grabbing readers by the balls with her sheer talent. She certainly does it again with ONE LAST WISH (Canelo Books), the story of a cancer-stricken ten year old who yearns to solidify her parents’ love for one another before she passes on.                                      

Having a sick child has taken a toll on Rosie and Nate. Their once-perfect marriage is now filled with bitterness, resentment, jealousy—all but unexpressed—but most importantly sorrow, sorrow over eventually losing their daughter to an incurable brain tumor. But Emmie has not said her last word. Her situation may be a ticking time bomb but with the help of her nerdy but devoted therapist, her cool family and friends, she will do her best to bring her parents back together. And in doing so, get rid of some personal issues regarding her terminal illness.   

I admit that the main theme of ONE LAST WISH is far from being considered light, but the way Harper goes at it makes it all feel like a breeze while never omitting the seriousness of the topic. This important lesson of never losing oneself no matter how cruel the world gets will make any reader of emotional novels reach out for a tissue. Yes, even I, a cold-hearted S.O.B., got my heartstrings pulled. In between funny bits, heartfelt moments and cringe-worthy situations (like the one involving one of the spouses going for a kiss by a third party) lies a novel that may own some predictable plot twists but has definitely managed to be quite endearing in its overall delivery. I can’t wait for the author’s next offering.

  

Until next post—Martin

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, 13 March 2017

‘FUNGOID’ BY WILLIAM MEIKLE





FUNGOID (DarkFuse) is one of those rare books that may reach mass appeal if you can overlook its crowded cast of characters. Everything else is just peachy—from the non-stop action sequences to the slew of gruesome moments, not to mention the in-your-face approach. Set in this apocalyptic world where a mushroom trip isn’t what it used to be, this tale of survival of the fittest during a fungi invasion is far from being mundane.  
 
Indeed, FUNGOID shines best when the focus is on the action sequences. Clearly the author has that magic touch whenever trouble appears. When the spotlight is on his people, however, that’s where the novel stumbles quite a bit. Not that they are not well-drawn. Most of them make a good impression. The trouble is that there are just too many for a 177 page novel, and confusion can set in after a while. For this type of a story you need much more room to make everyone pop just right.  
 
However, I will admit that a couple of days later after finishing up the novel I did find myself reminiscing over some decisions made by those same jam-packed people I’m bitching about. So I guess in hindsight the novel worked its magic anyways. I still believe the author should have taken a longer time to set it all up, though. Maybe he will one day when he decides to release a longer version. In the meantime enjoy this FUNGOID—flawed and all.


Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

  

Until next post—Martin