Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Gorge by Jason L. McPherson

This week’s selection reminded me of an old saying every state likes to claim.  If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes and it will change.  I don’t know how true that is for weather, but it is dead on for The Gorge by Jason L. McPherson.   The book is a plot heavy page turner that effortlessly pulled me into a world of supernatural warfare, religious fanaticism, and all kind s of brutality.  Without a doubt, the stand out strength of The Gorge is its continuously evolving plot.  Readers can expect to be carried from one harrowing event to the next, and just when you say this story is like a supernatural Southern Comfort with Keith Carradine, it changes to another well-loved B movie.  But the story keeps its continuity throughout.

We begin with Nathan Mires, a seemingly ordinary family man in Raven Falls, North Carolina, being compelled by a strange voice to commit heinous acts of murder.  This road of carnage leads him into hiding in the Blue Ridge Mountains where the outdoor skills passed onto Nathan by his grandfather come into use.  As he becomes the pawn in ancient Native American curse, he must face various foes for his survival.  His bloody path brings him to join forces with a Cherokee Medicine Man and a former enemy.   Together they set out on a mission of dread with all the odds against them.

Sometimes the story sacrifices characterization for plot, but the action makes up for it.  I think Spore Press should have edited the first chapter slightly differently, and the book would have been even better. There are a few typos that I noticed, so if you really don’t like those, I encourage you to overlook them in order to have a great time.  Don’t waver in chapter one, put on your seatbelt because two onward makes you want lots of popcorn and Cherry Coke.  At about 95%, I wasn’t sure I was going to be happy with the ending, but then in McPherson fashion it changed right before my eyes.  The last sentence gave me chills..

I give it a solid three severed heads.  Of course these severed heads have bad ass Indian war paint and timber rattlers crawling into their gaping mouths.  Look for a future interview with Jason L. McPherson on writing Appalachian Horror.

Heads Will Roll,
Everette Bell


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Sudden Death Overtime by Steve Vernon

Good evening Horde,

I finished up Steve Vernon’s Sudden Death Overtime todayAt first I was kind of iffy about the whole thing.  But it turned out to be a very inventive novella.  I don’t know anything about hockey, but Steve’s first chapter set a great stage for what he describes as Paul Newman's Slapshot thrown in a blender with Steven Niles 30 Days of Night.  I think that mixed treat has a hefty serving of 1987’s Lost Boys in a geriatric sort of way.

I was immediately drawn in by the mentality and setting of Labrador.  The hard living style of the washed up old hockey players made them dam ready for the mysterious black bus of hell spawn, vampires that drove into town.

The down side of this story for me was a far too simple plot for what I wanted.  You could say the visiting team was a bunch of blood sucking assholes that disrespected a home team player, so the locals got very fucking rough on the ice to teach the bastards a lesson.  The novella felt like a straight line to the ending.  We got a lot of back story on the guys, but they didn’t do anything.  Everything just fell into place a little too easily.

For me this book was all about the beginning and the end.  We got a great atmosphere and a cool image of the bad guys rolling into town.  Then we get the showdown.  The ending could have been more satisfying, but even so, I never felt like putting it down.  However, I never had any doubt either.  It almost felt too easy when our washed up old hockey players took on the role of the Frog Bothers from Lost Boys and whipped ass.

Steve’s got a lot of books, and I have no doubt this is not his best one.  I cared enough that I will read more.  As a matter of fact, I’ve already pestered him for more.

I give Sudden Death Overtime by Steve Vernon three severed heads stomped off by hockey skates.

Heads Will Roll,
Everette Bell

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Love's Bright Star by Virginnia de Parte

I really struggled with Love’s Bright Star by Virginnia de Parte.  It is the first true romance novella I have ever read.  I thought years of watching romantic comedies with the women in my life would prepare me, but I was wrong.  The genre aficionados among the horde may find it amusing that I loved it.  Then I hated it.  Then I loved it.  Then I hated…

The basics are a future setting in which there are two classes of humans, normals and g-altereds.  Siobhan is a photographer with cat genes who is being attacked by a man in a night club when James, a University Lecturer, who can stop time comes to her rescue.  From here the first half of the book is their growing passion for each other.  I found it a little tiring and superficial.  Siobhan is supposed to be 28, but she came across as very juvenile to me.

Siobhan becomes pregnant against James’ wishes seemingly destroying their relationship.  I couldn’t help but side with James.  I was clearly too focused on the sci-fi back story of the second class citizenship that the child would be burdened with.   

For me, the climax of the book took place well before the end when Siobhan was having her initial ultrasound.  Virginnia gave us a very exciting moment that had me white knuckling my kindle, but unfortunately, it didn’t last. 

A cat and mouse game follows in which an organization known as the Defense Department takes extreme interest in the former couple and their unborn child.  James and Siobhan come back together, and the book gradually ends.  I think there is a sequel in the works.

The book was short and well written, so you won’t feel it is a total waste of time.  But it is not complete blissful escapism either.  Severed heads is not the best scale for this one, and my feelings are mixed.  So I give Love’s Bright Star by Virginnia de Parte somewhere between 2 and 3 cupid arrows.

Heads Will Roll,
Everette Bell