2014 has been a funny old year, one which has seen a lot of mediocre books get way more praise and attention than they really deserved. I have no idea why this is, have we the readers been browbeaten into accepting anything that rises above the vast dung heap of poorly written horror as something that requires heaps of praise? Or have I just become jaded with the whole genre, or maybe it's just me maybe I can't see what everyone else is seeing. Whatever the reason, this was the year I almost gave up on the genre, something I thought I would never do. Thankfully though there were a few shining lights that were published this year that kept me from leaving the genre. While some of these may or may not be true horror these are the books and stories that made my year.
The Exiled by William Meikle kicks off like many a good crime thriller, with its world weary protagonist Detective (Inspector presumably, I must confess I cannot recall, now) John Granger called out to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a young girl from a rough Edinburgh estate. This disappearance may be part of a series. Coming at the investigation from a different direction is Granger's partly estranged brother Alan, an investigative reporter. Both have their various methods and avenues to pursue, but it eventually begins to seem as if there is more than just a child abductor at large. The ominous signs of ritual, the supernatural and the fantastique loom over the events. When the brothers' paths eventually converge, it may already be too late to prevent horrors from being unleashed...
I have made no secret in the past of my love of the writings of Glen Krisch. I make no apologies for it and after reading his latest book, Arkadium Rising, I intend to start shouting it from the rooftops again.
Marcus and Jason Grant are brothers. Jason the sensible one holding down a steady job and doing the chores for mom and dad, Marcus the younger, rowdier one driven by a life of crime and drugs. No one has seen Marcus in a long time when his ex-girlfriend Delany comes looking for Jason. She has heard from Marcus and wants Jason’s help to go get him. When they find him, Marcus seems to be the leader of a band of religious fanatics who all seem to be members of some strange doomsday cult. Marcus and his band are to set in motion a process that will end the world as we know it. Jason has to decide whether to run from Marcus, or run with him.
And there ends what I can say about this book without giving too much away. This is the first book in a trilogy that fans of Mr Krisch like myself have been waiting for with bated breath. The end result is a story that still gets you holding your breath from cover to cover.
It’s a story about the end of the world as we know it. A post-apocalyptic novel if you like. That’s not all it is though. This first part of the trilogy sees us introduced to the main characters in the story but when you start reading, don’t be expecting them to all make it through this first third. This is written in such a way that you grasp the different personalities very easily. There is just the right amount of time taken to introduce each individual so that you think you have known them for years. As it flits back and forwards to different groups at different times, it fits perfectly together. In the run up to the conclusion of this portion of the tale, it reaches fever pitch and raises many many questions leaving you wondering where it will lead to and who will be involved and in what capacity. It’s a wonderful cliff-hanger ending but at the same time would work as a stand-alone novel. One that leaves you thinking about it for a long time when you finish it.
As well as being a novel it raises so many questions about the society we live in today and the type of people we walk amongst. It will make you ask questions of yourself, about your behaviours, your desires, everything that you take for granted and the direction your life is taking you. The biggest question of all is asked near the ending – is what you have believed in all your life the right and true way? I can’t wait for the next instalment to find out.
It’s dark. It’s thrilling. It’s edge of the seat stuff. It’s harrowing at times and enlightening at others. It’s Krisch.
Highest recommendation with 5 big stars.
Reviewed by Nev Murray
ARKADIUM RISING BY GLEN KRISCH
The Arkadium's time has come. A religious cult intent on setting history back ten thousand years, destroying modern man's domination of the planet.
Growing up, the Grant brothers were close, but as they reached adolescence they drifted apart, taking opposite paths into adulthood. Straight-laced Jason works for a small town newspaper. Marcus is into drugs, violence, and self-destruction.
Marcus finds salvation and sobriety when he joins the Arkadium and reaches out to his brother, wanting him by his side to record the new prehistoric era, Arkadium’s era. Jason faces a choice, join his brother in the destruction of humanity, or die like one of the millions of innocents who will fall in the Arkadium's ascent.
In a Ginger Nuts of Horror first Alien Invasion - Owner Resistance Manual by Sean Page, is going to be reviewed not just by me but by my young protege and son Campbell.
Sean Page hit gold dirt with his brilliant, original and informative book the
Horror fiction has always been a genre that has been subject to style and fashion trends, from the lumbering zombies, to the romantic vampire. However this is a first a horror novel that is in itself a fashion statement. Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix is a truly unique book, those of you who are eagle eyed will have noticed the striking similarities between the cover of this book and a well known Swedish furniture companies catalogue. This is a stunning piece of marketing, whoever came up with this concept should really consider themselves a genius. However, it really doesn't matter if the design of the book is a stroke of genius if the actual content of the book doesn't measure up.
A little while ago, my writer friend Rich Hawkins shared a picture he'd come across online (as you do). It was a poster depicting a comic-book style version of the scientist Nikola Tesla and infamous author of the weird, Howard Phillips Lovecraft as two early 21st Century paranormal investigators or 'Ghostbusters', if you will. It was a striking image and one which sparked off a conversation between Rich and myself which culminated in us deciding to write a novel featuring the two historical characters.
I found out who the artist was, who had created the image and both Rich and myself emailed him just to make sure he wouldn't be upset if/when we realised the concept, but never ever received any return correspondence. We decided to carry on as Rich and I had come up with some rough ideas of where to take the story and they had deviated from the oroiginal 'comical' style of the picture. These eventually evolved into a concept that didn't feature either Tesla or Lovecraft and which we still hope to write someday. But in the back of my mind, I still wanted to do the story of these two very different characters and the sorts of mad adventures they might get up to.