World Book Reviews
5 edited by J.N. Williamson and Gary A. Braunbeck
Review by James R. Beach
been 15 years since the last Masques anthology came out. A lot of things in the
Horror field have changed. When the last volume was published in 1991, Horror
was on a decline. Now it's surely on a bit of an upswing. Horror in the small
press is flourishing, with talented new authors breaking in every day. Many established
authors are also making strong comebacks having survived the lull. Perfect timing
for a new collection from this landmark series.
the first question has to be: who's in it? Known for a nice variety of big names,
solid pros and strong newcomers, Jerry Williamson has assembled an impressive
lineup again - Well established authors like: Ray Bradbury, Richard and Richard
Christian Matheson, William F. Nolan, the late Ray Russell (with the only reprint
in the bunch - an uncollected gem), Jack Ketchum, Poppy Z. Brite, Ray Garton,
Thomas F. Monteleone, Mort Castle, Tom Piccirilli, Gary A. Braunbeck, Barry Hoffman,
Ed Gorman, John Maclay, P.D. Cacek, Joe Nassie, and Jerry himself. Solid up-and-comers
like: Kealan Patrick Burke, Tim Waggoner, Geoff Cooper, Christopher Conlon, Judi
Rohrig, Thomas Sullivan and Lucy A. Snyder. A nice, well-rounded list of writers
second question is: Is it any good? You better believe it is! Standout tales -
"In A Hand or Face" by Gary Braunbeck, "Stirrings" by Kealan
Patrick Burke, ""How Sweet It Was" - By Tom Monteleone, ""Ghost
In Autumn" - by Christopher Conlon, "Waters Dark and Deep" by Tim
Waggoner, "In The Empty Country" by Ron Horsley - honestly there are
too many good ones to mention! There is a nice variety of dark tales - Ghost stories,
non-supernatural Horror, Suspense, Westerns, Twilight Zone-ish tales - something
for everyone in here. All of which focus on the theme that predominated the series
- the darker side of the human condition.
is a very solid collection and a nice tribute to the late Jerry Williamson. Kudos
to Gary Braunbeck and Gauntlet Press for getting this one out. With cool cover
art by Clive Barker and signatures by all - including Williamson - this one is
one that you probably want to grab while you can as there are only 500 hardcover
copies being done. Who knows if this one will ever see a paperback release. The
Masques volumes always had a tough time finding their way to the mass-market after
their small press debuts. When they finally did, they were trunctuated versions.
THE LONG WAY HOME by Brian Keene
Review by Mark Justice
Rapture is a Christian belief that predicts God will call the faithful up to Heaven,
leaving the faithless to endure seven years of tribulation under the reign of
the Antichrist. It's a concept that developed in the 1800s - relatively recent
in terms of Christianity -- and gained momentum around the turn of the last two
centuries. The popularity of the best-selling LEFT BEHIND series of novels and
the ubiquitous comic book tracks by Jack Chick have kept The Rapture in the public
comes Brian Keene with TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME, in which the author sticks with
the popular interpretation of The Rapture.
evening rush hour a massive trumpet blast is heard around the world and millions
of people disappear.
result is horrifying without resorting to the supernatural: Planes falls, cars
collide, people riot and cities burn.
fact, other than the precipitating event and a brief occurrence near the end of
the novella, Keene eschews the supernatural for the humanistic. The story primarily
follows three characters: Steve, a non-practicing Jew; Charlie, a gay agnostic;
and Frank, an atheist. The trio struggle along clogged highways to make their
way to Steve's house, so he can reach his wife.
established early on that Steve's wife is a believer, so her fate won't come as
a surprise. Besides, TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME is about the journey, not the destination.
provides perhaps the tightest writing of his career in this novella, displaying
again the mature voice first demonstrated in TERMINAL, alongside the savage intensity
that fueled CITY OF THE DEAD. It's the story of a handful of characters trying
to come to terms with a worldwide catastrophic event and the resulting change
in everything they know.
you count yourself as a believer or not, TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME will touch a nerve
with its portrayal of loss, the promise of terrible events to come and the hint
of the possibility of redemption.
by Tim Lebbon
Review by Nate Kenyon
after the Cataclysmic War that saw the Mages exiled to parts unknown, the magic
that used to rule the land and fuel the great machines has disappeared. Noreela
is now ruled by corruption and decay, its cities and towns populated by a hardened
and drug-addicted people who have lost all hope in the future. Much of the truth
and the mystery in legends both great and terrible have faded away into history.
then an unstoppable killing force called a Red Monk rides into a small farming
village looking for a boy named Rafe Baburn, and slaughters everyone in sight.
Red Monks are a breed of ancient fighters trained to destroy all magic, and this
one is after Rafe because magic supposedly lives in him once again.
two survive the attack: Kosar the thief, and Rafe, both of whom escape to Pavisse,
a larger nearby city. There they find more allies in their sudden, desperate flight;
a witch named Hope and Kosar's old flame A'Meer, who is secretly a Shantasi warrior
trained to protect magic. It isn't long before they must run once again from the
Red Monks who converge on the city, and they are joined outside Pavisse by two
more strangers, a librarian named Alishia and a fledge miner named Trey.
small band of misfits sets off across the dusty lands with an overwhelming force
of Red Monks on their heels, and they must somehow dodge thieves and shades, tumblers
and Nax, and ultimately the Mages themselves, to try to find a way to keep Rafe
alive until magic returns to Noreela.
is not your typical sword and sorcery. This is a horror writer's fantasy novel.
It is dark, vicious and bloody, at turns brutally violent and sexually graphic.
It is also a breathtakingly beautiful novel, with one of the most remarkable and
unique settings ever created. Sure, there are elements of the familiar, with the
Red Monks on horseback chasing the one who will supposedly save the world, the
struggle of good vs. evil in many remote and exotic settings with strange creatures
and magical results; but the details that set Noreela apart from anything that
has come before it are so fully imagined that the pages literally come alive in
a reader's hands.
is not a quick or an easy read. Many different characters and viewpoints are introduced,
and there are periods where a lull in the action might put off someone looking
for something simple and mindless. Lebbon takes the time to flesh out the environment,
describing the cultures of several different races, from the fledge miners who
live underground to the whores and dealers on the streets of Pavisse, and this
time is well spent indeed. Noreela is a completely foreign world and yet it feels
very familiar, a living, breathing presence, a character in and of itself. The
rest of Dusk's characters are fully fleshed out and complex, rather than one-dimensional
only minor quibble some readers might have with Dusk is its ending, which is both
shocking and potentially frustrating for those looking for everything to be tied
up into a neat little package. But the ending has its purpose; the novel is nicely
set up for its sequel, Dawn, coming in 2007.
is a recognized master of the horror story, winning a basketful of awards and
many rabid fans in the process. Dusk should expand his readership dramatically,
but more importantly, it showcases his range and skill in introducing the horrific
into whatever he chooses to write. The result is an edgier, nastier and ultimately
more satisfying fantasy novel for those who have tired of a certain boy wizard
and his legion of imitators. One of the best novels of the year, and highly recommended.
BY DAWN hosted by Ramsey Campbell
Review by Mario Guslandi
a pleasure to welcome "Bloody Books" a new small UK-based imprint devoted
to short horror fiction., a genre which seems always in danger to become extinct
in favor of the ever-present novel, the obsessive target of any horror writer.
Praise also to the international character of this short story anthology, featuring
authors from England, Finland, America, Scotland, Canada and Australia.
is unfortunate, however, that the publisher omitted to give any biographic information
about the book's contributors, so it's hard to identify who's coming from where,
especially because most of the writers are still relatively unknown.
collection is "hosted" (not actually "edited") by horror master
Ramsey Campbell, who also contributes "The Place Of Revelation," an
enigmatic piece of fiction exploring the various layers of the world reality as
they are disclosed by a perceptive uncle to his recalcitrant nephew.
his introduction Campbell, nice guy that he is, has a kind word for each of the
included stories, but, as it's always the case in any anthology, some stories
in "Read By Dawn" are positively awful, some just ordinary, and only
a bunch are worth mentioning. The latter group ,in my opinion, amounts to a dozen,
which is not bad at all in a volume assembling twenty-seven tales.
Colour In The Jar" by David McGillveray, is an urban nightmare with a certain
after-taste of supernatural, just a light touch. Jeff Jacobson's "Last Day
On The Job" is the literary equivalent of one of those disaster movies so
popular years ago, describing a suicidal apocalypse in Chicago (no explanation
of the phenomenon is provided
the powerful and tense "The Bridge Chamber" by Rayne Hall three kids
exploring the tunnels under an abandoned bridge experience sheer terror, whereas
in the nasty "Payday" by the Bryce Stevens hunters become hunted in
a scenery of urban horror.
Little Girl Who Lives In The Woods" by Ralph Robert Moore is a very dark,
cruel tale about the hidden truths of human existence, blending the reality of
spoiled innocence, loneliness, violence and hunger for love.
depicted madness and violence make "The Kilesku Trow" by Stephan Pearson,
a story very hard to forget, even for a callous horror addict. With "For
A Steal" Stephanie Bedwell-Grime provides a warning to naive burglars of
what type of horrible punishments they may deserve.
Woman Who Coughs Up Flies" by David Turnbull is a slightly surrealistic horror
tale featuring an old woman and her beloved, drug-addicted grandson, while the
original "Special Offer" by John Llewellin Probert constitutes a vivid
, effective report of how a merciless organization helps people to get rid of
their debts for just a little price
my way of thinking the book's real stand-out is Scott Brendel's "The Seventh
Green At Lost Lakes," a superb story written in an elegant, easy style displaying
the horrors hidden beneath an un usual golf course.
in all a good, promising debut for this new horror imprint which deserves our
encouragement and support.
GARDEN OF VIPERS by Jack Kerley
by Julie Knudson
Kerleys third book, A GARDEN OF VIPERS, continues the Carson Ryder detective
thriller series. Ryder and his partner, Harry Nautilus, are tracking a killer
whose motives are as baffling as his methods. While pursuing their quarry, the
detectives stumble upon betrayal within their own department, and an uber-strange
family that surpassed the dysfunctional mark a very long time ago.
and Nautilus follow the strange path of victims to the doorstep of the Kincannons,
an elite Mobile family known simultaneously for their charitable acts and their
self-serving manipulation. Career aspirations, love interests, greed and sibling
rivalry all work together to concoct a strange give-and-take between Ryder, his
girlfriend DeeDee, and some of Mobiles most powerful shmoozers. But a colleague
reminds Ryder that a generous appearance may mask ulterior motives a lesson
his girlfriend learns too late.
many successful gumshoes, Ryder is cursed with a less-than-successful personal
life. In Kerley's previous work, THE DEATH COLLECTORS, Ryder found an unlikely
lover in TV reporter DeeDee Danbury. In A GARDEN OF VIPERS, Danbury is wooed by
the wealth and promises of another suitor, only to be duped herself.
in his absence is Carson's lascivious nutcase of a brother, Jeremy, who lent a
great deal of comic relief to the first two books. I can see, though, why Kerley
left him out of GARDEN. In the previous two books, Ryder turned to Jeremy for
help in solving his cases. Trotting out the same old routine would have put Kerley
into a very formulaic kind of a role, which would be unfortunate, because his
writing is better than that. But I do hope to see a bit more of Jeremy in Kerleys
next work; I really did miss that little psycho.
easy to jump into the series without reading the earlier books, but fans of the
first two novels will surely notice Kerley has found his voice in this one. One
thing I love about Jack Kerleys writing is his ability to completely transport
me to Mobile, Alabama. The notion of setting is never obtrusive or overdone, but
subtle touches along the way instill Kerleys work with a deep sense of place.
He also does a good job of sustaining the suspense from beginning to end, and
the various plot lines come together with enough aha! moments to keep
readers turning the pages.
LAZARUS by T.L. Hines
Review by Nate Kenyon
Allman is a medical mystery. Having been declared dead not once, not twice, but
three times during the course of his life (drowning, lightning strike and hypothermia),
he has come back each time without a single physical complication. This has earned
him more than his 15 minutes of fame along with a sea of followers searching for
salvation, and eventually poor Jude escapes to Montana, where he changes his name
and tries to hide away from the relentless pursuit of those who want to clasp
hands with a miracle.
whatever is seeking him out won't stay dead either. In Jude's tiny town of Red
Lodge, something evil has come out to hunt.
in hiding, Jude is tracked down by a woman named Kristina, who slowly begins to
bring him out of his shell. Clearly he's been meant for something-why else would
he have been brought back from death's cold clutches, given a taste of the other
side and an ability to catch glimpses of the future?
taste of copper is a sign that one of these visions is on its way, and Jude has
been avoiding them as much as possible. But when someone close to him goes missing,
he must fight for a life he suddenly believes in once again and uncover the identity
of the man who calls himself the Hunter.
Lazarus is an impressive debut novel with a fabulous premise. It is firmly placed
in the Christian fiction realm, which may scare off readers who don't normally
seek out the spiritual. And that's a shame, because although there are well-placed
references here and there to scripture (Hines knows where his bread is buttered,
after all), Waking Lazarus reads more like a mainstream thriller than the usual
Christian fare. Ultimately this is a story of love and redemption, with a protagonist
who is both unusual and familiar at the same time. Jude Allman doesn't want what
life has thrust upon him, but he must ultimately choose to accept it for the betterment
of himself and mankind.
writes very well, populating the novel with unique characters and interesting
plot twists. Some might guess the identity of the killer early on, but that doesn't
seem to matter much, because the book still hums right along.
Waking Lazarus is a fast read that offers a few fresh twists on a somewhat tired
genre. If you like Christian-based suspense (or don't mind a few references to
prayer woven into an otherwise sleek thriller), it may be just the thing for a
long, cold night.
OF GRACE by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Review by Patricia Snodgrass
of Grace is without a doubt one of the finest novels I've read in quite a while.
Set in Reformation Era Europe, Quinn chronicles the adventures and intrigues surrounding
the vampire Saint-Germain and his human lady, Piers-Ariana, a young musician who
is both one of his patronages as well as his mistress.
the centuries, Saint-Germain has amassed a fortune. He owns several printing companies
as well as ships and other properties. But it's one particular press, Eclipse
Press from Amsterdam that has directed the local ire of the Inquisition. Saint-Germain
has learned over the centuries to be circumspect in his actions. He is generous
and compassionate, in order to develop a reputation as a kindly benefactor. The
cloak of generosity has worked well for him; however, it is now attracting the
wrong people. People who wouldn't hesitate for an instant to out him as a heretic
as well as a vampire and confiscate everything he owns, including his lovely Piers-Ariana.
Not to mention that whole stake-burning thing.
plot is far more complex than this, and it's easy to get lost in the intrigue.
This is a novel that simply cannot be read in a day or two. It is not an action
packed thriller, although the ending will come as a surprise.
of Grace must be savored slowly, like a high quality wine. It is rich and heady
in plot and sensory imagery. Yarbro describes costumes and scenes in rich intricate
detail, talks about places that are so vivid you can see them. The reader learns
about conspiracies and dramas through a series of letters and other communiqués
that add depth to the story. Yarbro makes a great case in making the count a vampire.
It is rumored that the real Saint-Germain lived 2000 years. But we all know that's
are two minor drawbacks to the book. Yarbro uses some heavily Latinate words that
are appropriate for the text but the reader might not know what they are. I advise
keeping a dictionary handy just in case. The other drawback is that the novel
is set during the Renaissance and Reformation Period. It is a fascinating time
but also difficult time period if the reader hasn't had much European history.
I absolutely loved this book. It's a great read and I highly recommend it.
reviews now appear in the Archives