Category Archives: Horror

The Forest of Hands & Teeth

The Forest of Hands and Teeth

The Forest of Hands & Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Series: The Forest of Hands & Teeth #1

Genre: Dystopia, Romance, Zombies, Horror Young-Adult

Published: July 2009 by Gollancz

The Plot

In Mary’s world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future—between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?

The Review

 The Forest of Hands & Teeth was an interesting read for me. I don’t read that many zombie books nor do I really read that many dystopia type books, so I was curious to what Ryan would do. Frankly I had a very much love/hate relationship with this book. I agonized reading it over the plot direction, the decisions of the protagonist Mary and the heartbreak and then I’d put it down and yearn to read more. Quite clearly Ryan has a book that hooks and that cannot remain down for long, or not infinitely anyway because she makes you want this book resolved.

I’ll begin with Mary our protagonist who we follow for the story. She is selfish, annoying, deluded and most of all she is blinded by the unknown that she cannot see what is before her until it is lost. I would have enjoyed this book a lot more if within the first two chapters she had been bitten by a zombie and rampaged around and eaten everybody. Unfortunately, I am sorry to disappoint you, this does not happen for one second. She is not bitten, nor does she rampage… as a zombie at least. Still, the plot wouldn’t quite be the same which does hold some real strength. It’s just Mary was not a character I liked nor one I tried to like after she failed to impress me.

One point that is not in Mary’s favour that probably didn’t help me is the world she lives in. The Sisters who are basically nuns control the village, they are the law, the leaders and they have the knowledge and the secrets. The Sisters are rather creepy and whilst they lord over the village, they surprisingly make it a very sexist society. Do not expect to find women’s rights being waved in your face because the Sisters have a plan for women. Have them married, get them to have babies, have them care for the babies, have more babies and so on until they die… This is the basic plot of what the Sisters expect from the women of the village and for those that fail to do that… well… who knows if their history was ever written down or they join the Sisters.

“You are a Bound woman now, Mary. And you have a duty to your  husband, to God and this village. It is time to own up to that duty, Mary. It is time you stopped playing by the fences.”

Despite the Sisters forcing the women into such roles, they were a fantastically creepy, twisted and mysterious group of women who I was definitely curious about. Without a doubt Ryan has created a warped group of ‘do-gooders’ who believe they are working for the best of the village and it fits generally into the typical expectation of a post-apocalyptic/dystopia novel that somebody must be attempting to ‘save the race’ although badly. However, I thought that Ryan took a rather original tone to the Sisters and they didn’t seem to feel like they’re own living breathing entity that I could generally see existing in the world.

I have to admit, I found that there were some very cute moments in this novel and despite the rather heart-breaking and torturous moments of the novel, the deaths and all the zombies and gore, I thought Ryan interspersed a few moments to detract from the depressive tone of the novel. And the perfect way to do this is bring a fluffy bundle of puppy!

“The dog tumbles to the floor and runs in a few circles and then comes and wiggles over my feet, its tail sweeping items off a low table nearby. “A wedding present for  you, Mary,” he says, dipping his face a bit as if embarrassed.”

Now there are two main men in the novel. Harry and Travis. Yes.. I see your thoughts travelling directly to a big ol’ love triangle.

chains of love

This actually pretty much perfectly sums up the relationships in The Forest of Hands & Teeth and it makes me tempted to not really call it a love triangle because Mary never really loves one of the love interest and the one she is in ‘love’ with, she never truly commits to for most of the novel. The moments in which we do have romance though touched me and I found myself awwwing a little bit.

“He pulls my face toward him, his lips brushing mine, and then he places my head against his shoulder. His arms wrap rightly around me and I understand how he needs me. I curl against his body, let him twirl his fingers through my hair.”

The Forest of Hands & Teeth is not a happy novel, I didn’t find that it was full of fun and joy, but it does make you think. I despised the main character and that was probably what detracted from my enjoyment the most. The plot whilst in large had moments of predictability was surprising and engaging and did serve to have a few unexpected plot twists that made me flip through the pages a little faster. I don’t think there is anything astounding about this novel, but it has enjoyable moments and it’s not too long. I recommend a rainy day when you have lots of free time. This novel like Mary’s brother managed to redeem itself largely by the end and I think I’ll be reading the sequel since it’s not from Mary’s point of view. I’ll leave you on a quotation I liked from the book.

“I want to believe in hope.”

~ 3 / 5 BOOKS ~

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Filed under 2009 Publication, 3 Books, Carrie Ryan, Dystopia, Gollancz, Hardback, Horror, Paranormal Reading Challenge, Romance, Young Adult, Zombies

Mockingbird

Mockingbird

Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig

Series: Miriam Black #2

Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Thriller

Published: August 28th 2012 by Angry Robot

The Plot.

Miriam is trying. Really, she is.

But this whole “settling down thing” that Louis has going for her just isn’t working out. She lives on Long Beach Island all year around. Her home is a run-down double-wide trailer. She works at a grocery store as a check-out girl. And her relationship with Louis–who’s on the road half the time in his truck–is subject to the piss and vinegar Miriam brings to everything she does.
It just isn’t going well. Still, she’s keeping her psychic ability–to see when and how someone is going to die just by touching them–in check. But even that feels wrong somehow. Like she’s keeping a tornado stoppered up in a tiny bottle.

Then comes one bad day that turns it all on her ear.

My Review.

Chuck Wendig’s sequel to Blackbirds in the Miriam Black series took to a different direction than I expected in Mockingbird and I didn’t quite connect with it as much which is unfortunate to say. Blackbirds unexpectedly surprised me and I was looking forward to starting Mockingbird however it was a little more dark and twisted than I expected and maybe could stomach. Miriam seemed to kick up the violence, language and lonely solo act in this novel and I didn’t appreciate the move away from the romance that kindled in the previous novel which I think represented a light of hope in the novel. However, I felt things were really strained in this novel and they took a lot darker approach in the aspect that the characters really looked inside themselves.

I think my main problem came with Mockingbird in that I didn’t actually like Miriam’s character as much. Before she was bad-ass problematic woman who was a little eccentric. However, Miriam pushed everybody away in this novel, she seemed to be hating on the entire world and she took a trip into the past. I think I’ll be more intrigued to witness the resolving off the issues that Miriam has in the next instalment because we’ll finally be getting to the core of her issues. I just felt like as a character she didn’t make a lot of progress in this novel, she seemed to bounce of walls and fire insults at everybody. She did make some character connections with new people, but these were all underlying with foreboding and death which makes my stomach churn at the thought in nervous anticipation. I can appreciate that Wendig does not creep around the idea of death and destruction and he shows this through Miriam pretty brutally which is why I didn’t like her character for this novel because she became a little harder and colder. However, he has to be applauded for stepping where other authors tend to shy away from.

“Each song of an album, each page of a book, every panel of every comic, they’re all doorways, little escape hatches where Miriam can flee the sad shadows of this life.”

Louis is a character that seemed to make some development in this novel with uncovering some of his issues with Miriam. However again, we’re still not at the bottom of his problems and I hope he returns to resolve these because just like Miriam his life is full of problems. Wendig certainly doesn’t sprinkle fairy dust over people and Louis has lots of demons I feel still left to fight, so I hope we haven’t seen the back of him.

Nevertheless what I did love was the return of the crass humour and eccentric behaviour that occurred in Mockingbird that so reminded me of Blackbirds which was a new venture for me into a book I probably wouldn’t usually read. Mockingbird is not for the faint-hearted and if you are a little queasy or put off my bad language, death and lots of violence I would suggest avoiding this series all-together. However if you want something that delves into the darkness of humanity, something crazy with talking-birds, visions, death warnings and all kinds of crazed happenings then Mockingbird and Blackbirds are the perfect book for you. I think Wendig manages to develop his very own genre with these two books that isn’t alike anything I’ve read and this unique nature that he brings is a reason that I still manage to enjoy this book.

One thing I did love about Mockingbird were the chapter titles. They always manage to make me chuckle and I think Wendig has something very new and encapsulated Miriam’s character perfectly who is our protagonist and narrator and I think this engages your attention before the chapter even begins to keep reading and explore further into the mind of Miriam Black.

“Lords of Google, Hear my Plaintive Cries.”

Despite not enjoying Mockingbird as much as the first novel in the Miriam Black series, I will be continuing with it and looking out for what exciting adventure comes next because dark and gritty this series is and I think it still manages to be innovative and exploring into the dark nature that lays latent in so many books.

*quotes taken from an uncorrected arc copy so may change on the original version provided through NetGalley from Angry Robot.

3.5 books

Extra Nerdy

Chuck Wendig has a rather awesome blog that runs under the name terribleminds and there are lots of cool features over there with short stories he has free and all about his other work in the world of gaming, writing novels and short stories and screenplays. A very cool guy. He also has lots of interesting, awesome pictures on his blog too. terrible minds

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Filed under 2012 Publication, 3.5 Books, Adult, Angry-Robot, Chuck Wendig, E-book, Fantasy, Horror, Thriller

The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories

The Bloody Chamber

The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter (GR)

Genre: Fantasy, Gothic, Horror

Published: January 1st 1990 by Penguin Books

From familiar fairy tales and legends – Red Riding Hood, Bluebeard, Puss-in-Boots, Beauty and the Beast, vampires, werewolves – Angela Carter has created an absorbing collection of dark, sensual, fantastic stories.

My Review:

Firstly, I don’t usually do lots of short stories or anthologies of any kind, but I had to read this one for school and surprise me it did. I enjoyed it immensely with its dark, twisted take on the fairy tales meaning Carter makes something very unique.

The collection is made up of The Bloody Chamber, The Courtship of Mr Lyon, The Tiger’s Bride, Puss-In-Boots, The Erl-King, The Snow Child, The Lady of The House of Love, The Werewolf, The Company of Wolves and Wolf-Alice.

One thing to be highly aware of throughout all the short stories is that they are highly explicit on sexual and violent terms.

Here are a selection of short reviews for a few of the short stories within.

The Bloody Chamber

‘The Bloody Chamber’ was probably my least favourite of the short stories that make up Carter’s short stories even though it’s the title and the first one. It’s a modern retelling of Bluebeard which I honestly didn’t know anything about before picking up ‘The Bloody Chamber’ is interesting to say the least.

However I found its protagonist weak and naive and very much deluded and she frustrated me. She depended upon other people to save her and whilst this is all part of the meanings behind ‘The Bloody Chamber’ I wanted to throw something at the girl.

“Then, slowly yet teasingly, as if he were giving a child a great, mysterious treat,”

The plot is engaging and I found it slightly disturbing but all the little foreshadowing moments and twists and turns kept the pace moving.

The Marquis is a despicable man and he’s truly wicked. He’s the embodiment of a villain and a cradle snatcher. There is nothing to like about the man and he’s probably the main reason I didn’t appreciate ‘The Bloody Chamber’ as a short story.

“He was older than I. He was much older than I; there were streaks of pure silver in his dark mane. But his strange, heavy, almost waxen face was not lined by experience.”

The Tiger’s Bride

Without a doubt, this was my favourite story of the selections. This is an adaption of Beauty and the Beast and the better of the two that Carter attempted. The other one, The Courtship of Mr Lyon wasn’t nearly as engaging.

Carter looks at a Beast as a Lord and whether he’s human or animal and I found this really interesting and the whole dynamic of his character was exciting. It was added to by his servant who is supposed to be an animal too that I didn’t quite pick up on in my first reading and this contrast between humans and animals is interesting.

“And then he moved; he buried his cardboard carnival head with its ribboned weight of false hair in, I would say, his arms; he withdrew his, I might say hands from his sleeves and I saw his furred pads, his excoriating claws.”

I liked Belle as a character. She wasn’t very strong to start with, but she built herself up as a character and she was pretty smart. I liked her ability to think on her feet and move with the direction of the novel rather than oppose it.

Puss-in-Boots

‘Puss-in-Boots’ probably doesn’t require a genius to figure out what it’s a retelling off. I found this one to be more humorous and entertaining than Carter’s other additions to the stories because it wasn’t quite as dark and twisted and it made a refreshing addition to the collection with something a little different.

Puss was quite the enigmatic character and I took a shinning to him immediately. He was clever and oozing charm, especially around the lady felines, but that only added to his character to make him entertaining.

“So Puss got his post at the same time as his boots and I dare say the Master and I have much in common for he’s proud as the devil, touchy as tin-tacks, lecherous as liquorice and, though I say it as loves him, as quick-witted a rascal as ever put on clean linen.”

Overall, I really enjoyed ‘Puss-in-Boots’ more for Puss as a character than his master who was a little foolish and blinded by love, but the extravagance of that made it all the more amusing.

The Company of Wolves

This makes for an interesting read as a modern adaption to Little Red Riding Hood because this Little Red Riding Hood is incredibly far from the version I remember as a child so it may very well change your opinion entirely on Little Red Riding Hood, be warned!

Carter gathers together lots of mythology about wolves and tales and uses them as a warning from the Grandmother who is an old crone. I didn’t like her one bit and I was glad we got her out of the way. That sounds really mean, but she isn’t a character you can like.

“There is no winter’s night the cottager does not fear to see a lean, grey, famished snout questing under the door, and there was a woman once bitten in her own kitchen as she was straining the macaroni.”

Little Red Riding Hood isn’t silly or naive, but she uses her brain and other parts of herself to get what she wants and to secure her safety and you can clearly see the wave of feminism that Carter was writing through coming out in ‘The Company of Wolves’ in embracing freedom and sexuality and it’s something I quite liked.

I liked the werewolf aspect to ‘The Company of Wolves’ and all the elements of wolves and magic. The film however is rather dire, they use great big Alsatians and German Shepards to play wolves so it doesn’t quite reflect the wolves as it could and things change a little, so if you’ve seen the film which is humorous for how bad it is, then do read the short story because it’s so much better!

Do be aware that Carter likes to take things overboard and it makes for an interesting read to say the least!

“She stands and moves within the invisible pentacle of her own virginity. She is an unbroken egg; she is a sealed vessel; she has inside her a magic space the entrance to which is shut tight with a plug of membrane; she is a closed system; she does not know how to shiver. She has her knife and she is afraid of nothing.”

Be warned, stepping into the world of Carter is entering a completely different realm! So beware.

4 books

*

Nerd Fact

Angela Carter is a feminist, who married twice and ran away to Japan after he first marriage. She was working on a sequel to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre at the time of of her death that focused on the life of Jane’s stepdaughter, but only a synopsis survives.

Extra Nerdy

The song that I think summarises these short stories most of all is Animal by Neon Trees. It’s actually one of my favourites.

*

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Filed under 1990 Publication, 4 Books, Adult, Angela Carter, Fantasy, Gothic, Horror, Paperback, Penguin Books

Wanted: Dead or Undead

wanted dead or undeadWanted: Dead or Undead by Angela Scott
Genre:
Young-Adult, Zombies, Horror
Series: The Zombie West Series #1
Published: March 30th 2012 by Evolved Publishing

Trace Monroe doesn’t believe in luck. He never has. But when a fiery-headed cowgirl saunters through the saloon doors, wielding shotguns and a know-how for killing the living dead, he believes he just may be the luckiest man alive. Trace wants to join “Red’s” posse, but she prefers to work alone—less messy that way.
In order to become her traveling companion, Trace has to agree to her terms: no names, no questions, and if he gets bit, he can’t beg for mercy when she severs his brain stem. He agrees, knowing only that Red is the sharpest shooter he’s ever encountered. The fact she’s stunning hasn’t escaped his attention either.
What he doesn’t know, is that Red has a very good reason to be on top of her game. She not only has the answer for how they can all outlive the plague taking over the wild, wild west, she is the answer.

Review:

I was asked by Angela Scott to review this book and I gladly accepted. It sounds interesting and different and boy am I happy I accepted. This book was fantastic! The wild west is not really my scene and whilst I like reading/watching things on zombies I’m not a huge fanatic. However this meshed together perfectly to make a wonderful young-adult novel.

I’ll start of with the plot. We’re thrown straight into a situation unfamiliar to us with no introductions. We get a brief background on a girl and we learn about her family and the impact of zombies. It’s rather touching for a preface of the novel and made an instant connection for me to the character and brought a real energy to the story on such a pacey start.  Just as we fall into a sense of knowing we are thrown into a different situation where we meet Trace. The story is fast paced and ever flowing onwards.

Since the scene is constantly changing to keep up a new setting and action packed moment, we are never in the same place twice and it makes an exciting read. The different location changes serve to really immerse you as a reader into the world of the wild west and get the western feel. I wouldn’t say that the western tilt to this novel was overly strong, which allowed me to keep reading, but it was there to remind us of the time and setting. I generally refrain from everything western, but I liked the concept of this novel.

We had the horses and the guns, the poker and bars along with little family houses. It was quaint and I felt like Scott really set up a descriptive style to the story that wasn’t overly detailed to take away from the fast action of the plot. If you like Western novels you’ll love this and even if you don’t I think you shouldn’t let that deter you from reading!

Red. She is an amazing kick ass character who we witness going on a phenomenal journey. The emotional aspects to her character were really profound because she witness some really traumatic experiences in her life and as the story unfolded we found many revelations to come. I thought there was always a new aspect of Red that we were waiting to uncover and that she wasn’t predictable in the slightest. She was a very strong female protagonist for the story and I appreciate that about strong female characters. She could hold her own and fight and then there were times where we witnessed real vulnerability and struggle but this only reminded us of her humanity. I felt that whilst she seemed cold and harsh, she had human faults and true reasons and values to her character.

Trace was an interesting man. I found I hated him for the first half of the novel until he developed his own sense of morals and loyalty. Then he grew more and more upon me. He was certainly a stubborn man, and he worked well for the love interest for Red. I also have to admit that a little bit he grew on my heart and I was rooting for him by the end of the story. You’ll be pleased to know we have no other love interests to this story.

The zombies remind me of those from ‘Walking Dead’ if any of you have watched the TV show. They are blood hungry and savage and are only killed with a shot to the head. There are lots of questions surrounding the zombies and relating to Red and members of the population that are totally eluded in this novel, so I hope because this book is a series Scott will go on to cover the root of the outbreak and the more scientific aspects of the zombies. However, they are really fantastic horror zombies with no qualms about killing and gnawing away at somebody. Scott is not about to shy away from her horror even writing for the young-adult audience.

The only thing I could say was just over half-way through we reached a point where the novel and characters seemed to repeat themselves and that Red may have fallen into a kind of pattern that annoyed me. However Scott seemed to recuperate quickly from a little writing funk and finished with a respectable ending that left you wanting more and asking lots of questions.

As a young-adult novel, I’d suggest this more for the older teens because there is lots of blood and horror. We also brush across some intimate subjects whilst they aren’t covered in details the implications are perfectly clear and not something for young children.

Nevertheless I believe all audiences young-adult upwards can appreciate the well-written and developed plot and characters that Scott provides us with. It’s a short read at just over 200 pages and certainly makes for an enjoyable read. I’ll be looking out for the next book in the series out Autumn 2012, whilst I suggest you go stock your shelves or e-reader with a copy of this zombie-rrific book!

My rating:

4 books

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Filed under 2012 Publication, 4 Books, Angela Scott, Evolved Publishing, Horror, Paperback, Young Adult, Zombies

Frankenstein

Frankenstein

Title: Frankenstein

Author: Mary Shelley

Genre: Gothic, Classic, Horror, Literature

Publication: 1st published 1818

Plot:

Mary Shelley began writing Frankenstein when she was only eighteen. At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering the cause of generation and life and bestowing animation upon lifeless matter, Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts but; upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature’s hideousness. Tormented by isolation and loneliness, the once-innocent creature turns to evil and unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator, Frankenstein.

Review:

Classics are generally not my cup of tea, but I have to say, I devoured this in 3 readings over two days. It would have been less, but I just haven’t had the time. However, I found Frankenstein to be an absolute engaging, delight to read. I have heard people say they found it boring and I can understand the perspective, although, I myself found the book very entertaining and morally important.

At the base of Frankenstein for its moral tone, I thought first appearances and judging somebody on how they appear to be the most important and profound to today’s society. Since although trifling with scientific experiments and playing God, are still current with genetic variation and such current problems, but when we look at stereotypes and the view of the world, I really thought Frankenstein touched at the heart of this issue. My sympathies ended up lying with the monster, who as I child I thought was Frankenstein, but I have now found out, that is in fact the scientist. The monster was so full of despondency and a craving for companionship that it tore my heart out. I could relate to the loneliness and I felt that Shelley touched on an issue that in today’s society where people are pushed out and it really hit me hard.

The writing is incredible! I found myself looking in the dictionary for certain words because I didn’t understand them and I loved this aspect. I think with age I’ve come to appreciate Classics more because of the writing ability and I enjoyed the point of having to search for the couple of words I hadn’t seen before. I found that we got good descriptive detail that created a vivid description in my head.

I thought the novel was of a decent length to keep me entertained and it was pacey because we were always witnessing something new and following a new path. At moments I will admit I found myself a tad confused, but I easily picked the story line back up. At just around 200 pages, this is a ‘short’ book for me and I think the perfect length to stay enjoyable. I didn’t find that the descriptions fell into being flowery or overlong, and that’s refreshing after recently reading a very long flowery narrated novel.

In addition to this, I was feeling like I didn’t want to read for a few days before I picked up this novel and it’s brought me back into being motivated to read. So I believe it was all about finding the novel to suit the mood and this certainly gauged my attention from the very first moment.

Victor Frankenstein I can say I didn’t like, he ignored his family, was self obsessed with his work and I felt like he just was too whiny for me. However because I felt like the way in which the story was written that the events were a recap from Walton, through Frankenstein that we didn’t witness too much of this for it to drag. I liked the set up of the three volumes and the letters to start and conclude the story that gave us an all around setting position from one place. It worked well and to say Shelley was at the tender age of 19, she has certainly got a fabulous novel.

Classics have never been my favourite genre, but after my venture with ‘The Picture of Dorian Grey’ at the start of the year and ‘Frankenstein’ as my first two proper classics I’ve read, I can safely say I will continue to read more of them.

I’ve heard someone say “this story can be summed up in two pages” and for me, I felt like ever part was equally important. At the end of this, I’m happy to say I fell deeply in love with Frankenstein and that it’s certainly a work of wonder for a classic. Pick it up and read because you never know what you may find.

My Rating:

5 books

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Filed under 1001 Books, 1818 Publication, 5 Books, Classic, Collins Classics, Gothic, Horror, Literature, Mary Shelley, Paperback