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Hickeys From Hell

Vampires are a staple of horror since the dawn of human fear. There’s the sexy bloodsucker craze with Twilight, The Lost Boys, and Pat Sajak. But vampires go way back, even to the ancient Chinese, who had narratives that if a vampire came across a sack of rice, they would have to count every grain. This inevitably gave rise to everyone’s favorite Muppet mathematician.

Dracula produced the most famous of the creatures of the night, with much thanks to Universal Pictures and their silver screen films. It wasn’t the classic it is now when it first came out, but the novel made vampires incredibly popular in the public eye. Bram Stoker’s masterpiece assigned certain characteristics to vampires that stuck with them through almost all modern retellings. Aversion to garlic, holy water, and sunlight, Stoker sets the stage for it all. Except sparkling skin. That was absent.

Stephen King published his second novel, ‘Salem’s Lot, in 1975. In all honesty, it’s a blatant rehash of Dracula, and it f–ng nails it. Set in a rural town in Maine, it follows the titular Jerusalem’s Lot as a vampire infestation takes over the town. It’s got the basic structure of Stoker’s vision: vampire comes to town, vampire turns people, people try to kill vampire, people kill vampire. Simple stuff, but King does something with it that hits home. The vampire Kurt Barlow slowly turns the entire population of ‘Salem’s Lot into a horde of night terrors.

Well, good morning, Sunshine! The world says hello!

What Do I Think?

Movies like 30 Days of Night and From Dusk Till Dawn, with their multitude of vampires, have desensitized me to such things. However, I still found myself relishing in the silent transformation in the fictional little town. Having read the original Dracula, I couldn’t help making mental comparisons. But the personal touches King produced with the characters created a much more visceral monster story. It’s not just Little Miss Victorian Chastity, it’s visible people with tangible motivations and misgivings.

That’s what ultimately makes this book; it’s the townspeople and their ultimate fall into death and blood.

Scary? Maybe if you hadn’t heard the story a million times. Entertaining? Wildly so. I am certain I will find myself happily reading it, enjoying it once more. Four out of five Cthulhus.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Photo Credits: Cover of ‘Salem’s Lot, 2011 edition by Anchor Books; GIF from ‘Salem’s Lot, 1979 TV miniseries from Warner Bros. Television

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Book Reviews

A Murder in Reverse: “Wrong Place Wrong Time”

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The Plot

“A brilliantly genre-bending, mind-twisting answer to the question How far would you go to save your child?”  — Ruth Ware, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Jen watches her son murder a stranger. Stab him to death. She and her husband, Kelly, watch as their son Todd is taken into custody.

The next morning, Jen wakes up and it’s yesterday. Jen knows that at the end of the night, her son kills someone. She is determined to stop it.

Jen goes further and further back in time trying to discover why Todd murdered a stranger and how to stop it.

The Verdict

This book is twisty. Right when you think you know the ending, something else is there to prove that the story is more multifaceted than that. While the premise of the novel is simple, Gillian McAllister elevates a simple concept with deep, dark twists.

It is best that you don’t know too much going into this one. For fans of Blake Crouch, this is such a good thriller with time travelling vibes.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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Book Reviews

Woom: An Extreme Horror Novel

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“That doesn’t invalidate it,” Angel said. “There’s no statute of limitations on pain.”

The Plot

Angel is a man who knows pain: physical, mental, sexual. The story begins with Angel visiting Room 6 at the Lonely Motel and ordering a plus-size sex worker to his room. What comes next is Angel’s retellings of painful stories while performing sexual acts on the sex worker, Shyla.

The novel reads as a book of short stories, as Angel relays stories to Shyla and she tells him stories back. This is a novel of pain and disgust. Angel’s stories are so dark and traumatic that Shyla can’t believe they are true. As Angel bares his soul, we see a side of him that is melancholy and unable to process hurt in a natural way.

The Verdict

This novel is full of disgusting visuals and isn’t afraid to get dirty. This truly is an extreme horror novel. As a warning, there is discussion of feces, blood, rape, sex, and body horror. This novel is not for the faint of heart. You’ll close this short novel feeling dirty. Angel is a character that begs for sympathy while his stories narrate that he may not be as innocent as he perceives.

When the subtitle says this novel is extreme horror, believe it. Only the strong will survive Duncan Ralston’s Woom. It is more splatterpunk than anything, but true literary quality lies beneath the filth.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Read it yourself by clicking below!

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Book Reviews

Did She Do It? Stacy Willingham’s “All the Dangerous Things” Asks Us Just This

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One year ago, Isabelle’s life crumbled when her baby was abducted from her home. Her marriage to her husband, Ben, is destroyed as they try to navigate the fallout.

The Plot

Even one year after the abduction, Isabelle seeks answers. She is still doing appearances at true crime expos to get information on the attendees, thinking the abductor will be there one day. Abductors usually revisit their crime and Isabelle swaps her appearances for the event guest list, never taking any money for her talks.

Some think that Isabelle killed her own baby as evidence from the case says the perpetrator came from inside the house. Isabelle hasn’t slept – not fully – since Mason was abducted. Her therapist is worried that she may be having hallucinations. Is Isabelle the killer or is she on a quest for true justice?

The Verdict

I absolutely loved the complication of not knowing whether Isabelle was a reliable or unreliable narrator. This was my favorite aspect of the novel. It made me question everything that Isabelle had to say and the actions she executed.

Isabelle is a character that, as a mother, I really felt for. I wanted to believe that Isabelle was innocent, but I was hanging on the edge of my seat waiting to find out. Stacy Willingham is the master of a story that winds all around, waiting for you to find the truth.

If you are interested in reading Willingham’s first novel, A Flicker in the Dark, check out my review here.

4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

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