Four Creepy Reads

In keeping with it being October, here are four mini-reviews of some recent creepy reads (ordered from worst to best):

Title: Nothing but Blackened Teeth
Author: Cassandra Khaw
Genre: Haunted House Horror
Pages: 144
Rating: 1.5 out of 5

The author seems more interested in showing off her “writing skills” and knowledge of Japanese folklore than actually writing a good book. The prose is so purple and metaphor-laden that it suffocates the story. For the supernatural elements, she spews out names of mythical Japanese beings with little or no helpful descriptions. The plot drags with everything supernatural happening in a rush toward the end after the spiteful, shallow “friends” have made themselves so petty and loathsome that you couldn’t care less what happens to them and their self-aware discussion of horror movie tropes. Very disappointing.

Title: I Strahd: The Memoirs of a Vampire
Author: P. N. Elrod
Genre: Dark Fantasy (Ravenloft)
Pages: 324
Rating: 3 out of 5

Franchise fiction does not make for great literature, but it can be entertaining. This Dracula-like vampire origin story was competently executed. There’s nothing terribly original here, but it was fun escapist reading. I wouldn’t mind reading another Ravenloft book at some point in the future.

Title: The Living Shadow
Author: Maxwell Grant
Genre: Pulp Fiction (The Shadow)
Pages: 224
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Violent vigilante justice prevails in this first novel of the Shadow. The Shadow falls somewhere between hardboiled detective and dark superhero who may or may not have creepy supernatural powers (I’m pretty sure Batman is a Shadow rip-off). In spite of some amazingly convenient coincidences and an awkward attempt to tie it to the original radio show, this was a lot of fun and I’ll definitely be reading more in the series.

Title: The Oubliette
Author: J C Stearns
Genre: Grimdark Sci-fi (Warhammer Horror)
Pages: 252
Rating: 4 out of 5

More franchise fiction, but this one was better than most. This tale of supernatural corruption, set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, deftly combines byzantine politics and an ancient evil. It’s a slow burn “seduction to the dark side” kind of story that doesn’t require a lot of previous knowledge of WH40k lore to make sense.

Non-Sparkly Bloodsuckers

Image result for salem's lot book coverTitle: Salem’s Lot
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Horror
Pages: 458
Rating: 3 of 5

This is a good, solid vampire story with no sparkly, angsty heartthrobs in sight, just menacing, bloodthirsty fiends. I’m not a huge fan of Stephen King as he uses more profanity and semi-explicit descriptions of abuse and all around morally scuzzy behavior than I usually like in my reading, but the man can definitely tell a story. There’s nothing terribly original here, but King makes good use of all the tropes as he imagines what it would be like if a Dracula-like vampire came to a small American town (in Maine, of course) in the 1970’s. If you’re a fan of King (or classic vampires) it’s definitely worth a read.

The copy that I borrowed from the library came with this added “bonus”:

Salem's Lot.jpg

Yep, there appears to be a little blood spattered across some of the pages. Ew…I can do without that kind of “special effects!”