[722]: The Only Child by Andrew Pyper

Monster mash-up of epic proportions.


The Only Child
by Andrew Pyper

Lily Dominick lives for her job. As a child, she was touched by the horror of having witnessed her mother’s murder. One thing that keeps her up some nights though, was the reason why the murderer left her unscathed.

Despite that traumatic event in her life, she grew up to be an intelligent woman; independent and determined. But there’s a dark side in her that feeds her drive to understand the patients — clients that she encounters day in and day out at Kirby.  A psychiatric facilty that houses the most demented, depraved serial killers and murderers.

One of those clients was a recently arrested beguiling man who had some stories to tell. He claimed to know her before she was even born. He claimed to have done what he’s done if only to get close to her. Even more shocking was his claim that he knew her mother. Then he dropped the mother of all revelations by claiming he was her father.

Meeting “Michael” for the first time reminded me of a scene in Silence of the Lambs where Clarisse sparred with one psychopath named Hannibal Leckter. But Michael was incomparable to the famous cannibal. For one, when he’s not playing human he was a winged, clawed supernatural monster of sorts. What he is precisely is hard to tell. But he’s highly intelligent, indestructible, and possesses the kind of unmatched cruelty amongst serial killers in history. He’s also two centuries old – give or take.

Michael is also a cunning, manipulative monster. Dangling a proverbial carrot for Lily was his favourite. First, was his claim that he knew her mother. And then it was the knowledge that he was her father. There was something about Lily that yearns for this man. Both as a child to a father and in some ways, sexual, morbidly enough. In the end, I never knew which part of her longed for Michael the most. But either way, it neither was normal.

Throughout the story, readers will discover all the ways that Pyper derived from three well-known gothic classics. He seamlessly worked Michael’s character in the creation of the 19th-century horror fiction triumvirate. And as Lily continues her pursuit of the elusive Michael, she’ll piece together her mother’s life and death. All the while encountering a group of assassins who are also on Michael’s trail. This book never lacked for suspense; I flew through the pages like I was also in pursuit.

The Only Child was exactly what you would expect from Andrew Pyper. It’s a very dark fantasy littered with dead bodies and violence. The lure of the three horror classics was irresistible. But in the end, Pyper’s spin was even more incredible.

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[705]: The Burning World by Isaac Marion

An Unrecognizable sequel that sheds all the heart-warming fluff of its predecessor.


The Burning World
by Isaac Marion

Question: Did you read Warm Bodies? If so, do you remember how it ends? How about the movie? Did you see it? Yes? No?

Well, let me spoil it all for you with this little scenario: most of the zombies slowly gained back a semblance of their humanity. Gone are the instincts to devour human flesh, replaced by a pause that gives them a chance to hold back the monster that hungers for the living. So much so that they’re able to cohabit with the humans inside the wall. The last scene had Julie and R watching as the walls were blown to bits. The sun is setting; they were holding hands…fade to black. Really hopeful shit, right? Makes you think that a peaceful coexistence between zombies and humans are entirely possible.

Well, sorry to burst your bubble but The Burning World did not start right where Warm Bodies left off. At least, the atmosphere was not the same. If you’re expecting much of the same lighthearted and somewhat funny shtick of the undead in this novel, you’ll be disappointed. Because these zombies are just a sad caricature of the rabid monsters we’ve come to fear and love. They’re stuck in between the beast that craves for warm flesh, and the humans inside of them clamoring to be born again. It was dark, nostalgic, and terrible in the sense that they’ll break your heart (R’s zombie wife and kids. *Sobs*) It was depressing, and it made me wish they were the terrifying stuff of nightmares we’ve all read about our lives. Because then I won’t feel so heartbroken.

This is a changed world; one that you won’t recognize from the first book. There’s a new villain in town whose primary goal is to convert the changing zombies into an army of drones possessing some robot-like consciousness. The last vestige of humanity left are being hunted and “phased out”. And this includes the tiny population inside the wall. They especially want R and Julie for their ability to speak to the evolving zombies. In short, this sequel had become the action-packed, pulse-pounding, scary-as-shit thriller that Warm Bodies never were. I’d even go as far as to say, it echoes the atmospheric dread of Justin Cronin’s The Passage. Yeah. I can’t believe it either. But reading The Burning World brought out the exact feelings when I binge-read Cronin’s vampire series last year.

By the by, R slowly gains his memory as a human – and from what he can remember, he was not a good person at all. He is miles remove from the sweet zombie we’ve come to know. We also see Julie in a different light. Driven by her sense of familial loyalty, she becomes a completely different person. She’s angry, compulsive, and even a little selfish. She’ll make you mad. She’ll make you cry but eventually, she’ll gain your sympathy albeit, tentatively.

We’re introduced to new characters and new plot lines that converge with the old ones. There are far more nuances explored; surprising and thrilling revelations. If I were to keep it simple, I say Warm Bodies was stripped of everything that was cute to show its true form. It had me on edge at all times because at the back of my mind, I keep waiting for the “awaken” zombies to revert back to their monstrosity – most especially R. Over all, The Burning World opens the series to a whole new set of possibilities. And with that ending, I say Marion has a lot more dark days in store for his ardent readers.

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Little Heaven by Nick Cutter: Review And Giveaway

Horrors,  both man-made and supernatural, sure to give you nightmares for days.


Little Heaven
by Nick Cutter

It was easily discernible right from the start that I will be out of my element. Nick Cutter has a way with words that only masters of horrors can craft. I supposed if I were a Stephen King reader, I would find the same kind of writing chops that makes him the “king” of this genre. Nick’s brand of writing, however, is a new thing for me. It was disarming and in turns, astounding. The violence and the gore were even more viscerally shocking – especially for a newbie such as I.

Little Heaven is not an easy read – which I supposed, is a good indication of a horror novel. And because it tells the story in two timelines, the book was of considerable heft. But Little Heaven pulled me in right away; ripe with an ominous atmosphere and messed up characters that you wouldn’t want to encounter in a dark alley, it’s a whole another experience altogether. Right off the bat, you’re introduced to monsters of different breeds: the supernatural kind and the human kind. In 1965, three guns-for-hire mercenaries fought to death then somehow found themselves forming a truce of sorts after the dust settled. I love reading unlikely alliances between characters that can barely trust each other’s own shadows. It makes for an even more suspenseful read and admittedly, a favorite trope of mine.

This is where the story takes off. It was during their tenure as a threesome trouble that they were hired to investigate a suspected kidnapping of a client’s nephew. They’ll discover a cult whose membership consisted of the exploited and the enslaved but fanatics all the same. It was in here that they’d find the horrors of Little Heaven. Practically everyone in this commune is the stuff of nightmares – children and adults alike. Coupled that with a monster that lurks in the woods and in the commune itself, these band of mercenaries would find Little Heaven was actually Little Hell on Earth.

Then the timeline moves into the future (1980) where the three would once again find themselves in Black Mountain Wilderness after Shug found her daughter missing from her bed in the middle of the night. Older, beaten by time, and much changed from what they once were, the three knew that there remains an outstanding debt to be paid. This time, the horrors were more or less the kind of things that haunt them in their waking and sleeping hours.

I don’t have much to say about Nick Cutter’s writing other than it’s brilliant. If horror is your thing, Mr. Cutter gives Stephen King a run for his money. His characters were haunted by their miserable and troubled pasts which he’d seamlessly interwoven into his narrative. He was able to reach the emphatic reader. He showed me that even though these characters are bad to the bone, there are some good about them that I will still love. And most of the time, I found myself doing that very thing. I rooted for these characters because I know there is a much more evil monster lurking within the pages of the book.

Little Heaven will scare you and at times, will make your stomach churn. Nick Cutter is a brand new author to me, but I have a feeling I’ll be looking for his books more now that I’ve discovered him. If you’re a fan of supernatural horrors, this book is a must read. An old school horror-fest, indeed!


Thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada for the review copy of Little Heaven and for sponsoring this giveaway. Join in the fun and enter for a chance to win!

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[640]: The Hatching by Ezekiel Boone

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The Hatching

by Ezekiel Boone

July 5th, 2016 | Atria Books | 4 out of 5 Stars


This was such an icky book. I had bouts of starts and stops because it made me paranoid. Like something was crawling on my skin, and every time I feel something brush up against me, I turn into a spazzing ninja trying to shake it off. But it’s not just the sense that something hairy was on me, it’s the thought that there are possibly millions of species of spiders that are unidentified out there in the wild. And one of them could be a man-eating, inside-a-human-body-hatching, flying, jumping spider. I shudder at the thought.

This breed of spiders is from the ancient world. Awakened because humans are curious fuckers. Especially those bazillionaire types wanting to explore the forest of the Amazon or some shit. So this Dora the Explorer wannabe and his entourage consisting of a tour guide, his bodyguard, and three supermodels (because he can) were in the forest when they stumbled upon a freaking nest. Long story short, the bazillionaire survived only to find himself (unknowingly) carrying an egg inside him. And it hatched.

Good times. Good times.

He’s not the only one who had a close encounter with the eight-legged kind. All over the world, they’re all awakening because it was their season. They live for a time, then die soon after they wreak havoc. They’re like carnivorous locusts with a taste for man meat and blood. In China, the infestation got so bad that the Chinese government nuked its own people. And these spiders don’t discriminate on their points of attack: sky, sea, water, land. They’re the stuff an arachniphobe’s nightmares are made of. But it bugs me that there was no precedent to the event leading up to their awakening. Moreover, because the epidemic is wide-spread, there was a slew of points of view. And yet, even with all the characters involved, the book is tiny. Each has a short tale of their encounters and their inevitable demises. So at the end of the book, there were only a few left. Which, oddly enough, makes me all the more excited about this becoming a series.

I’m especially curious about the survivalists in a remote California town who had the presence of mind to build their own nuclear bunkers. Though, I’m worried. Their bunkers were constructed deep in a mine. Mines are dark and deep and infested with who knows what. So I’m interested to know what will become of them. Also, implied romance between the entomologist and the FBI agent.  Crazy, I know. I mean, with horrors abound, who has the time for romance? Lol. Mind you, romance might be pushing it.

The Hatching is a perfect book to turn into a B-movie. The kind shown in the drive-ins. Despite the horrors I felt before, during, after reading this book, believe it or not, I had a great time. It  was perfectly paced regardless of the number of perspectives. When I was a child, my mom used to warn me that if I don’t wash my face and brush my teeth before going to bed, a cockroach will eat my face. I had nightmares about that. But let me tell you, that’s nothing compared to the nightmares I’ve had after reading The Hatching.

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[611]: The Passage by Justin Cronin

6690798 GOODREADS SUMMARY
Series: The Passage, #1
Ballantine Books | Hardcover, 766 pages
Publication Date: June 10th, 2010
Adult Fiction | Horror, Thriller
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars


An epic and gripping tale of catastrophe and survival, The Passage is the story of Amy—abandoned by her mother at the age of six, pursued and then imprisoned by the shadowy figures behind a government experiment of apocalyptic proportions. But Special Agent Brad Wolgast, the lawman sent to track her down, is disarmed by the curiously quiet girl and risks everything to save her.

As the experiment goes nightmarishly wrong, Wolgast secures her escape—but he can’t stop society’s collapse. And as Amy walks alone, across miles and decades, into a future dark with violence and despair, she is filled with the mysterious and terrifying knowledge that only she has the power to save the ruined world.


This book was unbelievably good. At first, I was a little intimidated by its heft and I wasn’t quite sure what the book was about. The synopsis does not offer much. All I can infer was it was a book about a contagion that started in a lab gone wrong. Soon it will be revealed that the creatures were vampires in essence. They are strong and fast. They hunger for human blood. But while Vlad the Impaler didn’t make an appearance, another equally sinister and dubious “creator” was present and accounted for.

Apocalyptic novels and films usually begin in two ways: one, man can’t leave things well enough alone so they go to remote places of the world to find an artifact of great value – not for wealth, but indulgence. But since they don’t know enough about the artifact’s history, they will inadvertently unearth a curse or in this case, a creature that’s been left sleeping in peace until they wake it from its slumber. Second, mankind’s greed for power and domination over their kind that leads them to trouble time and time again. They create a biological weapon out of conceit. Unleashing an irreversible devastation that none of them would have the chance to defeat because it will overpower any kind of weaponry known to mankind.

The Passage started as it should. The end of the world rooted to man’s boundless greed and ambition. The U.S. government employed the help of a Harvard microbiologist to create a breed of super soldiers in an effort to staunch the terrorist attacks that have been happening more on U.S. soil. They infected twelve convicts on death row to become a race of soldiers of great strength, agility and endurance. But the experiment backfires, plunging the world into darkness, chaos, and death; bringing the human population to near extinction.

THE THIRTEENTH

The thirteenth infected was a child of six. Amy was abandoned by her mother at a convent in the care of Sister Lacey. She was a quiet child who saw things and felt things that any adult person would be scared of. Although Amy didn’t turn into a monster, she’s become something else altogether. She will age slowly; she doesn’t get hurt easily. And she’s somehow able to form a mental connection with The Twelve and the millions of people that are infected. She will play an important role in saving what’s left of humanity.

THE FIRST COLONY

A hundred years later, only 94 people survived in a Fort Knox-like community (or so they thought). Vampires, as the myth goes, cannot survive in the daylight. So by eliminating nights altogether, this pocket of civilization managed to avoid the millions of vampires roaming the Earth. But it will not last. Their power source is dwindling.  In an effort to find another source of power, a group of people was sent out on an expedition that will mark the beginning of the end for the people in the sanctuary.

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT

If you’re in the mood for a good SciFi-Paranormal hybrid, this is the perfect book to spend a few of your days reading. I listened to this on audio and read my copy whenever I can. It was the type of book that will consume you until you ache for the next one. In some ways, the world was what you will expect from a post-apocalyptic novel: desolate, scary, sparse, destroyed. But where Cronin spent a lot of time on was in his characters.

If you’ve ever read or seen The Stand by Stephen King, it is somewhat similar. There are religious undertones, but not too much. Just enough to know that the good always wins over evil. The US government named their project, Project Noah based on the Biblical story about an ark he built to survive the flood. Though I’m still not sure which of the two was the ark: Peter or Amy.

Justin Cronin is a brilliant writer. He took pains in building his characters and story. It’s the type of book where everything matters – every sentence, every phrase, every single punctuation.  He didn’t leave a stone unturned, or a plot arch left unexplored. For days, and nights this book consumed me. And I don’t regret a single moment of it.

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[503]: Feed by Mira Grant

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GOODREADS SUMMARY | Audio | Orbit | May 1st, 2010 | Adult Horror | Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


This book was not what I expected at all. It’s not the typical zombies apocalypse I’ve read and enjoyed in the past. I’m sure most of you have read this series already, but me being late in the game is not really news. 2015 is turning out to be the year when I finally get on some bandwagons. I’ve always felt like this series was out of my reach, somehow. I’m glad I finally discovered what the hoopla was all about.

Unlike its contemporaries, Feed offers a different perspective. The world still has a semi-functioning way of life. It’s hard to imagine a zombie book where bloggers make up a sizeable share of the media; and where technology is not completely obsolete; where you can still travel and fly, and Coke is still something that people can easily avail of. Sometimes, it’s hard to believe that the world was changed. That somewhere close to where life was still being lived, are the undead looking for their next meal.

While some books focuses on how terrible life had been since the contagion, Feed focuses in the political arena. Particularly, a Republican senator’s bid for presidency. Along the way, the Mason siblings will uncover conspiracy that will lead to massacre and deaths. This book is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. In some ways, it reminds me of the ingenuity of World War Z. While it tends to be dry, there was no denying how well constructed this novel is. The world may be confusing at times, and some readers may find the necessary info-dumping a bit daunting. I thought this book was better listened to than read. Regardless, this book is a little bundle of suspenseful terror.

As far as characters go, I’m a little weirded out by this siblings’ relationship. They have such a closeness that easily be misconstrued/misinterpreted. It doesn’t help that they’re not really blood-related. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me. But I think George said it best when people quirked their eyebrows at the thought of them sharing a hotel room (two beds): screw social norms!

I’m glad I finally found this novel out. While it bears repeating that it’s every bit as great as everyone proclaims it to be, I think this is the kind of book that works for certain types of readers. If you don’t mind long narratives, and a proliferation of technical argot, Feed will sate your hunger for a different take on the tired zombies lore.

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