76. The Graveyard Apartment – Mariko Koike
Okay, so, I don’t always get the suspensefuls while reading horror novels and just HAVE to finish – but this one I did. The last time I remember staying up later than I should have to finish a book because I got said suspensefuls was when I read My Best Friend’s Exorcism and I finished that well over a year ago. So…yeah, this freaked me right out like the Blair Witch in the 90s. The fact that I’ve experienced one hell of a hateful basement can’t have anything to do with that. Not at all. It wasn’t an apartment basement.
Anyway, one of the things that bothers me and keeps my imagination spinning about Japanese ghost movies I’ve seen- all two, and I’ve also seen their U.S. equivalents- is that the ghosts were the winners. There’s a neverending cycle happening and no character gets out of being freaked out. That does not leave one settled at the end. And the stress that’s depicted here is hellish. So hellish. Also familiar from my basement experience. Also hellish.
Horace has helped many guinea pigs and me with being frightened of things in basements or otherwise; I really wished he was around while I was reading this.
1. The Seeing – William P. McGivern & Maureen McGivern
Orphan poet psychic Jessica Mallory has quite the story. After her parents die in a plane crash that she “sees” via colors, her social worker (a wearer of “durable double-knit” pantsuits “in subdued colors”) attempts to find her next of kin. They turn out to be a racist anxiety-riddled Aunt Maud and biological Uncle Eric the alcoholic gambling addict…but they want nothing to do with her – Phew. Jessica gets adopted and ends up living at a huge estate in Ireland. Unfortunately, Uncle Eric sees her in a magazine about horse racing because the Irish estate she lives at has horses- which is what many preteen girls want. She also has access to a priesthole and a cove and a dog AND a parapsychologist who she has a weird relationship with. He’s testing her for years and listening to her poems and then he goes to California to do some academic thing. Note: she’s underage.
When her benefactor dies her villainous aunt and uncle show up with New Jersey gangster dudes in tow and appraise the crap out of the art objects in the house, drink the good wine and whiskey, murder one of the servants, then slap Jessica around and plot her murder, to be delayed only until she predicts which ponies will win. It’s nice when relatives reconnect.
Little Orphan Poet Psychic Jessica has some friends to help her out though. One is an elderly Irishman who has magical praying powers in addition to being as psychic as her. Another is that Dr. Julian who went to California, he’s recalled by a poem in which Jessica essentially predicts their being together just like Dr. Whatshisface and Michelle of Michelle Remembers, which is pretty creepy to read. Note: she’s underage. Like so underage she can’t even drive. She barely knows anybody who doesn’t work for the estate, she never quite got to boarding school- this isn’t cool, not even for the late 1970s. The weirdest part of that is he never arrives. The book ends and Dr. Julian Future Statutory Rapist hasn’t even shown up. He somehow managed to charter a military plane and he still never gets there. The elderly Irishman does get there and manages to inadvertently kill the New Jersey gangsters. He also invokes the old gods and a variety of Druidy things to make Jessica super psychically powerful for a hot minute. Helpful.
Peregrine and Merricat survey their domain from atop the pumpkins. They see all.
7. Devil’s Call – J. Danielle Dorn
This is how you write a fantastical western. The head we’re in is a totally different kind of heroine, she’s not well liked, and yet, she’s making things happen. She’s taking revenge seriously, she’s got some drunk in the cart with her like a fun western version of Arya and the Hound’s road trips, she’s pregnant but she’s not soley defined by that, the villain in the story is a horrorshow but also decently defined, the stakes are very high, and frankly, this was just a seriously excellent read.
It’s an unpleasant metaphor for how much women really do and how badly they can be treated in relation to what they know, their choices, and who they are by those who represent the status quo and other monsters.
Murderface would like the author of Unbury Carol to read this and take notes for any future western outings.
60. You Should Have Left – Daniel Kehlmann
A mere 111 pages- You Should Have Left is written as though you’re reading the notebook of a screenwriter trying to work on his latest project while in a vacation house with his wife who makes him feel inadequate and his daughter Esther who is very young and loves television.
It’s a weird conceit, being a notebook; but it works pretty well in this story. There’s one scene with the general store proprietor that could have been outside the notebook and of course that’s the scene in which we get the most information. There’s also a phone call with the general store proprietor that’s similar. Why does the main character get a little plastic triangle ruler? Because the angles don’t match up.
Apparently Satan and a wizard argued over the land where the vacation house now stands. Satan built a tower, the wizard didn’t like the tower because he was not a Satanist wizard…highjinks ensue every time something else is built on that land.
This book manages to feel complete and not at the same time, which is quite a feat to me.
Salem’s checking out all the angles. He’s prepared for anything.
52. Sour Candy – Kealan Patrick Burke
You can’t react perfectly all the time – and in this case, it will cost you quite a bit to show even a hint of recognition.
In this novella, noticing a small child in a grocery store ruined a man’s life and brought him into contact with some creepy antler beasts. And of course, the child won’t let him eat or leave or talk to anyone or call the police and report being held hostage by a terrifying, whiny, otherworldly child. Parenting, am I right? Well, no, I’m not for two reasons: 1. That wasn’t his child! He just invaded and took over! Evil child. 2. I will never parent a human. Never! And I now know that ignoring human children while in stores is a reasonable choice if I wish to avoid netherworldly responsibility.
Taking care of Finny is the kind of netherworldly responsibility I accepted. Willingly.
Filed under Books, Review
55. My Soul to Keep – Jean M. Favors
The main reason I bought this book is because the cover kicks ass. I want to parody it with the guinea pigs, but I can’t because it’s too absurd already and I’d just be sticking a pig in there and that’s not enough, frankly. It features a UFO beaming twin neon green lights onto a cat sitting on top of a tombstone in a cemetery. Yes!
The cat is important and its name is Sekhmet, just like the cat in the book about stupid teen Satanists I covered earlier this summer. Both Sekhmets I’ve read about were smarter and cooler than the teen lady protagonists in their respective books. Sekhmet is guarding April, who isn’t that cool, but has been signed up for an ESP “experiment” by her cousin Sherm, who is a little bit of a maniac. The overall plot of this book was very odd, but, worth it to read (like people have said about my work on anonymous internet forums) and as mentioned, the cover is amazing.
Ozymandias holds the fate of many souls underneath his sweet little fuzzy feet.
1. King of the Rumbling Spires – T Rex
2. Killer – Midnight Force
3. Wooden Cross (I Can’t Wake the Dead) – Witchcraft
4. The Horned Goddess – The Sword
5. Captain – Ween
6. Infinity – Queens of the Stone Age
7. The Wizard – Black Sabbath
8. Blood Runner – Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats
9. Creeping Flesh – Terrortron
10. Power of Darkness – Danzig
11. The Lost – Uniform
12. Burn the Black Flame – Terrortron
13. Division Ruine – Carpenter Brut
14. Against the Door – Pinkish Black
21. The Nightmare Man – Tessa Krailing
The protagonist in this extraordinarily short novel is extremely young. SO young. So it doesn’t read like other Point Horror and the title is more like “I need a nightlight because I’m 10 and scared” nightmare than like mind-ripping teenage brutality… because that’s what all the other Point Horror novels are like, mind-ripping teenage brutality. This reads like some kids snuck into a movie they were too young to see, but, not really because it’s just a fine little story about ghosts and taxidermy and a pond set in the UK.
“I believe I was promised mind-ripping brutality.” – Duncan
1. Bakom Varje Fura – Finntroll
2. A Stroll through Hive Manor Corridors – The Hives
3. They Only Come out at Night – Dance with the Dead
4. The Light at the End (Effect) – Uniform
5. Cold, Cold Rain – Danzig
6. Bottomless Pit – King Dude
7. New Dawn Fades – Joy Division
8. Still Evolving – Josh Freda
9. Sister Doom Face – Harglow
10. Sons of Thunder – High on Fire
11. Midnattens Widunder – Finntroll
12. That House – Dance with the Dead
13. To Here Knows When – My Bloody Valentine
36. The Crush II – Jo Gibson
Carla, main narrator, would like you to know that she is plain. So plain. She has glasses! How astonishingly plain of her.
Anyway, now that we know that Carla is plain, we should talk about psychopath killer Judy and popular musician Michael. Oh, and this is the second book and I haven’t read the first, but I get the impression they might just follow a bit of a formula. You see, every girl that dates Michael gets killed – by Judy, the Cupid Killer. But! At the beginning of The Crush II, Michael gets out of protective custody at the hospital and doesn’t invite Judy to his welcome home party so she drives off a cliff after leaving a letter explaining that she is the Cupid Killer and Michael isn’t. Very clever, Judy.
This book actually was pretty amusing, you see all the main kids work at a teenager music bar that serves fruit drinks (mmhmm) and it’s a really easy place for Michael to realize he loves plainass Carla, but then go out with Heidi and her showbiz connections instead. And then, when Carla takes off her glasses for a movie part and starts wearing flowy separates because of the same movie part, Michael realizes he loves her again, and then allows himself to be nearly date raped by Vera. When Carla rescues him from that situation, sort of, he realizes he loves her again – only to have his childhood best friend show up and seduce him! Of course, Miss Showbiz and Vera have been killed at this point by Judy’s ghost? A copycat Cupid Killer? Nope. It all becomes clear after childhood best friend turned seductress gets murdered and Michael gives his class ring to Carla! Plain old, unmurderable Carla. Well, she gets stabbed – Judy killed a hitchhiker and stuck her in her car, but she lives so she and Michael can be “engaged to be engaged.” Barf. Put your glasses back on Carla, then Judy won’t recognize you when she inevitably escapes from the mental hospital.
Ozma is the Michael of my herd, she’s like, so popular with the boys. So popular.
1. Temptation – New Order
2. Empathy Boxes – All of Them Witches
3. Heart On – Eagles of Death Metal
4. Garbage City – Hanni El Khatib
5. The Cardinal Sin – Dead Can Dance
6. You’re Toast – Electric Six
7. Don’t Ask Me to Love You – The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster
8. We Hit a Wall – Chelsea Wolfe
9. Funtime – Iggy Pop
10. March to the Altar – Terrortron
11. Monday Hunt – Carpenter Brut
12. Dressed to Kill – Dance with the Dead
13. Future Persuasion – Electric Citizen
14. Down with the King – Midnight Force
15. Rats in Paradise – The Birthday Party
16. Whorehoppin – Eagles of Death Metal