Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Book review - VHS - Kyle M Scott

For the second in Kyle M Scott's Razorblade Candy series, we are treated to VHS. After reading the first installment in the series, I was intrigued to see what he would come back with.

The story is based around twelve year old boy Iain, who, surrounded by his friends are beginning to discover the adolescent delights of sex and porn. His hormone riddled friend Mike is constantly talking about his love of his dad's illicit video collection, with one film in particular - UK Students XXX.

Partly driven by peer pressure, partly driven by curiosity, Iain goes rummaging around in the back of his dad's closet for his stash of video's. Mike assured him confidently that all dad's have them. When Iain discovers a treasure chest of hidden filth, he rushes downstairs with a video simply labelled 'Number Three' to the VCR in the family living room.

What he is about to discover will turn his whole life upon it's head.

With this series, Kyle appears to be trying to push the boundaries with the depravity and broken, deeply faulted characters that he is creating; taking a seemingly normal scenario and totally flipping it around into something dark, twisted and fun. So far he's pulling it off in abundance.

I know that he's a good writer, I've read enough of his stuff to expect the same consistent delivery of quality. For me, its just great fun to see what his twisted little sense of humour will come up with next. 

The story itself ambles along nicely, you know something is going to happen but you're not entirely sure what until it does and then you're left thinking, what?!! Beyond the messed up plot, he decides to throw in another twist right at the end for ample measure. 

Again, not for anyone with a weak stomach or a nervous disposition but it is a wonderfully dark and unsavoury read. I did find myself falling foul of laughing at parts that maybe I shouldn't have, however, that's just my weird sense of humour.

Bring on the next.

My rating 5/5 

Monday, 16 May 2016

Book review - The House That Hell Built - Stuart Keane, Matt Shaw and Michael Bray

Sometimes, something comes along and it immediately grabs your attention. It can grab your attention for a whole manner of different reasons. When this book cover reveal was done on Facebook and having read the blurb, I was in awe. Stuart Keane, Matt Shaw and Mik Bray all in one book. I make no bones that I am a fan of all three of their work. My initial fear with this project was whether the book could live up to my own hype. I'm glad to say that it did.

The main body of the story is split into two timelines, being told from the point of view of a team of ghost hunters in present times by Stuart Keane and from the point of view of a family in the late 1960's by Matt Shaw.

The present

James Tulley, his wife Lauren Child and her teenage daughter Frankie armed with her trusted ipod along with another bunch of individuals Emily, Skye, Steven and Brett arrive at the mysterious Berkeley Manor where they are to form a 'Dark Tourist' group. Upon meeting at the house they are greeted by the exuberant Chester Oxford, the man who is to be their tour guide.

Upon entering the house, Chester warns that the tour will be starting at ten the following morning. A hot meal had been prepared and under any circumstances, any of the group were not to go snooping around the house. As an air of negativity begins to fill the room as the group are eating dinner, two of the group go wandering to a nearby lake to investigate an urban legend of a body that repeatedly winds up floating in the murky water.


Written in first person perspective, Ben and his wife Fiona along with their two girls, Claudia and Summer move into Berkeley Manor. Following a promotion within his company, he was now a partner in the successful Oxford and Chamberlain solicitors. Initially worried by the cost of the property, Ben assures Fiona that it was well within their budget as the previous owner was desperate to sell.

Ben is in the middle of representing a client who is on trial for murder; Rick Jones, a man accused of violently murdering his wife with a crow bar. As the pressures of the case mount up, and Ben's health and relationship are up to breaking point, can the unusual occurrences within Berkeley Manor be put down to stress, his downward spiral into insanity or something much more sinister?

Late one night, there is a knock at the door. When Ben answers, he is greeted by a man. A man with an intriguing offer.

So that's all I can really say about the story without giving major spoilers. The story lends itself to what I would consider a more 'traditional' horror story. Both halves of the tale work well alongside each other extremely well. The suspense builds slowly in both until it reaches a climax where, excuse the pun, holy hell breaks loose. Both Keane and Shaw drive their particular parts in their own style which compliment each other seamlessly. One scene in particular that I thought worked well, is where Ben picks up the phone to ring his doctor's office - you will see. Another scene, although done very subtly, as a parent I found particularly disturbing to read.

So, I see you ask, where did Mik Bray come into it? Bray's part in this story is only small. In fact, it could have been missed out and the story would have still worked. The fact that it was included was a very clever little catalyst that helped to fuse the framework of both timelines and characters together.

I can't say much else, just go and read it, you won't be disappointed.

In summary; A fast paced, entertaining  read with elements of The Shining, Evil Dead, the Beast House Chronicles, Poltergeist and The Devil's Advocate wrapped up like a game of Cluedo.

My rating 5/5.


Saturday, 7 May 2016

Book review - Every Part of The Animal - Duncan Ralston

I received an advanced readers copy of this book in exchange for a pre-release review. This is said review.

Bo Lowery and her ten year old son, Caleb live alone in the woods on the outskirts of Fort Garrison, Alaska. Bo is a single parent following the disappearance of her husband, Roy a few years prior. They live completely self sufficiently, living off the land, hunting animals. They use every part of the animal, they eat it's meat, cook it's bones, tan the hide and sell what they don't need to make a modest living.

Bo wants to do the best that she can by her child, unaware that her blinkered upbringing could be leaving the boy withdrawn from society and  a little na├»ve and sheltered. Little does she know that as well as her home schooling, there are several external factors where a boy with a mind like a sponge can learn.

When Rainey Lane, a teenage pop sensation struggling with her own demons, her dog Hottie and bodyguard Darius roll into town to protest the recent wolf cull, an altercation with Bo results in the woman turning up in the middle of the night on Bo's property, drunk and high, colliding her car with nature.

Quickly, situations escalate out of control and Bo is forced to react to protect her family.

This is something new from Ralston, having previously published successful books mainly in the genre of horror; this is his first attempt at a crime thriller.

So, did it work?

You bet your ass it worked. Immediately, the smooth writing style of Ralston pulls you in and you find yourself totally immersed in the world that he creates. His style is assured and confident, he definitely has a strong grasp of the written word, its phenomenally easy to read. The story itself is straightforward, there are no unnecessary plot twists that could potentially over complicate something that doesn't need to be, whilst also lending a clever little nod towards the power of social media.

The characters are realistic and the dialogue is crisp and believable. The main character of Bo is portrayed with real depth, he manages to paint the perfect picture of a woman with a motive of wanting to protect her only child and falling foul of her own self righteousness and warped sense of duty and vengeance.

The story is a slow burn to begin, but I have no problem with that, as the tension builds perfectly throughout the story as other factors begin to come into play.  It slowly gains momentum right up to a climax where the reader finds themselves desperate for the reveal of 'whether they will or whether they won't.'

I have read other books by Ralston, and in my opinion, this is equally as good as those. I am a massive fan of thriller's and this taut, atmospheric little number ticked every box. I think he is incapable of writing a bad book.

Great stuff 

My rating 5/5