Review: Brayan’s Gold by Peter V. Brett

Humanity has been brought to the brink of extinction. Each night, the world is overrun by demons—bloodthirsty creatures of nightmare that have been hunting the surface for over 300 years. A scant few hamlets and half-starved city-states are all that remain of a once proud civilisation, and it is only by hiding behind wards, ancient symbols with the power to repel the demons, that they survive. A handful of Messengers brave the night to keep the lines of communication open between the increasingly isolated populace.

Arlen Bales is seventeen, an apprentice Messenger in brand new armour, about to go out for the first time alongside a trained Messenger on a simple overnight trip. Instead Arlen finds himself alone on a frozen mountainside, carrying a dangerous cargo to Count Brayan’s gold mine, one of the furthest points in the duchy. And One Arm, the giant rock demon, hunts him still.

But Brayan’s Gold may offer a way for Arlen to be free of One Arm forever, if he is willing to wager his life on the chance. Continue reading

Review: HorrorCon by Scott Norton

A young woman trying to move on after a personal tragedy, attends a horror convention where she sells “authentic monster artifacts” and meets a mysterious author who becomes strangely obsessed with her.

For anyone who has been to a horror convention, or is just interested in what they’re about, this book covers the experience in significant depth while placing you in the center of two fascinating and harrowing journeys.

For a full synopsis, like the one on the back of the book (it’s a pretty long one), click here to go to the website.

While I was reading this novella I found myself wondering what I was expecting because it was nothing at all like what I was expecting. When you read the synopsis you think there might be some crazy guy at the horror convention right? Or something sinister at least is going on there surely, but it was nothing like that and yet it was.

Without giving away the story I can tell you that it is vampire fiction, but not like any vampires I’ve read so far in that they aren’t made in any traditional sense or any other alternative sense that I’ve read.

The story has two character point of views, Eliza being the girl who loses it all, and Dr Radan being the creepy guy. I think Dr Radan was written quite well coming off to be the type of creepy that is sleazy, the ‘old guy stop following me around because you have no reason to’ type of creepy and I love how he is slowly unfolded to us in character and his story. It’s because of that I at first wasn’t so sure it was a vampire novel, I was given inklings and it took half the book to be completely sure because the term isn’t used and there’s only a few references to anything traditional in the first half.

What really intrigues me about Dr Raddan is that we get bits and pieces of who this man might be and his story, but we don’t get a full explanation and we end up not having a complete idea of how he got to where he is and how he is the way he is. He is such a character of mystery and I really feel that adds to his creepiness rather than taking away from it. I would love to know more about him and his story, but that might end up destroying the atmosphere.

As for Eliza, she is the main focus with her story and the pain she is going through, but at first we don’t really learn what the story is. All we have are snippets alluding to something darker until a pivotal point in the novel where we learn everything there is to. In cases like that it can be frustrating, but I found it to be anything but frustrating. Instead to me it helps to draw you in and keeps you intrigued, wanting to know what happened. The book is written in such a way that it is a good ploy to keep you going with it and luckily that doesn’t stop after you read her story.

But the kicker for me was the ending. Don’t worry, there are no spoilers here, but I can say that I was so not expecting that. I love a book that has an ending like that one, even if the book is mediocre, with an unexpected ending it always seems to lift it up. Gives it some kick. Makes the story implant itself in your brain so you remember it, which is what it has done for me.

And as far as horror goes, it was not as scary or creepy as I would have liked. I would say it’s more light fare, dark fiction rather than pure horror, but this is coming from someone who grew up on horror. It would be a good read for those who are either still being introduced to horror or are first timers. Even so do not expect scary, think more paranormal romance, but without the romance.

  • Demographic: Vampire lovers and Horror buffs
  • Genre: Dark fiction
  • Reminds Me Of: Again nothing springs to mind. Either I’m in a drought when it comes to thinking of reminders, or the last books have something more original to them compared to what I’ve read.
  • Rating Out of Five: 3.

Review: Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu

Laura and her father live a quiet life in their remote castle in the dense forests Styria.  It is a solitary existence for young Laura, who has no companionship except for her governess and the occasional visits of neighbouring gentry.  Into this lonely life comes the mysterious house guest, Carmilla.

Slowly Laura falls under Carmilla’s spell.  Whilst she is both attracted and repulsed by Carmilla, she seems unable to find the energy to resist her.

A spate of sudden wasting deaths afflict the peasants in the countryside around the castle and Laura herself falls ill.  Will they manage to work out the cause of her illness in time or will she just be the latest victim of the vampire Carmilla?

Being an old school vampire fan for pretty much most of my life now, I have been wanting to get my hands on a copy of Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu for years. You know how it goes though, some other read always comes up, your mood changes, or something in life goes on to distract you from reading what you have intended to read in the first place.

It wasn’t until I came across the GLBT mini challenge for October which was to read a classic with a GLBT theme or author that Carmilla popped into my head again and I bought it straight away.

It’s one of those novellas you could easily read in a sitting if you’re an average to fast reader. If you’re a fast reader it would probably be an hour. There are novellas out there that take more time to read given their language and heavy content, but I didn’t find it so with Carmilla even though this story was published  in the 1870’s.

I really enjoyed how it was written. The main character is a young girl, Laura, and the story is written in such a way it’s as if Laura is truly telling the tale to you. I found Laura to be a very relatable character and the ease with which Le Fanu seems to impress certain emotions and descriptions is great.

Laura lives with her father in a degree of social isolation. Yes they have ladies down the road, the nurses to talk to, and other people around the house, but there isn’t really anyone else and there definitely isn’t anyone around Laura’s age. Until Carmilla shows up of course and then naturally she becomes so excited to have someone around her own age that she could possibly relate to that you can grasp her desperation and excitement. That’s what I mean by the author’s writing; he writes in such a way it leaps out at you, draws you in, and truly paints a picture.

I did question for awhile if Fanu was living out some sort of straight male fantasy until I got to the end and decided that would be a little too sordid. I didn’t want to attach that sordid tag onto a story which I’m very impressed by. It was a good plot, albeit predictable, but it is really a read for the descriptions and the underlying sinister nature of Carmilla.

One side note: If you’ve watched one of the movies adapted or based on the story (there are many), but have decided not to read the novel because of it, I recommend giving the novel a shot because a lot of the movies take some serious liberties.

  • Demographic: Adult fiction, but definitely can be read by young adults (just not too young)
  • Genre: Classic Literature, Vampire Fiction
  • Reminds Me Of: I’m tempted to say Dracula, but this story came out two decades beforehand and it does not involve religion.
  • Rating Out of Five: 5
  • Challenges: GLBT Mini Challenge, R.I.P. V Challenge