Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Book Reviews (January, 2014)

Book Reviews! Each of the following books may be purchased through any large book store or online through


REVIEWED: Deadfall Hotel
WRITTEN BY: Steve Rasnic Tem
PUBLISHED: April, 2012

Deadfall Hotel is a rather sweet, at times sad, at times scary, novel which is more fantasy than horror. It includes the familiar monster tropes, but they are all fused with human pains, made believable in whatever condition ails the character, sending them to convalesce and, most likely, eventually perish in the namesake hotel. I wouldn’t call this book a “page-turner” as it is slow and sentimental, but that is what I enjoy about this author; he captures the subtleties of emotion – fear, sadness, hope – as masterfully as any “literary” writer, while at the same time building a compelling supernatural environment. A few of the sections seemed to go on for too long, such as the King of the Cats, while other sections, I wanted to learn more of, such as the actual history of the house, the pool that only occasionally appears, and the several of the other background “inhabitants” that make brief cameo appearances, but never again materialize. Deadfall Hotel is best read in a leisurely pace, ideally in a windowed nook with gloomy rain falling outside, and a nice mug of chamomile tea.

Four and a quarter out of Five stars


REVIEWED: Deadman’s Road
WRITTEN BY: Joe R. Lansdale
PUBLISHED: October, 2010

I really enjoyed this collection of short stories. Each self-contained tale revolves around the exploits of a central character, the gun slinging Reverend Jebidiah Mercer. There’s not a lot of literary depth to this book, but the stories are all fast-paced, action-filled, and pulp-esque fun. Rev. Mercer is quested to roam the old west, destroying evil in the name of God, whom he mostly despises, as penance for his sins. Each story pits him against a new enemy, mortal and supernatural alike. Mercer, cursing the whole way, does battle with whomever he is set against, including zombies, werewolves, ghosts, and kobolds. Joe R. Lansdale is really a master at creating excitement in his writing as well as crafting funny, meaningful dialogue. Know what you’re getting into before starting this: Deadman’s Road is violent and crass, but perfect when you need a pick-me-up after power-reading Camus or Dostoyevsky.

Five out of Five stars


REVIEWED: Village of the Mermaids
WRITTEN BY: Carlton Mellick III
PUBLISHED: April, 2013

Village of the Mermaids is about an Island town surrounded by carnivorous mermaids, which the local citizens are not allowed to kill, under threat of execution, per the Endangered Species Act.

Biting government satire, survivalist thrills, mystery, and horrible, horrible man-eating mermaids, this novel is not for the weak-of-heart, but IS for those who appreciate reading something strange and beautiful that they would not find anywhere else.

It’s a funny, fast-paced story. Like all of Mellick’s work, I enjoyed this, though I wouldn’t consider it one of his best novels. That being said, it’s quite fine on any level. The talent of Carlton is that he can take the most ridiculous-sounding premises and, in a unique and smart maneuvering, craft very entertaining tales that are both outlandish and highly literary.

As an aside, the opening prologue is a chapter which was removed from the book as it didn’t “fit,” but is the strongest element of the book overall, emotionally tragic. Reading it in advance gave me character insight into the doctor's character.

Four out of Five stars


Midnight cheers,

Eric J. Guignard