Review: The Evil Seed

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Title: The Evil Seed

Author: Joanne Harris

Published by: Black Swan

ISBN: 978-0552775045

Blurb

Something inside me remembers…
It’s never easy to face the fact that a man you once loved passionately has found the girl of his dreams, as Alice discovers when Joe introduces her to his new girlfriend Ginny. Jealous, Alice is repelled by Ginny – an ethereal beauty with a sinister group of friends.

Then Alice finds an old diary hidden away in Ginny’s room and reads about Daniel Holmes and his friend Robert and the mysterious woman who bewitched them both – Rosemary Virginia Ashley, buried in Grantchester churchyard half a century ago – buried but far from forgotten.
As the stories intertwine, past and present are merged into one; Alice comes to realize that her instinctive hatred of Joe’s new girlfriend may not just be due to jealousy as she’s plunged into a nightmare world of obsession, revenge, seduction – and blood.

Review

I’ve seen the film of Chocolat and enjoyed it. I’ll put my hand up and say I haven’t read the book. It’s not really my kind of thing for reading, is it? And I’m sure Alan Titchmarsh meant well last Saturday when he told Classic FM readers that Joanne Harris’s latest book, Peaches for Monsieur le Cure (how do I find the sodding accent on here?!), is full of ‘long and evocative descriptions of France and her food’ but he made me doubt whether I was doing the right thing. You see, I was on my way to see Ms Harris at the SOA’s annual Author’s North Summer Social (if authors can actual attend anything remotely social). Long and evocative descriptions are not really my kind of things for reading, are they?

I have to say that I found Joanne’s talk utterly inspiring, so much so that I came home and finished my ‘work in progress’ which had been doing a reasonable impression of an angry boil for the last month. And she delighted me – being something of a cross between the school teacher we all wish we’d had (though she is far too young in my case) and a sort of Victoria Wood. Were that all authors performed in public so well. Anyhow, before I’m likened to Ronnie Corbett again, what has all this got to do with horror? If I hadn’t gone along last Saturday I probably would never have known that Joanne’s first ever novel was a vampire story called The Evil Seed. That made me sit up a bit, and I dare say you too. It had gone out of print but once she became famous, there was a call to re-release it. And I’m glad about that.

If you look at the reviews, The Evil Seed gets a mixed reception. One reviewer calls it ‘turgid’ – the kind of thing I might, in the past, have been known to say about long, evocative descriptions. I can only say that I loved it. This is a first novel, readers, and of course she’s done things she wouldn’t do now, maybe she privately cringes at parts, but it doesn’t alter the fact that she creates a wondrous, dream-like, nightmarish horror. Yes, the prose is a little more flowery than I would normally praise, but in this case it works and adds to the haunting atmosphere. And the end did make me wonder if I’d had bit too much vin rouge, but that can’t be all bad, can it? I hate tidy endings. Can it be compared to anything else? Well, Joanne says that her publishers hoped she was going to be the new Ann Rice. I dare she could have been if she’d used a lot more adjectives and adverbs.

The Evil Seed. As it is: 5 stars from me. If you like a brooding Gothic horror, I think you’ll love it.

Now, you see, I might just be tempted to a little death by Chocolat…or Peaches…

Review: The Devil Inside Her

Title: The Devil Inside Her

Author: Catherine Cavendish

Publisher: Etopia Press

Book Blurb

Haunted by the death of her husband and only child, Elinor Gentry’s recurring nightmares have left her exhausted. She’s crippled by debt, and only the remnants of her former life surround her, things she can’t bear to sell, and wouldn’t make much profit from if she did. Then, for no apparent reason, the nightmares transform into pleasant dreams. Dreams that lead her to take back control of her life.

A string of horrific and unexplained suicides–and an unnerving discovery about Elinor herself–lead her best friend to seek help from the one person who has seen all this before, and things begin to spiral out of control. Hazel Messinger knows that Elinor’s newly found wellbeing is not what it seems, and Hazel’s not about to let the demon inside remain there permanently.

Review

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Cavendish’s creepy stories and I looked forward to The Devil Inside Her. Once again, as with her previous novellas, I actually found myself chilled and the hairs standing up on my arms in a couple of places. That doesn’t happen often, so she must have something right. The premise of this novella is good. Cavendish gives us enough description to know where we are, and to know the characters. The main characters are women and their relationships form a good part of the story. I am certain, therefore, that lots of women readers who want a thrill of a different kind to what E L James is offering will love this. If I have a criticism of the story itself it would be that I’d have liked the exorcism to be explored in more detail – but it is a novella when all’s said and done. So, overall a good impression. Here and there I sensed that the editing might have been sharper, but again that’s not the author’s doing, hence it gets 4 stars from me.

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Devil-Inside-Her-ebook/dp/B008DI19GA

When Digging Gets Close To The Bone

Here is an interesting article from the BBC today: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18505222

 

How do you feel about digging up cemeteries, for whatever reason? Are the remains of the dead just bits of bone and traces of DNA, or do you fear the exhumation will anger those laid to rest? Will our constant expansion lead ultimately to the dead seeking revenge, or is it all just a load of hogwash? Take the poll – if you dare.

 

A Book Of Horrors

Hardcover:400 pages

Publisher:Jo Fletcher Books

Language:English

ISBN-10:0857388088

ISBN-13: 978-0857388087

I’ll admit that I’m not a lover of anthologies. I own several, including Robert Aickman‘s Cold Hand in Mine and Ramsey Campbell‘s Superhorror. I’ve had those some years and still haven’t read all the stories in them. I always prefer to read a novel by a writer I like or have just discovered. A Book of Horrors is, I must say, a hefty slab in hardback and has a splendidly creepy cover, but I have been skirting around it for longer than I should. Not for the first time in my life, I’ve been a fool.

This collection of short stories, edited by Stephen James and published by Jo Fletcher Books http://www.jofletcherbooks.com/ assembles original works from no fewer than fourteen accomplished horrorists. The list includes Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, Peter Crowther, Robert Shearman and John Ajvide Linqvist.

Now, it’s no secret chez moi that I’m a Lindqvist fan. I have loved everything he’s ever written. So it was his contribution that I went to first. The Music of Bengt Karlsson, Murderer is a splendidly chilling tale, and one of which Lindqvist himself says “It might be the one story I have written that has scared me the most……I wrote on in a state of mild but constant horror…It was a relief when it was over.”

For me, quite unashamedly, A Book of Horrors is well worth having just for the Lindqvist contribution, but I’d be doubly foolish to overlook all of the others that sit so well with it between these superbly crafted covers. To have so many of the best horror writers of our day to dip in and out of makes for a must-have book.

The big surprise is the introduction from editor Stephen Jones, to my mind, a work of genius in itself. To quote from it:

“What the Hell happened to the horror genre?…These days our bloodsuckers are more likely to show their romantic nature, werewolves work for government organisations, phantoms are private investigators and the walking dead can be found sipping tea amongst the polite society of a Jane Austen novel…..Today we are living in a world that is ‘horror-lite’…This appalling appellation was coined by publishers to describe the type of fiction that is currently enjoying massive success under such genres as ‘paranormal romance’, ‘urban fantasy’, ‘literary mash-up’ or even ‘steampunk’…these books are not aimed at readers of traditional horror stories.”

Thank heavens – or maybe Hell – that someone knows what we really want.

A Book of Horrors. 5 stars from me. Buy it – if only for the introduction!

What The Devil Has Got Into Catherine Cavendish?

I’m pleased to welcome back Catherine Cavendish who has a new book out today. Here she is..

A Woman Possessed…

 

Catherine Cavendish

 

My latest novella – The Devil Inside Her – features a woman possessed by a demon intent on murdering and dragging souls back to hell.

A work of fiction? Yes. But what about the reality?

Today, I’m focussing on a real-life report of demon possession – and one that appears to have been accepted as a defence plea by the judge who tried her case:

In Leicester (UK), 20 year old Lorraine Mbulawa walked free from court in May 2011, even though she had repeatedly stabbed her 43 year old mother who was sleeping. The judge, Mr Justice Keith, accepted her claim that she had been possessed by evil spirits. The psychiatric report concluded that she was sane and the jury agreed that she knew precisely what she was doing.

Mbulawa

The judge sentenced her to 120 hours of unpaid work and gave her a twelve month suspended sentence because he accepted that ‘she believed spirits can enter your body and make you do things that you otherwise would not have done.’ He praised her for being, ‘unusually confident and assured, also not unintelligent with a degree of charm and poise.’

Mbulawa claimed that the spirit of her dead grandmother had told her that her mother was responsible for her father’s sudden death in 2000 and had instructed her to, ‘do the honourable thing to my father by killing my mother.’

Her mother stated that, at the time of the attack, she didn’t recognise her daughter’s voice, thereby adding weight to the defence that her daughter believed she was possessed by her grandmother’s spirit, hell bent on revenge.

The psychiatrist told the court Mbulawa was still a risk, as she believed spirits could possess her again and she would have no control over them. At the time of the incident, she would have been in a disassociated state, a subconscious experience where the mind doesn’t go with the actions.

A policewoman told the court that, when she arrived at the house, Mbulawa was in a trance-like state, crying, shaking and hyper-ventilating while her mother, bleeding heavily from her wounds, tried to comfort her. On the way to the police station, the accused calmed down and became ‘like a different person.’

She was cleared of attempted murder but guilty of unlawful wounding. The judge said he accepted she had strong beliefs in witchcraft and sincerely believed she was possessed by the spirit of her grandmother at the time of the attack in May 2009.

As she left court, her mother – whom she had stabbed five times in the face, neck and shoulders in the frenzied nocturnal attack – embraced her. After two years apart, the two would now live together once again.

By his controversial and arguably lenient sentencing, Mr Justice Keith was roundly criticised for accepting ‘The Devil’s Defence’.

Was he right? Was she truly possessed? It appears, by all accounts, that mother and daughter were normally very close. Something out of the ordinary clearly happened that night and it doesn’t seem to have been a result of any sudden argument or flare-up between them. Before attacking her mother with a kitchen knife, Mbulawa had dressed in a balaclava, gloves and dark clothes.

Let’s hope, for both their sakes’, that grandmother’s spirit is now at peace.

 

Catherine Cavendish’s latest horror novella, The Devil Inside Her is available from  Amazon.co.uk Amazon.com   Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers.

                                 

You can find out more about Cat and contact her at:

www.catherinecavendish.com

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www.goodreads.com as Catherine Cavendish

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