The {Booker} Award

Author Julia Kavan has handed over the {Booker} award – no, not that Booker and not a flaming torch either. This means I have to reveal my five all time favourite novels. I hate doing this, to be honest, as I have more than five. So I’ve picked the five that I might be in the mood to read today from my all time list. Ask me next week and you might get something entirely different. In no particular order:

Author: John Ajvide Lindqvist

Published by: Quercus http://www.quercusbooks.co.uk/

One autumn day in 1992, former pop singer Lennart Cederström finds something unexpected in the forest: a baby girl in a plastic bag, partially buried. He gives her the kiss of life, and her first cry astounds him; it is a clear, pure musical note. He takes her to his wife and persuades her that they should keep this remarkable child. But the baby becomes a strange girl, made more unusual by their decision to hide her in their basement to keep her from the prying eyes of government departments. When she reaches puberty, a terrifying scene sees her kill both her parents. When her scheming adopted brother returns to find her over their bodies, he seizes the opportunity and enters her into an X Factor-style talent competition. She quickly becomes famous. In spite of this, she remains very lonely, until she befriends another damaged girl on the internet. They form a powerful bond and soon create a growing gang of other disgruntled girls and, calling themselves the Wolves, they set out to take revenge for all they’ve ever suffered.

You can read my review HERE.

Author: John Ajvide Lindqvist

Published by: Quercus http://www.quercusbooks.co.uk/

Oskar and Eli. In very different ways, they were both victims. Which is why, against the odds, they became friends. And how they came to depend on one another, for life itself. Oskar is a 12 year old boy living with his mother on a dreary housing estate at the city’s edge. He dreams about his absentee father, gets bullied at school, and wets himself when he’s frightened. Eli is the young girl who moves in next door. She doesn’t go to school and never leaves the flat by day. She is a 200 year old vampire, forever frozen in childhood, and condemned to live on a diet of fresh blood. John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel, a huge bestseller in his native Sweden, is a unique and brilliant fusion of social novel and vampire legend. And a deeply moving fable about rejection, friendship and loyalty.

You can read my review HERE.

Author: Sam Eastland

Published by: Faber and Faber

It is the time of the Great Terror. Inspector Pekkala – known as the Emerald Eye – was the most famous detective in all Russia. He was the favourite of the Tsar. Now he is the prisoner of the men he once hunted. Like millions of others, he has been sent to the gulags in Siberia and, as far as the rest of the world is concerned, he is as good as dead. But a reprieve comes when he is summoned by Stalin himself to investigate a crime. His mission – to uncover the men who really killed the Tsar and his family, and to locate the Tsar’s treasure. The reward for success will be his freedom and the chance to re-unite with a woman he would have married if the Revolution had not torn them apart. The price of failure – death. Set against the backdrop of the paranoid and brutal country that Russia became under the rule of Stalin, Eye of the Red Tsar introduces a compelling new figure to readers of crime fiction.

Shame I didn’t write a review!

Author: Clive Barker

Published by: Simon and Schuster

Terrifying and forbidding, subversive and insightful, Clive Barker’s groundbreaking stories revolutionized the worlds of horrific and fantastical fiction and established Barker’s dominance over the otherworldly and the all-too-real. Here, as two businessmen encounter beautiful and seductive women and an earnest young woman researches a city slum, Barker maps the boundless vistas of the unfettered imagination — only to uncover a profound sense of terror and overwhelming dread.

Didn’t review this either! Maybe I should?

Author: Dennis Wheatley

Published by: Arrow

Simon Aron fails to turn up for the traditional reunion dinner with the Duke de Richeleau and Rex van Ryn. The answer to the puzzle of his disappearance is more terrible than Rex and the Duke fear and plunges them into a struggle against the
Forces of Darkness.

Okay, it’s old and the prose hasn’t weathered well but this was one of those books that got me hooked on horror. The cover shown is the old Arrow paperback but if you want to read it these days there are various issues out there.

And now my time to curse – sorry, pass on – to others:

Joanne Harris

Rosie Fiore

John Ajvide Lindqvist

Catherine Cavendish

R A Evans

Review: Lionel Asbo by Martin Amis

Title: Lionel Asbo – State of England

Author: Martin Amis

Publisher:Jonathan Cape Ltd

ISBN-13: 978-0224096218

Blurb

Lionel Asbo – a very violent but not very successful young criminal – is going about his morning duties in a London prison when he learns that he has just won GBP139,999,999.50 on the National Lottery. This is not necessarily good news for his ward and nephew, the orphaned Des Pepperdine, who still has reason to fear his uncle’s implacable vengeance. Savage, funny, and mysteriously poignant, “Lionel Asbo” is a modern fairy tale from one of the world’s great writers.
Review
I ummed and ahhed over buying this book. I caught Amis being interviewed by a rather sycophantic Runcie on TV and decided I liked the author. Make of that what you will. What put me off was the lottery win. It seemed a bit naff, somehow. I finally bit the bullet last weekend and I’m happy to say I loved it. I read it on Saturday and Sunday. It is full of wit and wisdom, made me laugh out loud many times. I know Amis has had mixed reviews. Some are concerned that he cannot possibly know anything of life in council blocks, but the thing that bugged me and made me wonder was the 42 year-old grandmother. Not that she was a gran at 42 – but that she wore pink fluffy slippers. Surely leopard skin nylon, Martin?
Lionel Asbo gets a full 5* from me.

Review: Bereft by Chris Womersley

Title: Bereft

Author: Chris Womersley

Publisher:Quercus

ISBN-13: 978-0857386540

Blurb

A CRIME UNSPEAKABLE. Australia, 1919. Quinn Walker returns from the Great War to the New South Wales town of Flint: the birthplace he fled ten years earlier when he was accused of a heinous act. A LIE UNFORGIVABLE. Aware of the townsmen’s vow to hang him, Quinn takes to the surrounding hills. Here, deciding upon his plan of action, and questioning just what he has returned for, he meets Sadie Fox. A BOND UNBREAKABLE. This mysterious girl seems to know, and share, his darkest fear. And, as their bond greatens, Quinn learns what he must do to lay the ghosts of his past, and Sadie’s present, to rest.

Review

Not horror, not in the strictest sense, but horrific nonetheless. This is a superb book, not only for the vivid reminders of the horror of war and the things mankind is capable of, but for the wonderful writing. I was unsure from the blurb if I would like it so downloaded the sample to my Kindle. It captured me from the first line and I have read the whole book greedily. This is not some dismal military tome, far from it, and the aspects of war are deftly woven into a peacetime story. If you’re looking for something that gives pleasure through its language, buy it. You won’t be disappointed. 5 Stars.

Review: The Evil Seed

Click to Purchase

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