Another CHASING THE DRAGON Sale

Chasing the Dragon by Nick Kaufmann

Good news for anyone who hasn’t read Chasing the Dragon yet! If you order directly from ChiZine Publications, my Thriller Award-nominated and Shirley Jackson Award-nominated novella is currently 50% off (e-book only)! In fact, all of ChiZine Publications’ e-books are 50% off until midnight on Sunday, March 22nd, so act fast and go get some!

The Scarlet Gospels

The Scarlet GospelsThe Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Barker’s long-anticipated novel features occult detective Harry D’Amour, last seen in the stories “The Last Illusion” and “Lost Souls” and the novel EVERVILLE, coming up against the Cenobite known as Pinhead, last seen in the novella “The Hellbound Heart” and of course the HELLRAISER films. It’s the crossover event of the year and, being most definitely a horror novel and not a fantasy, a much awaited return to form for the author. For the most part, it lives up to my heightened expectations. The story hits the ground running and doesn’t let up, with much to celebrate along the way. The Cenobite’s initial appearance in the novel is terrifying, exhilarating, and so welcome I found myself falling instantly in love with the novel. We get to see Hell, and the Monastery of the Cenobitic Order, and we get to enjoy brief cameos from other Cenobites who have appeared in the Hellraiser mythos. Harry D’Amour and his blind, psychic friend Norma Paine, who has also appeared in previous Barker works, are given a creepy, supernatural mission in New Orleans that leads them on a collision course with our favorite Cenobite, who, it turns out, has a bigger, more epic plan in mind than simply killing Harry. Barker’s trademark sensuality is on display everywhere — many of the monsters sport erections! — as is his usual compassion toward those who are often on the fringes of society.

I’m giving this book five stars because in many ways it’s everything I’ve been hoping for from Barker for a long time now, but that highest of ratings is not without some caveats. Because as enjoyable as the story is, it’s also rather sloppy. An intriguing plot development arises at the very end of the prologue but never comes to fruition. Harry suffers a magical attack in New Orleans from an interesting character I would have liked to learn more about, but we never learn why she attacks him and she is immediately dismissed and forgotten. But it’s in the novel’s final third that it truly begins to falter. Not every line of dialogue needs to be a quip, especially when the characters are faced with the horrors of Hell. Near the end, the Cenobite performs an act of violence on one of Harry’s friends that, to me, felt wildly out of character, which I admit is a strange thing to say about a character who revels in pain and violence. Unfortunately, the climax is particularly unsatisfying, with Harry and his friends playing no active part in the outcome. Instead, a third major player appears and does everything. In fact, Harry has nothing to do with the Cenobite’s ultimate fate, and worse, isn’t even there to see it. The pages where Harry and the Cenobite ought to be having their final confrontation are devoted instead to a painfully didactic scene where Harry and his friends meet an anti-gay hellfire-and-brimstone preacher in a limousine.

Make no mistake, despite my criticisms THE SCARLET GOSPELS is everything you could want in a Clive Barker horror novel. Until that final third, it delivers on its promise, and though it falters in the end it’s still well worth the time of any Clive Barker fan. Five stars may seem like a lot for a novel that I had so many issues with, but even as my mind registered those complaints I couldn’t stop reading. Yes, I wanted more and better, but THE SCARLET GOSPELS is its own kind of masterpiece: flawed, brutal, thrilling, frustrating, and compelling. You don’t want to miss it.

View all my reviews

What I’m Working On These Days

I’m about halfway through the outline* for Catch Hell, the next supernatural thriller I’m working on. It’s a lot darker than the Trent books, much closer to horror than urban fantasy. I’m drawing on a lot of my Clive Barker love for this one. Here’s hoping my readers will like it! (But first, of course, my agent has to like it. I’m still a few weeks away from a proper proposal for him, though.)

 

* I write very, very detailed outlines for myself to work from. They include a lot more than just plot points. They also tend to include descriptions of important actions and lots of placeholder dialogue.

HWA Specialty Press Award Goes to ChiZine Publications

Chasing the Dragon by Nick Kaufmann

It’s about time! The HWA has announced its annual Specialty Press Award will go to ChiZine Publications, publisher of my 2010 novella Chasing the Dragon (above), as well as lots of other great, dark, weird novels, novellas, collections, and anthologies!

According to the press release, which you can read in full here:

“Among the many small presses publishing dark fiction, ChiZine Publications stood out this year with its list of impressive releases and continued dedication to the horror genre,” said Marge Simon, HWA’s Board of Trustees Chairperson.

ChiZine Publications (CZP) sprang out of the successful chizine.com, which began presenting fiction and review in 1997. Since its inception in 2008, CZP has published more than 90 books by authors including Christopher Golden, Stephen Graham Jones, Gemma Files, Tim Lebbon, Nancy Baker, Tom Piccirilli, Helen Marshall, Michael Rowe, Geoff Ryman, Robert Shearman, Melanie Tem and Steve Rasnic Tem. Their philosophy is “to startle, to astound, to share the bliss of good writing with our readership.”

The award will be presented May 9 during the Bram Stoker Awards Banquet in Atlanta, Georgia, as part of the World Horror Convention. Big congratulations to CZP masterminds Brett Savory and Sandra Kasturi! This kind of recognition is a long time coming!

To find out more about ChiZine Publications, visit their website.

To find out more about my Thriller Award- and Shirley Jackson Award-nominated novella Chasing the Dragon, one of the first books ChiZine published, check out its page on my website.

 

 

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