The Twilight Pariah

The Twilight PariahThe Twilight Pariah by Jeffrey Ford
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An enjoyable and breezy novella, THE TWILIGHT PARIAH showcases one of Jeffrey Ford’s many strengths, in this case his almost effortlessly authentic characterization. For me, the story at the center of PARIAH takes a back seat to the delightful characters and their deep friendship. Henry, Maggie, Russell, and Luther all felt very real to me, an accurate and genuine depiction of the lasting friendships we make in our high school and college days, if we’re lucky. The story itself, which involves a ghostly entity, a horned baby skeleton, and a mysterious old woman, isn’t all that scary. There’s tragedy and death, of course, but the stakes never feel that big for our protagonists. This may be because the threat tends to strike around them, rather than at them, which makes it difficult to cultivate a sense of imminent danger. But as I mentioned, the story is secondary to the characters for me. I enjoyed every moment I spent with these four young adults and was sad to leave them behind when I turned the final page.

View all my reviews

Lovecraft: Four Classic Horror Stories

Lovecraft: Four Classic Horror StoriesLovecraft: Four Classic Horror Stories by H.P. Lovecraft
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I.N.J. Culbard adapts and illustrates four of H.P. Lovecraft’s longer and better-known works: “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath,” “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward,” “At the Mountains of Madness,” and “The Shadow Out of Time.” The artwork is extraordinary, especially Culbard’s renderings of various creatures whose descriptions Lovecraft left intentionally vague, and fulfills the purpose of cutting through Lovecraft’s sometimes dense and baroque prose to make the stories flow more smoothly. He does an excellent job adapting the stories, sometimes making slight alterations to their structure that work to increase their narrative power.

Revisiting these stories, I found myself struck by a few things. I had never really realized before, for instance, that “Dream-Quest” is kind of a “Lovecraft’s greatest hits” compilation, featuring not just recurring characters like Randolph Carter and Richard Pickman, but also making use of places and creatures that had only appeared in his poems and fragments before, all brought together into a single narrative. One could say “Dream Quest” is to Lovecraft’s work like the Dark Tower series is to Stephen King’s. I also noticed for the first time how similar the climaxes are in both “At the Mountains of Madness” and “The Shadow Out of Time.” In “Mountains,” the deadly shoggoths that destroyed the Elder Things and their ancient city in Antarctica are discovered to still be alive and a threat to the protagonists. In “Shadow,” the deadly flying polyps that destroyed the Great Race of Yith and their ancient city in Perth, Australia are discovered to still be alive and a threat to the protagonists. The stories were written only three or four years apart, and I prefer to think of these similarities as the solidification of a theme that interested Lovecraft rather than lazy plotting. My final observation is that as much as I love Roger Corman’s 1963 film THE HAUNTED PALACE, “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward” is very cinematic and deserves a more faithful film adaptation.

This collection of Culbard’s previously and separately published Lovecraft adaptations is a must for fans of graphic novels and H.P. Lovecraft alike. (I now find myself interested in reading Culbert’s adaptation of Chambers’ THE KING IN YELLOW as well.) One caveat, though: the hardcover is extremely heavy and quite thick, making it difficult to carry with you. You may find it easier to read at home in your favorite chair than to take it with you on a train or an airplane. But then, that’s probably the best way to read Lovecraft’s chilling tales anyway.

View all my reviews

A New Interview

A brand new Q & A with me is now live on British author Simon Bestwick’s blog. Click on the excerpt below to read the whole thing:

I’ve been writing since 4th grade, when I wrote my first illustrated story about a boy and his father who are stranded on another planet filled with monsters and dinosaurs. As you might imagine, I had some issues about how little time my father was spending with me!

Behind Her Eyes

Behind Her EyesBehind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sarah Pinborough’s crackling thriller BEHIND HER EYES reminded me a lot of Paula Hawkins’s THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN in a few ways: the voice, the tone, the secrets that lie behind the facade of a seemingly perfect marriage. But EYES is very much its own novel, and what a novel it is! Lonely single mother Louise goes out one night to the local pub, meets a man she likes named David, and they kiss. The next day, she learns that not only is David married, he’s her new boss. Then Louise runs into Adele, David’s wife, on the street, and even as she embarks on an affair with David, she and Adele become fast friends. Soon Louise is leading a double life, keeping the truth from both of them, but the time to come clean is quickly running out. And that’s just the beginning! This novel is so twisty-turny, it constantly surprised me and kept me guessing. The last four pages completely blew my mind with a twist I did not see coming — and I can’t stress enough how rare it is for me not to see a twist coming these days! BEHIND HER EYES is a masterwork of suspense, marvelously written and perfectly structured. It deserves every ounce of praise that has been heaped upon it. If you’re looking for your next thriller to read, this is the book!

View all my reviews



News & Updates