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The Other

The OtherThe Other by Thomas Tryon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I rented the movie adaptation of THE OTHER back in the 1990s and found it so powerful it stayed with me ever since, which made it interesting to read the novel already knowing its big secret. This allowed me to see the tricks Tryon uses to pull it off, while at the same time enjoying the story all over again.

The novel is spectacular. Tryon’s prose is exceptional, as is his ability to immerse the reader in the lives of young Niles, his twin Holland, their seemingly cursed family, which has been plagued by tragedy for years, and the nosy, suspicious, and dimwitted townspeople around them. The structure is truly extraordinary, its plentiful twists and surprises doled out with an expert’s hand. It’s hard to believe this is a first novel.

Modern readers used to today’s fast-paced thrillers might find the languid pace of THE OTHER off-putting, but the novel rewards your attention and perseverance. The ending is powerful and perfect. Those last four pages…holy moly!

I’d been meaning to read THE OTHER for ages and I’m so glad I finally did! I can see why it was such a blockbuster bestseller back in the day (“Six Months on The New York Times Best Seller List,” screams the cover of my Fawcett paperback) and such an influential work of horror that it, along with ROSEMARY’S BABY and THE EXORCIST, kickstarted the genre as we know it today.

If you haven’t read THE OTHER, I cannot recommend it highly enough. It has become one of my favorite novels.

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Book of Slaughter

Book of Slaughter #1Book of Slaughter #1 by James Tynion IV
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This quick, interesting sidebar to the main plot line of SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN follows Maxine Slaughter as she is presented with the opportunity to switch from being a White Mask to a Black Mask. There’s not much action here; the story’s bigger purpose is to allow readers into the pages of the Book of Slaughter, the secret book of the House of Slaughter that explains all the rites, hierarchy, and iconography of the Order of St. George. I think much of it readers were already able to figure out on their own from context, but it’s still nice to see it all clearly laid out.

I heard this is a one-shot, rather than the start of a new spinoff series, but regardless, I suspect we haven’t seen the last of Maxine Slaughter in the KILLING universe.

P.S. I read this in paperback, but Goodreads only currently lists the Kindle edition, for some reason.

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Something is Killing the Children, Vol. 5

Something is Killing the Children, Vol. 5Something is Killing the Children, Vol. 5 by James Tynion IV
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another great volume in this continually excellent series! Volume 5 starts an all-new story, with the additions of Gabi, Riqui, and Carter, all great characters, but Erica’s choices from the previous volumes are catching up with her. The new monster is terrifying, and so is Cutter, a psychopathic member of the Order of St. George who intends to punish Erica for abandoning the House of Slaughter. I can’t wait to see where the story goes next!

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Road of Bones

Road of BonesRoad of Bones by Christopher Golden
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A short novel that moves quickly, ROAD OF BONES is a grueling horror adventure that never lets up. Author Christopher Golden locates the action on the real-life Road of Bones, the Kolyma Highway in Siberia, Russia, a setting with a dark, tragic history. In fact, that history is so unsettling I kind of wish it had played more directly into the horrors with which Golden confronts his characters. However, the novel goes in a different direction, one that I found equally compelling. No spoilers here, but Golden dips into Russian folklore that dates back much further than the Road of Bones itself and even nods toward cosmic horror.

The characters are okay. You don’t get a lot of time to get to know them before they’re running for their lives, but none of them felt unrealistic or cartoonish to me. My favorite character, and also the character I think is the strongest, is Ludmilla, an old woman who has taken it upon herself to bless the spirits of the road. My only real complaint about the novel is that I wish she had played a larger role in the story.

Aside from its fast-paced plot, the novel’s atmosphere is its strength. You really feel the brutality of the subzero temperatures and unforgiving wilderness, and Golden doesn’t shy away from describing what those conditions can do to a person. Novels, especially horror novels, are made or broken by their endings, and here Golden absolutely nails it. When you reach the end, you won’t be disappointed, save perhaps for the fact that this high-octane, heart-pounding novel is over.

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