the Little Red Reviewer

A few days ago I started reading Let The Right One In, by John Ajvide Lindqvist.  I’ve seen the both the Swedish and American film versions, so I already know the “twist”. But even so, this is a disturbingly creepy book!

let the right one in

Are you reading anything creepy this week?

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david towseyIn keeping with the theme of reading creepy books for Halloween, I’m just thrilled about today’s interview. David Towsey’s debut novel, Your Brother’s Blood came out last year, and his second novel, Your Servants And Your People will be released in the UK in early November.  A very unusual zombie series, the zombies in the The Walkin’ Trilogy die, get up, and then go on with their lives as if nothing too unusual happened.

David was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about his engrossing new series, what’s so fun about writing zombie fiction, and writing to the tune of, well, you’ll see!

 

LRR: Congratulations on the upcoming release of Your Servants and Your People, the second book in your The Walkin’ trilogy! what can you tell us about this series, and about the directions the story will go in the second book? (that is, if you can tell us without spoilers!)

DT:  Thanks! It’s a funny feeling anticipating a sequel release; equal parts exciting and terrifying. The series is a post-apocalyptic zombie-western with a twist (because that wasn’t enough already, right?)

your servants and your people

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unseaming Mike AllenMike Allen is editor of the speculative poetry and short fiction magazine Mythic Delirium and the acclaimed Clockwork Phoenix anthology series, and author of The Black Fire Concerto and his newest short fiction collection Unseaming.  All around super talented guy and lover of all things creepy and scary, Mike was at the top of my list when I was looking for someone to guest post about the joys of  reading scary books at Halloween time. Luckily,  he wasn’t offended when I said “hey, you wanna write about creepy stuff?”.  That’s how you KNOW this guy loves horror.

 

Continue reading, if you dare!

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Building My Own Haunted House
by Mike Allen

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At my house, every day is Halloween.

Little Red asked me to wax a bit about the pleasures of reading scary stories on All Hallow’s Eve — something I realized I couldn’t truly do, because I read scary stories all year around. And write them, too.

Anita, my wife, is often creating art in a similarly opened vein. My home office is full of skulls and plush monsters. (As well as piles of papers and books.) Halloween is simply when Anita makes the exterior decor of our house match the interior. We’re well matched that way.

 

Mike Allen

 

 

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the scroll of yearsThe Scroll of Years by Chris Willrich

published in 2013

where I got it: purchased new

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On the run for murder, the thief Imago Bone and his poet wife Persimmon Gaunt find themselves halfway across the planet. They keep their heads down in the country of Qiangguo, in hopes the Night Auditors won’t be able to follow their trail. They need some friends, and fast, as Gaunt will be giving birth to their son any day now.  If they’d just stop running long enough to see that maybe there’s something bigger happening around them….

 

The parts of The Scroll of Years had so much potential – a scroll you can fall into, the political complications of a royal heir who is a foreigner, creeptastically cool villains, a parallel world where time flows differently, interesting characters, fun world building.  With all those fantastic pieces to work with, it’s unfortunate that the plotting and characters never came together in a  coherent enough fashion for me to really get invested in the story.

 

Let’s talk about the good parts first.

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bridge of birdsBridge of Birds by Barry Hughart

published in 1984

where I got it: purchased new

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In a rural village in the shadow of the Tang dynasty, the parents are all weeping.

 

They weep because their children lie dying from a mysterious illness. A matriarch of the village gives her life savings to their strongest young man, Number Ten Ox, and tells him to go to the city and purchase the services of a wise Sage, for certainly a learned man can divine the reason for the children’s plague and help develop a cure.  Number Ten Ox is soon to discover that a peasants fortune doesn’t go very far in the city.   However, he returns with Master Li Kao, who is able to understand how the children became sick, and give instructions regarding the herbs needed to cure them.  Knowing what they need, the elderly Master Li climbs onto the back of Number Ten Ox, and across China they go.

 

 

 

They rather quickly find the first portion of the cure, and set out immediately for the rest. One clue leads to another, each adventure feeding into the next. Stealing money (to fund their quest, of course) from a corrupt business owner leads to tricking a dowager,  which eventually leads to the most expensive woman in the world, which leads to visions of pleading ghosts lead which lead to phantom paintings on mountain tops which lead to heartless men, which lead to following a dragon through hell and back. Which leads to Master Li asking the all important question of why do children play the games they play? And through it all, they keep running into people they’ve met before in a curious pattern.

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gleam tom fletcherGleam, by Tom Fletcher

UK Publish date: Sept 4 2014

US Publish date: March 5 2015

where I got it: received review copy from the publisher (Thanks Jo Fletcher books!)

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In the center of a never ending plain of machinery, abandoned factories, destroyed buildings, swamps, snails, and desperation lies the Pyramid.  And within the Pyramid lies civilization.  Alan grew up in the Pyramid, but he wasn’t born there.  He still burns with the pain and hatred of watching Pyramidders kill his family and destroy the village in which they lived.  His life was spared that day, and he was taken to live in the Pyramid, to be educated and trained, and eventually take up a station, to get married, and to have a child of his own.  But Alan never forgot what happened to him.  Forced to watch his son be indoctrinated into the beliefs of the Pyramid, Alan begins to educate the boy on what life is really like outside, out in the discard.  But the Pyramid will not suffer opinions and beliefs other than their own, Alan’s family is terrorized and he is banished, to survive if he can, back in the discard.

 

At a breakneck pace, Tom Fletcher zips us through Alan’s failing marriage and the challenges of being married to a born Pyramidder, and how he’ll do anything to see his son once he’s been kicked out of the Pyramid. He bribes guards with drugs and information, and hopes one day to rescue his son and wife from the lies and brainwashing of the Pyramid. But rescue them to what?  He knows his wife wouldn’t want to life in the Discard, no matter how safe parts of it is, so what is he rescuing them from, and where would he take them if he was successful?

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ursula vernon diggerDigger, Vol 1, by Ursula Vernon

published:  this volume was published in 2012, but the webcomic has been going since 2005.

where I got it:  purchased new

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When I peruse the graphic novel section of my local comic shop, I’m not interested in 99% of what I see.  I walk by, and very little of it catches my eye. No offense superheroes and dark noir, but you’re just not my thing. Could be that local comic book owner guy is really into superhero stuff, and not so much into other stuff. Different strokes for different folks.

 

Lucky for me, I ran into a copy of Ursula Vernon’s Digger Vol 1 at a Half Price Books store.   Having no idea what the story was about, and not quite sure what the critter on the front cover was (She’s a wombat, by the way), I bought the graphic novel because Ursula Vernon’s name was on it.

 

A few quick items of business before I getting into the nitty gritty:  It won the Hugo (and multiple other awards) for a reason, and I really gotta introduce local comic shop owner guy to this series.  Graphic novels that don’t look that interesting got you down? Digger is the cure.

 

it's Digger!

it’s Digger!

First off, Digger isn’t a what, Digger is a she. She’s a wombat, and she does what wombats naturally do: She digs and burrows and explores.  She’s also intensely pragmatic and practical.  When a pocket of bad air causes her to tunnel through someone’s floor and into a space that is decidedly not home, she decided to explore. Because how else is she going to find her way home? Perhaps whoever she meets can help her find her way home.  She quickly meets a Statue of Ganesh who can talk, a Hyena like creature whose name has been eaten, a shadowchild who doesn’t know what he/she is, a helpful librarian, the Ganesh statue’s overly enthusiastic guard, and a prophetic snail.  The story almost has an Alice in Wonderland feeling, except this Alice is a practical, no-nonsense engineer Wombat.

 

Actual Wombat

Actual Wombat

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2014 Hugo Awards

I reviewed some Hugo nominated stuff. Click here for the list.

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.