the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘suspense

The World House, by Guy Adams

Published in 2011

Where I got it: The library









On the one side, is the Box.  If you come into contact with the box in a specific situation, you wake up in the house.  

On the other side is the Renegade. The house is his prison, and he’s been planning his escape for a very, very long time.

Almost in the style of a  long prologue, we are quickly introduced to a diverse handful of characters who come into contact with the box, usually in violent circumstances.  Some of them are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, whereas others have been searching for the mysterious, mythical box for years.

As people wake up in different parts of the house, they learn very quickly to adapt or die. For this is a house that isn’t a house. It may have hallways and bedrooms and a library and a kitchen and a library, but the hallways go on forever, the countless bedrooms have never been slept in, the library contains the memories of the universe and the kitchen houses one of the cannibals.  And when the lights go down,  it’s time to find a safe place to hide.  Because this house is alive, and it is hungry.

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 Thirteen Years Later, by Jasper Kent

published: Feb 2011, PYR

Where I got it: received review copy from the friendly folks at PYR

why I read it: Loved the first book, Twelve, reviewed here.

Apologies in advance for a crappily written review that doesn’t do the book justice.    I’ve had some version of the flu since saturday, and my brain isn’t functioning at all. and that’s before the cold meds.  the super short version:  Thirteen Years Later has a slower pace than Twelve, but has better twists and turns. We get multiple points of view, which is nice. If you thought the “bad guys” from the first book were nasty, just wait till you meet Doctor Cain.

Here’s the longer version:

Aleksei tries to forget the past, but it’s impossible. He still remembers conversations he had with his dead friends, and every time he looks at his son Dmitri he can’t help but think of the boy’s namesake. Aleksei splits his time between his family in Petersburg, his mistress and illegitimate daughter in Moscow, and wherever his job takes him. Reporting directly to Tsar Alexandre, Aleksei has spent the last few years infiltrating revolutionary groups, in hopes of squashing rebellions before they even start, saving lives, and saving Russia. Many of these rebels are soldiers the same age group as Aleksei, who had chased the French all the way back to Paris thirteen years ago. They came home, wanting for Russia the freedoms and republic they saw in Paris.

Things are going fairly swimmingly, until Aleksei receives a message from a man he knows to be dead. Partly out of fear, and partly out of curiosity, he goes to the meeting, to meet a man who claims to be Maksim’s younger brother Kyesha. Maksim did have a brother, a brother who died in childhood. Who is this man, and what does he want from Aleksei? He certainly isn’t Maksim’s brother, but Aleksei does know him from somewhere. If only he could remember where. . . . Over many short meetings, with questions and answers given over a children’s gambling game, Aleksei earns a book bound in the skin of a voordalak, and discovers the secrets behind Kyesha’s horrific past. Read the rest of this entry »

 Something From the Nightside, by Simon R Green

published in 2003

where did I get it: purchased used

why I read it:  was craving a skinny book, and it looked fun.
I always enjoy “other world” type stories, Mieville’s Un Lun Dun, Gaiman’s Neverwhere, a lot of Charles deLint novels, where there is another world, just below ours, where strange things happen. Simon R Green’s Something From the Nightside is such a story, albeit a creepier, darker, noir-er (noirer, is that even a word?)  one.  A little bit Dark City, a little bit Harry Dresden,  Simon R. Green’s Something From the Nightside follows John Taylor, child of the Nightside, bearer of a gift that will most certainly be the end of him.

It’s been five years since John left the Nightside, vowing never to return.  He makes his living in the real world as a Private Investigator working the seediest parts of London.  All children of the Nightside have some kind of paranormal gift, and John Taylor’s gift is that he can find things. lost objects, people, locations.  When his newest client Joanna Barrett tasks him with finding her runaway daughter Cathy, John simply can’t say no.  Doesn’t hurt that Joanna is wealthy, beautiful and pays up front.

When they learn Cathy has found her way to the Nightside, John is given no choice but to take Joanna with him, and introduce her to all his old haunts. In five years, the Nightside hasn’t changed much.    the nightclub that’s locked in the 60’s still serves original Coca-cola, Razor Eddie still owes John a favor, the Collector still collects, Shotgun Suzie still loves her guns over anyone else, and everyone is still petrified of John Taylor.  I wouldn’t want to live in the Nightside, but it sure is entertaining to read about!

As John and Joanna get closer to finding  Cathy John starts to suspect something is very, very wrong.  But time is running out, and his attention is elsewhere. . . . Read the rest of this entry »

 Twelve, by Jasper Kent

Published in 2010

Where did I get it: Library, but plan to purchase a copy

I’ve been waiting a long time to read a book like this.  A book that puts the horror back in supernatural myths. Although it’s somewhat spoiled on the back of the book, I won’t even tell you which supernatural myth I’m talking about, just know that it’s one you are supposed to be afraid of.

To risk sounding cliche, Jasper Kent’s writing is just damn good.  Every sentence, every word moves the plot forward. There isn’t a slow moment in this book. Kent brings us to early 19th century Moscow, where the people are proud yet afraid of invasion.  Talk of republic is in the air, along with the early snows of autumn.

Don’t know anything about Russia, 1812 or Napoleon? Don’t worry,  the main character, Aleksei will walk you through everything you need to know.  My historical education is so lacking as to be embarassing, and not once did I feel lost. Twelve takes place during a war, and Aleksei and his friends are soldiers, but this is not a war book.  

As Napoleon’s Grande Armee marches towards Moscow, Dmitry offers to bring in some mercenaries to help with the effort. Aleksei, Dmitry, Maksim and their commanding officer Vadim aren’t on the front lines, per say, they are beyond the front lines.  Their mission is to cross enemy lines and cause disruptions and problems for the invaders. In modern jargon I’m sure the French would call them terrorists.

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If you like contemporary horror/suspense, you’ll probably enjoy Joe Hill’s Horns.  The prose is smooth, the characters are interesting (if a little stereotypical), and that secondary reveal will just kick you in the head.

Ig really misses his girlfriend Merrin.  High school sweethearts, he was a better person when he was with her.  It’s been about a year since he lost her.  About a year since they had a heated, drunken argument, and he left her, crying, in the parking lot outside the neighborhood bar.  The next day her broken and mutilated body was found in the woods.  A year later Ig is still a person of interest, and he tells himself that people believe him when he says he loved Merrin and would never do anything to hurt her.

And then he wakes up with horns.  Little devil horns that encourage people to tell Ig their deepest darkest secrets, things they want to do, things they wish they did.  Random people tell him they have been cheating, have been lying. His parents tell him he should kill himself. The local priest happily admits to indiscretions. After reading Horns, you’ll never again wish you had the power to read people’s minds.

The first hundred pages or so of Horns was the best part for me.  Ig tries to figure out who can see his horns and who can’t, why people are telling him strange things. I expect many readers will  get out kick out of some of these conversations. I know I did.  He is the son of and brother to a trumpet players, and there is a few plays on words regarding How to Play Horns. I was suddenly interested to see how far Joe Hill was going to push this.  Ig has become some kind of demon creature,  he can influence people to say and do things they would never do. Imagine the possibilities!!

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Zoo City by Lauren Beukes is one of those wonderful books that what it’s about isn’t at all what it’s about. It’s about Zinzi December, and her knack for finding lost things, and the dangerous mystery she gets herself involved with when she gets hired to find a teen starlet whose gone missing. And yes, that’s what it’s about. But it isn’t about that at all. Zoo City is about how society treats the marginalized – the destitute, the different, the criminal class. On top of that, there is some wonderfully hella cool magic. 

Although she and I are very different, on every page I felt I could relate to Zinzi December. I have never spent time in prison, she has. I am not marginalized, she is. I don’t make a living scamming people over the internet, she does. But the trust issues? The anti-socialness? Her realistic attitude that comes off as cynicism? He reaction when her lover says he’s leaving? Oh baby can I relate. Maybe we’re not so different after all. 

In this alternate world, every jail sentence is a life sentence, no matter what. When you commit a crime, your animal comes for you. Not a totem and not a familiar, the animal brings a special talent with it, and being separated from your animal causes physical pain and death in some cases. And if your animal dies before you do? The Undertow will come for you. Governments learn very quickly how to identify and exploit this new class of undesireables, known derogatorily as Animalled or Zoos. 

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 A fter their guidance counselor father is brutally murdered by a deranged student, the Locke siblings Tyler, Kinsey and Bode move cross county with their mother from California to rural Massachusetts. The family mansion, known as Keyhouse, sits on the end of the island village of Lovecraft. The children explore their new home, and try to come to grips with their father’s death. 

Key house is full of magical doors. There is a door that makes you old, and one that makes you young. A door that changes your sex, and one that lets you teleport. But the doors are hidden, and some of them require a key. Bode finds a door that turns him into a ghost, and meets his echo in the wellhouse. Of course his older brother and sister don’t believe him. Everyone just thinks he’s acting out. His only friend is his echo, and she promises to be his friend, if he’ll help her with just a few little things.

Meanwhile, back in California, Sam Lesser, their father’s killer, escapes his mental hospital prison, and begins hitchhiking across country. He’s got a job to finish, and the means to do it. Someone has promised Sam eternal freedom, if he brings her two very specific keys, both of which are hidden somewhere in Keyhouse. 

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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.