I Love Reading
Not for work or education. That’s for nerds. I really love reading in the evening, during travel, while camping, at the in-laws, in the bathroom…
I love reading for fun, and I mostly read horror. A lot. Not a healthy amount but the “why are you so anxious?” amount.
Admittedly, I even like when I read before bedtime and I have a nightmare. It really makes you feel alive.
While I have started to keep my Good Reads profile up to date, I don’t really do reviews.
With that, I decided to run through some of the more recently books that really left an impression.
The Hungry Moon
The Hungry Moon takes roughly the first 3rd of the book to hit its stride, and by the half way mark it was really hard to put down.
Also, the first 3rd was the hardest to read. It was stressful, because even though this was written in the 80s, the tale of religious fanatics dividing and turning folks against each other is a very modern problem.
That aside, what usually captivates me in horror is the imagery an author can invoke. The monsters here are creepy, and the darkness and scenarios the various characters are in strike a deep primordial chord with me.
Maybe its worse that I’m reading it at night, in the dark. Its like surround sound for reading.
It would be easy to say there are sections with a pacing problem but that feels like a nitpick. It is a really original and creepy story that has a good amount of interesting characters and it treads the line of leaving enough unexplained for the imagination, and wrapping up story threads.
I honestly hated this book, until the halfway point. It took two separate tries to get into this book. I originally bought it around 2012 and gave up a few chapters in. For a work trip down to LA, I forced myself to dedicate the 3 hour flight to getting into it. It was STILL a challenge. I had a hard time liking anyone, the lack of any punctuation was grating. I kept asking myself “How is this helping tell the story?”, and I never could come up with an explanation. For me, it made following the story and who was doing what more difficult.
Also, Cormac has his own prose and it can be poetic or frustrating. Pick one, you’re justified in either case.
It is filled with human horrors. Violence, racism, rape, killing and cruelty to animals. A cat is shot by Judge to test out a new gun, it is inhumane and written with such levity I was even more disturbed by its casual nature.
The character, Judge Holden, I think is supposed to be a demon of some sort, but fully man. All of mans worst qualities. By far the most interesting character and so much detail was poured into this monster there are dedicated reviews and wikipedia entries on him alone.
Somewhere around the half-way mark, the book clicked for me. By the end, I was enraptured by what was going on. I would say the ending is one of the best I have ever read.
When I looked back on the size of the novel, only 337 pages, I was amazed at how far the book takes you. The years, mileage, states, people you span in those tiny 330 pages. I’ve read 700 pages novels that struggle to do the same.
I also found out WAY to late, that the Kindle App will translate Spanish to English! As a native California, I am a disgrace, and I only know a few words or phrases. Please don’t make me draw a venn diagram that overlaps those words with a taqueria menu.
This book took time to read, but really time to digest. It stayed with me, and I kept thinking about it. I was vocal with my friends about how much I disliked it, but now… I think I have to recant that sentiment. It really was a masterpiece and it took my slow mind a while to reconcile that.
Cormac McCarthy passed away just a few days ago, and he was an absolute genius. We will never read someone like him again.
There was a bit of a publishing fiasco with this book. I forget where I read about it, but it took months to get a digital copy.
Back to what I said about The Hungry Moon, and how much I look forward to an author providing me with enough imagery where I feel like I am experiencing something unique and horrifying.
Dead Sea was a treasure trove of unique monsters and at least a few set pieces as well. I also happened to go on an ocean fishing excursion with my son and his friend (and his friends father), so this was again some horror surround sound.
The spider woman, the hair monster, the alien. All gave we wonderful theater of the mind activity. I ended up also reading The Sunken City and The Brain Leeches and Other Eldritch Phenomena, both good on their own but Dead Sea was the stand-out novel.
Tender Is The Flesh
This is a short one, just over 200 pages. Its pretty effective and tight as far as story telling and world-building go.
I liked it, it was a bit disturbing and maybe a little predictable but still effective horror. It could be a good The Outer Limits type of short film.
Between Two Fires
Probably one of my favorite books of the last decade. I recommended it to so many people, and I read a few more of Christopher’s books as well. They are all good, but Between Two Fires is a dark fantasy masterpiece.
It was like a novelization of Dark Souls or Berserk.
Disgraced knight, Thomas, fallen on hard(er) times and is caught up with some bandits, doing bandit things. He quickly turns on them because he has slightly more morals then they. Introduce Delphine.
The setting, characters, monsters and everything are amazing. I felt like I was reading a graphic novel and not just black and white text. Thats how I have felt about all of Buehlman’s work.
Of everything I have read, this one was probably the most “uplifting”. Not that its happy go lucky, it just has its own redemption arc. The central underlying theme is more or less why does God allow awful things. And it shows you a lot of awful things.
I recall just being so invested in the characters, that I ended up re-reading the last chapter twice just to make sure I was soaking it al in. I’ve now read a few of Christopher’s other books (The Necromancers House and The Black Tongue Thief) and they are terrific as well. Between Two Fires is just the stand out one to me, because it hits so many beats so well and falls into the specific dark fantasy sub-genre I like so much.
A Head Full of Ghosts
I went into this thinking it was about the supernatural and ghosts.
It is not.
It is a sad and tragic tail of mental illness. About reality television, sensationalism, satanic-panic and family dysfunction.
With a lot of books that I read, I try to go into them as blind as possible. So I guess what stuck with me is how wrong I was even with assumption based on the books genre and title.
So funny story… folks on
r/horrorlit kept talking about this new book called The Fisherman.
I could not find this book on Googles store, or Amazons. What I did find was
The Fishermen PLURAL, by Chigozie Obioma.
Well let me tell you, that was also a good book. Not what I was actually looking for, but still pretty good!
Anyway, how about some classic Lovecraftian story telling.
Two men connect and bond over fishing, and this eventually turns into a story about a wizard who was called The Fisherman who lived in the parts they were fishing around.
Some fantasy, some horror, some trapped in an inn listening to a ghost story. I really enjoyed it and I plan on re-reading it again.
That’s it. Maybe I’ll do another round-up again in the future.
Art, music and literature has so much subjectivity that I find it difficult to proselytize. These works deserve an advocate for discussion and appreciation. This is my corner of the internet to shout into the void, and while it has a limited reach its honest and I own it. I’ve exhausted my friends with these recommendations, so here we are.