Jane, Volume 1: Revival (Jane the Hippie Vampire)
Leigh M. Lane
Published by Cerebral Books,
Sept. 24, 2014
Jane is a collection of 3 novellas and 1 novelette about a vampire from the 60’s who’s frozen in time as a teenager-turning-adult. We follow her as she travels from town to town, somehow running into trouble wherever she goes. Why does Jane get into trouble? I think it’s because she’s an atypical vampire. First of all she was turned while on the streets running from an abusive father. Then, the vampire who turned her was far worse than her father ever was, raping her in unimaginable and horrific ways. These experiences drive Jane to feed on no one but the evil. Hence, Jane must seek out the evil, which invariably leads her into troublesome situations.
To tell you any more about the stories would be to spoil the surprises which await you in each tale. Let me continue in this way: The only thing that bothered me in these delightful and saucy stories was the soul-searching that Jane should have dealt with 50 years earlier. Much of the time I felt that Jane was a fairly new vampire instead of one who had been turned back in the sixties. Now this could just be me being picky, because the information had to be brought into the stories somehow. I say these things yet I went through the book rapidly, finding it hard to leave the book closed as I worked. I also thought each story was refreshingly original. But the reason I gave Jane a 5 star rating instead of the four it might otherwise have been is this…Jane was fun to read. When did you ever say such a thing about a horror story? Perhaps this is the reason Leigh M. Lane called the book a dramatic horror story. Yes! This book is a drama with horrific passages. And as horrific as some of those passages were, they were not enough to keep me from enjoying the drama. I felt like I was immersed in a television series. As Jane would say, “Cool.”
Copyright © 2014 Clayton Clifford Bye
PROMISE NOT TO TELL
HarperCollins Publishers, 2007
Kate Cypher has returned home to deal with her dementia stricken mother. As a nurse Kate knows the answer to all of her mom’s problems is an assisted living home, but as a daughter she feels a lot of guilt. After all, she has been gone for a long time, leaving her mother in the care of friends. She wants to do the right thing, but Kate keeps getting side tracked by some awful things—the day she arrives the daughter of an old school mate is killed in the same manner as her best friend was killed three decades earlier. And other strange happenings prey on her mind until Kate begins to wonder about her sanity. The questions she is left with are, “Who is the murderer?” and “Are ghosts real?”
Promise Not to Tell is an easy book to read. The pages flow by as you wait breathlessly for more information about the “Potato Girl.” Written with two time-lines, Jennifer McMahon could easily have lost her readers. But she goes back and forth almost seamlessly, leaving you to wonder at the fact that this is a debut novel.
This book could have been a thriller if the author had been willing to take us a little deeper into the darkness. As it is, however, McMahon has given us a mystery and a ghost story. Not so frightening as a thriller would have been, nor so scary as a horror story, Promise Not To Tell manages to be something uniquely strange. At times, because of the 30 year-old timeline, the book has a juvenile feel, then in the present it becomes ever more an adult ghost story—to the point that the two strands become completely entwined.
Do I like the book? Yes. Do I think it could have been “more?” Again, yes. But here I must confess that it is the intricate storytelling that even makes the book possible. So, should I really expect “more?” Not if I want to be fair to the author. This leaves me struggling with my gut, which says this is a four star book, and my head which proclaims Promise Not To Tell as a five star performance. Let’s go with the pundits and give Jennifer McMahon five stars for one hell of an effort.
Copyright © 2014 Clayton Clifford Bye
By Tana French
Hodder & Stoughton, 2010
“The course of Frank Mackey’s life was set by one defining moment when he was nineteen. The moment his girlfriend, Rosie Daly, failed to turn up for their rendezvous in Faithful Place, failed to run away with him to London as they had planned.
Frank never heard from, or of, her again.
Twenty years on, Frank is still in Dublin, working as an undercover cop. He’s cut all ties with his dysfunctional family. Until his sister calls to say that Rosie’s suitcase has been found…”
Frank Mackey is what I would call an anti-hero. Having cut all ties with his dysfunctional family, he works hard, drinks hard, has an ex-wife whom he still loves and a child he adores. He tries to be honest but is, on the other hand, ruthless to a fault. And when it appears his first love had been murdered instead of dumping him 20 years earlier, he also throws away the rule book. He takes time off and goes back to his old life.
Nothing has changed. And just when Frank thinks he can’t take any more of his crazy family, his brother Kevin is murdered. To make matters worse the murder squad blames his brother for Rosie’s murder and decides that Kevin killed himself by taking a header out of a window in the same abandoned house where he had supposedly killed her.
Frank knows the investigators have it wrong and he sets out to find the local he knows has killed his brother. But what he finds threatens to be his undoing. Frank feels the whole world breaking apart and he doesn’t know what to do—at first.
It is at this point the novel finally begins to move and take on the feel of a thriller. Prior to Frank’s discovery Faithful Place is a rather plodding sort of mystery. Dealing more with relationships and the creation of characters who are real and interesting, Tana French gets too involved with the little world she’s building, making the novel more of a character study than a mystery or a crime novel. Faithful Place is definitely not the thriller one would expect from French.
Copyright © 2014 Clayton Clifford Bye
The Gone Away World
Alfred A Knopp, 2008
Gonzo William Lubitch and his unnamed best friend and alter ego are important members of the Haulage & HazMat Emergency Civil Fr[/BR}eebooting Company of Exmoor County (Corporate HQ the Nameless Bar, Sally J. Culpepper, presiding). When a giant fire at the Jorgmund pipe threatens to destroy what little is left of the old world, they are the go to people. But something sinister is going on. Gonzo’s friend has good instincts and he’s uneasy. When his suspicions come true and the company is almost killed off, Gonzo and his friend end up standing in a torrent of FOX, the stuff that keeps the world from being unmade but that has severe side-effects when dumped on an ordinary human, if you can call Gonzo and his friend ordinary.
The result is unimaginable and changes the superheros forever. To understand all that happens before and after the Jorgmund pipe fire, the author takes us on a psychedelic journey through the life of Gonzo’s friend—who is the narrator of the story. We see him grow up, find an unusual career, fall in love and meet some very strange people along the way.
Then it all ends in the greatest nightmare possible. Gonzo turns on his friend, steals his wife, shoots him full of heavy calibre bullets and kicks him out of a moving vehicle. This is the beginning of the end of The Gone Away World, and if you haven’t been electrified by the brilliant, if unorthodox, storytelling of Nick Harkaway, then you aren’t a true lover of speculative fiction.
The novel is epic, mind bending and brilliant in its development. And the ending is well worth the wait.
Copyright © Clayton Clifford Bye
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