Book Review — Underneath

 

Title:  Underneath
Author:  Robbie Dorman
Genre:  Sci-Fi/Horror
Pages:  Paperback, 257
ISBN:  978-1-7336388-2-1
Opening Lines:  "Mary Jensen didn't expect to see the body of the person she replaced, but it waited for her at Research Station Tau."

Rating


"Mary Jensen, a trained medic, needs a new start and she's getting one at Research Station Tau, in remote Antarctica. Called in as an emergency replacement, Mary soon finds out Tau's mission: to find a lost elementary particle, deep down in the ice.

"Dr. Ian Schuller, the station lead, thinks the particle is the key to humanity's evolution. As they drill into the ice, complications arise and Mary starts to worry about his sanity. As he pushes harder and harder for results, the group begins to fracture.

"And then the hallucinations start.

"Something is in the ice, and it is changing them.

"Now Mary must surivive, and face what's underneath."

~ Jacket copy



The sci-fo genre is ripe for horror. Something about the isolation of space coupled with the unknown, unexplored depths. Drifting alone in the "vasty nothingness" allows the brain time to contemplate the unknown . . . The things just outside our reach. This is why the Alien franchise has done so well.  And why we have seen survival horror games dipping its toe into the uncharted depths of space in Dead Space.  However, what we never considered is the unknown, isolating element of space is right next door—Antarctica.

Book Review — The Summer I Died

 

Title:  The Summer I Died
Author:  Ryan C. Thomas
Genre:  Horror/slasher
Pages:  Paperback, 186
ISBN:  9781977576088
Opening Lines:  "To avoid the nightmares of that summer, I take caffeine and diet pills, any type of speed to keep me up for as long as possible."




When Roger Huntington comes home from college for the summer and is met by his best friend, Tooth, he knows they're going to have a good time. A summer full of beer, comic books, movies, laughs, and maybe even girls. The sun is high and the sky is clear as Roger and Tooth set out to shoot beer cans at Bobcat Mountain. Just two friends catching up on lost time, two friends thinking about their futures . . . two friends suddenly thrust into the middle of a nightmare. Forced to fight for their lives against a sadistic killer with an arsenal of razor sharp blades and a hungry dog by his side. If they are to survive, they must decide: are heroes born, or are they made? Or is it something more powerful happening to them? And more importantly, how do your survive when all roads lead to death?"

~ Jacket copy



The slasher genre has long been seen as the bastard child of the horror movie genre.  Despite the critics, slasher films have always held a special place in horror.  Looking closely, it supports conservative paradigms and beliefs--don't have sex outside of marriage, listen to your parents, don't drink, and so on.  The unfortunate victims of the slasher always violate some type of boundary and are punished for their infraction.  However, the 2000s have taken the slasher genre and started to morph it into something different--pseudo gore porn.  The Summer I Died is not any different.

Book Review — The Final Girl Support Group

 

Title:  The Final Girl Support Group
Author:  Grady Hendrix
Genre:  Mystery, drama
Pages:  Hardback, 339
ISBN:  978-0-593-20123-7
Opening Lines:  "I wake up, get out of bed, say good morning to my plant, unwrap a protein bar, and drink a liter of bottled water.  I'm awake for a full five minutes before remembering I might die today."

Rating:


In horror movies, the final girl is the one who's left standing when the credits roll. The one who fought back, defeated the killer, and avenged her friends. But after the sirens fade and the audience moves on, what happens to her?

Lynnette Tarkington is a real-life final girl who survived a massacre twenty-two years ago. and it has defined her every day of her life since. And she's not alone. For more than a decade she's been meeting with five other actual final girls and their therapist in a support group for those who survived the unthinkable, putting their lives back together, piece by piece. That is until one of the women misses and meeting and Lynnette's worse fears are realized—someone knows about the group and is determined to take their lives apart again, piece by piece.

But the thing about these final girls is that they have each other now, and no matter how bad the odds, how dark the night, how sharp the knife, they will never, ever give up.

~ Jacket copy



The Final Girl is a common trope in the slasher film genre.  After seeing all of her friends and/or family members killed by a ruthless male killer, the Final Girl (always a good, virgin girl) must fend off—and oftentimes—kill the monster while waiting for the police to charge in a save her.  Audiences are familiar with the killer being reincarnated (or another killer) and coming back to finish the initial job—killing the sole survivor of his murderous rampage.  However, as seen with Nancy, Laurie Strode, Kirsty Cotton, etc., audiences never see the Final Girl after she has tangled with the monster.  No, we are only privy to her fight for survival.  The Final Girl Support Group puts a human spin on the Final Girls and allows the audience a backstage pass to the aftermath of the carnage.  

Book Review — Disco Deathtrap

 

Title:  Disco Deathtrap
Author:  Cameron Roubique
Genre:  Horror
Pages:  283, paperback
ISBN:  9781729122983
Opening Lines:  "Almost no one knew about the bodies lying less than four feet beneath the polished hardwood floor of the Rollerville Disco Skating Rink."

Rating:


It's New Year's Eve 1980, and the students of DeAngelo's High School are lacing up theor skates for the All-Night New Year's Lock-In at the Rollerville Roller Disco. Some of them just want to skate and dance the night away to the pounding disco music. Some want to pull a few pranks and have a few laughs. For others, like Dan Parsons, tonight is a chance to move on and forget about his ex-girlfirned, maybe even flirt with Denise, that cute girl behind the snack counter. It seems like nothing can go wrong.

But there's a massive blizzard raging outisde, thick snow and ice are piling up against all the doors. There are those rumors that Rollerville was built over part of the old graveyard next door, and someone out there is watching. Also, a strange homeless man in theparking lot says that tonight will be the start of the so-called "Year of Blood."

A night of skating and New Year's fun is about to turn into a night of violence and bloody mayhem in Disco Deathttrap. Slasher fans rejoice, old school horror is back!

~ Jacket copy



In the 1970s and into the 1990s, the rollerskating rink was the place to be!  Filled with the smells of cheap concessions and old carpeting, somehow kids would find themselves lined up to get into the rinks.  It was the place to request the newest hits, beat the high score on Donkey Kong, or spend your money on zombies.  As a kid, the biggest danger was catching your wheel on your boyfriend/girlfriend's skate during couples' skate and nose diving it into the cement or hardwood floor.  Or maybe it was the embarrassment of the Hokey PokeyDisco Deathtrap takes the sanctuary of the rollerskating rink and turns it into an old school slasher film. 

Book Review — Ghostland

Title:  Ghostland
Author:  Duncan Ralston 
Genre:  Horror
Pages:  Oversized paperback, 375
ISBN:  9781988819181
Opening Lines:  "The first time Lilian Roth saw the haunted house it was floating down Main Street, and if she'd known the trouble it would cause them, she never would have pointed it out to her best friend."

Rating


"Be the first in line for the most haunted theme park in the world GHOSTLAND! Discover and explore hundreds of haunted buildings and cursed objects! Witness spectral beings of all kinds with out patented Augmented REality glasses! Experience all the terror and thrills the afterlife has to offer safely protected by our Recurrence Field technology! Visit Ghostland today - it's the hauntedest place on earth!

"After a near-death experience caused by the park's star haunted attraction, Ben has come to Ghostland seeking to reconnect with his former best friend Lilian, whose post-traumatic stress won't let her live life to the fullest. She's come at the behest of her therapist, Dr. Allison Wexler, who tags along out of professional curiosity, eager to study the new tech's psychological effect on the user.

"When a computer virus sets the ghosts free an the park goes into lockdown, the trio find themselves trapped in an endless nightmare.

"With time running short and the dead quickly outnumbering the living, the survivors must tap into their knowledge of horror and video games to escape . . . or become Ghostland's newest exhibits."

~ Jacket copy



This book has been at the top of my Facebook newsfeed for quite some time.  Being a member of an online horror book community, I have found some rather interesting books, which never would have come across my radar.  This is one of those books.  As a gamer, the idea of a horror amusement park struck a chord.  I could not wait to get my hands on this book. Alas, it sat for months of my swap list, as well as my Amazon wishlist.  Until one day, my husband's swap match sent him a copy!

After it failed to catch his attention, I tore into the book is abandon!  I started the book in December (over my winter break) and just finished it a few days ago . . .  And, no, it was not due to the combination of starting graduate school and still teaching full-time.

Ghostland is the lovechild of Thirteen Ghosts and Jurassic Park.  If you have seen both movies, you know how this book will play out.  The book relies on many tried and true horror tropes.  Most of the characters are flat.  Ben and Lilian could have been rather dynamic, round characters; however, even their motivations seems to fall short.  Lilian suffering from PTSD and her reaction to Ben after the prologue was farfetched.  And the video game references seemed to be more fan service than actually part of the story.

So why did it end up with three skulls rather than two?  The book had its moments.  Was it scary?  Hell, no.  Was it gory?  Yes!  The idea has great potential, and I think Ralston did a good job with some of the ghosts.  For me, it truly fell short.  This book is good for a mindless beach read.  





Book Review — The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires


Title:  The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires
Author:  Grady Hendrix
Genre:  Comedic Horror
Pages:  Hardback, 404
ISBN:  978-1-68369-143-3
Opening Lines:  "This story ends in blood."

Rating


"Patricia Campbell's life has never felt smaller.  Her husband is a workaholic, her teenage kids have their own lives, her senile mother-in-law needs constant care, and she's always a step behind on her endless to-do list.  The only thing keeping her sane is her book club, a close-knit group of Charleston women united by their love of true crime.  At these meetings they're as likely to talk about the Manson family as they are about their own families.

"One evening after book club, Patricia is viciously attacked by an elderly neighbor, bringing the neighbor's handsome nephew, James Harris, into her life. Jame is well traveled and well reda, and he makes Patricia feel things she hasn't felt in years. But when children on the other side of town go missing, their deaths written off by local police, Patricia has reason to believe James Harris is more of a Bundy than a Brad Pitt. The real problem? James is a monster of a different kind—and Patricia has already invited him in.

"Little by little, James will insinuate himself into Patricia's life and try to take everything she took for granted—including the book club—but she won't surrender without a fight in this blood-soaked tale of neighborly kindness gone wrong."

~ Jacket copy



According to the author himself, this book is the adult version of My Best Friend's Exorcism.  However, he makes it clear it is not a sequel, per say, rather, it is his homage to his mother's book club.  All you need is the author's note to leave you with warm-fuzzies.

Book Review — The Shuddering


Title:  The Shuddering
Author:  Ania Ahlborn
Genre:  Horror
Pages:  Oversize paperback, 283
ISBN:  9781611099676
Opening Lines:  "Don slapped the trunks of the trees with his left hand as he ran past them, the small ax held tight in his right hand.  He struggled for breath as steam rose from his lungs."


Rating


"A group of close friends gathers at a secluded cabin in the wintery mountains of Colorado for a final holiday hurrah. Instead, it may be their last stand. First a massive blizzard leaves them marooned. Then the more chilling realization: something is lurking in the woods, watching them, waiting . . .

"Now a weekend of family, friends, and fun has turned into a test of love and loyalty in the face of inhuman horros. The only hope for those huddled inside is to fight—tooth and nail, bullet and blade—for their lives. Otherwise, they'll end up like the motners' other victims: bright pools of blood on glittering snow, screams lost in the vast mountains."

~ Jacket copy



Five friends, family cabin located near Dillion, Colo., winter getaway, the possibility of love, and impending doom.  That plot line sounds like some unholy mashup between Cabin in the Woods and Cabin Fever.  Either way, I am game!

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"If you’re a freak like me, Wave your flag! If you’re a freak like me, Get off your ass! It’s our time now, To let it all hang out!" I am a recovering English major, closet bibliophile, breve addicted, zombie lover with a rockabilly and heavy metal fetish.
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