Category Archives: Horror

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

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Totalitarian control. Censorship. Loss of Freedom. All of these things are as much of a concern in 2017 as they were decades ago. Since Trump entered office, Orwell’s 1984 has become a bestseller once again. There are growing concerns about government control, “Big Brother” and spying to name a few. However, while 1984 has been highlighted in North America’s conscious, there is yet another perspective that should be considered: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. While not quite as popular as Orwell, Bradbury makes excellent observations about Western Society’s possible downfall.

The world of Fahrenheit 451 is one of entertainment- parlour families shown on large screens in individual’s houses that one can interact with, radio, and the pastime of driving extremely fast for the fun of it. The average citizen has been amused into submission. They have no interest in books. It happened slowly- universities gradually lost all enrolment and therefore closed; schools became places to learn how things operate- not why. Individuals gradually become submissive and they were happy to abide by the illegality of books as they continued to be increasingly entertained. At least, most citizens were.

Guy Montag is a fireman- not a person who extinguishes fires- a person who creates fires largely for the purpose to destroy books and the places that house them. One day he meets 17 year old Clarrise McClellan who is so peculiar she makes Guy question his worldview- especially his definition of happiness and his career choice. He brings these questions home and to work which makes his peers suspicious.  His superior, Captain Beatty, comes to comfort him in his doubts about being a fireman – to promote happiness, since books cause unease and unrest in people. Surely they are the detriment to people’s happiness and must be destroyed at all costs. But Montag wonders, how can that be true since his wife tried to take her own life with sleeping pills one night? Surely, there must be a reason why some risk their lives to protect books- like one lady he himself helped burn.

As I read through Fahrenheit 451 I couldn’t help but apply the themes to my own life. I have an entertainment machine in the palm of my hand-my smartphone- and I often use it for mindless dribble more than for educating myself. I look at the party culture of my generation and the inability many of my peers have to think about even the short term future and it saddens me. As I gain encouragement from Bradbury and other writers, I have been changing what I do in my spare moments- listening to audio books in the commute to and from work, taking classes, and so forth. Let’s not be made passive by entertainment, but use leisure for building us up.

 

The Call by Peadar O’Guilin

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cover art of The CallThis tense, fast paced thriller asks the question, what would happen if the gods and goddess of mythology returned to the modern world with their hearts full of vengeance?  O’Guilin has taken modern Ireland and cut if off from the rest of the world, due to the magic of the Sidhe.  These were the mythical fairy folk of the Emerald Isle and of Scotland, physically beautiful but cruel and capricious. The Sidhe were tricked by the ancient Irish into a hellish netherworld and now are seeking their revenge by abducting their adolescents into the Greylands to be mutilated or killed.

Twenty five years have passed since the horror began when without warning young people began disappearing suddenly for a little over three minutes of our time but a full day in the alternative world, during which they are hunted by the Sidhe. Their chances are surviving are slim at best and should they return alive, the survivors are forever altered both physically and mentally. The young are now sent away to school to be taught and toughened for when their “call” comes.

The story focuses on Nessa who is not expected to survive due to a childhood bout of polio which has damaged her legs, but not destroyed her strength or will to live. She and the other residents of the Boyle school are simply ordinary teenagers forced to fight for their lives and many of the characters the reader comes to care about meet tragic fates.

The author O’Guilin mixes moments of humour with moments of anguish, loyalty with betrayal, desire with scorn, each with a deft hand.  Despite the overall darkness as the country slips into subsistence living when the doom of the Sidhe takes hold, there is a sense of hope and defiance in spite of the odds.

The Dark Missions of Edgar Brim by Shane Peacock

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edgarbrim

What would you do if all the imaginary horrors of the world weren’t imaginary at all? Such is the world of Edgar Brim. As a young boy, his father told him many tales of the bizarre and the macabre, leading to Edgar’s heighten sense of fear and frequent night terrors. Later when he is sent to a gloomy boarding school in Scotland run by the stern and mysterious Mr. Thorne, life for Edgar turns even darker as he becomes the subject of bullying and ridicule. It is only in the finding of a journal written by his novelist father which helps Edgar develop the courage to fight both his bullies and his fears.

When I picked up the book and read the premise of a gothic horror novel set during the reign of Queen Victoria and featuring Bram Stoker, I knew this was my type of novel.  The book reads much like a classic Victorian novel of mystery, full on dark intrigue, gloomy atmosphere and cryptic clues and the main character of Edgar makes for an interesting foil to the action. Edgar both grows up physically and emotionally in the novel, while keeping a certain distance of personality that makes we wonder what mysteries we will find out about him as the series goes on. Setting the book during the Victorian period adds a whole set of socially acceptable and expected behaviours that feel odd to our modern sensibilites and are really pronounced with Edgar’s friend, Lucy.

I really liked the literary references to the great Victorian writers of the time and can see their influence in the story and in the character of Edgar. The build up in story is slow as it lays out a number of plot threads and takes time introducing Edgar and the world he inhabits but once the action begins the it moves rapidly and ties up a number of ends while leaving some mysteries for further in the series.

 

 

“Just End Already !” The Ruins by Scott B. Smith

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ruinsSo at my second job I have been listening to a ton of audiobooks. For those who have never tried one before you definitely should. They are both enjoyable and super convenient when you don’t have time to pick up a book but have the time to multitask and listen to one. Now that being said, I have listened to many great ones. Some that flew by. Some that made me laugh out loud and make my co-workers give me dirty looks as they walked past me. Some that made me cry -yes, even us tough guys cry at sad parts in books (it really was a sad moment). However, some books are so utterly boring, uninteresting and drawn out that it makes you just beg the book to be over. The Ruins, by Scott B. Smith is that book.

A few years ago I had already seen the film adaptation and thought it was pretty decent as far as horror movies go. I am a huge horror movie fan so when I say its decent that’s a good sign as I think most horror movies kinda suck these days. Anyways, I found out that the movie was based on the book and made a note to read it soon. Needless to say I read it years later and wow was it a let down. The best way to describe it is “Ughhh why won’t this thing just end”. So the premise of the book is four college age young people: Jeff, Amy, Eric and Stacey, go on a last hurrah trip to Cancun before starting medical school and the next parts of their lives (I know right? College people going on a trip that leads to certain death…super cliche). They meet up with a young German man named Mathias who is searching for his missing brother. Mathias convinces the group and a Greek friend they met to help find the missing brother and so they travel to the jungle and get chased up a giant Mayan ruin covered in vines with blood red flowers. Okay, so not a horrible premise. I’ve heard plenty worse. To sum up the 400 page book, the group gets trapped on the hill, find out the vines are evil and then.. well you can guess the rest, it is a horror novel after all and I don’t want to spoil it.

This painful read was literally a 400 page story about character development. While character development is very important to a story it doesn’t take 400 pages to do it. It also helps when you actually care about the characters. The whole time I just wanted these people to die so the book would be over. But no. Of course it had to drag on and on about absolutely nothing. Smith tried to describe setting but honestly, there is no setting. The whole thing takes place on the ruins and once they describe it once it doesn’t EVER change. I had to go through 9 out of 12 discs before the first person died and then another 2 discs after that for the next person. That is just unacceptable when it comes to a horror novel. No, that’s not true. If the book is good or interesting then its fine. But for this its just mind-numbingly boring. Even when a character was dying Smith still tried to develop the character… Like WHY?! Literally it was like “I’m stabbed in the chest… one time at the zoo..” Just no. Just die and go away so the book can end and I can move on and be done with all of you. Out of all the characters, Stacey was the least annoying as I felt she was the most real(ish). There was one moment in the book when they joked about their lives being turned into a movie and which cliche they each would be. I guess that was pretty funny.

I suppose the whole struggle to survive premise was good and could be realistic if there was ever a situation where people were trapped on a hill with killer vines that could talk, make smells and eat you. Or maybe that’s just me being bitter about this book. I guess I should also say that the book isn’t completely horrible. It’s not completely without merit. It was actually well written so that’s always a plus. Another good thing is its a horror novel with an interesting premise, which can be hard to come by. So look at that! Two positive things about the book.

So, is the book worth the read? Well, that is up to you to decide. Do I regret reading it? Well, mostly. Too late to look back now. I’ve moved on to better books. So, I kinda hate to do this, with my librarian education and all, but seriously… just go watch the movie. It’s an hour and half, the characters still kinda suck but it takes a whole lot less time than reading the book. (Also they greatly change character roles around so that sucks – but if you’re only watching the movie, who cares!). Just give the book a pass and save yourself the agony of this snore fest.

-Eric

PS. Check out the trailer here!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzdto154_to

Afraid by Jack Kilborn

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afraidkilbornBy Eric Stein

For all the horror lovers out there, this is a novel for you, just in time for Halloween. Jack Kilborn (aka J.A. Konrath) delivers an incredibly chilling, gruesome tale of the small city of Safe Haven, Wisconsin. For the readers out there who love horror, or even those like myself that want to give horror novels a try, this book is perfect. It has everything you could need to satisfy your Halloween horror cravings; blood, gore and a detailed story that is not too cheesy. If this book were a movie you would definitely need either a loved one or a very big blanket to comfort you.
Right as you begin reading the novel you learn that Safe Haven is anything but safe. It is quickly established after the crash of a helicopter that something is horrendous is going to happen. The story follows various members of the city; primarily its old chief of police, a young firefighter and a single working mother. The book draws you in to each of these characters plights, just as the horror unfolds before them. Will they make it through? Will there be causalities along the way? This is all something you will need to find out.
This book is not for the faint of heart. I am a major horror movie buff, and even this book made me cringe at points! Needless to say, I had to find out what was going to happen to the characters I grew attached to. So if you’re a horror fan or in need of an exciting scare for this Halloween, check this book out! Just be careful; there may be someone lurking behind you.
Afraid is available in audiobook and electronic format at the Thunder Bay Public Library
Happy Halloween

If You Love Austen….

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In the spirit of the upcoming release of the movie version of Shannon Hale’s Austenland, we created a short video exploring some of the world on jane austen completesequels, re-imaginings, and followups of Austen’s work which are available in every genre imaginable. Here are a few of the best (or worst, if you’re a Jane Austen purist). Click below for a short video on all things Austen.

If You Love Austen……Click here

Austenland by Shannon Hale

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Graham-Smith

Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scarsgrave Manor by Stephanie Barron

The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

An Assembly Such as This (Volume 1, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman) by Pamela Aiden

Colonel Brandon’s Diary by Amanda Grange

Me and Mr. Darcy by Alexandra Potter

Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange

Jane Austen Ruined my Life by Beth Pattillo                                    

Pride & Prescience by Carrie Debris

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler                                                                                      

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King (the Trailer)

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The sequel to Stephen King’s novel “The Shining” will be released on September 24th. The book is called “Doctor Sleep”,  and we have it available for hold if your tastes run to the dark and macabre. The story features Danny Torrance grown and something has followed him.  The novel features the now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the boy protagonist of The Shining) and the twelve-year-old girl, Abra Stone, who he must save from The True Knot. The True Knot are a group of almost immortal travelers who cross the country feeding on children with the gift of “the shining.”  Haunted by his past, Dan drifted for decades in an attempt to escape his father’s legacy, eventually settling in a New England town. When he receives work in a nursing home, his remnant mental abilities provide comfort to the dying. With the aid of a cat that can foresee the future, Dan becomes “Doctor Sleep.” It is his meeting with Abra Stone, that sets the action in motion for an epic war between good and evil.

Click the cover to view the trailer. Click on the title to place your hold.

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King