Book Review: Suffer the Children (Spoiler Free)

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As promised, a novel of terror. Let me just start right off by letting you know, this read is not for the book worm who is tender of heart. This one had been on my radar for a while, so I was super pleased when it arrived in my (first ever!!) Nocturnal Readers box. The author, Craig DiLouie, is new to me. Here Mr. DiLouie tackles that ever taboo topic in horror of, “BAD STUFF HAPPENING TO CHILDREN.” So, if that’s a turn off for you, consider yourself warned! I’m not totally heartless or anything, by the way. I love kids. I’m a proud auntie! It’s hard to read about scary things happening to children, it raises the stakes. And it makes every wicked thing that more insidious, tugging on the heartstrings. Personally, I do better with my horror fiction involving kids if the foe is supernatural. I don’t take a great interest in the all too real, indisputable abuse of kids that happens in our world every day being used for a plot device. And I think that anyone who hurts a child can burn in hell. But trust me, the kid’s are not really the victims in this story. This blog is proof alone that I adore a good spooky tot in my scary movies, and this book is no different. Okay, now that all the disclaimers are out of the way, let’s chat about Suffer the Children.

I love reading apocalyptic fiction. And it tickles me when an author can put a new spin on the genre. A crisis has happened out of nowhere on a global level. ALL the children in the world suddenly fall over dead. Just DIE. No warning, no obvious illness, just done. We see a glimpse of this mysterious tragedy from multiple perspectives of parents living in a small suburb of Lansdowne Michigan. The young-lings bodies are barely in the ground when something miraculous happens. As quickly as they died, the kiddos come back! They’re not quite alive, but not silent corpses anymore either. In fact, they’re personalities and memories are intact. However, their reanimation comes at a cost. Let’s just say the little sweeties are hungry.

Are you tempted yet? Intrigued? I hope so. I devoured this dark, and disturbing tale. Enjoy!

Book Review: This Savage Song (SPOILER FREE)

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I’m back again with some YA spookiness for you all.

CORSAI, CORSAI, TOOTH AND CLAW

SHADOWN AND BONE WILL EAT YOU RAW.

MALCHAI, MALCHAI, SHARP AND SLY, SMILE AND BITE AND DRINK YOU DRY.

SUNAI, SUNAI, EYES LIKE COAL. SING YOU A SONG AND STEAL YOUR SOUL.

MONSTERS, MONSTERS, BIG AND SMALL.

THEY’RE GONNA COME AND EAT YOU ALL.

-Victoria Schwab

This was my first ever Victoria Schwab book!! I’ve definitely been meaning to pick her up, but you know how it is. So many books, so little time. Anyway, I will absolutely be reading more from her. Our story follows two teens in a semi-dystopian/alternate version of our own world. Some time after the Vietnam War ended, things took a darker tone here in America (I assume it’s just America? I actually don’t know for sure…). Whenever a violet act is committed against another, a monster is born. As the playground rhyme above tells us, there are three different types of monster. There are the Corsai, the Malchai (my favorite!), and the very rare, Sunai. One of the young leads is a guy named August, who happens to be a Sunai. August lives with his adoptive human family, the Flynn’s. He looks like an ordinary person, but he’s actually more like an angel of death in disguise. August longs to be “normal” and shuns his existence.

Our other main character is Kate Harker. She’s no monster; but she wishes she was. Her father is a ruthless, cunning, and powerful man. He rules over half of V-City, selling costly protection from the monsters who would rather be feasting on the citizens. The other portion of the city is Flynn territory. August’s father leads a military militia fighting the monsters free of charge to help keep the people safe, and the darkness at bay. You can see how these two are clearly on opposing sides, right?

Both start as the new kids in high school on the Harker side of things. Kate is trying to prove that she can live up to her family name. Meaning to be feared, to be brutal, and ultimately, to win her dad’s admiration. No one knows August’s true identity, and that he is attending as a spy. He’ll be watching Kate, and gathering information for his faction. It isn’t long before things start to go off the rails, and both Kate and August are thrown into the fray.

I realllllly liked this book, guys. Kate and August were both totally compelling characters to read with refreshing perspectives. The stakes felt higher than usual with these two kids. They’re both outcasts struggling to fit in, but not in the normal way you find in most YA horror books. Their problems are made even more unique by this hellish world they live in. I was really struck by the unique premise of this book, and I can’t really think of a plot device that comes close. If you can, tell me! I would love to read more stories like this. Needless to say, I look forward to the second half of this story arriving in June.

More books for horror fans…

Here are some books I’ve read recently that my fellow horror fans may dig.

Doctor Sleep-Stephen King

All hail the King. This little gem is a sequel to “The Shining.” Now we get to catch up on what the devil Danny Torrance has been up to since childhood. It wasn’t exactly happily ever after upon leaving the Overlook hotel. Dan, as he’s now known, finds himself coming to the aid of a young girl named Abra who “shines” as well. Abra and all the other children with the shine are in danger from a nasty evil cult called the True Knot. These cultists look innocent, harmless, and non threatening. Just boring “RV-ers” you pass at truck stops and campgrounds all over America. When in actuality they sustain themselves by kidnapping  psychically gifted kids and slowly torturing them in order to “drink” in the psychic, magical steam they let off upon dying. I don’t like to spoil books, so just trust me when I say this one did not disappoint me. If you’ve read the Shining you will obviously get more out of this story since it is the sequel. Duh. 😉

Mr. Mercedes-Stephen King

Why stop at one Uncle Stevie book? For those who don’t know, King is one of my favorite authors. When I was in 8th grade, we had to pick a person we considered to be our hero to make a report on. This was to be someone from pop culture or history who we didn’t know but that we greatly admired. I was the only kid to pick an author, and it was you-know-who. The love is still strong to this day! Anyway, Mr. Mercedes was a fun little departure. I tweeted the author himself upon completion that these were some of my favorite characters of his that I’ve met. Our hero is newly retired detective Bill Hodges who remains haunted by a case he never closed. A crazy bastard in a stolen Mercedes plowed into a line of people waiting to get into a job fair at the height of the recession. Said weirdo then sends Hodges a letter basically taunting him and encouraging the man to take his own life. Only Hodges uses this opening as a chance to solve the case once and for all. Along the way he picks up a rad rag-tag little team to help him. Oh, and we also get very intimately (and chillingly)  acquainted with the killer, “Mr. Mercedes” himself, Brady Hartsfield. I encourage you all to continue you King education and give this one a read!

Seed, The Bird Eater, and The Shuddering- Ania Ahlborn

I love this lady. She spins a good horror yarn, my friends. I already talked about one of her books, The Neighbors, in a previous post. All three of these books were total page turners for me. Ania has made me a loyal fan and life-long reader for certain. Seed is about a man running from a childhood filled with horror, only to find that as an adult he is far from safe from this evil he thought he escaped. In fact, the damn thing was just waiting. Trust me when I say, shit gets really creepy… The Bird Eater is about a guy named Aaron. He is another fellow who thought he was escaping childhood trauma to once again have it revisit him and making him question his own sanity in the process. Maybe you could think of it as a haunted house novel of sorts. But it is really much more than that. These two books may sound similar, but really each is quite unique. I am really cautious to give away too many plot details since neither book is particularly long.  The Shuddering may be my favorite. The scenario is the classic “cabin the woods” vibe, only Anhlborn puts her own twist on it with the terrible monsters she pits our “heroes” against, painting a great visual in my mind of these savage and blood thirsty creatures. It made me glad I don’t live in a place where it snows…

Dark Places- Gillian Flynn

God knows I loved Gone Girl.  We all did, right? I think I may have liked this one by Flynn even more. Libby Day was the sole survivor of a “Santanic Massacre” at the hands of her own brother that resulted in her whole family being murdered. Years later she’s a pretty screwed up adult who is running out of money. So when a group of true crime enthusiasts (the “Kill Club”) offer to pay her  to uncover what really happened that night, she goes for it. You see, not every one is convinced her brother Ben was actually was the killer. But digging in the past makes Libby confront the demons and secrets she never really faced until now. As the name implies, Libby has to go into some shady places. Both of the novels I’ve read by Flynn really blew me away. She really brings her characters to life in a way I don’t think all authors are able to do. Libby herself was really fantastic. I found myself getting super attached to this seemingly “unlikable” person and really rooting for her. The novel also touches upon all those cases of “Satanic Panic” murders carried out by young people, this is a topic I find really interesting so I dug that.

Anyway, please go read any or all of these books. All would be preferable. 🙂

Aftershock

As the name in implies, this movie does have an earthquake and the titular aftershocks to follow. However, mother nature’s wrath is only part of the problem here. The scarier shit is carried out by people who decide to throw out all traces of humanity when the going gets rough and the world around them (literally) crumbles. Eli Roth produced, stars in, and even gets a writing credit in this film. It was directed by Nicolas Lopez who also wrote the script along with Guillermo Amoedo. I happen to be an Eli Roth fan. He seems to be one of those polarizing figures in the horror world that everyone either loves or hates. I’ve heard the arguments pro and con so please spare me if you don’t like him 😉 I am having a tricky time writing about this without any spoilers. So let me just get this out of the way. If the premise I provided above is enough to peak your interest, then watch this movie, come on back and join the conversation. The rest of the class is reading ahead.

**Spoilers below**

Movie poster with very telling tagline!

Movie poster with a very telling tagline!

Things I liked:

– The acting. The acting was pretty darn good. I personally feel that Eli Roth and Andrea Osvart were the stand out performers. But they both had some of the richer material to work with. Andrea’s character of Monica turns out to be the final girl, which wasn’t too much of shock since she presented herself as mature and levelheaded trying to keep her party-rockin’ sister under control. Well, she will be the final girl if she survived that foreboding tsunami in the last frame of the film. But she still gets a sticker for final girl status. Shes’s a tough chick. I’d put money on her getting out alive.

– Eli Roth is the only American lead in the cast! I like that they didn’t try to shoe-horn Americans in the roles that clearly weren’t meant for them. Large chunks of dialogue aren’t in English, and no there aren’t subtitles. This is a joint Chilean and USA film! Deal with it! :p

– Ariel’s severed hand and the unintentional game of soccer it becomes involved in. Actually, I was really impressed with the effects in general. That includes when Eli’s character of Gringo becomes a melted, gooey, molten mess.

– A fine use of the Axe as a weapon. Sometimes the old ways are the best ways. First we get the redemption of Pollo taking an axe to a rapist. Then Monica getting her revenge in honor of her sister. Gotta love vengeance kills, right?

Stuff I’m not sure I liked:

-I guess the first thing would have to be the rape-y bit. I feel on principle I need to state I’m not really cool with it. It’s not super graphic, nor very long. It’s not a deal breaker for me to have rape in a movie, as long as the rapist gets what is coming to them. Cause then you get to cheer at their demise.

– Gringo: you were dying under a damn cinder block, coughing up blood and clearly those thugs were not planning to help you out and let you go. Bravely, you told the two girls to hide and hence be not raped while Pollo and Monica went for help, that was your damn idea when you heard the bad dudes coming! And then you break and tell the thugs were the two girls are hiding so that they can get raped?! Dick move. I guess that was the “point” that even likable and usually good people can turn into savages. But honestly, I think that whole scene was a little weird. I mean, why would the thugs think that the girls were still around at all to the point of interrogating Gringo?? Wouldn’t they just assume that the girls/others went for help since Gringo is stuck under a chunk of cement?? It doesn’t even make sense to think they were still around. If something happens to your friend, you go for help. As far as the thugs know that means there would be three girls and one chubby man hiding nearby? I just feel that the whole set up was basically a vehicle for Gringo to crack under pressure and then turn into a crispy critter.

– I really liked Ariel and it was a bummer to see him plummet to his death! Still, it was actually more upsetting to see that hobo run off with the purse that had his hand in it. Ouch. Low blow.

– There is no doubt we could sit here and debate all about the “message” of this movie which pretty much states that humans are evil and will turn on each other before helping someone else. <–And yes, there are time in the movie when people are good and helpful. But the tagline of the movie is, “The only thing more terrifying than Mother nature is human nature.” I personally chose to just let the filmmakers tell the story and present their viewpoint. I don’t really like to debate philosophical matters. But if that’s your thing then I’m sure you will have lots to talk about with your like minded people.

Grade: B+. It was good! I’m glad that I watched it! There were things about it that made it better than the average movie.