Tony’s Review: The Fallen, Charlie Higson

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3/5

Everyone over fourteen has been infected with an illness that makes them crave human flesh…Only the kids are left to fight and survive for themselves…

This is book five in a seven series set. Luckily, I’m reading them back-to-back which helps a lot. There’s no way I’d remember all these intertwining stories with a long gap between them. There are a lot of characters floating around London…

The focus this time is on a group at the Natural History Museum. There’s an infected kid hiding and hunting them, and a second group sets out on a trip to where the disease affecting the adults started, stumbling across a group calling themselves the ‘Twisted Kids’, a teratogenic bunch with odd abilities.

As though sensing that the endless killing of diseased adults is getting a little repetitive after five books (And it is), Higson keeps the death count down and spreads his wings a little, digging into the characters more, exploring their relationships and friendships.

Because of that, this is a slower and more thoughtful read than the other books. The pacing slips a little though, and this feels like it could have been shorter by about twenty pages.

Towards the end, the pacing picks up again when Small Sam re-appears. There’s a monster of a cliff-hanger with his sister Ella, but no spoilers as to what’s going on. I’m glad I don’t have to wait a year for the follow-up though.

As usual, the geography and the world is flawless and the characters (the ones he develops, that is: The rest are sometimes merely second-spear-carrier-on-the-left material) are well thought out.

It felt like a long walk to those closing chapters, but I’m here for the long haul right the way to book seven…Book six is coming next month!

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Horrorfest Post…Spooky Stereotypes

Twilight Every genre has stereotypes, but perhaps classic horror has more than most… Remember the outcry about sparkly vampires? Did you think it was an interesting twist, or a tad cheesy – do you prefer your vamps more fangy than blingy? Stake-able or solid as a rock?

I’m a bit of a mixed bag, if I’m honest. I love classics like Frankenstein and Bram Stoker’s Dracula – imagine writing a book that establishes, such powerful and enduring characters? That people would write and re-write over and over again, re-imaginging them in new settings… I can’t imagine any author not wanting that.

And that’s the next part – as much as I like the classics, where the core themes of the genre appear, I also like it when people twist them. I might not buy in to sparkly vegetarian vampires, as much as I do their blood-thirsty, monstrous cousins – but I like how Meyer twisted the genre. Vampires that sparkle, is a good excuse to stay out of the sun, whilst not ruining the romantic / attractive bits the author was aiming for.

I think the biggest challenge when you’re twisting something is striking the right balance – I read the Sookie Stackhouse books, and then moved on to True Blood on TV – the gore, sex, and rather heartless predators were all what I would expect, but the twists were good: synthetic blood (vampire sci-fi), vampire blood as an illegal drug, vampire integration into society…

No one will have missed that the undead have been very popular over the last few years, particularly in the YA world – Being Human was one of the good ones I came across, which gave a very personal view of becoming a vampire and how that changes you as a person, others I think didn’t hold together as well, (review here) perhaps going so far away from the genre that they weren’t plausible. (Blood cola, anyone? C’mon – at least pretend you want to bite someone and not just fill up on blood related junk food!)

Some of my favourite books play on genre expectations and twist them, either poking fun at your expectations, or using them to give a whole new view on a topic. Zed was a neat twist on the zombie genre – told from the perspective of a ‘thinking’ zombie with a brain. I liked the way the author integrated zombies back into society with zombie-treat dispensing headsets, that helped them work in fast food outlets or rounding up shopping trollies.

So how do you like your horror, straight up, with a twist, or something else entirely?

Horrorfest Post…Best Horror Books of All Time…?

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Today’s guest post comes courtesy of Used Book Search.net and originally featured as an article on their site earlier this year. Who better to tell you about the best horror books of all time, than a blogger who spends much of their time reading and reviewing books? 🙂

Used Book Search is a free, simple to use book price comparison tool. They also have a team of book lovers writing book recommendations and reviews. If you’d like to find out more, check out the link to their site, or stalk them in the following locations:

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The Best Horror Books of All Time…?

Most people like a good scare. Stories that get the adrenaline flowing have captivated us throughout much of recorded history, as dark and sinister legends are perhaps older than the written word. While many horror films rely on the element of surprise, with monsters jumping out from the shadows, books often offer a slower burn, one that’s oftentimes more terrifying. So if you like the thrill of wondering what’s lurking behind the shadows or making sounds in the night, we’ve got you covered with five of the best horror books of all time.

Now, we’ve already covered the Best Stephen King books so that eliminates those from contention here. Certainly, The Shining and Misery (among others) would have been considered, as King is the modern master of the genre. And Dracula is so notable that it was featured in our Best Classic Literature list. But that still leaves us with five of the most truly terrifying and mesmerizing horrors books ever put to print.

What horror books should you read if you haven’t done so already?

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Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

One of the more frightening aspects of Mary Shelley’s classic mad science tale, Frankenstein, is that she got the idea from a dream and penned it at the tender age of 19. Cinematic adaptations have morphed the Frankenstein monster into the green, bolt-necked icon that’s deeply ingrained within our cultural consciousness today, so it’s easy to forget that Shelley’s classic focuses more on Dr. Frankenstein himself and his mad wonder at having created life only to be horrified with the monster he has unleashed upon the people close to him and the world at large.

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The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

One of the most frightening horror films of all time was based on one of the most terrifying and suspenseful novels. Just as a Jesuit priest is having a crisis of faith, he’s called upon to tend to a girl who has been afflicted by some powerful diabolical force. The priest initially only wants to treat her as psychiatrist, but soon the disturbing physical transformation leads him to believe she is in fact possessed by a demon. When a more qualified exorcist dies of a heart ailment while attempting to perform the rites, the protagonist priest is left to do battle with a demonic force that beyond his comprehension.

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The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories by H.P. Lovecraft

It’s difficult to even imagine where the horror landscape would be today without 20th century scary story pioneer H. P. Lovecraft. This anthology of some of his best and most unnerving short stories continues to influence the genre to this day. The titular story introduces the reader to the frighteningly enormous tentacle-faced beast of Cthulhu who slumbers at the bottom of the ocean for all time, destined only to emerge once the Earth reaches an apocalyptic age. However, a cult works feverishly to hasten his inevitable awakening. And that’s only one of the many spine-tinglers in this marvelous collection.

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Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

This Swedish vampire novel is both full of a mix of suspense and chills, and it also tugs at the heartstrings more than most horror stories are inclined to do. When the often bullied 12-year old Oskar befriends a strange neighbor girl, he doesn’t know how dangerous she is. Turns out the girl is a vampire, one who is eternally preserved in childlike form and whose adult guardian undertakes the grisly business of killing community members in order to harvest their blood so she can eat. Oskar’s bond with Eli grows, as does their co-dependence, which is both sweet and intensely ominous in its implications.

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House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski

Much like the domicile in its title, House of Leaves is both agoraphobic and claustrophobic due to its bizarre and unsettling structure. Formatted with footnotes, shreds of documents, and strangely-shaped paragraphs and sentences that sometimes include only a few words on a page, this book details the supernatural dimensions of a room in a house that seem to go on infinitely into darkness. As the house’s occupants eventually explore the vast labyrinth of paranormal space, the sanity of all involved begins to unravel in this chilling and mesmerizing work of fiction.