The Silence by Tim Lebbon

I wrote a post about The Silence as I was about halfway through it. I talked about how it was getting under my skin, and how uncomfortable it was making me feel. It made me realise that’s what horror should do. It should make you feel uncomfortable, to the point where you don’t want to carry on with the story. Don’t get me wrong, the gross out stuff is fun but this touched a nerve I’ve only just started accepting that I have.

I’m glad I stuck The Silence out. It is a book that struck at so many of the fears that I have. There are characters that remind me of people I love. I could get on board with some of their motivations as well and decisions as well

I said in the post I wrote the other day that it felt like this book was written for me, simply because so much of it struck me. I understood the fear the characters had, I felt it as they feared for their lives. I felt the conflict when hard decisions had to be made. I felt their grief, and confusion.

Each time the protagonists were pushed by the events around them it felt like a punch in the gut each time. A few years ago I would have stopped listening (I have the audiobook), but the characters kept me going. I needed to know what happened to them in the end. I was cheering for them, hoping they’d get to safety.

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The movie The Ritual (based on Adam Nevill’s book) taught me a lot about horror last year. It gave me a whole new perception of what horror meant. The Silence did ten times more than that. It got under my skin and into my bones.

There is a movie adaptation coming this year, if it’s half as good as this then it’ll be a great movie.

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The Malignant Dead by CL Raven

The Malignant Dead by CL Raven is the story of Alex McRae, an Edinburgh plague doctor, and his desire and effort to cure the disease that took so many.

Like the rest of their work The Malignant Dead is a very tightly constructed story. There’s not a lot of fat in it to get choked on. This allows the story to move at a brisk pace that meant I’d find myself surprised at how many pages I’d read in a sitting. Especially as its historic fiction, which isn’t normally my cup of tea. There’s enough detail and references, like words that would have been used back then, that it pulls you into Edinburgh during that time period. It was easy to feel how dirty and dangerous the city was back then.

Something Cat and Lynx do particularly well are characters. The protagonists in this story are people I want to hang out with, and I fell in love a little with the lead female character, Katerin. They felt very real, with real motivations and concerns. Alex McRae’s love for those he holds dear is felt throughout the novel. You feel what he’s going through, whether its his frustrations with those who have the plague or his joy at being with Katerin or his friend James. There are a couple of moments which had me choking up as well. Events in the life of Alex McRae that strike him hard. It is counterbalanced by some good humour as well.

I definitely recommend The Malignant Dead.

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This book involves characters from their 2017 novel, The Devils Servants. Although The Devils Servants isn’t a direct sequel I’d recommend reading The Malignant Dead and then The Devils Servants.

The Warmaster by Dan Abnett

I’ve just finished The Warmaster by Dan Abnett and wow! What a book! I loved how Abnett put this together and how it was tied into Salvations Reach (of which I’m glad I listened to immediately before embarking on The Warmaster). I’d guess there’s a lot more connections in the books that have lead up to The Warmaster, but it’s been a few years since I’ve read them. (I’m really hoping they come up on Audible because I really want to read them again, and listening is quicker for me as I can listen while at work).

The Warmaster picks up for Gaunt and his Ghosts right after their mission to Salvations Reach, but all is not right with their return.

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Such a beautiful edition.

Now, I am a huge fan of this series of books, this being the fourteenth, and I’ve been eagerly anticipating this one since I first heard about it a little while ago. There was a gap of time between Salvations Reach and The Warmaster, but it was worth the wait. Dan Abnett really turns things up to eleven in this book. He pushes characters into places that I wasn’t expecting, but that said I wasn’t really sure what to expect. With the Gaunt’s Ghosts books it feels like each book goes in somewhat of a different direction. This one is no different. A lot of the events in this book I didn’t see coming or where they were going to go.  A lot of the characters had their lives turned upside down and Abnett wasn’t scared to kill any of his characters. That is something I learnt a long time ago about Abnett with this series. He is not afraid to kill the most beloved of characters, often in brutal and unfair ways. Even in war where people die for what can be the most silly of reasons, some of the deaths in these books have been a huge kick in the gut. Even when a character doesn’t die, but they are pushed into something harsh and tough to stomach it feels the same as when a loved character dies.

That is one of Abnett’s biggest strengths I think. He can write these stories with a huge cast of characters and you either love or hate them, with the odd middle of the road character in between. You get their motivations, you get their mentalities. It all works very well.

This book really opened up a whole can of hell yeah! And it puts so much out on the table for future novels that has left me bouncing and determined to re-read the previous books again in the new year.

There are many reasons why Dan Abnett is one of my favourite writers, the Gaunt’s Ghosts series is one of them. Beautifully written, to the point where you’re almost there when the las-bolts are flying.

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***(Very Minor) Spoilers***

If you’ve read these books you’ll know there have been three characters that have left over the years that had nothing to do with dying, although one did eventually die if I remember right, but the two that always sits in my mind when I’m reading these books are Brin Milo and a scout called Mkvenner (I can’t for the life of me remember his first name). Both these characters went off for different reasons. For Milo, he went with Saint Sabbat, and I’ve heard rumours that Abnett has always intended Milo and the Ghosts to get back to each other at some point. With The Warmaster, the Saint is on the same planet as Gaunt and his Ghosts. When I found this out I was waiting for them to come together, but it didn’t happen. I really hope Abnett does so in the next book, because aside from the return of Mkvenner, that is one of the moments in this series of novels that I am eagerly waiting for.

I think Dan Abnett is setting up to bring this series to a close, to a point where the Sabbat Worlds Crusade is either won or lost.

The Devil’s Servants by CL Raven

The Devil’s Servants is a story set during the 1649 Edinburgh Witch Trials and tells the story of Nessie and how she gets wrapped up in the trials.

Now, I am a big fan of CL Raven. Not only are they great people I LOVE their writing. Their previous release, Silent Dawn, blew me away and I had high expectations for The Devil’s Servants, and I wasn’t disappointed.

It’s very easy to feel like you’re in Edinburgh while reading this. CL Raven give just enough to fuel the imagination, I felt like I was there in the graveyard, or the market. Or in Nessie’s room. Especially the Gaol. Cat and Lynx know a lot about the subject of the witch trials from this era, and that came through in the book.

Not only is it beautifully written, its gripping. I’m really not a big fan of historic fiction in any form. It’s just not something that catches my attention, The Devil’s Servants really hooked me though. The amount of times I thought I’d only read one chapter and end up reading two or three instead, I can’t even count.

With each book, Cat and Lynx Raven are getting stronger and stronger with their writing. I haven’t read all of their work, but each time I read one of their stories I see the strength there is in them. With each new release I see a new strength to their work. One of the elements I loved in Silent Dawn was the relationship between the main three characters. What I love in this book is what Nessie goes through and her whole arc. I felt a lot of her conflict throughout the story and really liked how her story wrapped up.

A quick little shout out for the cover(above image) by David V G Davies. It’s awesome!

I strongly recommend The Devil’s Servants, it’s a page turner and one that got me interested in a part of history that I’ve never really paid much attention to. Please check it out.

Savant By Nik Abnett

Okay, so Savant is the story of Tobe and Metoo, and I don’t really want to say more about the story, simply because I don’t think I can give much of a description of it without giving something away.

Savant is a damn good, slow burn, which unravels as the pages pass. I found it to be a page turner which surprised me at how quickly I read it. I am a slow reader but with Savant I zipped through it at quite a lick for me. I think it was three weeks that I smashed through it with the last half of the book in about a week, which is pretty impressive for me. It really pulls you along and it’s easy to read it in small doses and not loose the momentum of the story.

The pace of the story is impressive, it never feels like it’s speeding up or slowing down but just leads up to the story’s climax very naturally. There’s no real world building in the story, but everything you need to know is revealed as the story progresses, and revealed at the right time to give the answers needed.

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The writing is very beautiful and it was easy to picture what was going on while not having too much detail of the surroundings inserted into the text.

If you want a book that spoon-feeds you everything, or is action packed, then this isn’t the book for you. If you want something that has depth, a little mystery, varied and engaging characters. A storyline that slowly gains pace to it’s climax, then this book is worth checking out.

Silent Dawn by C L Raven

Silent Dawn tells the story of Ben, Keira, and Drake and their interest of a video game Silent Dawn, and how the game seems to begin merging into the real world.

This book is beautifully written, paced, structured, and doesn’t hold back from putting the protagonist through their paces. It has a tension that rises as the story progresses and as a reader I was wondering what was really going on with the story. There was times when I couldn’t quite figure out what exactly might be happening.

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The beautiful cover by River Rose

Each one of the protagonist has a lot of depth and all have a very engaging personality. Each one felt very genuine, as did their home lives and what they had to go through when they were at school. These teenagers are not the stereotypical teenagers that you see in the media, and for me that is one of the things that made them more real. That and what they went through when they were at school. Ben, Keira, and Drake are goths and they suffer the fact that they are not afraid to be different from the herd. What the characters went through with their class mates and teachers is so exquisitely handled by C L Raven it felt like I was there with them. I got a little bullying when I was at school but it wasn’t to the extent that Ben, Keira, and Drake go through though.

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Cat and Lynx Raven

Something I really like about how C L Raven have written this is that we don’t really see a lot of Silent Dawn. They keep her as the boogey man type character, and that works really well for the story. As I was reading it I was never quite sure when or where she’d appear in the story.

I’ll wrap this review with a quick comment about the social commentary and humour in this story. The dialogue between Ben, Keira, and Drake is just beautiful. It’s humorous, on point, character building, and just fun. There was more than a few times which had me laughing aloud.

I enjoyed this book massively, and would recommend that people check it out.

You can find C L Raven at their website.

 

Fragile by Justin R. Macumber

Fragile is the next book following the life of Maya Gallows, a paranormal investigator and blogger, as she tries to deal with the fallout of what happened in Stillwater (book one, Still Water). But even though she’s struggling with what happened she moves onto the next case. Young girls are going missing and are being replaced by dolls in a small town, so Maya goes to investigate it with the help of her young friend Taylor.img_1065

This is a very well written, and engaging story that becomes more and more of a page turner as you get deeper into the story. There is very little, if any, fluff in Fragile. The story moves along at a healthy and natural pace. The characters are well layered and feel very real, whether it’s those who don’t get much page time like Alan or main characters like Maya and Taylor, they all have a genuineness to them.

Justin Macumber is really good at setting tones for his stories. I found in this and the first novel in the series, Stil Water, especially that he can give you (the reader) a great idea of where these stories take place without overloading the story with details about how the world looks. He gives just enough to set the imagination free, which I think helps the story move along more smoothly.

The story has some pretty chilling moments in it (obviously) but it also has heart and humour as well. Much of the humour is in the dialogue, which is very strong and adds to the character’s personalities. It is a story where I said ‘damn’ and ‘oh shit’ out loud a number of times.

A quick note on the cover by Scott Macumber, it freaks me out. In a good way though, in the way that I can’t quite take my eyes off it despite the feeling that it’s trying to eat my soul.

I’ve now read five of Justin Macumber’s books and it’s great seeing him growing as a writer. Each novel feels a little more refined, a little more stronger, and like Macumber is pushing himself harder and not letting himself get comfortable now that he’s had a few books published.

Stil Water was my favourite Justin R. Macumber novel, but Fragile has just raced passed it.