Blog Tour: Those Who Came Before by J.H Moncrieff

Good evening internet and welcome to my stop on the Random Things Tours blog tour for Those Who Came Before by J.H Moncrieff!

An idyllic weekend camping trip is cut short when Reese Wallace’s friends
are brutally murdered. As the group’s only survivor, Reese is the prime
suspect,and his story doesn’t make much sense. A disembodied voice
warning him to leave the campground the night before? A strange,
blackened tree that gave him an electric shock when he cut it down for
firewood?
Detective Greyeyes isn’t having any of it—until she hears the voice herself
and finds an arrowhead at the crime scene—an arrowhead she can’t get rid
of. Troubling visions of a doomed Native American tribe who once called
the campground home,and rumors of cursed land and a mythical beast
plague the strangest murdercase she’s ever been a part of.
People are dying at Strong Lake, and the worst is yet to come

I am LIVING for all these wonderful new horror books. First off I want to say, this book always had me double guessing, not always in a good way but, still it kept me on my toes during while following the plot. The second thing I want to say, I am relieved to have finally read a horror book where the Native American perspective is “cursed burial ground white people build houses on”.

This story is not waiting to hold your hand, it kicks off right away with the massacre happening in the first few pages and the mystery then unfolds from there. The plot is definitely a quicker paced book, I read the majority of it in one sitting but I did find the ending kind of ran at me a little bit. There is also a switch from first to third person between both Reece and Maria which jarred me a bit. Outside of that, this book was a wonderful mix of police procedural and horror story of a violent and brutal past the Native’s have experienced.

Maria Greyeyes functions as our main anchor in both of these worlds, being half Native herself and being the main detective on the case. She is my favourite character of the story by far and as she experiences visions of the Mescenaki Nation we are experiencing first hand her own confrontation of her peoples history as well as ours. Reece Wallace unfortunately for me was eclipsed by the enigmatic Chief Kinew whenever he was on the page.

This is a subtle, well written horror story with a strong root in reality, both historically and in modern day. The horror itself does to tend to lean more towards gore and body horror but the true horror is having to face on the page what true struggles the Native American people experience still to this day. Police brutality, alcoholism, sexual and institutional abuse are just some of the topics covered in the book and are presented very graphically. Moncrieff is definitely not allowing the reader to look away and ignore these very relevant issues that are an everyday problem that we as a white audience, would usually try to ignore.

Overall I really enjoyed this book, especially the topics it discussed and I enjoyed the ending despite the little pacing issues I discovered. If anyone is curious as to the relationship that the Irish and the Native people of America share to this day I do beg you to click here and read for yourself.

★★★★/5

About the author:

J.H. Moncrieff J.H. Moncrieff’s City of Ghosts won the 2018 Kindle Book Review Award for best Horror/Suspense. Reviewers have described her work as early Gillian Flynn with a little Ray Bradbury and Stephen King thrown in for good measure. She won Harlequin’s search for “the next Gillian Flynn” in 2016. Her first published novella, The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave, was featured in Samhain’s Childhood Fears collection and stayed on its horror bestsellers list for over a year.
When not writing, she loves exploring the world’s most haunted places, advocating for animal rights, and summoning her inner ninja in muay thai class.

Thank you as always to Anne and Flame Tree Press for sending me a free copy of this book to review in my own words and thank you also for reading!

Blog Tour: The Influence by Ramsey Campbell

Today I’m kicking off the RandomThingsTour blog tour for The Influence by Ramsey Campbell.

‘The wall felt chill and gritty, yet it made her think of softened flesh. She recoiled before she had time to gasp, but the sensations clung to her, swarmed through her.’

Synopsis: Queenie is the ageing matriarch of the Faraday family,and even death can’t break her hold over her eleven-year-old granddaughter Rowan. She’s buried with a locket that contains a lock of Rowan’s hair and by the time anyone sees what effect the ghostly influence on Rowan is having, it may be too late for her.

This was one creepy read. I have never read any of Ramsey Campbell’s work prior to this and I’m very intrigued now. The writing is haunting while managing to create a disctinct atmosphere that makes me feel like I’ve actually been to Wales.

As mentioned, the book moves between Wales and Liverpool but the most distinct locations are the Wales and the house the novel takes place in. Queenie is such a bitter malevolent person that her spirit has infected the house. I’m referring to when she is alive by the way. The house is riddled with damp and rot with barely functioning electricity. I honestly hated every second of being in it, it reminded me of a mildewy house left to die while still having someone live there.

I am still in awe of the atmosphere that Campbell has created. When we are in Wales during the course of the novel its described so well I felt like I was there. Especially when Campbell is describing the damp weather and the rain that seems to cling to everything. There are so many creepy moments that take place in the dark in drizzly, wet conditions during the winter months and that is the weather at the moment in Ireland so it felt very real.

Queenie is a prime example of how age and time are nothing against the sheer iron will of someone who refuses to be triumphed by anything or anyone. In this case it’s literal death. I think everyone knows a woman who would remind them of Queenie, I know I did while reading and honestly put me in the same position of Rowan. I felt a very personal connection to what Rowan was going through with trying to figure out where she fit between her parents, her aunt Hermione and Queenie. I was very like Rowan at her age so I felt very protective of her during the whole book.

Something I felt that was an indication of the strength of Campbell’s writing was if the haunting was taken away, I would still find this book very creepy. Between the atmosphere, the unsettling house and just the sheer tension within this family I would still be very unsettled reading this.

Outside of the supernatural, Campbell brings up some very scary real life things that also add to the dread. There is a relative who is a paedophile , moments of claustrophobia and children with terminal ilnesses. Campbell manages to hold up a mirror to our society so we can see the true dangers out there for children. Legacy is a big theme in this novel and its influence (see what I did there?).

I highly recommend this book to any horror fans. This book was originally published in 1989 and won several awards back when it was first published and now has been adapted for Netflix in Spanish.

★★★★/5

About the Auhor:

Ramsey Campbell was born in Liverpool in 1946 and still lives on Merseyside. The Oxford Companion to English Literature describes him as “Britain’s most respected living horror
writer”. He has been given more awards than any other writer in the field, including the Grand Master Award of the World Horror Convention, the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Horror Writers Association, the Living Legend Award of the International Horror
Guild and the World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Thank you once again to Anne and Flame Tree Press for this fantastic opportunity and for sending me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Blog Tour: Slash by Hunter Shea

Good evening and welcome to my stop on RandomThingsTours blog tour for Slash by Hunter Shea. This is so exciting as this is my first blog tour and I have a second today also!

‘He felt like a character in a Scooby Doo cartoon where their legs spin and spin before actually propelling them forward.
We’re not some meddling kids and that’s not an angry old man in a mask, he thought.’

Synopsis: The Wraith is back.

Five years after Ashley King survived the infamous Resort Massacre, she’s found hanging in her basement by her fiancé, Todd Matthews. She left behind clues as to what really happened that night, clues that may reveal the identity of the killer the press has called The Wraith.

With the help of his friends, Todd goes back to the crumbling Hayden Resort, a death-tinged ruin in the Catskills Mountains. What they find is a haunted history that’s been lying in wait for a fresh set of victims. The Wraith is back, and he’s nothing what they expected.

I’m so happy I got to read this book in October. What a perfect time of year for a good old fashioned slasher tale. I stayed up late to finish this and that is always a joyous experience for me that a book will keep me from sleeping.

The location of the Hayden Resort was very suspenseful and set up perfectly for this isolated tale of people trying to survive against a faceless killer. The scale of the resort made the story even more tense since the Wraith could literally be anywhere on the resort, from the ice rink to the bungalows people used to stay in when on the resort. It also presents a fantastic opportunity for some gruesome scenes between the Wraith and it’s victims. I also found there to be echoes back to the Overlook Hotel in places but that might be totally personal.

Shea writes very realistic characters which I feel helped this book in a huge way. The book gives us very little time with Ashley however so when her tragic suicide happens we don’t get much time to develop attachment to her. Todd is understandably trying to cling to every details of Ashley’s essence which leads him to make some questionable decisions. There is a moment however where he goes on a podcast that I feel would be something I would do in his place.

The other characters are reassuringly intelligent and very varied. I think one of the most infuriating things that happens in horror movies are because people who up to a point make very normal decisions suddenly throw caution to the wind and just do stupid stuff. They also all have very distinct personalities, especially Sharon, who is a total badass.

I can’t not talk about the Wraith. As a villain, he is quite frightening and you can’t feel safe at any time. He does have a quality that some famous horror movie icons where he seems unstoppable without reason and just keeps on coming. I felt like we got some good background about him as well as a killer who was satisfying. The Wraith is ruthless and some of the deaths he gives some of the characters are quite brutal and gory. I loved it.

However one of the things I liked most about this book was it’s awareness of the Final Girl trope and how damaging it would be in reality. I strongly recommend if you are interested in horror reading the source book and the writer who coined the term ‘Final Girl’ so you understand the roots of the name. The idea of the Final Girl is empowering in terms of film theory and discussion. If in a world of social media as Todd mentions, people who glamourise serial killers can do more harm than good.

Thank you very much to Anne and Flame Tree press for providing me with this opportunity and a copy in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for reading!

★★★★/4

About the Author:

Hunter Shea is the product of a misspent childhood watching scary movies, reading forbidden books and wishing Bigfoot would walk past his house. He doesn t just write about the paranormal he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself. He s the author of over 25 books, including The Jersey Devil (Pinnacle) and We Are Always Watching (Sinister Grin). Hunter s novels can even be found on display at the International Cryptozoology Museum. The Montauk Monster was named one of the best reads of the summer by Publishers Weekly. He was selected to be part of the launch of Samhain Publishing s new horror line in 2011 alongside legendary author Ramsey Campbell. He s an avid podcaster and can be heard and seen on Monster Men and Final Guys every week. Living with his crazy and supportive family and two cats, he s happy to be close enough to New York City to see the skyline without having to pay New York rent. You can follow his travails at www.huntershea.com.

The Shining- Stephen King Review

Sometimes human places, create inhuman monsters.”

Good evening and happy October! My apologies for being away from here, I had to socialise. Yes, a book owl like myself went outside and socialised with real people. Now I get to review one of my favourite books of all time which I finally read on audio and loved very much.

Jack Torrance needs a break. Recovering from alcoholism and the loss of his job as well as almost losing his wife, Jack is offered the position of winter caretaker of the grand Overlook Hotel. However Jack’s son Danny is a special child, Danny has ‘the shine’. The shine tells Danny things. And the shine has told Danny something bad is coming. Something big at the Overlook Hotel.

Another beloved Stephen King book that I first read at 16 and have loved ever since. This is my second time reading The Shining and I listened to it on audio. Scott Campbell is a great narrator who manages the cast characters perfectly and really maintains the suspense throughout the story.

This book is the perfect closed circle horror story and is definitely one of King’s best written works. The sheer isolation of the location is very overwhelming that really affected me as the reader. The hotel is very high up in the mountains and closes for the bitter winters so there is no getting out. Once the snow hits, no moving. We don’t get extreme snow in Ireland so this alone unnerves me a bit.

Jack Torrance is a fascinating protagonist, a very flawed character with some Stephen King tropes thrown in and that manages to be very unique. He struggles very heavily with his addiction that has in turn affected his family with which he is also struggling. This book deals heavily with domestic abuse and the effect it has on families so definitely steer clear of this if you are affected by any of that. Jack Torrance is a thinly veiled disguise for King himself, a writer struggling with a drinking problem and trying to care for his family is a common theme but Torrance is the best written ideal of this trope.

Danny Torrance is the true main character of this story. Danny is a hugely powerful child who utterly adores his father despite past incidents. The whole notion of ‘the shine’ is explained very well to readers through Danny’s experiences with visions, feelings and mild telepathy. It works really well for the reader to experience the way the shine differs between people and how it affects someone who has it through the eyes of a child since the reader is learning about it like someone who is growing up with something like this. I also really like Wendy Torrance and Dick Halloran. Wendy is a strong as nails woman who loves her husband but will burn the world down for her son if she needs to. Dick is another character with the shine who reassures Danny he is not truly alone.

And how could I not talk about the Overlook Hotel? The place is absolutely terrifying. One of my favourite horror tropes is ‘location as the antagonist’. The Overlook itself is unsettling for one reason only. Noone knows how it became like this. There are theories throughout the book as to what caused this abstract evil to take over the hotel but its never clarified. That is ultimately the most unsettling aspect of the supernatural forces in the story.

The various things the hotel does to terrorise the Torrances are truly sinister. I’m not going to spoil the actual incident for anyone since I think its the most terrifying moment in the book but there is a scene involving the elevator which operates on its own sometimes that literally had me pausing while listening to the book and looking behind me to be sure I was alone.

October is the perfect time of year to read this book and I obviously love this book very much but one thing has to be said. This book was published in 1977 and has a lot of the racist, homophobic language that was very common and “okay” in that time. This book didn’t bother me at 16 but now at 26 I can see parts of the book that are not so up to date.

If you love suspense, creepy locations, domestic thrillers and just scary as fuck stories then definitely try this. The physical and the audio book are both great. Rereading my favourites is always a fantastic experience that I recommend to others but this book holds up better again on reread. Definitely a good time of year to read a lot.

★★★★★/5