Welcome to Woofer's Lair. Curious as to what you will see here? Well, for the most part, you will find book reviews, maybe the occasional movie review, and if you are lucky, you might stumble across one of my own works in progress. If you like what you see or what read, and even if you don't, please feel free to leave your comments. As I am somewhat new to blogging, all of your constructive feedback is appreciated. Have fun and thanks for stopping by.
Monday, April 26, 2010
Students aren't the only ones who look forward to summer vacation. Teachers are just as excited as the school year comes to a close, and Gage Healy, the main character of Brandon Ford's debut novel Crystal Bay, is no different. Gage has become disillusioned with life as a teacher, and he seeks to pursue his life-long ambiton -- becoming a published writer. The only thing standing in his way is life -- his job, his wife, all the distractions that coming with being married and owning a home. He seeks to leave it all behind so he can devote 110% of his energies on the novel he knows he has in him. And as the school year comes to a close, that is exactly what he plans to do, much to his wife's disappointment.
On his way to Crystal Bay, the vacation home of his youth, Gage makes a stop in a roadside dive for a bite to eat and stretch his legs after the long drive. His attention is drawn to an exquisite creature by the name of Amanda. Even after he leaves the bar, she preys on his mind. Is it more than coincidence that she turns out to be his neighbor when he arrives in Crystal Bay?
From the beginning, he knows he's in trouble because their relationship quickly escalates from neighborly to sexual in the blink if an eye. While being overwhelmed with guilt, it is not enough to say no to Amanda, who, as it turns out, seems to be his muse because after every sexual encounter, the creative juices flow copiously. But Amanda has a secret. A darker purpose. Will Gage wake up to the danger he is in and escape her clutches, or will he fall victim to the evil within?
For a first novel, I was surprised, and I really shouldn't have been, but recent experience with "first novels" had me fearing the worst. I am happy to say that I truly enjoyed Crystal Bay; I couldn't put the book down. Brandon Ford has created characters that you come to care about, and you can sympathize with Gage as he takes his trip on the wild side. You know he loves his wife, but the muse can be seductive, and his desire to succeed as a writer is his weakness. What you find yourself hoping as the story progresses is that his love for his wife is strong enough to overcome the lure of seduction.
With that said, I must also admit to a bit of disappointment because I found myself wanting more, and it wasn't delivered. There's a scene early on between Gage and his parents. I was getting the feeling as the scene unfolded that there was something unspoken going on, like maybe Gage's mother knew more than she was letting on. She was so dead set against Gage's trip to Crystal Bay, and it seemed to go beyond that "think about your wife and what you are doing to her." Was there more to it? Was she aware of the darkness of Crystal Bay? I also wanted to know more about Amanda. I can't say too much without giving anything away, but there was too much mystery surrounding her. I wanted more about her past and when it wasn't delivered, I couldn't help but feel disappointed and cheated.
I think Brandon Ford holds promise as a horror author and I look forward with anticipation to his future works, which I will be picking up, and I urge you to do the same.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Welcome to the Nightmare World of "Cup" Coffey.
In 1985, a young girl drowns. But she does not die. Well, she does, but she is resuscitated. And she brings something back with her when she returns to the world of the living.
In 1986, a young man burns his mother and attempts to kill his little sister.
In 1974, a young man overhears a secret and dies while running to reveal that secret. And under a cloud of scandal, another young man is sent home from a prestigious private school.
In 1986, the dead reach out to a young teacher, and in a panic he strikes a student. Under a cloud, he returns home to find he has received a phone call reminding him of a promise he made on the night a young man died. With nothing keeping him in Washington, DC, he returns to Pontefract, Virginia, only to find that the dead are coming back to life.
The town of Pontrefact, Virginia, is a close-knit community, with most of the residents being descendant of the town founders. They also guard a dark secret. Why are the dead of Pontefract returning from the grave? Are they seeking justice for a crime that lay buried in the town's past, or is it something that pre-dates the town's founding?
I'll admit I haven't read that much of Douglas Clegg's work. My two previous forays in Clegg Country left me teetering on the fence, as one of the books I loved, and the other one left me with a WTF? moment, and I wasn't sure I wanted to take the trip again, for fear of being disappointed when I arrived at my destination. Early on in Goat Dance, I was getting that feeling that I wasn't going to like where I was heading, but I continued down the road, and by the time I reached the end, I was glad I hadn't turned back.
The beginning of Goat Dance left me feeling lost. The jumps in time constantly had me going back to the beginning of the chapter to find out "when" I was, but once the past caught up with the present, it was smooth sailing. The disturbing thing about this particular trip is that the manifestations of the awakened evil are a perversion of love. The Darkness knows your past, knows the subject of your deepest love, and perverts it, twists it, using it against you to get what it wants. The familiarity is such that it leaves you wondering if the evil is an external force or something that comes from within, which leaves the characters (and the reader) wondering if what they are experiencing isn't some sort of hysteria brought about by a deep-seated sense of guilt and loss.
While I don't want to judge Clegg's style on Goat Dance alone, and my two previous trips into Clegg Country are too far in my past to compare it to, I did find his narrative style to be bare bones. The description was minimal, but it worked in this particular work, as the story unfolds in an isolated town in the middle of winter and you are left with a feeling of desolation and despair. I am interested to see if his other works carry on with the same concentration on story with minimal description, which wouldn't be a bad thing.
So after Goat Dance, am I still teetering on the fence? Kind of. But in a good way, as I will need to read more to make a definitive decision, which I plan to do - I have several more of Douglas Clegg's books waiting in the wings. Would I recommend Goat Dance? Most definitely. It's a chilling tale that will leave it's mark on you.
Friday, April 9, 2010
Well, I wonder if it is saying something that the next item in my literary menu centers around another road trip? And I couldn't think of a nicer set if traveling companies that Cal and Niko Leandros and Robin Goodfellow. . . and Robin's mummified cat, Salome. Well, I could do without that cat. Really.
For those not familiar with the Leandros Brothers (think Sam and Dean Winchester, only sexier and snarkier), you are missing out and you need to correct this social faux pas like yesterday. So promise me you will head out to your local bookstore (or log on to Amazon) and pick up Rob Thurman's books, the first in the series being Nightlife. Well, what are you waiting for? Oh, you want to hear about the road trip.
The past comes back to haunt Cal and Nick when an ancient crone of their mother's gypsy clan approaches them with a job. Seems somebody has stolen something that belongs to her, and she wants it back. Since Abelia-Roo last stunt almost got Niko killed -- just a little tidbit of information she forgot to mention -- the brothers are prepared to tell the hag to shove it until she informs them that if they do not get back what was stolen from her, the world as they know it will cease to exist. A bit melodramatic? Maybe. But also true. You see, Abelia-Roo's clan was responsible for guarding Suyolak, a sociopathic anti-healer who has been locked in a coffin for centuries. He is also known as the Plague of the World. If he is released, the disease he could spread would wipe out the world's population in a matter of days. Being old, Abelia-Roo sometimes tends to forgets to mention things until it is too late. This time it slips her mind to tell the brothers that the seals her clan have placed on the coffin to keep Suyolak contained are weakening.
As if this isn't enough, Cal's dirty little secret has been exposed -- he's been getting it on with a sexy she-wolf on a fairly regular basis. This is enough to warrant a death sentence with the Kin, a Mafia-type group made up entirely of werewolves. Since Cal isn't entirely human himself, the insult to the Kin is all the greater. Until they can find out the Kin's intentions, they figure it best to take Abelia-Roo up on her offer. Joining the brothers on their road trip is Robin Goodfellow, a randy puck who has entertained fantasies of getting Niko into bed. Rafferty returns, as does Catcher, Rafferty's cousin. Rafferty is a healer, the best that they know, and they are bother werewolves. Well, Rafferty is a werewolf. Catcher was, but now he is stuck in wolf form thanks to Rafferty's attempts to heal him when he was younger. The healing worked to well, and now Catcher cannot change back to human form. Rafferty has made it his life's ambition to find a cure for his cousin. Also joining our motley crew is Delilah, Cal's lupine main squeeze. Delilah's intentions are questionable; does she come out of sense of loyalty to Cal, or is she tagging along hoping to find an opportunity to kill Cal, thus reinstating her in the Kin's good graces. Does everybody survive this road trip to Hell? You'll have to read and find out.
With Roadkill Rob Thurman has delivered the goods once again. It's an edge of your seat thriller that provides quite a few good laughs -- and some tears. There are twists and turns you won't see coming (and some you will), some you may not be happy with if you are a fan of the series, but they are inevitable. All of the characters (those who survive) go through changes, as the road trip is semi-symbolic of the trip we are all on, and as on any trip, discoveries are made. We may not like everything we find out, but we accept it and we deal with it. And we go on. Thurman deals with these discoveries in a believable and realistic manner.
If you are caught up with the series but haven't yet read Roadkill, I can't encourage you enough to pull up a seat and take a little trip. If you aren't familiar with the series, I highly recommend you start at the beginning with Nightlife, then move on to Moonshine, Madhouse, and Deathwish. If you are a fan of the CW's Supernatural, you will love this series.