November 25th, 2014

book wraith

Book 205: The Quickening by Julie Myerson

Book 205: The Quickening.
Author: Julie Myerson, 2013.
Genre: Horror . Ghost story.
Other Details: Hardback. 274 pages.

Rachel and Dan want to go somewhere hot in January. Recently married and expecting their first baby, they decide on an island in the Caribbean. Why not turn it into a honeymoon, Dan says? A holiday in paradise. It ought to be perfect. Except that, for Rachel, it's not. Things take a sinister turn as soon as they arrive. As furniture shifts and objects fly around, as a waitress begs her to leave and a fellow guest makes her increasingly uneasy, Rachel realises everything she holds most dear is at stake and nothing is quite as it seems... - synopsis from UK publisher's website.

This is part of a series commissioned by Hammer, the former horror movie company, in which contemporary authors were invited to write short novels along the lines of the classic horror films that Hammer was famous for.. So much more old-fashioned chills than the modern trend for more visceral horror.

Myerson played to the strengths of the tropical island setting. A seeming paradise but with just the hint of sinister goings-on that increase as the story develops. While I felt its climax left far too many issues unresolved I still felt Myerson delivered an entertaining, creepy tale.
Midnight Beast

Book #51: Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Number of pages: 531

This is, to my knowledge, Stephen King's first sequel to one of his earlier works (aside from books in his The Dark Tower series). So, this book is a belated follow-up to The Shining, and feels like a bit of a gamble.

Thankfully, Stephen King doesn't attempt to write something vastly similar to the plot of the predecessor, which had Jack Torrance slowly going crazy in the Overlook Hotel, and instead focusses on Danny Torrance and his "shining" psychic ability.

The start of the book picks up immediately after the first book ended, with Danny having freakish nightmares induced by the Overlook's Room 217. The book then skips forward to Danny (now Dan)'s adult life. Echoing Jack in the first book, he becomes an alcoholic, but eventually sorts his life out and becomes "Doctor Sleep", and with his cat he provides comfort to dying patients.

Curiously though, the whole Doctor Sleep part has almost nothing to do with the book's main plot that introduces a bizarre race called "The True Knot", who can be best described as vampires. The whole concept behind this idea is that a lot of people have the same "Shining" as Dan Torrance, but when they die they give off "steam", that the True Knot feed on. When I read this plot synopsis, I had to re-read it several times to make sure I had understood.

The book introduces a new character, Abra, and in his typical style, King starts with her birth and early childhood, where she is seen to levitate spoons in the kitchen, and inevitably it turns out she has the shining, and that the True Knot are after her so they can feed of her steam.

Inevitably, the book brings her and Dan Torrance together, with her psychically writing messages for him on a blackboard, and the book draws towards an inevitable confrontation with Rose, the leader of the True Knot.

As I continued to read this book, it was apparent that a lot of the stuff was happening inside peoples' heads, and the book was full of characters trying to get into the minds of other characters, using telepathy and even controlling each others' bodies. The only problem I had was that sometimes it got a bit confusing, and the climactic battle felt anti-climatic, and almost rushed.

Most of this book was great, if not classic King. I loved the way that it made me care for the characters easily, with the relationship between Dan and Abra. I found it interesting that at times, even the True Knot seemed almost sympathetic, just by how much they seem to care for each other. Although I wondered if there was some deliberate ambiguity, Rose was made out to be a truly terrifying character, mostly through the notion that her face opens up revealing a tusk-like tooth. The very description could give someone nightmares.

Overall, a decent sequel, though inevitably not as good as the original.

Next book: Only When I Laugh (Paul Merton)