Friday, June 18, 2010

New Reviews from Harriet

Catching Hell
Greg Gifune; Jill Bauman (illustrator)
Cemetery Dance, Jun 1 2010, $30.00
ISBN: 9781587671913


In 1983 the summer stock season on Cape Cod is over. Three actors and a stagehand drive a 1967 Ford from the Cape to Maine; a six to seven hour drive as a respite before New York City theater or college. On a lonely stretch of I-95 in Maine heading to Banger, the quartet (Billy, Stefan, Alex, and Tory) are hammered by an odd violent storm that comes out of nowhere and seems to attack their Fairlane. Then a bird crashes into the windshield leaving behind blood, no corpse and Billy believing it is the harbinger of death.

They exit in Boxer Hills, population 108. None of the fearless foursome expected anything beyond a small rustic village. Instead they find what appears to be a ghost town stuck in the Truman-Eisenhower Era. They soon learn to escape from Boxer Hills means surviving until the sun rises. This village is where seventeenth century rituals wrought a malevolence that in the late twentieth century still welcomes guests permanently.

This is a terrific horror thriller that starts a bit slow ironically while driving on I-95, but once the quartet leave the Interstate for a rural stop, the pace accelerates into hyperspeed as the protagonists are not just Catching Hell, they seem in hell. Readers will feel they are caught in the middle of this tense horror thriller enhanced by the B&W drawings as Boxer Hills is a Maine version of the Hotel California; once you’re inside, you never leave; the four friends learn the only out is death or survive until the sun rises following a night of evil. Harriet Klausner

Pariah
Bob Fingerman
Tor, Aug 3 2010, $14.99
ISBN: 9780765326270


Around the world in eighty seconds is what the zombie pandemic seemed like to those not bitten. It occurred so fast, zombie became the dominant species on the planet. Humans were food and forced to hide behind barriers. New York City, for instance, contains eight million of these reanimated dead and little pockets of hiding mortals.

In an apartment building in Manhattan, a few souls remain concealed, but are running out of water and food. From windows they can see the supermarket, but zombies hang out on the streets seeking fresh flesh. The besieged group see hope when a female teenage human walks freely while the zombies avoid her. Mona brings food and drinks as she moves in with the adults at 1620 York Avenue, but the danger remains constant.

This is an exciting fast-paced zombie horror tale that grips the audience early and never let’s up as it will remind readers of I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (and to a lesser degree the Will Smith movie). The vivid opening in which zombies walk the streets while humans are locked behind barriers is riveting with an implied social spin as to who owns the neighborhoods. Additionally with civilization collapsed, the humans trapped inside an apartment with no electricity prove horror comes in many shapes and forms as Bob Fingerman provides a taut thriller. Harriet Klausner

Night Myst
Yasmine Galenorn
Jove, Jun 29 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780515148145


With the murder of Marta the witch whose throat was ripped apart and the death two years ago of her mother Krystal, Cicily Walters can come home as her reawakening wolf wants to. She inherits Marta’s magic business. This would mean finally returning to her hometown New Forest, Washington after two decades on the road with mom. Reluctantly, she feels the time is right.

In New Forest, something strange is happening to the magic born. They are either dying or vanishing. The NFPD ignores what is going on to some of the citizens as does the vampire overlord. Worse, Cicily senses a different nefarious shadow lingering as fear owns the Cascades town. Cicily’s friend, Fae prince Grieve tells her to leave if she is smart and her aunt has been abducted and allegedly has become a blood thrall to the vampires; if she still lives. Not heeding Grieve’s advice, Cicily fights back but the fae-vampires are coming for her too.

The first Indigo Court urban fantasy is an entertaining tale that introduces the reader to a world filled with mythological species and magic. Cicily is a solid person who has doubts about coming home after her mom fled town with her as a child and replacing Marta. However, the rest of the cast feels overwhelmed by too much insight into the rules of magic and what each paranormal species can do. Still the opening supernatural war is fun to read. Myst has begun the end of days that will leave her ruling the world. Harriet Klausner

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