Yes! We made it through another year and what better way to kick off the new one with my first book reads. Granted, much of them were read last year but hey, who’s counting? First up, a collection of three shorts that’ll put the heebie jeebies up you, and rightly so.
Here’s my Amazon Review of this book, The Little Book of Horrors – Lacey Lane (5 Stars)
You’d think that such stories, condensed versions where everything happens in the turn of a few pages, wouldn’t appeal. That, my friends, is where you’d be wrong. A well-written short story has the ability to give the reader all of the sensations of a full novel and these three little gems are no exception.
The opening story, Karma’s a Psychopath, reminded me of another novel I’d read about revenge not so long ago. This wasn’t about personal revenge though, it was a story centred around one womans desire to exact Karma upon an ignorant, selfish and greedy man exploiting a defenceless animal. The descriptive nature of the text leaves little to the imagination and is suitably gory, often invoking a shudder and the odd under-breath “eeeeeeeeewwww!”. It is a stark reminder to us all to be mindful and respectful to other humans and indeed, other animals on this planet.
The second story, Bloodlust concerns a genre that I have recently begun to explore, so I began this story with the same interest and excitement as I’d done the first vampire genre book I’d read, eager to see where it might go. The story built up nicely and gave me a certain satisfying buzz as the tale wound it’s way to the blood-curdling conclusion. I particularly liked the portrayal of the seductive surroundings, a pole-dancing school, no less and the characters individual names fitted perfectly. This story has some very erotic undertones to it but is written in such a way as the reader isn’t forced into anything crude. The portrayal of Saskia, Tatiana and Anastasia is very convincing as the plot unfolds and I think this story could make a spin off novel of the surviving pairs adventures in the world, and indeed, in love.
Finally, a good old-fashioned monster story, or is it? The Monster Within has a significant nod within the first few lines, a nice touch, I thought. This is a twisted, almost justly deserved kind of story, and proof enough that the best laid plans can have some very different consequences indeed. First rule, know your prey. I liked this tale and the direction with which it flowed right down to the blood-soaked end.
In summary then, three short curdling stories to get you in the mood for fright night. Imaginatively written, each story brings the reader into another world well and allows an easy to follow plot in each case with some well-depicted characters, which is not easy to do in so few words. I really liked this little collection.
Moving on to my second finished read of this year, an epic tale by the seriously talented Mike Billington. This book will captivate you cover to cover if you’re a fan of truly well thought out writing. It is none other than The Third Servant.
And here’s my Amazon Review of this work, The Third Servant – Mike Billington (5 stars)
The Third Servant, indeed.
When I first began this book, the somewhat religious implications of it had me wondering whether I would take to it. How foolish was I to have thought that so early on. We begin with a good character portrayal who comes in the form of Ezra, a seemingly un-worldly young man in a very harsh world. The way that the author narrates the story to the reader has the effect of catapulting them into a world of times long passed, where people revered the Gods of numerous civilizations and the world, for all they knew, was still flat.
This is an epic, and by epic I not only imply great, but also long journey of self-discovery. It is a bounding adventure as Ezra makes his way from one encounter with wisdom to another. Each time, he takes something from such an encounter and learns from it for the future. It is a wonderfully written tale that took me a long time to read, not because it wasn’t exciting, well-written and beautifully thought out, but because of the limitations that I have time-wise and the sheer length of it. Worth every captivating word though and I give a serious nod of respect to the author for maintaining that olde worlde prose in his narration throughout, it really added authenticity to the story for me.
I loved the different characters, the pirate-like boat man being one of my favourites and of course, the brothers. The story encapsulates the notion that people are rarely who they seem, some good and some not so good, but once you look beyond the barriers that we all erect for our own self-preservation, you’ll find those outwardly hostile can turn out to be your very best friends for life. Ezra begins a life journey of enlightenment, in some cases learning the hard way and battling his own consciousness whereas in others, simply being taught the lessons that the majority of us have to learn as we grow, and travel our own pathways through life.
This tale has some very evocative and descriptive scenes, to the point where it is almost possible to visualise the blowing sand, or picture the rag-tag old man, making his way though the parched desert mindful of the young Ezra and already knowing his intent. There are many such scenes where the reader is put firmly in the story, such is the detail given. I found this story to be one that captivated me the more that I read of it and it has certainly opened my eyes to another brilliant indie writer in the for of Michael Billington. It is a memorable piece indeed and shows the good and bad of human nature, the need to survive and the compelling power of the human soul embittering the stark choices that we sometimes have to make. Brilliantly written, this book has kept me entertained for a good couple of months now, on and off and the beauty of it was, that even after a short break in my reading, doing things in my own manic life, I could come back to it and immediately become drawn back into that ancient world as if I had never left it. Beautiful.
That’s it for this edition of QP recommends but do stay tuned as I’m reading constantly now and oh boy! Have I got some crackers coming your way this year, and if you’re really lucky, there might be another from yours truly too, but more on that at a later date.
Happy New Year to you all and thanks for checking in…