Book Review: Spinning Hair into Gold by Caitlin Keely Gemmell.

Book Review: Spinning Hair into Gold by Caitlin Keely Gemmell.

caitlin 2When I began reading Spinning Hair into Gold by Caitlin Keely Gemmell, I was immediately reminded of a quote by Wallace Stevens: “The poet is the priest of the invisible.”  I love poems and stories which tell us what we should already know about the world and that is the fact that in reality we still know so little.  Stories which hint and tease at the worlds within our own, of places and people and legends hidden from view perhaps, but visible to those who can see and this is exactly what this collection does.  Each story and poem is based upon a character created by Caitlin for a novel yet to be written.  A character that haunted her despite, or perhaps in spite of, never being fully formed on paper.  They are the glimpses into this story which had to be written and combined into the collection, they give the reader just enough of a hint of what Oriana and her fantastical tale may be, in order to feel compelled to know more.

The collection features several poems and short stories, all about Oriana and her as yet caitlin 1unwritten biography.  Stand outs for me were, ‘Oriana/Weaver of Fate’ a poem reminiscent of Greek mythology and ‘Oriana’s Cottage’ a short story depicting a meeting between a mortal and Oriana, glimpsing into her world of magic before returning to the mortal realm.  Whilst I enjoyed all of the writing separately and as stand alone pieces, they fit together to form a partial image of this mysterious character which enchants and inspires and it is through this collection of individual pieces, through them flowing from one to the other, that the picture becomes clearer and more fully formed.  I for one would love to read Oriana’s story in all of it’s glory now that my appetite has been wetted.

I was honoured to receive an ARC copy of Spinning Hair into Gold by Caitlin Keely Gemmell in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Book Review: The Fearing Book 2, Water & Wind by John.F.D.Taff.

Book Review: The Fearing Book 2, Water & Wind by John.F.D.Taff.

You know those rare books you find utterly impossible to put down? The ones you simply must digest in one sitting regardless of what chores need done or appointments you must keep? Well, this is one of those books. Short, fast paced & gripping this book draws you in and insists you don’t put it down again until you’re done.

fearing2Book two in The Fearing series picks up right where we left off, following our bus of terrified tourists, our love struck teens & of course the creepy Adam who seems to be the only one happy about what is happening with the world.  This book also introduces two new characters in the form of the good Reverend Mark, who brings a little theological perspective to the apocalypse and the mysterious Monday, a young girl who has lost her memory after a head injury but appears to know a lot more than she is letting on.

This book  begins to explore what is actually happening and why, positing two potential theories.  Is this the collective fears of the world merely being expelled from their ‘vessel’ once it became full to capacity as Charles posited?  Or perhaps this is the rapture as hypothesised by Reverend Mark and Monday?  The rapture makes sense as it would explain the distinct lack of corpses laying around, but then why were these people left behind?  They seem like a pretty decent bunch of people, hardly worthy of limbo, but even if they secretly have pasts or reasons to prevent them entering heaven outright, then what about the children?  The baby carried by the butterfly lady or the young member of the Reverend’s flock?  Surely those young souls would be sent to heaven being innocent and unsoiled by the world as of yet?  I am personally drawn to the collective fear theory.  I love the idea of the most concentrated fears being first, the ones held simultaneously by millions such as nuclear war or natural disasters, before the fears becoming more select and specific to the few survivors remaining.  This would definitely fit with what is happening in both books so far.  Could Adam be the ‘vessel’ in question?  He begins book one overwhelmed with fears and anxieties, but as they have become released and acted out on others he has described feeling ‘lighter’ and less afraid.  It was also explain his eery ability to know what everyone fears and how they will manifest.  But if he is the vessel, Pandora’s box unleashing woes on to the world, then who is Monday?

And that brings me to the best part of this series, the fact that it gets you thinking, it gets you theorising, driving yourself crazy trying to figure out what is happening and who will survive.  These books have everything you need in a good horror, believable and most importantly likeable characters with whom the reader sympathises, fast paced and well written action and an enemy that is a threat to all of us, including the readers: Fear itself.  I read both book one and two in one sitting each and I cannot wait to read the third and final instalment in the series…can I have my copy now please?

*Grey Matter press and the author provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.  Thank you to both!

Book Review: The Fearing Book One, Fire & Rain by John.F.D.Taff.

Book Review: The Fearing Book One, Fire & Rain by John.F.D.Taff.

Hello readers, I hope your weekend was as good as mine!  For this week’s blog post we will be reviewing The Fearing, Book one: Fire and Rain by John.F.D.Taff which was very Kindly sent to me by Grey Matter press for a fair and honest review.  Before we get down to it, let’s read that handy blurb to see exactly what it’s about:

fearing cover

Humanity faces a series of catastrophes spawned by a worldwide event that unleashes all of mankind’s greatest fears.
In the American high desert, vacationers returning from a road trip are thrust into a heart-stopping flight from death as they try to avoid a cataclysmic end. In rural Missouri, the lives of a group of high school students are destroyed after their small town is devastated and they’re forced to confront the end of everything they’ve ever known.
And on the eastern seaboard, there’s someone else. An enigmatic man who thrives on despair and embraces all fear. A man with his own dark and sinister goals. Someone who wants to ensure humanity goes out with the biggest bang possible.

At only 98 pages, this is a quick and absorbing read.  As a result, the reader is immediately thrown into the deep end.  The action sequences are still nicely spaced to allow an ever growing momentum towards and answer that the reader never receives in this first book in the series.  What I was seriously impressed with, was Taff’s ability to make a character fully formed and three dimensional in only a few pages and interactions.  He has an uncanny ability of revealing his character’s true natures and in this case, their darkest fears, without it feeling rushed or forced.  I found myself instantly drawn to and simultaneously creeped out by Adam and his dark, supernatural abilities.  I was routing for the teenage survivors Sarah and Kyle’s budding romance and I love the motley crew of elderly survivors aboard the tourist bus, particularly their badass driver Rich.  Despite these characters being of all ages, genders and backgrounds and despite being scattered around the USA, their fates and fears are inextricably linked by the strange, earth shattering phenomena sweeping the country and I for one am DESPERATE to find out exactly what is going on and who of all of these characters, will survive (Please Rich, Sarah and Kyle).

As you can probably already tell, I loved this book.  It is a truly original and exciting read fearing fire and rainwhich leaves you wanting more.  My only complaint would be the fact that the book has been split up into four separate small parts.  I liked the story so much, I want to read it in its entirety and I am a little irritated I have to wait.  Still, that’s a pretty good negative to have thrown at a book and it demonstrates just how well the plot and characters got their hooks in me as a reader and  I have a feeling the other parts will be worth the wait.  I’m giving it 4.5 stars out of 5 ND I am only marking it down slightly because they are making me wait. Book Two: Water and Wind will be released August 20th and is available for pre-order now.

Thanks to Grey Matter Press and John himself for sending me this copy, I genuinely enjoyed every bit of it.  What about you readers, have you read this or any of Taff’s other works?  What did you think?  Leave me a comment below and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog to keep up to date with all my latest articles, books reviews and pieces of original writing.

Five Films that were Better than the Books.

Five Films that were Better than the Books.

Before you slam your laptop closed in disgust and protest the mere concept of a film adaptation being better than the book it’s based on, let me start off by saying that I love books.  I am a book addict, a readaholic and the majority of the time, no film can ever live up to the sheer awesomeness contained within pages.  That being said, there is the odd time an adaptation manages to surpass its predecessor, and in doing so, opens that book and any others by that author or in that particular genre, to a whole new audience.  Whether it is by understanding that the things that work on paper do not necessarily translate onto the big screen (see my review of the original Pet Semetary adaptation) or acknowledging and maintaining the sanctity of the book, these adaptations managed to take a beloved book and create an adaptation that not only honoured its origins, but managed to beat them.  Before we get started, don’t forget to comment which adaptations you preferred over the books they were based on!

1. The Princess Bride:                                                               princess bride

This is one Hell of a book and I love it now as much as I did when I was a child.  How could you not?  It has sword fights, romance and revenge.  Saying that, the film adaptation starring the ridiculously handsome Cary Elwes as Westley, Mansy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya and Robin Wright as the eponymous Princess Bride, took the best features of the book, such as that amazing humour, and ramped it up.  The book for example, contained regular humorous asides from the author Goldman.  The movie maintains that wry sense of humour and introduces two new characters, a Grandfather telling his Grandson the story before bed.  These characters are able to provide the asides, as well as opening the story up to a more family based audience.  This creates a great framing device and draws the viewer in as a book would draw a reader in and we are able to go on the adventure along with these readers as well as the story’s protagonists.  The casting is perfect and each actor genuinely brings their character’s to life.  This movie is fantastic on its own, whether you have read the book or not and I think that may be the secret…to take amazing source material and use it to create an amazing film, not just an amazing adaptation.  Does that make sense?  You know what I mean! lol

2. Practical Magic.                                                     practical magic

Not a lot of people realise that the 1998 movie (man I feel old) starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman is based on a book by Alice Hoffman.  Hoffman is an incredible writer and an atmospheric storyteller.  Her words are a joy to read and I cannot recommend it enough.  Saying that, it  has a lot of difference with its eventual adaptation.  The movie has a romantic aspect the book does not, the aunts feature heavily (whilst they are barely in the book), the book features more on Sally’s children whilst the film focuses on Sally and her sister Gillian and you know the curse they bang on about constantly?  Not in the book.  Surprised?  So was I.  So whilst the movie and book seem to be worlds apart, the movie adaptation captures so many of the books intrinsic themes perfectly, whilst making it suitable for the big screen.  The movie added in a dash of romance, never a bad thing, and ramped up the magic big style whilst maintaining the book’s atmosphere and depth and I will continue to watch it every halloween without fail.

3. Nightwatch                                                             nightwatch

This supernatural urban fantasy depicting the ongoing battle between the forces of evil (Day watch) and the forces of good (Night watch) is written by Russian author Sergei Lukyanenko and whilst I did enjoy the book, it was completely eclipsed (sun pun there for you) by the movie adaptation.  I think that a lot of the books momentum and humour was lost in translation, resulting in a sometimes clunky read.  By comparison, the movie is action packed and despite depicting an ageless war, it is incredibly funny.  The protagonist Anton Gorodetsky is played perfectly by actor Konstantin Khabensky.  The action sequences and special effects are amazing, really bringing the world of the ‘others’ to life.  If you have not heard of it, or its badass sequel Daywatch, go and watch them immediately.  You won’t regret it.

4. The Silence of the Lambs.                                                   silence lambs.jpg

Thomas Harris is an incredible writer who is particularly adept at creating dark and interesting characters and bringing his books to the big screen was always going to be a difficult task (see the original Manhunter for reference), yet the adaptation of Silence of the Lambs surpasses every expectation creating an instant classic worthy of its many accolades and oscars.  But with the exceptional  Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins in the lead roles, was it going to be anything but?  Whilst some of the elements found in the book are missing in the movie, such as the personal stakes for Clarice as she risks her placement with the FBI to continue her investigation into serial killer Buffalo Bill, the film perfectly captures the intensity and creepiness of it’s source material and with a darker ending where Clarice never manages to silence the lambs and feel the peace she craves, it stays with the audience longer.

5. Jurassic Park                                                         jurassic park

I am slightly biased with this particular one, because the Steven Spielberg movie represents such a massive part of my childhood.  I did enjoy Michael Crichton’s novel, but as a book filled with incredibly dark and gruesome scenes, it is definitely intended for an older audience and if the director had stuck with that more violent source material, whilst I think it would have still been a badass movie, it would definitely not have had the same impact as the family friendly version which has firmly cemented itself as a cult classic.  The book explores the core themes such as the ethics behind such scientific break throughs as de-extinction in depth, along with the actual mechanics of the park.  Whilst these are touched on in the Speilberg adaptation, the film is much more of an adventure story focusing on the wonder, excitement and eventual danger posed by the park’s inhabitants.  I definitely recommend reading this one though as it provides a more intellectual insight into the park as well as a more grown up version of the story.

 

Book & Movie Review: Needful Things by Stephen King.

Book & Movie Review: Needful Things by Stephen King.

For the second instalment of my Stephen King book club, my friends and I read Needful Things before watching the 1993 movie adaptation and once again, we discovered exactly why he is the one true King of horror.  So, what is it all about?  The book takes place in the quiet US town of Castle Rock, where a new shop called Needful Things is being opened by the town’s new and mysterious resident Leland Gaunt.  The shop sells curios and antiques which appear to be a steal but inevitably come with a heavy price.  Intriguing right?

First of all, the premise is wonderful.  I love the idea of the Devil being bored and going place to place selling cursed goodies to unsuspecting punters.  The objects in question are needfulalways relatively generic- a children’s game, a baseball card, a glass lamp or silver teapot.  These items hold no significance to anyone other than the intended victim as each item is chosen specifically based on that individuals NEED.  Whether the item reminds them of precious memories, a time they dearly wish they could return to, or offers relief for excruciating pain, the items are irresistible to the intended customer and once you buy, there are no returns.  The entire book is a damning indictment on the materialistic, possession obsessed society we now live in.  Remember when you were a kid and you would beg your mum for that toy, telling her you had to have it because you NEEDED it and she would say no, you don’t NEED it, you just WANT it?  Well, your Mother was inadvertently teaching you how to avoid the trappings of Leland Gaunt and his magical wares.  Every one of us has something we need, or at least think we do and this is preyed upon on a daily basis by corporations and companies selling us rubbish every day. Creams that will make us younger, juices that will give us energy and vitality, clothes that will make us fashionable trend setters, this is the world we live in now, surrounded by adverts and bill boards bombarding us with all these Needful Things.  Mr Gaunt and his little shop of horrors is the ultimate personification of this and it works perfectly as both horror and wry social commentary.

What the book makes clear however, is that while Gaunt may control a person’s need, he cannot control their will.  He has a whole bag of tricks to bamboozle his customers, including putting them in trances, creating elaborate dreams which feel perfectly real to terrible nightmares and warnings which feel even realer, but the customer has to willingly take the item and they have to willingly accept the payment.  We, after all, walk our own paths in life and it is up to us how we choose to do so.  This book is all about temptation.  Just as Satan tempted so many in the bible, Gaunt tempts his customers to sin in order to fulfil those perceived needs.  Some of the sins seem minor, like throwing mud on clean sheets, while others are more serious, like slashing tyres or killing a beloved bed, but all the residents of Castle Rock seem more than willing to pay and in doing so sow the seeds of their own destructions.  I love that King made sure to show that none of us are immune to such temptation, with the most devout and holy rolling Christians of the town giving in as easily as the local drunk or disgraced politician.  Each character has their own flaws, their own personal defects which Gaunt readily exploits. For the lead character Sheriff Pangborn, it is the guilt and grief that he refuses to let go off as a result of the death of his wife and child a year before.  For Polly Chalmers, it is her pride.  It is the residents who acknowledge these flaws and work to overcome them, that survive intact.

needful3For the most part, I found myself feeling little sympathy for the residents of Castle Rock.  After all, they made the choices which led to their grizzly ends and some of them frankly got what they deserved, but there are exceptions.  The young Brian Rusk is just a child and he is the first to not only fall prey to Gaunt’s charm but also the first to realise who or what Gaunt truly is.  His only sin seems to be a childish attachment, a need for a baseball card he has always coveted but being young and naive is his biggest flaw.  He is easily exploited by Gaunt and when he tries to stop, Gaunt changes tactics and uses good old-fashioned fear to control him.  Whilst he made the choices he did and did the not very nice ‘pranks’ requested as payment willingly, all for a measly baseball card, I do feel like his youth and innocence make him incapable of truly understanding the ramifications of his actions until it is far too late.  Nettie Cobb, the local ‘nut’ suffers from severe mental health issues as a result of the trauma from a past abusive relationship.  Again, because of this she seemed an innocent to me and less capable of understanding her actions fully than the other residents.  There are also peripheral characters who never entered Gaunt’s shop, who are caught up in the carnage including several state Police officers.  Unlike the rest of the town’s residents, I genuinely felt bad when they met their grizzly ends.

There are a lot of characters involved in this book, a whole town’s worth, so it can be a little confusing at first trying to keep the names and storylines straight but it is definitely worth persevering.  King paints the perfect picture of small-town life, the kind of place where everyone makes a point of knowing each other’s business but where secrets still dwell.  The characters are fleshed out and often you will find yourself recognising the characters from your own home town. Whilst some of the characters are incredibly sympathetic and you find yourself genuinely attached to them and upset by their fates, the young Brian Rusk and Nettie being the two that broke my heart, for the most part I didn’t feel overly invested in the other characters and I think this is due to the sheer number of them being introduced.  Also, King seems to have a bit of an obsession with children and animals dying in horrible ways and several pets are executed in this particular tome.  You have been warned.  The book has a great pace, slowly and steadily building to that big, final crescendo. Some of the book club found it a little slow in parts, but I think that the fact that King takes his time with the reader at first, gradually increasing the pace and action, makes it a far more gripping read and resulted in me being unable to put it down for the last quarter of the book.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I thoroughly recommend it- definite five stars from me!

Now to the movie…If I am honest, I didn’t have very high expectations for this film.  I needful2have seen a lot of the earlier King adaptations and the movies tend to, well, suck (see my review of the original adaptation for Pet Semetary for a prime example).  I was especially wary of how the movie would edit such a massive novel into a viewable length whilst also maintaining the integrity of the story.  I was also concerned about how certain parts of the book would appear in film format, for example the spider like parasite which is inside Polly’s necklace is perfect horror written down, but on film it would probably come off as silly rather than scary.  Remember the Pennywise spider at the end of the original IT adaptation?  Exactly.  But the writer of the screenplay not only did a good job or whittling down such a heavy read, they were also smart enough to change certain aspects of the story to suit a movie’s format.  The ending of the book was my biggest concern.  In the novel, Sheriff Pangborn is an amateur magician, performing tricks, sleight of hand and shadow puppet shows throughout (it sounds weird if you haven’t read it, but it does make sense in the book).  He realises that Gaunt’s powers come from need and that he uses that need to create illusions and make the impossible real, like objects that transport their owners when touched.  He turns the tables by using Gaunt’s own techniques against him. Gaunt NEEDS his bag, which is now stuffed full of the resident’s souls, so Pangborn performs tricks and puppet shows which become real and alive, just like the forgeries sold by Gaunt.  On paper, this is a great ending.  It is wonderfully ironic and karmic that Gaunt is defeated using his own methods and it makes for a really interesting read. On film though, I don’t see how this could ever work.  Shadow puppets and fake spring snakes attacking the devil on screen would start to resemble some weird sketch show and it definitely wouldn’t be scary.  The film smartly changes the ending entirely, with the town’s residents becoming aware of what they are doing, of the ramifications of their actions and decisions and admitting they were wrong.  They atone and Gaunt is driven out of Castle Rock.  I also like that the fate of Brian Rusk is changed.  A young child killing himself on screen would likely turn a lot of viewers off and I personally prefer a version where he is changed, but alive.  Some changes don’t make a lot of sense to me however, like why the prim and well to do Wilma Jerzyck of the novel becomes a scruffy red neck turkey farmer in the film, but overall director Fraser Heston successfully translates the books core themes and story and I would definitely enjoy it even without reading the novel it’s based on.  Also, on a side note, I now have a huge crush on Ed Harris.

For our next instalment of the King Club we will be reading and watching The Shining.  Why not join us?  Keep an eye on my Instagram to see when we will be watching the film so you can watch along with us and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog to keep up to date with all the latest posts!

 

 

 

Book Review: ‘This & Nothing More’ a collection of Edgar Allan Poe’s work by Ethereal Vision Publishing & Illustrator Matt Hughes.

Book Review: ‘This & Nothing More’ a collection of Edgar Allan Poe’s work by Ethereal Vision Publishing & Illustrator Matt Hughes.

edgar1Hello Readers! For tonights blog post, I am reviewing This and Nothing More, an Edgar Allan Poe collection by Ethereal Visions Publishing.  Now, every horror fan, classics fan and Gothic gal out there has read some Edgar Allan Poe (if you haven’t then do so immediately, because you won’t regret it) so I won’t be reviewing his writing because everyone knows he was a massive talent and I don’t have anything bad to say about his writing (and I never will).  Instead, I am reviewing this edition of his collected works.  I discovered Ethereal Visions Publishing on Instagram and became immediately drawn to their Gothic edginess, the drama of their editions and the stunning Art Deco style of Matt Hughes’ illustrations, so when they offered to gift me their Edgar Allen Poe collection, I was over the moon.  So what is the book like?

This is one of those occasions when a book arrives which you anticipated would be beautiful but then when you actually get it in your hands, it exceeds all expectations.  Frankly, this edition is a work of art and is officially the most stunning book I own.  Let’s begin with the cover.  I am a sucker for Gothic drama and this book is dripping it with.  The beautiful cover illustration featuring that classic skull and raven combination and gorgeous gold embossed writing to match the shining gold page edges (which are so reflective, you can practically do your makeup in them).

Open that cover and it just keeps getting better and better.  Matt Hughes is a real talent edgar2and has created the most stunning and ethereal illustrations I have ever seen.  Every single image perfectly captures not only its accompanying piece of writing but also the atmospheric, haunting nature of Poe’s writing as a whole.  Every single drawing from the loving dedication to his wife on page one, right through to each section title page, is so perfectly drawn and inked.  I adore the muted colour palette of washed out pastels alongside the plain black images which look so lovingly sketched.  I am officially a massive Matt Hughes fan and must see more of his incredible work immediately.  I recommend you follow him and Ethereal Visions publishing on Instagram to see his work in progress and see every drawing coming to life.

The book is divided into three sections: Poems, stories and essays, ensuring the reader gets a wide variety and range of Poe’s work.  The selection itself is wonderful and includes some of my absolute favourites such as The Tell-Tale Heart, The Premature Burial, The Raven and Lenore.  I have never actually read any of Poe’s essays before so it was wonderful to read these, of particular note being A Few Words on Secret Writing.  I feel like this book is the perfect introduction to anyone new to the dark world of Edgar Allan Poe or a wonderful edition to an already overflowing Poe collection, a warm welcome home for his current fans.

edgar3This book is honestly just stunning- I literally have nothing negative to say about it.  If I could frame it and hang it on my wall, I would.  The same team is currently working on an ethereal edition of Frankenstein and I am sooooooo excited to see it.  Whether you are a fan of Edgar Allan Poe and gothic literature, or you are a newcomer to the author and genre this is a must own book.  I am just going to leave you with the immortal words of Edgar Allan Poe: All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream, and this book is positively dreamy! (Sorry, not sorry).

Check out the cover on their edition of Frankenstein and tell me you aren’t gasping?  You edgar4can check out more images of the book or preorder your own copy here.  I know I definitely NEED a copy!

 

Drop me a comment below and don’t forget to follow my blog to keep up the date with my latest book reviews, articles and pieces of original writing.  For now, happy reading folks!!

Book Review: Pet Semetery by Stephen King.

Book Review: Pet Semetery by Stephen King.

Being a bit of a nerd, I tend to gravitate towards nerdy people with similar bookish and horror loves and my geeky friends didn’t disappoint when they suggested a Stephen King book club.  It started with Pet Semetery.  The new movie was to be released soon and my friend suggested we all read the book and watch the original movie before we all visit the theatre to see the new adaptation and we enjoyed it so much, we are now reading a new Stephen King book every month and watching its screen adaptation (and also eating a ridiculous amount of snacks while we do it).  So, expect regular instalments of the King of horror on my blog in the future.

petsemetaryPet Semetary follows the Creed family as they move to Ludlow, Maine for a new job and a new life.  Unbeknownst to them, their house backs onto a Pet Semetary, a harmless plot where the local children bury the many animals killed by the many, many six wheeler trucks driving through the towns main road.  But beyond there is a scared Native American burial ground, a dark place with supernatural powers and dark intentions.  When you bury your dead there, they come back to life, except the thing that returns isn’t them, it’s a shadow of who they were, a dark and twisted version of who they used to be.  When the youngest child of the Creed clan is killed on that same busy road, the toddler’s father Louis Creed decides to see what happens when a human is buried there.

I haven’t read a lot of King and it’s been years and years since I last did and this book has reignited my love and adoration of his writing.  It was in a word amazing and reminded me exactly why he is considered the King of horror.  The story is a slow burner, gradually building in tension and suspense until the violent conclusion.  It’s one of those stories when you can see exactly where it’s going, when you know it won’t end well but you still find yourself praying for a happy ending that will never come.

To be honest, I found it quite difficult to read at some points, which again is testament to King’s writing abilities.  I have a child not much older than Gage and to read the graphic details of his death, his funeral and his resurrection stirred emotions in me that cause so much anxiety and fear- what if something happened to my child?  What if she was killed?  Would I survive that?  It was tough going at times and at one point I even considered skipping those particular chapters, but I didn’t and I’m glad I didn’t because it made the horror and brutality of the ending so much more visceral.  King perfectly depicts that utter and inconsolable anguish that is only felt by a parent who has lost a child, a feeling I pray I never have to experience.  The book feeds into that fear all parents have, that something could happen to their little ones.  They could choke, they could fall, they could get sick or hit by a car and I have had those thoughts.  I have been the parent worrying about their baby.  The need to protect them and keep them safe is the most prominent and forceful need I have ever experienced and I am aware it will continue now for the rest of my life.  In that way, this book, despite being supernatural, has a horror element that is real and identifiable for so many readers such as myself.  That fear is only enhanced and fed by the other more otherworldly elements and produces some real moments of anxiety and unease in the reader.  I found myself wondering what I would have done in Louis’ place.  Would I have taken my child to that dark and unnatural place despite the warnings?  I found myself unable to answer.  I love my daughter and part of me thinks a poor imitation of her would not be the same, plus if there is a place beyond this one, surely I wouldn’t want to take her from that or force her to suffer in some way to satisfy my own selfish grief?  But there is a small part of me that relates and understands Louis Creed’s pain and grief and wonders if a tiny piece of your child is better than them being absent completely?  I know that Louis didn’t really have a choice in his decisions, with the semetary manipulating and controlling him, so the debate is slightly moot, but it’s an interesting question to ask ourselves nonetheless.

I love the references King made to his other books, talking about Jerusalem’s lot and quoting the now infamous line from The Shining, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”  I love the idea that all of his stories are all contained within one universe and it will be fun to hunt those little Easter eggs in the book club’s upcoming reads.  I find myself wondering whether Louis’ daughter Ellie has The Shining, her psychic abilities an important part of the book.  I found all of the characters to be believable and relatable, even the ones that I found irritating – I’m looking at you Rachel.  I love the books overarching theme and message relating to death.  Fearing something so inevitable is a foolish and life wasting thing to do.  Death is natural, it’s coming for all of us and on some occasions it can even be a good thing, as is repeated several times throughout the book, there are worse things than death, “Sometimes dead is better.”

My club and I found ourselves debating various elements of the book afterwards, the true sign of a really great read and I would be so interested to hear your thoughts.  We wondered whether Pascow was the first victim of the Semetary.  Louis’ colleague Steve Masterton says that this death was the start of a dark and mournful period with several people dying in quick succession afterwards and Louis himself says that everything starts to go wrong after this tragic moment.  But if that’s the case, if he was a part of the Semetary’s nefarious plans, why did Pascow’s spirit try to warn him?  Why did he reach out to Louis and Ellie?  I personally believe Pascow’s death was unrelated and the fact that Louis had tried to help him and had been there as he passed on, prompted him to try and help Louis in return.  In death he could see what was coming and he wanted to stop more death, but as a mere unrelated death and a soul which has moved on from this world, he cannot influence, he can only advise, something mentioned by Ellie towards the end of the book- he cannot interfere, he can only warn.  I do believe however that the Semetary steered Church, the Creed family cat, towards the road just as it did Gage.  My friend had another interesting perspective on Gage- that the poor little boy was always destined to die young.  After all, the kid in his two short years has had more near death experiences than Doctor Who.  He was suspected of having encephalitis, he swallows a marble, he develops a terrible bout of pneumonia and Bronchitis.  Maybe this kid was destined to die and the Semetary merely took advantage of his impending death.  Interesting thought.

Another theory batted around was that Jud, the Creed’s elderly neighbour, was kept young by the semetary as a way to ensure a new set of victims.  The fact that Jud seems younger than his years is alluded to throughout the book and indeed, the comparison of his athletic and healthy body to his arthritic ridden, sickly wife just further emphasises his own good health.  The only times he does seem a little older, is in the moments when he talks about the semetary or when he is dealing with death and towards the end of the book, as he is no longer needed since Louis has taken the cemetery’s bate, he begins to seem so much more his own age, with aches and pains described after a little gardening.

The biggest question we debated was whether the semetary wants ANYONE it can get or whether it deliberately chooses specific people.  At the end of the novel, it tempts and draws Steve Masterton only to let him go as soon as Louis and his wife’s corpse are over the deadfall. This implies to me that Steve wasn’t who it wanted, it was just a way to distract Steve until it did get what it wanted- the Creeds.  After all, Louis and Rachel’s lives have both been heavily touched and influenced by death.  Louis was raised by his undertaker Uncle, working with him at his funeral home and then later became a doctor, a person whose entire job is to battle and prevent death.  Then there is Rachel, whose sister Zelda suffered from spinal meningitis and whose tortured and painful death she had to watch, alone as a young child, something which scarred her for life and caused a deep psychological fear of all things death related.  Then there is Jud and the other locals who had buried their animals there.  The semetary didn’t come for them the same way it came for the Creeds.  It’s an interesting theory and if true I would love to know what particular traits it yearns for in its victims.

What do you guys think of my theories?  Have you got some of your own?  I would love to hear them so comment with your thoughts.

Overall, this was a suspenseful, anxious inducing and emotive read and it’s one I thoroughly recommend to any horror fan.  It is a definite five out of five from me and a book I won’t forget in a hurry.

Next up, our club will be reading Needful things, and you are welcome to join us in our King book club for a read along and watch along.  Keep an eye on my Instagram (@bookishmarie) to keep up to date with the dates of both the book club and viewing of the Needful things film.  Also, keep an eye on my blog for my next King related post which will be coming soon, this time the movie review of both the original and new adaptation of Pet Semetary and a comparison between the two.  In fact, why not subscribe so you never miss a book review, article or piece of original writing?  You know you want to…after all, life is short!!