Original Short Story & Artist Collaboration: Ashes to Ashes.

Original Short Story & Artist Collaboration: Ashes to Ashes.

Hello Readers and happy Monday! It is the beginning of Halloween week and to get you into the spooky spirit, I have collaborated with an incredibly talented artist, Giada Rose. Giada Rose is a Kentucky-based illustrator and designer interested in the gossamer threads that stretch between magic, nature, femininity, and art. Her work is infused with a longing for the old ways and a love of the seasons, mythology, historical customs, tarot, and folklore. She particularly enjoys fairytales from around the world, and strives with her paintings to create a portal into stillness and a tinge of nostalgia for a magical place and a bygone time. Working primarily with watercolours, she has illustrated several children’s books and is currently creating an illustrated Victorian-style advice manual of fairytale etiquette. I was inspired by the charming, magical quality of her work and this story was the result. She in turn created this stunning image to bring the witchy tale to life. If you like Giada Rose’s work, you can check out more on her Instagram here, her website here and you can purchase prints from her Etsy shop here. Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog to keep up to date with all my latest posts. I have also started my own spooky book tube, which you can find here. Happy Halloween guys!

Ashes to Ashes

T’was a year ago this day when they came for mother. They turned the door to splinters and dragged her out by her arms like she was nought but a doll. ‘WITCH’ they screamed in unison. ‘WITCH.’ They had the wood all cut and neatly stacked and once she was tied atop, they set it alight and turned her to ash. I shed no tears. My mother told me not to. She knew they would come, had hoped it in fact, for death is something we Roberts women do not fear. Her last words were a curse upon their heads, a warning of the death and darkness to come as punishment for their cruel treatment of the women of this town. Innocent women, some were healers who simply remembered the old ways, but many were merely strange or unusual in some way, off from the norm. No crimes had been committed, no one hurt or changed for the worse, they were just the unfortunate ones, unlucky enough to be different. There had been a dozen or so such burnings since I could remember and I was still young, yet, only now had they actually got hold of a witch.

Ashes to Ashes

God’s work, that’s what they called it. But what God would demand such pain and blood shed? None that I prescribe to. My mother taught me the old ways, the ways of mother nature and the balance of the universe. All we give we get back in return, that is the way of it. These God-fearing men with hate in their eyes and rage in their bellies, they were racking up quite a debt and when their time came to pay the piper, it would be a bad, yessir. It would be bad.

I can still hear my mother’s words, as the flames licked her toes, and her face blackened with the soot: “Hear these words men and hear them true, for you have burned your last. The fire next, comes for you.” It was hard to lose her, even though she prepared me so, but I feel her with me in the quiet of the woods and the call of the morning birds. She watches over and waits for my time to join her in the afters.

But today is not my time, no, today is theirs. A year has passed since her spell and the men and women of this township continue to sprout their hatred and bigotry. They have had their chance to seek redemption but none believe themselves wrong, such arrogance. I stood in the court house myself, chains around my hands and ankles, accused of speaking with the Devil, accused of being a witch. My crime? Rejecting a man’s advances. But, this was to come to pass, the prophecy had told so hadn’t it mother?

The town leader, appointed judge, jury and executioner, stares at me with black eyes and asks my plea. I smile then, it unnerves him, I see it. He places the black cloth upon his wig and declares me guilty, my sentence being to burn just like my mother and the other witches before me. I say nothing, I simply smile. No words are required, my mother said enough already.

They march me out and tie me up just like they did her. T’is the same spot and everything, the singed black earth has never recovered since that first burning. Nothing grows here now. They ask for my last words, torches held aloft and I just smile my smile waiting for the flames. They set the torches against the wood, but instead of it catching fire, they do. The flames move up their arms and spread so quickly and burn so brightly I must look away. Those without torches, those who simply came to watch the show, they scream now, running and fleeing like ants in heavy rain. But no one can escape their fates. Their fires burn bright within their chests, light shining out their mouths before it consumes them to. I

close my eyes, the brightness, the smoke, t’is too much for me. I fear it will never end, the screaming, the burning, the heat. But soon, all is quiet.

I open my eyes again, the chains which bound me have broken and I stumble down the wood pile to be met by statues of ash and soot. Dozens of women and men all frozen in their death throes, their bodies turned from flesh to ash. I touch one, t’is Tobius, the black smith, and when I do he falls apart turned only to dust. I feel a wind pick up now, an unnatural wind like nought I have felt before and watch as each statue is blown away, high into a sky, a grey cloud of ash now, coming together, disappearing higher and higher into the sky. I fancy I see my mother a moment amongst that grey wind, along with all the other women I seen burnt. They are smiling. They seem at peace. Within minutes, all have gone and I am left alone in a ghost town.

I pack my bags, taking only what I need and I walk away. This place is too full of bloodshed and heartache to ever be made home again. As I go, I carve a warning into a tree: CROATOAN. It means ‘cursed land’ and will serve as caution to those who may decide to settle here once more.

Huge Halloween Giveaway!

Huge Halloween Giveaway!

Halloween is my favourite time of year.  I love the decorations, the candy, the scary movies, the dark gothic costumes…of course I do those things all year around but now I can REALLY go all out.  In the spirit of Halloween and to spread a little Halloween thrills, I am running a massive international Halloween Giveaway on my Instagram in conjunction with The Alternative Beauty Collective. halloween prize 1Head to my Instagram page @bookishmarie to find out how to enter to win the following ghoulish goodies:

  • Hollographic Ouija Board Makeup pouch
  • Skull tea light holders
  • Skull shot glasses (set of Four)
  • Witch and Wizard mug set
  • Halloween socks
  • Wooden Ouija Planchette
  • Two ‘IT’ enamel pin badges (one saying ‘We All Float Down Here’ and one saying ‘The Losers club.’)
  • ‘The Shining’ Overlook hotel key ring

What are you waiting for?  Head to my Instagram now to enter!!

 

Stranger Things Season 3: 80s Pop Culture Easter Egg Hunt.

Stranger Things Season 3: 80s Pop Culture Easter Egg Hunt.

Who out there is obsessed with Stranger Things?  I know I am and after the latest season completely blew me away, surpassing the previous two seasons for me and becoming my firm favourite, its safe to say that I am a die hard fan.  What I thought would be a fun blog post was to list the 80s references I spotted whilst watching the third season.  Some are obvious, with literal quotes and references by the cast, others are slightly more subtle but all of them added up to a full on nostalgia fest of everyone’s favourite decade.

Baywatch:baywatch

Running from 1989 to 2001, this iconic series is best known for all that slow motion running.  The show was referenced with the red swimsuits of the public pool’s lifeguards, including the poor ill-fated Billy and Heather.  I particularly enjoyed the emphasis on the hunky Billy with his slow motion walks and sexy stares, made all the better with the entirety of Hawkins MILFs ogling from the sidelines.  Not that I joined them or anything, ahem.

 

back to the futureBack to The Future:

Considering much of the film takes place at screenings of this beloved 80s classic, it’s an easy one to spot.  Steve uses his position at Scoops Ahoy to let his young friends sneak in as often as they like and after their escape from the Russian underground base beneath the mall (even typing those words makes my nerdy heart happy), Dustin and co use the screening as a way to blend in with the malls crowd in an attempt to escape their Russian pursuers.  It’s even referenced again at the end by Steve as one of his favourite movies as he tries to land a job at the local video store, complete with his repeated ‘mom trying to bang her son’ storyline confusion.  Given that this film played such a part in 80s pop culture and continues to influence film lovers to this day, it makes sense that it featured so heavily in the shows plot.

Miami Vice:miami_vice

Running from 1984 to 1990, this iconic cop show featured some rather dubious fashion choices.  Cue Hopper’s new ‘date night look’ complete with flamboyant Hawaiian shirt.  Whilst I am not the biggest fan of pastel pattern shirts under expensive suits (with rolled up sleeves of course), if anyone can pull this look of it is the hunky Hopper and his yummy dad bod…that’s right, dad bods are in!

terminatorThe Terminator:

This iconic 1984 science fiction film featuring everyone’s favourite monotoned, one liner pumping, shot gun wielding cyborg, is referenced most clearly by this seasons baddy Grigori.  This muscular, dead pan Russian badass becomes Hopper’s nemesis and stalks his prey with the same slow paced, casual walk as Arnie himself.  Throw in the leather jacket for good measure and we have ourselves a Terminator.

 

Day of the Dead:day dead

George A. Romero’s classic 1985 Zombie movie takes place in a bunker of all places, where surviving scientists and military personnel attempt to find a solution to the hoards of undead, including some rather gruesome experiments…sound familiar?  This is also the first film our young friends from Hawkins sneak into at the Starcourt’s movie theatre where the movies poster is given pride of place.  Throw in the mind flayers possessed, zombie like minions and we can see Romero’s influence clearly throughout.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High:

fast times at ridgemontSeason 3 centres around the Starcourt Mall and truthfully, that busy, brightly coloured shopping experience is reminiscent of many of our favourite 80s classics but none more so than Fast Times at Ridgemont High.  This 1982 movie features many of our favourite teen stereotypes like the virgin, the jock, the nerd and my personal favourite, the stoner played by a young Sean Penn.  Special shout out goes to the pirate costume worn by Judge Reinhold’s character Brad Hamilton whilst working his fast food job and Steve’s Scoops Ahoy sailor costume’s perfect homage to it!

The Thing:thing

The Thing is renowned for its badass and super gross special effects by Rob Bottin and the third instalment of Stranger Things makes multiple references to it.  Not only if there a poster hanging in Mike’s basement, but Lucas even gives a speech comparing John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing with new cola.  Throw in the fact that the Mindflayer inhabits people without anyone realising and prefers the cold and all our nerdy Thing loving dreams have come true.

karate-kid

 

Karate Kid:

Max takes on the BFF role with El in season 3, teaching her about boys, friendship and shopping…basically all the things that make a teenage girl’s heart go pitty pat.  Speaking of which, Max also introduces El to Ralph Macchio aka The Karate Kid and every 80s teenage girl’s poster boy.

Never-ending Story:neverending story

One of the funniest, sweetest and most memorable moments of Season 3 came when Dustin and his (not fictitious) camp girlfriend Suzie belt out the main theme from this classic 1984 children’s fantasy film.  This is a heartwarming moment which firmly cements Dustin as a fan favourite and provides some much needed tension relief at what is an action packed and dangerous episode.   If this didn’t make you want to rewatch this 80s children’s classic, then nothing will.

evil deadEvil Dead

One of my all time favourite horror films and a cult classic, Evil Dead is referenced by yet another poster, this time hanging on the wall of Jonathan’s room.  Billie is also dragged through the empty warehouse by an unknown and invisible force, gripping and clawing at the floor and door frames in desperation, just as Ash is sucked through the portal in the third Evil Dead flick, Army of Darkness.

Jawsjaws

Nasty and corrupt mayor putting money above the lives of their citizens, check.  A reluctant, old school hero facing him down, check. Man-eater on the prowl, check.  Not to mention that direct quote from Hopper, “I can do anything I want. I’m the chief of police.”

 

Honourable Mentions:

Close Encounters of the Third Kind:

Whilst this classic science fiction movie is actually from the late seventies (1977), it close encountersdeserves an honourable mention as it is clearly referenced at the beginning of the series, when Dustin’s toys are brought to life by telepathic Elle.

Every 80s Chick Flick:

There are so many great 80s chick flicks out there like Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club just to name a few (and yes these are all Molly Ringwald movies and Yes I may have a slight obsession with her).  What did all of these great films have in common? A great montage of course.  Whether it is The Breakfast Club dancing through the library or Pretty in Pink’s making her own pink prom dress, no 80s chick flick is complete without a good montage emphasised with a great 80s song choice.  Cue El and Max’s mall shopping spree complete with the perfectly chosen Material Girl by Madonna.

gooniesThe Goonies:

This 1985 movie, a personal favourite of mine, is going in the honourable mentions category because as far as I am concerned, every single season of Stranger Things perfectly captures that adventure seeking, puzzle solving, team working kids film.  A group of nerdy kids, joined by some older teens, go on a dangerous adventure, face up to bad guys and become firm friends along the way…sound familiar?

So that’s it guys, a list of the 80s Easter eggs and pop culture references inside the latest season of Stranger Things, or the ones I spotted anyway.  I have no doubt there are a bunch I missed or am unfamiliar with so let me know in a comment and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog to keep up to date with the latest articles, book reviews and pieces of original writing.

 

 

Unboxing: The Victorian Horror Box from Wick Wish Candles.

Unboxing: The Victorian Horror Box from Wick Wish Candles.

Victoriana1Well, it’s official, you can call off the search and stop the debates because this box is officially the best subscription box I have ever received, EVER.  I may be slightly biased, because I am featured inside this one, well one of my original short stories is anyway, but  facts are facts and this box is basically perfection.  Every item is stunning, everything is packed and presented perfectly and when the spoiler card is essentially frame worthy, you know you’re on to a winner.  If you are a fan of horror, or all things Gothic or Victorian, then this box of wonders brought to you by The Wick Wish Candle Company is basically everything you’ve ever dreamed of.  So, since we have slid quietly into the autumn and as the nights grow darker and the air a little cooler, let’s sit back and peek inside this world of Gothic wonders but beware, as with all things worth having, it is not for the faint of heart…

Victoriana3So what is in this beautiful box?  First up, it being a candle box and all, there are of course the three featured candles.  Keeping in theme with all things Gothic, we have a candle named after the queen of Gothic literature herself, Mary Shelley.  Smelling of cinnamon, blood orange and teakwood, it basically smells like autumn in a candle.  Next up, the bad boy we all fell for in our early teens, it’s the delicious Lestat Di Lioncourt.  He smells of oak moss, incense and graveyard dirt, an earthy scent which entices the recipient to an early grave.  Last, but not least, we have a more recent edition to the Victorian genre with the fabulous Crimson Peak.  This one smells of tea leaves, firethorn berries and bergamot and quite honestly brings be back to the film.

Victoriana2Along with these stunning candles, there is also a Victor Frankenstein dark roast coffee by Mocking Byrd Coffee Company, which smells almost as delicious as the candles which accompany it.  It’s only fitting that Mary Shelley has her dark and twisted Doctor to keep her company.  To stir this delicious concoction, we have a black stainless steel Little Rose teaspoon, because coffee this good cannot be touched by any old ordinary spoon.  There is also two Annabel Lee inspired bath melts by The Witch’s Bath.  These smell positively delightful and I am looking forward to having a gothic style bath, candles lit, bath melts melting along with my stress and worries.

But the gothic goodies don’t stop there.  There are three original and exclusive tarot cards designed by incredible artists.  We have Death by Sheila Goicea, the curator of the wonderful Foals, Fiction and Filigree, The Devil by Allie Surges of Princess Gloom and finally The Lovers by Jackie Powers of Powers of Jac.  Every single one of these pieces is beyond stunning and will 100% be getting framed and hung on my office wall.  There is also a reproduction of All is Vanity by the artist Charles Allan Gilbert in 1892, a picture than genuinely hangs at this moment in my Victorian style bathroom.

Finally, the part I am most excited about…a penny dreadful containing an original and exclusive short story by yours truly entitled The Grave Digger, about, well you’ve guessed it, a Grave Digger in Victorian London.  The responses to the story have been really positive so far and I want to thank everyone for their kind words and support.

This entire box is presented perfectly.  Contained inside a matte black box with a simple sticker denoting its contents, each candle is individually wrapped in black tissue paper and individual stickers saying things like, ‘Ghosts are real’, ‘Gentleman Death’ and, ‘Beware; for I am fearless.’  The spoiler card is designed to look like a mourning card, encased in a translucent envelope and will also be displayed somewhere in my office in due course.  Even the shredded paper placed inside to protect each item is black!  But best of all for me is the wonderful presentation of my story.  It looks so authentic, so truly Victorian, even containing original Victorian product adverts on the back and I want to thank Rachel from the bottom of my heart for creating something so lovely to show off my story…you my friend, are an artist.

If you want to buy any of the incredible items from Wick Wish yourself, you can use my discount code BOOKISH10 to save 10% now.

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.

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!