Wednesday, August 25

Temporary Monsters by Ian Rogers

"The waiter got killed before he could drop off the bill."

Who wouldn't be sucked into a story with an opening line like that? Jack Ketchum gave a guest lecture - at The Odyssey Fantasy Writing Workshop in 2009 - about the importance of a killer first line. He went so far as to throw a book at someone in order to demonstrate how important it is to get their attention right off the bat. If Ian Rogers had been at that workshop, I can guarantee the would have floored everyone there. I know I was when I opened this chapbook for the first time. And that was only the beginning.

Felix Renn is a private investigator in a supernatural world, and alternate reality where a dark dimension called The Black Lands co-exists alongside our own. Travelling to and from The Black Lands is dangerous - and illegal - but that doesn't stop some of the creatures that reside there from crossing over into our world from time to time.

After a man goes berserk in a posh Toronto restaurant, Felix suddenly finds himself torm between both worlds as he is drawn into a deadly game of movies, murder, and monsters.

That synopsis doesn't even begin to touch upon how great this little, 37 page chapbook really is. The power of Rogers' wit and the imagery that he manages to pack into such a tight little bundle, is much larger and well honed than a chapbook can possibly fathom to contain. It's a shame that the book wasn't longer, that's for sure, as Rogers only begins to touch upon something that begs to be fully fleshed out in a much longer format.

The main character - Felix Renn - is among some of my favorite characters of all time. An anti-hero of sorts, Renn has unquestionable ability to hold his own as life slings crap at him from all directions, while delivering witty and sarcastic remarks pertaining to what is going on in the moment. His one liners are the stuff of a writers dreams, rarely ever axhieved with such perfect timing and pinache. This is only one of the reasons why this story should be turned into a multi book series. Rogers has definitely created an incredibly memorable and interesting character with Renn. With an acerbic wit like that, I doubt anyone would be able to forget him any time soon.

That said, I strongly encourage anyone and everyone to get ahold of this little gem. It's surely an incredible introduction to what Canada has to offer by way of horror authors. You can pick it up from Burning Effigy Press for $8(Cdn), or try to grab a copy at the Festival of Fear - happening this weekend (Aug 26 - 28) at the Metro Toronto Convention Center, presented by Rue Morgue Magazine.

It's should also be noted that another Felix Renn story will be available via Burning Effigy in Sept 2010 called "The Ash Angels" and another in the Canadian horror anthology - Chilling Tales - in March 2011 titled "My Body".

Ian is also currently working on an "X-Files meets Arrested Development" - Sci/Fi Satire, after which he will promptly get to work on a full length Felix Renn novel - lest he be banished to The Black Lands, himself.

Follow Ian Rogers on Twitter, or check out his website. Also, check out The Black Lands website here (coming soon).


Monday, August 23

A Gathering Of Crows by Brian Keene

Brian Keene shows that he is in top form with his latest (and last release) release from Leisure Books.

A Gathering Of Crows not only brings back the fan favorite character, Levi Stolzfus, but also shows that Keene is an ever evolving writer who is poised to take more than the genre by storm, and vehemently claiming modern horror as his own. This is a novel that not only attacks with visceral action and horror, but also hits you in a more emotional place - with a dark, dreadful feeling - that only Keene can pull off this well.

From the Leisure website:

Brinkley Springs is a quiet little town. Some say the town is dying. They don’t know how right they are. Five mysterious figures are about to pay a little visit to Brinkley Springs. They have existed for centuries, emerging from the shadows only to destroy, to kill. To feed. They bring with them terror and carnage, and leave death and blood in their wake. As the night wears on, Brinkley Springs will be quiet no longer. Screams will break the silence. But when the sun rises again, will there be anyone left to hear?

From the beginning of this novel you know that you're in for what is possibly going to be one of Keene's finest efforts. The opening paragraphs are written with such aplomb that I found myself trusting Keene's flow implicitly, and got lost in the story so quickly. This is a very, very fast read, packed with enough Keene trademark characters that it's easy to become increasingly confortable and watch the hours tick away. His writing style is faithful to the perfection that was Dark Hollow and The Rising, but with a more matured and worldly feel to it this time around. To me, Keene's novels are usually a whirwind of satisfying horror, tempered with a certain element of knowledgeable dedication to the horror genre; but this one was much more than that. This is what it feels like to wait for something for so long, and to end up being sufficiently satiated - yet craving more.

The craving for more reveals itself (to me) in the form of the character Levi Stolzfus. Never have I read a character so engrossing, entertaining, and yet so familiar and surprising as the aforementioned Stolzfus. His back story is only hinted at in Dark Hollow and Ghost Walk, but with each appearance becomes something less secret - as evidenced by his appearance in this novel. If you've ever read a Brian Keene novel, you already know what it is that makes this character a fan favorite. If not, really have to get out there and dive in.

As usual, Keene's writing is as tight as hospital corners and as action packed as a frog in a blender. There are moments in this novel where the action slows down, but only for a moment as Keene takes us through very detailed (and incredibly complex) explainations of the mythos involved in so many of his books. Keene obviously does his homework before he sits down to craft these incredible efforts. It's no surprise that the Keene brand is known as on that does not fail to deliver.

As usual, you can find Brian on Twitter and his website, as well as the forum hosted by his website - The Keenedom (registration necessary).

Also, keep a look out for some VERY interesting news in the next few months. As per Keene via his website and Twitter, if you're a fan, you should save $125 by 10/01/10 - and be ready for Maelstrom.

I know I will.


Abolisher Of Roses by Gary Fry

In January 2011, Spectral Press dropped a great little chapbook on us called ' What They Hear In The Dark ' by Gary McMahon. With th...