V.C. Andrews "Flowers in the Attic" series has captivated readers for the last four decades. Five books explored the twisted Dollanganger family - Andrew Neiderman became the ghost writer for V. C. Andrews following her death in 1986. As well as writing his own V.C. inspired family series, he has delved into the Flowers series with a prequel and sequel continuation. These reviews are purely based on my opinion and focus on the prequel series.
To say that the mother-daughter writing duo of the worldwide bestselling House of Night series have expanded upon their universe is a massive understatement - with twelve novels, four novellas, a graphic novel and a four-part sequel series exploring an alternative reality and an upcoming TV adaptation in the works - PC and Kristin Cast have been captivating readers for the past thirteen years.
Virginia Woolf’s 1921 shorty story - A Haunted House, is a well written ghost story, with a strong central theme. Whilst it is not gothic, it is clear that the piece has been influenced by Poe, with Woolf’s use of poetic devices and descriptions. This is a perfect example of how Woolf has tried to experiment with genre expectations, whilst not deviating much from her central plot. The themes of love, loss, struggle and connection are explored well in this short story, with a twist on the ‘ghost story’ genre.
A seemingly expects to 'horrify' the audience, and with morbid activity leading to themes assume as frightening. For apparently considered "surreal" use harmless science fiction and fantasy tropes. Any supernatural element to the unsettling is placed unnecessary "classification fiction".
Other than my discussion on the comparisons with “Bird Box” and this Pandemic, I haven’t done anything close to a straight forward book review as I’ve already been wanting to. Well, I never do anything straight forward, so here’s something to think about adding to your reading list, that oddly enough ties in, in a very frightening way, to the isolation we all feel right about now as we continue to more or less shelter in place during this Pandemic.
In our current way of life, it's hard NOT to notice, how familiar it all appears. A cloth must always cover our face in order to survive an invisible monster. The only difference is, we're allowed to see, we just have to be careful what we breathe.
"I love you, Gretchen Lang. You are my reflection and my shadow and I will not let you go."
The first thing that caught me, is the primary character Ze'ev (Wolf), reminds me very much of John Constantine. He's a bit of a jaded todger and its difficult to tell if he's doing this because its a job, or if he in some respect believes in what he's doing. There are tons of fairly stark comparisons between the two, so I won't belabor the point. Needless to say, everything from the attitude to the talk, to the 'film noir' gum-shoe stylization, matches pretty closely.
In order for me to consider an anthology good, it needs at least three solid stories that are worth the purchase. The only exception, my review of the Creeping Corruption Anthology, where I mentioned that The Being by J. M. Striker, was worth the cover price, alone!
Women, girls... they are everywhere, man. They’re in cabins, they’re on trains, they’re in spider’s webs or hornet’s nests. Sometimes they’re gone. Sometimes someone let them go. Sometimes they’re in a group. In this case, there is a woman in a window. She’s not a woman in white or a lady in shadows or a girl who circumnavigated anything. She’s just a woman named Anna Fox in a window.
I first read this book as a teenager because I had found it amongst a bunch of 70s paperback horror novels when I bought Peter Straub’s “The Throat” from the marketplace in my hometown (unfortunately, said book seller no longer is with us, rest his soul). But, my initial copy of Ray Russell’s three-story collection was tattered, torn and definitely second-hand. It was missing the publication page and it was dusty and raw. When I went home, I put down the Straub book and got stuck into the Russell collection almost straight away. It was amazing but it also scared the living daylights out of me. It was absolutely terrifying and a gothic masterpiece. There was an obvious relation to older horror novels and gothic texts in Russell’s attempt at showcasing the more dubious and deceptive side of human nature. But most of all what I liked about it is that when I came to re-read the book, I had actually completely forgotten about what I’d experienced the first time. I had a brand new copy which was published by Penguin and it was immaculate. I remembered reading the book but not what I had thought of it and so, sitting in the back of the car, on my way to the seaside, I re-read the whole thing. I ended up having a massive anxiety attack in the car because of the wide open spaces and since, I have constantly associated the book with being absolutely terrified. The book itself was not the initial reason for the attack but I think it may have contributed. Books can terrify me in ways that films only dream that they could. It just feels far more immersive when it is in a book and there are clear parallels between some of the stories in this book and older, wiser, darker books of our past - like Victor Hugo’s “The Man Who Laughs” and a number of others.
When I first read “The Man in the Picture” by Susan Hill I must have been around thirteen and then, I re-read it when I was about twenty-one. I like doing that with books because you discover things about the book you didn’t realise initially because you were so young. The things I unfolded when I was twenty-one were extreme in the field of psychological torture. It was actually far more frightening the second time I read it than the first. When I first read it, I was on a sort of ghost-story binge and so I was reading things like MR James, EF Benson, HP Lovecraft, Charles Dickens and others. But, in Susan Hill’s works I noticed a more modern gothic with a definite old flavour to it, it is something I absolutely fell in love with when it came to her works and “The Man in the Picture” was one of her newer ones. By then I had already read “The Woman in Black” and “Mrs. De Winter” and so, I was used to her gothic, atmospheric and often terrifying writing style. I would say that her books are best read at night, whilst it is raining, next to a dim lamp or better yet, by candlelight. Top it off with a slight thunderstorm and you might just have the perfect setting in which to read a Susan Hill novel. “The Man in the Picture” is no exception. It is a chilling book that you really need to read more than once in order to really get it.