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The House of Lost Souls
The House of Lost Souls
by F.G. Cottam
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.21

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sound, 21 April 2008
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Such is the current wretched state of supernatural fiction - all but buried beneath an avalanche of chick-lit vampires and girly horror tat (thanks Buffy) - that any above average addition to the genre is always welcome.

Cottam's tale of hauntings and demonology is no masterpiece but it is, for the most part, an intelligent and understated work that manages to keep the pages turning whilst avoiding the cliches of the genre - except for the now obligatory appearance of the overexposed Crowley. Unfortunately, like so many thrillers, supernatural or otherwise, it stumbles at the climax, which is a shame because the journey there is an intriguing one, containing some nice twists and turns (well I didn't see them coming) along the way.

One thing that struck me was its remarkably unflattering portrait of Dennis Wheatley (about whose life I know almost nothing) - unflattering, in fact, to the point of libellous, I'd imagine. Perhaps Cottam knows things that we don't.

If, like me, you're gagging for some adult-orientated supernatural fiction then you'll probably enjoy reading this book - there's not a vampire to be seen.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 23, 2009 9:34 PM BST

The Terror
The Terror
by Dan Simmons
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.69

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Monster Lite, 3 April 2008
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This review is from: The Terror (Paperback)
I was a little hesitant about reading this book, not being a geat fan of historical novels and having been left not particularly impressed by the only other Simmons novel I've read, A Winter Haunting. Generally speaking though, I found this to be an interesting and entertaining read, which, considering it's the best part of a thousand pages and mostly set on an immobile ship is someting of an achievement. Only the epilogue, which was a bit obscure and mystical for my taste, disappointed.

The nature of the story, which takes place over a number of years, and its isolated setting mean that a certain ammount of patience and commitment is required by the reader - not because its boring but because the plot requires the necessary time and detail to reveal itself in a realistic and believable manner. It's as far-removed from the Dan Brown style of smash bang wallop no-time-to-breathe story-telling as you can get.

A word of warning though: this is not a book about a monster - it's a book about a polar expedition with occasional guest appearances by a monster. If you're expecting The Thing you'll be disappointed.

If, like me, you were completely ignorant of the Franklin expedition then this book is also something of an education. Although highly fictionalised it nevertheless inspired me to investigate the factual events that inspired this novel.

Cloverfield [DVD]
Cloverfield [DVD]
Dvd ~ Lizzy Caplan
Offered by CP UK And Global LTD
Price: 2.66

6 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Well.............the monster's not bad., 13 Mar 2008
This review is from: Cloverfield [DVD] (DVD)
Not since the Blair Witch Project have I watched the closing credits of a film and felt so thoroughly ripped-off. The opening 15 minutes, which consists of camcorder footage of a partyfull of pretty twenty-somethings talking about absolutely nothing, is as grim an opening to a film as any I've seen. I've been tempted to walk out on many films during the last 15 minutes but never during the first.

It gets better - but not much. The much-publicised scene of the decapitated Statue of Liberty is much-publicised for a good reason - it's the only arresting scene in the film. From then on we just follow the unexciting quest of a few of our pretty twenty-something party survivors as they attempt to track down the girlfriend of one of their number, all the time trying to avoid a bafflingly-indestructible monster and its unimpressive offspring.

Ludicrously, we're expected to believe that their entire quest is being filmed (by the geeky one, obviously) on a camcorder. The death, the grief, the trauma, the running away in terror, all of the remarkably boring bits - even being more-or-less eaten by the monster - nothing is considered unsuitable filming material by our geeky friend. Throughout the film I kept wondering why one of the others didn't shove the camera down his throat - or elsewhere.

Annoyingly, this aspect of the film is presented as being incredibly innovative despite the fact that it's been used in the aforementioned Blair Witch and many other films and TV shows almost to the point where it's become a cliché. But that's Cloverfield for you - a film without a single new idea, right down to the supposed-to-be-shocking but actually entirely predictable final shot. So don't believe the hype. You will of course, just like I did.

The Raw Shark Texts
The Raw Shark Texts
by Steven Hall
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.62

2 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Impenetrable, 22 Feb 2008
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This review is from: The Raw Shark Texts (Paperback)
I tried, really I did, but after dragging my way through 200 painful pages I finally threw in the towel. If anyone has the slightest idea what this book is about, send me a postcard.

The Man in the Picture: A Ghost Story
The Man in the Picture: A Ghost Story
by Robert Harris
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brief Encounter, 3 Jan 2008
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I read this over Christmas and ideal festive fiction it proved to be, being very much in the M.R.James mould. Creepy, atmospheric and............concise. I'd have loved a bit more detail, a little more back-story for the painting for instance , and some more information about the villainess who's rather a vague and thinly-sketched character. Just feels as if it could do with a bit more meat on its bones. Nice while it lasts though.

The Queen of Bedlam
The Queen of Bedlam
by Robert R. McCammon
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.42

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars King of Fiction, 3 Jan 2008
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This review is from: The Queen of Bedlam (Paperback)
It was a great day for fans of quality fiction when Mccammon came out of retirement to deliver the splendid Speaks The Nightbird a couple of years back. Happily it wasn't to be a one-off as Mccammon has now given us this very worthy sequel.

Queen of Bedlam, like its predecessor, follows the exploits of young legal clerk Mathew Corbett. Now living in early 19th century New York he becomes involved in the hunt for a serial killer known only as the Masker. As with Nightbird this premise is merely a stepping stone to a far more complex tale which culminates in a brilliantly tense and gripping finale. Along the way Mathew becomes an employee of a fledgling detective agency, a post that draws him into the machinations of an unseen master villain, Professor Fell. This briefly-mentioned character is one of the most intriguing aspects of a very intriguing tale, hopefully one who will take a more prominent role in future episodes.

Mccammon came to prominence as a writer of all things fantastic - vampires, aliens, telekinesis etc - but his abandonment of such things has not, in any way, lessened his ability to grip the reader; far from it. This is a door-step of a novel but when you've finished it you'll be left wanting more.

Full Dark House: (Bryant & May Book 1)
Full Dark House: (Bryant & May Book 1)
by Christopher Fowler
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Something Different, 16 Nov 2007
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Detective stories aren't really my thing but this one certainly caught my imagination. Basically, it's Phantom of the Opera in wartime London investigated by a pair of novice detectives. The spirit of the Blitz is evoked very well, with great detail and a real sense of being there. The plot is intriguing and the characters are both interesting and appealing - I could imagine the two 'tecs being played by a young Alec Guiness and John Mills. If you're looking for a mystery with a difference, and a lot of charm, then you'll certainly enjoy Full Dark House.

Doctor Who - Destiny of the Daleks [DVD] [1979]
Doctor Who - Destiny of the Daleks [DVD] [1979]
Dvd ~ Tom Baker
Price: 5.69

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK.......ish, 1 Nov 2007
Although Destiny has a rather poor reputation, when viewed with impartiality it's seen to be not entirely without merit.

Most notable is the direction - this was, I believe, the first time a Steadicam had been used on Who and director Ken Grieve puts it to good use, prowling around with it, creating the sort of dynamic compositions and camera movements that would have been prohibitive with standard equipment.

Another plus is the incidental music - there isn't any. The exteriors are accompanied by an almost imperceptible drone that, combined with the bleak landscape (the oft-mocked Doctor Who quarry is actually a perfect location for this story) creates an effective sense of menace. When compared with the horrible tinny synths that would blight 80s Who this low-key approach is like manna from Heaven.

The script, although unremarkable, is serviceable and the acting is generally good. In fact, if you can ignore the Movellans, Destiny is a tidy story. Unfortunately it's impossible to ignore the Movellans.

Colossal Youth: Expanded Edition
Colossal Youth: Expanded Edition

5 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wake Me Up When It's Over, 3 Oct 2007
How to describe this album? Well, try to imagine a really bored and depressed Sarah Cracknell backed by a Rolf Harris Stylophone.........for 40+ tracks (except for the numerous instrumentals - so that's just the Stylophone). This isn't the worst album I've heard, nowhere near, but it's definitely the least enthusiastic - it's like audio prozac.

A lot of people love this album - and you may also - but if you're not familiar with it, I'd strongly recommend that you try before you buy.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 15, 2013 5:14 PM BST

Doctor Who : Ghost Light [DVD] [1989]
Doctor Who : Ghost Light [DVD] [1989]
Dvd ~ Sylvester McCoy
Price: 7.99

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mental As Anything, 3 Sep 2007
What to make of Ghost Light? When it was originally broadcast I hated it but watching it again after all these years I find my animosity has dwindled - to a degree.

The plot? God knows. Something to do with evolution, assassinating Queen Victoria and a dark secret from Ace's past. Or something.

"Restraint" is not a word that could ever be associated with Ghost Light - much of the acting is horribly OTT (Sylvia Syms is a notable and welcome exception) and in combination with the bizarre plot it sometimes resembles a deranged, drug-fuelled pantomime.

Good points? Well, it's certainly original - the makers could never be accused of treading water. And unlike atrocities such as the Two Doctors, Ghost Light does at least work some of the time.

The very best thing about Ghost Light, however, is the way it looks. Much of late 80s Who was horribly over-lit, making the sets look even cheaper than they were. But Ghost Light is beautifully lit, and the sets are wonderful - it really does look, and feel, like a creepy Victorian mansion.

Ghost Light hints at greatness - with a more coherent script and a more restrained approach it could have been rather special but as it stands it's an interesting but, ultimately, failed experiment.

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