Customer Reviews


27 Reviews
5 star:
 (9)
4 star:
 (9)
3 star:
 (7)
2 star:
 (2)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Creepily good
I like Chris Priestley's stories. He is really good at setting the scene and his descriptions are spot on to create strong atmospheres. Most of his work fits into the horror genre and definitely with a strong Gothic feel.

This book is Priestley's own take on the 'Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner', by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It is full of tension and some terror as...
Published 27 days ago by P Campbell

versus
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars (3.5 stars) A straightforward re-telling of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner in prose
A boy goes to sea with his uncle - but when the uncle shoots an albatross which has befriended their ship, horrors descend...

This is described as a `reinvention' of Coleridge's poem but it seems to me to be a straightforward re-telling. Priestly frames the previous narrative by a brief prologue and epilogue, and re-orients the story so that it is told by the...
Published 14 months ago by Roman Clodia


Most Helpful First | Newest First

5.0 out of 5 stars Bleak, compelling tale, beautifully written., 28 April 2014
By 
A. I. McCulloch "Andrea" (Co Durham) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Dead Men Stood Together (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Chris Priestley has a real gift with language, The Dead Men Stood Together is a beautifully crafted book. It opens with a glimpse of what has happened, an elderly tramp returns to his homeland with a shadowy companion, and then we read of the events that led to the tramp becoming a vagabond.
With Coleridge's Rime of The Ancient Mariner at its centre, this is a bleak and imaginative tale of what led up to the events of the poem - and then a flight of imagination with spectral events following. It's one for older children - 13 and above - and adults who enjoy a little Gothic horror may well enjoy it too.
The lyrical and descriptive language used throughout chimes perfectly with the atmosphere created in the original poem. Not an easy, comforting read - perhaps not one to be read before bed, but instead in the garden on a bright sunny day, if nightmares are to be avoided.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars what a find!!, 30 Dec 2013
By 
David Spanswick (Brighton United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Dead Men Stood Together (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Not only is this, for me, a superb retelling of a poem that has haunted me since I first heard it read when I was about ten and lured me into the chilling world of the supernatural but has also introduced me to a new writer who has a fabulous back catalogue that I can now plunder and bring a glow to the winter's chilly nights

There is a current trend particularly in children/YA literature to revisit tales of old re establishing the Truth of Story by telling and retelling, re evaluating and putting a modern psychological spin on established legends and folk tales that have helped children explain the complexity of the world around them. Bravo, say I. Each generation needs to invest in and re embroider these classic tales that have been bequeathed to us. Chris Priestley obviously has a pedigree and belongs to a tribe of writers who, undaunted, go to their sources and find new and exciting ways to update these tales of old.

There is little point in being critical or accuse these writers of plagiarism as stories evolve with the retelling, indeed the very future of our language depends upon such activities.

I endorse this book, unreservedly as a superb retelling of one of the classic poems of literature
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3.0 out of 5 stars Okay YA retelling of THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER, 1 Dec 2013
This review is from: The Dead Men Stood Together (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
An unnamed boy lives with his widowed mother in a seaside village. One day his uncle - a sailor - arrives at their house. His tales of adventure and foreign lands entice the boy to join him on a ship heading for Japan. But things soon go wrong and when the ship's captain decides to head home, the ship's thrown drastically off course by an awful storm and finds itself marooned in a becalmed sea of ice.

As the crew struggles to survive hope comes in the form of an albatross whose visits are welcomed by the crew as a good omen. So when the boy's uncle - in a fit of madness - kills the albatross with his crossbow the crew's fury is such that not even the boy is willing to stand up for him. Unfortunately low morale is the least of their problems because the bird's death has condemned them all to a fate so awful that death would be a welcome release ...

Chris Priestley's YA dark and gothic novel is a retelling of THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER. However while Priestley does well in depicting the awful circumstances in which the sailors find themselves, the characters are too thinly drawn for the reader to empathise with. In particular the decision not to name the boy makes it difficult to relate to him and he is largely confined to being a witness who at best reacts to events rather than drives them. The biggest problem though is that the uncle remains an enigma whose motives are never fully explained or even explored. Although the book is faithful to the original text it offers nothing new to it and as such, while it's an okay read it isn't a great one.

The biggest disappointment in the book is the depiction of the uncle. He starts promisingly with the boy being warned that he's evil and surrounded by demons and it soon becomes clear that he's a braggart and a coward with a disturbing love for his crossbow. However his relationship with the boy remains shallow because there's little confrontation between them and while I did enjoy the neat way Priestley interlinks their fates it was too little, too late for me.

All in all it's a handy primer to THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER but it doesn't stand as a good book in its own right.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic Tale Re-Told, 20 Oct 2013
By 
The Wolf (uk) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Dead Men Stood Together (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Chris Priestley's atmospheric re-telling of 'The Rime Of The Ancient
Mariner' begs to be read aloud by candlelight on cold Winter evenings.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge's famous verse narrative emerges from the mists
of history largely intact as a young boy takes off to sea with his Uncle in
a spirit of excitement and adventure, only to come adrift in more ways
that one as his emotionally troubled relative kills an albatross for no
defensibly good reason while their ship is trapped in the frozen wastes
of the Antarctic having been blown off course by an almighty storm.

From there to a flat ocean, under an unrelenting sun and delirious nights
where all manner of grotesque creatures twist and turn eerily in the depths,
the scene is set for the Uncle's penance to forever repeat the tale to
whomever is unlucky enough to stop and listen until his last breath is spent.

Mr Priestley's prose is beautifully lucid and respectful to the original work.

Highly Recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars The Dead Men Stood Together, 22 Sep 2013
By 
Keen Reader "lhendry4" (Auckland, New Zealand) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Dead Men Stood Together (Hardcover)
I've read a few of this author's books, and their blend of gothic horror and general creepiness are chillingly addictive.

In this story, a young boy who dreams of going to sea since his father's death leaves home to travel with his uncle on a marine adventure. But instead, after he joins the crew and they set sail, things seem to get slowly worse. What is it about his uncle that seems to draw madness and death after him? As their tale becomes more desperate, the horror becomes more ghastly.

This is great stuff; a story that stands outside the bounds of time, and which fills the reader with the realisation of the timelessness of the tale told. Absolutely fantastic; I will be looking for more of this author's works.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'There was a ship...', 4 Sep 2013
By 
Eleanor (Oxford, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Dead Men Stood Together (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
"The Dead Men Stood Together" begins with a young boy and an old man. They have been wandering for centuries propelled by the young boy's hatred and the old man's compulsion to tell his story, a story familiar from 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner', but which now has a new narrator...

"The Dead Men Stood Together" is infused with the salt of the sea, the superstitions of sailors, and some very nasty creatures. The horror is suitably chilling and I loved the characterization of the ancient mariner. Reading Priestley's book had me returning to Coleridge's poem and allowed me to appreciate just what Priestley had done with it. Nevertheless, this is also an enjoyable novel in its own right.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly horrific story, 26 Aug 2013
By 
Brida "izumi" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Dead Men Stood Together (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Not being familiar with THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER, I cannot compare this contemporary offering to its predecessor. However, even without knowing that classic, I can definitely recommend Priestley's work. This short book has such an effect on you that, long after you have finished it, you will still be thinking of the story it has told.

Horror can be a very difficult genre to get right, especially when a large part of the horror relies on supernatural elements. THE DEAD MEN STOOD TOGETHER is one of those books that has got the pitch just right. Although, in one sense not much happens on each page, the story is so well crafted that it just completely washes over you, seeping into the corners of your mind and imagination.

The story is a simple one; a young boy who lives by the sea is warned by a peer that "The Devil is coming to your house." Regarding the boy as a simpleton, our narrator pays no heed to the warning. So, when his uncle returns to the village, he becomes persuaded to go on a voyage with his uncle to the Far East. As their voyage progresses, the young boy soon comes to realise that he has made a mistake. But the catalyst for his story is when his uncle kills an albatross - after that moment nothing is the same again.

Priestley is an incredible writer. Although I am usually reluctant to compare authors, his style reminds me of Marcus Sedgwick, another writer who I admire. THE DEAD MEN STOOD TOGETHER is horrific but for more reasons than just simple horror. Within this book, Priestley has managed to create simple acts latent with portent and implication - the killing of the albatross is the obvious example, but the killing of a nightingale is also highly significant. Upon its execution, you cannot help but think that the implications of this seemingly innocent act may hold more meaning. And it is this quality which makes a good writer into a great one.

This is a fantastic book. Although Priestley's books are aimed more at young adults, adults of any age should find much to engage them here. Highly recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is the first Chris Priestley book I've read - it will certainly not be the last., 24 Oct 2013
This review is from: The Dead Men Stood Together (Hardcover)
I never heard of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner before I read this book and I deliberately didn't look it up either. Would I struggle with the story or be missing something because of this? No. I don't think I've missed out in any way.

The Dead Men Stood Together is so intriguing. I loved the opening chapter, it pulls you in and you're left with so many questions; Why the hate? What boat? What curse? Of course all of these are answered over the course of the story but that first chapter guaranteed I wasn't going anywhere until I read the whole book.

Both the writing and pacing are highly effective at gripping the reader. I enjoyed the narration style a lot but what really sold me on this book was the atmosphere Chris Priestley creates. I was in the story, unable to leave until I reached the last page and I'm still thinking about it.

This is the first Chris Priestley book I've read - it will certainly not be the last.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Savage and gripping, full of the horror of the original poem, 18 Oct 2013
By 
Schneehase (Norfolk, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Dead Men Stood Together (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a book based on the poem 'The Ancient Mariner' by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and if you get a chance to read the original, it's well worth it - written in an easy rhyming structure and telling the story of a mariner who's doomed to wander the Earth forever in penance for killing a lucky albatross. In the poem and the book, the mariner has to tell the story of his terrible crime and its truly grisly outcome to anyone he can capture and make listen and both start with the mariner stopping a man on his way to a wedding and recounting the tale.
Where the book differs is in having a different narrator. The poem is narrated by the poet, an omniscient narrator and much of it is in the mariner's own voice; the book is narrated by the mariner's nephew who joined him on the ship and shares the curse. The boy is bound to follow the mariner and hear the story over and over again throughout time.
As a result this is not a 'feel good' book but it is powerfully written and really explores the angst at the heart of the poem.
The title is a line taken from the poem and the author uses the poem's divisions 'part the first' etc which makes it even more authentic.
I'm not aware of anyone else having made the poem into a novel, so this is either an original and brilliant idea or I need to widen my reading scope! Either way it's not a story I would want to read when feeling fragile; it takes no prisoners - but it is a very gripping and scary story and well worth reading.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric and wonderfully creepy, 11 Oct 2013
By 
Fiona Millar "cookiemum" (Edinburgh) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Dead Men Stood Together (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
You can count on Chris Priestley to deliver chills and scares which, although aimed at the children's market, aren't watered down. This is a reworking of Coleridge's 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner', and from the start, with the first person narrative (in the form of the nephew of the man fated to shoot the albatross) describing the boy's mysterious uncle and the lure of the sea felt by both the boy and his uncle, the atmosphere is one of creeping doubt and danger.

Priestley does a fantastic job of setting the scene and drawing the reader in slowly and surely. By the time the albatross meets its fate and the sailors begin to feel the full horror of the apparent curse upon them, the reader is fully engrossed in their nightmarish surroundings and events. The characters are well written, the tension and chills kept up throughout, and this will make a satisfying read for anyone who likes their stories dark and spine-tingling. It might well lead young readers to take a look at Coleridge's original masterpiece too.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Dead Men Stood Together
The Dead Men Stood Together by Chris Priestley (Hardcover - 12 Sep 2013)
£8.79
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews