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4.0 out of 5 stars A GREAT NEW ANGLE ON HORROR, 24 Jan. 2013
This review is from: The Hoard (Paperback)
I don't think we are in Kanas any more !!Alan Ryker is not a name I am familiar with, however his publisher Dark Fuse, is a company from which I yet to read a single bad book. So much so that I working my way through their whole catalogue of books. The Hoard hit's the ball right out of the park.

Initially I was hesitant about reading this book as the cover does suggest that this is a zombie novel, so if like myself you are not a fan of zombies please, please don't let the cover put you off. This is a very good book, despite the fact that this is seriously bleak book. I liked how the opening chapters reflected the horror of someone cursed with the obsessive compulsive behaviour that leads them to become hoarders, with the supernatural horror that appears later on in the book.

This is a compelling read, that despite it's bleakness leaves you wanting more, and with a ending that comes out of the left field we will hopefully be seeing a continuation of this story in the future. There is some clever writing on display here, particularly when the narrative shifts the the point of view of a rat. I kid you not folks, as silly as this might sound it actually works rather well. As for the creatures of the hoard, it was a refreshing change to read about a creature that is not you bog standard horror novel trope. The Hoard in question could be described as the Invasion of The Body Snatchers with a side order of The Thing, a good idea that is handled very well.

On the strength of this book, Alan Ryker is a name I shall be looking for in the future. Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars 5 Reasons, 17 Nov. 2012
J. Everington (Nottingham, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Hoard (Paperback)
Five reasons I loved Alan Ryker's new novella from DarkFuse, The Hoard:

1. The story tells of Anna, a compulsive hoarder; in lesser hands such a character would merely be the subject of mistrust but Ryker deals with the theme subtly, showing her actions and their emotional consequences not just on herself but on her family too. The interior of Anna's house, full of junk and grime, is described with clarity and detail, and it is a vivid and original setting for a horror story. Similarly, the wider setting of a Kansas small town is made real to the reader, much like in the author's equally impressive Burden Kansas.

2. It's got a pun in the title. The title!

3. There's a low key start, where the main focus is on the revelation of Anna's hoarding to her family, but when the horror comes, it really comes. The story ends with a deluge of rain after a summer draught, and the change in the narrative feels much like that: foreshadowed by an increase in pressure, but still shockingly sudden and violent.

4.Despite the fact I normally hate any story with a chapter from the point of view of an animal, I didn't hate this one, even though really early on there is a part from the point of view of a rat. *

5.Whilst I'm not sure that any monster in horror fiction can be 100% original any more, the one in The Hoard is at least originally unoriginal - The Thing crossed with The Bodysnatchers crossed with the alien possession of The Autopsy (by Michael Shea), perhaps.

So there you have it.

* I admit this dislike may be slightly irrational. I don't mind books told entirely from the point of view of animals like Watership Down. I just can't stand it when, in the middle of an ordinary narrative, suddenly there's a section where we see events from a Llama's point of view or whatever. Particularly when the animal seems to have human-esque feelings or be 'thinking' in English. **

** I reserve the right to use animal points of view in my future stories should the need arise.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An author well worth watching., 31 Dec. 2013
This review is from: The Hoard (Kindle Edition)
This review is based on an advanced review copy, supplied by the publisher.

As a borderline hoarder myself (like so many of us book fanatics) I was fascinated to see the idea used as the central premise of a horror novel.

Peter Grish's mother, Anna, is a hoarder. She is also the classic "crazy cat lady", sharing a house full of all the accumulated detritus of her life with an unspecified number of cats. There's something else in the house, strange red bugs which carry a parasitic infection. The infected become connected to a sort of hive mind, with a desperate imperative to spread. There's a sub-plot about her other son, who died in rather nasty circumstances, and Anna believes the voices she hears are her long-lost older son. An accident involving one of the heaps of stuff in the house falling on her brings her living conditions to light. She's taken to hospital, where her insanely fast recovery mystifies the doctors. Social worker, Rebecca Shoemaker, is sent to investigate. She tries her hardest to help Peter do what seems to be best for his mother, but things spiral rapidly out of control.
The infection is spreading, and Peter soon finds himself fearing for the lives of his children.

It's a dark, scary novel, occasionally leaning towards the revolting (but, hey... parasites. What else would you expect?)

It's very well-written, with well-drawn characters. If I were to criticise at all, it would be that it's all a bit too bleak from the get-go. Peter and his family already face serious financial problems, due to the failing economy. In fact, no one in the book seems especially happy before things start to go really wrong. I generally prefer there to be a little light in the darkness for the heroes to strive for, but that's just my personal taste.

It has a satisfying conclusion, which leaves things open for a sequel. Despite my reservations, I think Alan Ryker is an author well worth watching.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Watch the Red Bugs, 14 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: The Hoard (Kindle Edition)
There's a potential Hoarder in all you avid book readers out there, so this story was certainly an intriguing concept with a horrific parasitic twist.
Anna Grish is an old lady and a hoarder, she collects and stores everything to the extent that it's a big chore just moving around her house, which has also disgustingly been all but taken over by feral cats (not a cat lover myself so this part repulsed me).

Her Son Pete, who lives close by with his family, regularly brings food over for Anna but she never lets him in the house, always coming outside to collect and give back the tupperware. Ashamed she maybe, a little bit crazy definitely and there's a little red parasite that's going to bring a mountain of trouble to Anna and all around her.
One day Anna is found buried under a heap of her stash, taken to hospital, social services are soon involved and the house built by her late husband is condemned, but all is not right with dear old Anna. For starters she makes an alarmingly quick recovery, her dead son talks to her and she is drawn back to her wreck of a house. She is slowly being consumed by the parasitic infection and her needs become that of an animal or a bug, to increase the size of her nest, infect more people and spread rapidly.

The Hoard is an enjoyable parasite horror, I was invested in the characters and a little surprised by the ending, leaving it somewhat open for a follow on.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A fabulously creepy novella, 4 Nov. 2012
This review is from: The Hoard (Kindle Edition)
This is the story of Anna, and her son Pete and his family. Anna is a hoarder and has lived all her married life in the house her husband built for her. Now she has had an accident and must go and stay with Pete and his family. Her behaviour soon becomes increasingly erratic and Pete fears for her mental health. Then she runs from his house and back to her own and the comfort of her things around her. Then people start to go missing....

This was an interesting subject to base a horror on, probably unique too. It made for compelling reading as we followed Anna's descent into madness and Peter's shame at the state his mother had got into and the fact that he had allowed it to go on for so long. It was a chilling book in places and kept me hooked until the end. Great characters and a unique plot make this an absolute winner.

I received a complimentary copy of this novella in exchange for my honest review.
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