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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well...I'm not even sure where to begin
So first of all, this book took me absolutely MONTHS to finish. I'm not a slow reader so this was an odd sensation for me. Please don't assume that because it took a long time it must have been a bad book, the book was great, there are other reasons.

Each chapter in this book tells part of the story from a different characters point of view, eventually blending...
Published 13 months ago by Holly "Azuma" Hodson

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Truly horrifying
After reading Newman's Anno Dracula on several occasions, when the chance to read and review a publisher's copy came up, I jumped at the chance. However, after reading it, I'm almost at a loss as to how to approach it in review. So, let's try this:

The Good: Newman has a wonderful style and is to my mind one of the foremost writers of the horror genre. He...
Published 12 months ago by gutenbergsson


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Truly horrifying, 19 Aug 2013
This review is from: Jago (Paperback)
After reading Newman's Anno Dracula on several occasions, when the chance to read and review a publisher's copy came up, I jumped at the chance. However, after reading it, I'm almost at a loss as to how to approach it in review. So, let's try this:

The Good: Newman has a wonderful style and is to my mind one of the foremost writers of the horror genre. He takes the time to fully develop his characters, and make you truly want to root for them in the face of whatever horrific situation he's devised. His thought process is truly twisted, so don't expect your "run of the mill" horror novel. There were moments while reading this novel that I was either horrified, or grossed out, which is generally the intent of horror. The climax of the novel also makes up for what comes next.

The Bad: This is a 300 page novel packed into a 643 page shell. Newman is a master of universe building, but spends so much time putting the pieces in place, it holds back the novel. It took me six months to read this novel. Every time I got fed up and said, "where the hell is this going," I'd put the novel down and read something else until I was ready to attempt it again. There's also some subtle irony in that we don't meet Anthony Jago, beloved leader of the Agapemone cult (and whose name graces the cover) until almost halfway through the novel. There's never really any development of his character, except through brief moments from his past, and even then they're told from the point of view of those around him. We never really get an explanation of what makes this God on earth tick.

The Ugly: There are some truly disgusting moments in this novel, so be forewarned. On the other hand, if you love a good gross out, then this is the book for you--if you're willing to invest the time. For me, I think I'll go re-read Anno Dracula.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well...I'm not even sure where to begin, 6 Aug 2013
This review is from: Jago (Paperback)
So first of all, this book took me absolutely MONTHS to finish. I'm not a slow reader so this was an odd sensation for me. Please don't assume that because it took a long time it must have been a bad book, the book was great, there are other reasons.

Each chapter in this book tells part of the story from a different characters point of view, eventually blending them together. It works pretty well, although it did take me quite some time to get my head round the characters because of this. It also meant that I found it difficult to just pick up the book and read a bit as I found that if I only read a chapter I would forget what on earth had been going on and who it happened to. Maybe that is just my poor memory I don't know. I ended up reading the book in large chunks when I had the time and found it much easier going...

On to the story... It starts of weird and then decides that 'weird' is for babies and goes into night-mare mode. There is so much going on at the beginning I'm still not sure how it ended up being tied together at the end, but it was. I thought it was really well written and absolutely MESSED UP. It is also one of those books you really can't say too much about without spoiling it.

WARNING: If swear words and a lot of weird sex stuff offends you, you probably won't like this book. You're missing out, but there is quite a bit of it...

(Full disclosure: I received this free from the publisher to review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own and are not altered by this.)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best Somerset-set horror I've read in decades, 1 May 2013
By 
James C. Foreman (Hong Kong) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Jago (Kindle Edition)
It's not often that a novel is set in Somerset, with its yokels talking in softly burred accents, and it's less frequent that those novels are apocalyptic page turners. Newman, one of Empire magazine's film critics, took every bad horror movie he could think of and lumped them into Jago. And then he went further, including the Green Man (if you're scared of Morris dancers or forests, that will make it much, much worse for you), the War of the Worlds, children's sick jokes, and much more.

There's few things that made an impression on me the first time round; there was the farmer rutting with the soil of his farm. A sentence like "Farmer Maskell fertilised his fields" tends to stick with you, if you're a teenage boy. Most of the other sexual references (and there's a few, this being a more respectable version of a lurid Shaun Hutson horror) passed me by when I was younger, or I just blotted them out. I'd completely forgotten about the pub full of sick jokes (which is something I remember Will Self doing similar things with in The Quantity Theory Of Insanity), I'd never encountered the Ramones so I wouldn't understand the `gabba gabba' references and somehow I'd forgotten all the religious imagery. The F***ing Hell feels reminiscient of Slither, which appeared in cinemas about 15 years later, but I suppose the collapse of flesh into monstrosity predates that, with films like Society and much more besides.

I suppose it would be surprising if I hadn't forgotten something; Jago is a hefty wodge of a book, and although some things will stick with each reader (the Moebius strip of a plot is probably one of them) there will be details you forget, or just miss in the first place.

With twenty more years of reading horror, it's nice to appreciate some of what Newman was doing. Just like a one-man Cthulhu Mythos machine, he was intertwining the vampire stories and their protagonists, with some of his Somerset Wild West material, with any film he could think of, into a clever (and it knows it's clever, almost irritatingly so) mesh of storylines. Some of the harsher stuff, like the Farmer Maskell subplot, with its body horror, is a bit hard to take, and some bits link together almost too neatly for satisfaction, but the overarching premise, that truth is only visible by pain, is sustained well throughout, and even at the end I was still startled by some of the events. It's nice to read a book where everyone hurts, and the author may care for his characters but isn't scared about killing them when necessary.

I think The Quorum is more enjoyable, and the Anno Dracula sequence more commercially viable, but if you wanted a literary equivalent of a lurid 80s Euro-horror, this would be right up there.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sriking and shocking but not Newman's best, 15 Mar 2013
This review is from: Jago (Paperback)
Originally written by Kim Newman in 1991, Jago still feels fresh. I have really enjoyed his Anno Dracula series and Professor Moriarty and the Hound of the D'Urbervilles. Prior to reading these novels, I was only familiar with Newman as writer for Empire magazine and film buff.

As before, he demonstrates an encyclopaedic knowledge for the horror and film genre. Jago references The Wicker Man, Deliverance, Straw Dogs, HG Wells and many more.

The first third of the novel neatly builds the local legend, the imminent Glastonbury-like festival, a few not-so friendly locals and excitable visitors flooding to the quiet Westcountry village of Alder.

The mysterious and enigmatic Jago is at the heart of it all, yet Newman skillfully manages restraint, keeping him in the background, a strong presence whose tentacles will soon reach everyone and everything.

This is a multi-perspective novel, told from the point of view of Alison, Danny, festival goer Ferg, the mischievous Gilpin brothers and the Maskell family, among many others. Newman is excellent at inhabiting their thoughts and various speech inflections, granted he is their creator, but it is a special talent who can shift so seamlessly and skillfully from person to person in telling their story.

Jago is packed with startling and bizarre scenes, some are comic, and others are graphically horrific and shocking. In fact, it is sometimes so over the top you just have to laugh, taking everything with a generous pinch of salt.

James Lytton is a compelling heroic character and the gifted Susan also helps to keep the pages turning. It is a long novel with an awful lot going on, which may put off some, but I found there were enough supernatural and pyrotechnic shocks to hold my interest.

This new edition also includes some short stories, so you cannot complain of a lack of content.

It is not my favourite Newman novel, but Jago and its powerful and disturbing images lingered in my mind long after I had finally put it down.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Quatermass, not the pits either, 28 Jan 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Jago (Hardcover)
I feel as if I have just finished the best possible example of a genre that's not really to my liking.
Kim Newman has managed to put a human face on what
is usually limned as simply The Inhuman Unspeakable Evil that May Destroy the World, and has set against it a particularly well-drawn set for The Few Who Understand And Must Stop It. He has avoided most of the Dantesque failings of the genre as well (I doubt he's punished more than one or two old schoolmates, and only a few more typical types...).
However, it still reads a bit too much like other novels of the sort---I found myself slogging through the devastation of Folks' Deepest Fantasies Brought To Life for the next good bit of characterisation, or the next good in-joke.
If you've liked Kim Newman's other work, or books of the sort my arch hints would describe, give it a whirl.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not Kims best, 4 May 2014
By 
M. King (Preston, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Jago (Kindle Edition)
After the triumphs for me of Anno Dracula and The Hound of the Durbervilles, there seems to be an appetite for putting out Kim's bottom drawer stuff.

This should have stayed in the bottom drawer; it's a bloated story were the number of pages still doesn't help you care terribly much about anyone and there is far too much going on to really grasp.

The main villain is a woefully under developed character so there is no real depth to the story.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Newman at his best, 14 April 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Jago (Paperback)
If you are a fan of Kim Newman (or Jack Yeovil, whatever), as I am, you will probably think about this book that it is not quite what you expected. The pace of the story is a wee bit too slow and speeds up only on the last two hundred pages. All the things you really want to know stay in the dark, and instead you get to know things about the characters that are not at all interesting. A rather crude mixture of christian myths and conventional horror effects make it difficult to sympathise with them. Still, Newman's style is great, all the allusions to contemporary culture are great, and the imagination is overflowing, and the jokes are... well, decide for yourself...
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars like, crazy, 1 April 2006
This review is from: Jago (Paperback)
not a fan of the dracula stories but this, alongside the quorum, is in my top five book list. which doesn't exist, but that's another story
set in a country village around the time a rock festival is taking place, the scene is set for a local 'talent' (powers akin to 'scanners', except the guy reckons he's the son of god) to go out of control and try to re-enact the rapture. hell for most, heaven for some and a lot of fun for the reader.
kim is at pains to point out that, since these are people's individual fantasies, some people are resistant (usually cos they're in pain, which will help), and to them the scenes will have an ed wood appearance to them. indeed, my favourite line occurs as various monsters are doing battle and the hero manages to utter "great. death is a pussy" as a giant skeleton gets rather too easily swept aside. considering when it was written too (indeed, the main character's thesis being on turn of the century, end of the world doomsday cults etc) it seems rather prescient. maybe it'll be discovered in 2999.
and thankfully, even though we have a 'green man', there's nary a carrot in sight...
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sinister Cult Horror, 7 Mar 2013
By 
This review is from: Jago (Paperback)
Alder is just like any other village, everyone knows everyone else's business and some of the families have lived there for countless generations. To an outsider, life would appear wonderful in this rural idyll, but bubbling just beneath the surface lies a whole host of repressed emotions, violent tendencies and age-old lusts.

Right at the centre of all this pent up frustration and angst is the local manor house, Agapemone, home to Anthony William Jago and his followers. Jago is, as you might expect from the leader of a religious cult, suitably enigmatic. His presence is felt strongly throughout the entire novel, but he doesn't actually utter a single word until around two hundred pages in. Newman really plays up the character's spiritual otherworldliness. He exhibits an eerie stillness, always watching, taking everything in. When he does speak his pronouncements have a hypnotic quality, his loyal flock can't fail to be drawn in by their `Beloved' leader. There's a nicely creepy vibe that permeates his entire being. You can't hope for much better than that when it comes to a villain in a horror novel.

There are a host of other fantastic characters but two really stood out for me.

Jeremy is a young boy whose family suffer thanks to Jago's evil influence. They begin to metamorphose into the stuff of childhood nightmares. I liked the way that the author uses Jeremy's narrative as an opportunity to include subtle references from classic legends and children's fairy tales. Taking the stories of childhood and subverting them into something much darker.

As an aside, it's noticeable that Newman really does love littering his text with as many pop culture references as he can. If you're half as geeky as I am, you'll love it.

The other great character is Badmouth Ben. He is the living embodiment of controlled calculated rage. Ben stomps through the novel dishing out his own unique blend of chaotic vengeance on anyone who gets in his way. Without giving anything away, I think it's fair to say that Ben leaves his mark on everyone that crosses his path. There aren't any hidden depths to Ben he's just out and out nasty.

As the plot progresses things go from bad to far, far worse. Jago and Agapemeone become a divining rod for all the bile, hatred and ill feeling that has built up in the area over many years. Things build to an epic climax as Jago's powers reach their apex when crowds descend on the village for the local music festival.

In many ways, Jago is far more than just a man, he's a metaphor for everything that is wrong with organized religion. Newman's novel explores the nature of belief and how it can control and potentially corrupt.

The horror that takes place in Jago covers the gamut from the psychological, to the physical right on through to the mind-bendingly surreal. Kim Newman certainly doesn't pull any punches with his descriptive imagery. There are a plethora of nasty moments that certainly keeps a reader on their toes. Put it this way, if body horror isn't your thing, there are a couple of chapters that you really will not enjoy. I can't stress strongly enough those lacking a strong constitution need not apply. Be warned there are a handful of moments that some may find unpleasant or even unpalatable. Personally though, I like a little bit of grossness in my horror. There is no denying that Newman takes things right up to the wire on multiple occasions (cannibal sacrifice anyone?), but he still manages to stay just the right side of vomit-inducing ickyness.

How best to summarise Jago then? Well, Newman is pretty sneaky. This is actually a thoughtful exploration of organized religion masquerading as a terribly British apocalypse. The novel was originally published back in the early nineties, I read it back then and I think its aged remarkably well. Though it is very much of its time, the themes that this horror explores are just as relevant today as they were twenty plus years ago. As an added bonus, this new edition also includes some short stories featuring variations of the characters found in the main text. These additional extras are bound to be of interest to any Kim Newman fan.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A shocker! (Shockingly bad that is), 4 April 2013
This review is from: Jago (Paperback)
This book is an absolute shocker, not because it is any good, but precisely because it is so bad: the best way I can describe it is as a bloated and fly-blown corpse, one that should be left well alone.

First. It is far too long (at 650 pages). It could do with a good editor to whittle down some of the excess fat. (I managed to get to page 560 before I decided that life was too short, having spent 2 days reading it.)

Second. It's been done before, by multiple writers: Phil Rickman ('The Chalice' and 'Candlenight' spring to mind); Adam Nevill ('The Last Days'); 'The Wicker Man'; the Left Behind Series, have all done this genre better than Newman, and with far fewer pages.

Third. There are far too many main characters whose perspectives you are expected to follow (and who you need to remember). This is not a great work of fiction and reading it should not be made laborious or confusing.

Fourth. It seems to be set in a confusing parallel time-zone all to itself. It's never made clear when the novel is set - it seems to flit between the late 70s/ early 80s and the present without any logic (that is the main text, not the 'intervals' which intersperse the novel). Interestingly, one of the other reviewes has mentioned that it was originally drafted in the early 1990s (and then presumably got left at the back of a draw where it was left); this may explain the confused nature of the setting, but surely a half-awake editor would have been able to smooth over the cracks.

If this has been properly edited and properly written it might have made a good time-wasting novel for a long train journey, unfortunately in its current form its to time consuming to make worthwhile reading.
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