I used to feel bad about these catch-up posts, but I've actually come to like them. There's a definite appeal in getting straight to the point and talking about my reaction to the text. What's more, I have a lot going on right now, not the least of which is trying to clean/fix/sell our house while looking for a new one, which means my free time is severely limited.
If not for these catch-up posts (which have been generally well-received), I'd have to give serious thought to putting the blog on hiatus for a few months, and I'd rather not go that far.
The Feast of All Souls by Simon Bestwick
This was a decent, old school horror novel, complete with supernatural scares and creepy kids. It was genuinely unsettling at times, and that's exactly what I look for in a horror novel. I loved the depth of background behind Alice's house and mystery of the town surrounding it. Not all of the supporting characters worked for me - sometimes the small town quirkiness felt forced - but they played their roles well.
Most importantly, the villain here was genuinely evil and suitably menacing. There weren't a lot of surprises surrounding him (horror fans will find the story predictable at times), but I will admit that the ending pulled a few twists that I didn't see coming. Complex and creepy, this is definitely worth a read.
Eric Olafson, Space Pirate by Vanessa Ravencroft
The premise of this sounded fantastic, and the early reviews were all overwhelmingly positive, but I honestly couldn't get beyond the first few chapters. Something about the style of writing clashed with my brain. I suspect it was meant to sound quirky and odd, but it just came across as unpolished and awkward. Try as I might, and I even skimmed a few chapters deeper into the story, I just couldn't find my way into the text. Like I said, it has some good reviews, and it was an Inkitt 'Story Peek' winner, so don't let my experience discourage you, but I just couldn't finish this.
The King's Tournament by John Yeo Jr.
With the promise of "a rogue, a gorgon, a lusty centaur woman, a barbarian, a deformed lunatic, a professional henchman, a disgraced aristocrat and a beautiful slave girl," I went into this with some rather high hopes, and I'm pleased to say I enjoyed it accordingly. It's a rather simple tale at its heart, with a grand tournament at its heart, but there is a depth to the characters and their backstories that lends it significance.
Personally, I found Gorman (the henchman) and Terrance (the rogue) the most entertaining of the lot, but it was Oira (the gorgon) and Cyrus (the lunatic) who intrigued me the most with their tragic stories and unorthodox role in such a grand tournament. Overall, I'm pleased to say the story was actually deeper and more developed than I expected, a legitimate fantasy, rather than just the pulp adventure I assumed was before me.
Dead on the Bones: Pulp on Fire by Joe R. Lansdale
Much to my disappointment, this was another DNF collection for me. I've never actually read any of Lansdale's stuff, despite my best intentions, so this seemed like a perfect entry into the pulp side of his world (which interests me far more than his more popular Hap and Leonard tales). With influences ranging from Burrough & Howard to Poe & Lovecraft, this should have been a perfect read for me, but everything I read fell flat. They were dry, humorless stories that simply tried too hard to recapture that classic sense of pulp. I found myself bored, and struggling harder each time to pick it back up and try another story, until I finally gave in an accepted that it wasn't for me.