Kind Nepenthe by Mathew V. Brockmeyer lives up to the claims on its cover in every way. This tale is dark, macabre, terrifying, and suspenseful. And it takes place in California (of course). This is a novel I highly recommend and give it five plus stars with a caveat; it only gets that rating for a selected audience. This is not your YA genre. But for those who like the weird and far out there, this is it, you have arrived. Brockmeyer is very adept at weaving plot and character development with implications and subtle suggestions of what is to come to produce an excellent, fast moving read. With a novel that contains so many dark and twisted characters, the absence of salacious, gratuitous sex is amazing. Whatever sex there is arrives mostly by implication readers have to take responsibility for and look to their inner self-censors.
Laura by Amy Cross came out in 2017. The novel’s Kindle page lists it at 501 pages. Free through Kindle Unlimited; the purchase price is USD 0.99. I am an Amy Cross addict although I cannot read two of her books consecutively. She might be considered by most readers to be a writer of horror fiction but there is also a mixture of crime, thriller, mystery, and psychological genre. I find the content too intense to read more than one of her books per month. Then I read other things and return to her novels for a burst of motivation.
After reading a few pages in Prologue, I could tell I was going to have a problem keeping all the characters and their relationships in mind. Going back to the table of contents helped me with the way the novel is organized. There are 13 parts if the prologue and epilogue are included. Then there are ten parts, each one with a character name as its title. The story involves the fates of six main characters with Laura playing a primary role. Reader confusion begins here. At some time, Laura is a member of the “group of six,” other times in the narrative she is not. This is important to the story. Laura was replaced in the group by Victoria. It doesn’t matter who replaced Laura; the situation is unacceptable to her. As the reader will learn, Laura is vindictive, creative, and out for revenge. She is also dead, a fact that partially explains her estrangement from the group.
I am stuck on this theme for a bit. I am still in a state of shock. This writer expressed it more dispassionately than I can.
Everyone is posting Nazi stuff on Facebook. And the general feeling is one of shock and horror, as it should be.
How can this be, how could this happen, is what all the posts say.
It happens under our noses.
Many years ago I went to the Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany. A beyond chilling experience.
The Jews must have asked themselves the same question.
This is not possible, how did this happen?
More recently I was in Rwanda, at the Nyamata Church. Over twenty thousand people were killed in this church, bludgeoned and burned to death.
‘It could never happen here’ is what they too must have thought.
Before they were murdered.
I remember the Bosnian genocide . I watched it on fucking TV.
I remember the Rwandan genocide. Same thing, live television footage.
And since then there has been Sudan and Yemen and Syria and war and death…
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He knows who has been naughty and nice. He sees when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. Pretty scary stuff, huh? This could be taken to be one of your parents. But in Christian popular culture, we know it is someone else; it is someone whose name is an anagram of Satan. The two could not be more opposite. One is kind with a goal of rewarding everyone who has exhibited correct behavior. The other is evil with a goal of rewarding everyone who has exhibited correct behavior. Further study may be necessary here.
51 Sleepless Nights by Tobias Wade is a remarkable collection of short stories about what the author describes as demons, the undead, paranormal, psychopaths, spirits, aliens, and a few mysteries thrown in. That variety is what makes the collection remarkable. As I read through the stories, I looked for instances of similarities between the selections. I couldn’t find any. Which means the reader can look forward to 51 different themes. This amount of creativity is something I rarely see in literature; I see it more in stand-up comedic or political commentary.
In an earlier post, I mentioned that some readers don’t pay too much attention to book covers. I believe that to be the case with Temp Girl by Stephanie Bond. Her cover with cool tag line invites a reader’s interest. Then there is the other side of the coin. I received an alert from Brendan Detzner about the publication of this short story (it wasn’t described as a short story in the alert). I have been entertained by Detzner writings for a long time and, even more important, they spurred my son’s interest in reading. With a title like Hot Chicks Infected With Stomach Parasites, there was no way I was not going to read it and then post some comments. A provocative title like this dares the reader to ignore it. (Yep, I know about the earlier double negative. Dare to break the rules).
Final Thoughts by Jaxon Reed is a very short story with a very abrupt, definite, short ending. We don’t know the narrator’s name but he won’t be around long enough for us to worry about. He is about to be executed. While the ending is definite, he has some choices about the method. Lethal injection looks like the best bet, the least painless. The firing squad is definitely out. He might get poor marksmen. Doc offered him the guillotine. What?? Why would anyone do that?