Tuesday 30 March 2010

Book Reviews

Thirteen Years Later
Jasper Kent
Bantam Press

Available Now - £12.99 (Paperback)
Review by Brad Harmer

Bonaparte is long dead and the threat of invasion is no more. For Colonel Aleksei Ivanovich Danilov, life is calm. The French have been defeated, as have the twelve monstrous creatures he once fought alongside, and then against, all those years before. His duty is still to his tsar, Aleksandr the First, but today the enemy is merely human.

However, the tsar himself knows he can never be at peace. He is well aware of the uprising fermenting within his own army, but his true fear is of something far more terrible - something that threatens to bring damnation upon him, his family and his country. Aleksandr cannot forget a promise: a promise sealed in blood...and broken a hundred years before.

Now the victim of the Romanovs' betrayal has returned to demand what is his. The knowledge chills Aleksandr's very soul. And for Aleksei, it seems the vile pestilence that once threatened all he held dear has returned, thirteen years later.
Twelve, the predecessor to Thirteen Years Later, was an awesome swashbuckling horror novel that I described to friends, and anyone else who would listen as “Sharpe Vs Vampires”. Thirteen Years Later has taken that angle, but also produced a completely different novel. Darker, more complex, and (disbelieving as I was at first) better.

The change of style was a gamble that has paid off. Drawing for styles as diverse as pulp-horror, historical fiction and noir detective stories, it could have been a bit of a mess - devoid of any entity. Thankfully, this isn’t the case, and the elements all gel together to create something very different and unique.

It’s not a perfect novel – some sections drag their feet for a little too long, and Aleksandr (a major character) comes across as rather flat and lifeless, but it’s still worth the price of admission.

Fans of the original may be a little surprised at the direction it has taken, but by the end, they’ll be grateful for the excellent duology they now have.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Realistic depiction of period warfare. Stabbings, combat, murderising, biting, blood-drinking and staking.
Sex/Nudity: Some mild sex scenes. With boobs.
Swearing: Some strong language.
Summary: Takes the story in a much darker direction than its predecessor, which makes for a bumpy ride, but pays off in the long run. 8/10

The Fog
James Herbert
Pan MacMillan

Available Now - £7.99 (Paperback)
Review by Brad Harmer

The peaceful life of a village in Wiltshire is suddenly shattered by a disaster which strikes without reason or explanation, leaving behind it a trail of misery and horror. A yawning, bottomless crack spreads through the earth, out of which creeps a fog that resembles no other. Whatever it is, it must be controlled; for wherever it goes it leaves behind a trail of disaster as hideous as the tragedy that marked its entry into the world.

The fog, quite simply, drives people insane.

The Fog is a scary, sex-laden, gore-dripping, skull-crushing horror novel. Or, that is to say, it was. The past thirty-five years since its original release have, rather unfortunately, not been kind to it. Its over reliance on scenes of graphic violence, once shocking, are now being delivered to a generation that sees similar kinds of conflict and depravity in video games. Deprived of its shock value, its rather more noticeable that this is basically a 1950s b-movie of a story.

With a scene in which someone is trampled to death by enraged cows.

The story itself is okay, and the sex and violence is still well presented and written, but it just hasn’t aged very well. Some scenes are scary, some will make you wince, but there’s just not enough substance to lift this above average.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Several scenes of explicit violence, murder and gore.
Sex/Nudity: Two explicit sex scenes, some references to sexual deviancy.
Swearing: A realistic amount.
Summary: Once thought of as a horror classic, the years have not been kind to The Fog. It’s still a fun ride, but if you have fond memories, don’t revisit. It may not be as good as you remember. 6/10

The first volume of the much anticipated graphic novel adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight - this first in the four book global phenomenon The Twilight Saga - is out now!

The first of two volumes, Twilight - The Graphic Novel: Volume I contains selected text from Meyer's original novel with illustrations by Korean artist Young Kim. Stephenie Meyer consulted throughout the artistic process and had input on every panel.

Meyer said: "I've enjoyed working on this new interpretation of Twilight. Young has done an incredible job transforming the words that I have written into beautiful images. The characters and settings are very close to what I was imagining while writing the series."

Thanks to our friends at Atom, we've got three copies of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight - The Graphic Novel: Volume I to give away! For your chance of winning one, send us an e-mail to twilightcomicgiveaway@rocketmail.com with your name and postal address before midday on Tuesday 6th April (UK time). The first three names drawn out of the electronic hat will win a free copy!

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