Nightmares Abound!

I’ve been a fan of Adrian Chamberlin‘s work since I first read The Caretakers. He’s a helluva writer, and has a sense of humor to match. After reading The Caretakers, I resolved to pay close attention to any anthology in which his work is featured, as well as to his own books.

I stumbled on Dreaming in Darkness awhile ago and had purchased it for my Kindle. Since I finished a run of books for review, I wanted to read something quick for myself. If nothing else, it would be vastly different than the books I had been reading, and I thought it would work as a palate cleanser until the next round of review books arrived.

Dreaming in Darkness was more than I could have ever hoped for, and just may have spoiled me for Mythos literature forever. There are only four stories in the book, which clocks in at  a massive 356 pages. Each story is by a different author, and I tell you no lies when I say that all of them were fantastic. After having finished it, I’d be pressed to select just one as a favorite. They were all so wildly different, yet united in that they were horrifying on a visceral level. These stories are what primitive fears are made of!

Before I go into each story, please note that I am giving vague descriptions of each. They are all wonderfully complex with solid and engaging characters. But I don’t want to deprive the reader of the surprise and terror by spoiling the stories ahead of time. Therefore, please forgive me for the thin descriptions.

THE ORDER – Aaron J. French

In this tale, retired detective Carl Sanford returns to the field at the behest of a friend. His interest in the occult as well as conspiracy theories makes him a particularly important viewpoint on the latest murder case. As Sanford and the others delve deeper into the case, they find that not only are many of the occult theories actually true, but that there is a cult called the Order of Oriphiel that seeks to overturn the world order and bring the Apocalypse.

SHADRACH BESIEGED – Adrian Chamberlin

A centuries-long struggle to keep a horrifying idol out of the wrong hands comes to a terrifying climax at an abandoned monastery during the English Civil War. The majority of the soldiers caught up in the mess think they are fighting their Civil War. Little do they know that Shadrach and his old foe have also come together to wage their own war, and everyone around them will get swept into it. Not to mention having to cross a hellish forest with an agenda of it’s own!

THE SERPENT’S EGG – Jonathan Green

A writer goes and stays in a castle, hoping to find inspiration after his marriage and life crumbled in the aftermath of his first successful novel and the dry period that followed. He’s researching the legend of the Lambton Worm, and thinks himself lucky to find his host is none other than Lord Tristam Lambton himself. However, he stumbles onto a pagan ritual and from there everything goes to hell. He soon finds out that not only is the Lambton Worm no legend, but he now must fight this cult for his life.

NEW HEAVENS – John Prescott

Instead of bringing the Old Ones to us, we are brought to the Old Ones. Literally! Monoliths rise from the sea, people wander into the ocean only to be changed into horrifying creatures, and then one day, the Earth itself is transported somewhere else. Our characters are left to battle against the Old Ones in their own environment, among countless other horrors, as they also struggle to get the Earth back in it’s own universe.

Again, these descriptions are thin compared to the wonderful complexity of each story. The descriptions in all of them are guaranteed to give nightmares – I can attest to this personally, from experience. At first I thought I could pick favorites, but by the end, I was positive that every story is unique and terrifying in it’s own right.

All four authors masterfully blend suspense, thrills, scares, and mystery together. Dreaming in Darkness is an absolutely amazing book, and at $4.00 for Kindle, it’s an absolute steal! If you don’t have a Kindle, don’t despair. You can still read it with the free Amazon Kindle app.

The Burrowers

The Burrowers

Image via Wikipedia

The first time I was aware of “The Burrowers” came from watching a movie trailer.  It looked really good – American settlers being terrorized on the open countryside by burrowing monsters that attacked from underground.  My kind of movie !

Last night my boyfriend and I found it on Netflix and decided to watch  it.  It was an awful movie.  Before I tear the movie to shreds, I want to state its good qualities.  First and foremost, the acting was good.  Not award winning, but good enough to make me believe in the characters.  The costumes were authentic looking for the time period as well.  Nothing too flashy, nothing too drab.  Even the costumes of the American Indians didn’t look over dramatized.  The music worked really well for the film.  It was dramatic when it had to be, but otherwise helped keep the period feel of the movie.  The locale was convincing as well – no specific place I could point to, but understandably American.

Please be advised that the next part of the review will contain spoilers.  If you want to watch the movie without knowing how it ends, stop reading here, go rent it, watch it, come back here and let me know what you think.

“The Burrowers” lacked a good many things.  My biggest complaints about the movie concerns the monsters.  Its alright not to show the monster fully until the end of the movie, but make sure its worth seeing.  The monsters in this movie were part worm, and part human (but with the torso twisted so the legs were up like a grasshopper).  Either tell the whole back story on the monster, or don’t tell any.  Telling part of the history of the monster and not finishing it is incredibly irritating.  I kid you not, the only thing that you find out about them through the flash back is that they predate humans and eat buffalo.  When the flash back ends, you find out that without buffalo (the white man’s fault) they now come after another food : humans (also noted as the white man’s fault).  No other explanation – mutation, alien, demon, spirit, nothing.  Towards the end you find that they liquefy their prey with some kind of acid or poison that they put in their victims and then they come back later and eat them like some kind of worm or spider.  Oh, and sunlight kills them, only nobody has figured this out even though the monsters have been around for so long.  The monsters are killed by accident when they are left staked to the ground and the sun comes up and the light shines down in the forest.

The movie feels like it drags along mercilessly.  (While looking up the running time on I stumbled on the fact that “The Burrowers” is also, incidentally, a seven part series online from 2007.  The movie followed in 2008.  Oh my.)  The movie itself is 96 minutes but feels lengthier.  This is due in no small part to the buildup of characters such as the military leader who is integral to the movie in the beginning, disappears for most of the action, and then comes back in the last few minutes only to hang two characters, kill one by blood loss during an unnecessary amputation and then walk away.

The ending was really confusing.  My boyfriend explained that the main character was marked for death by the Burrowers when he fell into the chest cavity of another person who was marked, and his broken fingernail allowed the poison to seep into his body from the other body.

My last complaint – not one scene that made me jump.  Even if a movie is awful, that can usually be at least one of the saving graces.  This movie offered no surprises.  But a few cut scenes of ants, which I’m not sure how that pertained to the movie.  Although there were some redeeming qualities, this movie could have been so much better.  Its a decent movie to show to someone who is terrified of scary movies, since it most likely won’t scare them.  Its also a good movie to watch if you’re doing something else at the time like homework or crochet.