horror

Book review: The Cipher

The Cipher.The Cipher by Kathe Koja.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

So it’s only taken me about thirty years to read any Koja, and Current Me is somewhat annoyed at Past Me. I’ve no idea how I missed this novel on its first publication, as it certainly scratches the itch for the bizarre that Past Me would have been Well Into, what with all the human transformation and grimy locale and vaguely religious groupings shrouded in pisstaking and gore.

“When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade.” Well, life had given me shit, and I was making a compost heap. Or more succinctly, life had given me a Funhole, and I was making a grave.

Past Me is an idiot, plainly, especially given the number of awards The Cipher has won. (The Locus Award for Best First Novel and the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Horror Novel seem to be a fairly good indicator of quality, let’s face it.)
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Book review: The Elementals

The Elementals.The Elementals by Michael McDowell.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

I’d never read any Michael McDowell before cracking The Elementals. I’d seen some of his other work, unknowingly – he was the scriptwriter for Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice – and I’d seen that he was very well regarded by Stephen King, so I figured I might as well give it a shot.


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Don’t go into that sawmill: some thoughts on Anna

I’ve just finished – well, in the early hours of the morning – Dreampainters’ game Anna. The timing was probably pretty suitable because it’s considered a survival horror, though really it’s better described as some manner of walking simulator set in an increasingly weird sawmill.

The story is fairly twisted and unclear – it follows the death of a woman named Anna (yes, she of the title), whose relation to you is as yet unclear. It becomes more clear through the game, though not much more, as madness is a bit of a feature, and there’s not really any such thing as a reliable narrator here.

The Extended version features a possible eight endings, which increase in terrible-ness as the game continues. So it’s possible to NOPE out of the game soon after solving a desultory door-opening puzzle and receive what amounts to the ‘good’ ending, while pursuing the story to its end guarantees a Pretty Bad Time. (more…)