to Horror Reviews

of Horror Reviews

Books for Review should be sent to: Don D'Ammassa, 323 Dodge Street,  East Providence, RI 02914

Last Update 3/30/19

Out of the Madhouse by Christopher Golden and Nancy Holder, Pocket, 1999

A Buffy novel and first in the Gatekeeper trilogy. A plague of monsters of various kinds has hit Sunnydale. Something is clearly up and Giles figures out that it is connected to the Gatekeeper, the guardian of a house in Boston that imprisons a great many monsters from various ages. Someone called Il Maestro and the Sons of Entropy are planning to open the Hellmouth, and to do so they must first capture the Slayer and eliminate the influence of the Watchers. They have infiltrated the Council and have a very powerful demon backing their efforts. The walls between realities begin to fall. 3/30/19

Sherlock Holmes and the Miskatonic Monstrosities by James Lovegrove, Titan, 2019

Holmes and Watson investigate a madman who writes and speaks in the language of R'Lyeh. They find that he is from Massachusetts and that another man of his acquaintance has mysteriously disappeared. Since they know that monsters are real, they are not surprised to discover that a would-be god is meddling, but they will be amazed to discover who it is. About a third of the novel is a journal about an expedition to capture a Shoggoth. Thrills and chills aplenty as several different Lovecraftian creatures make an appearance in this lively, amusing, and occasionally humorous pastiche. 3/28/19

Sins of the Fathers by Christopher Golden, Pocket, 1999 

A Buffy novel. An old friend of Buffy’s shows up pursued by a demon that turns people into stone. Giles is acting strangely, which is not surprising given that his new girlfriend is not human. Vampires seem to be entering buildings without waiting for the necessary invitation. There are three demons in town, not just one. There is a shapechanger who impersonates Giles’ father and a minor demon who is able to hypnotize people and force them to do things contrary to their nature. A couple of nice twists in a better than average entry in the series. 3/24/19

Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones by Micah Dean Hicks, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019  

There are some books so constructed that a plot summary is likely to be misleading. This is one of them. The basic premise is that there is this economically dying town where hordes of ghosts have manifested themselves in various ways, including possession, physical manifestations, and so on. The central characters are members of a family who have come to a somewhat uneasy equilibrium in the middle of growing chaos. The story is obviously on one level a commentary on a declining social structure but it is so full of twists and turns and bizarre imagery that I suspect there is more going on here than any one reader is likely to perceive. Although it has ghosts and other supernatural elements, I’m not even entirely sure I would call this a horror novel. I would call it a fascinating one, however, and unlike anything else I’ve read in recent years. 3/17/19

Book of the Dead by Greig Beck, Momentum, 2014  

Sinkholes begin to appear all over the world. People are disappearing. Other strange phenomena abound. The protagonist believes the answers to an ancient prophecy can be found by examining the Necronomicon, but can he plumb its secrets before it is too late and all human life is extinguished by forces beyond their understanding?  If you can think of Lovecraft writing a men’s adventure novel, you might come up with something like this. It was the best of the three books I’ve read by this author, but I think he tries too hard to include exotic details and settings. 3/12/.19

Afterimage by Pierce Askegren, Simon, 2006 

A Buffy novel. An old drive-in is being reopened and Xander has a job there. Buffy and Angel are perplexed by their encounter with a creature that resembles a werewolf, but is clearly something quite different. Cagliostro himself is in town and with the aid of a magical movie projector he is able to turn characters from the screen into ectoplasmic creatures who do his bidding. He kidnaps Giles and the gang has to rally to his rescue, not to mention save the dozens of people who have fallen into comas after watching movies at the local drive-in. Not bad, but the characters feel slightly off. 3/6/19

Doomsday Deck by Diana G. Gallagher, Simon, 2000  

A woman with a magical tarot deck appears in Sunnydale and even vampires avoid her. Anyone who touched the deck has part of their soul transferred into one of the cards, which means that the artist can then overpower their will and compel them to serve her. Oz and Xander are both magically enslaved and Willow is kidnapped, intended as a sacrifice to Kali. Lightweight but mild fun. 2/15/19

Immortal by Christopher Golden and Nancy Holder, Pocket, 2000

Buffy faces a new kind of vampire this time, one whose soul moves from body to body whenever she dies. Veronique is determined to create the Triumvirate, an empire of evil that will wipe out the human race. This was actually one of the best of the Buffy novels, although it is actually the ghosts of ancient slayers who win the final battle. This would actually have made a pretty good episode of the show. Joyce Summers, Buffy’s mom, is seriously ill during the course of the story, which distracts Buffy from the main issue. 2/9/10

I Am Behind You by John Ajvide Lindqvist, St Martin’s, 2018  

I was looking forward to a ne novel by this author, but I’m afraid I found this disappointing. Four parties parked at a campsite wake up the following morning to find themselves in the middle of an apparently infinite field of grass with a dome rather than a sky overhead. The story consists of their various interactions as they try to figure out what happened to them. The story, which is quite long, wanders constantly and never reaches any kind of destination – or even an explanation. I stuck with it, even though it is narrated in present tense, but felt cheated at the end. 2/8/19

Buffy the Vampire Slayer by Richie Tankersley Cusick, Pocket, 1992  

This is the novelization of the Joss Whedon screenplay for the original movie. The movie famously was far less serious than Whedon desired and much of that carries over into the book. Buffy becomes aware of her heritage, watches her first Watcher die at the hands of Lothos, the master vampire, then eventually kills him in single combat while his minions are attacking a dance at the high school gym. The characters and situations from the television show are not present and the show was far superior to the movie. 2/1/10

Resurrecting Ravana by Ray Garton, Pocket, 2000 

Something is eating cattle in Sunnydale. Then a group of bikers are attacked by a pack of hellhounds, and even after Buffy kills them all, the mutilations continue. Various people begin to react violently to their friends, sometimes killing them, and the survivors are also likely to turn up with their flesh devoured. Willow has made friends with a new guidance counselor but Buffy fears the woman might be involved with a plan to resurrect a long dormant and very dangerous Mideastern demon. The usual antics follow, quite well told and with better than usual character development and a really nasty villain. A couple of nice red herrings as well. 1/23/19

Apocalypse Memories by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz, Simon, 2004 

A Buffy novel for younger readers. Buffy has to match wits with someone she assumes is a demon with rather diverse powers, but he insists that he is actually an angel. He raises a sea monster and a gang of zombies so I’d go with Buffy’s theory. The angel has decided to bring about the ultimate apocalypse. It turns out that Willow inadvertently started the countdown to apocalypse, so she has to use a forbidden spell to reverse time itself and edit her mistake out of existence. The ending was a bit too much pulled out of thin air. 1/18/19

Obsidian Fate by Diana G. Gallagher, Pocket, 1999  

A Buffy novel. An excavation site near Sunnydale turns up a magical mirror in which a god has been imprisoned. It controls one of the archaeologists and emerges as a jaguar to claim victims. Enough human sacrifices and it will be able to leave the mirror permanently and dim the sun to leave the world in eternal darkness. But the god did not expect to have to deal with the Slayer. Pretty good but also pretty standard Buffy fare. 1/9/10

Innocents Lost by Michael McBride, Factor V, 2011 

Someone is kidnapping young children every three months. A federal investigator whose own daughter was one of the victims has devoted his life to tracking the abductor down, but now he is receiving clues from the villain himself, luring him deeper into the mystery. An apparent pre-historical construction in a remote area is connected to the disappearances and eventually there is wholesale carnage as we discover that someone in the distant past found the way to use human sacrifices to transfer his soul into a new body every few years. This has some over the top sadistic violence that was somewhat disturbing. 1/5/19

The Suicide King by Robert Joseph Levy, Simon, 2005 

Night Terrors by Alice Henderson, Simon, 2005 

A pair of Buffy choose your own adventure multi-path gamebooks. The plot of the first, which changes depending upon your choices, involves a wave of suicides among students. When a grief counselor also dies, Buffy begins to suspect that the cause is supernatural. Very lightweight and of little interest. Only marginally better is the second title, which involves a demon who seizes control of human bodies while people are asleep. Its possession destroys them quickly, but it figures that the body of a Slayer would last a lot longer. These are both curiosities rather than real novels. Computers have made this form pretty much obsolete. 1/2/19