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Alive Day (Review) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 01 October 2017 00:00

his was our drive-home cut from the aforementioned Four Summoner’s Tales, an interesting piece about a strange special ops group, kinda a combination of Seal Team Six and Ghostbusters. It was a good closeout to the set.

This is an existing character from an existing series, but that’s okay – you can pick up the characters pretty quick in this novella. The writing is that Hooyah style, all weapon descriptions and “bad guys” and buff, haunted yet caring heroes (not that there is anything wrong with that). The author carries it well – it’s authentic and enjoyable. Kick ass!

Turns out a prior team from this off-the-books outfit was dropped into Afghanistan to supposedly keep bad turban guys from carrying pathogens for use on a Bed, Bath and Beyond stateside. But it turns out their simple ambush falls apart, three of the men getting cross-fired (and presumably tortured) will their racked-with-guilt (and injuries) leader, currently holed up in a cave, encounters something that is best left unencountered. The team’s RFID chips all go out. Then they start back up ten hours later. Yeah, I know, you know, and Joe Ledger, the leader of the second team to go in, knows - impossible!

So things happen. The backup team get ambushed by Taliban fighters who appear to have been dead ten days. And then another group of Taliban get wiped out by something that might have been American servicemen. Or zombies. Or both.

Of course, all the fancy com gear is out (apparently the occult can jam) and so Captain Ledger and his guys are way out on a limb here.

The story flows very well (we followed the audio and the reader was quite good and carrying the narrative). Perhaps my only problem was the end. It didn’t feel, I don’t know, conclusive enough. We finally see the nasty thing behind this event but it pretty much just wallops the fireteam, gets what it wanted in the first place, and that’s that. Oh, there is a bit of a shiver near the end, but it’s one of those moments where, once you think about it, it really didn’t come together (at least not for me).

But still, it was a good twist on an old theme, an interesting mix of the occult and military fiction, so I’ll give it that. A fun read, and in no way tarnishing the rest of the fine stories in this collective. So yes, if you have a thousand miles of driving to do, this story (and the others) will make the miles turn into smiles.


Last Updated on Sunday, 01 October 2017 12:21
A Bad Season for Necromancy (Review) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 24 September 2017 00:00

ach of the stories of the Four Summoner’s Tales gets better than the proceeding one, just wilder and more edgy. First we had the story about the frontier Canadian town where children lost to a sickness could be brought back to life, but at an awful cost. Then we had the one about the Texas rancher, part of a community raided by the cartel, who could get his daughter back but only if she was used as part of a literal army of the dead, thrown against the cartel’s headquarters just over in Mexico. And now, it’s this one. Strange, weird, disturbing. And a lot of smiles.

In A bad Season for Necromancy, the main character is a young man in eighteenth century England brought up to follow in his father’s line of work (that being murder, larceny, theft and assault). His father had great plans for the boy, even finding him an education of sorts so he could ape the rich and possibly be of use in his more grander schemes. But after years of loving beatings, burnings, humiliations and even brandings, the boy objects by picking up a hammer and bashing his father’s face (literally and disfiguratively) in. Grabbing his 300 pounds of loot, he heads off to make his own way of the world.

Unlike his father, he will do it through calmer, more gentlemanly crimes. He moves to London where he poses as the son of a wealthy countryman, enjoying the arts and making his way into high society. Everything is going well – he’s picked a wealthy beautiful widow for his mark – he’ll marry her and then reveal his true status, expecting love to carry it off, too. But that’s when, to everyone’s surprise (and shock and horror) his father shows up, mangled face and all, to denounce him in the street, to strike him down and tell everyone (his widow included) who he really is, and where he really came from. And that tears it. But in the midst of this denouncement, at the moment his father is about to kill him (after having shamed him), the old man suffers a violently messy heart attack and dies.

But the damage is done. Society rejects him. His intended rejects him. The upper class, with all their inherited wealth, spurns him. But while going through his father’s effects he finds a book of curious things. He learns how to raise the dead (practicing on animals pulled from the sluggish Fleet Canal). No matter how mangled and rotted the remains, he can restore them to health.

And so he goes to his rich former friends and makes a plea, noting his love for the lady and his respect for them all. And yet still, even after watching him bring a dog back to life (in a wonderfully graphic scene), they order him to leave.

And that’s when he makes his counter-offer. He demands half of each of their fortunes, or else he’ll bring back late husbands, rich fathers, all that, and ruin them. For how can that person inherit and enjoy their family’s wealth when the patriarch is no longer dead?

A Bad Season was a wonderful romp in early Victorian England, full of twists and clever uses of the power of Necromancy. My wife and I found ourselves (as we drove and listened to the audio version) laughing and winching at each turn. And the reader was wonderful, capturing the accents of guard captains, horrible fathers and winsome widows with great orational skill. I was pleased with how the story ran, and the conclusion was quite satisfactory (and no, I’m not going to even hint at how it comes out).

So, yes, if any of the other tales I’ve reviewed from this collective have wet your curiosity, this one should seal the deal. But be ready. It’s delightfully horrific!


Pipers (Review) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 17 September 2017 00:00

nother one from the collection Four Summoner’s Tales, the second of the set.

You’ll remember my review of the first one of this group, Suffer the Children, and how I thought that was going to be pretty much the sorts of stories we were going to go through in this necromancy collection (people of the past raising their dead out of Salem graveyards or the like). Well, Pipers blew that assumption out of the water.

So in this novella, Zeke is a practical rancher down in a Texas border town. He lost his wife years back and so his world now centers on Savannah, his beautiful daughter, the light of his life. Our story opens with him chatting with her in his pickup on their way to a music festival, a father-daughter discussion where he’s both clueless and big-bear loving, a conversation that rings true and helps establish his love, his caring, and his situation. So he drops her off to go hang with her friends and then decides to try his own hand with the waitress he’s been considering over the years. Perhaps he’s finally coming out of the shell he cast himself into after his wife’s death.

But that’s when a Mexican cartel, pissed that this little town has organized a border watch and caught a couple of their mules, strikes. Two trucks loaded with gunmen fly down the main street, blazing away. Savannah is killed right before his eyes.

And it’s nothing but bleakness for Zeke, that is until the little dark man comes to town with an odd proposition. He can raise the dead, and he’s pissed at the cartel and its top man, given the fact that they kidnapped, raped, and killed his daughter, posting parts of her back in pieces. Turns out that this little man cannot bring her back – not with only half a body. But the dozens of innocents killed in the streets by the rampaging cartel? Yes, they would make a perfect army of the dead. And all the survivors have to do is agree to his terms and he’ll give them the power to bring them back. And they will keep healing, keep getting better until they are restored to normal. But until then, they can’t be killed.

But they can kill.

I really liked this tale. It was dark and twisty and tense, and the person who read it for the audio disk did a crackerjack job in his reading (his cowboys sounded weatherbeaten, and his drug lords oily). It was a great story with a fantastic twist that grows on me every time I think back on it. So, yes, this one is just a jewel on the crown of a fantastic collection. My recommendation is to read/listen to it. Wow.


Moonfleet (Review) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 10 September 2017 00:00

often root for old books. I want them to be good, even better than novels of the current day, just to throw something in the face of people who assume that people of the past were simplistic clods who suffered because they didn’t have access to the likes of Clive Cussler. And now I’m delighted that I found an old book of 1898 vintage, Moonfleet, that tops everything.

No, it’s not a book about spaceships. Moonfleet is a story of youth along the southern coast of England, of 1757, of smugglers slipping in past the watch, of barrels unloaded on dark beaches and men watchful for the posse patrolling the white cliffs. And this novel blew me away, for the excitement, the adventures, and the grim events that occur.

As in most works of the time, young John Trenchard is an orphan who lives with his aunt in the rundown village of Moonfleet. It used to be under the sway of the family Mohune, among whose line existed Colonel John "Blackbeard" Mohune, a villain who turned on his King, turned on his assistants, turned on damn near everyone and died in wretched isolation in Moonfleet. Part of his legend involves a diamond now cursed for his actions and long lost. There is even the legend of his churchyard ghost which frightens travelers and apparently strangles the unwary.

And so young John goes about his business, looking towards his eventual life of possibly fishing and maybe smuggling (which takes place around him – after all, the local magistrate Maskew just shot down (like a dog, damn him) the son of the local pubkeeper, who now grieves his loss).

But then John makes an amazing discovery, finding the cave (in a very cool place) used by the smugglers. And true to such tales, in the smugglers come, forcing him to hide (just like Jim in the apple barrel). I read this thinking, okay, either he is discovered and brought aboard the smuggling vessel or he’s going to carry the secret of the smugglers and use it for his own purposes (he’s in love with Grace, daughter of the evil  Maskew, don’t you know). But then the story turned on its ear and took me to places I couldn’t imagine.

After this, it’s lonely moors, lines of redcoats firing, bullets humming past, hidden caves, bodies down wells, a smuggler or two (so eventually they did show up), of terrible fates, shipwrecks, deaths and murder.


All I can say is that, outside of War of the Worlds, this was one of the most enjoyable reads I’ve gone through from the end of that century. And, damme lad, I’m putting it into your own grasping hands, HERE ye go. Yes, this one is available for free – you can read it any old way you like, but read it you must, it’s that good.

Or you can go back to your Clive Cussler, if you must.


Last Updated on Friday, 25 August 2017 15:16

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