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What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky #AmReading #BookPreview

A dazzlingly accomplished debut collection explores the ties that bind parents and children, husbands and wives, lovers and friends to one another and to the places they call home.

In “Who Will Greet You at Home,” a National Magazine Award finalist for The New Yorker, A woman desperate for a child weaves one out of hair, with unsettling results. In “Wild,” a disastrous night out shifts a teenager and her Nigerian cousin onto uneasy common ground. In “The Future Looks Good,” three generations of women are haunted by the ghosts of war, while in “Light,” a father struggles to protect and empower the daughter he loves. And in the title story, in a world ravaged by flood and riven by class, experts have discovered how to “fix the equation of a person” – with rippling, unforeseen repercussions.

Evocative, playful, subversive, and incredibly human, What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky heralds the arrival of a prodigious talent with a remarkable career ahead of her.


Lesley Nneka Arimah was born in the UK and grew up wherever her father was stationed for work, which was sometimes Nigeria, sometimes not.

Her work has received grants and awards from Commonwealth Writers, AWP, the Elizabeth George Foundation, the Jerome Foundation and others. She currently lives in Minneapolis.

The Magician’s Apprentice #BookReview #TrudiCanavan #TheMagiciansApprentice

Title:
The Magician’s Apprentice – Hardcover

Author:
Trudi Canavan

Genre:
Fantasy

Book procurement:
Book store sale

Rating:

A predictable 3 out of 5

Synopsis:

In the remote village of Mandryn, Tessia serves as assistant to her father, the village Healer. Her mother would rather she found a husband. But her life is about to take a very unexpected turn.

When the advances of a visiting Sachakan mage get violent, Tessia unconsciously taps unknown reserves of magic to defend herself. Lord Dakon, the local magician, takes Tessia under his wing as an apprentice.

The hours are long and the work arduous, but soon and exciting new world opens up to her. There are fine clothes and servants – and, to Tessia’s delight – regular trips to the great city of Imardin.

However, Tessia is about to discover that her magical gifts bring with them a great deal of responsibility. For a storm is approaching that threatens to tear her world apart.

First Thoughts

Over the course of the years, I’ve been making an effort to collect books in genres outside of just horror. Surprisingly and despite dabbling in the genre, Fantasy took a back seat in my reading adventures. Therefore, Trudi Canavan’s The Magician’s Apprentice felt like a great way to bring fantasy closer to the forefront of my reading goal.

Intention and Practice, however, are two different things. While the book does a wonderful job of exploring the genre in terms of characters, setting, and worldbuilding, there were other aspects that I had me put the book down in frustration a few times. Mainly:

  • The predictability was sometimes palpable.
  • I worked out that much of what characters thought and said, even in speculation, came to pass later.
  • There was a lot of unnecessary switching of characters between sections, which led to unneeded “cliffhanger” chapter breaks.
  • The magic, sadly, had no real depth .

I do think this was, perhaps, due to the fact that this prequel was written after the main trilogy and so certain facts and histories are clear for Canavan and her readers. But new readers like myself, missed a depth which might be present in The Black Magician trilogy.

The Story

We follow Tessia, a promising young healer living under the authority of magician Lord Dakon. Her father is the town Healer, passing knowledge to his daughter with an insatiable appetite for healing knowledge; this factor is the reason Tessia finds herself at Lord Dakon’s estate. After an unpleasant encounter with a visiting Sachakan magician, Tessia discovers her magical ability and the joys and danger of being an apprentice.

Tessia begins as the main protagonist of the story, but it feels like she fades off to secondary character status by the end of it, with ties to the story rather than the driving force. While she’s present for much of the unfolding events, she’s not present in every situation, which relies on other characters to provide the details she wouldn’t know otherwise.

The flitting perspectives became more obvious towards the middle-to-end of the book, which again, had me put the book down when an unnecessary break in the story gave a perspective that didn’t have a deeper impact to the unfolding story. Those final chapters felt very much like “necessary events prevalent to the next book” and the lives of people I’d spent all this time reading about, were simply tied up and discarded to the histories. It felt very anti-climatic.

Overall, I did enjoy the story. It involved discovery of new powers, using said powers in interesting situations, and a “main” character I wanted to invest in. Lord Dakon, Jayan, Takado, and the host of characters making an appearance each have distinct, viable personalities to round off a cast and story that is entertaining.

Writing

Praise must be given to Canavan’s writing itself. The first sentence, ‘There was no fast and painless way to perform an amputation, Tessia knew.’ and right through the opening paragraph, the story opens vividly into the life of a healers helper. There is no wasting of words as each description, sentence, and expression drives the story forward, and at the same time, brings character traits to life.

Unfortunately, its this same crisp writing that turns the writing (and thus the story) predictable. When no words are wasted, then thoughts characters have (even in conjecture) must have relevance to pushing the story forward – as it proved far too often.

I enjoyed a lot of the worldbuilding around The Magician’s Apprentcice. The towns and people felt real, the exploration of race, culture, politics, and social standing became part of the reading without distraction, and overall tied together solidly.

I was looking forward to a bit more in the magic system. There was more time spent on how it felt using magic, and the result of its use, but none of the little details. On its own, this isn’t an issue – when there’s an intense magical battle between powerful magicians, the missing details make for a lackluster spectacle.

Final Thoughts

Following Tessia, Jayan, and Drakon through these early days was still a lot of fun. Learning about the different races, histories, and moral differences made up for the lack of “spectacular” magic I was expecting.

More than anything, the book starts strong and ends abruptly. I can understand how establishing an existing history into a single novel can be difficult. Perhaps if the book had included the rest of the detail into a prologue, I’d feel a little better about it.

There’s also too many little details I can’t write without spoilers, so I’ll end with this; I hope The Black Magician, written before this “prologue”, reads better and deeper into this really fascinating world.


The Magician’s Apprentice was first published 23 February 2009.

Did you know: In early 2006 Trudi signed a seven-figure contract with Orbit to write the prequel and sequel to the Black Magician Trilogy. The prequel, The Magician’s Apprentice, won the Best Fantasy Novel category of the Aurealis Awards.

Trudi Canavan was born in Kew, Melbourne and grew up in Ferntree Gully, a suburb at the foothills of the Dandenongs. In 1999 she won the Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Short Story with “Whispers of the Mist Children”. In the same year she was granted a writers residency at Varuna Writers’ Centre in Katoomba, New South Wales.

The New Creation #Fiction #ShortStory #Fantasy

Image courtesy of JayMantri – Pexels

Apprentice Ibel curses softly to himself as he rotates a gnarled root between his fingers. He takes a whiff and frowns.

“Doesn’t smell right.” he mutters to himself, using his dirty fingers to disperse the dirt. He lazily whirls a finger towards it, the granules of soil rolling back against the roots to tuck the plant into the earth. He yawns and stretches his arms through slits of sunlight, filtering through a shade of protracted branches and the green conical shape of bare-trunk trees making Jeford Forest.

Oblivious to the dirt on his freshly christened pants, Ibel spins on his knees towards the next botanic quarry for herbalist Corine Atman. The old man had finally let Ibel help him seek a cure for his ails – mainly, a specific plant found only in Jeford Forest.

“So sad… So ripe!” A voice slowly cries from behind.

Ibel’s shoulders hitch as he whirls about on his heels. Shaking hands shoot out in a offensive stance before he makes a disgusted sound in his throat.

“So saaaad… So ripe!” The Popuhari repeats, looming over him as awkwardly as it’s trunk body is able; the thin roots wriggle constantly through the ground even as it stands. The creature is harmless and Ibel grunts with annoyance as he works to control his shaking hands and thudding heart.

“Shoo. Go away.” He says too throaty for his liking, turning back to the plants he was plucking. His eyes rove over the brown-green gnarled things and realises he has no idea which one he was working on. In fact, they all seem to be same plant.

“Ugh. Fool.”

Fooool! Saaad fool. Ripe fool!” The tree-like creature’s shadow falls over Ibel, forcing the apprentice to turn back to the creature. It totters back at the sight of the apprentice’s scowling face,

“What do you…” He begins then stops. His eyes take in the thin, lanky creature as though seeing it for the first time. There seems nothing wrong with the conical rise of flat petioles attached to the swaying “head” trunk, or the multiple greenish-white branches poking near the head like multiple arms. Ibel steps back too and runs through his knowledge of the creatures – as well as prepares a defensive spell.

“You speak?” He asks the Popuhari.

“Speak sad. Speak ripe!” It says. Where the sound comes from, Ibel can’t say. Nothing on its “face” moves.

“I didn’t think Popuhari could speak. Are you different?” He tries again.

“Popu-saaad. Popu-ripe!”

“Sad? Ripe?”

“Sad! Ripe! Sad! Ripe! Sad! Ripe! Sad! Ripe!” The air fills with the sound of wind rushing through leaves as the Popuhari shakes its head; the words seep through the sound in an intelligible garble. Apprentice Ibel lifts his hands to cover his ears as the leaves on the Popuhari’s head oscillate to a green/brown blur that sends the petioles aflutter.

It takes a moment to notice the sound comes from all around him. He turns and finds that the forest has grown in size, quivering Popuhari filing the gaps between the thick trunks.

Panic engulfs his body and senses as he draws in a long breath. The pounding in his chest has returned. Doubled. A ball of ice seems to have travelled from his chest down into his gut, bring with it an impending sense of doom.

He exhales.

An arm quickly lifts as he darts towards an actual tree. A ball of flame the size of Ibel’s head flicks from his wrist and crashes into Popuhari he’d been speaking to. At the same time, his other arm points to the ground. He jumps as a gust of air propels him upwards. Ibel grabs a branch and begins to pull himself up.

“Saaaaad!” He hears the creature wail.

“Saaaaad!” A chorus of Popuhari pick up its kins cries.

Ibel latches one foot onto the the branch, gasping from effort.

“Great Palaver, I need to work out more.” he breathes. Below him, the chorus continues.

Ibel manages to climb up, sighing heavily as he adjusts himself to sit looking down towards the Popuhari. Even before his whole body has turned, Ibel shivers. The adrenalin in his body filters out – but the fear remains.

The Popuhari he’d set on fire seems to weep more than cry in pain. The running around has stopped, and instead Ibel watches it tip it’s burning crown towards another of its kind, as it had been doing the whole time. Ibel looks around and sees more than one of them is on fire.

They have formed a ring around his tree. They lift their faceless, burning heads towards him.

“So sad! So ripe!” The burning Popuhari chant.

“So sad! So ripe! So sad! So ripe!

Ibel scrambles as quickly as he dares to his feet, which takes too long for his own liking. The next tree isn’t too far off and with another of those air-jump tricks, he could make it. Perhaps keep going all the way back home.

“Saaaaad!”

A roar rises. Ibel makes the mistake of looking down and sees the ring of fire rush the tree. A chortled scream escapes his lips.

Both hands shoot downwards, palms facing the branch. He channels his magic and lets it off. The Popuhari bash into the tree, sending shockwaves up the bare trunk. It’s enough to throw off Ibel’s aim as one foot catches magical air and the other slips on nothing.

Ibel lurches forward, a cry of fear rising in his throat as wavering arms and hands catch loose air.

“Saaaaad!”

A panicked shot of magic launches downwards again, throwing the burning Popuhari backwards and cushioning enough of his fall to let him scramble back to his feet. Roots snake around his ankles and tug him backwards. Ibel falls with a wheeze, wind rushing out of his lungs. He begins to channel magic again, haphazardly throwing fire at everything. A wall of Popuhari rush him. Roots entangle his arms and hands, throwing off his aim. There’s enough time to notice the slithering coiling around his chest, constricting his lungs as it rolled the apprentice onto his back.

A burning Popuhari, perhaps the same one he’d met, staggers towards him still aflame. The conical shape of leaves and branches is now a black/grey gnarled thing, sprouting molted leaves and branches at odd angles. Ibel wants to believe he has reached his fear threshold. That only death awaits now.

“Popuhari speak.” The voice quivers, and Ibel feels it come from all the Popuhari around him. The ground itches under his back.

“Popuhari think.”

Apprentice Ibel watches as the center of the creature’s head splits open with a loud crack. Splinters fly off in every direction but Ibel is looking at the thing nestled inside the Popuhari. A mass of wriggling forms weave back and forth over numerous larval sacs; multiple segmented legs hold the entire pink-white-gray flesh under its thorax.

“Popuhari… grow…”

“So sad! So ripe! So sad! So ripe!

Ibel’s attention snaps back to the ring around him – and his bondages keeping him trapped. The fear he thought was gone, now rises again, and again, and again. A young sapling of a Popuhari emerges from the throng. Ibel feels the fear in him pour from the depths of his gut right up his chest and lungs and out his throat. He doesn’t realise he’s screaming. The chanting Popuhari harmonize with his screams.

The sound is momentarily broken as the saplings head snaps open and reveals another of those things. Ibel looks up and watches its spindly legs lift and loosen one of its larvae sacs.

“Popuhari… evolve…”

The Popuhari leans forward. The sac rolls off and lands with a wet squelch over Ibel nose and mouth. He feels squirming inside, tickling his face before wetness washes over everything.

He tries not to think or feel or imagine.

“So sad! So ripe!

The words echo in his head as though only they exist.

Sad.

Ripe.

Ibel’s body shivers on the ground. The Popuhari are silent as they watch. When the roots slither off his body, letting the man sit up, they all turn towards him.

“Despair.” He croaks.

“Despaiiirrr.” They sigh into the wind.

A Man of the People by Chinua Achebe #BookReview #AfricanAuthors #ChinuaAchebe

Title:
A Man of the People

Author:
Chinua Achebe

Genre:
African Literature – Literary Fiction

Book procurement:
Home Library

Rating:

An inspiring 4 out of 5

Synopsis:

By the renowned author of “Things Fall Apart,” this novel foreshadows the Nigerian coups of 1966 and shows the color and vivacity as well as the violence and corruption of a society making its own way between the two worlds.

This novel was included in Anthony Burgess’s personal selection of the 99 best novels in English since 1939.

First Thoughts

2021 opened with an old box of books, and a TBR list that needed to be dusted off. Top of the pile – and thin in comparison to the rest – Chinua Achebe’s A Man of the People was a book my mother often touted around the house, proclaiming to all, “It’s a must read.”

After reading the book, I share a fair bit of her sentiments.

The opening paragraph was all I needed to pull me into Achebe’s writing style and immediate characterization. It was a freshness to writing I perhaps needed from the novels and authors I usually surround myself with.

An interesting note lay in Achebe’s use of Pidgin English during dialogue and other parts, grounding the story in its African setting. It does take some getting used to, and I often had to reread a line to make sure I got the meaning correct.

Overall, the writing flows well and pulls you into the story, characters, and ensuing drama surrounding narrator and protagonist, Odili Samalu.

The Story

The novel opens with an introduction to the main man of the story, Chief the Honourable M.A. Nanga MP (his titles are important), a charming politician, husband, and true man of the people. His meeting with Odili leads to a revelation of what truly happens behind the closed doors of powerful, influential people. Of somber sacrifices, debatable questions of morality, and murky “for the good of the people” grey-areas that can quickly drown or elevate a man by simply manipulating perspective.

Subsumed in the story is Odili’s humanly-irreproachable personality and genuine virtuousness, contrasting the harsh reality of the power, attraction, and seduction of the political world and its leaders. His own life drama entangles with Chief Nanga’s life, bringing with it aspects of love, tragedy, joy, and betrayal.

And hidden in plain sight is the ever-present conflict/debate between the “white-educated” populace and their “locally-educated” peers. It is a conflict I myself struggled with as a black African, when vocabulary and pronunciation had me questioned for being “too white”. Chief Nanga, a true politician, maneuvers around the issue deceptively well, while having an obvious opinion of where he stands and at the same time, never quite reaching it.

Writing

At one point I may have stopped the book and compared it to the narrative style of The Great Gatsby. That is, seeing Chief Nanga as the great hero and wonder that he is, and slowly realizing he is flawed and human like the rest of us. Especially in light of Odili’s narration as an outsider, guest, then close friend to the renowned man – though that’s as far as comparisons go.

Achebe’s writing style feels familiar and reads like a recount of an actual story – one can imagine meeting Chief Nanga, Odili, or any of the characters making appearances in the book, in real life. Even the dialogue sounds authentic, sub characters encompass their roles (Dogo the guard comes to mind), and the story continues and flows easily and with purpose.

Final Thoughts

I have always wondered how stories like these can ever come to an end, and yet an end they must have. This particular ending was not only reflective of the opening paragraph and proceeding events, but also reminiscent of the true struggles that rise when politics, culture, religion, and personal gain have a cost that hits a little too close to home. As one of the characters states, paraphrased,

“Does a man who comes from nothing and finally gets a taste of luxury, willingly give it up?”


The A Man of the People was first published in 1966.

Did you know: Achebe became the David and Marianna Fisher University Professor and Professor of Africana Studies at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, United States.

Chinua Achebe was a novelist, poet, professor at Brown University and critic. He is best known for his first novel, Things Fall Apart (1958), which is the most widely read book in modern African literature.

Achebe’s novels focus on the traditions of Igbo society, the effect of Christian influences, and the clash of values during and after the colonial era. His style relied heavily on the Igbo oral tradition, and combines straightforward narration with representations of folk stories, proverbs, and oratory. He also published a number of short stories, children’s books, and essay collections.

New Year Greetings & Book Recommendation

Oval Track Ground 2021
Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

The sun rises early and soon rivals my light – still on, where I’ve woken up again with the taste of a story on my tongue. My eyes rove the ceiling, but instead of intersecting lines and an off-center light fixture, images of new worlds encompass the white space. And along with it, the itch to write it all down.

“I’ll remember after this nap.” I tell myself. I lie to myself.

A whole year passes.

2021 rises early and soon rivals the light still on in my mind. I’ve woken up to the bitter-sweet aftertaste of a mental siesta letting worlds pass without a voice or an echo to remember them by. The itch has grown to a rabid gnawing that encompasses all blank spaces with new worlds crying to be loosened. The author, trapped but never forgotten, begs to write once again.

There are no lies to tell myself now. Sleep will be but a necessary reminder.

I can no longer bury the voices.


Book Recommendation – Currently Reading

Taking place hundreds of years before the events of The Magicians’ Guild, The Magician’s Apprentice is the new novel set in the world of Trudi Canavan’s Black Magician Trilogy.

In the remote village of Mandryn, Tessia serves as assistant to her father, the village Healer. Her mother would rather she found a husband. But her life is about to take a very unexpected turn.


When the advances of a visiting Sachakan mage get violent, Tessia unconsciously taps unknown reserves of magic to defend herself. Lord Dakon, the local magician, takes Tessia under his wing as an apprentice.


The hours are long and the work arduous, but soon and exciting new world opens up to her. There are fine clothes and servants – and, to Tessia’s delight – regular trips to the great city of Imardin.


However, Tessia is about to discover that her magical gifts bring with them a great deal of responsibility. For a storm is approaching that threatens to tear her world apart.


A friend of mine once recommended Trudi Canavan’s The Black Magician trilogy, which led to me picking up this Prologue trilogy. At the moment, I’m reading the final section of the first book, The Magician’s Apprentice. To be honest, I’m having a love/hate relationship with the book but I’ll leave further comments to the review.

Heaven’s Door

Man, desert
Photo by FAICAL Zaramod from Pexels


I bade farewell to my heart.

It leapt from its perch upon my scarlet dampened sleeve, loosened cuff-links baring skin from tattered garment.

I bade farewell to my mind.

Jagged thorns of electric pulses lifting from crown, as crowned relics of ones thoughts flitted beyond ephemeral conscious and subconscious veil.

If there were else about me, I knew not of it for my plodding feet swept dust and dirt carried from birth to life to death. If there were else about me, I knew not for they had long dusted their feet, of me.

And there within the hollow heartless mindless vessel ambling onward and forward, dust specks sparking to burn bridges built and defile sanctities christened, there remained within a single vestibule of light.

It scratched and clawed at the hardened shell within, trapped beyond the empty ribbed cage where the last of smoke lined lungs pulsed breath afoul. It beat against the stoned quarry of thoughtlessness, echoing soundlessly through the labyrinth of mind darkened and the roaming beast within.

And at last I bade farewell to my soul.

It clawed its way through congealed self, shedding cocoon as trembling feet halted mid-step, the weight of self, alleviated of heart and mind and soul bringing me to my knees. Weightless arms lifted mid chest, fingers clasping together in supplication; my face lifted to the heavens.

Lonely scorching sun shone its face upon my own. Gilded rays caressed lidless eyes. Rivulets trailed parched skin, salting parted cracked lips, soaking dry numbed tongue.

I felt as much as I saw my soul unfurl in endless murky wisps and tendrils, shedding off the blackness of sin and death.

Utterings and mutterings escaped my lips, beseeching my soul’s return. Yet only great rejection awaited in windswept trumpet sounds,

“Get away from me, I never knew you.”


Oh death, here is thy victory.

Oh death, here is thy sting.


And remain I did upon that scorched earth where I knelt, amongst the denizens of unuttered petitions and self-denied supplications.

 Of heavens barred doors.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde #BookReview #OscarWilde

book cover, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Title:
The Picture of Dorian Gray

Author:
Oscar Wilde

Genre:
Horror

Book procurement:
Office library.

Rating:

A so-so 3 out of 5

Synopsis:

Written in his distinctively dazzling manner, Oscar Wilde’s story of a fashionable young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty is the author’s most popular work.

The tale of Dorian Gray’s moral disintegration caused a scandal when it first appeared in 1890, but though Wilde was attacked for the novel’s corrupting influence, he responded that there is, in fact, “a terrible moral in Dorian Gray.” Just a few years later, the book and the aesthetic/moral dilemma it presented became issues in the trials occasioned by Wilde’s homosexual liaisons, which resulted in his imprisonment.

Of Dorian Gray’s relationship to autobiography, Wilde noted in a letter, “Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry what the world thinks me: Dorian what I would like to be—in other ages, perhaps.”

First Thoughts

The Picture of Dorian Gray is a classic story and book I’ve been meaning to read ever since I heard about it. The story of a man who imprints his misdeeds into a painting of himself, remaining young while the portrait ages in his stead? That’s the kind of story I’d want to read.

At the end of it, the premise which was presented and story itself, traveled parallel up until the end and then it all felt to end abruptly – like a story that realised at it’s end, that it had reached its word count.

The Story

We follow the lives of three significant people; Dorian Gray the young beautiful man the story is based on, Basil Howard the painter who captures Dorian Gray, and Lord Henry Wotton, Dorian’s friend who is present during the painting.

The book begins with Howard’s meeting of Gray at a party, where the painter finds himself completely drawn to the young man, finding in him a new muse. He invites Dorian to have his portrait painted and during the painting, Lord Henry Wotton comes to visit. Gray and Lord Henry hit it off, with Lord Henry imparting new ideologies and philosophies to the young man… only the new awareness may be too much for young Dorian.

As Henry postulates and Dorian’s world is exposed to new knowledge, something occurs during that moment, forever altering the lives of all three men.

Writing

There is no denying that Oscar Wilde is a great writer. Descriptions are flourished with colour and sound, characters within their lives vividly imagined, all creating an immersive world; one can imagine themselves in those times, interacting with the people and exploring various locations as they would.

As a reader (and writer) who enjoys suspending reality long enough to appreciate the descriptions, there may be a few who might be put off by the long-winded writing. I personally enjoyed this style of writing as Wilde adds all senses into his writing such as scent (perfumes and flowers) to visuals (clothing styles, unique locations), all used to paint a deeper portrait of each character and their lives – including sub characters.

Final Thoughts

I may have enjoyed the writing and general story, but there were moments I felt unnecessary, descriptions that dragged too long, characters that didn’t really do much, and an ending that leaves much to be desired.

To be honest, when I reached the end of the book, I was underwhelmed and disappointed. It felt like the whole narrative was an elongated short story, or an incomplete novel. I was pining for more… sadly there wasn’t any.


The Picture of Dorian Gray was first published in July 1890.

Did you know: Several of his plays continue to be widely performed, especially “The Importance of Being Earnest”.

Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish playwright, poet, and author of numerous short stories, and one novel.

Known for his biting wit, and a plentitude of aphorisms, he became one of the most successful playwrights of the late Victorian era in London, and one of the greatest celebrities of his day.. 

Regressions of Man

Man Portrait Face Trees

Image by FunkyFocus

“Regression is slow. Gradual. Unhurried in it’s bid to drive one to madness. Creeping tendrils digging further and further into the mind like forgotten seeds, sprouting forests of disquiet and skepticism as to ones’s true self; the conundrum of self-agnosticism.”

It was a thought that passed through his mind as quickly and as slowly as it took to say it out loud. The sprawling forest echoed back his stilted voice, rising with the muffled squawk of bird somewhere above and beyond the slits of light breaking through twisting vines.  A golden hue that saturated the world in blurred sepia.

He’d been walking for a while now, though it was hard to tell. The smell of pine was rich in his nostrils, overbearing and powerful against his senses. Muffled voices rose and fell about him, sifting through tree barks, carpets of grass and thickened tree roots about him.

Drifting between them were familiar songs  he’d heard in his youth, at church and at home with his mother’s soothing voice. He could almost see her silhouette against the golden aura of light seeping through the kitchen window. Could almost reach out and touch her…

 

The world fell into silence.

 

A crackling sound echoed above his head like thunder.

His body contorted into itself against the sound, frigid coils shooting through every nerve ending. Images of his mother slid away into the blurred vision of forest before him.

The sound shot through his mind again.

He took off through the forest, suddenly aware of the rising crescendo of wails that followed from above. Screeching his name through the cracking shots resounding all about him. Yet no matter how far he ran, the sounds blared through his mind and ears.

The slits of light were quickly fading, throwing him into a cold nothingness. The air around him grew thicker, making breathing almost impossible. A weight fell over his body, bringing with it a crashing realization; he hadn’t been running at all.

The stillness of his body kicked his fear into overdrive, bolts of it rocketing through his petrified limbs like lightning.

With what felt like superhuman strength, he fought through the syrupy air trying to keep him locked in the darkness. His arms shot forward, only to bounce against a barrier and flop back against his abdomen. His constricted body bounced again in the darkness, arms floundering against the barrier in futility.

He found his voice again and began to yell against the consuming darkness – despair his only hope against the nebulous confines.

~

A sea of shocked faces in an ocean of black cloth, gazed at the coffin as it began to thrum. Inhumane lamentations surging through the wood.

“Bury him quicker.” A woman said, stepping forward quickly from the crowd, bible clutched tight against hitching bosom.

“My real son is dead.”

 

Jozi Flash 2018 #CoverReveal #Anthology

It is with great excitement that I post this video. The new Jozi Flash anthology is coming soon, and we will be celebrating first, with a cover reveal on the 30th June.

 

Details will be available soon. In the mean time…


In the mean time, please feel free to download and read out previous iterations of Jozi Flash. Both a free to read.

 

Jozi Flash - Cover Jozi Flash 2017

The Fog by James Herbert #BookReview #JamesHerbert #horror

book cover The Fog by James Herbert

 

Title:
The Fog

Author:
James Herbert

Genre:
Horror

Book procurement:
Bought second hand somewhere…

Rating:

An okay 3 out of 5

Synopsis:

A peaceful village in Wiltshire is shattered by a disaster which strikes without reason or explanation, leaving behind 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.

First Thoughts

I must admit that it took a few stop-starts to get far enough in the book, to actually finish it. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t that great either. The scenes of utter violence and human depravity were quite dark and James Herbert didn’t hold back on the descriptions. A very old-school horror.

Understandably, the story focuses on a fog that drives people literally insane. It is only this fact, that justifies the horrific events unfolding within the book. If you yourself can imagine, there is no escaping an intangible force such as fog; a real fear-factor.

There were moments when I (unintentionally and out of habit) compared Herbert to King. Yet, they are of two very different persuasions when it comes to horror. Nonetheless, the book was action packed, filled with drama right until the final chapter – and the main character was tolerable throughout.

I cringed at the violence but wasn’t pushed to the point of fear any time while reading, making the book feel like those slasher films where people die gruesome deaths while the story itself is relatively simple and straight forward.

The Story

We are introduced to John Holman who just happens to be in the right place at the wrong time. An earthquake erupts, causing a fissure to cut through a village. From within the crevice, a yellowish fog rises from the depths and with it, despair and horror rocks the village and then the country at large.

None can escape it, not even children. Shivers.

John spends his time attempting to figure out who caused the catastrophe (though he has an inkling of an idea) and eventually it becomes a race and effort, to quell the insanity-inducing fog.

Writing

This is a much older Herbert book and it is evident in various scenes throughout the book. Not just the lack of cellphones and “modern” technology, but also some offhanded statements here and there about women in general – slightly misogynistic.

What stands out most in the writing, is how visceral the deaths and gore are written. As I’ve said before, James Herbert does not hold back. He describes the acts of violence fully. Including a disturbing scene containing a pair of garden shears. You know? Those giant pair of scissors used to trim hedges? Yeah…

The characters are well portrayed, with enough distinction between them to not appear as “different character same hat” kind of roles. There is even an element of romance between everything, as Holman and his love Casey, work to overcome the horror of the fog, the people affected by the fog… and themselves.

Final Thoughts

The Fog is not my favourite book but it’s also not the worst book I’ve read. There are other Herbert novels I’ve enjoyed and I’m currently reading another two of his works.

I wasn’t left with any real or lasting effect. This rather short and uninspired book review should be evident enough.


The Fog was first published in 1975.

Did you know: James Herbert’s novels The Fog, The Dark, and The Survivor have been hailed as classics of the genre.

image of author James Herbert

 

James Herbert was Britain’s number one bestselling writer (a position he held ever since publication of his first novel) and one of the world’s top writers of thriller/horror fiction.

He was one of our greatest popular novelists, whose books are sold in thirty-three other languages, including Russian and Chinese. Widely imitated and hugely influential, his 19 novels have sold more than 42 million copies worldwide.

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