Writing prose about superheroes can be a difficult task because the visual aspect on which the medium of comics depends is missing. "Biff!" and "Pow" don't parse the same in a non-graphic form. This means that the stories, if they're not to be entirely juvenile, have to be a lot more character driven. The problem is then to avoid the pitfall of turning the work into fanfic, making the characters cheap pastiches of existing heroes or winding up hip deep in long descriptions of powers and physiques. Robin manages to avoid these dangers quite nicely and has created a cast with a fair amount of depth and personality. Yet, the work does not cross over much into Alan Moore territory; this is not a deconstruction of the genre. Superheroes in this world are a good thing, and there's a good sense of fun and wonder in these stories as well. I think these books will be enjoyed by anyone who actually likes superheroes.
Fans of "Watchmen" and "Astro City" and other intelligently written superhero fiction will definitely enjoy both volumes of Powers vs. Power, and as for me, I'm looking forward to Volume 3.
I'll tell you the truth...I'm a bit of a fiction snob. When I buy a book from an ebook site like this and from an "unknown" author, I generally expect something on the quality of the thinly veiled fanfic that seems to abound everywhere. In the horror genre it gets worse, as everyone seems intent on emulating Charlaine Harris or Stephanie Meyer...and even the originals of those don't interest me.
I'm happy to say that in this case, I'm wrong. "Halloween Sky" is an anthology of stories of such surprising breadth, depth and quality that I'm tempted to say I haven't seen the like since Charles Grant's original "Shadows" collections.
Plainly put, these stories are good. They are, by turns, entertaining, disturbing, frightening, amusing and titillating. There's fantastical weirdness in there worthy of Clark Ashton Smith; there's black humour worthy of Gahan Wilson; there's splatter worthy of Skipp & Spector. It's a mixed bag, no doubt, so all in all the best way to describe the stories as a whole is to say that they're good.
The quality of the writing is not just serviceable, as so much writing from developing authors seems to be, but it's professional. Morris seems to have no trouble shifting the narrative voice to meet the form of the story, and the characters are well-drawn, engaging (if not always sympathetic) and consistent with the worlds they inhabit. The stories themselves generally avoid the tropes of the genre, developing bizarre and thus fascinating new territory...and where the book does dip into the standbys, as with the truly excellent zombie story that closes out the volume, it does so in a new and intriguing way so that you never have a sense of literary redundancy.
The book's not perfect...there's one story in there that I thought was below the standard of the rest of the book, and without which the book would have been much improved. In a few spots the stories are predictable...but predictable in the sense of a freight train speeding down the track, making them no less intense when the inevitable and foreseeable end arrives.
For the experienced reader, I would put the quality of these stories among anything written by Bentley Little or Richard Laymon, and taking aim at Robert Bloch and Richard Matheson territory. The author's notes at the end of each story are almost as interesting and make you wonder just how much of the author's experience, as in the opening tale, "Halloween Sky" come from life.
For anyone who enjoys the short story form in horror...the best form for the genre, in my opinion...this book is a treat. At the price, you'll find the value returned many times.
Starting out somewhere around Richard Matheson's "Duel", heading down the road a pace past "The Hills Have Eyes" and ending up somewhere even Lovecraft would be hesitant to approach, this book is an enjoyably creepy read, perfect for the summer reading list or, dare I say, for those long trips in the car. It's got good character development, a truly unique villain, and an ending fit for any summer blockbuster. Well worth a read.
This book was worth much more than I paid for it, in terms of the amount of time it saved me in formatting our book for the Kindle. Using the helpful template provided by the authors, I was able to accomplish the task much quicker and with much less guesswork than if I had to try and work it out on my own.
Until Amazon releases a tool or script for automating this process, anyone considering putting a comic on the Kindle owes it to themselves to read this book first.
This book does well to bill itself as "Penny Dreadfuls". The original penny dreadfuls, like the pulps, were meant to be disposable entertainment. The stories in this collection fit that bill well. They are disposable, in the sense that they are ephemeral and unpretentious, and they are definitely entertaining.
Calling them disposable is not a criticism in this case; it's a feature. These stories will not linger with you, but they will thrill you while you're reading them. You're not going to have to work too hard to understand any of them, but they're all well done, and there's clearly some talent on display here.
All in all, the items in this collection are not too long, and not too deep, making this the perfect read for an idle couple of hours. As entertainment, it's highly recommended, and I'll be looking forward to future offerings in the series.
Definitely an entertaining read. The story has strong echoes of Lovecraft's "Herbert West, Reanimator", but definitely has its own identity as well. The central idea is very strong and creates some great, if graphic, visuals for the reader.
To be a little critical, some of the diction and vocabulary in the early part of the story had me wondering if it was intended as a somewhat humorous pastiche, but the events of the story soon proved otherwise. Also, some of the plot elements seemed a bit contrived, but not to the point of incredulity.
Overall, a good story, and strong enough to make me want more.
I admire the intent, if not the execution of this story.
It reads as if it were a fiction writing assignment from an interested, but not particularly talented, high school student. It's not terrible...but neither is it particularly good. There's no strong hook for the reader, almost no character development, and only the barest gloss of atmosphere.
Without knowing anything about the writer, I'd say that his writing might go somewhere in time, but it will take a lot of practice.
Read it because it's free, but don't expect too much.
As far as Lovecraft pastiches go, this one is pretty good. Above the average, in fact. It definitely has a Lovecraftian core, but has some interesting original touches as well, and overall makes for a good read. Heartily recommended.
The Writers' Pad E-zine Volume I Fall 2012
on Nov. 02, 2012
A bit of a mixed bag, and unashamedly amateur, but well-written for that and containing some interesting work with a lot of potential. Some parts, especially some of the poems, were rather weak, but were more than made up for by some strong fiction. I'll be interested to see more from some of these writers.
You should not be reading this review.
The table of contents of this book is nearly a Who's Who of modern horror. The names contained in this volume are so luminous, and the quality of work they contribute so nonpareil, that it is almost an insult for the reader to question whether it is worth buying this book, even so far as to read what another reader has to say about it. There's not one whit I can say about Gene Wolf or Joe Lansdale or John Shirley...just to sample a few...that will add anything to the legend that precedes them, and any one of the contributions in this book is, in itself, worth the price of admission. And so, for the simple reason that the value of this book, from it's gloriously lurid cover through to it's final author bio, is beyond question or reproach, you should not be reading this review.
That and the sad fact that the minute you spend reading this review is one less minute spent reading the book.