Book Review: Facial by Jeff Strand

23353557Title: Facial

Author: Jeff Strand

Genre: Horror, Dark Fiction, Dark Humor

Age Group: Adult (18+)

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Greg has just killed the man he hired to kill one of his wife’s many lovers. He’s now got a dead body in his office.
Carlton, Greg’s brother, desperately needs a dead body. It’s kind of related to the lion corpse that he found in his basement.
This is the normal part of the story.
From Jeff Strand, the author of Benjamin’s Parasite, The Sinister Mr. Corpse, and Fangboy, comes a tale that’s weird even by his standards.
Facial. It’s not about what you’re thinking. Well, okay, part of it is…

In Facial, Greg killed the man he hired to kill one of his wife’s lovers, which leaves him with a dead body in his office. That comes in handy considering Carlton, Greg’s brother, could really use a dead body. The reason why is related to a lion corpse he found in his basement, and a face that mysterious appeared in his basement floor. The face demands dead people, in particular their heads, and because when a face appears on your floor and starts making insane requests, you better start doing what it says, the brothers start feeding the face. Next thing they know, a new face appears. And another. All those faces, demanding food, demanding dead people.

This book is messed up. The brothers have little qualms about killing people, and they actually start enjoying it. The author has a real talent for mixing the macabre with humor. Making serial killing sound hilarious is a rare talent. The humor is weird and bizarre, and you need to be a special kind of crazy to enjoy this book, but turns out I’m just that.

It’s entertaining even though you don’t want it to be. The writing is excellent, and the plot is definitely original. Fans of bizarro fiction will enjoy this one.

Book Review: The Lonely by Ainslie Hogarth

20786095Title: The Lonely

Author: Ainslie Hogarth

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Magical Realism, Dark Humor

Age Group: Young Adult

Rating: 5 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

A darkly humorous and imaginative story
After she discovers The Terrible Thing, Easter Deetz goes looking for her sister, Julia, but ends up pinned under a giant boulder with her legs crushed into tomato paste. Bored, disappointed, and thoroughly dismembered, Easter slowly bleeds to death in The Woods with only sinister squirrels to keep her company. As The Something Coming draws closer, memories of Easter’s family surface like hallucinations: a mumbling father who lives alone in the basement; a terrifying grandmother who sits in her enclosed porch all day; an overly loving mother who plays dead in the bathtub on Sunday nights.
As the story of her life unspools, Easter realizes she’s being stalked, making it very difficult for her to bleed to death in peace. Will The Something Coming save her? Or will it do her in entirely?

Let me start out by saying The Lonely isn’t for everyone. Right from the start, it’s obvious some people will love it, and others will hate it. It’s either love or hate, and I’m definitely in the “love” category. Dark humor is the key element of this book. It is dark – I mean, it starts out with the main character Easter ending up pinned under a giant boulder with her legs crushed. She thinks she might die, but heck, bleeding to death is cool, in some way. Sh’s more bored than anything else. While she’s lying under the boulder, Easter starts reliving memories. They’re told like some kind of feverish dream or hallucination.

The truth is, even after reading the book, I’m not sure if I grasped all the pieces of this story. At its core, it’s a dark story – about a disturbed girl and her family. Her loving mother, who plays dead in the bathtub every Sunday night. Her Dad, who locks himself up in the basement. It’s impossible to figure out what is real and what isn’t. Main character Easter is the most unrelieable narrator I’ve ever come across – and I loved reading things from her POV.

The book is specked with dark humor, and sometimes I even laughed out loud, and felt ashamed right after, because I was laughing at the most terrible things.

The writing is superb. It has a dream-like quality, almost as if the writing itself is just another of Easter’s hallucinations.

If you want something different and aren’t afraid to read a book that will leave you wondering what the heck just happened, The Lonely is definitely for you. I loved it. It’s impossible to review it and tell you just how good it is without you checking it out for yourself, so I’ll just end by saying that when Ainslie Hogarth writes another novel, I’m buying it right away.


Book Review: These Hellish Happenings by Jennifer Rainey

9694732Title: These Hellish Happenings
Author: Jennifer Rainey
Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Dark Humor, Vampires, Demons, Adult
Rating: 4,5 stars
Goodreads | Author Website
Review copy provided by the author.

In 1707, hapless vampire Jack Bentley made a pact with the Devil in order to escape a vampire hunt. Dealing with Satan seemed better than your standard angry mob at the time. But three centuries later, Satan is ready to collect His dues, whether the vampire likes it or not. He’s taking Jack down to Hell, and He’s even got a job picked out for him down below: an eternal position at the Registration Office of the Damned. Jack attempts to adjust to life on the Administrative Level of Hell where fire and brimstone have been replaced by board meetings and the occasional broken copier. But the whiny complaints of the recently-deceased are the least of his problems. Try adding to the equation a dead ex-lover, a dangerous attraction to his high-ranking demon companion, Alexander Ridner, and the sticky and distorted anti-vampire politics of a Hell that is surprisingly like our own world…

In These Hellish Happenings, we follow vampire slash music collector Jack Bentley, as he is reminded of a bargain he striked with the Devil himself about three centuries ago. Although three centuries is a long time, even for a practically-immortal vampire, the Devil never forgets anything. Jack is brought down to hell, where he begins his new job as registrar at The Registration Office of The Damned. There, he is forced to write down the names of the recently-deceased, and tell them where to go next. Although his new job proves to be extremely boring, there are some quircks about it. For instance, Jack gets to live with a demon called Alexander, who is basically Satan’s second-in-command. Without counting Belzebub in, that is. He gets to meet new friends, learns that life in the pit isn’t all that different from life on earth as here too his species is discriminated against, and he might just start the revolution that will change Hell forever. Mix all of that with some dark humor, and you’ve basically got what These Hellish Happenings is all about.

Jack Bentley makes an interesting protagonist. Whether or not he’s evil, isn’t even debated throughout the novel, as basically everyone who ends up in hell has stepped over some line once or twice in their lifes. He is an interesting character, with a two-sided personality (we think: vampires bad, but what we see from Jack he turns out to be a rather okay fellow in that department, since he drinks bottled blood at a bar, for instance), with an undeniable and highly enjoyable sense of humor, and a mind that’s not too stubborn or stupid to demand change. When he’s thrown into Hell – as a matter of speech – the place below is on the verge of a revolution, with two parties battling each other. The one party wants to make demons rule in hell, and demote all other species to low-level jobs, like for instance, Cerberus shit-cleaning duty. The other party battles for equality between the species, and they soon see in Jack a possible leading man for their ideals and opinions. This brings Jack in a rollercoaster of events, all of them equally original and hilarious.

Who could have imagined any of the things Jennifer Rainey brings in this novel? Hell divided in offices, and every demon, vampire or poor soul sent to the bottomless pit, with a job of their own. A hellish environment with politicians – like it’s not enough that they make life a living hell already -, parties, struggles, elections, possible promotions, and an 8 till 6 working schedule. It’s safe to conclude that Jennifer Rainey’s take on hell, her world-building in particular, is both very original and very impressive. Jennifer Rainey basically gives us our view of modern-day society, our politics, our human rights actions and our work ethics, and presents them to us agaisnt the facade of Hell. There are brave political statements touched in this novel, which make it all the more interesting.

And not only does the author provide us with an authentic, original view on Hell and the Underworld, she also has an entirely new take on vampires, as they are usually portrayed in literature, and on demons. Jack Bentley is anything but an ordinary familiar-looking vampire, and Alexander, his demon roommate, is anything but the demons we are used to. Humorous, original, with an impressive storyline and fantastic characters. These Hellish Happenings is an excellent read, not only for its originality and marvellous characterization, but for its impressive writing style and enjoyable humour as well. If you like fantasy, and even if you don’t, you should just try this book. It’s a rare jewel in the fantasy genre.

These Hellish Happenings is the first book in a series, and I cannot wait to read the sequel.