SPOOKY SUNDAY: Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

For today, on the eve of Halloween I feel I’ve saved the best til last. I first bought Something Wicked This Way Comes last year with the intention to read it for that Halloween, however I found myself taking too long reading my previous book and ended up saving it for this year instead. So I had a year’s worth of anticipation built for this book and I’m glad to say it lived up to my expectations.

Something Wicked This Way Comes features one of the most famous examples of the creepy carnival as it rides in to town the week before Halloween and two boys, Jim and Will, try to protect the town and ultimately themselves from its malign influence.

SPOILER WARNING: The following review contains minor spoilers for the plot of Something Wicked This Way Comes. 

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SPOOKY SUNDAY: Fangland by John Marks

For this, the penultimate Spooky Sunday, I read Fangland by John Marks which earns the not entirely complimentary honour of being the weirdest book I’ve read this year by far. Fangland is a sort of modern retelling of Dracula which follows Evangeline Harker, an associate producer on America’s biggest news programme as she goes to set up an interview with a mysterious man rumoured to be the head of crime in Eastern Europe and disappears in Transylvania. The book then splits between Evangeline’s experiences and those of her colleagues back in America as strange things begin to happen in their offices.

SPOILER WARNING: The below review contains moderate spoilers for the plot of Fangland.

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Review: Closed Casket by Sophie Hannah

The Belgian is back!

Hercule Poirot is one of the most memorable literary detectives of all time. Poet Sophie Hannah has taken on the character in her new Agatha Christie style Poirot series. Her new Poirot story, Closed Casket, sees the Belgian detective solve a bizarre and brutal murder in the house of children’s author Athelinda Playford. Taking on such an iconic character is never going to be easy.

And I’m not about to make it any easier. See what a die-hard Christie fan has to say about this Poirot revival.

Major spoilers under the cut!

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PLAY REVIEW: 1984

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of seeing the play 1984 which is currently on at the West End, and I thought I’d write a (not-so) lil’ review about it. What is more apt for a spooky scary October post than an adaptation of a world famous novel that looks deep into the heart of human autonomy and oppressive governments who can control your inner most thoughts, fears and desires? Let’s get cracking!

SPOILER WARNING: There are some minor spoilers for the plot of 1984 in the below as well as a major section at the end. Continue reading

TIE-IN TUESDAY: Halloween Rain by Christopher Golden and Nancy Holder

I have a confession to make: one of my absolute favourite genres is the tie-in novel. Essentially published fanfiction, I love these books because they tend to be quick, easy reads that allow me to spend time with characters I already love in the fictional universes I enjoy. While tie-in novels have to abide by the rules of canon, they are then free to go wherever they want without having to worry too much about the long term consequences of the plot. This leads to the exploration of supporting characters who rarely draw sole focus on-screen, a deeper look at character’s backstories, and, in some instances, the creation of straight-up alternative universes. Moreover, as the reader’s imagination tends to have less constraints of budget and technology the villains and set-pieces are often far more ambitious than anything that could be attempted in the source material. To celebrate the awesomeness of this oft-ignored genre I’m devoting at least one Tuesday a month to the review of a tie-in novel, starting with Halloween Rain, the first book in the expanded Buffyverse.

I remember reading Buffyverse novels on loan from the library over ten years ago, back when I was super-obsessed with the show. (I mean it – I had Buffy duvet covers.*) I recently started a re-watch of the series that will hopefully take me from beginning to end, something I’ve never quite managed before. As I’m a major completionist, I’ve decided to read the novels in publication order along with the show. Sadly, the local library no longer has a shelf dedicated to the exploits of Buffy and her pals, but most of the Buffy oeuvre is available cheap and secondhand from Amazon. Halloween Rain is handily collected in the second of a series of omnibus editions published in 2011, the covers of which feature more blood spatter than possibly the entire seven seasons of Buffy proper.

SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains some minor spoilers for the plot of Halloween Rain.

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SPOOKY SUNDAY: Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

This week’s Spooky Sunday was a somewhat rushed affair as I actually ended up reading the majority of the book today due to a minor reading slump earlier in the week. Her Fearful Symmetry is a ghost story about twins which centers on a house bordering London’s famous Highgate Cemetery; it’s probably the least conventionally creepy book on my list but there’s still plenty to enjoy. The story centers on a pair of American twins who inherit a London flat which once belonged to their mother’s sister (themselves also twins) as well of the other residents of the house including their not quite departed aunt.

SPOILER WARNING: The following review contains minor spoilers for the plot of Her Fearful Symmetry

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SPOOKY SUNDAY: Neverland by Douglas Clegg

Staying on task with my Spooky Sunday goals this week I read Neverland by Douglas Clegg. I found this book through a Halloween reads recommendation list and while it’s probably not something I would have picked up on my own it definitely made for interesting reading. Set during a summer vacation at their family’s ramshackle old mansion Neverland is a southern gothic horror story that follows the increasingly sinister games played by the narrator Beau and his odd cousin Sumter. Like the story from from which it draws its title this is a book about childhood and the price to be paid by growing up, albeit told in much darker way.

SPOILER WARNING: The following review contains minor spoilers for the plot of Neverland.

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REVIEW: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016)

We just covered the book of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children  for our September book club, where it met with a rather *ahem* mixed response. As the person responsible for the choice, one of the reasons I suggested this book is because I was intrigued by the trailer for the upcoming film adaptation. While the trailer looked very promising, reading the book did suggest that there may have been some difficulties in adapting it for film. The photograph conceit may have added an extra point of interest in the novel, but would easily hamper the already visual medium of film. The adaptation also has to contend with the book’s somewhat unsatisfactory ending, which is largely concerned with setting up for its sequel – something not guaranteed to the film.

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons for anticipation, but equally trepidation, towards this film comes from its director. Tim Burton established himself as a modern auteur with his early films, but has suffered diminishing critical returns on most of his later features. His last two literary adaptations, 2005’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland from 2010, received particularly harsh criticism. However, Burton appears to be attempting to refresh his style at the moment, parting with frequent collaborators Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter and moving away from his traditional gothic wheelhouse with 2014’s Big Eyes. So could a move to the YA market and the pairing of Burton’s kooky darkness with Rigg’s peculiar children prove a winning formula? After all there are plenty of films that manage to rise above their source material.

SPOILER WARNING: The following review contains minor spoilers for the film and book of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children.

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SPOOKY SUNDAY: Slade House by David Mitchell

Halloween is probably my favourite seasonal holiday and this year I thought I’d celebrate with some spooky reads. I’m hoping to get one of these up each Sunday but we’ll see how it goes.

Slade House is a book that can best be described as a science fiction ghost story. It’s set over a period of thirty-six years and follows the mysterious events surrounding the titular house and those who visit it through a series of interconnected short stories. Each of the stories features a different narrator and time period while following the same basic premise of the protagonist being drawn into Slade House then charting their experiences inside.

SPOILER WARNING: The following review contains minor spoilers for the plot of Slade House

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Book Buds Book Club

It’s our first Book Buds Book Club review!

Over September we read Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, a gothic-style YA novel following Jacob Portman as he searches for meaning in the bizarre, twisted fairy tales he heard from his grandfather, Abe. With the Tim Burton film adaptation in cinemas now, we figured it was time we caught up with this eerie little world and share our thoughts with you.

It’s safe to say there were a few, uh, conflicting views. Let’s start from the bottom and work our way up.

Major spoilers below the cut!

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