Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones
Mapping the Interior is a horror novella that wraps itself around your heart and brain while remaining incredibly hard to define. I originally got this book as part of a Nocturnal Reader’s Box, and am so glad that I got the chance to read it. The story focuses on Junior, a twelve year old boy who’s mother has moved the family off the reservation after his father’s death in order to keep them safe. One night after sleepwalking, Junior sees his father…his dead father…walk through the house. As he tries to figure out what is going on and why his father is back, Junior’s younger brother, Dino’s health declines more and more. The story spins us through science and superstition, and the natures of poverty and family.
This is really an incredible book. Jones has given us a wonderful main character in Junior. Watching him trying to reason through his father’s return, and dealing with what follows is both terrifying and moving.
Like all great stories, this one sticks with you after it’s finished. I’m having a very hard time explaining why this story affected me the way it did…so consider this my strong recommendation that you read it for yourself!
Gil’s All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez
This is A. Lee Martinez’s debut novel, and I recently had the hankering for a reread. I still remember picking it off an end cap in my local library as I looked for something the read over the winter break. The bold title and the one-eyed, tentacled monster on the front had me hooked. I’ve been a huge fan of Martinez ever since.
This book revolves around Duke (a werewolf) and Earl (a vampire), who stumble upon a diner in the middle of the desert that is besieged by zombies. In an effort to earn a couple of bucks and help out Loretta, the diner’s owner, Duke and Earl agree to stick around and do some light repair work. And find the source of the restless dead. As it turns out, Rockwood County has a rather bizarre and supernatural past, and the Law of Anomalous Phenomena Attraction (weird shit pulls in more weird shit) means that things are only going to get stranger and more difficult.
With this book, Martinez set his style as something of an American Terry Pratchett. His style of writing is zingy and humorous, sarcastic and witty. His subject matter tends to be a little out there, whether lovecraftian, sci-fi, sword and sorcery, or what have you. The writing in Gil’s All Fright Diner is a bit rougher than his later work, but nevertheless you can see the promise in the colorful characterizations of Duke and Earl, the flow of the banter, and the arcane twists of the plot.
If you enjoy science fiction, fantasy, or monsters, but would like a light-hearted read rather than something overly serious (and who wouldn’t in these abysmal times?), Martinez’s books are a good bet.
Gil’s All Fright Diner is current;y available for purchase.
A Time of Torment by john Connolly
This is the fourteenth installment in Connolly’s Charlie Parker series. It’s always difficult to come into a series this late, but I found A Time of Torment to be an engaging thriller.
Though the book weaves between several subplots (many of which are tied to events in previous books, or foreshadowing future books), the main focus of A Time of Torment is the unfortunate Jerome Burnel. Burnel is a fallen hero, lauded for preventing a massacre in the past, then brought low. Recently released from prison, Burnel seeks out private investigator Charlie Parker. Burnel tells Parker his story: the desperate few minutes fighting the horror that made him a hero, then the mysterious circumstances that presaged his imprisonment and torment. Burnel suspects his imprisonment may be related to his heroic actions, but there is only one lead to follow; a name whispered in the dark: The Dead King.
When Burnel goes missing, Charlie Parker must uncover the mysterious cabal that ruined Burnel’s life, and seek out and stop The Dead King before more blood is spilled.
A Time of Torment superbly blends the supernatural with a crime thriller. Connolly’s prose is elegant and visceral at the same time. While certain aspects of the plot are certainly better if one has read the previous books, A Time of Torment can stand alone with only a little difficulty. The pace of the book is fast, even in the detours from the main plot. The biggest complaint I can utter is that Charlie Parker seems to be a bit of a supporting character in this book, but that is mainly because the supporting characters are given a good bit of headway in which to grow. Charlie Parker doesn’t grow much as a character in A Time of Torment, but with fourteen books under his belt, and having recently been dead, the reader can forgive him for taking a break.
In all, this is a fast paced and enjoyable thriller. Fans of Dean Koontz, or Jonathan Maberry will enjoy this series.
An advance ebook was provided by the publisher, Atria Books, via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.