stephen king

‘Flesh’ by @dylanjmorgan #TuesdayBookBlog #RBRT

Rosie's Book Review team 1

I reviewed’Flesh’ for Rosie’s Book Review Team.

20793203

Amazon.co.uk   Amazon.com

It feeds. It grows. 

The small town of Vacant harbors a secret so terrifying that the local lawmen will do anything to keep it hidden—including murder. Something sinister stalks the surrounding woods, a horrifying creature thought to be only a mystical legend. It hunts at night, killing with ravenous voracity. Deputies Carson Manning and Kyle Brady are the harvesters: they find the victims, tie them to the baiting post. Sheriff Andrew Keller and Deputy Matthew Nielsen are the cleaners: they dispose of the corpses. But when Vacant’s townsfolk take matters into their own hands, nothing can contain the slaughter.

The deadly entity isn’t the only menace Sheriff Keller has to face. He has his own dark secret, a past he tries to hide behind frequent alcohol binges. Now that past has come back to haunt him and will throw him headlong into a traumatic situation that could mean life or death for him and those he holds dear.

I love a good horror story. I grew up devouring Stephen King books and I’ve never found another author that does small town spooky oppressive atmosphere, flawed but sympathetic characters and downright ‘bump in the night’ scares so well. So Dylan J. Morgan had a lot to live up to.

He has the small town atmosphere down perfectly. Vacant and its flawed inhabitants are compellingly drawn and easy to picture. I was torn between sympathy and frustration at Sheriff Keller and despised the deputies and the town mayor. Keller in particular was a complex character – beautifully done, he is the epitome of a man struggling to come to terms with his past, a man who knows his life has been a waste, who knows that he is weak, and yet still has that shred of humanity that has you rooting for him and wanting things to be alright.

The threat that the town faces is well -portrayed and satisfyingly scary, and the opening of the book is a real hook, paving the way for the gruesome secret at the heart of Vacant. The writing itself is technically flawless. The pacing is perfect, the dialogue authentic and the amount of gore pitched perfectly.

The only sticking point for me is the motivation of the ordinary townspeople. I didn’t quite buy that they would agree so whole-heartedly with how the police, preacher and major choose to deal with the threat to their town. These are nice, normal people. I’m not saying they can’t agree to it, only that I wanted to know more clearly why they had – why they were so convinced that this was the only option. There is scope perhaps for the religious element to be played up a bit more here. What Stephen King always does so well is make you believe that ordinary people can do dreadful things. And while this book was a compelling, competent and really enjoyable read, I didn’t completely believe it.

4 stars

Writing a Novel: Books for Writers #Writing Tips

hawthorne

This post came to mind when I was browsing Amazon for Rosie Amber’s Friday Five Challenge. I decided to have a look at books about writing and was amazed at how many there were. Overwhelmed, I abandoned that category and went on to ‘Horror’, but it did get me thinking about how a would-be writer, or a writer who wants to improve, would be able to wade through all those books and manage to find something that would actually help.

So I browsed my own bookshelves (they contain just slightly fewer books than Amazon!) and my Kindle, and picked out the books that have helped me write. Some I read years ago, others only recently. I’ve kept it to five – I do think that a lot of books repeat the same information. Anyway, I hope these help.

1) For new writers, old writers, published, self-published, not published, in short for any writer, I cannot recommend this strongly enough:

stephen king

Amazon.co.uk     Amazon.com

This is a fabulous book. Part memoir, part masterclass in writing, it’s entertaining, thought-provoking, eye-opening, sensible and inspirational, all at once. Of course, Stephen King could make anything entertaining. Basically, writers need to read this book.

2) If you’re serious about writing you need to read. It’s how writers learn. This wonderful book, by the rather aptly named Francine Prose, shows you how to use that reading experience to improve your writing.

prose

Amazon.co.uk    Amazon.com

Looking at words, sentences, paragraphs, narration, character, dialogue, details and gesture, Prose shows how you can learn from the masters. There’s also a list of ‘Books to be Read Immediately’ (it’s a very long list).

3) I’ve been following Cynthia Harrison’s blog for a while now and was intrigued to see that she’s written a book on writing.

cynthia

Amazon.co.uk    Amazon.com

Straightforward, engaging, encouraging and accessible, this book is full of helpful exercises and prompts to get your writing going. The new edition includes a section on e-publishing, very helpful in today’s writing world.

4) I’m often described as pedantic. Fastidious even. Fussy. Well, at least when it comes to grammar. It frustrates me that correct grammar and punctuation don’t seem to regarded as important, that a lot of people don’t have a grasp of the rules that we need to make sure our writing is understood. So obviously I love this book.

truss

Amazon.co.uk    Amazon.com

I read it first many years ago. I know there are other books like it, but I think it’s still the best one out there. Grammar does matter, the rules are needed, and Truss explains why. And she has a sense of humour about it. Unlike me.

5) So that’s the creative and technical side dealt with. But once your book is written, there is another book that you should definitely invest in.

w a

Amazon.co.uk    Amazon.com

Aimed primarily at the UK market (sorry!) this guide is full of useful articles, including information about self-publishing, as well as over 4500 media listings. Invaluable. On my Christmas list every year.