Two partners, Sam and Steve, come across a spaceship that was lost mysteriously and accidentally unleash a blue plasma that feeds on everything it touches…
The bit about the ship was a nice touch “Sailors have the Marie Celeste; airmen have flight 109 … spacefarers had the Vordlak.” Experiments were done on it to harness energy from what was thought to be the supernatural but were actually drawing from another place with a Lovecraftian being living in it… Unfortunately, all the creepiness is done away soon after because the blue, glowing blob, basically another Shoggoth retread, while obviously dangerous, just isn’t that interesting. There are things about dreams and a black pyramid, but it’s not the main focus. It’s all just another setup to do a blob story.
This follows two sets of main characters because what happens on the ship causes a breach on Mars as well, with another blue blob consuming and growing. The main characters are OK, but nothing special. All the side characters are terrible, soldiers that just keep shooting at the plasm even though it was shown to be ineffective, and other spacefarers that, of course, don’t believe the things happening are real and choose to ignore them. It’s really obvious they were only there to die, and they were mostly pointless characters to the story.
The setup to this is great, as well as the short story that is used throughout, but it really lost steam in the second half and just became another generic story with Lovecraft stuff thrown in.
Owen is woken by his son David early in the morning. He tells him a tale of a strange tree with markings on it. When he touches them, the sight in his left eye that was lost due to an accident while he was young was restored. This sets Owen off on an investigation to find out the truth about this tree…
Uncovering a conspiracy, he tries to balance his new knowledge with his belief in God and races off to find his son, who is responsible for signing the forms that allow the forested area to be bulldozed to put in a high-speed railway…
Well written and with believable and likable characters. It’s very subtle and slow at first, but it picks up the pace and delivers a satisfying ending.
Three fantasy stories that are well written and full of adventure and fun.
The Cauldron of Camulos sees a warrior taken captive after a failed raid on an enemy, and he ends up being used for the magic in him, the Wyrd. Action-packed and features a giant beast battle that the author always does well.
The Last Magician is a wonderful tale about a boy who comes across three colorful floating lights who ask him to tell them a story in exchange for a gift. The gift ends up being magic, and the boy’s attempts at using them don’t go very well… It’s just a great enjoyable tale, quite a nice change of pace to how these usually go.
A Knight In the Lonesome October is about Galahad and some creature sent by Merlin to guide him to be a hero and stop Morgana… To be honest, this story irritated me a little; there are just too many ideas and concepts, and most of them went over my head. It was full of action, and I liked the writing, though. I just didn’t really get it.
This was a good collection to read through, so check it out.
This one is meant to be an introduction to Midnight Eye and Sigils & Totems stories also by the author. It’s short but only 99 cents.
Whether this is your first Derek Adams story or you’ve read the others, you’ll either find or be introduced to the usual formula. He gains a case from a shady person and goes off to investigate it. Lots of drinking, running around talking to interesting and usually strange characters, often with Scottish accents. The old private eye tropes run strong throughout.
The Sigils & Totems part involves the Green Door in the title. It allows one to speak with the dead and make them answer questions… it’s very creepy and calls back to Lovecraft and his essential saltes. Lots of chanting and singing, and also talk of a dreaming god…
It’s a fun and quick read and serves well as the introduction to both series as it set out to do.
In You Shall Never Know Security, the author J.R. Hamantaschen tells tales full of depression, the mundane, inner thoughts, and Lovecraftian beings. It’s no exaggeration in the intro that tells you these stories weren’t written on the quick for the money, they aren’t very long, but each takes its time to tell what it wants to tell. They are never concerned with how a story “should” be told. The author does what he wants and makes them his own. I don’t want to get into any such obnoxious claims about how SPECIAL AND UNIQUE this makes the collection, but when you mentally compare it to other things you’ve read, you can clearly see the contrast, and this makes it at the very least, refreshing … and also super weird.
The title of the collection and the quote at the beginning set up the main theme of this, you will always fail. Life is just a losing game: no matter how true your love, the newness will fade and turn into apathy towards one another; no matter how well you are doing at your job, you’re just always fighting to maintain your position or improve, but one day you’ll lose it, friendships will always drift apart, etc., etc… The characters are always thinking about their version of these things in each story, and it’s just really depressing. It’s taking the Lovecraft cosmicism and, instead of looking at things on a big scale and looking at all of humanity, puts it down on our mundane, normal lives and our battle to live and get by in society, and that’s all of course just utterly pointless. Also depressing.
Quite a few of the stories get very gory and gross… the author has a bit of a thing with having to go with the bathroom. You’ll see in one story, and if you’re like me, you’ll fail to start the story after that a few times because you’re thinking, “did I really just read that?”. You did. The descriptions of the gore and beings causing them are very imaginative and also never that clear about what they are, so you’re left to fill in some crazy and weird blanks. If you enjoy this type of thing, you’ll happily do that.
Reading J.R. Hamantaschen for the first time was very jarring for me. He’s very wordy or verbose if I were fancy enough to say that word… I’m not, but he clearly is. Here’s a quick look at my kindle vocabulary builder after reading this collection: “dragooning, stentorian, ignominy, encomiums, sequacious, syncopation, dysphemism, ebullition, uxorious… Okay, I’ll stop there, but seriously. I’m sure you’re all smarter than me out there, but I was doing some serious long pressing on words.
The stories here just stick with you, they’re weird in a good way and depressing, which is never good, but it’s easy to relate to and nice to see how well it’s dealt with. To do this review, I’ve had to read the collection a second time, and in doing so, I enjoyed it more, now being used to the author’s style and the themes. I wouldn’t look down on anyone who finds this hard to read or isn’t interested in the horror of depression that this tackles over and over, but if you’re willing to give it a shot, you’ll find some excellent writing and plots you certainly haven’t seen before. Strongly recommended.
Another case for Derek Adams, a man, and his military buddies accidentally sold their souls thirty years ago for “three beers and a packet of crisps.”
You’ll get the usual from this series, sleuthing, Scottish accents, and drinking; Lots of drinking. The story is short but has a lot of twists and turns with the characters, and the ending has a really dark implication.
It’s a fun and quick read, and since it’s free, it’s no devil’s bargain.
A well-written tale, the Lovecraftian elements are subtle and in the background mostly, but completely set up everything. The world-building is excellent, and it feels alive; and while the story is short, the characters are developed well and enjoyable.
A lot of care and detail was put into the mystery. There are a lot of characters and motives all crashing into one another, and it was a great, quick read. This one doesn’t need a long review; just check it out.
It follows the same formula every time… yet is always enjoyable. The narrator is invited to Carnacki’s place for a story. He is joined by his friends, who all sit and eat dinner and enjoy small talk. Then they retire to the parlor, and the real story begins. Carnacki always has some crazy latest adventure he tells to them, he always pauses for dramatic effect by filling his pipe, and Arkwright always interrupts and is stopped with a glare by Carnacki. Whenever I began to tire of it, another story starts up, and I was once again caught up in it. Where such repetition would annoy me to no end in other collections, here, it just worked.
His stories are varied but always involve him setting up his defenses, smoking his pipe, and drinking tea. I enjoy the language and them always mentioning the food or drink they get during the adventure. I won’t delve into the stories, just read it and let Carnacki tell them much better than I. I will mention, however, the last story, which is a novella. It brings back the pig men and all the crazy in the House on the Borderland, and it’s just a fantastic tale.
It kept me interested from beginning to end, despite things that would typically irritate me. Great collection.
Freaky Tales From the Force is the often mentioned TV show in the other two Kotto stories. This book covers season one of it, and is it great? Yes, it is.
The format allows the overarching story to keep switching points of views and subjects, keeping it constantly fresh and not suffering from the usual ever-diminishing returns of weirdness that often happens in such tales. It manages to retain the over-the-top crazy in the others but has good characters and keeps offering all kinds of viewpoints on the absolute insanity going on. You know, it’s not just going LOOK HOW WEIRD AND GOOFY I am; it’s still offering good plot and meaningful development to ground it.
But of course, it IS weird and goofy. Space vampires, nazi mages, slime monsters, wendigos… well, that’s SOME of it. The battle against the space vampires is the plot that runs through the different stories or episodes. Some of these are written by different authors, and that also plays into keeping it fresh throughout the collection.
The main characters are back, and Kotto is once again his crazy conspiracy self. There are a lot of small character things thrown in, Veronica with her tree monster dreams, Richards musing about his soldier past, and poor Dean running around with his camera, always annoyed and lost. A story has Richards and Kotto seemingly switch attitudes between skeptic and believer, and it was really funny. Some stories have other deputies sworn in, which pays off in the end.
Well, really, most of it is funny. Kotto yelling at monsters to stop eating his constituents, an undead being promised “Train Weirdos,” fidget spinners being said to have mind-controlling properties, and the line “Against Goblinry, For The People.” just making me laugh… I could go on and on.
It ends finely after the “Season Finale,” which contains a bar fight and Richards firing on a big rig with a machine gun purchased with taxpayer funds, which he believes makes Kotto proud. And, of course, so much more action-packed into that one, but I’m done going on. Just go read it.