Wednesday, 23 September 2020

The Keep

eBook edition
Author: F. Paul Wilson
Ebook Publisher: Wilsongs
Ebook Date: Nov. 2013
File size/Pages: 1162KB / 377pp
First Published: 1981

F. Paul Wilson is an author who has made his mark. He is the author of more than fifty books. He has covered many genres including horror, science fiction and thrillers. He has also written for the comic medium, plays, television and movie treatments. He sometimes writes young adult novels. He is probably most well known for his Repairman Jack series of novels about an anti-hero involved in a age-long battle across time. His first published novel was The Healer in 1976, a Sci-Fi book that eventually became part of his LaNague Federation sequence.

In 1981 Wilson published The Keep. A horror novel involving Nazis, a Romanian Castle/Keep and an ancient vampire. This novel became the first in what is called The Adversary Cycle, which now encompasses six titles. The book was a hit, and very quickly the film rights were snapped up. By 1983 a motion picture was distributed by Paramount Pictures starring Scott Glenn, J├╝rgen Prochnow and Ian McKellen amongst others. German electronic music band Tangerine Dream produced the soundtrack (which is great if you can get hold of a copy). The film was not received very well, and is probably deserved. It has a fascinating history I'd recommend anyone looking up. I haven't seen the movie for a long time - but my own memory of seeing it as a teenager, most likely on video cassette, was that it was extremely creepy (I was most likely heavily influenced by the music if I'm honest). With that in mind, I thought I'd choose The Keep as one of the books for Horror Month here on Digital Bibliophilia.

Almost the whole of The Keep is located within or close by the Keep. Set in the Dinu Pass, high up in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania in April 1941, this ancient fortification is targeted by the Nazis as key spot to post a garrison of troops. Their orders are to guard the pass from Allied encroachment in to the Romanian oil fields that will soon be made available to them after their newly formed pact with the country. 

Monday, 14 September 2020

Cujo

Author: Stephen King
Ebook Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Ebook Date: Mar. 2010
File size/Pages: 1716KB / 402pp
First Published: 1981

Now let's get something straight. Stephen King is a brilliant writer. I love to read King. Some of his books have had a major influence on my reading material over the last forty years. I think he is one of the most exceptional authors around today. His style is so comforting to read, which sounds strange to say when you are talking about a body of work that mainly encompasses the horror genre. But it just is. You can start a novel by King and instantly be sucked into the characters and places of his story. He is one of the rare authors around for who, when you see the latest book is over 500 pages, you don't think "jeez, this is gonna be a slog" - you think, "wow! this could be great, can't wait to get into that one."

I won't say, I'm a King aficionado, or even a King enthusiast. I don't race out to the bookshop to grab the first edition hardback for each and every novel to come along. But I do stop and pause when I see a new cover with his name on it, pick it up, read the back cover blurb, and think, "Is this one up my street?". Because I know if it is, then I'm gonna eventually read it cover to cover, and usually very quickly. Like a dog that hasn't eaten all day, and is sitting there drool dangling off of his jowls.

So when it came to choosing books for Horror Month, I walked past my little collection of King novels languishing on the small bedroom bookcase we have, and I thought to myself, "Which one of these haven't I read yet? Cujo. I've not read Cujo, yet. I'll have that one thank you ma'am. Let's see what Mr King was all about in 1981 Shall we." Well, it turns out he was on a high. Quite literally. And literally. Does that make sense?

When Cujo was published in September of 1981, King was coming off the back of successive hits with Carrie, Salem's Lot, The Shining, The Stand, Firestarter and The Dead Zone. He was effectively untouchable, and had even started writing under the Richard Bachman pseudonym (see reviews of The Long Walk and The Running Man) to see if his books would sell as well without the King 'label', as they did with it. He also simply wanted to just get more of his work out there, but was hindered by his publishers wishes to keep his fans on a strict diet. 

Saturday, 5 September 2020

Haunted

1988 UK NEL Edition
Author: James Herbert
Ebook Publisher: Pan
Ebook Date: May 2011
File size/Pages: 893KB / 228pp
First Published: 1988

Horror Month kicks off with a right cracker from British horror writer James Herbert. There hasn't been a single book by Herbert that I didn't enjoy reading, so I was bit excited to start this once I'd decided to do a month of horror reading. I'm pleased to report that he didn't dissapoint me again. I was gripped from the first twenty pages. Haunted is a classic ghost story where the gradual build-up of an unsettling atmosphere over the course of 220+ pages had me glancing nervously at the dark corners of the living room while I was reading. 

James Herbert died suddenly in 2013, at the age of 69. It's a real shame because I feel that he had a few more great books in him, and I'd have loved to be able to read them. The last book he published was titled Ash, and acts as the final book in a trilogy about the titluar character, David Ash. Haunted is the first novel to feature Ash, a paranormal investigator.

James Herbert was born in 1943 in London, not so very far from where I myself grew up in the East End of London. He was educated locally and eventually went to work for an advertising agency. His writing success began with The Rats and The Fog in the late seventies horror boom (although to be fair, they rely on more of a scientific basis for their preimse than a supernatural one). Herbert received the Grand Master Award from Stephen King at the World Horror Convention in 2010. Herbert and King were good friends, both of them starting out with their first books at almost the same moment in time with The Rats beating Carrie by just a few months from publisher New English Library.
I was working in advertising as an art director for five years in the West End of London. I realised as soon as I was writing books full time (before I was writing them in the weekends and during any other spare time), I had to decide if it was one or the other . . . I had to make the decision to either stay in the job I loved or start this new job that I had being doing for five years which I loved even more, because I was king, I played God, characters did what I wanted them to do; whilst in advertising everything is brought down to a certain level. So that's how the career began, and because I no longer had to work in London we moved down to Sussex.