Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Review - Splinters by Joseph D'Lacey-PART 1

Yes, this is the book I'm publishing on November 1st. So, you'd expect my review to be biased.
Of course I like the book, and the stories in it. But I think I am in a fairly good position to talk about it, seeing as it's been a part of my life for the last six months.

Anyway here is a preview of the jacket. I imagine if you click on it, amazing things will happen.
This is a collection of twelve short stories by Joseph D'Lacey. It think it's fair to say that I have read more of Joseph's writing than pretty much anyone apart from Joseph himself. It is a credit to his writing that I still crave more.

The process of putting this collection of stories together involved me reading every finished short story that he'd written over the last eleven years. That's a lot of stories.
I wanted those we chose to put in the book to reflect the versatility of Joseph's writing. There is a stigma that comes with being known as a 'genre' author. Especially if it's science fiction, fantasy or horror. This was highlighted rather well by a fact about the Man Booker Prize for fiction that I learnt yesterday which is illustrated below.

This is from the Guardian btw

I realise this is just one snapshot, but what I wanted to show in this collection is that genre fiction, in this case horror, can be literary, accessible, challenging and very readable. Yes, by its very nature it can be disturbing too. But if books provoke emotion then is that so wrong?
What i'm trying to say is if you don't read horror, because 'well, it's horror, isn't it?', I would urge you to reconsider.

Twelve stories are included in the collection and here I shall try to give you a taste of each one. The first six I shall review here and the second six I shall review next week.

Here goes;

  Set in Gemini Apartments, the story explores paranoia, where nosey neighbours take on a modern twist. It's a multilayered story that starts off with a sinister uneasy undertone, which then spirals and spirals to a whole new level. I chose this story to put in first, because a) it's one of my personal favourites and b) because it sets a tone for the whole book.

Lights Out
  When you were young were you scared of the dark? Did you think there was something under your bed that might get you? This is the classic premise of this 10 pager. Our main character Joe has lived with this fear since he was young, but it has remained with him. As he has grown, his imagination of what could possibly be under the bed has grown with him. And now his son is beginning to worry what's under HIS bed. There's a twist. A brilliant twist.

By now, after two stories, you'll probably need a break. Not only to compose yourself, but to savour the stories you've just read.

Right, OK? Let's continue.

Altar Girl
  This story marks a change of direction in the book. Life, for Sophie has not turned out the way she'd dreamt. Her husband is a slob and her kids are spoilt and ungrateful. As she stands by the kitchen sink, she wonders to herself, 'if only things were different...'
It's a Wonderful Life never got this dark.

The Quiet Ones
  This tale follows an assassin's journey across a treacherous and inhospitable frozen landscape to eradicate a commune, who have chosen to leave behind civilization. What grabbed me about this story was how claustrophobic it felt, despite the vast open spaces this story is set in. It's also told by an unseen narrator, which adds to the sense of unease.
This short passage sums this up;
'You zero the crosshairs on her temple & let your finger rest on the trigger.
Death is a moment away.
You are the keeper of that moment'.

Four stories down .
I know, you're already convinced. So here's a helpful link to where you can buy it now

OK, now you've sorted that out, we'll continue;

The Unwrapping of Alistair Perry
  Another multilayered story, literally in this case. Our eponymous hero finds himself transforming into something different. Something he's always wanted, but something unattainable until now. But this is just the start of Alistair's journey. Where will this transformation lead him?
Another superb and well thought out surreal story that keeps you guessing until the very end.

The Mango Tree
  Joseph's previous novels Meat, Garbage Man & to a certain extent Kill Crew explore our relationship the earth the dangers of not living in harmony with nature, earning these books a further sub-genre 'Eco Horror'. Mango Tree also visits this theme.
On the island where he lives, Etoile is a loner. The islanders visit him to buy the fish he catches, as it is far superior than any other.
The children on the island avoid him & the other islanders warn them that he will come for them at night if they don't behave. When Etoile catches one of the children trying to pick a mango from the tree next to his hut, after a dare, we learn that perhaps there is something special about Etoile. Something very special indeed.
This story highlights, once again, how versatile Joesph is as a writer. The pace and style of it is completely different from the previous five stories in this collection. It is a beautiful piece of writing.

So, here are the first six stories. Yes, we're half way through now. There are still half a dozen little gems to go. Not a zombie in sight, yet.

There's only going to be 500 printed and each will be numbered and signed by Joseph. It's only £8.99 and if you order it before November 3rd you stand a chance of winning loads of stuff. LOOK HERE.


1 comment:

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