Surreal – Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin

 

 Fever Dream

by Samanta Schweblin

IMG_20170317_104915_828

Published 2017

Genres: Fiction / Literary / Horror

“You’re confused, and that’s not good for this story. I’m a normal boy.”

“This isn’t normal, David. There’s only darkness, and you’re talking into my ear. I don’t even know if this is really happening.”

“It’s happening, Amanda. I’m kneeling at the edge of your bed, in one of the rooms at the emergency clinic. We don’t have much time, and before time runs out we have to find the exact moment.”

 

Amanda lies in a clinic, talking to the young David. What transpires between them is confounding, eerie, and unsettling. As they, and you, try to put the pieces together, they speak of grief, the family bond, and secrets. And they relive their mutual experience in an effort to find the key to it all – where they are, what they’re doing there, who David is, and what has happened to Amanda.

 

Janelle says…

 

I heard a couple of early reviews of this book, which seemed to be unable to go into specifics about the plot but emphasised just how strange the book was. I had to check it out for myself.

Strange doesn’t quite do it justice. This is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. At 183 pages long, I read it in one sitting, and if you’re going to read it too I suggest you do the same. It’s at its most powerful that way. Don’t look up from the page or you’ll break the spell.

Just like other reviewers before me, I don’t feel like I can talk about specifics either, and I still don’t quite know what it was about or exactly what happened. The only way I can describe it is by saying that our two main characters are searching for answers about the things that have happened to them, but their conversation doesn’t really make any sense. Certain details do seem to connect to each other and this connection becomes apparent as you go along, however their meaning is unclear.

But I enjoyed the experience. And that’s exactly what this book feels like, it’s not just a book, not just a story….it’s an experience. By the end I felt like I’d been on some kind of time-travelling acid trip, following the stream of consciousness recollections of the protagonist, Amanda, whose discussion with creepy David almost seemed like as if she were under hypnosis. I don’t recall a book ever making me feel the way this one did. It was so weird, and unsettling, and confounding.

I know how I’m describing it probably makes it sound awful, but I loved it. I just couldn’t put it down, from the first page I wanted to know what was coming next and where it was leading. I don’t how Samanta Schweblin (and translator Megan McDowell) has done what she’s done here, I can’t help but feel like maybe she knows some great secret that we don’t.

If you’re not into totally bizarre books that make you think “WTF?”, then steer clear because you’ll probably end up throwing it at the wall. But if, like me, that’s your bag, then you need to pick this one up because it will rock your world.

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

Did you know you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and NOW ON LITSY as littleblogofbooks for more bookish goodness??

Buddy read – Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix

February 2016 – Janelle’s choice

Horrorstor

by Grady Hendrix

IMG_0761

Published 2014

Genres: Fiction / Horror

“During the day, Orsk was a building like any other, a sensible container built with modern materials to house furniture and people. But after eleven o’clock, when no one roamed its aisles, when its back offices went dark and the last customers were escorted out the front doors, when its entrances were dead-bolted, when its final floor partners went home, it became something else.”

That quote pretty much sums up the premise of this book. Inexplicable things keep occurring overnight in an Ikea-copycat store. A group of staff decide to sleep over in the store one night to figure out what’s going on (as you do). Gory and creepy things ensue.

 

Janelle says…

Ikea only opened here in our city a matter of months ago, so I thought it was the perfect time to buddy-read this book with Mel! I assumed that it would be a bit of suspenseful, nail-biting fun, nothing too terrifying or scarring, and I was absolutely right.

There’s no great social or political moral or message here. I wouldn’t read Horrorstor if you’re in the mood for a book to really sink your teeth in to, or if you feel like having the crap scared out of you. But this is perfect for those times when you just want a break from heavier reads, and you’re after something quick and enjoyable but with a hint of squeam.

“Amy screamed. She thrashed and struggled, bruising her shoulders against the sides of the box, but it was no use. She could barely move. And the less she could move, the more she needed to move, the more she needed to get out right now.

That’s when she felt the water.”

I adored the format of this book, which was reminiscent of a store catalogue. Each chapter was named after an individual product found in the store (and some only found after the lights are out – oooooooo!), complete with sales taglines to persuade you that your life won’t be complete until you buy said catalogue. The store floor plan at the front of the book was a nice touch too, and made it easier to follow the movements of the characters as they ran around between the furniture displays.

The only point that brought this book down for me at the time was the repeated moments of characters making really dumb decisions. Yes, this is a plot that sees characters in some scary situations, and if you were in a similar situation your rational decision-making mind might be a little off its game, and you would never be in a situation like the one in this book anyway because it’s fiction and it’s outrageous….but stillllll. It just irks me when as an observer of a book or movie, you find yourself shouting in frustration – “What?! You IDIOT! Why would you DO that?” But thinking about it now, if we didn’t have those moments, the book or movie would probably be pretty boring I guess….

So my general consensus on Horrorstor is that, while it wasn’t quite good enough to score a 5/5 “AMAZING” rating, it was still a damn entertaining book and I had a great time reading it.

 

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

Mel says…

When I first collected this book from the library, I was excited, as the layout of this book is mimicking that of an Ikea catalogue. It isn’t the usual novel size, nor does it follow a traditional layout throughout. These aesthetics were the start of my excitement to read this book.

The moment I began reading, I almost devoured the entire story in one sitting, if it weren’t for previous social plans *shakes fist*, I would have.

Right from the start you know that the fictional store, Orsk, is eerie and that there is more to the furniture store than initially meets the eye. After a few “situations” that involved soiled furniture stock, manager Basil approaches store partners Amy and Ruth-Anne to cover a night shift to see exactly what was happening in the store after hours. This is where the fun begins!

There were a few moments that I found I would groan in annoyance at the characters and their occasional stupidity, but there was also many times I found I was covering my eyes with my free hand and reading between my fingers. There is one such scene that made this claustrophobe very uneasy, to the point I had to place the book down and have a tea break before continuing. If that doesn’t hint at good writing, I don’t know what does!

Horrorstor is full of ups and downs and takes you through a world of supernatural fun. The only let down for me was the characters themselves. I didn’t form a connection with any of them, but the exciting plot outweighed this negative.

A trip to Ikea will never be the same, once you read Horrorstor!

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

Did you know you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more bookish goodness?

Buddy read – Bird Box by Josh Malerman

December 2015 – Janelle’s choice

Bird Box

by Josh Malerman

IMG_20151219_205957

Published May 2014

Genres: Fiction / Horror / Thriller

“How far can a person hear?

Rowing blindfolded is even harder than Malorie had imagined. Many times already, the rowboat has run into the banks and got stuck for a period of several minutes. In that time she was besieged by visions of unseen hands reaching for the blindfolds that cover the children’s eyes. Fingers coming up and out of the water, from the mud where the river meets the earth. The children did not scream, they did not whine. They are too patient for that.

But how far can a person hear?”

Something is happening out there. The news is reporting an increasing number of frightening incidents of murder and suicide from all over the world. People have started shielding their faces with their hands when they are outside. Others are nailing blackout curtains or cardboard to their windows to keep out the light. There are rumours that the people who killed themselves, or others, saw something before they died, but nobody knows what that something is.

When the story opens, the world has been this way for four years already. Malorie lives alone with her children, the children who were born inside her house and have never laid eyes on the outside world. And Malorie is about to make their escape. Together, they will set out to flee this place. Blindfolded. With only their other senses to guide them, and to keep them safe from whatever it is that they must not see.

 

Mel says…

When Janelle recommended Bird Box for our December joint read, I had no idea what it was about and had never heard of the author, Josh Malerman. But for the sake of keeping things interesting, I put in a request at the local library and waited patiently for my copy to arrive.

Upon beginning this book, I was hooked by about, hmm…page 5.

The way that Malerman has written this book is perfect for the thrills and suspense that he so perfectly executes. Each chapter alternates between the past and present, with each so easily flowing into one another. I found myself asking eager questions about certain characters and events, and just as if Malerman had read my mind, these questions were soon answered within a few pages.

If you are like me and a tad afraid of the dark, imagine living in a world where you can no longer go outdoors with your eyes open, as there are things?/creatures?/stuff? that if seen, you will go insane and kill yourself and possibly others. So to live, you must always be blindfolded outdoors, have your windows covered over, so not to get a glance of whatever the heck is lurking outside. Creepy, am I right?

Bird Box is a must read for anyone who loves a good page turner. If it wasn’t for Janelle insisting that we read the second half of this book together, at one of our famous reading parties (more on that later), then I would have devoured Bird Box in a day. Definitely a library book that I will be purchasing for my own collection.

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

Janelle says…

It was everything I ever hoped and dreamed.

I have been waiting SO LONG to read this book. And then my sister had to go and have a pregnancy-related reading aversion. AND THEN she had to go on a month-long overseas holiday. And still I waited. Because I knew this would be the perfect book to read together!

I almost don’t know what to say about it, because I don’t think I can do it justice. If you love horror or thrillers or both, then you must read this book. If you don’t like either of those genres at all, then this is probably not the book for you, because it is an all-out horror/thriller/suspense-FEST!

The thing that first reeled me in with this book was the concept of a monster or threat that you can’t see. You don’t know what it is, you can’t even look at it….but you know it will kill you. I could see the movie version of the book playing in my head while I read this, in which half of the movie is just a black screen and we’re forced to rely on our hearing and touch to keep us safe from the evil thing that is, quite possibly, right behind us at any given moment.

AAARRGGHH! What was that?! Something just brushed my shoulder! What was it? Get away! Get awaaaaaay!!

Mel wasn’t impressed when we started the book and then I made her stop halfway until we could have a reading party, so we could read alongside each other and gasp in shock at the same moments. But I don’t care! It was so much fun! I want to read it again!

 

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

Did you know you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more bookish goodness?

Gripping – The Shining by Stephen King

The Shining

by Stephen King

halloween shining

Published 1977

Genres: Fiction / Horror / Suspense / Thriller

Yep, that’s a copy of The Shining in my freezer up there.

Thanks for the hot tip, Joey Tribbiani.

59b1a83c7b16638cc364559972c74a69

“They were alone. Aspen leaves whirled and skittered in aimless packs across the lawn that was now neatly mowed and tended for no guest’s eyes. There was no one to see the autumn leaves steal across the grass but the three of them. It gave Jack a curious shrinking feeling, as if his life force had dwindled to a mere spark while the hotel and the grounds had suddenly doubled in size and become sinister, dwarfing them with sullen, inanimate power.

Then Wendy said: ‘Look at you, doc. Your nose is running like a fire hose. Let’s get inside.’

And they did, closing the door firmly behind them against the restless whine of the wind.”

And so it begins.

Our story is set at The Overlook Hotel, set up high in the wild and breathtaking mountains of Colorado. The peak season is over, and winter is about to set in. The Torrance family, Jack Torrance particularly, are engaged as caretakers, to live in and maintain the hotel over what is expected to be another harsh and isolating snowy season.

But little Danny Torrance has “the shining”, the ability to see into the future, to know things that are otherwise unknown, and to look into the minds of those who also possess even the smallest morsel of this extraordinary ability.

From the time the Torrances first arrive at The Outlook, Danny starts to feel, see and hear things that shouldn’t be there. But is it in his head? Or is it the hotel? Before too long, cabin fever sets in, all while the mysterious and historic hotel is weaving its spell over not just Danny, but Mum and Dad Torrance too. How bad will it get?

Janelle says…

Lately I’ve had such a craving to read horror, and with it being October and all, of course I was going to indulge. I looked to my bookshelves, and immediately chose this old, battered, second-hand copy of The Shining. I don’t think I can imagine reading a shiny new version of this book, to be honest. That just wouldn’t fit at all.

This is my first time reading The Shining, although I have seen the movie many years ago. It totally fulfilled my horror craving and left me feeling content, and also with that lost, unmotivated feeling that happens after reading an incredible book, when you’re not sure when you’ll read something again that measures up to what you’ve just finished.

It’s a reasonably-sized read, my copy is just over 400 pages. Usually anything over say 300 pages makes me slightly nervous at taking a risk on it, because of the time commitment involved to finish it, and the potential for the story to drag. But I sped through this book, and I finished the last quarter or so in one epic session that had me staying up way past my bedtime (again).

Oh man, It. Was. AWE-some!

“From behind him, that soft flump sound of falling snow came again. He turned around and the head of one of the hedge lions was sticking out of the snow now, snarling at him. It was closer than it should have been, almost up to the gate of the playground.”

AAARRGGHHHHH! Freaky hedge animals that move!!

The pace of the story was just perfect, it kept rolling along with intrigue, building in ferocity. I didn’t want to put the book down. The scary bits were for the most part that creepy, tingly kind of scary as opposed to the in-your-face, gory and screamy kind of scary. I caught myself with my fingernails between my teeth a few times.

The book also has themes of domestic violence, anger management, and alcoholism, which I found to be sad in parts, but not upsetting. The parts of the book told in Danny’s voice also clearly represent a young child who is taking in perhaps more of the adult world than he should at his age, yet not completely understanding everything he’s hearing and seeing.

My interest was held fast the whole way through the book, and the length, the pace, the depth of character background and reflection, the plotting…..it all felt perfectly suited to my own personal preferences. It was a great ride, and I think would make a fine introduction to horror for those new to the genre. Read it for Halloween!

 

 

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

Did you know you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more bookish goodness?

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 42 other followers

Follow Little Blog of Books on WordPress.com