Tag: Film

Stephen King – Danse Macabre | Review

Title: Danse Macabre

Author: Stephen King

Type: Non-Fiction

Page Count: 480

Rating: 4/5

I wasn’t expecting to like this book as much as I did, mainly because it’s non-fiction and obviously King has a reputation as the master of horror. Still, it’s a non-fiction book about horror with a little bit of memoir and autobiography thrown in, and that makes it a pretty fascinating book if you’re a fan of either horror or Stephen King.

At the same time, it’s definitely dated in a lot of places. For example, he mentions an exciting new punk band called The Ramones and makes a reference to a book he’s writing where a parent loses a child, and I’m pretty sure he was talking about Pet Sematary. Kind of weird really, because the Ramones later recorded a song of the same name.

He also talked about how Kubrick did a good job of the movie of The Shining, and that was weird to me because King famously doesn’t like it. Perhaps he changed his mind later on. He also talked about how there aren’t enough works about haunted cars, which he later changed with Christine (still need to read it) and From a Buick 8 (actually terrible).

The fact that it’s a non-fiction book means that by its very nature, it has something of a different tone to King’s other stuff, although you can definitely tell that he’s the one who wrote it. Perhaps it’s also that he was a little younger and therefore closer to the start of his career. Whatever the case, he comes across as almost irreverent at times, though not in a bad way.

He always treats the works that he covers with the greatest of respect even when he doesn’t necessarily enjoy the work in question. He acknowledges that something can be hugely influential and important to a specific genre of film and literature, even if he doesn’t like the work itself. It’s a bit like how you can enjoy rock music without being a fan of The Beatles.

I don’t think that this book necessarily has a widespread appeal, but if you’re either a Stephen King fan or a fan of classic horror – and let’s be honest, if you’re one then you’re probably the other – then this will be right up your street. If nothing else, you’ll find yourself walking away with a whole bunch of recommendations to check out. I know I have.

Of course, some of the stuff that he covers here is pretty niche, to the point at which you’d probably struggle to track some of it down. Other is much more well-known, from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to The Exorcist and even King’s own books. He also writes in a way that doesn’t ruin things that you haven’t yet experienced, which I was worried about. Good stuff!

Learn more about Danse Macabre.

 


Peter James – Denial | Review

Title: Denial

Author: Peter James

Type: Fiction

Page Count: 502

Rating: 3.75/5

I was pleasantly surprised by this book because it’s one of the older Peter James books on my pile and I’ve found them to be kind of hit and miss, with the quality varying widely without really seeming to vary depending upon when he actually wrote the things. Most of his books have some theme or another in them and so perhaps it depends more on what his theme is than on the book itself.

Here, you can probably guess the theme based on the title of the book. The story follows the son of a well-known film star and basically covers the unhealthy way in which he comes to terms with his mother’s death. Pretty unusually, we know that the kid is the bad guy right away, and we see things from his perspective as he goes around carrying out his revenge for society’s perceived wrongs against his mother.

It’s a pretty decent thriller novel to be honest, and while I’m not exactly the biggest reader of thrillers, there was still plenty here to keep me reading. In fact, despite the fact that it’s pretty massive, I flew through it in a couple of days and was left surprised by just how easy it was for me to get through it. Sure, there weren’t a ton of characters that I liked and related to, but the story line alone was enough to get me going.

I think a big part of that was down to the way that the antagonist here was so fully fleshed out, even though he was kind of crazy. I also liked the way that he incorporated fate into his crime spree, in this case by flipping a coin to decide his next move. I kind of want to play with that myself, so perhaps I’ll work it into a story.

I like the idea of a novel that’s based on the character as opposed to the plot in which I start by fleshing out the character and allow fate to guide the plot. Every time my character flipped a coin, I’d flip a coin, and that would decide the action that the character takes and thus the plot. The only problem is that I’m usually a plotter as opposed to a pantser, and so it would be an alien process to me.

All in all then, as you can tell, I enjoyed reading this book and it gave me a lot of food for thought. The enjoyment level was so-so, but I think it punched above its weight when it comes to the ideas that it shared. That for me is more of a testament to James’ ability than anything else, and so far I’ve almost always found him to be worth reading, although I’ll also admit that there are better writers out there.

So would I recommend it, then? Yeah, probably, especially if you like thrillers. You’ll like it!

Learn more about Denial.

 


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