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“The Carrow Haunt” – D. Coates

This is a reivew of “The Carrow Haunt” by Darcy Coates.

Remy is a tour guide for the notoriously haunted Carrow House. When she is asked to host seven people at the house for a week-long investigation into the supernatural phenomena, she eagerly takes the job. At first all goes well, but when a terrible storm rolls in and cuts off their contact with the outside world, things start to go scarily wrong. Doors opening and slamming shut, cameras being tampered with, floors giving away under them, and walls starting to blled. By the time one of them is found dead, it is far too late to escape and they will have to contend with the master of Carrow House himself.

The setting was perfect for a story about a haunted house. A mansion out on a small peninsula, the only road to it going over a bridge without railing. The winter season setting in along with winter storms that last far too long, that are far too powerful. The waves crashing all the way up to the windows of the mansion, and washing across the bridge, making it impossible to cross.

The characters are well defined, and easy to differentiate. The female characters especially are strong. Even Lucille is a strong character despite her moaning and bitching. April was spoiled and a bit silly, but not annoying. Remy was the defacto leader because of her knowlege, which was logical. Marjorie has a very strong personality that is fitting of a woman her age and experience.

Out of the men, Bernard was the most interesting because he didn’t say as much. His actions spoke more, and that was well written. Mike had a good reason for why he set the entire thing up, but his reason for asking Remy to lead the group was a bit weak. Piers was a bright ball of sunshine that was needed in this setting. Taj was perhaps the least interesting of them all for a very long time, but he got his moment of glory when he saved them all.

The house’s story and the story of Edgar Porter was well thought out and obviously carefully planned. Porter was a properly frightening ghost to have as an enemy, and his victims were the cause of quite a few jump scares.

Unfortunately, while not obvious at first look, there are some bad parts to this book.

Remy was a bit confusing. She knew all the details about the supernatural, but apparently had little to no power herself. It is one thing to read about things, but another to be quite this knowledgeable. Marjorie’s personality had big changes occasionally, too willing to verbally attack other people. It didn’t quite fit.

There wasn’t actually a lot of scary things in the book. There were a few creepy jump scares when the ghosts appeared, but generally speaking the ghosts didn’t do much. They came, they saw, they maybe moved a door, then they disappeared again. The ghosts were almost benign.

The ending of the book in general seemed more like the average action movie rather than the horrifying end to a horror story. Mixing in a possible living/mortal enemy and an ancient cult trying to take advantage of spiritual energy almost made it a caricature. Every time a supernatural horror story has to bring in even a hint of a mortal killer, it proves that the story isn’t strong enough.

Then came the revelation that the people who had died so far weren’t, in fact, dead but merely frozen into a coma. Edgar Porter had his moment to monologue like a true Hollywood villain. It was all finished with the idea how to defeat the ghost of Edgar Porter and Carrow House being a simple fire fanned on by the ghosts of the victims. Something that was obviously the solution early on in the story.

I also found a couple of spelling mistakes and name mixups. That coupled with everything, just eradicated any and all supernatural creepiness that had remained by this point.

All in all, it was an okay book, but in the end I was left with a feeling of nothing.

Read it if you like horror stories, but it won’t leave any lasting impression.

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2020 in Horror

 

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“Artificial Condition” – M. Wells

This is a review of “Artificial Condition“, the second book in Martha Wells’s Murderbot Diaries series.

The review of the first book can be found here.

It has a dark past – one in which a number of humans were killed. A past that caused it to christen itself Murderbot. But it has only vague memories of the massacre that spawned that title, and it wants to know more. Teaming up with a research transport named ART, Murderbot heads to the mining facility where it went rogue. What it discovers will forever change the way it thinks…

The universe of this world is further expanded. Not only with new places that are fascinatingly depicted despite the minimal attention paid to it. But there is also more information on things from the first book, and even Murderbot realising that the company it worked for wasn’t the be-all, end-all.

Our heroic Murderbot is learning what it means to be human, and all the choices, faults, and consequences that come with it. It is frightening and it would be so much easier to slip back into the antipathy of Murderbot’s previous existence. Murderbot learning to be human might not be deeply detailed, but it gives enough detail to make the journey amazing. This is obviously more important than the mystery of its past.

The humans that Murderbot ends up meeting during this story, were there too short to really make any real impact. But they did give a deeper look into the incredibly varied ways humans have evolved in the future where the story takes place. And they, once again, help Murderbot learn more about being human.

ART the research vessel used for cargo hauling, was a wonderful addition to the story. Snarky and smart, it is like the bot version of a genius professor. It was also a good choice to make it sentient as it was – even if it was verey convenient for Murderbot to end up with the one ship who could help it as much as it did. And although it didn’t do much or feature much in the story, the same could be said for the ComfortUnit/sexbot.

It makes Murderbot more realistic when it isn’t the only bot in existance capable of controlling itself without going rogue.

There is only one thing that is slightly negative about this book, and it might just be a pet peeve rather than anything serious.

The mystery of what happened during the Murderbot’s past, the bit that had been deleted from their memory, was a bit of a disappointment. It was refreshing that there was no great evil plot from anyone, just a simple attempt at sabotage that went wrong. But with how much buildup there was in the previous book and this one, it was a bit of a disappointment. It didn’t quite deliver on the promise of the book’s summary.

I definitely recommend this book and the previous one, and I am already looking forward to reading the third one.

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2020 in Action Adventure, Books, Sci-Fi

 

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“Tower Lord” – A. Ryan

This is a reivew of “Tower Lord”, the second book in Anthony Ryan’s Raven’s Shadow trilogy.

Vaelin Al Sorna, the greatest warrior of his day, and witness to the greatest defeat of his nation: King Janus’s vision drowned in the blood of brave men fighting for a cause Vaelin alone knows was a lie. Now, after years in a foreign prison, he comes home, determined to kill no more. Named Tower Lord of the Northern Reaches by King Janus’s heir, he hopes to find peace in a colder land far from the intrigues of a troubled Realm. But those gifted with the blood-song are never destined to live a quiet life.

The Faith has been sundered; the new King is weak, but his sister is strong. The blood-song is powerful, rich in warning and guidance, but is only a fraction of the power available to others who understand more of its mysteries. Something moves against the Realm, something ancient and powerful, something that commands mighty forces. Vaelin will find that even the most reluctant hand must eventually draw a sword again.

The world is explored further in this story, giving more information on all the things that might have just been briefly mentioned in the first book. The world grows even more vast, with old places revisited and new continents added. Peoples old and new make an appearance, and it makes for a rich world.

It is wonderful how the author brings back characters previously mentioned or met in the first book. The author is excellent at describing humanity, and how humans react to each other. The people you expect to have grudges, do carry them but don’t let it interfere with their survival. The people you expect to step up in a crisis, do not. And the one’s you don’t expect to, do. It is truly impressive how Ryan writes humanity.

Vaelin’s actions make a lot of sense in this story, and he is more tempered and calmer than he was in the first book. Wiser and older, he is willing to listen to advice, and has an open mind to other beliefs and ways of doing things. The way he develops a relationship with his sister is sweet, and his slow fall for and developing relationship with Dahrena is believable and not overwhelming to the story. It isn’t the focus, not like his previous dalliance with Sherin in the first book.

Frentis’s story arc was almost painful to read at the start. He was under the complete control of an enemy agent, forced to do literally everything she demanded – from killing to fucking her. Although her apparent love for him was a bit odd, it was excellently written, and the way Frentis finally got away from her control wasn’t rushed at all.

Reva’s character arc is incredibly well-written. She starts as a naïve if trigger-happy girl, her world purely black and white, good and bad. And throughout the story she goes from that, to a grown young woman who understands the shades of gray of reality. Her learning to come to grips with her attraction to women despite her religion, is excellently depicted. In the end, Reva turns out to be a strong, powerful female leader of men, and it is obvious how she actually got there.

The little further hint we had of the Seventh Order was tantalising. Finding that their Aspect was actually one of the men we know very well from the first book, was a touch of genius. Nordah’s return is perfect, and the developing and changing view of the Lohrak and those with supernatural powers is excellently written.

But there are a few drawbacks.

Suddenly following four characters instead of just the one. I had a big problem with this because after the first book this wasn’t expected at all. It certainly made the story more rich and showed more detail to the world, but it was a bit of a shock.

It was a bit odd that Vaelin didn’t know how to read and write. Yes, he was young when he was given to the Brotherhood as a child, but he was the child of some sort of noble so one would think that he had at least started his education. And if not that, then it seems remiss of the Brotherhood to not teach their Brothers to read and write in case letters and messages need to be sent.

Apart from being burned, Lyrna doesn’t really experience anything special. Not the way other women do. She just suffers a bit of exhaustion and hunger, but isn’t raped or truly hurt. Certainly, not every female can get raped or beaten or run through with a sword or whatever, but as it stands, Lyrna doesn’t actually have a good character arc in this story. She is more likable than in the first book, but other than learning how to throw a knife she doesn’t actually do much. The Shield of the Meldenean Isles also agrees to come out of his hermitage for her far too easily. Perhaps this and all her plotting will bear fruit in the third book.

It is also a bit of a let-down that this book only sets up the third book, and it is obvious. It is an incredibly long book, and though there are battles aplenty and action and adventure, there is only one big truly decisive battle at the very end. This books is mostly to get three of the four characters to one place, while the fourth ends up in a perfect position somewhere else.

If it hadn’t been for the utterly excellent writing, then this story would have been far too long.

I definitely recommend this book!

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2020 in Action Adventure, Books, Fantasy

 

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“The Ghosts of Kali Oka Road” – M. L. Bullock

This is a review of “The Ghosts fo Kali Oka Road“, the first book in M. L. Bullock’s “Gulf Coast Paranormal” series.

The investigators of Gulf Coast Paranormal thought they knew what they were doing. The five members had over twenty years of combined experience between them. But when they meet Cassidy, a young woman with a strange gift, the team realises there is much more to learn. When they start investigating the ghosts of Kali Oka Road and the plantation it leads to, they find an entity far scarier than a few ghosts. And time is running out for Cassidy.

The opening prologue starts out very promising. It is tense and builds up anticipation for the horror to come.

This story has really strong female characters. Cassidy, Sara and Sierra are confident modern women who know what they want and aren’t afraid to go after it. And what they want isn’t a man. Especially Sara impressed me with her drive to go after her dreams.

The male characters aren’t the worst either, but the most impressive of them so far was grandpa Angelos who owned the restaurant. He was closely followed by Ranger. The rest of them were more recognisable through looks than through their personalities.

The idea of Hattie and her evil owl was promising. It was another example of a strong female character, this one with magic and spells and curses. The black evil owl creature was a demonic being from the start, something that could be nightmareish. Bernard Davis and his evil ways were perfect for creating ghosts, and the horrors he performed against his wife were hinted at.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of unimpressive stuff about this story.

The horror promised in the prologue never arrives. The entire mystery about Melissa’s death and what happened to her ends up with such a mundane explanation that it is almost impossible for the police not to have come to the same conclusion. The same with Ranger’s death towards the middle of the book. Beyond ridiculous answers to the entire mystery.

The setting is in a modern day city, so there isn’t much to say about it. Which is fine. But it is supposed to be somewhere in the southern states, but it isn’t really apparant. There isn’t much mention of heat or humidity. There is a plantation and some magnolias mentioned, but there should have been more. The city never need to be noted, but it would have been nice with more.

The entire mystery was revealed far too quickly, and there was no mystery at all. There was some hope with Hattie and her magic, and what exactly that could do to the GCP team. But nothing happened. At all. They went to the plantation, they saw a ghost, they told the ghost the woman he tried to protect 200 years ago escaped, and the ghost left. That was it. After all that buildup this was a supreme letdown.

Cassidy dreaming Aurelia’s struggles could have been much more horrifying. She could have woken up with extreme hunger if Aurelia had been starved. Or aching and bruised. And for being an experienced paranormal investigation team, the members of GCP didn’t really do much on screen. They set up a couple of cameras, they took a walk or two, but that was it. Again, this was a big disappointment.

I did find a couple of spelling mistakes and changes in grammatical perspective, too.

All in all the story was far too short to really pay off all the buildup, and there was no horror whatsoever.

A quick, simple, and generally uninspiring read. Read it if you have nothing else to do one day, takes about two hours at the most.

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2020 in Books, Horror

 

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“Blood Song” – A. Ryan

This is a review of “Blood Song“, the first book in Anthony Ryan’s Raven’s Shadow series.

Vaelin Al Sorna’s life changes forever the day his father abandons him at the gates of the Sixth Order, a secretive military arm of the Faith. Together With his fellow initiates, Vaelin undertakes a brutal training regime – where the price of faiilure is often death. Under the tutelage of the Order’s masters, he learns how to forge a blade, survive the wilds and kill a man quickly and quietly. Now his new skills will be put to the test. War is coming. Vaelin is the Order’s deadliest weapon and the Realm’s only hope. He must draw upon the very essence of his strength and cunning if he is to survive the coming conflict. Yet, as the world teeters on the edge of chaos, Vaelin will learn that the truth can cut deeper than any sword.

The world

This is not a book that is driven by the character development. It is driven by the story and that isn’t a bad thing. It worked very well. The pace was rapid, the fight scenes frequent and very good, and nothing was bogged down by too much internal drama. At the same time the story was revealing enough when it came to Vaelin’s thoughts, and made his character evolution subtly evident. Vaelin’s development from innocent boy to a worldly man open to new ideas and thoughts, was a fascinating process to witness, and excellently written.

What was really nice was that the usual awkwardness of teenagehood and discovering the other sex is there, but it’s not the focus. There are no pages upon pages of moaning and mooning over some girl or boy. It was nice to read a story where the main characters were more or less celibate. The fact that sex was finally had in the very last bit of the book was almost awkward, and definitely weird. It didn’t really fit in with the rest of the story, and I do wish that it had been left out.

The characters Master Sollis and Nortah were some of the best. Master Sollis was hard but fair, and his evolving relationship with Vaelin was very realistic. Nortah’s evolution as a character was a delightful surprise. King Janus was a realistic king. He was a good man, but still a master of puppets and webs, and still a man who had to rule a rather divided kingdom with all the choices that came with it. Princess Lyrna is fascinating in that the reader doesn’t really know if she is on the side of the good or the bad. There is even some ambiguity built up around several of the characters that lasts throughout the book, and it certainly had me fooled – unless it was a double bluff.

There isn’t much bad stuff to say about the book, most of these are just pet peeves.

I found some oddly phrased sentences that were a bit difficult to understand in a couple of places, but that was the worst of it. I also wish that there was some more hints about some of the things that happened possibly being more than they seemed, but I suppose that Vaelin wouldn’t necessarily know everything just because he was in the thick of the plot, or the one who discovered it.

The ending was a bit odd. It almost seemed rushed compared to the rest of the book, almost a bit of a let-down, but it was a good ending to this bit of Vaelin’s life and adventure. Not really a surprise, but a good end nonetheless.

There are bits of the story that strongly remind me of Robin Hobb’s books about Fitz. Altough not a bastard Vaelin is still a noble who learns how to be a spy/assassin/Warrior instead of the traditional pursuit of the nobility. And just like in Hobb’s first book, Vaelin gains a faithful dog companion who saves him at the end. This isn’t necessarily the author copying Hobb – at least not deliberately – but it is perhaps worth keeping in mind. And it’s not really a bad thing either, the author makes it work.

I am definitely recommending this book, and I’m already hungering to tackle the sequel!

Read this one!

Seriously, just read it.

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2020 in Action Adventure, Books, Fantasy

 

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“Vampire Hunter D: Tale of the Dead Town” – H. Kikuchi

This is a review of the fourth book in Hideyuki Kikuchi’s series about the Vampire Hunter D.

You can find the reviews of book one, of book two, and of book three here.

The City, a tiny metropolis of a few hundred sheltered souls, floating serenely on a seemingly random course. It has long been thought safe from the predation of the marauding monsters on the ground. It seems like a paradise. But it is shattered when a n invason of apparent vampires threaten the small haven. While D struggles to exterminate the scourge, the brash John M. Brasselli Pluto VIII is up to something. And when the city lurches onto a new and deadly course, D’s travails are just beginning.

Although there wasn’t much development in D’s personal story, there was more than enough things about this story to keep it interesting. The flying town, secluded and insular as it is, made for a perfect setting. Mayor Ming’s dream and philosophy was definitely worth exploring more, but otherwise the characters themselves were excellent.

The sherriff and his cronies were a bit stereotypical, but Mayor Ming was much better. He had a depth and a desire to his dream for what the flying town should be and represent, and it was almost freaky to see just how far he was willing to go to make it happen.

Pluto VIII was a joy to read about, and he definitely needed more screen time in the book. He could have been so much more of a hindrance and a help. What was truly a joy was that for once there was a female character who wasn’t raped or lusted after by every male around her. Lori Knight is so far the strongest female character in the series, and Dr. Tsurugi was an excellent addition with a tiny little detail that harked back to the very first book in the series.

The freakiest thing was the vampire-infection and the dead Nobility cemetary where the experiments ended up. That bit had so much potential to be down right freaky and frightening, and it needed more screen time.

There isn’t actually much really back to say about this particular story.

Granted, things could have been explained better, and more time could have been used on really getting the mood and the setting just perfect, but there were only two really bad things that were noticable:

1) An entire conversation with a doctor that introduced important characters and relayed information that is somewhat important, seems to have been entirely skipped. Either it was just bad writing by the author, or the translator forgot this bit and then no one caught the mistake.

and

2) Mayor Ming having lived for two hundred years in a world where only vampires can do it, and no one bats and eyelash? It does not make sense. There was a single hint given as to how he could be so old, but it came far too late. And the explanation as to what he was could have been given more backstory as to how it was possible.

Other than that, this was the best Vampire Hunter D story I have read so far!

I really recommend this book!

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2019 in Action Adventure, Books, Fantasy, Sci-Fi

 

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“Pitch Black” – F. Lauria

This is a reivew of the novelisation of the movie “Pitch Black“, the novelisation being written by Frank Lauria.

A rogue comet spears a commercial spacecraft, causing it to crash on an unknown planet. Other than three suns and a slight oxygen deficiency, a search party discovers that the planet isn’t much different from Earth… until they stumble across a ghostly settlement littered with the human remains of geologists who mysteriously perished exactly 22 years ago. A solar eclipse darkens the skies and with only hours before total blackout everyone must unite in a race to fix the geologists’ abandoned ship before the blood-thirsty monsters escape their underground toombs.

I am a big fan of the Riddick franchise, so when I found out that there was a novel version I knew that I had to read it at some point. This will also be quite a short review since I am going to focus on the novelisation rather than the movie itself.

So, first things first. This is a direct retelling of the movie, literally going scene by scene. It doesn’t really add anything to the world created in the movie, there is no sudden revealed depth to the story or the characters. In fact, several times the attempt to add depth to the characters feels more than awkward and actually manages to be detrimental to the characters themselves.

There are some odd skips in the writing. It is as if the author was trying to merge two scenes but skipped some of the dialogue, or just did an incredibly bad job segueing from one scene to the next. It was just awkward.

There were several spelling mistakes and even mix-ups about names – especially about the Chrislam pilgrims. Also, the leader of the pilgrims was referred to as Imam as if it was his name rather than actually the title it really is.

The one good thing that came out of the book was a little bit of extra information about Riddick’s past, and also about the bioraptors.

Generaly speaking this is a totally okay novelisation. It’s a quick read, and it doesn’t try to push depth on characters often enough to become annoying. It is an interesting way to relive the movie, and is actually worth the read for a fan. I enjoyed it despite its shortcomings.

I recommend this.

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2019 in Action Adventure, Horror, Sci-Fi

 

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“The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn” – T. Whitesides

The Thousands Deaths of Ardor Benn” is the first book in the Kingdom of Grit series by Tyler Whitesides.

Ardor Benn is a ruse artist extraordinaire. Hired by a mysterious priest to attempt his most daring heist yet, Ardor knows he’ll need help. Assembling a team of forgers, schemers and thieves, he sets out to steal from the most powerful king the realm has ever known. But it soon becomes clear there’s more at stake thana fame and glory. Ard and his team might just be the last hope for human civilisation.

This is an excellent world. Clearly a lot of thought went into creating this book, for the world is expansive and well developed. The history is rich and deep, the peoples are varied, and the use of magic is incredibly original. It is impressive, and unlike anything I have ever read before.

Despite its size, the book is an easy read. The language is simple, there are no flowery turns of phrase, and the chapters are short and quick. The story is also further divided into sections and each section into chapters, which also help to make it simpler to get through.

The characters are excellently crafted. Ardor, Raek, Quarrah, the crazies, and Isle Havalend are definitely the best of them. Prime Isle Chauster deserved more screen time, and King Pethredote has potential that unfortunately falls flat in the last bit of the story.

Ardor’s plots and schemes are well thought out, and everyone has their moment to shine. Not to mention that the magic system is one of the most fascinating ones I have ever come across. It alone was beyond incredible and worth the read.

Unfortunately, there is quite a lot of things that detract from the book.

Every situation that is supposed to be a detriment, a hindrance to the heroes, turns into a big success. Someone tries to expose Ardor while undercover? He gains access to the king far quicker than ever expected. Ardor blabs to the king about the evil plot he now knows about? He manages to completely avoid the consequences, and turns the entire situation into becoming the king’s most trusted subject. It goes on and on, major problems turned into trifles or into triumphs by Ard’s silver tongue. It became ridiculous.

Then there is the complete undermphasis of the Moonsickness. There was no reason to care about this strange sickness. A short scene about 25% through the book was not enough to make the reader horrified at the possible fate. And since I didn’t care about the sickness, I found that I really didn’t care much about the plot either, nor the impending doom.

Tanalin Phor deserved more than what she got in the end, serving as a throw-away character even with all the time Ardor had spent putting her on a pedestal. And the romance with Quarrah Khai could have worked if she and Ardor had thought and reacted to it differently. As it was, it was just weirdly forced whenever it came up.

There is also a severe lack of tension in sections of the book, and parts of them drag on. I almost gave up on reading it several times several times over. That the plot picks up int he last 200 pages isn’t enough to save it because by that time I had lost more or less all interest.

In essence this is a good book. It has a solid plot, good characters, and fascinating magic. Also, dragons.

In reality, the lack of tension, the focus on things that drag out needlessly, and lack of focus on the things that needed more focus, killed it stone cold dead.

I will, unfortunately, not be reading the sequels.

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2019 in Books, Fantasy

 

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“All Systems Red” – M. Wells

This is a review of “All Systems Red” which is the first book in the Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells

In a space-faring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by company-supplied security robots, for their own safety. But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern. On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their company-supplied bot – a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself as “Murderbot”. Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to watch daytime dramas. But when a neighbouring team of scientists are killed, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.

It is a fast paced book with a rather narrow view of the universe and the planet that the characters find themselves on. The author gives off small hints of the grander scale of things without revealing too much, and that keeps interest high. The shortness of the book actually works with the story and the writing style.

It is hilarious that a murdering robot is hooked on drama series and stands facing a wall when it feels uncomfortable with human attention. The mystery of its hacking its own governor module and its past, is enough to keep one interested and reading future books.

The other characters might seem a bit bland, but the book is short and everything is seen through the eyes of a robot. It might be that to a robot all humans seem bland until one of us does something spectacularly different. Dr. Mensah is the only one to really stick out from the crowd as the leader, and Gurathin the augmented human is reminiscent of the android Ash from the original Alien movie.

There isn’t much bad to say about this book, and it is more nitpicking than anything else.

The Murderbot seems a bit too human. Even with a cheap education module and hacking their own governor module and gaining access to entertainment of all sorts, it feels like it ought to think more like “avian creatures with such and such wings and colouring” rather than “birdlike things”. The same goes for emotions. Exactly how does a made robot understand emotions, or even feel them? As it is, the Murderbot seems more like an augmented human than a bot.

There is a distinct lack of descriptions of the surroundings. We only get the very bare minimum, and sometimes that means that things that the Murderbot apparently noticed earlier seem to spring out of nowhere. Granted, this is all seen through a robot’s eyes, so describing the surroundings in more detail than “thick jungle” or “rocky plain” might not be needed for the robot’s perceptions.

This is definitely a good book and worth the read, and I will continue reading the series.

I recommend this!

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2019 in Sci-Fi

 

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“Vampire Hunter D: Demon Deathchase” – H. Kikuchi

“Demon Deathchase” is a review of the third book of Hideyuki Kikuchi’s series Vampire Hunter D.

The review of the first book can be found here.

The review of the second book can be found here.

When a desperate village elder learns that his daughter has been abducted by a Noble, he turns to D to save her. He also employs the Marcus clan, a dangerous and renegade family of Hunters as infamous for killing their competition as they are for getting their man. D’s task becomes ever-more daunting when the fleeing Noble enlists a horrific cadre of human/monster half-breeds. Can D prevail against the force of sheer numbers of his advesaries – both human and not?

Excellent adventure as usual. It is undeniable, Hideyuki Kikuchi writes very good adventure stories.

Fascinating to learn more of the world it is set in, and just how much of the old folklore about vampires that the author has incorporated. Like being unable to cross running water unless there is a bridge, how earth actually enhances their regenerative abilities giving them an interesting reason to carry earth with them.

Again there are small hints about D’s parentage that are doled out. And though it is quite obvious who his father is, the way the hints are scattered about and never actually come out to say it, still make it more interesting. The sunlight syndrome is a curious but welcome weakness when it comes to D, and even if he does get over it remarkably quickly it will be interesting to see if it does show up again in later books.

Leila Marcus is a strong female character, who fights and isn’t a fraid to come face to face with monsters. Although she does wobble a bit when it comes to D and a female dhampir, she still comes up on top at the very end, which is truly enjoyable. Leila’s waning interest in monster/vampire hunting is also a good – though very subtle – touch to her character. Charlotte, the girl who ran off with a Noble, is strong but in a more quiet way, and her bravery doesn’t show much until the very end.

The writing is a bit annoying with the omniscient author who keeps asking questions as if he were a storyteller with an audience rather than a book. It breaks the flow of the story, stopping it up and throwing the reader out of it. The author seems to be getting into a rut with these questions since there were fewer of them in the first book.

Also, the fact that there have been people who suddenly change into rapists without logic or hints of it earlier in the book, bring the quality of the book down. The Mayor in book two, Kyle in this book (although all of the Marcus brothers are revealed to be rapists in the end). The story would have been a lot better without this, and especially if the insta-love/lust people feel around vampires and D had been just a tiny bit less emphasised.

The movie “Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust” has to be mentioned since it was based on this book. Apart from the general changes in the story to make it simpler and more concise, the movie actually manages to follow the book very closely. The movie does away with the insta-love Leila feels for D and the Marcus-brothers being rapists, which is good. But Mayerling has no trouble going through quite a deep, fast flowing river in order to cross to the other side, and that was an annoyance.

They also use a lot of Christian symbolisms in the movie which never appear in the books – most notably the cross. In the first book it is noted that the Nobility made humanity forget about crosses and how much they affect vampires, and they keep maintaining this ignorance even now – whether by a world-covering spell that is tied to the symbol of the cross, or by enchanting humans who try to use the cross against them whenever they actually come across one such person. D has also used a drawing of a cross to check if someone is a vampire, and no one reacts to it as if they recognise it.

Several things that happened in the book never happened in the movie, and some characters exist only in the movie world – most notably Countess Carmilla Elizabeth Bathory. The ending of the movie differed with the ending of the book, both being perfect in their own way, and the movie presents a good story that is more concise and at times more logical than the book is.

All in all, this third book was definitely not my favourite of the stories so far, but I will continue reading a few books more if nothing else.

I still recommend this series!

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2019 in Action Adventure, Books, Fantasy, Sci-Fi

 

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