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WIB: November 24-30

December 9, 2013

Horror week. 🙂

I am not really a horror reader much anymore.  There are times, sure, but for the most part I am old, and I have health issues, and gory things and mortality get to me easier than they used to.  I’ve always liked things that were just a little scary.

Stephen King’s The Shining is more than “just a little scary.”  I was pretty much freaking out.  And of course I read it at night, unlike my brilliant daughter, who refused to read it during anything but day time.  The book was not as I remembered.  It’s one of King’s less sex-obsessed, less profanity-laden, less wtf books and more a straight horror of the mind.  I don’t really remember much of the movie either by this point, but I like how in the book King is like “this main character is NOT okay.”  Whereas in the movie he’s just a guy who goes crazy, right?  The main character, Jack Torrence, is a piece of work: the alcoholic abuser child of an alcoholic abuser.  He wants to break the cycle, but he has no idea how–instead he breaks his child’s arm.

In a later time, that kid would’ve been taken away instantly.  But not the Good Old Days of child abuse, natch.

But seriously, this book is a work of art when it comes to building suspense and being actually tense and scary.  The last time I read something that freaked me out as much was…well, also King, but I didn’t enjoy that book (Bag of Bones?), and before that was House of Leaves, and before that was uh…I don’t know when.

I’m glad I reread it.

I also read all the Hellraiser graphic novels my library had, which were the first four volumes of the main story and The Road Below, volume 1 if Goodreads is to be believed.  Not sure if it’s a one-shot, but the latter is not written by Barker and the former are.

I had to go to the Wikipedia page to figure out what the hell I was reading, because although I’d seen the first Hellraiser movie and read “The Hellbound Heart” a million years ago, the comic assumes you’re a fan who knows the character.  I wasn’t crazy about THAT.  The comics follow the movies, sort of, I guess, or maybe a hodge-podge of whatever Barker likes best?  I’m not enough of a fan to know for sure.  Anyway, it’s about the teenage girl from the movie, and how she and three others that we’re not really introduced to are hunting down cursed objects like the Friday the 13th TV show and how she’s offered to take Pinhead’s place when he steps down, like Lucifer in Sandman.  Is this unfair of me?  Maybe so.  As a new reader, I had no idea who people were, wasn’t sure if I was supposed to know and care about them, and basically tripped my way over the first book only to enjoy the second.  Repeat process with books three and four.

Here’s the thing: I don’t think Barker is very good at this whole graphic novel thing.  Maybe he’s just figuring it out or something.  Or maybe I’m not the target audience and so OH WELL, but that’s not how anyone should write anything.  He spends a lot of time in his own head, I think, and while Pinhead and his crew are wonderfully eloquent and creepy, and Kirsty looks amazing and it’s interesting to take that trip with her, there’s a lot of rushing rather than slow unfolding, and I think the series really could get away with that.  But it doesn’t even try.

So, to compare to that we have The Road Below, which is written by not-Barker people and is a Kirsty story, filling in the rush.  But really what it does is let us into Kirsty’s head, which the main storyline sort of blows by when Barker’s working with multiple character arcs.  It too reads like Neil Gaiman, but what can you do?  Still, all the books work best when the characters are working through what’s going on, and we seem to be in a very action-y part of the story by the time we hit book four.  I dunno.  It’s leaving me a bit cold.  Which is too bad; I want to love it.


That was my week in books.  Next up: nostalgia.

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