Wednesday, 26 November 2008

‘Crimson’ – Gord Rollo

I really enjoyed Gord Rollo’s ‘Jigsaw Man’, when I read it earlier this year, and the excerpt for ‘Crimson’ (that was at the back of the book) looked like it promised more of the same. Being me, I managed to completely forget about it until the ARC of ‘Crimson’ (to be published in March 2009) turned up on the doorstep last night.
‘Crimson’ was a book that I had really been looking forward to and, not only that, at just over three hundred pages long it also looked like a book that would be a nice quick read and a short break away from what I’m currently reading (Brandon Sanderson’s ‘The Well of Ascension’, a good read but it somehow feels longer than it actually is...)
‘Crimson’ was a very quick read, mostly because I was so gripped by the tale that I had to stay up until I’d finished it. At the same time though, it also left me feeling strangely disappointed...

Evil stalked the streets of Dunnville in a night of terror that people don’t like to talk about, if they’ll even admit that it happened at all. Years have passed since that day but a chance encounter (that has nothing to do with chance) is about to signal the return of the terror. Four boyhood friends have uncovered something evil and they can’t get it to go away. It’s on the streets where they play and it’s in their dreams when they go to sleep. It’s with them for the rest of their lives, some of which will be much shorter than others...

The reason why I’m all tired and grumpy today is because I ended up staying up until the early hours so I could finish ‘Crimson’ off. The story may not be entirely original (at least as far as I was concerned, more on that in a bit) but top marks have to go to Rollo for how it’s all presented. ‘Crimson’ is a book that pushed all the right buttons in terms of scaring the life out of me and keeping me turning the pages to see what would happen next. Rollo is extremely adept at winding up the tension and springing a nasty surprise on the reader when they least expect it, he’s also extremely adept at winding up the tension and then having nothing happen at all... You don’t know what you’re going to get until it actually happens and I was constantly on edge trying to second guess what was coming.

Rollo also excels at presenting the reader with situations that are truly horrifying both in a supernatural sense and things that can happen in a real life setting. Where Johnny finds the last leech is guaranteed to make any guy wince and being cornered by a giant spider and a seven foot tall scarecrow are moments that are truly chilling. All of these moments are presented at a fast and furious pace that left me breathless (whilst holding my breath waiting to see what jumped out of the shadows next)!

All is not perfect with ‘Crimson’ however. There is a fine line between paying homage to another author’s work and being derivative. ‘Crimson’ is a book that came across as feeling a little derivative, to me, at times...
The ‘rites of passage’ theme in horror has been done by enough horror authors for it not to be the exclusive property of any one writer but there were elements of ‘Crimson’ that screamed ‘It’ at me, especially the moment where a giant spider says to Tom, ‘You come back and see us anytime you want...’ (I need to go back and double check but I’m sure that’s almost word for word what Pennywise says)
A monster that stalks your dreams with razor sharp claws and witty one liners is damn scary in ‘Crimson’ but felt a little too like Freddy Krueger to me... Where do you draw the line though? I guess that’s a question for another day...
What really bugged me though was the point where the evil creature (and he is evil!) sat one of the main characters down and proceeded to tell him his life story as ‘it was too late for this character to do anything about it and the creature felt an explanation was owed’. This felt contrived and placed there purely so the creature could have background history. I was left wondering if the creature actually needed its background filling in. Sometimes things are better left a little mysterious...

‘Crimson’ does have its faults but when it gets going it does it’s job very well indeed. Gord Rollo remains a horror author to watch as far as I’m concerned.

Seven and a Quarter out of Ten


Gord Rollo said...

Hi Graeme,

Than you for taking the time to review my work again. I appreciate the continued support and enjoyed your review. I agree books like King's IT or Keene's GHOUL can overlap with my subject matter at times, but I think that is inevitable with any book about childhood fears and growing up.

For me, I wrote this story because I used to have recurring nightmares as a kid about a monster in my closet with glowing eyes and sharp claws. I suppose he was a classic boogieman type monser but I just always referred to him as The Creature. To this day I have no idea why. I dreamed about him long before good old Freddy came on the scene, but that's neither here nor there.

Part of me agrees with you about the creature's background. Maybe it wasn't necessary. I guess I just wanted to know where he came from. The real creature I had the dreams about never told me - lol!

Anyway, I'm really happy you liked the book for the most part and appreciate you taking the time to read it.



Graeme Flory said...

Hi Gord,

Not a problem at all :o) I enjoyed 'Jigsaw Man' and the teaser for 'Crimson' had me eager to read the whole thing.

You're right as far as the overlap goes and that must be a really tricky line to walk. There are some things that you cannot help but use but at the same time you want to give the reader something that they haven't read before... If you're writing something from personal experience then I guess it must become even more difficult.

'Crimson' was still a fun read though and you really caught me out with one of the characters in prison (I was sure I knew who that was going to be!) What have you got planned next?

Gord Rollo said...

Hi Graeme,

I just finished my new novel, tentatively called STRANGE MAGIC. It's a tale of a man living a lie in a small town named Billington, PA. He's in hiding from something dark in his past that is about to catch up with him. At one point, he used to be one of the worlds greatest escape artists, but now he's an alcoholic scared of his own shadow, and Billington has just been declard a war zone.

I've already sold the limited edition hardcover rights to this and it will probably be out before or around the same time as the Crimson paperback. I'll give you more deails soon, when the publisher announces this title in a few weeks. For now I have to shut my mouth - lol! Leisure Books will release the paperback of this one too, but I'm not sure if it will be late 2009 or early 2010.



Anonymous said...

I have to agree I love this book so much, im not quite finished 'Crimson' yet, but I've finished 'The jigsaw man' incredible book, it had me hooked! My very favorite book aswell would be 'The jigsaw man'. I was reading through chapter 9 in crimson, (I think it was 9) but anyways, I found a spelling error, not sure if you found out it was there or not but it is, ahah. I love reading your books because I live in Dunnville, and it's pretty cool to read a book in a town you live in. Gord, I look very forward to reading all of your novels.