Wednesday, 24 October 2012

'Joe and Me' & 'Thin Men with Yellow Faces' (This is Horror)

Apologies for the break in posting! There has been an awful lot of other stuff going on these past few days; I wish I could say that I've built up a nice little backlog of 'read books' to review but I haven't had time for that either... Things might be like this for a little while, bear with me a little bit while I try and figure out how to fit the blog around a whole load of new things that may (or may not) be happening in the near future. Life eh? :o)

Anyway, I may not have not been able to get much reading done but I was able to polish off a couple of chapbooks from the 'This is Horror' line. I haven't read many chapbooks but there's something instantly appealing about a bite sized read that you don't have to invest a lot of time in but promises a great return. When the authors in question are David Moody ('Joe and Me'), Simon Bestwick and Gary McMahon ('Thin Men with Yellow Faces') then I was up for the read even more; regular readers will know that I have enjoyed their work before.
Chapbooks are, by their nature, very short affairs and I found that this meant that I had to combine the two titles to get a decent sized post. In some respects, it's more of a 'thoughts' post than the kind of review I'd normally write; the length of each chapbook didn't leave me with time for much else than thoughts really. They were both entertaining enough reads although...

It was 'Joe and Me' that left me feeling a little non-plussed when I finished it. On the face of it, Moody gives us a likeable protagonist who will do anything to save his son from... I'm not going to tell you exactly what, suffice it to say that Simon's dilemma is one that the reader can really get behind, what would you sacrifice to save a loved one? When you see what the outcome feeds into though... That's when it didn't quite work for me. The story is written well enough but it fleshes out another story that worked brilliantly precisely because the true reasons for the catastrophe were never really known (only hinted at as a possibility) They are now though and that mystery is no longer a mystery. 'Joe and Me' killed something off, in a story I really enjoyed, and I can't help but feel a little resentful about that...

'Thin Men with Yellow Faces' though, that was more like it. McMahon and Bestwick's tale of evil lurking beneath the streets of a run down council estate makes for compelling reading as their heroine is faced with a choice that will damn her whatever she decides to do. 'Thin Men' also has you asking questions of its villains, creatures who commit unspeakable acts but only do so because they truly believe that not acting would lead to far worse. What is the right thing to do when the life of a child is at stake? Add some utterly grotesque imagery, along with some chilling moonlit chases, and you have a chapbook that takes time to make you think while it's turning your stomach. You can't ask for a lot more than that.

 A bit of a mixed bag then, as a series opener, but there is enough here to suggest that 'This is Horror' are onto something that could be pretty special. I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up with next.

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