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Book Reviews

Review: A Dead Djinn in Cairo by P. Djèlí Clark

With the cover, I’m catching a Studio Ghibli vibe, which is great and the minimalistic combined with the illustration makes for all-around, excellent cover.

Blurb:

Egypt, 1912. In Cairo, the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities investigate disturbances between the mortal and the (possibly) divine.

What starts off as an odd suicide case for Special Investigator Fatma el-Sha’arawi leads her through the city’s underbelly as she encounters rampaging ghouls, saucy assassins, clockwork angels, and a plot that could unravel time itself.

At the Publisher’s request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.


Things are turning around for me with historical fiction. Anytime you put “saucy assassins” in the blurb, you got me. I’m not referring to the type of historical fiction that covers what might have happened surrounding a semi-real event, I’m talking about this lovely short story, here ( 45 pages in length ), titled A Dead Djinn in Cairo ( ← you may read the whole thing online @ tor.com, in previous link. I suggest you give the .99c if you like it and can suitably afford it ) by P. Djèlí Clark, which takes place in 1912, has an explicit Indiana Jones / steam punk type-feel to it and lore galore. Some of Clark’s other work looks to be worth checking out as well and are being adapted for TV.

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Book Reviews

Review: The Yattering and Jack ( Books of Blood ) by Clive Barker

The Hulu rendition for both the re-release of the book and the movie.

This Volume includes: “The Book of Blood” • “The Midnight Meat Train” • “The Yattering and Jack” • “Pig Blood Blues” • “Sex, Death and Starshine” • “In the Hills, the Cities”

This review covers the third short story titled The Yattering and Jack in Books of Blood Vol. 1 by Clive Barker.

This is a fast paced, knock your socks off hilarity of a story where the lines get definitively blurred of who plays the roles protagonist and antagonist, and this story successfully justifies that as a quality of style. While this factor, until my brain discovered it as such, proved confusing at times and the level of complexity this brings to story demands attention and deserved a re-read. Entertaining it is and we have the Yattering which is a demon enslaved to hand down some terror to a spiritually indebted person named Jack. It is the characterization of a demon and this Yattering certainly has character. It’s unpredictable, fun and electrically terrifying.

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Book Reviews

Review: Neithernor ( grotesquerie ) by Richard Gavin

Cover of grotesquerie by Richard Gavin. Cover art by Mike Davis.

This Collection includes: “Banishments” • “Fragile Masks” • “Neithernor” • “Deep Eden” • “The Patter of Tiny Feet” • “The Rasping Absence”• “Scold’s Bridle: A Cruelty” • “Crawlspace Oracle” • “After the Final” • “The Sullied Pane” • “Cast Lots”• “Notes on the Aztec Death Wistle” • “Headsman’s Trust: A Murder Ballad” • “Chain of Empathy” • “Three Knocks on a Buried Door” • “Ten of Swords: Ruin”

This review covers the third, short story titled Neithernor, inside of the collection of stories titled grotesquerie. This is not a a review for the whole book.

In my review for the first story in grotesquerie titled Banishments, I don’t think I mentioned, but these stories are mostly written in a classical form. It’s one that you don’t see often these days. It is a bit heavier of reading, sometimes I had to go back over things, but with this comes a reward. What is also rewarding about these stories is, albeit not excessive, that their are gems. Gems in the form of interesting words, gems in the form of complex thought, gems in the form of references to other mediums of art, etc. I really can’t say enough about how I value gems in all books, not just this short story. Things that make you think, wonder and research to learn and grow. I fear that a lot of modern books won’t put gems in a book for reasons I can only assume, but I think it is a mistake, especially when warranted. I haven’t read a lot of classic literature, even in the horror genre such as H.P. Lovecraft or similar, not enough to speak about it. But, if I were to assume what it would be like and to recall a solid memory about it, it would be close in form to what Gavin has done here. This is classy horror, no cussing or vulgarities in that respect. It’s intellectual reading.

“Companionship always puts one more at ease with one’s own eccentricities. Alone, one’s compulsions can become forces of anguish and alienation. Betrothed, they twist into endearing quirks in the eye of one’s lover. This of course is so much easier than the futile quest to entirely remake one’s self to fit an ideal.”

© 2020, Richard Gavin
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Book Reviews

Review: Banishments ( grotesquerie ) by Richard Gavin

Click on this finely tuned cover image to have a visit to the author’s release announcement. The artwork here is amazing and represents the content well.

This Collection includes: “Banishments” • “Fragile Masks” • “Neithernor” • “Deep Eden” • “The Patter of Tiny Feet” • “The Rasping Absence”• “Scold’s Bridle: A Cruelty” • “Crawlspace Oracle” • “After the Final” • “The Sullied Pane” • “Cast Lots”• “Notes on the Aztec Death Wistle” • “Headsman’s Trust: A Murder Ballad” • “Chain of Empathy” • “Three Knocks on a Buried Door” • “Ten of Swords: Ruin”

This review covers the first story within the grotesquerie collection titled Banishments, which is apart of my Halloween reading list. I chose to review the short story instead of reviewing the whole book because I am treating this as somewhat of a study to identify the core elements and atmosphere in writings. This book can be considered heavier reading, but I knew what I was getting myself into before I started.

Banishments is a truly interesting story with murky elements and emotional ties in setting to a broken home, but more importantly what is found floating down a stormy, rushing river. And the writings here in Banishments has a classical type feel that left me in somewhat of a confused state when certain elements were finally introduced. However, I feel like that is not at fault of the writer, but my own as my assumptions led me to believe, based on what was presented that at first had me thinking this story took place in some distant world.

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Book Reviews

Review: The Book of Blood by Clive Barker

Cover for the newly released edition of Books of Blood Vol 1 by Clive Barker

This Volume includes: “The Book of Blood” • “The Midnight Meat Train” • “The Yattering and Jack” • “Pig Blood Blues” • “Sex, Death and Starshine” • “In the Hills, the Cities”

The Book of Blood, the first short story in this volume, is the one we are reviewing here in this article and not the whole Volume 1 book titled Books of Blood.

This first short story in Clive Barker’s Books of Blood Vol 1 titled The Book of Blood, that sets the stage in truly the best way possible for this tour de force, completely knocked my head off. The titles between the main book and the first short story are confusing at first, but make total sense after reading which adds value. It delivers wonder and vivid imagery with eloquent writing style matched with elements of true horror. There is some questionable sexual content looming that brushes the bleeding edge of an urge to also to be questionably judgemental and I love that.

In one sense, you could tell every bit of this story verbosely and not spoil it due to the nature of Clive Barker’s curated writing style, but the elements and ultimately the way this short story ends would be spoiled very easily because of it’s weight for the rest of the book which ties the rest of the stories together.

Honestly, I had to re-read this mere 25 pages a couple times ( and not at fault of the book ) to get the full swing and just to make sure I had the message tightly in my grip, but it ultimately left me in a a state of my jaw having to be picked up off the floor and with a vat of curiosity for the rest of the book. This paradoxical quote and play on words from the blurb says a lot for what’s in store for this first, short story in this book:

Everybody is a book of blood; wherever we’re opened, we’re red.