David’s Haunted Library: Mountain Sickness

Telluride is a small remote town in the Colorado Rockies and it’s a playground for the rich and famous. People come from all over to ski here and the city’s economy is dependent on tourism. It wasn’t always that way though, it started as a mining town but the mine was considered dangerous and closed down. Since then, Telluride has been a winter paradise until a mysterious plague starts to affect the guests.

Telluride isn’t an easy place to get in and out of, so when disaster strikes there is nowhere to run to. It starts with normal people turning into raving lunatics; it ends with them changing into flesh-eating zombies. To make matters worse, the town is being rocked by a blizzard and the locals and tourists alike will have to work together to survive and keep the zombie virus from spreading. If you ever wanted to know what the zombie apocalypse would be like in a blizzard than Mountain Sickness by Frank Martin is your chance to find out.

My first thought when I saw this book was: “Zombies in a snowstorm, sounds like fun.” I can’t think of any other zombie books or movies that take place in a cold climate so I found this idea appealing. My one complaint about this book is that it takes a long time to get into the action. There are so many characters being introduced in the beginning that it’s hard to keep track of everyone. Once we see the first person sick with the zombie virus the story gets good real quick.

It’s not just the setting that makes this zombie story different, it’s also how the people are before they change. The victims fly into a rage before they become zombies and in the beginning, they start as fast-moving zombies. One of my favorite scenes was when one of the ski resort’s employees named Chris goes to find his girlfriend as the people are turning into zombies. He finds her close to death and her dying wish is for Chris to save a boy named Ryan. Chris starts looking for Ryan and as he does he sees himself as a man who has never committed to the life he truly wanted and now he has to fulfill his girlfriend’s dying wish. This made me fall in love with the character Chris and as we see him try to rescue Ryan, he finds another survivor on the way, a 13-year-old girl named Stephanie.

Stephanie is another character in this story I fell in love with. In the beginning, she is a normal teenage girl but we see her become a different person as she deals with the loss of her family and is forced to become an adult as society collapses around her. One scene I loved has Stephanie walking up to someone changing into the living dead and knocking them out with one punch. Seems unbelievable but the zombie didn’t see it coming. The most interesting part of this book is seeing how all of the characters change as they realize that if the zombies don’t get them then they will probably die in the blizzard. The setting and the characters make Mountain Sickness a must read.

 

 

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David’s Haunted Library: The Final Reconciliation and Skin Deep/Ordinary Monsters

Thirty years ago a new progressive rock band exploded onto the music scene called The Yellow Kings. The band was made up of 4 teenagers with big dreams who released an ep and toured America, eventually landing a record contract. Along the way, they meet a young woman named Camilla who has an odd influence on the band. After their first tour, The Yellow Kings went out to Los Angeles to record their first album, a concept album called The Final Reconciliation. Little did they know it would be their last album and very few people would ever hear it.

The album was shelved after The Yellow Kings put on an album release party in an L.A. nightclub where they planned to play the full album for the first time. The concert ended in a disaster which killed almost 200 people and left only one band member alive. For the first time since that fatal night, The Yellow Kings lead guitarist and sole survivor Aiden Cross has agreed to be interviewed about the events leading up to that tragic night.

The Final Reconciliation by Todd Keisling is inspired by Robert W. Chamber’s “The King in Yellow.” Written in 1895 it was also the inspiration behind some of H.P. Lovecraft’s work. In the 1895 story, it was a play that if read brings madness to the people reading it. In this story if you listen to the full album it creates chaos. I wasn’t familiar with the source material but loved how it was presented in this book. The idea of a heavy metal album opening a portal to another world and making people go crazy is a great concept.

This cosmic horror novella is more than just a new twist on old mythology, though, it’s also the story of kids from a working class background achieving their dreams and worst nightmares at the same time. One of my favorite parts of this book was when three members of the band return to their hometown from their first tour and you see the background they come from. They don’t get a warm welcome, their parents don’t understand the bands need to follow their passion instead of working a blue collar job. In a short time, The Yellow Kings achieve a high level of success before it all comes crashing down. You know early on that it’s all going to end in disaster, which leads me to what I didn’t like about the story. You knew what was going to happen from the beginning, it’s just a question of how we’re going to get to the final result.

The Final Reconciliation is a great little horror tale that mixes music, mythology and a coming of age story all into one. The description of The Yellow Kings kingdom comes to life brilliantly and the final scenes in the Nightclub disaster were wonderfully grotesque. Todd Keisling does an excellent job of setting a mood of dread and keeping it going throughout the book. I think most of all I loved the concept of a progressive rock album being the key to a world of terror. If you are familiar with the Cthulhu mythos you shouldn’t pass up this book.

Skin Deep/Ordinary Monsters by Frank Martin is a different kind of horror book. It includes two stand alone pulp fiction style horror novellas and a comic.  The first story is called Skin Deep “A Vampire Story Of Love.” The story centers around a  girl named Laura who is a track and field star in high school, rebelling against her parents. She sneaks into bars and complains that her parents pushed her into track, but her attitude becomes a big problem when she meets a Cajun vampire who teaches her a lesson in love she won’t forget.

Skin Deep is the kind of story that comes to mind for me when I think of pulp fiction. It’s a simple story with simple characters and its a lot of fun when the vampire shows himself. The beginning is boring but as the story moves along it gets better. I loved the vampire and the final gory scenes in the story are excellent. Skin Deep is a story that has its flaws, such as parents that Laura thinks are overbearing but in reality come across as non caring, until the end. Laura also has a sister named Jessica who has a story that is never fully explained. That being said the scenes with the vampire in it make this story worth it and we even get a nice message about not having to live the role that people expect of you.

The second story is called Ordinary Monsters and is about two teenage best friends whose friendship is put to the ultimate test when an old family secret is revealed.  This is an excellent werewolf story which touches on such subjects as the Nazi concentration camps, dealing with anger and how far loyalty will go. I love the scenes from the werewolves point of view and the description of the change from human to werewolf was brilliant. This story represents why werewolves have always been my favorite monster. It’s all about a person dealing with an inner rage that they have no control over, this book is worth your time for this story alone.

Skin Deep/Ordinary Monsters also includes a beautifully illustrated comic that tells the story of a werewolf and vampire doing battle during World War 2. I felt both of these stories got off to a slow start and had the feel that they were coming from a first time writer, but both got better as the monster was introduced into the story. This book is a fun read that fans of a good monster story will love and with cover art like that, who can resist.