Little Deaths and The Eyes of The Stars

What do you do when your girlfriend dies and you have a problem letting her go? If you’re a collector and you own a  pair of neck bolts that Boris Karloff wore in the original Frankenstein movie you might be able to bring her back to life. Of course that could become a problem once the body decomposes.

This is one of the story lines from John F.D. Taff’s Little Deaths. This anthology includes 19 short horror stories that take a look at how humans react to bizarre situations. Another story in this collection looks at a woman named Melinda who marries a man named Josh. Josh has a book that tells every detail of his and Melinda’s life from birth to death. Despite her husband’s warnings to not look at the book, she does look and doesn’t like her destiny. She decides to rewrite the book and change everything but now she has to face the consequences.

My favorite stories in this anthology were the ones that mixed Science Fiction and Horror such as But For A Moment…Motionless which tells the tale of a man walking the streets of a deserted city and discovering that he may be the last one alive. I liked how the main character describes what he will miss about humanity and how he reacts when he learns what really happened.

I also enjoyed Snapback which tells what happens in the future as people learn how to master time travel. This one is told through a series of scientific reports and I thought it was interesting hearing how the tone of the reports change as the scientists discover that there is a problem.

Other good stories for the hard core horror fan include include The Mire Of Human Veins that had a Neil Gaiman feel to it and is about a girl who has a strange home life. Another one is Child Of Dirt about a baby who’s father may not be human.  Also if you are into ghost stories, The story Here is a ghostly love story that has a good sense of humor and will appeal to all dog lovers.

I enjoyed John F.D. Taff’s Little Deaths more or less. I thought all the stories were well written and I like how the author describes the action and setting in each story. I also like the way he describes his characters.  That being said I did have a problem with some of the stories. Such as The Scent, BoltsHelping Hands and Calander Girl which were based on good ideas but had endings that left me confused. John F.D. Taff does make up for this though in the end of the book when he tells his idea behind each story and your able to find out what he was thinking as he wrote it. I do think Little Deaths is a good anthology and I look forward to seeing a novel by John F.D. Taff in the future.

The next book I want to look at combines mystery and horror while taking a look at a secret society and ancient religion. Its called The Eyes Of the Stars by Malcolm J Stewart. The story follows Chicago homicide detective Paul Gminski who is haunted by dark dreams of his mother’s death. Unable to rest, Paul and his partner Ivey are called to The Field Museum to investigate the brutal murder of one of the museum’s employees. The employee is a member of  The Council of Six whose members are being viciously slaughtered by something that is not human. The only clue they have is the word Amuz written in blood on a wall at two of the crime scenes.

Each council member possesses a piece of an ancient collection of relics called The Eyes of the Stars. Paul finds himself in a desperate race against time as he battles to unravel the mystery of the Eyes of the Stars. But doing so will pit him and Chicago against an ancient, forbidden evil awaiting rebirth under the city’s streets.

I thought The Eyes Of The Stars got off to a slow start and I was confused at first because the religious aspects of the book and the secret society were not explained until later on, so you have to get past the beginning to get into it. Also there were some typos in the version I read which did take away from the story a little.

On the bright side I like how the mystery unfolds. Little by little you find out about the Council of six’s motivations and you learn about the zealots and Nephilim and what they have to do with the murder spree. My favorite part in the book was when a character named Sulya describes what the bible is really all about. Also the villains in the story are great. I don’t want to give anything away but I loved how The forbidden One is revealed.

I also like how its shown what side of the fence another one of the characters is on. When the other villain finds out that bringing The Forbidden One back to Earth is not in their best interest, its great watching them get there just desserts. I guess the point here is, it doesn’t pay to be evil. The scene where The Forbidden One rises and you see what makes up this creature is an extremely creepy scene.

My favorite character was Paul. I like how his past was presented and seeing how an event from his childhood managed to destroy his relationship with his wife and daughter and effect every aspect of his life. There is one scene where two of the heroes in the story are having a romantic moment and he wonders if he has ever had a love like the one they share and then he remembers he has had that with his ex-wife.

Paul doesn’t want to be the person he is but he can’t get over his past and it effects everything. I think the theme Malcolm J Stewart is trying to get across here is how one person making a bad decision and not being able to get over it effects everyone. There is also a good point made about how religion is created and the true difference of good and evil.

The Eyes Of The Stars works on several different levels. It is a character driven piece, a horror story, a mystery and a story about philosophy. I think its a book that everyone can get something out of.