David’s Haunted Library: Monsters In Our Wake and Beatrice Beecham’s Cryptic Crypt

Some people think of space as the final frontier but we have another unexplored area that is a lot closer to us. The deepest part of the ocean is still a mystery and who knows what kind of creatures live down there. In the deep waters of the South Pacific an oil drilling ship is about to find what lurks bellow and they will be very sorry they disturbed it. The ship lowers its drill into the territory of  a family of Nokkens who hate humans with a passion.

The Nokkens are more intelligent than humans think and in their minds its the humans who are the inferior creatures.  In retaliation for invading their space, one of the Nokkens attacks the ship leaving it disabled and thousands of miles away from anyone who can help. Now the humans are starting to turn on the lone woman on the ship, marine biologist Flora Duchovney Flora begins to wonder if the worst monsters are on the ship or in the depths of the ocean.

The first thing that sticks out about Monsters In Our Wake by J.H Moncrieff is that the book starts from the monster’s point of view. Right off the bat that made this book better than your average horror novel. The point of view shifts from the Nokken to Flora, to the members of the ship’s crew. The big question in this book is who really is the monster? The Nokkens, the humans, or both.

The who is the monster theme lasts throughout this book. We get to hear about how the Nokkens hate the humans because of the damage they have done to the ocean and its creatures. Another reason why the Nokkens think of humans as monsters is because they kill each other, which to them is insane. We see this start to play out on the ship as well when the crew become desperate. The Nokkens show how they can be monsters too though as they teach the humans lessons in respect.

Flora was my favorite character in the book because despite things being bad for her she is the strongest character. When things go wrong she takes the blame whether it was her fault or not and at one point she even gets labeled as a witch because the rest of the crew believes she summoned the monster. What I found most interesting about her though is when we see her having an anxiety attack as she wonders about how she will survive and get back to her son at home. Though when things get worse on the ship she does what she needs to do and has no problem with her anxiety.

There was a lot to like about Monsters In Our Wake, the book is a lot of fun. While it’s mostly a horror novel with a deep meaning to it, it has a little humor to it also. There are some unanswered questions about the creatures that I would like to know, but it didn’t take anything away from the overall story. The characters have a lot of depth to them, they are shades of gray instead of black and white. The Nokkens have done some terrible things to the humans, but also show compassion. On the other hand, some of the humans have shown that they have a heart but do some evil things as well. The only one who can be described as good is Flora and she comes across as the most interesting character in the book. Despite some minor flaws, this was an entertaining read and I’m hoping to read more from J.H. Moncrieff in the future.

Dorsal Finn is a strange place sitting on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean. Weird things seem to happen there and it has its fair share of odd characters. For one thing, there is a dark entity living under the bizarre little town and it seems to have created a magnet for people who have evil agendas. Luckily, 15-year-old Beatrice Beecham and her friends are on the scene and ready to solve mysteries and stop evil, dead in its tracks. Beatrice and her friends call themselves the Newshounds and they are a force to be reckoned with.

This adventure has its beginnings way back during World War 2 when two young girls rescue a German scientist who is working on an invention to change the world. The scientist didn’t survive the war but a part of him may have. Flash forward to the present, one of the young girls who saved him is now an elderly woman and is hearing the scientist’s voice in her hearing aid. Underneath the Dorsal Finn Library lies something that can change the world and someone sinister is looking for it. To make matters worse, an organization called the Blue Thunder Foundation is having a strange effect on the town. It’s up to Beatrice and her friends to figure out what’s happening in Dorsal Finn.

Beatrice Beecham’s Cryptic Crypt by Dave Jeffery is a complex supernatural mystery novel aimed at a Y.A. audience. There is so much going on in the plot that its hard to describe it without leaving things out. This is a book that both adults and kids will like and it will really test your ability to pay attention. Because if you blink you will miss something. What I really enjoyed about this book was how the senior citizens and the kids work together to save their town. I also like that there is a historical fiction aspect to the book as it gets into the history of the Nazis and their dealings with the occult.

This book has several themes running throughout it and most appealing is the importance of friendship and how to deal with bullies. There were a couple of scenes where Beatrice and friends stand up to adult bullies and bully their own age. In one case the newshounds help a deaf girl who is being mistreated by the town bully and accept her into their group despite her differences. It doesn’t work out as they planned which was my favorite part of the book that I don’t want to give away, but the main point is that nothing keeps true friends apart.

The only problems I had with this book was I kept wondering if kids are really this nice, some of their conversations are so nice that it seemed unreal to me. Also, there was a point about half way through the book where I felt the author was adding way too many complex ideas to the story and he really needed to add a little suspense. The suspense comes though in the last third of the book as the story goes from historical mystery to action adventure. Beatrice Beecham’s Cryptic Crypt is a good book to give to a teenager who doesn’t like reading. With the great adult and kid characters and the excellent story, it’s almost guaranteed to get a non reader to start a love of reading.

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David’s Haunted Library: Midway and Mooner

25321000Sam Berlitz wanted to prove he could do the impossible. He joined a British long distance swim team and is in the process of swimming across the Atlantic Ocean. Each member of the team takes a turn in the ocean while the rest stay on the ship. On Sam’s latest turn he looks up from his swimming and is surprised to see that his ship and teammates have disappeared without a trace. He is now alone in the ocean without food or fresh water. Or is he? Something large is stalking him in the water and  Sam can’t escape it. Sam slowly starts to lose his sanity as he realizes that he will soon become dinner to whatever creature lurks in the ocean below.

Midway by Nathan Robinson is a thriller about survival in a desperate situation. This book is a journey into a man’s mind as he realizes that he has little hope for a happy ending. He thinks of things such as who will attend his funeral, what exactly happened to his crew and he also thinks about the beauty he sees around him. He describes the water around him, the sunset and the sunrise and he goes through a wealth of emotions.  The best way to describe this book is as a psychological horror novella that reminded me a lot of the movie Open Water.

In addition to the horror of what’s going on in Sam’s mind, there is a very real monster stalking him, which added another level of suspense to the story. I loved how the monster is revealed slowly. You catch glimpses of it before the big reveal and then you are left to wonder if he will die from the monster eating him or from being lost at sea. We also have the mystery as to what really happened to his ship. Is the monster strong enough to pull the ship down? For this being a short read there is a lot going on and it’s all told from the thoughts of one man who has little hope left.

This is the second book I’ve read by Nathan Robinson and one thing I like about his work is that the story starts to go in one direction and then at some point it takes a turn and goes somewhere totally different. What impressed me about Midway is that I felt like this is really what someone who is about to die would feel. In the beginning you don’t really like Sam much, he seems kind of shallow and egotistical but as you get into his fearful thoughts on dying you start to feel for him. Midway is a good horror novella that may scare you out of swimming in the ocean.

22507616Another short story I read recently is Mooner by Selah Janel. This is a historical horror story set in an 1800’s saloon and centers on a worker in a logging camp named Bill. Bill is trying to make enough money to start a new life and his path to doing that is a hard job that many men can’t handle. His role model is Big John and after a hard day’s work they head up to the bar, but what they don’t know is that someone else has plans for them. The setting really comes to life in this one, as the story begins you really feel like you are in an 1800’s bar. The description of it and the language used really adds to the atmosphere and you feel like you are in a different time. To show how much research went into this little vampire tale, there is even a little glossary of terms in the back. It amazes me how much research went into this little tale and the payoff is a horror story that sticks with you.

You really feel for Bill in this story as you get the impression he doesn’t fit in at the bar and he is the only one that pays for his drinks. Even without the vampire element you get the impression that this would be good historical fiction and it has some great characters. There is a sense of building dread as a stranger comes into the bar and only three people seem to understand what’s happening as the other patrons get the stranger to perform tasks for drinks. This is a masterfully told story that had me thinking of the old Tales From The Crypt comic. The vampire is terrifying and sympathetic and for a short story it still has a couple of great twists, this is a must read for horror fans. Considering how good Mooner is I would love to read a  longer historical horror novel from Selah Janel.

Book Review: Insurgent Z

23929492Botte Louisiana is just a little fly spec on the map. The weather is almost always hot and life is pretty laid back in this small town. Things are changing quickly though, the military has its eyes on Botte and they want to do some experiments on prisoners at the local prison which is referred  to as Paradis (French for Paradise). The hope was to create an army of super soldiers but not surprisingly, things don’t work out.

Sheriff Mason Guillot is used to work being easy in his town but now he is in the middle of a zombie outbreak and forced to confront his dark past. Eight years ago he was a soldier and his superior officer Jonathan Hart led him into a trap that caused two people to die. Hart is in charge of the experiments at the prison and Mason must face the man he never wanted to see again. Mason must defeat his personal demons and let go of the past in order to help the people in his town survive the zombie uprising.

Insurgent Z  by Mark C. Scioneaux and Dane Hatchell starts off as a military thriller and then turns into a horror novel. The beginning of this book led me to believe it was going to be a very different kind of novel. It starts in the middle east and gives us some background on two of the main characters before it gets into the zombie story line. The opening of this book was fantastic and I loved the dialogue between the soldiers who are being held prisoner in an enemy camp and their torturer, a man they call scarface. This book starts off with a dose of real life horror and then you see how this real life horror shaped Mason before the zombie outbreak 8 years later.

Mason is a man who has gone through hell  and you root for him because he still tries to do the right thing even after he has suffered. I liked how this book gets deep into what makes all the characters tick. Even  the supporting characters are given back stories, two people in the book, a young couple named Ryn and Deb have had a rough life. They are married and nothing turned out how they planned. Ryn became a drug dealer and Deb works with hospice patients. You see that their relationship is strained but as zombies stumble on to their property, you see them work together to survive. I loved their story and it was one of the scariest parts of the book when they have to fight to survive.

Insurgent Z is everything you would expect in a zombie book. You have interesting characters, flesh-eating monsters, science experiments gone wrong, old school zombies(read it, if you know about the history of zombies you’ll know what I mean.) and lots of action. The characters are what really makes this book worth reading though. Even people who aren’t in the story very long get a back story and the authors make you care about them. This is what makes this book horrifying, you care about the people and you want them to get a happy ending. Insurgent Z is a simple story with complex characters and is a good example of how zombie fiction never gets old.