Monday, December 29, 2014

REVIEW: The Mordecai Slate stories by John Whalen

If you know me and my reading habits, you know that I love weird westerns. Something about the blending of the western genre with horror has always really appealed to me. You may also know that, as far as I'm concerned, there are three names at the top of the weird western pile -- Robert E Howard, Joe Lansdale and Heath Lowrance. Well, now its time to add another to the list.

John Whalen is the author of stories about Mordecai Slate. There are presently two volumes to concern yourself with: Vampire Siege at Rio Muerto and Hunting Monsters Is My Business.

Vampire Siege is, predictably, about Mordecai Slate on the hunt for vampires. Specifically, a wealthy ranchero from New Mexico hires Slate to hunt Kord Manion, the vampire that ravished his daughter. The trick is that Slate is to bring Manion back alive (undead?). This sets the stage for one hell of a ride. Whalen recalls the very best that the genre has to offer. If you want a good, entertaining way to spend your time, you'd be hard pressed to do any better than Vampire Siege at Rio Muerto.

Unless, of course, we are talking about Hunting Monsters Is My Business. That's the name of the brand new collection of stories about Slate by Whalen. As the title might imply, you've got monsters of all varieties being represented here in this volume. They all run afoul of Mordecai Slate and, while he sometimes struggles, he always finishes the job.

That's the cool thing about Slate. He's a professional. There's no ennui or existential crises with this character. He hunts monsters because its a way to get paid and he always gets paid. Imagine Clint Eastwood meets Parker meets the John Carpenter film Vampires. Very highly recommended.

Basically, you need to pick these books up. Tell em the Chronicler sent ya.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

CESAREFEST: Exponential by Adam Cesare

Cesarefest concludes today as we look at Adam's newest book Exponential. Be sure to swing by Amazon and pick this one up, in addition to his other books.

Cesare continues to demonstrate that he can dominate whichever horror subgenre he chooses. This time, Cesare tackles a story about a science experiment gone wrong, leading to the creation of a giant monster.

Like all the creature features you loved back in the day, Exponential excites and entertains. The characters are, as usual with Cesare, incredibly well drawn and intriguing. That's all well and good, of course, but this is a horror novel and Cesare beings the scares. This is Cesare's best book to date, hands down.

This is a genuinely creepy story. The monster contains elements of classic monster tales but has a twist that is all Cesare.

It cannot be said enough that Adam Cesare is a man to follow. His titles should be blind buys and he gets better and better with each new release.

Now go forth and buy them all. Happy Cesarefest!

Friday, December 12, 2014

CESAREFEST: The First One You Expect by Adam Cesare

We are reaching the end of Cesarefest. Before we continue, I want to point out that we are covering Cesare's full length works here. He is also an accomplished writer of short stories and appears comfortable in almost any medium. Therefore, I'd like to remind you that his name means quality. If you see something featuring Cesare, snatch it up and rest assured that you're about to encounter quality. That said, onto today's review...

The First One You Expect is part of the first wave of books releases by one of the most important publishers today, Broken River Books. Once again, Cesare's love of horror shines through and he takes elements and throws them into the pot with ingredients that are uniquely Cesare. The result is funny, tragic, scary, and really makes you think about the horror genre's successes and failures.

The First One You Expect is about a guy named Tony who makes low-budget horror films. Tony has a plan to launch a Kickstarter for his new film and that plan involves a series of the sort of really poor decisions you'd expect from a character in a noir novel. The sort of decisions that lead to getting involved with people you probably shouldn't get involved with.

Cesare handles this one like a thriller and homages the slasher genre. Throughout his career, Cesare appears to be saying that he can take almost any subgenre and make it his own. This one could not be more different in subject to something like Tribesmen but he still injects the characterization and terrific dialogue that you have come to expect from him.

If there was something to complain about here, it would be that the book was not longer. That is, however, often the way with good books. What Cesare does right, he does better than anyone else.

I think that Tony's character serves as a stand-in for many people in the horror community. His faults are, at times, criticisms of the horror genre as a whole taken to the extreme. Tony feels real and you want to see all of the bad choices he's going to make and the resulting consequences of those choices.

With The First One You Expect, Adam Cesare has written another terrific piece of horror fiction. You won't be able to put it down once you start, and you'll wish there was more like it when you're done.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

CESAREFEST: The Summer Job by Adam Cesare

Cesarefest continues as we look at his third novel, The Summer Job. His newest, Exponential, came out this week so don't hesitate to head over and pick up a copy. Pick up all his other books while you're at it. You won't regret it.

The Summer Job focuses on a college grad in Massachusetts. Unhappy with her current station in life, she answers an ad for a job working in an isolated hotel. I don't need to tell you that things aren't what they seem.

Cesare writes about familiar horror concepts. Cannibals, monsters, Satanic cults. Chances are, you've read books or seen movies with these themes before. You haven't seen them like this though unless you've read Cesare. With Summer Job, he continues to perfect his craft.

One of the things that works so well in this book is how well drawn the characters are, especially Claire, the main character. It is often said that if you follow a good character long enough you are almost guaranteed a good story. Cesare proves this to be true here.

Cesare is a horror master. He never gives in to cliché, rather he takes tropes common to the genre and breathes new life into them, makes them his own. Unputdownable might as well have been coined to describe the man's work. There are some nailbiting, hair raising scenes in this book. The pacing in Summer Job is relentless. Be prepared to set some time aside and read this all in one sitting.

If you like Cesare already or if you like 80s/90s horror, this is a no brainer. Grab this and grab everything that bears his name. The best is yet to come from Adam Cesare. Stay tuned and Happy Cesarefest!