Tag Archives: horror

The White Devil by Justin Evans

white devilWith a tarnished reputation, expelled American student, Andrew Taylor is sent to finish his studies at a prestigious and historic boarding school in England.

Steeped in tradition, Harrow School, has all the ingredients to make you feel uneasy: age old-secrets, hidden tunnels, aristocracy, hallways lined with faded photos, and of course rumours of a student ghost.

The plot itself gathers you in, and the writing style is enjoyable, perfectly paced, and wonderfully descriptive, while still leaving splinters in your brain that you have to interpret yourself. Once you’re hooked it doesn’t take long for the goosebumps to appear. Strange occurrences emerge, Andrew begins to suffer vivid and disturbing dreams, and a student dies on campus.

Andrew bears a striking resemblance to a former, famous pupil of Harrow, Lord Byron, and there is no doubt that his enrolment has stirred something supernatural and malevolent within the walls of the school.

What I like about this tale, and what is typical of a clever ghost story is that there is an underlying unease and tension, even during the lighter moments. (There is a backstory of a student romance, adolescent sexuality and a tired alcoholic tutor/mentor.) The history and architecture of the school itself is fascinating and frightful, and that the main characters have their own controversies and secrets that, in a way, haunt them more than any ghost can.

Moments of terror are written in a fast and punctuated pace and you can’t help but rush through them with a skip in your heartbeat and a bite to the lip.

The haunting is genuinely menacing but also enticing; our ghostly friend is seriously pissed off about something; and new student Andrew has definitely captured its attention.

In Short: Secrets, sodomy, scholars and scares.


Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

dr sleepMy husband is a newspaper man.  He subscribes to his reading material of choice both digitally and in print.  Nothing makes him happier than hearing the thunk of the cling wrapped paper hit our driveway on a Saturday morning.

He reads the papers from cover to cover, but he starts at the back pages for sport.  He knows every sporting result, every match up, every ladder.  He also knows world events, politics, and what’s hot and not this week.  He reads book reviews to get ideas for me, hates Andrew Bolt, and has a special patronising voice that he reserves for reading out the guilt laden and superficial advice from the Body & Soul section.

On Sunday, he savours the broadsheet.  In the morning he uses it as a plate to eat his egg sandwich, yolk and salt dripping on the parts he’s already gotten to; and at night he pours over the extras and inserts while elbowing me in bed as he tries to manoeuvre the 3 metre pages.

So while I can say my husband is an avid reader, it’s normally The Age annual footy guide that takes pride of place on his bedside table.

Last night I went to bed late.  I expected him to be snuggled up with the light off, snoring gently after a hell of a week.  However there he was, legs tucked up to his chin, no blanket, eyes boring holes into the crisp white pages of Stephen King highly anticipated new book.

When he finally looks up, his eyes are wide and he’s bitten his lip.

Holy shit, this book is getting good.’

When I first saw the movie The Shining, there were so many creepy elements that affected me.  The dead twins in the hallway, the trademark Kubrick direction, the 70s bowl haircut on the kid who spoke to his finger, and none more than the hideously sexy ghost who seduces ‘Heres Johnny’ John Torrance and then turns into a naked rotting corpse in his arms.

And it’s only moments into reading the sequel Doctor Sleep that this ghoulish character returns and you’re reminded that you’re back reading the master of the supernatural genre.

The tale picks ups decades after the horror at the Overlook Hotel took place, with little Danny (Doc) Torrance all grown up and battling with the demons of the past.  He’s been drifting, fucking up and trying to escape both his father’s legacy and the events of his childhood that haunt him.  He self-medicates to drown out his ‘shining,’ but soon, remnants of his supernatural abilities re-emerge and the meeting of teenager Abra Stone forces him to go into battle to save her soul.

While a whole bunch of cool mind-reading, ESP, telekinesis stuff goes on between Dan and Abra, there is evil lurking nearby.  A travelling tribe of highway folk called the True Knot are in search of sustenance.  And they want Abra.  Part vampire, part kidnappers, part murderers, they are led by a powerful, engaging, and chillingly evil woman in a top hat who drives an RV.

In true King style, the action and spooks are from start to finish.  There is real substance to Dan’s personal struggles as he fights his demons in a gritty and authentic portrayal of addiction. There is a love story of sorts between an unlikely pair, and the plot is fast moving, uncomplicated and tense.  The baddies are really bad, and the goodies are genuinely flawed.  It also gives the original The Shining more depth and intrigue, as the story travels back in time to Danny’s awful memories of the hotel on the hill.

While there is always a risk of a King ending being just that bit too epic (think the giant spider in IT) the climax here is cleverly crafted and will not disappoint.

In Short: “Holy Shit, this book is getting good.”