The Girl From The Well – Rin Chupeco

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Followers of Japanese horror, aka J-Horror, in both literary and film media are well-versed in the genre trope more-or-less made famous by Koji Suzuki’s novel, The Ring. Many sequels, spin-offs, and copycats have been generated in both Japan and the US. The ghostly, and deadly Samara, with her long, black hair and dirty white nightgown, has become a horror icon. Similarly, the Japanese manga created by Tsugumi Ohba, Death Note, has spawned an anime TV series, two live-action films to date, and numerous imitators. It’s therefore forgivable to brush off Rin Chupeco’s 2014 debut novel, The Girl from the Well, as just another in a long line of followers seeking to cash in on the popularity of the above-mentioned classics. But that would be an error in judgment.

Make no mistake – there is definitely a strong resonance to both benchmark creations. However, Chupeco offers a fresh interpretation that incorporates revenge from the grave, spiritual possession, and cultural history into the lives of a very well-drawn set of characters. The result is a story that is absolutely chilling in some scenes, very violent in others, but always stressing the loneliness and isolation of the outsider along with deep, familial love.

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Okiku, the girl from the well, was murdered 300 years ago. She is the most dangerous and horrific of ghosts: the mobile one, capable of moving across the world, reaching into our reality to exact a specific form of revenge associated with her death. She manifests in hideous ways – hanging from the ceiling, standing silently in a corner – and some special people, mainly children and young adults, can see her. One special child is fifteen-year-old Tarquin, covered in tattoos from his institutionalized Japanese mother at a very early age, and subject to attempted control by a very evil spirit. Tarquin, along with his older cousin, Callie, make the acquaintance of Okiku when Tarquin is abducted by a murderous pedophile. To say more would spoil the many genre pleasures found in this book.

The novel is not perfect by any means. The pace of the story is uneven, beginning fast and furiously, then slowing down through a process of info dump through lengthy dialog in the final third, before erupting once again in a nicely-realized and vicious battle. The story seems written for an eventual film franchise, with a sequel, The Suffering, released in August of this year. Regardless of motivation, the author’s prose is assured, precise and quite descriptive. Characterizations, including Okiku, are well-structured. While the book appears to be targeted for the YA market, it is a treat for adults as well. Emulation of classic tropes doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Rate it four out of five stars. Chupeco is an author to watch.

Book Review – The Frozen Sky by Jeff Carlson

Action packed science fiction thriller.

            

The Frozen Sky by Jeff Carlson is a fine example of how the price of a book can result in a wonderful read and discovery of a new favorite. Let’s not kid ourselves, books are expensive. You may not agree with such a generalization but money is money and out of pocket costs for entertainment demand return on investment.

In this case the price is what resulted in the purchase. $3.99 for an e-book isn’t too bad, and certainly isn’t a gouge by the publisher (as so many other book prices clearly are). So once the book was downloaded and opened and the words began to spill out off the pages several things became instantly clear.

First, Jeff Carlson can write. Maybe not the best in the business, but the ability to write well stands out in the crowd, and Carlson has skill.

Second, The story is hard science fiction. Before anyone starts throwing rotten lettuce and tomatoes, the differing positions on what constitutes ‘hard science’ in novels is understood by the meat men here at Raw Movie Reviews. Our position is this – the story is closer to hard science than no science or pseudo-science or christian science, or Scientology. So drop it and move on to the next point, which is…

Third, the story is great. It’s intriguing from the first sentence. The action begins and doesn’t really stop. The points of view are extremely limited establishing the feeling of isolation that is critical to the tone and really helps set the stage for the entire story.

For the price it’s more than worth the read. Bonus – if you have Amazon Prime you can check it our for free. Awesome right? What don’t have Amazon Prime? You should… click here.

Q: What’s the story?
A: It’s a first contact story on Jupiter’s moon Europa.

Q: Is it hard science fiction?
A: You’re just trying to start an argument. 😛 We stick my tongues out at you.  …and waggle several other tongues we have lying around the shop.

Q: Has Carlson written anything else of note?
A: This is the only book we’ve read by this author, however we just discovered he has written a squeal to this book. So now we have a new book to read. Yay!

Q: Is there nudity??
A; Dude it’s a book.

Check out some other great books on the Recommended Reading page.

Book (Novella) Review – The Grendel’s Shadow

Off World Hunter Meets the Monster of Legend

Sci-fi horror novel that retells a version of Beowulf. Raw Book Review

The way to determine if you might enjoy this novella is to ask you the following questions:

1) Did you enjoy the story of Beowulf?

2) Did you enjoy the movie The Ghost in the Darkness?

3) Are you fan of genre mashing, specifically Sci-fi and Pulp Adventure?

4) Is an entertaining story more important than complex literary talent?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above then you may be interested in checking out The Grendel’s Shadow by Andrew Mayne.

As with previous novels we’ve reviews, this book was stumbled upon by chance and purchased based on the sale price of $0.99. Its a novella at 126 pages long, but to our surprise we were treated to a well written adventure story that kept us entertained from beginning to end.

The story follows a professional hunter who is hired by the government of a colonized planet to rid them of a wild beast that is attacking and killing families along an undomesticated frontier region.

Sounds like science fiction right? Yes, but only for the initial worldbuilding in which the story is set. What Andrew Mayne does well is take a 1920s style pulp adventure story, one that could easily be set around the turn of the century (late 1800s) and place it in a far future.

The story hits the ground running and never lets up. It’s a short read but it doesn’t disappoint.

Is it just a new version of Beowulf?

No. We asked the Beowulf question because this novel is certainly inspired by Beowulf, but it’s unique enough to be a good read.

I’m not a fan of guns and violent stories, will I like this?

We think so. It’s almost a period piece. Almost.

Where can I get it?

We bought it on Kindle.

Book Review – Southern Gods by John Horner Jacobs

Southern Gods is the kind of book that swims through your brain at night – after you’ve put it down and resolved to go to sleep. 

Horror Book with The King in Yellow, Hastur, Cthulhu Mythos, Southern mystery, radio, blues, awesome writing style. It swims around, kicking thoughts and ideas, poking tender bits a tissue, causally dragging it’s long cold greasy appendages across the soul. 


Many will say noir crime with Lovecraftian overtones. Many will be right, in a way, yet overly conservative in their description.
Southern Gods is a fascinating journey through the deep south in the early years after World War II. Following the investigation of a less than reputable private detective, the reader is lured into a world that is almost trapped in time. 

Fans of True Detective, which is everyone whose seen the show, will be left wondering if Jacobs isn’t in fact a time traveler playing a stories that predate the show. The common element being The King in Yellow. 

In the original stories by Chambers The King in Yellow is a stage play that corrupts the mind and drives people insane before they reach the second act. Usually this occurs when they read the play, let alone act it out on stage. 

In Southern Gods, the man of mystery, Ramblin’ John Hastur, moves about the state seeking out small single operator radio stations to play his signature southern blues music. As the song goes out on the airwaves, the fun begins. 

Q: Hastur? That’s Lovecraft right?
A: Yes, although Robert Chambers wrote the original King in Yellow collection just prior to 1900. Lovecraft co-opted some of his concepts, it wasn’t until August Derleth was bequeathed control over Lovecraft’s legacy that Hastur became properly associated with it all.

Q: What if I’m not a fan of noir crime, or blues music?
A: Jacobs is a formidable writer and this novel is a great read. If you enjoy intelligent supernatural horror you will enjoy this book.

Q: Has Jacobs written anything else of note?
A: Yes, yes, and yes. I plan on writing reviews of his other works, so read Southern Gods and by the time you’re done my next reviews of:

Zombie horror that is grittier and darker and more interesting than The Walking Dead or The Rising Horde.     and    might be done.

Update: It’s been seven months and no new reviews. I don’t read that slow, I finished the books a couple months ago. Thank you for your patience, review of This Dark Earth will be up shortly.