Thursday, July 9, 2015

Review: In Midnight's Silence

Back in April I reviewed T. Frohock's Miserere, a fantastic portal fantasy combining magic, religion, betrayals and redemption. The author was here on Monday with a guest post on horror films, and I recently finished Frohock's latest, the excellent IN MIDNIGHT'S SILENCE, part 1 of Los Nefilim.

The novella follows Diago, the offspring of an angel and a daimon. He lives in Barcelona with his lover Miquel, trying to make a living as a musician and teacher, and staying out of the battles between angels and daimons. Soon, he discovers a son he never knew existed, Miquel is in danger, and he will have to risk everything to save both.

This is not an "angels are purely good" tale. While they do not crave the disorder that their counterparts feed on, they are not above sacrificing a child to ensure the greater good. Definitely "ends justify the means" characters here. I enjoyed this aspect not necessarily for the events in this particular novella, but in what is being set up for the next one.

There is magic in the music here, another facet I enjoyed. While we don't go into great detail on the magic system, it was explained enough and shown enough that it made sense. It is also set just before the second world war, a time ripe for conflict.

The characters totally sealed the deal. Diago, just learning how to love again, thrown by the existence of a son, Raphael, he's never met, determined not to abandoned his child like Diago's father abandoned him. Diago was enchanted and raped by Raphael's mother, a fact that Diago has not completely come to terms with by the end of the story, but rather is a work in progress. Miquel, understandably surprised and hurt by the existence of a child conceived while they were a couple, is a source of support. I really loved their relationship. It was not perfect, and you could tell that they had put a lot of work into trusting each other. Raphael, Diago's son, is 6 years old and desperate to be loved and have a home. He is scared, but not completely helpless. The scenes between him, Diago and Miquel are tender and leave you with hope. It's a dangerous world they live in, though.

While it does not end on a cliffhanger, there is absolutely more to the story. Fantastic characters, an interesting world, lots of danger, I will be ready for the next Los Nefilim novella.

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Monday, July 6, 2015

Guest Post: Dive into Horror with T. Frohock

David Annandale tagged me recently for my four favorite horror films, and I lost the tweet. Then Kathy said I could write about anything, so I'm going to kill two birds with one stone and go with my four favorite horror films.

Here they are:

Freaks (1932) -- This is a classic. If you've never seen Freaks, you have to watch it just once. In Freaks, the circus performers, who have physical deformities, are honorable and good, but the two people who are physically beautiful are rotten down to the cores of their souls. The original version of Freaks was considered to be too shocking to be released and has since been lost. The version you can buy now is still very edgy for the time period and has some genuine moments of horror. 

The Ring (2002) -- Japanese horror at its finest. I saw the 1998 remake, and it was chilling. This is a cursed videotape with a ghost that comes for you. I loved it. The movie made me jump and squeal, and I'm pretty jaded about horror flicks.

Timecrimes (2007) -- This is a time loop story and the less you know going in, the better. Hector (Karra Elejalde) goes to investigate a young woman, who is disrobing in the woods near his house, but before he reaches her, he is attacked by a knife-wielding man, whose face is hidden by bandages. He runs away, and finds himself at a mysterious compound where a scientist gives him a place to hide and sends him back in time one hour.

This whole thing could get tiresome quick, except that Elejalde does a superb job of making Hector just a little bit more unhinged and evil in each subsequent scene.

Black Swan (2010) -- this is psychological horror at its finest. How far should an artist go in order to express her art? Natalie Portman gives a gripping portrayal of a ballerina, who has become unhinged by her competitive nature. This is probably one of my favorite movies of all time. You will never watch ballet the same way again.

What are your four favorite horror films?

T. Frohock

BIO: T. Frohock has turned a love of dark fantasy and horror into tales of deliciously creepy fiction. Her other publications include everything from novelettes to short stories. She is also the author of the novel, Miserere: An Autumn Tale. Her newest series, Los Nefilim, is coming from Harper Voyager Impulse and debuts in June 2015 with the novella, In Midnight's Silence.

T. lives in North Carolina where she has long been accused of telling stories, which is a southern colloquialism for lying.

In Midnight’s Silence (Los Nefilim: Part I)

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The fate of mankind has nothing to do with mankind …

Born of an angel and a daimon, Diago Alvarez is a singular being in a country torn by a looming civil war and the spiritual struggle between the forces of angels and daimons. With allegiance to no one but his partner Miquel, he is content to simply live in Barcelona, caring only for the man he loves and the music he makes.  Yet, neither side is satisfied to let him lead this domesticated life and, knowing they can’t get to him directly, they do the one thing he’s always feared.

They go after Miquel.

Now, in order to save his lover’s life, he is forced by an angel to perform a gruesome task: feed a child to the daimon Moloch in exchange for a coin that will limit the extent of the world’s next war.  The mission is fraught with danger, the time he has to accomplish it is limited…and the child he is to sacrifice is the son Diago never knew existed.

A lyrical tale in a world of music and magic, T. Frohock’s IN MIDNIGHT’S SILENCE shows the lengths a man will go to save the people he loves, and the sides he’ll choose when the sidelines are no longer an option.
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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Recent Reads

How is that 52 Book Challenge going? Having luck with your summer reads? Perhaps you need a few new books for your shelf? Here are a few I enjoyed.

GOTHAM ACADEMY Volume 1 by Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, Karl Kerschl (Illustrations)

This one was a hit at our house. Perfect fit for me and the kids. I had to steal it back from girlchild so that I could finish it. Set in the Batman universe with a teen POV, we follow Olive, a student at Gotham Academy. Something bad happened to her last summer, something she can't really remember. While checking out a ghostly presence at school, she discovers answers for her own personal problems (and tons more questions too, of course). Diverse cast, the illustrations are fantastic, and there was just the right amount of tension and danger.

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TRADE ME by Courtney Milan

Contemporary romance that did not rely on an alpha-hole billionaire, big misunderstanding, or any of the other common tropes that generally make me yearn for a alien or monster to pop out and try to eat the happy couple. Yes, there is a billionaire, but he's not a bad boy. He's actually very nice. He has his issues, of course, and comes from a place of lofty privilege, but he is not an asshole. Tina Chen, our heroine, is smart, struggling to get through school so that she can take care of her family, wracked by guilt and also exasperated by her mother. Very sweet romance that I had no trouble believing. A must for romance fans.

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I read this one just in time for book 2 (CLOCKWORK CROWN). Excellent world, characters and action. Much of the story takes place on an airship, which made me happy. Octavia is a very powerful healer on her way to help a remote village. Ever since her village was destroyed in an attack in the seemingly never-ending war between her country and the Wasters, she's never really belonged anywhere. Soon she is contending with assassination attempts, an attraction to a helpful Steward with his own mysteries, and a realization that her powers are greater than she knew. Many questions on whom to trust, this is definitely a set the stage book. Can't wait to read the next.

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ACCEPTANCE (Southern Reach #3) by Jeff VanderMeer

I have to recommend the entire Southern Reach trilogy (ANNIHILATION, CONTROL, and ACCEPTANCE). I found it creepy, engrossing, many times unsure whether to believe our narrators or not, and in the end, definitely accepting that we would never get a concrete, absolute ending (nor would one have worked). An exploration of themes of what it means to be human, to be a part of nature while also trying to control it, what happens when we fail, and what would we choose in our own Area X. Yep, this is a purposefully vague review. It's a series that just has to be experienced. I am so glad I was along for the ride.

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SLICE OF LIFE: A Multimedia Fairy Tale by Ellie Ann (Author), Lance Schaubert (Author), Gary Morgan (Illustrator), Biaka Zaidarhzauva (Illustrator), Emma Lang(Illustrator), Theo Love (Illustrator), Hezekiah Jones (Illustrator)

This short tale is different in that it incorporates prose, pictures, poetry, illustration, audio scenes, and music to give us this slice of a very dark fairytale. We start with Princess Aura awakening to a very bad scene. She is in chains, unable to use her powers, and the evil Queen is attempting to destroy the lifeforce of earth. Aura will need to make impossible bargains, trust an ex-lover and more to save the day. This fairy tale hearkens back to the very Grimm-est of tales. Gory, bloody, and not terribly happy most of the time. I really enjoyed this peek into Aura's adventures. It made me want more.

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