The Skull Throne (Demon Cycle #4)

Published Post author

The Skull Throne Book Cover The Skull Throne
The Demon Cycle
Peter V. Brett
Fantasy
Del Rey
March 31, 2015
Paperback
681

The Skull Throne of Krasia stands empty.

Built from the skulls of fallen generals and demon princes, it is a seat of honor and ancient, powerful magic, keeping the demon corelings at bay. From atop the throne, Ahmann Jardir was meant to conquer the known world, forging its isolated peoples into a unified army to rise up and end the demon war once and for all.

But Arlen Bales, the Warded Man, stood against this course, challenging Jardir to a duel he could not in honor refuse. Rather than risk defeat, Arlen cast them both from a precipice, leaving the world without a savior, and opening a struggle for succession that threatens to tear the Free Cities of Thesa apart.

In the south, Inevera, Jardir’s first wife, must find a way to keep their sons from killing each other and plunging their people into civil war as they strive for glory enough to make a claim on the throne.

In the north, Leesha Paper and Rojer Inn struggle to forge an alliance between the duchies of Angiers and Miln against the Krasians before it is too late.

Caught in the crossfire is the duchy of Lakton--rich and unprotected, ripe for conquest.

All the while, the corelings have been growing stronger, and without Arlen and Jardir there may be none strong enough to stop them. Only Renna Bales may know more about the fate of the missing men, but she, too, has disappeared...

 

In fantasy series, the 2nd-to-last book always seems to be the weakest installment. Usually, authors have the spend the majority of these books setting things up for the grand finale. Big events are usually kept at a minimum before the final battle. While The Skull Throne does this somewhat, Peter V. Brett toned it down compared to many other authors. Most of this novel is spent getting all the ducks in a row for the last book, but it is not without excitement. Minor characters see their development beginning to wrap up and the loose threads of side plots start being sewed up.

The biggest difference between The Skull Throne and the previous three books is the lack of flashbacks. Readers know everything they need to about the major characters at this point. A new character introduced in this book gets some flashbacks, but that is it. Everything else is focused on the present and advances character development. Mind you, it is more character development than plot that is advanced in this book. While the key main characters and a few others are off doing…things…most of The Skull Throne focuses on everyone else. The Daylight War is still in effect with humans warring on humans, but the demons are just about done sitting still.

That being said, the characters that this installment does focus on get some good development. Leesha has been a bit of a hectic character but really finds her footing too. Rojer also gets a lot of focus, which is great since he did not receive much in the previous book. But these events do make The Skull Throne feel a bit slow at times. There are less demon butt-kicking scenes and more to do with politics, strategy, and people’s love lives. Not quite the same excitement of life-or-death battles, but these are things that need to happen narratively, which Brett understands.

While the action is scarcer, it is also more intense. At the start of the series, the demons were basically just animals. Animals that are very hard to kill, but essentially just vicious, hungry animals. Now, they are strategizing. They are beginning to move like armies and fight like soldiers, testing the mettle of the humans who have grown overconfident as they have become drunk on the power of magic. They know their ancestors have fought this war before, more than once, and failed to vanquish their enemies. The final book will show whether they can accomplish what the heroes of their myths and legends could not.

September 15, 2019

The Rising of the Shield Hero, Volume 2

Published Post author

The Rising of the Shield Hero, Volume 2 Book Cover The Rising of the Shield Hero, Volume 2
The Rising of the Shield Hero
Aneko Yusagi
Light Novel
One Peace Books
October 20, 2015 (English); October 24, 2013 (Japanese)
Paperback
300

Naofumi Iwatani, an uncharismatic Otaku who spends his days on games and manga, suddenly finds himself summoned to a parallel universe! He discovers he is one of four heroes equipped with legendary weapons and tasked with saving the world from its prophesied destruction. As the Shield Hero, the weakest of the heroes, all is not as it seems. Naofumi is soon alone, penniless, and betrayed. With no one to turn to, and nowhere to run, he is left with only his shield. Now, Naofumi must rise to become the legendary Shield Hero and save the world!

 

The Rising of the Shield Hero, Volume 2 starts off shortly after Volume 1 ended. For people who watched the anime, Volume 2 covers episodes 5 through 8. Despite coming out of his shell a bit and newfound trust in Raphtalia after the end of the previous book, Naofumi is still in a dark place. But this is still the beginning phase of his journey, as Naofumi and his allies rise into becoming true heroes. While Naofumi and Raphtalia and still a key focus here, they pick up a third party member in this book: Filo.

Filo is a creature called a filolial, a large, intelligent bird creature that is totally definitely not a chocobo. Basically, filolials are this magical world’s equivalent of horses. But they can also be trained to fight monsters and whatnot. Having a large creature that can also pull a wagon quickly puts Naofumi on the next track of his journey: becoming a trading merchant. With the kingdom still ostracizing him, the group journeys around the countryside fighting monsters for experience and selling medicines, food, and other needed goods to the poorer areas who see little trade. But Naofumi is not the only one having adventures.

Over the course of this book, Naofumi’s group hears rumors about the other three heroes. And all three of them are very much still treating this new world like a video game. But Naofumi realizes that this world is no game and that in the real world, actions have consequences. The group’s journey soon develops a pattern of cleaning up the other heroes’ messes. The actions of the other heroes inadvertently lead to Naofumi becoming stronger. While the other heroes “know what they are doing” from their video game knowledge, Naofumi continues to learn from scratch and pick up on things the other heroes remain unaware of.

Is Volume 2 of Rising of the Shield Hero particularly exciting? Not really. This is a story full of side quests. These are the mini-missions you have to do in games to get the experience/loot to tackle the big story. But while the main plot crawls along here, the character development continues to expand. Naofumi, Raphtalia, and Filo all grow as people from these experiences. Both individually and in their relationships together as a team. Even characters who are not always directly involved, like the other three heroes, get some development via the actions Naofumi knows they have taken. Rising of the Shield Hero Volume 2 is very much a stepping stone, but it seems to be moving the series in the right direction.

September 8, 2019

Doctor Sleep (The Shining, #2)

Published Post author

Doctor Sleep Book Cover Doctor Sleep
The Shining
Stephen King
Horror
Scribner
September 24, 2013
Hardcover
531

Stephen King returns to the characters and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, The Shining, in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the boy protagonist of The Shining) and the very special 12-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.

On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless - mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky 12-year-old Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the "steam" that children with the "shining" produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father's legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant "shining" power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes "Doctor Sleep."

Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan's own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra's soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of hyper-devoted fans of The Shining and wildly satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.

 

Stephen King sequels are a rare thing. While all of his books do have a shared multiverse, most of King’s stories allude to his previous works rather than directly interacting. Doctor Sleep is only the third time King wrote a direct sequel (which he has done one other time since). And The Shining came out in 1977, a good 36 years before Doctor Sleep. If you have not read the Shining in a while (like me), a brief reminder of how it ended: 5-year old Danny Torrance, his mother Wendy, and caretaker Dick Halloran scarcely survived the destruction of the Overlook and death of Wendy’s husband Jack, who had been possessed by the hotel’s ghosts.

Doctor Sleep begins a bit after the end of The Shining. The very beginning of the book covers parts of Danny’s childhood as he copes with the events at the Overlook. Not to mention his newfound awareness of his powers with The Shining. But life goes on and Danny the child becomes Dan the adult, someone in the real world with grown-up problems. And if you go into Doctor Sleep having only seen The Shining movie, it is drastically different from the book. While the movie is great in its own right, many changes were made from King’s original work.

The premise of this book involves the adult Dan meeting a young girl, Abra, who has The Shining. Like Danny, Abra loses bits of her childhood innocence early because of her powers. This time around, Dan takes on Dick Halloran’s role as he attempts to help this young girl with her gifts. But The Shining is not the only thing Abra and Dan have in common. Like Danny before her, supernatural enemies want Abra’s abilities and plan to take her life to get them. These “people” have killed children before to claim their Shining and are more than happy to do it again.

There are so many parallels between Doctor Sleep and The Shining. Despite what Dan and his mother went through, there is a lot of his father in him. Dan makes the same mistake as his father, alcoholism. He knows he is doing it. He knows that it is bad for him and the wrong thing to do. But he does it anyway in that moment of weakness and it destroys him for years. Despite the premise involving Abra and the danger she is in, Doctor Sleep is just as much Dan’s story as The Shining was Danny’s. His story features a battle between good and evil on the inside as much as on the outside. And every step of the way, King delivers a story on par with the first book.

September 1, 2019

John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous at Radio City

Published Post author

Poster for the movie "John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous at Radio City"

John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous at Radio City

20181 h 04 min
Overview

John Mulaney relays stories from his childhood and "SNL," eviscerates the value of college and laments getting older in this electric comedy special.

Metadata
Director Alex Timbers
Runtime 1 h 04 min
Release Date 1 May 2018
Details
Movie Media Other
Movie Status Available
Movie Rating Very good
Actors
Starring: John Mulaney

Everyone, all throughout their life, listens to stories. Every culture on Earth is built around social constructs and storytelling is a key part of them all. Now, we have all heard bad stories. Sitting at a bar, hanging out at a friend’s place, or being forced to attend your spouse’s company holiday party are all areas where you are likely to hear a bad story. Even if the content of a story is good, the way it is told makes or breaks it. And this is where John Mulaney excels. He is a masterful storyteller, which played a large part as establishing himself as one of the best modern comedians.

Mulaney has lost none of his thunder from his previous two specials. While this routine did not have me laughing as hard as the first two, it is still solid. Along with the core of the jokes remaining hilarious, Mulaney’s writing and delivery continue to improve. This should not be too surprising for anyone familiar with Mulaney. For those who are not, he was a writer for six years on Saturday Night Live. And it shows. It is also mentioned, as some of his stories reference his time and experiences back on SNL.

A lot of comedians stick to the same general topics. Politics and religion are always hot-button issues that are easy to poke fun at. Family is another one, especially spouses. And of course, themselves. Mulaney hits all these topics and more in this special. Unlike some other comedians, he never comes off as crass. His schtick is very well put together and while he is hilarious, he retains his sense of charm throughout. A large part of that comes from his impeccable timing. Timing is key to any good joke and Mulaney knows how to hit the bullseye every time there.

Some comedians are crude or cringeworthy, but Mulaney is neither of those things. His routine has him up on stage as what he is: a white guy. Mulaney is probably the best modern stand-up example of a white dude. He never outright says that (or even comes close to doing so), but it’s there. Not that Jeff Foxworthy blue-collar humor, but white-collar humor. This is humor for folks who work office jobs and had sort-of-typical but sort-of-weird childhoods. So, guys like me. It makes the humor more relatable and that makes it all the more hilarious.

August 25, 2019

The Daylight War (Demon Cycle #3)

Published Post author

The Daylight War Book Cover The Daylight War
Demon Cycle
Peter V. Brett
Fantasy
Random House Del Rey
February 12, 2013
Paperback
639

On the night of the new moon, the demons rise in force, seeking the deaths of two men both of whom have the potential to become the fabled Deliverer, the man prophesied to reunite the scattered remnants of humanity in a final push to destroy the demon corelings once and for all.

Arlen Bales was once an ordinary man, but now he has become something more—the Warded Man, tattooed with eldritch wards so powerful they make him a match for any demon. Arlen denies he is the Deliverer at every turn, but the more he tries to be one with the common folk, the more fervently they believe. Many would follow him, but Arlen’s path threatens to lead him to a dark place he alone can travel to, and from which there may be no returning.

The only one with hope of keeping Arlen in the world of men, or joining him in his descent into the world of demons, is Renna Tanner, a fierce young woman in danger of losing herself to the power of demon magic.

Ahmann Jardir has forged the warlike desert tribes of Krasia into a demon-killing army and proclaimed himself Shar’Dama Ka, the Deliverer. He carries ancient weapons--a spear and a crown--that give credence to his claim, and already vast swaths of the green lands bow to his control.

But Jardir did not come to power on his own. His rise was engineered by his First Wife, Inevera, a cunning and powerful priestess whose formidable demon bone magic gives her the ability to glimpse the future. Inevera’s motives and past are shrouded in mystery, and even Jardir does not entirely trust her.

Once Arlen and Jardir were as close as brothers. Now they are the bitterest of rivals. As humanity’s enemies rise, the only two men capable of defeating them are divided against each other by the most deadly demons of all--those lurking in the human heart.

 

The Demon Cycle continues in The Daylight War, marking the halfway point of the series. This book is a bit different from its predecessors, showcasing once again how Peter V. Brett is not afraid to mix things up a little. The Warded Man was the opening story, introducing his world and the characters and magic it contains. The Desert Spear expanded on character development and hammered home the point that humans will fight each other even with the ever-looming demon threat. The Daylight War still focuses heavily on the characters as the gears their actions put in motion continue to turn.

Whereas the first book began with the perspectives of main characters, readers get to see more POVs throughout this series. Even relatively minor characters get a chapter here and there to enhance their characterization. But the main characters are still facing challenges themselves. Arlen must make hard choices as people begin to deify him after years spent on the road alone. Old relationships will be tested as new ones are forged and his faith is tested as events force him to wonder whether some people are worth saving. Without spoiling anything, it is nice to see some characters from book 1 return instead of being forgotten forever.

While Arlen is an amazing character, the others are not sitting idle during his adventures. Leesha finds herself thrust into a leadership position and all of the responsibilities that come with it. Rojer learns more of his own talents and the impact they could have in combating demons. The Krasian characters continue their crusade, determined to unite humanity (by force) under a single banner before waging a true war against the demons. In particular, readers will learn more about Inevera and her fellow Dama’tings. Outwardly, Krasia may seem like a male-dominated culture, but events behind the scenes are rarely the same.

Characterization is clearly one of Brett’s strong points as a writer and it shows throughout the series. In the first book, mere months before The Daylight War, humans could do almost nothing to demons. The Krasians were fighting a losing war and everyone else hid in their homes nightly. Now, demons can be killed as easily as game animals can be hunted. These people can suddenly fight back for the first time in centuries, let alone within living memory. For the first time in eons, they have hope. But with the power that brings that hope about, so too will they find hardship, pain, sadness, love, joy, and more than they ever expected in this brave new world.

August 18, 2019

The Many Adventures of Peter and Fi Volume I: Homecoming

Published Post author

The Many Adventures of Peter and Fi Volume I: Homecoming Book Cover The Many Adventures of Peter and Fi Volume I: Homecoming
The Many Adventures of Peter and Fi
Kelvyn Fernandes
Fantasy
Self-Published
December 14, 2018
E-book
273

Follow Peter and Fi as they work together, each searching for something uniquely special to them through the four kingdoms of their known world. It’s a tale of fantastical beasts, peculiar characters, remarkable settings, and a unique brand of biochemistry-based magic. A story that focuses on meaningful character interactions, delicate world building, and intense action battles.

She emerged within a dark sea of green, shielding her eyes against the crescent moon’s pale blaze. The twinkling stars hummed softly, discordant against the chattering birds below. The lush leaves rippled in the breeze, tempting Fi to dip her toes in for a swim. The wind blew at her back and she turned east to face it. The fresh air carried the salty spray of the Shimmering Sea. Although she could not see it, she knew it was right there. Her ears caught the distant waves crashing against the shore. One last step. She thought.

 

The Many Adventures of Peter and Fi was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

When author Kelvyn Fernandes contacted me, I was unfamiliar with his work. But the pretty cover art of Peter and Fi attracted my curiosity plus I am looking for new fantasy stories. Thanks to an e-reader I borrowed from a buddy, I had the means to read the story as well. It had been a while since I had read a brand-new fantasy novel that people were not already talking about. Going in blind was a refreshing change of pace for me that led to pleasant surprises with this story.

In any fantasy story, early world-building is critical. Told from the perspectives of Peter and Fi, readers learn quite a bit from their casual conversation. While there is a lot of information about relevant monsters and magic, it quickly becomes apparent that the world at large is a much bigger place filled with mystery and mystique. Several major countries exist and sort-of get along while implementing a fairly standard peasant-noble system found in fantasy worlds. The world they live in is a dangerous place, despite the advantages provided to society by magic.

While the cover art is bright and vibrant, almost giving the sense of a Young Adult story, Peter and Fi has its dark moments. In a dangerous fantasy world full of monsters, humans are not always at the top of the food chain. This is something touched on in graphic detail in certain parts of the story. And in cities and towns where humanity reigns supreme, people can be crueler and cutthroat than a simple hungry beast. This is a world where safety is a relative term. It is more like being “safer” than “safe”, with potential danger around many corners.

There are many characters throughout this story, but most are only present for a handful of chapters. Peter and Fi themselves are the ones who consistently have a role to play, this being their story after all. Peter is a 20-year old mage, holding the title of Bubble Mage. In this world, every mage has unique magic. Peter’s title may seem underwhelming, but his creativity and magical aptitude make him truly worthy of being a mage. Fi is a 14-year old girl who is quick on her feet and ready to wallop foes. While her youth shows from time to time, the life she has lived has made her a survivor. The pair of them are as close as siblings as they journey throughout the world on their mysterious journey in this fantastical adventure.

August 11, 2019

Mixing Media – Mini Guest Post by Kelvyn Fernandes

Published Post author

Prior to my usual weekly post, we have a special guest post from the author of tomorrow’s reviewed book, The Many Adventures of Peter and Fi Volume 1: Homecoming. So take it away, Mr. Fernandes.

 

Hi, my name is Kelvyn Fernandes, author of The Many Adventures of Peter and Fi and I wanted to share an interesting method I use to better enjoy the content I take in which I also happen to use as a means of improving my writing!

I thoroughly enjoy consuming all forms of media. Be it movies, programs, music, comics, books, etc, I like to finish something start to end and then sit back to analyze what I just experienced. Was I able to understand the meaning the creator intended? Did the artist do a good job of expressing their message to me? Were the methods they used effective at delivering that message? And I’ve noticed, and subsequently learned to look out for, how one medium can encourage other media to evolve.

Of course, old films influence new films and old books influence new books. But it’s interesting to see how Marvel’s films lift scenes directly from comic panels or how the Uncharted video game series takes cues from Indiana Jones. The obvious connections are pretty easy to spot once
you start looking, but there are thousands of other subtle influences also woven into each work that you’ll never discover. Musical influences that inspire costume design, color gradients that inspire settings, vocabulary choices that take a life of their own to inspire new characters. All of these can be found when looking at one form of art and applying its lessons to another. And I’ve slowly learned how to take this approach with my work as well.

Adapting the way a manga fight is framed into the way I want my own fight scenes to flow. Adapting the cadence of a sinister score to the flow and delivery of my words to build tension as the plot unravels. Adapting the way video games gradually teach you how their mechanics work to the way I slowly reveal how characters’ powers interact with the world. Every piece of media I consume adds to the library of influences I keep with me and lets me enjoy each new morsel that much more. And each new experience provides a new lens from which I can step back and view my own writing journey.

I do hope you take a chance on The Many Adventures of Peter and Fi, and perhaps even add my story to your own growing library of influences!

Author Bio
Kelvyn Fernandes decided to follow his dream of becoming an author after graduating from McMaster University with a degree in Biochemistry. He enjoys traveling and going on adventures, with his favorite pastime being back-country canoeing in Algonquin Park. He uses both his experiences with nature and education in the sciences to shape the world of the stories
he writes.

Buy Links
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Many-Adventures-Peter-Fi-Homecomingebook/dp/B07LCYMSM6
Audible: https://www.audible.com/pd/The-Many-Adventures-of-Peter-and-FiAudiobook/B07MXPC23K

Social Media
Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/peterandfi/
Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/PeterandFi/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/PeterandFi
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/peterandfiofficial/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PeterandFi/

August 10, 2019

D&D 5e Starter Set (The Lost Mines of Phandelver)

Published Post author

Starter Set (Lost Mines of Phandelver) Book Cover Starter Set (Lost Mines of Phandelver)
Dungeons & Dragons
James Wyatt
Reference
Wizards of the Coast
July 15, 2014
Paperback
96

Explore subterranean labyrinths! Plunder hoards of treasure! Battle legendary monsters!

The Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set is your gateway to action-packed stories of the imagination. This box contains the essential rules of the game plus everything you need to play heroic characters on perilous adventures in worlds of fantasy.

Ideal for a group of 4 – 6, the Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set includes a 64-page adventure book with everything the Dungeon Master needs to get started, a 32-page rulebook for playing characters level 1 – 5, 5 pregenerated characters, each with a character sheet and supporting reference material, and 6 dice.

 

A friend of mine convinced me to start playing Dungeons & Dragons last fall. He had been trying to get me to play for years (if you’re reading this, you know who you are) and I finally said yes when his group needed another person or their game was not going to happen. My reason for not playing D&D up until then was not because I had something against it. It was because I knew I would jump in feet first and lose time on other hobbies. And I was right. Six months later, I talked with the same friend and decided to start another game with myself as the Dungeon Master (DM) running things for the players. This being a first-time experience for myself and some of the players, we decided to work with the Starter Set and the adventure it comes with, The Lost Mines of Phandelver.

The premise of this adventure is that a dwarf discovers a legendary lost mine where magic items were made many years ago. He hires the players to bring him supplies and rides ahead to a nearby town. On the way, he is ambushed and captured by some baddies who also want the mine. The story begins in earnest with the group being attacked by goblins on the road. This adventure takes place in the Forgotten Realms, the world where all the pre-made D&D adventures (modules) happen within the D&D multiverse. At least for the current version of D&D (5e). It is not too long of an adventure and takes the players from level 1 to level 5. My group finished it in about 3 months with the group meeting once a week for 4-5 hours at a time. Overall, it was an extremely positive experience for our whole group.

Since the players can do anything (within reason), there is only so much this book can cover. There were multiple times my group did things not covered by the book and I had to improvise. Plus a few extra challenges I made up as we went along to keep my players on their toes. But from my total newbie players to my seasoned veterans, everyone had a good time. Including me, as a first-time DM. While I have not played any other D&D modules (yet), my experience with The Lost Mines of Phandelver was nothing but positive. I highly recommend it for any group of D&D players, whether you are new to the game like me or a seasoned player who wants to enjoy a low-stakes adventure.

August 4, 2019

Crawl

Published Post author

Poster for the movie "Crawl"

Crawl

They were here first

20191 h 27 min
Overview

While struggling to save her father during a Category 5 hurricane, a young woman finds herself trapped inside a flooding house and fighting for her life against Florida’s most savage and feared predators.

Metadata
Director Alexandre Aja
Runtime 1 h 27 min
Release Date 11 July 2019
Details
Movie Media Cinema
Movie Status Available
Movie Rating Very good

I have seen a lot of horror movies (1,103 by my count, at the time of this writing). Of those, Crawl is one of the better ones I have come across. Definitely within the top 10% of everything I have slogged through over the years. Monster movies are my favorite sub-genre of horror and nothing beats the simplicity of a large, hungry animal. A primal fight of man vs. nature echoing what our ancestors did before humanity rose to the top of the food chain. Moreover, an event like an alligator attack is something that could really happen. Any horror movie featuring a plausible real-world event is always scarier for it.

The plot of this film is very simple: a woman goes to check on her father as a hurricane comes in only for the two to be trapped in the crawlspace under the family home by hungry gators. While the alligators are the obvious, imminent threat, the floodwaters are also rising. The clocking is ticking as the pair tries to figure out a way past these prehistoric monsters before drowning. This all leads to a great sense of suspense that was well crafted into a story of survival.

The daughter, Haley (Kaya Scodelario) and her father, Dave (Barry Pepper), are somewhat estranged at the start of the film. This happens a lot in monster movies like Crawl, with the survival event forcing the characters to make peace. While there are a few other characters in the film, they only appear in a scene or two. Mostly as gator bait. The real focus here is on the relationship between a daughter and her father (and their dog, Sugar [Cso-Cso]). It is very rare to see this level of acting in a Creature Feature, let alone with a great story.

That being said, this is a horror movie. Audiences should go in with a sense of disbelief. The key factor here is the characters wading through floodwaters with open wounds. Disease is as much of a real threat as floodwaters and alligators. The gators themselves, however, are portrayed very accurately. Crawl takes place in Florida, which is where most recorded fatal alligator attacks in the US have occurred. Alligators are one of the few animals that can and will hunt humans. These ambush predators are large, powerful, and in their element in the water. Putting people in the water, out of our own element, always makes for a scarier monster movie. While Crawl was not perfect, it is one of the best suspense/thrillers to hit theaters in the last decade.

July 28, 2019

Prodigal Son (Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein #1)

Published Post author

Prodigal Son Book Cover Prodigal Son
Dean Koontz's Frankenstein
Dean Koontz
Horror
Bantam
January 25, 2005
Paperback
469

From the celebrated imagination of Dean Koontz comes a powerful reworking of one of the classic stories of all time. If you think you know the story, you know only half the truth. Get ready for the mystery, the myth, the terror, and the magic of…

Dean Koontz's Prodigal Son

Every city has secrets. But none as terrible as this. His name is Deucalion, a tattooed man of mysterious origin, a sleight-of-reality artist who’s traveled the centuries with a secret worse than death. He arrives as a serial killer stalks the streets, a killer who carefully selects his victims for the humanity that is missing in himself. Detective Carson O’Connor is cool, cynical, and every bit as tough as she looks. Her partner Michael Maddison would back her up all the way to Hell itself–and that just may be where this case ends up. For the no-nonsense O’Connor is suddenly talking about an ages-old conspiracy, a near immortal race of beings, and killers that are more—and less—than human. Soon it will be clear that as crazy as she sounds, the truth is even more ominous. For their quarry isn’t merely a homicidal maniac—but his deranged maker.

 

Prodigal Son kicks off Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein series, which already had some history prior to this book. Originally, this story was a made-for-TV movie intended to launch a television series. But other members of the project wanting to change many of Koontz’s ideas eventually resulted in Koontz leaving the project. The film landed squarely in B-movie territory and flopped, so the TV show follow-up was never made. In the aftermath, Koontz decided to rework the story into novels to keep his ideas the way he wanted them. He did still work with a partner though; this first book was co-authored by Kevin J. Anderson.

There have been many, many retellings of Frankenstein over the years. Innumerable authors, film directors, and more have put their own spins on Mary Shelley’s classic story. Dean Koontz’s story takes a bit of a different approach in that regard. Instead of retelling the classic tale, he creates a modern-day sequel. In this world, the events of Shelley’s book did actually happen…mostly. The characters point out Shelley heard the events secondhand and took some liberties when writing her book. While Koontz’s version still holds to the fact that The Monster is the man and Dr. Frankenstein is the real monster, it is blunter and more obvious.

Victor Frankenstein has redubbed himself Victor Helios and spent his two centuries of life working to replace man. He envisions a world of beings that he has crafted to his own vision of perfection with himself as the mad-scientist-god ruling them all. Helios still creates monsters in the form of men, but with sophisticated future-tech of his own design. They look and act like real people even as a yearning to exterminate mankind burns within them. But the return of Victor’s first creation marks the start of his careful plans unraveling at the seams.

Dubbing himself Deucalion, The Monster learns of Victor’s survival and comes to stop his demented creator. At the same time, two New Orleans detectives start to learn of Victor’s mad schemes through a series of crimes. With killers both natural and man-made on the loose, it could only be a matter of time before New Orleans becomes a battlefield. The book jumps around between the perspectives of all these characters and more, giving readers a direct insight into an array of emotions ranging from nobility to outright inhumanity. Prodigal Son is only the first part of a series and it shows. There are many unanswered questions by the end of the story. More dangers in the dark as the battle to stop Dr. Frankenstein’s New Race rages on.

July 21, 2019