‘Eden’ by Tim Lebbon – Review

*Disclaimer – I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

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You can also see my video review here.

 

Eden seems like a good place to die. Before arriving she hoped that would be the case, but now she is certain. Even if she wasn’t ready and prepared to embrace the endless sleep, darkness is all that faces her now. After what she has seen and experienced, and what lies before her, there can be no doubt.

The deep forest surrounding her sings unknown songs in voices she cannot understand. She has never been one for courting attention. The exact opposite, in fact, and that is her main reason for coming here. She came to lose herself and find some sort of peace. Instead, something has found her.

Wiping blood from her left eye, she’s surprised at how quickly it’s drying. It forms a crisp, sticky layer. binding her eyelid almost shut. She doesn’t want to confront death with one eye closed. She winces when several eyelashes are pulled out with the coagulated mass. It smears across her fingertips and palm, and forms dark half-moons beneath her nails. She stares at it, sad for all that has come to pass. It’s not her blood.

 

Synopsis –

In a time of global warming and spiralling damage to the environment, the Virgin Zones were established to help combat the change.  Abandoned by humanity and given back to nature, these vast areas in a dozen remote locations across the planet were intended to become the lungs of the world.

But there are always those drawn to such places.  Extreme sports enthusiasts and adventure racing teams target the dangerous, sometimes deadly zones for illicit races.  Only the hardiest and most experienced dare undertake these expeditions. When one such team enters the oldest Zone, Eden, they aren’t prepared for what confronts them.  Nature has returned to Eden in an elemental, primeval way.  And here, nature is no longer humanity’s friend.

 

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Thoughts –

Set in a not too distant future and one that seems more and more plausible by the day, Eden tells the story of a group of adrenaline hungry adventurers set on traversing the oldest ‘virgin zone’ that the world has to offer. A group headed by veteran traveler Dylan and his tenacious daughter Jenn, the group quickly finds out that there are more motivations between them than simply making it to the other side on time. As secrets come to the forefront, relationships shift, and the strong bonds they would need on any journey are tested because this isn’t any journey; this is the most dangerous hike they’ve ever taken.

Eden is nature in defense mode. Not only are humans absent from the area, but Eden is hell bent on making sure they stay absent. The horror of flora and fauna working together to fight back against this group of humans, no matter how respectful of the environment they seem to think they are, is enough to get any readers adrenaline going. With underlying family issues and emotions in the way, our group of protagonists make frustrating mistakes despite their experience, and the darkness in Eden takes full advantage of these.

 

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Action driven and immersive, Eden is the story of a haunting future that might just be possible, and one where people are not the saviours they wish they were.

 

About the Author –

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Tim Lebbon is a writer from England who loves cake. He’s written many novels, novellas, and short stories including horror, dark fantasy, and tie-in novels. He has written the novelisation of movies such as 30 Days of Night, Alien: Out of the Shadows, and Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi. The movie of his novel The Silence is currently on Netflix and he also has a short story Pay the Ghost that was opted for a movie staring Nicholas Cage. For more information visit his website at http://www.timlebbon.net

 

Read and Review –

Goodreads.com

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

‘The Third Corona Book of Horror’ Edited by Lewis Williams – Review

*Disclaimer – I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

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-Curious, If Anything-

Cold linoleum under his feet, Babafemi stood there. Not frightened but curious, if anything. Pale light of early morning crept through the awning window over the bathtub and chased away the last of the bathroom’s shadows, and it was there in that room of grimy and green chequered tile that, rather than run, Babafemi raised a hand to the tuft of his greying beard, stroking it in contemplation. 

Ghost.

Really?

The dark-skinned body in the bathtub lay there, sightless – and had it been a real dead body, Babafemi most likely would have run. Not because he was scared of dead bodies, but more because he;d be scared that someone had left a dead body in his home, and as a result, it would make sense to leave before the killer came back. Assuming, of course, that the killer had left. All of these thoughts fluttered through Babafemi’s mind in moments, bringing him back to the present. 

The body lying in the bathtub, one leg handing over the side, the head resting against the side of the hot water tap. A body tat he could see through, and despite the darkness of its skin – or at least what would pass for skin – he could still see through it: see the outline of the bathtub, the tiling above the rub. 

Babafemi already knew it was a ghost since the body was see-through. Unlike many other who may have claimed that they had seen a ghost, or at least felt a ghostly presence, Babafemi was sure that he had encountered supernatural phenomena throughout his years. Early childhood long ago in Nigeria had shown him the ugly side of human nature and desensitised him to death. Later life in London led him to flirt with the supernatural, or certainly with those things that would make others uncomfortable. Time spent in a cemetery at night – back when cemeteries were unlocked and desecration was unheard of – yielded shivers from nothing except freezing cold temperatures among the headstones. Nothing went bump in the night then. Later life (and residences) in London, back when life had left him to adapt to the challenges of marriage, children, divorce and more, had provided more encounters: the sense of being watched by someone or something. Certainly nothing malevolent, but more in the way a curious family pet will watch its human masters before going its own way. And likewise, there was nothing to fear. 

But a ghost?

 

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Synopsis –

The Third Corona collection of horror stories picked from over eight hundred submissions. From ghosts to killers, monsters to curses – this collection has a wide variety of horror to disturb, disgust, and delight any horror reader.

 

Thoughts –

This is an independent collection that was picked from over eight hundred submissions, and you can see that in the quality of the writing and the stories held within. Not every one of them is a hit – there are one or two misses – however the overall quality of the collection is a pleasure to read. Stories in particular that stand out are ‘Curious, If Anything’ where the quote from above is taken, the story of a man who finds a ghost in his bathtub but rather than be afraid is curious to find out who the ghost is only to find that he doesn’t like the answer. There also ‘The Haunting of April Heights’ a modern gothic that takes place in a block of English flats, and ‘Murderabilia’ a collector who finds himself with the opportunity to buy evidence from the much to recent murders of an active serial killer.
The perspectives of this collection are unique, they take familiar tales and look at them from an angle not expected, interesting point of views and an array of material from ghosts to curses to AI. Would recommend for new and seasoned readers of horror.

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About the Editor (from Goodreads) –

They say to be a successful author you should pick one genre and stick to it. Lewis Williams hasn’t exactly followed that advice: having written his first book on the singer Scott Walker, he followed that with a serious academic work on social policy, which he then followed with a trilogy of limerick books that were absolutely, categorically nothing remotely like his earlier books. His latest book projects include a revised and updated edition of Scott Walker: The Rhymes of Goodbye (published Plexus, London 2019) and editing all three volumes of the Corona Book of Horror Stories book series, including 2019’s The Third Corona Book of Horror Stories with stories selected from over 800 submissions.

Lewis has two degrees in philosophy (which number might be considered two too many) and worked for a number of years in a number of different roles for Oxford University before his ignominious departure from its employ. You can find out more about him by visiting his website www.lewiswilliams.com

Links to Buy and Review – 

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Goodreads.com

 

 

Do you collect horror anthologies? What’s your favourite collection? Let me know down below!

‘The Red Death’ by Birgitte Margen – Review

*Disclaimer – I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

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Juan froze when he herd a scuttling sound, he looked behind him as two young men turned down the street at the end of the alley. He had to be cautious at this time of night, it was 4AM, and robberies were rampant in his neighborhood. The sound of sirens was as natural here as the chattering of birds in the trees. 

When he turned back around he noticed a gleam of silver lying next to one of the trash bins. He walked over to the bin and picked it up. Juan stared down at the profile of the man on the coin, the first president George Washington, he remembered from his citizenship test. In the small village he is from, there was a superstition that if you find money, you must pick it up, or you will anger the gods and all of your fortune will be taken. 

There was more clamoring inside the bin next to him, and he jumped back as one of the garbage bags tipped over, leaking its contents onto the ground. All of a sudden a large black rat, the size of a chihuahua thrust its head out of the bag, a piece of tattered meat hanging from ts mouth. It startled him, and he fell backward, landing on his back. 

Chupacabra,” Juan said as he crossed himself. He watched as the rat disappeared back inside the bag. He quickly stood up and wiped his hands on his turquoise scrubs as he stepped away from the bin. 

He continued walking, picking up his pace. One of the street lights above him buzzed softly and blinked on and off as he made his way toward his apartment. Juan rubbed his index finger across the smooth coin as he hummed a tune his mother sand to him as a child. 

 

Synopsis – (Taken from Goodreads)

AN ANCIENT DISEASE re-emerges in the heart of New York City—a deadly bacteria that gave rise to the Black Death. Maggie De Luca, an epidemiologist who is fighting her own demons, works to uncover clues to contain the disease, but is always one step behind—her fate determined by the flip of a coin. Microbiologist Michael Harbinger believes he can make a vaccine that can stop the disease, but to do so would require an elusive plant that only grows in a remote region of the Amazon.

With the help of J.D. Stallings, a paleoanthropologist, and Samantha Boutroux, a bacteriologist, they set out to find the plant that holds the key before the Red Death pandemic grips the world—or has the First Horseman of the Apocalypse, Plague, already opened the gates to our final annihilation?

The mother of all plagues is back . . .
Let the death toll begin . . .

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Thoughts – 

The Red Death is a confused novel. The book starts off being extremely vague as we are introduced to a New York emergency room with ‘bags of clear liquid’ and a ‘bag valve mask’ – anyone who has ever watched a medical show knows about IV drips and oxygen masks. But as the story progresses, the vagueness gives way to far too much information. Chapters are started with present tense, hard to swallow chunks of scientific and geographic information that seem copy and pasted straight from text books, and this is in contrast to the past tense of the plot and narration of the story. Most readers don’t have a background in microbiology unless it’s just me in which case… what the hell? But at times in the lab it felt like I was reading an advanced textbook when I had no basic understanding. It dampened the exciting plot and impending doom and had me skimming large paragraphs just to get back to the characters and the story.

New characters are constantly introduced and we are told, rather than shown their current life only to see them in the very next chapter spewing up more blood than the elevator in The Shining. In between these chapters of death, we meet the main characters who are working to find a source and vaccine for the new virus or plague. Following so many individual cases made the virus seem like it could only go effect one person at a time, and I discovered by the biology lesson on airborne diseases, that that’s not this virus should work. It made the whole novel feel like the disease never gets off the ground and only the handful of people we see are actually affected at all. There’s also a lot of inner monologue from everyone which is basically a rant on what they think society today is. A lot of ‘people are lazy’, ‘we’re on our phones too much’, and a random thought from Maggie De Luca, our hero, that she hates homeless people and there’s a ‘trend’ among young homeless people of drugs and prostitution? That’s not a trend, thats a horrible fact of life that some people have to choose to survive and had nothing to do with what was happening in the story at the time.

Maggie also has a ‘love interest’ or disinterest really.  She’s constantly lamenting the fact that she isn’t interested and even though he knows this he still wanders in to try and flirt when she’s trying to stop an entire city from exsanguinating themselves. It’s jolting, stops the tension of the plot, and she doesn’t in anyway like him so he just ends up being annoying, I wanted to grab him by the shirt and yell at him that people were dying. But that’s nothing to the other female scientist, oh boy.

Maggie is a mostly competent CDC worker who only wants to use her expertise to stop the disease and save people’s lives. Samantha Boutroux is a introduced as a multi-degree bacteriologist who speaks several languages and is brought along on the weird Amazon trip side story for her biology expertise and… is the ditsy, pretty idiot for the misogynistic, ‘the jungle is no place for a woman’ and ‘scientists shouldn’t use technology, they should crawl through the dirt and hope for the best like back in my day’ paleoanthropologist to save. If you replaced her with a sexy lamp, not a single thing would change about the story. Along with an odd story of this guy being livid that a woman he dated for two years TWENTY YEARS AGO has moved on, and the weird cannibal Amazon tribe gimmick, this whole part of the book really annoyed me. I hoped that she would prove him wrong or at least tell him to fuck off, but instead she ends up in his bed at the end serving him wine because of course she does. It really was a slap in the face compared to Maggie’s character or any other female character in the story.

 

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Red Death is a slow burn virus that looks too closely at individual cases and doesn’t grasp the global scale of an actual plague with a bonus random, Indiana Jones style, Amazon adventure complete with a cannibal tribe and a female scientist who left her brain at home. Might recommend to a biology student who could understand the science parts.

 

About the Author – 

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(Taken from Goodreads) Birgitte Märgen began writing stories at the age of nine. Her eclectic style of writing crosses over many genres. An avid thrill-seeker, she can usually be found high above the ground or far below. Her books include the bone-chilling thriller The Red Death and the gothic fairytale, Evie and the Upside-Down World of Nevermore. She lives in the mountains with her family.

 

Links to Buy and Review – 

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Goodreads.com

 

 

 

What’s your favourite pandemic story? Do you prefer to have the technical side kept in or at a minimum?