Z Strain (Zee Series Trilogy)
by Rutger Klamor
Copyright © November 2011
5 out of 5!
When there’s no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the earth.
Three days. Not much time. Certainly not to become a hero. That’s what Dee thought. Before the zombies. Before the dying. And the rising.
What he would give to get those three days back.
Z Strain. Book one of the Zee Series Trilogy. Full of all the gritty realism any hard-core zombie fan craves. You know what I mean.
When God created Hell, He made it a tad too small. Over time it got really crowded down there… really crowded. The ranks of the damned found a solution to control their population.
And so zombies were born, and they’ve patiently waited for a prophecy to be fulfilled. One where they will have a bigger home. Earth.
There are only three days to bridge the gap between hell and earth, and there is a heartless warrior who could save the world. Hell erupts on earth as a cold Watcher keeps his distance in the shadows, making sure all the rules are followed.
Dee, an ex-military man, now a paramedic, has been thrust into a role that makes no sense to him:
Would you believe your city was being overrun by legions of the walking dead? Dead that consumed the flesh of the living. Dead who later rose and joined the ranks of their murderers? You gotta admit, that’s pretty friggin’ fantastic.
The Grim Reaper, demons, a succubus, vampires, and zombies… what more could you ask for in a story of hell and terror?
Rutger Klamor does a fantastic job tying all of these evil creatures together in Z Strain. He provides the reader with some mind-boggling prose, and a sarcastic and demented humor I love. Blood, gore, and zombies combine to open the gates of hell. Because when hell is full, the dead will walk the earth. This is the first book of a trilogy, and I’m definitely looking forward to more.
The Darkening Dream
by Andy Gavin
It is 1913 in Salem, Massachusetts, and teenager Sarah is having dark visions that turn out to be warning her of future events. There are vampires being made, Egyptian gods that are very unhappy, a sorcerer who cannot be killed, and a warlock making deals. Of course, at first, Sarah does not know any of this. She thinks the visions are just her mind being overactive and playing tricks. That is, until she discovers a boy’s mangled corpse, attends the funeral of the boy, and then sees the boy seemingly as alive as can be after being buried- and a Greek boy, Alex, who can explain it all.
The Darkening Dream is not your typical YA vampire story,
as has become the standard fare of today. There is no glittering and falling in love with a vampire who denies his true nature. Instead, it is a story that maintains the standard lore of vampires, and foregoes romance for an ages old conspiracy that puts Sarah right in the middle of it all. Her visions have led her to learning and understanding the world in a way she never would have thought possible, and Alex has lived it long enough to know what must be done.
Gavin has created a complex story that does not cater to the idea of vampires and demons being tortured souls who want nothing more than to break free from it all. Instead, he gives us a story where such beings have no soul and are out to survive by destroying everything in their way. It is not meant to comfort and pull on our heartstrings. It is meant to terrify us and see something in every shadow; to make us really wonder if there are older and darker forces at work that we will never know.
In the end, the story has been woven in a masterful manner, and it is difficult to know who to trust. It brings in the conflict of religions in a way that is not often done so subtle, yet complex. The attention to Jewish mysticism, as well as that of Christianity, that was present throughout the book, served to create a certain amount of tension, as well as adding to the gothic atmosphere.
The importance of religion in the story also served to explain the characters’ motives in a way that would otherwise not be as meaningful.
Gavin has given us a dark and gothic story that maintains the complex storyline right until the very end. It is intended for the YA audience, but brings to mind the feeling of the world created by Bram Stoker or Anne Rice, making the darkness almost palpable. Although, at times, the description is a bit on the heavy side, the story never suffers because of it. Rather, it is simply to create additional atmosphere throughout. The ending may leave some saddened and disappointed, the fan of darker fiction will realize it could have ended no other way. Gavin has left it open for a sequel that will surely carry on the fine balance of religion, mysticism, mythology, and the supernatural that is so finely crafted in The Darkening Dream.
Angela’s Coven by Bruce Jenvey
by Bruce Jenvey
Copyright © October 2011
It successfully manages to combine magic, mystery, devilry and philosophy, with humour, romance, witchery and hope! This book deserves that I write my essay about it. Reggie Sinclair, the British protagonist, is an ageing and jaded ex-Rock-Star from yesteryear, who suffered profound heartbreak at the loss of his true love, early on in his career.
Disillusioned, disconnected and very much alone in his luxurious New York penthouse,
he only becomes more depressed by dwelling upon the nature of a pact he made in his youth – a pact in which he sold his soul to the Devil in return for his incredible success, fame and fortune. And as he knows only too well because of the recurring visits of the Devil’s emissary, the Devil is eagerly waiting to collect.
There is however, something more running beneath this odd but apparently simple plot construct. And that something brings Reggie into contact not only with a coven of modern-day witches, but also with a collection of Knights Templar, all of whom have abilities, knowledge and motivations which Reggie only slowly begins to uncover and understand.
Mr. Jenvey draws his characters fairly well,
and we find ourselves happily accompanying the affable Reggie as he travels ever-deeper into a looking-glass land where maybe, just maybe, he might find the help he needs to be able to snatch his soul back from the Devil’s collection-plate! Indeed it transpires there is much more than Reggie’s soul at stake in the infernal battle between good and evil which is always underway in this world.
There are a few minor annoyances which should have been (and can be) corrected with better proofing (at least for the Kindle version which I read for this review), but nothing so dramatic that it really overshadows the feelgood nature of the charming storyline and the reader’s enthusiasm to continue with the journey.
In closing, I have only kind words for this excursion into fantasyland which Mr Jenvey takes us on. Woven into the fantasy are elements of philosophy and real-life quandaries which give the reader pause … to think things like “What would I do?” or “What would I want?” if a similar crossroads were placed in my path. Harsher critics may choose to take issue with the overall “feelgoody” nature of the novel’s forces for good, but in my opinion that would be churlish. There is more than enough here to make “Angela’s Coven” a journey I enjoyed undertaking. I award it 4 out of 5 stars.