Category Archives: History

Day Four (The Three #2)

Day Fourby Sarah Lotz

Day Four is the second part of Sarah Lotz’s “The Three” trilogy. 

The story is set aboard a ship cruising the Gulf of Mexico. For three days, everything goes according to plan. Passengers enjoy the facilities and the sun; the crew deal with their usual mix of awkward, obnoxious and drunken holidaymakers. Just another cruise. Until day four.

That is when things start to go very wrong, and when events onboard the Beautiful Dreamer take a mysterious and sinister turn.

Although part of a series, you do not need to have read the first book (The Three) to enjoy it. There are obvious links and references to the first story, but on the whole, it stands alone very well.  

Each “chapter” tells the ongoing story from the perspective of the book’s main characters. Each has their own reasons for being aboard the ship. Each has a secret they want to keep hidden, but for all of them, events aboard the stricken ship force them to face fears and their own past. 

With no power, food and supplies dwindling and a virus beginning to take hold, tempers aboard the Beautiful Dreamer become increasingly short. And when people begin to see “ghosts”, things just from bad to worse. 

The only person not adversely affected by the changing circumstances is Celine del Ray, celebrity psychic, who seems to thrive on the mysterious events. Is she in some way responsible for what is happening? How does she know so much about her fellow travellers and their pasts?

Day Four is a gripping and intense thriller which questions our view of reality and ourselves. It is every bit as good as The Three with a great mix of wonderful characters, intense plot and skilled storytelling. 

I can’t wait t read the next. 

A Brief History of British Kings and Queens

by Mike Ashley

A Brief History of British Kings and QueensI love history but am terrible at remembering names and dates. This became all too apparent over the New Year when we had a couple of games nights with friends. I became increasingly frustrated when I could never get British monarchs in the right order. This book was my daughter’s way of dealing with the problem. 

“A Brief History…” is a well written reference book covering every British monarch since, well, since there were any. Did I learn anything? Certainly. Will I remember it all? Probably not, but at least I now have an excellent reference book I can use to remind myself of the more obscure monarchs of England, Wales and Scotland. 

Mike Ashley’s easy style has helped me to place events in order and add context the events I had previously viewed as disconnected. An excellent reference book but also an enjoyable read. I wouldn’t expect many others to read the book as a whole like I did, but if you are feeling that way inclined, it is well worth the effort.

Juggernaut (Outpost #0.5)

by Adam Baker

JuggernautAlthough it is not unusual for a prequel to be come after the start of a series, it is not so common for them to come so close together or without demands from fans (such as Asimov’s Foundation series). Not that reading the books in the wrong order makes are real difference as they are both self-contained, with no linking characters or plot, other than the pandemic’s victims.

What is it about zombies and vampires these days? The horror/fantasy/sci-fi section of book stores seem to be awash with them. I am not fan of zombie stories and am beginning to find them tedious and boring and generally avoid them. However, in Adam Baker’s case I will make an exception. 

Yes, there are hordes of mindless zombies trying to eat and infect everyone they can get their hands on. And yes, the heroes have to fight them off and try to escape to safety. But in both Outpost and Juggernaut the stories are set in remote locations where the environment itself poses as much of a threat as the pandemic being unleashed.

Set in the Iraqi desert in 2005, a group of mercenaries set out in search of a truck load of gold, only to find themselves in the middle of a covert operation that threatens not only their lives, but the whole population of planet earth. 

It was supposed to be one last adventure that would earn them the money to retire. But what Lucy and her team of mercenaries find in the remote Western Desert of Iraq leaves them fighting for their lives in a way they could is never have imagined. And it is not just the zombies they need to watch out for as there are other people involved who have agendas that do not rely on Lucy and her team getting out alive.

Juggernaut is more of an action story with the zombies thrown in as a bonus. The characters are excellent and consistent and the story is exciting and well-paced. There is a lot of detail in the descriptions of the military hardware and it seems to accurately portray the middle east of 2005. 
There are numerous flashbacks to events leading up to the central story with allows the reader to piece together the background to the characters and the plot. Adam Baker is an excellent story teller. The pace of the book remains constant throughout and although not quite as good as his first, it kept me enthraller right to the end, with plenty of twists and an unexpected end. The only disappointing think about the book was that I don’t yet have the next to read. That is on order!

You don’t need to have ready “Outpost” to enjoy this book, but I would recommend reading them both. 

Twins of Evil

Twins of Evilby Shaun Hutson

When I first selected this book I wasn’t aware that it is one of a number of novelizations commissioned by Hammer. It is based on the 1971 film of the same name, one I am not familiar with.

Hammer were synonymous with British horror throughout the 1950s and 1960s and into the 1970s. But by 1976 the studio was in decline as the demand for the traditional gothic horror waned. 

Now they are back, and in partnership with Arrow Books, are publishing new and old stories, hoping to reach a new generation of horror fans.

“Twins of Evil” was released in 1971, the third part of a trilogy of films featuring the Karnstein family. The film itself is typical of its type and has all the hallmarks of a Hammer Horror, including its predictability and stock characters.

The plot is simple and hardly inspiring, but none the less, Shaun’s writing style is such that he can make even the most mundane of activities seem interesting and sinister. And although the book lacks any of the subtleties and unexpected twists I have come to expect from him, it is a good read. 

The twins of the title are sisters who find themselves taken away from their home in Venice to live with their aunt and uncle in the remote village of Karnstein, situated in an un-named part of Europe. Their uncle, Gustav Weil is the head of a brotherhood who spend their evenings burning young women who they suspect to be witches, ignoring the evil that lives in the castle that dominates the countryside.

The emotions that the beautiful twins arouse in several of the characters eventually leads to confrontations between the villagers and Count Karnstein, with inevitable results.

This was never going to be a typical Shaun Hutson book, but he has done what he can to turn a rather mundane script into a sinister tale of ancient horror and hidden lusts. 

The film is worth seeing, mainly for the cheap effects and ham acting. The book is worth reading because it is a Shaun Hutson!