It’s day five of our fifteen day journey through horror’s dark depths, a journey designed to offer up a wide selection of terrific books to get you through the Halloween season. So far we’ve looked at offerings of coming of age novels, vampire novels, zombie novels, and young adult novels. Today we’re going to take a peak at two books that have one thing in common – their heroines kick butt!
Miriam Black knows when you will die.
Still in her early twenties, she’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, suicides, and slow deaths by cancer. But when Miriam hitches a ride with truck driver Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be gruesomely murdered while he calls her name.
Miriam has given up trying to save people; that only makes their deaths happen. But Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim. No matter what she does she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.
I first discovered Chuck through his blog, Terrible Minds, where he dishes out freelance writing advice with irreverent humor and all the subtlety of a chainsaw. I expected his fiction to be the same and I was quite pleased to be proven wrong.
Don’t get me wrong – the humor is still there. It is twisted and dark, but humorous none the less. But Chuck’s real talent lies in getting us to look deep beneath the surface to the truth that might be lurking there. His themes are larger than life – fate, death, grief, tragedy, redemption – and he handles them with a finesse you’d expect from a more seasoned writer.
As one reviewer put it, “Blackbirds is a snarling, vicious crime thriller populated by con men, druglords and psychotic assassins up against a prickly psychic heroine hauling a truckload of emotional baggage.”
What’s not to like?
Another newcomer to the horror genre is Jeremy Bishop, the pseudonym of thriller writer, Jeremy Robinson. Bishop burst onto the scene with his first book, TORMENT, in early 2011. He followed it up later that same year with today’s second selection, SENTINEL.
In the frigid waters off the Arctic Ocean, north of Greenland, the anti-whaling ship, The Sentinel, and her crew face off against a harpoon ship in search of Humpback whales. When the two ships collide and a suspicious explosion sends both ships to the bottom, the crews take refuge on what they think is a peninsula attached to the mainland, but is actually an island, recently freed from a glacial ice bridge.
Seeking shelter, the two opposing crews scour the island for resources. Instead, they find Viking artifacts, the preserved remains of an ancient structure and a stone totem warning of horrible creatures buried in the island’s caves. Facing violent, frigid storms, a hungry polar bear and the very real possibility that they are stranded without hope of rescue, Jane Harper leads the two crews, who must work together to defend themselves against an ancient evil upon which the modern stories of both zombies and vampires are based.
The original undead are awake and hungry. Beware the Draugar.
Bishop’s sophomore effort gets high marks for originality. He takes zombies, vampires, and Viking lore and mashes them all together to come up with a new twist on a creature from ancient legend. The writing is tight and fast-paced, perfectly suited to match the never-ending cyclone of events that snatches up our hero, Jane Harper, on page one and doesn’t let her go until the very end.
Jane herself is a strong character, full of caustic wit and sassy attitude, and yet these qualities do not detract from her general appeal. In fact, we like her all the more for it.
Bottom line, you can’t go wrong with either of these two heroines!
Joseph Nassise is the author of more than twenty novels, including the internationally bestselling Templar Chronicles series, the Great Undead War series, and the Jeremiah Hunt trilogy. He is a former president of the Horror Writers Association, the world’s largest organization of professional horror writers, and a multiple Bram Stoker Award and International Horror Guild Award nominee.
You can find him online at Shades of Reality.