What do you get when your cross the concept of Jurassic Park with a B horror movie? You get the fast-paced “Monsterland”, that’s what. “Monsterland” is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a theme park full of real-life monsters, namely zombies, vampires, and werewolves. The premise being that vampires and werewolves have always lived amongst us, just hidden, until a plague that created zombies sweeps the planet and now a billionaire mogul, Vincent Konrad, decides to make a theme park housing all these monsters for “study”, and profit obviously because why make a theme park out of it if you didn’t want to make cash? Wyatt, one of our many MC’s (but the main, main one) idolizes Vincent and wants nothing more than to go to the park opening night. He gets his wish, but of course everything changes and this supposedly “safe” park is anything but. Things escalate FAST once Wyatt and his friends are in the park, perhaps too fast to really get a feel for, well, anything. Hence the B movie vibe…
“The Changeling” feels like two books in one. You have the contemporary fiction of a young black family navigating their new life changes when welcoming a baby in New York City, which includes dealing with the racism they face as very bookish people—Apollo is a book man, hunting down rare books, and Emma is a librarian. But it’s also a story that closely aligns with the traditional folklore around changelings (I won’t go into details just in case you aren’t familiar and want to be completely surprised by this novel). Marrying those two stories is tricky, at the best of times, but Lavelle does a fabulous job, for the most part, of weaving a chilling, slow burn contemporary thriller with a fantasy horror story. The effect is a literary fiction that I can totally see college or advanced High School students dissecting in their English classes. But the connections between these two worlds wasn’t always there, so the author had to take great leaps on occasion, plus there is just one thing I cannot forgive Emma for…
“Laura and the Shadow King” sounds far more ominous than the story actually is: “Shadow” is the name of an elite force of military operatives, and “King” is the nickname of the man in charge of shadow—J.J. Berger. In J. J’s world, a rampant disease has swept through civilization, turning people into a type of zombie, where they devolve into cannibalistic animals, and one bite will infect and turn a person into one of them. Governments have collapsed and the only people in charge are groups of militia, military units, and gangs. It’s a fairly familiar storyline, but the one thing that makes it unique is Laura and her mother, and their role in this new world. Unfortunately, I found the writing style to be the biggest determent in my enjoyment of the novel.
“Demon’s on the Dalton” is the second in the Hell Hole’s serial trilogy, and picks up pretty immediately from where the first in the series left off. Although, this book spends a decent chunk early on recapping and re-familiarizing the reader with what happened in the first novella, so if you don’t read the first one, I don’t think you’ll be totally lost, though I do think the excitement of the first book is higher than in the second. We get Angela’s perspective this time as our trio of survivors race across the Dalton. The majority of the story is spent with our characters in their vehicle, barely able to stop to pee on the side of the road before all manner of hell spawn is on top of them. Their mission is still primarily to survive, to get to Fairbanks, and safety. But as the U.S. military mobilizes and starts their counter attack, their mission shifts, becoming more than just survival, but helping the powers that be to end the unending wave of demonic creatures that are pouring into our world.
At first I thought “Hell Holes” was going to be a science fiction novella given the cast of main characters are all scientists or researches in the natural sciences. And, admittedly, the first half of the book feels like a true science fiction as the characters explain the science and their reasoning for what the mysterious holes popping up all over Alaska could be or what may be causing them. Then it takes a pretty hard left into pure horror/paranormal action. “Hell Holes” starts off as a quest for answers about these holes and what can be done to keep them from interrupting a lucrative Alaskan oil line, then ends on a high speed chase across the tundra as the scientists are hunted down by all manner of hell-spawn and demons. Was I disappointed by this turn? Not really. But I was taken by surprise.
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