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Tower, The (Book)

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Reviewed by Johnny Butane

Written by Simon Clark

Published by Leisure Books


It’s a very rare case when Leisure sends me something that doesn’t meet what I feel are their very high standard for horror novels, but sadly it’s happened a few times before, and The Tower is the most recent example.

It was, quite literally, a struggle to finish this book. I knew I had to in order to gain a full perspective of the novel as a whole, but man what a long, long few days it was. Most of what I didn’t like about it had to do less with the characters or the overall story, but Clark’s writing style.

Do you like the word “flippant”? Cause Clark sure as hell does. For the first couple of hundred pages that word seems to be thrown out every two or three pages, especially when the thoughts of one of the main characters, Fisher, are being told to the reader. Admittedly I’ve never written a novel, but one would assume when you set out to do so you’d have easy access to a thesaurus so you weren’t using the same word over and over again. Such was not the case here, however, and while to some it’s a little thing, it just added to my overall distaste for the book as a whole.

Now, while I said my dislike for it didn’t exactly stem from the plot, that certainly isn’t The Tower’s strongest point, either. Fisher, the main character, is a bass player in a band that’s been doing fairly well for itself as of late. Along comes a keyboard player named Fabian who insists he can take the band to the next level and make them all very rich. Fisher, the drummer Marko, and the guitar player all agree, only to find out their singer has been sacked and replaced by an overly ambitious new guy, a friend of Fabians. With me so far? They find out about this abandoned house in Yorkshire (did I mention it takes place in England?) where they can housesit for a few months, and Fabian insists they should go there to use it as a rehearsal space, then come out and be ready to record their fist album, which will make them all famous thanks to Fabians’ perfect songs.

The whole thing just smacks of ineptitude, and every character is a two-dimensional cliché for the most part. And seriously, how may bands still have keyboard players nowadays? Sorry that’s a minor gripe, but the whole scenario, and especially how they later use their music to defeat the evil house, is ridiculous.

Right, the house is evil. Forgot to mention that. What it likes to do is give you a very vivid dream about your own death, only to have you wake up feeling terrified, but thankful because you’re alive. Then a few hours or days (or in one case, years) later, you’re death happens just like the house predicted it. To add some more layers of what I assume was supposed to be suspense, there’s also a groundskeeper that lives in a utility shed on the grounds of the home who believes if he sacrifices our guests to the house, the constant pain he lives with will be alleviated.

So the house is evil and wants to kill the band members for no other reason that it can. One credit I’ll give to Clark; he doesn’t make any serious attempt at explaining why the house is evil, or really where it all came from. It wouldn’t have surprised me if it did, since it would’ve just served to slow the pacing down that much more, but he managed to avoid that particular cliché of haunted house stories, and for that I thank him.

There’s this school of though that I’ve found a few author subscribe to that assumes your reader is apparently too stupid to figure out what’s going on, or retain the memory of what’s already happened, so it’s up to the characters therein to spell it all out for us. Usually when they’re alone and scared and decide to start talking aloud to themselves. It drives me crazy to read this “style” of storytelling (it’s one of the reasons I was put off of Ed Lee for so long, he does a lot of that in his Infernal books), and Clark utilizes it in spades. Hence the main reason The Tower was, for me at least, virtually unreadable.

Yeah, so overall, I have to honestly say I’m not sure what Leisure was thinking with this one. Not only is it more or less badly written, but it’s virtually devoid of any real tension thanks to the flat dimensions of it’s characters, and there’s not even any good gore to speak of which, like with some bad movies, can still give me something positive to say about a book. And of course, as with seemingly all the books that Leisure has put out that I’ve found to be just plain bad, it’s also one of their longest releases in recent memory.

For me, it’s all over. I read the book, I’ve written the review, I can move on with my life now and wait for Leisure’s releases next month, which I’m sure are going to be great. Do yourself a favor and skip this one.

Click here to get The Tower from Evilshop!


1 out of 5

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Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)

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We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.

In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!

If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.

The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTwitch, and YouTube.

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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View

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Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly

Directed by Marcel Sarmiento


Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as

17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?

What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.

  • Film
2.0

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Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?

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IAMX’s Alive in New Light Review – A Dark, Hypnotic, and Stunning Musical Endeavor

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Recording eight albums is an achievement no matter the artist, group, or band. This is especially true for Chris Corner’s IAMX, his solo project after the trip hop group Sneaker Pimps, which has enchanted listeners since 2004’s Kiss + Swallow with its dark electronic aesthetic. There’s something fascinating about the music Corner puts out as IAMX. Perhaps it’s the underlying melancholy that seems to pervade the music, almost certainly a result of the musician’s battle with depression and chronic insomnia [Source]. Perhaps it’s the unexpected melodies that reveal themselves with each new measure. Whatever it is, IAMX’s music is a constant delight.

On Alive in New Light, Corner reveals that his eighth album was a product he created as a way of “…breaking free from demons that have long plagued him,” per an official press release. Strangely enough, this uplifting attitude may easily be overlooked but repeat listens unveil a sense of hope and wonder that are simply breathtaking. The title track echoes with almost angelic choir pads that positively shine as Corner exultingly cries in a shimmering falsetto, “I’m alive in new light!” This comes after the Depeche Mode-esque “Stardust”, which offers the first collaboration with Kat Von D, whose pure voice is a beautiful addition to the pulsating track.

The third track, “Break The Chains”, has an opening that immediately called to mind Birds of Tokyo’s “Discoloured”, which is meant as a compliment. It’s followed by the Nine Inch Nails influenced “Body Politics”, which meshes Corner’s crooning vocals with a 90’s industrial backdrop. “Exit” has an almost sinister progression lurking in the background that builds to an aggressive, in-your-face third act. The cinematic Middle Eastern flairs of “Stalker” mutate effortlessly into a heartbeat pulse that features back-and-forth vocals between Corner and Von D. The haunted circus vibe that permeates through “Big Man” is mirrored by its playful gothic aura, ghostly “oohs” and “aahs” sprinkled carefully here and there.

While the album has been a delight up to this point, it’s the final two tracks that took my breath away and left me stunned. “Mile Deep Hollow” builds layer after layer while Corner passionately cries out, “So thank you/you need to know/that you dragged me out/of a mile deep hollow/and I love you/you brought me home/because you dragged me out/of a mile deep hollow.” The way the song’s melodies back these wonderfully uplifting lyrics feels grand and epic, as though a journey is coming to an end, which is where “The Power and the Glory” comes in. Far more subdued, it’s a beautiful song that feels almost like a religious experience, a hymn of a soul that is desperate to claw its way to salvation and escape a life of pain and darkness.

What makes Alive in New Light so wonderful is how much there is to experience. I got the album and listened to it no less than five times in a row without pause. I simply couldn’t turn it off because each return revealed something new in the music. Corner also makes fantastic use of Von D’s vocals, carefully placing them so as to make them a treat and not a commonplace certainty.

While some may be disappointed that there are only nine tracks, each of the songs is carefully and meticulously crafted to be as powerful and meaningful as possible. It really is a stunning accomplishment and I’m nothing short of blown away by how masterfully Alive in New Light plays out.

  • Alive in New Light
5.0

Summary

IAMX’s Alive in New Light is a triumph of music. Full of beauty and confidence, it doesn’t forget the foundation that fans have come to know and love for over a decade but instead embraces that comfortable darkness with open arms. Corner states that this album was a way to break free from his demons. It certainly feels like he’s made peace with them.

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