The House that Jack built – Graham Masterton

When I read “The Home that Jack built” by Graham Masterton while leaving in Poland, the book was titled “Valhalla” which gave me a first impression of something else than I kept thinking about while getting ready to read it. Well the title is not the most important matter in the book and a bit of misleading isn’t a crime when it comes to fiction.
The story starts quite bluntly by gripping your crotch tightly and quite painfully too. We meet Craig, an arrogant, very confident and a bit stuck up his arse lawyer who appears to have everything- a beautiful and loving wife, a great job, a very attractive lover, loads of money that he can spend on any type of caprice he can think of.
One evening he gets thrown out of a cab during an argument with a taxi driver. While looking for a shelter as it is pouring down, he gets interrupted by a troubled girl who is covered in blood and asking for assistance in rescuing her friend who got attacked. The whole scene turns out to be a trap and Craig gets attacked but stealing money won’t be enough for Craig’s attackers; they’ll also brutally scare him with a help of a hammer. A scene that takes me back to ‘Black Angel’ and some other earlier novels by the British author.
Craig loses not only his money or physical health in the attack but his personality takes a great deal of beating and he loses his confidence and usual self. He tries to find himself and the biggest help he is receiving is from his wife. During one of their escapades they discover a huge, neglected and abandoned home named Valhalla.
Our protagonist falls in love with the building and believes that owning such huge house would cure his insecurities. He is sure to buy it despite the fact that this type of money required for repairs and renovations would lead him to near sure bankruptcy. He stays firm on his decision even despite the fact there is a bit of history behind Valhalla. It used to be owned by an obsessive gambler, very rich and very vengeful man that used to hate women.
The house turns out to be haunted, although not in the classic type of haunting horror fans are used to. The way the house was designed, allows it to be simultaneously in the past, the presence and the future together with any people that used to live here.
It doesn’t take long until people start dying and Craig starts transforming into someone else, scaring slowly his wife with the unavoidable fact that he appears to becoming the previous owner of Valhalla, both physically and mentally. The wife starts to look for help in nearby occultist shop where the owner might be able to help her…
Reading “The House that Jack built” doesn’t shock you with the uniqueness of the story or the strangeness of events or characters but the atmosphere around the house, the few brutal scenes in the book as well as plenty of colourful and well constructed dialogues makes up for the fairly simple idea of the plot.
For those using e-books, the kindle edition can be found here.

Flesh and Blood – Graham Masterton

One can not be mistaken if the plot of “Flesh and Blood” by Graham Masterton sounds like a cheap screenplay to a very cheap class B or even C horror movie but somehow the British author makes it all work and actually makes the read a worthwhile.
The story starts from a scene of a brutal murder; a father beheads two of his children with a sickle, in order to try to save them from “bad blood” and a horrible fate. A third child manages to escape crazy dad’s ideas and the dad gets arrested.
The oldest daughter that survived hides inside of her genes an unbelievable secret; the girl possesses genes of a half human half plant creature, originating from some ancient times. Coming all the way from Slavic myths, Janek the Green, also known as the Green Traveller travels with his minions from house to house offering poor farmers great harvest for the price of him having sex with the farmers wives.
The human-plant creature fulfills its fate through centuries and then comes back to collect his due in his bloody vendetta. It kills siblings, impregnates another woman and the blood line is preserved through centuries. The Green Traveller also consumes insides of his descendants, to preserve human characteristics and avoid being defeated by the plants world…
There is also another shocking twist to the story. Part of the brain of the youngest child that was beheaded gets stolen and is later transplanted in Spillman institute into a body of gigantic, genetically created pig that goes by the name of Captain Black as the group working in the institute tries to prove that it is possible to transport human’s consciousness into body of an animal.
The scientist are unaware of the fact that the little boy was a far descendant of the Green Traveller, and can not link the sudden onset of the pig’s aggressive behaviour to anything they know… The worse thing is that the pig is freed by an ex group of eco terrorists and Captain Black, or perhaps the Green Traveller comes back to collect his due…
As crazy and as cheesy as it sounds the action happening in “Flesh and Blood” is really interestingly presented and it creates actually a really good read, as Masterton skilfully mixes Slavic myths with the explosion of genetic field and science that became so popular in the nineties… Or perhaps I really enjoy whacky stories.
It is quite rare to get Masterton’s book as e-books so for those on kindle device, the copy of the book can be found here.

Prey – Graham Masterton

Another good and a climatic read for early autumn nights is “Prey” by Graham Masterton, a book that is one of the most mysterious and puzzling works by the author and I never knew if I got it ‘right’ or not, if that take on books really exist.
Fortyfoot House is an abandoned, ruined Victorian orphanage on island Wight, which hides a horrible secret inside of its walls. Over hundred years ago, more than sixty residents died in unexplained circumstances. People living nearby to this date try to avoid discussing any matters around that empty Victorian building.
David Williams, freshly divorced parent of a seven years old boy decides to renovate this building. David and his son are accompanied by a young girl who is going to stay with them and shortly after, a series of strange events will take place…
The book starts in great style with a scene where our protagonist is looking through the loft of the residence which he wants to restore to its original beauty. This scene sets a great atmosphere of dread and fear and from this point onwards it is going to be getting darker, stranger and scarier as David will have to face a whole wave of unexplained phenomenons which he’ll understand finally when he learns the secret of this old orphanage.
But before it all takes place we will witness scary events including a strange man wearing a hat that appears and disappears at random, or photographs that are hang on the walls but keep on changing what they depict, and then we will face strange sounds coming from guts of the building all the way to blood freezing scenes of deaths of people living nearby.
In order to work out all this oddness, David will have to find out the history of the building and also get acquainted with some old Sumerian myths and rituals that might led him to leaving the present to move back in time…
As I mentioned earlier “Prey” by Graham Masterton is one of those strange and slightly confusing books that leave you a bit puzzled and not quite sure if the horror you just faced was actually there or if it is something you’re quite unable to fully comprehend. Regardless of this ending, that to date left me a bit insatiable, the novel was a great set of pages worth turning over during some creepy evenings to add some spice to already atmospheric nights around me.

Walkers – Graham Masterton

I can’t remember the design of the cover of “Walkers” by Graham Masterton but I sure can remember enjoying the creepy atmosphere this British writer created in this book. As it is quite common with some of his work, the main complaint would be the length of the book or lack thereof. But first things first.
Jack Reed, a happy husband and father finds an old residence during one of his voyages on a rainy day and he falls in love with it. The his next step is to turn this ruined abandoned building into a hotel. There is one huge obstacle to jump through though, the building’s history and its contents within the walls… As Jack soon finds out more and more about his recent object of such strong emotions.
A story from over sixty years ago reveals the building purpose. It used to be some kind of mental asylum where rapists, murderers ,mentally ill and all sort of psychopaths used to be kept away from the world. There used to be over 100 patients and their main leader was Quintus Miller.
He used to be short but of muscular build, his eyes were showing no emotions and his upper body had an awful tattoo depicting two hands reaching from behind his back and tearing his stomach apart. One unique fella.
One day all the inmates disappear. No one knows what had happened there. As it later turns out, all the patients had been magically united with the building itself.
With a help of some ancient spell all of these psychopaths were melted into the walls of the asylum and to rid of them and the curse itself there is only one solution. Murdering eight hundred people will free Quintus and his horde of murderers from the spell that holds them captured within the walls of the old asylum.
Jack will have to face this enormous and scary task and the price of this endeavour will be his son’s existence. The battle between Quintus and Jack might lead Jack’s son to become one of the needed victims unless Jack finds an alternative solution to this horrific challenge he is faced with.
As much fun I had while reading “Walkers” due to the creepy atmosphere of mental asylums, the stories of its patients and very vivid and disturbing descriptions of murders and insights of minds of the disturbed people as much I disliked the fact that the book wasn’t longer and that Masterton didn’t elaborate more in certain points of the story or that he didn’t involve some side stories from within the book more. Nevertheless it was a great read for an autumn evening.

Buick 8 – Stephen King


Picking up “Buick 8” by Stephen King had me convinced I was about to experience the magic rebirth of another blood hungry car. First thought didn’t really result in the hit and instead of story about splattering blood everywhere I got story that mainly was kept as a conversation about the past and a car that just appeared in some lives out of nowhere.
Ned, a young man, sometimes acting more like an awkward teenage boy, loses his father in a car accident. His father, lieutenant Curtis Wilcox dies during his working hours, killed by a drunk driver. That sees Ned joining the D district where his father used to spend most of his life working as a policeman.
Ned, starts off by doing some cleaning duties, as he just isn’t ready to let go off his father presence. One day he discovers, a locked up in one of the barracks, unusual car and he asks the policemen working there to tell him more about it. So the gents starts spinning a yarn and the story moves back over twenty years ago…
At a patrol station, a perfectly kept Buick, appeared. Its driver asked the station worker to fill the car up, he then left the car, supposedly to use the toilet and… never came back and there doesn’t appear to be a reasonable explanation as to what had happened.
Ned slowly starts to be obsessed about the history of the car, almost identically like his father did. Every time the coppers try to tell the young man a story not related to the car they meet a wall of resistance from Ned. So the knowledge about the car that Ned possesses is filled in by the station captain and a long friend of his father, Sandy Dearborn.
Ned is constantly unsatisfied with any explanation he is given regarding the strange incident at the patrol station and slowly he starts coming to a conclusion that the drunken guy that knew his father and caused his death was not the only reason it occurred and that the case surrounding the mysterious Buick or the car itself had led his dad to a premature death…
“Buick 8” is a book about an attempt to find someone who left, in a completely different light to what our protagonist might had been used to. It is also great story about a secret and a mystery. What the car really was? Where it came from? Who drove it?
It is a great story with a slow build up of facts that makes a reader to go through the pages as quickly as possible in attempt of finding out the answers to the mystery. It serves as a great example of how pure interest can become an obsession and what consequences it might lead to.
For e-book fans, the Kindle version of “Buick 8” can be found here.

Hearts in Atlantis – Stephen King


“Hearts in Atlantis” by Stephen King was my first ‘adult’ book that I read in English so my take on it probably feels different as to what it’d feel if I read in Polish. It’s hard to describe the bilingualism really. Anyways…
Another book from our author is made of two novellas and three shirt stories all connected to each other by recurring characters and all roughly presented in the chronological way. It is really hard to say what this book is really about but it takes us for a confusing ride and it starts with ‘Low Men in Yellow Coats’.
We meet 12-years old Bobby who is a witness to traumatising events and who finds out a lot about past of his mother, a committed feminist, who not only appears to be greedy but also quite stupid- knowing that something horrible might happen to her, she insists on continuing with her plan.
Then the mother realises her mistakes but it is too late for Bobby, who as he grows older he stands up for one of his friends, Carol who was attacked by older boys, and beats one of them badly. And that is the beginning of ‘bad’ Bobby…
We move on and ‘Hearts in Atlantis’ takes us to a university in Maine where students protest against the war in Vietnam. That story narrated by Pete Riley slowly exposes us to threat and danger in moments of explosion of the rebel action.  Main character here is Carol who we met in first part whose boyfriend is Sad John who we met in first part as well.
‘Blind Willie’ sort of takes us back to first part when we meet one of the boys who attacked Carol. Titled Willie is shown to us in three parts, where first we see him as a grown man, living happily with his wife, then next we see his transformation into younger version of himself when he wants to redress the mistakes he made when he was younger and finally we meet Willie as ex soldier of Vietnam war, living on street as a beggar; a wreck of his younger self.
The story is happening through one day when we see how different versions of Willie try to make up for his previous mistakes, helplessly trying to change the past.
‘Why We’re in Vietnam’ presents us with a story of Sad John who met in the first part of the book. The same John who was Carol’s boyfriend… This time, John can’t escape all the thoughts and feelings the war in Vietnam brought to his soul. He nearly died there. His friend is haunted by thoughts of an old woman he killed while being in service. The killed lady accompanies John’s friend as a ghost through this surrealistic story where the end is quite strange.
Eventually the whole book ends with ‘Heavenly Shades of Night Are Falling’ takes us to a time when Bobby comes back to his old home town after so many years to attend John’s funeral. He manages to find Carol who is so much changed by the experiences of life. Bobby explains he returned here as he received a copyrighted copy of a book, and despite the book coming from many years ago, the page being in pristine condition…
And that’s how we somehow arrive to this fairly confusing end of “Hearts in Atlantis”. As much as the beginning of reading was really involving and created the right, intriguing atmosphere, the closer to end I was, the more murky and complicated it was becoming, to some point slightly putting me off finishing the whole story.
I’m pretty sure many readers will find the whole five stories nicely connected and written in the right fashion but for me, something was missing there.
For those who are on Amazon Kindle and would like to grab an electronic copy they can find book here.

The Girl who loved Tom Gordon – Stephen King


“The Girl who loved Tom Gordon” by Stephen King was a book I had nearly never read as neither the title nor the book’s cover was appealing to me at the time when I came across in a library. The problem was, I had picked three books and I couldn’t find a fourth one to max out my allowance so I gave it a read and I’m glad I did.
Trisha, a nine years old girl is walking around the woods with her mum and older brother. Unfortunately the mum and the brother had recently been arguing a lot and that is the case now. The pair is rowing so badly that they don’t notice when little Trish is taking an off course path to have a wee-wee.
She went there and never came back. And from this point onward the mum or the brother become unimportant and we’re paying full attention to Trisha who has only her wits to rely on and a walkman she can use to listen to broadcast of Boston Red Sox game and the performances of her hero, Tom Gordon, a relief pitcher.
As she travels through the woods trying to find a way out the time is not stopping and what was a daylight, slowly turns into night. Trisha, who was bitten by bees, who is sore, tired and hungry starts to notice more and more things. When the walkman batteries dies she starts to imagine that Tom is next to her and the he’ll help her survive as there appears to be something scary and something dangerous out there, something that creeps up closer and closer as the daylight is fading away…
Trisha has to find strength to fight that something that appears blood hungry and seems to be merciless. She has to survive but with each passing hour, she loses a bit of hope here and a bit of strength there. She starts to lose a battle against her weaknesses and she feels hopeless and lost without a chance for someone to come and rescue her before she dies, or before this something out there comes close enough in order to…
Not everyone is afraid of ghosts, monsters or serial killers but we all are afraid of the unknown – the something that we so don’t want to experience or we don’t wish for this something to happen.
The Unknown… Waiting to attack at the first moment we least expect. And that’s what “The Girl who loved Tom Gordon” is really about. Its a book about the fear of the unexpected even if we expect it. It’s a well written, fairly short story about a girl lost in the woods. What we are afraid while we are reading it, is probably different to each of us. Pick your poison.
For those using Amazon Kindle, the book can be bought here.
Please enjoy responsibly.

The Storm of the Century – Stephen King


“The Storm of the Century” by Stephen King didn’t come to life as a novel, it ended up being a screenplay for TV miniseries and then it was published as a book. Nevertheless, it is another quite atmospheric novel that keeps you turning pages as fast as you can read, until you can finally unravel the mysterious twist or a character’s intentions.
In this title that mysterious character is Andre Linoge who arrives to a small island of Little Tall, in Maine when the inhabitants are preparing themselves for the coming of winter storm that was branded by meteorologists as a storm of the century.
As the first snowflakes touch the ground, Andre arrives and brutally murders one of the oldest citizens of the town, Martha. He then calmly sits in an armchair, holding his walking stick, embroider with a silver head of a wolf, that is covered in blood…
Andre allows the town’s sheriff to arrest him but that doesn’t stop more and more dead bodies being reported as the town goes into a bit of panic, as some citizens brand Andre a pure evil, something from out of this world due to the latest victims appearing to be unexplained suicides blamed on the arrival of our antagonist.
Quickly it turns out that Andre knows everyone’s sins and secrets, eventually implying  that everyone will die in the end unless the people give the stranger what he had come here for…
What is it though and are the people happy to give it up? Will the people of Little Tall co-operate or will they try to face the now obvious evil force that came into their lives to reveal their secrets that were hidden deep underneath…?
I had not heard about “The Storm of the Century” until I actually came across the TV series. I wasn’t keen on watching it since I hadn’t read the story but eventually I decided to give it a watch and never really managed to finish. Instead I eventually read the book and I didn’t regret finding out the solution to the mystery this way.

Regulators – Stephen King


I didn’t really plan it out. It was more of an impulse that led me to revisiting “The Regulators” by Stephen King and sticking it here today. Since my last entry was about “Desperation” it looks like we end up having a double look at these two connected titles, that are meant to be happening in two parallel worlds and there’s is a character named Tak, linking both stories.
I reached out for ‘The Regulators’ with a bit of anticipation as there were some elements I liked in ‘Desperation’ so I expected a bit more of that strange atmosphere and I got something along the lines of tiny town (more of a single street really) in Ohio, Wentworth. The citizens of Wentworth are just like us. They work, moan at their neighbours, visit their friends, cheat behind their loved ones backs, get married, have children, get old and die… It easy to grasp the concept to that point. Matters do get complicated one feral day when the inhabitants start dying and these deaths are not of natural cause.
Wentworth is visited by MotoKops 2200 straight from TV screens and they start to sow fear and panic. The very friendly and sleepy street is surrounded by a total chaos and havoc. It’s an absolute nightmare that turned everything into a desert of desperation.
Seth, is an autistic boy who lives in one of the houses, he has a second personality that remains hidden, and will be known to those who read ‘Desperation’, and is named Tak. The boy is looked after by a very anxious aunt who suffers badly from mental health issues and she is the only one that knows the truth about Seth.
Will she be able, with a help from John, an old writer, to deal with the Regulators? Will the Regulators from parallel world to Desperation’s universe be destroyed and put away??? Well you gotta read it to find out.
And here the problem with “The Regulators” occurs. Somewhere along the story it all became a bit boring and really just not interesting that I was happy that it was supposed to be the last book written under pseudonym of Richard Bachman, as mostly the books written under this name were something that one could reflect upon finishing them and while ‘Desperation’ kept me interested, the last title really failed at that job and left me fairly cold.

Stephen King – Four Past Midnight


Once the world of short stories embraced me there was no escaping and each book consisting series of shorter pieces was always a welcomed addition. It was no different with “Four Past Midnight” by Stephen King. I mean the title sounded quite intriguing from the go and the rest was just a turbulent journey through some scary valleys of King’s mind.
‘Langoliers’ set the benchmark high from the go. It is a story that follows a flight 29 from Los Angeles to Boston. On the plane during the flight all passengers fall asleep. When some of them wake up, they realise many people had mysteriously disappeared and terrifyingly they realised it also included the flight crew with pilots.
Luckily (not really a great word to use here) there is a pilot amongst them and they land the plane just to discover the airport they landed remains empty, the air appears strange and everything is stale and tasteless…
And soon our characters realise that the world must have fallen victim of strange creatures they named, Langoliers. The creatures are eating everything they come across. In this story one not only moves in time, as it turns out that plane had flew through some kind of rift, but also in space as the story also revolves around vision of a sick brain one of the characters.
There’s a serious need for a solid break before you jump into the unknown of ‘Secret Window, Secret Garden’ where the main protagonist, Morty, is visited by a mysterious man who accuses him of stealing his story.
This simple accusation changes life of Morty’s into a living nightmare as there are no limits in how far a mentally unstable mind can go. Or are there…?
‘Library Policeman’ is a whacky read as initially you think it is a story you’d tell your offspring to keep them in check in regards of returning books in time to their library. As the storey evolves, you realise that there is much more to it than that policeman and it involves now dead, director of said library, Mrs. Lortz. See for yourself how far you think you can face against the pair of scary and crazy creations of author’s mind.
And to finish off our another discovery of Stephen King’s mind we have ‘The Sun Dog’ a crazy little story that involves us into a history of a camera that takes pictures that the photograph doesn’t see in real life as these pictures depict a dog that wants to attack the photographer. How will our protagonist manage to deal with the camera and will he have to face that dog too?
I was very pleased after reading “Four Past Midnight”, especially Langoliers and Library Policeman gave me enough material for nights of nightmares and months of worrying. There was always a wish that King extended some of the novellas into proper full length books but I think it is just my little fixation on the joy of escaping from the real world into worlds created by others and staying there as long as possible.