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A Red Dark Night by A.P. Fuchs

( 2004 Coscom Entertainment ) Read more about the author here.

     Camp Silveryway holds most memories universal to summer camp sojourners from youth to counselor.  There's plenty of hiking, fishing, games, sing-along songs, counselor's sexual escapades....and, oh yes, rips through the fabric of time large enough to usher in beings from the future.

     These beings are called Bloodans,

creatures composed of blood that can liquefy as well as take human form who like to feed off of humans by absorption.  Whatever is left of their victims becomes one of them as well.  It's a process where the Blob meets vampires, all in all.  What's more, a mysterious man in black sporting a cape, cowboy boots and a rather nasty gauntlet about his arm arrives from the future as well to save the camp from the dreaded Bloodans.

     A Red Dark Night reads like a classic '60's B-horror flick with a slight contemporary feel, and an even slighter literary upgrade.  Its very simple premise makes for a remarkably complicated read as the story progresses, which three-quarters of the way can become oftentimes confusing.  This is by no means to say the read isn't worthwhile;  Fuchs is an exceptionally fluid writer with a keen inventiveness and proficiency sadly lacking in the works of many writers of today.  He is diehard in his craft, as is evident in every aspect of his career as a writer, from his ambitious "A Stranger Dead" to his short works to founding Coscom Entertainment, a small Canadian press flaunting an expanding line of impressive titles worthy of the larger publishing houses.

     The Bloodans themselves are reason enough to give this tale a good once-over, and the story does its job in wanting you to further your journey, to read page after page to find out what's going to happen next and how the black-clad gauntlet-wielding stranger will save at least a handful of helpless camp counselors, but if this isn't reason enough, I dare you to pick up a copy if only to catch a glimpse into the mind of A. P. Fuchs.

     We'll be hearing a lot more from him soon.  And check out the chapters involving the bus.....that in itself is indeed visionary.

  

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 Ghostwriter/ Hourglass by David Lester Snell

( 2004, 2003  PublishAmerica )  Read more about the author

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(All reviews copyright 2004, 2005 by Nicholas Grabowsky and Diverse Media, all rights reserved.   All book cover images are owned by their respective owners and used by permission.)

he grows in his craft, I'm certain we'll all be watching.  And reading.

The Curse of Mesphisto's Seed (Book One:  The Day of the Awakening)  by William P. Haynes

( 2004 PublishAmerica )  Read more about the author here.

     Elliott is cut and dry evil, Mesphisto's seed.  The son of the Devil, in other words.  Throughout the first chapter or so of this book as the reader is introduced to him and is taken through episodes of his childhood, one can easily develop a certain sympathy for him, for his loneliness, for his poor worrisome mother still suffering the emotional repercussions of finding herself widowed by his human father's death.

     At some early point the story abandons Elliott's character development and shifts its focus primarily to Josh Riley, the sheriff of their town, and his deputy Mark Talbot.  Together, they investigate murders which eventually lead to Elliott and a hell-spawned wolf as being responsible, and a violent confrontation renders Talbot blind, copper-haired and endowed with unbelievable powers of dark wizardry transforming him into a formidable foe not only for Elliott but for Mesphisto himself.

     William P. Haynes' storytelling is at its best chronicling the struggles of its protagonists in their fight against evil.  Alas, his use of a present-tense prose throughout the entire tale was oftentimes distracting and inconsistent and is a style best utilized to enhance dramatic affect in appropriate passages;  it's a risk to write an entire novel that way.  But it's merely from personal taste that I say this, and I found the story itself to pull me in regardless.  Haynes has a good grasp on making the reader follow the story and care for the principle characters, and to see the visions he expresses on paper.

     The sequences with Mesphisto that take place in hell are very involved and are inspired by Dante.  Here and there I can tell that the author's passion for re-realizing this abysmal world mildly overshadows the action that takes place there, and I recommend brushing up on Dante's Inferno before reading the tale to enhance the experience of mentally visiting Haynes' take on it.  The story timeline leaping from the 1960's to 1987 is indeed an ingenious predicament he lays upon his heroes, and by that time Elliott is still alive and well and is a charismatic evangelist.  I liked that.

     A good talent has weaved this tale, this much is evident, but this is Book One in a series, and, without giving anything away, I can tell you that by the end of this book you'll find you're going to have to read the next one.

     Two short novellas, same author, a short handful of  nights' worth of reading them back to back, hence I chose both for review.  Let's go:

     Ghostwriter is a tale of a bestselling novelist attached to

an ordinary guy.  That ordinary guy is Stephen Crown, and that bestselling novelist is his own hand, possessed as it were, writing of its own accord, with a drive and a mind separate from Stephen.

     Stephen goes to his Oregon cottage retreat to get away from it all and to let loose the force which governs his ghostwriting hand to pen a new masterpiece.  But the surrounding community has changed since he'd last visited, and for the worse, led by a fire-and-brimstone preacher bent on sending Stephen and his books "written by the Devil" back to hell's burning depths.  I can personally relate to that.

     Hourglass is a different presentation altogether, a science fiction fantasy that takes place in another world, perhaps another time, perhaps another version of our own Earth itself.  The story deals with Oz Noble, a forest-dwelling widower whose only son suffers the fatal bite of an arachnid wasp.  Oz must embark on a quest through miles of perilous and alien terrain to find the last existing hourglass tree which holds his dying son's fate and salvation.

     David Lester Snell has crafted two masterfully told simple tales.  There's good talent here, executed skillfully by damn good writing.  Snell knows how to convey his stories in strikingly vivid fashion and no wonder --- he takes his art seriously.  An editor for a college magazine and a writing tutor working towards a university degree in Creative Writing, he knows what he wants and knows how to do it.

      I suggest you read both books back to back just as I did for a similarly satisfying couple of doses of Snell's rich blend of vision and prose.  Here's another we'll all be hearing more from, and I'll be looking forward to it.

Magic Man takes an urban myth, however personal to the author, pins it down and turns it into a legend.  Fuchs is at his best here, taking for the most part a campfire story and turning it into a philosophical  metaphor....there is a lot of insight and narrative infused into the idea of a "magic man" that could make all one's dreams come true, for a price, no matter what price it is.  Sometimes that price can make you learn something valuable about life, then it sticks you with a circumstance you never knew was coming around the corner.  Fuchs, a great writer in his own right, takes poetry and storytelling prose to another level!

More here.