Category Archives: typicalbooks

typicalreview – Miss Sally: And The Sinners That God Ignores by Robert Joe Stout

 

This is a bleak view of Texas in the 1930s offered by a young girl lost in a dust bowl of sin, confusion, and lust. Bleak may be a polite term as I am sure some readers would find Robert Joe Stout’s 1973 novel “Miss Sally” a trying read. Scenes of torture, rape, and blasphemy run throughout yet the young Sally begins innocently enough – her and her sister spy on an older sibling having sex. The conversations that ensue are enchanting and darling as the girls try to explain for themselves the ins and outs of adulthood. This fuels a dangerous and naïve plan to experiment with sex and local boys. After the domino effect of curiosity takes its toll, she finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Raped by several local boys and teens, Sally is ferried out to the countryside days later not only to recover but to allow the gossip to dry up for a few years. Things go from bad to worse as Sally barely reaches womanhood, but not without a roller coaster of joy and sorrow alike.

There are some very poignant scenes that take place in various revival services. While many around this little girl vacillate between heathen attitudes that do not practise religion at all – which are the most benign – and those who are dangerously enraptured with Christianity in one form or another who come across as the most dangerous and detrimental. The path to her saviour blocked by thorns, and even though she pursues religion right to the end, it would appear to be the cause of so many of her misconceptions and troubles. For a little girl who thinks herself dumb and ugly, she has some deeply philosophical reasons for her actions that keep one interested to see what she will do or say next. An example is when she first assumes she must look like a sinner since everyone at church looks at her as if she has sinned. Since she hasn’t sinned it makes her sad, and certain something must be wrong with her when the entire congregation agrees that everyone has sinned. A very confusing concept for a simple girl barely thirteen years old.

Sally shows no shame in what happened to her, proving to be a very tough little girl taking the world at face value. With the exception being her erstwhile brainwashing at the hands of religious fanatics of the time, she otherwise has a very balanced and non-judgemental core to her. At one point she compares her rape to animal husbandry she helps with on a cousins farm and the insight offered is simplistic but refreshing. Her philosophy is simple throughout and hence, incredibly thought-provoking for a reader brave enough to take “Miss Sally” herself at face value.

There are several scenes of sex in the book, most are not consensual. Some are alluded to but many happen as we are on our journey with this young girl, so the reader is given an unflinching view of brutal treatment by Stout. As a very dark coming of age tale, there is no way around it, so fans of stories like “Go Ask Alice”, “The Girl Next Door,” or the film “The Seasoning House” will understand the merits of being able to see into how much like beasts – or worse – humans can behave. While this is a fictional story it serves as a reminder that worse things happen in life, and anyone we stand beside could endure what little Sally winds up witnessing.

This is a sure four-and-a-half stars, as I was left with one small question that needed addressing.  Aside from the cover art being far too plain, through all of this learning and witnessing sex, rape, torture and confusing religion, fighting families and all – there is no mention of a woman or Sally herself menstruating. That was one point I was waiting to see addressed. Would it fill her with more questions, drive her deeper into her warped sense of righteousness, or had the trauma her body went through so young have damaged her to a point that it was impossible? That seemed to be missed given her age by the end of the novel. Being written in the mid-70s originally – this is a re-release by Robert Joe Stout and we are lucky for it – perhaps that sort of womanly medical truth was too racy a topic among all of the brutality surrounding this young girl.

 

I have taken a position reviewing books from independent authors. While not all are horror, there is a thread of darkness through them regardless of genre. As with honest paid reviews, there will be personal reaction as well as comparative and critical analysis. If you are an author that would like me to review your work, contact me for rates and a summary of your novel, short story, or collection. 

typicalbooks 22 – Nightmares in the Sky – Stephen King – Booktube Review

Nightmares in the Sky is an essay by Stephen King contained in a wonderful coffee-table book. Within, find gargoyle photos taken by f-stop Fitzgerald. Not sure who truly took the photos as the pen name is so very literary I would guess it is a fellow author or agent. The essay is so very King, and those that enjoy his addressing the Constant Reader will like this addition to their collection. Found this in Pennsylvania in a used store in wonderful condition so thank you to whoever owned this beforehand!

Pick up a copy here https://goo.gl/AUWR27

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Suggest a book! I like violent and visceral horror. Comment here or at http://twitter.com/typicallydia or find my contact information here on nightface.ca.

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I cover books I have read that have taught me something about my own writing or were printed in an atypical way. Sometimes, I just have something to say about typicalbooks.

Find my work, Nightface, Pray Lied Eve, and other fiction in teh sidebar or my Amazon author page http://www.amazon.com/author/lydia

if you want to hear more of my voice, listen to myself and Wes ‘Dead Air’ Knipe on the Dead Air Podcast at:
https://splatterpictures.net/

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The perfect thunderclap by Acclivity was found at Freesound http://www.freesound.org/ thank you!

All excerpts used for review purposes only, with all respective copyright retained by original owners.

Filming, editing and all other black magic by Lydia.

typicalbook – Apollo’s Raven by Linnea Tanner – Review

Catrin is a princess, soul traveler and mystic. A sorceress cum shapeshifter and the daughter of King Amren of the Cantiaci. The historical fiction of Linnea Tanner, “Apollo’s Raven”, begins with Catrin along with her sisters Vala and Mor, who are trapped in the clash of kingdoms between the tattooed Cantuvellauni people of her Celtic homeland, and the advancing Roman armies. While their combat instructor, Belinus, is distracted by the middle daughter, Mor, and eldest sister Val is betrothed to a Roman for political reasons, Catrin is overwrought with painful memories of her exiled and disfigured brother Marrock. Marrock has returned to her in a vision that can only mean bloodshed and death to all she holds dear.

Catrin’s visions are much more than waking dreams. Her faithful familiar is a black raven that allows her to travel through the skies and into the past or future by taking her vision and allowing her to see what it can see, for better or worse. There is a curse upon the land and her family. Just like the future, this curse can be rewritten so it is up to Catrin and her Roman ally Marcellus alongside her mother, Queen Rhiannon, to outwit Marrock and the advancing Roman army he has maliciously manipulated for his own revenge.

The introduction to Catrin and her powers is quite breathtaking. All at once the reader is taken into the fold of how magic and sorcery is viewed in this world crafted by Tanner, and all at once mystified and humbled. The young princess is new to this power she keeps a secret from others, and we are witness to its bold and reckless enchantment as we see the weakness that transferring your waking mind to another body can hold. With the threats that surround this young warrior maiden, the author weaves a tantalizing push and pull between the free life Catrin could have and the path she treads–for destiny and magic clear the way. Unlike many epic fantasies, the style is quite casual and could be disarming for those seeking a more literary approach to the sword and sorcery of Europe in the dawn of the common era. A smattering of historical figures blend into the background of this landscape which is rich with trappings of the time and while there could be some exclamations or jargon out of place it would take research to verify one way or another. It all blends in, however, as so much of the world inhabited by our hero and her sisters is true to our own. With only a few twists of imagination, a world where we can see through the eyes of another creature comes to life.

Thankfully there are few scenes of romance. The story could surely be billed as a romance story entirely, but I found it much more like a dark fantasy that only edges on a love story. With very few scenes of eroticism, the focus is certainly on peril, bloodshed, mystery, magic and deception. For those who come to ‘Apollo’s Raven” looking for love, they will find maggots, skulls, torture and entrails in all the right places. Much to my delight, this book contains quite a few gory scenes throughout. While each character is entirely their own and distinctly drawn, it seems all characters are quick to temper and are all quite sadistic. Even the most gentle seeming creatures here are proven exceedingly cruel at least once if not chapter by chapter. The raven is a character of its own too, and not without its shining moments of barbarism. Owners of large birds, specifically corvids, will know the author not only researched the time and place in which the story has taken place but the nature of these strange little creatures. Whether playing the jester, faithful guardian or spirit animal, the raven–which has no name–shares the quirks a pet crow would truly display. Something that only one at home with these cold coal creatures would really bring to life.

More time exploring the character of Agrona, the King’s witch who plays a large part in the story and has the bloodiest and most interesting introduction would have done well. The story does well as it is, though she offered something entirely different later in the story in contrast to who she is when first met, the direction she starts off in is fascinating and embodies more of the magic qualities of this world that everyone fears and is warned off but rarely gets to see. Of five stars, this is closer to a four than three-and-a-half. While lyrical and paced well, some of the slang and colloquialisms cause a snag when they don’t ring true. Some dialogue injects mirth where not ought to be had and when the scenario is not meant to be funny. Some of the gravity is sucked out by the misstep of a word or two but the story does recover every time, and instantly. For lovers of animal familiars mixed in with dark magic, this could fly quite high and is worth looking into the next book in the series.

 

I have taken a position reviewing books from independent authors. While not all are horror, there is a thread of darkness through them regardless of genre. As with honest paid reviews, there will be personal reaction as well as comparative and critical analysis. If you are an author that would like me to review your work, contact me for rates and a summary of your novel, short story, or collection.