horror

Shadow Police #3: Who Killed Sherlock Holmes by Paul Cornell (Pan)

Someone has murdered the ghost of Sherlock Holmes. As a fictional character remembered by the people of London, Holmes’ ghost walked the city, and now someone has put a ceremonial dagger through his chest. What could be the motive? The small team of Metropolitan Police detectives who have The Sight find themselves pursuing a criminal genius who soon lures them into a Sherlockian maze of too many clues and too much evidence. Ross finds herself drawn to an actor who may or may not be a deity, and goes on a quest to win back her happiness. Lofhouse seeks the answers, finally, about why she brought the team together. Quill battles for his sanity. Costain battles for his soul. And Sefton just wants to bring his team back together, even if that takes him to the edge of death.
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Revival by Stephen King (Hodder & Stoughton)

A spectacularly dark and electrifying novel about addiction, religion, music and what might exist on the other side of life.

In a small New England town, in the early 60s, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister, Charles Jacobs. Soon they forge a deep bond, based on their fascination with simple experiments in electricity.

Decades later, Jamie is living a nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll. Now an addict, he sees Jacobs again – a showman on stage, creating dazzling ‘portraits in lightning’ – and their meeting has profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil’s devising, and Jamie discovers that revival has many meanings.

This rich and disturbing novel spans five decades on its way to the most terrifying conclusion Stephen King has ever written. It’s a masterpiece from King, in the great American tradition of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe.

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Demon Road #1: Demon Road by Derek Landy (Harper Collins Children’s Books)

The mind-blowing new supernatural thriller from bestselling author DEREK LANDY, creator of international sensation Skulduggery Pleasant.                      

Full of Landy’s trademark wit, action and razor-sharp dialogue, DEMON ROAD kicks off with a shocking opener and never lets up the pace in an epic road-trip across the supernatural landscape of America. Killer cars, vampires, undead serial killers: they’re all here. And the demons? Well, that’s where Amber comes in… Sixteen years old, smart and spirited, she’s just a normal American teenager until the lies are torn away and the demons reveal themselves. 

Forced to go on the run, she hurtles from one threat to another, revealing a tapestry of terror woven into the very fabric of her life. Her only chance rests with her fellow travellers, who are not at all what they appear to be…

[Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Goodreads]

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7 Horror Movies to Watch This Halloween

I’m fairly new to the horror genre, having previously, before this October, shied away from it. However, with Halloween fast approaching at the start of the month I decided to participate in a Challenge to watch 31 movies over the course of October. You can find the full details of the Challenge here as well as a link back to the original, but it’s given me an opportunity to watch a lot of movies that I wouldn’t normally have seen otherwise and as a result, allowed me to put this list together. Whilst not everything presented here is a definitive list, I’ve tried to go for a blend of not only classic movies, but also more modern ones as well as those that you may not have seen before, including one notable foreign film. So if you’re a horror fan looking for a movie – or seven – to watch over Halloween, keep reading to see what films I’ve selected.

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Sleepy Hollow Season 2 (FOX)

The first season of Sleepy Hollow was one of my favourite new series of 2013. Mixing funny dialogue, an excellent chemistry between the lead cast and some excellent, bonkers plots that weren’t holding anything back, blending history with fantasy in several great ways over the course of the tightly plotted thirteen episodes runtime. It was compulsively addictive and ended on one of the best cliffhangers that you will quite possibly ever see on television, and given Fox’s habit for cancelling shows that have had excellent first seasons (Almost Human, Firefly) I was really glad to see that the show had earned another one. However, with the extended episode count, problems began to take ahold of Sleepy Hollow, as it adopted a more case-of-the-week based approach than before, sacrificing season-long arcs in favour of telling standalone stories that were often underwhelming (which was mandated by FOX, who never learn). The cast was still good (save for one notable exception), yes, and the start and end of the season was great, but on the whole, it was fairly disappointing especially given the rather weak take on one of the series major characters.

The first season ended with the revelation that Henry (John Noble) was in fact the son of Ichabod (Tom Mison) and Katrina (Katia Winter) and had been manipulating them the whole time and was in league with Moloch and the Headless Horseman. To make things more dramatic, just moments after Katrina had been freed from purgatory, which was the main goal of Season 1, she was given to the Horseman by Henry as part of their deal. And the rest of the team found themselves in complete jeopardy – Abbie (Nicole Beharie) was banished to purgatory, Captain Frank Irving (Orlando Jones) confessed to the murders of the police officer and a priest and was promptly arrested, Jenny (Lyndie Greenwood) fell victim to a car crash, and Ichabod was imprisoned, trapped in a wooden box beneath the ground with seemingly no chance of escaping. The biggest question was – how could they possibly resolve this? It seemed like the bad guys had won, but in the best possible way it seemed, Sleepy Hollow answered all of those questions, delivering a really strong premiere that was handled incredibly well.

However, it wasn’t long after that that things started to go downhill. Sleepy Hollow introduced the character Hawley (Matt Barr) in the third episode where he quickly became the most annoying character on the show, not really offering anything to his role. The show also unsuccessfully introduced Captain Irving’s replacement; Reyes (Sakina Jeffrey) who wasn’t fleshed out as well as she could have been, serving as a rather forgettable character. There were also various other standalone characters who failed to impress, such as the Angel Orion (Max Brown). But the biggest culprit of all was Katrina (Katia Winter), who was underwhelming for most of the season. This was partly because the strongest thing that the series had going for it was the chemistry between the two leads, Nicole Beharie and Tom Mison, and when Katrina was finally freed from the Horseman’s captivity, she only broke up that chemistry that had made the show so great, and wasn’t really given enough to do. The show tried to fix that with the final few episodes of the season, which whilst were still pretty good, felt that her arc was underdeveloped with her character making several choices that were out-of-character.

However, that’s not to say there were some good moments as well. The Nicole Beharie/Tom Mison chemistry was excellent as always and John Noble absolutely killed it in the role of Henry, with the revelation concerning his identity at the end of Season 1 gave him plenty to do this year, even though his end was somewhat anti-climatic.

With this show currently on the bubble, it’s not really certain whether or not we’ll see Season 3 just yet. I was kind of happy to let Sleepy Hollow go after several underwhelming episodes, but the two-part finale arc, which is certainly worth sticking around for if you’re put off by the lack of quality of some of the standalone episodes, really made up for it. The brief time-travel arc was among the best that the show has ever done, making use of a fantastic cliffhanger for the penultimate episode. (Thankfully, there wasn’t one in the finale, as it probably wouldn’t be able to Top Season 1’s). We also got to listen to an incredible violin cover of The Rolling Stones’ Sympathy for the Devil.

So despite quite a lot of flaws then, Sleepy Hollow Season 2 never really became unwatchable and whilst it lacked the sheer entertainment value of Season 1, I’d still rather watch another season of this than sit through mediocre, generic crime series (looking at you, ABC’s Secrets and Lies). Because when Sleepy Hollow gets it right, it gets it very right indeed.

VERDICT: 7.5/10