Relics, by Tim Lebbon

51g-uUmUlbL._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_ (1)In a world where cyclops, satyrs and nymphs are as real as the dinosaurs of the past, Relics is another creative take on the folklore and myths famous throughout humanity.

The novel follows the story of a young couple, whose comfortable lives are soon thrown ever deeper into an underground world unknown to most, where ‘relics’ remembered only in tale and lore are discovered to be only all too real. Curiosity soon turns into a fight for survival, as Angela and Vince are balanced between a fantastical world and the devastating greed of mankind.

The modern age hosts a plethora of classical mythical beings cast in a variety of ways, and Relics is certainly another example of this. Whilst the premise of the narrative is entertaining enough, the ingenuity and style required to make such a classically-fueled novel truly stand out was however somewhat lacking. With a number of clichés and some slightly forced background additions to the narrative, Relics was unfortunately missing the lustre needed to take it a level above.

Despite this, with plenty of action and a few twists and turns, Relics is still an enjoyable and creative read, told at a pace that will hold your interest from start to finish.

Length: 384 (Titan)

Overall Rating: 2.5 stars

 

Mr Mercedes, by Stephen King

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The master of horror becomes the master of thriller. Mr Mercedes is a highly energetic novel, bearing all the hallmarks of a classic detective tale.


Set in an American city, Mr Mercedes follows the story of recently retired detective Bill Hodges. After an impressive career, Hodges is soon lured from his newly innate retired life of junk food and daytime TV by the resurgence of a past terror, the classic “perp that got away”. As mysteries are uncovered and tragedies begin to pile one upon the other, it soon becomes clear that no one can ever truly quit the chase.

Though the novel bears little creative ingenuity, a simple psychopath-pitted-against-justice novel, King’s engaging writing style certainly keeps the reader hooked. The prominence of modern technology also adds a new dimension to the classic crime mystery, with the old school detective persistently thrown off the scent by the ingenuity of technologically fueled madness.

Overall an entertaining and easy read, good for the summer, but readers looking for more intrigue had better revert back to the disturbing horrors the author was made famous for. Despite this, with its fair share of action, romance, comedy and tragedy, Mr Mercedes is a strong debut thriller from the world famous King.

Length: 432 (Hodder paperbacks)
Overall Rating: 3 stars

Imperium, by Robert Harris

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Politics, corruption, power – Imperium.

Imperium is told from the perspective of a highly able and literate slave, Tiro, following the story of his master Marcius Tullius Cicero, a great orator, lawyer and above all politician. The pair bear witness to the classic strive to ultimate power within the great Roman Republic, highlighting the dark deals, bribery and sheer ingenuity required to make it to the top. This is certainly in likeness to a Roman ‘House of Cards’, bearing the same dramatic trials and tribulations which make for highly compelling drama.

In the final decades of the Republic, Harris tracks this demise through a detailed narrative of its orcastrators. Legendary historical figures such as Pompey the Great and Julius Caesar are characterised in their glorious nature, but also in what was likely their true selves: ambitious, dangerous and entirely unstoppable.

Harris has an absorbing writing style, placing his reader in the heart of Roman life. Great events remembered throughout history are delved into more deeply, unearthing the corruption and strifes necessary for their accomplishment.

With a wealth of historical knowledge, and the use of Cicero’s own recorded speeches and letters, Harris captures real historical fact within the compelling compound of literature. Imperium is a thrilling narrative, which will have you following the exhilarating political manoeuvres from over two thousand years ago as attentively as if they were occuring today.

Length: 403 (BCA)

Overall Rating: 5 stars

The Incorruptibles, by John Hornor Jacobs 

25246213In a land built on steampunk contraptions and demonic beings, The Incorruptibles mixes the dangerous ingenuity and extravagance of ancient Rome, with the hard corruption of the wild west. Along with a dash of fantasy, this cross-genre novel harbours both ingenuity and intrigue.

‘The Hardscrabble Territories’ are an unforgiving land, filled with all manner of terrors, where roughened men seek solace for their sins in the fiery depths of the bottle. Damnation is not only rife, but physically apparent, as demon spawn and hell fire fuel mankind’s greed. Jacobs’ gritty western dialect and fluid description creates a harsh yet vivid world of ever-present hardship.

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The Girl Who Saved The King Of Sweden, By Jonas Jonasson

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Exotically imaginative and audaciously funny, The Girl Who Saved The King Of Sweden is another wonderful example of Jonasson’s witty and entertaining writing style. Following on from the success of his debut novel, once again Jonasson spins an irreverent and impossible narrative, born from small beginnings surging ever on towards the large and the great.

 

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Carrie, by Stephen King

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​From the skilled hands of its world famous author, Carrie spins a dark tale of youthful cruelty and sorrowful revenge. Bearing a simple yet effective premise for a horror novel, known now by many from its multiple film interpretations, this is a short and entertaining classic.

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Carrie centres around its namesake, a teenage girl who after a lifetime of bullying and trauma is brought to her limits in the run up to her senior prom. As the novel progresses, the supernatural gradually becomes all too frightening and real, and a terrifying retribution soon unfolds upon a small town in Maine America.

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Whilst a little cliché at times, the same can largely be said of all teenagers. King soon moves beyond the realms of youthful stereotype however, drawing upon much darker themes. Carrie engages the brutally honest inner emotions of its characters, offering their raw, primitive thoughts throughout. The effect of this is an intrinsically human perspective on a savage, wounded time for a young damaged girl.

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The general style of the novel is rather different to a typical horror novel. It is certainly interesting to consistently remind the reader of the novel’s end for example, a typical cardinal sin in most narratives. By frequenting numerous article segments and scientific considerations concerning the ‘Carrie phenomena’ throughout however, King adds a sense of impeding and inescapable doom. In this way, the slightest actions are therefore emphasised with a constant sense of inevitable consequence.

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Carrie is the classic tale of youthful hardship and woes, escalated beyond proportion by a horrorful nature that seeks retribution for all the sorry young wronged.

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Length: 242 (BCA)

Overall Rating: 3.5 stars

Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders

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In his debut novel, once more Saunders’ irreverent, sporadic and moving style is put masterfully to use to capture a powerful narrative. Composed of dozens of voices, from which history merges with fiction in a mesmerising whole, Lincoln in the Bardo is an entirely singular novel, certainly the first of its kind, and one which will long be remembered.

 

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