Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ur by Stephen King

Ur is a Stephen King novella that was released solely for the Kindle. Some people claim it is nothing more than an advertisement for Amazon but I would disagree. Ur is an engaging story filled with imagination, morality and a welcomed dose of allusions to his previous works.

English Professor Wesley Smith is an old-fashioned type of guy. He isn’t too big on computers, he likes his relationships simple and he likes his books printed on paper. All of that changes when he buys a Kindle to impress his girlfriend who accuses him of being completely out of touch with the times. As is typical in King’s work, the Kindle arrives but instead of downloading the books that most of us are familiar with, this unique Kindle is able to access alternate realities where authors had different output. Is this weird? Sure, but Wesley Smith is more amazed than frightened. That is until he catches a glimpse into the future and is forced to save the life of the one closest to him.

Ur isn’t great but it is fun and that goes a long way with this type of story. King’s enthusiasm for the electronic medium was really evident here and he seems to take some liberties within the new digital medium. He used the novel idea of an other-worldly Kindle story as a Kindle only exclusive to its’ fullest extent. Then just as the idea begins to wear thin King brings it to a tidy conclusion (which includes a fantastic nod to some of my favorite King characters in stories past.)

Ur isn’t for the King novice (or the horror novice for that matter) but for those of us who grew up with him, it is a great read. It is really interesting to see how he operates when writing for a very specific demograp

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Valley of the Scarecrow by Gord Rollo

Gord Rollo’s latest offering is quite the sordid affair. In Valley of the Scarecrow, Rollo masterfully weaves a vivid tale of horror and revenge that centers on a crazed preacher turned demonic scarecrow named Joshua Miller. Almost seventy-five years ago the village of Oak Valley turned on their once beloved Reverend when he made a devilish deal with “The Dark One”. The villagers strung Miller up to a cross and left him for dead. Unfortunately he didn’t stay that way…..

The story reads like a well told campfire tale. You know the type that will keep you up for a few nights and will be retold again and again. The type of story that really isn’t too concerned with the characters, but instead slithers its way into your subconscious with vivid imagery and unnatural violence. Rollo describes the abandoned village and its long dead (or so we thought) inhabitants with an eerie beauty. I felt like I smelled the sweet ears as I walked through the massive cornfields and could feel the musty claustrophobia of the long deserted church. Rollo has a rare talent for this type of graphic description which elevates his work above his peers.

The real centerpiece of the book is the villain. Reverend Joshua Miller is given the perfect “bad guy” treatment. He is the walking, stalking embodiment of evil. The reader has a front row seat as we witness the good reverend go from heretic, to unnatural being and finally his final form – The Scarecrow. Rollo describes this horrific transformation through flashbacks, glimpses into Miller’s mind and, of course, vivid imagery. As far as crazed and frightening killers go, I would rank Joshua Miller with Michael Myers, Pennywise the Clown and Jason Voorhees.

The book was fun and depraved while moving at an unrelenting pace. It truly is everything a genre fan could want. Valley of the Scarecrow shows the work of a very mature and talented writer. Rollo has the knack for creating images in your mind that tend to linger and haunt you for quite some time. If there is any justice in this world, Gord Rollo will be a mainstay in the genre for quite some time.

Pick it up here and check out Gord here.
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