Tag Archives: horror

Hyde by Daniel Levine (2014)

In this novel based on Robert Lewis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Hyde seizes control. Though Hyde’s ramblings on the dark streets of Victorian London are often told with brutal detail, the novel takes an intriguing concept and tells an intelligent tale. The boundaries between good and evil are blurred and a dark and brooding re-imagined story emerges.

This retelling is a richly detailed and engrossing portrait of Stevenson’s characters, but Daniel Levine’s Hyde is not the first novel to re-spin Stevenson’s original. Mary Reilly by Valerie Martin told the tale from the point-of-view of Jekyll’s household maid.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (2013)

The book opens with its unnamed narrator returning to his childhood home in Sussex, England for a funeral. He finds his way to the farm down the road from his old house and remembers Lettie Hempstock, the girl who used to live there. As he sits in front of Lettie’s “ocean” (a pond on the property), the narrator remembers a fantastical adventure with Lettie where the two fight a dangerous monster taking the shape of the narrator’s family’s new tenant.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a very fast, light read, which holds the reader’s attention from beginning to end. There are many strong female characters to be found in this novel, with most of them staying with the reader long after the book has been closed. Neil Gaiman’s brilliant writing shines through, providing both unease when dealing with the monster and comfortable nostalgia when describing the narrator’s childhood home and the Hempstock farm, both of which provide evocative images of the English countryside.

This is a fantasy book I would suggest for those who do not often read fantasy. The magic is minimal and the adventure important, yet contained, feeling like a story straight from a child’s imagination. This book is wonderful in that it encapsulates all the wonder (and fear) of childhood without losing anything of adulthood, or alternately, takes adulthood without losing any of the wonder of childhood. Overall, Gaiman has managed to write a children’s book for adults, leaving the reader feeling nostalgic for childhood bedtime stories, but without feeling patronized.

The Walking Dead Compendium One by Robert Kirkman, et al. (2009)

Clocking in at over one thousand pages, The Walking Dead Compendium One includes the first eight volumes of the Eisner Award-winning comic and a six-page Christmas special (which, when you remember this is a series about a zombie apocalypse, should give you a good indication of exactly how uplifting and Christmassy it is), and is about as heavy as a small bag of bricks. When comic books are collected into omnibus editions like this, they can be a bit daunting at first glance – but once you realize that eight volumes means 48 issues, you’ll remember that you are actually holding four years’ worth of stories in your hands.

The Walking Dead (and authors Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard) is deeply indebted to the zombie genre pioneered by George A. Romero in his original Dead Trilogy (Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead). Die-hard (pun intended) zombie fans may notice some subtle thematic nods to Romero and others’ films in the comic, but for the most part, it’s a story all on its own. There are touching moments, there are funny moments, and there are horrific moments – but that’s life, even without a zombie plague.

At the heart of all zombie stories is a reflection of ourselves, at our worst and at our best, the consumerism in us and the heroic in us, and in that, The Walking Dead is a successful addition to this genre.