Friday, November 26, 2010

2-in-1: A Winter Haunting by Dan Simmons & Cabal by Clive Barker

1. A Winter Haunting by Dan Simmons

A book synopsis from the publisher's website:

A Winter HauntingA once-respected college professor and novelist, Dale Stewart has sabotaged his career and his marriage -- and now darkness is closing in on him. In the last hours of Halloween he has returned to the dying town of Elm Haven, his boyhood home, where he hopes to find peace in isolation. But moving into a long-deserted farmhouse on the far outskirts of town -- the one-time residence of a strange and brilliant friend who lost his young life in a grisly "accident" back in the terrible summer of 1960 -- is only the latest in his long succession of recent mistakes. Because Dale is not alone here. He has been followed to this house of shadows by private demons who are now twisting his reality into horrifying new forms. And a thick, blanketing early snow is starting to fall ...

This was my first book by Dan Simmons and to sound as cliche as possible, it will not be the last. I was very surprised by the lyrical quality of A Winter Haunting, which really made this horror/ghost story a little more special. And also a little more frightening. It's a modern Gothic story in my opinion and even though there are a lot of descriptive passages and mostly the main character's ruminations, it reads smoothly and is not boring at all. One little fact you should know, A Winter Haunting is apparently a sequel to Summer of Night. I didn't know that previous to reading the book but it made no difference. A Winter Haunting can easily be read as a stand-alone. If you want a nice, spooky ghost story with Gothic in it, I think you should try this one. It's not long and windy and is probably a good introduction to Dan Simmons's style of writing.

2. Cabal by Clive Barker

The book's synopsis from GoodReads:

CabalIs he a madman or an innocent? A mass-murderer or a fugitive from injustice? Aaron Boone-wracked by unbearable guilt for crimes he cannot remember; loved by a woman who will stop at nothing to save him; and pursued by a twisted killer-is driven into a netherworld of the living dead, a world of creatures who thrive on darkness and flesh. 

I didn't like this story too much. It was very bizarre and granted, there were some gory scenes in there, but something just didn't click for me. Maybe the length of the novel is to blame (it really was a novella). I am thinking that Mr. Barker is not very good at writing short stories or I'm just not the type of person to like them. There simply was no time for me to develop any kind of feelings for the main character, let alone all the supporting cast. Everything felt rushed and I felt detached from the story. I also am growing a little bit bored with the general theme permeating the horror novels I read showing the reader how people are the real monsters capable of horrible evil and the imagined monsters or creatures that live underground are really not that bad in comparison. I thought it original the first time but Cabal had the misfortune of being the third or fourth one in a row. I know Mr. Barker has a strong following in the horror world but I will not belong to it, I'm afraid.

FTC: I bought both books.