Reviews of Various Authors.
I will not discuss all twelve of the stories, though there is something in each to appreciate. In “Celia and Harold”, a man stops in a small, strange town, Midwick, to switch trains. In the pub, he is accosted by a barfly who warns him to leave Midwick as soon as he can:
”You’ve not seen her,” he said. “Pray you never do.”
“You’ll have to excuse me,” I said, patting my laptop and nodding in the direction of the window. “I have to get this work done before the train to Dymthrop arrives.”
The barfly snorted. “Forget Dymthrop. All that matters is that you get out of Midwick – and fast. Or you’ll be as doomed as the rest of us.”
The barfly is Harold and the woman he warns about is Celia. I won’t ruin the story, but it feels like something Stephen King might write. The idea is a good one and the execution is splendid. The reader, like the narrator, only gradually grasps the situation. To say too much more might give away the game, so I will just say that Patrick Whittaker’s story is one of the nicer gems.
From Hungry Like the Wolf.
Reviews of Dr Frankenstein’s Gift to Womankind.
This was a riveting read; an extremely well written book. Kasper is young man who, for his entire life, has been judged by his appearance. He’s been cast away from society, shunned and ridiculed and operated on time after time by unscrupulous doctors with the promise of a new face.
Kasper didn’t want to be handsome, he just wanted to be normal, but realising this would never happen he decided to end his pathetic life. He couldn’t even do that right, and found himself at the hands of a disgraced doctor. The doctor gave him a new face before the police captured him for illegal practise.
Kasper, with a new face, is again alone – but strikingly handsome. He’s unused to women, has no finesse and is by all accounts a gorgeous sex manic who needs taming.
Expect tears of both laughter and sadness as Kasper journey’s through life. A deeply moving ending that played on my mind long after I put the book down.
Reviewed by Louise Wise.
Dr. Frankenstein’s Gift to Womankind is what happens when a young man, so full of pain that he no longer wants to go on living, is given the gift of beauty. Disfigured outcast Kaspar fails a suicide attempt and finds himself in the care of the gifted Dr. Hoffman. Gradually, Kaspar’s looks and life are changed – drastically. No longer is he shunned by society, but admired for his physical beauty and embraced for his talents. Kaspar’s amorous adventures are many, providing increasing complications to an already fast-paced life.
Never predictable, this story is at times alternately humorous and dark, interwoven with both the joys of life and its attendant sorrows.
Reviewed by G. Brickson.
A wild, touching, mad-cap story of plastic surgery, sex, love and Frankenstein science. I stumbled across this book with no preconceptions, read the first chapter and couldn’t stop laughing. Then I became absorbed in a bizarre but compelling world of minor celebrities, religious cults and mad professors. A daft, thoughtful, entertaining book. Recommended.
Reviewed by Cornelius Smith.
Reviews of Walpurgis Night.
A rip-roaring rampage through the streets of Sheffield following Verlaine, the last vampire on earth, as he leaves a bloody legacy that few will ever forget. Whittaker’s writing is vivid and graphic in all aspects and while some may consider it a little over-the-top it suits Verlaine’s character perfectly as he chooses Walpurgis Night to take his leave from the world, on his terms and at a time of his choosing. This may be a short story but Whittaker crams a lot into it with a mix of in depth and fleeting characters. A gritty vampire story that certainly leaves its mark. Not for the faint-hearted.
Reviewed by Ecowitch.
Reviews of A Plague of Hearts.
While it started out more entertaining than it ended, it was still thoroughly fun to read. Some of the conversations made me laugh out loud (tea and entropy)and i absolutely loved how the landscape was described, especially the rivers.
Reviewed by Bumblefish.
An inventive, very well-written, but unfortunately flawed take on the world of Wonderland.
The opening is genius and promises a very amusing story, but that promise is not to be fulfilled.
The middle is a fantasy suspense as the March Hare is dragged deep into a web of political intrigue and sedition within a country at war. There is a brief comic respite in the show-trial scene, which is also the only scene in which Alice plays a part.
I didn’t find the ending to be satisfactory. It certainly is an ending, it’s an inventive ending, and it’s an ending that legitimately follows from what precedes it. Unfortunately, it’s poorly dramatized.
A really powerful ending has the protagonist faced with a moral dilemma. There certainly is a moral dilemma here, but by the time we’re shown it, it’s already been resolved and it wasn’t resolved by the March Hare. In fact, the March Hare is pretty much missing from the entire climax, even though he’s the character we’d been following all through the book. The climactic scene is pure action but the major characters are not involved and not at risk; they simply watch the carnage and destruction.
The March Hare briefly reappears for a denouement that seemed rather pointless to me since it involves a couple of characters that had no part in the story (they did appear earlier as ‘bit players’). Those are just two of a number of characters that serve no real purpose and simply clutter the story.
The opening is 5-star, the middle is 4-star, and the ending is 3-star at best. With some rework, this could have been an outstanding novel. As it stands, it’s very inventive but inconsistent.
Reviewed by Doug Pardee.
This is funny, unexpected and well written. If you like comedy and weird surreal bonkers stuff then this is for you. Has some real laugh out loud moments and it is consistently interesting right up to the very end.
Reviewed by Michele Brenton.
Reviews of Riders on the Storm.
A fast paced tale following two brothers as they try to take on the banks, big business and corrupt councils to save their home and their inheritance through a spot of urban terrorism. A somewhat amusing journey into the depths of the criminal underbelly of London and how easily it is to slide past the boundary between right and wrong when you’ve nothing left to lose. whittaker’s characters are realistic and believable as they question themselves, each other and the world while maintaining their sense of humour and their sanity. A pretty good read that has you cheering for the underdogs despite yourself.
Reviewed by Sam.