Daniel I. Russell is the author of Entertaining Demons, Samhane, Retard, Come Into Darkness, Critique, The Collector Book 1: Mana Leak, Mother's Boys and the huge collection Tricks, Mischief and Mayhem. Daniel is a HWA active member and represented by the Tobias Literary Agency, NYC. Daniel has also been the vice-president of the Australian Horror Writers' Association, special guest editor of Midnight Echo, associate and technical editor for Necrotic Tissue, and Shadow Awards judge.
If writing was like acting...would you be a hooker...
Read Daniel in...
Sunday, October 24, 2010Crimson by Gord Rollo
Following my own advice in Necrotic Tissue #12, thought I'd start posting my reviews on my blog as well as Goodreads. I take the time to write them anyway, right? So should you! Here's the last one I read. Expect a bit of Neil Gaiman in the next few days, as well as an update from yours truly.
Crimson by Gord Rollo
This is my first venture out with Gord Rollo. Yes, it's another Dorchester-Leisure review from me. I'm not going to bang on about the current Leisure debacle here, but I'm sure followers of the publisher know that the mass market paperbacks are going to be hard to get in a few weeks.
I hope that most of the Leisure horror writers find new homes with respected (and savvy!) publishing houses...Gord Rollo being one of them.
Crimson has a great opener, about a man in the small town of Dunnville who has gone crazy. Yeah, I'm sure you're saying you've read about crazy people before, but this guy is seriously MESSED UP! You can tell the author has hit the right nasty buttons if I chuckle as I read. Next, we meet our team.
Four boys are going to have a playdate they'll never forget as they meet at one of their homes...the house were the murders took place some twenty years earlier. The evil has been waiting, its hulking and rotten body sitting at the bottom of the well. The family moving into the house has awakened it, and soon the horrors are going to start all over again.
Let's get something straight right off the bat. One of the blurbs states that "Crimson is Stephen King's IT's superior in every possible way." With IT being one of my favourite all time books, this is a pretty big deal and possibly had raised the bar a little too high.
These are two very different books that share a few themes, mainly childhood friendship and a creature that knows your fears. Obviously IT will be deeper with more character developed, however, it's four times longer! Of course it's going to be deeper. But does that mean it kicks Crimson's ass?
I'd have to say...no.
While Crimson does have a few shared elements, it's a lot faster read and more action packed. IT-lite, if you will. The first act in particular has a breathtaking pace. At one point, the creature is attacking all four boys separately and the reader hops between each one. The tension is cracked sky high, and to make it better, there's plenty of Nightmare on Elm Street-esque dream within a dreams! It's like being on a ghost train full of serial killers: you're thrown around with all these dark figures leaping out at you...and you don't know which are real and which are illusions.
This is where most reviews have stopped, talking mainly about the opener and the first part, but I have to carry on (and try not to give too much away).
This is all in the first act. The second act is very, very different and reads more like a psychic-whodunnit. Rollo keeps the scares coming, as one of the friends must choose victimes for the killer while he rides in his head of the masochistic Ripper. But who is the killer? Is it really the creature?
The final part, despite the horrors and cat and mouse games that came previously, is lighter on the spec elements, but wow, what a page turner. Imagine Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption...but written by Richard Laymon straight after he penned the short story The Champion. We also get the deliciously monstrous Shadowman, every convicts nightmare, who adds another enemy for our protagonist to deal with.
Rollo packs a lot of story and twists in a mere 320 pages, and the book never wants to be put down. I think I read this in two sittings.
For horror entertainment, this was a cracker. I can't wait to get my hands on The Jigsaw Man.