3 out of 4 stars
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As a teenager, I eagerly awaited each weekend to go to my favourite book store and buy a new book. The book was always one from my preferred genre, horror. The Devil’s Eclipse: An Anthology of Strange Tales, Unnatural Beings, and Bizarre Occurrences, by Christopher Williams, reminds me of such times, when my interests were piqued mostly by authors such as Stephen King and James Herbert. This book is a collection of eight short stories and begins with an excellent preface warning the reader that the book is not for the faint of heart and to keep the lights on. This caught my attention. I was instantly immersed in a nostalgic trip into horror and suspense.
The eight following stories take the reader into a world of demons, black magic, monsters and aliens. The first story centres around Bob Henderson. In his younger years, he served as a U.S. Navy Admiral. Bob is now an elderly man residing in an unpleasant nursing home. The story sees his previous perversions and atrocities being punished by a surprising dark force.
Devils and demons appear frequently with the addition of different ways to terrify the reader. In one story, Jimmy attends a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear training course at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. On first sight, Jimmy is impressed with the apparent “plush” military accommodation. He soon realises appearances can be deceiving when he gets pestered by mosquito bites and is compelled to kill a menacing-looking wolf spider in the bathroom sink. Once peacefully asleep, Jimmy is unaware of the hardiness of the spider and does not sleep soundly for very long.
In keeping with the themes of insects and spiders, another story describes the plight of Ray and his five-year-old daughter. Plagued with infestations of huge cockroaches, he becomes at his wit's end when no amount of fumigation solves his problem.
To complete the anthology, there are stories involving black-magic and aliens. In one story a woman with superior charms, able to make any man desire her, may not be all she seems when dealing with an uninvited alien.
As described the book comprises eight short stories. Short is a very apt description. Each one has great potential as they contain many unexpected events. I would have liked them to be longer with a more developed storyline and more character development. The author's imagination is incredible and it was a little disappointing when each tale was over so quickly. Each story in its own right could be a whole novel, possibly being a series of books rather than an anthology of short stories.
I enjoyed the monstrous creatures created. I could imagine anyone with a phobia of spiders or insects to be immersed in the fear of the stories. The author has cleverly used common human phobias to give the reader a true horror experience. Much like the “Jaws” effect, when this movie hit the big screens in 1975, some of the audience of this movie became afraid to swim in the ocean. I imagine readers of this novel to have similar negative reactions to spiders and cockroaches after reading this book and feel uncomfortable in the presence of them. The stories involving these creatures reminded me of a book I enjoyed years ago, “The Rats” by James Herbert. It is always a pleasure when an author can make a harmless creature into a monstrous entity.
The author incorporates racial issues within one horror tale. There is some strong racial language contained in this chapter which could offend, but it is used in a way to enhance the meaning. There is a satisfaction to the reader when a particularly unlikeable character comes to a horrific end.
The writer works very hard to give extremely graphic descriptions of horror, violence and fear. Just like a good horror film, the book delivers great imagination, terrifying imagery and nail-biting suspense. If the stories were expanded and contained more character development, they could easily be adapted to great horror movies, undoubtedly supplying many jump-scares.
As well as the graphic horror nature, with gruesome gore being plentiful, the book contains graphic sexual content, especially in the first story. The themes include sexual abuse and it is quite shocking to read. With the number of extreme subjects, some readers could be offended.
I did encounter profanity throughout the book. With this type of language and the adult themes contained in the book, it is only suitable for adults. I found two grammar mistakes and one over-spacing error. Despite these errors, I think the book is fairly well edited. I rate the book 3 out of 4 stars. It is my kind of book, possibly a little silly in parts but I enjoyed the ride. It gave me a great sense of nostalgia with my only disappointment being it was too short. The book is great fun and written with great imagination.
The Devil's Eclipse
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