Thursday, March 22, 2018 17:24

Southern Gods by John Hornor Jacobs

March 13th, 2012

Southern gothic doesn’t begin to cover it

I just re-read this fantastic book by John Hornor Jacobs as I never got around to writing this review the first time (extenuating circumstances) and it certainly bears reading again.

Southern Gods by John Hornor Jacobs - fantastic!Set in the deep south of Arkansas in the early 1950s, this is part road movie, part historic plantation and family story with a generous helping of dark forces and blood.

‘Bull’ Ingram, ex-marine, finds people and collects money his employer is owed for a living. That is, until a Memphis DJ hires him to find a mysterious blues musician being played on a pirate radio station over the border in Arkansas, one Ramblin’ John Hastur, who’s music is reputed to have supernatural powers. When he plays a sample of the music hastily recorded off the radio, Bull finds himself building into a killing rage – entirely brought on by the music.

Meanwhile, Sarah Williams and her daughter Franny return to the Reinhart Estate in the town of Gethsemene. Known as ‘The Big House’, the mansion has a bloody history, where Sarah’s grandmother, a cook and an uncle were all killed by her uncle Wilhelm. How he did it, as he was dying of tuberculosis was a mystery, but the heart of his brother was missing, cut from his chest, a sacrifice of blood with significance with gods.

Obviously, Bull’s quest brings him to the Big House, but not as you’d expect and I’d rather not give away too much of the plot. Let’s just say Hastur’s music has properties that can animate the dead and leave it at that.

I thought the book was a bold, engrossing tale told well from the two viewpoints – to be honest, I didn’t want to stop reading it, either time! John’s descriptions are so vivid there were times I could almost smell the blood.

I have to say I’m looking forward to reading more of his work as I enjoyed this and would heartily recommend it to anyone who likes a scare in the vein of H P Lovecraft, more than a King or Barker style.

Not for the faint hearted, as a warning. If a good horror story isn’t your thing, I’d give this a miss.


You can find his very good blog at

Harry Connolly’s Pure genius, mate!

August 16th, 2011

I was going to write a polemic about the “christian” right in American politics, but decided my blood pressure couldn’t take the strain today. So, instead I’m writing my overdue review of Harry Connolly’s books, Child of Fire and Game of Cages.

Okay, if you don’t like anything fantastical or supernatural, my advice would be to look away now. But you’ll be missing good reads. Your loss.There’s no vampires, werewolves or angels in these books, although there is quite a lot of magic. I read them right after finishing one of Charles Stross’s Laundry books and it seemed to fit right in.

Ray Lilly is a recently released, ex-con with interesting tattoos that protect him from a lot of violent things – and some magic. His boss, Annalise, is part of a consortium doing its level best to project the rest of the world from rampant, uncontrolled magic and Ray is just supposed to be the driver. And, if he steps out of line, she’s going to kill him.

Magic is dangerous and every time they turn around some moron’s found a spell book and is creating more havoc. The numpties are forever summoning strange creatures from neighbouring universes whose sole purpose is to consume the denizens of our planet – it appears we’re quite tasty…

I really enjoyed Child of Fire – it’s a good read for me, as I like fast-paced thrillers a lot and the premise of this one was definitely interesting. It’s got great characters and a spooky town that is like the Stepford Wives multiplied by 1000!

In fact, I liked it so much so that I almost immediately downloaded the sequel, Game of Cages. Ray’s on his own for this one. Well, almost alone – he’s been sent with a researcher, Catherine, to check out an auction for very wealthy individuals for what can only be one of those creatures from another world (yes, the ones that like to eat us) and report back. That’s all they’re supposed to do.

Of course, that’s not what happens. With Ray’s usual run of luck, they find themselves trying to track it down in a sleepy town without getting all the locals killed or driven crazy. Or themselves.Again, it’s got great pace and I quickly wanted to know what happens to these two. The twists are pretty good and the little details are very convincing. I particularly like Ray’s “ghost” knife (wishing I had one!).

By all means go, read some sample chapters [ ] and you’ll be hooked, too. I’ve already pre-ordered the next one Circle of Enemies and looking forward to reading it on holiday.

You should also watch the trailer – it’s a movie or series I’d watch, any day.