Tag Archives: Book Review

Hell Hound (1977) Review

Written by: Aaron B.

I first heard of this book while watching reviews of obscure horror movies (thanks to spookyastronauts), someone made a review of a movie called “Baxter”. About a dog who basically has no remorse or guilt for the bad things he does. I knew I had to read this, animal books and horror books are two of my favorite genres.

The opening of the book details Baxter’s disdain for his owner, an old lady who he eventually pushes down the stairs. He enjoys watching her die, so kicks off the story. The chapters are partly written in an omnipresent fashion, while the other chapters (and my personal favorite ones) were written from the POV of Baxter himself. I sort of wish the entire book had been written in this way, but I also understand that character development happened in the other chapters.

They’re a few startling events in the book, but don’t go into this thinking it’s a bloodbath. This isn’t a slasher, it’s a dark and psychological story about what it means to be a sociopath and have violent tendencies. The story is about the build up to violent acts and the anticipation rather then the actual ‘kill.’ The book is intense because of the lack of emotion not only from the dog, but from one of his owners, a boy who’s obsessed with Hitler and Nazis.

To me, that boy was the most interesting character aside from the dog, every time he was in a scene I was tense, he had quite violent thoughts and very morbid motivations, his parents were at a loss of what to do with him almost the entire time.

There are some sections towards the end which get into animal abuse, which is something I expected from a story like this, but just be warned. I personally can handle it in a story, but it was tough to get threw one section in particular involving puppies.

Overall though, this is now one of my favorite ‘horror’ books, this is one I’ll recommend to other horror fans for sure. This is a rare time where I’d say I could’ve written this story, but I’m glad a very talented author did so already. We need more horror / animal books out there, and this is a great addition to that genre.

“The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break” – Book Review

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Written by: Aaron B.

Usually, books about someone living their daily life is something I’d stay away from, as I’m more into action and fantasy. But, I love stories about humanoid animals and I basically bought the book after reading the plot.

The book tells the story of ‘M’  he works at a restaurant, does car maintenance on the side and is just trying to live his life in some Southern town, it is also about the many interactions he has and a love life that may never come. While the book may be about a creature of legend living in our modern world, is one of the most human books I’ve ever read. Full of realism, the daily struggle of a guy trying to fit in and love-it’s a book I’ll remember for a long time.

The author, Steven Sherrill does an amazing job describing the daily struggles of being a half-man, half-bull. The little things like how hard it is for him to bathe, or how hard it is to fit through narrow doorways. I expected a lot of that, but what I got was something much deeper. It also is a book of M’s inner thoughts. He can barely speak, maybe one word along with a lot of guttural sounds. But his conscious is often much kinder and open-minded than the humans who inhabit the town, the book’s overarching theme to me is acceptance. A minotaur isn’t accepted by everyone, he does have his circle of friends, but even they don’t help his inner loneliness. That is where the book shined.

As someone who has autism and special needs, that message of feeling ‘different’ and ‘less than’ rang so true to me, especially when I was in school where I felt I had to compare myself to everyone else. Even during my routines, I feel like an outcast, so reading about his life and how hard it is to fit in and to connect with people, really was what made my heart go out to him. He’s one of those characters I wanted to reach out and hug multiple times.

As the story went on, I didn’t know what would happen with M. He finds some girls attractive, he has some mental breakdowns and gains some enemies and some life insight, and the way everything is resolved was satisfying. A bit sad, but realistic and not sappy or over the top.

If you’re someone who likes a unique story with some mature themes and can handle reading something that read more like a spiritual journey rather than an action packed plot with tons of violence and typical character arcs, I highly recommend this. I’m going to order a hard copy so I can have it in my collection (I got the Kindle version.) I only get hardcover books of works that really speak to me (Watership Down, Call of The Wild, War Horse, Black Beauty to name a few I have.) Those are some of the books that I want to re-visit, and this should be in the collection.

I feel it’s a disservice to just have a digital copy, as it’s a book I’d like to lend to friends who might be curious. Plus, I might want to re-read it the next time I feel low self-esteem or stupid about my disabilities, may M can cheer me up? The way M was written, made me feel like doing away with technology and just living a simpler life. Which is a good thing in my eyes.

I will read the sequel at some point, but I want to marinate in this story a bit. Think about it before I’m ready for another journey like that. Maybe read something lighter to kinda give myself a rest, because this was a heavy read. I mean that in the best possible way, the book was 100 times better then I thought. I thought I was in for a fun little story with lots of humor, but I’d compare this book to something of a truly deep drama (maybe something like “Lean on Pete” or the movie “Boyhood”.) It’s a book that made me think of outcasts and a story that reflects my own worldview as far as how to treat others who don’t look like we do. I think everyone could learn something in that moral, especially in this day and age of hatred and prejudice towards anything and everything. Sometimes I need to read books like this, to remind myself thoughtful stories are out there-you just have to look.