Saturday, April 12, 2014

Review of Carole Johnstone's upcoming horror novella, COLD TURKEY.

Well, I finished up Cold Turkey by Carole Johnstone the other night. The version I read was pdf edition for review, as the novella is forthcoming in May 2014. I'd like to extend thanks to Andy Cox for sending the copy my way. Thought it was quite a good read, and was impressed with the writing and the flow of the story. It moved along at a good pace, and kept me enthralled to the end. Here's a short synopsis, and then a couple of thoughts.

In the opening of Cold Turkey, we are introduced to Raymond Munroe, who's having a bit of a bad day. Looking at his history, he's had a bit of a disappointing life, in general, at least from the way he tells the story. Lost both his parents, stuck in a dead end job teaching at the same primary school he attended as a boy (Glengower Primary), and spinning his wheels in a loveless relation with his girlfriend, Wendy. Raym has pretty much settled into a rut most of his life, never having taken a risk. A heavy smoker, like his parents (which caused their deaths), Raym finally decides that he needs to take steps... He's going to quit smoking (hence, the title). Cue vivid nightmares, a freakish tally van driver (ice cream van) in top hat and tails, and periods of lost time. Although he isn't losing time, people around him seem to be losing his presence in certain points of time. Also cue bouts of paranoia, worsening relations with his colleagues and Wendy, and being saddled with a teaching assistant which he absolutely doesn't want, until he meets her for the first time... You might ask, is this guy a full blown loony? Is he imagining all the goings on, or is something more sinister taking place? Well, that would be telling, so you really should pick up the book...

Although this story, on one level, is a cracking good horror tale, it's more than bogles and night-haunts. Carole's depiction of Raym's addiction, and the personality and character traits going along with said addiction is spot on. Raym's personality always seems to be looking for the easy, safe choice, and in so doing he sabotages himself at every turn. Even when confronted with an absolute choice, he still tries to weasel his way out at every turn, and have his fun and none of the consequences. He is, in short, an average slob off the street, who cares more for his own comfort than for those surrounding him. The actual monster in this story is Raym and his addiction, along with the depths he eventually sinks to. Top Hat (tally van man) is a great monster, but really, he's everything bad contained within Raym, come back to haunt him. You can really read this on two levels; as a man falling to pieces and losing his sanity, or as an actual story of something from beyond having great fun tormenting an unfortunate git. That, of course, is just my take on the story. Either way, Cold Turkey is an enthralling story, and is highly recommended.

I'd just like to say, I had a great time reading Cold Turkey. I am really looking forward to reading more of Carole's stories, and once again, a tip of the hat to Andy, for making this edition available to me. Anyone who likes a well written horror story should take a great amount of pleasure in this release. It's available for pre-order HERE. Also, stop by TTA Press and check out other good stuff that they have available. Interzone and Black Static are both excellent magazines, in the sci-fi and horror/dark fantasy genres, respectively. With that, I'm done, and I'm moving on to the next story... Happy reading, all!

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