Lovecraft Country (Full Circle) Episode 10 Spoiler-free Review

The Season Wraps up With It’s Final Episode

Hey Everyone, Slick Dungeon, here back to give a spoiler free review of the tenth and final episode of the HBO series Lovecraft Country.

After nine intense and dramatic episodes, the only real question left was if this series could deliver a satisfying conclusion. A lot of threads had been developed and a lot of drama had intensified over the show so far. The conclusion was a high bar to climb.

I don’t want to get into spoilers here, obviously, since this is a spoiler free review but I can say that the conclusion does measure up. I will say that parts of the episode were a bit slower than I would have expected but in the long run I think that just led to intensifying the drama.

While the conclusion was satisfying, I don’t think every story thread was wrapped up perfectly and there was room for improvement here. But as a show overall, this still gets an A+ for its ability to deal with horrors both real and imagined.

If you have not watched any of this show, do yourself a favor and give it a go because it has been one of the brightest spots of television all year.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Dracula’s Daughter (1936) – #MovieReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here, and I am back to review another Universal creature feature. We’ve gotten to the point where we have met most of our main monsters and the only logical thing is to start seeing films about their children.

This film is from 1936 so it’s pretty old. Not as old as a vampire of course, but old enough. I hadn’t seen the movie before this viewing so I will go ahead and give a spoiler warning so put your fangs away, you have been warned.

Dracula’s Daughter is the direct sequel to Dracula the original film about a vampire threat. This film begins immediately after the events of the first film. The police are investigating the commotion that was made when Van Helsing killed Dracula. The scene is pretty suspicious considering the body with a stake through it’s heart and the man whose neck had been broken by the vampire.

Van Helsing is arrested and needs help so he reaches out to a psychiatrist friend. I guess because psychiatrists are good lawyers? Anyway, the professor turns to a man named Dr. Garth who, might not exactly believe Van Helsing but is willing to help him. It just so happens that Dr. Garth also encounters a strange woman by the name of Countess Marya Zeleska. You might be guessing because Dracula was a count, that Countess Zeleska is also a vampire. You would be right.

The rest of the movie unfolds in ways you would more or less expect. Strange things happen around Countess Zeleska and bodies start showing up all over town. Dr. Garth tries to help Van Helsing and after conversations with him, Dr. Garth figures out that these strange things might be connected and there really are vampires in the world.

There are a couple of surprising things in the movie though. One is that Dracula’s daughter doesn’t really want to be a vampire. Also, I don’t want to spoil the end here but the creepy guy in the picture above plays a pivotal role.

The most amazing part to me about this film though, was Gloria Holden’s performance in the role of the title character. I swear, in the whole thing she did not blink a single time. Not once!

The film does play pretty hard into some chauvinistic stereotypes and I found Dr. Garth to be rather sexist in the movie. I know attitudes were different then but that doesn’t make them right.

There was also more comedy injected into this one and it made it easy for me to see how someone thought horror and comedy would make a great team up in later films where Abbott & Costello meet the various creatures.

Overall, this was a much better sequel than I expected, despite the complete lack of Bela Lugosi. If you haven’t checked this one out, I think it’s a pretty interesting entry in horror film history and is worth a watch.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Gunmetal Gods – #BookReview

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

SYNOPSIS

They took his daughter, so Micah comes to take their kingdom. Fifty thousand gun-toting paladins march behind him, all baptized in angel blood, thirsty to burn unbelievers.

Only the janissaries can stand against them. Their living legend, Kevah, once beheaded a magus amid a hail of ice daggers. But ever since his wife disappeared, he spends his days in a haze of hashish and poetry.

To save the kingdom, Kevah must conquer his grief and become the legend he once was. But Micah writes his own legend in blood, and his righteous conquest will stop at nothing.

When the gods choose sides, a legend will be etched upon the stars.

REVIEW 5/5 STARS

Kevah was once a hero who did the impossible. He killed a magus and his legend was born. Ten years later he is old and leads a life averse to warfare but his time will come again. Meanwhile, Micah the metal has been on a conquest for his faith. He has conquered much of the world and now he comes for Kostany, the city that Kevah lives in. He will stop at nothing to achieve his victory.

When an author is bold enough to name a book Gunmetal Gods, they better deliver the goods with a huge, epic story that is an absolute page turner full of amazing battles, intense political intrigue, and surprises at every turn. That is exactly what author Zamil Akhtar has done.

The parallel stories of Kevah and Micah intertwine and intersect in surprising ways as the world moves with them and around them. As the book progresses, the reader only becomes more engaged in the story as the cast of characters grows.

Battle scenes are fascinating in this book with the combination of swordplay, magic, and technological advancements in the early development of guns. They are vividly described and utterly thrilling to read.

The book is full of well realized characters, a deep culture that is well thought out, incredible creatures and amazing beings that turn the tide of the story and everything else you would want in a fantasy tale. This book easily stands with the best of epic fantasy fiction.

If you love sweeping epics like the Game of Thrones series or Throne of the Crescent Moon, drop whatever else you are reading and pick up this book. It’s as bold as the title and it delivers on all fronts. Remember Zamil Akhtar’s name because if he keeps writing like this, he will be the next well known epic fantasy author to have a global fanbase.

Fantastically yours,

Slick Dungeon

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Lovecraft Country (Rewind 1921) Episode 9 Spoiler-free Review

The Intensity is Turned All the Way Up In The Penultimate Episode of the Season

Hey Everyone, Slick Dungeon, here back to give a spoiler free review of the ninth episode of the HBO series Lovecraft Country.

The title of the episode probably gives you a good clue as to where and when the main events of this episode happen, especially if you know your American history well. With all that this show has delivered week in and week out I was not sure if it would be able get better.

It did. This episode is utterly nail biting, intense and superbly emotional. The family drama deepens and connections are made and resolved. Events that have been spoken of previously in the show come to light and are turned in stunningly surprising ways.

This show is absolutely a must see for any horror fan, especially if you have a strong stomach. There were a couple of episodes that I thought were not as strong as the others but overall this show is gripping television.

There is only one episode to go. If you have not watched Lovecraft Country yet, binge as fast as you can this week because the final episode is sure to deliver everything you would want in a horror show.

I can’t wait until next Sunday to watch.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

The Invisible Man (2020) vs. The Invisible Man (1933)

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here. I recently watched The Invisible Man (1933) and wanted to compare it to The Invisible Man (2020).

You will probably see right through this but if you keep reading, there will be spoilers for both movies below. You have been warned.

In this corner we have a scientist who injects himself with a solution that not only makes him turn invisible but also causes him to go insane and allows him to torture scientists he works with and terrorize an entire town. In the opposite corner is a horrifically abusive scientist who is an expert in optics and fakes his own death in order to torture a woman, frame her for unspeakable crimes, and terrorizes a police facility for the mentally ill.

The original film is a fun romp into what ifs about being invisible but still shows the dire consequences of what happens when science goes to far. The current film is more of a statement about the sad truth that far too many victims of domestic abuse are not believed when they should be. It’s a much more gripping psychological thriller than the first.

While in the original it is to be expected that there would be plot holes, silly camera gimmicks that were innovative at the time and a bit of overacting, the current film needs to be held to a higher standard. It’s hard to do film magic now since the audience understands that we have such things as green screens, CGI etc. The current film is able to create plenty of tension despite the fact we can all guess at how the camera tricks were pulled off. There are some things that I question in the current film however.

Here is where I will go a bit into deeper spoilers for the current film so if you have not seen it, you may not want to read further. In the new film, the main character, Cecilia (who is not the invisible man if you did not guess), is framed for murder. Moments later she is in police custody where she is interrogated by her friend whose house she was staying at. Now, while I give this movie a lot of credit and I think it was a good watch, I hardly found this part believable. It would be such an obvious conflict for that cop to be interrogating a murder suspect who he had such a close relationship with. Sorry, but I don’t buy that at all.

Later in the film, when things are wrapping up and Cecilia is trying to get the actual Invisible Man to confess, James is listening in as a cop. Again, that is way too much of a conflict to happen. I know complaining about those parts of the movie might be considered too picky, it threw off the experience for me.

Still, it is a terrifying movie but perhaps not for the reason you would think. On the surface, thinking that an invisible stalker is around is certainly terrifying. There is no doubt that would be a challenging adversary. But the terrifying part of this is the fact that in so many cases in real life women are not believed when they say they are abused. This whole movie plot would not work if that were not the case and to me that is utterly horrifying. It’s so easy for the characters around Cecilia to dismiss her concerns because that is what actually happens far too often and that is unacceptable. It does add weight to the movie though and raises the stakes.

So to sum up, the original movie is great if you want a fun silly scare and to see the golden age of movie monsters at the beginning. The new one is terrifying because it reflects much of our reality. Depending on what you are in the mood for, both are very good films. I recommend them both but if you decide to watch the current one, think about how easy it is for Cecilia’s situation to be translated to reality and how tragic that is.

I can’t really pick a “winner” between the two because both are very competent films. But if you are looking for escapist fantasy and fun monsters I definitely say to go with the original. And let’s try to keep the horrors on the screen instead of in reality.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Werewolf of London (1935) – #MovieReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon, here and you know what has been missing from my Universal Monster party? Werewolves. That’s right, the hairy, transforming creature has only just made its appearance on the Universal stage. Today I am going to review Werewolf of London (1935).

This movie is from 1935 so I am pretty sure I am okay to go ahead and say it’s your fault if anything below is a spoiler to you. Still, some people grow hair on their knuckles over that sort of thing so consider yourself warned.

Werewolf of London was one of the first movies to feature werewolves. This film should not be confused with the much more popular film The Wolf Man. I will get to that one but the Werewolf of London came first so I am reviewing it first.

The movie starts with a couple of Londoners in Tibet trying to get a hold of a rare flower that only blooms in moonlight. In their attempt to do so, one of them is bit by what looks like a man and a wolf combined. The film starts with good potential there and talks about superstitions and we all know where it is going.

The next, I don’t know, really long part of the movie, is a garden party. Yep, that’s right, there is a really long sequence at a botanical society and it is every bit as exciting as that sounds. There is a rival botanist who wants the moon flower that the Londoner stole because, well, it cures, “werewolfery”. The film tries to make the whole thing seem menacing but it comes off as pretty silly.

I’m sure you know where it goes from here. The botanist from London transforms into a werewolf. He does bad, bad things. We get to see a transformation and some makeup artistry at work and then, ultimately he is stopped.

The best part of this movie is the two innkeeper women who bicker with each other and occasionally knock one another out. For the rest of this movie I would put this in the Incredible Hulk category for MCU movies. That is to say, it is one you can skip and get along in life without just fine.

Still, there is one really good thing to come out of this film. And that’s not even a film, it’s a song. Warren Zevon watched this movie randomly on television one day and he was convinced that he should write a song about it and create a dance craze to go along with the movie. The song became a smash hit and is still played on the radio today. I bet you want to listen to it. No problem, I have you covered, just play the video below!

Horrifically and musically yours,

Slick Dungeon

The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) – #MovieReview

Hey all you monsters out there, it’s me, Slick Dungeon. I’m back to review the next of the Universal creature features, this time its the romantic biopic known as The Bride of Frankenstein from 1935.

This movie was made a long time ago but I am told there are still living bodies today that have not seen it so I give you a spoiler warning. Don’t let your hair stick up in the air because of it.

Boris Karloff was getting quite the reputation as a leading monster. Frankenstein was a huge hit and audiences wanted more. The studio wanted money, thus, more Frankenstein pictures were guaranteed. This time, the creature wants a wife.

This movie is a rather interesting entry in monster movies. Like the first of the series, it starts with a little bit of a warning to the audience that what we would see would shock us. Only, this time we get a flashback to Mary Shelley reflecting on her novel instead of a man on a stage. Elsa Lancaster plays not only Mary Shelley but also plays the eponymous bride. The hairdo really makes a big difference here.

Interestingly, it could be argued that this movie is more accurate to the book than the first Frankenstein film is. Karloff gets some dialogue. He makes a friend and there is a bit of moral gray introduced here, as we see that the monster is a very isolated creature. Like in the book, Frankenstein’s monster wants a companion who is like him. One that won’t hate him and reject him because of his monstrous appearance.

Dr. Frankenstein is obsessed with learning the secret of life even after the events of the first film. The part that gets kind of out of hand here is the doctor that comes to entice Frankenstein into taking a second dip into reanimating the dead. Doctor Pretorius has a creepy demeanor, a face that is unforgettable, an evil agenda, and… a bunch of little people in jars. Yep. It’s a bit of film trickery which was innovative at the time but looks a bit silly. Luckily the rest of the film overshadows that flaw to make an extremely gripping film.

You can feel the anguish in Karloff’s voice as his creature realizes that the bride that was built for him is afraid of him. I think the most memorable line in this is three short words, “She hate me.”

It’s kind of soul crushing. If you haven’t seen this you should. There is a reason this is an all time classic.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

The Invisible Man (1933) – #MovieReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon, here again to review yet another Universal monster movie. This time I watched The Invisible Man. Or did I? Can you really watch someone who is not visible? Anyway, I watched the movie from 1933 starring Claude Rains. I do intend to do a review of the more current Invisible Man as a compare and contrast but I haven’t watched it yet.

For this movie, it’s from 1933 so I probably don’t need to tell you that there will be spoilers below. But still consider yourself warned. If you get the creepy feeling that someone is the room with you telling you not to read further it’s not me but it could be The Invisible Man.

If you look at the previous Universal films you’ll notice something interesting. Frankenstein, Dracula and The Mummy have relatively low body counts. Sure, Dracula did kill everyone on a boat and he had terrorized everyone in his home country to the point that everyone was afraid. Frankenstein (well his monster that is) killed a few people and again terrorized his home town relentlessly. Imhotep aka the mummy, brought himself back from the dead and murdered a few people to regain his lost love. But you know what? They were not just regular humans. At one point they may have been but Dracula is thousands of years old. Frankenstein’s monster is more a collection of people than a single man. Imhotep is the closest to being a regular human but he comes from an ancient society with a different set of rules and magic on his side. You know what The Invisible Man had? A bit of science, some bandages, a wig, and a desire to cause a ton of chaos. This guy has a huge body count compared to the other monsters. And he seems to do bad things because he enjoys them.

I’m getting a little ahead of myself here. So the basic plot is that a man discovers a solution that can make you invisible. This man is a scientist and he goes off to an inn to try and work in seclusion and cure his condition. The problem? This solution drives you insane. He decides it would be fun to, you know, murder a bunch of people and by golly he does it. He derails an entire train at one point. A whole town can’t catch him and he enlists partners to help him in his criminal enterprises.

To modern audiences there are a lot of things that seem silly in the movie. A bicycle riding by itself with a voice over, things moving where you can see string if you look close enough, and film tricks like superimposing images so it looks like there is no head on a body. In 1933 these things were fairly innovative and left audiences shocked. What I really found shocking was the gleefully deviant attitude of the main character. I mean, this guy really likes to cause trouble and no one is gonna stop him.

The film is very entertaining if you can get over the older effects and I can see why someone like this would still be scary today. If you have never watched this, do yourself a favor and give it a view.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Lovecraft Country (Jig-a-Bobo) Episode 8 Spoiler-free Review

The Horror of Reality Collides with the Horror of the Cosmos as the Family Drama Intensifies

Hey Everyone, Slick Dungeon, here back to give a spoiler free review of the eighth episode of the HBO series Lovecraft Country.

After seven episodes one would think that you could not get much more intense than the previous episodes. Yet this episode delivers everything you could want from this show.

The episode is electric with drama and it has loads of horrors. It proves that our hero Atticus is far from perfect and that things could go critically wrong. None of the characters are safe, from the world, from nightmares, or from themselves.

A lot of the episode reminded me of some of the best of Stephen King stories. If you love horror, and have not started watching this series, you need to get on this one right now. It’s terrifying in both the way it portrays the impossible and in how it portrays reality. Added to that is deep character development with nuanced heroes and villains.

This episode does propel the story forward and feels like it is building toward an epic conclusion of the season. There are only a couple more episodes to go but I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

The Mummy (1932) – #MovieReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here, back to review another of the Universal creature features. This time I am reviewing The Mummy from 1932. This is the second Universal movie to star Boris Karloff as an undead creature.

This is a movie that is almost ninety years old but I will still give the warning that spoilers will follow below. Don’t let your bandages unwrap over it.

By this time, Universal was building a reputation as masters of early film horror. In fact, there is a lot of overlap in the actors in all the Universal monster movies because of how the studio and film contracts worked at the time.

As far as The Mummy goes, there are a lot of issues with this film. For starters, the film has a pretty cavalier attitude about plundering Egypt for ancient artifacts in the name of, “science”. That’s pretty much how the attitude was in those days so it is not surprising but that doesn’t make it right. Secondly, most of the Egyptians in this movie are played by British or American actors. Let’s just say that the 1930’s was not the best era for representation in films. Whether we like it or not, that is how things were back then. Since this is the case, I am going to review the movie based on it’s plot and not it’s shortcomings here but we would be foolish to think this was a perfect film.

Boris Karloff gets a second turn as an undead creature in this film. He plays the menacing, yet soft spoken, mummy raised from the dead, Imhotep. In 1922 an expedition digs him up along with a box containing a scroll that has a warning against opening it. Of course, the archeologists immediately open it and ignore the warning because… plot. Ten years later, another expedition goes to the same area and a man who looks suspiciously like Imhotep leads them to a new find.

Imhotep is just looking to raise his great love from the dead and, you know, live happily ever after. Unfortunately to do that, he has to hypnotize and kill a woman named Helen Grosvener who seems to be a reincarnation of Imhotep’s love. The heroes have to stop that from happening. I won’t go into too much more detail other than that but I will say that the mummy has some serious thought control powers and has magic on his side so he isn’t easy to defeat.

If you have not seen this movie you should, even if it is just to watch Karloff’s performance. As always he has the most watchable film presence in anything he appears in. Because of this The Mummy has endured for decades and is one of the most important film monsters of all time. His quiet demeanor combined with his imposing figure was enough to give plenty of audiences nightmares in the 1930’s and is still really fun to watch today.

While this is not my favorite of the Universal monsters, I have to give the mummy credit for being an important component of it. I haven’t really watched the sequels so I am interested to see where it goes from here.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Frankenstein (1931) – #MovieReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here. I’m back to review the second of the Universal monster films, the ever popular Frankenstein starring the one and only Boris Karloff.

This is a film that is so iconic that if you say the word Frankenstein, the image of Karloff with his neck bolts is what immediately jumps to mind. And that’s despite the fact that the book of the same name is one of the most famous horror novels of all time. And that’s despite the fact that Karloff doesn’t play Frankenstein, he plays Frankenstein’s monster. If you haven’t read the book or watched the movie there will be some spoilers that follow. It’s a movie that is almost ninety years old though so try not to lose any body parts over it okay?

The book Frankenstein is a deeply philosophical novel that goes in depth with questions about how humanity should draw the line between science and nature. It asks if ambition can be destructive. It asks if a man can be a god and if he can, what does that make his creation. It asks us to decide who is the real monster in this story.

The movie has cool wheels and gears and a whole bunch of over the top insanity from its Dr. Frankenstein. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the movie, it’s just very different from the book. Some of the story is the same, a portion of the events play out like they did in the book. The basic idea is there. A doctor who is consumed with discovering the secret of life does so by harvesting the dead for body parts then reanimating them. The new creation is more creature than man in the movie but it is more complicated in the book.

My favorite part of the film adaptation is the beginning. Before we get into the main action of the story a man comes on stage to warn the audience that what we are about to see may shock and terrify us. If you are a fan of The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episodes, you probably know that this is where they got the idea for Marge to give the audience a warning. It sets the tone for the rest of the film and puts us in the mood to be shocked or horrified.

For modern audiences there is nothing truly frightening here but it is still really fun to watch. Karloff does not have a single line of dialogue in the whole film and he mostly just goes around grunting. We do get to see him in his costume, complete with makeup and heavy boots. Those boots would give poor Boris back problems for the rest of his life. It’s an iconic and mesmerizing performance and it’s easy to see why audiences of the day found it so fascinating.

I’ll never understand some of the choices the filmmakers made for this however. I have no idea why they chose to name the scientist Henry Frankenstein instead of Victor like it is in the book. Not only that, they give the name Victor to another character who vies for the affection of Elizabeth who is engaged to Henry. It’s definitely confusing if you read the book but of course you do not have to have read the book to enjoy the movie.

I also will never understand why Dr. Frankenstein’s assistant opens the jar with the “normal brain” instead of just leaving with it but I guess if he didn’t the rest of the movie couldn’t happen. After all, a creature with a normal brain would be pretty dull.

If you have never watched this film, do yourself a favor and give it a view. It’s great fun and well worth a watch.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Dracula (1931) – #MovieReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here. This October I thought I would go through a bunch of the classic Universal creature features and give them a review. And if we are doing Universal monster movies, we have to start with the granddaddy of them all, Dracula from 1931 starring the one and only Bela Lugosi as the title character.

This movie is almost ninety years old and the book it is based off is even older but I still will give you the warning that spoilers will follow. Because, you know, maybe you are an undead creature who loves to feast on human blood but also loves movies and has just not had enough time to get to reading or watching Dracula. You have been warned, now get those sharp teeth off of my neck.

Dracula is the most iconic vampire of all time and as far as I can tell, he always will be. The book took a bunch of separate ideas about what a vampire is and put them all together to create one of the most terrifying books in all of literature. The film from 1931 is not only a horror classic but a film classic. Any list of the greatest movies of all time that leaves this one off is missing the mark. Re-watching the film it’s obvious why this is a classic. The filmmakers were able to pack all the menace and mood of danger in that they could. Even with all of the subsequent versions of Dracula from different studios, remakes, etc., this will always hold as the most iconic. It’s nearly impossible not to imagine Bela Lugosi when you say the word Dracula.

Still, the film makes some very odd choices and leaves out plenty of the best parts of the book. The main thing that confuses me in this adaptation is that they put Renfield as the one who travels to Castle Dracula to make arrangements for the count. Anyone who has read the book knows without doubt that the character who does this is Jonathan Harker. The other major complaint is that the story of Lucy is almost completely ignored. That part of the book is what really raises the stakes (pun totally intended) for our heroes. They choose to leave this part out and focus more on Mina which makes some sense when you have to keep it at seventy-five minutes. It would have been nice to have it there though.

Even with those complaints, this is still a great movie. Most versions are a little grainy and the sound can be difficult to hear at times but that is just due to the age of the film. This is also, in my opinion, where you should start if you want to introduce your kids to horror. Honestly, there is a reason that all these years later when I tell you that I am going to review Universal monster movies, you know exactly the kinds of creature features I am talking about. This is the movie that kicked that off and proved beyond doubt that horror was a golden money maker in Hollywood. I wish that studios would make something this iconic today.

There are immortal lines in this one as well. “I never drink… wine,” probably being the most recognized. The mood and setting are iconic and set the tone for several films to come. If you have never watched this or if it has been a while since you have, do yourself a favor and give ol’ Dracula a little bit of attention. You won’t regret it.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

By Night’s End – #MovieReview

An Independent Thriller Film With the Right Formula

Happy October everyone! Slick Dungeon here and I thought I would kick off this month with a review of an independent film from DarkCoast.

This is a crime thriller about a married couple who have to defend themselves against a home invasion. The film was written by Walker Whited and Sean McCane, with Whited also performing directing duties. It stars Michelle Rose as an ex-Army Sergeant named Heather and Kurt Yue as an average husband with a troubled history named Mark. There is also a nice turn as bad guy Moody played by Michael Aaron Milligan.

There will be some mild spoilers below but you should still be able to enjoy the film if you read on because I will not give away too much. You have been warned.

A couple facing financial hardships and a tragic past are surprised when an intruder breaks into their home. Mark and Heather are not sure what to do when the intruder offers them a large sum of money if they let him go. Acting in self defense, Heather kills the intruder. The natural impulse would be to call the police but Mark realizes that there must be something valuable in their house. The couple agree to spend an hour looking for it before contacting the authorities. This kicks off a night full of intense surprises, an emotional roller coaster, and a ton of action.

The film is overall very satisfying and while it uses the basic formula of Die Hard it does so with enough twists and flourishes that it works. And let’s be honest, that formula works for a reason and is still entertaining to watch. Michelle Rose and Kurt Yue both put in phenomenal performances here and I found them both extremely engaging in their respective parts. Michael Aaron Milligan has a tendency to take his villain role a little too far at times but it’s still a great menacing performance.

The action is rather intense and for once, I mostly did not find myself wondering why in the world the characters would make those choices. Heather is smart and a woman of action. Mark is no soldier but he does things that would make sense given the situation. The bad guys do a few things that might be questionable but then again if the bad guys never made a mistake, the heroes would have no chance right?

The climax of the film is utterly intense and by the time we get there, it feels like Heather and Mark are in real danger and it’s definitely not certain that either will survive. They are a likeable couple with their own flaws and are easily relatable to the audience. These are three dimensional characters which is nice to see in an action film that essentially takes place in a single evening and at a single location.

For a low budget, independent film, this one hits all the right marks and makes for an exciting viewing experience. There are a lot of action films and thrillers you could watch but sometimes it’s nice to see something that was truly independent and this qualifies. Instead of re-watching Die Hard for the millionth time, give this one a try. It’s well worth your time and I definitely recommend it.

By Night’s End will be available on October 6th on the following digital platforms — Amazon, iTunes, DirecTV, FlixFling, Google Play, Vudu and AT&T.

Do yourself a favor and make that a movie night and give this one a try.

Thrillingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

When Colour Became Grey – #BookReview

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

SYNOPSIS

After her unexpected death, Ameerah is sentenced to several decades as a ghost in a parallel world. At the end of it she will be granted a second chance at her human life, returning to the moment she died and surviving her accident. Her duty is to hunt and kill demons, but this dangerous new world demands more than just years of service. Soon she realises the demons are not the only ones threatening her survival. Her new friends are scarce and as they struggle to make it, she can’t help but wonder if the promise of a second chance was not a ruse all along.

REVIEW

3/5 STARS

Ameerah had barely begun her life when it ended. An average woman suddenly finds herself in a parallel world, required to hunt demons and vampires for years before she will be allowed a chance to return to our own world. In Idolon, there are dangers everywhere and Ameerah will need to rely on her trainer, her master, and her wits in order to survive. Will she be able to make enough friends and allies to survive the world she is in or will she be doomed to give in to her own demons?

The book has a nice mix of different creatures of the night and there are plenty of good action scenes where Ameerah is fighting for her life. There are also elements of romance here and they play out nicely throughout the story. The world of Idolon is quite interesting although the reader is left with questions as to why Ameerah was chosen to end up there. It’s likely that some of that will be answered in coming volumes so it’s not too distracting to the reader to not have all the answers by the end.

The end of the book is able to surprise the reader while still concluding the story for the most part. The worldbuilding is done well and most of the rules of the supernatural creatures seem to stay consistent within the book. It would have been nice to see a little more background of Ameerah’s life before she dies but that is a minor complaint given the rest of the story. It will be interesting to see the continuing adventures of Ameerah in the next volume and I am looking forward to reading it.

If you like paranormal stories. stories that take place on different worlds similar to our own or shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer this is definitely worth a read.

Fantastically yours,

Slick Dungeon

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Lovecraft Country (I Am) Episode 7 Spoiler-free Review

Cosmic Adventure Replaces Horror for This Episode

Hey Everyone, Slick Dungeon, here back to give a spoiler free review of the seventh episode of the HBO series Lovecraft Country.

After the stellar sixth episode, this one seems jarringly different. It’s not that this episode is bad. We do get more of the family drama, especially between Atticus and his father but the rest of the episode lacks any horror and seems almost whimsical instead.

On the one hand, that’s a nice breather from the intensity of this show and the acting remains brilliant. This episode centers around Hippolyta and shows off a seriously impressive range on the part of Aunjanue Ellis. It asks difficult questions about identity, race and social injustice all while showing how vast the cosmos can be.

On the other hand, this episode feels a little bit out of place, especially after the horrors of the previous episodes. I am sure that the plot from this one will tie up in later episodes but this one definitely feels like it has more of an adventure story feel than a horror story.

There are only three episodes left for this season so I expect the horror will be cranked up to eleven on those and I am definitely looking forward to watching them. I’m sure Hippolyta’s story is going to intersect but I honestly have no idea how that is going to happen.

It should be fun to see and let’s just hope that Atticus and company can survive and stay sane along the way.

Adventuringly yours,

Slick Dungeon

Lovecraft Country – #BookReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here. I’m back to review another book from my September to be read list. This time I am reviewing the inspiration for the hit HBO show of the same name, Lovecraft Country.

SUMMARY

The critically acclaimed cult novelist makes visceral the terrors of life in Jim Crow America and its lingering effects in this brilliant and wondrous work of the imagination that melds historical fiction, pulp noir, and Lovecraftian horror and fantasy.

Chicago, 1954. When his father Montrose goes missing, 22-year-old Army veteran Atticus Turner embarks on a road trip to New England to find him, accompanied by his Uncle George—publisher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide—and his childhood friend Letitia. On their journey to the manor of Mr. Braithwhite—heir to the estate that owned one of Atticus’s ancestors—they encounter both mundane terrors of white America and malevolent spirits that seem straight out of the weird tales George devours.

At the manor, Atticus discovers his father in chains, held prisoner by a secret cabal named the Order of the Ancient Dawn—led by Samuel Braithwhite and his son Caleb—which has gathered to orchestrate a ritual that shockingly centers on Atticus. And his one hope of salvation may be the seed of his—and the whole Turner clan’s—destruction.

A chimerical blend of magic, power, hope, and freedom that stretches across time, touching diverse members of two black families, Lovecraft Country is a devastating kaleidoscopic portrait of racism—the terrifying specter that continues to haunt us today.

REVIEW

5/5 STARS

In Chicago in 1954, Atticus Turner receives a letter from his father. The letter will take him to a place full of horrors, terrors, and the real nightmare of segregationist America. He has to travel deep into Lovecraft country where monsters roam and the cosmic terror of the world seems to be alive. It will take everything Atticus and his whole family have to brave the terrors that confront them and remain sane.

Usually when there is a book and a movie or television show and I have read and seen them both, I am able to tell you if one is better than the other. Most of the time I come down on the side of the book being better but occasionally there is a movie or series that outperforms its source material. I can’t make the distinction either way here. The book and the show are both amazing in their own unique way.

The book, unlike the show, feels a little smaller in scope even though it deals with the strange cosmic entities that populate Lovecraftian horror. The drama is still personal and much like the show, there can be true horror facing the characters in the guise of monsters who only seem insignificant in the face of the terrors of racial prejudice and violence. The true terror comes from reality in both the book and the show and I think that is what makes the story feel so visceral and real.

Matt Ruff has created an intriguing cast of characters here and the situations he places them in are imaginative and brilliant. And while certain details differ from the show, this book is just as engaging. It’s a satisfying conclusion but I hope that there will be sequels to the book.

If you love historical fiction, pulp fiction, science fiction or cosmic horror even a little bit, this book is well worth a read.

Cosmically yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Lovecraft Country (Meet Me in Daegu) Episode 6 Spoiler-free Review

The Series is Bold Enough to Ask What Makes a Monster

Hey Everyone, Slick Dungeon, here back to give a spoiler free review of the sixth episode of the HBO series Lovecraft Country.

What is a monster? Can a monster have human emotions? Can a human who has done monstrous things still be a human? These are the questions that the sixth episode of Lovecraft Country wrestles with. Not enough horror poses this question and those that do typically just ask it on the surface. This episode was masterful at asking this question and forcing the audience to truly think about it.

The episode itself is basically a flashback episode that relates to the larger story. It’s the only episode so far that does not take place in America but that’s all that I am going to tell you because I really don’t want to give this one away.

I think if this show is going to win Emmys in the future, it should be this episode that is considered. The acting here is fascinating and the drama is real.

I have thought a lot about why this show is so good and I think it is this; the show can let you see something horrific, a terrible monster that is objectively scary, and then moments later the show will let you see something from reality that is even scarier. Any show that can place reality as the real horror has done its job well because while we might have nightmares about the big scary monster, there is no escaping reality.

I have no idea where the drama will take us next but I know I am ready for the ride.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

The Devil All the Time – #MovieReview

The Devil All The Time: Robert Pattinson as Preston Teagardin. Photo Cr. Glen Wilson/Netflix © 2020

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon, here back to review the number one movie on Netflix right now. That’s right, I am here to give you my hot take on Devil All the Time.

The film stars Tom Holland and Robert Pattinson as a couple of southerners who end up at odds with each other. To be honest, that’s a really poor description of the film but those two are the most billable, bankable stars in the movie. I won’t give away any major spoilers here so feel free to read this review even before you watch the film.

The movie is really several story lines that intersect, kind of like Pulp Fiction did but it’s much less disjointed than that movie was. There is a lot of suspense and violence in the film. It’s not for the faint of heart but it’s by no means even close to the bloodiest thing you could watch on Netflix.

The pacing of the film is intentionally slow and deliberate but it is not harmed for that. The acting is stellar and there is a scene with Holland and Pattinson that takes place in a church that is downright electric. The whole movie is worth watching just for that one scene.

While it maybe could have used a few less characters overall, the story is rather interesting and all of the loose ends are tied in a bow, with one notable exception.

If you really like suspense or thriller films, especially the kind that have a slow build up to a majorly interconnected story, this movie is for you. Or if you just like a good drama and need a break from Marvel films but still want to watch Tom Holland, this is worth a watch.

Suspensefully yours,

Slick Dungeon

Lovecraft Country (Strange Case) Episode 5 Spoiler-free Review

The Horror and Family Drama is Back on Track

Hey Everyone, Slick Dungeon, here back to give a spoiler free review of the fifth episode of the HBO series Lovecraft Country.

The previous episode was a throwback to Indiana Jones for some reason and it felt kind of out of place with the rest of the show. The most recent episode is much more on track. We are back to following the family drama and this episode has tons of interesting things to say on race and class. At the same time, it is full of body horror so if you are squeamish prepare to shut your eyes through a lot of the episode.

There are twists and turns that are surprising and unpredictable and as usual the very end will leave you just wanting to see the next episode as soon as possible. The show is able to be intellectual and visceral all at once which is an interesting mixture.

If you do watch this episode, I can promise that this is one of the episodes that will be in your mind months from now.

I feel like the show will need to have more episodes like this where the audience is both unable to turn away from the screen and wanting to turn away the whole time. There is still a deeper mystery going on here and I look forward to seeing how that plays out through the rest of the show.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

We Summon the Darkness – #MovieReview

What’s up everyone? Slick Dungeon here back to review the Netflix horror flick We Summon the Darkness. I promise not to give too much away but if you continue reading from here on out there could be mild spoilers. You have been warned.

If you were alive in the 1980’s and knew about the hair metal bands of the time, this movie will bring you right back to that period. The opening has all the iconic things from the 80’s you remember. Leather jackets, teased hair, the old Twinkie boxes and even Jolt cola. The movie follows three women who go to a heavy metal concert. While there they see signs that things are not exactly great in the area. Apparently there has been a slue of murders attributed to a satanic cult. When the women get to the concert they meet three men out for one last night of fun before they say goodbye to one of their group for good. The two groups start to hang out and the evening suddenly becomes very deadly.

This movie is described as horror and while there certainly are horror elements to it, I would classify this as more of a thriller than anything. The plot is very grounded in reality and although we have seen this sort of thing before this movie does have a fresh take on it.

The movie makes great use of limited locations and most of the night takes place in a single house. In some ways this reminded me of The Purge but I think the movie I would say this is closest to mirroring is the excellent Kevin Smith film Red State.

If you like the 80’s, if you are a fan of horror or thriller films, and if you enjoy seeing some of those conventions upended, this movie is for you.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Cursed: The Fey Queen (Episode 8) – #TVReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon, here and I am back to review the eighth episode of the Netflix hit Cursed.

If you haven’t watched the first eight episodes of the series, watch out because there are mild spoilers below.

Although, on this one, I think the title of the episode is kind of a spoiler. Obviously, Nimue has taken on the mantle of the Fey Queen for this episode. This means that she has a lot of people depending on her and a lot more people who will think of her as an enemy.

This episode was action packed, had a couple of great sword fights and the plot moved along nicely. We got to see some characters reunite and lost a couple of others. The pace also picked up significantly and the stakes are getting higher here which is nice to see.

The consequences of what happens when someone holds the sword of power for too long becomes more apparent here too. The politics of the show are heating up here and the race for the throne is on, especially with the end result of what Nimue does in this episode.

So far this is a series I would recommend to any fantasy fan but with the next two episodes, we’ll see if this show can actually live up to its full potential.

Fantastically yours,

Slick Dungeon

The Babysitter: Killer Queen – #MovieReview

Hey out there comedy horror fans, what’s going on? McG is back with another crazy horror comedy film on Netflix. Allow me, Slick Dungeon, to give you a little review of it. There will be some mild spoilers below so you have been warned.

The first film in the franchise (wait is 2 films a franchise?) followed Cole, a kid who was just a little too old to have a babysitter. Turns out his babysitter was part of a demon blood cult and they spent a night trying to kill him. It didn’t end well for them. If you want to know more about it, see my review of the first one here.

It’s two years later and while Cole is no longer under lethal threat, he is still the picked on kid at high school. But what about the girl he met from the first movie, doesn’t she like him? They kissed at the end of the last one, she must like him right? Well, she does seem to be the only one that does still think he is okay. She even invites him to go to a lake house for the weekend when….

HUGE SPOILER COMING

She tries to kill him because she is part of that same blood cult from the first movie.

The rest of the movie for the most part, plays out as you would expect. Old cast members return, new ones try to kill Cole, all of them die in gruesome and hilarious ways. There is another twist at the end that I won’t give away.

This movie is a little bigger than the first and there are a few more stunts but basically, if you watched and enjoyed the first one, this one is not a bad follow up. I definitely chuckled through most of it although some of the jokes felt less than fresh.

The only thing I never really bought was the beginning of the movie where they say that there was no evidence of anyone else being at Cole’s house the night of the first movie. I mean, what? There was like ten gallons of blood spilled and major damage to multiple parts of the neighborhood but whatever, I will let it go, this is not Hamlet.

I will say that I hope they leave it here because I think any movie after this one is going to lose the point. Does this movie have a point? Well, not really but it’s still fun, dumb, entertainment which is exactly what I look for in a horror comedy.

If you like comedy and have a strong stomach, this is totally worth ninety minutes of dumb fun.

Comedically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Cursed: Bring Us In Good Ale (Episode 7) – #TVReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon, here and I am back to review the seventh episode of the Netflix hit Cursed.

If you haven’t watched the first six episodes of the series, watch out because there are spoilers below.

The previous episode was somewhat slow moving and mostly a flashback to establish character development. This episode jumps right back into the action with exciting fight scenes, unseen threats and the furthering development of character relationships.

From the start of the episode, Arthur is under threat from the Red Paladins while Nimue is still trying to recover from her interactions with Merlin. Meanwhile a rival to the throne is making moves that could place him as head of the kingdom.

I think that so far this episode was my favorite. It has all of the things you want to see in a fantasy story. There are interesting battles with surprising outcomes, cool special effects, mysterious magicians doing their things, and inspirational speeches to the masses.

I don’t want to give too much away here but at the end of the episode I had goosebumps from how cool the whole thing was. The acting continues to be outstanding here and I still really enjoy the performances of Nimue and Merlin especially.

Now that I only have three episodes left to watch, I imagine the action and drama will only be ramped up and more exciting. Here’s hoping that is true.

Fantastically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Kids Kill Monsters – How to Prepare to play Dungeons & Dragons with Kids Part 13

D&D Campaign Adventures for Storm King's Thunder - Available now @ Dungeon Masters Guild

Hi Everyone! It’s your friendly Dungeon Master, Slick Dungeon here. Today I want to talk more about how to role play with kids. In my last posts I talked about whether you should play D&D with kidswhy playing D&D was healthy for kids, I showed you who does what at the table, gave you a tour of the dice and told you to read through the simple ruleswent through the Introduction of the simple rules with you, walked you through the first section of the simple rules and talked about choosing a race and role playing a dwarf, role playing an elf, role playing a halfling, role playing a human, role playing a dragon born, role playing a gnome, role playing a half-elf, role playing a half-orc and role playing a Tiefling. Today, we are going to talk about Class.

In Dungeons & Dragons, if character Race is who the characters are, then Class is best described as what a character can do. In other words, while most of the traits that the characters gained for being a dwarf, a halfling, etc. are immutable, the Class traits are ones that can be learned. If you want to be a wizard, you have to learn how to do it. If you strive to be the best fighter in the land, it is going to take some practice.

At the beginning of character creation, a player’s character is already better than the average person at whatever Class they choose. A fighter isn’t just some woman who can occasionally win in a bar fight (although they probably can), she is also someone who is better than the average fighter. That’s why when it comes to class, you get certain bonuses. Class can be one of the more confusing parts of character creation because there is some math involved. We’ll go through it as it comes in future posts, but in this one, we are just going to stick to defining what class is, how it is used, and my tips for using it with kids.

What is Class?

As stated above, Class is what a character can do. More specifically, I might add, it would be something they would likely be called on to do. In other words, it’s ingrained in who they are, even if they never actually take money for it. A wizard might be hired by a king to cast battle spells but even if he loses the battle, he is still a wizard. A fighter might very well be paid to be a soldier but even if they are defeated in combat, they are still a fighter. A paladin might be a knight but even if they fall from grace, they are still a paladin.

Does it Matter What Class My Character Is?

The short answer here is, yes. This matters greatly. If you really want to use magic, you are going to want to choose a magic user. Be a wizard, a sorcerer or a warlock. If you want to get in lots of combat, a fighter or a monk is the way to go. One note here, if your character uses magic even a little bit, you are going to have to learn some magic rules. These can get complicated but they are also a ton of fun. There is usually a bit more math involved in the game if you are a spellcaster so be forewarned there.

My advice to anyone who is trying to decide what Class to be, is to pick something that you think is interesting and go with that. Be sure to read through the basic rules and have an understanding of what that Class does. You don’t have to be an expert on the math part yet, just read the descriptions of what these people do and decide if that sounds interesting to you. Pick the one that is the best fit for how you imagine your character.

Some people will demand that a party be made up of a delicate mechanical balance where you have certain classes to do certain things. To some extent, this makes sense, but don’t overdo it here. If your kids all want to be wizards, let them be wizards. Maybe have one of them learn some magic for healing and one of them learn magic for fighting but don’t stress too much if your party is not perfectly balanced. If you are the Dungeon Master, you will need to make adjustments to the bad guys based on the party and what Classes they are.

What is Multi-Classing?

This is briefly mentioned in the chapter on Class in the basic rules. What that means is that someone choose a little bit of one class and a little bit of another class. If it is your first time running or playing Dungeons & Dragons I wouldn’t really recommend it just because your character won’t necessarily live up to their full potential unless you have a really good grasp of the mechanics of the game. That being said, if you love the idea of being a fighter who learns magic and then decides to become a wizard, multiclassing can be great. You do you. Just be forewarned that it gets a little tricky.

Slick Dungeon’s Tips for Class with Kids

When it comes to kids, choosing a Class can be daunting and exciting. It is as important, if not more important, than what Race your character is. I would make sure that your kids really understand what someone in a Class is likely to do. Alternatively, you can ask your kids what they want their character to be able to do and recommend a Class to them. If they start talking about magic spells, suggest a Wizard. If they are combat focused, suggest a Fighter. If they want to be entertainers and support their friends in battle, a Bard is the way to go. If they want to heal others, a Cleric might be a good way to go. Look through the Classes (There are 12 in the basic rules) and describe to your kids what that Class does. If it sound like something they want to do, let them do it. Even if they are not good at math but really want to cast magic spells, I would let them do that. It’s much more fun to do something you want to do than to have to pretend to like something you don’t really want to do.

My next 12 posts in this series will be a deeper dive into each Class, starting with my favorite class to play, Barbarian.

Adventuringly yours,

Slick Dungeon

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Lovecraft Country (A History of Violence) Episode 4 Spoiler-free Review

A Somewhat Disappointing 4th Episode But there is Still Plenty to Love in the Series

Hey Everyone, Slick Dungeon here back to give a spoiler free review of the fourth episode of the HBO series Lovecraft Country.

The first three episodes struck an amazing balance between family drama, the accurate portrayal of horrific segregationist realities in America and impossible monsters, magic and dangers. The fourth episode gives us… mostly an Indiana Jones style adventure.

Don’t get me wrong, there is still horror here and there are definitely moments of history, family drama etc. But most of it really is like something you would see in Indiana Jones. I’m not going to give away any more than that except to say that the series still has amazing potential and I think it will recover from this episode but I expect that when fans talk about the series in the future, episode 4 will be the one they say they could mostly have done without. Of course, if you are a fan of the show, you’ll still want to watch this episode as there are things that relate to the overall story that certainly happen. I found one side story to be particularly interesting and I have no idea where it is actually going.

The main action leaves a lot to be desired but as always the actors portraying the action are the best part of the show. They have all been able to pull off what would seem to be absurd to most of us while still keeping the feeling of their emotions on screen as real as it gets.

I’m looking forward to the next episode very much but if the show does have a few episodes like this one, it won’t turn out to be quite the brilliant show I thought it was. Here’s hoping for a better one next week.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Cursed: Festa and Moreii (Episode 6) – #TVReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon, here and I am back to review the sixth episode of the Netflix hit Cursed.

If you haven’t watched the first six episodes of the series, watch out because there are spoilers below.

This episode was largely a flashback episode. After the big reveal of the previous episode, this one was a bit slow paced but it definitely gave us some vital information about Merlin’s past. We also learn a few more things about the sword that everyone is trying to get their hands on.

Nimue is off meeting with Merlin but we do get to see a little bit of what Arthur is up to here. He and the Green Knight are getting to know each other and their relationship is strained at best. A new character hopes to learn from Arthur as a squire.

So far, I think this episode has dragged the most which is disappointing considering how good the last episode was. I know there was a lot of stuff they had to set up here to make future episodes pay off but I feel like this went a little too far in the character development area while ignoring the action. At least up until the end but I won’t give away here what happens.

There were a few more side moments involving Arthur’s sister and a couple of other characters but I think it’s still going to be some time before that pays off. While I am excited for the next episode, this one was definitely the slowest paced. I imagine that will change as we pass the halfway mark for the first season. Here’s hoping it gets a little more exciting.

Fantastically yours,

Slick Dungeon

September 2020 TBR

Hey Everyone, Slick Dungeon here. I just wanted to share with you my September 2020 TBR list as it currently stands. Note that some of this could change as I do tend to be a slower reader and some books may get pushed back a little. There may also be books added if I see one that peaks my interest in ReedsyDiscovery. For personal reasons I am trying to keep this list a little short but I do end up picking up more books than I expect each month so more could be added. This month I will be continuing a couple of series I started earlier this year and catch up with what I missed last month. I will also be adding some new titles. If you have a TBR list, let me know what’s on it in the comments.

  1. Roa Seeks by Electra Nanou

This is a little bit like putting Write a To Do List on your To Do list. I read this book and posted my review yesterday but since that was the first day of September, it counts! This was a charming little fantasy book that I quite enjoyed. Read my review of it here.

2. The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan

I had hoped to finish this book last month but let’s be honest, fantasy books are long. That’s one of the things I love about them but if you are not the fastest reader, it’s a struggle. If I don’t finish any other books this month, this will be the one I do finish. I have already read more than one hundred pages so far and let’s just say, this is so freaking good! I can’t wait to finish it and share my thoughts with all of you.

3. The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin

This is the second book in the Broken Earth trilogy. I know that this series has a lot of fans. I read the first book last month and I honestly struggled with it a bit but I was interested enough to want to know what happens next. I really did not enjoy the second person point of view in the first book but I don’t know if the second book is written in the same style. Even if it is, there could be something great in this series that just didn’t click with me so I am going to give it a fair shake (see what I did there? If you read the book you get it) and continue the series. This is on the condition that I can get a hold of a library copy so this could move to October. If you want to read my review of the first book in the series you can read it here.

4. When Colour Became Grey by A. C. Lorenzen

This is an Urban Fantasy book that I am looking forward to digging in. It’s about a woman who has an untimely death and is sentenced to hunt down demons over and over. I like the idea and am very interested to see where this will go.

5. Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

If you have seen my raving reviews of the HBO show of the same name, you will know that I very much want to read Loveraft Country as soon as possible. This is another one where I am dependent on the library having an available copy, so we will see considering how popular this is at the moment. If you want to read my spoiler free review of the first episode of the show you can read that here.

6. The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America by David Hadju

If any of these books on this list get pushed back, this will probably be the first one that gets pushed. I really do want to read this book and I am fascinated with the history of comic books but then again this is an older book and I haven’t gotten to it yet so one more month won’t hurt it. If I don’t get to this in September this will get moved higher on October’s list.

Let me know what you think of my list and if you have a TBR I should check out, let me know in the comments!

Bookishly yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support

Roa Seeks – #BookReview

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

SYNOPSIS

The chronicles begin with a tale of exiles, disillusionment, and stubborn hope, reminiscent of Pratchett and Tolkien. Will a strange band of misfits be enough to protect a world from a monstrous threat?

Demons stir in Itania, and Meecha Roa, the black sheep of his family, travels from his home world to this legendary planet to investigate. But all he knows about Itania is what other secret agents of the angels have recounted. A place of magic, dragons, elves, humans, and simmering strife.

The mission seems simple enough: explore the activity of the demons and their servants. At the same time, track down and recruit a rogue elf demon-hunter called Azare. Except nothing is simple in Itania, especially with so much brewing in the shadows. Through hardship and precious friendships, his intricate discoveries will shake his heart and loyalty to the core as the demons turn out to be hunting for an infamous key to hell, secreted away by a master thief and lockbox-maker.

Meecha realises that what he seeks on his epic adventure are not answers and solutions just for the Aerieti, but also himself… The part he plays in this critical chess match between angels and demons.

REVIEW

4/5 STARS

Meecha Roa is a misfit to his family. He never quite fits in. What they don’t know is that Meecha is a hero. He travels through dimensions to other worlds where he takes on evils of all kinds. In his latest mission, he is tasked to understand the situation in a world called Itania. While there he will also need to find an elf demon hunter named Azare. The mission sounds simple enough but Meecha doesn’t know the depth of danger he has gotten into. He will need to make unlikely friends and allies to survive this mission.

Roa Seeks is full of adventure. There are creatures of all kinds on Itania and they keep the reader engaged. One of the best creatures introduced was a large cat and its cub, but will it befriend Meecha or eat him instead? And of course, there are demons that could pop up at any turn, making the danger more imminent.

The world-traveling is interesting and the way that Meecha is able to travel between those worlds was quite intriguing. At times it did feel as if some of the characters that Meecha interacted with could have had more of a back story to them but perhaps we will see that explored in future volumes.

There are also several great illustrations in the book. The cover art may give you an indication but the illustrations are quite accurate to the book descriptions and very well made.

Meecha is a particularly charming character and is extremely likable. He does his best even though the world around him is much larger than he is. That’s something a lot of us can relate to. The book has plenty of potential for a long-running, series and it will be interesting to see where Meecha goes from here.

If you love books full of magical worlds, strange and beautiful landscapes and creatures, and epic battles between good and evil, Roa Seeks is a great addition to have on your bookshelf.

Fantastically yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support

Lovecraft Country (Holy Ghost) Episode 3 Spoiler-free Review

The Horror, the History, and The Surprises are STill Non-STop After 3 Episodes

Hey Everyone, Slick Dungeon here back to give a spoiler free review of the third episode of the HBO series Lovecraft Country.

This episode finds our heroes back home in Chicago, but that does not mean that the horror has left them. This episode has some particularly grisly horror in it so strong stomachs are recommended prior to viewing.

The episode was very engaging when it came to the historical aspects and the particular blend of horror, politics and pop culture. The soundtrack is downright incredible and the acting continues to be superb.

My only criticism of the show for this episode is that some of the effects didn’t hold up as well as in the first two episodes, but I won’t go into detail about that because I don’t want to give anything away. I will also say that despite the production value of some of the effects, the story is still able to throw plenty of horror at the viewer. That should come as no surprise to anyone considering that this is a horror show. But the ability the show has to increase tension is incredible.

There are not a lot of horror shows or movies where I feel actual fear but this may be one of the exceptions. The fact that such awful racist history has always existed in this country and the fact that there are still people who espouse those beliefs is horrifying beyond measure. Therefore the fear this show is able to exude is so palpable one can reach out and touch it. The first two episodes proved that nearly anything goes in this show and the third episode is no exception to that rule.

It’s amazing to me how well this show fits in American history, cosmic horror, literature, and present day all at once. It’s shows like these that prove that deeper understanding of the truth can sometimes only be achieved through fiction.

This show would be nothing if we didn’t care about the character’s fates and the unraveling mystery. This episode was superb at making us care about people’s lives even as completely unbelievable things occur all around them. I know that there is not a better horror show on television right now but after three episodes I am starting to think that there is not a better show period on television at this time.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Echo Volume 1: Approaching Shatter – #BookReview

Hey all, Slick Dungeon here, back to review another book for you. This time I am reviewing Echo Volume 1: Approaching Shatter by Kent Wayne.

SYNOPSIS

In the late 21st century, humanity left Earth due to multiple resource shortcomings aggravated by an acceleration in climate change. They settled Echo, a planet that was nearly a carbon copy of Earth except for being devoid of all but the most basic life forms. Fast forward 1200 years later. Echo has endured over a thousand years of dark age. Corporations and government merged early on, becoming the oppressive authority known as the Regime. Military and police merged into the Department of Enforcement, their only mission to crush the huge network of rebels known as the Dissidents. Over half the planet is covered by decaying cityscapes and the elite live high above, removed and remote from the greater populace on the moon-city of Ascension. Hope lies in one man, a former Enforcer named Atriya. But before he can break the cycle of darkness and ignorance on Echo, he has to do it within himself.

REVIEW

4/5 STARS

Atriya is a Crusader. This means that he is part of an elite military force where only the best of the best are recruited. He constantly pushes himself to go beyond the limits of human endurance and is trying to reach the next level of performance and understanding.

Lately, Atriya is getting the feeling that something is wrong. Wrong with the Regime that controls Echo, wrong with the way his fellow Enforcers operate, and maybe, something wrong with him. He starts searching for answers from his mentor and starts to rethink everything he knows.

Echo is fast-paced and full of action. There are plenty of great scenes for those who love the mash-up of science fiction and the military. Atriya is an engaging character and the reader will easily root for him to stand out above the rest. The world that Wayne portrays is fully developed and highly interesting. It’s also clear that Wayne knows his military hardware so if you are a fan of that, there is plenty to love in this book.

Personally, I felt like there were a few too many info dumps about the military weaponry but I know some people really love that kind of thing. It would also have been nice if the book was a little longer, but even if you only purchase the first volume, you do get the next three chapters of the second volume so it’s well worth the price.

If you love futuristic military action, this is the book for you. And if you read the book and like it, you should follow the author at https://dirtyscifibuddha.com/

He has a ton of free stuff there and it’s a great blog that I follow myself.

Crusadingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

The Fifth Season – #BookReview

Hey all, Slick Dungeon here, back to review another book for you. This time I am reviwing The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin.

SYNOPSIS

This is the way the world ends. . .for the last time.

It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world’s sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun. It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter. It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester.

This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.

REVIEW

3/5 STARS

This book is a little difficult to summarize but I will do my best. In this world, there are people who are capable of controlling and moving the very earth itself. These people are called Orogenes, or in a more negative conext, called Rogga. They are capable of preventing earthquakes but they are also capable of causing them. Therefore they have the potential for massive destruction. There are also people called Guardians who can negate this power that the Orogenes have. In addition there are giant obelisks that seems to have some sort of strange power that come out of the earth every once in a while. There are also stone eaters that, well, I guess, eat stone. Finally, there are the Stills. Stills are normal people without any of these powers. Every few hundred years or so, there is a calamity called a season that starts and people have to find ways to shelter themselves for centuries. The Fifth Season is destined to be the one that ends the world for good.

The book unfolds in three time periods. One period deals with Damaya, a young woman who, as an Orogene, is taken to a place called the Fulcrum where she is made to learn how to use her powers. The second is about a woman called Syenite who has left Fulcrum and is learning from a new master named Alabaster. The third period is about you. It’s told in the second person and you are left to wonder, exactly, who you are and what will happen.

While I found much of the story interesting, and I thought the system of powers in the book was fascinating, I honestly struggled with the second person point of view narrative. I am not a fan of that point of view unless I am reading a choose your own adventure book. By the end of the book I understood why the author chose it and I was a little more okay with it, but I really had difficulty finding my bearings in the story.

I don’t want to give too much away because I do think it is an interesting book but I feel like if that second person point of view was removed, it would not hurt the story at all. All three time periods do interrelate, I just would have preferred it not be told in second person at all.

I found the story of Damaya the most interesting and I think I would not have minded a whole book about her experience from start to end. The other two sections didn’t work quite as well for me, although, I can see why some people love this book. There are twists and turns the reader does not expect.

I plan to give the next volume a read, just because I want to know where the story goes from here but this was not my favorite fantasy book this year. It, however, is unlike most other fantasy books on the shelves, so it is nice to have a unique story. It just was not entirely for me.

Fantastically yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support

Lovecraft Country (Whitey’s On The Moon) Episode 2 Spoiler-free Review

Delights, Surprises, and Horrors Continue in the Second Episode

Hey Everyone, Slick Dungeon here back to give a spoiler free review of the second episode of the HBO series Lovecraft Country.

The first episode set the tone with an intriguing blend of science fiction, the horrible reality of segregationist America and extremely gory cosmic horror that does not let up. It can be easy for a show to come out of the gate with an excellent pilot episode and then quickly disappoint in subsequent episodes. Sometimes a great premise does not carry through the initial setup. I’m glade to say that Lovecraft Country comes nowhere near to falling into that territory.

The second episode sees our three heroes in a different setting than where they started the series with the odds somehow stacked even more against them. The acting in this series is top notch, to say the least, and in this episode we get Abbey Lee as Christina Braithwhite. She is no stranger to horror/science fiction films and she increases the mystery without ever becoming ridiculous.

In this second episode there are some spots that I thought needed some explanation but that may come later in the series. Overall, this show seems like the best horror show to appear in years and if the third episode can be as strong as the first two, this will become a major horror must see.

Predicting what will happen next as you watch the show is nearly impossible and that’s saying something for anyone who is familiar with cosmic horror. The show has a very unique blend, up to and including the soundtrack. While I don’t want to give anything away here, I will say, I was surprised by the wide range of emotions that I ended up feeling while watching the episode.

If you have not yet seen the first two episodes yet, you should do that as soon as possible. I have a feeling that the next episode is going to get even better.

Cosmically yours,

Slick Dungeon

An Interview with Andrew C. Piazza Author of A Song For The Void

Hi everyone, Slick Dungeon here and guess who appeared out of the cosmos and in my dungeon! Andrew Piazza, the author of the spectacular book A Song For The Void about a cosmic horror on the high seas during the Opium Wars in 1853. You should all go out and read it, right after you finish reading this post. Andrew was nice enough to let me ask him a few questions about the book, about his speculative fiction and his writing process. Welcome to my dungeon, Andrew, and thank you for joining me! Without further ado let’s get into the interview. 

Slick: A Song For The Void is not just a cosmic horror novel but a historical cosmic horror novel. Why did you feel it was a story well suited to the time period of the Opium Wars? Had you ever considered other time periods to set it in?

Andrew: The story came about as a synthesis of two separate pieces; first, the 
creature known as the Darkstar.  I came up with the idea for this 
particular nastie a while back, but I wasn’t sure where to put it.   
Then, as I started going down a rabbit hole reading about the history 
of the Opium Wars (I have a tendency to find such rabbit holes) I 
realized I had exactly the right setting.  Using that setting and that 
monster allowed me to discuss some of the themes present in the novel; 
addiction, identity, existentialism.

Slick: How much research goes into being historically accurate in your fiction? 

Andrew: Quite a lot.  I usually have to throttle back a bit, because there is 
always a risk of going overboard and including TOO much of the 
history.  In doing so, an author can compromise the narrative flow.  I 
recently read a historical horror novel set in approximately the same 
time period that suffered this mistake.  The author had clearly done 
exhaustive research and was very keen to show it all off, but the plot 
began to drag as a consequence.  It’s best to learn as much as you 
can, and then “forget” it so to speak, and let the setting be just 
that… a background that is very believable so as to create an 
immersive experience for the reader… a more perfect illusion, if you 
like.


Slick: What is your writing process like? Do you dedicate time to it every day or do you wait for inspiration to hit?

Andrew: I don’t subscribe to the need to write a certain number of words per 
day.  I do work on my books every day, but that need not be composing 
of a rough draft… it could be research, outlining, editing, etc.


Slick: In the book, there is a menacing cosmic entity that threatens the people aboard the HMS Charger called the Darkstar. What gave you the idea for that entity and the horrors it introduces to the characters?

Andrew: (Mild spoilers) I liked the idea of a cosmic creature that could wipe 
out humanity except for the presence of the magnetosphere.  That is a 
peculiar quirk of our planet this is highly underrated.  It protects 
us from certain death in the form of cosmic radiation, and most of us 
have no idea.  It fits in very nicely with the general concepts of 
cosmic terror, which come from being a tiny creature in a vast and 
dangerous universe.


Slick: The main character, Doctor Pearce, struggles with addiction. Not just addiction to substances but addiction to the past and what he has lost. Do you think that this topic is one you will explore further in future works?

Andrew: Struggling with the momentum of one’s past is a common ailment, so I 
will undoubtedly have characters struggling with this in the future, 
but I don’t know if it, or addiction in general, will be as front and 
center of a theme as in this novel.


Slick: The story also gets quite philosophical at points. It poses the question of what we truly are. If someone has head trauma and their personality changes, are they still that same person? Is there anything behind the machinery of our bodies? This kind of question perfectly matches with the cosmic horrors that appear in the book. Why did you want to dive into these questions and do you think you arrived at answers for yourself?

Andrew: If you really want to freak yourself out, read up on what happens when 
portions of the brain are damaged by injury or disease.  Or studies on 
how flimsy our knowledge of consciousness really is.  At the time of 
the novel’s setting (mid 1800’s), science was rapidly displacing 
religion as an explanation for how things are.  A transcendent 
explanation… we are all special creatures with a near-magical, 
eternal “spirit” residing within, began to be replaced by a more nuts 
and bolts approach, leading to an existential hole that still exists 
today.  It is the great challenge of modern philosophy to provide the 
consolations of religion, but still within the framework of logic and 
science.

A few years ago, I was blind-sided with an unexpected medical 
diagnosis that required dangerous surgery.  For a short time, I 
thought I might not be around to wake up the next day.  It got me 
thinking quite a lot about these kinds of existential dilemmas.  Part 
of dealing with that was in re-prioritizing my writing, which I had 
let wane in the years before out of the standard distractions of career.

Slick: I am glad that everything worked out okay for you and glad you picked writing back up so we could have some great stories to read.


Slick: This book kept me up late at night, not just reading, but also because it is genuinely scary. With Lovecraftian style horror, it would be easy to go overboard and make the horrors seem almost silly. Yet you were able to deftly maneuver the reader so that it was horrific without being outlandish. Is that a difficult balance to accomplish?

Andrew: It’s a tightrope, to be sure.  Part of the key of writing effective 
horror is to establish a strong sense of normalcy and a belief in the 
world the author has created… now we’re circling around to your 
question on historical accuracy.  Writing a setting and characters 
that are believable and establishing them as such allow an author to 
then turn all that on its ear and present the impossible as not just 
possible, but likely.


Slick: With the book and series Lovecraft Country and the role-playing game Call of Cthulhu being quite popular right now, it seems that cosmic horror is having a bit of a resurgence in popularity. Why do you think that is and how do you think that might influence your future stories?

Andrew: My favorite kind of horror is cosmic horror.  I believe it is the 
horror that lies beneath all other, from which all other forms of 
horror flow.  Why do we fear death?  Because we fear oblivion.  We 
have this aching, dull, poorly defined fear inside all of us, that 
maybe we’re not the special snowflake and center of the universe that 
our ego convinces us we are.  To be completely out of control, 
helpless, a leaf blown by the wind, is terrifying, as is the unknown, 
as is the prospect of nihilism.

As far as how it will influence further stories, you can count on my 
writing more novels like this.  Cosmic horror holds the best capacity 
for exploring those themes that run deepest, much like good science 
fiction or fantasy.


Slick: Will there be more books involving these characters and, if so, what are the plans for the next book?  

Andrew: I doubt we’ll see more of the characters in this novel, although the 
Darkstar may indeed decide to return and visit humanity again one day.

Slick: The story is on one level very personal and shows how one character relates to the world in a very difficult time. On the other hand, some menaces threaten not just Doctor Pearce but perhaps all of humanity. Do you think that the personal story of the Doctor helps to reflect the struggles of mankind overall?

Andrew: If you’re going to tackle a “big” story epic in scope, it is important 
to have a “small” story of the individuals caught up in that epic 
scope, in order to make it accessible.  We can read dry statistics of 
millions dying and it is a distant unreality, but the story of a single 
person’s suffering can easily make us weep.


Slick: As I said above this story kept me up at night because it is quite frightening. What kinds of stories keep you up at night?

Andrew: Stories of people being cruel to each other to a level that is hard to 
believe.

Slick: Agreed. Those stories can be all to prevalent and very hard to take.


Slick: How can readers buy the book and how can they get in contact with you?

Andrew: The book is on Amazon, in print and ebook format.  The US link is 
https://www.amazon.com/Song-Void-Historical-Horror-Novel-ebook/dp/B08D59S9HR.   
Readers interested in a free sample of my work in order to see if I’m 
a good choice for them can go to my website, www.andrewpiazza.com
where I have a free starter library available.  I’m also on Facebook 
at https://www.facebook.com/andrewcpiazza/.

Slick: I have signed up myself for your free starter library and I have to say, it is an excellent value with great writing. You can consider me a fan. Thanks so much, Andrew, for taking the time out of your day to come and visit my dungeon.

If you are still reading this post, once you are done, go out and buy the book. If you love cosmic horror, you will not be disappointed.

Cosmically yours,

Slick Dungeon

A Song for the Void – #BookReview

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

SYNOPSIS

A Mind Imprisoned Is The Greatest Of Hells.

1853. South China Sea. While on patrol between the Opium Wars, the crew of the steam frigate HMS Charger pursues a fleet of pirates that have been terrorizing the waters surrounding Hong Kong.

But now the hunters have become the hunted. Something else has come to the South China Sea, something ancient and powerful and malevolent. Now, the crew of the Charger must face their worst nightmares in order to survive the terrible creature they come to know as the Darkstar.

A Song For The Void is a haunting, terrifying historical horror novel that will keep you turning the pages and jumping at the shadows.

Fans of HP Lovecraft, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, or other authors of surreal fantasy and horror will enjoy “A Song For The Void”.

REVIEW 5/5 STARS

In 1853 on the high seas, during the height of the Opium Wars, a strange comet, lacking a tail, is seen. The celestial body will have an incredible influence over the crew of the HMS Charger, a modern ship pursuing a group of pirates. A doctor with a tragic past, who is struggling with personal demons, will face horrors never before imagined and must use his own experience to pierce into the truth of the strange happenings that surround him.

A Song for the Void is cosmic horror at its finest. The narrative is pulse-pounding and the characters are well developed, three-dimensional people, that the reader cannot help but be interested in. Horrors abound and stakes are high and deadly. At the same time, the historical aspect of the novel is well played and the perfect setting for this type of tale. Horror on the high seas in the vein of the Cthulhu mythos works extremely well here due to the deft handling of the subject matter by author Andrew Piazza.

The pacing is brilliant as the tale starts with exciting chase and battle scenes and it ever increases, making the stakes higher and the outcome more dangerous for the heroes at every turn. The evil faced in the book is well crafted and ominous. There are scenes in the book that will give the reader nightmares. When it comes to horror a reviewer can give no higher compliment than that. This book will scare you. If you love horror, that, after all, is the point.

This is a masterful page-turner that delights and surprises as well as horrifies. It ends with a wholly satisfying conclusion that is pitch-perfect for the story.

If you are a lover of cosmic horror or strange tales by the likes of H. P. Lovecraft and Clive Barker, you won’t find a better book out there than A Song for the Void. It’s cinematic in scope and personal in the narrative. This is a must-read for any horror fan looking for a story that knows how to scare.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support

First Blush – Dungeons & Dragons Duet Campaign Review

First Blush by Jonathan and Beth Ball Photo Credit: DM's Guild
First Blush by Jonathan and Beth Ball Photo Credit: DM’s Guild

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here. I haven’t posted about Dungeons & Dragons for a while and thought I would give you all a review of a neat product I found on the DM’s guild.

First Blush is a “duet” style campaign for one player and one Dungeon Master. The goal of the module is to not only be a fun and interesting adventure, but also to teach people how to play Dungeons & Dragons. It includes stat blocks for all of the NPCs in the adventure. There are also three maps that you can use at your table if you are using minifigures. There is some great artwork as far as the characters go as well.

The module itself lays out some scenarios that a beginning player should be able to easily manager and will make the mechanics of the game more clear as they go along. It can be placed into most Dungeons & Dragons settings so it is good for a first level adventure no matter where you prefer your campaigns to be set.

I would recommend that this be led by an experienced Dungeon Master, however, because there are terms and situations that the module seems to take for granted that the person running the module knows already. There is plenty of boxed text and lots of descriptions of NPCs making it easy to run. They do point out several times that you are not required to run these characters as written, so if you want to change something, it is perfectly fine to do so.

I have played through this successfully as the Dungeon Master and my player and I had a great time doing it. Playing Dungeons & Dragons with just one other person is a different kind of experience and for those of us who have played with large groups for a long time, this style of play can be wildly refreshing. I highly recommend this module.

Check out their trailer below.

This is also just the first part of a trilogy. I will be reviewing all three of these modules eventually. You can buy each part separate or as a bundle to get all three. This is a pay what you want module so you can pay nothing, but for the value you get out of this module, I would say that the suggested price of $2.00 is well worth the hard work the creators put in here.

If you want to really help out this blog, get your copy of First Blush by clicking on the image or one of the links in this post. It won’t cost you anything extra and you’ll get a great module to play!

If you play this module, or have played it, let me know what you thought in the comments.

P.S. If you need some dice to play, you can also help out this blog by purchasing a set from Dice Envy by clicking the image below. Again there is no additional cost to you if you choose to purchase and you’ll get some great, high quality dice!

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Lovecraft Country (Sundown) Episode 1 Spoiler-free Review

Horror Fans Clear Your Sunday Night Because You Have Plans

Hey all, Slick Dungeon, here back with another review for you. I watched the first episode of the HBO series Lovecraft Country. I want to give you my thoughts on it, but I will keep it free of spoilers, so if you have not seen the episode, read away.

Lovecraft Country is a horror series based on the book of the same name by author Matt Ruff. After watching the first episode of this series, that book is going directly on to my to be read list. The story is about a young black man who travels across the segregated 1950s United States in search of his missing father. I won’t give away any more plot details than that.

If you watch the show, from the opening scene, you will realize that we are dealing with a story that could go just about anywhere. The horror involved in the series is both cosmic and human in nature, and it’s not certain at all which type of terror is more frightening.

The series is executive produced by big names like J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele. If you have seen the horror hits, Get Out and Us, you will be able to feel Peele’s welcome influence all over this project. It is both grounded in the horrifying reality of Jim Crow laws and the awful people who supported them while still delivering unimaginable horror that cannot be explained by the rational mind.

The main character reflects some of this in his interests, and there are some intriguing conversations about literature at the time. The show is intelligent, and if you are well-read in science fiction and pulp stories of old, this only becomes more enjoyable.

So far, this show is a master class in setting a tone and ratcheting up horror in unexpected ways. The performances of all the main characters are outstanding. Still, in this episode, Jurnee Smollett as Letitia “Leti” Lewis, Jonathan Majors as Atticus Freeman, and Courtney B. Vance as George Freeman shine brightest. They are entirely believable, and as an audience, it’s easy to get wrapped up in their stories.

It is hard to say where the series will go from here, although violent, gory horror is absolutely on the table. The show will undoubtedly continue to explore the dark racist territory of America’s past and intertwine it with things that go bump in the night.

While this is set in the 1950s, the show, like much of the greatest science fiction and horror out there, can reflect and relate to our times in a way that nonfiction cannot. The episode is all the scarier because, in 2020, we know how these things can turn out. This feels like a story that is necessary to be told, and as a bonus, if you love horror, this will knock your socks off.

If you do not have this on your watch list already, add it asap. The next episode releases on Sunday, and I already know what I will be doing that night.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Cursed: The Joining (Episode 5) – #TVReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon, here and I am back to review the fifth episode of the Netflix hit Cursed.

If you haven’t watched the first five episodes of the series, watch out because there are spoilers below.

While I have enjoyed the setup and visuals of previous episodes I think this one is my favorite so far. Nimue has found temporary safe harbor with the fey and with Arthur there, the inevitable love connection grows. A new threat is introduced as there is now another man claiming to be the Pendragon King and it is clear that he is absolutely ruthless and has an army to back it up.

Meanwhile, the Red Paladins are dealing with the loss of their abbey and still trying to regain control of the sword that is in Nimue’s possession. It turns out that there are people that even The Weeping Monk has no power over.

Nimue is trying to get word to Merlin that she has the sword. I don’t want to spoil how the meeting comes about or what happens in it but Merlin and Nimue definitely have an intertwined destiny here.

Merlin’s story in this episode is extremely memorable and I loved how Gustaf Skarsgard portrayed him here. He has quite a good range from humorous to menacing and can turn it on and off seemingly at will.

Also in this episode is the green knight and if you know the Arthurian legend as originally told, this is definitely a big deal. The character had been introduced in earlier episodes but it’s not until this one that we see him as the green knight.

The end of the episode drops a bombshell on us that I won’t spoil here but it has me quite excited to watch the next one.

Fantastically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Elizabeth Harvest – #MovieReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here back with a movie review for you all. Elizabeth Harvest is a movie with a huge house, a small cast, and a lot of blood.

Fair warning that there will be spoilers below but I will keep them to a minimum.

Elizabeth is a new bride married to a brilliant scientist. He shows her around the house, introduces her to the staff, shows her how the biometric doors work and tells her that there is one room she is not allowed to go into. Yes, this is kind of a modern day Bluebeard story and when Henry calls Elizabeth “my pet”, tells her to “be a good girl” and feeds her with a spoon as if she is not a grown woman, it’s pretty safe to say, Henry is probably up to no good.

The movie does take on original twists, however, and becomes more intricate as the film progresses. It’s slow paced despite the large amount of violence in it. Parts of the film are disorienting and I do feel like some of the plot is dangling by the end but I don’t want to give that away in case anyone wants to watch this.

Abbey Lee who plays Elizabeth has an exceptionally difficult job here considering what the role calls for but she pulls it off perfectly. The concept of the film is not bad and the execution is decent overall, I just wish it didn’t remind so much of other movies where these kinds of events happen. The tone is ominous and threatening when it needs to be and I think the filmmakers made good use of the location they had.

Overall this is not a bad watch if you enjoy science fiction and horror but it’s also not so brilliant that it should be at the top of your watch list. If you’ve gone through all the other good stuff and need something to view this evening, it’s worth a view.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Misericorde – #BookReview

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

SYNOPSIS

It’s the year 2446, and the first three Horsemen of Revelation’s Apocalypse have ridden.

Pestilence, War and Famine have changed the world into a dictatorship ruled with an iron fist. Commoners have few rights, and liberty is a distant memory.

Before the final Horseman is released, the Archangel of Mercy – Tzadkiel – makes a bold plea, asking for permission to find even one human who remembers the meaning

Taking human form and coming to Earth, he finds a place ruled by greed, hatred and fear. With time running out and Death growing impatient, can Tzadkiel find what he’s looking for… and how much will he need to sacrifice?

REVIEW 4/5 STARS

Tzadkiel the Archangel of Mercy has taken human form. The first three horsemen of the Apocalypse have already ridden across the earth. Only death remains. Tzadkiel has 100 years to find one person in all the world who still remembers the meaning of mercy. Lourdes is a scullery maid working under cruel masters. Nightly she hears screams coming from a tower outside her window. She cannot bear to hear someone suffer so and her destiny may just change the fate of the world.

A quick warning before reading the book. Misericorde does have scenes of vividly described torture so it may not be for the faint of heart or those with a weak stomach for such descriptions.

The world build by Cynthia A. Morgan is impressive. The idea of having the first three horsemen already released puts the stakes for the interaction between the characters incredibly high. Lourdes is an easily likable character and her plight was intriguing. Tzadkiel, despite being captured shows impressive strength through resisting the temptation to give in to pain although he is constantly tortured. There are also some flashbacks to a family in the past that met the first of the horsemen with kindness. It was interesting to see how these backstories related to the main story.

There was a bit more focus on the torture than some readers will be comfortable with and it would have been nice to get a little more character development in place of that. However, the amount of cruelty shown does make it seem that mercy may have truly faded from the earth.

The story concludes nicely while still setting up for the next book in the series. It will be interesting to see where Morgan takes it from here.

If you enjoy fast-paced dystopian novels that have a religious component to them, this book is highly recommended.

Mercifully yours,

Slick Dungeon

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Cursed: The Red Lake (Episode 4) – #TVReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon, here and I am back to review the fourth episode of the Netflix hit Cursed.

If you haven’t watched the first four episodes of the series, watch out because there are spoilers below.

The fourth episode starts out with Nimue on the run, Arthur captured and headed toward the Abbey with the Red Paladins and Merlin off on a risky meet up. Arthur’s sister who we learned in the last episode is (spoiler) Morgana, has faked that she was attacked by Nimue and convinces the church that she is on their side. Morgana’s lover is not so convinced though.

This episode introduces several new characters to the series. Nimue meets an ally, Merlin talks to a quite memorable character, and a character from the first episode makes a reappearance. And for the first time The Grail is mentioned. This is important considering the legend of King Arthur.

At its heart this show is about the prejudices that humanity has toward the other. Fey creatures are slaughtered ruthlessly and punished by the church. This episode continues to explore that theme.

It’s clear that at some point our main characters will have to converge together once again. But for now they are scattered to the winds and pursuing their own agendas. I don’t want to get too much into what happens because I would rather not spoil the episode but the stakes increase here.

The beginning of the episode gets us right into the action but it does drag a bit in the middle. Stick with it though because the last third of the episode is really good and let’s just say that the episode title is quite appropriate.

Fantastically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Cursed: Alone (Episode 3) – #TVReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon, here and I am back to review the third episode of the Netflix hit Cursed.

The first episode established the magical world we see and the second set the stakes higher. The third episode is called Alone but it could just as well have been called mistakes are made.

Heads up that there will be some spoilers in this review so feel free to watch the episode first if you don’t want that.

Nimue who was attacked in the last episode wakes up to find that she is in the Abbey which is full of the people who want to kill all of the Fey kind. Nimue, of course, is one of the Fey people and is in serious danger. To add to her troubles, Arthur has absconded with her sword. This sword is known as The Devil’s Tooth but we would know it as Excalibur.

Arthur does the thing he shouldn’t and tries to ask his uncle for his blessing to join a tournament. We get a little bit of the back story of Arthur here and find out that his father was honorable but died early and his uncle is a hard man. Arthur’s uncle does give permission for Arthur to fight but soon regrets it.

I don’t want to spoil what happens with Arthur too much but let’s just say he does not end up in a good position at the end of this episode.

Meanwhile, the Weeping Monk, knows that some Fey person is in the Abbey. Nimue ends up in the awkward position of having to save the life of the man who attacked her in the last episode. She uses Fey healing poultices which is quite dangerous considering where she is. We learn more about the Abbey and one of the sisters in it in particular. I don’t want to give away who she is but if you know the legend of King Arthur, it’s a pretty major name drop.

Meanwhile, Merlin still seems to be searching for the sword and in debt to whoever the Shadow Lords are. And the king, Uthor Pendragon is on the hunt for Merlin.

The whole episode ends on a bit of a cliff hanger.

I won’t say this is one of the best episodes so far but the events in it are important to the story and I am eager to see what happens next.

Fantastically yours,

Slick Dungeon