Tag Archive | horror

Haven

by Tom Deady

First time author Tom Deady has penned a solid debut horror story, which is far more than a simple horror novel.  This quite lengthy tale (for me as an audio listen it was almost 15 hours; the paperback is over 500 pages) takes the time to fully develop its many characters and provide the reader great detail into the mystery surrounding old and new disappearances of residents of the Massachusetts town of Haven.  The story begins in the 60s but much of the tale concerns what feels like present day following the release of previously convicted felon Paul Greymore, with remembrances used to flesh out important details.  blog

Every author is a reader and if I were guessing, I’d bet Deady is a Stephen King fan.  His work felt very familiar as I grew up on King, and I noticed the timing of the release of Haven with the renewed interest in the 1986 King book, It, now that a new movie has been made.  I can appreciate stylistic similarities while at the same time enjoying the tale Deady weaves about small town, murders, supernatural possibilities, friendships, etc.

If you read my reviews you know I don’t go into a lot of plot description because I’m not in 5th grade and this isn’t a book report. Because I listened to this via audible.com, my perspective on the book may very well be different than a traditional reader because as a listener, the narrator influences my enjoyment.  I’m now 52 and have been an audio book listener since the 80s when I had to have my mom drive me to the library, peruse in person the cassette books available and be skilled with a pencil to fix the tape malfunctions on that, now generations old, medium. So, I have experience listening and loving narrated books.

There are some narrator voices I cannot tolerate past the sample track on audible.  Won’t even try.  Matt Godfrey, narrator of Haven and about 10 others available at audible, does a nice job of speaking the story.  His voice is soothing and attractive and I would gladly listen to more of his work.

Haven is a difficult tale to narrate because there are so many characters. Like a ton. As an audible book listener, I am different than the paper reader who sits and concentrates on only the story.  I would guess I am not alone in saying when I am listening to a book I am also doing something else.  My house gets cleaned, laundry is folded, errands are run.  When you have a ton of characters in a story, especially one which doesn’t stay in one timeline, and chapters are short, it’s important that the voice be unique for each character.  My only suggestion to Godfrey would have been to mix it up more. But, that is my personal opinion and I have zero experience in production.  Perhaps soothing and calm and not being all over the place with the frequent character changes was by choice.

Haven is a solid experience and I would recommend it.

To please the lawyers, I now say I was given this audio book by the narrator in exchange for an honest review unaffected by the gift.

 

 

 

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Harvest Home

by Thomas Tryon

Confession: I have read this book numerous times since discovering it as a teenager.  I was (and still am) a horror addict and back in the day when there were only half a dozen tv channels, I was enthralled by the movie “Dark Secret of Harvest Home.”  Bette Davis played the main character and I still read the dialogue of Widow Fortune in her memorable voice.  As I impatiently awaited the arrival of new books by new authors to review, I decided to revisit this favorite.  I’m so glad I did.

It was written in the 1970s and set in that same time period.  A time we would now look back on as innocent in comparison to our current tumultuous world.  Main characters, Ned & Beth Constantine, decide to abandon city life and move to the very insular, agricultural town of Cornwall Coombe.  Likely in Connecticut, but Tryon really doesn’t connect the Coombe to any particular state, just near the big city of New York.  It’s a world inhabited by people who live off the land.  They follow old world traditions and are not interested in the ways outside their hamlet.  Education is limited and they seem content with that.     blog

Tryon writes a novel which unfolds slowly.  Much of the book concentrates on daily life, personal relationships and the role of nature as integral to living.  As I said before, I have read this book often in the last 40 (yikes) years, BUT, this was the first time I’ve read it since moving to my own, real life Cornwall Coombe.  I grew up on the Jersey shore, and lived 20 years right outside DC.  This spring I relocated to a very small town in West Virginia.  There are only 650 residents in a town of almost 1200 acres.  We are spread out.  A trip to grab milk takes me 25 minutes each way.  When I first moved here I was alone and it was 7 days before I saw a car on my road.  At night, it is pitch black and the few restaurants close up early.
Re-reading Harvest Home with my new understanding of small town living made the book feel completely different to me.  Now I understand the perspective of 1970s farm life and how a community helps each other and relationships form quickly.  Seeing Ned and Beth accepted into the fold and appreciate country life took on a new meaning for me.  I am now living this.

Hopefully, I won’t also one day understand the dark mystery which exists in the Coombe.  Tryon makes us fall in love with the simplicity of life and nature, and then he fills us with fear and dread.  The book is 43 years old and a new reader might find it old-fashioned and dated, but to me that is one of its greatest charms.  There are no young, hot vampires.  Children aren’t killing one another in state sanctioned gangs.  There isn’t a group of superheroes to save the day.  This is a good old-fashioned story with substantial character development and a steadily increasing pace.  Perfect for a cold October night when the leaves are swirling outside your bedroom window.

Since I discovered this book after watching the movie, here’s a delightful little trip down memory lane for me.