Book Reviews: September 2021 (Spooky) Reads

It’s never too early (or late) for horror reads. While I’d wish to revisit the genre in film too, my October schedule sadly doesn’t permit a special series of movie reviews this year. Life, uh, gets in the way. And so I have to take a hiatus from here to focus on work, a fiction writing project, and hopefully, a few stories for Brimstone Tales. That said, I’ll return near Samhain, hopefully with a list for the spooky season if nothing else. Till then!

Near the Bone (Christina Henry, 2021)
4/5

Near the Bone Novel

A strange cry shattered the still air. It wasn’t quite a bear’s roar, or a mountain lion’s call, or an eagle’s screech, but a nerve-shattering combination of all three, mixed with another sound—something almost, but not quite, human. Only then did Mattie realize that they’d heard no sounds since the call of the crows William had shooed away from the dead fox—that is nothing, except their own voices.

For as long as Mattie could remember, she had lived with William on the mountains together. He got angry at her often and everything was her fault, even the fearsome creature in the woods and the hunters that had come after it.

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Movie Review: Malignant (2021)

Malignant (dir. James Wan, 2021) – Experiencing visions of murders in her sleep, Madison’s fear grows when she discovers that her waking dreams are in fact reality.

4/5

An unseen patient unleashes a brutal attack on the hospital employees, who are armed with weapons that clearly aren’t enough. We do not see who or what he is, only the gruesome aftermath that hints at something unimaginably monstrous.

The macabre cold open of Malignant calls to mind old horror films in the vein of It’s Alive. Yet it is nothing quite as straightforward as a b-movie about an indiscriminate monster born to kill. There is something much more to this than meets the eye, and to draw any further comparisons may only spoil the mad ploy James Wan plans to unravel.

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Movie Review: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (dir. Destin Daniel Cretton, 2021) – An unprovoked attack forces Shang-Chi back to the dysfunctional family whom he once walked away from.

4/5

Shang-Chi has a lot to live up to. For starters, he isn’t as well known or talked about as the other Avengers. He has but a tenuous tie to the established Marvel cinematic universe, and a reputation to be built from scratch. There are quite some stereotypes to dispel, too, given Marvel’s history with Asian caricatures.

It is an astonishing feat for the Phase 4 film to come up tops in spite of this immense pressure of being a newcomer to an already massive franchise of 25 movies. More so, to make Shang-Chi a fan favourite in the overcrowded roster of heroes.

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Movie Review: Rurouni Kenshin: The Final/The Beginning (2021) (and everything between)

Rurouni Kenshin: Final Chapter (dir. Keishi Ohtomo, 2021) – Himura Kenshin is ready to give up his life as a feared assassin, but his past soon catches up with him.

4/5

What is it about Himura Kenshin (Takeru Satoh) that has every man pointing swords and guns at him? Three movies later, the final chapter of the stunning live-action Samurai X completes the bloody picture in two parts.

First, there is The Final that marks a satisfying closure to the redemption arc for the tortured samurai, whose long-suffering journey to overcome his guilt delivers as much fight as it does heart. Then, saving the best for last, The Beginning closes the Rurouni Kenshin series whole.

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Book Reviews: August 2021 Reads

Finally finishing up some to-reads on my long list before we approach my favourite month of all-time. Have a spooky read to recommend? Please let me know and I’ll be eternally grateful. x

Senlin Ascends (Josiah Bancroft, 2013)
3/5

Senlin Ascends Novel

The blackboard rattled and rocked on its feet, shaken by Senlin’s emphatic jots. “Instinct is the fuel that fires the engine of civilization. Generations have labored to build and perfect the engine. Each of you, I hope, will spend your life working to preserve it. Because without it, we would be dangerous beasts.”

During their honeymoon to the Tower of Babel, Thomas Senlin loses his wife Marya to the crowds. His only hope of finding her may just be to ascend the Tower, but the mild-mannered headmaster soon learns that the climb will take every inch of wit and mettle he can gather.

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Short Film Review: N.U.N.S with Nunchucks

Two agents from the National Union of National Spies (well, N.U.N.S.) are on a mission to end the tyranny of the Catholic Association of Quebec. Set to end the reign of its xenophobic leader Jeanne Versacon, they are going to need the help of champion wrestler Betty Powell.

N.U.N.S. with Nunchucks unabashedly embraces its full-on eccentricity and invites you to do the same. The characters are unforgettable and the story, outlandish. Their over-the-top performances, extravagant costumes, and even the gimmicky title are all part of the short film’s fantastic reenactment of exploitation cinema.

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