“No Doors, No Windows” by Joe Schreiber (Del Rey, 2009)

No Doors, No Windowsstarstarstar

It’s been recommended that writers should stick to writing what they know when it comes to writing, and what better character can a writer write about than him- or herself . . . a writer.  But the writer in Joe Schreiber’s new novel, No Doors, No Windows, is one with a dark, disturbing past that even he doesn’t fully understand until the last few pages of the book, and has worked hard to forget and stay away from.  One hopes that Joe Schreiber isn’t anything like his character, Scott Mast.

Scott Mast wanted to make it big as a writer, but it never happened.  So now he spends his days living relatively well, writing copy for greeting cards.  He currently lives in Seattle and is happily far away from his family and old life where he grew up.  That is until his father dies and he must return home to New Hampshire, finding an alcoholic loser of a brother with a son who he neglects and fails at being a decent father to.  As Mast contemplates what he can do to help – there’s the touchy history of their mother having died fifteen years ago in a horrific fire – he discovers an unfinished manuscript his father was apparently working on.  It’s about a very special house where there are no corners or edges; everything is curved and rounded.  In this house there is a door that leads to “the black wing,” where there are no doors, and no windows; where terrible things happen.  But the story is unfinished and Mast decides that he must finish the book himself.  After meeting up with an old girlfriend (their failed relationship is its own doomed story), he stumbles upon a remote house that turns out to be exactly like the one in his father’s manuscript.

And so Mast rents the house and begins writing the story, feeling a strange presence overtake him when he is adding to the manuscript.  He knows it has something to do with the house, but he doesn’t know what.  Meanwhile his brother falls deeper into his booze-filled spiral, leaving young Henry alone and abandoned.  The clues gently fall in to place with each chapter, as Schreiber leaves the reader wanting more, forcing the turning of the page, and the need to know what is the story behind Scott Mast and his strange mental state; what’s the story behind the house; what’s the deal with Mast’s brother; and most importantly: what’s the story behind the Mast family that deals with the dark history of the town.  Horror readers will enjoy No Doors, No Windows for its psychological thrill ride that doesn’t get revealed and resolved until the very last pages of the book.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on October 11th, 2009 ©Alex C. Telander.

For an interview with Joe Schreiber check out BookBanter Episode 18.

BookBanter Episode 18

So BookBanter Episode 18 featuring my interview with Joe Schreiber has been put to bed, so to speak.  I’ve done all my recording and editing and it’s now off to my good friend, Jared Emerson-Johnson: sound wizard extraordinaire.  My interview with Joe ended up being about thirteen minutes long, which is one of the shorter BookBanter interviews, but this gave me the opportunity to feature extra book reviews in addition to the two for Joe Schreiber’s books.  So here’s what reviews you have to look forward to in Episode 18:

Death Troopers No Doors, No Windows Distant Early Warnings
Hunger Games Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones

Episode should be up hopefully between 11PM and midnight PST tomorrow, October 14th.

Upcoming Book Review: No Doors, No Windows

Another review that will be appearing on the site and in Episode 18 is Joe Schreiber’s No Doors, No Windows, a dark and disturbing horror novel that serves as a good pairing  to Schreiber’s other book coming out, Death Troopers.  Both books will be available October 13th.

No Doors, No Windows

From my review for No Doors, No Windows:

It’s been recommended that writers should stick to writing what they know when it comes to writing, and what better character can a writer write about than him- or herself . . . a writer.  But the writer in Joe Schreiber’s new novel, No Doors, No Windows, is one with a dark, disturbing past that even he doesn’t fully understand until the last few pages of the book, and has worked hard to forget and stay away from.  One hopes that Joe Schreiber isn’t anything like his character, Scott Mast.

Death Troopers a la carte

Just wrapped up reading Death Troopers a couple of hours ago, and for my first Star Wars Universe book, I really enjoyed it. It doesn’t quite get the full five out of five stars, or four out of four “books” according to the BookBanter rating scale, for a couple of reasons which I will get to after talking about what I liked about the book.

Death Troopers employs a perfect recipe for a great horror novel, with a multitude of key ingredients. When cooking the perfect horror dish, it is always important to have some necessary base ingredients (like your flour, butter, eggs), such as darkness, space, the unknown, a virus, zombies, vampires, etc. Sometimes multiples of these base ingredients can be combined to make a stronger dish, where the extra “minor” ingredients simply add to the already good story.

Death Troopers excels in combining a number of these base ingredients. You have:

1/2lb of outer space
3 tbs of the unknown
1 qt of zombies
6 oz of blood and gore
2 cups of virus

And what makes the dish especially tasty are the extra ingredients:

1/2 L of the “sitting on the edge of your seat fear that everyone just might die” feeling
1/2 cup of cool Star Wars spaceships
1/4 cup of cool Star Wars references
A pinch of some familiar characters who show up

Death Troopers is a fantastic thrill ride that starts out as seemingly ordinary, well, as ordinary as a prison barge in a galaxy far far away can be, with little going on, and then goes to hell and pandemonium real soon, ratcheting up the stress, fear and excitement with the turn of each page.

The only things not giving this book a perfect review are:

1) The book weighs in at around 230 pages, and I was left wanting another couple hundred;

2) If it were a longer book, Schreiber would’ve had more time to explore the interesting characters he created, and more of their back story;

3) Also he would’ve been able to explore the reasoning behind the virus and the zombies; he does a fine job of explaining them, but the ideas was so cool that I wanted more.

Still, Death Troopers served (pun intended!) to pique my interest in the Star Wars novels, and clearly this is Del Rey’s intention as the book features a couple of chapters from Aaron Allston’s Star Wars Fate of the Jedi, Book 1: Outcast. Plus there’s a handy timeline (as I’m sure there is in every Star Wars book) listing how each and every Star Wars book fits into the continuity of the six movies.

After finishing Death Troopers, one wonders if Schreiber may be returning to the Star Wars Universe, and possibly within his own horror storyline.

I’ll be sure to ask when I interview him on Tuesday.

Now on to his other book: No Doors, No Windows.

Two More on the Shelf

Got two more books on my doorstep today:

Death Troopers No Doors No Windows

Dorothy from Jerry Maguire was had at “hello.”  I was had at the sight of the cover to Death Troopers.  Don’t judge a book by its cover?  I have no idea what the story is, but I love this cover and have a feeling the book is going to be great just by judging the cover.  It’ll be my first Star Wars book to read and I’m sure looking forward to it.  Also have Joe Schreiber’s first book, No Doors, No Windows to read also.  And Episode 18 on October 15th will feature my interview with Schreiber, I better get cracking on reading Death Troopers.

Now if only the book wasn’t trapped inside my car at the Big-O Tires lot waiting for the new tire to arrive . . .

P.S. Also looking forward to meeting Joe Schreiber in person at the book release signing at the Borders in Folsom on October 15th.