“Of Saints and Shadows” by Christopher Golden (JournalStone, 2016)

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Back in the 90’s, very pre-Twilight, when there was really only Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles to contend with, as well as a really bad movie called Buffy the Vampire Slayer, bestselling author Christopher Golden (Dead Ringers, Snowblind) penned a series of vampire novels known as The Shadow Saga that brings a whole new world, feel and sense to the vampire story. Featuring the vampire hero Peter Octavian, they are now being re-released. Also some of these vampires can go about in daylight, and no, they damn well don’t sparkle.

Vampires have been scorned by the Catholic church for centuries, and are referred to as the Defiant Ones, an abomination under the sight of God, so there are those within the church who do all they can to kill and eradicate the blood-suckers, even if it means using powerful, magical abilities that seem like a form a heresy. There is a book of the undead, the Gospel of Shadows, that holds the answers to wiping all of the them out once and for all. The book has been missing for some time, but has recently been discovered. Now the church is looking to get a hold of it and carry out a mission it has longed to complete for a very long time.

Peter Octavian is a Private Eye, he’s also a vampire with some impressive powers. Those powers help him solve the cases, though he tends to pretty much just work at night. He has separated and distanced himself from his vampire coven for some very specific reasons, but as a new case is brought to his attention, he realizes it has far-reaching ramifications. He’s sees that the Catholic Church is involved and what their plan is. He must make some big decisions and consider the costs.

Of Saints and Shadows is a vampire story that has a very different feel to it. With the P.I. angle, it feels a little like the TV show Angel, but in this world the vampire rules don’t always apply in the same way. Magic is also alive and well and those who can wield it can carry out some impressive feats. There are also demons – aren’t there always demons? – that can be summoned, drawn from another world in this one to wreak havoc. The story does have an “older” feel to it, since it was written and published in the nineties, but nevertheless is enthralling and entertaining and sexy and many things a vampire story should be.

Originally written on November 22, 2016 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Of Saints and Shadows from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“Dead Ringers” by Christopher Golden (St. Martin’s Press, 2015)

Dead Ringers
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What if you weren’t the only one of your kind? What if one day you saw someone who looked exactly like you, to the point where your friends and family couldn’t really tell the difference, and this doppelganger was also better looking and more successful than you? And what if he or she wanted to kill you so they could take your place?

Tess Devlin runs into her ex-husband in downtown Boston; she notices something different about him. He looks younger, thinner, healthier, and he acts like he has no idea who she is. When she calls him later to vent, he tells her he never saw her because he’s in New Hampshire.

Frank Lindbergh is wondering if it’s time to give up and just die. A few days ago this guy showed up who looks exactly like him, only better. He stripped him naked and chained him to a pole in his own basement where he’s been going to the bathroom in a bucket and eating whatever scraps and leftovers his doppelganger deigns to bring him. He’s withering away and is actually starting to see the basement floor through parts of his naked body. The man who isn’t him is living his life, working his job, and fooling everyone. So does he just give up and die or does he fight?

Not everyone has an exact, evil copy of themselves; it’s only a select group. What they have in common is a special house where bad things happened, where bodies were found that had been buried for a long time. Dark and twisted rituals had been performed there and somehow that’s important. Then there’s the psychomanteum.

As with his previous novels, Christopher Golden has proven he has a talent for writing the out of the ordinary horror story. Dead Ringers is a story about a haunted house and ritual black magic; it’s also about feeling lost and out of control, and what it means to have your whole life threatened by someone who looks exactly like you. It is both terrifying and horrifying on many levels, some of them subtle, some of them painfully obvious.

Originally written on January 7, 2016 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Dead Ringers from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“Tin Men” by Christopher Golden (Ballantine, 2015)

Tin Men
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Fans of Christopher Golden may be pretty surprised with his new novel, as they have to come expect some great terrifying horror, or a fascinating fantasy world. In Tin Men, there is a strong element of science fiction, with the novel set in our near future, but for the most part it’s a relatively down to earth book about people dealing with some truly tough situations.

The world has gone to hell, just as we knew it would. Sea levels have risen, oil is in high demand, and economies worldwide have collapsed. The United States, in its swaggering, isolationist, domineering way has exerted its control where it has deemed necessary to protect those who cannot protect themselves. Drones and unmanned vehicles are everywhere, watching with their many eyes. The US military now consists of remote controlled robot units, colloquially known as “tin men” by those soldiers performing their duties.

Each day these soldiers travel deep underground at Wiesbaden Army Airfield in Germany and enter the Remote Infantry Corps. There they enter their “cubicles,” put on the headgear and with satellite and technology are able to control robots many thousands of miles away in civil war ravaged Syria. Private First Class Kelso is our main protagonist who is with his platoon traveling the streets and on this particular day something big is coming. There aren’t many people around and those few who are there seem on edge. Some sort of attack seems imminent. And then it comes, and it is the likes of which no one has seen before.

A series of massive EMPs – electromagnetic pulses – hit the planet, set off by a worldwide group looking to end the United States’ domination. Most things stop working planet wide. And the tin men find themselves still in full control of their mechanical bodies, unable to access their bodies back at the air force base. It seems they have been lied by the US government and military: when they enter the tin men, their consciousness is in that tin man and if the connection is severed, as it has been here, they are disconnected from their real living, breathing bodies back in Germany.

And so begins their long journey to return to Wiesbaden where their bodies lie. Along the way they will face many “bot killers” looking to end their lives once and for all. They will travel first to Greece where the G20 summit was scheduled to convene to see if the President of the United States is still alive and in need of rescuing. Fortunately, they are tough, seemingly unstoppable machines, though now when they are blown to pieces they don’t wake up in their real bodies; they die.

Golden has created an interesting piece of military scifi here that asks some interesting questions along the way about what it means to be human and conscious in one’s body. While the book begins explaining the interesting premise and makes the big reveal about the tin men once the EMPs hit, it then devolves into a somewhat repetitive series of actions scenes, akin to a James Rollins or Tom Clancy novel, as the tin men seek to return to Germany. Nevertheless, fans of the sub-genre will get a big kick out of it, as Golden has done his research and the book feels all too real at times.

Originally written on August 2nd, 2015 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Tin Men from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

You might also like . . .

Snowblind  Shadow Men  Secret Journeys of Jack London

“Snowblind” by Christopher Golden (St. Martin’s Press, 2014)

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Bestselling author Christopher Golden is known for writing some unusual horror books that blend science fiction and fantasy as well, such as his Hidden Cities series written with Tim Lebbon, including The Map of Moments and The Shadow Men, as well as the riveting thriller The Boys Are Back in Town. In Snowblind, he returns to his plain horror roots with a book that will terrify the crap out of you. It is a story of ghosts and creatures in the snow that can barely be seen, but can snatch you up in a second.

We take you now to a small New England town called Coventry in the wonderful state of Massachusetts. This quaint locale has had more than its fair share of inclement weather, including numerous blizzards that are not easily forgotten. Especially that particularly devastating one that left many without power, as well as numerous cases of strange ice figures witnessed amidst the flying snow. Once the storm was done, there were a fair number of people in the town either missing or found dead due to unknown and mysterious circumstances.

Twelve years have now passed and the events of that devastating blizzard still remain shrouded in icy mystery; those who played a part during that terrible time and came through alive have aged more than a decade but still carry the scars from that time. And now there is another blizzard coming, one that looks to be as bad if not worse than that infamous one, and the locals of the town know it and fear it, wondering if they may be the ones to disappear this time, or be found frozen and dead in the snow days after. But how does one stop an ice creature that can barely be seen and can grab you within the blink of an eye?

Christopher Golden could’ve gone for a straight, scary story about scary creatures during a blizzard, but instead he tells a story about a small town and its inhabitants who know each other well and whom the reader gets to know well, and how they address their fears with the oncoming blizzard. This horror novel is anything but ordinary.

Snowblind is Stephen King meets John Ajvide Lindqvist, pulling on King’s small New England town and normal relatable characters that find themselves in a horror novel, along with Lindqvist’s bizarre, cold twisted nightmare that also features ordinary people who have no idea what they’re going into, but have no choice otherwise. Snowblind will leave you cold and frightened and alone, just like any good horror novel should.

Originally written on February 17, 2014 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Snowblind from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

You might also like . . .

The Boys Are Back in Town   The Map of Moments  The Shadow Men

Bookbanter Column: “Thank You Borders” (September 16, 2011)

Borders 1Window signs for Borders Roseville store #130 at the beginning of liquidation

I started working for Borders in October of 2005; last October I had my fifth-year anniversary working for the company; by the beginning of October this year Borders Books, Music and More will no longer exist.  It is estimated that around 10,700 people will lose their jobs when Borders closes its doors for good.  The original Borders bookstore opened in 1971 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  At its height in 2003, Borders had 1,249 stores; five years later it announced its intention to sell.  Two years of doubt and uncertainty followed, mainly for the Borders employees, knowing that the end would come and it was merely a case of when.  A revolving door of CEOs and constant changes to upper management couldn’t stem or slow the tide of inevitability.

It is truly the end of an era, not just with all of us losing our jobs, but as a community venue that so many people have attended over the years.  Whether it was for books, DVDs, music, coffee, Paperchase stationary items, or somewhere to enjoy a music performance or a signing on the weekend; Borders to many was a place to go and have fun.  And now there will just be a series of big empty locales across the country.

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Employees putting up liquidation signs

Borders prided itself on carrying a wide variety of authors, especially during the better years when it wasn’t just bestsellers, but a large number of midlist authors that readers couldn’t find at Barnes and Noble, and wouldn’t be able to ever discover at Amazon.com.  Independent bookstores do their best to carry many of these authors, but they don’t have the spread and range that Borders used to carry.  In a recent interview with bestselling author George R. R. Martin, he indicated that a number of these authors will have a lot of trouble selling their books, what with the small publishers already owed millions by Borders, as well as not having such a large retailer to carry their titles anymore.  The next few years are going to be interesting as readers, publishers, writers and booksellers look at what happens to this big hole in the book world.  Will Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble automatically fill it?  Will new independent bookstores begin to flourish across the country?  Will eBooks fill this great void?  Only the future will tell.

But Borders will not be quickly forgotten.  Many of the employees in the history of Borders – as well as current ones – have had many fond memories of working for this institution.  Many customers also have their own recollections of shopping at Borders, in fact at the beginning of the liquidation a customer came into the Folsom Borders asking if they could have a piece of the carpet once the store closed as it was there that she was proposed to; sadly she was not granted her wish as the carpet is needed for future tenants.  Shortly after the liquidation announcement, Sourcebooks publisher Dominique Raccah created a special Twitter hashtag, #ThankUBorders, where everyone and anyone could share their fond memories and happy times with Borders; each and every day there are many new entries under this hashtag.

I could go on for paragraphs and paragraphs, reminiscing about my job and experiences at this place called Borders that I will never forget.  I know on that last day, we’re going to need a lot of tissues.  For now, I invite you to read what a variety of authors and one publisher have to stay about the end of Borders . . .

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Letters and messages received from caring customers

“I am saddened by the demise of any book purveyor, though of course there must be a sadness hierarchy — with the defunct independents outranking the bankrupt chains.  I long ago forgave Borders for shelving Stiff under Medical Reference, because they also chose the book for their Original Voices program, and that program was a nice a leg-up for a first-time author… “ – Mary Roach is the author of the bestselling Stiff, and most recently Packing for Mars.

“Borders was a wonderful chain, with terrific stores.  It’s a huge loss to all of us.  We mourn when a single bookstore closes, and rightly so — but when 700 close, it almost defies imagination.  Countless communities will have no local bookstore at all.  I’m truly sorry to see them go.” – Robert J. Sawyer is an award winning author; his most recent book is WWW: Wonder.

“Well, my thoughts aren’t particularly complicated. It’s a shame, even though we all sort of saw it coming. Fewer book stores – whether it’s a chain or an indie going bust – is bad for readers, and bad for writers. Fewer books available means fewer books sold. And for that matter, it means a number of (often) book-loving people are out of a job.  Perhaps the Borders closings will open an opportunity for independent stores to rise up and fill the void – particularly in some of the markets where Borders was the only bookstore in the area. I’m not sure how viable or likely that is, but a girl can hope.” – Cherie Priest is the author of the bestselling Boneshaker.

“I can only talk about our local Borders, which was always wonderfully supportive of our books and events. I think the loss of any brick-and-mortar store is bad news. I do know that in later years I had several conversations with people in the book business who didn’t understand some of Borders’ business practices. Unnecessary expenditures, including over-production of author interview videos (when a lot of people are just using a hand-held flip camera, for example). I don’t know what I think really. ” – Jeff VanderMeer is the author of Booklife and Finch.

“I think it sucks.  Leaving aside the fact that I still enjoy browsing real live bookshelves and this cuts down on my options for doing so, there’s the terrible economic impact this is going to have on the entire book industry.  We were already facing an economic system dangerously denuded of “retailer ecodiversity” — and now the few remaining apex predators, no longer impeded by competition, are free to ravage anyone they see as lower on the food chain:  namely, book producers and book lovers.  It’s already happening, and now will get worse.  Still, at least there’s one hope from the liquidation:  Borders might finally be able to pay back the millions of dollars in unpaid-for books it’s owed to publishers and authors for years now.” – N. K. Jemisin is the author of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and The Broken Kingdoms.

“Any bookstore closing, chain or independent, is a cause for regret. We may enjoy our e-readers of all kinds, but there’s nothing quite like the feeling of walking into a bookstore and wondering what you’ll discover today, just by being among books, picking them up, sharing that space.” – Guy Gavriel Kay is the bestselling author of Tigana and Under Heaven.

“As both an author and a reader, the news of any bookstore closing is a tragedy. But when I learned about Borders closing I was particularly saddened. Borders was instrumental in making my first book, The Lost City of Z, a success. Borders employees were some of the most devoted readers, who recommended books and passed them on to customers. I did a reading at a Borders in Westchester, New York, near where I live, and was so struck by the extraordinary staff. And so when I think about those people who worked there losing their jobs, and all the readers and authors who will lose such a great place to gather and share their love of books, I’m left without words.” – David Grann is the writer for the New Yorker and the author of the bestselling Lost City of Z.

“First of all, my heart goes out to all the hardworking Borders salespeople and managers who have lost their jobs. The demise of Borders is a sad day for them, for us authors, for publishing houses, for the reading public — and indeed for our country. Fewer bookstores mean fewer books sold. It’s that simple. And that impoverishes us all.” – Douglas Preston is the bestselling co-author of Cemetery Dance and Gideon’s Sword.

“This is one chapter we hoped would never be written. But today’s business climate doesn’t take a sentimental approach. There are so many forces that conspired to effect Borders’ demise, but it boils down to the fact that the business model changed. Borders didn’t. I feel bad for all my friends and terrific booksellers who are losing their jobs, and the readers who lose their neighborhood bookstore. Borders was more than just a store…in its heyday, it was a community’s social pulse…a happening place where people gathered for book signings and musical concerts. It’ll be sorely missed.” – Alan Jacobson is the bestselling author of Crush and Inmate 1577.

“I’m crushed and shocked.  The loss of Borders will have a resounding and lasting impact on the publishing market.  Worst of all, it leaves fewer outlets for readers to easily browse, purchase, and explore new books.  And the effect will reverberate throughout the economy as well:  from the dumping of the 400 stores’ retail spaces into an already fragile marketplace to the 11,000 employees seeking new employment during these tough times.  There is not a silver lining in any of this.”– James Rollins is the bestselling author of The Doomsday Key and The Devil Colony.

“Well, it’s funny, I remember when Borders was “cool.”  —Before they became intent on opening a location next to every indie in town and running them out of business. I was so sorry to see their business model change; they really became the opposite of how they started.  Borders was “sex-positive,” and gay-friendly in their infancy; back when it was considered risky. They were out front with graphic novels and comics.  Whereas some prominent booksellers were saying: “No title with the word SEX in it will be allowed to have a signing in our store!”— Borders would welcome me.   I think I first went to one in Chicago, that was fun. I also remember very well being in their Wall Street location a few months before 9/11. They had such a jolly time inviting me to “invade” the suits and have a reading there.  I wish I could remember names better, because obviously, the good times were all about the great individuals I met, who in many cases, had been booksellers for years, at every kind of store. I hope I keep seeing them in the future!” – Susie Bright is the bestselling author of Big Sex Little Death, as well as the editor for The Best American Erotica.

“For any trade publisher the loss of Borders means that print runs will drop, in some cases by quite a lot for some categories in which Borders did well, which will then put pressure on unit costs and retail prices and profit margins. The knock-down effect would include loss of employees, fewer output, and more. And if this is the direction of chain stores, with indications that B&N will soon follow in five years, at least with attrition, as leases expire, then we could see a situation where publishers are either put out of business entirely or transitioned to ebook business models in order to save themselves. It’s a brave new world, but it’s anyone’s guess how brave and new it’s going to be.” – Sean Wallace is the editor and publisher for Prime Books.

“I think it’s a sad day when thousands of people lose their jobs and the ability of the consumer to browse through books in person becomes even more limited.” – Amber Benson is the author of Death’s Daughter and starred as Tara in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

“The closing of Borders leaves an enormous void in the book world, not only physically but also spiritually. The professional implications to the publishing industry aside, there’s something about the experience of stepping into a book store that can’t be duplicated by browsing books on Amazon.com. If the other brick-and-mortar stores suffer the same fate as Borders, then we will have lost a fundamental piece of our culture.” – S.G. Browne is the author of Fated and Breathers.

“I’ll miss Borders.  The closest bookstore to me right now is a Borders.  It’s in a local shopping center that has a movie theatre, and nearly every time I go to the movies I go in there to shop.  But that’s just the tiny little sliver of my personal regret.  Thousands of people are losing their jobs.  Big shopping centers will have massive empty real estate that will be hard to lease, and the cities and towns won’t be getting the taxes those businesses generate.  Of course, even that is only one aspect of the loss taking place with Borders flaming out.  Doubtless it will hasten the rush toward digital books as people have a harder time finding a bookstore.  The long term picture–what publishing will look like a decade from now–is unclear.  Perhaps once the conversion to digital is complete, or nearly so, that will create jobs and opportunities for writers.  But in the short term, we’ll have to navigate carefully as the industry continues to undergo its metamorphosis.” – Christopher Golden is the author of numerous books including The Myth Hunters and The Map of Moments with Tim Lebbon.

“Borders was the only new book store near my house when I was a kid.  I spent so many hours there.  Borders was the bookstore that always had the book I wanted, that always had the people who knew what I was talking about.  When I started publishing my own books, Borders was the bookstore that happily invited me in to sign and read and be a part of the bookstore dream.  I miss my local stores so much.  I can’t believe the whole chain is going away.  It’s a loss to me as a writer, to me as a reader, and to me as a little girl who just wants to walk into a bookstore and be amazed.” – Seanan McGuire is the author of Late Eclipses and Feed under Mira Grant.

“The Shadow Men” by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon (Spectra, 2011)

Shadow Men
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The literary duo of Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon are back with the next in the Hidden Cities series, and after the paltry excuse of the last book, The Chamber of Ten, The Shadow Men is a return to what the two do best: great storytelling, with some fun characters, and one crazy plot.  Readers will not be disappointed with this next installment.

The Shadow Men focuses on the historic and wonderful city of Boston.  Jim is a rich and talented artist, who has the best wife in the world and a darling daughter he can’t get enough of, but he has also painted strange depictions of Boston, a different city that bears little resemblance to the real one.  When Jim takes a nap during the day, while his wife and daughter go shopping, his wakes up to find himself in an altered world: his fancy apartment now looks totally different, and there is no evidence of his ever having had a daughter or being married.  Jim’s world quickly falls apart as he tries to work things out.

This Boston seems different, but it is actually Jim and his life that is different, but there is one other person who is in the same predicament: Trixie, a close friend.  Together they wonder what has happened to them – physically they look different also – but the more they find out, the more it seems like Jim’s wife and daughter never existed.  They visit the oracle of Boston to discover that there are other Bostons out there, parallel ones, and it appears that his wife and daughter have somehow passed into one of them.  But time is running out and they will need to get them back soon or everything will come crashing down.  Then there are the Shadow Men, those dark shadows without faces who are chasing them.

The Shadow Men is Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon at their best, reminding readers there are still some great and fantastic stories out there to be told, making them wonder if our world is really as cut and dry and normal as it seems.

Originally written on October 13, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of White Tiger from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

You might also like . . .

Secret Journeys of Jack London Dreams of the Dead Map of Moments Boys are Back in Town

06/14 On the Bookshelf . . . “The Shadow Men” & “The Secret of Crickley Hall”

Shadow Men    The Secret of Crickley Hall

Received the next in the Hidden Cities series from bestselling authors Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon, after Mind the Gap, The Map of Moments, and here’s hoping it’s better than the last one, The Chamber of Ten.  Also have the next new novel from the British master of horror, James Herbert, who I’ve been reading since I was a teenager!