“Tortured Souls: The Legend of Primordium” by Clive Barker (Subterranean Press, 2015)

For those who have wondered about one of the great horror writers who goes by the name Clive Barker, but have never read any of his work, they would do well to sample the novella Tortured Souls. It encapsulates this talented author in a limited number of pages, showing his skill at revealing a short story, with memorable characters, and some dark and bloody plot that will leave you gasping.

The “first city” of Primordium is renowned throughout history for its upheavals and political changes and at its heart lives a being whose origin is unknown and whose existence is enigmatic to say the least, known by many names, but most commonly Agonistes. If you wish, he will transform you to your heart’s desire, whether it is for love or revenge, but know that it will be an agony you have not felt before.

In this novella we learn of the wondrous city of Primordium and some of its inhabitants and their desires and hates, as well as the power that Agonistes wields and how once you are transformed by him, there is no turning back, whether you wish to or not.

Originally written on November 14, 2014 ©Alex C. Telander.

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

“Legion: Skin Deep” by Brandon Sanderson (Subterranean Press, 2015)

Legion Skin Deep

As bestselling author Brandon Sanderson takes a break from writing his epic fantasy novels, he turns to his ongoing novellas. Readers first learned of Stephen Leeds in Legion, a man who has the unique ability to create hallucinatory manifestations that only he can see who aid him in life and answer the questions he has. When he is done with them, they do not disappear but remain to aid him in his freelance work in solving mysteries and the occasional police case.
In Legion: Skin Deep Leeds is hired by Innovative Information Incorporated to recover a stolen corpse whose very DNA contains new technology and information that will change the world; whether for better or worse depends on how quickly he finds that body. In return he will be made far richer than he already is and will no longer have to worry financially.

The second installment into Legion brings a great story and more insight into this enigmatic character, as well as laying some important groundwork for where Sanderson wants to go next with his character, and revealing there is plenty more story to tell.

Originally written on November 14, 2014 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Legion: Skin Deep from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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“The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine” by Peter Straub (Subterranean Press, 2012)

Ballard of Ballard and Sandrine

In this new and short release from bestselling author Peter Straub, it’s a story that seems ordinary and tame at first, as the reader gets introduced and interested in two unique characters, but eventually becomes dark and scary and despairing.  By the end of the 96 pages of The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine, it is quite a different tale that the reader may want to hide away somewhere.

The story of these two lovers, Ballard and Sandrine, takes place over a period of 25 years, as the reader learns of their relationship at different points in time from chapter to chapter, which takes place in the same setting: a trip by riverboat down the exotic Amazon.  While there is a large gap in age between the main characters — they apparently fell in love when Ballard, in his twenties, saw Sandrine, when she was fifteen, for the first time — they are besotted with each other and get up to lots of fun on these boat trips.  But then the dark side begins to creep in, with a story of blood and murder.

Overall, the story is somewhat disappointing, as Straub plays a little too much on the “exotic” nature of the Amazon and the natives, while the horror aspects of the story come as kind of surprise.  A longer novella or even novel might’ve allowed for more development in these areas, nevertheless The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine is an interesting experiment in what Straub was trying to do.

Originally written on December 18, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.