Thanks to Blackthorn Book Tours I’m able to bring you my review and detailed information on Jacy Morris’ novel The Drop.
Amazon star rating: 4.5
How many hearts can a song touch? How many ears can it reach? How many people can it kill? When popular boy band Whoa-Town releases their latest album, no one thinks anything of it. They certainly don’t think that the world will be changed forever. After an apocalyptic disease sweeps the world, it becomes clear that the music of this seemingly innocuous boy band had something to do with it, but how? Katherine Maddox, her life irrevocably changed by a disease dubbed The Drop, sets out to find out how and why, to prevent something like The Drop from ever happening again.
The Drop by Jacy Morris is the story surrounding “The Drop”, a mysterious illness that seems to strike people at every age, but mostly young ones at first. No one knows what causes this affliction and not even the CDC can figure out how to cure it. Some people say a boy band named Whoa-Town is behind it all. The illness seems to affect people’s mental health, yet has no physical symptoms.
The protagonist, Katherine Maddox is a young journalist reporting from an apocalyptic wasteland. She has lost everyone she loves to “The Drop” and is fighting to prevent it from happening ever again. Can she figure out the link between Whoa-Town and the death of countless victims?
I have to admit when I picked up the Kindle copy of The Drop, I was a bit skeptical. Five hundred plus pages about a boy band and an apocalypse? Does that even work? Well, let me tell you right now that it does. And it works amazingly well. From the beginning on I was sucked right into the story. It is told in many different formats, and never once bored me.
We have Katherine telling her side of the story from the present time, but also from her diary entries written in the past. Then there are interviews, newspaper articles, websites, forums and more. The author really built an entire world here. Jacy Morris blew me away with his talent and ability to tell a story. Very well done.
The only reason I’m giving it 4.5 stars, is because I found typos and errors, which isn’t that bad, but it jumps out at me. I just can’t overlook them sometimes.
Thanks to Blackthorn Book Tours for the free review copy and letting me be part of this book tour!
About the author:
Jacy Morris is a Native American author born in 1979 in Virginia. He is a registered member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz. At the age of ten he was transplanted to Portland, Oregon, where he developed a love for punk rock and horror movies, both of which tend to find their way into his writing. Under the pseudonym The Vocabulariast, he was the writer/owner/CEO of the website MovieCynics.com from 2007-2014. He graduated from Portland State University with a Masters in Education. He has been an English and social studies teacher in Portland, Oregon since 2005.
His first film, All Hell Breaks Loose has a cult following. His second film, entitled The Cemetery People is now in post-production.
He has written several books, including the “This Rotten World” series, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, Killing the Cult, and “The Enemies of Our Ancestors” series. The Abbey was his first book under his real name. In between drinking beer and watching horror movies and hockey, he is currently working on the following books: An Unorthodox Cure, and the fourth chapter of This Rotten World.
Step right up to the Funhole, but be advised: Do not get too close! Tomorrow marks the release of The Cipher by Kathe Koja. A book that was originally published in 1991, but has since gone out of print. The amazing team over at Meerkat Press is now once again bringing the Funhole to readerseverywhere.
I’m so excited to be a part of this special blog tour. In this blog post, I’m bringing you my review, an excerpt from the book, and if you stick around to the end a giveaway from Meerkat Press! So let’s get started!
Winner of the Bram Stoker Award and Locus Awards, finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award, and named one of io9.com’s “Top 10 Debut Science Fiction Novels That Took the World By Storm.” With a new afterword by Maryse Meijer, author of Heartbreaker and Rag.
“Black. Pure black and the sense of pulsation, especially when you look at it too closely, the sense of something not living but alive.” When a strange hole materializes in a storage room, would-be poet Nicholas and his feral lover Nakota allow their curiosity to lead them into the depths of terror. “Wouldn’t it be wild to go down there?” says Nakota. Nicholas says, “We’re not.” But no one is in control, and their experiments lead to obsession, violence, and a very final transformation for everyone who gets too close to the Funhole.
I first read The Cipher about ten years ago. It stayed with me ever since, and I was so excited to find out that Meerkat Press was publishing it again. Since reading the book for the second time, I have read several reviews and opinions on it. I have to be honest and say, this book might not be for everyone.
There are different kinds of horror, and if you are expecting ghosts or murderers to pop out around every corner, then this isn’t for you. There are no physical demons or monsters to fight. This book is so much more than just a simple horror story. It is complex, and can be interpreted a lot of ways. Reading it for the second time still left me with questions, which might never be answered. I personally believe that books are art, and any art form can be interpreted in different ways. This is why I want to advise you, that my interpretation might not be correct per se, but just my thoughts on the topic.
To me, The Cipher, is a powerful story about an artist who struggles with his own identity. Nicholas knows he could be a poet, if he only tried hard enough. But certain powers keep him from achieving his goals. I think a big counterpart to his artistic abilities is depression. As we read the novel, we see a lot of unused talent and lack of ambition from all “players” within. The entire setting of The Cipher is bleak and dark. To me, the Funhole is almost a metaphor for the darkness of depression. A darkness that becomes an obsession for everyone around it.
There are still a lot of actual horror elements within the book, and it can be quite gruesome and gory. In its essence it is a horror novel, but also so much more than that. The entire book is written from the perspective of Nicholas. It is written in a conscious-narrative style, something that I have never seen before in this way. It does get confusing at times, but don’t all of our thoughts confuse us sometimes too? I believe Koja picked a perfect writing style for her story. It made it seem so much more real and believable.
You also can’t go into this book and expect to find likable characters. You simply won’t find them. Every single person in this story is a broken individual with their own monsters to fight. They don’t try to achieve great things, instead they simply live day to day. Most of those days are a mix of bad jobs, drinking and simply existing. The Funhole seems to give the characters a purpose in life, no matter how weird and twisted the outcome.
Though this book was first published in 1991, I believe it will always be relevant. I simply can’t stress enough how profound this book is, and I am convinced if you just give it a chance, you will be as impressed as I am.
And now an excerpt from The Cipher:
Nakota, who saw it first: long spider legs drawn up beneath her ugly skirt, wise mouth pursed into nothing like a smile. Sitting in my dreary third-floor flat, on a dreary thrift-shop chair, the window light behind her dull and gray as dirty fur and she alive, giving off her dark continuous sparks. Around us the remains of this day’s argument, squashed beer cans, stolen bar ashtray sloped full. “You know it,” she said, “the black-hole thing, right? In space? Big dark butthole,” and she laughed, showing those tiny teeth, fox teeth, not white and not ivory yellow either like most people’s, almost bluish as if with some undreamed-of decay beneath them. Nakota would rot differently from other people; she would be the first to admit it.
She lit a cigarette. She was the only one of my friends who still smoked, without defiance or a guilty flourish, smoked like she breathed but not as often. Black cigarettes, and sweetened mineral water. “So. You gonna touch it today?”
Another unsmile. “Wiener.” I shrugged. “Not really.” “Nicholas Wiener.”
So I didn’t answer her. Back to the kitchen. Get your own mineral water. The beer was almost too cold, it hurt going down. When I came back to the living room, what passed for it—big windows, small floor space, couch, bed and bad chair—she smiled at me, the real thing this time. Sometimes I thought I was the only one who ever saw that she was beautiful, who ever had. God knows there wasn’t much, but I had eyes for it all.
“Let’s go look at it,” she said.
The one argument there was no resisting. Quietly, we had learned to do it quietly, down the stairs, turn right on the first landing (second floor to you), past the new graffiti that advised LEESA IS A HORE (no phone number, naturally; thanks a lot assholes) and the unhealthy patina of aging slurs, down the hall to what seemed, might be, some sort of storage room. Detergent bottles, tools, when you opened the door, jumble of crap on the floor, and beyond that a place, a space, the dust around it pale and easily dispersed.
Behold the Funhole.
“Shit,” Nakota said, as she always did, her prayer of wonder. She knelt, bending low and supporting herself on straight-stiff arms, closer than I ever did, staring at it. Into it. It was as if she could kneel there all day, painful position but you knew she didn’t feel it, looking and looking. I took my spot, a little behind her, to the left, my own prayer silence: what to say before the unspeakable?
Black. Not darkness, not the absence of light but living black. Maybe a foot in diameter, maybe a little more. Pure black and the sense of pulsation, especially when you looked at it too closely, the sense of something not living but alive, not even something but some—process. Rabbithole, some strange motherfucking wonderland, you bet. Get somebody named Alice, tie a string to her . . . We’d discussed it all, would discuss it again, probably tonight, and Nakota would sit as she always did, straight-backed as a priestess, me getting ripped and ripping into poetry, writing shit that was worse than unreadable in the morning, when I would wake—more properly afternoon, and she long gone, off to her job, unsmiling barmaid at Club 22 and me late again for the video store. She might not come again for days, or a day, one day maybe never. I knew: friends, yeah, but it was the Funhole she wanted. You can know something and never think about it, if you’re any good at it. Me, now, I’ve been avoiding so much for so long that the real trick becomes thinking straight.
Beside me, her whisper: “Look at it.”
I sometimes thought it had a smell, that negative place; we’d made the expected nervous fart jokes, the name itself—well, you can guess. But there was some kind of smell, not bad, not even remotely identifiable, but there, oh my yes. I would know that smell forever, know it in the dark (ho-ho) from a city block away. I couldn’t forget something that weird.
For the millionth time: “Wouldn’t it be wild to go down there?”
And me, on cue and by rote, “Yeah. But we’re not.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kathe Koja writes novels and short fiction, and creates and produces immersive fiction performances, both solo and with a rotating ensemble of artists. Her work crosses and combines genres, and her books have won awards, been multiply translated, and optioned for film and performance. She is based in Detroit and thinks globally. She can be found at kathekoja.com.
I’ve partnered up with the awesome people at Meerkat Press for a blogtour to celebrate the upcoming release of The Attic Tragedy by J. Ashley Smith. The book releases tomorrow, 6/9/20, and will be available at various retailers. Here is an excerpt from the book itself, and further down is a link for an opportunity to win a $50 book shopping spree!
Let’s do it!
Sylvie never called them ghosts, but that’s what they were.
The day we became friends, she walked me through the darkened rooms of her father’s antique shop, trailing her fingers over the objects. All of them were lovingly cleaned, none with even a trace of dust. There were old books and reliquaries, trinket jars and model ships, barometers, credenzas, compendiums and lamps. There were music boxes and what I now know was a Minton hand-painted jardinière. Sylvie brushed them with her long pale fingers, her eyes aflutter, her voice so soft it was almost lost to the tinkle of the overhead chandeliers, the tick tick tick of the many hidden clocks.
“The woman who wore this lost her husband to madness.” Sylvie fingered an ornate ring, curlicued silver bordered with diamonds. “He disappeared when she fell pregnant and everyone thought him dead. He’d been gone three years when she read about him in the paper. He was living rough in Centennial Park, running naked and wild, biting the heads off geese.” She slipped the ring back into its padded velvet tray. “Her mother always said he’d come to no good.”
“Or this,” she said, and her fingers moved to the stem of a burnished brass telescope. “A lover’s memento. The woman who owned this took a keepsake from every man she fell for. Not one of them ever knew of her love. And none loved her in return. She died of loneliness and an overdose of laudanum, lifted from the Gladstone of a doctor she’d set her heart on.”
Sylvie swam between display cases with fluid movements, her touch as delicate as a butterfly. I hardly dared move, afraid my bulk would knock over some priceless curio, topple some fragile ancient thing.
“How do you know?” I asked and followed, squeezing between a bookcase and a mahogany sideboard. A blue glass vase wobbled on its shelf and I reached out to steady it. “D’you find all that on the Internet or something?”
“No, silly,” said Sylvie, eyes laughing. “They tell me.”
I thought she was teasing, so turned away, pretended I was examining the collectables. Beside us was a heavy leather-top desk, the surface inlaid with gold leaf that glittered faintly in the half-light. There was an old-fashioned cash register and a marble bust and, beside them, a black-and-white photo in a silver art deco frame. It was a portrait of a dark-haired woman with round faraway eyes and a haunting smile; just as Sylvie would look in ten years, twenty years—beautiful and tired and sad. But there was a spark in her eyes, as though she were smiling through the sadness, like a single beam of sunlight glimpsed through brooding clouds.
“And this one?” I said and reached to pick it up, but felt through my sweater a delicate touch. Sylvie’s hand on my arm.
I felt hot all over and prayed I wasn’t blushing. Every one of my scars was tingling. “What do you mean they tell you? Like you can . . . hear them?”
Sylvie looked up at me and frowned, her eyebrows furrowed and serious.
“Of course,” she said. “You mean you can’t?”
Sounds pretty good, right? Well, I gave the book a glowing 5 star review! You can also read this review here on my blog.
I am proud to announce that Meerkat Press picked me to be a part of their blog tour to promote Kathe Koja’s new short story collection “Velocities”.
I am bringing you an excerpt from one of my favorite stories within the book titled “Baby”.
From BABY by Kathe Koja
It’s hot in here, and the air smells sweet, all sweet and burned, like incense. I love incense, but I can never have any; my allergies, right? Allergic to incense, to cigarette smoke, to weed smoke, to smoke in general, the smoke from the grill at Rob’s Ribs, too, so goodbye to that, and no loss either, I hate this job. The butcher’s aprons are like circus tents, like 3X, and those pointy paper hats we have to wear—“Smokin’ Specialist,” god. They look like big white dunce caps, even Rico looks stupid wearing one and Rico is hot. I’ve never seen anyone as hot as he is.
The only good thing about working here—besides Rico—is hanging out after shift, up on the rooftop while Rob and whoever swabs out the patio, and everyone jokes and flirts, and, if Rob isn’t paying too much attention, me and Rico shotgun a couple of cans of Tecate or something. Then I lean as far over the railing as I can, my hands gripping tight, the metal pressing cold through my shirt; sometimes I let my feet leave the patio, just a few inches, just balancing there on the railing, in thin air . . . Andy always flips when I do it, he’s all like Oh Jani don’t do that Jani you could really hurt yourself! You could fall!
Oh Andy, I always say; Andy’s like a mom or something. Calm down, it’s only gravity, only six floors up but still, if you fell, you’d be a plate of Rob’s Tuesday night special, all bones and red sauce; smush, gross, right? But I love doing it. You can feel the wind rush up between the buildings like invisible water, stealing your breath, filling you right up to the top. It’s so weird, and so choice . . . Like the feeling I always got from you, Baby.
It’s kind of funny that I never called you anything else, just Baby; funny that I even found you, up there in Grammy’s storage space, or crawl space, or whatever it’s called when it’s not really an attic, but it’s just big enough to stand up in. Boxes were piled up everywhere, but mostly all I’d found were old china cup-and-saucer sets, and a bunch of games with missing pieces—Stratego, and Monopoly, and Clue; I already had Clue at home; I used to totally love Clue, even though I cheated when I played, sometimes. Well, all the time. I wanted to win. There were boxes and boxes of Grampy’s old books, doctor books; one was called Surgical Procedures and Facial Deformities and believe me, you did not want to look at that. I flipped it open on one picture where this guy’s mouth was all grown sideways, and his eyes—his eye— Anyway. After that I stayed away from the boxes of books.
And then I found you, Baby, stuffed down in a big box of clothes, chiffon scarves and unraveling lace, the cut-down skirts of fancy dresses, and old shirts like Army uniforms, with steel buttons and appliqués. At the bottom of the box were all kinds of shoes, spike heels, and a couple of satin evening bags with broken clasps. At first I thought you were a kind of purse, too, or a bag, all small and yellow and leathery. But then I turned you over, and I saw that you had a face.
From the award-winning author of The Cipher and Buddha Boy, comes Velocities, Kathe Koja’s second electrifying collection of short fiction. Thirteen stories, two never before published, all flying at the speed of strange. Dark, disturbing, heartfelt and utterly addictive.
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