Book Review: The Last Page by Anthony Huso

THE LAST PAGE is a love story. Here we meet Caliph Howl, reluctant (and questionable) heir to the throne of a duchy on a world populated by men and monsters. Caliph meets Sena while plotting revenge on a rival and eventually falls for her. Unknown to Caliph, Sena is a witch trained in the dark arts of magic, deception, and sexual espionage. Both practice magic, which in this world is powered by blood.

It seems that Caliph would rather live a simple life, but instead finds himself compelled to rule and thus must come up with a plan to repel a civil war that seeks to take his throne. Sena eventually realizes that she is in love with Caliph but remains divided in her loyalties. She has accomplished her heart’s true desire: to track down a legendary magical tome. To unlock the book, she must first betray Caliph. Both Caliph and Sena seem to have daddy issues. Things get out of hand.

THE LAST PAGE is dark, creepy and violent. The main characters are conflicted and often wrestle with their own self-loathing. The technology is advanced to the point where it resembles magic. It can be used to distill souls from man and beast, and use them to power cities or build doomsday devices. The magic is unpredictable and the witches are like a sisterhood of female ninjas who take hallucinatory drugs and hold bacchanal ceremonies to cast hexes capable of atomizing entire cities. There are zeppelins and towering war machines bristling with projectile weapons of every flavor imaginable. Besides the rebellion, the kingship, the witchocracy, and the various nations surrounding Caliph Howl’s duchy, one of the interested parties is obviously a Cthulhu cult. Everyone is a spy.

Did I mention that BLACK BOTTLE, the long-awaited sequel to THE LAST PAGE, is coming from TOR Books in August? I will be reading it as soon as I can get a copy delivered to my underground lair.

Creepy Factor: 4 out of 5
Suspense Factor: 4 out of 5
Weird Erotic Tension Factor: 3 out of 5
Funny and/or Strange Factor: 5 out of 5

Final result: Sena might be like Lyra Belacqua if she was a beautiful witch who got around, if you know what I mean, and if she was losing her mind to a grimoire penned by elder gods, but only if she was living in New Crobuzon from Mieville’s PERDIDO STREET STATION. It’s a love story. You should really go get this book.

The Last Page by Anthony HusoTOR2010
The Last Page on Amazon
Black Bottle on Amazon

Thanks very much to TOR books for the copy of this awesome book. See you next time!

Book Review: The Cryptos Conundrum by Chase Brandon

Imagine for a moment that you are at the center of an enormous covert organization within the CIA, and that as the director of this organization, you are one of the most powerful men in the world. Imagine that you have billions of dollars and untold thousands of men at your disposal. Now imagine that, due to your own actions, a murderous alien monster has escaped from a laboratory that you set up to study it. Imagine that this alien has made its home in a den of underground caves, and that it has killed people. Imagine that you knew that this alien would have the ability and desire to multiply. Imagine that, after decades of ignoring this alien threat, one of your advisors finally summons the nerve to ask you why you haven’t done anything about the monster. Now imagine telling them: “I’ve been busy doing other things.”

Oh I know it’s not that simple. Nothing is ever that simple. In The Cryptos Conundrum by Chase Brandon, we follow just such a man through more than a century of United States history. Our hero, Dr. Jonathan S. Chalmers, is brought back from the dead on a European World War I battlefield by strange alien powers who have plans for him. Chalmers has all the necessary attributes of a comic book hero: Grit, wealth, genius-level intelligence, and some vaguely supernatural powers.

I just spent about fifteen minutes staring at the screen, trying to figure out how else to describe this book. Imagine the X Files if Fox Mulder died, went to something resembling heaven (but with aliens), and was told by the creator of the Universe that he had to go back to save the Earth from an unspecified future calamity. I know that I’m not doing a good job with this. Let me try again. Plot summary: Special man who thinks he is ordinary discovers an alternate universe where his outrageous destiny is revealed and he is sent back to save his own world.

Here is where I come out and say it: This book annoyed the heck out of me. I really disliked it. At the same time, I couldn’t help but finish it because I had to know what would happen in the end. I felt like a person following a bad smell through their house because they were hoping to find the source, which was probably the corpse of a tiny mouse who had expired under a piece of furniture. In this case the corpse is a wan, frail mythology, thinly-veiled right wing politics, and comic book plotting.

Maybe I’m not the intended audience. I would hazard a guess that fans of science fiction pulp stories from the 1940s and ’50s will probably enjoy this book. The hero is hyper-masculine. The fate of the universe hangs in the balance. The aliens resemble sea slugs crossed with tyrannosaurs. The one woman in the story is tall, stacked, quick with the banter, and innately fecund.

Creepy Factor: 0 out of 5
Suspense Factor: 2 out of 5
Weird Erotic Tension Factor: 0 out of 5
Funny and/or Strange Factor: 2 out of 5

Final result: Imagine an author who had the nerve to shove the word “law” into the word “god” and used it to name an alien intelligence who created the universe: “Ga’Lawed.”

The Cryptos Conundrum by Chase BrandonTOR/Forge2012

If I haven’t scared you away: The Cryptos Conundrum on Amazon

Thanks to TOR/Forge for sending me a copy of this book to review. See you all next time!

Where Have I Been?

You may or may not have noticed that I’ve been absent most of this summer. I’m sorry about that. The fact of the matter is that I’ve been looking for a new home and selling mine. Yes, I was looking for an attic with more storage space for my various collections, and more basement space for the disposing of victims. Luckily, the supernatural real estate market is currently enjoying historically low interest rates! A new home has been acquired, and a move date has been set. I will have plenty of time to transplant my pet soul-eating fungus (which is really, quite frankly, enormous), to wall up the many items which cannot or will not be moved, and to properly decorate my new home. I am proud to say that my new pad is much more haunted than my previous domicile. It even has several trap doors, a hidden stair case, and makes horrible noises in storms. I haven’t had a chance to verify the stories, but my realtor has informed me that the locals refuse to talk about something that happened there long ago.

It’s my plan that more regular posting will resume sometime in September. Thanks for your patience and understanding during this transition.

Vintage Photo Album – Visitors of Booth 8

Here is the only known photo of Booth 8, presumably taken just before an abducted Mardi Gras reveler dropped their camera in 1967. Authorities on the history of Booth 8 are scarce, paranoid and jumpy, mostly because they don’t last long. If you see Booth 8, it’s best to leave the area immediately. If you choose to take a less sensible course of action, here are some tips.
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If you happen to enter Booth 8, avoid its many traps and snares. For example, avoid Nurse Sandy. She likes to be of aid to patients with poor constitutions. The medicine she administers will keep you inches from death until she finds another plaything.
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Avoid the Towel Baby. Cloudy faces will watch from the windows as the Towel Baby wraps you in its fresh-smelling embrace. Do not succumb to this machination of Booth 8!
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Senorita Caboose

Avoid Senorita Caboose. She will show you a thing or two, if you let her. No matter how she tempts you, don’t peek under her mask.
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Above all else, avoid the various ghosts which haunt the hidden hallways of Booth 8. The squeaky wheels of this ghost can be heard from a distance.
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Avoid all things without faces.
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If there are two of them, it’s time to run.
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If there are two of them, it’s time to run.
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As with Senorita Caboose, avoid Fingers O’Hare.
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These six fellows would love to play a song for you. Do not let them!
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That’s it for the Phantom Booth 8. I’ll leave you with a photo of Theda Bara. Theda Bara!

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See more Vintage Photos here on Dark in the Dark.

Check this space for more weird photos on eBay.

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darkinthedark does not claim copyright on these images. If you are the copyright holder and object to their presence here, please contact me and I will remove them.

Pinup of the Week: Mickey and Minnie 1931

As a monster, I find that a few photos push some of my buttons. It’s pretty rare that I find a photo that pushes ALL of them. Have I got some good news for you! The photo is still on auction, (Later note – both auctions are gone.) It has a partner photo, also gone, and I have put a copy of it for posterity, here). Mmmmmmmmmmm. Crazy crazy crazy.

Sorry for the lack of updates recently. To be honest, I’m a little burned out on the Internet and have been pursuing other interests. More of the usual: Luring poor orphans into dark woods, finding new attics to haunt, and hooking up with monster ladies who wear necklaces fashioned from finger bones. That may make me sound old-fashioned, and I’m OK with that. Some things a monster never gets tired of!

darkinthedark does not claim copyright on these images. If you are the copyright holder and object to their presence here, please contact me and I will remove them.

* Search for Shudder Pulps on eBay *

The flying monkeys let our technician out for a minute and he snuck away into the light of day. Thanks for your patience during this difficult transition.
I ated Tinkerbell.

Fhtagn Spoken Here.

... the attic, a vast raftered length lighted only by small blinking windows in the gable ends, and filled with a massed wreckage of chests, chairs, and spinning-wheels which infinite years of deposit had shrouded and festooned into monstrous and hellish shapes.
The Shunned House
H.P. Lovecraft

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