Horror literature has several different sub-genres such as cosmic horror, splatterpunk, supernatural and several others. One sub genre of horror is Gothic literature which contains a picturesque setting, elements of the supernatural, romance, mystery and a feeling of impending doom. The Ravencrest Omnibus: The Ghosts of Ravencrest by Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross contains the first three episodes in The Ghosts of Ravencrest series and fits nicely into the Gothic literature genre.
The book centers around Ravencrest Manor, an old mansion which was transported from England to Northern California in the 1800’s. Ravencrest’s walls have seen scandals, witchcraft, ghosts and several acts of depravity. By day the mansion looks beautiful but by night it becomes a place of terror. The story begins when Belinda accepts a job as the new governess at Ravencrest Manor. What seems like a dream job starts to look like a nightmare as she finds out that not all of the inhabitants at Ravencrest are living.
The Ghosts Of Ravencrest series starts slow developing its characters and gets creepier as it goes along. It has kind of a Dark Shadows feel to it with a lot more blood and erotica thrown in. If you have read and liked the work of Thorne and Cross then this book is a must have and exactly what you would expect from them. For instance we know off the bat that the estate’s administrator Mrs. Heller is obsessed by power but as the story moves along we also find out that she has a much darker erotic side to her. If you want to know more you have to read the book.
My favorite part of this book was how when you learn more about each character they all have some surprising secrets. I also liked how the authors slowly build a mythology for the estate before getting into the more terrifying parts of the story. I enjoyed this book but one thing to keep in mind if you get it is that this is a starting point for a series. There is no ending and after this one there are 5 more episodes and a second story that has 8 episodes. So if you don’t want to invest your time in a spooky style soap opera then this may not be for you. That being said, if you give the series a chance its one wild ride.
I enjoy reading all kinds of books but the ones I enjoy the most are the ones that have a good mix of horror and comedy. This is not a combination you can always find but Dracula Transformed & Other Bloodthirsty Tales by Mark McLaughlin and Michael McCarty is one of those books that can scare you and make you laugh. Here we have ten short stories and one novella which puts Dracula in the present day with new powers that we’ve never seen before.
The reason I wanted to read this was because I love Dracula and any movie or book that has the character catches my interest. Also I’m familiar with the work of both authors and knew it would be a fun ride. Right off the bat in the first story they address one of the issues with the original Dracula novel. In Bram Stoker’s novel we get points of view from several characters but we don’t hear much from Dracula. In Lucy Transformed we hear part of the story in Dracula’s own words via letters to his daughter. Needless to say Dracula looks at the events of the book a little differently than the other characters do. Maybe Dracula wasn’t a villain after all and just doing what vampires are supposed to do.
Two other the stories that stick out in the book are Dracula Has Risen From The Couch and Incident In The Back Of A Black Limousine. In the first story set in the present we see a very different Dracula then we are used to. He is kind of lazy and he finds out his wives are cheating on him, but he doesn’t really care enough to get off the couch until they decide to kill him. In the second story also in the present we see Dracula has fallen on hard times and now works as a pimp calling himself Big Daddy. For both of these we see a Dracula that we haven’t seen before and get to laugh at the idea that Dracula may not fare to well in the modern world.
In what is the main event in this little anthology, we have the novella Dracula Transformed which shows us Dracula resurrected in the present by a cult and given the powers of the monsters from Greek Mythology. All of the characters from Dracula are here through reincarnation and Van Helsing never died. I love that Dracula gets his power from hearing the sins of others and I loved hearing that Renfield is now a goth rock superstar. We also have another character from history that is still making a good living in Las Vegas. The best part though is hearing how Dracula acts when he hears someone talk who has no sin.
Dracula Transformed is a must read if you loved the Bram Stoker book or any of the various movies that have had Dracula in them over the years. Not only is it a fresh spin on a character that has been around for over 100 years, it’s a lot of fun for anyone who has a love for monsters and mythology. My only complaint was that some of the short stories contained an idea but no real story and I would have liked the main story to be longer and have a little more suspense. All in all though the book is a lot of fun and I look forward to reading more from both authors.
Donating organs is something that most people probably don’t think about much. You may mark on your driver’s license that you want to be a an organ donor, but very few of us think about donating an organ while still alive. Ari Sytner was one person who did think about donating a kidney and donated his to a single mother of 3 kids. In order to enlighten others to the process of kidney donation he wrote The Kidney Donor’s Journey: 100 Questions I Asked Before Donating My Kidney.
Donating a kidney is not an easy decision to make and there is a lot to consider if you plan to do so. The Kidney Donor’s Journey has all the answers to your questions if you wanted to donate a kidney. I never thought of the idea of donating an organ while still living and I wondered why the author did. With my limited knowledge on kidney donation I just thought it was a risky procedure to have done when you have a family depending on you. That being said Ari gets into all the reasons he wanted to donate a kidney. For Ari he saw a need and wanted to help. When he was done, he wrote this book as a guide for others who want to give to people who were suffering.
Ari did not make the decision to donate a kidney lightly, from the time he thought about it until he did it was a long process. In this book he breaks down the process and takes you on his journey step by step. The Kidney Donor’s Journey is presented in a question and answer format and gives you all the details of what he went through. He gets into why to donate, what led him to do it, what to expect when you are being considered as a donor and what you have to go through in the aftermath. It was not an easy decision or an easy process but Ari felt that all life had value and he wanted to help someone. In the end he was able to help a stranger get her life and dignity back.
My favorite part of this book was a quote by Ari Sytner where he states that he doesn’t see himself as a hero, he is someone who just wanted to make the world and the life of people around him better. The Kidney Donor’s Journey is the story of someone who probably has more compassion than most people and he sells you on doing the ultimate act of kindness. He even answers questions on if you would have trouble getting insurance when you’re done and talks about any regrets that you might have. This is an inspiring book and it doesn’t sugar coat anything, when you do something like this there are some good points and bad points to consider and this book lays out everything like a road map.