Worst Horror Games #1 – Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde


★ 1 Star

Genre: Horror / Platformer
Platform: NES
Publisher: Bandai / Nintendo
Published: 1988

Summary – Basically the plot of the Robert Louis Stevenson novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but extremely bastardized.

Overall Thoughts
Infamously considered one of the most garbage mainstream games ever made, what could have made for a fascinating moral concept in video games was wasted on this steaming, turd-crusted instrument of torture. I wouldn’t recommend this game for the most hardcore and merciless of masochists. Jekyll and Hyde would make the perfect Christmas gift for someone you loathed.

This is the floor of the barrel. Jekyll and Hyde is the only game on my “Worst” list that I have no semi-enjoyment of or positive feelings towards at all. All of the others are flawless masterpieces of game-making in comparison, no matter how picky I was about their faults. The cover art for this game is kind of neat, and that’s where the good qualities come to an abrupt stop.

While it’s true that you can’t expect as much from older games, especially older horror-themed games, as you can the newer ones, there’s nothing to like about Jekyll and Hyde for any reason. There’s not even a charming nostalgia factor. It rubs its butt, unashamed, over the complexities of Stevenson’s novel and over the eyes of the unfortunate player.
The graphics aren’t pretty, the gameplay is frustrating and devoid of all traces of fun, and the mechanic of switching between Jekyll and Hyde is not only wasted, but broken! Sometimes you will randomly die in mid-stride just for playing as Hyde! The entire mess sucks. It sucks objectively, it sucks subjectively, and it sucks eternally.

There’s a popular and hilarious episode of Angry Video Game Nerd, that you’ve likely heard of or seen, chronicling the horrors of what it’s like to play this dung heap in-depth, and if you have a little time to spare, I’d totally recommend looking it up on YouTube as well. I mean, it’s essential to get the full Jekyll and Hyde Experience™.

Would It Make a Good Novel?
Seeing as it’s based off of a classic, yes, but not done this way! Please, anything but that!

Final Rubric
Story and Characters – 1
Art and Design – 1.5
Gameplay and Entertainment Factor – 1
Fear Factor – 0
Music and Sound – 1.5
General Score – 1 out of 5

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Lovecraft Reviews – “Hypnos”

Hypnos – ★★★ 3.5 Stars

Written: Spring 1922

“Death is merciful, for there is no return therefrom, but with him who has come back out of the nethermost chambers of night, haggard and knowing, peace rests nevermore.”

Is it dream that dictates the grey boundary between real and false, blurring and steeling the line at will? Is reality so murky, so mutable that it all might as well be delusion?
Hypnos, if you’ll recall, was the brother of Thanatos, after all. Dream, always so close to death.

This short is about a man who has an encounter with the god of dreams himself in a station, and finds he has something inexplicable in common, maybe a need for escape. They go to the man’s house and begin an opium-fueled trip that turns from a burst of creativity into a reality-warping nightmare, and possibly goes on for several years.

“Hypnos” is tilted more towards psychological horror than cosmic horror, even though Lovecraft uses the same kind of imagery he does in those stories. It’s a familiar paranoia, that sense of dread and conspiracy that spawns out of the blue, forcing you to question what’s real when it’s impossible to ever be one-hundred-percent sure. A vivid nightmare or a fever dream can do as much damage as opium, if not a little more because it’s a raw product of your imagination. When the man in the story sobers up, he is suddenly white-haired and elderly, and his friend has abandoned him. No one he asks believes that Hypnos was ever there at all.

I’m curious if this story wasn’t at least a partial inspiration for Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. The way Hypnos is described – gaunt, with ghostly pale skin and depthless black eyes, dressed in a black robe – sounds an awful lot like Dream. Kind of a neat coincidence, if not, though I wouldn’t be surprised, since The Sandman uses a lot of Lovecraftian themes.

Most Disappointing Books of 2019 (So Far)

I recently pieced together a rough selection of books that, for the time being, are the most likely to make it onto my “Best Books of 2019” list at the end of the year, so figured I may as well tackle the opposite end of the spectrum, while I’m at it. These are the current contenders for the most disappointing books I’ve read in 2019. If you want to keep up with my books, feel free to follow or friend me on Goodreads, too. Goodreads feels dead as a cemetery lately, so I wouldn’t mind more interaction.

Keep in mind for this list that a novel being disappointing does not necessarily make it “bad”, so if one of these happens to be your favourite, that’s totally fine. Varying opinions are what make people interesting. If they made it on this list, it simply means I didn’t enjoy them, expected much more from them, or expected something different than what I got.

Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar
Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Romance
Books about bullying and how it differs between say, a lower-income public school and a prestigious prep school, carry a lot of psychological baggage for their writer to convey. Or, they should, if they want to remain in good taste. Gossip Girl was too self-indulgent and easy to take unironically for me to even find it a guilty pleasure, like I do the similar series, The Clique by Lisi Harrison. Neither I feel are especially good influences, not for their intended audience.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach
Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Humor
What I expected to be one of the best books, since I loved the film so much, turned out to be one of the worst. Starts strongly enough, but is ultimately made pointless by its ending and comes off as shockingly racist. I usually like to begin reviews with a quote and couldn’t find a suitable one in the actual meat of the text, so ended up having to use an unrelated quote that the novel used as a chapter header. That should tell you something. Skip the book and just watch the movie adaptation, you will have a much more fulfilling experience that way. Continue reading “Most Disappointing Books of 2019 (So Far)”

Lovecraft Reviews – “The Book” and “Memory”

The Book – ★★★ 3.5 Stars

Written: Autumn 1933

“For he who passes the gateway always wins a shadow, and never again can he be alone.”

The Necronomicon strikes again in its coat of human skin, to terrorize a poor stranger who happens to find it lying by a gutter. It’s interesting how throughout H.P. Lovecraft’s body of work, the book of curses manages to destroy reality in such a variety of different ways. In this incarnation, it wavers reality through its very fabric, and the narrator is stalked through the state of flux by a hoard of beings he cannot see.

Does “The Book” sounds familiar? That’s because it’s an apparently incomplete reimagining, or perhaps another version, of “The Festival”. The prose is tighter in this story, at least, and it has traces of that unusual dream-discomfort I love to see in horror and suspense, but this and “The Festival” are essentially the same plot with a different outcome. Reading a heavy dose of Lovecraft at once can, in fact, invoke a feeling of those “choose-your-own-adventure” books from the 90s.

The 1890s, that is.

Memory – ★★★ 3 Stars

Written: Spring 1919

“Memory” recalls a primordial past, a vein of previous selves that are perhaps better left behind. This free verse piece has the atmosphere of a sinister, dystopian Arabian Nights, but that’s really the only strength it has to tell, as it’s only three pages. I’ve always thought that Lovecraft was more cut out for poems and prose than storytelling, personally, though his creative ideas were psychedelic and grotesque, mostly in a good way.

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Lovecraft Reviews – “The Festival”

The Festival – ★★★★ 3.5 Stars

Written: Autumn 1923

“The nethermost caverns, wrote the mad Arab, are not for the fathoming of eyes that see; for their marvels are strange and terrific. Cursed the ground where dead thoughts live new and oddly bodied, and evil the mind that is held by no head.”

One can outrun the devil before they can their own genetics.
In “The Festival”, a man travels to an ancient sea town in Massachusetts, that he feels his ancestors have been calling him to, who turn out to be a sort of witch-race that enlighten him to their horrors.

This story features our beloved book of curses, the Necronomicon, as the narrator’s trigger into his primordial and disturbing genes. It’s an interesting metaphor for someone who comes from a line of mostly evil people, but themselves retain none of their wickedness, which does happen more often than you’d think.
“The Festival” is a pretty and occultish monstrosity of the sort I like, but apparently the author himself did not, it being mostly inspired by his own trip to Marblehead, Massachusetts, and being overwhelmed by the clash of historical and brand-new that existed there.

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Lovecraft Reviews – “The Colour Out of Space”

The Colour Out of Space – ★★★★★ 5 Stars

Written: Spring 1927

“This was no fruit of such worlds and suns as shine on the telescopes and photographic plates of our observatories. This was no breath from the skies whose motions and dimensions our astronomers measure or deem too vast to measure. It was just a colour out of space – a frightful messenger from unformed realms of infinity beyond all Nature as we know it.”

With the blossom of an unnatural and premature spring brings corruption that is unfit for the eye or mind. “The Colour Out of Space” is a prime piece of botanical horror, planting all of the discomforts there can be about things that arrive with the spring – water, mold, and flora.
This is so far my favourite short story by Lovecraft, other than maybe “The Rats in the Walls”, but the racial insensitivity in that story causes me to like it much less than this one.

“The Colour Out of Space” regards a nameless man who looks into a strange piece of farmland that none of the locals will touch, nicknamed ‘the blasted heath’ for its rotting and burnt appearance. He discovers through talking with a local named Ammi Pearce, that the land’s corruption began with a meteorite that crashed there, as well as something strange that settled in the farm’s well, and investigates its history.

This is a terrific and terrifying short that settles on your skin like cold mildew, especially the fate of the farmers themselves. The imagery and physical horror that develops as the narrator learns more about the cosmic disease that’s settled on the farm is absolutely uncomfortable, but you want to know more about it.

The disease is keeping its secrets, however.

“The reservoir will soon be built now, and all those elder secrets will be safe forever under watery fathoms. But even then I do not believe I would like to visit that country by night – at least, not when the sinister stars are out; and nothing could bribe me to drink the new city water of Arkham…”

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Some Underrated Classics

Rummaging through vintage books and the public domain, I feel a lot like the hoarder goblin from Labyrinth, wanting to just keep all of them and somehow read them all simultaneously. I mean, you’ve got the quintessentials – Poe, Austen, Tolstoy, etc. but I kind of favour the lesser-loved. They haven’t been talked about to the extent that you already know the spoilers long before you’ve read it. These are a few pretty solid, varying shades of obscure books that I’ve had the pleasure of reading recently. Maybe they’ll get a full review one day (if they’re lucky).

Darkness Visible by William Golding

Golding is one of my favourite authors, but the bane of high schoolers. I think why so many of his other novels get overlooked is because of people who hated reading Lord of the Flies while they were pretty much living it out in school. That’s fair, but I think in some aspects, his later novels are better. A little more polished, if also much darker. Darkness Visible is about a man who was severely burned as a child during the Blitz, and becomes this sort of bizarre messianic figure. It’s written as a dreamlike occurrence, and is overall a very difficult book to describe, but I would recommend it for those with the stomach.

Anthem by Ayn Rand

Maybe not super obscure, but so many people are traumatized by forcing themselves through Atlas Shrugged that they forget Anthem. I’m teasing, but I don’t know that I’d ever be brave enough to attempt Atlas. I really did enjoy Anthem, as a dystopian work. It’s a strange story about thought police defeating the individual personality – a world where everyone is a hive mind who have never seen their own faces. An interesting fact about why it’s now in the public domain is that whoever owned the copyright kind of… forgot about it, apparently, and it never got renewed. Continue reading “Some Underrated Classics”

Lovecraft Reviews – “Ex Oblivione” & “Azathoth”

Azathoth – ★★★ 3.5 Stars

Written: Summer 1922

“Azathoth” is a poem of dream states alchemically combusting, a transcription of what it’s like to give oneself to the void.
The name refers to a demon of sorts that is mentioned in some of Lovecraft’s novels, but before I knew that I thought it was a corruption of azoth, which in alchemy, is the ultimate medicine. So I suppose Azathoth would be the ultimate poison, wouldn’t it?

This is a prose piece, that calls up a lot of dreamy, lotus-eating imagery. The creature Azathoth itself is supposed to be a sort of living black hole that is too evil for a solid shape, but is just a mass of everything disturbing and wrong. Its poem, however, is weirdly romantic, making me think that its nature must be to possess people into searching it.

Ex Oblivione – ★★★ 2.5 Stars

Written: Winter 1920-1921

“For doubt and secrecy are the lure of lures, and no new horror can be more terrible than the daily torture of the commonplace.

Curiosity killed the dream-sage. The writing is lovely, almost too much so, but what bothers me about “Ex Oblivione” is that it’s just rather samey.
It feels like a watered down or underdeveloped version of “The Nameless City”, which also came about in the same winter. Same delusion, different name. I do like the idea of returning to the unknowable, and in this case terrifying, roots of our species through dreams.

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Lovecraft Reviews – “The Nameless City”

The Nameless City – ★★★★ 4 Stars

Written: Winter 1921

“That is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange aeons even death may die.”

Before I get into the short story itself, this is where the sour root of the Necronomicon began to sprout its mysteries. While the cursed book won’t actually show itself in Lovecraft’s work for a few more years, “The Nameless City” is where it began to grow its pages.
The Necronomicon became so famous and so dreaded, that people began to fear its appearance in real life. Similar to how people thought the Voynich Manuscript was some kind of lost alien gardening manual, a lot of people thought the Necronomicon was an actual spellbook that you could… buy, for some reason? No doubt in part because of all the fake copies that came out. The only store that would have no qualms about selling evil incarnate would probably be a used bookstore.

Anyway. I love “The Nameless City”. I personally think it’s one of Lovecraft’s best. What I really appreciate about it is the strange sensitivity to dreams that’s there. I don’t know exactly how to explain it, it’s like you’ve found an explanation you’ve been seeking for years, and it’s both beautiful and traumatic at the same time.
The world of this story has shades of Agartha, a city thought to be in the earth’s core, but it’s like a twisted, unholy version of that idea. Continue reading “Lovecraft Reviews – “The Nameless City””

Lovecraft Reviews – “Beyond the Wall of Sleep”

Beyond the Wall of Sleep – ★★★ 3.5 Stars

Written: Spring 1919

“We shall meet again – perhaps in the shining mists of Orion’s Sword, perhaps on a bleak plateau in prehistoric Asia. Perhaps in unremembered dreams tonight; perhaps in some other form an aeon hence, when the solar system shall have been swept away.”

In dreams we hear songs which cannot be captured, yet which we will always long to hear while awake. We can hear in them our history, hidden away in other planets that are no longer our own.
In “Beyond the Wall of Sleep”, a strange man from the boondocks, Joe Slater, is taken in for evaluation after a series of violent psychological attacks. A doctor there takes the opportunity to study the man’s mind more closely and notices that, while at first there doesn’t seem to be much to unravel, there seems to be two halves to his personality. There’s a weird and surprisingly heavy presence in the man at certain times which makes the doctor curious, and he begins to be obsessed with finding out who this is inhabiting Slater’s brain, because it’s certainly not him alone.

“Beyond the Wall of Sleep” is an exploration into the relationship between dreams, madness and the interconnected nature of living things, with a twist of the paranormal. It reminds me, even though it’s not super similar, of the Hypnos and Thanatos myth, with sleep often thought of as being the only link to death that does not involve dying. I feel like at least one of the characters is driven truly insane by the end, though it’s hard to tell which, and when.

This idea… has been done better, I hate to say, and in this instance Lovecraft’s writing style can get pretty grating, being more obsessed with twirling vocabulary around rather than telling us what is happening. No doubt it’s creative, though, and I can see shades of my favourite author in it. I suspect Junji Ito is a big fan of this particular story, having done several adaptations of it. If it piques your curiosity, “Beyond the Wall of Sleep” is worth looking at. I would recommend the original as well as Ito’s “Long Dream” and “Den of the Sleep Demon”, which are similar but also improve upon the theme.

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A Lovecraftian Springtime


Upon the looming threshold of the second-worst season of the year, under its threat of mildew blooming, pollen poofing, and foul weather glooming, who could be more appropriate to do a mini-series about than the master of the foul and foreboding?
Lately I’ve been binge-reading a compilation of H.P. Lovecraft’s works that I’ve owned for awhile. No, not the Necronomicon. (Disappointingly. I checked.) I’ve noticed reading through them that Lovecraft featured themes of springtime in much of his work. But you know, the hideous realistic early spring when you feel like you have lizard tongues for skin – the kind they don’t model home decor after.

Throughout the next few waterlogged, miserable months I will be reviewing a Lovecraft story or novella whenever I get the chance. I plan to review at least everything that’s in the compilation I have. I… er, don’t believe it includes some of the more racially insensitive stuff that, let’s be honest, deserves to remain mostly unnoticed. I’ll be touching on that bit of infamy in my review of “The Rats in the Walls”. You’ll see what I’m talking about if you didn’t already know.
Admittedly, the overtones make some of Lovecraft’s writing troubling (and writing about it even more troubling), but nonetheless, his work is the foundation of the weird fiction temple, and I think much of it is of value despite the author’s archaic attitudes in real life.

Anyway, I look forward to sharing my thoughts on these stories with you, and hope you enjoyed my eldritch drawings all over Lovecraft’s portrait there. Some of the shortest stories I may post together just for convenience, because there’s not much to say about them. Not sure when I’ll get around to the novellas, those may come last.

(As a side note, a genuine Necronomicon is not the oddest thing one might find in a used bookstore. Believe me.)

Book Review – Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

★★★★★ 5 Stars

Genre: Suspense / Mystery
Publication Date: August 1938 / December 2007
Publisher: Virago Press

“I believe there is a theory that men and women emerge finer and stronger after suffering, and that to advance in this or any world, you must endure ordeal by fire.”

Rebecca and her mansion of Manderley crawl with unease – unspoken secrets threatening to burst into something horrible. The tension here is thick enough to form its own phantom, a frost blooming on the spine that dares to expose itself. Drawing from the destructive powers of envy and doubt, Rebecca is a testament to atmos, haunting our mind even 80 years after its initial publication.

The protagonist is a young woman who marries a wealthy heir a decade or so older than herself, Maxim de Winter, on something of a whim and goes to live with him at his house of Manderley. Manderley is haunted by not only the memory of his dead wife, Rebecca, but also the living – the disturbed housekeeper Mrs. Danvers, who has a poisonous animosity towards the new Mrs. de Winter simply because she is not Rebecca. Rebecca was glamorous, ordered, and the polar opposite of the protagonist in any aspect you can name.
Mrs. Danvers’ twisted, almost romantic obsession with Rebecca becomes an increasing distress the more it breaks into the open. In private, Mrs. Danvers doesn’t bother to hide that she hates the protagonist and even tries to coerce her into suicide at one point.
Everyone at Manderley refuses to confront or discuss anything regarding Rebecca, her “ghost”, in a sense holding them in her vice even after her death. Maxim gets angry with his new wife for trying to connect in some way with Rebecca, and needless to say Mrs. Danvers torments her for failing to be more like Rebecca.

The protagonist famously remains nameless. I was struck off-guard once during the ball scene where someone refers to her costume as being like Caroline, one of the de Winter ancestors’ names, which is about as close as she gets to ever being called a name besides “Mrs. de Winter”. Even her title is a cruel reminder of a woman she feels she will never live up to. The worst is that it’s hinted as the riddle starts to make more sense to the protagonist that maybe Rebecca isn’t someone she should try to be, and was not the angel that Mrs. Danvers and the others saw her as.

Atmosphere is the shadowed soul of horror, and I do hesitate to call this a “horror” novel, but in a sense it truly is more frightening than any entity or demon. For one, it is painfully real and relatable for me. I cringed with… severity during quite a few scenes in this book, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. They are just incredibly unnerving and mirror almost to a T things I have gone through. I’m sure I’m not alone in that. I think anyone who reads it would feel the same dread and start to remember their own.
They say that the inexperienced are at an advantage because of youth, but anyone who’s tried to get their bearings in the world knows this isn’t true. One feels like they have missed out on something that is irretrievable, and I think that despite any appearances, what a person has done is always valued above who they were born or what they seem. This is a double-edged sword. Continue reading “Book Review – Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier”

Book Review – Carrie by Stephen King

★★★★ 3.5 Stars

Genre: Horror / Fiction
Publication Date: April 5th, 1974
Publisher: Doubleday

“The low bird is not picked tenderly out of the dust by its fellows; rather, it is dispatched quickly and without mercy.”

You know Carrie. I know Carrie. Carrie has had enough of being the weakling bird, so she becomes the phoenix, out of blood rather than ashes.

There are many others before me who have had the chance to say it better, but if it isn’t a powerful allegory for cruelty towards young women, I don’t know what is. Zealotry and fundamentalism throwing punches with one hand as Carrie’s mother, and peers throwing punches with the other. I can’t blame her for her miniature apocalypse.
What’s so grotesque is that Carrie’s classmates have all gone through the same period. Surely some were at embarrassing times, surely. But yet they are so merciless to her as to treat her like a circus freak.

Coming from someone who’s recently left that weird, enclosed world – the godawful, always unspoken dynamic that seemed to go on in school, it never changes. All so important at the time but seems so pointless when you leave. There’s always someone it was worse for, that you wonder about.

The prose is pretty straightforward but yet you can feel Carrie’s humiliation tangibly, her dread and anger. She’s not alone in being a tragedy, though. Most of the female characters when alone and at most candid, have something horrible driving them – Sue’s misfired attempt to help Carrie that causes her stigma and trauma for years, Chris’s abusive boyfriend combined with her petty need for revenge. You could even call Carrie’s mother tragic – there’s something disturbed churning in the head of anyone who behaves like that thinking it’s pious, but the reader’s never sure what it is. She never wanted poor Carrie, that much is obvious.

Carrie is not in my opinion, Stephen King’s best novel. There are rough edges and the format kind of spoils its own plot. Worth reading of course, but has more of a human tragedy feel than a “scary” atmosphere. I have a huge admiration for Carrie anyway because it brought light to so much other fiction of the time wouldn’t touch. Typical horror, being the brave genre knowing no one will give it the credit it deserves.

Book Review – The Jungle Book by Crystal S. Chan (Adaptation)

★★★★ 4 Stars

Genre: Adventure / Classics
Manga Demographic: Shounen
Publication Date: April 28th, 2017
Publisher: Udon Entertainment

A lively retelling of Rudyard Kipling’s classic – the saga of a boy raised by the inhabitants of the jungle making up the first half, with the second being a series of individual short stories.

It’s a vibrant adaptation, and I appreciate that the artist goes their own way and doesn’t drawn too much from the iconic 1964 Disney film, considering how infused that adaptation has become with peoples’ image of the original.
I’ll admit that I only really know the Disney version, which I enjoy a lot but I know deviates from the novel, notably in tone, and cuts out some of the darker acts. I haven’t gotten the chance to read the original yet, though I feel from what I know about it that Chan’s version is probably a truer echo of Kipling’s novel than the animated movie was. I especially found the half with the unrelated stories interesting, because I hadn’t really known those existed – I had thought it was mostly about Mowgli and the jungle clans.

The Jungle Book is very symbolic of both the dangers and positives of both humans’ and animals’ instinct to behave as clans – how they can choose to accept an outsider as one of their own (as the wolves do Mowgli) or cast them out like a pariah (as the humans eventually do to him when he attempts to join them). Mowgli is sort of the sole exception in an environment where humans, or even humanesque animals like the monkey clan, are something strange and destructive, and to be kept away from. But only because the animals chose to raise him rather than kill him or leave him to die.

As for the art in the book, it’s very cute and crisp and the characters show a wide range of emotions. Some of the animals in particular look amazing, especially Baloo the bear and the tiger Shere Khan. It’s totally a good adaptation, overall.

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.]

Book Review – Hallaj by Husayn ibn Mansur Hallaj

★★★★★ 4.5 Stars

Full Title: Hallaj: Poems of a Sufi Martyr
Genre: Classical Poetry / Religion
Publication Date: July 15th, 2018
Publisher: Northwestern University Press

The meat of these poems is rich and laden with subtle veins that give it a deep sense of intimacy. They pulse at the edges with emotion. Hallaj’s poems began addressed to the ideas of lovers, as many poets do, and they graduated as they evolved to more ambitious and intense heights of pain, joy and faith.

To paint a bit of backdrop behind this collection, Husayn ibn Mansur Hallaj (also known as Mansur al-Hallaj) was a Persian poet and teacher of Sufism, a religion related to Islam, well known for his writings and preachings in the 9th century until his execution in the midst of political discord around the year 922. All of his poems, save for the early quarter in the beginning, revolve and intertwine heavily with spirituality and his relationship with God.

The sheer amount of work that went into both the original poems, their translation and compilation is visibly astounding – Hallaj is heavy in detail, reference, and artfulness with its change from Arabic to English. The translator leaves extensive notes regarding what had to be changed and what could not be changed in the linguistics, considering how distinct the two languages are from each other. It’s also an exhaustive and endlessly fascinating study of the intricacies of Sufism.

The only thing I considered to detract from it – more in design than in quality – are the interpretations and histories given to introduce each poem, when I feel it would leave more to the imagination if they came afterwards, letting the reader make what they will of it before knowing more about the piece.

It is otherwise a flawless book, whether you are more interested in it for religion, history or poetry. It has a depth you don’t see nearly often enough in inspirational writing.


  • “You lit two fires within me, one in my ribs and the other in my guts. And I have never turned to quench my thirst without seeing your reflection in the water. That fire cools my heart like ice, and a sword blow is softer than separation from my love.”
  • “When a youth reaches perfection from desire, and loses the remembered one in memory’s pride, he witnesses truth when desire attests to him that lovers’ perfection is infidelity.”
  • “While love remains secret, it’s dangerous, and ultimate safety meant to lower one’s guard. The most beautiful love is the one that gossip betrays, just as fire is useless when it remains in the stone.”
  • “Your spirit was mixed in my spirit, just like wine and clear water. If something touches you, it touches me, for you are I in every state.”


[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

Book Review – And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

★★★★ 4.5 Stars

Genre: Classics / Poetry
Publication Date: August 7th, 2001 (first published 1978)
Publisher: Random House

And Still I Rise has the freedom of body and spirit all poetry should aspire to break out into. Its raw truth and elegance beckons heartache without force, and not once does it fall back on old cliche as foundation. It’s a brief book that can be read in a moment, but what a moment it creates.

I love to think of poems as what they could be if translated into the physical realm – whether they would be something precious, something alive, something dark. Angelou’s poems feel like artworks – they can be fresh and vibrant as much as they can be visibly distressed, but in both forms they are beautiful.


  • “Hate often is confused. Its limits are in zones beyond itself. And sadists will not learn that love by nature, exacts a pain unequalled on the rack.”
  • “What surety is there that we will meet again, on other worlds some future time undated. I defy my body’s haste. Without the Promise of one more sweet encounter I will not deign to die.”
  • “Wait for me, watch for me. My spirit is the surge of open seas. Look for me, ask for me, I’m the rustle in the autumn leaves. When the sun rises I am the time. When the children sing, I am the Rhyme.”

Book Review – The Stories of Edgar Allan Poe by Stacy King (Adaptation)

★★★★ 4.5 Stars

Genre: Horror / Classics
Manga Demographic: Shoujo
Publication Date: October 17th, 2017
Publisher: Udon Entertainment

The Stories of Edgar Allan Poe is a worthy compilation of the horror master’s most popular tales, adapted to a sleek manga style. Each is the exact dialogue and malcontent spirit of the original, and each features a different artist.

The collection succeeds at recreating that overbearing fog of ghoulish madness and lurking abyss that permeates the originals. I always love a bit of trivia and making-of tidbits, which are included as well. I rate these individually based on the art and amount it captured the essence of Poe’s writing.

  • THE RAVEN – Art by Pikomaro ★★★★

“For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore – nameless here for evermore.”
The iconic poem of a dead love and a harbinger bird gets a more traditional shoujo look, meaning softer, more petal-delicate looks to the characters and settings.

  • THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO – Art by Chagen ★★★★

A man takes revenge on the unfortunate Fortunato with a plan to bury him alive in a catacomb wall. The story is sinister and creeping, with a sleek art style to match.

  • MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH – Art by Uka Nagao ★★★★

The proud, hedonistic and shameless few laugh in the face of the suffering many, to which Death does not take kindly. Most would choose The Raven, but forever I have been a Red Death fangirl. I think that, at least for Poe’s more famous works, it tends to get the least genuine appreciation. The body horror pervading the original is downplayed. However, the art style is good, and it’s conveyed surprisingly well in black and white for being a story drenched in colour metaphors.

  • THE TELL-TALE HEART – Art by Virginia Nitouhei ★★★★★

Be still, my festering heart. The ambiguous madness of a younger man possessed, for some reason beyond even his own comprehension, to kill an older man. He succeeds, but yet he can never stop hearing the man’s heartbeat. A subtle horror matched by a subtle, delicate art-style.

  • THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER – Art by Linus Liu ★★★★★

A ravenous gloom grows inside a mansion, engulfing a brother and sister in illness, despair and insanity while their guest cannot do more than watch them fall apart. The art in this one was my favourite – it has a bit of a Junji Ito aura, especially in the characters’ eyes, and it melds powerfully with the story.


[I received a copy of this through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

Book Review – The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham

★★★★ 4 Stars

What is a planet but an island floating in space, after all? Fertile ground for things to evolve and conquer in a strange and never-ending cycle. What begins as a cosmic nightmare becomes a powerful metaphor for intolerance and the cruel side of nature.

The Midwich Cuckoos is unexpected. The book is itself a gestation – never truly terrifying but a slow-burning uneasiness. Whatever it looks like, there isn’t an antagonist, but two species who are too distant from each other to be compatible.
After a mysterious vehicle crash-lands into the sleepy town of Midwich, its citizens as if trapped in some half-lucid, bizarre dream are forced into birthing, hosting and raising a group of golden-eyed Children that aren’t really theirs and aren’t really children.

While the villagers are sympathetic in one light, being at the mercy of the Children, who are too quick to delve out fatal punishments to anyone who harms them, at the same time many of them are unnecessarily brutal to the Children, unwilling to work alongside them in any way or all-too-eager to burn them all alive if the opportunity presents itself. The Children only reciprocate with the hate they are given by the villagers.

This story is a bit ahead of its time, if it does wander a little too deep into its own navel (Mr. Zellaby’s long, long monologues mostly, which the main character even takes note of). I also like the feminist themes early on when Midwich’s mass number of inexplicable pregnancies is discovered, and I feel like that was handled really sensitively. The Midwich Cuckoos is worthy of its growing status as a sci-fi classic.