DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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Monday, January 18, 2021

Matt finds himself Stuck That Way (review)

 


STUCK THAT WAY AND OTHER QUANDARIES

Julie Kusma (@JulieKusma

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20

‘Huge chunks of fleshy meat covered the bottom of the tub. Sawed bone protrude, and muscle and veins dangled from the edges of the hacked carcass…’ 

I love a good spooky short story – so what better than a collection of them like: Stuck That Way and Other Quandaries which contains several. These short tales of terror were initially published in multiple pieces (bit like the fates of some characters) when the author Julie Kusam (who is known as The Queen of Horror) was a content writer for an online publisher. 

I asked her how it came about and what her inspirations were – she said: 

‘I compiled several, adding an unpublished piece, and created this paranormal, horror collection. The title story, “Stuck That Way” is based on a conversation I had with a friend. We were discussing energy, chakras, and one’s ability to control their personal vibrational quality. I wondered, what if in the afterlife you become manifest corporeally when your frequency slows? This story is full of spiritual irony, with a playful dose of the age-old adage about making an ugly face and getting stuck that way.

The second story, “Something Lurking” is based on the woods behind my house and the strange behaviour my dog often displays at night. I’ve heard noises emanating from the woods. It can be frightening on starless nights because one never knows what might be lurking.

“By Induction” is a personal favourite based on the magical practice of freezing individuals out of your life. Except the main character’s belief in her power to affect life while ignoring life leaves her most significant impact yet. Irony is one of my favourite literary tropes. 

'ho ho ho...'

“That’s Creepy, Santa!” is the fourth short story, and yes, it is horror. So, if you’ve never read a Christmas horror story, you’re in for a scary treat. A couple, excited to spend Christmas Eve home alone, finds an unexpected present left at their front door, and what waits inside has different plans for their evening.

“Relevant Evidence” is a story written around contest parameters, which included someone who gets lost and cannot find their way back, and a sock. This story popped in my head. I didn’t make the final round, but I ended up with an interesting story and an unusual POV. The final short story is 

“Devilish Games” and was inspired by an antique chair adorned with brass devils. This piece of furniture became the basis for this story as I wondered if an ancient god could become trapped inside an object. You’ll have to read it to see.’ 

I enjoyed my read through these tales – each brings its own unnerving vibe and all are worth a look. My favourite was ‘That’s Creepy, Santa!’ which brings some festive bloodshed to the mix. Julie writes with a direct style which can creep you out with a minimum of fuss or any need for bloated prose.
 
Whatever your personal fav way to get scared, there is likely to be something here to tingle your spine. Some of the stories are stronger than others but this short anthology is worth seeking out for all those who relish the darkness that can make the synaptic jump from a page to the imagination.

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööööö (5 - feel the darkness!) 





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Monday, January 11, 2021

Matt faces The Wolf Master of Iron Mountain (review)



The Wolf Master of Iron Mountain (The Witch of Appalachia Book 1) 

Francesca Quarto  (@FrancescasMagic)

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

‘My father was a Celtic Mage, a wizard, by any other name, a practitioner of Magic. He was versed in the secret arts of the ancient mystics and the healing powers of the Green Mother.’ 

Meet Cathleen O'Brien – a 24year old who hails from an Irish immigrant family. Along with her dog Ollie, she as something else that sets her apart from others, her father inducted her a clan of Celtic Mages with Magical roots going back to the Dark Times. So not your average young woman… 

After she is left some money, Cathleen takes over WHIP Radio, a station serving the remote ex-mining town of ‘Iron Mountain.’ It quickly becomes apparent though that something isn’t right amongst the old Appalachian town’s populace. Before long, an uneasy and slightly sinister vibe hangs over this beautiful mountain setting and Cathleen seems to be drawn into the mix. A late-night confrontation with a roaming gang of wolves is just the start of this adventure… 

'beware the woods'

Could it be something to do with the stories of how town folk and visitors often disappear off the local trail? When Cathleen investigates, she discovers the hunky town sheriff, Jason who seems very keen to help. Together they work to uncover the secrets behind the shadow of violence that hangs over the town. The historic Indian Folklore about werewolves in the area seems like it might be pertinent. However, there are things that make Cathleen wonder if her trust and attraction for Jason are a mistake. Might he be the ‘Wolf Master’ and if so what is his plan? 

The fantasy elements are handled really nicely – with shaman and giants in the cast along with monsters… The romance is zippy enough to not get your hackles up if you are worried it might all be a bit Twilight? Cathleen’s Celtic Mage background and powers are fascinating – in a Spiderman-like way she lives a mostly normal life, keeping her talents hidden. But what if she’s not alone in hiding beyond human powers – who can she trust as the body count rises along with the danger… 

Wolf Master of Iron Mountain is a very readable book that should appeal to all readers from young adult upwards and would make for a great TV show!!

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööööö (5 - A fantasy trip worth taking!) 





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Friday, January 08, 2021

Matt faces Death - Grinns and Bears It (review)

 


Death, Just Grinn and Bear It

Christopher Hooley (@ChrisHooley2020)

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

‘What do you mean I’m dead?’ said the half-naked corpse hanging from the ceiling. ‘Well… I don’t really know another way of putting this so try and keep up, you’re dead. Wait actually this is another way of staying it… your life has ended…. How about this? Your time is up?’

Dear reader – thank you for your application to become a Grinn and Bear It representative, we are a well-established business which is thriving despite, or maybe even because of the current unstable situation the world finds itself in.

Death is the universal, it was what Disney referred to as ‘a tale as old as time’ – oh wait – according to my legal team that might not actually be true. But death is certainly something of a growth business that’s for sure. I’d like to introduce you to Jack, he’s one of our employees and he’ll be your buddy / guide as you get to know the job.

Jack: ‘Hey reader, you’re going to love this well-paid job, being a ‘Grinn and Bear It’ rep is what’s more commonly known as a ‘Grimm reaper’. Think of it as the ultimate afterlife induction facility – simplified to just picking which door you want to step through into eternity…’

'Don't feat the reaper'

The mastermind behind this whole set-up is the literary deviant Christopher Hooley who has taken a winning idea and written up some kind of adventure that is not far from the wonderful tomes of Douglas Adams. Getting to meet characters at their deaths makes for a fun and somewhat poignant ride. If you’re a prude, then best note that there is an adult tale, and the adult characters do adult sexy things to each other, there is all sorts of sweaty sensual ‘action’, oh they also cuss in realistic ways so be aware of what you’re getting into!?

One might call Death, Just Grinn and Bear It a rom-tragi-com with spooky overtones (due to the sheer subject matter). It’ll make you laugh, it might make you cry and it will certainly keep you amused and engaged throughout.

Hooley is great writer, shaping his tale with more thought and nuance than the outlandish plot devices might initially warrant. If you enjoy the macabre end of contemporary fiction – sprinkled with some spice and wrapped around a heart - this really should be your next read!

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööööö (5 - Choose the door marked 'READ THIS BOOK') 





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Friday, January 01, 2021

Matt feels the love of the XENOCHRIST (review)


XENOCHRIST (Of Man & Machine) 

N.H. Weber (@NHWWrites

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20

‘…the screen was cracked in multiple spots and barely lit. There were no images visible, just an old tech cursor flashing in place and one word repeating in place across the text field, "Hell?”’

XENOCHRIST is a great hard-boiled sci-fi/cyberpunk thrill ride set in the year 2503. 
We get to hang out with Kravac Alntar and Wixspin Atlicke two corporate pals who are struggling to deal with the apparent suicide of one of their closest business partners (and friends) Volz Shimmel. The plot amps up as the two leads investigate the untimely death, was her suicide an accident? If not why did she want to die? And maybe more importantly - why is her data drive playback a vision of Hell?

Kravac and Wixspin are likeable double act but even more fun is their sometime companion - the heavily armed battle bot X-5 or ‘Fives’ as he’s known. Fives is a superb ass-kicking robo who deserves his own spin off! Weber writes with style and has a knack for building cyber-worlds. If you’re a fan of cyber action virtual reality adventures - think The Matrix meets a trippier Blade Runner - you’ve come to the right party. 

"this is Five's brother surely'

Encompassing weird and wonderful ‘Deep Web’ entities, a massive conspiracy involving rebel operatives, religious fanatics in a closed-off country (as a result of a FOUNDATION / Unification War) and a personal army of enhanced soldiers hunting for our two heroes means that there is never a dull moment. But none of these are the threat level of the being called Xenochrist. Kravac & Wixspin tale becomes one of survival at all costs as their paths cross with new allies as well as a host of enemies. 

What we have then is a unique treatise on what does it actually mean to be human, where does an AI entity cross into our physical realm and even - is there a god or deity, and if so what is the criteria for being one, and if one does exist is it truly a good, moral, and just deity or can they be some malicious entity? 

For those only looking for a quick easy read, XENOCHRIST isn’t that, this is a book which requires dedication and tolerance of heavy-duty sci-fi. My advice is to step up for this metaphysical adventure and then look forward to revisiting this world again when Nate Weber brings his next novel Lord of Poison out later this year. 

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööööö (5 - Let the XENOCHRIST into your life!) 





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Monday, December 28, 2020

Darkmatters Top 10 FIlms 2020

 


Matt’s Top Ten Films 2020




10. Color Out of Space

Director Richard ‘Dust Devil’ Stanley is a fascinating guy. After making the superb robo-terror flick Hardware and following up with an excellent supernatural serial killer in Dust Devil he got fired from the troubled H.G. Wells adaptation of The Island of Dr Moreau in 1996. He hasn’t made a film since. But now he’s back and he’s come back strong with a freak0ut sci-fi horror based on a weird short story by H.P. Lovecraft.

"the remake of 'The Colour Purple' was extreme'

Color Out of Space is a cosmic tale of what happens when a meteor lands in the grounds of ex-artist Nathan Gardner (Nic ‘Mandy’ Cage)’s rural alpaca farm. The titular ‘Color’ is slowly unleashed and proves to be an extra-terrestrial organism that spreads madness and violence.

The results are a mash-up of grisly body-horror and psych-out – shot through with laugh-out-loud humour. Basically, this is a perfect Friday night entertainment. 




9. The Droving

When Martin (Daniel ‘Hex’ Oldroyd) returns from the military to search for his missing sister Meg (Amy Tyger), he gets caught up in a strange traditional folk festival called 'The Droving', nothing good can come of it…

Based on the actual Winter Droving event that takes place in Penrith – this newest entry into the growing Folk-em-up horror genre that includes classics like The Wicker Man and Midsommer adds some revenge motive violence to the mix.

'stunning use of scenery'

As the second feature from indy production company Rubicon Films, this is an exciting slice of high tension that slow burns with a voodoo menace right up until the occult climax. Other reviewers have cited the excellent Dead Man’s Shoes as a reference point and I totally get that, I’d add Ben Wheatley’s Kill List too.



8. Mank 

Gary Oldman delivers a screen-eating performance as Herman ‘Mank’ Mankiewicz, spitting cynical wisecracks from his motel bed, where he is holed up with a broken leg, trying to finish the screenplay for Citizen Kane. Fincher brings his A-Game loading the cast with excellent female talent too such as long-suffering wife (a great turn from Tuppence Middleton), his female muse Marion Davies (Amanda Seyfried) and Rita Alexander (Lily Collins), the prim British secretary assigned to take his dictation. 

'harsh audience'

It’s an irresistibly watchable film, told with a heartfelt drama as Mank struggles first with his creation whilst often under the influence and then to get his ‘writer’ credit on the final production. Let this film take you back to a golden era of Hollywood and it’ll warm the soul of any creatives out there! 



7. How to Build A Girl

This year’s diamond in the rough comedy-drama is set on a Wolverhampton council estate in the 1990s - which I was not expecting… Telling the tale of sixteen-year-old Johanna (Beanie ‘Book Smart’ Feldstein) loves her family but is desperate to outgrow the confines of secondary school. Things look up when she’s hired by a prestigious, male-run music magazine, but she has to reinvent herself with the pen name ‘Dolly Wilde’ - a flame-haired uber harsh critic in a top hat and corset. 

'this is me...'

Johanna might live in council-housing ignominy in the British Midlands with a feckless father (the always awesome Paddy Considine), a postnatally depressed mother (Sarah Solemani) and her confused brother. But the film flies when Feldstein riffs on the material - and there is an excellent Carter USM poster in one scene that made me grin! 


6. Queen & Slim

As Empire says: ‘Of all the films released in 2020, Queen & Slim was perhaps the 2020-est.’ It’s the tale of Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith) and Slim (Daniel Kaluuya) who meet on a Tinder date and get plunged into a nightmare when a cop pulls them over. 

'on the wrong end of police attention'

Queen & Slim deals in brutality, injustice and beauty amidst an exciting and heart-breaking exposure of an all too authentic feeling Black experience. Packed with stunning visuals this is a road movie with a ton of heart.




5. TENET

Christopher Nolan tore up the rule book of plotting with this spy-em-up palindromic pulse-pounder / brain-scrambler. A super smart and slightly feverish time-travel action flick that delivered some unforgettable set pieces which simultaneously blew the doors off and threw down the gauntlet to the dormant-Bond franchise.


'I can vouch this is a great place for a honeymoon btw'

The cast go about the rum time-bending business with aplomb - lots of credit to David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki and even Michael Caine, and Kenneth Branagh. Tenet is a film that can be enjoyed even more when watched again and is another excellent addition to the Nolan-verse of thrillers. 




4. The Lighthouse

Seafarer beware the beguiling light of The Lighthouse – this new tale of sinister goings-on, superstition and madness from Director Rober ‘The VVitch’ Eggers is salty fare.
Telling the tale of two Lighthouse keepers or ‘wickies’ who both have dark secrets. Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) is a broken former lumberjack, whilst the grizzled experienced keeper Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe) seems to be unnaturally possessive of the upper light chamber... This mismatched duo must man the lighthouse on a strange grey islet off the coast of late-19th-century New England, but all might not be so straight forward as the last assistant wickie killed himself citing influence from bad omens and enchantments. 

'secrets and lies'

Folk tales work when the set-up is simple, but the underbelly is deep, packed with creeping dread, unnatural events and sights and sounds that will unnerve you. The Lighthouse is a brilliant but very odd film, presented in black and white on 35mm – immediately evoking David Lynch’s 1977 cult classic Eraserhead. The similarities don’t end there as both films take the viewer on a sensory assault, where at times you don’t even really know quite what’s going on…



3. Bad Boys for Life 

The infamous Bad Boys are back in town some 25 years since Bad Boys hit the cinema. Much has changed since then but this 3rd outing is kinda awesome in that it brings the wise-cracking, whiz-bang buddy cop formula up-to-date and makes it feel fresh again for whole new audience.

The 'boys' are back...

Of course, that’s not entirely true, as a huge fan of the original I’m sensing that the record-breaking box-office of this threequel is largely due to many other like me who have been waiting to see Mike
(Will Smith) and Marcus (Martin Lawrence) hit the streets again.



2. Jo Jo Rabbit

World War II really wasn’t a laughing matter but Taika ‘Hunt For The Wilderpeople’ Waititi somehow manages to deliver a superbly funny WW2 satire that tells the tale of lonely Hitler Youth enthusiast Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis). Jojo lives with his wildly independent single mother (Scarlett Johansson) in Germany as the end of the war approaches – and he is aghast to find out his mum is hiding a young Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic. 

"if you're Nazi and you know it - jump"

Jojo has a secret, an idiotic imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler himself no less (played by Waititi) – who stokes the young lad’s ideological indoctrination. 

This comic Nazi-em-up might sound like being in poor taste but it goes full-throttle hilarious from the off and you’ll be caught up in the infectious madness before you know it. The premise is liable to make viewers uncomfortable as it makes fun of the horrific fascism, but clever writing is spot on and makes lots of really good points about the horror of war.



1. Possessor Uncut

The boundary between jaw-dropping sci-fi and freak-out horror is one that this extreme psychological thriller bursts through with style. One of the single most disturbing and brilliant viewing experience I’ve had for ages. Directed by son of the body-horror maestro David ‘Videodrome’ Cronenberg, Possessor a seriously unsettling contract-killer-em-up that delves into the psyches of people - expounding human nature in all its brutality. You see in the near future we have the ability to commandeer the minds of anyone and use them to commit crimes. 

'interlinked'

Andrea Riseborough is Tasya Vos, the best mind jumping killer out there - but she’s losing her grip much to the concern of her supervisor Girder (Jennifer Jason Leigh). When her next Colin Tate (Chris Abbott) manages to fight back control of his body and vow vengeance on her after his girlfriend Ava (Tuppence Middleton) and her father John Parse (Sean Bean) are targeted - things get very grim...

Do not approach if witnessing ultra-violence isn’t something you can do - Possessor is a pitch-black darkness that will haunt you after viewing. Highly recommended!





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Monday, November 02, 2020

Matt looks Behind Blue Eyes (review)

 


Behind Blue Eyes: A Cyberpunk Noir Novel

 Anna Mocikat (@anna_mocikat)

Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

 "…her face was the same, with its almost unearthly beauty and that eternally young, innocent look – hiding the most dangerous predator of Olympus."

 I was a big Fields of the Nephilim fan back in my teenage ‘goth’ phase (don’t ask) and have also always been fascinated about the fumbled interpretation of the word ‘Nephilim’ in the Bible – giants / demi-gods who mated with human women you say? It’s certainly a passage you don’t hear preached on often. 

But here Nephilim is something cooler, something more deadly and beautiful too… A Guardian Angel, taken as a child and enhanced with cyber augmentations to become more than human. A soldier for the forces of authority, an enforcer on the mean streets of Olympias and Old Town. 

'can you trust her?'

 Nephilim is revered as the ultimate death bringer – she uses her genetically and cybernetically enhanced abilities to mess up anyone who stands against the system. But things get messy when she’s shocked with an EMP and falls for a charming human in the shape of wide boy Jake. 

 What does a killer cyborg do when she begins to question her role in murderously enforcing the peace? This is an action-packed thrill ride through megacities, spewing dystopian themes like toxic fumes as violent battles for the future erupt.

I have got to know as we are both members of the Cyberpunk Coalition (look out for our anthology of short stories which hits in January 2021). Anna explained to me some of her inspiration for writing Behind Blue Eyes, she said: 

“I fell in love with the cyberpunk genre back in the late 90s when I saw Ghost in the Shell for the first time. I have seen and loved Tron and Blade Runner before, but Ghost in the Shell was the point of no return for me. The aesthetics and deep philosophical thoughts behind the movie blew my mind. Ever since, I wanted to write my own cyberpunk story in that style but somehow got distracted by other projects. 

When I finally started working on Behind Blue Eyes two years ago, it was like a creative explosion. Similar to Motoko in Ghost in the Shell, my main character Nephilim is a cyborg living in a futuristic mega-city. However, Nephilim is like a dark, twisted sister of Motoko. She’s a killer cyborg, designed to hunt down and kill humans who disagree with the “perfect” society. Like in Ghost in the Shell, the question about what makes us human is a central theme in my story. But the conclusion is much darker than in Ghost in the Shell. And way more cynical.” 



If you like your cyberpunk hard-boiled and breathless, Behind Blue Eyes should be your next book to read…

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööööö (5 - Cyberpunk you need in your life!) 




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Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Matt becomes one of Fiona's Guardians (Review)





Fiona’s Guardians

Dan Klefstad (@danklefstad)
 
Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20

‘A group of masked men dragged a woman out of her home in broad daylight and set her on fire. This was in Michigan. They hooked her to a truck winch and say they didn’t use gasoline or anything – just the sun. They’re claiming she was a vampire.’ 

 You ever had a job that you hated so much you literally wished you were dead? Meet Daniel, he’s just a guy, who takes a mysterious role sourcing blood for his employer Fiona. I know right – sounds a bit dodgy, the kind of thing you’d only be asked to do for someone really ill, possibly for a blood loving freak, or maybe, no, surely not for a vampire? 



But 250-year-old Fiona isn’t your average employer and she really ‘needs’ those 10 pints of human blood every night!? And the job can be quite a strain on poor Daniel – having to look out for authorities and suspicious folk, when perhaps they should most of all be tracking that ancient order of monks dedicated to the extermination of vampires? 

With Fiona’s Guardians, Dan Klefstad has created a powerful and thrilling vamp-em-up which is as engaging and compelling as the best blood sucking fiction on the market. My favourite vampire tale (both book and film) is Let The Right One In – by John Ajvide Lindqvist. Like that epic opus on human / vampire interaction – it is the mortal humans who are caught in Fiona’s web that balance the story. 



Packing everything from modern tech like infrared imagining drones, through to fun wooden bullets that are potentially far more effective than the traditional stakes – Fiona’s enemies are on. a crusade to exterminate vampires. The plot cracks along at a good pace and the writing is as sharp as Fiona’s teeth. One chapter jumps back in time to give a whole heap of context for the modern-day action – a battle that has raged through time. 

This is the sort of novel-writing that oozes confidence and deserves to have the chance to resonate with a wide audience of readers. I’d love to see Fiona get a movie or TV adaptation – this is a rich seam of mythos that refreshes and invigorates the vampire lore and leaves a bloody body count in its wake. 

I recommend Fiona’s Guardians to anyone looking for something macabre this Halloween.

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööööö (5 - One bite and you're smitten) 




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Sunday, September 27, 2020

Matt visits Axel Lennart and the Ice World (review)



Axel Lennart and the Ice World

D.M.Z. Liyanage (@z_liyanage)

Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

‘You are lucky….for now. Should we meet again like this, I will have no option but to subject you to further questioning at the appropriate facility.’

On the ice-world of Eleusis, where the wind blows cold and the atmosphere is arctic, an ancient magic stirs. 

Who or what is the 'Völvur' – tales are told of them being dark sorcerers from long ago but surely they are just tales, right? 

In Axel Lennart and the Ice World we jump into a galaxy far, far away as hotshot pilot Axel Lennart as he crosses paths with the Unity Regime – tyrant rulers of Eleusis. But when Axel hears that the Regime is searching for an ancient Völvur artefact buried deep within the ice wastes, he lets his curiosity get the better of him. What Axel doesn’t know is that Völvur’s might still be a thing and they want it on their side… 

 Cue a search for an artefact known as the X-06 - not the latest Xbox but rather a relic that contains the mythical powers of the fabled dark sorcery. Axel’s fate is tied into that of the mysterious person called Raven and his quest to unravel the mystery plays out like a great episode of Firefly (my all time fav sci-fi show) crossed with Star Wars: A New Hope (my fav sci-fi film). 

The references to classic sci-fi’s are multitude and fun to connect with – from the dangerous escaped Convict-5257 and fun range of droids – through to the weaponry and speeder bikes if you’re a sci-fi fan then there is plenty to make you happy here. 

The story bounces along and is a fun romp – recommended for anyone who’s ever dreamed of adventure in the stars.

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööööö (5 - May the Ice World be with you!) 




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Sunday, September 20, 2020

Matt's life is enriched by Divine Souls (review)



DIVINE SOULS - All beyond proximities 

Ayesha F. Muskaan (@poetrybyayesha

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20

" There is a deep pain which he can read on her face but he does not prefer too, there is deep innocence too on her face just like that on face of Finas and those glittering eyes which are eager for his attention.”  

Divine souls is a joyfully life-enriching reading experience which follows the lives of Finas and Abraham. These two siblings don’t have it easy; they face prejudice and opposition from society but draw on their inner strength and that of their family to get through. 

In a place where the actions and decisions of their elders shape their options, Divine Souls is a fascinating and inspiring tale that greatly revolves around the planned marriage of Finas. With her well-meaning uncle Shroff (who was probably my favourite character) often on hand to dispense some wisdom and learning from the experiences of Rafita and Ziwar who married before them and faced lots of cultural issues. 

This is a book to lose yourself in, to be transported to another place and journey with some great young people finding love and all that goes with it. At a time when it feels as if there isn’t much love or peace to be found in our world, this tale is one that will leave you giving thanks when a family can find forgiveness and yes the love that binds them together. Isn’t that what matters most?  

I was enchanted by the cultural insights, the narrative drive and some really epic poetry which ends the book – e.g. ‘For the first time I fell in love with honesty , I became dishonest. (Honesty of Rafita)’

Recommended!! 

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööööö (5 - Life is rich and varied - enjoy!) 




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Saturday, September 12, 2020

Matt finds himself an Alternate reality (review)



Alternate 

Christopher Buxton (@cbescapenovels)

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

"Back at Alternate HQ, the Operator excitedly placed his hands behind his head, feeling a small dose of astonishment. ‘It’s preposterous that it exists!’ he exclaimed."

What if we could jump between alternate timelines / universes? 

Well in Alternate that’s exactly what humans have worked out how to do. Meet Caspian – one of the first explorers to make the leap across the multiverse. Unfortunately, it’s possible that you might not make it back… 

I asked Chris what his inspiration behind Alternate was: “My job is ok but doesn’t allow me to be creative. I got bored and fed up of not being able to produce something that was my own ideas. I had been reading and listening to books for 2 or 3 years, then one day watched a film called Bandersnatch. I thought it was something never done before, and so creative. And so became inspired to have a try at creating my own story - my own imagination etc. Also it was a healthy escape from reality for me. Writing and focusing on the story helped to block out the world and all the general stress of work - money - family - parenting etc.”  

'What if we're not the only universe out there?'


So, is Alternate a good read? I took a little while to get into it but once the reality jumping action kicked in, I found it a fun book which delivers lots of thought-provoking ideas and some solid sci-fi adventures. Jimmy Ray is the hero of the piece and he gets partnered up with a wild card female agent Cia whose father has been lost in an alternate universe. 

My favourite element was the internal AI assistant that the agents have embedded in their eyes which answers to the name ‘Lens’. The plot takes in mad scientists, alternate pubs and fire breathing dragons – it’s quite a mix. Chris’s writing style takes scientific details and fantasy and fuses them into a fascinating romp. It’s worth checking out.



Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööö
ö


(4 - alternative reading for the sci-fi minded)


Buy your copy of Alternate



https://www.amazon.co.uk/Complete-Darkness-Darkmatters-Matt-Adcock/dp/0957338775

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

Matt meets The Man With No Name (review)

 


The Man With No Name

Tanweer Dar (@Tanweer_Dar

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@cleric20)

“The neon lights cast a pink and blue glow over the glistening wet road…” 

The Man With No Name is a fun bite-sized cyberpunk novella in a world that owes a debt to a myriad near futures we’ve seen on screen. Author Tanweer is obviously a fan of movies and you get that cinematic almost script like feel. I enjoyed the virtually shared lore with Complete Darkness where everyone has a Headchip – except here one man remains unchipped – no prizes in guessing that this is our unnamed hero. 

In this bleak and sparsely populated tale, the titular Man With No Name fights a lonely battle to try and prevent our freedom being overwritten by a bio/tech fusion – this is a nice touch beginning to blur the lines between biology and technology. It all cracks along at a good pace and there are some good action set pieces. I felt in places the author over details passages – conversations are full of ‘he / she saids’ and the prose doesn’t flow easily. This is in contrast to the characters who don’t get much flesh on their bones. There are also some stock descriptions that come up again and again about the black muscle car the hero drives. Not being too complex does mean that this would be a good taster cyberpunk for young adult readers. 

Street drive...

I asked Tanweer about his inspiration for the book, he said: “The Man With No Name is a novella set in a dystopian world. It’s a world in which most people have surrendered control to an almost omnipotent corporation, which can track them and their actions at will. This is largely due to the fact that everyone is chipped. They gain access using their chips, are identified via their chips, and pay for transactions. 

Into this cyberpunk setting comes a shadowy figure, a man with no chip, and no name. Protected from the corporation by his mother, he now seeks to find justice for what happened to her – and in turn, him. Coupled with the rapid development of Artificial Intelligence, this quest leads to enormous, unintended consequences. 

In terms of inspiration, certainly, motifs and environments explored in films such as Drive and Blade Runner, and to a lesser extent post-apocalyptic action such as Mad Max, are evident in The Man With No Name. At its core, however, is the very human story of a mother-son relationship and the search for the essence of freedom.” 

If you’ve a hankering for a cyberpunk hit that you can consume in one sitting - this is a lightning-fast and enjoyable read. Will be interesting to see what Tanweer does with a longer novel.



Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:

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(4 - Short and sweet cyber tale)


Grab a slice of Cyber action here



https://www.amazon.co.uk/Complete-Darkness-Darkmatters-Matt-Adcock/dp/0957338775

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