When I joined Goodreads.com about a year ago I started receiving recommendations from folks fairly quickly. One of the first few titles that struck a chord with me was Cinema of Shadows by Michael West. Considering that I have a considerable weakness for well written horror, it sounded like it might be worth a look.
It was only after I got the Kindle app for my iPad that I was able to read it. I’m glad I downloaded that application, it has enabled me to read a lot more “new” writers (as in new to me, that is) books for a lot cheaper than if I had to rely on my local Waterstones. I am pretty damned picky when it comes to horror novels. I have a relatively small “stable” of writers that I know will deliver what I want.
Stephen King, James Herbert, Richard Laymon, Ramsey Campbell, Peter Straub, and maybe one or two more make up my “horror stable.” I’ve now added Michael West to this small very talented group of writers who have the ability to entertain the hell out of me.
Cinema of Shadows is about a movie theatre that is occupied by something big, scary, and powerful. It is also about the young (and not so young) people who come in contact with this occupant and what happens to them as a result. The book is fast paced and the story made me think of Straub’s “possessed” movie theatre in Ghost Story but more in-depth and a damn sight scarier.
Besides the theatre and its scary denizens, we get to meet Kim Saunders, a young lady who can see much more than the immediate world around her; her room-mate Tashima, her class-mates Kevin and Joss and Professor Geoffrey Burke who teaches them all in his parapsychology class at the local university.
We also get to meet Tyler Bachman (great name and a nod to Stephen King’s “late” alter-ego?) who is the local doctor in training who looks after the health of all the students who attend Stanley University. A little later in the book we also meet additional good guys Robby Miller who is a paramedic and Detective Perry.
Of course we also meet the many spirits, good and otherwise, who make up the “meat” of the story.
West’s writing style is a miss-mash of some of my favourite authors. A touch of Laymon with a dash of Herbert, mixed with a sprinkling of Straub and just a touch of King. In essence, he’s a cornucopia of flavours; all deliciously scary and attention grabbing. His story raced along and I found myself scarcely able to put the story down. With a minimum of muss and fuss West has come up with characters that I liked. More importantly, I believed their assorted back stories and I could empathise with all of them. He also does a brilliant job with the dialogue of each character.
Very few authors have the knack for making the people in their stories sound real. Michael West has a “good ear” and he has the knack of making their speeches and conversation sound natural and real.
Cinema of Shadows was an excellent introduction to a new author and he is now a member of my small stable of writers who can deliver not only scares but stories that carry you away.
This is a real 5 out of 5 stars book that doesn’t disappoint in any way.
- The Secret of Crickley Hall by James Herbert: The Devil’s in Devon (mikesfilmtalk.com)
- Ghost Story by Peter Straub (wdprescott.wordpress.com)
- ## : In Laymon’s Terms (tranquil92p9k.wordpress.com)