Dark Matter by Blake Crouch forges great sci-fi, as a 21st century high point of transformative art continues the tradition of science miracles having a very good and very bad fallout.
Dark Matter provides a visceral thrill ride empowered by science the way Michael Crichton’s work has for decades.
I do not throw around the name of Crichton often, because no one is quite like the late author, the scientist-teacher-turned novelist.
But Crouch in his own brilliant way reminds me of him.
The Following Book Review of Dark Matter by Blake Crouch is Spoiler-Free.
“Are you happy with your life?”
Those are the last words Jason hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious, and he wakes in another world, another reality, exactly like his own except for where he made a fundamentally different life choice that drastically altered his life and those of his loved ones.
Would the science he had given up come to change the course of time?
These are not spoilers.
This is just how you get thrown into a story that is every bit as much an intimate lovers’ voyage, as it is a spine-rattling suspense thriller.
Genres are, like rules, made to be smashed, chopped up and baked into a wholesome and delicious culinary innovation.
And so too does the vision of Crouch cook up the best parts of sci-fi, thriller, fantasy, a sprinkling of horror, and a love story into a unique and infamous warning of what tampering with alternate timelines might be like for those equipped with dark matter in the near (or far) future.
I love this book.
It evokes many of the best traits from what I consider to be the pinnacle of time travel fiction, Isaac Asimov’s The End of Eternity.
Most if not all of the time travel medium, in films, video games, comic books, and novels lift ideas and tropes from Asimov, but Dark Matter takes it all a lot further and also gets very specific with the fringe science theories and experiments with time and matter.
At the heart is a man who loves his wife, Daniela, has his reality and their life together taken from him, and must work with a future science he never invented to try and right the wrongs.
“Last night, I set out to answer a simple question: Where is Daniela . . . This is not my world. Even as those five words cross my mind, I’m not exactly certain what they mean, or how to begin to consider their full weight.” [DARK MATTER, pg. 118, B. Crouch]
Dark Matter continues to blow my mind after each read.
To give this extraordinary book the treatment it deserves, Suntup Editions strove to encompass this classic with a gorgeous signed-numbered limited edition.
The spine is goatskin and feels so soft and smooth.
And since the story deals with alternate realities, what better way to show that than to have three different bradel-bound numbered versions, purple, green, and blue, and then randomly send them to the 350 owners upon release.
They are all great to hold, with a brilliant sheen to the thick cloth covers and the minimalism evokes less is more.
I wanted and was thrilled to get the purple cover.
Unique to the edition is an introduction by another favorite author and one of the most innovative voices of 21st century sci-fi Andy Weir, and he, crouch, and artist Clarcq each signed the book.
All of these Suntup editions are so well made and fit Dark Matter’s story so well!
Suntup made a limited artist edition and a lettered edition as well, and the art that Hilary Clarcq brought makes this tale come alive in an exciting way.
NOT FOREVER, BUT FOR NOW by Chuck Palahniuk: a dark reality that calls on readers to look inward and outward, to scrutinize our contemporary world, and to act if we want to change things for the good or the very worst of living creatures, especially the joeys.
Please be sure of nothing except that Chuck Palahniuk’s newest novel does not directly call on readers to do anything.
That is merely one interpretation that I had for NOT FOREVER, BUT FOR NOW; our world is not displayed in blacks and whites but shades of grays and stark colors, as does the grim earth that NOT FOREVER, BUT FOR NOW is set in.
So, whether you feel you are being called upon to assist in the exposing of the Empire, or to save struggling joeys from the perilous fur of a mama kangaroo, or you wish to preserve the Empire, at any cost, including spitting in a dropped joey’s eye, or you feel you ought merely to reflect upon the story and its wily metaphors is entirely up to you, Fictioneers.
This is why metaphors are such powerful vessels for great themes, morals, expressed traumas, and impactful events.
The following book review of NOT FOREVER, BUT FOR NOW is *Spoiler-Free.
This classic tale is darker than FIGHT CLUB and INVISIBLE MONSTERS and is every bit as enjoyable.
Psychopaths have never been so fun or redeeming!
The help begin to suspect the enormous Welsh home that brothers Cecil and Otto live in, fornicate in, and murder the help in is cursed, as the number of nannies, drivers, and butlers’ bodies pile higher and higher over the years of the brothers’ youth.
In fact, the family business, from Mummy, to Daddy, to Grandfather, is that of professional killers responsible for the most infamous murders and alleged ‘suicides’ in history.
NOT FOREVER, BUT FOR NOW will have you choked up, whether you feel for tragic characters in the tale, or are reading while eating (Blood RWE Level = .07-Choking Hazard).
This book displays a mastery of language throughout, especially the thick Welsh accents and the Sir Richard Attenborough impersonations (not to be confused with David Attenborough, folks). Readers can look forward to every sentence in this book being of impact, as a carefully thought out and expertly voiced style makes for a truly unique use of language.
NOT FOREVER, BUT FOR NOW is a genre bender and hits on hilarious satire, horror that makes one wince, killer thriller events, and literary style.
I love all of Chuck Palahniuk’s books but NOT FOREVER, BUT FOR NOW is a new favorite for me, right alongside INVISIBLE MONSTERS and FIGHT CLUB.
I rated NOT FOREVER, BUT FOR NOW 5/5 Stars on Goodreads here.
And finally here is Chuck Palahniuk describing how NOT FOREVER, BUT FOR NOW came about:
This book arose quite literally from the ashes of the amazing Shirley Jackson. Picture two siblings isolated in a colossal country manor. Dark secrets. Frightened villagers spreading rumors galore. Twenty years ago, Jackson’s daughter sent me her mother’s cremated remains, and this book came about. Not Forever, But for Now could be the bastard half-brother of We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Look for a landslide of dread broken only by laughter and occasional heartbreak. More people get buried alive than A. E. Poe ever dared entomb. More Frankenstein monsters menace more villagers than Mary Shelley dared put on the page.
Cecil and Otto, the two young brothers in Not Forever, live a Henry James life. Their crenellated manse and pony carts and lemon syllabub depend on the two small boys going forth to do the dirty deeds that keep the Empire alive. But will they? How many footmen and nannies and movie stars must they kill to ensure the privileged luxury of the few? Amble through stoney lunatic asylums. Go big game hunting in London’s Hyde Park. I cordially invite you for romantic strolls with escaped homicidal maniacs. You’ll find the magic dust of Shirley Jackson’s ashes sprinkled on every page.
Philip Fracassi the renowned author of BOYS IN THE VALLEY spoke LIVE with R.J. Huneke on TFF on August 21, 2023.
We discussed Philip’s new novel, many of his previous works, including GOTHIC, SHILOH, SACCULINA, BENEATH A PALE SKY, BEHOLD THE VOID, and more (find them all on his site here), as well as some of his upcoming projects, including some pulp fiction and science fiction, as well as the BITV book tour, and insight into his writing.
Readers and Fictioneers, this is not one you want to miss.
Here is a preview of our TFF review of this incredible book:
“BOYS IN THE VALLEY by Philip Fracassi is a chilling classic.”
Fracassi’s tale is labeled as horror, but is much more than that: this is a deep, gritty coming-of-age story that delves its own mark on readers.
In 1905, when the priests at a Catholic orphanage in rural Pennsylvania are brought a possessed man to heal, things go horribly wrong, for the clergy and for the 30 boys in their charge.
From the shocking opening to the pandemonium at the book’s ending, BOYS IN THE VALLEY grabs you and does not let up!
Fracassi has a great writing style that combines vivid imagery, tight-knit prose, and a tense build-up of suspense littered with unexpected action, as he creates an in-depth world filled with memorable characters.
SHILOH: A NOVELLA OF THE CIVIL WAR by Philip Fracassi 5/5 Stars and all-around Aces for the work of historical fiction with a touch of the supernatural.
SHILOH plants you in the middle of the mayhem of one of the bloodiest battles in human history.
Philip Fracassi’s cinematic prose practically gives the reader a 4-D experience tossing us aside, book in-hand, even as the characters are blown backward by forest-leveling cannon fire.
The following book review of SHILOH: A NOVELLA OF THE CIVIL WAR by Philip Fracassi is SPOILER FREE.
The battle lasted for two days.
In the Battle of Shiloh, in Tennessee, over twenty thousand Confederate and Union soldiers were killed, tens of thousands more were injured, and thousands more are missing.
That is no spoiler; that is history.
The surprise attack by the Confederacy, and their staunch entrenchment, made for the gargantuan amount of carnage that ensued in the infamous two-day long battle.
Fracassi has a way with words – to say the least – and his main characters Henry and his twin brother William provide the kind of insightful thoughts, brutal actions, and realistic conversation that brings the two Confederate soldiers to life, as they attempt to carry out one of the South’s most bold endeavors.
The setting could not be better written. The feel of the battlefield and of the notion of the risky sneak attack is palpable.
When night hits, it is offset by a magical, effervescent glow of the wounds of numerous soldiers after the first crazy day.
For after a day of fighting, mortal wounds have taken ahold of many, including William, and yet Henry sees something unnatural that leads to that emerald glow.
I never thought I would become invested and feel for two Rebel soldiers from the south in the Civil War, but Fracassi has me transfixed by Henry – his blind hatred of Grant, war, and religion are well-balanced and written in a way that creates strong empathy.
Prepare for incredible detail in the fighting – these men had muskets and bayonets – that leads to vivid gore, as blood and splinters fly.
If you enjoy history, or just thriller and speculative fiction grounded in gritty realism, SHILOH is a must-read!
I read this as an audiobook, and I have to say the narration is fantastic (so keep that in mind, Fictioneers).
“SHILOH: A NOVELLA OF THE CIVIL WAR by Philip Fracassi 5/5” Was Written By R.J. Huneke.
Philip Fracassi is on his BOYS IN THE VALLEY Book Tour, and TFF’s own R.J. Huneke will be interviewing Philip Fracassi prior to his stop at the Mysterious Bookshop in New York LIVE on Facebook (the video will be on Youtube the next day), so be sure to tune in!
101 HORROR BOOKS TO READ BEFORE YOU’RE MURDERED is essential reading for all of the fictioneers out there that either love speculative fiction, or want a curated introduction to the phenomenal horror fiction that has come out since the year 2000.
As Josh Malerman writes in his foreword to the book: “Welcome to modern horror.”
Sadie Hartmann’s 101 HORROR BOOKS TO READ BEFORE YOU’RE MURDERED adds urgency to the hunt for new great reading, as the renowned writer of a gargantuan amount of horror book reviews excitedly offers up the very best she has come across in the last 23 years.
There are horror indie books, self-published titles, and best-selling novels too.
Sadie Hartmann provides accessible literary criticism for the bevy of books in 101 that are clearly near and dear to her heart, even if some of them were so terrifying they made her sleep with the lights on.
My To-Be-Read (TBR) list grew by dozens, as I perused Hartmann’s meticulous work and found exciting insight tailored to my interests.
I could not put 101 HORROR BOOKS TO READ BEFORE YOU’RE MURDERED, or my Goodreads app, down!
There is a book for everyone in here and the way 101 is organized and explained makes for both fascinating and illuminating reading.
Each book falls under one of five categories: Paranormal, Supernatural, Human Monsters, Natural Order Horror, and Short Story Collections.
Each category is explained thoroughly with wit, knowledge, and relatable candor.
Paranormal is for Hartmann, “freaky shit that defies explanation,” and she is one-hundred percent right.
And then there are subcategories, like Supernatural’s Demons and Possession.
Two brilliant sections are given to each book review and were pivotal for me: the “At A Glance” section to the right of the review and the “Quote” section at the top of the review.
I LOVE quotes, even just one line in a work of literature, be it horror, non-fiction, or poetry; I find they are so revealing as to the book’s voice and the author’s writing.
Hartmann painstakingly searched for not just a good quote, but an impactful one that represented what the work and its author’s writing are about. It is genius.
On top of the Quote, Hartmann gives us the At A Glance map to the novel where you can read about the work’s specific Themes, Tone, Style, Setting, and the Publisher; and all of which I find very helpful when determining what might interest me to delve further into a book or to run shrieking into the night, because there are clown dolls in the tale, combining two of my worst fears.
Readers, authors, horror experts and novices alike will revel in learning so much from Sadie Hartmann’s 101+ horror books.
Wait, did I just say 101+ horror books?! What is with the +?
Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann’s 101 HORROR BOOKS TO READ BEFORE YOU’RE MURDERED goes above and beyond analyzing the books themselves and hits on the very genres, tropes, triggers, and myriad nuances that give such books so much power to move, thrill, and scare the hell out of us.
And yes, though Hartmann states that this is a book of the modern age of great horror and that she is not reviewing foundational figures such as Mary Shelley, Shirley Jackson, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Anne Rice, or Bram Stoker, but, and I mean BUT, you may find a wonderful surprise as you go along and read about each of the 101, because many of the featured authors and genres lend themselves to what these classic authors have done in literature and so, for example, there may be a few mentions of THE EXORCIST by Blatty that slip past Hartmann’s portcullis before the book is closed.
And though the 101 book is limited to 101 reviewed titles, there are also ten author spotlights throughout the book, because all of these authors’ works need to be read (so we have a plethora of great titles), and each of them, from Adam Nevill, Alma Katsu, Ania Ahlborn, Christopher Buehlman, Grady Hendrix, Josh Malerman, Paul Tremblay, Stephen Graham Jones, Tananarive Due to V. Castro pick their own their three all-time favorite horror books for 101!
There also essays from other exceptional authors in the modern genre that feature their books too: Cassandra Khaw, Hailey Piper, Eric LaRocca, R.J. Joseph, and Daniel Kraus give their own thoughts on important aspects in horror.
So, what are some examples of the 101 modern horror gems in the book?
I am not telling.
Go and discover what graces the shadowy pages inside 101 HORROR BOOKS TO READ BEFORE YOU’RE MURDERED for yourselves. Ideally, do it before you’re murdered.
Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann is an author, is the Bram Stoker-nominated editor-in-chief of publisher Dark Hart Books, the owner/publisher of the horror fiction subscription service Night Worms (which is sooo much fun), and she is an epic reviewer of books.
“101 HORROR BOOKS TO READ BEFORE YOU’RE MURDERED Is Essential” Was Written By R.J. Huneke.
Catch Sadie Mother Horror Hartmann on her book tour NOW!
Sadie Hartmann was kind enough to give TFF an extra copy of 101 and we are giving it away after we see Philip Fracassi at an upcoming signing in NYC and he signs his own book review in 101! You can enter the GIVEAWAY free on any of TFF’s social media or FB here.
Speaking of Mr. Fracassi’s Book Tour, TFF’s own R.J. Huneke will be interviewing Philip Fracassi prior to his stop at the Mysterious Bookshop in New York LIVE on Facebook (the video will be on Youtube the next day), so be sure to tune in!