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Tag: r.i.p. challenge

R.I.P. – Ghost Story by Peter Straub


“We see things, but we don’t believe them; we feel things—people watching us, sinister things following us—but we dismiss them as fantasies. We dream horrors, but try to forget them. And in the meantime, three people have died.”
– Ricky Hawthorne (Ghost Story by Peter Straub)

Over the weekend, I read five horror novels, but none of them managed to frighten and disturb and fascinate me as the one I finished reading only a few days earlier, as the fourth and the last book for the R.I.P. Challenge. Peter Straub‘s Ghost Story is a homage to the best novels of the horror genre, and an amazing one at that.

Summary: The book opens with a man driving a strange little girl in his car, in the middle of nowhere. He seems to have kidnapped her, but is more scared of her than she is of him. Right when he is about to kill her, about to drive his knife through her… the scene changes.
Milburn is a fictional small town in upstate New York. An ageing bachelor, Sears James and his friend Ricky Hawthorne are attorneys. They also form half of what is now left of the Chowder Society. The Chowder Society is originally a group of five friends, who gather every month to drink and talk. That is, until one of them, Edward Wanderley, dies under mysterious circumstances, exactly a year before this story takes place. What is left now is the two attorneys, a doctor Joseph Jaffrey and Lawrence Benedikt. The Chowder Society meetings are private and the four don’t talk about business or politics. They tell stories. Every month, one of them tells a ghost story – the scariest thing that ever happened to him. That is, until, one day that scary thing returns and their past comes back to haunt them.
My thoughts: Ghost Story is a huge book, not only in size. ‘Vast’ may be a better word to describe it. It has numerous back-stories of numerous characters intricately woven together to form one novel. The book is not about one vampire, or one ghost – but the whole idea – the thing that takes on different forms to make us afraid, the thing that has lived in every culture in every country, and prevailed through all these years. The original evil.
What I really like about the book is that it is more like a psychological thriller than a story with slimy white ghosts and creepy noises. I have never been more terrified of descriptions of fear and I’ve never been more certain, that someone’s following me.
The characters are wonderful. It’s a long story and you have a long time to get to know them. By the end of the book, I was almost in tears when anything happened to my favourite people. It is amazing to get so involved in a story, and to be able to relate so closely to something about ghosts and demons!
The book is a recommended read for anyone, even those who haven’t read the genre before or don’t consider themselves horror fans. Believe me, once you read this book, you’ll want to read more horror fiction; I know I did!

R.I.P. – The Warlock’s Hairy Heart by Beedle the Bard (by J. K. Rowling)


I have been reading less and less short stories lately (and not liking it at all.) So this is may be a day late, but I am participating after two weeks in Short Stories on Wednesday, a bookish meme hosted at Risa’s Bread Crumb Reads. (This is also a part of Peril of the Short Story for the R.I.P. Challenge – I suppose it fits the theme.)


My story this week is a wonderfully gruesome tale from J. K. Rowling’s The Tales of Beedle the Bard, and my favourite one of the five popular children’s fables of the Wizarding World. The Warlock’s Hairy Heart is a dark fairy-tale with a tragic ending, resembling a Brothers Grimm tale! In a way, the story has the strongest message.

A handsome and skilled young warlock, who has all the riches of the world, views love and vulnerability as a weakness. So he finds a way to escape it. The warlock uses Dark Magic to lock away his heart in a dungeon. But separating his heart from his body doesn’t make him more powerful like he wishes; instead he turns inhuman and is either despised or pitied by everyone else. The heart itself, locked away from its natural place, turns black and shrunken, covered with hair – like a beast. The savage heart seeks what it can never gain, a whole human heart. The warlock tries to correct his mistake, but it is too late by then. The warlock’s secret ultimately leads to his own destruction, along with a poor young girl who falls in love with him.

In his notes, Dumbledore aptly describes this story to handle “one of the greatest, and least acknowledged, temptations of magic: the quest for invulnerability.” By dividing what is clearly not meant to be divided (Body and heart. Rings a bell, doesn’t it? It’s similar to separating body and soul, and we all know where that gets you!) and by going against nature, the warlock loses his chance even for redemption.

This is the only story from the book that I found more fascinating than Dumbledore’s notes of it. I would have loved it so much more as a kid. I mean, what’s not to love about a bedtime story that can give you nightmares?

R.I.P. – The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

While I do like reading horror, I am still not quite sure about watching horror movies (without, that is, freezing of shock.) Which is why I decided to watch only animated (and hence, not scary) movies for the R.I.P. Challenge for now.

After watching Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas, I was thinking of re-watching Corpse Bride. Instead, someone recommended this movie to me – Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. It is an Academy Award winning horror-comedy flick, starring (the voices of) Helena Bonham Carter and Ralph Fiennes. I loved it!


“Something wicked this way hops.”

Wallace, the cheese-loving inventor, and his intelligent but humble pet dog, Gromit run the pest-control (well, relocation) service “Anti-Pesto”. They get rid of the town’s worst and peskiest rabbits, and are loved by the townspeople. Only days before the town’s famous Giant Vegetable Competition, the most prized vegetables start mysteriously disappearing. It is up to Anti-Pesto to save the townspeople from what appears to be a giant monster of a rabbit.

I adored the clay-mation. The characters were simple but charming! Gromit is officially one of my favourite cartoon dogs. He is quiet and faithful and incredibly patient (considering that he is far smarter and better at his job than the incompetent Wallace.) And just look cute he is! Having no voice, he only consists of a few extremely expressive pieces of clay.
Aside from the wonderful animation, it was the silly, cheesy British humour that I loved. The plot is slightly overdone; and the movie could have been shorter. Still, being a witty parody of almost all horror and thriller films, it is a great source of entertainment!

R.I.P. – The Nightmare Before Christmas

“It was a long time ago, longer now than it seems, in a place perhaps you’ve seen in your dreams. For the story you’re about to be told began with the holiday worlds of old. Now you’ve probably wondered where holidays come from. If you haven’t, then I’d say its time you’ve begun.”

I first watched a Tim Burton film ages ago – the animated musical Corpse Bride, which I remember loving. Much recently I read an adorable book of short poems also by Burton called The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories. So, as a part of the R.I.P Challenge (Peril on the Screen) I decided to see another of Burton’s animated movies that I never got around to watching till now – The Nightmare before Christmas.

In the unique reality where every holiday has its own world, we meet Jack Skellington of Halloween Town. The Pumpkin King, the brains behind the festival of Halloween, once stumbles across the world of Christmas. A misfit in his own world, Jack now believes it his sole purpose in life to improve his festival by merging the worlds of Christmas and Halloween. What follows is a wonderfully funny tale of twists and turns, when the monsters of Halloween Town start preparing for Christmas. It is on the night before Christmas, when Skellington kidnaps ‘Sandy Claws’ to replace him, that our world sees what has become of Christmas.

The movie is for ‘kids’ of all ages. It’s awesome. The detailed animation, of course, is what makes the movie so great. The wonderful cartoons reminded me a lot of the thin, dark, stick-like creatures in Corpse Bride. The characters are unique and the dialogues are genuinely funny (well, most of them, anyway.) Even though the story is kind of ridiculous, I think I would have pretty much loved it when I was a kid. If it were a little funnier and made a little more sense, I would have enjoyed it even more. If not anything else, though, the movie does get you in the holiday spirit!

R.I.P. – The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John Le Carré


As they got to the door, Control put his hand lightly on Leamas’ shoulder.
“This is your last job,” he said. “Then you can come in from the cold.”

The Spy Who Came in From the Cold is a 1963 spy/crime thriller novel by John Le Carré. The protagonist is an agent called Alec Leamas, working for the British Intelligence Service (referred to as “the Circus”) in early Cold War Berlin. He gets called back to London by his spy master, Control, who gives him his last, scary assignment.
When I started reading this book, my first spy novel, I had no idea what to expect. With a continually twisting story line, the book is fast and packed with tension. Anything I reveal under “Summary” could be counted as a spoiler; the book is best read directly and is a must read.
The story is genuinely complicated and seems highly probable. This is what a spy’s life is like; each man for himself and no one is a hero. There is no flashiness and no glamour, just dark and touchingly realistic experiences. More than anything else though, the book, coming from an agent himself, sounds a lot like an anecdote, making it all the more involving.
The characters are great, each with a detailed background story. It is not easy to figure out their motives and Le Carré has maintained the suspense throughout the novel; letting us know little at a time, and keeping us wait for more. The relationships are complex but not complicated – the single love story is intricately involved in the plot, leaving many blanks for us to fill. The story is mostly plot based, but it involves some of the strongest characters ever.
The book is not only a thriller, but so much more. I might just have found my new favourite novel.
I wrote this book review as a part of the R.I.P Challenge.

R.I.P. – The Lame Priest by S. Carleton

“I do not know why, but that black track had a desolate look on the white ground, and the black priest hurrying down the hill looked desolate, too. There was something infinitely lonely, infinitely pathetic, in that scurrying figure, indistinct through the falling snow.”


The Lame Priest is a gothic short story by Susan Morrow Jones (S. Carleton), first published in December 1901.

The story opens as the narrator is walking back to his cabin, a little shack in the woods, after a trip to the nearby village. On the way, he sees a strange priest in a black robe running hurriedly towards the village. He looks gaunt and desolate and has a limp. Back in his cabin, the narrator meets his friend Andrew, an Indian, who warns him about the wolves and the strange things that might be hiding in the woods. And when the narrator runs into the lame priest again, the priest gives him a similar and equally cryptic warning. Soon enough, the strange prophecies seem to take shape, as a lone wolf starts preying on the villagers’ children.

The Lame Priest is beautifully written. I loved the air of mystery, which is there right from the first page. Though the writing isn’t outright scary, it is distinctly eerie. The setting is wonderful, the descriptions are vivid and you are involved in the story from start to finish.

You can read this story here. This review is a part of Peril of the Short Story from the R.I.P. Challenge. You can read more short stories on Short Stories on Wednesday at Risa’s Bread Crumb Reads.

R.I.P. – Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Another book I read as part of the R.I.P. Challenge.

“It was already one in the morning; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs.” – Victor Frankenstein

Summary: It does seem pointless to give this book a summary. Anyway, the book opens with a couple of letters written by Captain Robert Walton to his dear sister Margaret. Their ship is trapped somewhere near the North Pole and there the voyagers come across a miserable, emaciated man. This man is Dr. Victor Frankenstein and he has a terrible story to tell.


As a scientist, Viktor Frankenstein is fascinated and inspired by ancient philosophers, the likes of Cornelius Agrippa. After years of crazed work, Frankenstein succeeds in manufacturing an actual living being. Terrified of the effects of his actions, he abandons the creature. Years later, the monster returns with a vengeance. The book is concluded by Robert Walton in his letters.

My thoughts: After a while, I have to admit, I got tired of the romanticism. I didn’t like that there is no focus whatsoever on the scientific realism of the book. I always thought Frankenstein’s monster would be, well, a monster. But the creature is a lot more human than I had imagined. His story of the way he learned his way around this world, the way he learned to speak and how he sought after his creator; it sounded somewhat far-fetched to me.

“Nature decayed around me, the sun became heatless; rain and snow poured around me; mighty rivers were frozen; the surface of the earth was hard and chill, and bare, and I found no shelter.” – Frankenstein’s Monster

I did like the theme; an outcast, born a romantic, turned into a monster by his surroundings. I loved the detail with which the book is written. The book is very character oriented. Of all the different perspectives in the book, the ones that I really enjoyed were Robert Walton’s letters and when Frankenstein’s Monster told his story; I loved the imagery. I was slightly disappointed with Dr. Frankenstein. I suppose he might have been intended to be the weak man that he was, but reading the entire book from his painfully dull perspective was frustrating.

Then again, Frankenstein is one of the earliest ‘science fiction’ novels and Mary Shelley wrote this book when she was nineteen. I won’t call it bad, because it’s not. I admit I found the book a bit annoying. But other than that, it is a good book, and a must read!

R.I.P. – Metzengerstein: A Tale in Imitation of the German

Metzengerstein is Edgar Allan Poe’s first published short story.


Summary: The families Berlifitzing and Metzengerstein of Hungary have been rivals for centuries. Legend has it that the reason is this prophecy:

“A lofty name shall have a fearful fall when, as the rider over his horse, the mortality of Metzengerstein shall triumph over the immortality of Berlifitzing.”

The story begins when one night, the stables of today’s Berlifitzing family catch fire. At that same time, in his own castle, Baron Frederick von Metzengerstein notices the horse in the tapestry suddenly look alive. The painting depicts a Metzengerstein while dead at his feet, fallen from his horse, is a Berlifitzing, whom he killed. Only a few minutes later a ferocious and demon-like steed is found by the Metzengerstein guards. The horse is fiery and energetic, and has the letters “W.V.B” branded on its chest. News later reaches the Metzengerstein family that Count William von Berlifitzing died in the fire. Baron Frederick decides to keep the monstrous horse, unknowingly setting the prophecy in motion.

“In the glare of noon – at the dead hour of night – in sickness or in health – in calm or in tempest – the young Metzengerstein seemed riveted to the saddle of that colossal horse, whose intractable audacities so well accorded with his own spirit.”

My thoughts: This is the first time I have read anything by Poe (apart from listening to and not understanding the Raven once, a long time ago.) I really liked the prose. That something so modern was written more than a hundred years ago seems amazing. The tale, like the subtitle says in some prints, is argued to be a subtle mocking of the typically German gothic writings. While it is only argued (and not definite) and I am certainly no expert; I did detect a slight satire.

I loved the authority the narrator has over the text. He is almost a part of the story (as opposed to a silent observer) and is the only one left standing, at the very end. The key theme of the story, as is hinted to us very early in the story, is the general belief of those times in Metempsychosis, or transmigration of the soul.

I liked the eeriness of the story and do see myself reading more of Poe’s famous short stories. Meanwhile, you can read this story here. This review is a part of Peril of the Short Story from the R.I.P. Challenge. You can read more short stories on Short Stories on Wednesday at Risa’s Bread Crumb Reads.

R.I.P. – Stephen King’s Carrie

Carrie is Stephen King’s first novel (published in 1974) and is one of the most frequently banned books in schools. I never did read Carrie, because I always thought I wouldn’t like it. Why? Because I already knew most of the story. With three movies and one horrible spin-off, it is hard not to know most of the story. That shouldn’t stop you from reading the book, though. Actually, you know “most of the story” within the first three pages of the book…

“Carrie glared at him with sudden smoking rage. The bike wobbled on its training wheels and suddenly fell over. Tommy screamed. The bike was on top of him. Carrie smiled and walked on. The sound of Tommy’s wails was sweet, jangling music in her ears.”

Summary: Carrie White lives in the small town of Chamberlain, Maine. Being a high school outcast, she has no friends and no life. She is victimized by her schoolmates and abused by her over religious mother. It all becomes too much one day when, after her gym class, in the showers, Carrie gets her first period. Since her mother never bothered to tell her what exactly a period is, Carrie assumes she is bleeding to death. The shock, coupled with a bunch of girls screaming at her, disgusted, telling her to “plug it up” triggers a power in her she never knew she had. This extreme outburst is enough for Carrie White to take control of her (till then only involuntary) telekinetic abilities. What follows is a chain of events leading up to one disastrous night, which is later popularized by the media as the Black Prom.

“What happens if there are others like her? What happens to the world?”


My thoughts: Like with most of Stephen King’s books, you feel yourself becoming a part of Carrie. It is a quick read and I loved the unique narration. The book is written in the form of newspaper clippings of the Chamberlain incident, science journal articles about telekinetic abilities, personal stories of the Black Prom survivors and book excerpts, all stringed together by the actual happenings in the form of a story. Starting with the first newspaper article, you know what happened in the town. What you don’t know, is how it got to that. Why did the odd teenage girl described in the articles do whatever she did and more importantly, how? You hear the story from so many different perspectives, scientific and personal, that it’s hard to figure out the truth. That’s part of the magic! You get to pick your own conclusion on the story.



Most of the characters are your regular high school stereotypes. Still, what I love about Stephen King’s books is the characters, and he hasn’t done anything short of a great job with these. From Carrie White to the (almost) real protagonist Sue Snell, the book has some wonderful, albeit slightly dramatic, characters. And if not anything else, King has nailed the horror element; the “makes-you-wish-you-hadn’t-read-it-at-night” horror element.


This was definitely a great way to kick-start the R.I.P challenge (though my planned kick-start book was Frankenstein, which I am not done reading.) Carrie is an amazing book and a must read for every Stephen King fan and anyone who enjoys getting completely freaked out!

R.I.P. Challenge

I found this challenge over at Adventures in Borkdom. It is a yearly challenge hosted at Stainless Steel Droppings. The purpose of the R.I.P (R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril) Challenge is to read and enjoy books that could be classified as: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Dark Fantasy, Gothic, Horror, Supernatural. R.I.P. VI officially runs from September 1st through October 31st.

I am officially signing up for Peril the First, which means reading four books of R.I.P. literature. And since I started reading Frankenstein today, that can be my first read. Though I might add a few Perils of the Short Story and Perils on the Screen!!

Update: I started the challenge by reading Carrie by Stephen King. I’ll link the reviews here as and when I post them!

Peril the First:

1. Carrie by Stephen King

2. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

3. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John Le Carre

4. Ghost Story by Peter Straub

Peril on the Screen:

1. The Nightmare Before Christmas

2. Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

Peril of the Short Story:

1. Metzengerstein by Edgar Allan Poe

2. The Lame Priest by S. Carleton