Thirteen Days by Sunset Beach – Book Review ***Spoilers***

Thirteen Days by Sunset Beach

Ramsey Campbell

Flame Tree Press

Publication Date: 6th September 2018

 Book Review

 

 

“They feed so Skiá feeds”

 

I had the pleasure of receiving a copy of this book to review in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley and Flame Tree Press.

 

My fiancé is a huge Ramsey Campbell fan so he was just as excited as me for me to begin. His writing has been a great source of comfort for Andy over the years and he takes every opportunity he can to re read the books he owns. I can see why, the writing is so fluid and detailed, pulling you in one sentence at a time, engulfing you with this feeling that you are there, right in the middle of the unfolding drama. I was dragged in from the start with this book; the increasing tension, the desperation to know just exactly what was happening, I found it hard to put down, only stopping when real life traumas like work got in my way (even then I was reading it on my lunch break, so engrossed that I didn’t hear my colleague trying to talk to me for over 10 minutes).

 

I really appreciated that we were never given the full picture of what was happening until quite near the end. I knew from the start there was something ‘off’ with the Greek Island of Vasilema, there was something unseen and unspoken, a darkness that lingered and terrified. Only the locals seemed to know, but they appeared to ignore it, or at least pretend to.

 

The tone of the story was very much about our mortality and prolonging life. The focus of the book surrounded Ray and Sandra, as well as their children and grandchildren. We are aware from the beginning that something is wrong with Sandra, we can feel the concern and protectiveness that Ray has for her, confirmed when he proceeds to put on a facade of normality for the rest of the family. He doesn’t want to ruin the family vacation. The descriptiveness of how frail Sandra was, the writing was both delicate and yet intense, fully encompassing just how brittle she appeared to be, and how she was deteriorating before Ray. The way she was then invigorated, seemingly from a bite, or the island, or a combination, gathering her strength back very slowly over the two weeks, was beautiful to read yet unnerving all the same.

I found all the subtle references throughout the book relating to mortality, and the curse of immortality I felt, very well thought out and very well placed. The driving force of the story, the family, their relationships, and their coming to terms with Sandra’s illness, was so well integrated with the underlying tension of darkness. It was claustrophobic in parts, this all encompassing, all controlling darkness; it seemed to be the all powerful force on the island. Even the buses wouldn’t stop after dark.

After the initial night, Sandra had been bitten by some kind of insect after falling asleep on the balcony outside their room. While Ray and Sandra awaited the rest of the family at a local taverna, Chloe’s Garden, the waitress seemed to be quite disconcerted with Sandra’s bite. Responding with “I pray not” when Ray comments “at least my wife won’t get bitten here”. There were also the seemingly religious women on the bus, blessing Sandra, Tim and Jonquil (the three members of the family in total who had been bitten) every time they boarded; we found near the end of the book that it was only these three family members whom the women had been blessing, and no one else. They appeared to know that they had been tainted in some way by the island. I particularly enjoyed a scene over dinner one evening in Chloe’s Garden, in which birthday greetings of a long life were conveyed, and rebuked, as they are seen to be more than a curse by the locals.

From the start you could feel the underlying oppression, a dark force, something that wanted to feed, that needed to feed. The phrase, “They feed so Skiá feeds” becomes more and more unsettling. Even more unnerving was what felt like captivity in some ways, they just couldn’t leave the island. Boat trips cancelled, the owners of tour boats and fishing boats refusing to take them – ‘them’ referring to Sandra, Tim and Jonquil. There is a notion mentioned several times relating to ‘coming back to find your memories’, rather than to re-live them, I found this to be very unsettling indeed, what happens to you here that you forget after you leave? The story ended with the family leaving on the ferry away from the island, with Sandra, Jonquil and Tim trying to remember the details of their two week vacation. It was ambiguous yet implied that they were beginning to forget.

 

5/5 – If I could give it more I would. This book is beautifully thought out and so amazingly written. It really gets you thinking, and stays with you afterwards.

Lesley-Ann (The Housewife of Horror)

Unfriended: Dark Web (2018) ***Spoilers***

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Unfriended: Dark Web (2018)

Film

Horror

Release Date: August 10th 2018 (UK)

Directed by: Steven Susco

Running Time: 1 hour and 32 minutes

Starring: Rebecca Rittenhouse, Betty Gabriel, Colin Woodell and Stephanie Nogueras

 

The sequel to Unfriended (2015) didn’t disappoint. It was a slow and shaky start, some of the characters are a tad (one of them a lot) annoying, but what came later made up for that in spades.

I’m always a bit wary of a sequel, is it that they maybe haven’t tried as hard with it as what they could have or should have? I tend to wonder if they are possibly just riding on the coattails of the originals’ successes. I was pleasantly surprised (and relieved as I love the first one) that this was not the case. Unfriended: Dark Web really could have been a stand-alone movie. Yes it had the obvious similarities; the film was set on the computer screens, and of course, something nasty was happening to the group of friends. Apart from that, it was its own film, very different to the first one in many ways.

There was no paranormal element in Dark Web, the villains of the piece being a criminal gang, dealing in kidnap, torture and murder for profit. Unfortunately for our group of web savvy young adults, one of them, Matias O’Brien (Colin Woodell) ‘found’ a laptop and took it for himself. What he later discovered was that the laptop was a direct link to the dark net, filled with sickening clips of people being hurt and killed.

The golden rule of the internet – never click on a link when you are not sure what it is.

From here on out, trouble ensues, the bad guys want their laptop back and won’t let anything or anyone get in their way. The owner of the laptop has broken into the house of Matias’ deaf girlfriend, Amaya (Stephanie Nogueras) and has threatened to kill her unless he gets the laptop. He uses Amayas laptop to covertly communicate with Matias from within her apartment, knowing she is sadly unaware of the whole sorry situation. Matias must jump through all the hoops necessary to appease the murderous laptop owner and save his beloved Amaya.

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In true horror movie fashion, one by one everyone is picked off in various, although not very inventive ways, culminating in the usual big finish finale. I did like the plot twist, it was very hard on Matias especially and it led to an interesting ending. It’s one of those films where again, it’s more scary because stuff like this is happening right now somewhere in the world, we just tend to ignore it as we prefer not to know.

It’s not a bad film; not brilliant, but it’s got plenty to offer the casual viewer and the avid horror fan.

3/5 – It definitely has its moments.

 

Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)

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