Elevation by Stephen King | Book Review

★★★★☆
March 5th

Elevation is a pairing of two short stories released by Stephen King in 2018. The first story, Elevation follows Scott Carey, a man who is seemingly losing weight at a rate of a pound or two a day, however he doesn’t seem to be physically changing, still looking like an overweight man.

This story is about appearances on the outside not being like what they are on the inside. As Scott Carey’s mass reaches zero, he helps a local couple with their restaurant, changes the mind of his small town, and comes to terms with his situation. This story, though classified as horror, was heartwarming and I gave this individual story three stars. Many of the complaints I saw of this story were of the “white knight” main character helping lesbian characters, and while I can see where those were coming from, I think the overall message of changing perspectives was larger than just that aspect.

The second story in the book was also extremely heartwarming. Following the loss of his wife, Laurie tells the story of a man’s grief as he begins caring for a new puppy, as insisted on by his sister. This story was originally written and published on Stephen King’s website, and it appears that it was only read in the audiobook of Elevation, not the physical printing (though I could be wrong about this. I listened to the audiobook of this one.) I liked this story more than the first story, and thought it was cute and uplifting.

Both stories are quick and heartwarming. This book was absolutely mismarketed and misrepresented as horror. Nowhere in either story are horror, and I don’t think they should have been marketed that way.

I admittedly haven’t read much of Stephen King, but I’m really interested in checking out more of his short story collections, specifically the horror ones in the future.

-Siobhan

Creatures of the Night Book Tag

I haven’t done a book tag since last June when I did the Mid-Year Freakout Tag and I’ve been itching to do another one. Since I now have the availability of my Monday posts, I found a few tags which have interested me that I’ll be posting over the next few months.

This is the Creatures of the Night Book Tag, which was created by katytastic on YouTube. I saw it adapted for blogs from Dreamland Book Blog, who posted it a really long time ago. The tag gives different popular monsters which appear in books/media, and I’ll pick my favorite from the ones I’ve read.

– Werewolf –
Is it weird that the only books I’ve read with werewolves are Harry Potter and the Twilight books? I tried looking into some other books which might interest me and include these moonlight shapeshifters, but I haven’t found anything quite yet. I’ll keep my eye out! For now I guess I’ll choose Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban?

– Zombie –
Severance by Ling Ma has stuck with me since I read it last month. Even though at the time I only gave the book three stars, I find myself thinking about this book all the time, and I definitely think it’s the best zombie book that I’ve read.

– Witch/Warlock/Spellcaster –
I really don’t want to also choose Harry Potter for this, though that is my favorite. I’m going to say Red Sister by Mark Lawrence because that’s one of the only other books that I’ve read which includes some spell casting, I suppose? I loved the finale of this series and I’m super excited to continue reading more of Mark Lawrence’s previous and future series.

– Fairy/Fae –
I know that this is a more prominent part of the sequel to this book, but since I haven’t read that one yet I’m going with the only book I’ve read where this is mentioned which is The Name of the Wind. I really want the third book to get a release date so that I can re-read the first and finally get to the second book. It was one of the best books I read a few years ago, and I’ve been waiting to dive into the rest of the series for what feels like forever.

– Demon –
My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix is a no-brainer. We knew at least one Hendrix novel was going to make it onto this list, and it had to be the first one I read from him. I can’t thank the staff at my local Barnes & Noble enough for the recommendation of this book, because it reintroduced me to horror in a huge way and has led me down genre paths I never would have explored otherwise.

– Angel –
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor was one of the first series I read when I was seriously getting back into reading, and it’s probably the series I recommend the most. Full of angels, demons, and everything in between, I loved the mystical element and the setting of this book.

– Alien –
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green was a really interesting alien novel to me which plays into the culture of viral videos and dealing with that level of internet fame. I really liked this book when it originally came out, and the sequel is one of my most highly anticipated books of the year.

– Superpowered Human –
Vicious by V.E. Schwab is the most perfect representation of this type of monster. The characters in this book turn themselves into superheroes for a college project, and the rivalry between the two is unparalleled in any other book I’ve read so far. Though this was originally a standalone, a sequel came out last year and another is planned for next yer. I’ll read anything that V.E. Schwab writes, so I’m extremely excited for that as well.

– Vampire –
For the final two monsters on this list, I wanted to mention two books that have these monsters and that I’m looking forward to reading. Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix comes out in April, and it’s easily my most highly anticipated book of the year.

– Ghost –
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson is a classic horror novel and one which I’m really eager to get to as I try and visit the roots of the genre. In reading recommendations, this is one of the most quintessential ghost stories written by one of the best horror writers ever.

That’s the end of the Creatures of the Night Book Tag. I really enjoyed trying to figure out which of these creatures I’ve read and which I need more of in my life (looking at you, ghosts and werewolves…) As I continue to read horror and thriller novels in the future I think I’d like to revisit this tag to see how my answers have changed.

-Siobhan

What’s Horror?

I’ve been having this problem lately with the horror that I’m reading: I don’t feel like it’s horror.

Three of the last books I’ve read (Severance by Ling Ma, Bunny by Mona Awad, and The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson) are classified as horror. I discussed this a little bit in my review of Bunny, but when something is listed as horror, I want it to be horrifying. I want dread and high stakes and some kind of impending doom. In these last three books, I didn’t get that. Each of them had a slow feeling which was almost dream-like. In all three books I didn’t feel like there was enough happening to really make me feel like there was no way out, or that the main character was trapped in their circumstances and situation.

This led me to post on the horror lit subreddit, one of my new favorite places to go for horror recommendations, and to see what horror other people are reading. I mentioned the problem I was having, and asked if anyone had recommendations for what specific types of horror I should look for in order to avoid these sleepy stories.

The main recommendation was a book that I had been looking into reading for about a year now. Paperbacks from Hell by Grady Hendrix is a non-fiction book which covers the horror trends of the 70’s and 80’s. I’ll be diving more into my thoughts about the book in my review, but this definitely helped me look into new genres. Did I like animal or monster based horror? Creepy children, or dipping into the satanic panic which ravaged this time? A lot of these books, are cheesy and a bit over-the-top. Don’t get me wrong, I love that type of horror, but it doesn’t scare me as much as make me laugh.

I received other recommendations for horror too, some of which I’m really looking forward to checking out. These include:

The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp
Tales from the Gas Station by Jack Townsend
Haunted by Chuck Palanhiuk
Skullcrack City by Robert Johnson
Gil’s All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez
Christine by Stephen King

All of these novels are said to combine horror with a bit of comedy, like most of my favorites (John Dies at the End, We Sold Our Souls, and My Best Friend’s Exorcism) do so well. I’m excited to dive into these quirky and horror-filled worlds, but I also want to know if this genre has a name, and what it would be.

I’m excited to keep looking for horror that I love, and to continue on defining my weird comedy/horror preferences.

-Siobhan