The Quiet Boy (Short Story) Review

 

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My Inktober wendigo art from this year.

Who loves wendigo stories? Why, yours truly, of course! πŸ˜‰ To be honest, I love legendary and mythical creatures of all sorts, but wendigos are always a special sort of treat in my book.Β  Needless to say, I am really excited to see the upcoming horror film Antlers, produced by Guillermo del Toro.

For those of you wondering to yourself, WTF a wendigo is, here is your quick Wendigo 101 lesson for the day: A Wendigo is an evil spirit from Native American Algonquian legend that will corrupts anyone who has committed the unforgivable crime of cannibalism. The evil spirit twists the human it is influencing into a monstrous version of themselves with a horrible, never-ending hunger, and a murderous cruelty that knows no bounds. Since these legends originate in Canada and the Great Lakes regions of the United States, it is no surprise that winters were hard where these tales originated. People didn’t always make it through the winter, and hunger can make people desperate enough that they’d do anything to survive, even taking part in an act as taboo as cannibalism. In a lot of ways the legend of the wendigo can be seen as a cautionary tale.

Last week I found out that this movie is actually based off the plot of a short story called The Quiet Boy, written by Nick Antosca, creator of Channel Zero. Always a fan of reading the source material before I watch a movie or show its based on, I tried to look up the story on GoodReads but couldn’t find it. Then I saw over on the Bloody Disgusting website that you could read the entire short story HERE on the Guernica site. So, if you’re interested, check it out.

Anyway, let’s get onto my review for The Quiet Boy, shall we? πŸ™‚

Julia is just starting her teaching career when Teach For America lands her in a small town in the middle of nowhere, where the unofficial town motto is “Hills, Whores, and Liquor Stores.” Definitely not was she was hoping for when she dreamed of being a teacher. Still, our protagonist wants to do right by her fourth graders.

While teaching her kids about storytelling, specifically of the fairy tale and tall tale variety, one of her young students named Lucas catches her attention with the story he is working on. What she initially assumes is going to be another cookie cutter take on Goldilocks and the Three Bears, turns out to be something much different altogether, and something far more sinister.

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Drawing from Lucas’ story in the Antlers movie trailer.

Worried for Lucas, she wants to help the boy, and learn more about what his home life might be like. Between the underlying themes in the boy’s story he is writing and the fact that Lucas always comes to school in old clothes, always smells like damp leaves and damp animal fur, and looks to be very underfed, Julia assumes things aren’t great at home. She also worries that Lucas’ father might be a drunk and not taking proper care of him or his younger brother. Her fellow teachers view Lucas as one of those lost cause kids,Β  but Julia wants to help him, and to learn more about what his life at home might be like. Due to how private and protective Lucas is any time she brings up home or his family, Julia decides to pay his home a surprise visit when she is sure he won’t be there. What she discovers is nothing she could have imagined. Things get dark pretty quickly from this point on in the story, but I won’t spoil the fun. πŸ˜‰ It’s a quick read and I provided the link so you can read it if you’re interested in seeing what Julia finds. The story does its own thing with the wendigo legend, and I thought it was interesting the direction it went in.

I’d rate it 4 out of 5 stars, and reading it made me excited to see how it will be adapted into a movie when it hits theaters in April 2020. πŸ™‚

Gentleman Jack: Season 1 Review

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Wow, did this show ever draw me right in. I absolutely loved it. ❀ The series is inspired by the nineteenth century coded diaries of Anne Lister, a landowner and industrialist who basically said “Take your patriarchy and shove it” all while looking for love, which obviously wasn’t the easiest thing to do for a lesbian living in the 1800s. The series premiered in April and just wrapped up this week with a very powerful season finale.

The show is a historical drama, but it has plenty of laughs as well. I love the way Anne’s character breaks the fourth wall from time to time. It’s done seamlessly and adds a humor and lightness to this period piece I wasn’t expecting. I also thought it served as a nice reminder of Anne’s diaries that gave life to this series to begin with.

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I really enjoyed the characters and their relationships with one another throughout the show. Each of them has their own obstacles they face throughout the season, and the relationships are just as often complex as they are touching. Anne and her sister (who you may recognize as the actress who played Yara Greyjoy in Game of Thrones) could not be any less alike, often butting heads and scoffing at one another, but when it comes down to it they are there for one another and truly do care. Anne is a tough badass who doesn’t take crap from anyone, but she also has a soft side and a strong love and devotion to those she cares about, be it or family, friends, or romantic interests.

Binge-watching this during Pride Month was just a happy coincidence but it was nice reflecting on how far we’ve come since the days Anne was around to now. ❀ Humanity still has a long way to go, but every step forward is moving us in the right direction to a better, happier and more loving world. πŸ™‚

Did any of you guys watch this? I absolutely adored it! Cannot recommend it enough. ❀ What shows are you currently invested in?

Moon Called (Mercy Thompson #1) Review

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In my recent frenzy of reading Urban Fantasy, I finally got around to reading Moon Called, the first novel in the series of Mercy Thompson books. This series came highly recommended by Cupcakes and Machetes, so I was excited to give it a whirl. πŸ™‚

Mercedes Thompson, better known to her friends as Mercy, is a mechanic by day and a shapeshifting “Walker” by night, able to take on the form of a coyote at will. Luckily for her, her transformation is nowhere near as painful and brutal as that of the werewolves who also inhabit her everyday world. There are supernatural creatures galore in this series, and some of them are even known about by humans thanks to their powers that be deciding to come public. (Mostly with the lighter fluffy sort of fae and not the monstrous I’m-gonna-eat-your-face kind of creatures, of course.) Baby steps, people. Better to ease the general public into things than cause a widespread panic, right?

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Mercy is just going about her business, living her everyday life when things suddenly get completely turned upside down. When she tries her best to help out a young werewolf in need, the universe quickly sends Mercy a reminder of the age old saying “no good deed ever goes unpunished.” Things escalate pretty quickly after that with attempted/successful murders, kidnapping, werewolf politics, etc. There’s also paranormal romance going on, but I didn’t feel especially drawn to any of Mercy’s suitors. Granted, this is a series so there are bound to be more characters introduced along with character growth from the established characters, so we’ll see how that works out. πŸ™‚

I really enjoyed Mercy’s character. She was kind, brave, clever, and determined. Some of the werewolves I liked, some *cough cough Samuel* annoyed the crap out of me. All I could think any time he was brought up in the book was something along the lines of “Somebody please neuter this guy or put a silver bullet in him.”

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I’m definitely planning on continuing to read the series, so I’m really looking forward to learning more about the other creatures, and seeing what happens with the characters. There seems to be some really interesting worldbuilding going on, but we just kind of see the tip of the iceberg in this novel, so I can’t wait to explore that further. πŸ™‚ I gave this one 4 out of 5 stars.

No-Spoiler Review: Love, Death & Robots (Netflix)

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It’s been a hot minute since I actually watched this one, but in the spirit of catching up on all the reviews I’ve fallen behind on, let’s do this! Before we get too far into this review, let me just start by saying this collection of (mostly) animated shorts is fully loaded with nudity (both male and female), loads of violence, blood and gore, profanity, horrific monsters and aliens, and sexually explicit content pretty much the whole way through. We’re talking lots of boobies and floppy wieners, guys, so if that bothers you, I’d keep on scrolling through your Netflix options. πŸ˜‰

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To give you an idea of what you’re in store for with Love, Death & Robots, I’ll give you a fun fact about the series. It was originally intended to be a theatrical rehaul of Heavy Metal. For whatever reason, this did not come to fruition so instead we wound up with 18 original shorts with unique animation styles and stories, most of which I really enjoyed. πŸ™‚ Much like Heavy Metal, the stories often run in the genres of science fiction, horror and comedy. The animation is fantastic, with some of it being a more simplistic 2D style and some of it being so convincing it might take a couple minutes of watching it to realize it isn’t live action. Some of the shorts feel complete and others leave you wanting more because the possibilities it leaves you with are so endless.

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A humorous trio of robot tourists exploring the ruins of a post-apocalyptic city, werewolf soldiers and other shapeshifters galore, farmers with mech suits who gotta protect themselves and their cows from insect-like aliens, and a haunted desert where the ghosts aren’t your typical human spirits make up only a sampling of what you have to look forward to with this collection of tales. Some were definitely better than others, but overall I enjoyed watching most of them. Plus, if you’re not digging one, fret not because they’re all pretty short. πŸ˜‰ This is absolutely not for kids, and honestly probably not even for some adults. (Trigger Warnings galore for this anthology, just sayin’.)

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If you’re a fan of exploring different animation styles and entertainment in the vein of Heavy Metal, it’s definitely worth binging your way through the anthology. Science Fiction and Horror with a dash of Comedy are the dominating genres in this series. I enjoyed most of the animated tales myself, but I could certainly see it not being everyone’s cup of tea. Most of them all brought something cool and interesting to the table, be it the animation style, plot, or characters, but I gotta give a special shout-out to my favorite (and also my LEAST favorite) stories.

My pick for the top 3 stories I enjoyed (in no particular order) would have to be:

  1. Sonnie’s Edge
  2. Three Robots
  3. Shape-Shifters

And my pick for my LEAST favorite 3 of the series, also in no particular order are:

  1. Alternate Histories
  2. Ice Age
  3. When the Yogurt Took Over

What about you guys? Anyone give this one a watch? What did you think? πŸ™‚

Two Tales of the Iron Druid Chronicles (Review)

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First things first, I really like the cover for this sort of mini-anthology. Secondly, I’m finding myself in the middle of a sudden Urban Fantasy kick at the moment. Two Tales of the Iron Druid Chronicles, as the title would imply, features (you guessed it!) two short stories from Kevin Hearne’s series of UF novels, The Iron Druid Chronicles. Imagine that, huh? πŸ˜›

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The first of the two tales, Kaibab Unbound, takes place shortly before the events of the first novel in the series, Hounded. Phew, there’s gonna be links galore in this post, so consider ye self warned. πŸ˜‰ It’s been nearly five years (half a decade!) since I finished reading the first book in the series, but it was only after recently finishing the third, Hammered, that I decided to start reading Mr. Hearne’s short stories that are woven in a certain order between his various IDC novels.

Kaibab Unbound centers in on our protagonist druid, Atticus, enjoying a day off with his trusted Irish Wolfhound Oberon. Their plans for a relaxing, nature-filled day are sent astray when a befriended elemental is in dire need. Squirrels, shapeshifting druids, nature elementals and witches might sound like a lot to squeeze into a mere 17 page story, but Kevin Hearne manages to make it look easy, all while throwing in the humor and action his tales are known for.

The second short story, A Test of Mettle, takes place during the events of the third IDC novel, Hammered. While Atticus is off taking care of official druid business, Granuaile, a hopeful druid-in-training, is assisting an elemental of her own in a different way, trying to help level out the local ecosystem that is all out of balance thanks to an invasive species. Things do not go as planned though, and Granuaile is suddenly faced with an unnatural attack of sorts.

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I promise this gif makes sense if you read the story. πŸ˜›

I enjoyed these quick little stories and plan to continue on with both the novels and the shorter companion tales. Probably not one right after the other, but it is definitely a series I will be continuing to read. πŸ™‚

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I also started reading another UF story last night, Moon Called (Mercy Thompson #1). Like I said, I’m definitely on an urban fantasy kick at the moment. Is it a genre you enjoy reading? Any suggestions of other books/series? Let’s talk books! πŸ˜€

Howl’s Moving Castle (Book) Review

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I’ll be honest, it wasn’t until last year that I even knew Howl’s Moving Castle was not only a fantastic animated film, but also a book! I found a copy in a 2nd and Charles Free Book Bin and snatched that baby up immediately, and I’m so glad that I did! This book was pure magic. ❀ I feel like if you’re a fan of the Miyazaki film, or if you enjoy light-hearted whimsical stories like The Last Unicorn or Stardust, that Howl’s Moving Castle might just be right up your alley. πŸ˜‰

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β€œIn the land of Ingary where such things as seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, it is quite a misfortune to be born the eldest of the three. Everyone knows you are the one who will fail first, and worst, if the three of you set out to seek your fortunes.”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Having grown up in a small hat shop and expecting a very uneventful life due to the social stigma of being the eldest, Sophie has her world turned upside down due to a witch’s curse that transforms her into an old woman. But perhaps the Witch of the Waste’s curse is just what Sophie needs to push herself out of the dull fate she had previously accepted for herself. Setting off to find a cure for the curse inflicted upon her, Sophie winds up finding much more than that. Witches and wizards, shapeshifters and fire demons are only a sample of the strange characters she’ll meet as she is forced out of her comfort zone. She’ll venture to moving castles and palaces and more in an effort to undo the Witch of the Waste’s magic, and she’ll do it with a sassy attitude to boot!

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The characters in this story are all so quirky and fun, and the book has a lovely light and humorous tone to it. I think the whimsy of it really made this book one of those special sort of “Feel Good” reads for me. πŸ™‚ I’m not usually a re-read sort of person (only due to there being SO MANY books out there to be read) but this is one I would consider re-reading in the future.

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β€œIt is quite a risk to spank a wizard for getting hysterical about his hair.”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Diana Wynne Jones weaved quite the enchanting story, so I would definitely like to read more of her work in the future. She was very imaginative and created a lovely fantasy world with entertaining characters to fill it. Apparently there are two other books related to this one, so I plan to check those out one day, too!

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Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Vol. 1: The Crucible

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“On the eve of her sixteenth birthday, the young sorceress Sabrina Spellman finds herself at a crossroads, having to choose between an unearthly destiny and her mortal boyfriend, Harvey. But a foe from her family’s past has arrived in Greendale, Madame Satan, and she has her own deadly agenda.”

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Back around Halloween I watched the Netflix show’s version of this and loved it. I also enjoyed their Christmas special, and am eagerly awaiting season 2’s release in April. So how do I get my fix until then? Why, by reading the source material, of course. πŸ˜‰

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If you remember those wholesome Archie comics (or even the 90’s TV show) of old you’re likely to be shocked by the element of horror and praises of Satan in this much darker incarnation of Sabrina brought to you by Archie Horror, a more horror-centric branch of the Archie comics. We’re talking necromancy, witch orgies, cannibalism, etc.

I didn’t initially plan to compare the new Netflix version with the comic version, but seeing as so many people have already seen the show, it seems like a good baseline to go off of, so here we are. πŸ˜› There are definitely a lot of similarities between the two, but there are also some pretty damn big differences. Let me start by saying that I did really enjoy the comic, BUT . . . I did enjoy the characters more in the Netflix show. I think they had so much more personality, diversity, and charm. (Except maybe Salem. He talks in this comic, he’s snarky and also a caring companion for Sabrina. I loved Salem in this comic and thought he made a great familiar to our young teenage witch.)

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“. . . Beer . . . I miss beer . . .”

Now, seeing as that the comic came before the show, I think it only fair not to dwell on the show that came after it for too long, so we’ll just move right along onto the comic itself. This artwork had me swooning with nostalgia. As a kid, I loved any chance I got to read my dad or grandparents’ collection of old vintage horror comics. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina takes place in the 1960’s (with flashbacks of the 1950’s) and the artwork does a nice job of reflecting what comics looked like at that point. The colors, the art itself, it was all great in my opinion. Adding to the nostalgic feel, are some Rosemary’s Baby and other vintage spooky film overtones.

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The end to the first volume leaves off on quite the cliffhanger, so you’re likely to be left with your fingers twitching for volume 2. I know I am. I’d give it 4/5 stars. I really enjoyed it, I just wish the characters had a little more personality like they do in the current show. It was a really solid introductory volume and there were a couple moments that genuinely surprised me.

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