Monday, June 3, 2013

DBH Book Review:Carrion Comfort(1989)

By Eric Polk-
"'Carrion Comfort' is one of three greatest horror novels of the twentieth century. Simple as that."- Stephen King.

When you get that sort of endorsement from the master, you have to read! Anyway, be warned, if you're going to go into this Dan Simmons-penned adventure in patience and, at times, self-indulgence, you'd better have the appropriate dose of caffeine because this is a rather long book at 767 pages.

From the book description: The past: Caught behind the lines of Hitler’s Final Solution, Saul Laski is one of the multitudes destined to die in the notorious Chelmno extermination camp. But he will soon fall into the clutches of an evil far older and greater than the Nazis themselves. The present: A rare few individuals have the Ability - the psychic power to influence the minds of others. Each year they meet to discuss their ongoing campaign of debauchery and slaughter. But this year things are not going according to plan ... The story that follows spans decades and continents and penetrates the darkest recesses of the 20th century, as one man seeks to justify his belief that a secret society of powerful beings is behind many of the world’s most horrific catastrophes. As well as ranking among the greatest reinventions of the vampire legend, Carrion Comfort explores humanity’s attraction to violence and what it means for our future.

In an era where books are drenched in stupid, false teen angst and 50 Shades of Nothing, it's always good to go back a few years before any of this published nonsense existed. And the premise of the story is fantastic. You're dealing with the genuine consequences created by an actual war, there's a society that doesn't give a rats heine if vampires can sparkle or if teenage zombies can be converted. It just wants to take over the world(at least until you get towards the end), there are a small group of people of different races, religions, and ideals that want to stop these hideous folk from carrying out their plans. Mind accurate term for the baddies.

Sadly, in the face of this expectation, I'm left feeling somewhat disappointed. While a few of the characters drew my ire(a good sign), others where just one-dimensional cardboard caricatures that clearly demonstrate that Dan Simmons has only a media-based idea on how some societies in America operate. Another fault is when the baddies change their overall plans. You've got to be kidding me!  Don't get me wrong, there are some brilliant, scary moments that made me cringe in literary delight(in particular, a game of human chess). And then we come to his self-indulgence, the main one that is ingrained in every writer, including myself:Dan Simmons just goes way too long with the story.  He could have easily have made this 500 pages and the novel would have had a better impact on me. In essence, he chose quantity of words as opposed to quality. I've said it before and I'll say it again: unless you're from Maine and wrote under the name of Richard Bachman once upon a time, your epic had better be close to perfect.

Overall, the novel isn't terrible. It has its great scenes. However, I think Mr. King was a bit presumptuous when he declared Carrion Comfort a great story for the 20th Century. Simple as that.

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