Category Archives: Jeff Strand

Rabid Reads: "Benjamin’s Parasite" by Jeff Strand

Benjamin’s Parasite
223 pages
ISBN 9781934546123
Purchase via: Amazon / Book Depository
It’s been a little while since I read a book that nearly made me retch. If I was keeping a daily tally on how long it’s been since the last time a book managed to make me a bit queasy, I’d have to set it back to zero now. It’s not a gore fest, mind you, but there were just a couple scenes that really made me cringe. Body horror has a way of doing that to me. What kind of horror fan am I?
So, this is a novel about Benjamin Wilson–and his parasite. Well, technically it’s not his, so much as it’s the property of a top secret project, and it just happens to wind up inside Benjamin after a tangled series of events, which is capped off with him having to shoot one of his students in self-defense when the boy goes on a seemingly random psychotic rampage. After that traumatic event, he begins to experience some strange cravings and inhibitions are lowered. Basically his every latent compulsion and desire is coming to the surface, sometimes when he’s not even aware of it.
Then there’s that searing pain in his stomach.
This novel is a quick, crazy read. And, it’s not just a horror novel, as there is a wild kind of road story to it, too. That’s because Benjamin is saved early on from certain death by a femme fatale bountyhunter who abducts him and tries to get him to the folks responsible for the parasite, so they can get it out of him. There are others who are aware of the parasite too though, and will stop at nothing to get it–whether Benjamin lives or dies in the process. Gunfights, car chases, double crosses, etc.
Benjamin is an amiable character and easy to root for, but there are moments when he is hip deep in the action and it feels like he is just taking it all in stride. Like, he’s in such an incredibly unheard of onslaught of circumstances and he still maintains an aloof sense of humor at times. Most of the time he is freaking out and scared shitless, so that helps, but his wisecracking feels overdone once in a while.
Other than that gripe, this is great pulpy horror/action novel, and it served as a great sample of Jeff Strand’s work. I’m eager to read more of his work down the road.

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Filed under Benjamin's Parasite, book review, comedy, horror novels, Jeff Strand, monsters, Rabid Reads, sci-fi novels

Rabid Reads: "Draculas" by Blake Crouch, Jack Kilborn, Jeff Strand, & F. Paul Wilson

by Black Crouch, Jack Kilborn, Jeff Strand, & F. Paul Wilson
Kindle exclusive (2010)
411 pages
Purchase at Amazon

I am not so sure these four authors should be commended so much as they should be committed. This was one sick, crazy vampire tale.

Draculas takes the well-worn vampire myth and turns it on its head–then defiles it in ways I dare not repeat. If you read Guillermo Del Toro’s and Chuck Hogan’s The Strain and somehow walked away from it feeling that the action wasn’t intense enough and it didn’t push enough boundaries, then this book is for you.

Take an eccentric old millionaire on his death bed and give him a priceless artifact obtained on the black market–an excavated skull that looks to be from a hideous beast that’s not quite human. Then have that old bag of bones intentionally stab himself with the skull’s fangs contracting what turns out to be a vampire curse/virus. Pretty wild stuff, yes, but that’s just the tippy-top of the iceberg. The real fun gets underway when he’s transported to the hospital and transforms–and goes outhouse crazy on everyone in sight. Now you’re cooking with gas.

If you need a movie to compare this too, think Planet Terror meets Dawn of the Dead … but with feral, insatiable bloodsuckers with fangs so massive they protrude through ravaged skin. Needless to say they do not sparkle.

To encapsulate the story in a word, try “relentless”. Anything resembling a slow point in the story is abandoned, as the novel is surprisingly brief (it clocks in around 170 pages) and has several points of view throughout–heroes and villains. The characters aren’t fleshed out to any great degree, and a couple feel like they have appeared in many a horror story, but most felt more genuine than I initially suspected. Oddly enough, it was the over-the-top characters like the movie buff gunsmith that won me over as the story progressed.

With four authors crafting this tale, it’s enough to make you think of the old adage: too many cooks spoil the broth. Fortunately for this tale, there was a consensus among the four as to what the tone and pace of the story should be. As a matter of fact, part of the included bonus material with this book has some shared e-mails between the four that give a glimpse into how the initial outline for the story came about, and how each author brought their own gifts to bear.

If you have an aversion to gore, Draculas is not for you at all. It’s a high-octane bloodbath with more depth than it has any right to contain. I liked it and almost feel the need to apologize for liking it. A guilty pleasure, perhaps?


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Filed under Blake Crouch, book review, collaborations, Draculas, F. Paul Wilson, horror, J.A. Konrath, Jack Kilborn, Jeff Strand, Rabid Reads, vampires

Wish List Wednesday #60: Jeff Strand’s "Dweller"

Wish List Wednesday is a weekly meme I started in July ’09, in which I put the spotlight on a book that is on my wish list–whether new release, blast from the past, or hidden gem.

I’m the kind of guy who digs a good monster story. But, I have to admit that a monster terrorizing people, either on a small scale or a large scale, is an idea that is commonplace–basically ever since man drew pictures on cave walls. I mean, how many Godzilla and other cheesy sci-fi movies and the like a guy watch without becoming a bit tired of stories about monsters.

Well, it’s nice when an author can offer a story involving a monster that strays from the obvious plot. Jeff Strand seems to have such a novel out now, titled Dweller. The monster in Strand’s novel isn’t some hulk behemoth on Godzilla’s scale, but likely more along the scale of the Creature from the Black Lagoon or Frankenstein’s modern day Prometheus. And the fact that the monster is befriended by an outcast of a boy is even more refreshing. Heck, the boy even named the monster Owen.

The book sounds really interesting, as it spans the lifelong relationship of the boy, Toby, and Owen through good and most certainly the bad. I’m certainly up for horror novels that walk to the beat of their own drum, and this one could be a really good one.

This book sound like something you’d be interested in reading too? If you’ve read it already, what did you think of it?

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Wish List Wednesday #13: "Pressure"

If J.A. Konrath says Jeff Strand‘s Pressure is one of the scariest novels he’s ever read, I’m gonna pay attention. And if Shroud Magazine calls Strand’s work “masterful,” then I’d better have this novel on my wish list.

Were you ever been dared to steal something from your local drugstore when you were in high school? Maybe that rite of passage didn’t make the cut in your neck of the woods, but we had it in mine. I stole a pen. Gangster. Well, Alex Fletcher (the protagonist of Pressure) steals a box of condoms. After which, he learns his parents want nothing to do with him, are fed up, and ship him off to a boarding school for outcasts and misfits. Ah, parenting. It’s at the school, he makes a few friends and meets one especially serial-killer-in-training named Darren.

I didn’t go to a boarding school, but while in college I had a crazy roommate–two, actually. So, I have a suspicion this book is going to appeal to me, and scare the bejesus out of me, on more than one level. Has anyone read Jeff Strand’s work? I’ve heard he has a knack for blending horror and humor, exemplified by his novel Brandon’s Parasite apparently. That’s another title I’m on the look-out for.

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Filed under Jeff Strand, Pressure, Wish List Wednesday