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#TuesdayBookBlog GOLEM by PD Alleva (@PdallevaAuthor) Horror, myths, and psychological insights #RBRT #horror

Hi all:

I bring you a book for those of you who enjoy horror and are interested in stories based on myths.

Golem by PD Alleva

Golem by PD Alleva

“An extraordinary psychological horror book. Excellently written, with a twisted, spiraling, unexpected end that will leave you speechless.” ~ TBM Horror Experts

Detective. Angel. Victim. Devil.

A haunting tale of suspense, loss, isolation, contempt, and fear.

On November 1, 1951, war hero John Ashton was promoted to detective. His first assignment: find the district attorney’s missing daughter. But his only lead is Alena Francon, a high society sculptor and socialite committed to Bellevue’s psychiatric facility. 

Alena has a story for the new detective. A story so outlandish John Ashton refuses to heed the warning. Alena admits to incarnating Golem, a demonic force, into her statue. A devil so profound he’s infiltrated every part of New York’s infrastructure. Even worse, he uses children to serve as bodily hosts for his demonic army, unleashing a horde of devils into our world. 

When Alena’s confidant, Annette Flemming, confirms the existence of Golem, John is sent on a collision course where fate and destiny spiral into peril, and the future of the human race hangs in the balance. 

The Devil Is In The Details!

Fans of The Silence of the Lambs, Clive Barker, John Connolly, old Stephen King, and Anne Rice will be fascinated by this edge of your seat psychological horror thriller with a story that rips out the heart of humanity and throws it on a slab to be feasted on. 

https://www.amazon.com/Golem-PD-Alleva-ebook/dp/B09CV5823C/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Golem-PD-Alleva-ebook/dp/B09CV5823C/

https://www.amazon.es/Golem-PD-Alleva-ebook/dp/B09CV5823C/

Author PD Alleva

About the author:

PD Alleva writes thrillers. Whether those thrillers are a Sci-Fi Fantasy about Alien Vampires attempting to subjugate the human race, or steeped in a haunting horror novel, or an urban fantasy with supernatural themes, PD always provides readers with a profound, entertaining, and satisfying reader experience, in a new genre he has coined as alternative fiction. His novels blend mystery, conspiracy, psychology, and action with the supernatural, horror, fantasy, and science fiction. Alternative fiction is PD’s attempt at describing what readers uncover in any one of his books, a new discovery towards mainstream storytelling. He’s been writing since childhood, creating and developing stories with brash and impactful concepts he describes are metaphors for the shifting energies that exist in the universe. PD lives inside of his own universe, working diligently on the Sci-Fi/Fantasy series, The Rose Vol. II, the urban fantasy novella series, Girl on a Mission, and Jigglyspot and the Zero Intellect, PD’s upcoming horror thriller.

I’m also sort of a social media enthusiast! You can find me basically everywhere on the net.

Visit my website here: https://pdalleva.com

Join the PD Alleva Reader Group and Book Club: https://www.facebook.com/groups/pdsthrillerreadsandbookclub

Here’s my Instagram where I post pictures of books, current reads, and daily writers life pics:

https://www.instagram.com/pdalleva_author/

My Facebook page is where I’ll post interesting articles on books, reading, movies, and comics:

https://www.facebook.com/pdallevaauthor/

My twitter account is where I post giveaways and promotions: https://twitter.com/PdallevaAuthor

Follow me on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/author/pdalleva

Follow me on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7634126.P_D_Alleva

Follow me on Bookbub here: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/p-d-alleva

https://www.amazon.com/PD-Alleva/e/B073D1TQPP/

My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (author, check here if you are interested in getting your book reviewed) and thank her and the author for this opportunity.

I had never read any of Alleva’s books before, but I love horror, and I always enjoy reading something a bit different for Christmas, and this novel fitted the bill perfectly.

The description gives a fair idea of what the novel is about, and it is difficult to say more without spoiling the many surprises and scares. The author has managed to combine elements of a variety of myths and legends that have been adapted and used as inspiration for quite a number of stories before. Apart from the Golem of the title (from Jewish folklore), there are also elements of Pygmalion (the Greek original myth), the myth of Pandora’s box, and also elements of occultism and demonology, but without any heavy reliance on standard religious tropes or discourses, especially as pertaining to organised religions. To those who wish to know more, I recommend reading the author’s note at the end, where he explains the genesis of this book, his influences (he does highlight Frankenstein, as well as other classics and more modern horror stories and authors), and also his research and how he incorporated it into the final novel. It provides a good insight into the author’s process of creation, into his thoughts and motivations, and I found it fascinating in its own right.

As is the case with most genres, there are many subgenres and subtypes of horror stories, and some readers prefer some story topics to others, but I must confess to finding novels and movies about demons and evil possession, like The Exorcist and The Omen, among the scariest. I don’t scare easily, but this story manages to tap into the darkness within, psychological issues, post-traumatic stress syndrome, the worst of human weaknesses and vices, corruption at the highest level, and all kinds of crimes, some pretty extreme. This is a book fairly explicit in its use of extreme violence, with detailed descriptions of torture and abuse, with all kinds of victims (including young children), so any readers worried about violence, abuse, or satanic themes, should avoid it. (There are some sex scenes, although these are far less explicit than the descriptions of violence, but no less disturbing in that particular context).

The narrative follows a detective’s investigation, although it is not a typical police procedural, far from it. As tends to happen sometimes, the story ends up investigating the brand-new detective, John Ashton, as much as the case he is involved in. And, although I cannot reveal much, there are plenty of things about him we discover through the book and not all straightforward. We also get to hear about the world of the high society of New York and the Hamptons after WWII and also the events and places of the era, including references to real buildings, to cases of corruption in the city of New York, and to matters such as McCarthyism; we visit a psychiatric unit of the time and learn about some of the treatments in use, and their devastating long-term effects.

The two main characters are John Ashton, a family man (his wife is pregnant when we meet him, and he is happy to have been promoted to detective), who has survived some terrible experiences but is not unscathed. The other main protagonist, Alena, we meet in pretty special circumstances, but we get to hear her story in the first person, as she narrates it to the detective. She is fascinating, and although she appears to be an unreliable narrator to Ashton —as she would to any police officer trying to solve the case— we are aware that there are far too many things that challenge a standard rational explanation. Like John, she has experienced terrible loss, and she is neither all good nor evil. She is a victim of forces she does not understand, but she tries to do the right thing, despite the cost to her health and sanity. There are plenty of other characters as well, and Golem is the most important (and a pretty memorable one as well, with many sides to his personality), but I can’t talk about them without spoiling the story, so you will have to read it if you want to find out more.

The way the story is told is quite interesting, as it is divided into three parts and an epilogue, and there is a character introduced at the very beginning of the story, during Halloween in 1951, that makes brief appearances during the novel, but we don’t get to know how she fits into the story until very close to the end. The device worked well for me, and it kept the intrigue going without slowing down the main narrative. Readers get to meet John Ashton next, and we hear about his experiences and events in the third person, although from his point of view, even down to his dreams and his pretty subjective impressions and intuitions. When he goes to talk to Alena, she gets to narrate her version of the story (written in the third person, although, as is the case with the rest of the novel, from her point of view and with direct access to her own thoughts and feelings), although not at first. She insists she will only talk to Ashton, and he (and the readers) get to hear her pretty incredible story, which requires a large degree of suspension of disbelief, but no more than would be expected from this genre. In fact, there is an interesting way of explaining what is behind the mysterious events and crimes, and not one I was familiar with, although some of the characters that make an appearance are well-known within the subgenre. Readers who worry about head-hopping can be reassured. Although the whole story is narrated in the third person, mostly from one of the main characters’ points of view, it is always clear whose point of view we are following. The story is also mostly told in chronological order (apart from Alena’s narration, which starts in 1947, although towards the end of the book we jump ten years into the future), and the pace quickens at the end, with alternating points of view that announce a pretty dramatic turn of events. (And yes, I can’t tell you anything else).

I have talked about the descriptions of violence and events that go beyond the realm of the rational, and the author does a great job with those, without overdoing the use of bizarre or complex language, but can be typical in novels centred on those subjects, but here the choice of register fits the characters and is functional and not overwrought or heavy. At times I noticed the repetition of certain words, adjectives, and expressions, that became pretty noticeable, to the point of being slightly distracting, but the more I read, the more I wondered if it was a stylistic choice befitting the subject, with its reliance on rituals and ceremonies. It does not detract from the story, the plot, or the characters, which are the most memorable elements of this novel.

Having read all this, I’m sure you won’t expect me to be specific when talking about the ending. Yes, it is very fitting and it works well. Of course, it is not a happy ending (this is horror, after all), but considering how the story goes, I think it reaches a difficult equilibrium. And, as is my preference in this genre, it is not a closed and reassuring ending. Good work.

Would I recommend it? With the caveats mentioned above, I definitely recommend it to readers who enjoy horror and like new takes and twists on ancient myths and stories, and especially those who appreciate novels that dig into the psychological depths of the human mind. As usual, I’d recommend readers to check a sample of the book before deciding if it would suit their taste, and, I leave you with the author’s own nutshell description and reflection on the book, as I think it might help you decide.

Golem is a story about isolation, paranoia, and division, and, as unfortunate as it is, reflects our current society in a nutshell. Who opened the front door and invited the devil in? Well, we all did, didn’t we?

Thanks to the author, to Rosie and the rest of the members of her team for their support, thanks to all of you for reading, for being there, happy new year, and remember to keep safe, to keep reading, and to be happy.

Categories
Book review Book reviews Non-fiction

#Bookreview LIFE IN MEDIEVAL EUROPE: FACT AND FICTION by Danièle Cybulskie (@penswordbooks) A well-informed resource and a great read #history

Hi all:

I bring you a non-fiction book about a topic we all have read and watched films and series about.

Life in Medieval Europe: Fact and Fiction by Danièle Cybulskie

Life in Medieval Europe: Fact and Fiction by Danièle Cybulskie

Have you ever found yourself watching a show or reading a novel and wondering what life was really like in the Middle Ages? What did people actually eat? Were they really filthy? And did they ever get to marry for love? In Medieval Europe in Fact and Fiction, you ll find fast and fun answers to all your secret questions, from eating and drinking to sex and love. Find out whether people bathed, what they did when they got sick, and what actually happened to people accused of crimes. Learn about medieval table manners, tournaments, and toothpaste, and find out if people really did poop in the moat.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Life-Medieval-Europe-Fact-Fiction/dp/1526733455/

https://www.amazon.com/Life-Medieval-Europe-Fact-Fiction/dp/1526733455/

https://www.amazon.es/Life-Medieval-Europe-Fact-Fiction/dp/1526733455/

https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Life-in-Medieval-Europe-Paperback/p/16524

Author Danièle Cybulskie

About the author:

Danièle Cybulskie has been researching and writing about the Middle Ages for over a decade. She is the author of The Five-Minute Medievalist and is a featured writer at Medievalists.net. A former college professor and specialist in medieval literature and Renaissance drama, her work has been published across international magazines, spanning topics from The Hundred Years’ War to Roman togas. Her mission is to make history fun, entertaining, and engaging, as well as to draw attention to our shared human nature across the centuries.

http://www.danielecybulskie.com/

My review:

I thank Rosie Croft from Pen & Sword for providing me an ARC paperback copy of this non-fiction book that I freely chose to review.

We all have some image in our minds of the Middle Ages. We’ve read novels and/or historical texts, watched movies and TV series, visited castles, churches and cathedrals of the period, and imagined what it must have been like. Images of a king sitting at his throne, knights fighting in tournaments, princesses being courted, minstrels, big banquets, mixed with the Black Death, dirt, ignorance, religious intransigence, torture and violence. It can be difficult to disentangle truth from fiction, but the author of this book, Danièle Cybulskie, does a great job of covering a wide range of topics and dispelling many of the myths and misconceptions about the era within a fairly small volume.

The book is divided into seven chapters: A dirty little secret (about hygiene, cleanliness, and the disposal of waste); Farming, fasting, feasting (about food, diets, drinks…); the Art of love (sex, marriage, LGBTQIA, contraceptives, childhood); Nasty and brutish (about battles, combats, the justice system, torture, weapons, slavery…); the Age of faith (about religious belief, pilgrimages, convents and monasteries, Christianity and other religions); In Sickness and in health (about doctors, midwives and healers, treatments [more or less scientific], women’s medicine, Black Death…), and Couture, competition, and courtly love (about people’s clothing, entertainment, sports, games, reading materials…). The author also includes ‘a final word’ where she reminds us of how varied the life of the people in that era would have been (after all, it was a very long period, over a thousand years), and encourages us to think of them as people in their own right, as varied, individual and interesting as we are.

The text also includes a set of images, colour photographs of locations, objects, and manuscripts (many from the British Library, gorgeous), a bibliography (books, articles, and websites), a section of notes with details about the sources of information the author has used for each chapter, an index, and her personal acknowledgements.

This is an easy book to read from cover to cover, and can also be used as a general resource, to dip in and out of, for people interested in the period. It offers a good overview and plenty of information for the casual reader. I don’t think experts will find anything new here, but it is a solid entry level volume for those looking for an introduction to the history of the period, and it offers advice on other resources for those who might want to study any of the topics covered in more detail. I was particularly intrigued by the mention of the medical treatments and treatises in use, and enjoyed learning about a society that was far more varied and complex than we generally give it credit for.

Here a brief quote from the chapter on the age of faith, commenting on the role of convents on some women’s lives.

Convents were places in which women’s learning was encouraged too, so that they could better understand holy texts. For many women who did not wish for a life of marriage and children, convents were a sanctuary in which they could spend their days learning and discussing theology… For these women, many of whom would have been literate, having lifelong access to a convent’s library must’ve seemed a heavenly option, indeed. (80-1)

In sum, this is a great book for people interested in Medieval Europe who are not looking for a historical text full of dates, battles, and royal dynasties, but rather want to get a sense of what everyday life would have been like. A good resource for writers, amateur historians looking for further information, and a gift for those who enjoy a balanced and well-informed account of a historical period most of us don’t know as well as we think.

Thanks to Rosie Croft, Pen & Sword, and the author, thanks to all of you for writing, and remember to keep safe, and like, share, and click if you find it interesting. Keep smiling and take care.

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