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Review: Oasis by Joan De La Haye (Fox Spirit)

Ever since I read Joan’s ‘SHADOWS’ (reviewed here) I knew that Joan was a writer that I would continue to enjoy – and with her novella, OASIS, I wasn’t disappointed.

OASIS falls into the Zombie-Apocalypse sub-genre of Horror, yet it’s also an exploration of character- and family bonds in the face of horror and unrelenting danger.

The world of OASIS is a blasted wasteland – the planet has been ravaged by powerful and deadly solar flares, which decimated the world’s population and also changed humanity at the cellular level. The tale begins with a family that finally emerges from the relative safety of their bunker, having practically no choice but to brave this terrible new world – and when they finally do emerge, they are thrown into a situation that tests them on every level.

OASIS is a short tale -you can read it in one sitting- but Joan managed to illustrate the relationship this family has, gives us insight to how they managed to survive and keep their sanity, and how the isolation of the bunker and not knowing what was happening in the world affected them. When they emerge from the bunker and join up with a group of soldiers, they begin to realize that the world has changed utterly – the desolate, water-bereft landscape brutal and memorable, the effects of the solar flares hammered into the reader.

When the true danger that this group must face finally emerges, Joan does a great job of ramping up the tension, but also manages to interject some humour into the tale, nicely breaking the often grisly descriptions of wounds and violence. I also enjoyed the characters and how they reacted in the situations they faced – there isn’t ‘one’ hero upon which the plot turns, no easy way to fix what’s happened to the planet, no easy way to survive; but OASIS is in no way a bleak tale.

OASIS is sharp, brutal, spiced with humor, and a great addition to the ever-growing sub-genre of Zombie Apocalypse tales. It stands on its own and yet again showcases Joan’s great talents with words and storytelling. If you’re looking for a quick read that’ll give you thrills, terror and zombies, or if you’re a fan of Joan’s expansive and creepy imagination 😉 then this book is for you. 🙂

8 / 10

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To order your copies of OASIS, click here for Amazon US (paperback, Kindle-edition) and here for Amazon UK (paperback, Kindle-edition).

Check out Joan’s website here, and check out her publisher’s website here: Fox Spirit.

Until next week,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2013 in Fox Spirit, Reviews

 

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Review: Shadows by Joan De La Haye

It’s taken a very (VERY) long time for me to get to Joan’s novel, and I’ve got no excuse – if Joan got a bit angry with me then I can totally understand that, and yes, I did read plenty of other books before getting to Shadows. In a way, I have Joseph D’Lacey to thank for getting me to finally pick up Shadows – he’d written such good stories (in Meat, and in The Killing Crew –review coming up- and most recently, in Snake Eyes –review also coming up soon-) that my thirst for good Horror novels really became strong. I finally got started with Shadows, and what can I say – it’s such a damned good book that I feel like an idiot for not reading it sooner!

A word of warning about Shadows, though – this is a truly disturbing novel, a vision of madness and depravity the likes of which I’ve not really encountered before. It pulls absolutely no punches and is brave and brilliant because of it.

Shadows follows one woman’s descent into madness and revenge, a descent which affects everyone around her. Sarah is a woman looking for love, acceptance and stability – but there are plenty of obstacles in her way, the least of which is her struggle to deal with her father’s suicide. When we meet Sarah she’s on the verge of falling apart, and as the novel progresses things just get worse. She’s the perfect example of a character who is beaten down in almost every aspect of her life, and as such her part of the tale (the main focus of the book) is not particularly nice to read – I can’t say that I enjoyed it, but by ‘enjoy’ I mean watching the particular brand of violence in a movie like ‘Hostel’ – you watch with a kind of sick fascination, wincing, feeling your stomach roil. But you continue watching, because something in you (which you would rather not acknowledge or pay attention to or even try understand) can’t stop watching. So, in that sense I didn’t enjoy Sarah’s story, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good, in the particular kind of meaning that ‘good’ has in relation to this book. By the end of the novel I felt like I had journeyed to hell and back with Sarah, and I felt enlightened, having been given an intimate glimpse into a world that I would definitely not want to be a part of.

But Sarah isn’t the only character – there’s Sarah’s boyfriend, Kevin –an asshole through and through, and I particularly enjoyed his story, though the character was a prick, and when I dislike a character that is meant to be disliked, that means the writer did a damned good job.

There’s Kevin’s sister, Kevin’s lover, Sarah’s sister, Kevin’s parents – and one particular character that may or may not exist – Jack. All of them swirl together, upsetting each other’s carts and lives, and how this happens is like watching the onset of violent insanity – the various plots and how they interweave are an excellent example of good plotting. What Joan also does in this novel is let the story unfold from two different POVs – First Person, in Sarah’s case, and Third-Person for the rest of the characters. It’s a tiny bit jarring in the beginning but I soon got into the flow, and I still can’t decide which character(s)’ plot and POV I ‘enjoyed’ the most.

But here I warn you all again – if you’re open to reading a book that is genuinely disturbing, in some cases distasteful, and creepy as hell, then I’m pretty sure you’ll ‘enjoy’ Shadows. If you don’t like being removed from your comfort zone, if you don’t like challenging yourself, then you’ll probably put this book down and never touch it again.

I think this novel is excellent, and showcases Joan’s writing-ability as well as her twisted imagination. I think it’s a damned ‘good’ book, and I hope you’ll read it, too.

I give Shadows a resounding 9 / 10 – in terms of sheer twisted imagination, Joan is, in my opinion, South Africa’s Clive Barker.

Print

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To order Shadows, click here for Amazon UK and here for Amazon US.  🙂

If you’d like more info about Joan and her work, check out her website (with excerpts) here and her page on Goodreads here. And do go check out Fox Spirit, her publisher – great titles available! 🙂

Have an awesome weekend, and till next time,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2012 in Reviews

 

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