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Review: The Mall by S.L. Grey

Get ready to be creeped the hell out – come June, you won’t experience a shopping mall in the same boring way again.

The Mall follows two distinctly different characters:
Daniel is a bookseller for Only Books in Highgate Mall; he puts up with terrible customers and condescending colleagues and doesn’t yet actually know what he wants. Rhoda is damaged goods, highly opinionated and quick to lose her temper. As events spin out of control, these two wildly different people find themselves sucked into a world that they would never have believed could exist.

Character-wise, both Daniel and Rhoda were extremely entertaining in their own right – Daniel is quiet, keeps mostly to himself, tries not to ruffle anyone’s feathers and keeps his head down and does what’s expected of him. Rhoda is practically a polar opposite: she’s loud, unafraid (on the surface), impulsive and, as a consequence, in a really crap place in her life. When Daniel and Rhoda come together, the sparks do fly, and as the tensions rise more is revealed about the characters so that, at the novel’s climax, Daniel and Rhoda that you travel with are in their raw, almost elemental form, which makes the climax that much more devastating.

Horror-wise, The Mall is utterly brilliant. Thanks to this book, shopping malls now have a sinister, slightly off-kilter atmosphere; I work in a mall and in a bookshop, so for me the effect will be doubly unsettling. Every mall has its creepy corners – that section of the parking lot you stay away from, the service-door that you’ve never seen anyone leave from or enter. But after you read this, you may want to lay off mall-visits for a while. There is also incredible world-building is this novel – an entire world and way of life, and entire culture, that is scary as hell and deeply unsettling. The Mall has the kind of horror that makes you want to hide under the thickest blanket you can find, but also the kind of horror that changes the way you view the world; it certainly changes both Daniel and Rhoda, and when you read their story, you’ll understand why, and be changed because you understand.

What makes the story even more creepy and scary is that it takes place in Johannesburg, South Africa. The descriptions of the mall and the surrounding areas, the characters we come into contact with, the kind of language used, all ground this book in Jo’burg without overwhelming the story – you know exactly where you are, and that makes it really unsettling. I’m sure the readers in the UK who come to SA after reading The Mall will have an… interesting experience while shopping. ๐Ÿ˜‰

This definitely isn’t a book for the squeamish – the descriptions are extremely vivid and it’s impossible not to have a mental-picture flash through your mind; there are plenty of cliffhangers and ‘Holy shit!’ moments, and just enough cutting humor so that you don’t end up losing your mind from continuous onslaught of creeping fear. Seriously, what Stephen King did for the US and Maine, SL Grey is doing for South Africa and Jo’burg; there are some places people probably think a bit differently of, and I know I’ll be staying far away from service-doors and mall alley-ways, that’s for sure.

This book isn’t only for lovers of Horror – if you want to read something smart, absolutely current, funny and scary, then I’m pretty sure you’ll love The Mall. This is definitely the kind of book that starts things and twists things, so that your perspective won’t be the same after reading it. But it is an incredible Horror novel and definitely the start of something awesome in the publishing world! I’m really looking forward to The Wards (hell, after what I now know about The Wards, maybe looking forward to it isn’t the perfect way to say it) and I can’t wait to sell this book to unsuspecting Mall shoppers! *evil grin*

9 / 10

To pre-order your copies (the hardcover will be available in June), click here for Amazon UK, or if you have a Kindle, click here to get your copy. To read more about SL Grey and The Mall, click here, here and here. ๐Ÿ™‚

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2011 in Reviews

 

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Book Trailer: The Mall by S. L. Grey

Just saw this on Twitter and it’s pretty damned awesome and creepy as hell!

Guess what I’m reading on the plane tonight? Guess who’s gonna freak the hell out over the Indian Ocean? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Pre-Order your copies here (hardcover) and here (Kindle Edition, which is already available). The hardcover will be available in June. ๐Ÿ™‚

Be EPIC!

P.S. The trailer was done by this man – awesome work!

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2011 in Book Trailer

 

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SA Spotlight: The Mall, Deadlands & BFSA Nominations

Hey guys and girls, I thought that I would point your attention to two distinctly South African genre books that’ll be hitting the shelves soon – and in a BIG way! ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve spoken about The Mall before, but since I’ll be diving into it soon (hehehe the perks, you know, of being a reviewer!), and since you’ll be able to pre-order your copies here in SA soon, too, it’s time for another spotlight. It’s written by two South African authors (Louis Greenberg and Sarah Lotz) under theย pseudonym S.L. Grey, and will be coming from Corvus Books in June – SA release-date to be announced as soon as I get the info.

Here’s some info about the book, just to, you know, make you pound the desk (or your lap) in excitement and / or dread:

Dan works at a bookstore in a deadly dull shopping mall where nothing ever happens. Heโ€™s an angsty emo-kid who sells mid-list books to mid-list people for the minimum wage. He hates his job.

Rhoda has dragged her babysitting charge to the mall so she can meet her dealer and score some coke. Now the kidโ€™s run off, and she has two hours to find him. She hates her life.

Rhoda bullies Dan into helping her search, but as they explore the neon-lit corridors behind the mall, disturbing text messages lure them into the bowels of the building, where old mannequins are stored in grave-like piles and raw sewage drips off the ceiling. The only escape is down, and before long Dan and Rhoda are trapped in a service lift listening to head-splitting musak. Worst of all, the liftโ€™s not stopping at the bottom floor.

Plummeting into the earth, Dan and Rhoda enter a sinister underworld that mirrors their worst fears. Forced to complete a series of twisted tasks to find their way out, they finally emerge into the brightly lit food court, sick with relief at the banal sight of people shopping and eating. But something feels different. Why are the shoppers all pumped full of silicone? Why are the shop assistants chained to their counters? And why is McDonaldโ€™s selling lumps of bleeding meat?

Just when they think theyโ€™ve made it back to the mall, they realise their nightmare has only just begunโ€ฆ

Sounds utterly creepy and cool, and the descriptions of the environments put me in mind of the incredible stuff that Clive Barker comes up with – really looking forward to being grossed out, creeped out and shocked to hell with this book! ๐Ÿ™‚

You can pre-order your copies here (Amazon UK), and as soon as it’s listed at Exclusive Books I’ll let you know. (If you don’t want to wait -and who the hell would- you can get your Kindle-edition right now!)

Next up, a zombie-apocalypse tale for YA fans set in Cape Town – yep, after you read this book you’ll probably never see the Mother City in the same way again! I present to you – Deadlands:

I’ve already been to a cool as hell and incredibly cutting-edge Cape Town in Lauren Beukes’ Moxyland, so I’m really looking forward to getting my paws on this one – zombies South African style? Hell yes! ๐Ÿ™‚ (And that’s not all…!)

Deadlands is written by Lily Herne and will be coming to us from Penguin Books SA on the 1st of March; here’s another small blurb to whet your appetite even more:

Ten years after Cape Town was destroyed in the War with the living dead, zombies ramble free in Cape Townโ€™s suburbs (known as the Deadlands), and the remaining living are either in fenced in on farms or in urban shantytowns.

The living are watched over by the mysteriously robed Guardians, a race of humanoid figures who appeared at the end of the War and who keep the living dead at bay, albeit for a steep price. Every year the Guardians stage a human Lottery and select five aspiring teenagers to be whisked out of the enclave for a secret purpose. To be one of the chosen five is a highly sought after and prestigious accolade.

No one (yet) knows why it is that the Guardians prize teenage bodies so highly, how they control the zombies or what they look like under the robes that cover their bodies…

Two very cool books on the way! ๐Ÿ™‚

Finally, and this is the coolest news I’ve heard in a *very* long time, Lauren Beukes‘ Zoo City has been nominated (twice) for a BFSA award! For those who don’t know, the BFSA is the British Science Fiction Association, a highly respected organization that trumpets what they consider to be the best.

Zoo City was nominated for the Best Novel and the guy who did (and does) Lauren’s SA & UK covers, Joey HiFi, was nominated as Best Artist. ๐Ÿ™‚ Awesome news! I’m really damned happy that a homegrown, completely South African novel has hit this level – not only is it a massive compliment for Lauren and Joey, but it’s also a WAKE UP CALL to all the writers out here: write your books already! ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s that crazy-cool (yet chilling) artwork:

Congrats to both Lauren and Joey – let’s bend our thoughts on them winning those awards! ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2011 in Announcements

 

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When you go down to the Mall today…

Remember this?

Well, check this out:

The Mall is definitely one of my must-reads for 2011, not least because SL Grey is a pseudonym for two South Africa authors. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m looking to focus a bit more than I have on Horror in the new year, and have Joe D’Lacey’s books coming up, too. What better way to kick it off than with The Mall? ๐Ÿ™‚

Check out more info on SL Grey over at Book SA and Facebook, and follow SL Grey on Twitter; pre-order your copies here (hardcover) and here (Kindle Edition, available for a limited time from December 25th). The book will be available from Corvus from June 1st!

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2010 in Announcements

 

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BookEx: The Science Fiction / Horror Panel

Hey Everyone, hope you’ve been having a great weekend so far. ๐Ÿ™‚

I just wanted to let you know one last time about the SF/Horror panel that will be taking place at 4 tomorrow afternoon at BookEx:

I’ll be chairing the panel and the authors who’ll be sitting with me are Lauren Beukes, Louis Greenberg and Sarah Lotz.

Lauren, Louis and Sarah are all based in Cape Town, so it’s really awesome to have them come out all this way. ๐Ÿ™‚

Lauren, as you all probably know, is the author of Maverick: Extraordinary Women from South Africa’s Past; Moxyland (US / UK / SA), and Zoo City (US 25 December / UK / SA)

Louis Greenberg has written The Beggars Signwriters and also edited the 24-story collection, Home Away; he is also collaborating with another author on the horror novel, The Mall.

Sarah Lotz is the author of Pompidou Posse, Exhibit A and Tooth and Nailed; she is the other author collaborating with Louis Greenberg on the horror novel, The Mall.

And since Sarah and Louis are collaborating on The Mall, it’s only far to feature their combined author-persona, too: SL Grey

We’ll be talking about Science Fiction and Horror, the growing industry for both genres in South Africa, as well as Louis and Sarah’s collaboration as SL Grey for The Mall, as well as anything else that takes our fancy. ๐Ÿ™‚

We hope you’ll come through and join us!

R30 will get you in and our panel starts at 4, but there are plenty of events throughout the day, so do check out the program. ๐Ÿ™‚

Hope to see you there!

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2010 in Announcements

 

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