Archive for October, 2014

Writer and Research

October 18th, 2014  |  Published in Dark Tales, Reviews, Self Publishing

Review – Upstairs at the Party


Even when reading for leisure, I read like a writer and think critically about what I’m reading. This often follows writing and posting reviews on Amazon of kindle and print purchases. Upstairs at the Party is a dark story. A review I read in the Herald Sun interested me enough to purchase this novel. Days later I read a review written in The Age giving Upstairs at the Party faint praise. The reviewer was critical of the story’s bleakness and added that it didn’t offer a happy ending, and this was a feature of the story that appealed as I write horror and dark tales. Like Upstairs at the Party horror, dark material and dirty realism offers hard hitting social commentary where happy endings only sanitise serious and thought provoking issues.

Upstairs at the Party is both a fascinating and frustrating read. As other reviewers have noted, it is a keenly observed and evocative portrayal of the characters’ time at university. It does not sentimentalise this era; some scenes are grim and confronting, and the social comment is apposite.

It is also a scathing indictment of selfish, self-centred people. We watch as the characters waste their lives and fritter away the value that their education and the privileges and responsibilities that it endowed them with on empty pursuits.

I found myself skipping bits as I became increasingly frustrated by characters’ aimless ineptitude. Their engagement with life is often oblique and peripheral. Perhaps this is Grant’s point – that their impotence has as much to do with flawed and undeveloped personalities as it has to do with the social conditions in which they live. She thereby reminds us of the importance of social and cultural engagement that goes beyond gestures and rhetoric.

Film Review – Annabelle

October 2nd, 2014  |  Published in Dark Tales, Horror, Reviews, Self Publishing, Writer and Research


Annabelle – Movie review

Horror fans will enjoy this flick. Its cinematic effects and shock factor are dramatic and there are a number of frightening moments in the story. Annabelle will particularly appeal to a teenage audience. We were sitting next to a group of teenage girls who were scared witless and enjoyed themselves. Although the ending was derivative, the storyline didn’t give any clues away and the finale was a genuine surprise. However, Annabelle relied too much on horror film clichés, such as, the kindly priest who comes to the rescue and suffers for his goodness. Some of twists and turns in the plot seem to rely on easy options. The two main protagonist’s reactions are often naïve or foolish and seem to only serve to keep the plot going. After being terrorised by the hideous doll, Mia decides to keep it. The horror potential of some scenes could have been better explored or developed. For example, when the doll rises into the air Mia sees the face of a cartoonish devil which reduces the scare factor. Examples such as this one verge of cheesy. Alongside The Conjuring, the prequel, Annabelle, isn’t in the same class. The Conjuring maintains unrelenting tension where there is no easy escape for the characters.