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Carrion Comfort CARRION COMFORT is one of the three greatest horror novels of the 20th century Simple as that Stephen KingEpic in scale and scope but intimately disturbing CARRION COMFORT spans the ages to rewrite history and tug at the very fabric of reality A nightmarish chronicle of predator and prey that will shatter your world view forever A true classic Guillermo del Toro CARRION COMFORT is just an incredible concept for a story mind vampires and how these characters interact and evolve throughout the book A thrilling plot and intriguing locales keep the reader guessing until the end BRAVO once again Dan Simmons Carrion Comfort is a beast of a book My copy clocks in at 800 pages and to be fair to mr Simmons he kept the pace burning throughout the whole text There's much to enjoy in Carrion Comfort and not the least of its good aspects is the premise In this particular work Simmons tackles on one of the most famous horror creatures the vampire What makes it different from almost all other vampire ficton is his approach to the subject Carrion Comfort is concerned with mind vampires people who can enter the consciousness of any person and control their actions completely like a puppeteer Complete control one from which there is no defense mental or physical is certainly a frightening subject and the opening set in 1942 Chelmno is pretty much stellarThe novel spans many years and locations from WW2 Poland and surroundings to the 1980 USA The WW2 pieces are seen in retrospect and are certainly the best part of the novel; the obsession with chess that some characters have couldn't have been used in a better way Simmons presents a scene that truly is horrifying and memorable in its intensity and eerinessHowever aside from the general premise and the few WW2 portions Carrion Comfort is surprisingly short on the horror factor; most of the novel reads like a 80's thriller complete with black helicopters secret agents explosives and multiple shoot outs which occupy most of its pages The characters are interesting especially the elderly Melanie Fuller but never fascinating as they ought to be in a novel of such scope and ambition The allusions to real people are certainly a nice touch giving the novel some realism amidst all these bulletsOverall the books is compulsively readable but rarely leaves anything unseen and throughout its enormous lenght the reader will be exposed to as much action as he or she can take The frenetic Hollywood like action can get a bit boring at times and the true potential of the novel never really surfaces Still for such a huge tome it's a breezingly fast read much enjoyable that the plodding Summer of Night although the book certainly did not need to be 800 pages long Exhibit C in Authors Who Doodle In case you're interested here's exhibit A and exhibit B Carrion Comfort Dan Simmons second novel can be faulted for being overly long needlessly complex and in dire need of a talented editor Yet after I've said all that it still remains one of the best horror novels of the second half of the 2oth century The author has created a tense tale of mind control and the extremes of human corruption and power While Simmons uses the term Mind Vampires for his monsters they are nothing like vampires and at least in my mind a hundred times horrifying The author's other strength in this 800 page novel is the development of strong protagonists and villains These are not comic book characters but fully fleshed personalities with strong believable motivations Simmons' setting starts in Auschwitz during World War II yet mainly takes place in the early 80s Simmons sets a stage of believability by referencing a number of horrific events such as the Kennedy and Lennon assassinations and weaves a network of conspiracies and chess moves the latter being a tantalizing motif throughout that pulls this story way beyond the normal horror novel If you must keep the vampire analogy think of this as a cross between a vampire novel and 24 and you will get a hint of its themes Any one who calls themselves a horror aficionado needs to read this So I'm changing my final score on this novel from a solid 3 to a generous 4 stars because the book was JUST THAT UNPREDICTABLEThat's an odd thing to say as a re read no?There's lots of places where the novel easily deserves a 5 star just on reflection alone and since this came out nearly 30 years ago I'm not going to fuss too much over spoilers Do You Like Chess?Then this novel is for youDo you like mind vampires that look feel and act like Donald Trump Conservative Religious Nutsos Concentration Camp Masters or uiet unassuming matrons who take on entire inner city gangs? Then this novel is for youDo you also like long and rambling adventures populated by normal folk caught up in the nightmare of marionettes either trying to escape the nightmare or get revenge for the things that had been done to them? As in Full Blown Epic Length rambling and character development through action for almost 900 pages with a nearly uncountable number of reversals sad deaths and improbable successes?Then this novel is for youHonestly I never had any issues with anything in particular This was a pretty epic horror novel filled with tons of mind jumping mind and body controlling and history The focus on the details is what made it pretty damn awesome but that's what horror is all about If I were to put my issue into words I'd still have a hard time because its faults were also its strengths It was unpredictable I can't say I liked most of the characters and it was really hard to actually enjoy being in the minds of the baddies but Melanie was a real treat Saul than anyone was complex and multifaceted and sits in my mind as back when I first read this when it was new as the uintessential portrait of a nazi huntervampire hunter Hell I've been judging all other novels with the trope by this gold standard ever sinceI'm glad I re read this but my god it was long There was so much by my older and jaded eyes that I think could have been cut right the hell out but it was a horror novel first and foremost and having a long build up before the missiles come and destroy the island or whatever is still what we seek in the style If you want a very long and interesting ride a near perfect diversion with lots of sex horror and a cast of baddies with zero moral fortitude and the undercurrent that they might get what's coming to them then I really recommend this novel This book covers eyes oh my god I don't know how to feel about it Dan Simmons is such a great writer and his imagination scares me like really really bad The stuff in this book was CRAZY I couldn't believe what I was reading Sometimes I didn't even want to know where this story was going But despite the horrific plot one thing that Simmons does really well is character building and backstory Natalie and Saul are so fleshed out they feel like real people and you are genuinely invested in their lives which makes what happens to them so hard Especially SaulSaul might be one of my favorite protagonists in any story A survivor against the most oppressive and terrifying odds Honorable mention is Rob Gentry I love Rob A true hero But this story would be nothing without the anti heroes the enemies the villains No other villains in any other book are as merciless self serving cruel or disgusting than the soul sucking Users inCarrion Comfort I enjoyed most of it but sometimes I admit it went too far So I docked it a whole star for just being too damn long I could have shaved off at least a couple hundred pages EASILY and for some unnecessary roughness Mainly I got tired of my sensitivities being offended which probably wouldn't have happened if this were a shorter book Anyhow four stars is still four stars and a worthy horror novel I'm glad it's over Hahah I always hesitate to say a book is overlong I read because I like knowing the deepest thoughts and motivations of the characters who populate my fiction Books are meant to be longer in depth experiences There are thousands of studies that have been done on chapter and novel length but the truth of the matter is a reader only notices page count when the writing andor story sucks I find myself uestioning whether or not I think a book is going on too long I ask Was I ever bored for extended periods of time? You can have a long book with lulls but the action should kick back in right around the time your average reader will start skimming In a perfect world a reader will never feel like skimming but we all know that even the best novels can have unneeded information This in the realm of fiction is called pacing It is my opinion mind you this opinion is based solely on this book as I have not read anything else by Dan Simmons but Carrion Comfort is the novel that put him on the map so I'm judging it as a good example of his work that Dan Simmons is crap at pacing and he is absolutely in love with his own voice For a novel of 884 pages and teensy tiny type to boot at least in my paperback copy I found only three memorable scenes The opening the final fight with the Honky Monster who we will discuss in a minute and the final fight with Justin Everything else was either meh or downright boring I feel comfortable saying this book is way too long based on the content received I could have done without 50% of this book And no that's no exaggerationA great bit of my enjoyment factor was hindered by the repetition of the word Negress Listen I understand that Negroe used to be an acceptable word Likewise I get that Black was once a racial slur I get it I'm not talking about that I simply do not like the sound of the word Negress I feel about this word the same way some people feel about cunt or twat The word just sounds ugly and I don't want to listen to it Doesn't matter what it means or if it was ever acceptable If the word was a person it would have a punchable face Unfortunately I switched to the audiobook at around the halfway mark so I literally had to listen to this woman say the word dozens of times And no that is no exaggeration either Yes this book is dated but even if I went back in time to when this book was released in 1989 I still can't imagine the necessity for such word repetition Seems like lazy writing to me I mean at one point the word is used as much as she and her Another huge letdown was the lack of horror The cover promised EPIC HORROR and other checks the book's ass couldn't cash There were horror tropes sure but there was very little that was horrifying Carrion Comfort is the same kind of horror experience you'd receive if you watched a marathon of the Underworld films This is action horror and I don't like action horror Yeah there are monsters but they aren't scary They are rapey and over the top but they aren't frightening The one truly terrifying monster in the book is figuratively castrated by the fact that the author thought it would be a sound idea to call him the Honky Monster Sweet baby Tom Cruise I wish to fuck I was kidding This scythe wielding baddie is turned into a joke shortly after his introduction and he never reclaims his rightful spot as scary Every time he was named I laughed Out loud I literally barked laughter Such a well designed monster should not garner guffaws based on his moniker alone I don't know what I would have called him but it sure as shit wouldn't have been Honky Monster This is the euivalent of naming Dracula the Neck Sucker Get the fuck outta hereOh and I'm not a chess player I feel that I missed a great deal of subtext because I do not play the game And that sucks This book did however make me pick up a book about chess and I'm enjoying learning how to play but I know I have many miles to go and I wasn't about to put off finishing this book while I boned up on my middle gameA final note on the writing Dan Simmons doesn't write like a modern author His prose is elegant and Dickensian I was not expecting that While it shouldn't have been so jarring it most certainly was I can dig good writing no matter the style but I don't think it fit this subject matter It was horribly awkward in places Imagine Shakespeare writing The Grapes of Wrath or Of Mice and Men That would be weird right? Now imagine Charles Dickens wrote a horror thriller in the vein of early Dean Koontz I think you see my issueIn summation I'm not giving up on Simmons I want to see what he does with some historical fiction I have Drood and The Terror ueued up in the next few months Both novels are eually long so if I don't like them I'll probably uit Simmons after that I love the concept of Drood and probably should have started thereFinal Judgment Needs Jazzercize and Slim Fast Five words that I never thought I would say Couldn't it have been longer? Seriously for someone who dreads a book that passes the 600 page mark I should have been absolutely dying over this 900 page monster ButThis is one of those rare horror books that manages to maintain the suspense and horror over the course of the book Long books often make it difficult for the author to maintain suspense without the story dragging I'm totally looking at you Stephen King but I found that Simmons managed to maintain a fairly consistent level of suspense In 884 pages and 3932 of audio I was never once bored Another truly impressive thing was that he created some of the most harrowing scenes I've ever read in a horror book but he never relied on gore to do it Chess? Yes I will never look at chess the same way againMuch of the suspense of the story is in how it develops so I don't want to give a synopsis I'll just say that there are these really bad dudes and dudettes that are able to control the actions of other people Over the course of the book they're eventually called mind vampires One of the bad guys does use this for sexual violence so there are definitely triggers in this but it did only happen at the beginning and then the story became much larger and complex and he wasn't in the book enough for it to be a consistent issueA horror book with only one disemboweling and characters that redefine sadism It was a very solid 4 stars and easily pushing 45 A truly fantastic book and now I want to read anything Simmons has writtenEDIT I'm increasing the rating to 5 stars I'm comparing it to all of my monthly reads and I have several 5 star reads yet this was my favorite read of all of them UPDATE 299 Kindle US today 92920Loved it and hoping to do a reread on audio soon Mel πŸ–€πŸΆπŸΊπŸΎ this is a briskly paced supernatural thriller about mind control and controlling the world around us it is also about as one dimensional as they come despite the potential of the multi leveled subject matter and the breadth of the narrative from World War 2 Germany to present day Hollywood and dozens of locales in between the novel and several of the characters are obsessed with chess which makes for some intriguing action although it includes several wonderfully creepy set pieces overall this is far action oriented than horror this is Simmons' second book which must be the explanation for the occasionally stilted writing and the clear need of an editor the single first person strand amongst all the third person narratives is from one of the villainous 'mind vampires' which allows for some enjoyably tricky twists of perspective during various loaded scenes and it certainly helps to create a devious and punchy ending besides being an intriguing tool for the narrative i think that this character is the novel's chief strength a very ironic portrait of a vicious racist murderous insanely self absorbed semi senile southern belle but one who also manages to be somewhat sympathetic and surprisingly funny particularly when detailing her prudish and judgmental view of modern society what a bitch but not just any bitch a mind controlling bitch who will get you and all of your loved ones if you stand in her way just imagine if prudish semi senile southern belles were in control of your mind and body shudder the things they'd do

About the Author: Dan Simmons

Dan Simmons grew up in various cities and small towns in the Midwest including Brimfield Illinois which was the source of his fictional Elm Haven in 1991's SUMMER OF NIGHT and 2002's A WINTER HAUNTING Dan received a BA in English from Wabash College in 1970 winning a national Phi Beta Kappa Award during his senior year for excellence in fiction journalism and art Dan received his Master

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