Quick Review: Unexplained by Richard Maclean Smith

Summary (from Goodreads)

Based on the ‘world’s spookiest podcast’ of the same name comes Unexplained: a book of ten real-life mysteries which might be best left unexplained. . .
Demonic possession in 1970’s Germany.
UFOs in Rendlesham forest.
Reincarnation in Middlesbrough.
To this day, these real life mysteries and very many more evade explanation.

Based on one of the most successful paranormal podcasts ever, with over 10 million streams and downloads to date, Unexplained consists of ten chapters focussing on a different paranormal event, from Australia to Germany, the UK to Zimbabwe, using the stories as gateways to a journey beyond the veil of the uncanny, exploring what they reveal of the human experience.

Taking ideas once thought of as supernatural or paranormal and questioning whether radical ideas in science might provide a new but equally extraordinary explanation, Unexplained is The Examined Life meets The X Files.

My Thoughts

Although the podcast that inspired this book sounds just the sort of thing I love to listen to, and I have listened to similar-sounding podcasts before, I had never come across it prior to picking up this book. But I will certainly keep my eye open for it next time I’m looking for something to listen to. Unexplained: Supernatural Stories for Uncertain Times was certainly an interesting read.

Covering ten different paranormal events, occurring all over the world, I found this collection engaging. Some of the events and phenomenon I had come across before, the most well-known (to my mind) being the mystery of the Somerton Man. But I liked that more than half of them were new to me mysteries. The one that will stay with me the longest will probably the be the first one covered, where a young boy seems to have the memories of a German pilot whose plane was shot down close to where he lived, thirty years before he was born.

The only downside to the book was that at times the chapters and writing felt overly long, which slowed down the storytelling aspect of the book, and so the pacing dragged. But that being said, the events themselves were interesting enough for me to overlook that and keep reading until the end. It is also worth pointing out that there is an element of heavy reading involved in this book, as the author discusses both complex scientific theory and philosophy in places, in an attempt to explain what might be behind some of the events. I think the book may have flowed better without it.

All-in-all, this book covers some very interesting unexplained mysteries, some of which I may have never heard of if I hadn’t of read it. If you enjoy mysteries and the inexplicable you might enjoy having a read of this.

Rating

Book Review: Others by James Herbert


Quick Review (read on for full review)

An original, dark and disturbing horror story on the theme of redemption.  Atmospheric, chilling and not for the faint of heart.  4 /5

Summary (from Goodreads)

Nicholas Dismas is a Private Investigator, but like no other that has gone before him. He carries a secret about himself to which not even he has the answer . . .

He is hired to find a missing baby. One that was taken away at birth . . . Or was it?

His investigation takes him to a mysteriously located place called Perfect Rest. It is supposed to be a nursing home for the elderly . . . But is it?

Here Dismas will discover the dark secret of the Others. And in an astonishing and spectacular finale he will resolve the enigma of his own existence . . .

Favourite Quote

Beggars, beaches, bitches and batty old ladies – the images spun round my mind like a carousel filled with harpies.

Review

I’m a big fan of James Herbert and have read many of his books over recent years.  There is something about his writing that captures the “creepiness” factor that not all horror writers can achieve, whilst at the same time wrapping it up in a story you actually what to get to the end of.

This is one of those books.

Others follows the life of Nicholas Dismas, a hunchbacked private investigator based in Brighton.  When he’s asked to find a client’s missing baby, little did he know where the case would lead.  The strange mystery slowly transforms into an even stranger supernatural tale.

The characters really make this story work.  Dis is a complex character as he struggles to deal with his own personal demons whilst at the same time, having people look to him to as a hero after a lifetime of having strangers think of him as a monster simply because of the way he looks.  Constance Bell, who works at Perfect Rest (the world’s creepiest nursing home), and Louise Broomfield a Brighton-based clairvoyant, are both interesting, engaging characters, that work well with Dis.

There’s a terribly sad undercurrent to this story; I won’t say any more for fear of giving too much away.  It is dark tale, with dark and disturbing passages, some of which make for uncomfortable reading, given the author’s powerful imagination and ever greater power of description.

I thought the opening was very clever.  Herbert lets the reader know from the off that this is a tale of redemption so we are clued in whilst the characters are not.  Instead of this tactic revealing too much, what it does do is heighten the tension when strange and supernatural things start to happen.

I didn’t find this to be a quick read.  The story unfolds slowly and the pace is fairly moderate until you reach the last 150 pages or so.  That is why I rated it four stars and not the full five.

The final sentence of Herbert’s End Note (which makes for interesting / surprising / sad reading in its entirety) reads, “I sincerely hope you have been disturbed.”  Quite!

Rating