ZERO LIVES REMAINING by Adam Cesare
As a kid, I have memories of a place called DG’s arcade. I was born in the late ’80s, so I didn’t have much time with the arcade scene before the bells tolled upon it; Zero Lives remaining is a horrifying homage to those wonderful establishments.
I picked up Zero Lives Remaining in hopes of a nostalgia-filled experience, and thankfully, that’s exactly what Adam Cesare delivered. ZLR differs from Cesare’s previous nostalgia-fest in that it’s not set in the past, rather it’s set in a modern place designed to feel like a blast from the past.
ZLR starts off quick, following the untimely demise of Funcave employee Robby Asaro. Asaro never moves on from his death, remaining ever watchful of The Funcave. Fast forward to present times, where the well-intentioned ghost of Asaro sets forth a series of events which turn him from a friendly ghost to a power-hungry, mean spirited entity of death.
What’s written here is an incredibly fun play on the haunted house sub-genre. None of the characters were especially memorable, however, they serve their purpose of being cattle for the slaughter well. The deaths come quick, are imaginative, and fun to read. They are gory, but they fit the tone of the book well. Cesare is an expert at mingling nostalgia, pop culture references from multiple time periods, and horror. He proved it with Video Night, and it’s on display here again, although on a smaller scale. The story ends on a high note, wrapping up before it becomes drawn out.
With Zero Lives Remaining, Adam Cesare has written another nostalgia-fueled horror romp. The story within is a lean, blood-soaked affair meant for fans of the arcade scene. I don’t think it’s necessary to have been on the ground floor of the arcade scene to enjoy this book, but I do believe it will enhance your experience
A HOUSE AT THE BOTTOM OF A LAKE by Josh Malerman
A House At The Bottom Of A Lake is beautiful, magical, and touching, while still managing to maintain a sense of dread throughout. Josh Malerman is a fantastic writer. With every story, you’re in for a read that feels like nothing you’ve ever read before. With A House At The Bottom Of A Lake, Malerman has taken a teenage summer love and managed to make it simultaneously beautiful and creepy. You can see yourself as a 17-year-old, exploring the unknown; exploring your first serious relationship, learning things about yourself and your partner. Malerman does a wonderful job of making you a teenager again, eager for the world. Eager for human connection.
This being a Malerman novel, you know things are going to get weird, and they do. As Amelia and James take the summer to explore each other on the lake, they also find themselves equally compelled to investigate a mysterious house at the bottom of a lake they were canoeing across. A house seemingly unknown to the rest of the world meant for them and them alone.
A House At The Bottom Of A Lake is a deftly written, wonderful exploration into the unknowns of love and adventure. An investigation of a confusing time for teenagers, and one that still manages to dip its toes into the horror side of things, using a fantastic setting to maintain a creepiness factor. I’d highly recommend this book, it may not be for everyone, it’s not a typical horror, but Josh Malerman isn’t a typical horror writer and I loved every minute of it.
THE PALE WHITE by Chad Lutzke
Chad Lutzke is an author I’ve heard tremendous things about. One thing, in particular, I’ve heard over and over is his ability to ruin you. After finishing his latest, The Pale White, it’s safe to say that Lutzke lives up to the hype. The Pale White is exceptional. This is the tale of 3 young girls, all victims of sex trafficking, locked in an attic and only let out when one of Docs's disgusting customers shows up. The girls plot their escape from captivity and must face not only the men who have committed these heinous crimes but the emotional damage that they have been subjected to.
I'll admit, prior to starting this book, I was skeptical if Lutzke would be able to pull it off. I wasn’t sure how a male author was going to be able to tackle this subject matter, do it from one of the protagonist's points of view, and manage to write a good book. Chalk that up to me not knowing Lutzke’s work, because what’s in these pages is handled with the utmost care.
This book is absolutely heartbreaking and will scar you emotionally. The entire time I was reading this I couldn’t help but root for the girls, while at the same time feeling devastated by the situation.
Lutzke's care in handling the subject matter, and the disturbing truth that human trafficking is very much a reality, make for a compelling read that you won’t be able to put down until its conclusion. This is a powerful book, one that is recommended to any reader, regardless of genre.