This is a blog with spoiler free reviews. Most will be Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror, but there will be some books in other genres, including the occasional Non-Fiction review. There is an ongoing series of Cover Reveal Round-Ups, and sometimes I'll write an article on something that interests me.

30 April, 2013


Cover illustration by Lisa Litwack


ISBN: 978-0-671-04178-6
Pages: 536
Publisher: Pocket Books
First published: 1996*
This edition published: March 1999

On the cover:

   Welcome to Cold Mountain Penitentiary, home to the Depression-worn men of E-block. Convicted killers all, each awaits his turn to walk the Green Mile, keeping a date with "Old Sparky," Cold Mountain's Electric Chair.
   Prison guard Paul Edgecombe has seen is share of oddities in his years working the Mile. But he's never seen anything like John Coffey, a man with the body of giant and the mind of a child, condemned for a crime terrifying in its violence and shocking in its depravity. In this place of ultimate retribution, Edgecombe is about to discover the terrible, wondrous truth about Coffey, a truth that will challenge his most cherished beliefs...and yours.

   The Green Mile isn't the usual King Horror story, but it does contain some supernatural elements. Elements that are central to the story, but still take a back seat to the atmosphere of this story. King masterfully creates this atmosphere by transporting the reader back to 1932, and the Death Row of Cold Mountain Penitentiary -the Green Mile of the title.
   The story is told in the first person by the head prison guard Paul Edgecombe. It is told in a way that makes it seem more like a recollection than a novel, and this is the true strength of the book. We really do get inside what happened on the Green Mile back then. The story is told with such strength, and depth, that even the supernatural elements comes to life and seem real.
   I mentioned that this is not a Horror story, but there are events here that are horrific, King doesn't pull any punches but tells everything in gruesome detail. That King has pulled the reader into events in such a good way makes what happens hit much closer to home than it would have if it were a traditional Horror story.

   The characters are also brought vividly to life, especially Edgecombe. We live with him as the story unfolds, almost inside his head as he tells what happens. Edgecombe isn't the only character who we get a good acquaintance with, the other characters stand out as well. But we don't get inside their heads in the same way, and this actually makes the story work better.
   Arguably the main character can be said to be John Coffey, and inmate. But he's really the significant layer in the story we learn the least about. However that doesn't really matter, he has a great presence in the novel, one that is central to it. And what we don't know about him doesn't hurt the story.

   There are some weaknesses in the story, one of them being that it's relatively easy to see were events are going. Normally I'd say that this would be a problem, but King got me so involved in the people, and the setting, that it didn't detract much from the book. In some ways I felt that it shouldn't work being so aware of what was going to happen, but I have to admit it did. Although I did find it detracts a little bit from my overall impression of this story.
   Another thing that pulls the book down a little bit is that it is very much structured as a serial novel. There's some recap at the start of every part, and I think it would be best to take a couple of days break between reading each part. But I'm not sure that is possible with a book that drags you in to such degree that this does.

   Despite the flaws I mention above, this is definitely one of King's strongest novels. The setting and characters come so vividly to life that you really can't help but feel you are there watching events at times. It's a book all King fans should read, and one that should suit those that are not normally fans of King's stories. This is really essential Stephen King.

*Originally published in six parts, on the following dates in 1996: 1- 28 March, 2- 25 April, 3- 30 May, 4- 27 June, 5- 25 July, 6- 29 August.

Stephen King Review Index

LINKS: Stephen King  Pocket Books

27 April, 2013


   The cover for the next Harry Hole book by Jo Nesbø has been revealed. It is published in Norwegian 6 June. (Not sure about a release date for an English translation, but later this year has been mentioned.) The title simply means "Police". -Which may or may not be the English title.The publisher (Aschehoug) has also put their cover copy online. Here's my translation of it:

In the hospital a critically injured man lies in a coma. The room is guarded by the police, and no one is told what the name of the mysterious patient is. Meanwhile policemen are found murdered at the scene of old, unsolved murders. The police stand without any evidence and on top of that are missing their best investigator. In the hospital the patient is showing signs of regaining consciousness.

And the Norwegian original:

På et sykehus ligger en hardt skadet mann i koma. Rommet bevoktes av politiet, og ingen får vite hva den mystiske pasienten heter. Samtidig blir politimenn funnet drept på åsteder for gamle, uoppklarte drap. Politiet står uten spor og mangler i tillegg sin beste etterforsker. På sykehuset viser pasienten tegn til å komme til bevissthet.

   I'm a big fan of Nesbø's Harry Hole books, and this is one I'm really looking forward to. As I did with the last one, I'll get it on release day.

NOTE: For those who want to know how Harry Hole is actually pronounced, Nesbø says it at the start of this video. (It's in the first two seconds of the video.)

16 April, 2013


   Just a quick update. Yesterday it was announced that Skyhorse Publishing/Start Publishing, the same entity buying Night Shade Books, is buying small publisher Underland Press.
   There's nothing else on this yet, but it does look like this is an outright buy, unlike the situation with NSB, and that Skyhorse/Start is taking over all commitments of Underland Press.
   I've also heard rumours that Skyhorse/Start is looking to buy other publishers, but I don't have any solid information that.

   It's too early for me to have any sort of opinion on this specifically, but I must say I am a bit skeptical of an entity that we know so little about buying its way into SFF publishing. I'd like it if they had some SFF publishing experience of their own, and not just the money to buy their way in.
   I'll write more about this, and the NSB situation, when I can get hold of more information.

Previous articles: Who Are The People Night Shade Books s Selling To?
                             The Night Shade Books Sale: It's Not Just The Authors Who Are Owed Money

11 April, 2013


   If you have been following what is happening with Night Shade Books (NSB), you probably caught this article by Rose Fox on Publishers Weekly's blog. In it she mentions an e-mail from Marty Halpern, an e-mail I got too. Here it is in full:


Since you published a blog post on the Night Shade sale/fiasco, I thought you might want to consider the other side of the equation as well:

What you may not know is that I worked for Night Shade on a freelance basis as an editor/line editor/copy editor for **ten** years -- probably the only freelancer who stayed with NS throughout all that time. And for the past half-dozen or so years, it was like pulling teeth every month to get payment from them toward my growing unpaid invoices. But I had faith in Jason Williams and Jeremy Lassen that they would work this out, that they would do the right thing (eventually), and books would get sold, authors and freelancers would get paid.

But all the focus online this past week has been the deal that Skyhorse and Start are offering the Night Shade authors. Authors. Authors.

There has been absolutely no mention, nor commitment made, to all the artists, designers, editors (including myself), and others who are owed tens of thousands of dollars -- and seem to have been forgotten in all this "discussion" over the authors' deal.

And now that NS is essentially closed and in "escrow" for this potential sale, the money that is owed to me (for invoices dating back to October of last year) -- and all the other production people -- may never get paid.

There would be no books to speak of if there weren't editors, artists, and designers willing to work continuously for Night Shade for just the promise of pay. We are a dedicated lot and deserve to have our story told -- and responded to -- as well.

I'm afraid that when all is said and done, and the authors make their decisions -- some will join S/S, others will not -- those of us production people who helped put Night Shade books on the shelves and in ereaders, may be left holding a lot of empty invoices and bills.

Marty Halpern
   Marty offers up a very important point, there's quite a few other people involved in producing the books from NSB than just the authors. And they have been neglected in the coverage of the NSB deal, by myself included.
   Personally I'm very much for well produced books, and that of course includes editing, design and any art associated with them. And I very much want the people who do those jobs to make a decent living too, as well as the authors. 
   I hadn't really thought of the situation for the production staff, like everyone else I was caught up in the author's side of the deal, so I'm very thankful that Marty Halpern offered a gentle nudge to get me thinking about that side of what was happening. And I'm sad, but not surprised, to see that the freelancers who have worked on producing the best books possible for NSB are coming off as bad as they are in this deal.
   In the Publishers Weekly article, Rose Fox quotes Jarred Weisfeld at Start Publishing saying: "Nobody’s going to be left high and dry. The deal is contingent on those individuals getting paid." Something he later clarifies as: "...if the deal goes through, settlements for creditors will likely be in the 30%–50% range." Something that to my mind is a bit of backing down from the original statement.
   Personally I had gotten the impression that everybody would be paid what is owed them in this deal, but then again only authors were previously mentioned. As Halpern says on his comment on Publishers Weekly, 30-50% "better than zero". But it leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth that the deal isn't really about making sure everyone is paid what they are owed by NSB. 
   I can't help but wonder, like Halpern does, if there is really a legal commitment to pay people. And again I have to state my wonder at  if there is such a deal, why it doesn't include paying everyone in full? Is there really such a high amount of money owed that it was impossible for Start/Skyhorse to offer enough to cover payment for everyone who have payments outstanding?
   I'll continue to follow developments on this deal, and will be posting more about it later. I'm already looking at one angle that could be worth a blog post.
NOTE: My previous post on NSB can be found here.  

05 April, 2013


 So the news about Night Shade Books is all over the internet now, and a lot of details have started "leaking" out today. Some of the posts can be found here, here, and here. I didn't write anything here about this yesterday (since I had a headache and wasn't up to it), but I did post on the AW forum, and that was linked to by Publishers Weekly.

   Today this was posted by a literary agent at the JABberwocky Literary Agency. The post gives a detailed rundown of the contract offered to the Night Shade Books authors, a contract that has now been put on Scribd. (And I have confirmation that is the real contract).

   But what is more interesting is a couple of names mentioned in the brillblogger post (and elsewhere). Here's a quote from the brillblogger post:

"Is SFWA aware that Jarred Weisfeld is also a principal in a literary agency, Objective Entertainment, and is this information that SFWA might wish to provide?"

   Objective Entertainment has been a subject of a post on Writer Beware in the past.
   Jarred Weisfeld has also been the subject of his own post on the site Lipstick Alley, in relation to a lawsuit, and an article in The New York Observer, having to do with the same lawsuit.
   All three of the above links are four years old, so things may have changed since they were written. But there is more recent information on Skyhorse Publishing over on the Absolute Write Forums, where the newest information is from March this year. (Starts at post #19.)

   As a humble blogger, I find the information I have gotten a bit disturbing. This doesn't actually look like someone that would be desirable to work with, and I'm a bit amazed if this is the best Night Shade Books could do for its authors.

   I'll be following developments, and if I get any more information that has not come up in the discussion about Night Shade Books, I will blog about it here

EDIT 11 April: I've posted more about this here.