The Blurb on Other People’s Words – Robert Dean

February 5, 2013 at 2:28 am (horror, Reviews, writing) (, , , , , , , )

In the Arms of Nightmares by Robert Dean

If I had to describe this in one sentence I would call it American Psycho mixed with Apocalypse Now and a hint of Hannibal Lecter, backdated (ranges from world war II to the post-war era.)

I liked the events set with gritty realism in war-torn Philippines, post-war Paris and US. Characterization is strong, horror is gripping and for the most part ambiance and imagery is vividly described. Unfortunately, it was the nightmares that are mentioned in the title which I enjoyed the least. The dreams and surreal musical interludes proved to be my least favourite. The author does surreal well, and I like the way he shows Arthur’s obsessive nature is tied to music and food, but while I enjoy a taste of surreal, I found these scenes excessively long at times, to the point where the scenes started losing my interest and detracting from the story. Then again, I prefer substance to style and someone who delights in highly-detailed, lengthy descriptions with vague connections to the body of the plot might love the nightmares– they certainly did reflect a strong aspect of horror. I also found some of the metaphors where the author was trying to be complex and artsy just didn’t work for me – I much preferred it when he kept it simple and real.

There were a few minor editing issues as well, particularly in Chapter 17 (Example: “a part ” vs “apart”, little things like “the” in where it shouldn’t be and “a” not being where it should,) and a few instances of redundancies and repetition in Chapter 24. If these types of things bother you as a reader, you may find them distracting.

One thing I did especially like was the progress of the story, the way certain events exacerbate the degradation of Arthur’s psychological condition (no surprise that they would) and how the decline of his mental state continues with the influence of alcohol and anger management issues (probably the result of PTSD). Some of the later scenes in the story really tap into that.

Where this story was good for me, it was exceptional and definitely well worth the read if you enjoy horror, enough to look past the few things that didn’t sit as well with me.

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