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Carrion Comfort: A Novel Paperback – November 24, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
The second novel by World Fantasy Award-winner Simmons ( The Song of Kali ) is a 636-page epic that draws on a variety of genres--horror, science fiction, political thriller, Hollywood roman a clef. It centers around a small number of "mind vampires" who can subjugate other people to their wills, read their minds, experience through their senses. The immensely powerful vampires use others, often bloodily, and often in frivolous "games" (hunting human prey, chess games with human pieces, and so on). Opposing them are Saul Laski, a psychologist and concentration-camp survivor, who is devoted to tracking down the Nazi vampire von Borchert; Natalie Preston, whose father inadvertently and fatally crossed the path of a pawn of the ancient, dotty vampire Melanie Fuller; Sheriff Bobby Joe Gentry, dragged in while investigating the multiple murders that marked the departure of Melanie Fuller from Charleston; and a host of other normals and vampires whose lives impinge on those of the principals. While he could profitably have trimmed the novel by a third, Simmons has produced, overall, a compelling thriller.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Preloaded Digital Audio Player edition.
“...a compelling thriller.” ―Publishers Weekly
“...very good fun. A satisfying story that delivers everything it promises.” ―Kirkus Reviews
Top customer reviews
Forging ahead to read the novel itself, I found that Carrion Comfort is indeed amateurish compared to Drood. Parts were very tedious while other segments were better. I really got bored with the middle of the book and had to force myself to slog through action scenes that just felt aimless to me. However, I'm not a fan of action thrillers anyway, so someone else might find those parts easier to read.
My favorite parts of this book were the segments written from the point of view of the psychic character named Melanie. Although she's unlikable, her view point felt very authentic. The ending of this novel was not bad, with a satisfying conclusion that tied up the loose ends. The plot is ambitious, with a lot of characters and a wide scope, and I could see foreshadowing of certain elements that the author re-imagined when he wrote Drood, which is much more polished and fascinating a story -- also much more literary.
Carrion Comfort (a bad title in my opinion) is not really a horror story, but more of an action thriller with psychic powers thrown into the mix. Readers who like studying an author's development may enjoy it on that level, and readers of action thrillers may like it. But if you want literary elegance, you probably will find this rather "clunky." Simmons is an excellent writer now, but this early work of his shows how far his skills have come. I recommend reading Drood instead of this, if you've never read anything by Simmons.
This is a book about revenge. Saul Laski, a former Jewish prisoner in a death-camp during the Holocaust was 'used' (his mind taken over) by a man who he calls 'the Oberst'. Saul will stop at nothing to hunt this man down. But, this is the tip of the ice-berg -
In the world there exists a small population of 'mind-vampires' who have the ability to slip into people's minds and control their actions. This is just a game to them. Mere mortals are just toys - they are even used as chess pieces in a couple instances. Once a year the mind-vampires visit an island, which is privately owned by a highly respected billionaire, so they can play a game where they use people to kill each other, the one with the most points wins.
I'm not going to dig any further into the plot, but I will say it is quite deep and fairly complex - though easy to follow. Carrion Comfort has a fairly large cast of characters, most of which are fleshed out nicely. Multiple threads spawn, which are all in third-person except for one which is told in the first-person view of a mind-vampire named Melanie Fuller (who will go down as one of my all-time favorite villains!). I really dug how Simmons weaved the plots together, allowing the reader to experience certain events from various perspectives.
Overall this is a great read, which I give a 4.5/5 (rounded to 5 for Amazon). Check it out!
If you like a well written, horrific, partially historical and insanely wild read then this is the book for you.