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The Ghoul Archipelago Paperback – October 16, 2013
The Amazon Book Review
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"Just when you think you've seen it all, he thrusts another scream-inducing, lunch-losing piece of madness in your face."
- Mary Fan, author of the JANE COLT and FLYNN NIGHTSIDER books
"Add in an aircraft carrier, some hard core blood and gore plus a quite wry style of writing then you get a punchy and dark sci-fi horror with some amazing set-piece battles!"
- Sean T. Page, UK Minister of Zombies and author of THE OFFICIAL ZOMBIE HANDBOOK
#19 on the Amazon "Sea Adventures" List - January 20, 2014
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Reactions range from "Hallelujah, the Second Coming of Jesus is nigh!" to "Whatever, how can I turn a profit?"And, of course, there's "Holy f***, there are ravenous corpses everywhere!"
The first of these comes from Reverend Sonntag, a religious zealot who sees the zombie apocalypse as a Biblical event. The second from Rand Bergeron, a businessman who made his fortune selling machines that whisk users into virtual reality sex dreams. And the third from pretty much everyone else.
The Ghoul Archipelago follows the mad power struggle between Sonntag, Rand, and a lunatic politician (not that Sonntag and Rand aren't lunatics as well). Caught up in all this is Captain Henk "Howling Mad" Martigan and his scrappy freighter crew. Sailing through the South Pacific, Martigan and company combat pirates, ghouls, and each other in an effort to survive.
If the above plot description sounds a bit windy, that's because the book itself is anything but another straightforward "oh no, the dead are rising" zombie novel. At first glance, it's a tale of horror that delights in shocking its audience. Look past the worm-filled eye sockets and limb-tearing scenes, and you'll see a clever sci-fi political satire.
Now, admittedly, doing so is very, very hard, especially if you're squeamish like me. I know the author (full disclosure: Kozeniewski's Braineater Jones is published by Red Adept, who's also my publisher for the Jane Colt novels), and as I was reading Ghoul, I found myself regularly Facebook messaging him to let him know just how traumatized I was. If Professor X were to listen to my thoughts as I was reading, he would have heard something like this:
"AAAAAAHHHH!!! Why, Steve, why? That's gross! Okay... just breathe... moving on... okay, that's kind of cool... WHAT THE HELL?! Steve, what's wrong with you?! *inhales* It's just a book it's just a book it's just a book... HOLY $#@*!!! Did that really just happen? There's an image I'll never get out of my head... Hey, that's interesting... whoa, WHAT! I need a drink..."
The definition of "horror" is to, well, horrify people, and Kozeniewski has a special knack for that, it seems. Just when you think you've seen it all, he thrusts another scream-inducing, lunch-losing piece of madness in your face. After I post this, I'm going to message Steve again, this time asking what I did to deserve this trauma. Steve, whatever I did, I'm sorry!
Moving on from all that...
If the fabric of Ghoul is a worm-eaten, bloodstained black sheath, Kozeniewski's unique, tongue-in-cheek writing style is the glitter sprinkled across it. Even the most violent scenes of horror aren't without their witty quips and snappy comebacks. And he bestows each of the book's many characters with sharp dialogue that rings true. This book really comes to life on the page, which could be why I required hours of cat therapy after reading it...
Ghoul is not for the faint of heart, but if you enjoy the dark and twisted, then I recommend you give this book a try.
The story takes place in a chain of islands in the South Pacific and begins by following the crew of the Rey Gould, a smuggling vessel with a very unusual cargo. The story unfolds to include pirates, a sleazy technology mogul with a VR device that could mean the survival of the human race, and a maniacal preacher who believes the dead are a sign of The Second Coming.
Kozeniewski balances the viewpoints of an array of different characters pretty seamlessly. There were only a few times I found myself needing to revisit earlier sections of the book to recall what was happening. The characters themselves are also well drawn and feel completely distinct with their own motivations, mannerism, and voice. Foreign characters Tuan Jim and Kurtz, for example, evince some clear deficits in their command of english, which makes them both distinct and real to the reader. Furthermore, Kozeniewski can write. His use of metaphor, characterization, and description are all excellent. There are a few phrases that appeared too often for my liking, but nothing of them were book-breaking.
Where the issues arose for me was that the book was A) a tad long for me and B) the plot and end goal for some of the main characters were not as focused as I would have liked. The book feels much more character rather than plot driven and there are stretches in the book where not a whole lot seemed to be happening. For me this was an issue, but for those looking for an off-the-wall premise and are OK with a somewhat unconventional plot, this will not be an issue.
Please find this complete review and many others at bookie-monster dot com
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This is not your average anything. Definitely not an average zombie tale.
S. K. easily balances a multi-layered plot with realistic characters that you'll root for or wish Sonntag would use as an offering. A conscientious crook with morals, a religiously extreme preacher, a stow-away, and a money-hungry millionaire software creator are just a few of the interesting characters that grace the pages of this ambitious read.
The writing was skillful and clever.
I don't know if it was the amount of characters or the jump from point of views, but I found myself a bit confused during the beginning of the book.
There were a few times during the middle of the book that I felt the pacing slow to a crawl. It lasted longer than I would have liked, but then it picked back up.
The author is immensely talented and dares to inject pirates, politics, porn and so much more into an unpredictable suspense-filled ghoulish tale.
Highly recommended to burned out fans of the un-dead looking for an in-depth, intellectually stimulating read combined with depictions of disturbing horror.