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Paper Tigers Paperback – February 29, 2016
"It's Show and Tell, Dexter!" by Lindsay Ward
Dexter T. Rexter is going to school. But will anyone like him? | Learn more
-Cemetery Dance Online
"This isn't just a great novel - it's one of the best horror novels in recent memory."
"...a smartly dark, deftly crafted journey into the depths of damaged humanity."
"Paper Tigers is a gorgeous tapestry of pain from an author who specializes in just such intricate needlework. It's about suffering, and wholeness, fear, longing, insecurity, self-loathing, and the prices we'd pay to get back what we lost."
-The Horror Fiction Review
About the Author
- Publisher : Dark House Press (February 29, 2016)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 300 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1940430577
- ISBN-13 : 978-1940430577
- Item Weight : 12.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.25 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,462,243 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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There is no denying this author has talent and can write quite beautifully. However, brilliant technical writing does not necessarily make a good story. Honestly, Paper Tigers only has enough plot to fill a short story, or a novelette at best. The repetitiveness and overkill of details was truly a test of my willpower to finish reading it. It does have some atmosphere, but other than the last ten or fifteen pages, there are no real scares or any sense of danger for the protagonist. I liked the concept of this book, but every chapter felt the same with minor changes as we learn of Alison's accident, the people closest around her, and her cliched journeys into another realm. Frankly, I was amazed at how the author could stretch out the same idea over and over in each chapter. The effect she was going for was so watered down that by the end, you don't care what happens to Alison. I would be curious to check out some of the author's short stories just to find out that she can, indeed, condense a narrative in short story form. As for being a horror novel or even a ghost story, I could not in good conscious recommend this to any of my friends. The investment of reading over 250+ pages for such a small payoff would cripple my reputation of discovering amazing horror novels and introducing them to others. They would never trust me again.
By far one of the most compelling examples of literary modern Gothic storytelling, readers are pulled into a world with all the classic Gothic themes: high emotions, an ancient evil, a main character who has suffered an unimaginable tragedy, and symbolism that weaves the entire thing together.
The author’s usage of colors is especially noteworthy and seems to nod toward the early feminist Gothic classic The Yellow Wallpaper.
Through Alison’s eyes, we deal with many tumultuous emotions and experiences, ranging from the trauma of a fire and the pain of chronic illness (both perfectly rendered, as I can attest due to having been through a fire and suffering from chronic pain) all the way to addiction and each person’s longing to be “perfect.”
This novel doesn’t hand you all the answers up front. You have to keep reading and work for it. It’s also written in a more lyrical, poetic style. In this way, Paper Tigers is like its early predecessors, but it also uses everyday language that makes it more accessible to modern readers. This is a true Gothic horror, though, which means it’s nothing like the safe and easy, dime a dozen ghost stories that are currently being mass produced.
TL; DR: Intelligent, beautiful, and heartbreaking. This is what Gothic horror actually is, and I highly recommend it. Paper Tigers has earned a high spot on my favorite books of all time list.
Of course, the photo album isn't just a photo album; it promises to make her broken self whole.
The premise of this book is an interesting one, and Waters attempts to explore obsession, isolation, and brokenness through this plot. However, throughout the second half especially, it feels more like I'm reading a cliche horror movie transcribed into novel form, complete with fading, discordant piano notes. Descriptions of Alison's obsession are surface at best, and times that I felt engaged with her pain or fear were few and far between.
Overall, I can't say that I particularly recommend this book. It's not terrible; it's not great. A solid "meh" from me.
Started: May 4, 2016
Finished: May 12, 2016
After being severely burnt and losing everything in a fire, Allison is slowly mustering the courage to get out of her house again. On a late night walk she is invited into an antique shop and finds an old photo album. The album begins to lure Allison into the time period and world of those who are photographed with in the photos. She discovers that some horrible things happened inside the house pictured in the album. She also discovers that her scars disappear when she is inside the album. Eventually Allison is forced to choose if it's worth staying in this scary world with no scars or face reality as a burn victim. Also, while traveling back and forth between reality and the ghost world she realizes she could be risking releasing a brutal murdered from the photo album to the real world.
I put the spoiler button on this review but I am not really going to give anything away. I just want to say that the book doesn't have a happy ending but I really really liked the ending. I am not one of those people that thinks all endings should be happy. I enjoyed the book overall but found the ending exceptional. If you're looking for a lot of excitement then Paper Tigers may not be for you but if you like gothic ghost stories that are haunting and melancholy then Paper Tigers should be right up your alley. This is my first Damien Angelica Walters book and it won't be last. I will definitely check out her other work. As an established fan it is no surprise that Dark House Press continues to come strong.
Top reviews from other countries
Alison Reese is a woman scarred, both physically and mentally/emotionally, from a fire in he previous home which has led to her fiancé leaving her. She is a virtual recluse, only stepping outside her house at the beginning of the book as a tentative form of exposure therapy. She ends up in a strange store which - though it is the middle of the night - is open. Within, she finds an old photo album - something she has taken to collecting - with its pages stuck together. The only picture she is able to view - at first - is one of a man clearly taken decades prior. There is also a partial quote on the first page; "A paper tiger to swallow you whole." What this means, Alison cannot know, but it will soon become very significant as she reveals more and more pictures and the book exerts a powerful hold upon her mind.
Essentially, what we have here - boiled down to its most basic - is a haunted house story. I know many people groan at these words, mainly because they think there can be nothing original done within this type of story. Which just goes to show that people can be absolutely stupid. It's not the trope or type of story that matters, it's how well it's written, how engaging and interesting it is, what it has to say about the human condition, and how deeply it can affect the reader. And Paper Tigers achieves all of this in spades, while also managing to put a fresh twist on the typical haunted house tale. She manages the first by planting us firmly within Alison' mind, making us feel all the pain, frustration and fear that Alison experiences; and all this, just from the tragic accident she has been through. She manages the second by making the haunted house only accessible - to the right sort of person - through the photo album. It lends the narrative a particular, off-kilter, dream-like quality; and you are never quite sure whether what is happening is real or simply the product of Alison's fragile, injured mind. And we are given a deep understanding of what Alison is experiencing. Her emotions are laid bare, her anxieties, her misery, her difficulty in coping with what is, essentially, post traumatic stress disorder. She wants to hide because she is convinced her physical appearance dictates how others perceive her, and in this there may be truth, but it also highlights the fact that we are not defined by how others see us. We are - or should be - defined by our actions, not our thoughts, opinions, or what we look like. We see how she anthropomorphises her emotions; yellow for - naturally - fear and self-pity, red for anger, amongst others. We experience every flinch as someone stares at her in judgement or horror (or so Alison perceives). We are with her when she feels astonishment and joy each time the album pulls her into a house that exists solely in time and memory, making her more whole with each visit. And we are with her as she realises the terrible price that must be paid for such 'miracles', and the conflict that arises within. And really, isn't that the point of the best horror stories? To illuminate the inner workings of a character's mind, possibly illuminating the workings of our own? For me, horror isn't about the horror itself, the monster or ghost; it's about the people, how they react, how they experience these events, how they are changed. And in Paper Tigers, we have a beautifully written, convincing story that straddles the worlds of genre and literary with absolute ease.
Without a doubt, one of the best horror novels I've read in a while, and it only cements the fact that Walters is a writer of high talent, and inexhaustible imagination; someone who clearly knows their craft intimately, and is able to convey the most powerful of emotions with ease, using horror as a mirror to the world. The book itself is a lovely example of what the smaller presses can achieve; it's solid, well resented, and with nary a typo or error that this reviewer can see. All in all, a product any serious reader of horror fiction - or any fiction - should be proud to have on their shelf.