Friday, December 07, 2012

Book Review: Gary McMahon - Rain Dogs

Here's one of the books that was recommended to me when I asked for good contemporary British horror.  It was a runner-up in the British Fantasy Awards in 2009.

Hmm . . . yeah.  It’s definitely a book of two halves.  The first half is dull, dreary rubbish and there were a number of times where I was tempted to throw the book aside and move onto something else.  There’s a working-class family man returning home after a stint in prison for killing a burglar and a woman in an abusive marriage who’s able to see ghosts, but it’s all mired in the rut of miserable characters living miserable lives British horror really needs to break out of.

Thankfully the story comes back from its half-time oranges with a lot more vim and vigour.  The eponymous Rain Dogs are an imaginative concept, the pervasive rain evokes a strong atmosphere and the pieces do come together in a decent—and thankfully coherent!—climax.

It’s hard to know where to rate this one.  There’s an interesting horror story here; it’s a shame getting through the first half is such a boring slog.


  1. hello again many nostriled hydra~ I was wondering what the 'relentless foe' is that the two people of the town have to 'battle'?

    I like a horror book with horrible warped demonspawn creatures and grotesque mockeries of known life. Now I do tend to enjoy a more scifi theme too, but if a creature is 'alien' enough I like it.

    I very much enjoy your 'Hell' that I was shown in succubus summoning 101. sort of a fiery planet covered in the undead in endless agony and such- it's a terrifying concept. Now granted I tend to read your books for the sexiness though it still holds up in the horror department.

    I was thinking what the difference between horror and most scifi/fantasy books is the level of power the characters have in the book vs the antagonists. Horror books they're virtually defenseless and are trying to survive desperately (and being horrified), and then I suppose in scifi/fantasy they're pummeling demons and aliens to death with hammer and gun (while having their guts torn out) such as, my favorite series, Warhammer and Warhammer40k. C:

    And what are you 'suppose' to write that you never get around to? do you make plans for things you want to write, or people have plans for things you need to write? Aaaaaand any plans for sexy legs feet boots socks nylons stuff with Nyte? x3 and yes i remember stilettos are a hazard though . _.

    1. The foe is the eponymous Rain Dogs. They're interesting beasties. Definitely alien. The first half is a bit turgid - a wet northern soap - but it develops into a solid book in the latter half. If you like the Warhammer world you might find this a little too slow-going.

      I like to push the horror themes about as far as I can while still keeping some kind of erotic element. If I can throw scenes at the reader they wouldn't otherwise have expected, I'm doing my job. :)

      Interesting theory on the power of the protagonist in horror vs SF/F. I normally think of it as setting: F=past, Horror=now, SF=future. The ability of the character to fight back is a good way of looking at it. Horror films usually make a point of taking out the 'strong boyfriend' trope early so the viewer is left rooting for vulnerable Final Girl. If the enemy is supernatural it's fairly easy to make relatively strong humans look powerless. Succubus types only ever seem to ensnare the weak-willed in other fiction. In the hell-space stories I make a point of them taking out highly trained soldiers - they're being hit from an angle they can't really defend.

      I am a little guilty of breaking the "Protags must protag" rule of horror on occasion, but that's largely because the erotica elements call for an aspect of overpowering control.

      Ah Warhammer. They should really let me loose on writing some proper Slanesh themes. :)

      Succubus Summoning 201 is the thing I'm supposed to be writing. The Christmas break is already cleared to do a good chunk of that.