Publisher: Dark Serpent / Ravenswood Publishing
Publication Date: 8th April 2015
A copy of White Walls and Straitjackets by David Owain Hughes was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by Booklover Catlady Publicity in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is published by Dark Serpent / Ravenswood Publishing.
I have seen a lot of publicity around blogs and social media about this book so I was delighted when Maxine over at Booklover Catlady Publicity asked if I would like a copy to review. I have never read anything by David Owain Hughes before either so was excited to read someone knew. The buzz it seems to be creating had me expecting good things. I have to say I was a little disappointed.
Harry and Crystal are a travelling entertainment show. They like to murder people. They have just killed three critics who didn’t seem to like their show. They know they need to dump the bodies and skip town as fast as they can and go somewhere new, for a new start. Crystal wants to go and visit her sister, who is locked up in an asylum on the way. Harry doesn’t want to but reluctantly agrees.
Harry finds a book in the glove box in their van. They have no idea how it got there or even who wrote it. Harry decides to read the stories in the book to Crystal on their journey. Some of the details in the stories seem very familiar and it looks like they may have another killer on their own tails.
Now….I know there are warnings at the start of this book about the sexual nature involved and the fact that it may upset or offend some readers. Anyone who knows me or has read any of my previous reviews will know that I hate sex scenes in horror books. I just don’t think they are necessary or needed at all.
That being said, the sexual content in this book was not as bad as in some I have read over this past year or two.
But….I didn’t like this book. Now before anyone jumps with the old “if you read the warnings about the sex why did you even read it and then say you didn’t like it” line….the sex is not the reason I didn’t like it. I just didn’t get it.
It’s a novel. At least I think it’s a novel but it reads like a collection of short stories. I didn’t see it mentioned in any synopsis anywhere that it was a collection so I kept reading. You do get a collection of short stories but they are read by Harry to Crystal on their journey so there isn’t really a continuous “story” as such or if there is, to me, it kept getting interrupted by the stories from the book. Now a lot of people seem to be enjoying this different approach to the writing style. I’m happy for them. I’ve said before that stuff I love will be hated by others and vice versa. I just didn’t get this and it all felt very disjointed to me.
Characters wise, the two main characters are obviously Harry and Crystal. They appear to be in love. Well Crystal is with Harry. Harry is just a vile individual and to be honest I found his use of language and the way he spoke to Crystal to be the most offensive part of the book. Strange when you find out something about Harry later in the story which I will not obviously spoil for you. Crystal is just a cold, calculated murderer with obvious mental health issues that you can see quite clearly and then one huge one that becomes apparent half way through the story. This is where things all went even weirder for me and I very nearly closed the book and started another.
All very negative, yes? Well not exactly. It is very clear that David Owain Hughes can write. It is quite obvious that he has a perfectly twisted mind and imagination to write horror stories. It is perfectly obvious that there are a lot of people out there who are absolutely loving the idea behind this book and the fact that it is “different”. Different is good. That’s what horror is all about after all. Pushing the boundaries and let’s face it if you want to be noticed in this game then you need to be a bit different. Mr Hughes has certainly pulled that bit off.
What I would like to see is something from Mr Hughes without the “different”. Reading this book will not by any means put me off picking up something else of his in the future. I think a “straight” horror book from him would be entertaining and horrific because there is no doubt that he can certainly write.
To summarise: a novel with stories in the middle of it that makes it feel a bit like a collection. Plenty of blood. Plenty of sex. More than its fair share of weirdness. Too much for me, but you may love it!
★★ just didn't float my boat
★★ nor scare me very much.
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Meet Crystal and Harry – lovers who work in the entertainment business: after murdering three critics for poor reviews, they decide to skip town and head for the coastline. Once there, they know things will be fine – it’ll be a chance to start fresh. A new beginning. But, before they head to the seaside, Crystal must first visit her sister at a mental hospital – after all, it’s Crystal’s fault her sibling is there…
As they start their journey, Harry discovers a book in the van’s glove compartment – White Walls & Straitjackets. The author is unknown, but whoever he is, he seems to know a lot about the deadly duo and other nutjobs who inhabit the Rhondda Valleys, south Wales.
As lives and stories collide, Crystal and Harry soon discover escaping the Valleys won’t be as easy as they think. Especially with another serial killer hot on their heels…
David Owain Hughes is a horror freak! He grew up on ninja, pirate and horror movies from the age of five, which helped rapidly install in him a vivid imagination. When he grows up, he wishes to be a serial killer with a part-time job in women's lingerie...He's had several short stories published in various online magazines and anthologies, along with articles, reviews and interviews. He's written for This Is Horror, Blood Magazine and Horror Geeks Magazine. He's the author of the popular novel "Walled In" (2014), along with his short story collections "White Walls and Straitjackets" (2015) and "Choice Cuts" (2015). After discovering Richard Laymon, David set out on a path to become the best writer he could, holding a BA and MA in creative writing.
And for more about David, visit his site or find him on social media: