Haunted by the unread, vol. I

Beginning an occasional series where I guide you briskly around some of my many unread books, and we meet a few of their nefarious brethren: the unholy half-read.

I am mildly embarrassed to introduce three volumes from my bedside table.

First up, all top of the stack, is Vicious by V. E. Schwab. A trade paperback published by Tor in 2015; 4th printing. Condition: new with a light coating of dust. Unread, but with a bookmark amidst the front matter. This indicates that I was seriously considering starting the book at some stage. Striking cover art by the superbly named Victo Ngai. According to one of the endorsements on the back, it is ‘dark and intricate and daring’.

Next in the stack (it is not the only stack), we have Black Lagoon 004 by Rei Hiroe. Paperback from Viz, 2014; also 4th printing, which is a cute coincidence. Condition: new, not too dusty. Unread. This is manga, of course, and printed all back-to-front for an original audience which prefers to read right to left (or down). The first three volumes were super. I really should read this.

Third book down the pile is The Croning, by Laird Barron. TPB published by NSB (Night Shade Books) in 2013; this is the 1st printing. Condition: as good as new. Unholy half-read! I got as far as the start of chapter 5 on p. 105, as indicated by small piece of tissue paper. Unholy is an apt description for this book, which is a disturbing excursion into weird horror and boasts a truly top-notch opening chapter. It must have been good, because I remember it well. The tale slumped quite badly in the middle with the ongoing travails of a singularly dull character: a pacing problem symptomatic, perhaps, of the author’s greater experience and renowned excellence in the short story genre.

Only five books left further down in this stack. Maybe I’ll read them all before I find the time to assail your eyes with volume II of… Haunted by the Unread!

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