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Hello, my name is Valorie. I have a Master's Degree in History and a license to teach-- I have been both university professor and public school teacher. Currently, I am a middle school social studies teacher. I love horror movies and spooky things. Every day is Halloween. I am also a passionate book blogger.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Blog Tour & Book Review: Bleak History by John Shirley


About John Shirley

John Shirley is the author of numerous books and many, many short stories. His novels include Crawlers, Demons, In Darkness Waiting, and seminal cyberpunk works City Come A-Walkin', and the A Song Called Youth trilogy of Eclipse, Eclipse Penumbra, and Eclipse Corona. His collections include the Bram Stoker and International Horror Guild award-winning Black Butterflies and Living Shadows: Stories: New Pre-owned. He also writes for screen (The Crow) and television. As a musician Shirley has fronted his own bands and written lyrics for Blue Öyster Cult and others. For more information, you can read his bio, visit his approved fansite, or view his website.

About Bleak History

CLASSIFIED: APPARENT SUPERNATURAL Subject: Gabriel Bleak. Status: Civilian. Paranormal skills: Powerful. Able to manipulate AS energies and communicate with UBEs (e.g. "ghosts" and other entities). Psychological profile: Extremely independent, potentially dangerous. Caution is urged.... 

As far as Gabriel Bleak is concerned, talking to the dead is just another way of making a living. It gives him the competitive edge to survive as a bounty hunter, or "skip tracer," in the psychic minefield known as New York City. Unfortunately, his gift also makes him a prime target. A top-secret division of Homeland Security has been monitoring the recent emergence of human supernaturals, with Gabriel Bleak being the strongest on record. If they control Gabriel, they'll gain access to the Hidden -- the entity-based energy field that connects all life on Earth. But Gabriel's got other ideas. With a growing underground movement called the Shadow Community -- and an uneasy alliance of spirits, elementals, and other beings -- Gabriel's about to face the greatest demonic uprising since the Dark Ages. But this time, history is not going to repeat itself. This time, the future is Bleak. Gabriel Bleak.

My Review of Bleak History

Genre: Fiction - Paranormal 
Finished: August 18, 2009
Gabriel Bleak is part of the Shadow Community, a group of humans infused with special powers granted from a Hidden world. Some of them can enter minds, some see the future, some carry familiars, and some, such as Bleak, control energy to make it both weapon and tool. He also has a talent for seeing and speaking to ghosts. The CCA, a division of Homeland Security, investigates people like Bleak. They are following him closely, trying to capture him and bring him into their facility. Very troubling is that the wall up North, a barrier against the flood of supernatural that could enter the living world, has weakened and is letting in things unseen before. New powers are cropping up in the hands of people who will not use them for good. A dark force is gaining strength and searching for a way to enter fully, only able to extend tendrils used to control others. Loraine Sarikosca works for the CCA, but the more she sees them in action, the more doubts she has. She also feels a strange compulsive force towards Gabriel Bleak, just as he does to her. Locked within the fortified walls of their fortress, the CCA imprison and experiment on members of the Shadow Community. They want to capture and control, use the Shadow Community to their own wishes. But a darker plot is at hand when it is discovered that the darkness behind the wall has one of its tendrils in the CCA and his plans are quite different and far more threatening. 
I very much enjoyed Bleak History because the concept is so unique. Rather, we have recently been experiencing an influx of ‘humans with powers’ stories because of the popularity of comic book adaptations, but Shirley has managed to make a distinctive and interesting world of his own within the genre. I liked reading about the different Shadow Community members and their specific talents. I only wish that we could have entered that world a bit deeper and met more of the people, or had more people around Gabriel helping with their own special talents. Most of the Shadow Community members are secondary and have their specific, defined roles that come and go. Characters like Scribbler could be much deeper and more defined, and very interesting. Shirley puts a lot of detail into his descriptions of the Shadow Communities powers and visions. When Shoella creates her own world, we are given a beautiful picture of it. 
I was fascinated, too, by the way Scribbler is portrayed in the small part he plays. His obsession and nature comes through very clear. I suspect that Shirley’s knack for detail is derived from his background as a screenwriter, but it also comes from natural talent. Shirley has an easy, clear way of writing, though sometimes the lengthy descriptions, especially when they speak of more spiritual and less tangible matters, got me a bit lost. There is a lot of action in the book between getting chased, darker forces committing crimes, and seeking out the truth of what is happening. The book barely lags or takes a breath, but there are a few moments of quiet reflection for the characters. Though there is a small love connection, the book isn’t a romance at all, which is refreshing when so much of the paranormal genre is half as much romance as it is supernatural. With an open ending, we are left to wonder what becomes of Gabriel and Loraine as they embark on another journey together.

Participating Sites:

I Heart Monster: http://www.iheartmonster.com/ 
Debbie’s World of Books: http://debbiesworldofbooks.com/ 
Sci-Fi Guy: http://www.scifiguy.ca/ 
A Journey of Books: http://ajourneyofbooks.blogspot.com/ 
Simply Vamptastic: http://www.simplyvamptastic.com/ 
Starting Fresh: http://startingfresh-gaby317.blogspot.com/ 
Booksie’s Blog: http://booksiesblog.blogspot.com/ 
Readaholic: http://bridget3420.blogspot.com/ 
Falling Off The Shelf: http://fallingofftheshelf.blogspot.com/ 
Patricia’s Vampire Notes: http://patricias-vampire-notes.blogspot.com/ 
My Friend Amy: http://www.myfriendamysblog.com/ 
Reading With Monie: http://www.readingwithmonie.com/ 
Cheryl’s Book Nook: http://cherylsbooknook.blogspot.com/ 
Drey’s Library: http://dreyslibrary.blogspot.com/ 
Temple Library Reviews: http://templelibraryreviews.blogspot.com/ 
Jeanne’s Ramblings: http://jeannesgifts.blogspot.com/ 
Never Not Reading: http://nevernotreading.blogspot.com/ 
My Guilty Pleasures: http://www.mgpblog.com/ 
Fantasy Freak: http://fantastyfreak.blogspot.com/

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