Tag Archives: Review

The Worm and His Kings: A Review

RATING: πŸ’€πŸ’€πŸ’€πŸ’€πŸ’€

Excellent prose.  Tons of dark tone.  Novella, 116-pages. A MUST READ.

There comes a time for every reader that they suddenly realize that they are not just reading a good story, but that they are also reading something that has transcended simple good storytelling and entered the realm of the special.  Call it literature, call it art, call it what you like.  You know when it happens.  It’s when the story takes on a kind of life that makes you think of bigger things.  Orpheus Descending, Dante’s Inferno, Blade Runner, The Old Man and the Sea.  The Worm and His Kings is that kind of novella. 

There are layers within layers with layers to this story.  The novella begins with a monster kidnapping homeless women from an enclave of the lost in an abandoned subway line under New York City.  Donna is one of the missing.  Monique, Donna’s lover and one of the abandoned (by society and her family), believes the creature has taken Donna to its lair.  She goes in search of her love and that search takes her deep into the underworld of a cult that is waiting for its god, the Worm, to return. 

Hailey Piper draws us into this dark underworld by not only capturing the despair of those whom the world has abandoned but also by drawing us into the subterranean world of her characters’ souls.  As dark and as dangerous as the underworld becomes, the life that her protagonist has had to endure is equally as dark and foreboding.  Monique is a transgender woman whose love for Donna has ruined Donna’s career.  Donna has comforted Monique through her blotched operation and rejection from her family.  Society rejects the love that Donna and Monique feel for each other driving them into the abandoned subway tunnels of the homeless and eventually into the arms of a monster.

The Worms and his Kings is a classic β€œquest” story, but under the skillful pen of Hailey Piper, that quest takes on multiple layers with multiple twists.  Monique is on a quest to save Donna, much like Orpheus in the classic Greek legend was on a quest to save Eurydice from the underworld or later in the Medieval poem The Divine Comedy, when Dante was willing to brave the inferno of Hell to find his Beatrice.  In the underworld of Piper’s story, the followers of the Worm are also on a quest to fulfill the Worm’s wishes.  Even the monster, the Worm itself, is on a quest to find a resolution for both its own pain and suffering and the faith that its followers lacked eons before.

Then Piper gives the story a twist and asks the reader to question who is the monster?  Which quest is the most important?  The author forces the reader to reassess the meanings of specific words, actions, and thoughts as the story turns on who is doing what to whom.  Eventually, Monique must confront a juxtaposition of both her humanity and sexuality. 

In The Worm and His Kings, Hailey Piper constructs a world of darkness, horror, and desperation as all the characters struggle to achieve their ultimate goals.  Monique must confront the horror of what HAS happened to her and the horror of what IS happening to her.  This is the kind of book that demands to be read and reread, to have its nuances explored.  It is the kind of book that makes us look at ourselves as much as we look at the leading character.  We all have demons to identify and confront and hopefully in the cosmic realm of things, reduce them to their proper places. 

The Worm and His Kings is most definitely worthy of all the accolades we, at THE DARK SIRE, can offer.  It has a depth of darkness that our readers not only appreciate but seek out in the kinds of things they read.  The multiple levels, the twists, and, above all, the ultimate resolution raises this book into a category achieved only by Poe, Shelley, King and a handful of others.  This is a great read.

The Worm and His Kings is available on Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook formats.


RATINGS: TDS rates all books based on the dark content and how well the reading experience lends itself. Of course, author craft, storytelling, and mechanics are considered, as well. For this purpose, we use skulls (πŸ’€πŸ’€πŸ’€πŸ’€). And explanation of the skull system follows.

RATING: πŸ’€
Boring, not dark, not interesting. Do not recommend.

RATING: πŸ’€πŸ’€
Fair plot, not too dark, fairly interesting. Read at own risk.

RATING: πŸ’€πŸ’€πŸ’€
Good plot and mild darkness, good reading experience. Encouraged read.

RATING: πŸ’€πŸ’€πŸ’€πŸ’€
Great reading experience with heaps of dark tone. Strong recommend.

RATING: πŸ’€πŸ’€πŸ’€πŸ’€πŸ’€
Excellent prose, tons of dark tone. A MUST READ!

Rose: A Review

RATING: πŸ’€πŸ’€πŸ’€πŸ’€

Rose, a fantasy-horror novel by Rami Ungar, tells the story of Rose Taggert, a 21-year old sociology grad specializing in criminology who awakens in a greenhouse with no clear memory of the past two years of her life and discovers that her body is in the process of transforming into a human/plant hybrid.  Root-like tentacles emerge from her neck.  A crown of rose-buds grow out of her head. Her skin turns green. 

A young man, Paris Kuyper, comes to her aid.  He claims to be her lover, but she has no memory of their relationship.  He explains that she had been killed by a stalker and that he, Paris, saved her life by using a magic spell from an ancient book called The Forest God’s Record, which has been in his family for generations.  According to him, her metamorphosis is merely a side effect that they can overcome.

Before they can do anything to solve Rose’s problem, Paris’ abusive father shows up.  Rose hears a heated exchange between father and son and her sympathy for Paris climbs, though she still struggles to remember him.

Rose begins to learn what her new body can and cannot withstand as she takes nourishment via the roots that emerge from her neck.  She discovers her new body cannot stand the cold weather of winter, but, on the positive side, she can hear things that Paris cannot.

Paris and Rose begin a series of experiments to see how far the plant metamorphosis has gone.  She inquires about the Forest God, who happens to be a Japanese spirit.  As the experiments progress, Paris’ mean streak surfaces and Rose begins to question if, indeed, there had ever been a relationship with him.

Their relationship deteriorates even further until Rose realizes that Paris is not who he claimed to be.  Rose eventually finds herself in an abusive relationship but, because of her condition, she cannot tear herself away.  Finally, with the help of Paris’ father, she fights to regain her freedom.

Rose is an enjoyable horror that is a great read. Ungar does an excellent job with style and pacing, as the book is a page-turner.  Once I started reading it, I did not want to stop.  And, since the story was told from Rose’s point of view in first-person, I discovered what was happening to her as she discovered it.  In a Kafka-esque way, she led me through each new discovery as she assimilated its meaning.  She pulled me into her story and once committed to it, I was along for the whole ride.  Readers will feel her claustrophobia at her imprisonment, sense her dread at her captor’s next appearance.  They will take hope when she does and feel her frustration as supernatural forces block her every move to escape.  Rose takes you from one suspenseful encounter to the next, each one building in horror until the final twist, a twist that I did not expect.   

And the quality of the horror is superb.  Ungar’s uncanny ability to write horrific prose is the sweet spot of this novel. The way the villain was crafted is a testament to the author’s character development credit. The villain, Paris, becomes more despicable as the story progresses. If he weren’t so evil, you could almost feel sorry for him because of the treatment he has had to endure at the hands of others. Paris’ backstory mixed with his psychological issues twists good versus evil into a character that is so bad he cannot be redeemed, yet one might hope that he could be. And that is what creates such a dynamic character, a brilliant touch by Ungar. 

If there was one drawback to the book, it would be the number of typographical errors (e.g. periods for commas) within the text.  There were so many that it proved difficult to ignore, and sometimes became a burden. I am assuming that either the proofreader lacked the detailed eye necessary to catch these mistakes or that there was a glitch in the printer’s programming. Whichever the case, this area is the only daunting aspect of an otherwise stellar novel.

Looking past the printing mistakes, Rose is a fantastic horror read.Β  The pacing and the fear factors go beyond expectation, building to an unexpected ending that is boldly twisted for the reader’s enjoyment.Β  The character development with a strong heroine and supreme villain will definitely keep you drawn in, providing a wonderful reading experience. If you enjoy horror and thrive on surprise endings, you will not want to miss this one.


RATINGS: TDS rates all books based on the dark content and how well the reading experience lends itself. Of course, author craft, storytelling, and mechanics are considered, as well. For this purpose, we use skulls (πŸ’€πŸ’€πŸ’€πŸ’€). And explanation of the skull system follows.

RATING: πŸ’€
Boring, not dark, not interesting. Do not recommend.

RATING: πŸ’€πŸ’€
Fair plot, not too dark, fairly interesting. Read at own risk.

RATING: πŸ’€πŸ’€πŸ’€
Good plot and mild darkness, good reading experience. Encouraged read.

RATING: πŸ’€πŸ’€πŸ’€πŸ’€
Great reading experience with heaps of dark tone. Strong recommend.

RATING: πŸ’€πŸ’€πŸ’€πŸ’€πŸ’€
Excellent prose, tons of dark tone. A MUST READ!