Thursday, June 30, 2005

Book report: Riverwatch

The entry you are about to read, my book report on the horror novel Riverwatch, was prepared offline and slated to go "live" today. This morning I logged on and went through my usual routine, first checking my e-mail. I swallowed hard when I saw that a gentleman by the name of Joseph Nassise had posted a comment on my blog.

If you're not laughing yet, let me help you a little:

Hi Brenda,

Joe Nassise here, author of RIVERWATCH. Since you were kind enough to pick up one of my books, I thought I'd return the favor. Anything in particular you might recommend?


Yikes! Being the gutless wonder that I am, I immediately read through my prepared post to make sure I hadn't written anything about Mr. Nassise's book that might tick him off. (He is, after all, an individual who is capable of thinking up things like winged beasts ripping the entrails out of a human body and then draping them across--oh, never mind.) But in the end, I didn't change a thing. His note was polite and friendly, so I figure he must be a good sport. And if he isn't--well, at least he doesn't know where I live.

The Romance Novel Challenge was designed to broaden my own reading horizions while teasing some of you who have never read a romance novel (or an inspirational romance novel) into giving one a try. I promised to share my impressions of the books I am "forced" to read, so here is the fourth of my book reports:

Michelle Pendergrass agreed to read an inspirational romance novel if I would accept her challenge to read Joseph Nassise's Riverwatch, another horror novel. With two Stephen King books already under my belt, it took no small amount of courage for me to crack open this one.

In Riverwatch, an ancient evil is accidentally loosed and a winged beast goes on a killing spree that is described in gruesome detail. Michelle, I'm afraid I did a lot of page-skipping with this book, but Nassise's tale was actually quite riveting.

The first third of the book contains no gore, so I quickly slipped into the story. But while I enjoyed it less and less as things got bloody--people aren't just killed, they're tortured and mutilated by the beast--I didn't stop reading. What redeemed the story for me was the heroism of the three friends and one stouthearted police officer, not all of whom outlive the beast.

Although the main characters could have been better developed, I liked the way they were portrayed as ordinary people rather than superheroes. At first they're reluctant to believe in the evil surrounding them, and when they realize the truth, they'd rather not get involved, thanks. Let somebody else save the world. That felt very real to me.

Michelle, the ending seemed a little abrupt, but the truth is that I came very close to liking Riverwatch. I believed in the monster, so I can see why you and other horror fans would go for this story. If the gore factor had been ratcheted down a few notches, I'd probably have to recommend it as a gripping read.

My previous book reports, on Stephen King's Bag of Bones, Diana Gabaldon's Outlander, and Stephen King's Misery are here, here, and here, respectively.

Mr. Nassise [just in case he's still reading and not out in his toolshed sharpening his ax], thanks for dropping by my blog. If you're serious about trying an inspirational romance novel, here's one that I like a lot. And please allow me to wish you every success with Heretic: The Templar Chronicles, which I understand is due out this fall.


Joseph said...

No axe sharpening at all. I use a spoon for things like that - its duller and hurts a heck of a lot more! (grin)

Seriously, thanks for picking up RIVERWATCH and I'll do the same for FINDING HOPE. I think it behooves any writer to read as much as possible in as many different genres as possible. Doing so can only increase our craft when we bring it back home to the genre we are most comfortable working in.

Finally, a quick note about RIVERWATCH - it was a freshmen effort, written in college over a dare for a case of beer. I knew nothing about writing, even less about publishing, and at the time couldn't care about either. All I wanted was to win. So I agree with your assessment of the book - ending a bit abrupt, gore a little strong in some places, etc. I'd do a few things differently now than I did then (and have, HERETIC is a far better work because I've taken the time to learn my craft, some 16 years later) but we live and learn. For a book that sat in my garage for 12 years before seeing the light, I'm pleased it has held up so well.

When I'm done with FINDING HOPE, I'll toss some comments up on my own blog and let you know when its up.

Its been fun and I wish you the best with your latest endeavors.


Anonymous said...

This Joe sounds like he is a good old Joe, ;-D

Dee said...

I read romance and inspirational. afraid of horror, but i did have to review a three book vampire trilogy and i have secret infatuation with some of Anne Rice novels. So i think I'll check this Riverwatch out in the fall when I have some down time. Brenda, your blog is so much fun.

Brenda Coulter said...

Dee, you're a peach.

Joe, thanks for filling us in on the fascinating background of Riverwatch. The story has indeed held up well; I can't believe it was written by a college kid. Now I'm thinking that if there are no human entrails draped over the bedposts in Heretic, it might be well worth taking for a spin.

When I'm done with FINDING HOPE, I'll toss some comments up on my own blog and let you know when its up.

You're very kind; thank you. I'll just say that if you hate the book, please remember you're under no obligation to tell anyone. ;-)

Heather Diane Tipton said...

Brenda, you crack me up.

Michelle Pendergrass said...

I'm back!

Brenda I'm glad you *almost* liked Riverwatch. I'm very excited about Heretic (I've secretly studied things like Knights Templar and Skull and Bones) So when I found out Joe was writing on the subject, I was enthralled!

I had to let him know you were reading his book! I'm glad he stopped by just as you were posting your report! How fun!!

The gore was a lot, but I'm ok with gore. I realize many aren't. (*ahem* I guess that why some of us read and write our respective genres, eh?) LOL. The story was great and I strive to have the same amount of talent pour out onto my work.

I can't wait to finish yours (I picked to read it first). Hopefully I can have it done this coming week!

Brenda Coulter said...

Michelle, thanks for sending him over here. It was great fun. And after learning that he wrote Riverwatch, a book I came very close to liking, as a college kid, I'm now interested to see his "grown up" work and will probably read Heretic when it comes out. So you have accomplished something here. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Wow. I'm impressed with Joe's ability to handle criticism. And man, you wrote that in college? As a bet? Shoot, man.

Obviously, to be a writer, you gotta take criticism. So, Joe's got that down.

What's Brenda gonna read next, Mir wonders....

Brenda Coulter said...

Actually, Mir, I was thinking about writing a book. ;-)

I agree that Joe Nassise is a class act. I'm glad he stopped by.

Anonymous said...

he is a class act, and not bad looking ;-D