Tag Archive | death

Book Review : The Cursed Man – by Keith Rommel

I was recently at Monster Mania Con cruising through the vendor tables, checking out celebs and attending a screening of Frankenhooker when I ran into author Keith Rommel. His booth was tucked away between a couple of others selling tons of horror merch. Now, I’m a huge reader, so when I see books at a horror con, I’m all in. (On a side note, it’s depressing to watch people pay $40 for an autograph of Screech or a dude who played a Jawa, then walk past author tables like they have the plague. The best horror isn’t on screen, it’s in a book!!!)

I digress. At first, maybe because I’d had a few cocktails, his name and book, The Cursed Man, didn’t register. Once we got to talking, we realized we’d both spoken to each other through various social media over the past year. Small world. Keith was kind enough to give me a copy of his book, which is now going to be a major motion picture. Let me tell you, I read it in one day and it was time well spent.

The Cursed Man

Here’s the official description of this amazing book:

      Alister Kunkle believes death is in love with him.  A simple smile from friend or stranger is all it takes to encourage death to kill.
      With his family deceased and a path of destruction behind him, Alister sits inside a mental institution, sworn to silence and separated from the rest of the world, haunted by his inability to escape death’s preferential treatment.
      But when a beautiful psychologist arrives at the institution and starts offering him care, Alister braces himself for more killings.  When none follow, he tries to figure out whether he truly is insane or if death has finally come to him in the form of a woman.

As a reader, I’m always on the lookout for fresh, original ideas. The Cursed Man is all that, a bag of chips and a bottle of grape Nehi. Writing like this is as delicious and hard to find as the favored beverage of my youth.

The Cursed Man is tight, suspenseful and at times, downright terrifying. Death follows Alister Kunkle like a loving shadow. The book flashes between the past and present with perfect transitional timing. The twists and turns in Alister’s story left me dizzy. I honestly had no idea what was going to happen next, to the point where I just sat back and let Rommel take me on a joy ride to hell and back. He does an excellent job sucking us into the mind of a tortured man, to the point where neither he nor the reader can discern what is real and what is fantasy. I don’t want to say too much or give away any spoilers. This book is too special.

The Cursed Man is part one of the Thanatology Series. Rest assured, I’m picking up a copy of the second book, The Lurking Man, right after I finish this post. I’m not saying this just because I met the author. I was truly blown away and can see why Hollywood snapped it up. Do yourself a favor and check it out. You can thank me later.

It’s Not Over When It’s Over

If you’re reading this post, you, my friend, are dying.

I know this isn’t news to you. We’re all aware that the moment we’re born, we’ve begun the process of death. In the comforting light of day, it’s a concept of inevitability that easily rolls off the tongue, just like saying you have to pay your taxes or eat and drink to survive.

But when it’s nighttime, with everyone asleep and it’s just you, the darkened silence and the realization that you only get so many sunny mornings, it becomes the most important and terrifying reality in the world. And what makes it so frightening? It’s simple. Nobody truly knows what happens after you take your last breath. Other than Jesus, no one has ever truly come back from the dead, and he’s not around to interview. Near Death Experiences are too nebulous with too many differing tales of the other side to bring into the mix of hard fact.

Why am I focusing on something that will just make me, and you, uneasy? Because death is the single greatest mystery in the human experience. We all know someone who has died. No one exits stage left without having it touch their life, time and time again.

Pretty scary, right? Now here’s the twist.

I don’t feel we have to be so scared or uncertain at all. I say that because I see proof of an afterlife all the time. Hell, I once had it pay me a personal visit in a cramped hotel room in Barcelona and literally take hold of me.

Show of hands, who reading this has ever seen a ghost? OK, those of you who didn’t raise them, bring them up high if you know someone who says they did. I see a lot of hands.

Ghosts and their accompanying spooky stories didn’t start with Hollywood or Ghost Hunters on TV. They’ve been around for as long as people have been dying. Depending on the polls you read, anywhere from 18% to 40% of people across the globe have seen a ghost.  It makes me wonder why we, as a society, don’t devote more serious study to the phenomena. For my money, if you can prove that they are in fact real and not a subconscious projection of the living, and that they were, at one time, alive and on earth, well, then you’ve just shattered the greatest fear and answered the greatest  question known to man in one fell swoop.

No, we’d rather spend a million dollars in grant money to study the sex life of sea snails and leave the exploration of man’s eternal soul to new age folks and lay groups of people who gather to seek out the paranormal. It makes no sense. I can only assume that even scientists are too afraid to eyeball death.

Sure, I write about ghosts in a fictional way, but that’s my process of exploring the things I’ve experienced in a format that’s familiar to me. Ghost stories scare the piss out of us because they force us to face our own inevitable end, and wonder what made the floorboard creek at the foot of our bed. We’re scared because it’s a great unknown and we’ll have to face it, alone, some day.

I know that my gandparents still exist somewhere, in some form, because of what I’ve seen with an open mind. Death is not the end, but rather the beginning of the rest of our lives. Now let’s cast aside our fear, get serious and prove it to the rest of the world.

~Hunter Shea is the author of the critically acclaimed novel, Forest of Shadows, available in print and e-book.

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