CemeteryWhat’s it all about?

A really big group of friends have a Halloween fancy dress party on Cemetery Point. Before the night is done one of the gang has been brutally murdered and the rest of the friends are in terrible danger.

So this one’s nuts

I feel I should tread carefully here. As an author I don’t think it’s may place to rip The Cemetery to shreds a la ‘The Ripper’ of the story BUT The Cemetery is 100% bonkers. We have to stress that right at the outset. If however, DE Athkins (Deathkins, geddit – it’s a pen name for one Nola Thacker) happens to read this, I’ll pre-empt the rest of the review by saying The Bride is one of my favourite Point Horrors. That ought to soften the blow a little.

Cup Half Full

On the plus side, The Cemetery isn’t like any other entry in the Point Horror cannon. Athkins is clearly a horror fan; referencing A Nightmare on Elm Street and Poltergeist in the text. Point Horror, as a series, needed more quirky episodes like The Cemetery to break up the monotany of teenage girls cowering from landlines and boyfriends in masks. The history of Cemetery Point is foreboding, with Dracula-like tales of whaling ships arriving full of dismmembered corpses.

But…

Yeah, it’s fucking nuts. For a start it’s incredibly hard to follow and this is down to Writing Sin 101 – ‘headhopping’. The narrative switches focus between third person characters MID-PARAGRAPH. Now I grant you I don’t have a qualification beyond being an author but I’m pretty sure that’s ill-advised. What’s more, the characters are all so similar I actually had to write an aide-memoire to keep track.

It looked something like this:

Char – main girl/ginger

Cyndi – bitch

Lara – dumb

Georgie – bad girl?

Jane – posh

Dade – bad boy?

Rick – clown?

Dorian – Cyndi’s brother

Foy- ???

Wills – ???

Jones – love interest

Yes. ELEVEN main characters. It’s no wonder I had to make notes. What’s more, beyond their fancy dress costumes, each is given precious little physical description. As far as I know all eleven are white. The boys are pretty much interchangeable throughout.

The writing is pretty iffy too. Early on a character ‘beckons sepulchrally’ for instance. I mean, really. Jones ponders, ‘Maybe being dead was what was real. Maybe that was the only reality.’ Deep, Jones, real deep.

Dialogue distasters

‘But Georgie-girl, my favourite brunette, what’s the point?’

Georgie is clearly a Cumberbitch: ‘Oh Sherlock you really turn me on.’

‘You don’t mind having a minor in your car doing other things.’

Rick says ‘yo’ a lot. He’s down with the kidz.

Body Count: 3! Yep, 3 actually dead teenagers. In Point Horror terms, I doubt any other book can match this.

'Jones'Char 4 Jones

It’s hardly worth describing the love situation here because it’s so hard to keep track of who’s who. We spend so little time with Char it’s hard to define or explain her. She comes from a nice family, has a vague sense of right and wrong but that’s about it. She fancies Jones who is kind of brooding in a Diet Cullen sort of way. How Jones knows so much about the supernatural history of Cemetery Point is never explained and he consistantly tells Char snippets, suggesting he could have probably solved the whole thing for them on page 5. Jones gets emo Jason as his Heartthrob Hunk.

Far more fun a pairing is Little Rich Girl Jane and Bad Boy Dade. OUT OF NOWHERE Jane gets in Dade’s car and demands he deflower her then and there. It’s always the quiet ones. I imagine, after the novel’s conclusion, Jane married a nice city lawyer but likes to engage in swinging parties, dogging and the occasion trip to Torture Garden.

Did the best friend do it?

No! It was a shapeshifting vampire and/or ghost who sometimes claims to be Jack The Ripper, silly.

Is it scary?

It’s too shoddy to be effectively chilling, but I guess there’s potential for the faint of heart. After all there are graveyards, nightmares, legends (probably the scariest element) and a supernatural serial killer.

Is it good?

No. It’s impossible to enjoy because it’s so all over the place. That said, there is good in there. If we pretend The Cemetery was a first draft…Foy, Will and Rick could have been amalgamated, as could Lara and Jane, Char’s role could have been beefed up, we could have had more of the legend and the ghost and finally a more sensible ending. Then it could have been one of the best Point Horrors in the range. But sadly this is not a first draft.

theforbiddengameOver to you!

1. WTF?

2. No seriously, WTF?

IN TWO MONTHS TIME ON THE 13TH NOVEMBER WE SHALL BE DISCUSSING THE FORBIDDEN GAME TRILOGY BY VAMPIRE DIARIES CREATOR LJ SMITH. That’s why you have two months. The trilogy was republished by Simon Pulse, so should be EASY to get hold of.

6 thoughts on “PHBC: The Cemetery by DE Athkins

  • September 15, 2013 at 9:45 am
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    Oh Deathkins, are you joking or on crack or both? I had fond memories of The Cemetery being at the more eccentric end of the Point Horror spectrum of nonsense, but was taken aback by just how foaming-at-the-mouth insane it is. Hundreds of characters, a plot that makes NO SENSE, a music-video editing style more likely to provoke motion sickness than terror… No wonder the PH collection tended to play it safe with angry notes in lockers and mutilated stuffed toys.

    So yes, it’s off its rocker. Which would be fine if after reading it I at least had the vaguest sense of what had happened. Sadly, I was just left confused. And a bit sad. One minute, we’re in familiar teenagers partying in a graveyard territory, then before you know it there’s a shape-shifting supernatural slasher thing on the loose, rambling on about whaling boats and blowing up cars and oh my God whose head am I in and what even is happening right now?

    Even if you forgive the plot its more psychedelic tendencies, the army of identikit characters is indefensible. Athkins certainly pushes the envelope in terms of Point Horror protagonists with ludicrous names (Foy Villanova may be my all time favourite), but I have no idea who was who. Neither does Athkins, who at one point tells us there are ten characters milling about in the graveyard (there are eleven). So vague is the distinction between one hysterical teenager and the next that for the first thirty pages, I thought Char and Charity were two different people. Things didn’t become a whole lot clearer once I realised they weren’t.
    Athkins’ tendency to play fast and loose with accepted grammatical conventions doesn’t help: “While he watched, she ran her tongue over her lips, then caught the lower one in her teeth,” implies that someone here has two tongues. I dunno, maybe they do; it wouldn’t be out of place in a book where “any other time, he might have made some pig joke. And she would have called him a pig.” passes for witty banter.

    If there’s an upside, Athkins’ habit of offing characters with gay abandon definitely makes this the bloodiest Point Horror I can remember, and there’s a pretty effective scene where recently-deceased Georgie pops up to taunt – and then explode – bad boy Dorian, who may himself be a bit of a psycho. In fact, the Dorian/Cyndi murderous sibling subplot may be the most interesting thing about The Cemetery. Pity then, that it goes nowhere and is ultimately entirely redundant. Sigh.

    Your Dialogue Disasters are spot on, but I’d like to add this gem to the list: “Hey listen. It is no secret you are unnaturally attracted to a jacked-up Chevy.” Ooh, burn! Good one, Dade. Or Rick. Whoever.

    I loved re-reading The Cemetery; it was a pleasant reminder of just how ropy the Point Horror series could be on occasion. Thankfully, our upcoming Forbidden Game extravaganza will be a reliable palate-cleanser – I believe in you, LJ Smith. Don’t let me down.

    Reply
  • September 15, 2013 at 4:05 pm
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    I hang my head in shame for never noticing the whole DEATHkins thing. I put it down to my eagerness to get to the murderdeathkills 😉

    Umm…not entirely sure where to begin with this one. Cemetery is mad as a box of frogs isn’t it? I couldn’t keep track of all the characters (it’s like YA Game of Thrones…there should have been a character list and accompanying description at the start of the book. And possibly a map) although I did enjoy the Point Horror tradition of going into great detail about what they were all wearing. Even if this basically meant remembering twice the number of characters (guy dressed as Freddie….um so that’s Wills. Or maybe Rick?)

    Totally agree with Paul when he talks about the sibling relationship between Cyndi and Dorian being the most interesting thing about the book. I could have quite happily read a story just about them growing up together. Attempting to psychologically scar and murder each other? Count me in!

    I think there were some missed opportunities with some of the other characters, like Lara for example. There was a lot of little thumbnail sketches of psychological profiles which were quite interesting but again I think would have benefitted from concentrating on fewer characters and fleshing them out. Still, the body count is impressive.

    This is the second time I’ve read Cemetery. I still have no idea what happened at the end. But I was thoroughly entertained!

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  • September 15, 2013 at 9:55 pm
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    Yes to the Point Horror preoccupation with Outfits. I swear, some of the fashion faux pas we’ve uncovered while this book club has been in operation have been more terrifying than all the murder.

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  • October 7, 2013 at 12:04 pm
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    ZOMG, I discovered this club by accident this morning, and have now devoured the entire thing (most of The Babysitter review had me in tears of laughter. Is the Heartthrob game akin to the 1990s masterpiece Dreamphone?). This club is the greatest invention of the entire universe!…well, of things I hath discovered in 2013 most certainly. And what a great time to find you – The Forbidden Game series is one of my favourites of the entire franchise, of which I also own up to having them all stacked up in several old CD player boxes at my parents’ house, probably being read and re-read by all the spiders in there. I shall dig the trilogy out and re-read it RIGHT NOW! Many thanks for doing this, James 🙂

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  • December 13, 2013 at 4:23 am
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    I thought I might have read this after you mentioned a character called Dade – but then I remembered there’s one of those in the Funhouse. So now I get the connection. 😛

    Anyway, I’m pretty sure I never read this one. Not sure I should, now. 😉

    AND I’m pretty sure I never even noticed that D.E. Athkins = Deathkins. Geez I’m slow.

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  • June 2, 2014 at 3:11 pm
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    Wow. I remember attempting to read this as a child but my twelve year old airhead brain couldn’t comprehend what was happening. Some twenty years later it’s still no different. I had absolutely no idea what was happening, the Ben Hur cast just further confused me – strangely enough I had a mental aide memoir as to who was who by their Halloween costumes. So in my mind the whole novel took place in fancy dress.

    By the time Georgina was simultaneously being sliced up in the graveyard and burning Dorian alive in his garage, I had to lay the book down on the arm rest, head outside for a bit, take a walk along the river, and then return to re-read the chapter only to find that, yes, it still happened.

    I agree the undercurrent between Cyndi and Dorian was the most intriguing aspect of the book, and it’s a shame that wasn’t explored any further. Glad they want to the police after the first murder as I was expecting an “I Know What You Did Last Summer” pact thing to take shape.

    Charity, or “Char” if you will, finding her own grave and performing some half arsed exorcism made my brain hurt.

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