“Ex Libris The Eyes of Madness, simple reviews from a simple reader…”
“Blood decorated the walls of the front room of Ashton Smith’s house. Splashes of it created macabre abstract designs. The name Marielle was written over and over, the phrase Mother of Ghosts painted on the ceiling in dripping crimson letters. Other symbols and words in a language he couldn’t read were painted in the same hand, the same ink. Slashed couch cushions bled cotton. Broken, overturned furniture lay across the gouged and soiled floor. A shattered mirror hung over the fireplace. The pungent shit smell choked the air.”
Mania follows controversial filmmaker William Ward as he films an adaptation of a supposedly cursed screenplay.
Though he doesn’t believe in curses, he’s happy to have the hype surrounding his newest movie. But as production begins, he soon learns that the curse is all too real and the vengeful ghost haunting the script is only a piece of the puzzle.
At its heart is a shadowy cult, manipulating events behind the scenes. As dark forces gather around him, Ward and his girlfriend Rachel try to find a way to break the curse before it’s too late.
“The rain fell in sheets. Ward parked in front of a wrought iron gate topped with jagged spikes. On the other side a cobblestone path cut through the woods up a steep hill. A large brick wall surrounded the rest of the property with stone gargoyles perched along the top like demonic sentries. The gate opened and he drove forward, the wheels rattling against the cobblestone. Trees thick with age lined the path. Their twisted, bare branches clawed at the heavens. The rain and darkness made it difficult to see, except when sheet lightning flashed and bathed everything in eerie, white light. In those moments he could see more gargoyles, positioned throughout the yard with angry, chiseled faces and cracked wings.”
Ah, the glamour of Hollywood. The brightest of lights casting the darkest of shadows. How many millions of people have made their way, lured by its promise of fame only to find themselves lost in the darkness? For every success story their are numerous untold failures. It’s those failures that I find fascinating. The tales of Hollywood’s underbelly, those lending credence to a haunted Hollywood. The shady practices, the depravity, the legends, the curses.
Stories like Clive Barker’s Sex, Death, and Starshine and Coldheart Canyon that offer glimpses of life after the spotlight, exploring just how far people will go to survive beyond their 15 minutes of fame.
Lucas Mangum has crafted his own tale of dark Hollywood lore, that in the form of a cursed screenplay. Mania is a dark and graphic read that blasts through it’s 103 page run time with nary a moment to relax.
Mania has a fun cast, especially as they all start to come unstitched. The set pieces fit perfectly into a haunted Hollywood “looking for a dream but finding a nightmare” type of setting. And the gore is top notch with a cinematic quality to it. The grisly scenes are all to easy to visualize, with each taste outdoing the previous, with a few rattling around the old brain pan days after reading.
But despite all of that, I just never seemed to find myself enveloped in the story. Never found myself in step with the characters. I can’t put my finger on it other than Mania felt rushed. A little more padding, a little more quiet time to balance out the gore and give it some room to breath I think would have done wonders. As it is, Mania is a fun read with quite a few enjoyable moments. Check it out, read the sample and see if fits.
Mr. Mangum, you’ve caught my attention, I’ll definitely be back for another taste soon.
“Proceed with caution. You may think it’s important to find answers, but when you’ve been around as long as I have, you learn that answers don’t always grant you the relief you expect. Sometimes answers are worse than questions.”
Overall score: 3.5/ 5
Zakk is a big dumb animal!
Lucas Mangum is an author living in Austin, TX. He enjoys wrestling, cats, wrestling with cats, and drinking craft beer while crafting weird tales.
His debut novel, Flesh and Fire, is out now as part of Journalstone’s Double Down series with a new novel by New York Times Bestseller Jonathan Maberry and Rachael Lavin.
Follow him on Twitter @LMangumFiction and talk to him about books, pro-wrestling, and horror movies. Learn more about him at his website.
Praise for Lucas Mangum
“Following up the solid effort of FLESH AND FIRE, Mangum shows off some real skill with this novella about a cursed movie script and a queen of ghosts…” –Glenn Rolfe, Author of Chasing Ghosts
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