Friday, September 2, 2011

A Review of The Chloe Files: Ashes to Ashes by Howard Hopkins

My wife and I devour books.  Since I gave up all attempts at income from normal, stable, and regular sources in favor of ghostwriting to pay the bills and creative writing to perpetuate the “eventually I’m a’gonna win me a Nobel Prize” myth, we read even more.  A typical day for me involves finding the book my wife stole from me, finishing it, and then stealing whatever book my wife is in the middle of reading.  Thank God for ebooks!  It’s a little harder to steal the laptop, and that meant I could read Howard Hopkins’ book without having to find where my wife hid it.

I liked the book a whole lot.  First things first:  the editorial standards are higher than a bunch of the self-published stuff you’re going to find out there.  I’m not a stickler for all the dots and crosses, but when a book is done well, it’s a definite plus.  As an indie author myself, it’s always exciting when somebody gets it right.  Second things second:  The book is good.  Damn good.

Let’s face reality.  The whole world of paranormal, semi-horrific but not really horror books has rapidly approached completely recycled status for a while now.  Characters are almost interchangeable between books by different authors and clichés rule over creativity.  Hopkins avoids this nicely.  His character, Chloe, is refreshing on a number of levels.  First, Hopkins strikes a good balance between the “strange paranormal events like ghosts and monsters…ho hum, it’s just another day” and “OHMYGODWHATTHEHELLISGOINGONHERE.”  Chloe’s reactions to her particular corner of supernatural hell are believable and entertaining.

In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Hopkins books are one of the reasons the genre has legs left.  It is possible to write in this environment without producing derivative crap, and he’s proven it.  There were echoes of Dean Koontz (Odd Thomas) and Jim Butcher (Dresden Files) but also just plain good plotting and characterization you can find in far too few of today’s best sellers.  It’s no surprise, though.  Take a look at the interview with Hopkins I posted a few days ago, there are links to a number of his books, and he’s got a varied background that includes multiple genres.  He can spin a yarn.

Quick confession…I liked the monkey best.  Who gets away with adding a centuries old monkey to a horror story?  Who gets away with putting a locket from Joan of Arc in that monkey’s hand?  Who gets you to actually like that?  Howard Hopkins does.  Buy the book.  You’ll like it.


  1. Thanks so much for the awesome review, Jerry. Much appreciated and I hope your audience will enjoy The Chloe Files! (But, shhh, don't tell anyone Chloe's real!)

  2. Too funny when I realized that you had reviewed Howard's book (as you also reviewed one of mine, as well). You're a reader with great taste! Glad to be in such good company. I also loved the Chloe Files--Howard had a wicked sense of humor. He will be missed.