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5.0 out of 5 stars Startlingly original horror
THE DECEASED is one of my all-time favorite books, a strange composite of fantasy, horror, and literature. It's a blend that's never been done before and turns out to be a big winner. This is the best of the best. An odd mixture of thrills, chills, and tongue in cheek satire. I've also enjoyed THE NIGHT CLASS, which is a strange mystery full of creepy scenes, and the...
Published on Sept. 21 2003

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2.0 out of 5 stars Subpar Horror Story
Tom Piccirilli is one horror author that makes me scratch my head in confusion. This author has won at least one Bram Stoker Award, the plum prize of those authors who write horror, for one of his novels. "The Deceased" is the third Piccirilli novel I have read, with the other two being "The Night Class" and the entertaining western "Grave...
Published on Sept. 20 2003 by Jeffrey Leach


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4.0 out of 5 stars Straight to Madness!, May 3 2004
By 
This review is from: The Deceased (Mass Market Paperback)
With an urge for some mind-blowing horror and a touch of insanity on the side, I opened this book with an unhealthy need for pure evil. So, with my soda on hand, I dimmed the lights and stoked the fire. When I finished, I not only had a bad case of paranoia, but also a newfound respect for Picirilli.

Twisting at each turn, The Deceased manages to intrigue and horrify. A plot so convoluted, you find yourself bound and screaming for more. The only problem being that it perplexes you almost to the point of bailing out. It never manages to hold you while maintaining at best a simple touchstone. So remember to prepare to be thrown with no rope in sight. Opening right into the action, the pace is erratic and unavailing. I suggest you keep a paper bag available at all times should you become light headed.

The characters had almost no backstory, no real insight into who they are in depth and it worked so well for this book. The characters actually feel secondary to the events in the story and that was absolutely genius. With a hallucinogenic atmosphere, Picirilli manages to coat the air with confusion and a serpentine reality. So laden was it, that you feel as if your walking through a blinding fog. Abandoning structure of any kind, the author's style of writing is still one of the best and sadly least celebrated. With an elegance almost forgotten today, he writes with grace and always succeeds to be original.

I give this book a 4 Pack the suitcase, console your mother, this is a book that will not only terrify you; it may lead you straight to madness!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Startlingly original horror, Sept. 21 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Deceased (Mass Market Paperback)
THE DECEASED is one of my all-time favorite books, a strange composite of fantasy, horror, and literature. It's a blend that's never been done before and turns out to be a big winner. This is the best of the best. An odd mixture of thrills, chills, and tongue in cheek satire. I've also enjoyed THE NIGHT CLASS, which is a strange mystery full of creepy scenes, and the "Self" book A LOWER DEEP, which is an incredible occult novel that turns the concept of Armageddon on its ear.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Subpar Horror Story, Sept. 20 2003
By 
Jeffrey Leach (Omaha, NE USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Deceased (Mass Market Paperback)
Tom Piccirilli is one horror author that makes me scratch my head in confusion. This author has won at least one Bram Stoker Award, the plum prize of those authors who write horror, for one of his novels. "The Deceased" is the third Piccirilli novel I have read, with the other two being "The Night Class" and the entertaining western "Grave Men." Of these three books, "The Deceased" ranks as the worst. Come to think of it, I wasn't that impressed by "The Night Class," either. The western novel was quite amusing, but if this author's other horror novels resemble "The Deceased" in any way, shape, or form, we are all in a lot of trouble. "The Deceased" is an unmitigated mess of a story, with a murky plot that becomes nearly impenetrable by the time the reader reaches the conclusion.
"The Deceased" is a tale about a horror writer named Jacob Maelstrom. Jacob's father Isaac was an enormously influential and famous horror author, well remembered and still beloved by legions of fans despite the fact that he died horribly some years ago. Several people wrote books about the strange incident that claimed the lives of not only Jacob's father but the rest of his family as well. Jacob survived, somehow, and still carries the memories of the day his sister took an axe and killed the family. Now, Jacob feels a call to return to the scene of the crime, to the Maelstrom mansion where it all began. In the course of Jacob's immersion into the memories of the house, he encounters the ghosts of his insane sister Rachel and his sadistic, wheelchair bound brother Joseph, along with images of his mother and father. Out in the forests and ponds surrounding the property, Jacob recalls the "muses," some type of supernatural creatures roaming around the grounds. If the dangers of the Maelstrom house threatened only Jacob, perhaps everything would turn out for the best, but two unexpected visitors in the form of a depressed graduate student and the girlfriend of Isaac Maelstrom's agent turn up at the house. This appearance by two outsiders means that other people will face the terror of Jacob's trip down memory lane.
I simply do not understand the appeal Piccirilli's books have for many horror fans. That's not to say that I think every aspect of this book fails: once again, Piccirilli does create several engrossing scenes, especially the opening experience with the fan and the flashback to a day Jacob, Rachel, and Joseph spent at a pond on the mansion's grounds. These scenes work, and work well, because Piccirilli definitely possesses a gift for the English language. Yes, this guy can write better than most authors you will come across in this genre. Regrettably, the stylistic acumen of the author fails to make up for the poorly constructed organizational structure and uninspiring characters found throughout "The Deceased." This story simply fails to satisfy on nearly every level, and its hallucinatory sequences, piled one on top of another, bored me. I don't mind reading books or watching films that like to mess with the readers head a bit, but anything that attempts to do so needs to contain something concrete for the reader to use as a touchstone. I don't think this story provides such a touchstone. Instead, the story zooms off the tracks every few pages.
I am not ready to give up on Piccirilli just yet. I know he can write stories with coherent structures (like "Grave Men"), and I am hoping some of his other horror novels contain just such an organized plot. I am beginning to think they don't, though, if many of the reviews I have recently read are true. In a way, Tom Piccirilli's horror novels remind me of Douglas Clegg, another writer who uses surrealism in his books. The only difference between the two is that Clegg makes the hallucinatory scenes secondary to his plot. With Clegg, you might scratch your head a few times, but at least you know where you are going. Piccirilli, as far as I can see, throws out everything EXCEPT confusing weirdness. "Hexes" or "A Lower Deep" will be up next for me, but not anytime soon. I need to take a break from this author's horror novels for a spell.
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2.0 out of 5 stars pic something else, April 30 2003
This review is from: The Deceased (Mass Market Paperback)
well, the writer wasn't that bad. i sensed talent. but all in all, no. some boring stuff here, coming in too lengthy intervals. for some reason i never really believed in the characters, psychologically they seemed wrong, or the way they acted or talked seemed wrong. the writing was too much "B" at times, and too simple.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Instant Horror Classic, April 27 2003
By 
William M Miller (Bronxville, NY USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Deceased (Mass Market Paperback)
It's no wonder that Tom Piccirilli is nominated this year for the Bram Stoker Award. This guy is a real treasure. His literary style is unlike any other in the horror genre today. True, it's not an easy read, but if you take the time to let his words sink in, it truly is a frightening and disturbing read. This is Piccirilli's best work since his amazing novel, DARK FATHER.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Much better than it looks or sounds., Nov. 2 2002
By 
This review is from: The Deceased (Mass Market Paperback)
Everything about this novel is misleading. From the nondescript cover art and the generic title, to a back cover summary that makes it sound like a hundred other tired tales of terror. It even begins in a fairly standard way.
Jacob Maelstrom is a writer of horror novels, himself the son of a more famous writer. He finds himself drawn once again to his childhood home -- the place where, over a decade ago, his sister killed the rest of his family and herself, leaving only him alive.
It's been done before, right? It may seem so, but what follows takes the story in entirely different directions. Family secrets are revealed, other players are introduced, and the book becomes an exploration into the very nature of creativity. Where does it come from? Where does it go? When does the fictional become real? The answers lie within the old Maelstrom house, if you care to spend the night with Jacob and his uninvited guests.
Piccirilli's excellent prose goes a long way in carrying the story. I'm always happy to see someone who really knows how to use the language, rather than one who is merely adequate. THE DECEASED is a fine novel of chilling horror, suspense, and eroticism.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Weird, wild stuff here, kids, July 16 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Deceased (Mass Market Paperback)
A very weird book that hits on all cylinders. Creepy, effective, with plenty of sub-plots to keep the story humming along in a very strange fashion. A brew of oddity that will go down well with horror fans who are sick of the same old tepid tea.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Flowery writing., July 14 2002
This review is from: The Deceased (Mass Market Paperback)
The potentially excellent plot of this story is hindered from ever being realized by the author's ornate writing style. The book did not raise any fears within, simply because of the hideous overtones of "artistic" writing. The characters are not well developed, and the story reads very slowly. There are times in the plot when you are not sure which character is where. Tom Piccirilli's books will not be gracing my bookshelves any time soon.
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4.0 out of 5 stars HALLUCINATORY HORROR, Dec 27 2001
By 
"dgabriel7" (Houston, Texas USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Deceased (Mass Market Paperback)
This book disturbed me. It was very creepy and unpredictable. The storyline was kind of hard to follow but eventually the writing made me forget what a storyline was! With ghoulish, incestruous siblings creeping around the corner (of the house at the protagonist of the story returns) and a lake outside with strange creatures lurking in the woods trying to mate with humans, Piccirilli twisted my mind pretty well. (And that damn turtle!) But what was really bothersome to me was the shifting between reality and fantasy and the living and dead.
I will definitely look for Piccirilli again in the future. I must say that if it is a traditional horror story you're looking for, then only half of that is here. But if you'd like a swirling ride into madness and horror, then look no further.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Ultra-funky fantasy, Dec 20 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Deceased (Mass Market Paperback)
Other folks have said it here before and I'll just have to add to it: THE DECEASED is one strange book! On the surface it's about a writer who goes back to his childhood home to investigate a series of ax murders that claimed his whole family but there's plenty more here than that. We're talking high fantasy, low fantasy, dark fantasy and just plain weirdness as our hero must face ghosts, animal people in a forest, and a haunting little girl who probably doesn't really exist. This takes on the idea of the creative urge being a primal force that drives us from "beyond" and executes it wonderfully. You'll never read horror fiction quite the same way again. Freaky and funky.
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The Deceased
The Deceased by Tom Piccirilli (Mass Market Paperback - 2000)
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