Monday, April 6, 2015

Page 69: The Ghoul Archipelago

The Page 69 Test is not mine. It has been around since 2007, asking authors to compare page 69 against the meat of the actual story it is a part of. I loved the whole idea of it and so I'm stealing it specifically to showcase small press titles - novels, novellas, short story collections, the works! So until the founder of The Page 69 Test calls a cease and desist, let's do this thing....

In this installment of Page 69, 
we put Stephen Kozeniewski's The Ghoul Archipelago 
to the test

Ok Stephen, set up page 69 for us.

Okay, well, Papi and Mr. Kurtz are members of a low-rent freighter crew.  They're essentially paid to be blind and stupid, so while they may not know exactly what they're hauling, they can probably guess it's something unsavory.  In the deep backwater of the South Pacific, a band of pirates attacks their ship.  As the senior officers, like Pepper, attempt to negotiate with the pirates and deal with the sudden discovery of a stowaway, they send the crew to hide belowdecks.  That's where Papi and Kurtz learn the shocking truth: they're hauling corpses stuffed with drugs and money.  Oh, and did I forget to mention the dead just started rising to feast on the flesh of the living?

What is The Ghoul Archipelago about?

After ravenous corpses topple society and consume most of the world’s population, freighter captain Henk Martigan is shocked to receive a distress call. Eighty survivors beg him to whisk them away to the relative safety of the South Pacific. Martigan wants to help, but to rescue anyone he must first pass through the nightmare backwater of the Curien island chain. 

A power struggle is brewing in the Curiens. On one side, the billionaire inventor of the mind-control collar seeks to squeeze all the profit he can out of the apocalypse. Opposing him is the charismatic leader of a ghoul-worshipping cargo cult. When a lunatic warlord berths an aircraft carrier off the coast and stakes his own claim on the islands, the stage is set for a bloody showdown. 

To save the remnants of humanity (and himself), Captain Martigan must defeat all three of his ruthless new foes and brave the gruesome horrors of...THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO.

Do you think this page gives our readers an accurate sense of what the book is about?

Ah, believe it or not, it's not a bad sample.  I don't know if the Page 69 test is supposed to work or fail, but this has a nice, solidly gruesome beginning that set the tone for the rest of the book, and segues into introducing some of our most important characters.  So, yay team!

Page 69

He pressed the nail-removing end against the roof of its mouth and pressed upwards.

“Give me a hand, Papillon,” Kurtz said.

Papi leaned on the gooseneck of the crowbar, adding his weight to Kurtz’s strength until the hollow-breasted thing lifted up into the air, and the crowbar plunged through its soft pallet and into its brain. Only then did it stop twitching.

The outside hatch began to thump, as someone from without pounded. The things in the crate joined in the pounding, forming a chorus of thumps and groans.

“Don’t open it,” Papi whispered.

Papi felt sure that if Kurtz gripped the crowbar any tighter, he would’ve snapped it in twain.

“Kurtz!” Pepper’s muffled voice drifted through the hatch, “Let me in!”

Papi heaved a sigh of relief. He couldn’t tell whether he was more worried it would have been a pirate or a monster.

Kurtz thrust the hatch open. Pepper was standing there with a strange young boy, dressed in ridiculous puffy clothes.

“Out of the way, Kurtz,” Pepper said, “we’ve got to get in.”

Kurtz shook his head.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Wright,” Kurtz said, “one doesn’t want to come in here. It’s dangerous. We all need to leave.”

Pepper stared up at him like he had a dick growing out of his forehead.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” the second mate asked. “There’s a god-damned battle going on out here.”

As if to prove his point, a bullet whizzed by, sending Pepper pressing past Kurtz’s frame in the doorway, and wrestling the stranger in with him.

“Close that hatch!” Pepper shouted.

Reluctantly, Kurtz obeyed. He had clearly hoped to discuss the matter further, but the men surrounded Pepper instantly, and began to barrage him with different, disparate elements of their tale from below decks, such that Pepper was staring at them all as though they were crazy within thirty seconds. Papi watched it all in silence.

“Mr. Kurtz!” the second mate bellowed, silencing the myriad voices in one go.


Stephen Kozeniewski (pronounced "causin' ooze key") lives with his wife and two cats in Pennsylvania, the birthplace of the modern zombie. During his time as a Field Artillery officer, he served for three years in Oklahoma and one in Iraq, where due to what he assumes was a clerical error, he was awarded the Bronze Star. He is also a classically trained linguist, which sounds much more impressive than saying his bachelor's degree is in German.

No comments:

Post a Comment