Mini-Review: Dead of Winter, Thief of Souls, Witch Island


Time for some mini-reviews! What are mini-reviews, you ask? As the title suggests, these are short reviews, consisting of one paragraph tops, about a book. It’s a way to catch up on the books I’ve read a while ago, but never got around to reviewing.

Title: Dead of Winter

Author: Brian Moreland

Genre: Horror, Dark Fiction

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

A predator stalks the frozen woods.
At a fort deep in the Ontario wilderness in 1878, a ghastly predator is attacking colonists and spreading a gruesome plague—his victims turn into ravenous cannibals with an unending hunger for human flesh. Inspector Tom Hatcher has faced a madman before, when he tracked down Montreal’s infamous Cannery Cannibal. But can even he stop the slaughter this time?
In Montreal exorcist Father Xavier visits an asylum where the Cannery Cannibal is imprisoned. But the killer who murdered thirteen women is more than just a madman who craves human meat. He is possessed by a shape-shifting demon. Inspector Hatcher and Father Xavier must unravel a mystery that has spanned centuries and confront a predator that has turned the frozen woods into a killing ground where evil has come to feed.
Dead of Winter tries to combine a lot of different tropes: cannibals, curses, demons, all into one. But while that’s a good idea in theory, in practice it doesn’t always work that way. It takes a skilled author to pull that off. Luckily, Brian Moreland happens to be a skilled author, and his creation of the Cannery Canibal, a serial killer eerily reminiscent of Hannibal Lecter, shows that he knows how to create characters that, albeit mad, are believeable. The plot is complex and challenging, but in a good way. Definitely a must-read for fans of horror.

Title: Thief of Souls

Author: J.G. Faherty

Genre: Horror, Dark Fiction

Rating: 3 stars

Purchase: Amazon

“Demons don’t forgive.
Perry didn’t want to be a thief. He simply needed to make back the money he lost on a bad business investment. Just three houses, then he can stop. But someone must be running a scam on him, trying to frighten him into turning himself in. He hears noises at night, small fires start in his house, and his dreams are filled with terrible nightmares.
Soon Perry begins to fear it’s no mere scam-something unholy and inhuman is playing a game of cat and mouse with him. Perry has stolen an ancient idol…and the demon who inhabits it. However, when he tries to return the idol, he finds out it’s much too late. The demon intends to teach Perry a lesson, a lesson that will destroy everything and everyone that Perry loves.

Thief of Souls had a lot of potential, but it never really lived up to that, at least not for me. Perry makes a bad choice, and something inhuman, demonic even, is out to get him, and to destroy him, hurting everyone he loves in the process. Not a bad premise, but the book never conjures up a creepy atmosphere, or even something remotely scary happening. There are some parts that could be scary, but ultimately I didn’t connect to Perry enough to be really scared for his wellbeing.

Title: Witch Island

Author: David Bernstein

Genre: Horror, Dark Fiction

Rating: 3,5 stars

Purchase: Amazon

A witch’s curse from beyond the grave! Witch Island used to be feared. Even the bravest would not dare go there. Legend said a witch had been burned alive at the stake, and upon her death she cursed the town. Terrified residents performed rituals to keep her spirit trapped on the island where she was buried. Now, over a hundred years later, a group of high school seniors have decided to forgo the local graduation parties and have a small gathering of their own-on Witch Island. They don’t fear the legends. They scoff at them. But the group will soon learn these particular legends are nothing to scoff at. And Witch Island will prove far worse than they could have ever imagined.

In Witch Island, you have all the classic ingredients of a horror movie: teens staying the night on an island cursed by a witch. It doesn’t help that half of these teens are descendants of the families who hurt aforementioned witch. You know you’re in for trouble when you read that plot. The book offers a ton of violence, some gruesome scenes that are definitely not for the squeamish, and also some background story of the witch. The parts talking about the witch’s story were my favorite. The teenagers just weren’t that much fun. It’s a fast read though, and if you slasher movies or anything of the like, you’ll enjoy this one.

Thanks to Samhain Publishing for providing review copies for all three of these.

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