Book Review: The Voice of Waterfalls by Natasha Salnikova

12824882Title: The Voice of Waterfalls
Author: Natasha Salnikova
Genre: Supernatural Thriller, Drama
Publisher: NAS
Publication Date: October 6th 2011
Rating: 3,5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon
Review copy provided by the author.

Inga manages to escape from a “house of terror” where she was held as a sex slave along with other girls who were kidnapped. She is chased into the woods and runs onto the road, almost falling under the wheels of an approaching car. She thought, it would be better to die that way than to return to her captors. The driver of the car, to her surprise, saves her. He brings her to his house and introduces her to his family: his mother, his father and his younger sister. He gives Inga a key to a separate room and brings her food. She appreciates his help and calls him her knight from the road. All she needs now is a phone to make a call to her mother. Her savior, Alman, says they don’t have one in the house. He’s also not in a hurry to take her from his house in the woods to the town where she can talk to police. And Inga began to doubt the noble intentions of her savior. After some time she starts to think this house is worse than the one she was imprisoned in before, if that was possible…

You would think that, after escaping from being held as a sex slave, life would look up for Inga. I mean, how much bad luck can one person get? A lot, apparently, as Inga is thrown from one disaster into another. As she runs away barefooted from the very people who kidnapped her, locked her up, raped her, beat her and threatened to kill her whenever she did something wrong, she is rescued by a young man named Alman. Although he appears friendly enough and offers her a place to stay for the night with the promise that she can call her mother first thing in the morning, Inga soon learns that something is totally off about Alman. And it’s not just Alman whose acting strange – it’s his entire family.

What if the secret Alman and his family are hiding is something worse than all the things she experienced in that house of terror alltogether? What if, in reality, this is the true house of terror? Alman and his family start acting more and more peculiar with every passing day, she can’t leave the premises and why does she keep on hearing terrifying screams in the dead of night? When she makes a run for it and ends up at the sheriff’s office, who promptly returns her to Alman and his family, Inga begins to realize that whatever is going on, the entire town of Quiet River seems to be involved. Who can she turn to from help? Whereto can she escape if everyone and everything is against her? Help may come from an unexpected corner in the form of Anthony, a too-successful lawyer, travelling to the town of his youth to escape his own guilt.

Natasha Salnikova has a writing voice that’s excellent for storytelling. She gives just the right amount of attention to detail, but doesn’t waste any time starting the action as well. From page one, you’re tumbling into the story head on, like you’re on a rollercoaster of events and the only way to get out is to jump. After Inga’s escape from the house of terror, the tension builds up gradually. The author presents the eerie and spooky atmosphere of the town of Quiet River perfectly, and she also describes the rising tension inside Alman’s family home in a believable fashion. Everything and everyone is against Inga. Where can she escape if the only route left is through a looming forest, possibly filled with boobytraps and other monsterous things as well? What can she do if the local sheriff is not to be trusted and her savior turns out to be an even more terrifying monster than her previous captors? This sense of being captured, being stuck, having nowhere to go, is palpable from the very beginning of the story, and it only expands in proportion as the story continues. The tension is overwhelming and omnipresent, and I occassionally caught myself gasping for air, feeling equally as trapped as Inga felt in the novel.

The way Inga is portrayed is excellently done as well. Inga is a very likable character, probably because we see her in the role of unwilling victim from the start. As a reader, you instantly feel sorry for her for two main reasons: 1) she’s being used as a sex slave, 2) she mentions how much she misses her mother. That touched a soft spot with me, and made me like her right away. Then, when she escapes, I cheered her on, hoping that she would somehow end up somewhere better, although the book synopsis had already told me that wouldn’t be the case. And when Alman turned all savior-new-captor-like on her, I felt like shooting him through the head with his own hunting riffle. It’s very easy to be on team Inga, both because you instantly feel sorry for her, and secondly because she seems to have a nice, caring personality. Maybe she’s not the brightest one out there, going to a shady-looking audition in the big city, but that could happen to all of us. And maybe she’s not the most courageous and brave person ever either, but that makes her all the more human. Those heroines looking for weapons to bash in the heads of their captors immediately are interesting, I give them that, but they’re not real. Some people might be like that, but most of us would be scared to hell in the face of possible murderers, and we would cower and do as we were told as well. Inga is an excellent example of this, and it shows her flaws and humanity, and makes her all hte more likeable.

In terms of originality, I have to say The Voice of Waterfalls scores quite high as well. I’ve heard about crazy people living in remote towns near the forest before – a lot of times, actually – but the author adds her own original spin on it, which I enjoyed immensly.


Author Natasha Salnikova was generous enough to offer an eBook copy of The Voice of Waterfalls to six lucky readers! If you feel like participating, simply fill in the form below and leave a comment.

Book Review: These Hellish Happenings by Jennifer Rainey

9694732Title: These Hellish Happenings
Author: Jennifer Rainey
Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Dark Humor, Vampires, Demons, Adult
Rating: 4,5 stars
Goodreads | Author Website
Review copy provided by the author.

In 1707, hapless vampire Jack Bentley made a pact with the Devil in order to escape a vampire hunt. Dealing with Satan seemed better than your standard angry mob at the time. But three centuries later, Satan is ready to collect His dues, whether the vampire likes it or not. He’s taking Jack down to Hell, and He’s even got a job picked out for him down below: an eternal position at the Registration Office of the Damned. Jack attempts to adjust to life on the Administrative Level of Hell where fire and brimstone have been replaced by board meetings and the occasional broken copier. But the whiny complaints of the recently-deceased are the least of his problems. Try adding to the equation a dead ex-lover, a dangerous attraction to his high-ranking demon companion, Alexander Ridner, and the sticky and distorted anti-vampire politics of a Hell that is surprisingly like our own world…

In These Hellish Happenings, we follow vampire slash music collector Jack Bentley, as he is reminded of a bargain he striked with the Devil himself about three centuries ago. Although three centuries is a long time, even for a practically-immortal vampire, the Devil never forgets anything. Jack is brought down to hell, where he begins his new job as registrar at The Registration Office of The Damned. There, he is forced to write down the names of the recently-deceased, and tell them where to go next. Although his new job proves to be extremely boring, there are some quircks about it. For instance, Jack gets to live with a demon called Alexander, who is basically Satan’s second-in-command. Without counting Belzebub in, that is. He gets to meet new friends, learns that life in the pit isn’t all that different from life on earth as here too his species is discriminated against, and he might just start the revolution that will change Hell forever. Mix all of that with some dark humor, and you’ve basically got what These Hellish Happenings is all about.

Jack Bentley makes an interesting protagonist. Whether or not he’s evil, isn’t even debated throughout the novel, as basically everyone who ends up in hell has stepped over some line once or twice in their lifes. He is an interesting character, with a two-sided personality (we think: vampires bad, but what we see from Jack he turns out to be a rather okay fellow in that department, since he drinks bottled blood at a bar, for instance), with an undeniable and highly enjoyable sense of humor, and a mind that’s not too stubborn or stupid to demand change. When he’s thrown into Hell – as a matter of speech – the place below is on the verge of a revolution, with two parties battling each other. The one party wants to make demons rule in hell, and demote all other species to low-level jobs, like for instance, Cerberus shit-cleaning duty. The other party battles for equality between the species, and they soon see in Jack a possible leading man for their ideals and opinions. This brings Jack in a rollercoaster of events, all of them equally original and hilarious.

Who could have imagined any of the things Jennifer Rainey brings in this novel? Hell divided in offices, and every demon, vampire or poor soul sent to the bottomless pit, with a job of their own. A hellish environment with politicians – like it’s not enough that they make life a living hell already -, parties, struggles, elections, possible promotions, and an 8 till 6 working schedule. It’s safe to conclude that Jennifer Rainey’s take on hell, her world-building in particular, is both very original and very impressive. Jennifer Rainey basically gives us our view of modern-day society, our politics, our human rights actions and our work ethics, and presents them to us agaisnt the facade of Hell. There are brave political statements touched in this novel, which make it all the more interesting.

And not only does the author provide us with an authentic, original view on Hell and the Underworld, she also has an entirely new take on vampires, as they are usually portrayed in literature, and on demons. Jack Bentley is anything but an ordinary familiar-looking vampire, and Alexander, his demon roommate, is anything but the demons we are used to. Humorous, original, with an impressive storyline and fantastic characters. These Hellish Happenings is an excellent read, not only for its originality and marvellous characterization, but for its impressive writing style and enjoyable humour as well. If you like fantasy, and even if you don’t, you should just try this book. It’s a rare jewel in the fantasy genre.

These Hellish Happenings is the first book in a series, and I cannot wait to read the sequel.

Book Review: Catching an Evil Tail by Mary Abshire

10546083Title: Catching an Evil Tail (The Soul Catcher #2)
Author: Mary Abshire
Genre: Adult, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Vampires, Werewolves, Demons
Rating: 4 stars
Review copy provided by Bewitching Book Tours.
Goodreads | Author Website

Half-demon Jessie Garrett wants to live a normal life among her friends and keep her soul catching ability a secret, but supernatural creatures keep popping up in her world. Adding to her struggles, her vampire lover remains out of the country, and when he offers no valuable explanation as to why he hasn’t returned, she wonders if she should move on without him.
As if Jessie doesn’t have enough worries on her mind, the demon yearning to seduce her shows up at her home. She longs to liberate herself from the debt she owes him, and when he asks for her help, she jumps at the chance to make a new deal with him—one that will guarantee her freedom. The only catch? She has to send the soul of a werewolf to hell.
Love, trust, and loyalty are on the line. Torn between her feelings for her vampire boyfriend, a hot Alpha wolf, and a demon vowing to protect her, Jessie must figure out her heart’s true desires.

Previously to reading Catching an Evil Tail, I already read and reviewed the first novel in The Soul Catcher Series, Claiming the Evil Dead. I have to admit that I liked Catching an Evil Tail better than the previous book. Probably because I’m more a fan of Jeremy/Jessie than of Drake/Jessie. Or maybe because I knew the characters better, understood their thoughts and actions (whereas in Claiming the Evil Dead, I often felt puzzled and confused) or maybe because the storyline seemed more appealing to me. I guess it’s a mix of all of these components.

After the events in Claiming the Evil Dead, Jessie’s vampire-boyfriend Drake goes to Europe to take care of some urgent business. Although he promised Jessie he’d only be gone for two weeks top, six weeks eventually pass with barely a sign of life (notice the irony? an undead vampire giving a sign of life…alright well, I thought it was funny!) from Drake, and Jessie is seriously worried about their relationship. Like that isn’t enough trouble, her roommate Dani keeps blurting out things about Jessie’s private life, like her ability to sense ghosts. And on top of that, the demon Jeremy, is back in town. Although he helped Jessie defeat the evil vampire Alexander about a month prior, Jessie still isn’t sure whether or not he is a trustworthy ally. But this time, Jeremy asks Jessie’s help to claim the soul of a malicious werewolf who challenged the Alpha werewolf of a nearby tribe. Reluctant to agree at first, Jessie gives in eventually, and travels half-way across the country with none other than Jeremy. And obsessed as the demon is with the girl who he thinks is his soulmate, he will stop at nothing to seduce Jessie and get her in his bed. But he’s not the only one who is interested, as the Alpha werewolf seems to have an eye on Jessie as well.

I liked the storyline of this novel, the fact that it’s now Jeremy tugging Jessie along rather than good ol’ Drake, and I loved the addition of werewolves, witches and another warlock. Go diversity. I also loved most of the men playing a part in this book, especially Jeremy (talk about determination) and Alan (great leader figure), and the brief appearances from Drake were a nice touch as well. The combination between romance, action and suspense is spot-on as well, and I cannot recall feeling bored while reading for one single moment. Catching an Evil Tail is a well-written, relaxing and entertaining book, and I’m very glad to have read it.

Now, let’s continue to the things I didn’t like all that much. Jessie, our protagonist, isn’t exactly the most likeable character on the entire planet. She claims it takes a lot to earn her trust (for instance, she still doesn’t trust Drake completely, she doesn’t trust Jeremy at all, etc.) but then again, she has no trouble doing things that aren’t exactly trustworthy, like cheating on her so-called boyfriend. The one moment, she whines about being totally and completely in love with Drake, but then she lets herself get kissed by Jeremy roughly five minutes later. Then she bitches about how he continues to try and seduce her – while in fact, she is constantly leading him on, and playing the tease. Another major problem of the main character, is that she comes across as being rather egocentric, selfish and stuck up. In Jessie’s world, there’s hardly room for anyone but Jessie. And in this novel, it became all the more clear that for a half-demon with considerable powers, and a grown-up woman, Jessie is actually quite childish, immature and irresponsible. In this novel, it’s clearly the guys saving the day, because they do make up for a lot of Jessie’s flaws, up to the point that I’m wondering what any of them actually sees in her. But oh well, fantasy heroines have a tendency of not being all-that-likeable.

Now I think about it, this may have something to do with the fact that this novel is written in first person. It takes a lot of skill to pull this off, and although I think Mary Abshire did a marvellous job portraying the feelings of the other characters, even though writing in first person’s perspective, Jessie’s feelings may seem oversized, or over the top, simply because of the fact that it’s her talking. I don’t know if I’m explaining this well, or if I’m even getting my point across at all, but when writing in first person, the character talking will often seem more self-absorbed and emotional simply because we constantly see what’s going on in their mind. It’s a psychological thing, I guess.

If you like erotic paranormal romance, then Catching an Evil Tail is definitely one of the best books in the genre. If you like strong female characters, then Jessie will not dissapoint. If you like action, suspense and romance nicely tied together, then Mary Abshire’s series is exactly what you’re looking for. If you like a cast of interesting, diverse characters, then you will be in for a treat. You might agree with me that Jessie isn’t exactly the person you’d want to be friends with, but her adventures are exciting and thrilling enough to get past that. Mary Abshire’s writing is very promising, and I have high hopes – since I did like this book more than the previous one – that the next book, Fighting Evil, will be even more delightful to read.