Book Review: Endlessly by C.V. Hunt

10562661Title: Endlessly
Author: C.V. Hunt
Genre: Supernatural, Paranormal Romance, Vampires, Urban Fantasy, Horror
Publication Date: February 19th 2011
Author’s Website | Goodreads | Smashwords | Amazon
Rating: 3,5 stars
Review copy provided by the author.

When Ashley walks into a shop run by the vampire, Verloren, they both get the surprise of their lives. Ash is about to learn that she’s not just another pretty young woman, while Verloren is astonished to find himself falling in love. But how can a vampire love a human? And what if the human isn’t as human as she seems? When Ash’s true nature reveals itself, the entire power structure of the world’s outsiders teeters on the brink of destruction. Verloren and Ash become more and more terrified as they grope their way toward the ultimate truth: that they hold the key to something much larger than their own survival.

Verloren is a vampire in a world where vampires, werewolves, witches and other supernatural beings live alongside humans, ruled by The Quatre. But Verloren isn’t any normal vampire, since he can sees auras, which is a talent vampires don’t naturally have. He’s leading a fairly secluded life, terrified to do anything wrong since he has run into The Quatre once already, and it didn’t end very well. He runs a shop and works there together with a werewolf and witch, but he also gets along with his nextdoor neighhour who is a human. That’s not to say Verloren doesn’t drink human blood because he does, but mostly prostitutes and other people who won’t be missed. Our vampire is up for the scare of his life though, as one day a girl stumbles into his shop. Although he doesn’t know the girl and has never seen her before, he does feel an instant connection to her, and he knows right away that she’s an incarnate, a supernatural being. He befriends the girl, and promises to help her find out who – and more importantly, what – she really is. But that promise might have desastrous consequence for the both of them.

After reading the back cover of Endlessly, I was worried that the story might be too familiar, since there was nothing there that I hadn’t heard before, or read before for that matter, or that seemed even remotely original. Don’t let it misguide you though. Endlessly offers a very original take on vampires that I’ve never read before, and even for that alone, this book is definately worth reading.

In the world described by C.V. Hunt in this novel, incarnates and born knowings roam this earth alongside with humans, while the latter are unaware that the first even exists. Vampires aren’t necesserily dead – what? you say, but it does work out quite well – and sunlight doesn’t burn them in an instant. They don’t sleep in coffins, and when they have sex it tends to get very messy, and possibly even deadly, especially if their partner is not a vampire. Werewolves aren’t bound to change once every full moon, but they can change whenever they want. Moreover, they devour their victims in a most gruesome way. But vampires, werewolves and witches…that’s just the top of the pyramid. Imagine dragons, leprachauns, trolls, every single supernatural being you ever encountered, all mixed together in this novel. It tends to be a bit too much, especially while regarding the rather small size of this novel. And just under 200 pages, it’s a lot to explain and talk about at once. And although I do think the world-building is very original, especially in regards to a Quatre existing of a vampire, werewolf, shaman and faerie ruling all supernaturals, I also believe the author should have either focused on less beings at a time, or expanded the novel. The overflow of knowledge is overwhelming at times.

That said, Verloren makes an interesting protagonist. At first, he appears to be another lonely, lost vampire bound by the orders of The Quatre, and looking for something meaningful in his life. Then it turns out that he isn’t. He actually kills people. And here I was, thinking I’d met another veggie. Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for vampires killing and slaughtering humans, since that’s just about what vampires do. The only thing I find that repulsing about Verloren is that while he goes out to kill humans at night, he communicates and befriends them at day. It made me have complicated and mixed feelings about him. On the one hand, I wanted to like him, because it feels natural for me to like the protagonist of a story. On the other hand, I felt like hating him because he’s the most ignorant hypocrite in the history of vampires. If he communicated with people, but didn’t like them at all, and only did so because he had to, then I would have understood his actions, and why he did choose to kill people for their blood. But since he actually genuinely likes people, his actions raised many question marks in my head. I mean, I know he has to drink blood or else he dies, but he could have at least shown some remorse then, or indicate that this wasn’t really what he wanted to do. This behavior just made him seem very hypocrite, but it did make him interesting. At least he wasn’t the goody-two-shoes type you see all too much in novels, or the standard bad guy we often deem vampires to be.

I liked the overall premise and storyline, of Verloren meeting his soulmate, then finding out who and what she is, and having to run from the Quatre. But there were some minor things that just didn’t make sense. When reading the way Ash reacts to the Quatre in the end – which I’m not going to mention, for the sake of not spoiling anything – it seems stupid for them to have fled the Quatre in the first place. Jessica’s dead seems pointless as well, especially after reading that scene. Also, Ash’s reaction to growing horns, a tail and wings seems very unrealistic. If it were me who grew those things overnight, I’d probably be screaming in anger and frustration. She takes it rather calmly, but then she does burst into tears when other people deem her a monster for the way she looks. That doesn’t really add up.

I would have liked to see a more well-developed storyline – like not running from The Quatre when in the end, things work out the way they do (I sure am being mysterious here, eh?) and a bit more depth to the characters. I especially would have liked to read more about Ash’s thoughts after she is changed. I wish Jessica didn’t have to die, because she did offer some possibilities, being a born knowing and all. And although I did like the romance between Ash and Verloren, and I felt the obvious chemistry between them, I could not help but feel that everything was a bit rushed. Some parts of the storyline are blurry are unnecessary, and the characters could have had more depth. I found the way they handled the loss of Chris and Jessica for instance quite repulsing. Verloren’s best friends just died and the only thing on his mind is making love to his new girlfriend. I would have liked him mourn their deaths more, as it would have made him more likeable as a character.

That said, Endlessly is C.V. Hunt’s debut novel, and it does make a really nice debut. There is some polishing up to do, but I have complete confidence in the author succeeding in that in the sequel, Legacy. On the one hand, I would have liked more plot-building and character-depth, and I couldn’t help but feel that the novel was a bit rushed. On the other hand, I was thoroughly impressed by the world-building, the fast-paced plot and the way this novel glued me to my chair from start to end. It’s a very enjoyable read, and a nice way to spend an otherwise boring evening by reading a different take on vampires, werewolves and supernaturals in general. For originality and being a fresh breeze in urban fantasy, this novel definately gets some extra points. I hope to see the characters evolve and grow in the next novel, and I hope that the storyline develops into something even more interesting. I would definately recommend this novel to vampire fans, and to fans of the supernatural in general. I myself am already looking forward to the sequel.

Book Review: Angelology by Danielle Trussoni

6691426Title: Angelology
Author: Danielle Trussoni
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Supernatural
Rating: 3,5 stars
Review copy purchased from the local bookstore by yours truly.

A thrilling epic about an ancient clash reignited in our time- between a hidden society and heaven’s darkest creatures

There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bore children to them.
Genesis 6:5

Sister Evangeline was just a girl when her father entrusted her to the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in upstate New York. Now, at twenty-three, her discovery of a 1943 letter from the famous philanthropist Abigail Rockefeller to the late mother superior of Saint Rose Convent plunges Evangeline into a secret history that stretches back a thousand years: an ancient conflict between the Society of Angelologists and the monstrously beautiful descendants of angels and humans, the Nephilim.

For the secrets these letters guard are desperately coveted by the once-powerful Nephilim, who aim to perpetuate war, subvert the good in humanity, and dominate mankind. Generations of angelologists have devoted their lives to stopping them, and their shared mission, which Evangeline has long been destined to join, reaches from her bucolic abbey on the Hudson to the apex of insular wealth in New York, to the Montparnasse cemetery in Paris and the mountains of Bulgaria.

Rich in history, full of mesmerizing characters, and wondrously conceived, Angelology blends biblical lore, the myth of Orpheus and the Miltonic visions of Paradise Lost into a riveting tale of ordinary people engaged in a battle that will determine the fate of the world.

After reading a request from a young art historian called Verlaine to look into the archives of Saint Rosa’s convent, based on correnspondence between a former mother superior and the philanthropist Abigail Rockefeller, Sister Evangeline, a young nun working in the library of the convent, discovers a connection between both women. And it has nothing to do with philanthropy, or art for that matter. Aided by the historian Verlaine, who appears to be love-struck over the young nun, Evangeline is forced to find out more, not only about Abigail Rockefeller and what exactly she and her former mother superior were trying to hide in the convent, but also about her own history, family and who she really is. This search leads them into conflict with the Nephilim, children of angels who are currently still roaming this earth. Nasty, vile and capable of anything, the Nephilim are a worthy opponent not to be messed with. But together, and with the help of angelologists like Evangeline’s grandmother Gabrielle, they must find a way to reclaim an archefact of great power. Something the Nephilim want whatever it takes, but something they must never get, for the consequences will be terrible.

It appears to me that Angelology isn’t all that new, exciting and innovating as it tries to be. Danielle Trussoni is simply the latest author trying to grab a slice from the Dan Brown pie. Dan Brown features demons, secret societies, symbols and century-old mysteries. Danielle Trussoni features half-angels, secret angelologist societies, symbols, and century-old mysteries. See the connection? That’s not to say that the book isn’t impressive, it just has this old ‘been there, did that’ vibe, but now with Nephilim rather than demons.

The research Danielle Trussoni did before writing this book, cannot be described anything other than impressive. The minor details touched – from cars to layouts of convents to locations in France and New York – is amazing. The mythology, the study of Angels through the centuries, the bible readings, are all very interesting facts, and she certainly possesses a great knowledge base to start with. Her writing style is amazing as well. She describes certain things in the utmost detail, and it’s debatable whether that is just sheer brilliance or slows the story down. The lyrical prose, the impressive descriptions and the attention for detail really adds a lot of quality and depth to this novel, especially the part that’s written in France in 1939 – that part is simply brilliant. I had a lot of trouble with the last 100 or so pages of the book though, which I thought were less in quality compared to the previous parts of the book.

I hate to say this, but about some things mentioned in Angelology, it appears that Mrs. Trussoni is simply ignorant. She accuses the Nephilim of basically starting World War II – or atleast convincing the Nazis enough to commit such horrible crimes – and puts them in the middle of Nazi parties in the year 1939. She then goes as far as blaming all evil things that happen in this world on the Nephilim. Her novel is all in blacks and whites: Nephilim bad, humans good, and that just makes it unbelievable. The world isn’t black and white. You can’t blame every evil act on Nephilim and paint them off as the bad guys. Humans do enough evil on their own, without outside-help. I also disliked the fact that there doesn’t appear to be any good Nephilim on this world. They’re all bad, wicked, vile and self-centered. Although, in all honesty, I have to admit that Percival Grigori, the main Nephilim character we see, did appear to be capable of some good, at least in the years 1939. I would have preferred if there were some good and some bad Nephilim. It would seem a lot more realistic. Nothing is ever truly bad, and nothing is ever truly good. There are different shades of good and bad, and unfortunately Mrs. Trussoni fails to acknowledge that.

At first, I was quite skeptical about how large the religious factor would be in Angelology, and I have to say that I’m both surprised and relieved that it only takes up a minor part. You don’t have to be utterly religious to enjoy this novel. There are some bible passages mentioned, but that’s it, and basically it can appeal to everyone, from every religion.

The plot is fast-paced and skillfully unfolded as the story continues. The characters range from being believable, interesting, intellectual and clever – read: Gabrielle Lévi-Franche and Celestine – to somewhat-boring, ‘why the hell did they end up in this novel?’ and rather useless – read: Verlaine. I did enjoy reading the stories of the bad guys, and figuring out that Percival Grigori has a genuine reason for trying to get the artefact the angelologists recovered from the mountains in Bulgary in the 1930s, and that it’s not just about powers. The part about the decay of the Nephilim was a brilliant touch, and adding Evangeline’s personal history to this novel was a nice sidestory as well. I enjoyed the part about Gabrielle and Celestine the most, because it seemed the most well-written, tense and suspenseful part of the novel.

The ending left me feeling rather dissapointed, because it all seems to happen in a blur. Also, when Evangeline’s true heritage is revealed, I felt like hitting myself on the head. A novel of this calibre should not need a sequel, and by making Evangeline as she is, Trussoni has clearly left the path open for a sequel. I don’t know why people want to take an interesting idea, make a wonderful, impressive and fascinating novel about it, and then milk it out for a sequel and maybe even a third novel. What happened to stand-alone novels, that are impressive enough on their own? It seems like everyone has forgotten that the old classics we still remember and enjoy are stand-alone novels. Nowadays, everyone wants a trilogy. It’s getting old-skool people.

Angelology is definately an entertaining read. Fans of Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons, Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian and Labyrinth by Kate Mosse will be delighted to venture into the adventures described in Angelology. The knowledge depicted in this book is impressive, the writing style demands for more and the characters are charming, distinct and well thought-through. The perfect kind of book to entertain you on a rainy sunday afternoon.

Book Review: Spirit by Graham Masterton

16916Title: Spirit
Author: Graham Masterton
Genre: Thriller, Horror, Adult, Ghosts, Supernatural
Rating: 4,5 stars
Review copy provided by Dorchester Publishing.

Laura and Elizabeth Buchanan’s lives were changed forever when their little sister Peggy was found dead in the icy water of the family’s pool. But Peggy never left her sisters. As Laura and Elizabeth grow up, a string of inexplicable deaths threatens to shatter their lives. Each corpse shows signs of frostbite–and each victim’s dying moments are tortured by a merciless little girl in a white dress.

When I first read the blurb for Spirit, I knew that I needed to get my hands on this book, no matter what it cost. Even though I had to request it three times (due to my Netgalley profile not being completely filled in), I didn’t care in the slightest. I had this crazy, unexplainable, but very convincing feeling that this book was going to leave me scared, terrified and very, very impressed. I don’t know why I got this feeling, that turned out to be true, but I have my suspicions that it might be a supernatural thing of the kind we come across in Spirit, a part of me that instinctively knew, even by reading the smallest back cover blurb ever, that this novel was it. That this was the kind of scary story I had been waiting for since forever-and-a-day, that this was the story that would leave me paralyzed, hidden under my blankets at night, and unable to sleep. I was more than right.

Spirit reminded me of the first time I watched The Others, with Nicole Kidman as leading actress, and hid under my blanket because I was so damn terrified. It brought back memories of summoning spirits at band camp late at night, of shivers running down your spine when your friends tell you ghost stories around a camp fire, or hearing a weird sound and dismissing it as nothing, while you very well know it’s something. It reminded me of that time my friends and I broke into the local haunted mansion, and I saw what I firmly believe was a ghost. This novel is so haunting, so absolutely terrifying, that it reminded me of every single time I was scared by the supernatural, by the world beyond our own, by the possible existence of ghosts, and topped all of that. I don’t remember ever being so scared while reading a book before in my life. Now it leaves me still very much unsettled, but very much impressed at well. Wow, is all I can say, wow, and please hand me another one of those.

I cannot begin to describe how good it felt to actually be this scared again, right when I was starting to lose my faith in the horror genre alltogether. I mean, I’m one of those people who can’t be scared by watching Zombie flicks, or by reading about blood-sucking vampires (definately not after the whole Sparkly-vampires thing) or by insane serial killers following a group of stupid and ignorant teenagers. The only way to actually make me shiver in fear, is by involving ghosts. Why? Ghosts just have this whole sense of weirdness going on, one cannot be certain if they truly exist or not, and even if they do, it’s damn hard to get rid of them, since they are…you know, dead.

Spirit begins with the drowning of five-year-old Peggy, the little sister of Elizabeth and Laura Buchanan. While their parents suffer greatly from the loss of their beloved youngest daughter, the two sisters struggle with feelings of guilt. In an effort to put this past them, Elizabeth buries her copy of The Snow Queen, Peggy’s favorite fairytale, in the snow of their backyard, as a peace offering to God to let Peggy’s soul rest in heaven. Rest assured, that’s the last thing that happens.

Some years pass by and the Buchanan family is getting things together again, with their mother returning from the asylum (she suffered a mental breakdown after Peggy’s funeral) and their father getting back to work as a publisher. However, strange things are starting to happen. Elizabeth runs into a girl she swears is Peggy, although the girl looks nothing like her drowned sister. When people are starting to die in peculiar circumstances as well – from frostbite, for instance – Elizabeth suspects that somehow Peggy returned back from the dead. She finds encouragement for her thoughts when her parents start seeing Peggy as well, and when a local author and friend of hers tells her that he’s been seeing his dead brother, Billy, frequently during hte last couple of years. Although the boy he sees looks nothing like Billy, and isn’t even of the same age.

Elizabeth and Laura must stop their younger sister from walking this earth anymore, and must do whatever it takes to put her soul to rest. Before it’s too late…

The entire atmosphere, dialogue and descriptions of Spirit is eerie and haunted. From the first few sentences until the very last, Graham Masterton proves that he is a true master of the horror genre, as he pulls his readers in from his very first chapter, and doesn’t let them go. He describes his characters in a lot of detail, and I felt like I got to know them as real people, with real hopes and expectations, and real, substantial fears. Elizabeth was a gripping character with a moving and touching personality, who gained a lot of my sympathy as she struggled with the ghost of her undead sister. Sorrow, regret, guilt and raw, honest fear are all woven together in what I believe is one of the scariest novels currently existing. As the years pass by and the secrets unfold, I felt myself getting pulled more and more into the novel. When the ghost of Peggy appeared, first not much more than a vision, and later on a person you could actually touch, a murderous and over-protective, evil spirit, I looked behind my back occasionally, as shivers were running down my spine and I felt the temperature in the room had dropped several degrees. Although mostly only in my head, it was great to be experience so many emotions when reading a novel.

There were parts in the book that felt sloppy and not up-to-par as well. For instance, when they try to unravel the mystery of who exactly the spirit is, and why they feel like it’s Peggy although she looks nothing at all like their deceased sister. “Human imagination”, “Fairy Tales Come To Life”, that dropped the scare-level to halfway, in my opinion. Maybe it’s the science and logic behind it, although I did think this was interesting and an original perspective, or maybe it was that this wasn’t just some dead person’s ghost lingering about, but actually only a little girl’s imagination gone wild. Quite dissapointing in the scary-department but unmistakingly original nevertheless. I also felt like somehow these parts dragged a bit, and that some of the kills were rather random. I didn’t like the scene with Laura and the two TV producers, and I wasn’t sure if it was an essential part of the story – to show what exactly the spirit is capable of (but if it was, why did she not appear sooner then, and why wait till after Laura gets hurt?) – or if it was just to fill some pages. I am inclined to believe the latter, and wasn’t all that touched by it. The epic battle at the end left me dissapointed as well (I had a continuous feeling of: oh really?, and add a sarcastic tone to that), but all in all, I could live with that, considering how unnaturally frightened I had been with the first part of the novel.

What would have made Spirit stood out for me so much that I would rate it a 5 rather than a 4.5? Had the ghostly incidents started off more slowly, rather than immediately with the apparition of an actual ghost-like figure. I like the tiny little horror parts in novels, like when the protagonist leaves their keys on the counter, and then finds them on the table when he returns. Or when they hear strange noises at night, that can not be explained. Or when they see shapes out of the corner of their eyes, but dismiss it as being nothing. Lights suddenly shutting off, things going missing, those sort of things. And then, bring in the ghost. And then, a hundred-or-so-pages further down the line, make the ghost go totally murderous. I also would have liked to see more of Margaret, Elizabeth’s mother, and how she might have been effected by the supernatural events. She was an intriguing character, with her severe doubts about her life, her depression over giving up her acting career and her frequent visits to the asylum. There was a small part of the novel in which Margaret saw Peggy first, but no one believed her, and then Elizabeth saw her as well. I would have liked it if this had lasted longer, and they had announced Margaret crazy for seeing things that were actually real, and then have Elizabeth question her own sanity as she starts seeing the ghost as well. Alas, we cannot have it all.

I also liked the fact that this novel read like a mystery novel. There’s the case of the murderous ghost, and then our cast of characters has to find out who she is, where she comes from, and how to stop her, in a race against time – or against the next murder. I also loved the fact that not only our protagonists were seeing ghosts, but that other people throughout the story confessed to having seen dead relatives as well. A more thorough description of the house the Buchanans live in, would have been great as well, or if the ghost was somehow connected to the house as well.

Nevertheless, as I already mentioned, the first part of the novel was a whole new level of scary for me, and if the second part was a tad bit dissapointing, then so be it. I enjoyed reading Spirit, and I would definately read another novel by Graham Masterton in a heartbeat. Some parts of this book were actually beyond brilliant, and left me very impressed, and a tremendously happy reader. If you can get past some of the minor flaws, you will realise, just as I have, that this novel is a masterpiece of horror literature, a true symphony for all things horrifying and supernatural, and a statement on its own: that not all things dead, stay dead, and that ghosts might very well exist. Magnificent.

Book Review: The Banishing by Fiona Dodwell

10660843Title: The Banishing
Author: Fiona Dodwell
Genre: Horror, Supernatural, Thriller
Publisher: Damnation Books
Published: February 27th 2011
Pages: 182
Rating: 4 stars
Review copy provided by Bewitching Book Tours.
Goodreads | Author’s Website

When Melissa first notices the change in her husband – subtle at first – she thinks it may be the stress of moving into their new home. Or working long hours. But soon he turns into something far darker, far more sinister.Who or what is the dark shadow living beneath her husband? What is haunting him?
Melissa must quickly find the answer to these questions, because Mark is changing, and fast. Soon her fight will be for her life, as well as for her marriage.
The Banishing is a dark, disturbing novel exploring the world of demonic possession, spiritual oppression and domestic abuse.

The Banishing tells the dark and disturbing story of housewife and nurse Melissa, and her husband Mark. Although at first he turned out to be everything she desired, and was nothing if not a Prince Charming by the time they married, he is slowly changing into a person she hardly recognizes. This started happening from the moment they started living in their new house, and has grown worse over the passing months. Although at first Melissa is convinced this is just an unknown side of her husband turning up after ‘the honeymoon is over’, she grows suspicious when she sees him whispering to strange entities. When she herself encounters a strange figure in the middle of her living room, she is both puzzled and more and more convinced that whatever is happening to her and her husband, it has something to do with a presence from the beyond. In her search for the truth, she discovers some things about the history of her house that help explain what is currently happening, but are horrifying as well. Now Melissa is forced to make a choice: what exactly is she willing to give up for the man she loves?

The Banishing reminded me a lot of classics in the horror genre, like The Exorcist and Poltergeist, and it also has a lot of simmilarities with Paranormal Activity, a more recently released scary movie. Granted, the idea of a man being haunted/posessed by an evil ghost or demon isn’t all that original. A house in which the owners over the years all end up in the same pattern, that’s been done before as well. What makes The Banishing such a thrilling and exciting read however, is the way Fiona Dodwell handles her scary story, the way she builds up the tension, and how she makes her characters seem both admirable and loathesome at once and manages to turn them into realistic people with their own fears and emotions. We don’t get thrown right into one big mess of scary, but the volume of frightening things we are encountering, increases gradually, building up the fear slowly but most definately. Horror the way it should be, and I had a marvellous time reading.

Melissa is a very complex character. She is loving and caring towards the people she loves, and she has a profound love for her husband that doesn’t dissapear, no matter how many times he hits her, or how ridiculous he behaves. She keeps holding on to the memories of the life they shared before, and draws her strength from the fact she wants her husband back. Although I personally was rather fond of the idea of Melissa leaving her abusive husband, and although she herself knew it was the best decision logically-speaking, she had an instinct that this wasn’t entirely her husbands fault. Melissa’s strength and courage shows when she decides she would rather follow her feelings and instinct, than do what everyone tells her to do, namely leave Mark. I really liked Melissa’s personality, her determination to set things right, and her courage when facing the evil things that are hidden in her very own home. Although, I have question marks with her choices towards the end – I don’t know if I could have gone with that myself – but more about that later.

We don’t get to see a lot of the other character’s personality. We see one side of Mark, namely the abusive, twisted, disturbed and mentally unstable side. We see him talking to dark spirits, doing whatever he can to pain his wife, but it isn’t really him. When taken away from their little house of horrors, he changes, although only a little. I loved that when he took Melissa on a date, he seemed like a different man already, if only slightly. The rest of his personality, the normal, non-abusive, non-insane side, the reader can only gather from Melissa’s trips down memory lane, in which she recalls the loving and caring man he used to be. This left me with a double feeling towards Mark: on the one hand, I hated the guy, especially when he tried to hurt Melissa once again, and I was raging at her not to put up with his crap. On the other hand, I understood that the things that happened weren’t his fault, and I somehow felt sympathetic towards him for being mistreated and practically abused himself by the creature inhabiting their home. I love it when characters give me mixed feelings – that often means they have a certain depth to their personality – and I was very impressed by the way author Fiona Dodwell managed to make me feel about ‘bad guy’ Mark, both angry and sympathetic.

As I already mentioned, the tension builds slowly and gradually, which is always a bonus. It has no use bombarding your readers with one-hundred ghosts or ghastly occurances at once. Fiona Dodwell takes things slowly, and by doing so she managed to make me genuinely scared. Considering I’m not easily scared – although I must admit ghosts do manage to frighten me more often than any other supernatural creature – this is a considerable accomplishment. I also enjoyed the general atmosphere of the novel. The tension, the fear, it didn’t stop when Melissa left the house and went to work. It kept on going for the entire novel, from page one till the very end, and it was both nerve-wrecking and thrilling. Event after event unfolded, the secrets were slowly exposed, and I found myself neglecting my own promise to myself (to only read one chapter, then stdy a bit, then read another chapter). I had to finish this one in one single reading session – that’s how good it is.

Without trying to spoil anything, I must say that Fiona Dodwell adds one giant twist to the end of the story, that is both highly fascinating, and unmistakebly disturbing. I had mixed feelings about the choice Melissa makes at the end. On the one hand, I can understand why she made the choice. On the other hand, I find it rather cowardly, and not totally like the character I got to know. It did leave me wondering for a long while after reading this novel, whether or not I myself would have been able to make such a choice. I guess we’ll never know (unless I end up living in a house inhabited by ghost-like figures and my husband turns out to be possessed….but lets hope that doesn’t happen anytime soon!) but the fact that Melissa was able to make that particular choice, casts a spotlight on what humans are capable of when they venture into the darkest corners of their mind. We are, in essence, egocentric and egotistic creatures, but that some of us are able to make such choices, only proves that the real darkness, the real demons of the world, are hidden within our own minds, and in the things we are capable of when we choose to. The ending was nothing short but brilliant.

If I had to mention one thing I wasn’t all that fond of while reading The Banishing, it would be the relationship between Melissa and her psychiatrist Josh. I get the fact that she’s looking for a way out, and that every form of affection is welcome by now, especially considering the fact how she is treated by her own husband. What I don’t get, is Josh’s behavior. He’s supposed to be the profesional, the psychiatrist, not some twenty-something boy who instantly crushes on his new patient, albeit it’s obvious she has some serious trouble with her abusive husband, and looks more like a corpse than an actual human. I had a hard time believing the attraction between these two characters, and the fact that Josh would be willing to put his career in jeapordy simply to have an affair with a married woman.

The Banishing tells a dark and twisted tale, that will probably reminds its readers of the classics in the horror genre, back when horror was actually still scary and everyone could be possessed by a demon or every house in the neighborhood could be inhabited by vengeful spirits from the beyond. The cast of characters Fiona Dodwell introduces us to, is varied and interesting. The tension builds up slowly and gradually, but it never fails for one single moment during the entire reading experience. The written is excellent, the storyline full of unexpected twists and turns. The ending is nothing if not brilliant, and it will leave you thinking about this novel for a long time after reading it. If you enjoy horror, especially the classic horror involving ghosts and demons, then The Banishing is an excellent choice.

Author Interview: Kris Sedersten

The Book

9976979Title: Mojo
Author: Kris Sedersten
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Supernatural, Horror
Review copy provided by the author. Visit the author’s website.
Read my review for Mojo.

When Scottie Brown, a New Orleans college student, is aggressively haunted by vivid nightmares and daytime apparitions, he begins a search for answers; unwittingly putting himself and those closest to him in a confrontation with evil. To defeat the energy that torments him, he recruits a team of paranormal investigators, friends from high school, and a psychic medium. Together, they pursue the ghosts of Scottie’s ancestors in a haunted plantation deep in the Louisiana countryside. They uncover dark family secrets and the spiritual energy of a malevolent patriarch who projects an unholy prophecy that has deadly consequenes for all mankind. The power of an elusive mojo amulet becomes central to fighting Scottie’s demons as the journey through the haunted mansion, filled with twists and turns, takes on a life of its own against time. Mojo is a fast-paced paranormal mystery-thriller. Edgy and fun, this book will show the reader how having faith in a power greater than ourselves will lift us through even the most unforseeable obstacles in life.

Author Interview

1) Hello Kris! I really enjoyed reading your novel Mojo. I’ve heard that you’ve written one other novel prior to writing Mojo. Can you tell us something about that novel?

I wrote my first novel, The Spirit Seekers, in 2008. It is the story of Scottie Brown’s first encounter with the paranormal; a prequel to Mojo. It was sort of a goof and I put the story together without ever intending to publish it. But, one thing led to another and I did decide to publish. The Spirit Seekers is a good story but the text is pretty rough and it I now believe I published it too soon. I did not work with an editor then and the manuscript could have used more editing and rewriting throughout. Through the experience of writing that first novel I realized how much I love to write and I decided to take the whole process much more seriously. Over the past three years I have worked toward improving my writing skills and developing a creative style while learning everything I can about the publishing business. I am now working with an editor who constantly challenges me and I think that was a good step for me.

2) Mojo is all about ghosts, haunted mansions, ancient family secrets, devil worshipping, and other scary things that go bump in the night. Why did you choose to write a horror novel, and why focus on these subjects?

I’ve always loved horror stories and I have a passion for the paranormal so I can’t even imagine writing about anything else. Much of the paranormal fiction today focuses on vampires and werewolves. There aren’t too many good old fashioned ghost stories out there and I wanted to write something original that would appeal to those who appreciate a good scare.

3) Now, I really have to ask this question because it’s been haunting me ever since I read Mojo, and fell in love with the description of the haunted mansion that plays a large part in the novel. Is the Bennet family mansion based on an actual house, or just a result of your imagination?

It isn’t based on one specific house but it is a combination of “haunted houses” I have explored at one time or another. Much of the “mojo” in the mansion is how I imagine a haunted southern plantation would look like and feel to a visitor.

4.) What was your favorite scary movie/book/story back when you were a child?

I always love watching The Wizard Of OZ as a child. My sister and I would cuddle together and watch the movie. Then, we’d be too afraid to go to bed. Our Dad would get so disgusted with us! There was a soap opera called Dark Shadows that came on every afternoon when I was in grade school. The main characters were vampires, witches, ghosts, and any combination of paranormal creations. We loved that show too.

5) To stay in the spirit of ghosts, haunting, and other scary things: have you ever seen a ghost? Or just had the feeling that a place was haunted?

I am the founder of Synergy Paranormal Investigations. We are a new group of paranormal investigators from central Nebraska. I have been in places that I absolutely believe are haunted locations but I have never seen a ghost—so far! It’s on my list though! I have experienced “cold spots”, electrical appliances turning on by themselves, and other unexplained phenomena that help to inspire my writing and motivate me! Exploring the unexplained is so fun!

6) Are you currently working on another novel? If so, can you tell us something about it?

I am in the process of rewriting The Spirit Seekers. As I mentioned earlier, it is a good story but it needed some work. I decided to polish the story and later this year I will publish it under the title, Lost Mojo. It is in the editing process at this time. I am also working on the third installment of the Mojo series. The first draft of that story is finished, now comes the tedious task of tweaking the craftsmanship, deciding what to leave in and what to take out! I plan to publish a non-fiction collection of ghost stories I am compiling from my website, the case files of Synergy Paranormal Investigations, and stories from other teams in the area who are willing to share their experiences.

So, yeah, I am crazy busy! I want to thank you so much for inviting me to join you. I’d love to hear from anyone who has read Mojo. All comments are appreciated. Mojo is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. (also in Kindle version) Please feel free to visit my website <a href=””></a> and leave a comment or share a story.

Thank you so much for the interview, Kris!

The Author

Kris Sedersten is a Registered Nurse with a degree in Human and Social Service Administration. She has held credentialing in both Gerontological and Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing. She is currently employed as a Nursing Home Administrator and RN Consultant in her home town of Harvard NE. where she lives with her husband, Paul and their mini-doxies, Chloe and Bailey.
Kris has three adult daughters, Lyndsi, Ashley, and Sara who continually enlighten her with their inspiration and unconditional love. Her eight grandchildren bring delight and imagination to the empty nest whenever possible to remind her that the world is always more fun when viewed with childlike wonder.
Kris has a passion for the paranormal, writing fiction, and sharing her faith in innovative forums so combining the three has led to a series of books she is working on. If you’ve got Mojo; look for upcoming releases in 2011. . Visit her website.

Book Review: Mojo by Kris Sedersten

9976979Title: Mojo
Author: Kris Sedersten
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Supernatural, Horror
Review copy provided by the author. Visit the author’s website.
Rating: 4 stars

When Scottie Brown, a New Orleans college student, is aggressively haunted by vivid nightmares and daytime apparitions, he begins a search for answers; unwittingly putting himself and those closest to him in a confrontation with evil. To defeat the energy that torments him, he recruits a team of paranormal investigators, friends from high school, and a psychic medium. Together, they pursue the ghosts of Scottie’s ancestors in a haunted plantation deep in the Louisiana countryside. They uncover dark family secrets and the spiritual energy of a malevolent patriarch who projects an unholy prophecy that has deadly consequenes for all mankind. The power of an elusive mojo amulet becomes central to fighting Scottie’s demons as the journey through the haunted mansion, filled with twists and turns, takes on a life of its own against time. Mojo is a fast-paced paranormal mystery-thriller. Edgy and fun, this book will show the reader how having faith in a power greater than ourselves will lift us through even the most unforseeable obstacles in life.

Scottie Brown is haunted by scary apparitions that would manage to scare even Buffy, The Vampire Slayer. It starts with Scottie having nightmares about an event that happened several years ago, but scarred him for life. But then, the nightmares start to follow him in his real life as well. Creepy visions through a mirror, his own truck turning against him, and a half-rotten but still walking corpse trying to kill him; that’s only the beginning of Scottie’s problems. When his girlfriend starts seeing strange things as well, he realises he’s not going insane, but is instead being tormented by real, actual ghosts and apparitions. As he recruits his best friend, and some of his old friends from back in high school to track down whatever it is that’s making Scottie’s life a living hell, he realises he needs all the help that he can get. Because whatever it is that’s haunting him, it has something to do with his heritage, as being the heir of the Bennet legacy. The latter, unfortunately for Scottie, were rather notorious for their ventures to the dark side, satanic rituals and human sacrifices. Like that’s not enough, his grandfather thought of a way to become immortal, and is determined to go through with his plans, even after death. Reluctantly, Scottie is forced to go back to his family’s old mansion, and destroy the root of all this evil once and for all.

I thought Mojo was an enjoyable read. The story is very fast-paced, and it literally pulls you in, like when two giant hands would suddenly appear from the book, grab you by the collar, and actually pull you into the pages – that kind of pulling. I felt like I was in the middle of the action from moment one, and was still in the middle of the action by the end of the novel. The storyline is fresh, original and very rich, it actually covers a lot of ground as it dives into old-world-voodoo-practices, ghosts and apparitions, hauned trucks, century-old family secrets, satanic rituals, devil worship, and the fact that some evil things just won’t stay dead. But there’s more. Kris Sedersten actually puts down a very accurate description of ghost hunters, as she brings Scottie and his friends to the devil’s lair and lets them go ghost hunting. It reminded me a lot of those ghost hunting tapes that were popular back in the 90’s, in which groups of friends entered ‘haunted mansions’ and tried to record ghostly noises, apparitions and those light-bulb-thingies, or orbs. Since it has been one of my aspirations to go ghost hunting one day, ever since I was like thirteen years old, this book brought back some nostalgic moments. Nostalgia = always a bonus.

Unfortunately, the main character of Mojo, Scottie Brown, and I have a lot of differences in opinion. I just didn’t like him, and this reached a climax when he voiced his opinion about Mojo towards the end of the novel. When I read that, I was solemly wishing that the ghosts of all his ancestors would come back from the dead, all attack him at once and shred him to pieces. Or do something else, as long as it was  very bloody. I just had the feeling that Scottie was a childish, immature and egocentric young man, although I must admit he often thought about others as well – but I just couldn’t shake this opinion away. It’s like he doesn’t even realise how lucky he is, especially not when a great group of friends comes to rescue him from the forces of darkness, he just takes it all for granted. I must admit that Scottie goes through a lot of character development throughout this novel, and he comes out at the other end as a changed man, a person I could easily endure. So I’m faintly suspicious that it was the author’s goal to initially portray him as some sort of selfish person, and then put his entire experience on him, which would change him forever. That said, the growth and character development Scottie goes through, is one of the most impressive examples of character building I have seen in quite a while. The Scottie we see at the beginning and at the end of the novel, are practically two different people. But the change is slowly, gradually, and as a reader you get to see it quite well through the pages of Mojo. Impressive.

I also enjoyed the fact that Mojo really is a prime example of all the things Team Spirit can accomplish. Scottie and his friends all have very distinct qualities and personalities, but together, they form a practically unbeatable team. And it’s only through their combined efforts that they can stand a chance at defeating the evil that lurks in the darkness of Scottie’s ancestor’s mansion. Talking about that mansion…I loved it. I loved everything about it, from the faintly lit bedrooms, to the architectural descriptions, to the ghosts that haunted it. The way Kris Sedersten described that mansion, it was like I could really see it in front of me, more even, like I could really walk up to it, open the front door and start exploring. This reminded me a lot of the novel The Witching Hour by Anne Rice, in which the author goes through great lengths to describe the house of the Mayfair family. That novel left me with the exact same feeling, like I could just walk out on the street, and there would that house be, right in front of me, and as real as possible. This might have something to do with the fact that I just love old houses, especially old and abandoned houses, as well, but I would like to give all the credit to the author for making the house actually come to live.

There were some parts I didn’t like as well. For instance, the dialogue wasn’t in plain English all the time, but sometimes it was more like one would actually speak the words than when one would write them. I can’t really explain this properly, but it made the novel a bit more complicated for me to read, as a foreigner, and at first, it actually distracted me from the dialogue a bit. But I got used to it after a few chapters, and then it started to make sense in my head, as well. The dialogue wasn’t always that great, though, and sometimes the characters seemed a bit too young or a bit too old to use certain sentences. But since I enjoyed the story so much, and rushed through the pages to find out what happened in the end, I didn’t mind that much about the dialogue being a little off at times.

The other thing is…I wasn’t all that scared. I would have liked to be genuinely terrfied but I wasn’t. And trust me when I say that usually, all you need to scare me, is a ghost. Or not even a ghost, just an object put on a different place, or a picture falling off the wall, or…Well, you get my drift, and I’m scaring myself as I write this. Well, Mojo does a little too much a little too soon to actually get me in the ‘scared as hell’ modus. For instance, we start with Scottie having a nightmare that still chases him even when he’s awake. Then he gets a visit from a very dead and very rotten apparition, then his own car is behaving weirdly, and eventually he goes to a mansion that is just full of ghosts. I mean, there actually were ghosts everywhere there. Like hundreds of ghosts. And that’s just a bit too much for me to actually be believable. I would have liked it more, had the author taken a slower start – perhaps by entering the nightmares first, then slowly things start happening, like objects being out of place, like weird sounds, etc. – and maybe not go over the top as well, for instance only having a couple of ghosts in the Bennet family mansion. Like maybe just the most prominent ones for the story. I had the feeling that Kris Sedersten wanted her readers to be on a rollercoaster ride of scaryness, but actually forgot to build up the tension by doing so. It’s the little things that scare me when I’m reading a book in the eerie hours of the night, the little things that could actually happen to me, as a reader, as well. Not the big ghost-blast-a-thon.

The character I liked the most in this novel? Mojo. God, I loved Mojo. His childish innocence, his protectiveness over his adoptive parents, the sad story of what happened to him and his mother, and of whom he really is. It made me feel so much for him, and then, well. He didn’t deserve to be treated so badly, and he didn’t deserve everything he had to go through. He seemed so pure, so fragile, so good, kind and friendly, as opposed to all the malice he had witnessed, all the evil that still haunted him, and all the wicked things that had been done to him. It was like the oldest of all contradictions: Mojo, the good, the pure, the innocent vs. The Bennet family, the evil, the hating, the wicked.

Although this novel might not have scared me to death and didn’t give me any sleepless nights, I do have to admit that the whole haunted mansion scene made me feel slightly uncomfortable. And I did enjoy this novel, I certainly did. You know, it might as well just be me. Maybe I’ve grown immune to scary novels because of my occasional ventures into the worlds of Supernatural, The X-Files and various scary movies. Let’s just say it’s me, and that this novel, to the average not-immune person would be frightingly scary as well. Because in all honesty, Mojo has all ingredients you need to make one hell of a frightening story. Hauntings, apparitions, devil worshippers, ancient secrets…Do I really need to say more? Add excellent character development and personalization, a cast of interesting characters, impressive descriptions and a fluent writing style, and you know you’re in for a thrill.

Book Review: Darklands: A Vampire’s Tale by Donna Burgess

9972389Title: Darklands: A Vampire’s Tale
Author: Donna Burgess
Genre: Horror, Supernatural
Rating: 4 stars

Halloween night, twenty years ago, college student Susan Archer watched as her beloved twin brother was brutally murdered at the hands of a stranger she invited into their home. Still haunted by the guilt of that night, Susan is now a tough but bitter cop in a nowhere town, trying as best she can to lead a normal life. When she is nearly killed during a wild shoot-out, she realizes she is not as strong as she first thought.
Fearing a breakdown, she flees the confines of her safe boyfriend and familiar surroundings to find salvation in the arms of “Deathwalker” Devin McCree—the very man who killed her brother.
But things aren’t always what they seem and she quickly realizes Devin was not the monster she originally thought, but a kind of guardian angel instead.
On the run from a crazed Nazi vampire-hunter named Kasper, she and Devin must find a way to endure the dreary urban landscape of a dying metropolis and escape Kasper’s wrath.

Twenty year ago, on the night of Halloween, Susan’s brother Peter got killed. It was an accident – of sorts, but she had to live with the guilt for what happened ever since. The man responsible for her beloved twin’s death, Devin McCree, vanished off the face of the earth. That is, until now. Because now, only two weeks after Susan shot a man to death in cold blood and lost her unborn child in the process, Devin has returned. And he wants her. What dark and evil creatures of the night want, they usually tend to get – and this time is no different. After she is killed and turned into a Deathwalker by Devin, the man whom she trusted, Susan is left with little choice but to leave her old and familiar life, and her partner Michael, behind, and run off to a new future with a man she hardly knows.

But things are not always as they seem, as Susan’s new found freedom might bring her into even greater trouble. Because Devin and his roommate John both have secrets of their own. Dark and dangerous secrets, that might even treaten the lives of Susan and her fellow Deathwalkers. That’s not to mention that her previous partner, Michael, has no intention of just giving up on her. In the mysterious ghosttown of Dunwich, the time is almost near for a final showdown, as the past has finally caught up with Devin, and his previous tormenter is determined to destroy everything the Deathwalker loves. Including Susan.

Darklands: A Vampire’s Tale is a mix of horror, supernatural and more guts and gore than the average slasher movie. Really, I was very surprised to see how graphic and gruesome some scenes were described, and my stomach twisted and turned several times throughout the novel. I can’t say I particularly enjoyed these terrifying scenes – enjoy just isn’t the appropriate word – but I thought they gave an edge of brutality and evil to this story that I haven’t come across in many vampire novels as of late. The thing is that, if you read too many novels in which vampires have a soft side and fall in love with human heroines, you lose track of the fact that they are, by their own nature, vicious and violent creatures capable of murder in the first degree. Some of the Deathwalkers that appear throughout this novel, hold true to these traits, and it’s a refreshing change from the sparkling vampires I’ve seen too often.

I had a little trouble with the personality of the main characters. Susan has a lot of issues, her most important one being that ever since her twin brother’s death, she is uncapable of opening up to anyone, not even her partner. Although she is in a loving and caring relationship, she has no trouble throwing all of that away for a short fling with Devin. Now, whereas there were some personality traits of Susan I didn’t quite relate to, I’m not saying the character wasn’t written well enough. The author portrayed all of her characters with the utmost care, making them feel very human and realistic. It’s just that I probably wouldn’t get along with any of the characters. 😛

At first, I thought of Michael as being the weaker of the two men in Susan’s life. Desperately clinging on to a relationship doomed from the start, a doctor rather than a fighter, I was pretty sure he stood no chance against Devin. But as the story developed, and Michael risked his own life to save Susan in the miserable old town of Dunwich, his personality changed dramatically as he was forced to deal with his own darkness and the possibility that it might already be too late to save his beloved. He became stronger, which was portrayed beautifully in the novel, and the man Susan ran into later on, was not the man she had left behind anymore. That definately earned him some credit. Now Devin, on the other hand…Well, he’s another story.

I wasn’t convinced with Devin from the start. For a vampire, he has some rather unmanly personality traits, and I couldn’t help but think of him as a coward. He has spend more than half of his immortal life on the run from another vampire named Kasper, and not once has he stopped and turned around to actually do something about it. He watched as Kasper killed every single person he ever loved – and still he could do nothing to stop him. Now I know some torturer/victim of torture relationships may be messed up, but this one definately was. Yet, I was still crossing my fingers for Devin to finally face his demons. No such luck though, and I was starting to wonder halfway through the novel why Susan ran off with Devin in the first place. I mean, sure he’s mysterious and got the whole immortal thing working for him, but apart from that? He is a weak, pathetic excuse for a vampire. And not because he refuses to kill another human being except when they really deserve it (read pedo’s, murderers); but mostly because he’s too afraid to face Kasper.

To be honest, I found Kasper’s personality the most interesting one of them all. There is something morbidly fascinating about looking into the mind of a serial killer, an individual who likes torturing others, a creature with no remorse. I also really liked the setting: the town of Dunwich, a ghost town really, nearly abandoned yet inhabited by Deathwalkers, and creatures who didn’t make the full transition. It had me thinking about Silent Hill, a movie and a game I enjoyed thoroughly a couple of years ago. I imagined the town a bit like Silent Hill as well, I have to admit, with this silent, creepy and eerie feeling to it. The flashbacks to the 1940s were interesting as well, especially to discover some more of Devin’s and Kasper’s past. The storyline itself was intense, dark and creepy at all times. What gave me the most goosebumps, were the scenes with Sandra and Michael (I won’t get into detail for the sake of spoiler free reviews!).

Darklands: A Vampire’s Tale is a dark, supernatural horror story, with some greatly disturbing scenes (a must in this genre), and some uniquely-crafted characters. Although Devin annoyed me at times, the other characters were a lot more interesting, the story is fast-paced, intense and gripping, and all in all, it’s a captivating book that will keep you terrified from the start till the end.

Book Review: Dead Man’s Eye by Shaun Jeffrey

9369354Title: Dead Man’s Eye
Author: Shaun Jeffrey
Genre: Horror, Supernatural, Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Review copy provided by the author. Visit the author’s website.

A corneal transplant does more than correct Joanna Raines sight. It allows her to see something that doesn’t want to be seen. Something evil. Something that threatens mankind. The only trouble is that no one believes her, and by the time they do, it might be too late …

Seeing is believing. Now Joanna just has to convince everyone else.

I have to admit that at first, I thought Dead Man’s Eye would be a lot like the scary movie called The Eye with Jessica Alba in the lead role. I liked that movie – didn’t love it to pieces, but that’s sort of difficult when it comes to horror movies anyway – but I did rather enjoy it, and thought it was fairly scary. Now in the movie the girl portrayed by Jessica Alba undergoes a cornea transplant (which basically means she gets a new and shiny pair of eyes) but ever since, she notices things lurking in the shadows. Evil things. She has visions of people dying, etc. In an effort to figure out what the heck is going out, she travels to Mexico to find the person who the cornea first belonged to, where she does a whole lot of things but eventually cannot forsake her destiny. I had a faint suspicion Dead Man’s Eye would be somewhat along this line. There are a lot of similiarities, but there are also some huge differences.

Joanna recently underwent a cornea transplant, and although her life should look a whole lot brighter now (no pun intended); it doesn’t. Because either something went wrong with the transplant or she has gone insane and started seeing things that aren’t there. Like black smoke crawling into a man who just fell under a train, and is now missing an arm due to that freak accident. Concerned that something is wrong with the transplant, Joanna goes to a check-up with her doctor, who convinces her that everything is fine and her cornea is working properly. Meanwhile, she finds out that strange things are happening at the hospital. These strange things are courtesy of Malachi, the demon who chose to inhabit Lincoln, the man who fell under the train. Although Malachi himself isn’t all too happy with his new body (especially with the fact it’s missing an arm, and the previous owner tries to regain control every once in a while), he does use it to summon his brethren. The plan? Well, rule the world, ofcourse. How? By inhabiting dead people’s bodies. Who can stop them? Joanna is the only one who can see the demons, but what can one woman do against an entire army of demons?

I have to state first of all, that I admire people who write novellas. It can’t be easy to develop believable and relatable characters, build a solid world around them, and then craft a storyline as well in less than 40,000 words. Like it takes a certain talent to write captivating short stories, I think it takes a particular gift to write successful novellas as well. Shaun Jeffrey managed to do such a remarkable thing with this mix of horror, thriller and the supernatural. I liked the characters, especially Joanna. She proved herself to be a strong, capable and intelligent woman who isn’t afraid to meet danger head on when needed. Her boyfriend, Stephen, is a remarkable person as well, and although he might not have supported her at first, I think that’s quite the natural reaction when your love interest suddenly tells you half of the people you work with have turned into demons. I also liked the way the author described the demon Malachi and his personality. It was a tad bit dissapointing that the supportive characters were nothing more than names on paper, with no personality whatsoever, but then again it’s normal to focus only the main characters in novels of this size.

The storyline was interesting. I certainly didn’t expect to see demons pop up in this novel, but they did nevertheless. Now the problem I have with demons is quite simple. They don’t scare me. I can’t help it: perhaps I’m immune because of an overdose of Buffy kicking demons action while I was younger, or because the good witches in Charmed always managed to defeat the evil demons, but for some reason as soon as the world “demon” pops up, I’m no longer scared. Same goes for vampires, by the way. I blame the media for enforcing the image of loving and caring demons and cuddly and shiny vampires in our mind. I’m convinced that if the shadows Joanna noticed wouldn’t have been works of a demon, but rather ghosts or something along those lines, I would have been a lot more scared by this story. Although I must admit that somewhere halfway Dead Man’s Eye, when Joanna was being chased by a couple of demons, I did have to surpress a feeling of dread and anxiety. Blame it on Shaun Jeffrey’s marvellous way of describing Joanna’s feelings during this chase.

There was one other thing about this novel that had me totally confused. When Joanna finds out that her cornea lets her see demons, she goes to find the person who has the other part of the cornea. A search which turns out to be totally useless, and made no sense to me in the first place. Personally, I would have gone to search for the reason why I was seeing things I shouldn’t be able to see, and I would try to track down the person the cornea belonged to originally. If that person had some connection with the demon world, it might have helped Joanna fight the demons. I have to admit that we do eventually discover who the cornea belonged to at first, but it’s an answer I find quite random, and it just seems a bit far off to me. The story would have been more interesting to me, had there been a more valid reason why the original owner of the cornea could see demons, and had it focused more on Joanna’s search for the reason why she can see demons all of the sudden. Ofcourse I know that’s a lot to cramp into a novella, especially considering the main character spends half the novel being chased by demons, but it would have added some more suspense to the story.

What I loved the most about Dead Man’s Eye, was the ending, without a doubt. Trust me when I say it ends in a blast, and with a nice twist at the end of an entertaining read. If you want some fun entertainment, or a scary story that isn’t going to give you some sleepless nights, but will instead put you on the edge of your seat during the entire experience, then Dead Man’s Eye is definately your kind of novella.