Book Review: Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

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19874243Title: Broken Monsters

Author: Lauren Beukes

Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Age Group: Adult (18+)

Rating: 3 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Detective Gabriella Versado has seen a lot of bodies, but this one is unique even by Detroit’s standards: half-boy, half-deer, somehow fused. The cops nickname him “Bambi,” but as stranger and more disturbing bodies are discovered, how can the city hold on to a reality that is already tearing at its seams?
If you’re Detective Versado’s over-achieving teenage daughter, Layla, you commence a dangerous flirtation with a potential predator online. If you are the disgraced journalist, Jonno, you do whatever it takes to investigate what may become the most heinous crime story in memory. If you’re Thomas Keen, you’ll do what you can to keep clean, keep your head down, and try to help the broken and possibly visionary artist obsessed with setting loose The Dream, tearing reality, assembling the city anew.

I’m still struggling to review Broken Monsters and it’s been a few days since I finished it. In truth, the book isn’t bad, and if it were up to writing style alone, it deserved more than three stars. Lauren Beukes is an excellent writer, and knows her craft.

However, books are about more than writing style. There’s also plot, and that’s where the book drops the mark. In theory, the plot is great. A murderer connects the upper half of a boy to the lower part of a deer, and that’s only the first murder he commits. The murders grow increasingly more strange, and one of our main charcter, Gabriella Versado, a detective with the Detroit police department, has to solve the case. In theory, it sounds good. There’s also a connection with the art community, and the city of Detroit is described in great detail, giving the book more credibility and causing a better writing experience.

Then the book warps from a murder mystery into a paranormal thriller, with the mention of doors serving as gateways. Now I’m the first person to admit I love police procedurals that morph into paranormal thrillers, but here it just totally unraveled the plot. No longer were we hunting for the killer, we were trapped in a paranormal nightmare that read more like a bad acid trip. Instead of enhancing the plot, the paranormal aspect weakened it, and the murders suddenly lost most of their importance.

Then there’s the characters. Gabriella is all right. She’s your stereotypical struggling working mom who also happens to be a detective, divorced and unable to have a healthy love relationship with anyone except her daughter. Said daughter, Layla, a teenager, gets a POV too and turns out to be a major part of the plot. Next up is TK, a homeless man who we don’t really learn all that much about, and Jonno a struggling author turned film maker who is a despicable human being and does everything to become famous, even if it means not giving vital evidence to the police. Each of those characters also seemed to have a subplot going on, and that took a lot of the focus away from the main plot. I don’t mind a few subplots, but we just got too much of those here. The many characters made it hard to connect to one. I could connect with Gabriella somewhat, and if the whole book had been from her POV, I probably would’ve liked it more.

If you like paranormal thrillers or just plain strange murder mysteries, I’d recommend to give this one a shot. It’s not bad, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea either.

 
 

Mini-Reviews: A Place for Sinners, Must Love Ghosts, The Doll Collection

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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: A Place for Sinners

Author: Aaron Dries

Genre: Horror

Rating: 3 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Sometimes, survival is a sin.

Amity Collins has been deaf since she was seven. That was the day the wild dogs attacked, fighting for her bones. The day her father died. This trip to Thailand is exactly what Amity and her brother, Caleb, need—freedom.

As their boat slits through saltwater, Amity, Caleb and the other passengers are having the time of their lives. They watch the island emerge on the horizon. Its trees twitch, as though impatient or hungry. Within its shadows, secrets best kept hidden will be unearthed. Sacrifices will be made. Terror will reach out to grasp Amity, as real and frightening as what’s lurking in the dark.

A perfect example of a book that starts out strong but ends on a bit of a sour note. The first part was magnificent, and I felt like I was in Thailand too, along with the main characters. However, the second part of the book, while disturbing and holding a lot of potential, fell a little flat because it was TOO complex. Some of the twists and character reveals made little to no sense either. I don’t mind a little complexity but it needs to stay within the realms of the possible.

Title: Must Love Ghosts

Author: Jennifer Savalli

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Ghosts

Rating: 3 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Haunted? Call 1-800-GHOST-HUNK.

Tia McGarry believes love is nothing more than a biochemical cocktail, and she’ll have the research to prove it—as soon as she and her calm, stable, almost-fiancé land a research grant.

Her biggest mistake, bad boy ex-boyfriend Dec Mancini, is firmly in her past. But when the ghost of her long-dead great-uncle moves into her living room, Dec is the only paranormal investigator with the skills to get rid of him.

Dec is used to scorn and ridicule, but he never quite got over Tia’s refusal to believe. With irrefutable proof that ghosts exist manifesting in her house, he can finally earn respect for his profession—and maybe find common ground for himself and Tia to rebuild on.

Tia can’t deny their crazy, chaotic chemistry is strong as ever, but as the ghost’s pranks threaten to put her grant out of reach, she must decide which is the greater risk: letting a ghost jeopardize her career, or falling in love with the man who could destroy her safe, stable life.

Tia doesn’t believe in ghosts, but when her dead uncle shows up, she might be forced to change her opinion. And when on top of that her ex-boyfriend, a paranormal investigator, makes a reapparance in her life and it seems like things are about to turn hot and heavy between them again, she’s in for a fun and quirky adventure. Despite that, the plot is pretty basic and the characters are a little flat too. Not a bad read,but not that great either.

Title: The Doll Collection

Author: Ellen Datlow (Editor)

Genre: Horror, Short Stories, Anthologies

Rating: 3 stars

Purchase: Amazon

The Doll Collection is exactly what it sounds like: a treasured toy box of all-original dark stories about dolls of all types, including everything from puppets and poppets to mannequins and baby dolls. Featuring everything from life-sized clockwork dolls to all-too-human Betsy Wetsy-type baby dolls, these stories play into the true creepiness of the doll trope, but avoid the clichés that often show up in stories of this type.Master anthologist Ellen Datlow has assembled a list of beautiful and terrifying stories from bestselling and critically acclaimed authors such as Joyce Carol Oates, Seanan McGuire, Carrie Vaughn, Pat Cadigan, Tim Lebbon, Richard Kadrey, Genevieve Valentine, and Jeffrey Ford. The collection is illustrated with photographs of dolls taken by Datlow and other devoted doll collectors from the science fiction and fantasy field. The result is a star-studded collection exploring one of the most primal fears of readers of dark fiction everywhere, and one that every reader will want to add to their own collection.
At the publisher’s request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied

Dolls are creepy. Enough said. Now, in this collection, which packs a bunch of the most original stories I’ve ever read in the genre, the authors explore the trope of creepy dolls. A range of haunted dolls, mad doll owners, creepy doctors and ventriloquists pass by, and each story is unique and strong in its own way. One of the best horror anthologies I’ve read.

Book Review: Suspended in Dusk by Simon Dewar

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23204395Title: Suspended in Dusk

Author: Simon Dewar (Editor)

Genre: Horror, Anthology, Dark Fiction

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

DUSK
A time between times.
A whore hides something monstrous and finds something special.
A homeless man discovers the razor blade inside the apple.
Unlikely love is found in the strangest of places.
Secrets and dreams are kept… forever.
Or was it all just a trick of the light?
Suspended in Dusk brings together 19 stories by some of the finest minds in Dark Fiction:
Ramsey Campbell, John Everson, Rayne Hall, Shane McKenzie, Angela Slatter, Alan Baxter, S.G Larner, Wendy Hammer, Sarah Read, Karen Runge, Toby Bennett, Benjamin Knox, Brett Rex Bruton, Icy Sedgwick, Tom Dullemond, Armand Rosamilia, Chris Limb, Anna Reith, J.C. Michael.
Introduction by Bram Stoker Award Winner and World Horror Convention Grand Master, Jack Ketchum.

Suspended in Dusk is a quality anthology of dark fiction and horror stories, all of them centered around dusk. The anthology hides some gems and some mediocre stories, and they strike a good balance.

“Shadows of the Lonely Dead” starts off the collection, a story about a woman who takes in the death of all the people around her and the elderly she takes care off. An intriguing concept, and the other develops it nicely, although it packs a little much for a short story, especially with the storyline of the boyfriend thrown in. 4 stars.

The next story, “Taming the Stars” focused on two protagonists, Michele and Esther, and it had some twists I did not see coming. I found Esther especially intriguing. This was one of my favorite stories of the anthology.  4 stars.

“At Dusk They Come” was another favorite. Strange creatures appear at dusk, and leave a man with a terrifying choice. Some cool twists, and although I figured out most of them before they happened, it was still entertaining. 4 stars.

“A Woman of Disrepute” had a Jack the Ripper-like feel to it mixed with some Dorian Gray since it also focused on artists and painters. An interesting story, but not on of my favorites. It wasn’t really as creepy as I’d hoped. 3 stars.

Next up, “Burning”. I wasn’t sure what to think of that one. It showed the horrible side of humanity, but it didn’t really scare me. 3 stars.

“Ministry of Outrage” was another good one, an original, interesting concept and the execution worked well too. The ending didn’t come as a surprise, though. 4 stars.

I liked “Maid of Bone”. The protagonist was so tragic, and the scenes of her visiting the graveyard were haunting and atmospheric.  4 stars.

“Shades of Memory” wasn’t a favorite of mine. I didn’t mind the concept, which was good overall, as was the setting, but the protagonist bothered me and his choice at the end just wasn’t believable to me. 2,5 stars

“Reasons to Kill” gave an interesting spin to the whole zombie/vampire lore in a post-apocalyptic world. Loved this one. 5 stars.

“Digging Deep” is one of my favorite premature burying stories I’ve ever read – the author does an amazing job describing the main character’s panic, and the ending was just wow. The writing was excellent, and this was my favorite story from the collection. Stories about premature burials have been attempted by hundreds of authors, but it’s tricky to pull it off in a believable way. 5 stars.

“Outside In”. I didn’t like this one. I didn’t finish reading it either, the whole mixed up order of chapters confused me and I couldn’t connect to any of the characters. DNF.

“Hope is Here”. Loved this concept, unfortunately I saw the ending coming from miles away, and I kept on wondering how Many would be involved. A little dissapointing that she wasn’t then. 3 stars.

“Would to God That We Were There”. A story set in outerspace is always interesting, and I felt the protagonist’s fear and insanity seeping through the pages. 3,5 stars.

“Negatives”. I want to see this one as a book. I loved it, an amazing story about twin sisters and an abandoned theme park. I’d love to visit an abandoned theme parks, and this made me only slightly scared to visit one, hehe. 5 stars.

“Fit Camp”, also known as “Fat Camp” and the scary things that happen there. An entertaining story but not genuinely scary. 3 stars.

“Quarter Turn to Dawn” was an all right story, but I struggled to get into it. 2 stars.

“A Keeper of Secrets” was another winner for me. I liked the concept of a keeper of secrets stuck on attic. The ending was thrilling and horrifying at the same time. 5 stars.

“Spirits Having Flown”. This book deserves to be a full-length novel too. A good concept, well-executed, and great writing. 4 stars.

“The Way of All Flesh” had an interesting spin. Didn’t expect that one. 4 stars.

So all in all, I enjoyed most of the stories in this collection, some of them were amazing. I’ll definitely be on the look out for more anthologies put together by this editor.

 

Book Review: We Are Monsters by Brian Kirk

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25327397Title: We Are Monsters

Author: Brian Kirk

Genre: Horror

Age Group: Adult (18+)

Rating: 3 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Apocalypse has come to the Sugar Hill mental asylum.
He’s the hospital’s newest, and most notorious, patient—a paranoid schizophrenic who sees humanity’s dark side.
Luckily he’s in good hands. Dr. Eli Alpert has a talent for healing tortured souls. And his protégé is working on a cure for schizophrenia, a drug that returns patients to their former selves. But unforeseen side effects are starting to emerge. Forcing prior traumas to the surface. Setting inner demons free.
Monsters have been unleashed inside the Sugar Hill mental asylum. They don’t have fangs or claws. They look just like you or me.

In We Are Monsters, psychologist Alex spent a great deal of time working on a cure for schizophrenia. The medicine seems to working, but only for a while, and then the patient gets worse. Alex is determined to make the formula a succes, though, even if that means going behind the back of Dr. Eli Alpert, the chief psychologist of the psychiatric hospital they both work in. When a new patient arrives, a violent criminal who killed several people because voices in his mind told him to, one of Alex’s co-workers persuades him to use the formula on this man, nicknamed The Apocalypse Killer, but then things start going wrong, and Alex finds out his formula might be a lot more dangerous than he ever thought possible.

The book isn’t bad, and the concept is actually pretty original, about a formula going wrong. The setting of the mental asylum, Sugar Hill, works well too, and I enjoyed reading about how the doctors had to deal with a streak of madness too, and what that did to them. However, I didn’t enjoy the characters that much. They all seemed, with the exception of Eli, rather egotistical, and not the right people fit to take care of the mentally ill. Especially Alex only had his own concerns at heart.

The first part of the book is a little slow-paced, but the pacing picked up in the middle when all hell brooke loss. The author did an admirable job with the descriptions of the characters and scenes. Some of the conversations dwindled on for too long now, and I couldn’t relate to most of the characters. Eli was the only one I could somewhat relate to, and even then, he seemed too honorable to be real, like he was a perfect male version of a Mary Sue whereas all the other characters had way too many flaws.

Book Review: Little Girls by Ronald Malfi

22891406Title: Little Girls

Author: Ronald Malfi

Genre: Horror, Suspense, Ghosts

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 5 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

From Bram Stoker Award nominee Ronald Malfi comes a brilliantly chilling novel of childhood revisited, memories resurrected, and fears reborn…When Laurie was a little girl, she was forbidden to enter the room at the top of the stairs. It was one of many rules imposed by her cold, distant father. Now, in a final act of desperation, her father has exorcised his demons. But when Laurie returns to claim the estate with her husband and ten-year-old daughter, it’s as if the past refuses to die. She feels it lurking in the broken moldings, sees it staring from an empty picture frame, hears it laughing in the moldy greenhouse deep in the woods…
At first, Laurie thinks she’s imagining things. But when she meets her daughter’s new playmate, Abigail, she can’t help but notice her uncanny resemblance to another little girl who used to live next door. Who died next door. With each passing day, Laurie’s uneasiness grows stronger, her thoughts more disturbing. Like her father, is she slowly losing her mind? Or is something truly unspeakable happening to those sweet little girls?

In Little Girls, Laurie moves back to her parental home after her father commits suicide. The old man suffered from dementia for years, and as his estranged daughter, Laurie barely has any emotions toward him passing away. But when she goes back to the place she used to call home, before she and her mom moved out, memories of her childhood start to resurface. She starts questioning her father’s suicide – did he really jump through the window at the top floor of the house, in the belvedere? Was his paranoia during the last few months of his life real? Was something trying to get into the house, as he suspected?

The more time Laurie spends in her old childhood home, the more secrets she uncovers. She starts hearing noises form the belvedere too, like something trying to crawl its way in. On top of that, her daughter Susan’s new playmate, Abigail, bears a striking resemblance to Sadie, a girl Laurie used to be friends with before she changed and became wicked and started scaring Laurie.

While Laurie’s husband Ted isn’t convinced something sinister is going on, it’s up to Laurie to put the pieces of her past back together. Why is Sadie here? To get vengeance? And if so, how can she escape? Are the noises from the belvedere real, or are they all in her mind? Is she going insane, or being haunted by things from the past?

At first glance, this might not sound like the most original horrorr story out there – a man committing suicide, a dead girl from the past, noises in the middle of the night – but trust me, it is. It takes these well-known tropes and completely turns them around, mixing them with a few surprises I never saw coming, and which results in a story that is highly entertaining and scary at the same time. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but if you expect you’re usual ghost story, you might be in for a surprise.

The book focuses on family secrets, on the dark things of our past we’re sometimes too afraid to face. Laurie is a believable character, a woman suffering from the secrets she was forced to hide, who is hurt by her husband’s affair and afraid her daughter might change into a person she barely recognizes. She’s easy to relate to because her fears sound genuine. She’s flawed, questions her sanity, and doesn’t always do the right thing for her family, but she tries. God, she tries so hard. You have to give her credit for that. Rather than just telling a ghost story, a lot of the creepiness of the book comes from Laurie’s past, from the dark side of human nature, and as such it works remarkably well.

The ending…God, the ending. It’s magnificent in its simplicity. I had to reread it because the punch was given so swift my mind couldn’t wrap around it. A fitting ending for this book, delightful and creepy.

I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys haunted-house books, who likes a slow build up and who doesn’t mind getting scared. Because this book genuinely scared me, and that’s not an easy feat.

Book Review: Within by Keith Deininger

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25486840Title: Within

Author: Keith Deininger

Genre: Horror, Dark Fiction

Age Group: Adult (18+)

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Something’s wrong in the eclectic mountain town of Mesa Rapids. Something’s always been wrong. Sometimes its citizens behave in strange ways—sometimes to the point of violence…

When the wealthy and enigmatic art collector Harold Klimt moves into the long dilapidated house known as the Upshaw Mansion, most don’t think twice about it. But when Mr. Klimt begins to throw lavish parties for the town’s elite, Colin Thorne—a young, aspiring artist still grieving over the recent death of his childhood friend—sneaks inside the house to explore, suspicious something’s wrong.

What he finds are the buried secrets of a town with a troubled history and something else…a plane of horror so vast that it threatens to alter reality.

Soon after that, Mr. Klimt offers Colin a job—painting a mural in the basement of the Upshaw Mansion. As Colin becomes more and more obsessed with the dark vision he is creating, the horror begins to bubble to the surface of not only his psyche, but the entire town.

If there was ever a book that deserved to be called a mash-up between Salem’s Lot and The Shining (two of the finest horror books out there, if you ask me), then it would be Within. The book mixes a haunted house trope with the haunted town trope, and it has the same creepy atmosphere of both aforementioned books. Keith Deininger successfully mixes reality with nightmare in a bizarre, twisted book that will haunt you long after.

Mesa Rapids is no ordinary town. THe inhabitants have always known, but things got way worse after the wealthy art collector Harold Klimt moves into the Upshaw Mansion, a house that stayed without occupants for far longer than is normal. When Klimt starts throwing ravish parties in the style of The Great Gatsby. Just like Gatsby, Klimt is a mysterious figure, but he’s of a far more sinister kind.

Colin Thorne is a young, aspiring artist who Klimt offers a job: to paint a mural in the basement of the Upshaw Mansion. But as Colin grows more and more obsessed with the painting, the horror that envelops his psyche transcends into the town.

The author does an admirable job painting the characters. Even Klimt feels like a real person rathe than a character in a book. The town itself is so real it feels like a character too, and its descend into madness is beautifully depicted.

However, the book leaves a lot of questions unanswered and whereas I don’t mind an open ending in horror books, I do like my books to have at least some kind of closure on the most important topics, which was lacking here. Too many issues remained unresolved.

Despite that though, the book delivers a haunting tale of madness and nightmares, which I’d recommend for fans of atmospheric horror.

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

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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.

Book Review: Shadowshift by Peter Giglio

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25331467Title: Shadowshift

Author: Peter Giglio

Genre: Thrillers, Supernatural Thrillers

Age Group: Adult (18+)

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Chet is a shape-shifter who uses his abilities to burglarize homes…
Hannah is a young girl with strange influences over inanimate objects…
Father and daughter, these supernatural misfits are bound by blood, their unfolding stories separated by time. While Chet follows a grim path, Hannah stands on the fragile precipice of hope: her mother’s faltering happiness with a kind man…the chance at a new family and a stable household…and the promise of freedom from the shadows cast by her father’s misdeeds.
But past and present are ready to collide, ushering hell home.

In Shadowshift, an unsavory figure drops off a child in the home of a couple who are forced to pretend the child is their son. This prologue immediately conjures up several questions. Fast-forward several years to Chet, a cashier who spends his nights robbing hopes by transforming into a cockroach. He has a family, a wife who he likes to beat around and a daughter who suffers a lot from her father abusing her mother.

Hannah, aforementioned daughter, figured out her uncanny abaility to influence inanimate objects some time ago. When she discovers her father has similar powers, she realizes all the signs point toward her following in his footsteps. But that is the last thing Hannah wants to do…

Let me start straight out by saying this book isn’t scary. Not at all. However, it does manage to give the reader an eerie sense of foreboding throughout, and despite Chet not being all that terrifying when reading about him, I’m sure I’d be terrified if I saw him in real life.

The premise, of beings who can shift into other creatures, isn’t all that original, but the way it’s executed here is intriuging enough not to worry about originality. Instantly, the reader feels a connection to most of the characters, including Chet. Despite him being a wicked person and not having much respect for his wife, he does feel some kind of love for his daughter, which humanizes him.

It’s a compelling read and the author has an impressive talent for storytelling.

 

Book Review: Nightmare in Greasepaint by L.L. Soares and G. Daniel Gunn

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25396943Title: Nightmare in Greasepaint

Author: L.L. Soares and G. Daniel Gunn

Genre: Horror, Novella

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 3 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Some family legacies are best left buried.
Will Pallasso has brought his wife and young son, Billy, back to his childhood home to settle his late mother’s affairs…and remove all traces of his haunted past. But now hideous memories are coming back to Will, and Billy has started suffering from night terrors. Returning to this house was a big mistake. Some memories should not be disturbed, and some nightmares will not stay buried forever.
Especially nightmares that wear greasepaint spattered with blood.

In honor of Terror Thursday, a new feature on my blog, in which I review a scary book or movie on Thursday (the name is pretty self-explenatory), I present to you the first horror book that’ll be reviewed as part of this new feature: Nightmare in Greasepaint.

Nightmare in Greasepaint is a classic horror story that transports the reader back to their childhood, and matching childhood feares. Will’s mother, Lucy, passes away and he, his wife and teir young son, Billy, travel to his mother’s estate to sort out her affairs and possibly sell the house. For Will, the moment he sets foot inside the house, he’s transported back to his past, and the more time he spends in there, the more he starts to remember things he would’ve preferred to forget. Especially the basement seems to call for him, and hosts a buried secret from his childhood that could destroy him, and his family.

The book starts out well, and takes some time to build suspense and tension, and to set the mood. The story isn’t half bad either, not the most original horror book I’ve read, but it certainly has some original, refreshing elements. However, the book has two major flaws: the ending is flat and unbelievable (well, I don’t mind if it’s over the top in a horror book, and I certainly don’t expect a story that falls within the realm of normal possibilities, but this just wasn’t consistent with everything that happened beforehand) and way too rushed, and the characters are hard to connect to. They’re not real people, especially Will, who is supposed to be our main character. There’s some head-hopping, and I’m not sure if that’s the cause for that, but it certainly didn’t help either.

An okay horror book, not really scary but it does have a fun story and it’s a quick read.

Book Review: The Family Tree by John Everson

23116267Title: The Family Tree

Author: John Everson

Genre: Horror

Age Group: Adult (18+)

Rating: 3,5 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Its roots are old…and twisted! The blood of the tree is its sap. It has sustained Scott Belvedere’s family for generations. It’s the secret ingredient behind the family’s intoxicating ale and bourbon, among other elixirs. But only when Scott inherits The Family Tree Inn, deep in the hills of Virginia, does he learn anything about his family, its symbiotic history, or the mammoth, ancient tree around which the inn is literally built. And after he stumbles upon the bony secrets hidden in its roots, while in the welcoming arms of the innkeeper’s daughter, he realizes that not only is blood thicker than water-it’s the only thing that might save him from the hideous fate of his ancestors…

The Family Tree is a rather unique horror story set in The Family Tree Inn, an inn that has been in Scott Belvedere’s family for ages but that he’s only recently inherited. So far the story sounds pretty familiar, but then it introduces a few enticing twists: the sap of the tree, its blood, is the secret ingredient behind his family’s ale, and it has more side effects than Scott has knowledge of. He moves to the inn to find out more about his heritage and to learn about his family, but he never suspected to end up knee-deep into a nightmare. As he discovers one secret after another, and he gets the feeling something isn’t quite right about the inn, he stumbles upon a horrifying truth that might cost him his life.

Let’s start with the good. The author includes several erotic scenes in the book, but they make sense – they’re there for a reason, it’s not just sex just for the sake of adding in sex. The characters are real, and they each have their own quirks and personality, however the reader doesn’t connect with them, which is probably a good thing. If anything, the more I got to know the characters, the more alienated I felt from them.

The downside was that I couldn’t relate to Scott either, who is probably the only character one should really relate to while reading this book. That’s the only downside I could find to the book though: the writing is excellent, the pacing is fast, and the story screams originality. Too bad I couldn’t relate to the main character, else I would’ve given this a higher rating.