Book Review: Red Fox (Experiment in Terror #2) by Karina Halle

11710500Title: Red Fox (Experiment in Terror #2)
Author: Karina Halle
Genre: Horror, Supernatural, Thriller
Publisher: Metal Blonde Books
Publication Date: June 13th 2011
Goodreads | Amazon (Paperback) | Amazon (Kindle)
Rating: 4,5 stars

With Book Two of the Experiment in Terror Series, Perry Palomino and Dex Foray trade in the stormy Oregon coast for the unforgiving deserts of New Mexico.
In the for­got­ten town of Red Fox, a Navajo cou­ple is tor­tured by things unseen and by motives unknown. Wild ani­mals slink through their house in the dark, a bar­rage of stones pound their roof nightly, and muti­lated sheep car­casses are turn­ing up on their prop­erty. Armed with a cam­era and just enough to go on, Perry and Dex travel to the des­o­late locale, hop­ing to film the super­nat­ural occur­rences and add cred­i­bil­ity to their flail­ing web­cast. Only their show has a lot more work­ing against them than just grow­ing pains. Tested by dubi­ous ranch hands, a ghost from Dex’s past, and shapeshift­ing decep­tion, the ama­teur ghost hunters must learn to trust each other in order to fight the most ancient of myths…or die trying.

I already wrote a review about the first book in this series, Darkhouse, and went to great lengths to explain to you all how much I truly enjoyed that book. It’s always a bit frightening when a debut book is great and you have the next book the series waiting for you to read it. If it’s worse than the first book, you’re always left with this double feelings as a reader: on the one hand, you still pretty much enjoyed the first book and you’d like to recommend it to people, but on the other hand if the second book didn’t appeal to you quite as much you feel like you’re being a hypocrite if you try to apraise the series to people. However, luckily for me I didn’t have to worry about that with Red Fox. This book totally went above and beyond my expectations, and completely surpassed Darkhouse on all levels.

It took me a while to write this review. I find it difficult to either completely praise a book or completely break down a book – in this case it’s obviously the first. Mixed reviews, in which I have good and bad opinions about a book are surprisingly easier to write. I finished reading Red Fox for the first time approximately a month ago, but after writing my review for Darkhouse and when I sat down to write my review for this book I realized that I couldn’t. The pace of Red Fox is fast, but for my curious mind it apparently wasn’t fast enough, so I skipped paragraphs here and there as to know the outcome of the story, which I always do when books excite me. However, that’s not advisable, and I had to reread Red Fox to give it the review it deserved. It’s a good sign that I skipped through parts to reach the end, because that means I thought the story was really gripping and I desperately wanted to know how it ended – but unfortunately that way you miss out on beautiful descriptions, well-written dialogues and some underlying plot points, all of which I encountered while rereading Red Fox.

In Red Fox, New Mexico, Perry and Dex discover an evil greater and scarier than the one they fought and defeated in Darkhouse. Weird things are happening on the farm of a Navajo couple. Animals are behaving strangely, stones drop down on the house and the inhabitants are getting more and more scared every minute. When Perry and Dex come to their rescue in a desperate attempt to save their TV Show, which was not well received by the producer, things get even more out of control. Now the forces that appeared to be haunting Will and Sarah are after Perry and Dex as well. Battling ghosts or poltergeists is one thing, but fighting skinwalkers? Shamans? That might be too much for even Perry and Dex to handle!

While I think that the story in Red Fox is certainly more original than the one in Darkhouse, that doesn’t necessarily make it better. Don’t get me wrong: the story is great, well-constructed with enough plot twists to keep even Sherlock Holmes occupied, but I liked the story behind Darkhouse as well. Perhaps less original, but it certainly had me surprised and waiting for more. In my opinion, the major pluspoint about Red Fox is that we already knew the characters. Karina Halle had to waste no time introducing us to Dex, Perry and their friends and family, but she could jump right into the action with the reader tagging along. I also liked the way Dex and Perry’s relationship developed. Although they were cute in their interactions in the first book, the attraction between them slowly grows visible as Red Fox progresses. I was skeptic of them as a couple at first since Dex didn’t seem the most trustworthy person in the world as Perry met him in Darkhouse, but the way he evolves and grows from a mysterious, sometimes even cowardly stranger who dissapears when Perry needs him the most into a trustworthy companion is impressive.

This book is not built upon the exquisite story behind it, although that is impressive, original and entertaining to say the least, but it’s based upon the characters, their interactions, their feelings and emotions and their undeniable attraction to one another. Perry and Dex, I officially love you guys. Other noteworthy characters include the skinwalkers (how cool is that?) and the somewhat messed-up dynamics in the relationship between the Navajo couple. Karina Halle really has a talent for sketching believable, interesting characters with as many flaws as qualities and a good mixture of both. Her ability to develop these characters from their starting point and turn them into stronger, independent and intelligent individuals who are coming to terms with who they really are and their real feelings is astonishing. For character development, Karina Halle certainly deserves an A+.

There are, however, some reasons why I chose to rate this book 4,5 rather than 5 stars. For one, I know that Karina Halle has recently finished her next book in the series, Dead Sky Morning, and if what I’m anticipating is true and that book is even better than Red Fox, then I need to be able to give it a higher rating still. On the other hand, I wasn’t as scared with this book as I was with the previous. Red Fox reads a bit like a Supernatural episode or a Buffy episode. It’s not all that scary, but it’s thrilling and exciting. You get used to the permanent ‘scary’ threat soon enough and then it’s only a matter of suspense and mystery as to who is doing what and who’s responsible for what. But this may have to do with my personal opinion that ghosts are the scariest thing ever, and even some extremely dangerous shamans can’t make me think differently. Sorry dudes, but ghosts rule everything in the scary department.

Apart from the original take on paranormal activity, the addition of skinwalkers, the lovely descriptions of the New Mexico desert atmosphere and the wonderful characters, Red Fox also offers a surreal and mysterious vibe through the entire book, a fast pace with delicious plot twists and a love story worth swooning over. Red Fox is a pageturner you definately shouldn’t miss out on, and just like its predecessor it’s an excellent work in the horror genre. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Karina Halle is truly ruling the horror genre this season with her Experiment in Terror series. Recommended to all horror fans and I can’t wait for the next part in the series.

Interested in reading this extraordinary scary series yourself? Darkhouse is currently available from Smashwords for only $0,99 USD. Try it out now!