Book Review: A Trace of Revenge by Lyle Howard

Title: A Trace of Revenge
Author: Lyle Howard
Genre: Paranormal Mystery, Thriller, Supernatural Thriller
Rating: 4,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

A young boy is left for dead by the assassin who has just bludgeoned his parents.

Matt Walker witnesses the murder of his parents but is able to escape and remains alive. He loses his ability to hear but finds out he has a unique power called Psychometry. This power is an ability to “trace” or know an object’s history, just by touching it.

A few years later, a top-secret government armament is stolen during a deadly hijacking at sea and someone intends to sell the powerful weapon to fulfill their own twisted ambitions.

At the same time, a ruthless mob boss has a gruesome secret that he must protect no matter the cost.

All it takes is something as unassuming as a foul ball hit at a Major League baseball game, to send all of these characters and events spiraling on a collision course aboard the most unique cruise ship ever built and send Matt on the quest to find his parents’ killer.

In A Trace of Revenge, Matt Walker witnessed his parents’ murder and narrowly escaped with his life. Although he can no longer hear due to this terrifying ordeal, he discovers he has an unique power: the ability to trace an object’s history by touching it.

Seeking revenge for what happened to his parents, Matt is dead-set on tracking down the killer, no matter what the cost. Add in the theft of a top-secret government weapon, the most unique cruise ship ever built, and a ruthless mob boss with a harrowing secret, and you have an edge-of-your-seat thriller that is fast-paced, not predictable at all, and solidly escorts the reader from one chapter to the next.

Book Review The Girl in the Maze

The Girl in the Maze_JacksonTitle: The Girl in the Maze
Author: R.K. Jackson
Genre: Thriller
Age Group: Adult (18+)
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Perfect for fans of Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins, and Tana French, R. K. Jackson’s lyrical, twisty psychological thriller debut follows an aspiring journalist as she uncovers dark truths in a seaswept Southern town—aided by a mysterious outcast and pursued by a ruthless killer.

When Martha Covington moves to Amberleen, Georgia, after her release from a psychiatric ward, she thinks her breakdown is behind her. A small town with a rich history, Amberleen feels like a fresh start. Taking a summer internship with the local historical society, Martha is tasked with gathering the stories of the Geechee residents of nearby Shell Heap Island, the descendants of slaves who have lived by their own traditions for the last three hundred years.

As Martha delves into her work, the voices she thought she left behind start whispering again, and she begins to doubt her recovery. When a grisly murder occurs, Martha finds herself at the center of a perfect storm—and she’s the perfect suspect. Without a soul to vouch for her innocence or her sanity, Martha disappears into the wilderness, battling the pull of madness and struggling to piece together a supernatural puzzle of age-old resentments, broken promises, and cold-blooded murder. She finds an unexpected ally in a handsome young man fighting his own battles. With his help, Martha journeys through a terrifying labyrinth—to find the truth and clear her name, if she can survive to tell the tale.

In The Girl in the Maze, after being treated for Schizophrenia, Martha Covington moves to Amberleen, Georgia. A small town but rich in history, her moving there feels like a fresh start. She takes on a summer internship with the local historical society and is tasked with gathering stories of the residents of Shell Heap Island. As she starts work, she starts hearing voices again, and she starts to doubt if she’s truly recovered from her psychotic breakdown. When a grissly murder occurs, Martha is the ideal suspect. On her own, feeling the pull of madness, she’s forced to solve a supernatural puzzle that stretches across many centuries.

Martha is an engaging, three-dimensional character with many issues, but despite that, the reader easily connects with her. I loved the paranormal angle, and how it all came into play, and the question if she was mad, or if the voices were real. A suspenseful book, well-written, and with a beautiful setting rich in history. I thoroughly enjoyed this supernatural thriller, and recommend it to all fans of the genre.

Book Review: Natural Causes by James Oswald


17694522Title: Natural Causes

Author: James Oswald

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Supernatural

Age Group: Adult (18+)

Rating: 5 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Short-Listed for the prestigious Crime Writers Association (CWA) Debut Dagger prize, ‘Natural Causes’ is the first of an ongoing series featuring Edinburgh-based Detective Inspector Anthony McLean. In a world where demons are not supposed to exist, he is one of the few unlucky enough to be able to sense their presence.

When Edinburgh police find the killer of a prominent city elder less than twenty-four hours after the crime, they are justifiably pleased. So the murderer has killed himself; that just saves the time and cost of a trial. But a second murder days later bears haunting similarities to the first, even though once more the murderer swiftly confesses and kills himself.

Detective Inspector Anthony McLean is investigating the discovery of a dead girl, walled up in the basement of an old Edinburgh mansion. She has been brutally murdered, her internal organs removed and placed around her in six preserving jars. The evidence suggests this all happened over sixty years ago, an attempt to re-enact an ancient ceremony that by trapping a demon in the dead girl’s body would supposedly confer immortality on the six men who took one of her organs each.

McLean’s grandmother – the woman who raised him after his parents were killed when he was a young boy – dies after months in a coma following a stroke. On top of this he has to investigate a series of unusual, violent suicides and a cat-burglar who targets the homes of the recently dead. But as another prominent Edinburgh businessman is killed, he begins to suspect that there may be a connection between the murders, the suicides and the ritual killing of the girl found in the basement. The same names keep cropping up. He just can’t find a rational explanation as to how that connection works.

As he digs deeper, and as the coincidences stack up, McLean is forced to consider an irrational explanation. Could there really be something evil stalking the city he has sworn to protect? And if so, how on earth can he hope to stop it?

Before writing down my own review of Natural Causes, I browsed through some of the reviews on Goodreads, and noticed that other reviewers complained about the supernatural aspect of the book, claiming it’s used as a deus ex machina. To each their own, but the supernatural tidbits of this book were actually my favorite, and had they not been included, I probably would’ve rated the book a four. Either way, don’t just ditch the book because it mentions the supernatural. Hardly enough police procedurals do this, and do it in a way as convincing as in this book.

On to the plot. Coinciding with the murder of prominent society members, DI Anthony McLean’s police department stumbles upon a cold case in the form of a young girl’s body tied to the basement floor of a dilipidated building with her organs removed and placed into alcoves around her body. That alone had me hooked. From the start there are clues to some kind of devil worship, and it’s up to McLean and his team to find out what’s going on, to connect the dots and solve this young girl’s murder. But on top of that, McLean has to deal with his grandma’s passing, classify some violent suicides that may or may not be linked to the murders, and solve the recent string of murders haunting town.

Tony, or Anthony, is brilliant. He’s the kind of flawed protagonist who manages to walk the line between flawed and too flawed. The entire police department is filled with colorful figures who bring something different to the table. The plot is fast-paced, the writing is solid, and if I didn’t need at least some hours of sleep, I would’ve read this book in one sitting: even if it meant staying up all night. I also loved it when the characters talked Scottish, and when some Scottish customs were discussed and added.

Fans of supernatural thrillers and police procedurals will love this. It’s the kind of book I’ve been waiting ages for, one that successfully merges these two genres.


Book Review: Shadowshift by Peter Giglio


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: The Sleepwalkers by J. Gabriel Gates

11290495Title: The Sleepwalkers
Author: J. Gabriel Gates
Genre: Horror, Supernatural, Thriller, Young Adult
Publisher: HCI Teens
Publication Date: October 3rd 2011
Rating: 3,5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon (Kindle) | Book Depository

Privileged and popular Caleb Mason is celebrating his high school graduation when he receives a mysterious, disturbing letter from his long-lost childhood playmate, Christine. Caleb and his jokester friend Bean decide to travel to his tiny hometown of Hudsonville, Florida, to find her. Upon arrival, they discover the town has taken a horrifying turn for the worse. Caleb’s childhood home is abandoned and his father has disappeared. Children are going missing. The old insane asylum has reopened, and Christine is locked inside. Her mother, a witch, is consumed with madness, and Christine’s long-dead twin sister whispers clues to Caleb through the static of an a.m. radio. The terrifying prophesies of the spirits are coming to pass. Sixteen clocks are ticking; sixty-six murdered souls will bring about the end of the world. As Caleb peels back layer after layer of mystery, he uncovers a truth more horrible than anything he had imagined, a truth that could only be uttered by the lips of the dead.

Caleb has seemingly got it all. A hot girlfriend, a goofy but trustworthy best friend, excellent grades and a wonderful future waiting ahead of him. Yet when he receives a card from Christine, an old childhood friend of his, Caleb realizes that sometimes the past cannot be forgotten. He travels back to the town of his youth only to realize that it looks nothing like the home he remembers. For starters, his father is missing. His childhood home is abandoned, but it looks like his father had to leave in a hurry…Caleb can’t begin to understand why his father would leave all his files, food and other things of that kind behind. Moreover, the amount of people who have gone missing in this small village is anything but ordinary. And whatever is going on in the Sleeping Center, where Christine is at, all Caleb knows is that it’s not a harmless sleeping experiment, like the center indicates…It’s something darker and more disturbing…

The Sleepwalkers stands out from other YA horror books because it’s…well, it’s horrifying really. Like it’s not enough that children are being abducted, they also turn into “sleepwalkers” and commit one horrible crime after another while asleep. The thought that an entire community just stands by and lets this happen is very unsettling, but it’s exactly what happens. I wasn’t too fond of the inclusion of the prophecy – I would’ve been just as happy had the entire event been random, because that would be even more terrifying, but I can understand why the author wanted to put some purpose behind it all. Also, the fact that Caleb supposedly plays a central part in all of these events didn’t sit right with me either. This story could’ve been much more terrifying had Caleb actually nothing to do with whatever was happening and if he was an innocent bystander who just happened to get caught up in these unsettling events because of sheer bad luck. But alas, we can’t have it all.

What we do get, is very satisfying though. Strong characters with intriguing personalities thrown together in the battle ofa lifetime. J. Gabriel Gates does not sugarcoat readers: the violence is real, horrifc and sometimes even deadly. A main character can just as easily die as a minor character. The author’s writing style is fast and fluent and simply sucks you into the story. Once you start reading The Sleepwalkers, there’s really no way to turn back. The events just have you so horrified, the story is so enthralling that you can’t do anything other than enjoy it. And look behind your shoulder every once in a while to see whether or not you’re being terrorized by little kids sleepwalking.

The suspense drops with the addition of reasoning behind why everything is going on, and trust me when I say you probably won’t spend the night tucked underneath your blanket screaming for your mommy. But for as long as it lasts, the suspense is intriguing and will make your heart beat significantly faster. I recommend this book to all young adults who enjoy a good horror novel once in a while. It’s decent and scary enough, but it won’t give you nightmares.