Red Lace Reviews

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Erinyes by George Saoulidis (2016 Review)

Erinyes - George Saoulidis

Erinyes by George Saoulidis
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Egotistical Mahi is beyond ecstatic when she's presented with a new phone by her father; it's top of the line and a new model, one that offers tech never yet seen before. However unbeknownst to the selfie-loving youth, there's more to the phone than meets the eye.

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to George Saoulidis for giving me the opportunity!

Initially the synopsis caught my eye when I was first directed to this novella; it sounded like just what I wanted at the time - a creepy tale, something to pull me in and keep me entertained. In this case, it was of a frightening Greek deity stalking her victim through phone selfies (of all things, but why not?), perhaps even escalating to increasingly terrifying events, or at least that's what I expected. I was optimistic, very much so, however the execution proved less than thrilling and failed to induce the desired effects; irritation rather than fear, boredom rather than interest. I'm being brutally honest here, in that I didn't consider it a finished work, but rather a draft piece that could've been largely improved upon.

Indeed technology has become a very significant aspect of life, and I'm sure it'll continue to evolve and play a major role in everything we do, but due to the main characters obsessive and downright unhealthy attitude toward social media, I found it difficult to read her narrative. I even questioned; are the adolescents of today really like this, or is this merely an exaggeration? Do underage girls continuously post pictures of themselves for the attention of older men, and depend upon "likes" for their happiness?

It's sad, because I know the answer. All I have to do is take a look at Facebook, or some other similar website.

Mahi was such a dislikeable person. Utterly childish, painfully narcissistic and ridiculously naive, I didn't come to care for her at all. I'm all for teenagers as main protagonists, but when they're portrayed in such a way that makes me want to gouge my eyes out, then I know there's very little that can save the book in terms of my enjoyment. As for the few other characters (her two friends, mostly), they left little impression and ultimately added very little overall.

I feel that with some proper editing and development upon the storytelling, then perhaps this could've been a decent read. As it was, it lacked the build-up of tension and anything remotely eerie. The plot and ending could've been more fleshed out; the ending itself was abrupt and offered no closure. I can't say, even if I had of liked the story, that I would've been satisfied with the conclusion. No questions were answered (what did the phone have to do with anything?), and all in all, it was disappointing.

In conclusion: Like many indie works I read these days, it suffers from grammatical errors and has an unfinished feel to it. I deeply disliked the main character and I feel she had no redeeming qualities whatsoever. It could've been improved greatly with a little TLC, but otherwise I consider this not my type of book.

© Red Lace 2016

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Source: http://redlace.reviews/2018/05/22/erinyes-by-george-saoulidis-2016-review
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Needful Things by Stephen King

Needful Things - Stephen King

Needful Things by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There's a new store opening in Castle Rock, and the whole town has noticed its special green awning. Questions arise as to what it will sell, and whom exactly the proprietor is, but nobody ever expected the severity in discovering such simple things. Treasures that appear otherworldly in their perfection start to become prized possessions, soon enough causing disarray in the town's day to day activity. There's something too good to be true about Needful Things.

(WARNING: This reviews contains minor spoilers.)

Whilst it felt like this one took me far too long to finish, I really shouldn't forget that at nearly a thousand pages, it's one of the longest books I've picked up in years. Being a relatively slow reader in general, the weeks seemed to fly by as I continued to be in thrall of Leland Gaunt's brilliantly wicked schemes, thus it was approximately one month before I reached the end. I admit, such lengthy novels can be intimidating to me, whereupon I feel I'm not making much progress, but I found myself very much intrigued by King's use of development; rather than everything happening all at once, a considerable amount of time was taken to form an almost intimate relationship between character and reader. I do admit that despite this intention and my enjoyment for the majority of the time, my interest dropped now and again by a slight margin with all the backstory and slow trudge toward climax. There was just so much, and sometimes I had to place the book down and have a break.

I feel like in the past, I dismissed King's work as I considered it largely not my style, however, after several years of my tastes morphing and expanding, I believe I can finally appreciate his format of storytelling. He has a very precise way of writing, and it truthfully jarred me at first, but it really does work within the setting he creates. Of course, this is strictly a personal matter, but one I wanted to briefly touch upon.

The plot of this beast of a book deals a lot with obsession and greed over material objects - something we have all experienced in our lives. Materialism in general is a huge part of humanity, and Leland Gaunt was able to immensely exploit and amplify the deepest desire of each victim, going so far as to greatly influence their every paranoid little thought. He was a truly an excellent villain; one of the best as far as I'm concerned. He implemented himself into people's lives, and quickly became integral; as far as they were aware, he took their best interests at heart. It was his expertly woven manipulation, as well as his cool demeanour, that struck me as quite fascinating. Whether he was a demon, a dragon, or the devil himself, I won't soon forget how much he impressed me.

At times I found myself confused over the abundant cast of characters, but soon enough they all had their own particular and memorable differences. The two that drew me in the most, gaining my favouritism and attachment, was Polly and Alan. They were both painfully realistic in their emotional and physical ailments. I wished time and time again for them to survive the horrific events Gaunt set in motion, and most of all, for them to remain together. With so many diverse personalities, I experienced a range of reactions, from laughter to pity and much of everything in-between. You see, there's definite comedic value with such a man as Buster, and a sense of tragedy with someone like Brian - all in all King was able to bring their unique situations to life.

In conclusion - I'm glad I plucked up the courage to read this. I'd describe it as a slow burn, leading to an explosive finale. The evil mastermind behind the whole thing, Leland Gaunt, had to be the highlight; at first subtle in his transgressions, but then going all out on the poor citizens of Castle Rock.

Notable Scene:

The two women lay draped over each other like lovers, their blood painting the cinnamon-colored leaves in the gutter.

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: http://redlace.reviews/2018/05/19/needful-things-by-stephen-king
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The Rift by R.J. Clark

The Rift (Detectives and Demons #1) - R.J.  Clark

The Rift by R.J. Clark
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Matt Faustus, whose very soul is connected to a high ranking fiend, finds himself neck-deep in a new case - one he accepted despite being warned about the possible ramifications. A little girl is missing, abducted by the family's house-cleaning demon, and it's his job to find her. Eager to earn that paycheck, Matt's enthusiasm soon lands him in trouble within the Hellspawn society, though that sure doesn't stop him.

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to R.J. Clark for giving me the opportunity!

This came as an unexpected surprise, especially considering I added this one to my Goodreads shelf way back in 2011; the year I made the decision to start reviewing everything I read. Being able to jump into something that piqued my interest that long ago, well, it was more than nice. What initially drew me in was the compelling aspect of the Rift itself, and how it expelled demons of all shapes and sizes right out into the city of New Orleans. Can you imagine if that happened? It's a terrifying thought; an apocalyptic occurrence right out from Revelations. However, whilst the book includes adult themes of gore and some sensitive subject matters, I wouldn't classify it as horror. For me, it was urban fantasy through and through - perhaps on the darker side of the spectrum, yes, but urban fantasy all the same - a genre that still appeals to me despite my tastes evolving toward more darker material.

Matt was certainly an entertaining and likeable protagonist, even if he displayed selfish and immature behaviour, but those faults didn't affect my impression of him. His soul-bound connection to Baalberith was yet another high point, offering a more intimate and unique peek into the relationship between man and monster. A large part of what intrigued me was Matt's entire history - there's so much backstory, so much unexplored territory to his character. Mentioned throughout were snippets of his difficult childhood, a large portion including Father Donovan and his ceaseless exorcism attempts. Clark has a great amount of freedom if he wishes to return to the world in which Matthew resides, either as a recollection of earlier events, or following the conclusion of this debut. Maybe even involving a new hero entirely!

My favourite character had to be Persephone, however. I found him a great addition to the team as he added much needed spice to what would've been a couple's day out. There was nothing wrong with Alura per se; she had a temper I found to be enticing, and I loved the Succubi as a species, but overall I didn't quite feel connected to her partnership with Matt. This could be because their attachment had already been established, and instead of accompanying them along with their courtship, I was thrown into the middle. I felt somewhat lost at times, and when particular information was held back, of which concerned the reason why they had fallen out in the first place, it even further distanced me.

The plot itself was the definition of action packed. It just didn't stop; trouble followed Matt everywhere, biting at his heels. I appreciated the fact that injuries were in abundance - pain, bloody and brutal, was dished out over and over. There's nothing more tedious than an overpowered hero that comes out on top of every bad situation. For me to get properly invested and absorbed, there has to be that feeling of danger and struggle, even if it's nothing but a convincing illusion. Clark was able to pull this off superbly, successfully giving considerable weight to every threat. The ending also held a twist I adored, because of the sheer horribleness of it. Suffice it to say, I felt sorry for Matt.

As for the Bestiary and wide selection of demons - I enjoyed the large amount of creativity put into their creation. They had their own culture and each offered their own strengths and weaknesses. It might not have been pretty, but I was completely on board with that.

As you can tell, I've a lot to say about this once forgotten novel as I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I do believe it's in need of further editing. There's a large amount of mistakes; incorrect words placed within sentences, although it didn't bother me all too much.

In conclusion: I would consider this a great beginning to a series. I enjoyed the demonic elements, and Matt as protagonist. This book deserves more recognition in the urban fantasy genre, for sure, however I believe it needs a bit of tidying up in regards to sentence structure.

Notable Quote:

Most humans saw these creatures as second class citizens, and treated them decidedly so. Like their slaves for the most part. Regardless of the concept of inalienable rights, man is a creature attracted to subjugation, and since it wasn't legal in this country to enslave each other anymore, many figured they'd just substitute the Hellspawn. Demons were the food that fed that primal urge without attracting social ire or reproach.

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: http://redlace.reviews/2018/05/04/the-rift-by-r-j-clark
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The Scent of Shadows by Vicki Pettersson (2016 Review)

The Scent of Shadows - Vicki Pettersson

The Scent of Shadows by Vicki Pettersson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

At sixteen, Joanna Archer experienced an extreme act of violence, something that stole her innocence and destroyed her youth. As an adult, she seeks solace in her photographs whilst stalking the streets of Las Vegas, using the darkness to hunt for the monsters that cause pain. Nothing will prepare her for what is about to happen however, as nothing can prepare anyone for their death.

(WARNING: This review contains MAJOR spoilers.)

I was at first very unsure whether or not I wanted to grant this a higher rating - yes, I thoroughly enjoyed it in some instances, but was it enough to justify a four star review and therefore dismiss the obvious issues? After much consideration, I finally made the difficult decision; I couldn't completely disregard the things that irked me. They ranged from little annoyances to what I believed to be more obvious faults, but I'll get to those in a moment. I just feel the need to state how much I love urban fantasy and starting a new series; it'll always remain one of my all time favourite pastimes. There's something about the genre that I adore, and I can't quite put my finger on it.

Joanna Archer was a decent protagonist yet not overly likeable. Indeed, she experienced a horrific ordeal as a teenager, but at times it appeared she held an air of superiority because of it; continuously mentioning her own personal strength and her sister's "innocent" weakness, it got a little repetitive. The fact she also turned to violence as an answer was in itself questionable and no doubt self destructive; definitely not the ideal role model, yet whilst these obvious flaws bothered me, I also appreciated their presence. No character, in any book, should be perfect, as no person in the real world is perfect.

I found the plot largely improved in the second half (the first half being somewhat dull), when Joanna's identity was altered and she joined the Zodiac team. Yes, she turned out to be some all-powerful figure of prophecy, but that didn't bother me. There was a lot of focus on the "superhero" aspect and the battle between Light and Dark, which interested me even though some of the dialogue forced me to cringe. The group dynamics really sucked me in however; I liked that she was looked upon with suspicion and that she struggled to gain their trust. I suppose I just favour conflict amongst relationships, it serves as entertainment. It can get a bit too much when the heroines of the genre are instantly liked way too much by everyone, and desired by every male.

Saying that, I didn't particularly like the implied love triangle that's obviously going to play a role in further instalments. Hunter seemed like an interesting character, but I hope it won't turn out to be a Hunter/Ben dilemma - I find triangles infuriating more often that not, as the females usually spend most of their time dwelling over both men rather than focusing on the vital matters. Another thing that got to me greatly, was the comic book store scene. I just really do hate the stereotypical portrayal of such stores, and those who read comics. The other characters however were written well - even Chandra - as they all displayed individual traits and differing demeanours. Warren was probably my favourite overall; who doesn't like a bit of insanity?

In conclusion: The very obvious possibility of a love triangle didn't appeal, and the main heroine seemed to be selfish - though that certainly gives room for growth. Regardless of what I favoured and those aspects I didn't care for, I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Notable Scene:

He was bereft of all his senses now, as helpless before me as Olivia had been in his arms, but instead of killing him, I lowered myself to the edge of the bed and watched. I wanted to observe the last seconds of his life, as death marched across his features. I wanted to see if he would heal.

Then I could kill him all over again.


© Red Lace 2016

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Source: http://redlace.reviews/2018/04/28/the-scent-of-shadows-by-vicki-pettersson-2016-review
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Broken Heart by Tammy Faith (2016 Review)

Broken Heart - Tammy Faith

Broken Heart by Tammy Faith
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Phoebe Stephen's life drastically changes when she awakes from an attack - an attack she can't remember. Giving in to the fear, to the emotional insecurities, she strives to keep it hidden from all who care for her. But such brutal violence takes its toll and can't remain hidden for long, especially when love is at stake.

(WARNING: This review contains MAJOR spoilers.)

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Tammy Faith for giving me the opportunity!

Upon being given the opportunity to read this debut novel, I admittedly had to mull over whether it would ultimately capture my interest. Romance as a genre can be a very extreme hit or miss with me, but I almost always prefer it involving paranormal aspects or erotic content as a focus point. Despite these factors however, I finally decided to give it a go even though the blurb didn't particularly appeal; which had nothing to do with the implied delicate subject matter, I might add, it simply struck me as rather flat, as Contemporary New Adult often does. I was happy I finished it though, as I detest having to leave a book before it concludes.

The story of Phoebe and Crisanto could've been considered a relationship fantasied about by the young and naive - it was mind-numbingly perfect and a little ridiculous. Sure, they battled through some serious issues, broke up and got back together more than once, but their connection was formed in childhood and they essentially needed each other to properly function. Over and over I was reminded how they were meant to be, how their souls were joined; mostly tedious ramblings that repeatedly played on my nerves. Phoebe's life often revolved around Cris and his rise to fame (she moved twice, following him as he succeeded in his sports career), as it appeared "his dream" was the only one that mattered. I foresaw the happy ending, thus the numerous occasions they appeared to be in jeopardy failed to cause uncertainty or concern. A lot of romance material shares this very trait, but I've found it can still be done whilst successfully creating sense of edge-of-your-seat excitement. Unfortunately, this one fell quite short.

It wasn't all bad however, as I found myself impressed with some of the dialogue and narrative that related to life's habit of being unfair and difficult; it was truly quote-worthy at times and I appreciated the good writing (even though as a whole it was rife with spelling errors). The sexual abuse was also handled well, and added a touch of mystery amongst the awfulness of the situation - yet in the end the identity of the rapist made little sense. She was friends with Cris for most of his life and never, even once, met his father? I believe such a glaringly questionable plot-hole should've probably been addressed, but I assume Faith wanted to shock her readers, therefore who better than the parent of the beloved boyfriend?

I can't say I came to care for the characters, nor the story to a large degree. It was a quick read, with the timeline regularly racing ahead and skimming over a lot of time. I became confused at a point when one of the scenes from the past didn't quite add up in the scheme of things, but that could've been my own oversight or just another problem on the list.

In conclusion - Whilst I definitely believe this book held potential, it needs revision and editing. Also, the lovey-dovey definitely became a bit much, as it seemed to me to be rather unhealthy. Not my thing, I can say that for sure!

Notable Quote:

I'm glad we didn't give up when things got ugly, because maybe love isn't supposed to be easy. Maybe it's supposed to be tough, to make you prove to yourself that this person is worth fighting for, to hold on tight when everything seems to want to tear you apart.

© Red Lace 2016

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Source: http://redlace.reviews/2018/04/21/broken-heart-by-tammy-faith-2016-review
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The Nightmare Room by Chris Sorensen

The Nightmare Room - Chris Sorensen

The Nightmare Room by Chris Sorensen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After a personal tragedy strikes Peter and Hannah Larson, they find themselves picking up their lives and moving house. Said house isn't what it seems - something lurks within, seeming to originate from the dark and gloomy basement. As the presence continues to focus upon the two, its determination only grows, causing obvious and damaging rifts between husband and wife. It appears to already know Peter in some intimate way, and shocking, deeply hidden secrets soon come to light.

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Chris Sorensen for giving me the opportunity!

This turned out to be an extremely difficult book for me to form a solid opinion on and subsequently rate. After a lot of thought, I came to the conclusion that I didn't really consider this one an outright horror novel, at least in regards to my own personal taste. When I instead thought of it as a supernatural tale with some horror elements, it made better sense in my mind. You see, in no way did I at all feel that uncomfortable, yet riveting unease that comes with something that ticks all the right boxes in the scary department. The typical tropes were there; the ghostly encounters, the ominous house, but something also felt missing and I had one hell of a time trying to figure out what. It could've been the absence of a sufficient build up, where time is given to properly establish a sense of dread, or maybe the haunting scenes merely didn't offer anything frightful. Essentially, it wasn't my sort of horror, I'd even go so far to say it was relatively tame in the scheme of things, yet I did appreciate the storytelling - twists included.

Peter and Hannah Larson were the sort of married couple you'd roll your eyes at - they were sickeningly perfect for each other. Their chemistry jumped out from the page, and despite dealing with the anguish of great loss, they found strength. They, of course, had their faults, which became evident throughout, but that only made them more relatable as people. I liked them, and I especially liked what Sorensen did with Peter. What revolved around Peter were secrets heavily linked to his past, and whilst the revelations kept coming, I too shared in Peter's shock. The two other characters that had a significant presence - that being Riggs and Ellen Marx, added a pleasant sprinkle of entertainment. I notably enjoyed Ellen's legitimacy at being an expert; she was no quack. If I could, I'd read a book all about her.

Despite the cleverness of some aspects, I can't deny that I felt that the story dragged at times. For me, there's nothing worse than feeling the onset of boredom, and there were moments that came dangerously close to that. I felt that the first half in particular could've used more time with the couple in the house, and less time in the Blind Rock bar for instance, which is where my interest really waned. I understand such scenes were for the benefit of character development, but my engagement primarily lay with Peter.

Sorensen's imagination certainly took me by surprise as I reached the end of Peter and Hannah's ordeal. Granted, the conclusion was all rather complicated, perhaps a little too complicated to understand right away, but it surely had a distinctive quality. It's rare that I come across an ending that changes everything so drastically, to the point where I need to pause and ponder over what I just read. I applaud the bold approach to implement such a memorable outcome.

In conclusion - Whilst the horror elements didn't do it for me, I mostly liked the story and background. It definitely had its ups and downs, but Sorensen is one author I'll be keeping my eye on.

Notable Scene:

The woman rushed toward him, and for a second he thought she was going to strike him him. Instead, she took his head in both of her hands and pressed her mouth over his. Peter felt her inhale abruptly - a reverse resuscitation.

© Red Lace 2018


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Source: http://redlace.reviews/2018/04/21/the-nightmare-room-by-chris-sorensen
SPOILER ALERT!

Storm Glass by Maria V. Snyder (2016 Review)

Storm Glass  - Maria V. Snyder

Storm Glass by Maria V. Snyder
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Four years attending the Magician's Keep, and Opal believes she's nothing but a disaster and a disappointment. Instead of being able to learn and practice new powers like other students, her one and only ability is placing a thread of magic within the glass figures she creates, which can then be used as a means for cross-country communication. Definitely not combat related, thus she is shocked to learn the Master Magicians have an assignment for her.

(WARNING: This reviews contains MAJOR spoilers.)

I quickly fell in love with the world of the much conflicted Ixia and Sitia all the way back in Poison Study. Not only was the book a perfect reminder of why I love immersing myself in works of fiction, but it created pleasant excitement for the future instalments penned by Snyder. It was then unfortunate that the following segments of the series only declined, leaving me disappointed and pessimistic. What my gripe essentially stemmed from was the character development of Yelena, and how she evolved drastically into a famous, almighty Soulfinder than could accomplish everything and anything. But whilst Yelena's magic varied to the extreme, Opal's was very limited... At first. It offered zero offensive and defensive capabilities, but it was extremely useful and beneficial to the Sitian council and magicians as a whole. This, after the sheer extent of Yelena's power growth, was refreshing and I welcomed the unique simplicity. Imagine my irritation that as the book progressed, new magical discoveries were made, each more powerful than the last. It's an easy assumption to make that history will repeat itself.

Opal suffered through quite a lot in her ventures, and made more one than one mistake along the way. Her insecurities could've been endearing, but I felt they became a little too much when she continuously refused to accept praise or compliments of any kind. She also displayed a hunger for power, which in itself was slightly off-putting, though to be fair, if I were considered a "one-trick wonder", I'd probably feel sour about it as well. Despite these faults, which definitely threatened her likeability, I thought she was an average protagonist with the potential for improvement. Perhaps if she was given room to breathe and grow into her own person, and not overshadowed by Yelena, which of whom played a part in this book and was mentioned regularly.

Of course the love triangle ticked me off, as they usually do. I just don't understand how they can appeal to anyone. It seemed, at least to me, that Opal settled with Ulrick because Kade didn't reciprocate her interest - it's ALWAYS selfish, in one way or another. It doesn't matter which one I favoured (Kade though), it just becomes unbelievably tedious.

However in regards to the other characters, I believed there to be a satisfactory variety. I actually became a little fond of Leif, whereupon I initially hated his immaturity. Zitora I liked, Pazia was a tad annoying, as was Ulrick. Kade was a delight, and I immediately wished him the love interest. The plot itself was eventful, yet at times confusing as it veered off into different directions. I don't think it needed to be as complicated; sometimes a straightforward story does the job just as well. I very much liked the in-depth look at the Stormdancers in particular, and I would've loved if they were focused on a little longer. Hopefully they make appearances in the next two books of the Glass trilogy.

Speaking of glass, I enjoyed the detailed scenes of craftsmanship found throughout the pages. I never thought I'd find an interest in such a thing, but the writing was very well done and inspired me to perform some additional research. I do appreciate when an author can ignite enthusiasm on a certain subject otherwise ignored.

In conclusion: Looking forward to delving into more Chronicles of Ixia, but let's hope they rise to the standard of the very first. It just strikes me as the protagonists get overly powerful, which takes all the fun out of them struggling for their survival.

Notable Scene:

The roar of the wind and sea ceased the moment the monster wave engulfed me. For one heartbeat, my world filled with gurgling sounds and foamy green light. Then the force of the crashing water slammed me into an unyielding object. The sea grabbed my limp body and tossed it about. Confusion dulled the pain until my forehead smacked into a jagged rock.

© Red Lace 2016

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Source: http://redlace.reviews/2018/04/14/storm-glass-by-maria-v-snyder-2016-review
SPOILER ALERT!

Violet Eyes by John Everson

Violet Eyes - John Everson

Violet Eyes by John Everson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A fresh start was the plan, but for Rachel and her son, Eric, the quiet town near the Everglades proves to be anything but suitable. The news reports of an unknown breed of fly, migrating through the area, but when said species of fly begins to attack people in swarms, things only seem to get progressively worse from there. Black spiders with violet slashes across their backs, appear from seemingly nowhere, making their presence known as they start to take over.

(WARNING: This review contains MAJOR spoilers.)

Who isn't afraid of spiders? Well, me actually, but the way in which arachnids were presented here was no doubt alarming. Instead of the eight-legged critters that want nothing more than to live human-free lives, were abominations hungry for the warmth of living (and dead) flesh. And flesh they got, copious amounts of it, from animals to humans of all ages; everything that breathed appeared to be fair game. The very life cycle of these unnatural creatures made my skin crawl; a bizarre rotation of fly and spider, with bites that could implant eggs, as well as paralysing venom. The greatest and worst biological weapon, their only instinct to wipe out life. Whilst Everson did a good job in capturing the nastiness of their sudden invasion, I found myself wishing the focus back upon Rachel and Eric, as I felt more committed to them in the long run. Most of the other characters introduced had only one sole purpose, and that was to die in the most horrific ways possible, each instance trying to outdo the last. This served as brief entertainment, but as I said, I'd would've preferred more time with the main protagonists.

Let's get into the little irksome details throughout that I just couldn't ignore. For starters, it struck me as unrealistic that almost everyone talked to themselves. This may seem like a nit-picky, largely irrelevant complaint, but it actually affected my immersion. I've no issue whatsoever with inner dialogue; it's something we all do, but to outright speak, out loud, in conversation to ourselves? No, not everyone does that, and it gives the impression that it's for the benefit of the reader - that they're not talking to themselves, but to us. It's a highly personal opinion, of course, and one I had to mention, for my own peace of mind.

The next thing's story related and it involves what you might consider a spoiler, so heed the warning at the beginning. Whilst the incursion spread throughout town, with reports of hostile swarms of flies biting people and houses covered from roof to ground in webbing, Rachel didn't think to leave town? I didn't understand, that for the safety of her child, why it didn't occur to her that it just might not be safe. Again, it brought distraction through its impracticality. I prefer rational thinking that brings the person on the page to life - I very much dislike questionable events that only seem plausible to serve the plot.

Obvious issues aside, I did like the primary characters. I found Rachel's determination to live independently, free from her abusive ex, to be respectful. It was nice that she found romance in someone far better than Anders, of whom was composed in a way that did him absolutely no favours. I couldn't much care for his death - it appeared to be an attempt at redemption, which failed as far as I was concerned. I have to say, I was expecting the ending, but when it came I felt a twinge of sadness. I do appreciate when what I read induces emotion, so I was pleasantly surprised in that regard.

In conclusion: I'm sticking with three stars, however I very nearly settled on two. The spider aspect I enjoyed, but some things (other than the spiders) got under my skin. I just couldn't overlook them.

Notable Quote:

The best things in life were usually killed by ignorance, ambivalence, age, wisdom and sometimes, outright malevolence. Whatever the reasons, the things you loved most always seemed to die long before you were ready to let them go.

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: http://redlace.reviews/2018/04/12/violet-eyes-by-john-everson

The Ritual by Adam Nevill (2016 Review)

The Ritual - Adam Nevill

The Ritual by Adam Nevill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The reunion of four University friends not only offers a chance to escape from the stresses of the everyday, but also an opportunity to behold the wonders of the outdoors... Or at least that was the plan. The last thing Hutch, Luke, Phil and Dom needed was to get lost within a virgin forest in a foreign country; a Scandinavian wilderness that just feels wrong. When they bare witness to something hanging up a tree - something dead, everything changes from then on.

(WARNING: This review contains MAJOR spoilers.)

Collecting dust on my bookshelf, amongst the other two hundred unread books (more or less), for a few years now, I finally decided to pick this one up and give it a go. I didn't know what exactly to expect at first, but the whole "man versus nature" aspect appealed to me, and thus I found myself thoroughly impressed with the initial direction of the plot. Even to imagine getting lost in such an ancient maze of untouched forest, where daylight itself refuses to penetrate, definitely makes my skin crawl. Even so, I'm not usually all that affected by horror in general, and even though I didn't feel terrified or frightened, I certainly felt a sense of unease and foreboding. The writing was a main factor in creating such responses; so darkly atmospheric with sentences that conveyed so much, from every stab of fear to every thread of hope. If not for the very drastic change in story in the second half, I'd have rated it five stars.

I didn't even find the characters entirely likeable, but not because they were poorly written - on the contrary, they were painfully realistic. The ones who picked on another out of a jealous attempt to hide their own crumbling lives, the one with obvious commitment issues and lack of purpose, and lastly, the one with the level head. However, even despite Hutch being the one to try and keep everything civil and together, he shared a particular shallowness with Luke in regard to continuously calling the other two "fatties". They had their flaws, as we all do, and as all good fictional characters should. Luke, whom I eventually came to feel sympathy for, was probably the worst, as his views on women were verging on being downright sexist. He clearly had his problems with anger management as well, but what that man experienced, his helplessness - I couldn't help but hope he'd survive the whole ordeal.

As for the complete shift titled "South of Heaven"; I didn't hate it, but admittedly it appeared quite silly at first. Going from the struggles of survival in the wilderness whilst hunted by a mysterious creature, to being held captive by a metal band consisting of face-painted teenagers - it was confusing to say the least, but after a while I settled into the craziness and accepted it for what it was. The trio; Fenris, Loki and Sutr, were void of sanity of any kind (as you can tell from what they called themselves), but even though they were all sorts of ridiculous, the old woman and what dwelled within the attic succeeded in returning the eerie tone. From stitching together the pieces given, the inhabitants of the house were children of the "moder", which added a nice touch. It then begs the question, why did the woman need Luke to do her dirty work in dispatching of the disrespectful teens when she could've called the monster? Well, if you revere something, if you worship something, it stands to reason you don't want to piss it off by expecting it to do pest control.

Still, the rambling on of Christianity, and of how evil they were as Vikings, it got a little tedious after a short time. I'm all for Norse mythology and how religion played a role in the origin of the forest, but I don't need dialogue that seems never-ending to get the point across. I rolled my eyes, I facepalmed, and I missed the simple yet effective quality of the first couple of hundred pages. Again, I state it was close to being a well-deserved favourite, but the last half just wasn't as good.

In conclusion: I'm definitely interested in Nevill's other works now, as I appreciated his ability as a writer. I favoured the first section of this particular novel, but the change in direction jarred me.

Notable Scene:

Luke took three mouthfuls of water from his bottle. It tasted of rubber and of the forest around them: the cloying of damp wood, rotting leaves and cold air. He detested it. He smelled of it too. They were almost a part of it now. Just a few bright colours of the man-made fibres they wore marked them out as any different to the thoughtless, relentless decay of season and nature. It would be so easy now to just sink to the ground and get recycled, to be eaten or rot away. The endlessness of it, the sheer size of the land and their total insignificance within it nearly shut his mind down.

© Red Lace 2016

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Source: http://redlace.reviews/2018/04/07/the-ritual-by-adam-nevill-2016-review
SPOILER ALERT!

The Devil Crept In by Ania Ahlborn

The Devil Crept In - Ania Ahlborn

The Devil Crept In by Ania Ahlborn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Stevie Clark's one and only best friend goes missing, and the small town of Deer Valley aren't all too keen to find the troublesome youngster. Jude Brighton's known for his temper, but to Stevie, he's the singular person that really understands him. After the first forty-eight hours, the possibility of Jude's safe return is rapidly dwindling, but that doesn't deter Stevie from making his own investigation. He's determined to find his cousin, and get back to their old antics.

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)

I can't say that I was immediately drawn into this book; it started dreadfully slow, with a hundred or so pages of almost nothing happening. Boredom began to make itself known, and I admit, I experienced a slight amount of trepidation. I really didn't want to be disappointed, but I realise my grave mistake of expecting too much too soon. You see, Ahlborn's intention became crystal clear the further I progressed, and by the time I reached the end, I was far from let down. Patience is all I needed before the proverbial hit the fan and things got deliciously dark and creepy. I even talked and theorised about this book at length, my significant other the victim to my incessant chattering, because whilst it offered clues as to what caused certain events to occur, it didn't outright state it. If left my mind racing and that gets a huge amount of appreciation from me.

Two, seemingly separate storylines were thrown together to make up the plot. The very first part is where I questioned the pace, as all it consisted of was the worrying and concern of Stevie, of whom had discovered the disappearance of his cousin. It's not that I didn't like Stevie - consider it the opposite, actually, but I just expected something more to happen in that number of pages. Despite the transition of the second section bringing some confusion, I quickly became totally and completely engrossed in Rosie's tale. It's where things really started to kick off, and Ahlborn's talent hit me square in the face. I loved every moment of it, even when I genuinely felt uncomfortable at a certain point. The horror aspect could be considered subtle to a degree, with the weaving of some rather typical elements that are popular in the genre, but it was done extremely well.

I came to understand how pivotal the character of Stevie was, and whilst Jude may have been a large factor regarding the plot, Stevie was the ultimate vocal point; by all intents and purposes, the unlikely hero. The struggle with his mental state, including the difficulty with something so many of us take for granted - simple communication - was composed in a way that fully expressed the hardships of his condition. Ahlborn clearly had insight into such subjects, to be able to create such a wonderfully complicated child. I don't think I've ever read of a character quite like him before, which raises the question of why individuals with mental health issues aren't more present within literature. Is it because they're generally unreliable as protagonists? Food for thought, I suppose.

Even though I like to get down to specifics, I'll refrain from the huge details that would spoil the entire story. Suffice it to say, I liked the portrayal of "Ras", the somewhat mysterious figure that held the position of villain. He remained primarily in the background, but there was no question as to whom he represented in the grand scheme of things. The ending itself brought with it a sense of sadness, but not because it was badly done. Oh no, it was just... sad.

Who am I kidding? The ending ruined me. It took me days to recover! Why toy with my feelings, dammit?!

In conclusion: After a slow beginning, the creepy factor really set in. This was my first novel by this author, and I was very much surprised at how much I enjoyed it in the end. I very nearly rated it five stars, but the first hundred pages perhaps could have been better.

Notable Quote:

It was like the riddle his teacher had presented at school: If a tree falls in a forest and there's nobody around to hear it, does it make a sound? The answer was no. Because without ears, sound didn't exist. Without eyes, light was darkness. And without a body, there was no victim.

© Red Lace 2018


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Source: http://redlace.reviews/2018/04/05/the-devil-crept-in-by-ania-ahlborn

Moonstruck by Graeme Reynolds (2016 Review)

Moonstruck - Graeme Reynolds

Moonstruck by Graeme Reynolds
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Best Read 2016

Now in police custody, John Simpson is quickly running out of options. His face is all over the news for the grisly murders of multiple people, and the full moon is vast approaching yet again. If that wasn't bad enough, a squad of professional killers have been sent to take him out. He's a threat, an apparent moonstruck, with no control over his monster - or so the pack believes. John's not the only one in danger however; those that know too much must be silenced, including the law enforcement involved with the High Moor investigation.

(WARNING: This review contains MAJOR spoilers.)

High Moor was my one and only five star book of 2014, with very good reason. It surpassed my expectations and instantly plunged me into an exciting roller-coaster of claws and teeth. Everybody was fair game, every limb at risk of being ripped off - the extreme brutality throughout shocked me as well as thrilled me, but it wasn't just about violence and gore. It was about a man with a terrible beast lurking beneath the surface, and a society determined to remain hidden. This second instalment was no different in terms of pace and edge-of-your-seat excitement. I found myself drawn into the life and death situations of characters old and new, and a few I truly liked from the get-go. There's something about how Reynolds spins a tale, and that coupled with my love for werewolves, is the perfect combination.

The plot largely centred upon the werewolf pack, led by Michael as alpha, and their attempts to cover up the rather messy events that transpired in the previous book. Getting a more in-depth look at their inner workings and at their harsh, yet understandable, methods of taking care of the situation was thoroughly engrossing. Of course they went to great lengths to secure the secrecy of their race; realistically, we (humanity), would outright eradicate them upon the discovery of their existence. Perhaps not at first, but eventually. No matter how much it may be denied, we are a destructive force, and peace would most assuredly be merely an illusion. Because of this, I didn't dislike Oskar and his team for doing what they did out of necessity, but Connie was another matter. She was the heartless villain that enjoyed the cruelty and pain of her victims. She was so consumed by hate. I have to admit, she provided some very tense scenes, like the one with Olivia, which I couldn't read fast enough; I needed to know if the poor woman survived.

John and Marie both returned and their romance took a step further, albeit with an awkward, yet sweet moment. I appreciated that amongst the horrific bloodshed, there was at least a little bloom of love and the potential for quite the power couple. Steven Wilkinson also proved to be deadlier than ever, yet no longer did he desire an allegiance with John, but four unsuspecting policemen. I was quite fond of Phil Fletcher in particular, the older and higher ranked copper, as he seemed the decent sort. Hopefully he reappears in the final book of the trilogy, perhaps as a hunter himself. Considering the ending, there's no doubt things are going to escalate for every character.

Another aspect I favoured was when Marie admitted to there being other types of supernatural creatures; vampires included. This made me smile and wonder of the possibility of more novels being set within the world of High Moor. I'd definitely read them!

In conclusion: Utmost excitement - excellent werewolf savagery. I'll be keeping an eye on Reynolds' future works, as I just love how he spins a tale.

Notable Scene:

If anything, the experience was worse going from wolf to human than it had been from man to beast. The savage fangs pushed their way back through his gums, feeling as if a dentist was drilling all of his teeth at once, without the benefit of anaesthetic. Black talons forced their way under his already forming fingernails, while every bone in his body splintered and reformed, flowing like liquid to their original shape. The worst thing, however, was the itching burn across every inch of his skin, as thousands of coarse black hairs pushed their way into his flesh. He cried out in agony, but his vocal chords were half way between human and werewolf, so all that escaped his lips was a strange combination of howl and scream.

© Red Lace 2016

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Source: http://redlace.reviews/2018/03/30/moonstruck-by-graeme-reynolds-2016-review
SPOILER ALERT!

A Dance In Blood Velvet by Freda Warrington (2016 Review)

A Dance In Blood Velvet - Freda Warrington

A Dance In Blood Velvet by Freda Warrington
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Black shadows appear within the Crystal Ring, bringing confusion and fear to those who inhabit it. Charlotte Neville and her lover Karl von Wultendorf find themselves, despite being separated by emotional conflict, deeply embedded in the scheme of three mysterious figures that wish to preform a questionable ceremony.

(WARNING: This review contains MAJOR spoilers.)

The first instalment (A Taste of Blood Wine) of this darkly alluring series captured my heart, in that despite the overly dramatic tone relating to the Neville household, I found the writing itself a literary treasure; atmospherically gothic, intense and beautiful; it appealed to my utmost fondness for vampire romance. What I expected from this volume, was more of the same brilliance, yet instead of entertaining family turmoil, relationship jealously saturated every aspect of each character and unfortunately dulled my enjoyment because of such. I'm all for conflicting emotion, of mistakes being made due to overpowering feelings, yet nearly every event that transpired in this book, was more or less due to jealousy in some form - Ben and Lancelyn, Charlotte and Katerina, Karl and Violette. Perhaps I should've appreciated the fact they were realistic, and like normal people plagued by insecurities, but there's a point I began to roll my eyes at the abundance of selfish behaviour.

A happily-ever-after was not in store for Charlotte and Karl, on the contrary, in fact. They spent most of their time apart, as obstacles seemed to rise in every direction and threaten their attempt at eternal love. I didn't mind this, I actually considered it refreshing that they had to continually fight to make it work. I however believed them both mostly to blame for their unhappiness, and Charlotte became especially intolerable. From being jealous of Katerina whilst she, herself, had the audacity to lust after and stalk Violette, well, what happened to the character I actually liked and felt attached to? And when she planned to turn Violette without even asking for her permission, I was ready to throw the book across the room. The same occurred with the rest of the characters, as well; I didn't particularly feel for any of them.

This isn't to say I believed the entire book a disappointment. Some endearing elements were still present, such as the style of writing and the overall elegance of the story, but it definitely lacked some of its original charm. The plot consisted of two, seemingly separate subplots coming together, pretty much revolving around the (re)birth of Lilith. Religion was further contemplated, yet it remained a mystery if God actually existed. The exact origin of the Crystal Ring was also pondered upon yet again, raising the question of if it relates to scientific or spiritual means. I do wonder if answers will ever come to light, or if it'll remain unexplained. At least the discovery of humans accessing the Crystal Ring was revealed, and the presence of a physic human also added to the conundrum that is Warrington's world.

In conclusion: The self-centred actions of the characters brought bouts of annoyance. I'll certainly continue with this series, but I hope I enjoy further instalments more than this one.

Notable Scene:

"How can I be content to bury myself in dead mythology, after living mythology has revealed itself to me? How can I feel anything for Lamia, succubus, incubus, Lilith and her demon children or all the angels of heaven, when I have met a real being who is richer and stranger than anything on the dry page of a book?"

"Do you want to write me into a book, a thesis?"

"It's tempting, but no, no more than I'd put a bird of prey in a glass cage."


© Red Lace 2016

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Source: http://redlace.reviews/2018/03/24/a-dance-in-blood-velvet-by-freda-warrington-2016-review
SPOILER ALERT!

The Tracker by John Hunt

The Tracker - John Hunt

The Tracker by John Hunt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Taylor's life is in ruins; his face publicly known for crimes so bloody and awful. He does the only thing that could possibly help him in the situation - he walks through the door of a police station and turns himself in. With no resistance and full compliance, Taylor recounts the most horrific time of his life, where a monster haunts his every step - a brutal game, where fear is in full effect.

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)

This book certainly doesn't mess around; it plunges you neck-deep into the chaotic life of Taylor, a suspected murderer whom swears innocence despite the evidence against him. I found myself instantly drawn in to his situation where I, too, questioned his very sanity, whilst also sympathising with him on some level. Hunt's intention was quite clear from early on - a fast-paced, thrilling concoction, meant to keep you on your toes. The one thing that really impressed me was the twists and turns that genuinely shocked me - all too often I foresee a typical plot direction and it ruins what's supposed to be surprising, but Hunt was able to expertly weave the unexpected and force me to reanalyse what I thought I already knew. I can't give enough credit to tales that make you pause and think; authors can certainly mess with their readers and bring the unpredictable.

At no point did boredom raise its pesky head; too much was happening. What started off as Taylor's recount of his last forty-eight hours of forcibly taking part in a game of hide and seek, turned into a grisly manhunt of murder and mayhem. The aspect of "The Tracker" and how he was able to influence his victim was an interesting one. He didn't seem to have any intention other than to toy with his prey and use their own suppressed hate against them. I really wish more information was offered regarding him, and if he had any other motive than just chaos.

Taylor and Owen, on the other hand, had a brief connection that stood out for me. It might have been highly impersonal for Owen, but for Taylor it was an examination of his life. I felt for him, for the struggle he had endured. Relating to him in a way, I hoped everything would have worked out, but I knew it was ultimately doomed.

Despite my high praise of certain aspects - that being the story itself, I found the writing to be terribly messy at times and it subsequently distracted me more than once. This is more to do with sentence structure and, of course, my own personal taste. I'll however give an example of exactly what I mean:

Owen realizing the paramedic wasn't only mad because he had walked in to find an unconscious man still cuffed to a steel table, he was thinking while flashing his beady accusatory eyes that Owen had something to do with it, had maybe even injured him and Owen tired and grumpy, opened his mouth to say something he'd immediately regret when Earl cut in and said...



I admit, I had to re-read this confusing pile of words about five times, and even then I had a hard time of discerning it. What should have been at least two sentences, were fused together to create something that just didn't work inside my head. Throughout the entire book, the quality reached both highs as well as lows, giving the impression that certain parts were rushed, whilst others more thought through. I believe it could have benefited from more editing to tighten it up, and thus make it overall easier to read.

In conclusion: A good story that kept me guessing, however the format of writing brought its cleverness down. I would consider it unfinished, and in need of further editing.

Notable Scene:

He needed time to process and speak with the other officers monitoring the interview to strategize how best to confront Taylor. Because no matter how much Taylor believed what he had said, it wasn’t true. It couldn’t be. Shadow men do not hunt people through the city. There were no shadow men.

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: http://redlace.reviews/2018/03/22/the-tracker-by-john-hunt
SPOILER ALERT!

Look Behind You by Sibel Hodge (2017 Review)

Look Behind You - Sibel Hodge

Look Behind You by Sibel Hodge
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Waking up and surrounded by an eerie darkness, Chloe Benson soon discovers she's trapped underground in what appears to be someone's tomb. Desperate to avoid the same fate as the skeleton in her midst, she musters all the strength she can to escape, however emerging back into her ordinary life proves to be just as dangerous. Someone wants her dead, yet due to issues with her memory, she just can't recall who.

(WARNING: this review contains minor spoilers.)

I finished this book last year, October (2016) to be specific, and didn't feel overly eager to voice my thoughts upon its completion, so suffice it to say; it's been a long time coming in that regard. You might wonder how I could possibly still remember the finer details, and indeed; my memory's not exactly fresh, however I can still recall what irked and disappointed me, as well as what stemmed the little amount of enjoyment. That being said, I had wanted to read something a little different than my usual flavours, and this one was ready and waiting in my library. What did I expect? Well, a mystery, of course - something that kept me guessing, kept the wheels of my mind turning. It was unfortunate that it promptly fell short, and the conundrum didn't require much thought at all; the identity of the "villain" was clear pretty much immediately. There were several moments I questioned; "Could it be this obvious?" and lo and behold, it was exactly that.

Admittedly though, the beginning drew me in, and I sincerely believed the rest would've thus followed its strong onset. A woman, trapped underground in complete darkness; the narrative truly expressed her helplessness and her will to survive. From there, it morphed into something not-so-thrilling, and it felt much like a long wait for it (or rather, Chloe) to reach the conclusion I already knew was coming. Thankfully the book wasn't that long, so I was able to force myself through the boredom without it becoming too much of a chore.

The character of Chloe was rather unmemorable, as despite how hard I try, I can't say much about her. I always like to take the time to analyse the main protagonist, but the sheer lack of impression was even worse than disliking her, because at least then she would've made me feel something. The same goes for the rest of them - the domineering husband, the too-perfect other man; none of them had much personality, besides being convenient to the plot. One thing that I did find outrageous however, was the general attitudes of the authorities. Both the police and hospital staff were unrealistic, in that they were outright rude to a patient they believed to be mentally ill. At least in the real word, such cold treatment has the possibility to distress the patient further, thus I highly doubt the "shut up, you're crazy" tactic is actually applied.

In conclusion: Have I mentioned how utterly apparent the "twist" was? Well, I'm saying it again - a mystery should have mystery. It should keep you guessing until the truth's finally unveiled. This was largely a disappointing read for me.

Notable Quote:

Why does anyone stay in a relationship that deep down they know isn’t right? You don’t know why until it happens to you. It’s easy to fool yourself. To stuff things under the surface where they can’t hurt you. To persuade yourself it’s all just normal. Make excuses. There’s a fine line between craziness and love.

© Red Lace 2017


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Source: http://redlace.reviews/2018/03/15/look-behind-you-by-sibel-hodge-2017-review
SPOILER ALERT!

Preta's Realm: The Haunting by J. Thorn

Preta's Realm: The Haunting - J. Thorn

Preta's Realm: The Haunting by J. Thorn
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

When certain people in his life start disappearing, Drew Green struggles to keep his mind and family intact. Something whispers to him at night; a voice of a person no longer living. It tells him of a time long past, and a curse set to haunt the bloodline. As events eventually spin out of control, Drew finds himself at the mercy of a creature that should only reside within nightmares.

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)

After about a year or more of having this on my kindle and eventually forgetting about its existence, it finally caught my eye once again. What followed was a last minute read of the month - it's a short book, which I was later thankful for. Initially I didn't know what to expect, but the words akin to "disgusting" and the likes on other reviews piqued my interest. Just how bad could it be? At this point I'd say I'm pretty used to the extreme use of gore and other similar themes, so my curiosity got the better of me. My concluding opinion is that whilst involving some nasty and sensitive elements, it was largely poor in regards to story. I found myself confused most of the time, not only questioning certain plot decisions, but also of how it was paced. A scene would suddenly jump in time without it being properly conveyed, yet I'm not sure if that was supposed to be intentional or not. Either way, it came across as not entirely thought out - like Thorn rushed through the process.

I can't say I particularly liked any of the characters, nor did I understand their actions. I found Drew to be dislikeable as a person; how he treated his family was a large part of that. It was hinted throughout that he suffered from something in the past, perhaps some form of mental illness, yet it was never explained, and thus I settled into a state of aforementioned confusion whilst trying to garner what I could of the backstory. I know Ravna was a decent man in the grand scheme of things, but I didn't get a good first impression of him and unfortunately that stuck. His introduction consisted of him fantasising about a younger waitress, which I honestly found to be offputting. He referred to her as his "gothic princess", and the moment he noticed her in a colour other than black, the fantasy was apparently ruined. Clearly this information wasn't relevant in any way, shape, or form, yet it was still relayed like it was somehow crucial. The others? I don't have much to say about them, other than they lacked memorable presence.

"Preta" and "Gaki" essentially mean the same thing - "hungry ghost" - and is a supernatural being present in Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Chinese and Vietnamese folk religion. I can't say I was familiar with the lore of this creature until I did some homework. It's a good concept - I always like when authors include their on take on weird and wonderful monsters. I did find some discomfort in Thorn's representation, but I was simply too distracted by other elements to really appreciate the depravity. The accounts of the past, told through the spirit of Drew's grandfather, honestly bored me enough that I wanted to skim over; the narrative was written in such a way that didn't pull me in, or make me care for what was happening.

If I were to detail how this could've been a better read for me, then it would go like this; the focus solely upon Drew or Ravna, with either one being fleshed out instead of the back and forth. Drew was supposed to be a devoted family man, yet I didn't see that. Ravna was supposed to be some sort of hunter, yet I felt I was merely given a brief glimpse. Of course, this is my personal opinion; plenty of others thoroughly enjoyed it as it is.

In conclusion: I originally rated this three stars, however I've retracted one to better fit my thoughts. It was a definite miss for me - I didn't like much about it other than the somewhat disturbing scenes of "Gaki".

Notable Quote:

"The 'cesspool' you mention is humanity itself. The 'gateway' is the greed, lust and insatiable suffering of humankind. You can no more rid the universe of Gaki than you can of air or water."

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: http://redlace.reviews/2018/03/14/pretas-realm-the-haunting-by-j-thorn
SPOILER ALERT!

Darkest Hours by Mike Thorn

Darkest Hours - Mike Thorn

Darkest Hours by Mike Thorn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

With monsters that hunger for flesh, ghosts that lie in wait, and brutality at the hands of humanity - this collection certainly has it all. Delving into the satirical, chilling and downright disgusting, this is a must read for those that like a bit of horror in their lives.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Mike Thorn for giving me the opportunity!

This anthology has sixteen individual stories, each offering varying degrees of horror in different forms; bizarro, quiet and psychological are just a few of the sub-genres that are incorporated. Chances are you'll find something that tickles your fancy within the wide spectrum that is Thorn's imagination, just as I did. I do, however, feel the need to mention the reoccurring themes that present themselves throughout the majority of the book. Despite each short being unrelated and diverse in form, there were certain factors that kept resurfacing; the heavy metal, the smoking (specifically marijuana and Camel cigarettes), and lastly, academia. It just didn't work for me all that much - instead of characters blending together, I would've preferred differentiating attributes.

I always find it difficult to review these type of books, for the sole reason that I feel there's so much to write - I can get carried away with my thoughts and write paragraph upon paragraph. For my own sanity I've decided to forgo a ten-page essay detailing each and every short, and instead highlight the the top three that I enjoyed the most.

A New Kind of Drug
This is the first story that really piqued my interest, primarily due to the fact I've never read anything quite like it before, and it caused me to think of how we, as a species, are awfully enticed by substances that alter the state of consciousness. It's said that we're always looking for the next big thing, the next high that will affect us in new and oftentimes dangerous ways. I liked how Thorn took that aspect, and spun something that didn't seem so far-fetched in regards to human cruelty. Whether the creature was a demon, an alien, or whatever else, I felt pity for it and thus viewed the people themselves as the monsters. The added possibility of there being another plane of existence only interested me further.

And maybe I was screaming too, I don't know, but I'm quite sure I would've done something to stop this awful spectacle if I'd had the time, or the will, or even just a modicum of bravery.



Economy These days
Clearly the ugliness of humanity's a personal favourite of mine; the type of horror that's closer to home and more real than any supernatural beast. This particular short reminded me of the film Hostel, with the concept that people pay money to hurt a stranger. The difference was, in this case, both parties acted upon a consensual basis, where rules and regulations were strictly set in place. I have no doubt that something like this exists today, and whilst I don't consider it terrifying in the traditional sense, it's immensely thought-provoking.

But in this moment, money seemed like some grotesque abstraction; these terrible means dwarfed the process of reaching agreeable ends.



Lucio Schluter
Yet another example of human savagery, yet in an entirely different manner. Appreciating art as much as I do, I couldn't help but feel fascinated by Schluter's work and the way in which Thorn truly captured its disturbing essence. To turn actual people into such ghastly pieces of craftsmanship, it's delightfully macabre. The artist himself was a character I favoured because of the unnerving, yet obvious way he felt strongly for his victims - perhaps even a sort of love for them.

To really look at one of Schluter's subjects was like seeing a reflection of yourself ten years from now, somehow locked in a stasis of fear and eternal nakedness.



Other honourable mentions are The Auteur, Long Man, Sabbatical and Fusion.

Of course, due to the differing of story-types, there were some I didn't care for, and some I outright disliked. With Mired, Fear and Grace, and Speaking of Ghosts, my attention considerably waned until I just wanted them to end as quickly as possible.

In conclusion - A well-written concoction of the dark and twisted. My interest fluctuated depending upon the concept, but it's clear that Thorn has talent. An author to keep an eye on, for sure.

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: http://redlace.reviews/2018/03/10/darkest-hours-by-mike-thorn
my read shelf:
Red Lace Reviews's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

A Head Full of Ghosts
Splatterpunk Fighting Back
Dark Space
Woom: An Extreme Horror Novel
Blood Moon
The Devil's Work
Stephen
The Taste of Night
Lockdown
Blood Song
The Magic Cottage
The Awesome
Look Behind You
A Dance In Blood Velvet
Determined to Obey
Moonstruck
The Ritual
Storm Glass
Broken Heart
The Scent of Shadows


Red Lace Reviews's favorite books ยป