One Night’s Stay – C.B. Collins

One Night's StayOne Night’s Stay
Author: C.B. Collins
Publisher: C.B.C. Publishing
Genre/Themes: Horror, Paranormal
Release Date: September 9th, 2018
Format: Ebook

Synopsis

Thirteen strangers check into the Sunset Inn hoping to find rest. When one of them is murdered in the middle of the night, the survivors realize they’ve found something else entirely; an ancient evil looking to satisfy an undying hunger. If the guests want to make it through the night, they’ll have to discover the secret behind the motel and the mysterious town it serves. However, in uncovering the truth, they might find that the town’s past is nowhere near as dark as their own.

Review

As soon as I read the premise of this novel, I was hooked. I have a weakness for books and movies that have a group of strangers coming together, especially when they’re in horror settings. This book starts off with all of the characters arriving at the Sunset Inn and for the most part, it was really creepy. The first third of this novel is completely tense and atmospheric and I had no idea what was going to happen.

When the story finally started to come together, it went in a completely different direction than I was expecting. There were so many unexpected twists to this novel and I was pleasantly surprised at how a lot of the storylines were resolved. While I thought the plot was pretty fast-paced, there was a lot of exposition in this novel. The core things the reader needed to know were sometimes info-dumped and a lot of it didn’t make much sense until the very end. I found myself really confused sometimes.

I really liked the characterization, but as the story progressed, sometimes the characterization started to falter. Certain moments (and certain deaths) that should have had more of an impact didn’t always deliver. A lot of the time I felt more of a spectator than someone who was heavily engrossed in the story.

Overall, this is a really tense, atmospheric novel. The story isn’t what you’re expecting and there a lot of surprises throughout the novel. I enjoyed it quite a bit and I recommend it to someone who is looking for a fast-paced horror novel.

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. This has not affected my review in any way.

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Leave No Trace – Mindy Mejia

Leave No Trace: A NovelLeave No Trace
Author: Mindy Mejia
Publisher: Emily Bestler Books
Genre/Themes: Mystery/Thriller
Release Date: September 4th, 2018
Format: Ebook

 

Synopsis

There is a place in Minnesota with hundreds of miles of glacial lakes and untouched forests called the Boundary Waters. Ten years ago a man and his son trekked into this wilderness and never returned.

Search teams found their campsite ravaged by what looked like a bear. They were presumed dead until a decade later…the son appeared. Discovered while ransacking an outfitter store, he was violent and uncommunicative and sent to a psychiatric facility. Maya Stark, the assistant language therapist, is charged with making a connection with their high-profile patient. No matter how she tries, however, he refuses to answer questions about his father or the last ten years of his life.

But Maya, who was abandoned by her own mother, has secrets, too. And as she’s drawn closer to this enigmatic boy who is no longer a boy, she’ll risk everything to reunite him with his father who has disappeared from the known world.

Review

When I read Mindy Mejia’s novel, Everything You Want Me To Be, I was immediately hooked by how well she wrote and how fantastic her characterization was. The premise of this novel grabbed my interest immediately because it was so different than other mystery/thrillers I’d read. While I loved her first novel, I unfortunately didn’t enjoy this one as much.

There are some great things about this novel. Mindy Mejia is extremely gifted at developing characters that feel like real people. I loved the character of Maya because all of her issues felt genuine. They didn’t seem thrown in to make her more interesting. I also loved the way she interacted with her dad. The setting of this novel was also a big part of the story. It was described so vividly that I felt like I lived in Duluth too. However, the problems with this book far outweighed any of the positives.

My biggest problem was Lucas and his relationship with Maya.

***spoilers ahead***

Lucas was extremely violent to a lot of people. He choked Maya, threw someone over a railing, was responsible for someone’s head injury and handcuffs an orderly to a desk in his efforts to escape. Nevertheless, Maya is romantically involved with him and helps him in a way that is morally and ethically wrong. She’s his therapist and completely crosses the boundary of a professional relationship for very selfish reasons. I’m very uncomfortable with the idea of a therapist being in a position of power and starting a romantic relationship with her patient. It’s just so wrong. There were so many lines that were crossed. This book just didn’t need this romantic aspect in it. Also, this book is slow-paced. I went into it expecting a book like Mindy Mejia’s first, but this was even slower. There was a lot of repetition before anything actually happened.

While I thought mental illness was handled gracefully, there just wasn’t enough to redeem this book in my eyes. While I’d still be interested in reading Mindy Mejia’s future novels, I didn’t connect to this one.

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This has affected my review in no way.

 

 

Any Man – Amber Tamblyn

Any ManAny Man
Author: Amber Tamblyn
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Genre/Themes: Mystery/Thriller
Release Date: June 26th, 2018
Format:Book

Synopsis

A violent serial rapist is on the loose, who goes by the name Maude. She hunts for men at bars, online, at home— the place doesn’t matter, neither does the man. Her victims then must live the aftermath of their assault in the form of doubt from the police, feelings of shame alienation from their friends and family and the haunting of a horrible woman who becomes the phantom on which society projects its greatest fears, fascinations and even misogyny. All the while the police are without leads and the media hound the victims, publicly dissecting the details of their attack.
What is extraordinary is how as years pass these men learn to heal, by banding together and finding a space to raise their voices. Told in alternating viewpoints signature to each voice and experience of the victim, these pages crackle with emotion, ranging from horror to breathtaking empathy.

As bold as it is timely, Any Man paints a searing portrait of survival and is a tribute to those who have lived through the nightmare of sexual assault.

Review

This book is a dark, scathing, feminist indictment of rape culture and sexual violence against both men and women. First of all, the premise is brilliant. To have a female serial rapist not only shines a spotlight on how more attention sexual violence against men garners in the media, but also how differently male victims of rape are treated. Instead of being disbelieved, they’re ridiculed. Either way, there are no winners and this book is about how society handles sexual assault and its victims. No matter what, the victim will be blamed.

The book is written in a disjointed, fragmented style because that’s what the situation feels like for the characters. Like the assault, the prose is messy and complicated. The book revolves around the aftereffects of what happens to all the men after the rapes. It’s about how they cope and the steps they need to take to survive. It’s raw and sometimes it’s brutal. The writing flips between diary entries, transcripts, and Twitter posts. It distances the reader from the main narrative, but I think that works really well. It forces us to be spectators and consume the story from both the points of view of the victims, but also the general public.

There are just so many important topics discussed in this book. It’s so much more than a thriller about a female rapist. This is a book I didn’t know I needed, but I’m so thankful exists. Any person living in today’s society must read this book. It’s just so important.

 

Foe – Iain Reid

FoeFoe
Author: Iain Reid
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre/Themes: Science Fiction, Horror
Release Date: August 7th, 2018
Format: Digital ARC

Synopsis

Junior and Hen are a quiet married couple. They live a comfortable, solitary life on their farm, far from the city lights, but in close quarters with each other. One day, a stranger from the city arrives with surprising news: Junior has been randomly selected to travel far away from the farm…very far away. The most unusual part? Arrangements have already been made so that when he leaves, Hen won’t have a chance to miss him at all, because she won’t be left alone—not even for a moment. Hen will have company. Familiar company.

Review

Iain Reid’s first novel, I’m Thinking of Ending Thingswas one of my favourite books of last year. I loved the atmosphere, the sense of unease and confusion, and the completely shocking ending. I was really glad to find out that Foe has all of these elements which creates another really great novel.

First off, I went into this book thinking it was going to be a horror/psychological suspense novel. Instead, this book takes place in the future. The reader has no idea how far in the future the book takes place, but we know that self driving cars are common and there’s a new colony on a planet created by an organization. While I was disappointed this wasn’t a horror novel, there was still this sense of unease and dread that occurred during the book. Iain Reid is extremely talented at creating these atmospheres where the reader knows something is off, but it’s impossible to determine what it is, which causes a lot of anxiety while reading. I found myself questioning everything.

This book is mostly about the complexities of marriage and domestic life when something really big and important is about to happen. It’s a fascinating character study which is marred by the addition of a third mysterious and creepy person. Everyone is such an unreliable character that you don’t really know what the mystery is or where Reid is planning on taking the book. I thought I’d figured out one big twist of the novel, but still ended up being completely shocked by the ending.

Overall, this is another really creepy novel by Iain Reid. It’s claustrophobic, unnerving, captivating and completely twists your mind. The ending is unexpected, but perfect. Everything about this tightly crafted novel was incredible and I highly recommend it.

The Fifth to Die – J.D. Barker

The Fifth to Die (4MK Thriller, #2)The Fifth to Die
Author: J.D. Barker
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genre/Themes: Mystery, Thriller
Release Date: July 10th, 2018
Format: ARC

Synopsis

Detective Porter and the team have been pulled from the hunt for the Four Monkey Killer, by the feds. When the body of a young girl is found beneath the frozen waters of Jackson Park Lagoon, she is quickly identified as Ella Reynolds, missing three weeks. But how did she get there? The lagoon froze months earlier. More baffling? She’s found wearing the clothes of another girl, missing less than two days.

While the detectives of Chicago Metro try to make sense of the quickly developing case, Porter secretly continues his pursuit of 4MK, knowing the best way to find Bishop is to track down his mother. When the captain finds out about Porter’s activities, he’s suspended, leaving his partners Clair and Nash to continue the search for the new killer alone.

Obsessed with catching Bishop, Porter follows a single grainy photograph from Chicago to the streets of New Orleans and stumbles into a world darker than he could have possibly imagined, where he quickly realizes that the only place more frightening than the mind of a serial killer is the mind of the mother from which he came.

Review

This is the second book in the 4MK Thriller series, and it’s extremely important that the first book be read before starting this one. The first novel in this series, The Fourth Monkeyis one of the darkest, creepiest, and sharpest serial killer novels I’ve ever read. It gave me nightmares, which rarely ever happens to me. The serial killer was actually scary and all of the police officers were competent and a great match for him. The whole book surpassed my expectations and I knew I’d be reading everything J.D. Barker ever wrote.

I was thrilled to receive the sequel in the mail and I dove into it almost immediately. This book is just as sharply written and exciting as the first one. It’s still really fast-paced and even more complex than The Fourth Monkey. There are far more story lines and they’re all really tightly intertwined. The difference between this book and the first is that while it’s not as disturbing or as twisted as the first, the scope of it is enormous. I’m in awe of the way J.D. Barker is able to create this world and drop all these hints about the greater story. I never guess any of the twists that are coming, but not because they’re implausible but because they’re so unexpected. I’ve been shocked multiple times throughout both books and I think that’s the mark of a fantastic mystery/thriller.

Even though this book has a riveting plot, the characterization doesn’t suffer at all. We find out so much more about all of the characters from the first book, and are introduced to a new investigator who is also smart, talented, and completely competent. There are a lot of questions about the characters, and I’m really intrigued to find out what happens in the final book.

I’m really impressed by the scope of this novel. Even though there were a lot of open threads left at the end of the book and a giant cliffhanger, I’m just in awe of how well this book came together. I can’t wait for the third book to come out.

I received this book is exchange from the publisher for an honest review. This has affected my review in no way.

The City of Lost Fortunes – Bryan Camp

The City of Lost Fortunes (Crescent City #1)The City of Lost Fortunes
Author: Bryan Camp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genre/Themes: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: April 17th, 2018
Format: ARC

Synopsis

The post–Katrina New Orleans of The City of Lost Fortunes is a place haunted by its history and by the hurricane’s destruction, a place that is hoping to survive the rebuilding of its present long enough to ensure that it has a future. Street magician Jude Dubuisson is likewise burdened by his past and by the consequences of the storm, because he has a secret: the magical ability to find lost things, a gift passed down to him by the father he has never known—a father who just happens to be more than human.

Jude has been lying low since the storm, which caused so many things to be lost that it played havoc with his magic, and he is hiding from his own power, his divine former employer, and a debt owed to the Fortune god of New Orleans. But his six-year retirement ends abruptly when the Fortune god is murdered and Jude is drawn back into the world he tried so desperately to leave behind. A world full of magic, monsters, and miracles. A world where he must find out who is responsible for the Fortune god’s death, uncover the plot that threatens the city’s soul, and discover what his talent for lost things has always been trying to show him: what it means to be his father’s son.

Review

Urban fantasy has always been one of my favourite genres, but most of the novels I read are centered around women who are witches/vampires/werewolves. That’s why I was really interested to read this book because not only was it centered around a man, but it was brand new mythology. In fact, this was one of the best things about this book. However, I found myself with extremely mixed feelings toward this novel.

This is an extremely creative story. It’s filled with mythology from many different cultures and religions. Since the story takes place in New Orleans, voodoo and loa play a big part, but it borrows from other cultures to create a really inventive novel. It was so far outside what I normally read in urban fantasy and I loved how unique it was. New Orleans plays a big part in this book as well. The whole book is very atmospheric and due to Bryan Camp’s descriptive and vivid writing style, New Orleans felt like its own character.

My reasons for disliking this book are almost indefinable. My biggest issue with this novel was Jude himself. While I liked the fact he was described as biracial and bisexual, there wasn’t much else I liked about him. It always felt like Bryan Camp was trying too hard to describe him as wounded and broken during the first two thirds of this novel. There was a lot of telling instead of showing while describing Jude’s character. That’s why when he finally understands who he is, there was barely any impact for the reader. In the last third, it felt like Bryan Camp was trying too hard to make him suave and charming and he never quite achieved his goal. I never quite connected to any of the characters, but I did like Sal and Regal. I never found myself liking Jude.

The other issue with this book is that the pacing of the novel is off. It’s really hard to grasp the mythology and world-building at the beginning of the book, so I found it hard to fully immerse myself. When I finally started to understand what was going on, the book started to drag in the middle. While the plot of this novel is entertaining and fun, it feels like a debut novel. The story is creative and unique, but it needs a little less telling. While the writing is descriptive and vivid, it can get bogged down with unnecessary facts and tangents.

This was a decent start to the Crescent City series, but I think Bryan Camp will get better with the future books he writes, and I’ll definitely be following his career and reading his future novels.

 

 

Blog Tour, Review: Song of Blood & Stone – L. Penelope

Song of Blood & Stone_cover imageSong of Blood & Stone
Author: L. Penelope
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre/Themes: Fantasy
Release Date: May 1st, 2018
Format: Digital Galley

Synopsis

Orphaned and alone, Jasminda lives in a land where cold whispers of invasion and war linger on the wind. Jasminda herself is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira, where her gift of Earthsong is feared. When ruthless soldiers seek refuge in her isolated cabin, they bring with them a captive–an injured spy who threatens to steal her heart. Jack’s mission behind enemy lines to prove that the Mantle between Elsira and Lagamiri is about to fall nearly cost him his life, but he is saved by the healing Song of a mysterious young woman. Now he must do whatever it takes to save Elsira and it’s people from the True Father and he needs Jasminda’s Earthsong to do it. They escape their ruthless captors and together they embark on a perilous journey to save Elsira and to uncover the secrets of The Queen Who Sleeps. Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation. The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war.

Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | IndieBound

Review

I’m very selective about the fantasy novels I choose to read because I find a lot of them have recycled plots. That’s why I was really excited to read this novel. First, the main character is not white (hallelujah), and second, it seemed to have a really vivid and interesting world. I’m happy to say that I really enjoyed this book and it had a lot of complex topics that I thought were handled very gracefully.

I really loved how Jasminda was developed. She’s a strong, self-sufficient woman who is not talented at everything. There is no special snowflake syndrome in this novel. In fact, her Earthsong is far weaker than others of her kind. Not only that, but she has real problems, and handles them in a realistic way.

In this world, Jasminda is biracial and despised and feared by the people in her town. This book hones in on the problem of systemic racism through the lens of a fantasy novel. It’s something I wasn’t expecting at all, and I was very impressed by L. Penelope’s ability to talk about contemporary issues through an invented world. She handled the issue extremely well and we saw exactly what Jasminda had to face as an outcast.

I also really enjoyed the world-building, but I did find it a little hard to understand everything at the beginning. We were thrown into a world we knew very little about and at the start, it was difficult to understand exactly how the world functioned. It takes a few chapters to get completely invested in the story, but once I got through my initial confusion, I was hooked.

While I loved Jasminda, I had a harder time warming up to Jack. I was expecting this book to be about Jasminda and her struggles to save her world, but the book shifts between both characters. While I like the character of Jack, I just didn’t think his points of view were necessary. This book was centered around their “forbidden” romance, and his chapters seemed to only be there to make Jasminda seem more desirable. I didn’t think Jasminda needed to be seen through the perspective of some guy she barely knew. There’s also a ‘twist’ revolving around Jack that I saw coming a mile away. I suppose that I wasn’t expecting so much romance in this novel, and I thought it could have been tamped down quite a bit.

Thankfully, the book also has a strong plot as well as great character development. There is an attempted rape in this book, which I happen to hate in novels, but I also thought that was handled really well and it felt realistic and not gratuitous. It moved quickly and was exciting, though it did drag a little in the middle. I also really liked the resolution of the novel and once the pieces all clicked together, it was really rewarding.

Overall, this book is an excellent start to a series. It has an inventive, unique world that talks about present-day issues through fantasy. Jasminda is an amazing character, and I’d be very interested in continuing on with this series. I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys both fantasy and romance.

I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has affected my review in no way.

ABOUT L. PENELOPE

Penelope, L._CREDIT Valerie Bey

Leslye Penelope has been writing since she could hold a pen and loves getting lost in the worlds in her head. She is an award-winning author of new adult, fantasy, and paranormal romance. She lives in Maryland with her husband and their furry dependents: an eighty-pound lap dog and an aspiring feral cat.

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Tin Men – Mike Knowles

Tin MenTin Men
Author: Mike Knowles
Publisher: ECW Press
Genre/Themes: Mystery, Crime
Release Date: April 10th, 2018
Format: ARC

 

Synopsis

Woody was working on getting high when the phone rang. Dennis was on a date — it was a date he paid for, but a date all the same. Os had blood on his hands from a little extracurricular law enforcement. All three men picked up their phones because they were cops, and cops are never really off-duty — not even when they’re crooked.

Detective Julie Owen was savagely killed in her own bed, and the unborn child she was carrying is nowhere to be found. The grisly crime has the brass breathing down the necks of the three detectives tasked with finding Julie’s killer. Woody, Dennis, and Os each shared a bond with Julie that went deeper than the blue of their uniforms and have their own reasons to want to find the person responsible for her murder. Secrets drive the investigation — secrets that need to stay buried long enough to solve the case.

Review

I’ve read a lot of mystery novels where the main premise is about cops trying to solve a murder. I’ve even read mystery novels where the murder victim is a cop. However, I’ve never read any books where the plot revolves around the cops themselves instead of the murderer. That is the unique factor in this novel, and it’s the reason why I wanted to read it.

Another reason I wanted to read it is because all three of the cops are crooked in different ways. Centering a book around three corrupt cops is a really risky move because they were all so unlikable. I never rooted for any of them, but I was still really hooked by them and they were really well-developed. I understood each of their motivations and while I wish their backstories had been a little more fleshed out, I thought their stories and connection to Julie Owen was very compelling.

The best part about this novel is the writing. It’s witty and sharp, without being cheesy or overdone. There’s an edge and a darkness to this novel, but it’s not too graphic or horrific in its descriptions. It’s a very hard line to balance, and I thought Mike Knowles did it well.

Overall, I thought this was a really great crime novel. It was unique in a lot of aspects, and I loved how it was centered in Canada. It’s written very well, the characters are fascinating and it had a few twists that I didn’t see coming. Mike Knowles is an author to watch.

 

Woman At 1000 Degrees – Hallgrimur Helgason

Woman at 1,000 DegreesWoman At 1,000 Degrees
Author: Hallgrimur Helgason
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Genre/Themes: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction
Release Date: February 7th, 2017
Format: Hardcover

Synopsis

Eighty-year-old Herra Bjornsson, one of the most original narrators in literary history, takes readers along with her on a dazzling ride of a novel that spans the events and locales of the twentieth century. As she lies alone in that garage in the heart of Reykjavik, waiting to die, Herra reflects–in a voice by turns darkly funny, bawdy, poignant, and always, always smart–on the mishaps, tragedies, and turns of luck that took her from Iceland to Nazi Germany, from the United States to Argentina and back to a post-crash, high-tech, modern Iceland.

Born to a prominent political family, Herra’s childhood begins in the idyllic islands of western Iceland. But when her father makes the foolish decision to cast his lot with a Hitler on the rise, she soon finds herself abandoned and alone in war-torn Europe, relying on only her wits and occasional good fortune to survive.

For Herra is, ultimately, a fierce survivor, a modern woman ahead of her time who is utterly without self-pity despite the horrors she has endured. With death approaching, she remembers the husbands and children she has loved and lost, and tries, for the first time, to control her own fate by defying her family’s wishes and setting a date for her cremation–at a toasty temperature of 1,000 degrees. Each chapter of Herra’s story is a piece of a haunting puzzle that comes together beautifully in the book’s final pages.

Review

When I was contacted to read this novel, I was immediately intrigued. I had three reasons for wanting to pick this up. First, this is a book that has been translated from Icelandic. I’ve read very few novels in translation, and the ones I have read have mostly been Japanese. Second, this book takes place in Iceland and the author is Icelandic. I can’t remember ever reading a book that takes place in a Nordic country, so I was really excited to see what I thought. Lastly, the protagonist in this novel, Herra, is 80 years old. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with a protagonist over 50. Due to all these reasons, I was extremely interested in this book. Unfortunately, while I liked this book, I wasn’t blown away by it.

As Herra looks back on her life, she spends most of her time discussing the 1940’s and World War 2. While I know a lot about this time period in history, I never knew how it affected the Nordic countries. I enjoyed learning about the conflicts between Iceland and how the war affected the country and surrounding regions. A lot of this book revolves around identity. Herra is Icelandic and Danish, and Iceland was under Denmark’s thumb during World War 2. Denmark was occupied by the Germans, while Iceland was taken over by the British. This conflict in political identity affects Herra’s life in drastic ways. It causes an inner turmoil in her which lasts until she’s 80 years old. I found this whole aspect of the book fascinating. Herra has a remarkable dry, dark humor which colors her whole life. I really enjoyed getting to know her.

The reason why this book wasn’t a stand out for me is due to the fact that the plot is long and meandering. Herra has a lot of terrible and exciting things happen to her, but most of the time, the book discusses really trivial aspects of her life. Also, I felt like there was a lot of Nazi sympathizing in this book, especially since Herra’s father joins the SS. It talks frankly about the realities of war, but it definitely doesn’t condemn the Nazis and sometimes even feels sorry for them. I really hate when that happens in a book.

Overall, I’m really glad I read this book and was exposed to a point of view that I know nothing about, but I don’t think I’ll be reading Icelandic contemporary/historical fiction again. I’m very interested in Nordic crime novels though and I’ll definitely be giving those a try.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has affected my review in no way.

 

 

What You Don’t Know – Joann Chaney

What You Don't KnowWhat You Don’t Know
Author: Joann Chaney
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Genre/Themes: Mystery
Release Date: February 7th, 2017
Format: Hardcover

Synopsis

The last victims of an infamous serial killer on death row may be the ones he didn’t kill. Seven years ago, Detective Paul Hoskins and his larger-than-life partner solved one of the biggest serial murder cases of the decade. They dug up 33 bodies in a crawl space belonging to the beloved Jacky Seever, a pillar of the community and a successful businessman. Sammie Peterson was the lead reporter on the case. Her byline was on the front page of the newspaper every day. Seever’s wife, Gloria, claimed to be as surprised as everyone else.

Today, Hoskins has been banished to cold cases, Sammie is selling make-up at the mall, and Gloria is trying to navigate a world where she can’t escape condemnation. And Seever? He’s watching the show.

But when a series of new murders occur, and the victims are all somehow connected to Seever, Gloria is once again thrust into the spotlight, while Hoskins and Sammie realize this may be their chance to get their lives back, even if it means forfeiting their humanity in the process.

Review

When I first heard about this novel, I expected it to be a typical serial killer mystery novel that alternated between the three main characters. While that fits comfortable in my wheelhouse, I wasn’t expecting a lot from it. My expectations were relatively low, but I was absolutely blown away by this book.

The best part about this novel is the writing. The whole book is so dark and twisted and the writing fits with it perfectly. The writing is grimy and creepy, and really blunt. While there are no extremely graphic descriptions of what happens to the serial killer victims, it tells you enough to make you shudder. All of the sentences are really direct, even for the terrible parts.

I also loved all of the characters. None of them were cliches and all of them were deeply flawed. They were selfish, violent, and could be borderline sociopathic which gave the book a lot of authenticity. I love when novels flip between characters, and this book managed to do it in the best way. The characters were all so different from each other, and so perfectly nuanced. I thought all of them were strongly developed.

The only reason why this book wasn’t a knock out for me was that I guessed who the murderer was pretty quickly. I even guessed how it would end and even though I was able to figure all of this out, it didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the novel at all. Also, usually I can’t stand adultery used as a plot point because I think it’s a lazy way of making conflict in a novel, but in this book, it was done with a lot of thought. I understood why it happened and it actually didn’t bother me at all.

Overall, this is a compelling read. It’s gritty, dark, creepy, and I loved how the entire book came together. Joann Chaney is one of my new favourite writers.