Fractured Tide by Leslie Lutz #bookreview #YA #thriller #scifi #TuesdayBookBlog

Lost meets Stranger Things in this eerie, immersive YA thriller, thrusting seventeen-year-old Sia into a reality where the waters in front of her and the jungle behind her are as dangerous as the survivors alongside her.

Sia practically grew up in the water scuba diving, and wreck dives are run of the mill. Take the tourists out. Explore the reef. Uncover the secrets locked in the sunken craft. But this time … the dive goes terribly wrong.

Attacked by a mysterious creature, Sia’s boat is sunk, her customers are killed, and she washes up on a deserted island with no sign of rescue in sight. Waiting in the water is a seemingly unstoppable monster that is still hungry. In the jungle just off the beach are dangers best left untested. When Sia reunites with a handful of survivors, she sees it as the first sign of light.

Sia is wrong.

Between the gulf of deadly seawater in front of her and suffocating depth of the jungle behind her, even the island isn’t what it seems.

Haunted by her own mistakes and an inescapable dread, Sia’s best hope for finding answers may rest in the center of the island, at the bottom of a flooded sinkhole that only she has the skills to navigate. But even if the creature lurking in the depths doesn’t swallow her and the other survivors, the secrets of their fractured reality on the island might.

With Lost and Stranger Things being the comp titles (and two of my fav shows) for this book, I was soooo hoping to not be disappointed – and I absolutely wasn’t.  The comps are perfect descriptions.

Creepy, bizarre, mind-bending – all are apt descriptions of the island Sia finds herself stranded on.  Honestly, I’d be afraid to close my eyes at night.  This book held my attention from page one, and I probably could have finished it in one sitting.  Pacing is brisk and tense – I couldn’t wait to see what happened next.

Characterization is another strong point, from the MC to supporting characters – flawed, layered, and relatable.  I loved that Sia was a diver, and it’s obvious the author did her research on the subject.  I tried diving several years ago, but I was too claustrophobic – so I really felt the tension when Sia was caught up in dangerous underwater situations.

Although completely riveted by this book, I dreaded the ending because I was sure to be disappointed by some weak excuse for what was happening.  But I wasn’t at all, and that made my sci-fi loving heart so happy.

Fractured Tide is a fantastic blend of thriller, sci-fi, and horror and fans of any of those genres are in for a treat.  With such an amazing debut novel, this is an author to watch.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

House of Shadows by Darcy Coates #bookreview #horror #TuesdayBookBlog

Sophie’s world is shattered when disaster bankrupts her family. She’s still reeling from the news when she’s offered an unexpected solution: Mr Argenton, a wealthy stranger, asks for her hand in marriage.

Marrying Mr Argenton will restore her family’s fortunes and save them from scandal, but condemns Sophie to a life in Northwood, a vast and unnaturally dark mansion situated hours from civilisation.

Sophie struggles to adjust to her new position as mistress over the desolate house. Mr Argenton’s relatives are cold, and Mr Argenton himself is keeping secrets. Even worse, the house is more than it seems.

Mr Argenton’s young cousin, Elise, draws terrifying images. Doors slam. Inhuman figures slink through the forest surrounding the house. A piano plays in the middle of the night. Blood drips from the ceilings.

Sophie is inevitably pulled towards the terrifying truth: Northwood’s ancient halls are haunted by the family’s long-dead ancestors. The malevolent spirits–produced by grisly deaths–resent her intrusion into their home.

Trapped in Northwood and desperate for an escape, Sophie’s fate is further complicated as she finds herself irrevocably drawn to the tall, dark-eyed man she married. She suspects her feelings are returned, but Mr Argenton is hiding the truth about the house–and his secrets are so dangerous that they might just be unforgivable. 

This is my second Darcy Coates book and I’ve come to learn there are two things I can count on – my enjoyment of her writing style and eerie covers perfect for what’s inside.

Reading The Amityville Horror many years ago made me a fan of haunted house novels.  I seem to gravitate toward them.  House of Shadows has a distinct gothic feel, an aspect which adds to the creep factor in my opinion.  When candles are your only souce of lighting, you never know what that light will fall on when you round a corner.  Or what it might miss in the shadows.

After marrying someone she barely knows and moving far away from her family, Sophie is immediately thrust into an unwelcoming sitation with Joseph’s relatives.  It’s also clear the staff are terrified of something and barely speak.  Sophie initially gives off the damsel-in-distress vibe, but when her back is against the wall, she comes through when it counts.

This is a quick read, but I wouldn’t have minded it being longer.  Once the climax is reached, pacing moves at break-neck speed, but the ending nicely sets up the second book.

If you’re looking for aggressive horror, this may not be the book for you, but if you enjoy some creepy-crawly moments that send chills down your spine with a touch of romance, you’ll settle in quite well with House of Shadows.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Reaper: A Horror Novella by Jonathan Pongratz FREE Today! #FreeBook #horror

I don’t usually post on Sunday, but today I’ve got a fantastic reason to – and I promise you’ll benefit from it.  An author friend of mine, Jonathan Pongratz, is offering Reaper: A Horror Novella FREE today!  I read it back in the winter, and if you’re a fan of dark basements and vivid imagery that may send chills down your spine, this book is for you.  Get it FREE today and you’ll have time to read it before the sequel is released – which I can’t wait to get my hands on!

Gregory and his little sister Imogen love spending Halloween with their parents. But this year is different. If he proves he can take care of Imogen all by himself, he’ll finally have the allowance he’s dreamed of.

That was before the basement door opened on its own. Before the strange door appeared in the basement and Imogen was taken from him by the monster.

Now everyone in town is blaming him for her disappearance, but no one is listening to his story. Where did the door come from? What was that creature? And most of all, can he find his sister before it’s too late, or will he bury his memories of her along with his parents?

Purchase Link  Amazon 

Excerpt:

Call me a scaredy cat all you want, but there was always something about the basement that I didn’t like. It always made me feel like I was being watched, like there was some

thing in the shadows just waiting for me to make a wrong move. Even now, the frigid air crept over me, creating more goosebumps on my arms and legs. I quickened my strides up the stairs, Imogen dragging behind.

We were halfway up the stairs when the knocks stopped. For a moment, I stopped my climb. The house was eerily quiet, and for reasons I can’t explain I felt a sudden urge to hurry back upstairs. I charged forward, trying to pull Immy along with me, but she resisted.

“Too fast!” she whined.

“If you hurry, we can play dress up sooner, now come on!” I yanked on Immy’s arm, practically lifting her into the air. Seven steps. Just seven more steps and we could look back on this night and laugh it off. Seven, six, five. Almost there.

I was just three steps away from the door when I leaped for the landing. I’ll never forget that jump. Time seemed to stand still, as if those cold icy fingers in the air had somehow found a way to slow time down. I remember that I had a smile on my face, a smile that disappeared when the door slammed shut in my face.

 

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Nightmareland (Horror Anthology) #bookreview #horror #shortstories #TuesdayBookBlog

From the creators of the #1 bestseller The Box Under The Bed horror anthology and its #1 bestseller sequel Dark Visions, comes Nightmareland
A horror anthology with 23 stories from 14 authors.
A high school girl with something to prove to herself and possibly to her parents, goes to a rundown shack deep in the woods to try a new drug that will give her the worst nightmares of her young life. A “Nightmareland” injection opens a person’s biggest fears to them – and then you are on your own for however long it lasts. Tag along as she becomes a lost child on a Florida party island, an investigator looking into a circus’ bizarre side shows, an abused prisoner, and much more.

Compiled by USA Today bestselling author Dan Alatorre, this anthology of horror once again unites the minds and pens of more than a dozen amazing authors.

Nightmareland will send you into the foggy twilight of the eerie and macabre, with heart stopping stories from:
USA Today bestselling author Dan Alatorre (The Navigators),
award-winning bestselling author Robbie Cheadle
award-winning bestselling author Ellen Best
award-winning author Kaye Booth
award-winning bestselling author Betty Valentine
award-winning bestselling author Alana Turner
award-winning bestselling author Christine Valentor
award-winning bestselling author Nick Vossen
award-winning bestselling author Alana Turner
award-winning bestselling author Victoria Clapton
award-winning bestselling author AM Andrus
award-winning bestselling author Adele Marie Park
award-winning bestselling author Barbara Anne Helberg
award-winning bestselling author MD Walker
award-winning bestselling author Farmer
award-winning bestselling author Marjorie Mallon

Perfect for Halloween or any time, these stories will make you think twice before spending the night alone, watching TV with family, or even going on a casual boat ride.

I received this ARC back in October, and it’s taken me this long to get to it.  It would have been perfect for Halloween, but I’ll read tales of horror any time of the year.

Finishing the first story by Dan Alatorre, I was left hanging.  After all the buildup, I needed to know what happened next!  And he answered my questions with the last story in the book.  Very clever.  And what an ending it was.

Robbie Cheadle, another author I’m familiar with, contributed three stories to the book.  While I enjoyed all of them, I think The Siren Witch was my favorite.  Boyscouts camping at a secluded location along the river – what could go wrong?  Lots of things.  Like opening a Pandora’s Box.

As with any anthology, some tales are more polished than others, and a couple left me scratching my head, but that’s to be expected with a group of authors possessing varying writing styles.  Anthologies are perfect for giving readers an opportunity to discover new authors.  Kudos to the cover designer – it’s creepy, eerie, and brilliant.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from one of the authors.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

Highland Cove by Dylan J. Morgan #bookreview #horror #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog

Highland Cove Sanatorium sits abandoned on a desolate island one mile off the Scottish mainland. It’s a dark, foreboding place, filled with nightmares. Even darker are the asylum’s secrets: a history of disease and mental illness, macabre experiments and murder.

The tales of ghostly appearances are said to be more fact than fiction, but no one has ever documented the phenomenon. Codie Jackson aims to change all that. Arriving from London with his small independent film crew, they plan to make a documentary that will forever change their lives.

But when one of the crew disappears, things begin to spiral out of control. A storm closes in to ravage the island, and in the darkness Highland Cove’s true horrors are revealed. Now lost within the institution’s labyrinthine corridors, Codie and his team realize that their nightmare is only just beginning.

After reading several books by this author, I became a confirmed fan.  But then he disappeared for a while.  When I learned he had a new release on the horizon, it took me about tenth of a second to request an ARC.

A group of ghosthunters, including some non-believers, spend two nights in an abandoned sanitorium during a vicious storm.  Where lots of people died.  And it’s on an island.  What could go wrong here?  Most folks, believers or not, would likely pass on the offer.  Luckily for the reader, these characters think it’s an amazing opportunity.  Some of them assume nothing will happen and figure they’ll edit in effects to the film later.  Right.  But then, it wouldn’t be much of a horror story if characters made wise choices.

This author possesses an incredible talent for setting a tone – something he immediately did when the group first set foot on the island.  With such vivid imagery, I felt as if I walked the dilapidated halls of Highland Cove along with these characters.  Chills tingled down my spine when a wheelchair moved of its own accord.  Shadows danced in every corner.  During one scene, I cringed repeatedly – and I’ve been reading horror for decades.  That doesn’t happen to me very often, so kudos to the author.  Trust me when I say parts of this aren’t for the faint of heart.

It’s difficult to mention this without giving away spoilers, but a couple things near the end didn’t come together for me.  I had suspicions, and maybe I missed a crucial piece of information early in the book, but I felt part of the puzzle was missing when all was said and done.  It didn’t detract from my enjoyment of this atmospheric tale, but still – some questions niggled at my brain.

I’m thrilled to see another book from this author and hope I don’t have to wait as long for his next one.  If you’re a horror fan, this is a writer you need to get to know.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Rosie’s Book Review Team.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

The Deep by Alma Katsu #bookreview #supernatural

Someone, or something, is haunting the Titanic.

This is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the passengers of the ship from the moment they set sail: mysterious disappearances, sudden deaths. Now suspended in an eerie, unsettling twilight zone during the four days of the liner’s illustrious maiden voyage, a number of the passengers – including millionaires Madeleine Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim, the maid Annie Hebbley and Mark Fletcher – are convinced that something sinister is going on . . . And then, as the world knows, disaster strikes.

Years later and the world is at war. And a survivor of that fateful night, Annie, is working as a nurse on the sixth voyage of the Titanic’s sister ship, the Britannic, now refitted as a hospital ship. Plagued by the demons of her doomed first and near fatal journey across the Atlantic, Annie comes across an unconscious soldier she recognises while doing her rounds. It is the young man Mark. And she is convinced that he did not – could not – have survived the sinking of the Titanic . . .

I’m fascinated by anything Titanic, and I’d read a few titles on this author’s backlist, so it was a no-brainer for me to request this book from NetGalley.

Don’t go into this novel expecting an in-your-face horror story.  The Deep is more of a slow burn tale with a literary feel.  The author does an exceptional job of interweaving real Titanic passengers and historical events with fictional characters to tell her story.  She also uses Violet Jessop, an actual survivor of both the Titanic and the Britannic, in a supporting role as a friend of her main character, Annie.

Annie is a mysterious MC.  At various points in the story I would be annoyed by her actions, then understand them the more I read.  You may also wonder if she’s a reliable narrator, an aspect that just makes a story more enjoyable for me, because I’m constantly questioning everything.  The dual timelines are blended seamlessly and gradually reveal backstories of these characters.

While this novel is certainly atmospheric, I’d personally hoped for more…haunting.  Reviewers are split on this, so it’s really a matter of preference.

If you’re fascinated by all things Titanic, I’d recommend adding The Deep to your reading list.  It’s a slower-paced book, but the characters are well-crafted, and the blend of fiction and nonfiction is done well.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Reaper: A Horror Novella by Jonathan Pongratz #bookreview #horror

Gregory and his little sister Imogen love spending Halloween with their parents. But this year is different. If he proves he can take care of Imogen all by himself, he’ll finally have the allowance he’s dreamed of.

That was before the basement door opened on its own. Before the strange door appeared in the basement and Imogen was taken from him by the monster.

Now everyone in town is blaming him for her disappearance, but no one is listening to his story. Where did the door come from? What was that creature? And most of all, can he find his sister before it’s too late, or will he bury his memories of her along with his parents?

I love a good horror story.  And that’s exacty what I found in Pongratz’s novella.

Everyone knows basements are bad news in horror books and movies.  You just want to yell at the characters to steer clear.  But if they didn’t go into the basement/attic/check on the noise outside, you’d miss out on all the scary escapades, and where’s the fun in that?  Reaper most definitely offers those scary escapades coupled with vivid imagery that may send chills down your spine.

The sibling relationship between Gregory and Imogen is done well and very believable – sweet and loving at times, and then exasperating when she teases her brother.  After the trauma of losing his sister, I liked how Greg didn’t accept the situation and give up on her, instead, beginning his own investigation and facing his fears.

The ending leaves the possibility open for another book, and I hope the author continues this story.  I’d love to know what happens next.  If you’re looking for a quick, eerie read, Reaper is a perfect book to curl up with.  And if you’re feeling brave, read it at night when you’re home alone.