Since Maylee was abducted from her high school the very month of graduation, her Aunt Autumn has never lost hope in finding her.
It’s been three years. Autumn has finally reached inside herself and found the courage to track down an old lead, and travels across the country to find more clues about Maylee’s disappearance.
But will she be able to pry Maylee’s case back open, and what will she uncover in the process of searching for Maylee?
It’s a cold, dark world we live in, and Autumn is about to find out just how cruel it can be. But strength and determination are on her side, and she will do whatever it takes to deliver justice.
This is an impressive debut novel. It’s strengths lie in great characterisation, fantastic detailing and descriptions which enhance the reader’s experience.
Search For Maylee has much to commend it: sadness, anger, grief, fear, anxiety, the list goes on and on.
I won’t lie to you, it’s pretty grim and gut wrenchingly sad in places, and parts of it made me want to cry with the sheer terror and torment suffered by the young women, as you would expect in such abductions.
Autumn sets out to find her niece and uncovers a group of predatory and evil men. She puts herself in dangerous situations and doesn’t give up. She is one strong-willed, determined lady and I loved her for that. I particularly loved the part where she went undercover. That alone sent chills down my spine.
No spoilers, but kudos to the author for adding a touch of lightness with the developing love story between Autumn and Chance to soften the edge off some of the trauma.
The ending was bitter sweet. Personally, I don’t think it would have been right to end the narrative any other way. I can’t say anymore for fear of spoiling the story for you.
A fantastic tale, well done Didi Oviatt. I am sure I will be reading more from this author. I listened to Search For Maylee on audio and loved the Author’s About The Author page which was wonderfully recounted, so personal, giving the listener an added bonus – Didi Oviatt explains her love of writing and how she is an “unexpected novelist.”
I related to that sentiment a lot.
Rating: 5 stars. Highly recommended for readers of crime, suspense, and thriller fiction.
Welcome to Catherine Fearns, my next guest on my new feature – Isolation For Writers. How do writers, creatives, artists and bookish souls cope with isolation? Is their capacity to cope different from the rest of the population? It’s an interesting question and one that fascinates me.
How is Catherine coping with this enforced isolation?
Here is her answer:
Hi everyone, I’m Catherine Fearns and I’m a writer. I have published three Amazon best-selling crime thrillers with Crooked Cat Books/Darkstroke, and I also write as a music journalist.
Thank you very much to Marjorie Mallon for hosting me on the blog today to write about my personal experience of writing during coronavirus lockdown…
For many people, coping with isolation has been the hardest challenge of these times. But some of us have had to adapt to the loss of isolation. With four school-age children and a husband who worked long hours and travelled extensively, I was used to spending long days, and long evenings, alone in my own world. And I loved it. Now I have a house full of noisy people, twenty-four hours a day, all needing a lot of attention. Not to mention home-schooling. And it’s wonderful too, so much so that I feel guilty about all the terrible things happening in the outside world when we are safe in our family bubble. But finding time to write is a challenge.
Before corona hit, I was finishing the edits on my fourth novel, and at the exciting stage where I had just come up with the concept for my fifth book and ready to get started. Then I was suddenly thrust into this new and very confined world. It’s difficult to get into the right headspace for novel-writing when you can only snatch a few minutes to yourself here and there – you really need long stretches alone to think. But even for writers without children, concentrating is a challenge at the moment.
Are you finding it hard to focus on reading a book? To tear yourself away from the news, from social media?
Low-level yet constant anxiety has become a way of life for everyone. When you’re living with such uncertainty, worrying about vulnerable family members, friends losing their jobs, wondering when this will be over and what the world will be like afterwards…
I found an experimental strategy to keep myself writing. I decided to start writing my new novel as a serial, and to let readers experience the process in real-time. I post two new chapters every week on my website, bite-size so readers have time to read them, and I have time to write them! Readers can even interact if they wish, by adding comments and suggestions. This concept actually works perfectly for the dystopian theme of the book, and I have been using a variety of media to tell the story, including audio files, images, video and letters.
I do feel a little reckless, posting my unedited work for readers to see, but it has also been liberating and confidence-building. Most importantly, putting that pressure on myself means that I have to get the words down every day. I try and wake up an hour before the kids, and if I still need more time, I suggest that we all have a reading and writing hour after lunch.
I’m aware that none of this makes financial sense. I may be shooting myself in the foot by making a whole book available for free when I could have waited and published traditionally. But I don’t think I would have had the discipline or concentration to write during this period otherwise. And I wanted to offer something, however small, to readers who might just need an extra little activity in their day.
Nobody should feel they have to achieve things during this time of corona. It’s ok to just be – to stay safe, spend time with family, read and relax. But my personal coping strategy has been to create a little something every day. And I have to admit that one of the things I’m looking forward to most when this is over is to spend a day alone!
After completing the biggest case of his career, private detective Hank DeShear returns home to start treatment for a disabling genetic condition that could end his life, but he learns his partner on the prior case has just been murdered. Was he wrong to conclude the secretive killer known as The Greyhound had declared a truce? Or have disciples of The Greyhound surfaced to carry on with the murders?
DeShear is able to attach himself to an overseas goodwill mission headed by the U. S. Vice President, enabling him to pursue leads in foreign hospitals he thinks could be offshoots of Angelus Genetics’ illegal organ harvesting programs and human trafficking operations. Determined to pursue the truth wherever it leads, DeShear must also keep a low profile so he doesn’t become the next murder victim—but the onset of his debilitating condition may kill DeShear before the murderer gets a chance.
FANS OF ROBIN COOK AND MICHAEL CRICHTON WILL LOVE THE LATEST ADDITION TO THIS WELL-WRITTEN AND SUSPENSEFUL SERIES.
This is very different from my usual go to read, (which is often YA Fantasy/Paranormal,) but that’s a good thing. It’s great to immerse yourself in new genres from time to time. Rogue Elements: The Gamma Sequence Book 2 is a Medical thriller which packs a punch, with some truly gripping moments which will stay with me for a long time. There are a couple of real, ‘Oh my God,’ instances.. where I could almost see the events/trauma unfolding before my eyes and making me squirm as if it was happening to me…
You really wouldn’t want that!
Dan Alatorre is a talented multi-genre author with wide ranging abilities extending from, for example: cookery books, to paranormal, thrillers, sci/fiction, horror, realistic fiction/fatherly experiences and even romance!
But, from reading this second book in the Rogue Elements series, (unfortunately I haven’t read the first,) and his short stories in Nightmareland I get a gut feeling that his writing style excels whilst scaring and thrilling his readers!
Therefore, if you crave books that aren’t afraid to broach difficult subjects and touch upon dreadful evils such as ruthless organ harvesting – this is for you! Rogue Elements is a fast paced narrative, full of engaging dialogue and the characters are well written and believable.
Alatorre’s strength lies in his ability to write scenes that are almost cinematic in their execution. I wish I could say more but if I did it would spoil the book for you and I really don’t want to do that.
My recommendation: Highly recommended. 5 stars.
Please note: I received a copy from the author but this in no way influences my review.
So, what’s next on my reading shelf?
I’m currently reading Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights which was recommended by a colleague at work, who complimented me saying that there are similarities in our writing style! Now, that’s a compliment… More about that soon, plus do come back for more Indie Book Reviews…
What are you reading? Have you read Dan Alatorre’s Rogue Elements: The Gamma Sequence?
What if vampires were not the undead, but rather the dying? What if there were two factions among vampires: the sustained and the unsustainable? And what if those factions were at war with one another over the life of a young woman who promised them a future? Vampyrie brings the myth of the vampire into the realm of possibility. Phoebe Angelina Delaney is a reluctant genius and compassionate hothead. She finds herself in a pitch-dark underground and doesn’t remember how she got there. Did she drink too much alcohol and wander off in a stupor, or was she kidnapped by a malicious element determined to make her life a living hell? Sir Michael Alan David is a vampire – an enigma, charismatic and mysterious, who weaves in and out of Phoebe’s life. Does he intend to use his title as a ruse to draw her closer to an unearthly fate, or is he a cloak-and-dagger knight in shining armor? Too many secrets have been kept for too long. Phoebe must unravel the mystery in order to survive. Two major characters from the author’s first novel, Plateau join forces with Phoebe to battle the demons in Vampyrie.
Right from the beginning I really enjoyed Vampyrie Origin of The Vampire and found it to be a new and mysterious slant on the vampire story which has always fascinated me. This interest kept me reading throughout. It was a confident, well written story with excellent plotting, characterisation, dialogue and setting. I particularly enjoyed the martial art slant with Master Po and the emphasis on friendships and family relationships.
On a personal note I would have liked more detail of the rogue’s in battle (and wouldn’t be adverse to more gore,) in the battle scenes but that’s just me! Ha ha. At times long passages of dialogue made me impatient for the forthcoming battle! Yes I can be a bit bloodthirsty!
This novel would really appeal to readers who like vampire stories where the emphasis is less on the sexy lore of the vampire. Instead challenge your perceptions with this unique, and thoughtful read – questioning the legend, secrets and the nature of the choices we make with regard to good and evil. There are revelations to keep the reader on his or her toes too.
Definitely recommended reading. My rating: 4 stars.
The next blockbuster thriller for those who loved The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl…. a novel with “an astonishing intensity that drags you in and never – ever – lets you go.” (Daily Mail, UK)
On a rainy afternoon, a mother’s life is shattered as her son slips from her grip and runs into the street …
I Let You Go follows Jenna Gray as she moves to a ramshackle cottage on the remote Welsh coast, trying to escape the memory of the car accident that plays again and again in her mind and desperate to heal from the loss of her child and the rest of her painful past.
At the same time, the novel tracks the pair of Bristol police investigators trying to get to the bottom of this hit-and-run. As they chase down one hopeless lead after another, they find themselves as drawn to each other as they are to the frustrating, twist-filled case before them.
This psychological thriller surprised me, again and again but I am ashamed to say it has been sitting on my shelf for some time. And guess what – it belongs to my mum! She loves well written murder mysteries and thrillers (the more gruesome the better) but can’t watch anything remotely scary on TV. This cracks me up! So mum, you’d be proud of me, I loved this, even though some passages made me draw a shocked breath in, thankful that I wasn’t the main protagonist in the story.
Here are the blurb sentences on the back of the book and my commentary!
In a split-second, Jenna Gray’s world descends into a nightmare.(No kidding!)
Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows, to start afresh. (But how can she?)
Desperate to escape, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of a cruel November night that changed her life for ever. (And isn’t that an understatement.)
Slowly, Jenna begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. (Curiouser and curiouser!)
But her past is about to catch up with her and the consequences will be devastating…. (Never a truer word said!)
Read I let You Go if you enjoy tense, fast-paced (particularly in the second half of the novel,) thrillers with a twist that surprises and shocks. There is plenty to get your teeth into: emotion, grief, trust, blind love, overcoming fear, a mother’s love, guilt, domestic violence …
Overall 5 stars. The first half of the novel is perhaps a little slow (a four star,) but well worth hanging in there to reach those middle to end chapters that sky rockets this novel up to five stars.
DISCLAIMER: “As of 13th September 2017 we are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.” My opinions are my own and any reviews on this site have not been swayed or altered in any way by monetary compensation, or by the offer of a free book in exchange for a review.
Have you read I Let You Go? I’d love to hear your views if you have.
Today, I am delighted to welcome S C Skillman to my blog with her blog tour post and discussion about inspiration.
GUEST POST By SC Skillman For Marjorie Mallon Inspiration, Motivation, and Keeping to the Path
Being an author in today’s world is a much tougher journey than one might ever believe, when one first conceives the desire to write stories.
I was inspired at the age of seven by the adventure stories of Enid Blyton and wanted to write exciting stories like hers. Essentially my desire was to write about girls my own age doing thrilling and dangerous and intrepid things quite out of my own daily experience. I created two girls called Marilyn and Sylvia and wrote many stories about them. They were good, brave, beautiful, clever and talented, everything I wanted to be. In other words, the desire was for transformation.
And this is why I believe we read fiction. Our longing is to be transported from out of our own lives, our own minds, into the mind and heart of someone else, to enter into a different world, to be inside someone else’s skin, to share his or her joys and sorrow and hopes and dreams.
Listening to conversations and observing people and the interaction of their personalities has long fascinated me and is a large part of my desire to write. I wrote a detailed daily journal throughout my teens and twenties, which ran to many volumes, and in it I would often record conversations I had been a part of or had overheard, and observations about people I knew, including family relationships.
The changes in the publishing scene over the past couple of decades have held out a seductive allure to independent authors, offering power and autonomy. Yet the snares along the path are even greater. We have all these opportunities, but also there are many people pursuing the same dream, and recording their success and offering their advice on social media. This can prove overwhelming for sensitive, introverted creative people – which is the case with many writers.
So it can prove a lifeline when we find inspiring quotes to strengthen and uplift us. Here’s one, from St Paul: “But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize.” And he also encouraged his readers with these words: “Only let us live up to all we have attained.”
Knowing that others have struggled for years and eventually, with persistence, won through, is a very helpful reminder for us when we start to doubt the value of our past achievements and allow it to weaken our faith in what we are capable of achieving in the future. My non-fiction book Perilous Path, an inspirational writers guide, contains several chapters which help authors to overcome obstacles in their path and how to use art and music as therapy as well as a source of fresh inspiration.
So, finally, what makes us carry on? We need to draw the water of inspiration and motivation from a reliable well. I found one particular saying of Sir Winston Churchill very powerful. When invited to speak to an audience of school pupils, who were all waiting to hear wise words from the great man, he said, “I only have five words to give you. Never, never, never give up.”
I’ve been so busy recently with editing my manuscript, gathering promotional ideas, etc, that I have neglected my much-loved book reviewing. So, to remedy this a little I’m doing a few mini reviews:
Starting off with….
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
In his twisty, gritty, profoundly moving debut—called “mandatory reading” by the New York Times—Adam Silvera brings to life a charged, dangerous near-future summer in the Bronx.
In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.
When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.
My review: 4.5 stars. This debut novel surprised me. I started off not being too sure about it and then loved it! Sometimes I’m like that, I can be a bit slow on the uptake! I need a little convincing and then kapow – it hits me full force. Great idea, fantastic characters, particularly the main protagonist Aaron Soto, thought provoking questions about his emerging sexuality, and interesting setting – the Bronx. Have added to my favourites list. Read? Yes, yes, yes.. !!!
A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart
In the tradition of Nick Hornby and David Nicholls comes a warm and tender novel in which a father and his autistic son connect over the game of Minecraft.
Alex loves his family, and yet he struggles to connect with his eight-year-old autistic son, Sam. The strain has pushed his marriage to the breaking point. So Alex moves in with his merrily irresponsible best friend on the world’s most uncomfortable blow-up bed.
As Alex navigates single life, long-buried family secrets, and part-time fatherhood, his son begins playing Minecraft. Sam’s imagination blossoms and the game opens up a whole new world for father and son to share. Together, they discover that sometimes life must fall apart before you can build a better one.
Inspired by the author’s own relationship with his autistic son, A Boy Made of Blocks is a tear-jerking, funny, and, most, of all true-to-life novel about the power of difference and one very special little boy.
Annika enjoyed this novel but didn’t love it, and I enjoyed it too but it didn’t quite make my favourite list either. Author Keith Stuart used his own experiences with his son to write A Boy Made Of Books, and reveals the complexities of coping with day to day activities with a child on the autistic spectrum. Even going to the park can become a major worry particularly if you meet a dog who might set off your child’s anxieties. In my experience, I found it to be well written throughout but the latter part of the novel was more emotionally engaging. Read? Yes, particularly if you are interested in novels about autism, and family/son relationships.
Simon Vs. The Homosapiens Agenda
Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.
With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.
My review: 4 stars. This deserves all the hype. It is an entertaining, sweet read, a must read YA novel… grab a copy! Read? Yes, most definitely Read!!!
Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty
Yvonne Carmichael sits in the witness box. The charge is murder. Before all of this, she was happily married, a successful scientist, a mother of two. Now she’s a suspect, squirming under fluorescent lights and the penetrating gaze of the alleged accomplice who’s sitting across from her, watching: a man who’s also her lover. As Yvonne faces hostile questioning, she must piece together the story of her affair with this unnamed figure who has charmed and haunted her. This is a tale of sexual intrigue, ruthless urges, and danger, which has blindsided her from a seemingly innocuous angle. Here in the courtroom, everything hinges on one night in a dark alley called Apple Tree Yard.
My review: 4.5 stars. Really enjoyed this a lot. I grabbed it off my mum’s bookshelf in Edinburgh… I’m always pinching books… beware! A fascinating tale of how the most unlikely of women could end up having such a wild and crazy affair, (I kid you not!) leading to such dire consequences. Highly recommended. Read? Yes, Read!!!
Mistletoe and Murder by Robin Stevens
Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are spending the Christmas hols in snowy Cambridge. Hazel has high hopes of its beautiful spires, cosy libraries and inviting tea-rooms – but there is danger lurking in the dark stairwells of ancient Maudlin College.
Two days before Christmas, there is a terrible accident. At least, it appears to be an accident – until the Detective Society look a little closer, and realise a murder has taken place. Faced with several irritating grown-ups and fierce competition from a rival agency, they must use all their cunning and courage to find the killer (in time for Christmas Day, of course).
The fabulously festive fifth mystery from the bestselling, award-winning author of Murder Most Unladylike.
My review: 4 stars. A very fun murder mystery set at Christmas in the colleges of Cambridge. Particularly enjoyed reading this as I live in Cambridge and it was nice to recognise some of the familiar settings. Read: Yes, particularly if you like an easy, entertaining, enjoyable read.
Following on from this I am currently reading Lucy Brazier’s Porter Girl so more about soon…
And after that I have various beauties on my TBR pile including The Words In My Hand by Guinevere Glasfurd, (Costa book awards shortlisted author,) who I met in person at a recent inspiring event held by Cambridge Writers.
A collection of pulse-pounding tales featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan—including the untold story of her first case!
The #1 New York Times bestselling author behind the hit Fox series Bones, Kathy Reichs is renowned for chilling suspense and fascinating forensic detail. The Bone Collection presents her trademark artistry in this collection of thrilling short fiction.
In First Bones, a prequel to Reichs’s first novel, Déjà Dead, she at last reveals the tale of how Tempe became a forensic anthropologist. In this never-before-published story, Tempe recalls the case that lured her from a promising career in academia into the grim but addictive world of criminal investigation. (It all began with a visit from a pair of detectives—and a John Doe recovered from an arson scene in a trailer.) The collection is rounded out with three more stories that take Tempe from the low country of the Florida Everglades, where she makes a grisly discovery in the stomach of an eighteen-foot Burmese python, to the heights of Mount Everest, where a frozen corpse is unearthed. No matter where she goes, Tempe’s cases make for the most gripping reading.
I won a copy of The Sunday Times No. 1 Bestseller Kathy Reich’s The Bone Collection via Linda Hill who blogs at: Linda’s Book Bag
So a big thank you for my winning copy! Of course, my opinions are my own and are not influenced in anyway by me receiving a free copy.
This isn’t my usual kind of read and at first, I was a little bit skeptical whether or not it would appeal to me. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The excellence of Kathy Reich’s writing and her detailed and knowledgeable observations about forensic anthropology kept me entertained throughout all four of these novellas, based on her successful Temperance Brennan series. This is a special treat for Kathy Reich enthusiasts as all four pieces: Bones In her Pocket, Swamp Bones, Bones on Ice, and First Bones are presented in a single collection in this novel. Bones both animal, and human do figure a lot in this novel, it’s to be expected! So be prepared for some gruesome moments. If I were, to sum up this novel I’d say: punchy, gripping, wincing, chilling, compelling, detailed, gut turning sleuthing mysteries to be solved, sliced with unexpected twists and turns, and served with a fulsome dollop of humour.
Highly recommended. My rating 4.5 stars.
Have you read Kathy Reich? Do comment and let me know.
After publishing some of his short stories on his blog, Hugh W. Roberts, who suffers from dyslexia, received numerous requests to publish his short stories in a book.
Here, at last, are 28 short stories that will take your mind on a rollercoaster of a ride into worlds that conceal unexpected twists and turns.
‘Glimpses’ allows the reader a peek into the lives of everyday people who are about to have life lead them on an unpredicted path. From a mysterious deadly iPad app, to a hole in the fence that is not all it seems, to a strange lipstick that appears to have a life of its own, you will encounter terror, laughter, sadness, shock and many other emotions on journeys which promise a thrilling and gripping climax.
If you are a lover of shows such as ‘The Twilight Zone’ and ‘Tales Of The Unexpected’, then you’re in for a real treat with this first collection of short stories from Hugh.
Dare you take a glimpse into the lives of these unsuspecting characters?
“If you’re looking for a thoroughly entertaining read, Glimpses is the book for you. Each story has been cleverly crafted; through Hugh’s wonderful imagination, he has the ability to whisk you away to many different worlds, past, present and future. Every story makes a compelling read and just when you think you know what’s going to happen next, Hugh masterfully reveals a brilliant twist. With bite-size and longer stories, Glimpses is a must-read. I loved it.” – Esther Newton, Writer, and Author.
Welcome, this is my first review of 2017. Happy New Year!!! Happy Reading!!!
This is undoubtedly an excellent collection of short stories from Hugh W. Roberts.
In my opinion, short stories are so difficult to write as the author has to encapsulate so much into such a rigid format and end on an engaging twist too. Hugh effortlessly manages to introduce us to such a wide range of well-crafted stories, encompassing several genres, ranging from Science Fiction, Supernatural, Thriller, Drama, Humour, LGBT, to Horror, with something for everyone in this entertaining compilation.
When Hugh jokingly remarked that his horror stories might give me nightmares I really didn’t believe that this kind-hearted chap could write that scary a horror story, but I was so wrong!!!! The particular one that stays in my mind the most is undoubtedly Needles, which definitely made me wince a lot and with a title like that it’s no wonder! Other favourites of mine in the horror category are The Easter Bunny, The Gingerbread House, and Lipstick. You can see I do like to read horror! I also have a soft spot for The Cake Decorator, (Thriller) and The Last Train to Aldwych (Ghost). Every single story in the compilation is a little nugget of imagination. Hugh may be dyslexic but he certainly has no difficulty on the imagination score! His powers of imagination and creativity are first class. Often dyslexic people are amazingly talented, and Hugh certainly is.
Glimpses is highly recommended for all short story enthusiasts. Go get a copy!!
Please do support Hugh and buy a copy of his book, and if you could share a review even better…
DISCLAIMER: “We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.”
My opinions are my own and any reviews on this site have not been swayed or altered in any way by monetary compensation, or by the offer of a free book in exchange for a review.
Ignatius Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things. He woke up the next morning with a thunderous hangover, a raging headache . . . and a pair of horns growing from his temples.
At first Ig thought the horns were a hallucination, the product of a mind damaged by rage and grief. He had spent the last year in a lonely, private purgatory, following the death of his beloved, Merrin Williams, who was raped and murdered under inexplicable circumstances. A mental breakdown would have been the most natural thing in the world. But there was nothing natural about the horns, which were all too real.
Once the righteous Ig had enjoyed the life of the blessed: born into privilege, the second son of a renowned musician and younger brother of a rising late-night TV star, he had security, wealth, and a place in his community. Ig had it all, and more—he had Merrin and a love founded on shared daydreams, mutual daring, and unlikely midsummer magic.
But Merrin’s death damned all that. The only suspect in the crime, Ig was never charged or tried. And he was never cleared. In the court of public opinion in Gideon, New Hampshire, Ig is and always will be guilty because his rich and connected parents pulled strings to make the investigation go away. Nothing Ig can do, nothing he can say, matters. Everyone, it seems, including God, has abandoned him. Everyone, that is, but the devil inside.
Horns is one of those books that captures your attention right from the start in a spectacular way. The main protagonist Ig, wakes up after a night of drunken debauchery with more than a mighty hangover. He finds a set of horns attached to his head, and these act like antennae giving him the ability to coerce people to tell him their darkest, most deeply hidden secrets. Time and time again the result is unequivocally shocking, making the reader reel at the depths to which people will have a hidden dark side. It makes us question just how much we really know our dear neighbours, friends, and family, who we love so much. Undoubtedly, we are all flawed human beings even the ones amongst us who we look up to are wretched sinners.
Horns is in part a love story, a tragic one, as Ig’s girlfriend, Merrin has been raped and murdered, and Ig is the prime suspect. Through the antennae effect, we get to learn the true reaction of his family, friends and the community to his possible culpability.
Horns isn’t easy reading and at times I definitely flinched. But it’s one of those books that draws you in and keeps you reading even though you want to look away. The villain is well crafted and engagingly horrible. If you have a phobia of snakes I don’t recommend you read this novel! It will give you nightmares!
The faster pacing of the earlier chapters gives way to a slower mid section that explores Ig’s relationship with his long-term girlfriend Merrin, who by all accounts is his soul mate, the love of his life. Given her importance to the narrative, this weightier middle section is understandable but does slow down the pace of the novel somewhat.
There is a reveal with regard to Merrin which ties some of the loose threads together in a very interesting way. But I am still a bit unsure about the ending…. perhaps this is a novel that would benefit from a second reading. I did feel that the ‘happier’ ending didn’t quite fit with the rest of the book, but I wonder if it was added as a device to make it less grim and more marketable – particularly with regard to a potential film contract – the film was released in 2014.
I’d definitely read more from Joe Hill, and it’s not just because he’s Stephen King’s son! This is ‘my first,’ Joe Hill novel. With this introduction, I can see that he weaves a wonderfully enthralling tale that explores the darker side of humanity, which continues to fascinate me.
Would I recommend Horns? Yes, most definitely but only if you like novels that explore the darker, murkier side of life.