Will Haunt You by Brian Kirk

Will Haunt YouWill Haunt You by Brian Kirk

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It’s the reunion of the heavy metal band The Rising Dead, and guitarist Jesse Wheeler expects to return home stone sober. Just when his attempts seem successful, an odd encounter on the road plunges him into a world of clones, feral men, and his worst enemy: booze. Is this all in his mind? Is this the punishment for his sins? Unable to trust what he sees, who he meets, Jesse struggles to keep his sanity intact.

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I thank Flame Tree Press for giving me the opportunity.

Will Haunt You piqued my interest primarily due to all the varying opinions; it proved a book many found themselves divided upon. The general consensus seemed to be that it was overwhelmingly vague, and I can now confirm that to be true. I want to be clear, I was not part of the marketing program that preceded its release. In fact, I never read any of the stories that were published and considered a prologue. Whilst I can applaud a unique promotional strategy, such can indeed lead to a certain expectation that likely won’t be met – hype tends to be eventual disappointment. So I went in relatively blind, yet still somewhat aware of the complaints surrounding it, and all in all I didn’t regret the time spent. I actually looked forward to the bizarre scenarios that would continue to confront the protagonist, and I can honestly say that I never predicted anything that transpired.

Jesse entertained me quite a bit, and I believe Kirk really excelled at creating a distinct voice for this recovering addict. I found myself vehemently disliking him one moment, and sympathising with him the next, this back and forth present for the entirety. His lies, and his inability to own up to his mistakes struck a chord because of how tragically human it was. This is the reason I have a soft spot for first-person POV; if done well, I can feel more attuned to the character’s inner monologue. The use of prose expressed a great many emotion that plagued Jesse throughout, and also touched upon philosophical matters that resulted in my own mind racing.

I’m not put off by overly complex plotlines, as I quite enjoy the speculation that comes with them. In this case, I took pleasure in the journey with the assumption the ending would provide answers. What I should have kept in mind was the overall style of the book, and what it was trying to accomplish with the complete lack of hand-holding. Of course it wasn’t going to be tied up neatly with a bow on top, even if I hoped otherwise. I came out of the experience more mystified than ever, and for me, if I’m denied a certain closure that I feel is appropriate, then I’m left with a bitter aftertaste. Unfortunately that’s what happened here: I was not satisfied with the outcome.

The whole deal with breaking the fourth wall was something new in regards to what I’m used to. It didn’t work for me; I was brought out of the story several times, and it failed to elicit a sense of uneasiness, which I presume was its intention. I do however respect the branching out and trying new things in the genre.

In conclusion: Will Haunt You was an outlandish read, with many twists and turns that married the bizarre and the ominous. Whilst I found enjoyment in the unpredictable sequence of events that challenged Jesse’s sanity, the ending, as well as some other aspects, didn’t quite do it for me. I would have preferred some semblance of understanding when I closed the book for the last time. As it was, more and more questions were piled upon a mountain of confusion.

Notable Quote:

All around the world, there are places where people explore the reaches of depravity. Suburban houses hosting bondage parties. Blood rituals in church basements. I heard there are underground clubs in Thailand where powerful businessmen pay to kill runaways. Some people have wicked ways to get off, and we let them.

© Red Lace 2019

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The Blood Lights by Elaine Pascale

The Blood LightsThe Blood Lights by Elaine Pascale

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Nobody believes the Blood Lights to be a threat, for they’re unaware of their very existence. Lou Collins has sacrificed his personal life in pursuit of the truth, yet his work is regarded as fiction. Jezzie Mitchell is reminded of her brother’s vicious murder, when she observes dangerous, yet familiar behaviour. Bridgette Collins uses her knowledge to get ahead, and further her career at the expense of humanity. All are connected, and all will fall victim to the Blood Lights.

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I thank Elaine Pascale for giving me the opportunity.

The Blood Lights, as a whole, proved quite a challenge to keep up with. I experienced moments that captivated me as well as moments that diminished my interest altogether, and one thing I couldn’t help but question throughout was its overall format; the plot frequently alternated between past and present – including diary entries and notes – while involving a large number of characters that, at times, were difficult to distinguish from each other. For me this spoiled the bigger picture, as the concept of the lights themselves and their significance really drew my interest, however the ensuing confusion transported me away from the story that Pascale was trying to tell. To be frank, I don’t pay much attention to dates in any instance, and so it felt that I was punished for not keeping them locked in mind when it was jumping back and forth in time.

Don’t get me wrong, as mentioned I was so completely absorbed when it came to certain sections. In particular, the segments relating to Leah and Joel, vacationing in Bimini, were incredibly compelling. I adore a tale that zones into one person’s experiences, gets up close and personal, and when they undergo a transformation so ghastly, it truly fascinates me. The foreshadowing was also an element that enticed me when it came to the married couple – it was done well. It’s therefore my opinion that, had the entirety of the book been solely focused on one, even two of the characters, I would have probably liked it a lot more. In its current state, whilst I believe it ambitious, I was unable to connect with the majority of those introduced. The short length of the novel was also a factor, as a lot was crammed into less than two hundred pages.

Another aspect I just couldn’t mesh with was the explanation of such a bizarre phenomenon (one that presented itself as a sickness in females). I feel that an air of mystery concerning the lights was achieved early on, however the approach in which it took to explain their creation made little to no sense. I’m not sure if this was intentionally left obscure, but that lacklustre reveal removed a large chunk of my speculation. Sometimes unknowing can be more effective than knowing. I won’t say too much here, even though I would like to.

In conclusion: The Blood Lights was beautifully written, and whilst I found the idea of mysterious lights causing a peculiar illness to be thought-provoking, I considered the payoff to be disappointing. The constant fluctuating between past and present also gave a sense of disorder. Despite the scenes I favoured being brought down by these complaints, it was worth the read overall.

Notable Quote:

In literature and the movies, rain washes away sins, regrets, and anguish: it is God’s baptismal font. In real life, it is merely a coat of paint-the scars and blemishes still exist on the walls beneath.

© Red Lace 2019

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Kinfolk by Matt Kurtz

KinfolkKinfolk by Matt Kurtz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Estranged siblings Ray and Eric Kuttner find themselves stranded in the middle of nowhere. With a painful past hanging over their heads, and vengeance to dish out, they struggle with their brotherly relationship whilst being forced to protect themselves against an insane clan of flesh eaters. Being hunted down like animals was not the plan; they were to be the hunters. The only thing they can do is try to turn things around, and guns will undoubtedly help.

(WARNING: This review contains MAJOR spoilers.)

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I thank Matt Kurtz for giving me the opportunity.

Where to start? Well, at the start.

I imagined that the beginning of this book was akin to being shoved head-first down a ravine – there was no going back, there was more than little discomfort, and the question of why would you do this to me was entirely appropriate. For some the very first chapter of Kinfolk will prove difficult to read; the topic of rape is one that I personally find upsetting. It won’t put me off a novel, but if explicit then I’ll probably have to put it down for a while and focus on something else. That’s exactly what I had to do in this instance. It occurred to me later on that Kurtz made the decision to put the most horrific scene – for it was the only scene of its kind to involve sexual abuse – at the very start. It never reached that level of unpleasantness again, focusing more on action and gore for the remainder. It’s certainly a decision that could be considered brave.

The generous amount of violence that ensued throughout the majority of the book was at times amusing, and other times, thrilling. Kurtz was able to switch up the plot a great deal, resulting in a number of challenges the “heroes” had to overcome: a car chase, to a siege scenario that came together with flawless transition. Suffice it to say, I was entertained and impressed by how the writing was able to adapt. At no point did I have trouble envisioning the events, and that’s coming from someone who often has to re-read passages that are heavy with action.

The backwoods setting with the cannibalistic family obviously brings to mind The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and similar works, but I feel that it set itself apart from the typical plot involving helpless young adults. Ray and Eric were characters that had already fought through their fair share of tribulations, and the individuals they were molded into were far from innocent. I prefer it when protagonists are flawed, and I enjoy it immensely when the predator and prey aspect isn’t so straight forward. The relationship and history of these siblings was something I definitely found to be a strength. When all was said and done, I felt genuine sadness – I appreciate when such emotions are evoked, as it means I was a hundred percent invested.

In conclusion: A fast-moving tale of survival, Kinfolk was exciting and addictive. I felt desperate to reach the end, as I was dying to know the final outcome. I’d not hesitate to recommend this novel to anyone who relishes the chaotic backwoods, cannibal trope, yet it’s my opinion that this one offers a depth that many of its kind lacks.

Notable Quote:

The horror was finally brought into the light… up close and personal.

© Red Lace 2019

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