Dark Space by Kevis Hendrickson

Dark Space (Rogue Hunter #2)Dark Space by Kevis Hendrickson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Zyra Zanr’s in a lot of trouble when Helship II is bested by an unknown ship. Much to her dismay, her time as the most lucrative and notorious bounty hunter comes to an abrupt halt, when instead of being the hunter, she becomes the hunted. Captured and aboard the Lillith, Zyra must somehow escape the clutches of a rival gang – one that make their hatred for her no secret.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

If it’s one thing I love, it’s intelligent protagonists. All too often, certainly more often than I’d like, main characters outright refuse to use their brain, and it infuriates me. This leans more toward female leads, as for some reason being “tough” usually means that they can’t keep their trap shut; mouthing off at everyone and everything, usually making their predicament ten times worse. This is where I have to give credit to Hendrickson, as Zyra’s not stupid. She was well aware of who had the upper hand, that is, until she gained the advantage. This was a satisfying change from the first book in the series (Rogue Hunter is currently five instalments long, with four more planned), as she often gave in to her impulsive tendencies. The obvious progression of her character was something I favoured, as I find characters that learn from mistakes to be less predictable and more engaging.

Similar to Inquest, there were very little people on Zyra’s side; most needed serious anger management, and perhaps a lesson or two in empathy. The aspect of bounty hunting was further delved into, and the ugliness of it wasn’t shied away from – on the contrary, as rather than being even remotely glamorous, the team had a difficult time merely getting by. Their struggle did nothing to warm me to them, however, as their actions were nothing short of detestable. The torture they inflicted upon Zyra was horrific, and perhaps even a little reckless considering she was wanted alive. I wanted to think better of Drake; a seasoned hunter, he had to act the adult amongst his bickering subordinates, yet he wasn’t much better in the scheme of things. They truly were a dysfunctional group of people that were pathetic in terms of professionalism.

Despite everything that happened to Zyra, she was still able to turn it around. This made me wonder about her, and if her incredible knack for survival was intentionally far-fetched. The extent of her wounds were stated to be pretty severe, so much so that she was apparently on the verge of death. I know one of the rumours about her was that she wasn’t entirely human, and I began to contemplate that possibility more and more. It went beyond mere skill, when she was able to successfully out-best the entire crew whilst dealing with that amount of injury. It could be that I’m wrong, though, and she’s just that good. If that’s the case, I’d thus consider her to be a tad unrealistic.

One thing I didn’t quite understand, was the self-destruct mechanism on the ship. It seemed convenient only for the plot, however I suppose the ship itself was an earlier acquisition and had a prior function, so obviously certain features would’ve been left over from that. It’s too bad the time limit it issued was less exciting than it should’ve been, because Zyra wasn’t going to die – she’s the main character and has natural plot armour. I’m glad Logos made it, though, and I wonder if he’s going to be present in future books.

In conclusion – Zyra’s quickly becoming a favourite of mine. Hendrickson does a great job in creating a brutal universe where everyone’s out only for themselves. I can’t wait to see where Zyra ends up next!

Notable Scene:

Drake was playing with fire. His every taunt stoked the flames in her heart, raising the heat within her to explosive heights. Zyra trembled, unable to check her rising anger at the pitiful sight of Logos. If Drake touched another hair on Logos’ head, she would make him suffer.

© Red Lace 2018

Booklikes ~ Goodreads ~ Twitter

What Hides Within by Jason Parent

What Hides WithinWhat Hides Within by Jason Parent

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Clive Menard thinks nothing of it when he destroys some webbing whilst out kayaking – that is until he begins hearing a voice inside his head. Questioning his own sanity, he desperately tries to rid himself of the oddly feminine presence, but to no avail. The dark passenger is there to stay – or so that’s what she continues to tell him.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

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

The synopsis of this book instantly captured my attention. Just what could be more interesting than a talking spider living inside someone’s head? I happen to love the little eight-legged critters, so believe me when I say I didn’t hesitate to request this novel. Think of my delight when my request was accepted, and I was thus introduced to Parent’s world, and more specifically, Clive’s rather uneventful, mundane life; a life we can all relate to in some way. I liked Clive, despite him being a very negative and oftentimes selfish person. His inner monologue mostly consisted of insulting people, which added a nice touch of humour. I always appreciate when something I read makes me smile, and What Hides Within definitely did.

Other characters included Reilly; a detective with detachment issues, Morgan; the love struck best friend, and a questionable amount of perverted men. Okay, so there was two, but Derek was more than enough for me. Each and every one had their own very apparent flaws; selfishness, narcissism, the list goes on. I think they were intentionally depicted badly, to enforce Chester’s motivation.

Speaking of Chester, she was the star of the show. The she-spider fascinated me in the way she was written; remarkably intelligent, manipulative, and deliciously deceptive. I admit, I had no clue of her intentions until the last half of the book. I consider myself perceptive – more often than not I can predict where the plot is going, but with Chester I was kept guessing with a multitude of questions coursing through my head. She certainly wasn’t the typical baddie, and whilst she possessed obvious abilities and wasn’t quite normal, she still only had the physical form of a small arachnid. Her weaknesses were made known throughout; she could just as easily be crushed like any other household spider, and that aspect so clearly fuelled her bitterness.

Naturally, I found myself wondering about her origins – where’d she come from? Just what, exactly, was she? She offered so little to Clive throughout, it nearly made me insane. That is, until this luscious morsel:

“In truth, I don’t have a name. I am very old, descended from divinity. My kind was cast aside by a hateful ruler, before our fathers could name us and before our mothers could nurture us. Even so, we were giants amongst men, beings worthy of great reverence. But our creator had no use for us, and we were exiled, wrongly punished for our parents’ sins. He chose not to destroy us, instead transforming us into these insignificant specks, forgotten by humanity and the omnipotent themselves.”

You’ve no idea how many times I’ve read over that paragraph, in an attempt to decipher it. There’s so much information in that small piece, and it’s the most we get. My thoughts turn to Arachne of Greek mythology (Chester did mention this name), and my assumption is that Chester and her kind are descendants of Arachne, whom was cursed by a God and turned into a spider. The story of myth and Chester’s description doesn’t quite add up, however, so perhaps Parent added his own take. Either way, I took pleasure in trying to figure her out.

The plot was a slow burner – it focused on acquainting the reader with the characters and the relationship between man and spider, whilst sprinkling some mystery elements into the background. Despite not being action-packed, the build up to the explosive climax was no less exciting. When it came down to it, I wasn’t expecting the last twist involving Clive.

In conclusion – I found it very enjoyable. The horror was subtle, yet superbly weaved. Considering the ending, is Chester’s antics really done? I don’t think so!

Notable Scene:

Had Clive been capable of even sporadic coherency, he might have feared the hideous being perched on his snout. The minute animal protruded like a wart no more than a third of an inch off Clive’s skin. Despite its size and his heavily medicated state, Clive could easily make out what it was; a spider, but unlike any he’d seen before.

© Red Lace 2018

Booklikes ~ Goodreads ~ Twitter

Woom by Duncan Ralston

Woom: An Extreme Horror NovelWoom: An Extreme Horror Novel by Duncan Ralston

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Finally returning to the one place that’s caused him a great deal of pain in his life, Angel hires Shyla – a prostitute that has no idea what’s in store for her. Settling down into Room Six at the Lonely Motel, Angel begins their encounter with stories of that very room – terrible stories that Shyla finds hard to believe. Just what is Angel’s motive? Shyla will inevitably find out, one way or the other.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

One thing’s for sure – this one will stay with me for a while to come, it’s even possible that I’ll never forget it. It’s seared into my mind, each and every disturbing tale that left Angel’s lips. Despite becoming so engrossed in the twisted playground that is Ralston’s imagination, I actually needed to take several breaks throughout and come up for air. I’m fairly new to the whole “extreme” side of horror, and whilst I enjoy the pushing of limits and whatnot, I feel small doses are best. Admittedly, one particular story actually caused me to feel a bit sick. Don’t get me wrong, I consider myself having a strong stomach, but there’s some things that just freak me out, and what transpired with Mary in “Woom” was one of those things. Perhaps it’s because what Mary did to herself wasn’t far-fetched at all; it’s a very real thing that women in the world still do to themselves, or maybe it’s just because I own a vagina and the descriptive detail offended my female parts.

Below are the respective parts of the book, and the “theme” for each tale.

Room 6 – Essentially the introduction, where Angel and Shyla first met. I admit, Angel gave off that serial killer vibe from the beginning, despite being all gentlemanly and polite.
Cram(ps) – What’s the term? Stuff or swallow? Boy, this one was unpleasant to start with, but Ralston just had to add icing to the cake. It got considerably worse. (Drug muling, miscarriage.)
Pro(lapse) – Probably my least favourite of the lot. It didn’t deal directly with Angel or Shyla, but added some rather bizarre humour. (Rectal prolapse.)
Woom – As I’ve already stated, this one made me feel sick. I don’t even want to think about it anymore. (Bathroom abortion.)
(S)mother – It was Shyla’s turn to share. I wasn’t surprised at all by her account – someone in her profession would obviously meet all sorts. (Account of rape, asphyxiophilia.)
Man(nequin) – This was my favourite! I didn’t see it coming. At first I felt sorry for Bethany, but she was absolutely mad as all hell by the end. (Mutilation.)
(Still)born Again – The climax of it all, and what a climax it was. I knew Angel had something in mind, but I didn’t know just how twisted it was. (Rebirthing.)

I know a lot of people are put off by an authors intent to shock and disgust, and I’d agree if the plot suffered and was nothing more than fluff. I, however, think there was a clear, thought-provoking story here; one of hardship after hardship, and a person’s tragic connection to a specific place. Angel was, by all means, a very traumatised individual that obviously needed professional help, yet I suppose, in a way, professional help is exactly what he received from Shyla. Do I believe the room itself had anything to do with it? Well, it was definitely odd that that specific room was the stage to most of the events, and considering the number of the room, it was implied something more was going on. I, however, don’t think the room was “evil”, or had any paranormal connections. Perhaps negativity just attracted negativity.

I was spurred on to do a bit of research of my own after finishing, regarding the rebirthing therapy. I love it when something I read prompts me to delve deeper into a topic I wouldn’t otherwise be interested in, or even know about. Whilst Angel took it WAY too far in the end, the practice itself, specifically the blanket / pillow version, is heavily controversial. What’s especially harrowing, is the story of Candace Newmaker; a ten year old girl who died during a seventy-minute session. I recommend reading about it, if you’re into that sort of thing!

Originally I gave a rating of three, but I’ve increased it to much-deserved four. I’m glad I happened across this on Amazon!

In conclusion – Very well done, but not for the faint of heart. Includes highly sensitive material. I’ll be reading more of Ralston’s work in the future – something about the dark and twisted is addicting.

Notable Quote:

“You should always listen to that voice when something doesn’t feel right. Always look for the red flags. Stop worrying about being nice, about making a scene. I know that now.”

© Red Lace 2018

Booklikes ~ Goodreads ~ Twitter