By: Maria Alexander
Publisher: Raw Dog Screaming Press
Release Date: November 2, 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Fantasy, Horror
Charity Jones is a 16-year-old engineering genius who’s much-bullied for being biracial and a skeptic at her conservative school in Oak County, California. Everything changes when Charity’s social worker mother brings home a sweet teen runaway named Aidan to foster for the holidays. Matched in every way, Charity and Aidan quickly fall in love. But it seems he’s not the only new arrival: Charity soon finds the brutally slain corpse of her worst bully and she gets hard, haunting evidence that the killer is stalking Oak County. As she and her Skeptics Club investigate this death and others, they find at every turn the mystery only grows darker and more deadly. One thing’s for certain: there’s a bloody battle coming this holiday season that will change their lives – and human history – forever.Will they be ready?
(I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review).
(This review may contain spoilers).
I wavered a bit on how many stars to give this book. In the end, I decided on four, primarily because the paranormal aspects of this book were actually really unique. And while I felt the relationship between Charity and Aidan moved far too quick, it made a nice change from all the vampire, werewolves and fay paranormal romances.
I did find it somewhat hard to differentiate between some of the characters at the start of the book. It seemed like there was a very big mob mentality… and that all of the religious characters in the school were grouped together as hypocritical bullies.
I did think it was good to see that Charity was fighting against the mould. I really didn’t like Charles. At all. The best types of villains are those who have depth to them; who have good in them along with bad. Charles just seemed like a completely awful person and it got to the point I didn’t actually care about what was happening to him.
I found it difficult to understand Aidan at times. While it was interesting to learn about him as Charity did, I felt there was a bit too much information dumping when it came to the relationships he was forming with the other characters. I didn’t get to see much of him interacting with Charity’s parents, for instance, even though he apparently really liked her father.
I really didn’t like Keiko. While I could understand how she felt at first, as the book went on, I just found myself growing more and more irritated with her. I liked Judy and Leo; Michael, too, although I didn’t feel they were as well-developed as the other characters.
I did feel that this book was a really short one and there was too much telling rather than showing going on. I couldn’t help but feel some sympathy for the monster, but I would have liked a bit more detail about how Charity put everything together.
There was more action towards the end of the book, but there were very few characters who had a lot of depth to them. I would be interested in reading more books by this author in the future, though.
Maria Alexander is a produced screenwriter, games writer, virtual world designer, award-winning copywriter, fiction writer, and poet. Her stories have appeared in publications such as Chiaroscuro Magazine, Gothic.net and Paradox, as well as acclaimed anthologies with legends such as Clive Barker, David Morrell and Heather Graham.
Her debut novel, Mr. Wicker, won the 2014 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. Publisher’s Weekly called is, “(a) splendid, bittersweet ode to the ghosts of childhood,” while Library Journal hailed it in a Starred Review as “a horror novel to anticipate.” She’s represented by Alex Slater at Trident Media Group.
When she’s not wielding a katana at her local shinkendo dojo, she’s being outrageously spooky or writing Doctor Who filk. She lives in Los Angeles with two ungrateful cats, a pervasive sense of doom, and a purse called Trog.
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