This was a surprising and twisted little story. Paul Hoover inherits a house from an uncle he has almost never heard of. At first shocked by the revelThis was a surprising and twisted little story. Paul Hoover inherits a house from an uncle he has almost never heard of. At first shocked by the revelation that his uncle was accused of being a sadistic serial killer, Paul and his family nevertheless move into the beautiful new home. But what starts almost perfectly, turns weird with every passing day. Paul meets with Deacon Malphrus, who claims to have held his uncle captive in his cellar to perform some kind of exorcism. The deacon claims Paul's uncle was possessed by a demon forcing him to commit those brutal crimes. (view spoiler)[But while I was a bit suspicious of the unusually helpful deacon, in no way would I have guessed the real extent of his motivations. (hide spoiler)]
There are several very explicit scenes in this book, and I liked the clever way the author included them in separate chapters showing flashback glimpses of the past. At the beginning they brought a harsh contrast to the (yet) friendly present, which soon turned into something very disturbing and ugly...
The story was very well-written, with a good eye for, but not too much lingering on detail, which made the descriptions very graphic and easily conceivable, while at the same time keeping up a steady pace.
If you enjoy reading twisted horror stories seasoned with a good dose of gory scenes, Sweetgum Ridge is the place to visit.
(I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Das Buch wird als (Psycho-)Thriller angepriesen, was es meiner Meinung nach nur sehr bedingt trifft. So bin ich mit völlig falschen Erwartungen an denDas Buch wird als (Psycho-)Thriller angepriesen, was es meiner Meinung nach nur sehr bedingt trifft. So bin ich mit völlig falschen Erwartungen an den Start gegangen und wurde erst einmal ziemlich enttäuscht, lediglich das Ende zog dann wieder an und konnte einigermaßen entschädigen.
Das Buch wird aus der Perspektive von Alan erzählt, einem Psychiater, der die Aufgabe hat, das Opfer einer Vergewaltigung bei der Traumabewältigung zu unterstützen. Die Krux an der Sache ist aber, dass das Mädchen, Jenny, einer Behandlung unterzogen wurde, die die Erinnerung an das Ereignis ausgelöscht hat. Leider ging diese Behandlung aber nach hinten los, denn statt sich besser zu fühlen, war Jenny schließlich so verwirrt und verzweifelt, dass es sich das Leben nehmen wollte. Hier kommt Alan ins Spiel: er soll helfen, die Erinnerungen wieder ans Licht zu bringen, so dass Jenny sich damit auseinandersetzen und das Ereignis letztendlich hinter sich lassen kann. Alan berichtet von den Sitzungen mit seinen Patienten, den Gesprächen mit der Polizei und natürlich seiner eigenen Rolle in dem Ganzen, die vom anfänglichen Beobachter zum manipulativen Fädenzieher anwächst, der seine ärztliche Macht zu seinen eigenen Gunsten ausnutzt.
Was auf den ersten Seiten recht spannend begann, flaute leider sofort wieder ab und wurde von langwierigen Erklärungen und Beschreibungen ausgebremst. Vieles war interessant, aber oft wünschte ich mir auch es möge endlich wieder etwas mehr passieren und Alan sollte vor allem nicht so viel abschweifen.
Immerhin: gegen Ende hat es ja doch noch geklappt mit der Spannung. Die Auflösung kam durchaus überraschend, aber nicht enttäuschend, da der Täter vorher schon einmal erwähnt und nicht plötzlich aus dem Hut gezogen wurde. So konnte man als Leser noch darüber nachgrübeln, ob man nicht von selbst darauf hätte kommen können.
Schade fand ich, dass Alan mit seiner Aktion durchgekommen ist - ich habe nur wenig Mitleid mit ihm, warum er seine Mitmenschen derartig manipuliert hat, und das aus objektiv betrachtet völlig unnötigen Gründen. Seine Erläuterungen, warum er nicht früeher etwas gesagt hat, finde ich nicht ausreichend überzeugend. Er hätte ja auch wieder einen anonymen Tipp geben können, oder so wie bei Bob wenigstens etwas andeuten - wo er doch so meisterlich die Menschen in die gewünschte Richtung lenken konnte. Das hätte durchaus schon zu einer frühzeitigen Ergreifung des Täters führen können, allerdings wäre das Buch dann natürlich auch sehr schnell zu Ende gewesen. Trotzdem: diese Stelle fand ich einfach nicht überzeugend.
Faszinierend war, wie Alan sich vom einfühlsamen Helfer selbst quasi zu einem Fall für den Psychiater entwickelt hat. Seine anfängliche Arroganz hat sich ja wirklich bis ins Unendliche gesteigert, dass er sich heraus nimmt so zu agieren. Und der Grund ist ein absoluter Witz - sorry, aber dafür kann ich kein Verständnis aufbringen. So viele Menschen zu manipulieren, nur um den guten Ruf zu schützen, wo doch ein Hinweis an die Polizei schon gereicht hätte, das kann ich echt nicht nachvollziehen. Deshalb: Daumen runter!
Fazit: interessant, aber völlig anders als erwartet. Spannung baut sich erst im letzten Viertel auf - das war mir für einen Thriller einfach zu wenig. Unter anderer als dieser falschen Flagge hätte das Buch vermutlich besser abgeschnitten....more
It started so fantastic, but the ending was a complete let-down...seriously?! I decided to wait a few days before writing this review to calm down a bIt started so fantastic, but the ending was a complete let-down...seriously?! I decided to wait a few days before writing this review to calm down a bit from my disappointment and not risk writing something offensive in the heat of the moment...
The book was a weird mixture of utter beauty and shocking horror. A man who calls himself the Gardener holds over twenty girls captive, marking each with a butterfly tattoo on their backs and 'collecting' them in a huge conservatory. Here he visits them to satisfy his desires, even considering himself in a very twisted way as their benefactor. But whenever a girl reaches her 21st birthday he kills and preserves her in a glass cabinet like in a real butterfly collection. Most of the girls learn to arrange themselves with their situation, and others don't stay for long...
The story is told from the POV of Maya, as the Gardener named her, after most of the girls are finally rescued. Some passages read like the girls live in a secluded artificial kind of paradise, especially within the beautiful setting of the glass conservatory, complete with a small waterfall and stream. But the next moment, the reader is taken back into reality - the girls are held captive, repeatedly raped and eventually killed. It was fascinating how within such an unbelievable and cruel situation there where still glimpses of hope and spontaneous happiness to be found. However, each such moment was easily revealed as illusion by the next horrific and inhuman treatment.
I was glad that Maya did not completely fall for the Gardener's younger son, but efficiently manipulated him into helping the girls escape. However, once the release was set into motion, the story was getting more and more unbelievable. At the end the reader learns that a former roommate of Maya was the only 'Butterfly' who ever managed to escape, and that Maya may even have provoked her capture on purpose. For me, that was the turning point where everything went downhill, and fast. The whole story ended with such a ridiculous and constructed solution, I was wondering if I was still reading the same book. How could such a fantastic story end in such a way? I guess a lot of readers may disagree, but the book left me completely disappointed.
As the main part was a real pageturner easily worth five stars, but the short ending passage was barely worth anything imho, I decided to diplomatically rate the book three stars. However, if the description of the book catches your eye, I strongly recommend to nevertheless give it a try, as I did enjoy reading most of it.
(I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review)...more
The book's description sounded very fascinating, but it promised way more than the book held. Let's see:
"Dark things. Things that should only live inThe book's description sounded very fascinating, but it promised way more than the book held. Let's see:
"Dark things. Things that should only live in fantasy. The Nain Rouge was recently sighted in Detroit and a Loupe Garou is rumored to hunt the woods near Mackinaw. A suicide cluster haunts Washtenaw County." Sounds great? Definitely, but these two sentenced are all there is about those sightings in the book, and that's it.
"Angela is a changeling, fostered by the Fae and recently returned from the Twilight Realm. Raised to fight dragons and still healing from the passage to the human world, she struggles to catch up to the life she never lived." I have to admit, that part was the best - too follow Angela as she struggles to fit in with the human world, slowly making sense of all the curious things that are new and unknown to her. But dragons? Nope, not in this one.
"Lydia is underestimated by many because of her deformity. Determined and intelligent, her innate skepticism cannot prevent her hobby of stage magic evolving into something more real." I thought Lydia, or Barnum, as she prefers to call herself, was too whiny. Ok, so she has a deformity of the hand, but that's just no reason to complain all the time about everything. That girl really got on my nerves.
"Bailey is a transgender teen impatient to transition, doing his best to keep a low profile until he can. He is haunted by dreams and premonitions of a menacing evil." I don't know why the author brought in the transgender subject, it was hinted at several times but otherwise had no meaning for the story at all. I just didn't get it.
"They are drawn together by the collective realization that the apparent suicide of a classmate has a far more paranormal origin than simply being part of a cluster." Aha! So here is where the action begins, right?
"Hunted by supernatural predators that want to end them before they reach their heroic potential, these teenagers will have to travel to Fairy and back if they want to survive long enough to save the world." The supernatural predators are a pair of creepy kids with black eyes - OK that really was a scary scene. To escape them, our heroes travel to the Fairy Realm, stay there for some time and then come back at a different place. Only to be faced with those kids again - that didn't quite work out, did it? However, it did fill some chapters with a completely irrelevant and useless detour to Fairy land.
"Skeptical mage, queer seer, and brain injured warrior. They'll save us." Good to know - because they sure don't save us in this book. After returning from the Fairy Realm, they have to face the creepy kids one more time. They do manage to destroy the kids, but only with the help of their history teacher, who is kind of a guardian for them and comes to their rescue. After that, they go home and maybe live on happily ever after...
The book ended so abruptly, I was sure I missed the announcement that this is the pilot story to a series. I checked again and found that it is not - or not yet? There were so many questions left open, so many explanations missing, so many connections not made. The book combined a lot of different subjects, but missed to connect them thoroughly. E.g. I expected the creepy kids where related to or maybe originated in the Fairy world and that our heroes would find some explanations there which would have given their travel there meaning, but that was not the case. While Lydia and Bailey were perfect specimens of troubled, vulnerable teenagers and thus may be easy to identify with, I found the author overdid it with their problems.
There are so many interesting concepts in this book which are not followed through or appear unconnected that I wonder why they were added at all. Though I enjoyed reading several single chapters I felt disappointed by the book as a whole.
(I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review)
This is one of the best thrillers I've read in a very long time! With an original plot and unique characters this definitely stands out among the massThis is one of the best thrillers I've read in a very long time! With an original plot and unique characters this definitely stands out among the mass of titles available in that genre. The writing was superb and made reading the story a real pleasure.
I liked the characters very much - both flawed, both struggling to cope with their individual fates and also struggling to find a way to work together as partners. I was glad that the return of the 'Body Reader' to her old position at the police department was not understood, and that her colleagues were in doubt about her fast recovery. It made the whole scenario believable, as well as the partnership Jude and Uriah slowly built in their work together.
It was fascinating to see Jude struggle with her lack of emotions while at the same time being tormented with the emotions of those around her, especially her partner, which she experienced much more intensive as others. At the same time, it was interesting to see how Uriah often tried to hide his feelings, knowing Jude could read him like an open book.
'The Body Reader' is an excellent example of a character-driven book, and while the crime was shocking and the following investigation suspenseful, the real focus was on the development of Jude and Uriah into a team. Highly recommended!
(I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review)...more
The title could never be more fitting: this book is ugly and wonderful at the same time. I could not put this book down and neglected everything elseThe title could never be more fitting: this book is ugly and wonderful at the same time. I could not put this book down and neglected everything else to keep on reading.
The writing is just awesome, and while the story is told from a lot of different POV's, the author manages to give each character his/her individual tone and language, which makes the telling itself as worthwhile reading as the story that is told. Of course, Wavy's chapters were the strongest and curiously, her very factual tone and almost non-existent speaking provoked the strongest emotional reactions in me.
Of course, one must not forget the very sensitive nature of this novel's subject. Think of Wavy being ten years older, this would have been a perfect bittersweet heartbreaking romance where you can't wait for the lovers to finally come together for their happily ever after. But in this book, Wavy is not ten years older - when she first meets with Kellen, she is only eight years old! I constantly checked Wavy's age in each chapter I was reading, wishing for her to magically grow several years older than was actually possible. Because what she had with Kellen felt so magical and beautiful and romantic. But then I realized - again - that Wavy was still too young for that kind of relationship and everything that felt wonderful at first glance turned ugly in the blink of an eye.
And then, the ending - where it would have been a happy one in every other constellation, in this case it was not a sweet salvation. Instead it felt surreal and like a weak consolation for the damage that was caused before, and it definitely did not succeed to mend my broken heart. While reading, I was constantly alternating between loving and hating the story. This is a rare book that effortlessly evokes the strongest and most controversial emotions from the reader. Highest recommendation.
(I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review)...more