Legion is a teacher. An avenging angel. A murderer. A madman. Born in the blood of a dying mother, raised in the underground lair of an insane father, he travels the world looking for those who keep secrets and sins. He finds those who have fallen short, and teaches them the lessons they need to leave their mistakes behind. Even if he has to kill them to do it. Because sometimes murder is the only way to teach a proper lesson.
So when he sees a man kidnap two people on the side of the road, Legion knows it is time to teach again. Soon he finds himself caught in the crossfire of a coup in a Russian crime syndicate. He is captured, beaten, bleeding, in chains; cut off and alone.
It’s just the way he likes it. Legion has found his students. And for them, life is about to become frightening and so much... stranger.
One of the most versatile writers around, Michaelbrent Collings is an internationally bestselling novelist, produced screenwriter, and multiple Bram Stoker Award finalist. While he is best known for horror (and is one of the most successful indie horror authors in the United States), he has also written bestselling thriller, fantasy, science fiction, mystery, humor, young adult, and middle grade works, and Western Romance.
In addition to being a bestselling novelist, Michaelbrent has also received critical acclaim: he is the only person who has ever been a finalist for a Bram Stoker Award, a Dragon Award, a RONE Award, and a Whitney award: and he and his work have been reviewed and/or featured on everything from Publishers Weekly to Scream Magazine to NPR. He is also a frequent guest at comic cons and on writing podcasts like Six Figure Authors, The Creative Penn, and Writing Excuses.
STRANGER STILL is the sequel to author Michaelbrent Collings novel, STRANGERS. Unlike most "sequels", this novel can be read without having read its predecessor first. If anything, this tells a story from an entirely different point-of-view, filling in details that we were never privy to in the original book.
The scope of this novel covers more locations and incorporates many more characters. Legion is by far the one that gave me the most "conflicting" emotions.
"Legion is of normal build. He is of abnormal strength."
We are introduced to several main characters, each with their own agenda, and a newly married couple--Alex and Danielle. This is very much a character-driven novel, although there is a lot of action as well. However, it's the individual personalities and the viewpoints that captivated me the most, and made this book so mesmerizing.
"We all have to live with the consequences of our actions . . ."
Legion is in the business of "teaching" others the error of their ways. The others include a power-hungry drug distributor, a sadistic-and unstable--egomaniac that is exquisitely skilled in the art of torture, our married couple, and even some "former" personalities that are given stronger roles.
"Sometimes killing is a kindness."
I absolutely loved the execution of this novel! Having already read STRANGERS, I was expecting things to be in a similar vein to that. However, this was completely different--so much so that I never even had a chance to "guess" at the hidden revelations to come, or make my usual predictions. This was a book that left me content to simply read and let the events unfold before me as the author saw fit to deliver them.
". . . Do memories change? And if they change, does the truth of the past change with them?"
In addition to being mentally stimulating, this story was full of action, apprehension, adrenaline, curiosity, and of course, fears. The characters were complex, and each one of them so intriguing that I didn't want to miss a single sentence.
". . . being good at things wasn't necessarily the same as enjoying them . . . "
Overall, I have to say that I loved this novel as much as STRANGERS, but for completely different reasons, as these stories were so divergent in style. This was, in my opinion, the best possible way to tell a tale of this type. I've long been a fan of Michaelbrent Collings, yet his ability to create unique storylines and memorable characters never ceases to amaze me. This is another fantastic book you'll want to add to your shelves!
"I'm the thing that came from the Dark Place . . . "
Stranger Still by Michaelbrent Collings is a stand alone novel, even though it is a sequel to Strangers. I didn’t realize I had Stranger on my Kindle, but now that I have met Legion, I have to know more about him.
He named himself Legion. He is a punisher. Doling out lessons to sinners.
Sheldon, but not the cute kid on Young Sheldon, or the genius on Big Bang Theory. No, this Sheldon is a hot mess whose specialty is kidnapping, torturing and murdering. He thinks he’s a god and revels in the gross and disturbing brutality he doles out.
Sheldon takes Camille and Alex hostage while they are on their honeymoon. But why? I have a feeling there is much more to Alex than we know at this time. At first, I thought he didn’t tell her his secrets to keep her safe, but….
I quickly became hooked on the characters, leading me to want to know more about them. I was riding in the front seat of the car with Camille, bouncing around in the trunk with Alex, and in the heads of Sheldon and Legion, and believe me, that is a frightening place to be.
At half way through Stranger Still, I am excited about what is to come. I have no idea how this will end, but I am fully committed and hoping Camille survives. There is something about Camille that comes through in Michaelbrent Collings writing that captures me. I feel she has a bigger part to play than victim, and I am curious to see if I am right. And Legion…
Bad childhoods, and I mean bad, can make people bad people, but there are those that walk out a decent person, overcoming the evil perpetrated on them. As I think about Legion, I wonder where exactly he fits in. He is a character that, even though he is brutal, at times savage, he has a reason for doing what he does. Can that excuse him? Only you can decide.
Is everyone twisted, insane, ruthless? How many sociopaths/psychopaths does it take to create Stranger Still?
I voluntarily reviewed a free copy of Stranger Still by Michaelbrent Collings.
This is a sequel to the book Strangers, but it can easily be read as a standalone. I thoroughly enjoyed it! I love Michaelbrent Collings' writing, and this was no exception! It is a fast paced book that I didn't want to stop reading. It had so many different elements included in it.. horror, action, murder, and even comedy. There were even a couple of surprises! You need to read this book!! Thanks to the author for a digital copy of the book. I voluntarily chose to review it.
Your sins are Legion... ... and now you belong to him. *** Legion is a teacher. An avenging angel. A murderer. A madman. Born in the blood of a dying mother, raised in the underground hideout of an insane father, he travels the world looking for those who keep secrets and sins. He finds those who have fallen short, and teaches them the lessons they need to leave their mistakes behind. And if he has to teach a lesson that ends in death, well... sometimes that's the cost of proper education. That's why, when he sees a man kidnap two people on the side of the road, Legion knows it is time to teach again. Soon he finds himself caught in the crossfire of a coup in a Russian crime syndicate. Legion is captured, beaten, bleeding, in chains; cut off and alone. It's just the way he likes it. Legion has his students. And the lessons are about to begin...
What an absolutely amazing and thrilling read!! This is gonna be ranked as one of the best of 2020 in my opinion. What a wonderful and mesmerizing sequel this is. Wonderful well written plot and story line that is so engaging from the very start. Grips you and doesn't let go even at the end. The characters are wonderful and charasmatic; well fleshed out and believeable. Such an amazing sequel and long awaited one as well. So much suspense and tension that you can't put the book down until the end and even then I wasn't wanting it to end! I can't wait to read what comes next from the author! Highly Recommend reading.
I read a complimentary advance copy of the book; this is my voluntary and honest review.
Stranger Still is the sequel to Strangers, the book where the main character, Legion, was first introduced. Although, he was not named Legion in that book and had two others with him. Legion is solo in this story but he is never truly alone, that is a little hard to wrap your mind around initially but it feels pretty natural as the story goes on. I have not read the prequel and I will admit that I was mighty curious about the what happened to Legion and his brothers but that is just my innate curiosity. Not having read the prequel did nothing to take away from this book, so this one can be read as a standalone but if you had the time or inclination, I would read them in series order.
At the start of this story, Legion had decided on his new name and his calling had taken on a different focus. It was unusual for him being the One and he found that he was in an adjustment period of sorts as he figured out how to work alone instead of with his brothers. Also, introduced are several other characters who are independent of Legion but one of them managed to hook his notice, which was not a good a thing. It was the sense of wrong that Legion felt about that character that guided him and led him to finding a whole host of people who were not clean and, to them, he decided to bestow a few lessons. Just yikes!
Not gonna lie, most of the characters in this story are a little crazy in their own way and most of them are beyond rotten to the core. There was one character, though, who was on a whole other level of insane but at the same time he was humorous. I had to hate him on sheer principle because he was such a sadist but the way he saw everything in life was truly humorous because he was just so off the mark. Legion is a character I never, ever, like seriously ever, want to even share air space with. No thank you. He was just scary, although, he did some decent things in this story and I liked that about him and that makes me feel wrong because he was not a good person, either 😅. Overall, Stranger Still is a hardcore story of vigilantism that has shocking elements of horror, thriller, and suspense. This is the kind of story that once you start it will not release you until it is ready.
This review is based on a complimentary book I received from Author, Michaelbrent Collings. It is an honest and voluntary review. The complimentary receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating.
Legion has a purpose – to teach, to avenge and to murder. Witnessing a married couple kidnapped at the side of the road, he follows them, knowing he’ll have to make choices about his actions—who to save, who to kill. But with a Russian crime syndicate involved, there are a lot of decisions to make in his bid to uncover the truth.
This is the third book I’ve read by this author, so I knew to expect a bit of creepy and a bit of weird, but this one is just plain off the wall. Michaelbrent Collings has the ability to write in different ways, and whereas with ‘Predators’ he deals with realistic situations (a group of tourists terrorised during an African safari), some of his other books veer well away from what I might call ‘normal’. What I liked about this one is his talent for keeping the reader guessing, piling on the twists like they’re going out of fashion. The gory scenes (and there are plenty) have a realism to them that makes me wonder what the author does in his spare time.
If you like your horror stories with a big slice of crazy, this’ll be right up your Nightmare Alley.
Great second book in the series! What fun twists on who’s good and who’s bad. Not quite as clear this time. I really enjoyed the fact that there were so many seemingly terrible people in this one that you just couldn’t tell how it was going to go. Looking forward to the next one!
I am becoming a huge fan of MichaelBrent Collings!
I thought ‘Stranger’ was cool but this was even better.
Usually with sequels you get an author following a pattern or a formula that worked the first time. In this case, it is really a self-contained story, that may have some of the same themes as ‘Stranger,’ but does a one-eighty in terms of storyline.
For those of you tempted to pick this up.... there is a chapter at the start that I felt dragged a bit and became a little redundant. It is the part where the One becomes Three.
Don’t give up!
Trust me on this... keep going!
Once Danielle and her storyline starts, you will be hooked.
If you’ve read ‘Stranger’, you will have a specific overview of good and evil; who’s the good guy and who’s bad. In this sequel, MichaelBrent turns that entire theme on its head and makes you question whether good and evil is truly so black and white.
Whether there is redemption and how much we can be taught our lessons? Are there people who are lost causes? Can the evil be too deep? Can we reach inside of ourselves to escape the dark place? Are we born evil and can we be taught to be good?
I would love for MichaelBrent to explore this more in a third novel about Legion. This author does not get enough credit for his thoughtful quotes and deep themes. Not only did you have a great time with colourful characters but you end the book with a tendency to want to discuss the underlining themes in his stories.
One last observation that I am kinda surprised wasn’t caught on edit.....The song 3-way (The Golden Rule) mentioned in the last couple of pages was sung by The Lonely Island (with guests Lady Gaga and Justin Timberlake) rather than The Lonely Hearts. I’m not sure how many people would have noticed that....lol.
I finished my review for the first part of this series, 'Strangers', with the question 'Can it even get any better than this?' and the answer is very simple: yes! Where 'Strangers' presented a slow-cooking, claustrophobic, and psychological nightmare, 'Stranger Still' adds an unexpected, exquisite sense of humor. While the plot was very different from 'Strangers', especially in terms of explosive action, some constants remained the same: the underground setting where events take place and Legion's mission to teach people who strayed from a righteous path of life. Also, we get to know a lot about Legion's past, which helps understand his truly strange ways. While most characters in this story were drawn a clear black or white, but in a satisfying, sometimes even hilarious way, there were still some surprises to be found, such as Legion turning out everything in between. There were several occasions I even rooted for him, which I never would have thought possible. How strange is that? Again, the author's skill to create characters of astounding depth and let their paths collide in an original, captivating setting - all in a seemingly effortless way - showed in every page of this fantastic book.
Footnote: this was part two in my 'Stranger December' reading month. Now I can't wait to start with part three!
i'm currently going through marking all my DNF'd books for 2022. i talked about this in my linked vlog. the writing was... not good. not my cup of tea. i read 100 pages and couldn't keep going. i maaaaybe could've gotten through it if there had been an audiobook.
This was so incredibly close to perfect for me when it comes to a psychological thriller/horror novel!
The story follows a group of people - most of whom no sane person would ever want to meet - whose paths cross with explosive and deadly consequences. We learn more about Legion (who appeared in Strangers), but this functions extremely well as a standalone novel, and I don't believe that reading the initial novel is a prerequisite for enjoying this one to the fullest.
Set in the present-day US, the world-building is well done. This is primarily necessary for the characters' backstories and the final setting of the action. Pop culture references were fun and made sense throughout. The pacing is also completely on-point, and very tight.
The character building is exceptional, and it didn't matter what gender or mental state was applied to the character. I would have appreciated more information about two characters in particular: Shel's mother (I have theories!), and Alex - although, in the second case, it's evident that any omissions were deliberate on the part of the author - I'm just curious. I also wished that there had been more of the playful banter that opened the novel (between Danielle and her colleague) although, if I'm honest, I don't know how and where that would have fit in.
For me, the psychological elements were especially strong - and that's something that I really value. I found both Shel and Legion to be especially well-crafted, with careful attention paid both to their personal experiences and to the way they are perceived by the other characters and the reader. It was refreshing and exciting.
There were a few tiny errors in the edition I read, but these in no way affected my enjoyment of the story.
This was a fantastic read, with note-perfect psychological elements, heart-pounding pacing, and characters that were all-too believably terrifying. I highly recommend this for anyone interested in psychological suspense or psychological horror (if there is such a genre!)
I’m fairly new to Mr. Collings’s work when I joined his street team of reviewers and was pretty excited to be a part of it all. I have to say, this has been my favorite book of all I’ve reviewed on the Team. I have to be honest I didn’t read Stranger in time for the sequel but I felt I didn’t miss a beat. Legion and his ghost brothers are accidentally swept into a crime happening with the Russian mob. Two people are kidnapped by a egotistical psychopath named Sheldon Steward, a hired gunman and torturer that needs to deliver his victims alive. He’s being followed by a vigilante mad man with almost supernatural powers. His goal is to “Teach” evildoers the wrongness of their crimes and strike the hate from their hearts, in his own special way.
No spoilers. This story is rich with comedic darkness, the horror and effects of child abuse and mental illness. Not really any (but one actually ) redeemable character, so the others gory, blood spattered demise is not unexpected. What was unexpected was the humor that weaves through the story like a serpent. The story moves along at lightning pace even with flashbacks of Legion’s past. I probably could go on and on but I won’t, read immediately! Classic MBC and trust me, we need more adventures! Enjoy!
I like the idea of having a sequel of Stranger that's standalone. And I think it worked even though Stranger is a good book you don't have to read it before reading this one.
This book is about Legion (and Fire and Water). It's strange to say but Legion is like a good guy with a really bad moral compass. And he's nuts. His childhood is described in this book and we get to know why he must be One and why he had to match in the last book. In this one he struggles with the fact that he can't match anymore. The thing is that there is not one crazy man... Almost everyone in this book reveals himself to be crazy somewhere throughout the story. And I really liked the ending.
Michaelbrent Collings has done it again! Stranger Still brings back some twisted characters that were introduced with his book "Strangers" and expands Legion's bizarre mission to punish the sinners. Mr. Collings is an expert at creating characters that you sympathize with and care about, even if they're dirty, rotten scoundrels. He also excels at crafting a story that ropes you in and keeps you hanging on every word. Stranger Still is no exception. Excellent story, tense action and suspense. His character, Legion, is one of Mr. Collings' most unique. He's like watching a car crash you can't look away from. Or one of those surgery videos on YouTube that is horrifying, but that you can't stop watching. Times a thousand. And at the same time, a part of you just wants more and more from him. He's equal parts loveable and terrifying. I sincerely hope this isn't the last we've seen of this series! Michaelbrent has really created a character and a story that needs to proceed to completion! This is a great book! Read it! It's even great if you haven't read Strangers. Michaelbrent gives you plenty of recap and backstory to be read entirely on its own. It also doesn't give too much away so that Strangers can still be enjoyed later. Content warning here: There's descriptions of child abuse (not particularly graphic, but still fairly disturbing), as well as pretty graphic descriptions of bloody murder. I'm not overly squeamish, but there's a reason I don't watch slasher horror films. This book managed to be descriptive without passing my tolerance threshold.
Suspenseful and disturbing! Uniquely written. A main character in its own classification. "Your sins are Legion.....and now you belong to him ." I can't decide if I want to like Legion or if I want to hate him!😱
I was given an Advanced copy for an honest review.
The Prelude starts out strange and as the book goes on it does get Stranger Still
If I could give it more than 5 stars I would. There were three then One The drowned one is Water, the burned up one is Fire and in the first few chapters we learn the live one is Legion ( which can mean many as in the three in one) or that others have many sins. Danielle Anton is a newly married and works in the Office of the State Public Defender. Her new husband is Alex Anton, who was brought up in orphanages and foster homes. He always felt he had a guardian angel he could see, but that would take care of him if he was hurt in any of the homes he was in, even if it meant someone had to die. Sheldon Steward is a killer for hire and he is paid well and upfront with the money routed through many channels until it ends up in the Cayman Islands, untraceable back to him in the name of Chris Downey. He has a weird fixation to a bonsai tree that he treats very carefully. He even names it Lucy after his mother. He has just been given a new job to kidnap a man and a woman in two days. His plan is to torture and kill them, but he I’d given coordinates of where to bring them as unhurt as possible but alive. He decides to take Lucy with him, first on the jet the customer provided and then buckled into the front passenger seat. Danielle’ husband likes to drink the Extreme, Extra, Extra Large Dr. Pepper which of course makes them take more breaks at convince stores or gas stations. Sheldon picks up their tail outside of Vegas and into Utah. They are driving a larger black car. At one point Legion,Fire and Water are in their van at the same confidence store at the same time as Danielle and Alex and also Sheldon. As Alex and Danielle leave the convince store, they do not notice the gray sedan follow them out. Legion does and feels compelled to help so he follows at a safe distance. Sheldon makes it easy on himself to kidnap Alex and Danielle by passing them hust a little over the speed limit, then pulls his car off the road with both hood and trunk propped open and when they get close he gets in the middle of the road and flags them down. He subdues them quickly by hitting Danielle and tasering Alex. Sheldon gets both his bags and Lucy out of his rental and wipes down all of the surfaces using baby wipes he has soaked in a concoction of cleansing fluid that would remove all traces of DNA. He then without touching it with his fingers puts a sign in the window that says, “Gone for gas. Back in twenty minutes.” Before this he has a hand held vacuum clears and has totally cleaned the car. he brings with him to the car a chloroform derivate of his own creation by using his excellent chemistry skills and by torturing a CSI lab tech. He spritzers both his targets putting then further out and moves them to the backseat of their car, then buckles Lucy into the front passenger seat. From a distance that he can’t be seen, Legion uses high power night binoculars and watches what takes place. He now knows for sure he should continue to follow them. Now we meet some new characters Demyan a Russian who ran a meth lab. He has several workers and guards, one who I named Marcos, who plans to take over the entire operation which are a series of elaborate bunkers buried in the ground, with a place for the meth lab and places for votes for the workers, some offices and a control room to watch all the cameras outside so no one can sneak up on them. Now while Danielle is semi-out of it, she thinks about her horrible mother and what she had done to Danielles brother Jacky. Legion, Fire and Water are thinking about all the horrible things their father did to them, but Legion knows he has learned some lessons that could be useful. His father’s saying that stuck was “The only people who can be called good are the ones who can survive the trials their teachers provides. At one point when Sheldon stops for gas Legion is able to put a tracker on his car. Also at some point Sheldon has Alex in the trunk, Danielle in the passage seat with her hands, knees and feet ducted taped together, just like Alex’s are in the trunk and Lucy is buckled in the back seat. As Alex starts to come around, he can’t believe his guardian angel hasn’t saved him yet. I have basically given you the high or low (depending how you think of them) of the first eight chapters to introduce what I would consider the main characters. These chapters have even more depth and there are 29 chapters plus an Epilogue so there are many more twists and turns, torture, cruelty and killing to go. I read the book basically non-stop in one day and the next day looked over my 9 1/2 composition notebook pages and reread some parts just to make sure I didn’t have anything wrong, but mainly not to give too much away but enough to say I HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK. MichaelBrent Collings is a master at his craft of writing and coming up with wonderful, but sometimes scary, sometime cruel but OH SO GOOD books. I say this is a MUST READ. I LOVED THIS BOOK.
As a big fan of Michaelbrent's work who's also an acquaintance (we don't know one another well, but we stop to chat at conventions), I hope he'll forgive me for saying I consider 2013's original Strangers one of his weaker efforts, one of only a few of his books that just never clicked for me. Strangers wasn't bad by any means, but in spite of a series of interesting and chilling ideas at the core, I neither liked nor empathized with its cast and felt the text looped into cycles, retreading itself into some wobbly, repetitive pacing. As such, I had some reservations when I heard his next book would be a sequel.
I needn't have worried.
On a purely mechanical level, Collings is a better writer today than he was seven years ago; his characters more gracefully drawn and more substantially fleshed out, his prose snappier and more efficient. The narrative hums along at breakneck pace, whipping between flashback and the present without ever breaking flow or immersion; it establishes characters and subverts expectations while telling a story of characters with more depth and agency. It takes monsters and finds anti-heroes inside some of their tortured souls and only hollow, shallow vessels barely beneath the surface of others, finds humor and a twisted likability in its most despicable figures, takes innocents and the downtrodden and builds some of them into fierce survivors and others into things that were always too broken to function long before this tale began.
Structurally, this is the Terminator 2 of the series. It trades the smaller-scale fear of its predecessor for something explosive and new and intense. It spins its web with more kinetic action, strikes an expert balance of brutal violence and dark justice. It flips the script on who we're rooting for, and it brings us this story with a series of authorial flourishes that enriches the world the two books share, imbuing its lore with a huge amount of new depth, motivation, intrigue, and tragedy that shifts the reader's perspective on what came before. The first book's conclusions are built into something more compelling and ambitious than the original could have dreamed, and it makes that original story far more effective in retrospect.
Collings is a gifted writer and a modern master of horror and suspense. and Stranger Still further proves that he understands horror's blackest secret: sometimes the only way to light is through the inkiest, bloodiest darkness. This ranks among the best books Collings has ever written and marks yet another vital, visceral instant classic in his impressive oeuvre.
Unfortunately, I didn't find out that "Stranger Still" is a sequel to "Strangers" until after finishing the book and reading the Author's Note. Oops. All the same, I only noticed a large learning curve in the prologue as the story poetically introduces Legion (who used to be One). Quick Plot Overview: Danielle is a lawyer of petty criminals, who strives to give them only the justice they need. She's newlywed to Alex, and during their drive to their honeymoon, they're kidnapped by Sheldon Steward (a happy torturer), and taken to Marcos (a meth-making Russian mobster staging a coup). Legion follows as the Byronic Hero that he is. Anything from Legion's perspective is in Present Tense, which would normally throw me off, (especially when the four other perspectives are in Past Tense), but the writing and story flowed well enough that I usually didn't notice the change of tenses for a couple paragraphs. The characters are what really make this book gleam (they would shine, but it's a horror). They each have tormenting flaws and some righteous reasoning for their actions. By chapter five, I wanted a series about Legion (lucky me, there's the first book), who Kronks it out with his shoulder angel and devil. I was surprised to find myself rooting for Legion and laughing with Sheldon even more so than with Danielle. There are some interesting themes about punishments for crimes/sins, though I suppose that's only expected when you put a lawyer, mobster, torturer, and morals fanatic in a chamber. (That sounds like the beginning of a bad joke). Speaking of bad jokes, I had to laugh in chapter twelve at the words "I'm so tired..." considering Michaelbrent Collings' Facebook posts during Covid-19.
Well! And here I was thinking that a sequel to Strangers would be more of the same - psycho murderer man survives Book 1, moves on to do more murdery stuff in Book 2, ends up with a disciple who then continues murderer man's work and maybe survives to Book 3, yada yada yada. You get where I'm coming from? It's been done before!
But has it? Nope. I was wrong. This book was better than the first. I'll try not to give away any spoilers, but I can't believe that by the end of this book, murder man - who did not have a name in Strangers, but has now named himself Legion - is actually someone I could root for! (Um, not sure what that says about me, but hey, it's a weird year!)
Legion is actually quite a deep character, a product of years of abuse by his father, with a warped sense of good and evil, where evil people deserve to be "educated" and likely killed once they've learnt their lessons. But this time, he may have met his match in the form of Sheldon, a bit man for the Russian mafia. What ensues is a twisty-turny power battle with a couple of innocent victims thrown in.
Michaelbrent Collings has excelled in this story, building a series of characters who you can really come to love (as weird as that might be) and despise! The prose is easy to read, but still portrays the turmoil felt by all involved in their own special ways. And, although it is part of a series, Collings has made a point of making this a book you could still pick up as a stand-alone if you haven't had the chance to read Strangers. Although I'd highly recommend you read that book too as soon as you can.
*I received a free copy of this book, with thanks to the author. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
This is a psychological thriller/horror story that is so packed with vicious, visceral violence and gore that you will have to beg your brain to stop replaying the images!
The book is a sequel to Strangers, but I haven’t read that previous book and can confirm that this story stand alone perfectly well without it. That said, I believe that Strangers does give more insight and backstory into Legion, one of the main characters here.
It is important to know that nearly every character in this book is apparently psychopathic or sociopathic (or both) and the ones that aren’t are childhood victims of them – this book is the perfect illustration of Philip Larkin’s ‘This Be the Verse’!)
I was mesmerised by Legion, who is One and many, and VERY confused, except in his conviction that the wicked must be taught a lesson – and there are plenty of unwilling students for him to choose from here. Happily married couple, Danielle and Alex, have been abducted by a torturer-for-hire, Sheldon Steward, to be delivered to a Russian mob boss. But why? And are the innocent victims all they seem?
I won’t bother listing trigger warnings – just assume all of them apply – but will say that if you are a fan of human monster stories and the atrocities they commit in the name of power and pride, then this is an enthralling shocker that should be right down your twisted alley!
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I have given Strangers Still by Michaelbrent Collings three out of five stars ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️
This is the sequel to the first book, Strangers. Strangers Still can be read without having read the first book in the series. I don’t know if I’m just going through a really big reading slump at the moment, but it took me such a long time to read this book I feel like I’d normally whizz through it because I enjoyed it but half of the book I felt a little dazed and confused with how it was set out.
It took a while for this book to really take off, but once it did I became invested. Disturbing at times with certain gruesome thoughts from Sheldon, especially, and torture techniques. This book is definitely not for the faint-hearted, but it holds a (slight) good message at the end of the book which I really enjoyed and overall loved Collings’ descriptive writing style.
Legion was by far my favourite character, he was very interesting and had a mysterious side to him. The characters were all individually complex and had a level of intrigue to them but I particularly enjoyed learning about Legion. Danielle was a strong character who really shone through this book and I grew to like her from Collings’ great writing which helps to capture Danielle in a different light.
I would definitely recommend this book to readers who enjoy mystery and thriller fiction.
This book had a lot to live up to, because I found Strangers to be SO unlike any book I had ever read, and it COMPLETELY blew me away. So, in the beginning of Stranger Still, I found myself wondering if that "literary lightening" would strike twice, for me. But, as the plot rolled along and the tension mounted, I learned to NEVER doubt the ability of MbC's writing to zap me twice in a row!
The action and thrills never stop in this electrifying story that delivers clever twists and blindsiding turns, jaw-dropping shocks and stunning surprises, blood by the buckets, guts and gore by the gallons and the literally, laugh-out-loud, comedic stylings of the trio that I have personally dubbed as "The Macabre Three Stooges". In addition, he pens a complex plot with layers that skillfully intertwine, then artfully peels them all back, one-by-one, to reveal deeply-hidden secrets and astonishing truths. And, I knew that MbC had done an extraordinary job as an author, when I found myself ROOTING for a serial killer!
This novel truly stimulated my "B-spot" and was EVERYTHING I was hoping/expecting the sequel would be. For fans of psychological horror thrillers, this series is NOT to be missed.
*I received a complimentary ARC of this book in order to read and provide a voluntary, unbiased and honest review, should I choose to do so.
Well I must say this book is definitely just what the title says. I know that Mr. Collings has a book called Strangers, and I'm thinking this book is maybe the sequel to it, but I'm not sure. So when I first started reading this book I felt like " Oh yeah, this is a strange book ", I almost debated on whether I should continue or not. I'm really glad I kept going because the more I read, the more I was sucked in to keep going. I have never read a book like this before but now that I have I am definitely going to grab the book Strangers so I can find out if it fills me in on how Legion and the One began. I don't want to say too much about the book as I really feel you need to experience it yourself, as I did. It is creepy, it has tons of suspense, it has villains? and good people? Maybe an avenging angel? Oh you just have to read this awesomely different but wonderfully thought out book. Me? I'm going to get my nose into Strangers and see if I can find out more or just enjoy another of this talented authors books. I purchased this book as the author has been very generous and put his books on sale for $.99 to give readers entertainment during the Corona virus lockdown. I am writing this review as I am hoping it will help others to decide to give it a read especially right now while the price is so low. You don't often get to read such a great book at this price.
If you've never read Michaelbrent Collings, there's hope for you; if you've read only one and are reading this review, you're probably beyond hope.
Disclosure: I received a pre-publication copy of the book; I purchased it as soon as it was published. (The only error I could find has been corrected.)
MbC ended the previous book, "Strangers" with a note about the story's seed and incubation, concluding with the statement that he would not develop the story any farther. ("Probably.") Frankly, I was skeptical. I expect he received a lot of petitions to develop the ideas that didn't fit in "Strangers"–or maybe I was the only one, but….
MbC has written this book so that it isn't necessary to read "Strangers": he conscientiously explains connections to past events carefully and coherently. Yet….
Collings creates characters that are quickly revealed to be admirable or despicable, and de stirs those feelings to an intense level. Then he peels back a layer or two and makes us begin to reverse our feelings. And what could be worse? Well, he even doubles back and changes our views. How bad can that be? Well, the villain is now one of my favorite characters. (And I still despise Dr. Hannibal Lecter.)
A newlywed couple is kidnapped and find themselves at the tender mercies of the Russian mafia. However, their abduction was witnessed...unfortunately the person who saw it happen is Legion, an insane serial killer who specializes in "teaching" his victims the error of their ways in horrific and bloody fashion. As Legion takes up the hunt, for the newlyweds the cure may be worse than the disease.
Stranger Still is a sequel to Strangers but works as a stand-alone as it has little to do with the events of that story outside of what happened to Legion during it.
Michaelbrent Collings does a great job of jumping between POV characters in this one, and you know it's a wild ride when serial killer can be categorized as a "protagonist". Legion is a compelling character and is the main draw, but like I said before Collings does a magnificent job of giving all the POV characters their own distinct voice despite the fact that almost all of them are not nice people.
I should note that it is not a book for the squeamish as there are some pretty graphic scenes involving both killing and torture. Nothing gratuitous but present none the less.
All said and done I enjoyed this book, and look forward to seeing where Collings takes Legion next.
Who would you trust more - someone who can quote Lord of the Rings or a Cadbury-egg loving newlywed? A defender of orphans or unrepentant killer? No matter who you chose, you'll change your mind multiple times in reading Collings' latest novel, Stranger Still. There's humour, blood, bravery, stubbornness, dark corners of places and souls, chocolate, road trips, loving siblings, enemies, trees and tunnels - and several reveals that smacked me upside the head, laughing creepily. Collings sure knows how to punch you in the feels and make you go "ewwwww..." Recommended!
Wordcraft: MBC's use of internal monologue and decision-making processes by characters adds significant depth to characterisation in mere sentences, while also ranging from hilarious to chilling in reader response. The juxtaposition of the internal world against the same character's actions/words experienced from another point of view creates a further layer of unease and trepidation in what is really going on within the story, and which narrator - if any - is reliable. Definitely an approach and skilled wordcraft worth bowerbirding and further examination.