Charles Stross, "Overtime"


Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Review: Welcome to the Show

Welcome to the Show Welcome to the Show by Matt Hayward
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: WELCOME TO THE SHOW. (Anthology compiled by Matt Hayward and edited by Doug Murano)

If I should ever be asked to identify my single favourite Crystal Lake Publishing anthology, I couldn't answer--for I deeply admire each and every one. This publisher consistently chooses authors, editors, and artists who produce work of the highest quality.

WELCOME TO THE SHOW is a themed Anthology, set in the venue of an unusual (and long-lasting) nightclub tucked away in a not-so-classy neighborhood in San Francisco, the kind of club that one only discovers if one is meant to be there. Whether one is musician, performer, staff, or audience, one is never there "accidentally."

The Shantyman, as it is named, refers to those sailors of earlier centuries whose role was to raise morale and inspire labouring sailors by singing inspiring, bawdy, or humorous sea chantys, much as contemporary camp counselors lead campfire songs. But The Shantyman is neither a cultural venue nor a haven for the avant-garde. What The Shantyman serves are found only in deepest darkness, as the reader will discover as each new page is turned...Welcome, my friends, to The Shantyman....

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Review: Dark Visions

Dark Visions Dark Visions by James Byron Huggins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: DARK VISIONS by James Byron Huggins

An electrifying thriller, frightening in its implacability, DARK VISIONS commences with the killing of a young boy, the grandson of a retired blind detective, a murder which is only the most current in a four-year run. Neither NYPD nor the New York City FBI office have a clue: no DNA, no identifiable pattern. The killer might as well be a ghost.

But choosing as a victim this particular young boy is a serious mistake. His grandfather, Joe Mac Baker, was, and still is, an exceptional detective, a kind of contemporary Sherlock Holmes crossed with the dedication and fervour of Rambo. Paired up with Joe Mac is brand-new detective Jodie Strong, who caught the call on the boy's death on her last day in uniform. Together, they unravel a plot with both historical and metaphysical implications, one so bizarre that it is unbelievable, while all the while someone higher up is circumventing their progress and continually setting them up to die.

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Review: Last Voyage

Last Voyage Last Voyage by Robin Pond
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: LAST VOYAGE by Robin Pond

A marvelously constructed cruise ship mystery, in the vein of the late great Agatha Christie, LAST VOYAGE introduces the concept of poetic justice in a unique fashion. From the beginning, we meet a character who is so cunning, so charming, so seemingly cultured, but who underneath the surface is a cold-hearted, greedy sociopath for whom humans are only tools. As the cruise approaches the Baltic Sea, we learn that a particular collection of guests are former financial victims of this con artist, brought to the cruise in unexpected, beneficial ways and put together with him. The consequences are perhaps not unexpected, but definitely mysterious, and the strong female lead investigator deepens interest in the plot.

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Sunday, July 29, 2018

Review: They Won't Be Hurt

They Won't Be Hurt They Won't Be Hurt by Kevin O'Brien
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

Review: THEY WON'T BE HURT by Kevin O'Brien

Home invasion novels. Never knew how they frightened me until I read a psychological suspense thriller a few years ago: THE LITTLES by Tallulah Grace. Then I read HOUSEBROKEN by The Behrg and THE INVASION by Brett McBean. (All excellent novels, by the way.) Along the way, I picked up terrifying home invasion references in other fiction, some of which STILL stick in my head. Now I have THEY WON'T BE HURT, which I selected because of the author. Here is Home Invasion with Implacability. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Your home is not your Castle. At least it's not impregnable, because the Barbarians are at the Gates.. No, at the Door...No, in your house...and they're holding your children--hostage. How incredibly terrifying is that?

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Review: The Broken Girls

The Broken Girls The Broken Girls by Simone St. James
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE BROKEN GIRLS by Simone St. James

Extraordinarily engrossing! I adore this novel, the first I've read by Simone St. James. I was riveted. There is so much depth, of character, plot, and theme. There is so much injustice, both global and individualized. So many aspects of THE BROKEN GIRLS will reach out and impact readers of many viewpoints and interests. Ms. St. James capably weaves what are actually 4 separate time periods: contemporary small-town Vermont; the same community 20 years earlier in the mid-1990's; a private boarding school located in the country outside this community in 1950; and Nazi Germany. The interweaving is seamless, the tragedies are heart-wrenching, and the emotions constantly run high. I expect few readers will walk away untouched. Certainly none of the characters, strong as they are, remain immune.

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Thursday, July 26, 2018

Review: Death Logs Out

Death Logs Out Death Logs Out by E.J. Simon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: DEATH LOGS OUT by E. J. Simon
(Michael Nicholas #3)

Life is tuning up on CEO Michael Nicholas. Still grieving his brother's murder 2 years ago, Michael soon finds the one major mistake of his life returns to destroy him. His beloved daughter Sofia is abducted to punish him, the Vatican enforcer has decided the time is right--and ripe-to reveal his Neo-Nazi Movement, and late brother Alex is keeping tabs on everyone and everything, in the Cloud, and from his expensively upgraded Apple laptop.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Review: Hearing Evil by Jason Parent

Hearing Evil by Jason Parent
Print Length: 254 pages
Publisher: Red Adept Press
Publication Date: May 29, 2018

When evil whispers.

Michael Turcotte wants nothing to do with his so-called gift—the ability to see other people’s fates simply by touching them. Michael decides to spend his summer searching for answers about his past. He can’t rest without the sounds of forgotten tragedy echoing through his dreams, but reconstructing his memories will come with a whole new set of problems even he can’t foresee.

Detective Samantha Reilly has always looked out for Michael, but now that she’s taken him into her home, she fears her maternal instincts are lacking. When a brutal gang sets off a chain reaction of crimes, Sam struggles to choose between the two most important things in her life: her job and her new foster son. Fate intervenes when Michael is kidnapped, forcing her two roles to collide.

As Michael’s past meets Sam’s present, their bond will be tested while a city crumbles around them. They’ll need all their skills and a lot of luck in order to survive.

Biography of Jason Parent

Jason is an author of horror, thrillers, mysteries, science fiction, and dark humor, though his many novels, novellas, and short stories tend to blur the boundaries between these genres. From his award-winning first horror/mystery novel, What Hides Within, to his widely applauded police procedural/supernatural thriller, Seeing Evil, Jason’s work has won him praise from both critics and fans of diverse genres alike. His work has been compared to that of some of his personal favorite authors, such as Chuck Palahniuk, Jack Ketchum, Tess Gerritsen, and Joe Hill.

Jason grew up near Fall River, Massachusetts, the setting for several of his novels. He has lived in New England most of his life, currently residing in Rhode Island.

 Praise for Jason Parent

"Seeing Evil has some very special moments and is a very fast read. There's no denying Parent has talent." - Glenn Rolfe, author of Blood and Rain and Boom Town

“Seeing Evil is a fast moving, entertaining story with some of the best character development I’ve seen in awhile.” – Shotgun Logic

“… Jason Parent is definitely an author to watch. This is the first book of Jason’s I have read, but I definitely consider myself a fan and can’t wait to see what he comes up with next!” – The Horror Bookshelf on Seeing Evil

“This is a book that will haunt me for a long time to come. If you are looking for a phenomenal story grab this fast paced and horrifying 5 star read.” – Horror Maiden Book Reviews on Seeing Evil

"Jason Parent has done it again! He has created a brilliant story that will grip you tight and won't let go! I found myself turning page after page to see what happens next. From start to finish, this book is mind blowing!" - Cedar Hollow Horror Reviews on A Life Removed

"Wonderfully original tales of horror... Wrathbone and Other Stories gets my highest recommendation." - Cemetery Dance

"From the eerie opening tale to the grisly closer, and all of the wonderfully mean-spirited tales in-between, Wrathbone is a winner!" - Jeff Strand, author of Dead Clown Barbecue

Purchase Link


Hearing Evil Hearing Evil by Jason Parent
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: HEARING EVIL by Jason Parent
(Cycle of Evil Book 2)

Michael Turcotte is one of the Gifted who experiences future visions, at the cost of seizures each time. To prevent the visions, he wears gloves and scrupulously avoids touch. In the foster care system since the tragic deaths of his parents when he was only 3, at fifteen Michael is now in the care of his guardian angel, the detective who investigated his parents' case. She knows about Michael's gift, but unfortunately so do some vicious villains with megalomania and their own plans to "change the world ." Unfortunately, this gang has rivals in the "build a Utopia" sweeps, rivals who have been manipulating and planning for decades. It's definitely a "out of the frying, into the bonfire" situation for poor Michael, who never asked for any of this.

Review: The Devil's Fingers

The Devil's Fingers The Devil's Fingers by Hunter Shea
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE DEVIL'S FINGERS by Hunter Shea

NOBODY delivers cryptozoology and off-the-wall science like Hunter Shea! Nobody! In THE DEVIL'S FINGERS, Mr. Shea branches into cryptobotany, and my stars, I think that's scarier than cryptozoology! For certain, the scares here are implacable-unavoidable-deathly. End-of-the-world potentials here. Think (as does our wise protagonist, botany student Autumn Winters, in terms of global catastrophe). Think, as does born conspiracy theorist Brandon, of scientific experiments gone awry. Think of a one-session read guaranteed to frighten you senseless and leave you scared to breathe. Consider Fungi.

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Saturday, July 21, 2018

Review: The Forbidden Door

The Forbidden Door The Forbidden Door by Dean Koontz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE FORBIDDEN DOOR by Dean Koontz
(Jane Hawk #4)

THE FORBIDDEN DOOR is the fourth in Dean Koontz's Jane Hawk Series, and is absolutely the BEST yet. Heartwrenching, scary, tension ratcheted to the max--THE FORBIDDEN DOOR has it all and Dean Koontz delivers! I stayed on the metaphorical edge of my seat from first page to last, alternately shouting "Oh no!" And "Right on" (mentally). Mr. Koontz goes over-the-wall in this novel, and on a realistic (all too possible) foundation of Conspiracy, he segues into both psychology and philosophy, with several excursions of a metaphysical bent (a tendency of this author I have witnessed since his novel THE TAKING). I was particularly impressed with the philosophy of one character, which the author terms "radical philosophical nihilism," and which I first became aware of in 8th grade (I've been an aficionado of Speculative fiction since early childhood) as the philosophy of "theoretical solipsism." How this plays out with this particular character I found absolutely fascinating, and thought-provoking. I also marveled at the way in which the author peeled the masks from several characters, and the arcs of character evolution. I am chomping at the bit for Book 5.

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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Review: Stay Hidden

Stay Hidden Stay Hidden by Paul Doiron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: STAY HIDDEN by Paul Doiron
(Mike Bowditch #9)

Newly appointed as a Warden Investigator, Maine Game Warden is assigned to his first hunting death incident, on an isolated Atlantic island. Mike doesn't exactly acquit himself with glory, though in his defense, this is his first investigation and the islanders are both aloof and secretive. A vacationing woman is shot while hanging laundry, supposedly a hunting accident. Danger and revelation abound, but still Mike perseveres to ultimate discovery.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Review: Baby Teeth

Baby Teeth Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: BABY TEETH by Zoje Stage

From the first pages I was entrapped in this story. Kind of like being an observer at the commencement of a 50-car pileup--you want to stop it but chaos rules, you need to look away but can't. I knew from Page One disaster is imminent. Talk about "bad seeds." I remember that novel and movie from my childhood. I also remember "Gaslight," with the husband who endeavoured to convince his wife of her increasing insanity. I immediately adopted the term "gaslighting" into my vocabulary, but here it is, finely tuned and intensely psychopathic. {Shudder}

While the story progresses, Mom Suzette (a sufferer of Crohn's Disease) steadily devolves. Always an ungrounded personality (in this, she is much like her mother), Suzette possibly is hurtling toward a psychotic break--or is she?

The child Hanna, unspeaking but not physiologically mute, is an angel (in her dad's eyes), or demonic (in her mother's perception), or the embodiment of a 17th century adolescent French witch (Hanna's own view). But what--or more importantly, WHO--is Hanna really? To what extremes will she (and Suzette) reach? And what will be the cost in tragedies if little Hanna really is a "Bad Seed"?

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Review: The Mansion

The Mansion The Mansion by Ezekiel Boone
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE MANSION by Ezekiel Boone

Readers who have read Ezekiel Boone's HATCHING Trilogy know this author cranks up tense suspense and delivers the scares. I venture to predict: "you ain't seen nothing yet." THE MANSION scared the living daylights out of me, a Haunted House story like no other. Oh, a time or too writers or filmmakers have taken a run at the "Smart House" concept, but THE MANSION goes far beyond. (And yes, I also predict this one will be optioned for film.)

THE MANSION draws in many different threads of Themes, and extends to concepts that stretch my imagination, and is comparable to Neal Stephenson's REAMDE in its exploration of computing. Yet the novel also reaches into the realms of Arthur C. Clarke and Peter F. Hamilton as it explores the ramifications of Artificial Intelligence. Indeed, as it discusses the evolution of computerized "personal assistants," the potentials become frightening, and of course, THE MANSION focuses on a beyond-next-generation computerized "assistant." Beware in whose control you place your safety.

This alone would be sufficient to create an exceptional novel. But Mr. Boone doesn't pause at that. He delivers characterization peeled down to the core; he allows character evolution (and devolution); and he delivers a family line so evil that I can only compare it to the family sequence in LINEAGE by Joe Hart. Many sleepless memories will plague me when I remember.

THE MANSION is the novel for which you set aside a block of time and turn off all distractions. Get a comfortable armchair and settle in, for you won't be surfacing until the end.

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Monday, July 16, 2018

Review: Widowmaker

Widowmaker Widowmaker by Paul Doiron
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: WIDOWMAKER by Paul Doiron

I really love this engrossing series set in Maine, focusing on Game Warden Mike Bowditch, formerly Angry Young Man bending rules till they shriek, now somewhat more settled, a man whom nothing escapes--the perfect observer. Throughout the series we are privileged to watch Mike mature, and develop as a law enforcement official, as well as gradually discovering his backstory.

In WIDOWMAKER, Mike is drawn into a missing person investigation, uncovering a secretive government base, and vigilantism. Character depth and nonstop action set a fast-paced, intriguing plot.

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Sunday, July 15, 2018



AIRSHIPS, CRYPTS, AND CHOCOLATE CHIPS by Erin Johnson. July 15. Paranormal Cozy/Baker.

WIDOWMAKER by Paul Doiron. July 15.

THE MANSION by Ezekiel Boone. July 16-17

BABY TEETH by Zoje Stage. July 17-18.

STAY HIDDEN by Paul Doiron. July 15-18.

THE FORBIDDEN DOOR by Dean Koontz. July 19-20.

HOME FROM THE SEA by William Meikle. July 18-20.

TROUBLE'S CHILD by Terry Goodkind. July 21.

MALEFIC by Ambrose Ibsen. July 21.

WINNETKA ROAD by JS Sheridan. July 21-22.


Saturday, July 14, 2018

Review: Meddling Kids

Meddling Kids Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: MEDDLING KIDS by Edgar CanteRo

Deep. That's the best word for this novel, the author's next, subsequent to THE SUPERNATURAL ENHANCEMENTS, his exceptional contemporary Gothic. MEDDLING KIDS also is off-and-on set in a long-abandoned ancient house, with a lineage of Necromancy and dark occultism, and with a cast of protagonists who are Innocents Abroad. Instead of two protagonists, here there are five, teens comprising the "Blyton Hills Summer Detective Club," solving local mysteries while simultaneously coming of age and hammering out their own individual identities. Thirteen years later, broken in both heart and spirit, four will recombine, to face both an implacable enemy, and a cosmic nightmare straight out of Lovecraft and Native American lore of the Pacific Northwest.

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Review: The House in the Hills

The House in the Hills The House in the Hills by Rowan Hanlon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: THE HOUSE IN THE HILLS by Rowan Hanlon

I think almost every reader can relate to the joy and terror of finding one's dream home: joy when first seeing the house with which you fall in love; terror that it's not available, or you can't afford it, or any number of other reasons preventing you from living in your Dream. Harmony and Marc experience this joy and terror extensively in this novel, Harmony more so than Marc. This young couple from Tennessee moved to L.A. so Marc could practice his ambition in real estate and Harmony could attend culinary school and become a chef, hopefully eventually opening her own restaurant.

Synchronistically, Marc learns of a beautiful, "perfect," residence in the Hollywood Hills, and persuades Harmony it's affordable. So they buy it and move in. Unfortunately, there's information about the property Marc hasn't shared with Harmony (just as Harmony keeps her secrets close), and these unexposed secrets are tragic.

Plenty of paranormal events and good characterization keep the novel's pace hopping. It was a one-sitting read for me.

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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Review: LOST HIGHWAYS ed. By D. Alexander Ward

Review: LOST HIGHWAYS, edited by D. Alexander Ward

"Exceptional indeed" is a key phrase to describe this new Anthology of Speculative Horror from Crystal Lake Publishing. From the first page of editor D. Alexander Ward's fine introduction, throughout this outstanding collection, excellence reigns. Each story is an exquisite gem, and I say this with heartfelt emphasis. Each is also thought-provoking, and subtly terrifying. I submit, that even the stories here with positive endings (yes, there are some) ultimately instill terror. (I won't give away which ones!)

Occasionally I am privileged to read a novel, novella, anthology, or single-author collection, that leaves me thinking I have insufficient capacity to praise highly enough; a book which instills high awe at the creative power of writers and editors. I give you, LOST HIGHWAYS. And if you doubt my enthusiasm, check out the contributing authors list. Yes, Gentle Reader, I really did tell you so. LOST HIGHWAYS is beyond outstanding. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Review: The Supernatural Enhancements

The Supernatural Enhancements The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A few days ago, I found a new novel to add to my special Metaphorical Bookshelf which previously had contained only Garth Stein 's A SUDDEN LIGHT and John Harwood's THE GHOST WRITER. Over the weekend I added Richard Easter's THE GENERAL THEORY OF HAUNTING, and now I add THE SUPERNATURAL ENHANCEMENTS. Each of these exceptional novels left me awestruck, speechless, with memories I'll never lose.

What is extra special about THE SUPERNATURAL ENHANCEMENTS is not just its exceptional and engrossing story line, not just the pleasure of getting to know numerous characters, not just the terrifying denouement or the out-of-the-ball-park epilogue. Extra exceptional is that this young author is not a native speaker of English. English is his third language, yet he has so immersed himself in both the language and the literature that reading this novel is akin to reading a wonderful 19th century Gothic in contemporary literary prose.

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Saturday, July 7, 2018

Review: Rust & Stardust

Rust & Stardust Rust & Stardust by T. Greenwood
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

Review: RUST & STARDUST by T. Greenwood

RUST & STARDUST is a brilliant novel, one which not just wrenches the reader's heart, but rips it away. Based on the actual true crime case which inspired Nabokov' s LOLITA, RUST& STARDUST is an incredibly painful read, yet a consciousness-expanding experience. (I think the last time a book affected me this tremendously, it was my reading of Susan Brownmiller's AGAINST OUR WILL, at Thanksgiving 1976. Both gave me the perception of being shifted into a new reality and my metaphorical eyes forced open, to truly "see.")

While I waited to acquire RUST & STARDUST, I did some small research into the factual case. (Tis true, I, once an English major, have not read LOLITA.) The facts of the case by themselves are horrifying and the outcome is tragic. We can read of it, and sympathize. Author T. Greenwood isn't content with surface sympathy: she digs so deeply into her characters, peeling off every single layer down deep to the soul. We don't just observe pragmatically and unemotionally. We, the reader, FEEL. We are present. We suffer.

Another aspect of consciousness I bring away from this traumatic novel is an awareness of the banality of evil. The criminal here is no brilliant intellect such as Leopold and Loeb; no, "Frank" is of low intelligence and no social adeptness. Indeed, he is an outlier, beyond normal society, virtually unaware of consensus society. His mantra--rather, nothing so consciously chosen, but simply his driving force, never his raison d'etre, because that requires conscious process--the drive which ever propels him is "I want, therefore I get." He does not consider others' needs, desires, or rights, for of this he is simply incapable. Like an adult-sized infant, he lives to feed his hungers, and the Outside World simply exists to supply his needs. He operates on instinctual cunning, much like a marine snail will conceal itself at the threat of danger.

I have read recollections of the banality of evil concerning the Holocaust, and in regard to serial killers such as Henry Lee Lucas of Texas. Never before RUST & STARDUST have I achieved such a visceral awareness of its existence and prevalence, and an understanding that just perhaps the banality of evil is the most terrifying danger of all.

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Thursday, July 5, 2018

Review: Copycat

Copycat Copycat by Hannah Jayne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: COPYCAT by Hannah Jayne

My first Hannah Jayne novel, and I adore it! I was magnetized from the first page and couldn't look away. The novel's premise is riveting: a vastly popular YA mystery/thriller series is approaching its end, and a California blogger is invited to participate in the planned promotion leading up to the final book's publication. Her "GapLakeLove" blog sports well-written fan fiction and speculation on the identity of the series' killer. Addison Gaines, the blogger, may well be author R. J. Rosen's greatest fan; but what she could not possibly predict is the series of terrifying events that commence in her own high school, and soon it is clear that Addison and her friends are targets of a cunning, grippingly determined, mastermind who knows each novel in the series by heart, just as thoroughly as does Addie.

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Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Reverse Summer Readathon

July 27-28 8 PM to 8 PM

24 Hour Readathon Time Reading: July 27-27: 8:13 PM - 12:13 AM July 28: 8:00 AM-8:00 PM TOTAL READING TIME = 16 hours Audio: "All Cats Are Gray" by Andre Norton "The Corpse Light" by Dick Donovan "2BR02B" by Kurt Vonnegut READ: THE BROKEN GIRLS by Simone St. James. 35%-end THEY WON'T BE HURT by Kevin O'Brien. 0-8%.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Review: Red Harvest

Red Harvest Red Harvest by Patrick C. Greene
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: RED HARVEST by Patrick C. Greene
(The Haunted Hollow Chronicles Book One)

Set in the Appalachian hills of Western North Carolina, this novel of extreme horror is the first in a continuing series, invoking both Supernatural elements and the horrifying evils in the human hearts. There are some stomach-churning moments and revelations in this compelling story, but what most impressed me was the characters, their delineation, and the emotional impacts they cause on each other. I'm quite looking forward to the next entry in The Haunted Hollow Chronicles, as once again, good and evil battle for supremacy in tiny, tucked-away, Ember Hollow.

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