The House by the Cemetery by John Everson – BLOGOWEEN BOOK REVIEW

House By the CemeteryTitle:  The House by the Cemetery
Author: John Everson
Publication Date & Publisher: October 18, 2018, Flame Tree Press
Genre(s): Mystery & Thrillers
Length:  256 pages
ISBN: 13: 9781787580008
My Rating: 3.5/5.0

Description (from Goodreads):

Rumor has it that the abandoned house by the cemetery is haunted by the ghost of a witch. But rumors won’t stop carpenter Mike Kostner from rehabbing the place as a haunted house attraction. Soon he’ll learn that fresh wood and nails can’t keep decades of rumors down. There are noises in the walls, and fresh blood on the floor: secrets that would be better not to discover. And behind the rumors is a real ghost who will do whatever it takes to ensure the house reopens. She needs people to fill her house on Halloween. There’s a dark, horrible ritual to fulfill. Because while the witch may have been dead… she doesn’t intend to stay that way.

My review:

The House by the Cemetery by John Everson reads a lot like a horror movie. I could picture it all unfolding vividly in my mind as I read through (sometimes horrified, sometimes laughing) page after page of this thriller.

This book has all of the necessary components for a good spooky read: witches, murder, haunting, psychics, mystery… So it’s a good Halloween pick. I actually got scared a couple times while reading in the dark, so maybe leave the lights on if you want to sleep at night!

I enjoyed the characters in the book and the attention it brings to the lack of diversity and stereotyping in the horror genre. While there’s no way for me to know if the author purposefully meant to do so, I thought he did a good job of “calling-out” some things while not taking away from the story at all.

The main character, Mike, is a carpenter that’s hired to work on the abandoned house his friend plans to open a haunted house in. Mike is pretty much terrified of the house, but agrees because he’s in need of the job. For the most part, I liked Mike, but at times he seemed way too gullible. Unless he was under some sort of a spell, I just don’t see him actually agreeing to some of the things he does.

A problem I have with the mystery genre in general is that I hate guessing “the mystery.” This book has quite a number of twists that didn’t really surprise me. That being said, there were other aspects that did… One of the hardest parts of reviewing a book like this is not giving away spoilers, so that’s about all I can say here.

While this wasn’t my favorite mystery/thriller novel, I’d still recommend it for adults that enjoy horror movies such as Nightmare on Elm Street, since the book definitely has the same tone/vibe. Because of sexual content/suggestion and the level of blood & gore description, I’d definitely only recommend it for adults though and wouldn’t recommend it for my teens.

Thank you Flame Tree Press and NetGalley for providing me with a free digital review copy of The House by the Cemetery. This in no way influenced my review.

What do you think of The House by the Cemetery? Have a suggestion for my next read? Leave me a comment below!

Are you planning on purchasing The House by the Cemetery by John Everson? Please consider using one of these affiliate links: Amazon

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Hunting Annabelle by Wendy Heard – BLOGOWEEN BOOK REVIEW

cover135697-mediumTitle:  Hunting Annabelle
Author: Wendy Heard
Publication Date & Publisher: December 18, 2018 HARLEQUIN – MIRA (U.S. and Canada)
Genre(s): Mystery & Thrillers
Length:  336 pages
ISBN: 13: 9781488095405
My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Description (from Goodreads):

Sean Suh is done with killing. After serving three years in a psychiatric prison, he’s determined to stay away from temptation. But he can’t resist Annabelle–beautiful, confident, incandescent Annabelle–who alone can see past the monster to the man inside. The man he’s desperately trying to be.

Then Annabelle disappears.

Sean is sure she’s been kidnapped—he witnessed her being taken first hand—but the police are convinced that Sean himself is at the center of this crime. And he must admit, his illness has caused him to “lose time” before. What if there’s more to what happened than he’s able to remember?

Though haunted by the fear that it might be better for Annabelle if he never finds her, Sean can’t bring himself to let go of her without a fight. To save her, he’ll have to do more than confront his own demons… He’ll have to let them loose.

My review:

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Graphic made by the Amazing Anthony @KeepReadingForward

 

I picked this one to be my first Blogoween post and I’m so excited to share it with you!!! (Please visit Clo@BookDragons to learn more about Blogoween.)

The narrator of Hunting Annabelle is Sean Suh. He’s a young man who’s been released from a psychiatric prison a few years ago. Since being released, he’s only spoken with his mom and his psychiatrist…until he meets Annabelle at Four Corners, an amusement park that he describes as “a cheap Disney rip off.”

Sean has been diagnosed as a schizophrenic and he takes multiple medications, which make him feel disoriented and sluggish. This is important because, when Annabelle goes missing during their date at none other than Four Corners, Sean begins to shake off the sluggishness and other side-effects from his medication. He becomes clear for the first time in a very long time. Is it his love for Annabelle removing the effects so he can find her?

As Sean searches for Annabelle, he realizes he didn’t really know her. How could he, after all? He’d only known her for a couple of days. But he’s digging into her life and her past and in doing so, he learns that he wasn’t the only one keeping secrets when they met. This doesn’t deter him from his mission of finding her though. In fact, it seems to only make him care for her even more!

I have to admit… it’s a little odd to be inside the mind of Sean! It’s not that he’s not likable, it’s quite the opposite! I found myself so proud of him at times simply for not killing people! At other times, I was either wishing he had or thankful he did. If you’re a fan of the show Dexter, you’ll definitely take a liking to Sean Suh!!!

This book is crazy in all the best ways and had my heart pounding often!!! I recommend reading it in a nice low-light on a spooky October night! You’ll be in for more than just a good scare… There are multiple HUGE twists in Hunting Annabelle. My best advice for reading this one… don’t ever think you know what’s going on! Trust me, you don’t. (And that, is my highest praise for any good mystery!)

I received a free review copy of this book through NetGalley. This in no way influenced my review.

What do you think of Hunting Annabelle? Have a suggestion for my next read? Leave me a comment below!

Are you planning on purchasing Hunting Annabelle? Please consider using one of these affiliate links: Amazon, Book Depository

BOOK REVIEW: The Dead Key by D.M. Pulley

22914448-_sx120_Title & Author:  The Dead Key, D. M. Pulley
Publication Date & Publisher:  March 1, 2015, Thomas & Mercer
Genre(s): Mystery/Thriller, Suspense
My Rating: 4.5/5.0
Amazon Purchase Link: The Dead Key

Description (from Goodreads):

It’s 1998, and for years the old First Bank of Cleveland has sat abandoned, perfectly preserved, its secrets only speculated on by the outside world.

Twenty years before, amid strange staff disappearances and allegations of fraud, panicked investors sold Cleveland’s largest bank in the middle of the night, locking out customers and employees, and thwarting a looming federal investigation. In the confusion that followed, the keys to the vault’s safe-deposit boxes were lost.

In the years since, Cleveland’s wealthy businessmen kept the truth buried in the abandoned high-rise. The ransacked offices and forgotten safe-deposit boxes remain locked in time, until young engineer Iris Latch stumbles upon them during a renovation survey. What begins as a welcome break from her cubicle becomes an obsession as Iris unravels the bank’s sordid past. With each haunting revelation, Iris follows the looming shadow of the past deeper into the vault—and soon realizes that the key to the mystery comes at an astonishing price.

My review:

First of all, I think I may have found a new favorite mystery/suspense author!

I bought The Dead Key at the West Virginia Writers summer conference last month, after attending a session by the author, D.M. Pulley. During the class, she referenced The Dead Key a few times and the more she talked about it the more I wanted to read it. (To be honest, it was distracting…I found myself trying to pay attention, but just wanted to go read the book she kept talking about.)

If you’ve read any of my other book reviews, then you know that I’m often drawn into a book by its characters. I really am a sucker for a character-driven story and will often enjoy a book even if the writing or story isn’t that great, if I’m in love with the people in it.

What you probably haven’t realized yet (or maybe you have if you’ve been paying close attention), is that I hardly ever read mysteries anymore. I hate being let down by guessing every single plot twist before it happens, figuring out who did what when and why way before the author tells me… basically, I hate feeling smarter than the hero or heroine. The point of a good mystery is to keep you wondering what the heck is going on and/or going to happen until the very end (Where I expect for everything to be wrapped up in a pretty little bow for me).

I’ve been let down too often over the last couple years… I gave up on mystery authors all together.

Until now…

Not only did I love the characters in The Dead Key, but I had to force myself to put the book down… I desperately needed to know what was going to happen next!

The story goes back and forth between a young girl’s experiences at the First Bank of Cleveland in 1978 and a female engineer, Iris, in 1998.

Iris is trying to do a renovation survey on the bank, which has been frozen in time for the last 20 years. It’s so strange, that she begins to snoop around more and more…and get herself into more and more trouble as she digs into the past.

One part of the past she digs up on the bank is that of Beatrice, a young secretary that had worked at the bank. It’s obvious that Beatrice has a lot of secrets and while Iris herself doesn’t discover all of them, D. M. Pulley lets you experience it yourself as you go through Beatrice’s sad and terrifying journey with her.

I love a good serious story with a lot of laughs and Iris provided plenty of both! She’s nothing like what you’d expect an engineer to be. She drinks too much, smokes too much, and makes bad decision after hilariously bad decision after another. At one point, she starts to believe she may be imagining things:

She had to stop drinking and get some sleep. It was getting hard to separate her memories from her delusions.

On page 292, I realized that I still had no idea what supporting characters to trust and which were dangerous for Beatrice and Iris…and I was shocked by who was friend and who was foe at the end!

There is so much I want to tell you, but almost anything more would be a spoiler so if you’ve already read The Dead Key, let me know what you thought! I love talking about great books!

If you don’t have an interest in reading it, why? If you’re planning on adding it to your TBR stack, was my review helpful?

Thanks for reading my review and happy reading!