At first I thought “Hell Holes” was going to be a science fiction novella given the cast of main characters are all scientists or researches in the natural sciences. And, admittedly, the first half of the book feels like a true science fiction as the characters explain the science and their reasoning for what the mysterious holes popping up all over Alaska could be or what may be causing them. Then it takes a pretty hard left into pure horror/paranormal action. “Hell Holes” starts off as a quest for answers about these holes and what can be done to keep them from interrupting a lucrative Alaskan oil line, then ends on a high speed chase across the tundra as the scientists are hunted down by all manner of hell-spawn and demons. Was I disappointed by this turn? Not really. But I was taken by surprise.
I don’t typically read horror novels. Not because I scare easily, the opposite actually. I never get as creeped out reading as I would watching something, so I’m probably the worst person to judge if a book is actually scary. “Demon’s Prize” is meant to be scary at times, and there definitely is some creepy imagery, but since I’m not sure what most people find terrifying when I have a hard time defining that for myself, I’m not going to spend much time talking about the scare factor. Needless to say, The Alpha Wolf series is a paranormal, urban fantasy that fits nicely for New Adult readers. The book follows four friends—who are werewolves—as they embark on trying to make their dreams come true with their band. Along the way, they meet Brent, an alpha werewolf with secrets of his own that the young pack desperately tries to unravel no matter how much Brent pushes them away. The story follows the four werewolves and Angela—a werewolf hybrid—as Brent intervenes when Angela is nearly taken by a demon. Following that incident, the young werewolves are determined to save Brent at all costs, even though one of their pack really doesn’t want to. So, yeah, you can see exactly why some people may find this creepy or scary, so consider yourself warned.
I’m not a big fan of omniscient POV’s generally speaking. Of the works I’ve read that attempt a true omniscient 3rd person, I’ve never felt like I’ve gotten a good sense of the characters, and the jumps between what one character knows or is doing can be hit or miss, at best. But “Heart of Jet” may change all of that for me! The story follows two Manhattan socialites, I want to say in the very early 1900’s, as they embark on a journey to Scotland where their recently deceased relative has tasked them with easing the tormented soul of their family’s old estate on the Scottish moors. Shedd’s lyrical omniscient style of narration perfectly captured the setting of the era, as well as set the tone for the haunting love story that followed.
Anyone who is a fan of text based role play video games will geek out over “Lycopolis”. The story is about seven people who all play together in an online world created by a young man with a sinister ulterior motive. But when the demon they summon in game doesn’t stay there, the characters begin to adopt their online personas in the real world in order to fight a force they have difficulty believing in. The paranormal aspect of the story is fun and unique in and of itself, as the book switches a bit between what’s happening in the online realm and the real world, but I enjoyed the flawed characters, and the greyness around Seth, and Edwin most. I love sympathetic villains! I love heroes with dark pasts! Basically, I like characters who you can identify with, so no matter if they are doing good or bad things, you get where they are coming from and ache alongside them.
“The EF76 Strain” is a short zombie story, I hesitate to call it a book because, at under 60 pages, it’s more like a novella, but a bit on the short side for that, too. The story is told through a series of loosely connected events based on the “infected” people and their struggle to save themselves, or the people they care most about. It all starts with good intentions, a doctor trying to cure world hunger with a simple pill that has drastic side effects. Ergo: zombies. Except the people we see who have taken this pill and are affected, are not the people who should have taken it. They are people in a Florida suburb, not a starving 3rd world country. So why are they infected? Not sure. But they are. And now, we get to read their, often times, gory demise.
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