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Review

Devolution

Devolution by Max Brooks

Publication Date: June 16, 2020 ~ Genre: Horror, Sci fi, Thriller

Synopsis:

As the ash and chaos from Mount Rainier’s eruption swirled and finally settled, the story of the Greenloop massacre has passed unnoticed, unexamined . . . until now.

But the journals of resident Kate Holland, recovered from the town’s bloody wreckage, capture a tale too harrowing–and too earth-shattering in its implications–to be forgotten.

In these pages, Max Brooks brings Kate’s extraordinary account to light for the first time, faithfully reproducing her words alongside his own extensive investigations into the massacre and the legendary beasts behind it.

Kate’s is a tale of unexpected strength and resilience, of humanity’s defiance in the face of a terrible predator’s gaze, and inevitably, of savagery and death.

Yet it is also far more than that.

Because if what Kate Holland saw in those days is real, then we must accept the impossible. We must accept that the creature known as Bigfoot walks among us–and that it is a beast of terrible strength and ferocity.

Part survival narrative, part bloody horror tale, part scientific journey into the boundaries between truth and fiction, this is a Bigfoot story as only Max Brooks could chronicle it–and like none you’ve ever read before.

Thoughts:

Firstly, just let me say, anything set in the pacific northwest I will immediately want to read as I was born and raised in the PNW and reside in Washington State currently. I am but a couple hours from Mount Rainier and grew up camping, fishing, and horseback riding in these mountains. 

That being said, Big Foot is common lore in this area, though I’ve only ever considered it a myth. However, Max Brooks references some interesting citations from actual laws and written accounts published decades ago, prior to Sasquatch depicted in the media as stupid and the butt of the joke. Sasquatch was, at one time, in the very least a mysterious threat and at the most an unknown animal  in need of protection. 

Max Brooks does an amazing job of blurring the lines of fantasy and reality in this story. As mentioned above, some citations included in this book are real and easily accessed through a quick google search. The author does a good job of mixing actual reported encounters of Big Foot and fictional journal entries, which led to this compelling account of a creature with consistent behaviors; Brooks then filled in the rest with known primate behavior and there you have it, a plausible creature who has thus far hidden itself from the world but could emerge at anytime. This made the story entirely immersive for me as the narrative made sense and painted a cohesive picture of a beast who may have evolved with jungle primates but migrated to our part of the world.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story. I don’t often read horror novels but had to make an exception for this one because of all the reasons listed above. And it was definitely a horror story with moments that had me feeling so much for the characters that I just had to take a break. Admittedly, I shouldn’t be reading horror in the middle of my work day so take that with a grain of salt. 😉 I hope Brooks continues to write stories about mythological beasts because I will absolutely pick them up.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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Review

The Shadows

The Shadows by Alex North

Publication Date: July 7th 2020 ~ Genre: Thriller-Mystery, Horror

I won an ARC copy of this book via bookishfirst.com

Synopsis:

You knew a teenager like Charlie Crabtree. A dark imagination, a sinister smile–always on the outside of the group. Some part of you suspected he might be capable of doing something awful. Twenty-five years ago, Crabtree did just that, committing a murder so shocking that it’s attracted that strange kind of infamy that only exists on the darkest corners of the internet–and inspired more than one copycat.

Paul Adams remembers the case all too well: Crabtree–and his victim–were Paul’s friends. Paul has slowly put his life back together. But now his mother, old and senile, has taken a turn for the worse. Though every inch of him resists, it is time to come home.

It’s not long before things start to go wrong. Reading the news, Paul learns another copycat has struck. His mother is distressed, insistent that there’s something in the house. And someone is following him. Which reminds him of the most unsettling thing about that awful day twenty-five years ago.

It wasn’t just the murder.

It was the fact that afterward, Charlie Crabtree was never seen again…

Thoughts:

Reading on, beware of spoilers!

Picking up The Shadows is returning to the ominous world of the Whisper man. Detective Amanda Beck is called to duty again to solve a gruesome murder, eerily resembling the murder of a teen 20 years ago. These are not typical murders, however, these murders more accurately resemble sacrifices. 

Paul is the POV the reader is introduced to in the beginning of the book. We follow him through his early teen years and the events of the first murder. In those early years, Paul finds himself thrown into the delusions of a teenage boy, Charlie. Only a fierce loyalty to his friend, James, keeps Paul involved in Charlie’s plot to bring his world of imagination terrifyingly to life. Though James can’t seem to remove himself from the group of found friends, Paul is eventually pushed too far and leaves the group and his friend for good. 

In adulthood, Paul is still running from the trauma experienced in his childhood. All Paul could hope for is to wipe his memory clean of the murder and the events leading to the murder. Paul returns to his hometown to visit his dying mother, as she is admitted to hospice. Everything comes flooding back and Paul must choose how involved he wishes to become as he learns even his mother was connected.

One drawback I experienced while reading this book is an absent connection to the characters. I wished the characters were a bit more developed but I understand the possibility of an unreliable main character may have clouded the process. Also, this book can be confusing. I got to a certain point, learned something new and then was like, wait, how did those previous events occur? I had to go back and reread chapters but I still feel confused. I’m interested to see what others think of these chapters. Please click the little comment icon at the beginning of this review to tell me about your experience with this book. I’d love to chat about it.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Shadows. Alex North never fails to set a suspenseful tone in his books, which propels the reader through the chapters. His descriptions of the environment and how it affects the characters causes the reader to sit on the edge of their seat while reading, absolutely sure something heinous is about to occur at any moment and that’s usually the case.  😉

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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Review

The Guest List

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

Release: June 2, 2020 ~ Genre: Mystery Thriller ~ Book acquired through Book of the Month early release.

Synopsis

A wedding celebration turns dark and deadly in this deliciously wicked and atmospheric thriller reminiscent of Agatha Christie from the author of The Hunting Party.

The bride ‧ The plus one ‧ The best man ‧ The wedding planner ‧ The bridesmaid ‧ The body

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why? 

Review

I struggled putting together a review for this one. As a mystery/thriller, I feel like most info can be considered a spoiler. However, here are my non-spoilery thoughts. 
I find it difficult to read books when I don’t like any of the characters and I hesitated picking this up because I heard all the characters in this book were unlike-able. Happily, I found this not to be true. I did like two of the characters especially and found myself rooting for them throughout the twists and turns of this story. I think many readers may find they identify with some aspect of these two characters, seemingly on the outskirts of the friend group, and will hang on perilously with them while hoping for a gratifying ending.
For me, the pacing of this book was slow to start but built quickly and became very exciting and unputdownable towards the end. I didn’t find the major twists predictable and I liked the buildup to the finale. 

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I did have a couple of issues with the plot but overall, really enjoyed this one! It was a fun ride.

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