Monday, November 13, 2017

The Holtur Curse by Cameron Wayne Smith



Daily monster attacks, brutal killings, rough slayers eager to slice through any challenge...yup, we must be in Holtur! It was great returning to this place, the harsh winter coming forth and the fabulous monsters on the prowl, and this time we encounter whole new challenges that Holtur has never faced before. I know I'm excited so let's dive right in!

Sonja Bluwahlt, Captain of the Holtur slayers, has a lot on her plate. Her brother's illness is getting worse, new never-before-faced creatures are starting to attack the village, and one of her slayers (whom she was particularly fond of) has gone missing. On top of all this, an army of men known as the Brothers of Eternity threaten to invade Holtur seeking something they call the Eternity Grail. Threats the likes of which she'd never dealt with and new challenges leave Sonja genuinely wondering: could Holtur truly be cursed? If it is, how can she and her band of slayers hope to defend its people in the face of these new horrors?

This book is just the kind of thing a sequel should be. Instead of repeating the first story, it carries on the story and expands the world surrounding it. Sonja, who was a supporting character in the last book, is a great choice for a new lead. She is, without a doubt, one of the best strong female characters I've found in a long time. She knows when to be tough and when to be kind. She can slaughter monsters, brandishing a claymore and coating herself in monster blood, but she can also sympathize with others and get along well with her men and the villagers. When she needs help, she'll accept it, none of the I-can-do-everything-myself crap that we can often find with women trying to be strong. She's a great leader, just the same person she was in the last book, and she makes the perfect lead for this story.

What this book has that sets it apart from the first book is the very interesting theme of "who is the monster?" In this book, Holtur deals with a threat that they've never encountered before: other men. Now, the slayers of Holtur have killed some of the most complex and deadly monsters this world has ever known and yet they've never had to fight against people before. These men are clearly a threat. The Brothers of Eternity have openly admitted that they're going to destroy their village and hurt whomever gets in their way if they don't get what they want. Still, the slayers have a real dilemma on their hands. The idea of killing other people and what it will do to their souls is a really good question. Not to mention that, this time, Holtur has some monsters actually helping them. It makes the characters actually wonder if what they're doing is right and are they really doing the right thing and, if they resort to killing people, would that make them monsters themselves. These are some really complex ideas and it's really well thought out.

The hostile environment of this book is exactly what we'd expect from the previous installment and it comes with lots of fighting and violence. The action is pretty intense, leading to some brutal kills and some genuinely sad moments. That's what this book is good at, it makes you care about these people, these slayers and even the flame wyverns who are helping them out. Every loss makes an impact and you feel each one. It's also one of those few times my mouth actually dropped open once or twice, the kills coming as a genuine shock. While you know some of these slayers are going to be cannon fodder, you're still concerned for them and their personalities are still likable enough that you want them to get out okay, even if you know they're not. Also, some of the tactics used in this book are just great. Holtur uses its curses as blessings and uses them to their advantage. That's a great idea and I was glad to see it used.

If I had to nitpick, I'd say that the villains of the story were a smidge on the shallow side. While they did pose a genuine threat and they were certainly scary, their personalities weren't much to rave about. I also wasn't too sure about the direction they were taking with the Moongate community and what was going on there, but there is a third book coming up so I suppose we'll get the answers we're looking for there.

Final Verdict
This book, like the first, is just a great horror/action adventure with lots of death, gore, an awesome lead, and great creatures and ideas. I enjoyed this one a lot and, if it sounds like your thing, it's definitely worth your money at your local bookstore.

Have you read the book? What did you think? Comment below and share your thoughts. Please make sure to Follow Midnight Readings for instant updates. Have a book you'd like me to read or would like to make a recommendation? Contact me on goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/65448711-michelle-beer

Next Time: Dirtyhands returns....

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Solaris Seethes by Janet McNulty



Nothing warms the heart like a good, campy sci-fi story, am I right? While it's not my absolute favorite genre in the world, once in a blue moon I'll find a science fiction story that I find I can just relax and enjoy. Mind you, this story is one you really have to shut your mind off to appreciate fully and, as a critic, I can't really do that. That being said, there's still enjoyment to be found in this story of adventure, revenge and recycled plot details...I mean, cliches...I mean...let's just get right to it.

Rynah's home has been destroyed. The man she'd come to love, Klanor, has betrayed her and all of her people by stealing the powerful crystal that controlled the planet's magnetic fields. As Rynah escapes the destruction, she comes across a gift from her departed grandfather, an old-fashioned spaceship named Solaris. Armed with a unique artificial intelligence, Solaris has been prepared for this event and explains to Rynah that the crystal is one of six that are said to have the power to destroy whole planets, even whole solar systems, and that Klanor plans to unite them and rule the galaxy. In accordance to an ancient prophecy concerning the crystals, Rynah summons help aboard her ship from a planet so underdeveloped it had gone unnoticed before, Earth. From this planet she calls forth four heroes,  the philosopher Solon from 751 B.C, the warrior Alfric from 1163, the inventor Tom from 2099, and the Mary Sue...I mean, lover Brie from 2014 to stop Klanor and save the galaxy.

Yeah...it might seem like I'm being kind of harsh about this one, but hear me out. This book is silly. And it knows it's silly (or at least I think it does). There are a lot of things that this book is trying to be. Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate, Battlestar Galactica, basically, if it has the word "star" in the title, this book is trying to be it. Whoever, if you can get past that...it's actually kind of likable. It reads more like a fan fiction might but...a good fan fiction. It doesn't read like a quick cash grab, it reads like a labor of love. What it wants to be is an homage to the great sci-fi stories and capture what they had instead of trying to cash in on what they think will sell the most. The problem is... it is still pretty silly.

The characters in this book are just what you'd expect them to be. You have your no-nonsense captain, Rynah, with an impossibly bad attitude who acts tough but really she's just scared. You have the philosopher who spouts out fortune-cookie comments whenever it's relevant and the massive hulking warrior who is all about pride and honor and fight-to-the-death and MAN! things. Possibly the only one who actually has some depth and I actually believe to behave like a real person would is Tom, the inventor. He really seems to pull his weight, takes everything in stride, is excited to learn and explore but is also terrified when he needs to be. He can pull of being excited and frantic at the same time. And then...*sigh*...you have Brie. There's no doubt about it, she's a Mary-Sue. A teenage girl from about the right time who can't do anything but has so much love in her that she's essential in saving the galaxy. She contributes very little and but everyone babies her and tells her how strong she really is, with the exception of Rynah who rightly calls her out at times. However, because Rynah is such a jerk to Brie that we can't get too mad at Brie for this. It's rare that a Mary Sue is called out for what she is and that is a little refreshing, but it's marred when Rynah's criticisms make her out to be a terrible person we don't want to listen to. By making Rynah look bad, it makes Brie look good by comparison and that's just manipulative. I didn't care for that detail too much.

Now, with sci-fi stories you are allowed a fair amount of creative license when it comes to planets. Here, however, we just have your basic serving of Zelda planets. What do I mean by that? I mean your typical environments that you'd encounter in almost every Legend of Zelda game. We're talking a jungle world, a water world, and ice world, a desert world...stuff we've seen a million times. At least make the water red or the ice green or...or something! It's the same basic planet set ups that we've seen in tons of different science fiction stories. You should branch out with your planets, have fun with them. Do a little research and find out what plants or animals could live in these places. Along with the planets, the plot is pretty typical too. It's a quest story. Find the things, save the world, stop the mustache-twirling villain...all of that. The villain is super boring in this thing too. He has no motivation, no reason for what he's doing beyond "I want power!" and he's extremely forgettable.

Now, that being said, there is heart in this book. It's supposed to be an homage, as I said before. A story where you can just turn your brain off and not have to think about it too hard. It's fun for the sake of fun. And I did have fun with this book. It wasn't a chore to get through at all, I actually found myself enjoying it. Solaris has a great personality to make up for Rynah's terrible one, Alfric is a riot, Tom's a pretty well developed character...there is stuff to like in this book. It's just too bad that some of it is only enjoyable ironically. Like the ending. I'm not going to spoil anything but...once you see the direction they go with the end...oh my gosh. So hilarious when it's not supposed to be. Enough out of me. Look it up for yourself.

Final Verdict
If you're a sci-fi fan, or someone looking into sci-fi for the first time, this book is fine. You'll like it okay. But this is definitely a book for the heart and not for the mind. It does have some serious flaws, some generic plot details, and not quite enough new material. If you want to check it out, feel free to do so just maybe check it out at your local library.

Have you read the book? What did you think? Comment below and share your thoughts. Please make sure to Follow Midnight Readings for instant updates. Have a book you'd like me to read or would like to make a recommendation? Contact me on goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/65448711-michelle-beer

Next Time: Man, this town can NOT catch a break....

Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Night Bird by Brian Freeman



For one last scary, post-Halloween hurrah, we have a murder mystery where being afraid kills you. Nice. The concept of phobias is always an interesting one and getting to the bottom of what drives peoples biggest fears is a fascinating idea. Mix that in with some typical yet fun mystery characters and you've got this book. Let's dive right in.

Dr. Francesca Stein's made it her goal to help those with life-crippling phobias. Her special treatments and use of hypnosis to make people's bad memories go away have worked wonders on hundreds of patients. However, her patients start dying in horrific suicides and Frankie is being stalked by someone called the Night Bird. Now homicide detective Frost Easton is on the case, and together he and Dr. Stein must catch the killer before he strikes again.

As far as mysteries go, this one is handled really well. It never gets overly complicated and readers can follow along just fine, picking up clues and figuring things out as they go. I admit, I didn't know where this was going most of the time. I was genuinely interested and didn't figure it out too soon, which is how mystery stories are meant to go. Admittedly I did figure it out a bit earlier than I was probably supposed to, but for the most part, I was intrigued. The story has just the right amount of elements in it to keep the reader's inner detective curious. It drops just the right hints at just the right time, it has red herrings to fool the readers onto the wrong track, and there's just the right amount of threat and urgency in the plot to keep the reader invested. In this department, it was quite a success.

I also got to really like the character of Frost Easton...despite his rather silly name. Most of these detective-types in mystery novel tend to fall into Gary-Stu territory, what with being overly perfect, knowing things they couldn't possibly know, and being able to knock out opponents twice their size. Frost, however, is very human. While he does have the traditional tragic backstory and he does brood about it from time to time, he's still comes off as likable. He's not the "don't get in the way of my investigation" kind of guy, he wants to help and doesn't judge. He has useful friends he relies on, he has a brother that he gets along with and loves, he doesn't jump into bed with any woman he meets, he's just...human. Also, he rents his home from his cat. You read that right.

Now, admittedly, the rest of the characters in this book are...a bit cookie-cutter. You know all these stereotypes from other mystery novels: the self-absorbed sister, the criminal that got away, the flamboyant gay guy, the husband who doesn't get enough attention, yada yada. Then again, this is mystery fiction, so it's kind of hard to blame them for this. You know who these characters are within five minutes of knowing them and can pretty easily picture what their role is and what place they have in the story. They're mostly just there to get the plot moving. The stuff involving Dr. Stein's personal story is probably the worst part, that tidbit I actually could guess and it's resolution left me a bit peeved, but the kind of peeved you get when you're invested so...there's that.

With this being a fictional story, you do have to allow for some creative license. For example, I'm not sure how sound some of the science is in this book, as in I don't know if this is something someone can actually do. There are times when both Frost and Dr. Stein make decisions that probably wouldn't work in real life...such as entering places without a warrant (yeah, that happens). However, it doesn't happen very often and, in one instance at least, there could be an argument for probable cause so it does check out.  Frost stays mostly by the book, but it's Dr. Stein who ends up making some of the dumb moves. But, again, it's to move the plot along so most of it is pretty forgivable, it didn't really bother me. The only thing that really did bother me, aside from the thing about Stein's forgotten past, is that the author really likes to wax poetic about the surrounding area during tense moments. When people are about to die and things are getting really intense, the last thing I wanna hear about is what the trees look like! There's a time and place for such things.

Final Verdict
A creepy baddie, a cool cop, and an interesting mystery are all pros this book has to offer, while stereotypes and poor decision making are its cons. Still, I was pretty entertained and nicely intrigued by this book and it did its job by bringing me along for the ride and letting me figure things out on my own. Overall, I'd say that this creepy tale is worth your money at your local bookstore.

Have you read the book? What did you think? Comment below and share your thoughts. Please make sure to Follow Midnight Readings for instant updates. Have a book you'd like me to read or would like to make a recommendation? Contact me on goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/65448711-michelle-beer

Next Time: Sassiest...spaceship...ever.

Monday, October 30, 2017

House of Furies by Madeleine Roux



Let's close out the month of October with the latest YA Horror phenomenon, House of Furies. The hype around this book is pretty real. Lots of people were telling me that this book is super scary and the best/scariest book to come out this year. Naturally, I was pretty excited to get a chance to read it and seeing as I liked Asylum pretty well, I found myself really looking forward to it. How did it hold up to my expectations? Let's find out.

Louisa Ditton is down on her luck. Shipped off to school by her family, running away from said school, and now living on the streets telling fortunes just to get by. But she's then offered a place at Coldthistle House, a boarding house run by the mysterious Mr. Morningside. But more goes on at Coldthistle House than Louisa could ever have imagined. Those who visit the house are sinners who receive their just desserts at the hands of the House's otherworldly staff. Louisa soon fears for Lee, a young man boarding at the house with his uncle, and hopes to save him before he, or herself, is next to suffer the wrath of those within the house.

First things first, I actually really liked Louisa as a character. Much like Roux's last protagonist, Dan, Louisa is more than meets the eye and is a mystery even unto the readers. She's a very complex character as well and nicely flawed (yes, flaws are a good thing). She's short tempered but never to the point where it became annoying. She steals and can come off as selfish at times, but she's not a bad person. She's a product of her circumstances and yet manages to genuinely care about Lee. She keeps her head a lot of the times, even when faced against terrible creatures of darkness. She worked really well for me.

Now...for the big problem. The pacing in this book is slow! Very, very slow. So much so that, for me, it kind of kills the mood of the book. It's hard to be on edge and scared of what's to come when there's page after page of nothing scary happening! She gets to the house, nothing happens. She meets Morningside, nothing happens. She starts working at the house...nothing happens. Then, when things do get started, you have to wake yourself up and realize that it's finally happening. Granted, when the scary moments finally come they are pretty intense. Running into a group of wraiths that chase you through the house, witnessing the aftermath of a ritualistic sacrifice, and a rather nasty encounter with a cannibal all manage to do their job in scaring the reader. The problem is that they are too far in between long stretches of nothing happening that does little to capture the reader's interest. The pace really killed a lot of this book for me.

But the pace isn't the only problem with the book. Mostly, outside from one of the boarders at the house, there's almost no threat to Louisa in this book. They make it pretty clear right away that everybody in the house, all the staff that live there and are supposed to add to the horrors of the place, are all very friendly and kind to Louisa and do their best to help her. If we know she's safe, then the reader is comforted instead of nervous. Even when she attempts to flee the house, she's met with little in the way of obstacles. And she's so desperate to flee the house yet...she keeps going back of her own free will. It's hard to sympathize with her inability to get away when she get's away but goes back on her own. Now, when she does go back, she does so for unselfish reasons so, there is that, but it's marred when she just goes back to the house and is already plotting to get away again.

The book also includes hints about what is to come in this story. This comes in the form of pictures and excerpts from Mr. Morningside's book about rare dark creatures. Now, the pictures I don't mind as they're vague enough to leave you guessing, but the excerpts feel like overkill. Plus, the excerpts come right out of nowhere, meaning the actual story has to take break while we're spoon-fed information that we probably didn't need. Instead of telling me what these people can do, how about you show me. That's what they do, they tell instead of show. Aside from some Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark-esque illustrations, I could have done away with them all together.

Final Verdict
I was a bit disappointed in this one. It wasn't as scary as I thought it would be and it wasn't as good as Roux's other works. Still, there is some good stuff to be enjoyed and, if you like it or want to read it, feel free to do so just probably wait for it on paperback.

Have you read the book? What did you think? Comment below and share your thoughts. Please make sure to Follow Midnight Readings for instant updates. Have a book you'd like me to read or would like to make a recommendation? Contact me on goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/65448711-michelle-beer

Next Time: We're not done with horror stories yet. Try to banish your worst fears, they'll just come back...with a vengeance.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Tales from the Haunted Mansion: The Fearsome Foursome by Amicus Arcane



I sometimes find I have little patience for "scary" stories for kids. Why? Because they're never scary! Finding kid friendly material that actually delivers scares is pretty rare these days. They usually either try too hard or don't try at all. Luckily for us, we have a collection of tales that both the young and the old can enjoy and be perfectly scared by. Let's proceed.

Tim, Willa, Noah, and Steve are known as the Fearsome Foursome, a group of kids from the same school who just love to make up and tell scary stories. One night, they find an invitation at their usual meeting place...an invitation to a creepy old mansion in the Louisiana bayou. It is within this creepy mansion that the Fearsome Foursome meet the mansion's librarian who wants in on the fun. He then proceeds to tell them four frightening tales featuring the Foursome...an they're not allowed to leave until theirs stories are finished.

One thing I really appreciated about this book was its voice. The narrator of the book, presumably the  Mansion's Ghost Host, is a riot! The sarcastic wit and hilarious jibs are just perfectly timed, giving this book an admittedly dark sense of humor but a good one. It often breaks the fourth wall and addresses the reader, pointing out flaws the characters make and cliches. While it is funny and very well done, it doesn't shy away from the scares either. That same tone of voice that makes you laugh can also make you shiver and never mixes the two, keeping everything in tone. As the stories get more intense, the jibes lessen and you really feel the urgency and fear the stories. It was brilliantly well done.

I also like the four heroes and the stories that went with them. While the plots to each of these stories isn't exactly unique, they help to build the kids as characters and give us an idea of what they're really like. Tim gets possession of a demonic baseball glove, Willa longs for a dead pet back, Noah tries to spite his stepfather with poor results, and Steve makes a dare that goes too far. As each of their situations gets worse, you feel for them and you want them to come through from the horrors they're facing. They felt like real kids and I appreciated that about them.

The peril that the kids face in these stories is, while fantastical, intense. Will kids find this scary? Well, I hope so because that's what the book is for. Scaring kids! Even so, the humor in the narration and the fact that this is a kids book soften the blow just enough to where I don't think anyone will be psychologically harmed. I mean, come on, this is Disney's Haunted Mansion, remember? It's not going to scar somebody for life. Kids can read this and be enjoyably afraid. I would feel perfectly comfortable letting a kid read this. Just the right amount of tension, high stakes, and otherworldly creeps come together in just the right amount of terror, which everyone can appreciate.

As this is based on the Disneyland ride, it did have to include several references scattered throughout the stories and not just in the framing device. These are most noticeable in Steve's story, but they can be found all over. Sometimes these are nicely integrated and other times they stick out like a hitchhiking ghost's thumb. But this is an extreme nitpick and my trying really hard to find something wrong with the book and that's saying a lot.

Final Verdict
Ghoulishly delightful and just the right amount of scary with a sharp sense of humor, this book had it all. I really enjoyed this one and it got me eager to read the books that come after it (this is the first in a series). And it is with a grim grin that I welcome this book to the Shelf of Recommendation!

Have you read the book? What did you think? Comment below and share your thoughts. Have a book you'd like me to read or would like to make a recommendation? Contact me on goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/65448711-michelle-beer

Next Time: Now this is a haunted house of epic proportions....

Monday, October 23, 2017

How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather



Written by the actual descendent of Cotton Mather, we get a story of the fake descendent of Cotton Mather! Yeah. Inspired by the infamous Salem Witch Trials, we have a story of curses, accusations, spirits, and high school. Should be interesting. Let's dive right in.

Samantha Mather didn't mind the move to Salem at first. Vaguely interested in the dark history her family has there, she looks forward to seeing what the mysterious town has to offer when she moves in with her stepmother. But Sam quickly learns she's not entirely welcome in Salem. A clique at school known as the Descendants, whose ancestors were the victims of the trials, have singled Sam out and make her life miserable. It doesn't help that mysterious occurrences are taking place around Salem, and people are dying. Now Sam must break an ancient curse set upon the denizens of Salem before she, or her father, are the next to die.

Now the concept of a curse in Salem and using the actual people descended from the victims is actually not a bad one. There's a lot of potential here and that's where some of the highlights of this book shines through. The fact that the situations are reversed, that the family of the accusers is now being victimized, is also pretty clever. The author is trying to relate the trials with modern day bullying and, while that may seem like a stretch to some, the themes have much in common. While there are times when it isn't exactly handled well (I'll get to that in a bit) it is a valiant attempt. The messages of speaking up and refusing to continue the cycle are good ones and I did appreciate that in this book.

What doesn't work, unfortunately, is that this book relies on a lot of typical YA tropes to tell the story. The additions of things like a love triangle with the boy next door and a magical convenience fairy...I mean...ghost just kind of feels forced and doesn't help the story overall. There's no denying that Sam is a self insert character (they have the same last name and heritage for crying out loud!) and her personality is a bit...lacking at times. While she's certainly not perfect and does have natural reactions to situations at times, her general reaction to most paranormal scenarios is "Seriously?" There was no real spark of life to her. Also, she doesn't do much to help her situation and can make matters worse for herself at times. For example, there's a scene when she goes to a local coffee shop and the barista asks for her name to put on the cup and, knowing full well that her name is going to get her grief from the other patrons, she just gives it to her. Here's an idea, Sam. If you don't want a barista to shout out your name to the whole world...lie! It's a freakin' coffee house, they don't care if you tell the truth or not. You can tell them your name is "Batman" and they won't question it. You could have just given a fake name and avoided the grief but no, you just had to make things worse for yourself. Little touches like that make Sam come off kind of stupid and that's the biggest problem with her character. It's hard to convey her as a victim being bullied when she's not really doing anything to help herself.

The supernatural elements to the story can be interesting, but those are often ruined because, again, YA tropes. That ghost boyfriend I brought up before is by far my biggest complaint. He's available at her beck and call (he only complains about being summoned once and is totally fine with it the rest of the time), he does all the hard work and research the story requires so she doesn't have to, he's able to magically produce a picnic feast with yummies from all over the world to cheer her up, and he's corporeal, so they can make out. He's strictly there for wish fulfillment purposes and it was just silly! While there were fun things like curses and a truly interesting mystery for most of the book the resolution of the mystery...was a bit of a let down. I really didn't like what they ended up doing. I saw it coming, for starters, and the villain's motivations were...head scratching. I won't give it away but I was just underwhelmed by the big reveal of the story.

Finally, what kind of bothered me about the story was some of the historical inaccuracies. I liked studying the Witch Trials when I was in school and so some of the stuff that was changed around or excluded was...irksome. Now, sure, creative license is a thing and I understand and respect that. I liked Stalking Jack the Ripper a lot even though that was pretty inaccurate too. The problem here is that this is written by the actual descendent of Cotton Mather. I just feel like, if anyone should get the facts straight, it should be this person! But no. No, we just throw details away for the sake of a pretty story with the world's most perfect undead boyfriend. Such wasted potential.

Final Verdict
If you're just looking for a typical YA story, Mean Girls in Salem, or what-have-you, this book won't bother you and you'll like it just fine. I ended up disappointed but that doesn't mean you will. If this sounds like your cup of tea, go ahead and give it a shot but maybe check it out at your local library.



Have you read the book? What did you think? Comment below and share your thoughts. Have a book you'd like me to read or would like to make a recommendation? Contact me on goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/65448711-michelle-beer

Next Time:(singing) Grim, grinning ghosts...come out to socialize....

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Assassin Game by Kristy McKay



This is something I've always secretly wanted to try. A murder mystery game where you fight to "stay alive" and rock out your own personal detective skills (though admittedly I'd probably be the first one out). But I'm too antisocial for such things so I got this instead! The ultimate high school appropriate game of cat and mouse goes too far in this mystery thriller. Let's dive right in.

Cate has longed to become part of the Guild at Umfraville private school since she first came there. Now, she finally has her chance to join and become a player in "the game". The game is "Killer". One Guild member goes around "killing off" other players in thrilling yet harmless pranks until they are caught or one remains. It's a daring adventure full of secrets and suspicion...until the pranks take a seriously dangerous turn for the worst. Kids are getting badly hurt and the school itself is in jeopardy and Cate must figure out who the "Killer" is and put a stop to him...or risk becoming his next victim.

The concept of "Killer" is a lot of fun and a great idea...even if it would never really pass in a real school. That's what the creation of Umfraville is about. It serves as both an isolated (it's a private school on an island in the Irish Sea) area where any good murder mystery can take place as well as being probably the only location where such a game could exist. Something like this game would never go by in a public school (in America anyway) and so the author gives us a great location for such events to take place, but also a place where immediate help is hard to come by. There's a big stretch of water keeping you isolated from cops and hospitals so it's just the creepy setting we'd want for a story such as this.

The quality of the characters in this story...vary. While Cate is a bit bland, she never outright bothered me or made me angry. She often makes a point of saying how she's average and insignificant (despite a whopping THREE guys wanting to date her) but it never got pretentious or annoying. She was just okay. The Guild members...honestly, I think there were too many of them. Certain ones I remember clearly like Alex, the Game Master, and Vaughn, the computer whiz, and Martin the overeager one. The rest, however, just kinda start blurring together and I had a tough time keeping track of who was who. This is particularly vexing when you're trying to solve a mystery and can't even remember who all the players and potential suspects are.

But the best aspect of this book was the mystery. I was genuinely stumped for a good portion of this book. There was a nice amount of red herrings, twists, and the kills were both interesting and inventive, even the dangerous ones. Honestly, I could have done with more pranks. They come pretty far in between each other and I would have liked to have seen what else the killer had up their sleeve. That does, however, lead to another downside in that it takes over half the book for things to get really serious. There are some vague threats but things don't really go down until well into the book. A bit more intimacy was needed for the first bit, but it does lead up to a good reveal and intense climax, so I'm happy overall.

Final Verdict
Just the type of murder mystery I like to read. Creepy, dangerous, thrilling and fun. A bit slow in places and not quite enough action, but overall a good idea and a story that I'd say, is worth your money at your local bookstore.

Have you read the book? What did you think? Comment below and share your thoughts. Have a book you'd like me to read or would like to make a recommendation? Contact me on goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/65448711-michelle-beer

Next Time: I really hope this isn't an instruction manual....