Tag Archives: occult horror

The Prisoners of Stewartville by Shannon Felton Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A teen boy starts to look into the mysteries of the small town defined by its prison system after discovering a hidden tunnel in the basement of a home, and in doing so uncovers dark histories and hidden secrets that will terrify him to his core in the author Shannon Felton’s “The Prisoners of Stewartville”.

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The Synopsis

Stewartville. A town living in the shadow of the prisons that drive its economy. Haunted by the ghosts of its past. Cursed by the dark secrets hidden beneath. A town so entwined with the prisons waiting outside the city limits that it’s impossible to imagine one without the other, or to ever imagine escaping either.

When a teenage boy digs into the history of the town, he discovers a tunnel system beneath Stewartville, passageways filled with dark secrets. Secrets leading not to freedom, but to unrelenting terror.

Stewartville. Where the convicts aren’t the only prisoners.

The Review

This was a truly captivating and masterful read. The heavy atmosphere of the narrative kept readers engaged right from the beginning. The rich mythos that the author develops for this story and the evil that infects this town (or is it the other way around?), really do a remarkable job of keeping the reader’s hearts pumping.

The heart of this short horror read is actually the balance of character development and the book’s setting. The thing that stuck out to me was how the people of this town felt very much like a by-product of the infestation that this town had become, as it not only seemed to draw in people who are typically deemed by society to live “on the fringes” but would transform people into their worst nightmares through fear and terror. The protagonist’s story and his confrontation with the evil of this town reflected the status of the town altogether, which became a central character in its own right.

The Verdict

Horrifying, chilling, and entertaining, author Shannon Felton’s “The Prisoners of Stewartville” is a must-read occult fiction meets paranormal & urban fantasy novel. The twists and turns this narrative takes and the larger discussion on the prison system and how society treats those living on the fringe kept me invested in this gripping story, as did the shocking twist final pages of this instant horror classic. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Shannon Felton lives in Buckeye, Arizona with her husband, their four children, and three dogs. The Prisoners of Stewartville is her debut novella.

Ghost Mark (Dark Dreams Book 2) by JP McLean Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

After surviving a kidnapping and a dangerous killer, a young woman who is able to dream walk into the past finds herself hunted by a man whom she had tried to help in the past, and she must take her most dangerous journey yet to fix the mistake she made in author JP McLean’s “Ghost Mark”, the second book in the Dark Dreams series.

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The Synopsis

Jane’s nightmares are back—and this time, they’ve unleashed a brutal killer.

Jane Walker’s nightmares aren’t imaginary—they’re glimpses into the traumatic past; and the past can be dangerous, especially now that Jane’s protective birthmarks are gone.

Worse, she’s no longer invisible within her dreams—and learns this the hard way while using her power to incriminate a ruthless killer. Inadvertently revealing her ghost form, she launches him on a relentless hunt to track her down.

Even more disturbing, Jane knows this man. She once tried to use her power to save him from injury, but instead set him on a path of violent crime. Now, he’s targeted the man she loves, and Jane must keep one step ahead of this cold-blooded assassin before he gets rid of Ethan permanently.

Jane has one last chance to fix the mistake that altered this man’s history, but that means taking her most dangerous dream journey yet—one from which she might never awaken.

Ghost Mark is the second installment of the Dark Dreams Series by JP McLean, an author whose writing the Ottawa Review of Books calls “relentless and original.”

The Review

This was such a powerful and engaging blend of occult horror and urban fantasy. The adrenaline-pumping, action-packed narrative does a great job of layering the story with tension and atmosphere. One thing that really stands out to me about the author’s work overall that really was represented greatly in this read was the way in which the author is able to incorporate these fantastic and powerful elements into a very gritty and realistic modern-day world. The unique way that the narrative fuels this relatable setting and makes the more “supernatural” elements of the characters and their story direction was terrific to see come to life.

That uniqueness also translated so well with the character development as well. The evolution of protagonist Jane and her powers was incredible to watch unfold over the course of this narrative. I also loved the multiple POVs that the author used, allowing readers a different perspective from each character and how they are impacted by the events happening to and around Jane. The themes of violence in an urban setting, the impact of violence on women and children at an early age, and the power of dreams felt so pronounced and natural to the world the author crafted together, making this a true gem of a novel. 

The Verdict

Haunting, captivating, and entertaining, author JP McLean’s “Ghost Mark” is a must-read upcoming occult horror and urban fantasy read, and the perfect next chapter in the Dark Dreams series. The balance struck between character growth and world-building in this narrative was inspired, and the twists and turns that the story takes and the cliffhanger of an ending will have readers hanging onto the edge of their seats, eager for more from this incredible author. If you haven’t yet, be sure to preorder your book or grab your copy on November 1st, 2022! 

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

JP (Jo-Anne) McLean is a bestselling author of urban fantasy and supernatural thrillers. She is a Global Book Award winner, a CIBA finalist, and has received honours from the Eric Hoffer Book Awards, the Wishing Shelf Book Awards, the National Indie Excellence Awards, the Whistler Independent Book Awards, and the Victoria Writers’ Society. Reviewers call her books addictive, smart and fun.

Raised in Toronto, Ontario, JP has lived in various parts of North America, from Mexico and Arizona to Alberta and Ontario. JP holds a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business, is a certified scuba diver, an avid gardener, and a voracious reader. She had a successful career in Human Resources before turning her attention to writing.

JP lives with her husband on Denman Island, which is nestled between the coast of British Columbia and Vancouver Island.

When she’s not writing, you’ll find her cooking dishes that look nothing like the recipe photos or arguing with weeds in the garden.

Visit her at https://jpmcleanauthor.com

A Time When Demons by Holly Rhiannon Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A rebellious teen witch hoping to avoid the patriarchal pitfalls of Wicca society finds herself drawn into a dark world after a magical prank goes horribly wrong in author Holly Rhiannon’s “A Time When Demons”.

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The Synopsis

Life as a witch isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

While it’s true that Aeres Cadogan has inherited a host of powers other young women could only dream of harnessing, these abilities come with a heavy burden: the burden of Wicca society.

Wicca society’s got it all: standards set by an ancient magickal patriarchy. Arranged marriages. Even familial expectations to care for dangerous paranormal anomalies which would otherwise terrorize the mortal population.

Rebellious and head-strong Aeres has managed to avoid these aspects of her society for 19 years.

But one fateful night at the club, a magickal prank goes terribly wrong.

When a man nearly dies, Aeres is plunged into a dark new domain where betrayal and death are all too real. To get out, she must harness her abilities and set her world right once again… all while avoiding an impending marriage and facing off against one of the greatest serial killers the world has ever known.

Trigger warnings:

Death and graphic depictions of murder

Self harm and near-death (for magickal, not suicidal purposes)

Drug and alcohol use, incl. mention of GHB

Temporary non-consensual imprisonment in a small space

The Review

This was such a rich and beautiful story. The author did an incredible job of balancing world-building with thoughtful character development. The imagery and rich settings the author brought to life on the page felt alive in the reader’s mind and allowed the mythology of the author’s story to feel more natural and engaging overall. The balance didn’t stop there, however, as the author found a great harmony between the horror and fantasy elements of the mythos with the YA drama and emotional character growth that made the reader truly care for this story. 

As someone who is greatly interested in different cultures, history, and true magick and Wicca society in my personal life, I was in love with the character development and mythos that the author built up in this novel. The way the magical society of Wicca reflected so many things in life, from family expectations to a more patriarchal society and the need to adapt and grow as a people so everyone feels represented, was so refreshing to see in this type of story. Aeres in particular was such a well-rounded protagonist, and the steady evolution of her character over the course of the story kept me entranced as a reader.

The Verdict

Creative, entertaining, and mesmerizing, author Holly Rhiannon’s “A Time When Demons” is a must-read occult horror and fantasy drama of 2022. The rich chemistry between these characters, along with the chilling atmosphere and shocking twists and turns in the narrative all lead to an explosive conclusion that will leave readers eager and wanting more from this incredible author. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Holly Rhiannon is a life-long writer born in the frozen climate of Winnipeg, Manitoba. There, she spent her formative years hiding out indoors avoiding colder-than-Mars temperatures and tearing through multitudes of notebooks, constantly creating.

During her time in Winnipeg, she became certified in photography, attended a few years of Fine Arts at the University of Manitoba, ran a successful alternative art event and self published one novella and two graphic novels.

In the vein of other artists hailing from this strange Canadian city, Holly attributes much of her skill to regular hibernation and introvert tendencies. Also like many artists from Winnipeg, Holly moved away.

The year 2015 brought with it the opportunity to relocate to Montreal – a move which brought fresh inspiration into Holly’s life and allowed her to hone and rediscover her creative brand. Most importantly, the field which has always been closest to her heart: literature.

These days, Holly is a NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison, a promoter and marketer of romance authors, and devotes as much time as she can to helping fellow writers succeed via her YouTube channel and Discord community.

A Time When Demons is her debut full-length novel for young adults.

https://www.hollyrhiannon.com/

Beyond the Stars and Shadows by Kristen Martin Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young assistant to an astrophysicist finds her world turned upside down after her professor disappears, along with dozens of others around the nation. Soon a mysterious young man working as an assistant to another professor arrives, and her perception of reality changes forever in author Kristen Martin’s “Beyond the Stars and Shadows”. 

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The Synopsis

The night sky holds more mystery than every continent on Earth combined—at least that’s what thirty-three-year-old Elara Friis believes. And why wouldn’t she, when she’s been named after one of Jupiter’s many moons?

A long-time assistant to astrophysicist Professor Haven at the University of Colorado Boulder, Elara’s unexpected change in employment status couldn’t come at a worse time. Even more unnerving is the sudden disappearance of her professor just minutes after their last conversation—not to mention the fact that she’s somehow traveled four days into the future . . . with no recollection of those days’ events.

As more professors begin to go missing and the police begin to ask questions, there’s yet another unexpected development in Elara’s life: one that goes by the name of Xero Sivalla. A fellow assistant at the university, Xero seems to have inside knowledge on not only the growing number of faculty disappearances, but on Elara herself.

As Elara spends more time with Xero, the more she discovers just how wrong her assumptions about life, the cosmos, and existence itself have been. Blurring the lines of reality is one thing, but cracking the entire Universe wide open? She should be so lucky—that is, unless it’s been predestined from the start.

The Review

This was such a compelling and engaging read right from the start. As anyone who knows me can attest, I love a wide variety of books. As such, I was so thrilled when the story I thought I was reading took off in such an exciting new direction. The author’s writing is so inviting and draws the reader into the narrative and the lives of the protagonist with ease. Elara is a truly fantastic character, well-rounded and while many books take their characters through a total evolution in their story, it was refreshing to see the narrative really hinged on the growth of the characters, making her story so much more interesting. 

What really drew me in though as a reader was the subject matter the book dealt in. While much of this book was fictional and truly mind-blowing, anyone who knows me knows that I am an avid fan of the paranormal. A lot of the subject matter the author discusses in the narrative are things that I myself have been researching over the last couple of years. For those who don’t know, I run a paranormal podcast and investigative team and will include a link to all our stuff here. What was so interesting was the inclusion of synchronicities. 

The big reason I got into studying and investigating things like synchronicities, the quantum consciousness, and similar scientific and spiritual theories that somehow connect the paranormal, UFO phenomena, and even cryptids, was because of a show called Hellier. If you haven’t heard of it, I’ll link the show here, but this documentary series has changed my whole perspective on how to treat the paranormal, energy, and the universe as a whole. 

This book really hit me like a synchronicity bomb, from the use of synchronicities to astral projection, the stars and even utilizing the Pleiades, which the blue star is something that comes up in the Hellier case later on. As the story progressed in this direction, I felt drawn further and further into the narrative until I was falling down the proverbial rabbit hole, and I couldn’t have been happier. 

The Verdict

A masterful, beautifully written and thought-provoking tale that blends fiction with the world of spiritual thinking and high strangeness, author Kristen Martin’s “Beyond the Stars and Shadows is a must-read book of 2021, and a contender for book of the year on my site. It really engaged me both as a reader and as a fan of the high strangeness aspect of her narrative, and I highly recommend you guys check this amazing readout for yourselves. Filled with great characters, a strong narrative, and a touch of passion and romance that keeps the readers invested in the protagonist’s story, be sure to grab your copy of this fantastic book today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

KRISTEN MARTIN is a self-made creative entrepreneur, content creator, and the Amazon bestselling indie author of personal development books, Be Your Own #Goals and Soulflow, as well as the fiction works, The Alpha Drive and Shadow Crown.

Having worked in the corporate world for almost a decade, Kristen decided to pursue her vision of empowering women through her writing and content creation and, in just two years’ time, has grown what was once her “side hustle” into a full-time 6-figure creative business.

With her work reaching over 60,000 people via her YouTube channel and podcast, That Smart Hustle, Kristen regularly travels to speak and teach at conferences, workshops, and retreats across the globe.

She currently runs her business from her home base in North Houston, Texas.

http://www.kristenmartinbooks.com

LeRoux Manor by Liz Butcher Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young woman forced to move to a small English town after inheriting a massive manor from her deceased Uncle finds herself digging into the history of her family’s manor, and discovers a web of dark secrets that tie into her own past, present and future in author Liz Butcher’s “LeRoux Manor”. 

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The Synopsis

Camille’s father just inherited the family manor from his estranged uncle, forcing her to leave her friends and city life just before her senior year of high school for the small town of Woodville, England. After seeing a strange old woman lurking on the estate grounds, she embarks on a mission to uncover the history of her new home. What she finds is wilder than she could have imagined—the murder of her ancestor, Caleb LeRoux, on the same day his six-year-old daughter vanished without a trace. And an unforeseen connection to Camille herself, as the only female LeRoux born to the family in over two hundred years. With the help of her new school friends, Camille delves into the secrets of the manor, uncovering an all-encompassing truth that will change the entire course of her life—past, present, and future.

The Review

This was a well-written gothic horror story for young readers. This YA hit occult horror read did an amazing job of hitting readers immediately with a creepy and haunting introduction to a centuries old mystery, then slowly built the tension and the suspense in the modern-day story to keep readers invested throughout. 

The imagery used by author Liz Butcher really highlighted the classic gothic horror element of the story, with LaRoux Manor itself becoming so ingrained in the reader’s mind it became a character in its own right. The pacing and imagery all came together thanks to a strong story and fantastic character growth for protagonist Camille and her family and new friends, as she began to uncover the hidden secrets and haunting past of LeRoux Manor. 

The Verdict

A powerful, gripping YA Horror novel like no other, author Liz Butcher has established a wonderful tale in “LeRoux Manor”. Blending the great atmospheric nature of a good Gothic horror novel with the modern day mystery and suspense element made this story shine, and the shocking final chapter will leave readers reeling as the story concludes. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Liz Butcher resides in Australia, with her husband, daughter, and their two cats. She’s a self-confessed nerd with a BA in psychology and an insatiable fascination for learning. When she’s not writing or spending time with her family, Liz enjoys road trips, astronomy, music and knitting.

https://lizbutcherauthor.wixsite.com/lizbutcher