Broketown by David Wheeler is an excellent novel but one not to read if you are in a dark mood. If you feel that life is too routine, that there is nothing in the future that will ever improve on the current condition, that everybody is flawed and the best thing you can do is retreat within yourself and ignore unpleasantness, you are in a dark mood. This book will reinforce those feelings. On finishing this novel, I had an overwhelming feeling of despair. There was also my feeling of sadness about a life wasted in mostly meaningless activities just to fill the time until death arrives to the rescue. After reading this I will move on to a novel with graphic violence and horror just to wake up from the ennui generated by this novel. So it may come as a surprise to read that I liked this novel a lot.
Kind Nepenthe by Mathew V. Brockmeyer lives up to the claims on its cover in every way. This tale is dark, macabre, terrifying, and suspenseful. And it takes place in California (of course). This is a novel I highly recommend and give it five plus stars with a caveat; it only gets that rating for a selected audience. This is not your YA genre. But for those who like the weird and far out there, this is it, you have arrived. Brockmeyer is very adept at weaving plot and character development with implications and subtle suggestions of what is to come to produce an excellent, fast moving read. With a novel that contains so many dark and twisted characters, the absence of salacious, gratuitous sex is amazing. Whatever sex there is arrives mostly by implication readers have to take responsibility for and look to their inner self-censors.
Fatal Remedy by Antonia Felix has an eye-catching cover which led me to the Amazon page where I read an interesting blurb listing the issues that the novel was based on. Drug abuse in the form of a doctor prescribing drugs for personal gain, corporate medical complicity in falsifying drug testing before release of a drug to the general public, and an out-of-control sexual predator who happens to be a psychiatrist are a few of the problems examined in this work of fiction. This 2014 publication is a work of fiction by an author with ten biographies to her credit so I was looking forward to a good fiction read. It didn’t quite work out that way.
The Scream of Silence by Pamela Crane features the improbably named Destiny Childs, the 15-year-old unmarried mother of Baby Childs. Destiny was hopeful when she did not hear the first screams of her baby. The baby would be something less to worry about. The scream she heard signaled profound disappointment for Destiny. But at least other parents were waiting for her, parents already selected for financial and emotional stability. Destiny didn’t even have to hold the child once; the adoptive parents were at the hospital. But Destiny kept up with the birth parents. She was happy that they and her birth daughter were rich. So why did Destiny feel so sad when she saw the TV news report of now 23-year-old daughter Clarissa’s murder?
Laura by Amy Cross came out in 2017. The novel’s Kindle page lists it at 501 pages. Free through Kindle Unlimited; the purchase price is USD 0.99. I am an Amy Cross addict although I cannot read two of her books consecutively. She might be considered by most readers to be a writer of horror fiction but there is also a mixture of crime, thriller, mystery, and psychological genre. I find the content too intense to read more than one of her books per month. Then I read other things and return to her novels for a burst of motivation.
After reading a few pages in Prologue, I could tell I was going to have a problem keeping all the characters and their relationships in mind. Going back to the table of contents helped me with the way the novel is organized. There are 13 parts if the prologue and epilogue are included. Then there are ten parts, each one with a character name as its title. The story involves the fates of six main characters with Laura playing a primary role. Reader confusion begins here. At some time, Laura is a member of the “group of six,” other times in the narrative she is not. This is important to the story. Laura was replaced in the group by Victoria. It doesn’t matter who replaced Laura; the situation is unacceptable to her. As the reader will learn, Laura is vindictive, creative, and out for revenge. She is also dead, a fact that partially explains her estrangement from the group.
Stephen Valley is a freshman in high school. Since 7th grade, he has had a crush on Monica Monroe. Ever since they were lab partners dissecting a frog, when he even let her have the honor of popping out the frog’s eyeballs, Stephen has been looking for ways to overcome his shyness and get to know Monica better. Unbeknownst to him, Monica had a similar crush on Stephen and a similar problem in overcoming her shyness. Now that Stephen’s older brother Jude had shot and killed Monica’s older sister Simone, it looks like the relationship might be going nowhere. And that is without counting the six other students Jude has killed as collateral damage.
51 Sleepless Nights by Tobias Wade is a remarkable collection of short stories about what the author describes as demons, the undead, paranormal, psychopaths, spirits, aliens, and a few mysteries thrown in. That variety is what makes the collection remarkable. As I read through the stories, I looked for instances of similarities between the selections. I couldn’t find any. Which means the reader can look forward to 51 different themes. This amount of creativity is something I rarely see in literature; I see it more in stand-up comedic or political commentary.