Dark Passage is classified as a paranormal thriller and it definitely lives up to the hype; be warned, this novel contains images so chilling that it may keep some readers up at night, squinting into the dark corners of the bedroom, searching for signs of grotesque creatures…
The first chapter is a vague yet poignant look into the past. An unnamed boy is alone in a house that is clearly run by a mother with OCD. The reader learns from snippets of the boy’s thoughts that his mother is a germaphobe who is also abusive. She uses the idea that there is a monster living in the room at the end of the hall to terrify her son into obedience.
The book then switches to the present where the reader meets Tyson Barrett. Tyson has insomnia and has not slept in six months. He is about to join a clinical drug trial for Noxil, which treats PTSD and is supposed to stop his nightmares so that he can sleep for longer than a few minutes at a time. The next chapter switches to another narrator, Dr. Hunter, who has just begun at Sunnybrook Asylum. Dr. Hunter learns that on the 8th floor, which is reserved for patients who have committed violent crimes, lays Brenda Barrett. Brenda has fallen into a coma, but shows unusually high brain activity.
The reader is left wondering how all of these characters relate to each other. When Brenda seems to speak to Dr. Hunter even in her comatose state and when things start appearing from out of Tyson’s dreams, the situation just becomes creepy and the reader cannot help but read on in hopes that the mystery will be solved and the nightmares that are bound to appear will be vanquished.
From the beginning, Hayes captures the reader’s attention with the image of a terrified boy and the terror does not stop there. Page after page, the past is pieced together and the future becomes more and more frightening and uncertain. At times, it may seem as if Hayes is falling back on psychological horror story stereotypes, such as a traumatized boy losing his mind. But this is not the case. Readers will not be disappointed in the ending; the nightmare lasts right up until the very last page.
…And The Whippoorwill Sang by Micki Peluso is so many things: at times a personal memoir, at others a social and cultural commentary; it sometimes reads like a relationship advice column, and yet it is also a dramatic story with an extremely moving and emotional ending. In telling her family’s story of love and loss, Micki provides an in-depth look into her personal life that is framed by the cultural backdrop of the times, so that her story becomes as impressive and as important to the reader as events such as the assassination of Present Kennedy.
Micki begins her tale with a prologue that captures the reader’s attention and immediately causes her to start asking questions as to what has transpired. The first scene is of a mother dealing with the reality that her daughter has been in a serious, and probably fatal, accident—with her husband five hours away and the doctors urging her to accept defeat. The horror of the emergency room is juxtaposed in the next chapter with Micki’s wedding 22 years earlier to the love of her life. As her tale continues, the terror of the present is dispersed throughout a retelling of the past. Micki recounts her elopement to Butch and her mother’s subsequent move to Florida. She tells of her happiness in marrying Butch, but that his parents did not approve because she was not Catholic and, therefore, their baby was illegitimate. Because they had to stay with Butch’s parents, Micki tells of how she went through a four-week Catholic indoctrination in order to marry Butch in a “real ceremony.” The first touch of humor enters the story when Micki confesses to sending the priest to a rest home for frazzled priests after dealing with her religious debates.
The book continues in this fashion: Micki tells her family’s history, interspersed with humor, cultural commentary, and personal opinions while constantly reminding the reader that the focus of the tale is her daughter who is hovering between this life and the next and how the family deals with this situation and its aftermath. Micki tells the reader that as she sits in the ICU, she is “grabbing onto the past in an effort to block out the future.”
From the get-go, Micki’s honesty about herself and her family is refreshing and leads the reader to truly care for the people she writes about. Throughout the book, the reader will laugh, cry, yell in anger, and sometimes cry out a righteous “amen, sister!” Her story is so detailed and told with such emotion that by the end of the novel, the reader feels as if she is part of her family and dealing with the same emotions. She definitely keeps her promise…
And The Whippoorwill Sang
Light Sword Publishing
Force of Nature is classified as a paranormal romance. The book opens with Markey Neville enjoying the breath-taking fall scenery in Roanoke, New York. Here is a woman who seems to be at peace with her surroundings. Immediately, the reader is jolted out of this calm and beautiful space by a disturbing flashback from Markey’s past. Three years before the book begins, Markey and two friends were attacked by gang members in a dark alley during a night out. Through the flashback, the reader learns that Markey has the ability to manipulate the air and she fuels this ability with anger. Even though she saves her friends from harm, they call her a freak. It is because of this incident that Markey has moved to Roanoke to start fresh. Markey’s peace does not last long, however. During a trip to the bank to cash her first check at her new job, the bank she has chosen gets robbed. Markey tries her best not to lose control, but the bank robbers’ brutal treatment of an old man and a young mother creates an anger so intense that the power physically hurts to keep contained.
Enter Trip Lindaur who steps into the center of Markey’s hurricane and helps her gain control of her power and direct it for the first time. Afterward, Trip takes Markey home and watches out for her. He is the first person not to call her a freak, but a “force of nature.” Trip tells Markey that he knows someone who can help her gain control of her gift and takes her to Thorton and his side-kick Jesse who perform their work in a large white building surrounded by a razor-wire fence. Trip is leery about leaving Markey alone, but he promises himself he will return to check on her…
From the very beginning, Robin Leigh Miller creates action-packed suspense and this intensity does not let up until the very last page. The book is a fantastic blend of paranormal action and romance; the romantic interactions do not detract from the suspense, but rather accentuate the urgency and terror for both characters when they are faced with their separate demons. From start to finish, this book will not disappoint!
Force of Nature
Robin Leigh Miller