‘The Suicide Lake’ by Michael Penning – Review

*Disclaimer – I received free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

***

Abigail Jacobs had only moments to spare before the man across the room shot the young boy. How many seconds remained before he pulled the trigger? Ten? Five? Even fewer?

“Lower your pistol, Mr. Tunstall,” she cautioned. “I assure you it will do no good.”

Robert Tunstall didn’t lower the pistol. Instead, he cocked the hammer and squeezed the trigger.

Abigail shouted and lunged for the flintlock even as the eight-inch iron barrel erupted with a blinding flash and a deafening roar.

The lead bullet rocketed harmlessly through the boy’s forehead like a stone hurled through smoke. The peculiar child remained unscathed as he glared at Tunstall from the center of the fire-lit parlor.

Synopsis –

Deep in the mountains, the deadliest demons are your own.

Abigail Jacobs is a ghost-hunting witch. Haunted by a tragic past, she also drinks, swears, and has questionable relationships with unsavory men. For years she has maintained her secret, living a double-life as a schoolteacher in a posh 19th-century Boston neighborhood. But when her estranged sister arrives on her doorstep begging for help, Abigail must make a perilous journey into the heart of the Adirondack Mountains where a malevolent force is driving the residents of a remote logging town to take their own lives.

Determined to vanquish the terrible evil preying on the village before its influence spreads, Abigail finds herself pitted against her most dangerous adversary yet. Drawn into an unlikely partnership with a roguish lumberjack, an ex-lover, and a young pastor, she uncovers a dark secret that could be the key to the village’s salvation. But the superstitious villagers don’t take well to Abigail’s unusual methods. Time is running short, and if she doesn’t work quickly, she could very well be hanged by the same people she is trying to save.

Thoughts –

The Suicide Lake, a fitting sequel to All Hallows Eve, brings us to the adult life of Abigail – the wanted child in the first book. Abigail is now a kick ass witch battling demons, spirits and all manner of paranormal and supernatural challenges. She takes no shit from no man, and will bed who she likes, decorum be damned. But she is also a teacher to young children, a staunch believer in helping whoever she can, and longs for a companion that won’t get hurt just by being near her. As a protagonist she is invigorating and engrossing, and a woman I am happy to follow.

Set in a mountainside logging town, isolated and superstitious, there are echoes of the first book here too, though The Suicide Lake brings in native American myths and folklore, as well as Catholic superstitions from the immigrant Irish and Scottish inhabitants of the town. Offering a bleak and claustrophobic atmosphere, Volume II of Book of Shadows, gives a stark look at the desperation that comes with being separated from larger society and the lengths that people will go to when faced with frightening occurrences that they cannot understand.

The Suicide Lake is a riveting read showcasing again Penning storytelling skills. He manages to stay true to the times the story is set in, and still give us a modern woman with her own ideas and goals to fall in with.

Filled with secrets, mysteries, and ulterior motives, this is a novel you won’t want to put down.

About the Author –

Michael Penning is an award-winning screenwriter and bestselling author of horror and suspense. He is an avid fan of Halloween, haunted houses, and things that go bump in the night. When he’s not coming up with creative ways to scare the hell out of people, he enjoys travelling, photography, and brewing beer. He lives in Montreal with his wife, daughter, and their black lab, Salem. Sign up for Michael’s newsletter at www.michaelpenning.com for free giveaways and new release updates. 

Read and Review –

Goodreads.com

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

‘All Hallows Eve’ by Michael Penning – Review

*Disclaimer – I received free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

***

Alice Jacob stood at the edge of the wharf and stared at the sea in horror. Thousands of bones were washing ashore. The great expanse of Salem Sound was flooded with skulls and spines and fragments of skeleton that rolled and tumbled in the frothing green surf. An eerie clattering filled the salty air as wave after wave heaped bones of all shapes and sizes upon the rocky coastline. Sheltered in the calmer waters of Salem Harbor, the merchant fleet was inundated by a floating mass of skeletal remains swept in by the tide. Their horrifying numbers swelled by the minute as they bobbed and collected between the timber hulls of the ships.

Alice’s young daughter, Abigail, sidled up to her side and slipped her tiny hand into Alice’s palm. “Where are they all coming from?” she asked in a voice that was small and uneasy.

“I can’t say that I know, Abigail,” Alice replied. A flutter crept into her stomach as she gazed at the macabre panorama. Not for the first time since they had left Boston, she wished her husband was there with her. Samuel, would know what to say; his were the words that always seemed to comfort their little girl, not Alice’s.

Synopsis –

She didn’t believe in ghosts… until her daughter was taken by one.

When Alice Jacobs’ husband disappears while investigating a series of strange and terrible incidents in the bustling seaport of Salem, she is forced to bring her young daughter, Abigail, along from Boston while she takes up the search. But she soon learns of a terrible curse that has the entire town bracing for nightfall: one hundred years after the infamous witch trials, the vengeful spirit of a woman hanged for witchcraft will rise from hell to claim the souls of Salem’s children.

Alice dismisses the old legend as foolish superstition… until Abigail is snatched from her bed by a sinister woman made of smoke and mist.

Desperate to find her daughter before the sun rises and she is lost forever, Alice races against time on a spine-chilling adventure that takes her from forgotten dungeons and gloomy cemeteries to the haunted forests of Gallows Hill. Along with a roguish sailor searching for his own missing child, she battles deadly supernatural forces and uncovers a dark secret that may be the key to saving Abigail’s soul… if only she can survive the most terrifying night of her life.

Thoughts –

All Hallows Eve is set in the town of Salem and even after a century, this town is still plagued by the sins committed there. Innocent women and men were slain with no evidence, and in this story one of these women takes her revenge in the afterlife by becoming exactly what they accused her to be. Abound by superstition and unfair judgement, this is a book that is filled with rich characters, mysterious twists and turns, and secrets steeped in blood.

Our protagonist Alice is a young woman and mother who has brought her daughter along on the quest to find her missing husband, on the worst night of the year she could have possibly chosen. Strong willed and not about to give up on either member of her small family, she pulls the reader through the story on her bloody feet to discover the truth behind this towns rumours and to bring back her daughter before it is too late.

All Hallows Eve is an atmospheric and superbly written novel that holds echoes of the Salem witch trials, cautions against being too quick to judge, and has a frightening paranormal element to it as well. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and would recommend to any witch, ghost, and dark mystery fans out there.

All Hallows Eve tells the story of a night that refuses to be forgotten.

About the Author –

Michael Penning is an award-winning screenwriter and bestselling author of horror and suspense. He is an avid fan of Halloween, haunted houses, and things that go bump in the night. When he’s not coming up with creative ways to scare the hell out of people, he enjoys travelling, photography, and brewing beer. He lives in Montreal with his wife, daughter, and their black lab, Salem. Sign up for Michael’s newsletter at www.michaelpenning.com for free giveaways and new release updates.

Read and Review –

Goodreads.com

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

‘Truth of the Shadows’ by Slade Templeton – Book Review

*Disclaimer – I received free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

***

The frost melted into the air above the damp ground, creating a shimmering fog that seeped into the moonlight. At the edge of the forest’s dark fringe stood a meadow with mud huts sprinkled throughout, covered in blackened sod. The howls of the wolves seemed to hold longer than usual into the night.

The smell of burning wood cut through the cold air, and a thick plume of smoke rose over the treetops near the deep ravine. Hidden behind the tree line was a tall, thin man with toughened, leathery skin. Ash covered his hands, which hung from his arms like pendulums of soot and flesh. Fatigued and on the cusp of death, he wore nothing but a long dirty loincloth held to his fragile body with drayed twine. A glimmer of firelight touched his painted cheek, the reflection of flames danced in his dark eyes.

His head filled with pain and suffering, he gazed toward the fire pit in the small clearing while his tribe chanted ancient songs. As the drums grew louder, so did their voices, and they circled the fire with stomping feet. The man quietly worked his way deeper into the forest and along the path, hanging his head low, regret haunting his face. In the distance, the chanting rose to crescendo, then fell into a low-level hum before tapering off into silence. He knew the sacrifice had been made.

You can also watch my video review of this book for my BookTube channel here.

Synopsis –

A DARKNESS IS IN ALL OF US
Cottage Grove Oregon is a sleepy little town, but in the surrounding forests, an ancient nightmare is growing stronger. Dr. Joseph Hoffman, head psychiatrist at Cottage Grove Hospital, wants to believe he has all the answers to his patients’ problems, but there is a darkness within him that always lurks beneath the thin veneer of his competence. That veneer is about to crack.

In his Victorian home at the edge of the forest, his troubled memories hide in untouched rooms under a thick blanket of dust. He thinks he has them under his control, but as he delves into his patients’ twisted stories, the shadows of their insanity begin to follow him home. In order to see what is happening to him, Joseph must turn everything he knows about his past, and his reality, upside down.

As he gets closer to discovering the source of the malevolence that surrounds him, he feels his sanity slipping away. Joseph must uncover the truth before it consumes him. Something terrible is taking over, and he may be the only one who can figure out why.

Thoughts –

Following the increasingly stressful daily life of Dr. Joseph Hoffman, as he struggles to suppress the painful memories of his late wife and tries to help his patients deal with their own troubled minds, Truth of the Shadows paints a picture of a world where everyone is dealing with various degrees of insanity. Often, Dr. Hoffman finds his patients stuck in a look of their own pasts, reliving the same delusions again and again, and to prove the point that doctors make the worst patients, he is unable to see his own unfortunate loop.

The darkness and dread in the story is well built. There is a rich background to the origin of the evil that is tormenting Dr. Hoffman and his patients. At times, the repetition of his daily routine did become a bit of a drag, however the pace quickly ramps up when he finally begins to believe what his patients are telling him. Truth of the Shadows by itself is an enjoyable book to read, but it is a reading experience for the 21st Century. Including an online virtual reality experience with every paperback copy wherein readers can go on to read Dr. Hoffman’s own medical notes and patients evaluations, as well as personal received and sent emails – lending a truth to this fictional story that was not expected and promising more from the story of Cottage Grove. As well as this, for the lucky few who have the limited edition hardback copy, they also have access to a dramatic musical score to accompany the book composed by the author, Slade Templeton, himself.

One point I did like about this book is the underlying message of hope for those in the throes of grief or depression. The novel ends on a hopeful note that leaves the characters with a better understanding of their own minds and hopefully the tools to break their unhealthy loops.

All in all Truth of the Shadows is a dark, paranormal novel that ends on a note of fiction, and thanks to the ingenious extras, continues off the page.

About the Author –

Slade Templeton is a Switzerland-based, American-born musician, record producer, and published fiction author, living and working in Bern. Since a very young age, he has had a passion for anything dark, including art, music, and film. As he often produced piano concerts and recitals for his family at the age of five, titling the pieces “The Storm” and “Nighttime Fairytale,” to name a few, it was destined that his world of music and storytelling eventually intertwined. Having written stories with grandiose plots and twists since a young age, he planned to write novels one day.
Truth of the Shadows became his first.

Read and Review –

Goodreads.com

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com