‘The Merging of Shadows’ by the Price Girls – Review (YA Horror)

*Disclaimer – I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

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I was told by an early age, around the time I convinced myself that the silhouette of the witch with the pointy hat who resided in the corner of my room every once in a blue moon – supposedly cast from the merging of shadows from the surrounding of furniture – was definitely going to get me, that I shouldn’t go looking for things that aren’t there, to just ignore it. So I did. I ignored or more or less hid under the covers from the witch who magically reappeared by the closest even after Mama and Papa had rearranged all my bedroom furniture and had announced that there were no such things as witches, monster, or ghosts before having turned off the light and leaving me alone. I didn’t go looking for the thing lurking in the dark. In fact, it came looking for me.

And it all started in that damn house. 

 

Synopsis –

Sixteen-year-old Marimar Utterson has just found herself living in a small southern town’s notoriously haunted house when she meets Sage Sterling. A handsome hazel-green eyed boy who is not only captivated by Marimar’s petite beauty and fiery disposition, but by her home’s mysterious past. Unfortunately, his fascination with her house turns perilous when he manages to infuriate the spirit who in turn lashes out against Marimar.

Together, they must set off to uncover the spirit’s dark secret in hopes of finally laying it to rest. For with each encounter the malicious presence diminishes Marimar’s grasp on her sanity and odds of survival.

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*Minor spoiler alert a ahead*

The Merging of Shadows is apparently a paranormal romance and the individual elements do add up to something close to it. A teenage girl moves to a new town and meets a handsome boy in a park. He’s surprisingly familiar with her new address, as is everyone in town, as it’s the resident haunted house with a dark history. Our MC must battle with her feelings for this new boy while her life and sanity are threatened at home by the ghost that haunts her. Sounds great right?

 

Love

Unfortunately the execution is less than exciting. The budding romance I was hoping to journey through was more ‘manipulative married couple’ than ‘awkward teen infatuation’. I had high hopes for a novel written by three women but was sadly let down by toxic sexist tropes and straight up abuse at times. Mar, our MC, is introduced as a loving sister and daughter but as soon a she meets her love interest, Sage, while they take their respective little siblings to the park, she turns into a conniving and manipulative girl. There’s no ‘will they, won’t they’, it just feels like they’ve started dating from their first meeting. Mar goes out of her way to demean Sage for not meeting her masculine standards and then laments the fact that he isn’t making a move, flying off the handle at every turn and jumping right in with jealousy without even hearing a word about ex-girlfriends or having had a history of relationships herself. It all comes out of the blue with the young couple bickering and pushing each other’s buttons so they can claim ‘she’s so hot when she’s angry’ or ‘he’s so cute when he’s upset’. It was an uncomfortable read.
The manipulation and once even physical hitting was bizarre especially as the readers sympathies are tugged on constantly for Sage having an abusive step-father and a neglectful farm life. The step-father doesn’t show up until the last chapter and what does Mar do? Intentionally starts an argument with him so that Sage has to jump in and get hit. Add this to the fact that her cutesy, loving, joking father turns into a threatening abusive man when boys are mentioned. He meets her boyfriend with a rifle on his knee and all she does is roll her eyes, likes it’s normal for a father to try and control his teenage daughter’s social life. The whole thing was uncomfortable for me and just left me feeling sorry for Sage entirely.

The Ghosts
And then we get to the ghosts. The paranormal activity in The Merging of Shadows starts off pretty tame; cold spots, insects that are there and then not there, disembodied voices. To be honest the paranormal stuff sort of takes a back seat to the relationship between Sage and Mar, which would have been fine if that were in anyway interesting, but as it stands just comes off as ‘Oh yeah! I forgot about the haunted house!” Later on some paranormal investigators state very clearly that ghosts cannot kill you, because they can’t override God or something (?) and yet when they confront this ghosts is starts slamming people’s heads off walls. The ghost is also apparently a small boy yet when he speaks it’s like a middle aged rapist, again not explained.

The Goths
So this is one of the oddest things I’ve ever read in a novel and I was thoroughly confused. It did remind me of the metal heads in Neville’s ‘The Ritual‘ which I wasn’t too fond of either but at least they had character. Over halfway through the book Mar goes shopping with her mother. While there, Mar notices some goths who are following her, to which she alerts her mother and they both get out of there pretty fast. You then learn that this has been happening since she was a baby. (I wish I was kidding) Goths have been following her and menacing her in some way since she was a kid and later she finds a van following her with an AC/DC sticker (THE HORROR!) In the end you find out that she has a positive energy and that people with negative energies, i.e goths, are attracted to her because they want to stamp out her energy. The book makes out that goths are these mindless violent zombies. Some of the happiest people I know wear nothing but black so this was the weakest part of the plot for me. Even if it had been seeded just a little at the beginning or any mention of the MC not liking goths had been made but no – it was a weak afterthought with no development.

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My experience of The Merging of Shadows was partly influenced by my expectation of the authors and the genre, but I still think the themes and tropes could have been handled much better. This paranormal romance/horror didn’t leave me nostalgic for my teenage loves or particularly scared except maybe of evil goth zombies.

 

About the Authors –

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(Bio taken  from Goodreads) PRICE GIRLS is the collective pen name of three sisters Marité, Sheníe, and Taís Price. The three of them live in the urban city of Olympia, Washington, where they are hard at work writing during the day and conjuring scary ideas during the night. The Merging of Shadows is their first novel.

For more information about their upcoming novels, visit them online at threepricegirls.blogspot.com

 

Links to Buy and Review –

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Goodreads.com

 

What do you think about books written by siblings? Would you ever start a project with your adult siblings? Should YA romance depict abusive relationships?

‘Fountain Dead’ by Theresa Braun – ARC Review and Blog Tour

Disclaimer – I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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The vapor wafting from the stagnant pool smelled like the rancid rot from inside a carcass. Mark felt he breathed in fire. The gooey surface boiled and foamed as if a prehistoric substance. His heart stopped as something emerged. A goopy and gnarled dome became a sickly face. The eyelids still closed, the rest of the form rose, covered in green.

A tattered dress clung to the feminine curves. The cloth slipped from the shoulders, drawing his attention to her skin. The texture made him gag.

A sour taste of bile filled his mouth. His skin contracted as he contemplated her spongy flesh. Her black eyes sprang open like a demonic doll’s. Her inhuman gaze stabbed his very core, and he knew he was facing a soul-less being. The eyes burned like hot stove burners.

A decomposing hand extended toward his throat.

 

Expected Publication: November 20th, 2018
Genre: Mature YA Horror/ Paranormal
Published by: Unnerving Press

 

About ‘Fountain Dead’

Mark isn’t exactly thrilled that him and his younger sister have to follow their parents to the tiny town of Winona and make a fresh start in a creepy house, but he doesn’t have much say in the matter. And his parents don’t seem to notice that strange things are happening in their new home – they just don’t want to see it. 

As the pull of the ancient house drags him in, Mark has much more physical things to think about, romantic things, and this only seems to intensify the supernatural goings on. But he’ll soon realise that the past never really leaves and that everything is connected like bricks in a wall, or hearts that beat as one. The secrets of Fountain Dead are about to be discovered, don’t you want to see?

 

My Review

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Fountain Dead is a novel that will have you gripped from the outset. In the beginning I have to admit I was afraid that the time jump between the 1980’s and the 1860’s would be jumbled and confusing but it wasn’t, it actually kept the story fresh. There are plenty of underlying themes in the story that are often overlooked in a lot of genres, even horror, and the switch between the Emma’s point of view and Mark’s, added another layer to this dissection of gender and sexuality. 

Fountain Dead is a multi-faceted story of past and present, history repeating on itself, and the outliers who break social norms to feel like themselves. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some genuinely scary and creepy scenes in the book either. Mixing historical fiction, haunted house, paranormal romance, and great character building, I thoroughly enjoyed Emma and Mark’s journey and was rooting for them til the very end. I would recommend this book for readers of all ages, but at least 15-16 and up as there are some steamy scenes in there. 

Links to Pre-Order

Amazon UK: www.amazon.co.uk/Fountain-Dead-Theresa-Braun-ebook

Amazon US: www.amazon.com/Fountain-Dead-Theresa-Braun-ebook

 

About the author

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Theresa Braun is an American author of Horror fiction who, when she isn’t writing her own stories, teaches English and shares her love and passion for literature with her students. In her spare time she also enjoys painting, photography, and even ghost hunting. Theresa has many nooks and stories under her belt and thinks you should totally check them out. 

Website: theresabraun.com

Facebook: Theresa Braun, Author

Twitter: @tbraun_author

 

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Are you looking forward to getting your hands on a copy of Fountain Dead by Theresa Braun? Have you read any of her others works? Or have you already pre-ordered this one? Let me know down below!

 

If you have a horror/dark fiction/sci-fi/thriller novel, short story, or collection you would like me to review, please get in contact!