Book Review – ‘The Merciless III : The Origins of Evil’ (#3 The Merciless) by Danielle Vega

Going back to the beginning…

The Merciless III The Origins of Evil (#3 The Merciless) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Horror, Paranormal

No. of pages: 304

From Goodreads:

Brooklyn knows that there’s no good without evil, no right without wrong. And when a helpless girl calls her teen helpline, whispering that someone is hurting her, Brooklyn knows that she needs to save her anonymous caller, even if it means doing something bad.

Her parents and friends assure her the call was probably a prank but Brooklyn has always had a tendency to take over, whether someone has asked for help or not.

She discovers the call came from Christ First Church and finds herself plunged into the cultish community of its youth group. She’s especially drawn to Gavin, the angelic yet tortured pastor’s son.

Torn between an unstoppable attraction to Gavin and her obsession with the truth, Brooklyn is forced to make a devastating choice to rid Christ Church of evil once and for all. . . . But the devil has plans for Brooklyn’s soul.  

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This is a prelude to the first two novels following the story of a new protagonist, Brooklyn, leading right up to the events in the debut novel. It has all the uncertainty that I find Danielle Vega does so well in her writing. You want gore – you got it. And again, ‘The Merciless III’ is a quick punchy read that you can visualise as a movie.

I loved following Brooklyn’s transformation, the increments that lead her from each action, escalating as the plot evolves. You are always questioning. Is this mental illness or different shades of crazy? Is this Evil? But it is all based in reality and justifiable, so it’s a grey area. The special effects (so to speak) are straight out of a Hollywood Blockbuster and I loved the descriptions of the evil Brooklyn faces. She is gritty with a rebellious streak, determined not to become a sheep or a clone like the popular girls, sans Mean Girls.

I’m on the fence about the rest of the characters in this novel, only because I found it all a tiny unsettling. You were either getting a culty-religious-zealot vibe, or possibly-possessed-by-a-demon vibe, so it was hard to relate to, or sympathise with the cast. But those elements helped in constructing Riley as a goody-two-shoes judgemental antagonist and leader of the popular girl gang.

The Merciless III The Origins of Evil (#3 The Merciless) Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

There is a bit of two guys fighting over Brooklyn’s affections. Gavin, the pastor’s son: angelic and tortured. And then there’s Elijah, the laid back dude. But there’s not instalove or anything, just like and lust, so it does not read as a love triangle.

The story is predictable – I mean it’s a prequel to the first two books, so you know in which direction it’s heading, but boy oh boy if it doesn’t still throw a cat at your face. I still get shocked at the *cough-torture-porn-cough* and it is still a fast paced read. It has got me even all the more excited to get to the fourth and final book for the series. At this point I don’t know how any of the characters are going to end up surviving. Maybe they’ll all take a big dirt nap in Hell? Who knows?

I’m really loving Danielle Vega’s writing style. She can throw misdirection and doubt like a master, her characters aren’t so cookie-cutter typical either, and most always have a hidden past that is intriguing. It’s fast-paced, interesting and very teen slasher movie. Another definite recommend from me for a light YA horror which is an easy read.

There was some disorientation upon first reading as I went into this novel without any prior knowledge – eager to continue in Sofia’s journey – and felt a little confronted by a different perspective and new characters. But I quickly got over myself when I worked out what was going on.

Overall feeling: Keeping the creep factor alive since 2014.

The Merciless III The Origins of Evil (#3 The Merciless) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

 The Merciless III The Origins of Evil (#3 The Merciless) Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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#bookquotes

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Still have fun remembering quotes from the Stange Angels series… Lili St.Crow has a delightful sense of humor mixed in with horror. Go read it if you haven’t yet. Great for fans of Buffy.

Book Review – ‘The Merciless II : The Exorcism of Sofia Flores’ (#2 The Merciless) by Danielle Vega

Mean Girls meets The Exorcist…

The Merciless II The Exorcism of Sofia Flores (#2 The Merciless) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Horror, Paranormal

No. of pages: 320

From Goodreads:

Sofia is still processing the horrific truth of what happened when she and three friends performed an exorcism that spiraled horribly out of control. Ever since that night, Sofia has been haunted by bloody and demonic visions. Her therapist says they’re all in her head, but to Sofia they feel chillingly real. She just wants to get out of town, start fresh someplace else . . . until her mother dies suddenly, and Sofia gets her wish.

Sofia is sent to St. Mary’s, a creepy Catholic boarding school in Mississippi. There, seemingly everyone is doing penance for something, most of all the mysterious Jude, for whom Sofia can’t help feeling an unshakeable attraction. But when Sofia and Jude confide in each other about their pasts, something flips in him. He becomes convinced that Sofia is possessed by the devil. . . . Is an exorcism the only way to save her eternal soul?  

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Another homerun from Danielle Vega. Continuing  right where the debut left off we follow Sofia Flores as she tries to put into context the events that happened in ‘The Merciless.’ Are there really demons out there, or is she suffering delusion brought on by mental illness? I loved how Vega supports both of these hypothesis right up until the end so you never really know what is going on until an explosive ending that throws another twist into the works.

I actually had a nightmare after reading ‘The Merciless II’ waking up in the early hours of the morning, heart pounding, feeling like there was a presence in my room. I haven’t had a sensation like that since my high school days, so there is something about Vega’s writing that resonated with me enough to unsettle my psyche. What a brilliant testimony to this series.

A highly entertaining read with a creepy undertone that raises the hairs on the back of your neck. Protagonist Sofia is isolated from the safety and familiar and forced to question everything she has seen and heard. ‘The Merciless II’ is haunting. Something about the way this story unfolds has you on Sofia’s side all the way – fanatics look insane, demons a religious fantasy, it makes sense… but there is always that ‘what if.’ And it is something that Sofia cannot ignore lest she gives in to the impossible, or declares herself insane.

The Merciless II’ steps it up from the debut, it’s more visceral, more on the line, and Sofia is even more vulnerable. I was gripped from start to finish and eager for more. A quick read, and am glad I have ‘The Merciless III : Origins of Evil’ on hand to jump into directly, as this novel ends with a twist I did not see coming and am excited to find out what happens next. Vega is turning into one of my top-tier authors. I’ve yet to be disappointed in any of her novels.

The Merciless II The Exorcism of Sofia Flores (#2 The Merciless) Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

I can’t say I predicted what was going to happen – only a vague sense that she would battle something paranormal, but no specifics. And certainly not what came to eventuate. But I am learning Vegas’ twisted sense of humour and starting to get a taste for her delightfully wicked style of storytelling.

Merciless II’ introduces us to a new setting – a Catholic boarding school and a plethora of new characters. Even though this deals with religious beliefs, exorcisms, it reads more like a monster story. Religion is merely the mythology behind the tale, not a plot point for conversion. And that is another reason why I enjoyed this book so much. I didn’t have God bashed into my skull with a well-worn leather bible, I was left to revel in the tale of Sofia being stalked – be it by some twisted mentally ill girl, or a supernatural force.

It falls well in the realms of YA. There is no extreme gore and filth, or language. It’s written for mature audiences but not adults only. But that is what you’d expect from a horror story of this genre.

Definitely recommend. It was a wild ride – but be prepared to get your hands on all four books in the series because once you finish one, you’re going to want the rest of the collection around to get the rest of the story.

Overall feeling: Heart-pounding, hair-raising, spooky fun.

The Merciless II The Exorcism of Sofia Flores (#2 The Merciless) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

The Merciless II The Exorcism of Sofia Flores (#2 The Merciless) Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘The Merciless’ (#1 The Merciless) by Danielle Vega

A spooky version of ‘Mean Girls.’

The Merciless (#1 The Merciless) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Horror, Paranormal

No. of pages: 279

From Goodreads:

Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned.

Brooklyn Stevens sits in a pool of her own blood, tied up and gagged. No one outside of these dank basement walls knows she’s here. No one can hear her scream.

Sofia Flores knows she shouldn’t have gotten involved. When she befriended Riley, Grace, and Alexis on her first day at school, she admired them, with their perfect hair and their good-girl ways. They said they wanted to save Brooklyn. They wanted to help her. Sofia didn’t realize they believed Brooklyn was possessed.

Now, Riley and the girls are performing an exorcism on Brooklyn—but their idea of an exorcism is closer to torture than salvation. All Sofia wants is to get out of this house. But there is no way out. Sofia can’t go against the other girls . . . unless she wants to be next. . . .

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The Merciless’ definitely creeped me out. In the last half of the book I was squirming at the tension and excitement. This book is definitely a well-written YA horror. After being introduced to Danielle Vega’s writing with ‘Survive the Night’ I expected great things and wasn’t disappointed.

Sofia was a great choice for a protagonist, new to the school with a hidden past. Her Latino heritage played into the religious aspect too. The narrative doesn’t get involved in the mythology of religion, possessions, and demons, just observes what is happening.

I hope we get more of Sofia’s mum and abuela (grandmother) in the sequel. They were such a strong presence in her identity and gave her a safe place from which to deal with all the craziness.

I wish the story would have been a little more complex, and sometimes the popular girl gang who welcomed Sofia to the new school, and the situation, felt immature and ridiculous – but I was certainly hooked. What possessed (see what I did there?) these girls to think they could perform a religious rite? Little girls playing, like at a séance – until it gets ugly.

The Merciless (#1 The Merciless) Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Would have loved to explore the groups self-appointed leader, Riley’s motives and back story some more – she seemed to be the driving force for the plot. Especially with Sofia’s other friend Brooklyn who has been ostracised from the group for some reason… Is this just a gaggle of mean girls or something more?

We do get some layers peeled back from the girls (sometimes literally… ew!) to reveal failings which was a masterstroke. I love a flawed character.

I had a hunch of what the ending was going to be, but there is a little twist that I was never quite sure of until I read the words. So it is somewhat predictable, but not entirely. Plus, this novel reads like an expert thriller/horror. I have the next two books in the series and am excited to continue on very soon.

Totally recommend this series for a fun scare!

Overall feeling: *hears a noise in the dark* “AHHHH What the heck was that!!”

The Merciless (#1 The Merciless) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

The Merciless (#1 The Merciless) Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Most Bought Author – Spotlight on Dean Koontz

(the guy taking up the most space on my shelves)

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Pictured: Just some of the titles I own – there’s still another boxful somewhere waiting to be unpacked since the move…

I was wondering the other day who was the most popular author – the one who novels I’ve collected the most of. A die-hard true fan. I was a little surprised at the result, but given that I’ve been reading his books since junior high, Dean Koontz topped the list, currently owning over 40 titles. And how appropriate for the Halloween season!

I started reading Koontz when I was 14 years old, (grade 10) not only because of a love of horror and suspense, but it helped while away the time spent on public transport and weekends. Being an unpopular kid, Koontz provided an escape from reality, sleuthing out the paranormal, tripping in science fiction, or conquering demons. He also let you face-off with psycho killers and many of his stories had a canine companion. Being a huge dog-lover, Koontz wrote novels that I related to, and that not only thrilled and scared me, but resolved everything with a happy ending. Can I also say I loved his sense of humour? A mix of sarcasm and Dad jokes that tickled my chicken.

So not only does Koontz occupy the largest area of my bookshelves, he also can boast the oldest novels decorating the horror section of my personal library. The very first novel I bought of his was back in *cough* 1987! This author has been a part of my life longer than most friends and family members. Amazing to think how an author can touch your life and they never know you existed.

Most notable series have to be the Odd Thomas collection, the Frankenstein anthology and sleuth extraordinaire Jane Hawk and her adventures. There are a couple of duologies, and a number of novellas as companions to other releases.

I still get a thrill from reading his novels, but there is also that feeling of nostalgia. His definitive writing style also reminds me of my childhood when life was simple: big hair, scrunchies and high-top sneakers were in. When I lived in acid-wash jeans and thought rollerskating was the coolest thing ever… and half of those things I just listed I may still think are cool…

UL Most Read Author Dean Koontz Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

We’ve seen numerous film adaptations of his novels, my favourites being ‘Watchers,’ (populated a four movie anthology) ‘Odd Thomas,’ ‘Phantoms,’ ‘Intensity,’ ‘Demon Seed,’ ‘Hideaway,’ Sole Survivor,’ and ‘Whispers.’ It’s great to see how his literature has crossed boundaries and gives me inspiration to not only write, but use the possibility of a film adaptation of my own work someday in the future. It’s fuel for the imagination and an example that you can make a comfortable living from writing books.

But out of all of the Koontz novels I have read, I have to say my absolute favourite was ‘Ticktock.’ A Chinese-American protagonist stalked by a demon, aided by sassy service worker and her weirdly astute dog. It’s scary, hilarious and full of action. Reminds me of the tone of ‘Buffy’ with its dark comedy and loveable characters. This is one book I’d love to see brought to the big screen!

I can’t wait to see what Koontz releases next and how his reach extends into film and television. A man worthy of the title of ‘idol.’

UL Most Read Author Dean Koontz Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Who is your author inspiration?

Do you have a favourite Dean Koontz novel?

Which author have you collected the most number of novels from?

Comment below – I love discovering new authors and books to devour.

Happy reading everyone 🙂

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© Casey Carlisle 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘There’s Someone Inside Your House’ by Stephanie Perkins

Teen Slasher Movie in Textual Form.

There's Someone Inside Your House Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: YA, Mystery, Horror

No. of pages: 289

From Goodreads:

 Love hurts…

Makani Young thought she’d left her dark past behind her in Hawaii, settling in with her grandmother in landlocked Nebraska. She’s found new friends and has even started to fall for mysterious outsider Ollie Larsson. But her past isn’t far behind.

 Then, one by one, the students of Osborne Hugh begin to die in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasingly grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and her feelings for Ollie intensify, Makani is forced to confront her own dark secrets.

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This was a surprisingly quick read. The book took a while to find its legs, but when it did, it was a page turner.

I enjoyed this more than her contemporary romances.

There is gore, sex, swearing and drug references for those who need a heads-up about those elements. Though for a horror it was relatively tame. This was more a romance with a horror theme.

There's Someone Inside Your House Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleMakani was a fun protagonist, adding diversity (WOC) to the cast (along with Darcy, a transgendered teen) she was level headed, intelligent, and observant. While Makani was an interesting character, I didn’t feel there was anything exceptional about her, other than the fact she was a gusty survivor. But she was definitely someone I empathised with and invested in her story.

I think something that worked against this novel were some of the deaths: one in particular did not feel realistic at all. The physics for what happened was pretty much impossible. But in saying that – so many of the gory teen horror movies have scenarios much like those described in this book; so I’m taking it as intentional, a nod to the Hollywood styled slasher films. A bit of adrenaline pumping silliness.

The supporting cast were campy, witty, and full of sass. And I definitely enjoyed having their colourful personalities a part of this universe. Their individual stories also poked at the typical stereotypes expected in this genre. This had strong tones of the ‘Scream’ franchise.

Ollie, the love interest, although described as a bit punk, a bit gothic, felt very vanilla. I found myself wanting something unusual about him other than his physical appearance.

The reveal of Makani’s backstory was interesting, and not quite what I was expecting, so kudos to Perkins for that surprise, though it did feel a touch anticlimactic. As too did the reveal of the killer’s motivation. It was a little flimsy, but still within the realm of expected fodder within this genre. I think I was expecting something a bit more poignant and tied to Makani’s past, since it was heavily hinted so often. Again a wonderful surprise because it is not what I expected, but a lukewarm premise.

I did like the killer reveal though. That was my favourite part.

The gang get some kahoonies towards the end and set in motion a turn of events that range up there with stupid teen nonsense, putting themselves in danger, again typical of this genre, which verged on difficult to read, but campy and engaging.

The story is primarily told from Makani’s perspective, apart from scenes of murders, where they are told from the victim’s perspective. At first I did not know what was going on, and it took me out of the story. But as I became familiar with the format, it flowed more freely. I think if maybe they’d used a chapter heading or different font to indicate the change in perspective it would have been less of a jolt in the narrative.

I feel ‘There’s Someone Inside Your House’ was a fun acknowledgement to the slasher genre, full of all the elements that make us squeal. Some moderate surprises, but nothing that made me lose my shiz.

There's Someone Inside Your House Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

On the screen adaptation front, James Wan (Director of films ‘Aquaman,’ ‘The Nun‘) has been reported to be joining forces with Netflix for a movie. That should be interesting. Can’t see how it turns out with such big powerhouses behind the production team. Not release date has been released as the project is still in development.

Overall feeling: totally teen terror.

There's Someone Inside Your House Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

There's Someone Inside Your House Book Review Pic 05 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.