by Jesse Skiles
Page Publishing, Inc.

"Why couldn’t the mistakes of the past loosen their grip and remain in the past? Then maybe this family could get on with living."

In the middle of the night, a picnic tryst between Mary J. and her husband, Brian, takes an unexpected and grim turn. Fleeing for her life, Mary J. frantically cuts through the darkness looking for somebody, anybody to help protect her from the fate that just befell Brian. Happening upon a farmhouse, Mary J. finds safety but trades danger for delirium, undergoing a psychotic episode before falling into a coma. Now it’s up to her sister Susie and Brian’s brother Stoney, themselves a couple, to try and piece together the impossible details of this mysterious tragedy. How could a body split in half from falling such a short height? What did Mary J. see that night that troubled her so? And what is this family secret that Susie’s parents are keeping hidden at all costs, even among their children?

The investigation that Susie and Stoney take on gives them more questions than answers. After visiting the coroner, they discover that Brian’s body no longer has Brian’s face on it but a collage of other unfamiliar faces. Their neighbor overheard Susie’s parents let a secret about incest slip. Through nightmares, a demonic figure appears and terrorizes Susie over and over again. To solve the mystery of Brian’s demise and to save themselves, the couple must learn about their family’s pasts and uncover a bizarre curse that spans a century. With the clock ticking and a dark future looming, Susie and Stoney must come to terms with a paranormal circumstance that has plagued their bloodlines for longer than they could have imagined.

Opening right in the middle of Mary J.’s frantic escape, this book starts out at full speed, providing a constant layer of tension that remains present throughout the entire book. The gradual build-up for the reader isn’t the characters approaching a climactic showdown so much as it is generations of sin being peeled back one by one, bridging the distant past with the present circumstances that drive the action of the story. Grim descriptions and demonic presence provide jolts of horror in the reader, but the actual sense of terror rises to a boil at a constant, steady pace until the thrilling conclusion that will leave the reader gasping for air. Like any good piece of suspense or horror, there is a war of wills whether to put the book down and release the tension or press on and see what happens next.

Though there are supernatural elements and gruesome murders and attacks, this is far from being a slasher story with characters dropping one after the other. The sense of dread comes from the families of the protagonists, engaging in sinful behavior time and time again as if they know no alternatives. The tension then comes to the reader both from the book and from within, forcing one to ask personal questions about an act that society conditions us to shun reflexively. Early revelations have the audience waiting for worse information to come out, to spoil their perceptions of well-liked characters or spell doom for someone that seems safe otherwise. Taking a measured and varied approach leads to a story with twists and turns that are hard to predict while still offering a satisfying follow-up to expected events.

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