Firstly, just look at that amazing artwork on the cover. Horrific Tales certainly do an amazing job with finding the right artist, feel and the amazing editing.
Whilst you can read this book as a stand-alone novel it IS the second part of a trilogy so not, but there are enough flash backs to get the idea of what when on before.
Dane Marshall is a paranormal hunter and as the host of TV show ‘Paranormal Truth’ he plots with his producer Fred to enhance the audiences experience with dubbed sound and lighting effects but it is always filmed “live” by Sean the cameraman.
We start the story as this trio are plotting a new episode and discussing the Hope House Hauntings. However they are as jaded as the audience and need a new hook to pull in ratings. Cue the Hope House haunting – Dane just happens to be Henrys brother. Henry Marshall; town councilor for Oakwell and keen to open a hotel for ghost hunters to prevent “his” town from sinking.
In parallel the plot thickens as we watch Henry discuss, plan, plot and threaten all the council members of Oakwell to get this hotel built, Henry has “files” on all of them and starts to reveal them in his efforts to get what he wants, this town is full of hidden secrets. All the double crossing was really good fun in the middle of all the terror and gore.
Cody and Scott are part of a local teen’ gang and get caught up in the double dare situations that ghosts, hauntings and abandoned houses usually bring to fascinated and bored teenage boys. As they and their friends get deeper into the house and woods it is clear that something is affecting Cody. Add some lust into the mix with Emma and Carrie and you have a mega receipe for mayhem, which MB plays upon brilliantly.
Not to forget the other major players in this horror fest, Steve and Melody now have Isaac in their lives and post the fire Steve remains physically damaged, Melody has her own scars; financially they are broken. But that is not their only problem or secret and after a visit from Henry their lives are thrown into turmoil once again.
Between the Gogoku curse and the bones found under the ruins and buried in the hotel foundations you can just feel the bad juju happening. Michael Bray does an excellent job of drip feeding the information and back story whilst keeping you very rooted in the present.
When then kids decide to spend a night in the clearing with THE oujia board from the original house fire you just know something is going to happen. But it was not what I envisaged nor did I expect to get the heebeejeebies in full sunshine and I don’t believe in ghosts or spirits!
As opening night arrives all the pieces of this horror/gore puzzle are slowly brought together, as MB places you in each groups head, you can see all angles of the terror unfold.
Each side thinks they have the situation under control but MB still has some surprises in store.
The ending is explosive and I am eager for the final part in this trilogy, not sure which direction it will take as so many angles to this story. I was totally engrossed in the skullduggery of the plot as well as the horror moments.
MB style of writing is a pleasure to read, however his subject matter is not. He manages to really make his characters real and forces emotions to the surface.
MB is definitely an author to watch, he has a great complexity to his writing but with an easy to read style.