Posts Tagged ‘YA Horror’

Sleepless by Lou Morgan

October 8, 2016 - 7:51 am No Comments
SLEEPLESS by Lou Morgan.
Red Eye, London, UK. £6.99 paperback.
334 pages. ISBN: 978-1-84715-455-2
Reviewed by Pauline Morgan.
51zkvqyguzl-_sx324_bo1204203200_ Authors are often exhorted to write about what they know. All of us have been teenagers, sat exams and done things that we ultimately recognise as being stupid. Teenagers in books are often inflicted with the same issues. Not all of them are quite as idiotic as the ones in Sleepless.
This book is aimed at the 13-16 age group and as such involves a group of youngsters about to sit GCSE exams. Many readers will be familiar with the Barbican Arts Centre complex, with its theatres, restaurants and galleries. Visitors will notice the elegant surroundings and the ranges of flats that add to the warren of buildings. As might be expected, these are expensive being in the heart of London. Izzy and the group of friends she is part off, all live in the Barbican. They are expected to excel in their exams; their school is not one that takes failure lightly. So there is pressure on them to succeed. At the start of their study leave, they congregate in Tigs flat. Tigs has a scheme to help them all. She has acquired some tablets that are supposed to help them concentrate on revision. It seems a good idea at the time.
Once the exams are over, the trouble starts. They start to experience hallucinations. And they find one of their number dead. They discover that the drug, originally designed for American combat troops, changes the chemistry of the brain. There is only one way to counteract the effects and that is to stay awake for forty-eight hours. For all of them, this is a hard task and the situation is weirder and nastier.
In certain respects, this has all the aspects expected of a novel for this age group, particularly the lack of evidence of adults. Izzy’s father has had to go away on business, Tigs mother is in rehab and the other adults are hardly mentioned. This is a relatively enclosed environment and for some reason, these teenagers are trusted not to be stupid. They compound their idiocy in taking what they thought was a harmless food supplement by not talking to adults as things begin to go badly askew. When Dom dies, they leave his body in the pond where they found it and pretend that it isn’t there. They are running scared and they make wrong decisions, yet there isn’t one of them who is prepared to get the help they need. It would mean confessing to taking a, probably illegal, drug and cheating to pass their exams.
This is a horror novel, and the cover has a warning that the book is not for younger readers. Too many youngsters take pills for kicks without considering the consequences. These are no different but it would be nice to think that readers in the age group it is aimed at would take on board the lesson it tries to teach. I doubt it.
Lou Morgan writes well and her teenage characters are convincing. Older readers of horror will enjoy the writing even if they can see the actions of these youngsters as something more than foolish.

The Flame Never Dies (Book 2) by Rachel Vincent

September 8, 2016 - 7:10 pm No Comments

The Flame Never Dies (Book 2)

Author: Rachel Vincent

Publisher: Harlequin Mira Ink (Harper Collins) Release date: 16th Aug 2016 Page count: 343pp

Reviewer: Theresa Derwin


I never read book one in this series, and have a feeling I missed a real treasure, but in terms of understanding what’s happening, it didn’t matter.

Talk about a way to grab your reader; this YA genre novel starts with young narrator, Nina Kane, public enemy number one, training with Maddock in the derelict remains of a high school gym. She is in Ashland, reminiscing about a demonic uprising a century before. Nina is an exorcist. In a world of demons and things that go bump in the night, Nina has grown up under the thumb of the Unified Church in New Temperance. It came as shock to her world to realise society was in fact being governed by demons raising humans as cattle fodder; a demonic farmer’s market. The group of young rebels, of which she is a part, branded militia, had been surviving for five months, if you could call it that, outside the Church’s walled-in cities, in the badlands. When the group is cast out by the Church, claiming they are possessed, they take the label, Anathema, and make it their own.

Each day is a struggle to survive for the motley crew in the demon post-apocalypse environment. But amidst the ongoing narrative from Nina’s point-of-view, are the subplots of her pregnant sister Melanie and the group’s struggle to ensure she is fed well as they forage and raid for supplies, and the romance between Nina and Finn (who doesn’t actually have a body of his own and has stolen a body, that is weaker, to inhabit). And Nina loves him warts and all.

On a routine raid, Nina is shocked to see the demons enrobed in Church police garb are armed, not with guns, but with stun guns; they are there to capture, not to kill. So, what are their motives?

There’s some really interesting world building here; infant mortality rates have soared resulting in licensed pregnancies, teenagers come into their exorcist skills at age 17, the elderly are sacrificed at the birth of a new baby to provide that baby with a soul. And souls are held by the Church.

There’s plenty of action, blood and violence in the book, which came as a welcome surprise for a YA novel, pitching it at a cinematic ’15’ rather than a ’12’. However, the gore is offset by humour, with Devi remaining sarcastic and Finn, possessing the ex guard, enjoyably witty.

There are some cracking surprises and twists in store, particularly when you hit chapter five. That one’s a doozy.

Conflict is added in the form of the religious differences between the group of nomads, or ‘The Lord’s Army’ which the Anathema meet, and in Nina’s desperation to find a soul for the impending birth of Melamie’s child, and the secrets various members of the rebels refuse to share; Nina and Maddock in particular. Add into the mix, the hidden truth about the Unified Church and what they’re really up to, and you have multiple gripping story strands. Exposition is also handled really well, especially the scene in the van with Nina and Meshara. The narrative is delightfully dark, and Vincent doesn’t shy away from details such as violent death and childbirth.

This book is gripping from start to finish; visceral, emotional and punchy with a climactic ending. I can’t wait for book three.

Mad Max meets Supernatural