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The Gift by Louise Jensen

The GiftThe Gift by Louise Jensen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I heard Louise Jensen had a new book out, I jumped at the chance to read it. Her first book, “The Sister” was a real treat.

And I’m here to tell you that “The Gift,” doesn’t disappoint.

The book centers on Jenna, who received a heart transplant six months ago. And while she’s physically doing very well, mentally, she’s struggling – she’s having weird dreams and visions which seem so vivid and real. In an effort to move past this confusion, she reaches out to her donor’s family, and finds that the terrifying visions she’s having may really be memories of her donor’s – Callie – final months. What really happened to Callie? Something bad? Or is it all in Jenna’s head.

This novel sets up a really classic unreliable narrator situation. All of this weird stuff is happening all around Jenna, but even Jenna can’t determine if it’s real or a side effect of her medication. It’s always something that looms in the back of the novel: is any of this real? There’s subplots involving Jenna’s job and relationships, which really add to this whole confusion and cause Jenna to question her sanity.

The reveals at the end are good, but not as shocking as “The Sister.” However, this novel is more of an atmospheric thriller, rather than a mystery. It’s more about taking the pieces you have and putting them together in this novel, rather than searching for that last piece. It all happens pretty quickly, but overall is pretty satisfying.

I still do have some questions, but I’m going to have to go back and re-read some passages. I was so into it, I couldn’t wait to figure things out and may have missed some things.

Louise Jensen is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors and I highly recommend “The Gift” for any suspense or thriller fans.

I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!

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Author Q&A: Derik Cavignano, “Colony of the Lost”

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What happens when you rebuild on the same site as a colony of settlers who just vanished into thin air? Could what threatened them come back around?

This idea is what Derik Cavignano explores in “Colony of the Lost,” a thriller that has a band of misfits coming together to defeat a threat to their modern-day town, which may have roots in Pilgrim times.

From the back of the book:

Nestled in the heart of the Berkshires lies Glenwood, Massachusetts–the perfect picture of suburbia. But when the children of this affluent town begin vanishing one by one, baffling local and federal authorities alike, Glenwood becomes anything but a utopia.

Built upon the ruins of a lost colony, Glenwood is home to a long-forgotten secret, and when three strangers are lured into the midnight woods by the phantom of a Puritan boy, they discover the truth of the town’s dark past and must face a vision of its bloody future.

Together, this unlikely trio–Jay, an alcoholic school teacher, Tim, a wise-cracking new kid in town, and Sarah, a nine-year-old with a host of imaginary friends–must somehow find a way to rescue the town from an ancient demon and its legion of human slaves. But in order for them to succeed, Jay must first conquer his own inner demons.

Below, Cavignano discusses his taut thriller and how it came about – as well as gives advice to fellow writers:

“Colony of the Lost” combines several different horror elements into one spooky tale; How would you describe your book to readers?

Colony of the Lost is about a trio of unlikely heroes who join forces to battle a terrifying evil threatening their town. It’s part ghost story, part creature feature, and even contains a bit of sci-fi and fantasy. It’s a character-driven story that pits good versus evil and celebrates the power of the human spirit.

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Colony of the Lost by Derik Cavignano

Colony of the LostColony of the Lost by Derik Cavignano
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fans of horror movies are going to want to pick up this new tale from Derik Cavignano, which combines Stephen King with Scooby Doo, but in a good way.

The children of Glenwood, Mass. begin disappearing without a trace – no suspects, no clues, nothing. It’s eerily reminiscent of the original settlers of Glenwood, then called Freetown, who all disappeared, leaving not a shred of evidence about their fate behind. Meanwhile, a gang of misfits – an alcoholic teacher, a love struck teenager, and an outcast little girl – begin seeing something strange near the woods. They discover they need to work together to figure out how to stop who – or what – is destroying the town.

This book really succeeds because it takes you to a place that seems so normal, but is hiding something most abnormal. I think the setup is done well, slowly creating the mystery and atmosphere, then introducing the central horrific premise.

I’ve seen other reviews that criticize that it’s “unreal” or “far-fetched,” but that’s the beauty of horror novels: they can take you to a place where monsters do exist and where it’s too dangerous to turn out the lights. I definitely got chills when I was reading this book late at night, even realizing that it’s just fiction.

So, if you’re willing to forget reality for a little bit and experience some chills, I recommend this book. It’s got a great main cast of characters and a chilling premise.

Just make sure you lock your doors before you start reading.

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