Darkseed: Awakening

15752175Sometimes when I’m searching for a horror novel to read, I come across some Young Adult novels that look better than the ones meant for adults. Some good YA horror novels include the Cirque Du Freak series by Darren Shan, The Grisly High series by Brian Rowe and the Trifectus series by Logan Bryne. Recently I found another one that is the beginning of a series that looks to be up horror fan’s alley called Darkseed: Awakenings by Victoria Ley.

Fifteen year old Sarah and her mother have just moved into a new building. Their new home has a dark past, just 15 months earlier two boys were killed in an accident in Sarah’s bedroom.   One of the boys has not completely left the house and he’s making his presence  known by moving objects around and putting images in Sarah’s head. Sarah invites her friend Christina over to help communicate with the spirit and they manage to make contact through a Ouija board.

They discover that the spirit’s name is Craig and he is trapped in another dimension. Craig use to belong to an organization called the Brethren that researched the paranormal and communicated with spirits. One of the members of their group started to kill the others and trap their spirits in order to gain omnipotence.

Sarah and Christina do some research to find a spell to free Craig’s spirit but doing the spell won’t be easy. They also find that Craig may not be what he seems and they’re being stalked by another spirit. The more they learn about the supernatural, the more twisted the mystery of the trapped spirits becomes and Sarah and Christina may be in over their heads.

Darkseed: Awakening  may be aimed towards a teenage audience but it has a good story, great characters and some suspenseful parts that adults will like also. My favorite part in the book was when Christina and Sarah were communicating with Craig with a Ouija board. I liked it when Craig describes the other side and how he can make objects in a room move. I also liked the girl’s reaction to Craig saying he is right beside them even though they don’t see him.

The story for Darkseed: Awakening takes place mostly on the British isle of Sheppey in Kent. Some of the dialogue and descriptions in this book are very localized, which may turn some people off but added to the story for me because I was learning about an area that I knew nothing about. Another thing I liked in the story was the friendship between Sarah and Christina. The girls are very different but they get along well and help each other throughout the story. A good example of this is towards the end when the two girls have to fight the villain in the story.  They may be scared but they work together to do what needs to be done.

I also liked how Victoria Ley adds so much depth to Sarah in the story. Sarah’s parents are recently divorced and you witness how both parents act towards her and how their divorce affects her family. Sarah is a thrill seeker while Christina is the level-headed one that thinks things through before doing them. There are some great scary scenes in this book also, such as a chase scene through a graveyard and when the girls have to break the spell that has Craig trapped on the other side. Darkseed: Awakening is a chilling paranormal mystery that will have you looking forward to book 2 in the series.

The Nightmare Project

thenightmareproject200x300There is nothing more horrifying then not being in control of your own mind and body.  Julia Montgomery has to live with that fact everyday. She suffers from nightmares and two years ago she killed her husband and has been a patient in an insane asylum ever since. Julia wants to get back home to her two children but she might be a danger to herself and her children.

There may be one way out of the asylum for Julia and that is The Nightmare Project. This experimental procedure uses subliminal messages and aggressive psycho-therapy to control a person’s unconscious behavior. There is one person who the project didn’t work for and her name is Kaitlyn Summers. Kaitlyn was the youngest participant in the Nightmare Project, she didn’t survive but a part of her is still in the hospital and she is looking for a new body.

Jo-Anne Russell’s The Nightmare Project is a psychological horror novel that has some violent moments that will make you cringe but the scariest part of the book is the characters. Everyone has a dark side, for instance you have Kaitlyn who comes across like an innocent victim but you also see that she has a vicious temper and has murdered before. You also have Julia who just wants to be a mother again, but she has killed before and she wonders if she can be trusted around her children because she doesn’t have control of her mental state. There are also several doctors and patients in the story who all seem to have their own agendas and Julia doesn’t know who she can trust. Each person in this book is intriguing because they keep you off-balance wondering what their motivation is and if they are good or bad.

Another thing I liked about the book is the way the nightmares are described and how at times you are not sure if what is going on is a dream or reality. Like when you hear about why Julia killed her husband, you realize what Julia remembers is a dream and the reality of the situation is much scarier. While there are a lot of suspenseful moments in this book the two scariest moments for me were parts that weren’t meant to be scary. There is one part where an orderly named Ben tells Julia that she should not do the Nightmare Project. Julia says she has to so she can see her kids again  and Ben asks if she really thinks that will happen. At this point in the story you see the hopelessness  of Julia’s situation. You also see Ben as someone who can help her, but you soon find out he has secrets of his own. The scariest part for me though was when Julia is thinking about the feel of her husbands arms around her and how safe she felt with him. She may have killed her husband but she never stopped loving him.

If you find the  concept of mental hospitals, experimental therapies and not being in control of your thoughts fascinating and chilling at the same time you will love The Nightmare Project. This book is no light read, it will leave you with an uneasy feeling and you may not look at hospitals the same again. This is the first book in a series and I am really curious where Jo-Anne Russell will take this concept in the sequel.