Book Reviews, Fiction Blog

Indie Book Review: Maledicus (The Investigative Paranormal Society Book I)

maledicus-finalMaledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society Book I by Charles F. French is a horror novel that mixes elements of paranormal suspense with historical fiction. In the relatively sleepy town of Bethberg, Pennsylvania, the Investigative Paranormal Society (IPS) team (Roosevelt, Sam, and Jeremy) search out strange happenings, then debunk them or dispel disgruntled spirits, as appropriate.

In the series’ debut novel, the IPS faces off against its toughest opponent yet: a demon named Maledicus. Once a proud (and depraved) Roman citizen, Maledicus now delights in bringing terror to the living. When Maledicus targets a young girl and her aunt, the IPS must stop him before he can devour their souls.

Before I dive into my review, I want to add two quick disclaimers. First, as always, I’ll be keeping the content details vague to avoid any spoilers. Second, I’m inclined to note that I received an advance copy of this novel. Therefore, it might have gone through further revision before publication (thus rendering some of my comments moot).

One of my most important concerns for paranormal novels is whether the story follows “the rules of its world.” Maledicus does exactly that. The paranormal content is believable within the story and “the rules” remain consistent throughout. French uses vivid language to bring the paranormal activity and demon Maledicus to life, which makes the scary moments all the more chilling for the reader. Without spoiling anything, the plot follows a clear trajectory, contains a great balance of action and quiet suspense, and reaches a satisfying conclusion.

Though the plot itself remains rather linear, the narrative structure of Maledicus jumps back and forth between different times, locations, and character perspectives. At first, I found this a bit odd to read. Like many classic novels, the narrative often reads more like the author is telling a story, rather than the reader is in the moment with the characters. However, once I adjusted to this style, it did flow rather well.

French offers the readers chapter flashbacks into the human life of the demon Maledicus (which makes him all the more despicable), as well as mini flashbacks within scenes that feature the IPS team. These are clearly given to add depth to the characters and succeed in that goal. However, personally, I would have preferred for the scenes featuring the IPS team members to stay in the present day, with hints at backstory peppered throughout. Of course, this might have just been my impatience to see if/how the evil Maledicus would be defeated!

As for the characters themselves, I found them to be well-rounded and distinct personalities. In particular, appreciated that they are mostly middle-aged to elderly, as I believe literature needs more diverse/fewer stereotypical representations of “older” characters. Roosevelt is the classic gentlemen, while Sam feels every bit the ex-cop (and jokester), and Jeremy perfectly fits his role as the more introverted one of the group. The main side characters are equally well-developed and compelling – I especially liked Helen’s passion for learning, dedication to her family/students, and unwavering bravery.

My only criticisms with the characters are that sometimes the dialogue came off a bit stiff and that I felt they were over-described. Many physical and emotional details were repeated multiple times, and while that is always a writing no-no, it was superfluous with such distinct characters.

maledicus-finalOverall, I enjoyed reading Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society Book I. Horror in plot, paranormal/historical in details, and literary in narrative style, it’s a well-crafted debut novel with compelling characters and a nice balance of action and quiet suspense. Recommended for readers who like ghost stories, history, and cozy mystery.

Charles F. French was kind enough to contribute a guest post to accompany my review, where he discusses the theme of evil in Maledicus. Check it out here. If you’d like to read Maledicus, pick up your copy from Amazon.

Fiction Blog, Writing Updates

Month-End Update: September 2016

Goodbye, book launch month! As you likely noticed, September was all about the release of The Courtesan’s Avenger (and, of course, this month’s booklet: 100 Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense Writing Prompts). Unfortunately, my fiction book launch dominated the month, and the booklet took up what little time remained. While I’m thrilled to have them both out in the world, I’m even more excited to get back into creation mode. Desertera #3 has been calling my name for weeks now, and it’s about time I answered. Fingers crossed that October can be a strong start leading into November (aka National Novel Writing Month).

One thing that I did manage to make a lot of time for was podcasts. When I first started on my indie publishing journey, I would listen to podcasts all day at work. They helped me get up to speed on the industry and gave me a sense of community in what is an often lonely journey. I’ve really missed listening to them, so making time to do so on my commute (and at the gym gasp!) has been really refreshing.

On a personal note, my husband and I also took a very bookish anniversary trip to Salem, Massachusetts, in September. I share more about the trip, my inspiration, and a few travel tips in this post. For now, allow me to recap September and get sorted for October.

Writing & Editing

  • Blog Posts Written  12 and one reblog
  • Fiction Words Written  0
  • # of Days I Wrote Fiction  0
  • Nonfiction Prompts Written 95 prompts
  • # of Days I Wrote Nonfiction  15
  • Drafts Revised  Final proofread of The Courtesan’s Avenger (Desertera #2)
  • # of Days I Revised  4
  • Outlines Written –  1 (100 Horror Writing Prompts)
  • Days Without Creation/Production  7

Reading

  • Books Reviewed on Blog
    • None

*Remember, I review every book I read on my Goodreads page.

Author Business Activities

Goals for October

  • Begin writing Desertera #3
  • Write and publish 100 Horror Writing Prompts (Fiction Ideas Vol. 10)
  • Reflect on one year as a published author and set goals for year two
  • Catch up on my friends’ books and help a few out with special projects

What did you accomplish in September? What goals are you working towards in October? Share below!

Kate's Nonfiction for Writers, Writing & Publishing Articles

Out Now: 100 Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense Writing Prompts

EDIT: This free promotion has ended. However, you can still download 100 Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense Writing Prompts for its regular price ($0.99) by clicking here.

I’m back from my post-book launch hiatus with … a booklet launch! Despite September being a crazy month, I’ve still written and published 100 Mystery, Thriller and Suspense Writing Prompts (Fiction Ideas Vol. 9).

You can download your copy for FREE on Amazon through October 4.

These genres presented a particular challenge. Given that they have similar themes and motifs, and that their subgenres so often overlap, I really had to push myself to create original, clearly defined prompts for each section. However, I think I’ve succeeded!

With this booklet published, there’s just one genre left in the series. If you don’t already know what it is, I’ll give you a hint: there’s a reason I’ve saved it for October!

You can read the description of 100 Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense Writing Prompts below. Then, make sure to grab your copy before it goes up to full price ($0.99).


9-mystery-thriller-suspenseDo you want to write a twisting mystery or heart-racing thriller? This booklet contains 100 writing prompts to help you get started.

Do you have a suspense tale burning inside you but feel trapped by writer’s block?
Are you an established author looking for fresh, new ideas?

If you’re ready to stop staring at the blank page and start writing NOW, 100 Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense Writing Prompts is the booklet for you. There’s no fluff and no wasted words – just 100 fiction prompts to get you back to what you do best: writing.

100 Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense Writing Prompts is packed with character- and story-focused prompts to jumpstart your fiction. The prompts have been carefully designed to address the various motifs of these stories – from clever sleuths to fast-paced action to intricate conspiracies.

Inside, you’ll find prompts related to the following subgenres:

1. Cozy Mystery
2. Financial
3. International
4. Legal
5. Medical
6. Military
7. Paranormal
8. Political
9. Psychological
10. Technothriller

Each section contains 10 thought-provoking prompts. Practice them in order, or dive right into to what inspires you most. You’ve already wasted enough energy on writer’s block. It’s time to craft your next riveting tale.

Uncover the words that have eluded you. Download 100 Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense Writing Prompts today.


SAMPLE PROMPTS

Cozy Mystery
A statue of the town’s founder (who happens to be your character’s ancestor) is vandalized. The police quickly brush it off as teenage mischief. However, your character recognizes something in the evidence that makes her think the crime is personal. Does her family have any old rivalries or enemies? What family secrets might her investigation uncover? What other crimes could the vandal commit to prove your character’s suspicions?

Legal
A lawyer wins her client’s case. He is declared innocent, despite being guilty of a serious crime. Although freed and unable to be re-tried, the client fears the lawyer will expose the truth about his guilt and bring him harm another way. He begins stalking the lawyer to ensure her silence and perhaps turns violent in his paranoia. How does the lawyer react to his harassment? Does she feel guilty about setting him free? Can she prevent him from committing a worse crime against her?

 

Book Reviews, Fiction Blog

Indie Book Review: Unknown Sender by Ryan Lanz

unknown senderUnknown Sender by Ryan Lanz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this short story in exchange for an honest review.

Unknown Sender by Ryan Lanz is a horror/suspense short story in which Jessica, a college student, begins receiving threatening text messages from a blocked number. The story only takes around half an hour or 45 minutes to read, making it a fast-paced thrill.

Given that the story is short and relies on a few twists, there is not much I can say about the plot without revealing spoilers. However, I will say that it was quick-paced, suspenseful, and kept me hooked all the way through. While I do feel a college student and university setting is a bit overdone in horror and suspense novels (and movies especially), the twist at the end provides a refreshing spin and saves the story from becoming too cliché. My one criticism of the story is that I feel it would benefit from being a bit longer, not only for my own enjoyment, but for there to have been more development leading up to the end, as the conclusion felt a bit rushed.

The writing is strong and concise. Likewise, Lanz’s characters are well-developed, especially considering how little space he gives himself to craft them. The characters play well with each other – the relationships are multi-faceted and believable.

Overall, Unknown Sender by Ryan Lanz is an enjoyable and quick horror/suspense short story that will keep fans of the genre captivated until the end…and wishing the end didn’t come quite so soon.

View all my reviews


unknown senderIf you are interested in reading Unknown Sender and would like to help sponsor my writing and research, you can purchase it through my Amazon Associates Store. By doing this, you will not pay a cent extra, nor will the author receive a cent less, but I will receive a small commission on the sale. Simply click the book’s title or the book’s image.