Book Review: Horroscape by Nenia Campbell

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As with Fearscape, I could not bring myself to put this book down. There is so much suspense, and the readers are on their toes the entire time. Horroscape is much darker than Fearscape, and I loved it. I t made sense. These aren’t kids anymore, and the development of the characters from the first book is very well done.

Plot: It’s been three years since Val’s encounter with her stalker, Gavin. She’s damaged but trying to move on with her life. All is well until her friends get invited to a party. This party is not like any other. Their host plays games with them, and they are dangerous. The stakes are high and their time limited. The key to the game is to survive.

“The game you have elected to play is a very dangerous one… There is no time limit – except for the one on your lives.”

I love the whole concept of this book. I love the games and the dark tension underneath it all. There are a lot of twists and turns that had me wanting more and kept me turning the pages. I will say that I would have liked for it have been more of a psychological thriller. I wanted the characters to doubt themselves, and I wanted them to be conflicted inside during the game – make them rethink their values. This was very well done with Valerian throughout the book, so I would have liked the other characters to go through something similar. Overall though, the plot is fantastic.

Characters: As with the first book, I love Val. From the start, I can see that she is not the same person that she was back then. She is no longer as naïve and innocent and trusting as she was back then. It completely makes sense considering the circumstances, but what made this book great is the fact that Val is still recognizable. There is still that light inside her – that innate goodness that I loved from the first book.

But he did. And you liked it, you know you did. Because deep down, you’re fucked-up.

And she shook her head, recalling even as she did so how right it felt to have him on top of her, walking a thin line between dangerous and deadly. How he could do things with this mouth she only thought possible in books, and how she had never imagined that pain could exist apart from agony, and oh, if he could do those things with his mouth, what could he do with the rest of his body?

The best part of this book is Val’s emotions. They feel so utterly real. I understand her feelings. I understand why Val is conflicted, and I can feel it in myself.  She is attracted to this man, but it’s overridden by her fear and rightfully so. She is so very well-done, and I absolutely adore her character.

The villains were always ugly in books and movies. Necessarily so, it seemed. Because if they were attractive – if their looks matched their charm and their cunning – they wouldn’t only be dangerous. They would be irresistible.

“You needn’t look at me like that. I’m not going to attack you.” Val went rigid and the smile became a sultry grin. “I might bite you a little, though.”

She had seen it once before – a cold, determined look incapable of mercy.

Gavin is such a great antagonist and character. You fear him, but there is a luring quality about that fear. However, I love the fact that Campbell has not romanticized him. He is primal, and the readers’ ultimate reaction to him is fear. Underneath that is appeal, yes, but that is quickly buried with the fear for this emotionless and cruel man. Gavin is charming and alluring, but he is also cold and psychotic. This is not about love for him. It’s about control and submission.

I also love that this book doesn’t simply have characters thrown uselessly in the background. It feels as if they are a vital part of the story. They are not one-dimensional. They are brought to life. They have backgrounds and emotions, and I really enjoyed seeing things from their points of view. It made the book complete and more real. It’s not all about Val and Gavin. There are other people that have been thrown into this unfair and dangerous situation, and I love that we get to see that.

The Writing: Fantastic as always. There is so much tension and danger throughout the book. You can’t let your guard down. The writing is dark and so very well done. It’s perfect for this book, and I loved it. Campbell really knows how to get into the minds of her characters and make the reader a part of the story. She allows us to connect with these characters, and we root for them.

Overall: This is a great read. As I said, I would have liked to see more struggles from the characters and see exactly how the game was affecting their psyche, but there are so many great aspects of this book for this to overshadow them. I would recommend this book in an instant. It is riveting, intriguing, and brilliant. I am very much looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of the next book in the series.

Book Review: Fearscape by Nenia Campbell

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

You can’t escape from me Valerian. I want you – and very soon I intend to catch you. To cage you. To make you mine. Forever.

It’s official. I’ve lost my mind. I loved this book. It’s filled with page-turning suspense that makes the readers unable to put it down while bringing the creepy/stalker/obsessive love interest trope to a whole new level. It is fantastic and had me throwing out everything I know out the window, rendering me completely mesmerized, frightened, and intrigued by the enigma that is Gavin.

‘Imprison me?’ ‘Never be free?’ ‘Ravish?’ These words and phrases evoked violent images that made her shudder. And part of her couldn’t help but suspect that this was the intended effect.

Plot: This book is about innocent fourteen-year-old Valerian (Val) who has an obsessive, creepy stalker leaving her terrifying messages. She meets Gavin who is the school loner, and he terrifies her to no end, but she is drawn to him. As much as she fears his primal self, she finds herself unable to resist the attraction and intrigue. As things progress, her life becomes threatened, and Gavin increasingly shows similarities to her deranged stalker.

I like this book a lot. The plot is suspenseful, dark, and intriguing, leaving me unable to put it down. From the first pages of this book, you can feel Val’s fear of what lies in the shadows. It is a bit predictable at times, but the writing more than makes up for it. The reason I refrain from giving this book five stars is because sometimes the events in the book seems unrealistic. For example, I think there was a fair amount of evidence to put the stalker behind bars. I get that it goes along with the story, but it felt a bit rushed and unrealistic to me.

Characters: I loved Val. She’s innocent, naïve, and very well-written.

Val was delicate. Smart and sweet and beautiful, but delicate as a hothouse flower.

Her dialogues with the people around her sound like the conversations I had with my friends when I was younger. I sympathized with this girl because I felt the lure of Gavin myself. I could see myself in her place, feeling everything she is feeling. All in all, Val is a great character, and I can’t wait to see the development after the time-skip in the second installment of the series.

Gavin sat up. “Beauty. Innocence.” He drew her closer. “Submissiveness.”

“I sometimes think I’m more beast than man.”

“If you run from me, I will pursue.”

And then there’s Gavin. Gavin makes me want to throw all my common sense out the window. He is so intriguing and sexy, and I couldn’t get enough of it. I’m completely surprised and awed at Campbell’s ability to make me forget my hate for the obsessive love interest trope. I wanted so badly to root for him, and I found myself wanting to deny the facts in front of me like Val. There is a depth to him that makes me want to know more. Gavin is wonderfully written and is a character I will not be forgetting any time soon.

On the other hand, a character I had a problem with and what kept me from giving this book five stars is the mother. Val’s mother finds out about her daughter’s stalker and doesn’t call the police. I feel as if this is just careless. This guy could be dangerous, and she doesn’t alert the authorities. I can clearly see that she loves her daughter, so I thought it was a bit unrealistic that she wouldn’t get the police involved with the matter. Also, Gavin is eighteen while Val is fourteen. I find it unrealistic that she would not take this news more seriously.

Romance: This is a very dark love story gone horribly wrong. I’m sure you can guess that from the summary, but it is so intriguing at the same time. I wanted to see more of it. There is so much tension here. It’s creepy, and it brought a chill up my spine. The sexual tension is beautifully written and feels very much real.

Every time she closed her eyes, she felt his breath on her neck, that firm, insistent pressure on her lips – and that vague impression that he was hunting her, like a deer in the woods. A dark huntsman.

The Writing:It is dark and everything I would expect from a book of this nature, and it is very enjoyable. Campbell has a fantastic and beautiful way of writing that flows nicely and reads easily. I absolutely love the way she draws parallels to Val’s situation with the game of chess and primal animalistic behavior. It’s chilling and very well done.

Overall: This is a fantastic read. Some parts are a bit unrealistic, but regardless, I really love this book. I usually peg the creeper love interest as a negative thing, but Nenia Campbell has proven to me that it can be done right. She does not romanticize it. She makes it feel real in a terrifying way. I’m very much looking forward to reading the next book.