Waiting on Wednesday : Killman Creek (Stillhouse Lake #2) by Rachel Caine

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was created by Breaking the Spine.  Every Wednesday we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : Killman Creek (Stillhouse Lake #2) by Rachel Caine.

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 I can’t wait for this one – I loved book 1 and this is due out in December so it’s a woohoo moment.  So excited.

Every time Gwen closed her eyes, she saw him in her nightmares. Now her eyes are open, and he’s not going away.

Gwen Proctor won the battle to save her kids from her ex-husband, serial killer Melvin Royal, and his league of psychotic accomplices. But the war isn’t over. Not since Melvin broke out of prison. Not since she received a chilling text…

You’re not safe anywhere now.

Her refuge at Stillhouse Lake has become a trap. Gwen leaves her children in the protective custody of a fortified, well-armed neighbor. Now, with the help of Sam Cade, brother of one of Melvin’s victims, Gwen is going hunting. She’s learned how from one of the sickest killers alive.

But what she’s up against is beyond anything she feared—a sophisticated and savage mind game calculated to destroy her. As trust beyond her small circle of friends begins to vanish, Gwen has only fury and vengeance to believe in as she closes in on her prey. And sure as the night, one of them will die.

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Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine

Posted On 14 August 2017

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stillhouseStillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine is a tense thriller that kept me turning the pages late into the night.  Rather than a grisly story based on the serial killer himself this story takes a look at the family of the serial killer and their lives in the aftermath of his capture and it turns slowly but surely into a gripping psychological read.  It’s a really interesting idea to be honest – surely, you couldn’t live with such a monster and be totally unaware of their tendencies?  Well, meet Gina Royal, wife to Melvin Royal.  Gina has two children and a fairly average life.  She doesn’t rock the boat and whilst she may not be absolutely overwhelmed with happiness she believes herself to have a fairly regular marriage to a decent man who loves his children.  She believes that, right up to the day that a body is found in her garage and it turns out it’s just one victim amongst many.  From thereon in Gina’s life will never be the same again.

We then pick up the story with Gwen Proctor and her two children Atlanta and Connor.  Basically Gina has gone on the run with her two children – not from the law, ironically enough, but from the relentless hoard of stalkers and trolls who believe that she was her husband’s accomplice and inundate her daily with hate mail and threats.  The three of them have moved house and changed names many times and Gina/Gwen has practically turned into Sarah Connor from Terminator – kick ass, gun toting super mum who will protect her children at all costs.  For the moment they seem to have found a home of sorts, a place by the lake that they’ve had to fix up but for the time being feel some sort of security living in.  Unfortunately their brief respite is short lived when a body turns up in the lake – a body that seems to mimic the horrors from their past.  Is this a coincidence or are things going on.

I really enjoyed this, the writing is very good, which wasn’t a surprise from this author, the characters were well drawn, there was just the right amount of information delivered in a steady stream that kept answering my internal questions more or less as soon as they occurred to me and on top of that the author creates this wonderfully tense atmosphere.  This is the sort of book that keeps the reader on edge almost as much as the family they’re reading about.  It felt like everyone was a potential threat to be honest and I almost found myself jumping every time there was a knock on Gwen’s door or a stranger walked by her property.  I think what really adds to this is that you feel so overwhelmingly sorry for this family.  They may not have suffered the same fate as Melvin’s victims but they are nonetheless undoubtedly suffering and their lives are far from normal.  Gwen is like a boiling mess of paranoia and guilt.  Why didn’t she know what her husband was really like and more than that how will her children ever be able to live normal lives again.

The setting was really well planned.  I loved the way the author creates an atmosphere so peaceful and calm one minute and then in the next twists that tranquillity around so that from a different angle it turns into something more creepy and sinister.  Similarly with the characters.  You meet people who feel genuine and you almost want to slap Gwen because she’s so stand offish and sometimes just downright rude to them, you want to shake her and say ‘come on, eventually you’ll have to trust somebody’ but then again, moments later it turns out maybe you can’t trust anybody.  I thought that was very cleverly done because it builds into the reader the same unease that Gwen herself is experiencing.

The villain of the piece also makes an appearance when Gwen finally visits him in jail to confront him about certain issues and boy does he come across as evil incarnate.  It seems he has his own followers and he may be in prison for life but that doesn’t mean he’s lost the ability to hurt people.

Stillhouse Lake was a step out of the norm for me.  I tend to read mainly fantasy with the odd bit of horror and sometimes historical fiction thrown in for good measure, but I also occasionally enjoy thrillers/chillers and this was a really good choice to throw into the mix.  It’s a compelling story that builds slowly to a dramatic conclusion that definitely whets the appetite for what is going to come next.

I received a copy courtesy of the publisher through Netgalley for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

 

Daylighters by Rachel Caine

Just finished reading Daylighters by Rachel Caine which is No.15 in the Morganville Vampire books and is also the concluding book of the series.

Daylighters picks up pretty much where No.14, Fall of Night, left off (which ended on something of a cliffhanger to say the least!).  So, Claire, Eve and Shane are stunned when  the vampires that they returned to town with are all ruthlessly shot down and carried away – Myrnin, Michael, Oliver and Jesse (a fairly new edition to the cast of characters).  Clearly things in Morganville have taken a turn – not sure in which direction yet exactly – but they have taken a turn.  The residents seem happier, the place is cleaner and more upbeat, people can go out for a stroll in the evening without fear of becoming a midnight snack and, well, put bluntly, there isn’t a vampire in sight!  It appears that the Daylighters are now in town, they’re running the show and are promising a vampire free town for the residents and a would-be miracle cure for the vampires (well, sort of).  It all sounds a bit too good to be true – which usually means it is of course.  For now, however, the vampires are being kept locked away and the people of Morganville are free for once.  Keeping a bunch of vampires locked away can’t last forever though and neither can the relative calm that seems to have descended.  The Leader of the Daylighters is something of a fanatic who it appears will go to any lengths to indoctrinate people – including using a few vampires as guinea pigs and a few people as necessary sacrifices.

Obviously it’s difficult to say too much about the plot for fear of potential spoilers and as this is the last book in the series I really don’t want to give things away so this review will be, of necessity, short and sweet.

I’ve been intrigued as to how RC would wrap up this series and manage to give everyone a happy ending – however, I think she’s managed to do just that, particularly one storyline which she wraps up very tidily.  On the whole, does this end on an ‘all guns blazing’ grand finale?  Not exactly.  I would say that whilst this is the final in the series it definitely leaves the door ajar for a possible return in the future.  So, not a clear cut break but I think a very acceptable way of concluding the series which I imagine most readers will be happy with.

In terms of criticisms – I did have a number of points in the book where I struggled to see why Claire, Eve and Shane would put themselves on the line repeatedly to try and help a bunch of captive vampires who have in the past not only made their life miserable, imprisoned them and threatened them with death sentences but have also used them as fresh food.  I guess I reached the conclusion that the gang were more about sticking up for the underdogs which in this story was definitely the vampires.  It made an interesting comparison to see the vampires a little bit humbled and in need of help – although they didn’t stay that way for too long.

On the whole this has undoubtedly been an entertaining series.  If I had the chance to pick this up now in the knowledge that there were 15 books, would I do so?  Probably not – as it’s such an undertaking – but I’m not sorry to have read these and Ms Caine did give us Myrnin – a character which I do like very much.  These books have been good fun and Rachel Caine has consistently come up with new and inventive ways of keeping the storyline fresh.  If you want a quick and easy series of books about a bunch of teenagers fighting against, with and sometimes for vampires then give this series a whirl.

This counts to my 100 books in a year challenge and also starts to reduce my unfinished series list (see here).

Fall of Night by Rachel Caine (No.14 of the Morganville Vampires)

Fall of Night is the 14th instalment in the Morganville Vampires series – I think No.15 is the final book but I’ve been known to be wrong so don’t quote me.  Fall of Night continues with the battle to stay alive as Claire finally leaves Morganville when she’s accepted into MIT.  Of course this is a dream come true but is bitter sweet as she’ll be leaving behind her friends, her boyfriend and Myrnin.  Before I go any further with this review I will warn you that there could be spoilers for earlier books in the series contained below so if you haven’t already read up to this point – BEWARE!  (You were warned).  Also, I think these books should be read as a series – I dare say you could pick up one of these and quickly grasp the story and run with it – but I think it would be better to have a bit of background to the characters not to mention the trials and tribulations they’ve been through already – it gives a bit more meaning to the betrayals and guilt in this particular instalment.

Anyway.  Off Claire sets with her spotted hanky.  Once again she’s staying off campus and is sharing with an old school friend (who’s name I seem to have forgotten at breakneck speed! Think it was Liz???).  However, when she arrives things pretty quickly go off kilter.  At first you could be forgiven for thinking that finally Claire looks set to live her dream.  She’s more confident in this instalment, easily making friends.  She’s introduced to Professor Anderson who she will be working with in a very impressive lab.  She has a place to stay and whilst she’s going to miss everyone (almost everyone) back at Morganville it feels as though she’s going to make friends here very easily.  Of course, as you’ll know if you’ve read previous MV stories nothing is ever that simple.  A would-be stalker seems to be taking up permanent residence outside of her new apartment – and he’s intensely creepy.  On top of that Shane doesn’t seem to quite grasp the concept of this whole break thing/giving Claire some space and has basically followed her to town where he’s found himself a job and residence and is casually keeping an eye on her – no, he’s not the creepy stalker.  And, lastly, Claire’s invention, that she’s brought to MIT to continue working on with the Prof seems to be getting a lot of unwanted attention.  Men in dark suits also seem to be tailing Claire, checking out her apartment (without an invitation), watching her movements (this is like a book of stalkers!)

Basically, the invention that Claire was working on to try and temper vampire emotions has come to the attention of a secret organisation.  They want to get their hands on VLAD (Claire’s invention) and they’re not overly fussy about taking prisoners.  As history will teach us, great inventions can usually be turned around to suit a different purpose for that which they were originally intended and Claire’s invention is no exception.

That’s about all I’m going to say here in terms of plot so you’ll just have to go and read the book if you want to know more.

The story takes on a fairly sinister feel quite quickly with abductions and the like and the tension is ramped up for the grand finale.

As in the latter books the POV in this novel extends to take on board Shane’s voice and I really quite welcome this addition as it expands the story for readers.

In terms of criticisms – well, if you’re hoping for all the usual characters to be playing their regular roles then you may be disappointed.  Eve and Shane only become involved in the story in the last third of the book – as does Myrnin and Oliver – although this isn’t really a surprise.  It would be a bit odd if we had a full Morganville cast involved now that Claire has moved away!  I can’t say I ever really ‘got along’ with the new cast and a few of the characters felt thrown in there for very little purpose.

On the whole I thought this was another enjoyable instalment by RC.  She never fails to come up with a new theme which always amazes me and in spite of the fact that this is No.14 she keeps things fairly fresh – I think what helps with this is that the time period covered in each book is relatively short (I don’t think this instalment can have covered much more than a fortnight period in total from start to end – although, again, I could be wrong so don’t beat me over the head with a verbal stick please.

If you’re looking for somethings suave and sophisticated then this might not fit the bill but if you’d enjoy a series where plenty goes on, there’s a bit of fun and snark in spite of the constant life threatening situations and a cast of characters that you can’t fail to like at least some of (my favourite being Myrnin) then give this a go.  In terms of some of the similar series that are around I think this one compares very well.  Plus – Myrnin and his vampire bunny slippers!  I’m intrigued to know how Ms Caine is going to wrap this up.  Will it be possible to have a happy ending?  It’s a tricky one and given the cliff hanger ending it’s going to feel like a long 6 months before I get to read the conclusion .

Patience is a virtue…

Bitter Blood by Rachel Caine

Just finished reading Bitter Blood, the 13th instalment of the Morganville Vampire series written by Rachel Cain.  The series is based in the fictional town of Morganville where vampires and humans live together, usually in a less than amicable fashion.

The last book saw the elimination of the one remaining threat to the vampires – the Draug.  And even though the humans had to help massively in order to succeed it seems that the vampires gratitude has been short lived as it finally dawns on them that they really are now at the top of the food chain.  They no longer have anything to fear and their vicious and predatory nature is being given much more of a free rein.

It seems like the inhabitants of the Glass House are once again in the middle of the tensions.  The vampires are angry with Michael for marrying Eve and the humans in town are angry with Eve for marrying a vampire.  It seems like an open season has been declared on the four with Captain Obvious riling up the town to acts of violence whilst simultaneously Amelie has withdrawn her protection.

I liked this instalment – it seemed to return in feel to the earlier books in the series.  Although the author is still using the multiple POV style of writing adopted in the latter books.  I like this approach and think it gives a more rounded view of events than always just using Claire as the main vehicle for telling the story.  But, whilst I enjoyed this I did think it had a fairly slow start and took a good while to really pick up in terms of action.  I don’t really mind that particularly however this book did feel as though it dragged a little and it felt like it took longer to read.  Not really sure why as I did think the storyline was well thought out.  It always amazes me how Rachel Caine manages to come up with a new self contained plot for each successive book.  She never fails to come up with something unique and she manages to sustain a certain level of tension.  Sometimes I think that maybe she’s going to give Eve, Michael, Shane and Claire a bit of a break but she’s just relentless.

Miranda returns in this book – as a ghost in the Glass House, in a similar fashion to Michael at the start of the book.  She’s a strange and sad character really and her untimely demise and resurrection into the spirit world has removed her ability to foresee the future and she really misses the insight that provided her with.  The ghosts of Morganville seem to take a much more active stance in this edition and it will be interesting to see if that continues.

Myrnin, as usual, plays an invaluable role.  He’s my favourite character of the series and the one who I worry about. I hope RC doesn’t have anything bad in mind for him! (Pretty please!!)

In terms of criticisms I did have a couple.  It would be easy to get all preachy about the fact that Amelie is made into a bit of a puppet in this book and to get all naffed off about her losing some of her power to Oliver – but, Oliver was, after all, being controlled himself.   So, no, I didn’t really have a problem with that.  I think my main criticism came after Michael’s jaw dropping scene at the hospital (and that’s the only way I can write that without giving away spoilers) – and it wasn’t really a criticism about Michael because, again, you could see the reasoning behind it.  It was Shane, and Eve’s, reaction to events – which was to be annoyed with Claire.  It just really bugged me.  I mean, even Claire felt bad about what happened and yet she’d been powerless in the string of events.  I suppose there is a little bit of Claire that feels guilty, especially over her mixed feelings for Myrnin, but even so, I was a bit pissed off with Shane and Eve.  Also, Miranda even asked Claire if ‘it’ was true or not – well she should know, after all, she spends half the time floating invisibly around the house and indiscriminately eves dropping so she is definitely well placed to see if any of the friends are getting up to anything?  No??

Also, I wasn’t overly in love with the whole ghost tv crew side story and couldn’t really see the point of it other than to bring in a new person with psychic abilities.

Other than that I thought this was a good read and it ends on a very interesting proposition.  I won’t spoil it but it will be interesting to see where the next books goes and I’m thinking that we’ll have two alternative story lines to look forward to.  That being said Rachel Caine usually manages to surprise me so I dare say I’ll be wrong in my thinking of what direction she’s taking us in!

 

 

 

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