Book Review: Dalton Highway by Freddie Ahlin

Dalton Highway by Freddie Ahlin

Genre: Horror / Psychological thriller

Indie release (Sept. 2020)

5 of 5 stars

A nail-biter of suspense and psychological horror, Dalton Highway is a thrill-ride of a read.

Synopsis: With his back up against a financial wall and not wanting to disappoint his wife, trucker Tom Richards takes on the potentially dangerous job driving the 666 km long Dalton Highway through the isolated and often hazardous Alaskan wilderness with his loyal dog, Presley, as his companion. A sudden storm sends the truck crashing off the road, setting Presley loose in the forest with Tom giving chase, but there is something ominous amongst the trees that seems to be chasing them both….

This debut novel by indie author, Freddie Ahlin, is a strong opening piece. Despite a slow start, taking its time to build up Tom’s dilemma and apprehension at taking on the job, once the suspense and action arrived, it was full speed ahead with the story. At times, I was completely absorbed in Tom’s harrowing journey both physically through the unforgiving terrain of Alaska and psychologically as he battles with some mysterious demons of his past, disembodied voices that relentlessly taunt him as he struggles to find his dog and survive the often unforgiving elements. But, like all good psychological thrillers, the reader often struggles with wondering just how much of the terror is in Tom’s head. Who or what are these ghosts that haunt him? Is the forest actually haunted? What if it’s not?? The psychological thrills of this book were stellar and the ending was truly satisfying. Looking forward to reading more by this author!

Book Review: Come Forth in Thaw by Jayson Robert Ducharme

Come Forth in Thaw by Jayson Robert Ducharme

Genre: Dark fantasy / horror

Self-published novella, to be released February 2021

5 of 5 stars

I was captivated by this powerful story that I read in a single sitting. At just over 100 pages, this little book delivers a solid punch of emotion and horror…

Synopsis: Desperate mom, Ellie, goes in search of her depressed teen son in New England’s Adrienne Forest State Park (a fictionalized version of Japan’s infamous Aokigahara “suicide forest”). There she discovers the strange and creepy Tinker man who collects trophies of the dead. Promising to help her find her son, he sets her out on a quest through the horrors of the forest that holds the pain and suffering of those who died in it and also acts as a beacon to those who hold similar pain in their heart. Hoping that her son hasn’t become a statistic, Ellie ends up having to face her own truths as to why and and how she ended up amongst the trees of that dark forest.

I was absorbed by Ellie’s journey and felt both her desperation and fear as she searched through the strange and, at times, quite frightening forest. There was a jarring twist to the story about 3/4’s in that I absolutely didn’t see coming and not wanting to spoil the book for future readers, I have to say that I forgave the writer for that (!) as the story transitioned smoothly and expertly into its second act, where we discover Ellie’s tragic reason for being in the forest.

I particularly enjoyed the character the Donneur Vie, the Soul of the Mountain, that communicates and consoles the dead who wander the forest and really appreciated the purposeful lack of romanticizing mental illness and suicide. The message/ meaning of the story truly shone through for me at the end and for that reason, I hope that it is read by a wide and receptive audience.

Kudos to author Ducharme for this excellent book. I look forward to checking out more of his work!

My Indie Reads of 2020

Indie books, for me, are the hidden gems of the literary world. You need to be open-minded, curious, daring and willing to dig around a bit to strike gold and unearth those true underrated, unappreciated treasures that are out there just waiting to be found….

Since starting my own indie author journey in 2019, I have read (almost exclusively) indie books. For the most part, the indie/ self-published books I’ve read have not lived up to the stereotype of being poorly written/poorly edited/ and “no wonder they can’t get published traditionally!” idea. This is just not the case with most indie books! Some, yes, absolutely, but for the most part, the indie books I’ve read have been quite impressive and certainly deserving of a wider audience, which is why I’ve started this blog.

Here are the gems I discovered this year, along with short blurbs from the reviews I posted (and in some cases, am still in the process of posting) for them on Amazon and Goodreads.

My 2020 Indie Reads & Gems:

The Underside Of Wars by Jared Kane

“The Underside of Wars is so beautifully and eloquently written (even the depraved parts!) that[the] prose often reads like poetry. [Kane’s] books are not the usual “easy read” fare so often found on bookshelves now. [His] writing and themes truly challenge the reader on many levels – as art should! At times this book, the writing, the story, literally took my breath away – especially the last few dark chapters and that ending!!”

Agents of Odd: Woodrush Towers by S.P. Rowell

This will be my first reviewed book of 2021, but in the meantime, let me say this book was an absolute thrill ride: full of paranormal scares and delights and a truly unique storyline that I absolutely loved.

The Future of the Present Past by Darren Edden

“Smart, highly engaging and seamlessly written, The Future of the Present Past is an excellent follow-up to The Mirror of Our Creation. I am not much of a science fiction fan, but like its predecessor, this book doesn’t bog the reader down with the science and instead focuses more on the fiction and does so in a really entertaining and relatable way with likeable characters and wonderful pacing. The storyline truly gives you something to think about long after you’ve finished reading.”

Tales from the Dark Heart Emporium by Richard Long

“It had been many years since I’d read a horror novel and this book of short, dark stories brought me right back into the fold. Chilling and creepy with just enough gore to satiate. Some of these stories definitely make those little hairs on the back of your neck stand up – a sure sign of a great read and a fabulous write.”

Roosevelt’s River An Edward Prince Adventure (book 4) by C.K. Shackleton

“Roosevelt’s River more than proved to be another fantastic installment in the Edward Prince series! Like the previous three books, there’s a nice blend of fiction, history and globe-trotting adventure to be had!”

Bring Them Home by Julia DeBarrioz

Another fabulous installment of Dakota Del Toro series. One of my favourite heroines in quite some time. And those vampires are always so hot!

Lives of E by H.P. Burman

“I found the idea of the book very intriguing – a man getting electrocuted by a quantum computer and then waking up day after day in different realities of himself, stuck in a multiverse loop that he doesn’t know how to escape. It was a very ambitious undertaking of the author to plot this story out with so many storylines and versions of the protagonist and his friends going on…this was a solid book…looking forward to the sequel!”

Dalton Highway by Freddie Ahlin

A psychological thriller that often leaves you wondering how much is happening outside, in the Alaskan wilderness, and how much is happening inside the protagonist’s head.

Bottom Feeders by Jerry Roth

Wonderfully dark and creepy psychological horror set in a jail where one of the inmates may just be the Devil himself.

Pummeled by Eric Woods

“This book is an epic coming-of-age journey. Bree Aniston is a great protagonist, a strong female lead who navigates the underside of humanity with both grit and grace.”

Magician’s Mayhem by Slate R. Raven

“A very dark and twisted tale with a dash of the supernatural to keep you guessing and a whole lot of mutilations to keep your skin crawling.”

Broadening by William Shabass

“At just twenty pages long, this well-written little book is a promising beginning to a fun and exciting adventure which I look forward to continuing.”

Hope Quest book 2: The Lightning by Melanie Ever Moore

And for my final read of the year, I’m doing some self-promotion of my own little gem, the second part of my Hope Quest trilogy, a dark, supernatural, coming of age YA story. This review was not written by me (but was very much appreciated by me!):

“I can safely say, I don’t think anything like this exists, and a lot more people need to read this for the mix of friendship, family, unbeknownst powers, and gut-wrenching moments that all intertwine into a lovely picture of beautiful art.”