Monday, May 4, 2015

Review ~ Forsaken: Book 1 of the Shadow Cove Saga by J.D. Barker

Rating: 4/5 Stars
Author: J.D. Barker
Available Formats: eBook, Paperback, Hardcover, Audio
Publisher: Hampton Creek Press
Publication Date: 11-14-14                  Pages: 388 
From the witch trials of centuries past, an evil awakens.

Inspired by Actual Events

Excerpt from the Journal of Clayton Stone – 1692 She was examined today without torture at Shadow Cove township on the charge of witchcraft. She said she was wholly innocent of the crime and has never in life renounced God. I watched as they brought her out. A poor, sickly thing, worn by her time behind the walls of her prison. Her bared feet and hands bound in leather, her clothing tattered to that of ruin. Despite such condition, her head was held high, her eyes meeting those of her accusers. She still refuses to provide her name so we remain unable to search baptismal records, nor has her family stepped forward to claim her as their own. We have no reason to believe she is anything but an orphaned child. I find myself unable to look at her directly in the moments preceding her trial. She is watching me though; with eyes of the deepest blue, she is watching me.
Thad McAlister, Rise of the Witch

When horror author Thad McAlister began his latest novel, a tale rooted in the witch trials of centuries past, the words flowed effortlessly. The story poured forth, filling page after page with the most frightening character ever to crawl from his imagination. It was his greatest work, one that would guarantee him a position among the legends of the craft.

But was it really fiction?

He inadvertently opened a door, one that would soon jeopardize the lives of his family.

She wants to come back.

At home, his wife struggles to keep their family alive. Secretly wondering if she caused it all…a deal she made long ago. A deal with the Forsaken.

Bram Stoker Award Nominee - Superior Achievement in a First Novel

My So-Called Review:
One quick glance at the excerpt and I knew I HAD to read Forsaken: Book One of the Shadow Cove Saga. I’m a big fan of scary and spooky stories and couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into this. So why then did it sit in my Kindle for a few months collecting dust? I honestly don’t know and I’m ashamed to have waited this long, all I can say is that sometimes titles get lost in the shuffle! If I would have realized what a little gem I had I definitely would have read it months ago :)

Thad McAlister is a writer of fictional horror stories but his latest manuscript is slightly different than the rest. This story seems to pour out of him; images, words, descriptions all laid out in his mind in an instant, nothing else matters to him except writing this book. The story becomes hypnotic; almost like a drug to Thad and when he’s finished he knows he’s got one humdinger of a witchy bestseller on his hands! What Thad is soon to discover is writing this book has released an ancient evil that is hell bent on revenge to those who wrong it in the past. This evil will stop at nothing yet it needs Thad to accomplish its goals. When Thad resists it uses his pregnant wife and daughter as a means to propel him into its bidding. His wife, Rachel McAlister is soon to realize that she may have set all this in motion when she stopped into a little shop in Castle Rock some years ago; now she must frantically try to protect her daughter, the baby she’s carrying and herself.

I loved how this story was written! We’re given present day chapters surrounding Thad and his family and these run parallel to chapters that contain portions of Thad’s book. The “book” chapters are presented to us in the form of journal entries written by a Clayton Stone. What’s brilliant is the way author J.D. Barker weaves the actual accounting of the Salem witch trials into the present day storyline. The pacing of this book was perfect; fast paced with short chapters that make it impossible to stop reading. It doesn’t take long for the creepiness to sink in, slowly at first and then suddenly it’s scary as all hell!!! Had to turn on more than a few lights to get through reading this one at night! There are several nods throughout the book to King’s Needful Things and it’s done in such a way that it fits and never feels forced. I adored this little added bonus and I’m sure Barker loved writing it!

Since this is the first in a series I was a little worried about a cliffhanger but I’m happy to report that this book has a complete ending and even some twists and turns along the way! What we do get though is a glimpse into what book #2 will be about and I’m now anxiously awaiting its release! I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves scary stories about witch craft, cults and the paranormal. Fans of Stephen King and Dean Koontz will certainly enjoy this too!

Thank you to the publishers, Hampton Creek Press and to NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary, advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review!

About the Author:
As a child I was always told the dark could not hurt me, that the shadows creeping in the corners of my room were nothing more than just that, shadows.  The sounds nothing more than the settling of our old home, creaking as it found comfort in the earth only to move again when it became restless, if ever so slightly.  I would never sleep without closing the closet door, oh no; the door had to be shut tight.  The darkness lurking inside needed to be held at bay, the whispers silenced.  Rest would only come after I checked under the bed at least twice and quickly wrapped myself in the safety of the sheets (which no monster could penetrate), pulling them tight over my head.

I would never go down to the basement.


I had seen enough movies to know better, I had read enough stories to know what happens to little boys who wandered off into dark, dismal places alone.  And there were stories, so many stories.

Reading was my sanctuary, a place where I could disappear for hours at a time, lost in the pages of a good book.  It didn’t take long before I felt the urge to create my own.

I first began to write as a child, spinning tales of ghosts and gremlins, mystical places and people.  For most of us, that’s where it begins—as children we have such wonderful imaginations, some of us have simply found it hard to grow up.  I’ve spent countless hours trying to explain to friends and family why I enjoy it, why I would rather lock myself in a quiet little room and put pen to paper for hours at a time than throw around a baseball or simply watch television.  Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I want to do just that, sometimes I wish for it, but even then the need to write is always there in the back of my mind, the characters are impatiently tapping their feet, waiting their turn, wanting to be heard.  I wake in the middle of the night and reach for the pad beside my bed, sometimes scrawling page after page of their words, their lives.  Then they’re quiet, if only for a little while.  To stop would mean madness, or even worse—the calm, numbing sanity I see in others as they slip through the day without purpose.  They don’t know what it’s like, they don’t understand.  Something as simple as a pencil can open the door to a new world, can create life or experience death.  Writing can take you to places you’ve never been, introduce you to people you’ve never met, take you back to when you first saw those shadows in your room, when you first heard the sounds mumbling ever so softly from your closet, and it can show you what uttered them.  It can scare the hell out of you, and that’s when you know it’s good.


Jonathan Dylan Barker holds a B.A. in English from Beaumont University and currently lives in Shadow Cove, Massachusetts where he is hard at work on his latest novel.

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