Friday, October 26, 2018

Fraterfest 2018 Mini Reviews: The Merciless IV, Asylum, Wytches Vol. 1, & Rosemary's Baby

Title: The Merciless IV: Last Rites 
Author: Danielle Vega
Publication Date: June 12, 2018
Publisher: Razorbill

Pages: 290
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Reviews for book 1 & book 3

The fourth book of the scream-worthy cult series The Merciless combines Stephen King level terror with true crime stories like the Amanda Knox case.

The ropes tighten on Berkley Hubbard's wrists. Blood drips down her fingers and lands with a smack on the cold floor of the church basement. She's trapped, bound, and petrified by fear. A knife punctures her fragile skin as Berkley's captors search for the mark of the devil on her body. They say they want to save her--drive the devil away and cleanse her soul--but will she make it out alive?

When Berkley arrived in Italy a week ago, the last thing she expected was that she'd end up fighting for her life. After spending six months at the Institute, confined to a room with the dangerous-yet-alluring Sofia Flores, Berkley was certain that a vacation in Italy with her two best friends would be the perfect getaway. But Berkley is hiding a terrible secret, one that threatens to undo everything. As she's forced to face her wicked past, she learns that the devil is always watching, and no one is coming to save her. 

The Merciless series is one of my absolute favorite horror series with book 1 being my favorite, followed by 3, now book 4, and finally 2. These books are always good for a bit of anxiety filled horror reading, but this book was quite a bit different than the others in the series and not in a bad way.

The Merciless IV follows Berkley to Italy on a vacation with her best friends. She has recently been released from a mental institution and is just looking for a fun summer trip. Unfortunately, her "friends" think she's crazy and handle her with kid gloves. This becomes even more unfortunate when it means her friends don't believe her when she tells them things are going wrong.

This book took quite awhile to get to the horror, but I did enjoy following Berkley around Italy and her summer fling boyfriend was definitely swoon-worthy. Honestly I would read a whole book about their summer romance. There was a twist I did NOT see coming, which is exactly what I've come to expect from Vega. I know this is called Last Rites, but I really hope there are more Merciless books to come!

Title: Asylum (Afterlife Investigations #1)
Author: Ambrose Ibsen
Publication Date: June 4, 2017
Publisher: Independently Published
Pages: 232
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What lurks within Chaythe Asylum?

College professor Stephen Barlow needs cash. Badly. When a student asks him to head a new campus organization that centers around paranormal research, he puts his skepticism aside and signs on in the hopes of scoring a fat bonus.

Enter Chaythe Asylum—a long-shuttered and controversial institution where patients were allegedly subjected to unethical experiments. Closed in 1989 after a series of grisly murders, Stephen deems the old building as good a place as any to explore the possibility of the supernatural and arranges to take a tour with his students.

But it turns out that the asylum is not as abandoned as it seems. There is something sinister in the building. It has watched and waited for nearly three decades, and when Stephen and his students enter, they find themselves at the center of a nightmare 28 years in the making. 

While gearing up for Fraterfest I was searching for a good, scary ghost story to read and came across Asylum. It's no secret that Grave Encounters is one of my all-time favorite horror movies, so Asylum seemed right up my alley!

Stephen is the protagonist of this story. He's a college professor and a skeptic who takes on a paranormal research student club as a means to a few extra bucks. He agrees to spend an evening exploring Chaythe Asylum, which is rumored to be haunted, and finds more than he bargained for.

Although I really didn't find Asylum to be a very frightening read, the asylum setting was definitely creepy and enjoyable as a Halloween read. I didn't care much for the other characters, but Stephen was interesting and I'd be curious to see what he gets up to in future books. Since the ending is a bit of a cliffhanger, I may have to pick it up soon!

Title: Wytches, Volume 1
Author: Scott Snyder 
Publication Date: June 24, 2015
Publisher: Image Comics
Pages: 192
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Everything you thought you knew about witches is wrong. They are much darker, and they are much more horrifying. Wytches takes the mythology of witches to a far creepier, bone-chilling place than readers have dared venture before. When the Rooks family moves to the remote town of Litchfield, NH to escape a haunting trauma, they're hopeful about starting over. But something evil is waiting for them in the woods just beyond town. Watching from the trees. Ancient...and hungry.

Well this was different. I don't read many comics, but when I do they're in the horror or fantasy genres. I wasn't quite sure what to expect going into Wytches, but I was not disappointed!

This story is not about anything you'd ever think of related to witches. It's about a creepy small town doing creepy small town things and the evil that resides in the woods nearby. When Sailor moves to town with her family and starts behaving weirdly, her parents initially brush her off and realize too late that something very strange is happening.

The art in this graphic novel is dark and creepy and disturbing and exactly what I want in a horror story! I loved the original ideas and I'm extremely disappointed that no others were published in this series. I definitely think it's still worth the read.

Title: Rosemary's Baby
Author: Ira Levin
Publication Date: March 12, 1967
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Pages: 256
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Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse, an ordinary young couple, settle into a New York City apartment, unaware that the elderly neighbors and their bizarre group of friends have taken a disturbing interest in them. But by the time Rosemary discovers the horrifying truth, it may be far too late!

For my last read of Fraterfest, I decided to run a poll between two horror classics and Rosemary's Baby won. I had absolutely no idea what this book was about having somehow remained under a rock for my entire life.

Rosemary's Baby is about Rosemary and her husband Guy who move into a fancy new apartment building despite their friend's protestations. They quickly make friends with an elderly couple next door and shortly after that Rosemary becomes pregnant with the baby she's always wanted. Things become really weird and take a dark, sinister turn.

Like I said, I had no idea what to expect with this one and I was not prepared! This was a whole different level of creepy than I'd thought it would be and I loved how different it was than most horror books. I was terrified, but for different reasons than normal. The ending was absolutely amazing! If you've never read this and are as sheltered as I was about the story, I definitely recommend picking it up this Halloween.