Rating: 5 ‘Unsettling’ Stars

Publisher: Darker Dreams Media

Genre: Horror

Tags: Contemporary, High School, Horror, Kidnapping, Sexual Violence, Torture

Length: 316 Pages

Reviewer: Cindi

Purchase At: Amazon.com

Blurb – 

His fantasy becomes their reality!

High school can be a difficult time in a young person’s life, especially toward the end where one has to start making the sudden transition into adulthood. For Jimmy Hawthorn it is even worse. Not only does he need to successfully make that transition, he has to do it while hiding the fact that he is the one responsible for the disappearances of two fellow high school girls, both of whom are prisoners in a secret underground fallout shelter he discovered behind an abandoned house on the outskirts of town.

Review –

That was disturbing. First, for the obvious reasons. Two high school girls are kidnapped in broad daylight and tortured. Another reason this is so disturbing is Jimmy himself, and I’m not referring to just what he did with the girls. I’m talking about every day Jimmy.

Jimmy is a high school senior. He’s kind of a loner who used to get bullied until he started fighting back. The bullies (Brett, Ron, and Matt) are still around, and Brett is still trying to get to him, but he now has no problem kicking their butts, and he damn sure doesn’t hide from them. He doesn’t have a lot of friends but he has Alan, his younger brother by two years, and Tina, the new girl who takes a liking to him right off.

I loved Alan. He was the typical high school kid. I liked Tina too but it took awhile for her story to fully come out. She has issues with her mother, who she’s forced to live with after the sudden death of her father. As a mother myself I cringed at some of the things Tina said to hers. But I also found myself understanding it in a way. She only knew one side of the story of why her mother abandoned her when she was a child. Even when she finds out the whole story later I can totally see why she wouldn’t just immediately accept it. She saw herself as simply being abandoned and unloved. Now she’s stuck living with a woman she doesn’t know and really doesn’t like.

The first girl to be taken is Samantha King, who Jimmy grabs as she’s walking home from school one day. Hiding her is easy. There’s an old, abandoned bunker that only a select few are aware of. It’s on property belonging to the Hood family who left town after 9/11 with their conspiracy theories.

Jimmy has fantasized about hanging women by their wrists and using them sexually. The fantasies have been there since he was very young and have grown over time. He’s obsessed with bondage videos and has amassed a large collection of them over the years.

But then the fantasies aren’t enough.

This is when he puts his plan to kidnap and assault into action.

I won’t detail the sexual violence in this review. Thankfully, a lot of it wasn’t on-page but there were a couple of instances that were.

When Samantha disappears, nobody believes she’s been kidnapped except her friend Megan, who just happens to be the town sheriff’s daughter. Megan begs her father to look for Samantha but he brushes her off with basically the ‘kids will be kids and she’ll show up eventually’ attitude.

Only when Megan herself goes missing does he start taking things seriously.

The fact that Jimmy is warped is obvious. But what makes the book so disturbing is that the author allows the reader to see Jimmy outside of the underground bunker, away from Samantha and Megan. We see his day-to-day. We watch him playing video games with his brother, drinking coffee with his mother, and watching TV with his father. We see him dating Tina and are even privy to when they have sex the first time. He’s just so normal, which is probably the scariest thing of it all.

We also watch as he slowly starts to unravel and begins losing control of the situation he so meticulously planned.

Most of my visits feel like necessary tasks, Jimmy realized. Almost as if they are unnecessary pets that I no longer want but need to take care of.

I kept wondering how the author was going to end this. Everything was centered around the prom. Megan knew Samantha wouldn’t run away with prom and graduation so close. Jimmy, kind of a shy loner, was going to take Tina as his date. Even Alan had been asked to go by a stuck up, bitchy, snobby, ‘I’m better than everybody else’ senior girl. I knew whatever was going to happen would be happening either at the prom or somewhere nearby. I wasn’t wrong.

I ended this not sure how I felt about how everything went down. What happened with Jimmy I understood. But my heart also broke a little, and not because of him. I can’t say more than that. The actual ending…. I guess I should have seen that coming. The fact that I didn’t is a huge plus.

Overall, this kept me guessing until the end. I finished it thinking I’d maybe rate it 4 stars because of the broke my heart a little part. But I’m still thinking about it now when I finished a day ago. I’m not meaning for the sake of this review. I mean that the story and characters are stuck in my head and I have a feeling they will be for awhile yet.

I didn’t realize I’d read anything else by this author until I spent 10 minutes this week trying to figure out how to buy another of his, Text Message, and ended up discovering that I’d already read that one over 7 years ago. This was before I met Kazza and started reviewing for On Top Down Under and now Dark Hints. I still have no clue how to buy the book now but if you want to see my Goodreads review from before my official reviewing days, you can find it here.

I’d like to think I’ve improved somewhat since then. 🙂

I had planned to immediately start a sweet and fluffy book after this one but ended up starting Santa Took Them instead. I can already tell that book’s going to be brutal.

I’m a big horror reader. It’s nice finding another author to add to my go-to list.

Excellent book. Just go into it knowing what to expect.

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