Santa Took Them, William Malmborg
Rating: 4.5 ‘Dr. Loomis’ Stars
Publisher: Darker Dreams Media
Tags: Contemporary, Christmas, Horror, Mystery, Some Gore, Serial Killer
Purchase At: Amazon.com
No one in Holly Brook, IL has forgotten the horror that unfolded on Christmas Eve all those year ago, and now, as a terrifying blizzard descends upon the small isolated town, and teens begin disappearing one by one, it looks as if that gruesome night was just the beginning.
This is my second book by this author and I can definitely say I’m a new fan. You can see my review of my first, Jimmy, here.
“Death has come to your little town sheriff.” -Dr. Sam Loomis, Halloween
Ten years ago a family was brutally murdered in the small town of Holly Brook, Illinois. The words “Santa Took Them” had been written in blood on the walls. Michelle, who was eight at the time, was the only survivor but only because she’d been in her secret hiding place hoping to see Santa Claus. To say the killings were horrific would be an understatement. Michelle, after the killer was gone, showed up at a neighbor’s house carrying the head of one of the victims. The consensus around town was that young Michelle had slaughtered her family. If she didn’t, why was she allowed to survive? One detective made it his mission to convince everyone the little girl had been the murderer, becoming so obsessed with the case that it ultimately killed him.
One person in particular, Detective Hines, had been adamant about his theory that Michelle had been the killer that night, but others felt there was no way an eight-year-old could go so far as to sever the heads of four people, especially her own siblings, and then stab her mother.
Michelle was placed in a psychiatric home for kids after the murders. Fast-forward ten years and it’s time for her to leave because she’s aged out. Her therapist, Samantha Loomis, never believed the sweet, quiet child was capable of the things she’d been accused of by the cops and media. There was no proof she’d done anything other than hide. She surmised that carrying the head of one of the victims to the neighbor’s house was maybe a form of shock for the child.
I will admit that was pretty creepy.
If the name Sam Loomis sounds familiar, there’s a reason for it. I’ll come back to that.
After leaving the psychiatric home, Michelle moves in with her uncle, who did everything he could to help her, even though he was 16 at the time of the murders. Not long after moving in, the uncle and his girlfriend are both murdered in the same way Michelle’s family had been a decade before. Michelle is nowhere to be found and the words “Santa Took Them” are again written on walls in blood.
Of course, everybody is convinced that the newly released Michelle has struck again. The killings are too similar to the others and it doesn’t appear to be a copycat killing. Dr. Loomis is convinced Michelle is innocent, just as she’s always believed she was innocent of killing her family a decade before.
Then people start disappearing in Holly Brook. Dr. Loomis and law enforcement believe the house Michelle lived in – and that her family died in – is the center of the new murder investigation and the disappearances. It’s recently been purchased by a man named Henry, who has to fix it up and flip it or lose everything.
Henry’s an abusive jerk.
Then we meet Steve, Henry’s teenage son. Steve’s dating the obviously unstable Renee. She flies off the handle at the drop of a hat, accusing Steve of cheating on her with his ex, Hanna. Hanna is the daughter of the original detective in the murder investigation a decade prior that I mention above.
Like in Jimmy, there are a ton of characters introduced, all of which are important to the story. Listing them all would make this already too long review even longer. The entire story is based on things happening at the ‘murder house’ in Holly Brook and trying to figure out where Michelle is now and if she was/is the murderer most believe her to be.
While people keep disappearing, there are also things going on in the background involving Dr. Samantha Loomis.
The mystery of who the killer is wasn’t really that much of a mystery. Don’t get me wrong, the author did an outstanding job pointing in several different directions. I didn’t figure out for sure until around the 50% mark. This was confirmed not much further into it. Knowing who the killer was so early didn’t take away from the rest of the story. There was still a lot of action happening until the very end.
I really enjoyed this book. It was a good mystery that kept me guessing for awhile. I thought the ending, that some readers apparently hated if reviews are go to by, was brilliant. It was the perfect way to end the book. If I wanted everything tied up neatly in a red bow I wouldn’t be reading horror to begin with.
There were a lot of questions unanswered and I’m not referring to the ending. Certain things happened or were mentioned in the book that I didn’t feel were elaborated on enough later. They obviously didn’t matter too much because I rated the book 4.5 stars. but they should be noted.
Horror fans will recognize the name Sam Loomis. Samuel Loomis was Michael’s doctor in the Halloween movies, hence the quote by him at the top of this review. Michelle’s doctor being Samantha Loomis in Santa Took Them obviously wasn’t a coincidence (duh). Fans of the Halloween franchise will see the similarities in other parts of the story as well. There are some between Michael and Michelle (similar names) but I didn’t find myself reading a knock-off of the original. I’m a huge fan of the Halloween movies (early ones, not later ones) so had I thought it was too close I’d be stressing that in this review. There were similarities but not so many that I didn’t see the originality in Santa Took Them.
I didn’t have a problem keeping up with the other characters (and there were quite a few) because the author gave each one enough page time to show their importance to the story as a whole. Some were more important than the others, but you have to read the book to see who they are and what I mean.
Jimmy and what he did was mentioned in this book, something I liked a lot considering I recently read his story.
Overall, another good read. The reader is kept wondering if Michelle is this monster killer child everybody believes her to be. The author does an outstanding job of keeping the reader guessing.
I have Nikki’s Secret and Daddy’s Little Girl on standby to read when time allows. And knowing how I am when I discover a (new to me) good author, I’ll probably go through all his books in the coming weeks.
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