You wake up in the morning to discover that you have been sealed into your home. The doors are locked, the windows are barred. There's no way out.
A madman is playing a deadly game with you and your family. A game with no rules, only consequences. So what do you do? Do you run? Do you hide?
Or do you die?
©2013 Michaelbrent Collings (P)2014 Michaelbrent Collings
I follow and sometimes chat with Collings online, and I see him at conferences and conventions sometimes. When an author is this accessible, you sometimes forget that in addition to being an all-around nice guy, he is also a damn fine writer. I was reminded of that as I listened to "Strangers." Strangers has a literary--but not pretentious--writing style: visceral descriptions, deep character penetration, rich verbs that clench the scene. I loved how insightful the descriptions and narrative were--they added a whole other level of depth to the novel.
The characterization was fabulous. I felt like I really was inside the head of a tired, desperate, lonely, forty-something man. That sounds depressing, but it really wasn't. The character's voice is authentic and active, and even when he's exhausted and terrified, he's fighting, It was easy to follow along with the ride.
And the pacing was perfect. It grabbed me, it held me. The slow amping of tension as the family grows more desperate. The increased revelation of secrets. The twists on the classic horror tropes. lt was all great. Plus, it had the possibility of a sequel, which would be nice.
All in all, if you're looking for something to sweep you away while you put miles on the car or treadmill or load the dishwasher or fix the car or put on your makeup for the umpteenth time, this is a good pick! I'm thrilled that Collings has an Audible presence now and I and look forward to scooping up his other works.
All of my reviews are on my blog audiobookreviewer dot com
I knew when Michaelbrent Collings started the book with veteran police officers vomiting everywhere the book was going to be an experience. Michaelbrent has done what few authors have been able to do ---- he scared me half to death and kept me up most of the night thinking about my secrets and who I trust without a second thought.
This is about a family who has suffered a devastating loss of an older son and their mechanisms to deal with his death and their now fractured family. On the anniversary of their son’s death, the family once again struggles to become “normal” and fail. Although there are some glints that normalcy has returned it is but an illusion.
Waking from a solid night of sleep, a family of four (mom, dad, and 2 teenagers) finds themselves sealed in their home with no escape route. They are tormented and unmercifully tortured by an unknown stranger. Through phone messages left by schools and HR personnel over the course of a week, it becomes clear that no one is coming to help them. Although it is the 21st century their connection to the outside world is tenuous at best – twitter, facebook, texting. NO ONE has cared enough to check on them in the week they have been missing! Although as a reader, one might believe this to be absurd, Michaelbrent undeniably demonstrates otherwise.
A hidden stranger playing a deadly game and who has become judge, jury and executioner has decided that only those who confess their secrets willingly will live – moving from room to room searching for a way out, corpses are found, secrets are revealed, and more corpses are made.
In reading this horrifying book, you WILL change how you open your door to strangers, who has access to your home, family and secrets! You will no longer be passive because Michaelbrent won’t allow it as he puts the fear of strangers in you!
Audiobook provided for review by the narrator.
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This is a great book! To be honest though, having both listened to the audiobook and read it in print, I would try to get a friend to read it in print first. But that is no fault of the narration of the audiobook. I just think this is one of those books that is great to read.
I thought the narrator did a worthy job and put a good voice to the book and characters.
This book is pretty disturbing.
This is a great book for anyone that likes horror and thrillers.
This audio book has everything a horror fiction fan could want in a novel! The intense, suspense takes off right from the beginning. You might think that at some point it would let up while the author focuses his energies in different directions, but not so! Even while the plot progresses and some things begin to come to light, the mystery and tension continue to build. Lots of action from beginning to end.
Pretty run of the mill home invasion thriller with your usual sadistic game of cat and mouse. I don't think there were any elements here that haven't been well covered in other books, but some scenes were jarring and intense and the twist at the end was well done. The main character was, at times, pretty irritating and often got under my skin, which took away some of my interest in the story.
The twists and turns. Totally creepy and intense.
He had the perfect voice for this book.
The Killer, primarily because you never knew much about him or his motivation, just that he was doing all of this.
It is so nice to see horror that isn't Zombie related. This book kept me on the edge of my seat. I didn't know what was coming and was thrilled to see the culmination. It came together very well!
Fairly high. I will definitely give it another listen.
Jerry, the father. He did his best to stand by his family in a terrifying situation.
Mr. Kafer delivers another excellent performance. Every character has a distinct voice.
Yes. I was tempted to drive right past my in-laws and continue to Florida to see how it resolved.
Graphic, yet deep horror!
There are few things better than a good story well told!
The story did not get mired in relationship drama although a good deal of the book is ultimately about a very dysfunctional family in a very dire situation. The pacing is fast and the tension will keep you listening. I thought the ending was a bit weak but overall I recommend it to suspense and horror fans.
All reviews are based purely on whim, fancy and my mood. They are 100% my honest and personal opinion. Hey, you get what you pay for!
4 1/2 Stars
Things aren’t always what they seem.
A man returns home after a long day of work, hoping only to get through a painful anniversary by having a quiet dinner and watching a movie with his family.
But that doesn’t happen because a madman has other ideas . . .
After eating a surprisingly terrible meal from their usual take out place, dad, mom and their two teens all begin to feel sick and sleepy and head off to bed. When they awaken, a nightmare begins. And let me tell you, it does not let up until the very last page is turned.
This is a tense story that is filled with terrible secrets. I love reading books about families with soul destroying secrets so I was never once tempted to stop reading even though I didn’t overly care for any of these people. They go through hell in the course of the story but they’re also living empty lives and the more that was revealed about them, the less I sympathized with them.
It’s a rather sad look at a family in crises, basically going through the motions and finding happiness in their own destructive ways. None of that slowed down my need to keep reading though because the writing hits you right in the gut and never gives you time to recover. I did love it so.
The narration was strong and ominous and spot on for a thriller this dark. I highly recommend the audio version if you’re a fan of them because this one was so well done. It won’t leave you feeling all happy and uplifted but we need some darkness to balance things out, right? With that said, I will leave you with this cheerful quote because it doesn’t seem to want to leave my memory.
"Love doesn't die all at once, or in big steps, he thought. It dies in tiny pieces, with daily decisions that nip off bits of it like the edges of a living branch until you’ve cut away to the heart of the trunk and then that, too, is gone and there’s nothing left."
Yes, just because the addition of the different voices and especially Jerry's internal monologue allows the narrator to adapt certain affectations that add to the storytelling experience.
I'm not sure of any books I'd compare it to, but in terms of movies there is a good deal similar with the Cube series of movies only instead of literal booby traps it's the characters secrets in Strangers that cause most of the conflict. In terms of just being a book in which a family is forced to confront their problems there are many examples.
I liked the performance of Jerry, the patriarch of the family. Jeffrey did a good job of portraying his increasingly frayed hold on reality and his vocalizations of Jerry's voice brought to light the amount of self-doubt and guilt that Jerry had throughout the situation. It provided the most intense sensation of the loss of hope in the face of that kind of situation out of the characters.
I might just rename it Stranger, because when you get down to it it's only really one stranger who matters in the story. Of course the plural version can be said to extend to the fact that the neighbors and companies and whatnot showed how much strangers people can be with those they interact on a regular basis so perhaps the plural version is better for that regard.
I received the code for this story in exchange for an honest review, its the second book I've been entertained with by both Michaelbrent Collings and Jeffrey Kafer and both of them are remaining on the list of authors/narrators to look out for.
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