Jeremy has been isolated and adrift since the death of his brother. Most people just see him as the skinny emo kid who wears eyeliner and plays drums. No one gets him. Nobody tries. He thought the indie rock band Stygian would become his anchor, but, lost in their own problems, they're far from the family he sought.
Still, hoping to get close to Kennedy, the band's enigmatic guitarist, he follows Stygian to northern Louisiana for a summer retreat. They had planned to spend six weeks focusing on new music, but things go awry as soon as they arrive at the long-deserted Caroway mansion. Tempers flare, sexual tension boils over into frustration, and Jeremy turns away from the band to find a friend in his eerily beautiful landlord Hunter Caroway.
Kennedy suspects there's something off about the creepy mansion and its mysterious owners, but Jeremy thinks he's finally found somewhere he fits. It isn't until Kennedy forces the Caroways' secrets into the light that Jeremy realizes belonging sometimes comes with a price.
©2015 Santino Hassell (P)2016 Dreamspinner Press
I usually love this author's work. The content is an interesting departure for him, a Southern Gothic. However, I am unable to pass judgement on the writing as the audiobook is so poor. So I gave it 3 out 5. The reading is completely alienating and prevents the listener from engaging with the text. Although part of me wanted to get through it just to see how it ended, I gave up about 3 hours in.
The book is not actually narrated, but rather read, and not even read fluently. Despite the fact that the main characters are Texan and the setting is Louisiana, and that their voices and accent are mentioned in the text, there is virtually no attempt to differentiate between them. It is often difficult to discern which character is speaking during dialogue and I was confused for at least the first half about how many characters there were in the band and what their names were.
Aside from the failure to provide distinct voices to the characters, the narrative also provides little evidence of reading comprehension. Listening to it is not like being immersed in a story but more like listening to learners reading in a stilted fashion as they try to decipher the words. Reading on quickly and without pause when able, then stumbling over a few words. There is hardly any attempt to provide emphasis to words in sentences, let alone any conveyance of tone.
The 'narration' is no better than a text to speech program. It's a shame that we lost the opportunity to hear this book read competently. Hopefully it will one day be re-recorded with a different narrator.
Lily reads, writes, and reviews m/m romance.
Geoffrey Alan is a new narrator to Audible and this is his first story there. At first, I thought his voice was rather monotone with no clear distinction between the character voices. Yet, as the story unfolded, I grew to appreciate how his storytelling suited the spooky story, and I noticed the slight variations for each character. At times the editing could have been improved, though. Sometimes there needed to be a great pause between sentences or scenes. Occasional words were mispronounced or deviated slightly from the text. It may be there was a more up-to-date version of the story for the audiobook. Overall it was still a very enjoyable story to listen to.
This is the first Santino Hassell book I’ve read/listened to and I definitely grew to like the descriptive style of his writing. Stygian means very dark, and the scary atmosphere is certainly portrayed skilfully in this book.
The characters created by Hassell are both physically and emotionally diverse and distinct. Each member of Stygian is flawed—damaged by their past with issues and guilt that need resolving. I particularly enjoyed how the different relationships between the guys was shown.
Jeremy is the insecure outsider. Even though he was invited to join the indie band after the death of its previous drummer, he doesn’t feel like he belongs and is hoping a summer of making new music with his band mates will improve things for him. He’s crushing on the guitarist, Kennedy, although he doesn’t seem interested in him. Plus Jeremy is still dealing with the shock of discovering his brother after he’d committed suicide. Tension runs high from the start, with vicious remarks and attacks against each other, especially from moody Watts, the lead singer. Quince is nice and makes an effort to mediate, but tempers fray in the Louisiana heat, and the drugs and alcohol don’t improve matters. Jeremy feels like he’s ruining the band’s vibe. Things go from bad to worse and Jeremy isn’t sure who he can trust as secrets are slowly revealed.
They’d planned to write songs for their next album and rehearse over the summer in an isolated and very creepy mansion in the middle of some woods. Its history is obscure as none of the locals wish to talk about it and as time passes the band members fall out and argue even more. They are all seeking something but not quite sure what it is. There’s UST between Jeremy and Kennedy, especially when Hunter, the beautiful yet manipulating owner of the mansion interferes.
We are treated to a couple of hot loving scenes. Although weird, I liked the steam and ‘romance’ that existed between Watts and Quince. I wondered about Jeremy and Kennedy at first, but this was the main love interest of the story, and so was rooting for these guys to sort out their issues. Their make out scenes are lovely.
The scene setting is excellently accomplished. The paranormal element was creepy and atmospheric; the foreboding mansion with its dark history, the mysteriously beautiful and charismatic owners, the eerie woods, the river and the clearing. Even the way the locals and the police behave isn’t quite right. And all these elements impact on the band and their interaction with each other.
Things build to a very exciting and scary climax. Will they all escape in time? This was definitely a favourite part of the story for me. Shame it all ended so swiftly, with not all the paranormal backstory fully explained.
I've long been waiting this one's audio release, and it's finally here! An eerie, beautifully written story of 4 disaffected youths and the supernatural beings who are determined to prey upon them.
So much fun.
Narrator was wonderful and brought his emo new adult A game.
Jeremy lost his brother to suicide. Since then he hasn’t been the same. The guys in the band, Stygian, are his lifeline. But they are a thin thread. Watts, his brother’s friend, is mostly an asshole, totally self absorbed and hateful. He’s screwing around with Quinn, a trusting, open soul who knows he’s being used but can’t help himself. Then there’s Kennedy. Kennedy has entranced Jeremy since they first met.
The band takes a hiatus to Louisiana to work on their next album. Watts decides the atmosphere to be found in a haunted ante-bellum mansion in the swamps. Nothing about the house feels “right”, especially not the brother and sister, Hunter and Laurel who live nearby and who are the house’s owners.
When emotions run high, Jeremy flees into the woods. There he meets Hunter, a stranger who somehow feels more connected than he should. He wants to run to Kennedy, but Kennedy fights their attraction.
A girl dies, Quinn starts acting strangely and Watts continues to spiral downward. Kennedy and Jeremy connect, but is it going to last? Will Hunter drive them apart? What is the deal with the locked rooms in the house?
This is a dark, dark story. Gritty and dirty. The emotions aren’t sugar coated and there are a lot of deep, dark, angsty moments between all the guys in the band.
At times this felt more like a horror story than a romance, but the emotional connection between Jeremy and Kennedy is real and strong.
I can’t tell you what it is, but there’s a (somewhat predictable) twist having to do with Hunter and Laurel. They aren’t who they seem to be. When the climactic moment hits it’s somewhat shocking in its brutality but countered by the love that gets shown in the end between Kennedy and Jeremy.
We leave on a tenuous HFN and I believe there’s more to this story…
If you are a fan of dark, haunted love stories this will be right up your alley. Angst? New Adult drama? This has it in spades. Emotional musicians and a mystery in the swamp? You betcha!
4 of 5 stars
Geoffrey Allen is a new to me narrator but he was an excellent choice for this book. His tone and pacing was dark and perfectly matched the tenor of this creepy story. He added the right inflections and subtly voiced each character differently and appropriately and I think this is a great way to enjoy this story!
5 of 5 stars
Overall 4.5 of 5 stars
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