This feature is for short reviews, reviews of books in a series where it might feel repetitive, or (as Michelle suggested) books I was too lazy to write a “real” review for. Today’s books are the second – fourth books in the Experiment in Terror Series. I started for Halloween and now I’m hooked. As you’ll note in my reviews, they are getting creepier but I’m hooked so I’m pushing through my normal fear of horror.
I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Red Fox by Karina Halle
Narrator: Jo Raylan
Series: Experiment in Terror #2
Published by Tantor Audio on May 16, 2017
Length: 8 hours 46 minutes
In the forgotten town of Red Fox, a Navajo couple is tortured by things unseen and by motives unknown. Wild animals slink through their house in the dark, a barrage of stones pound their roof nightly, and mutilated sheep carcasses are turning up on their property. Armed with a camera and just enough to go on, Perry and Dex travel to the desolate locale, hoping to film the supernatural occurrences and add credibility to their flailing webcast. Only their show has a lot more working against them than just growing pains. Tested by dubious ranch hands, a ghost from Dex's past, and shape-shifting deception, the amateur ghost hunters must learn to trust each other in order to fight the most ancient of myths . . . or die trying.
This was definitely creepier than the first book! And I’ve already grown to love the characters so I was more invested and worried about their safety. My one comfort is that I know there are several more books in the series, so they MUST survive.
Red Fox takes place in New Mexico, Perry and Dex are investigating a series of strange occurrences on a farm. The tension is pretty much immediate, for numerous reasons and in a variety of ways.
First of all, it’s Perry and Dex’s relationship. He has a girlfriend, but Perry is falling in love with him and now, because of the Christian beliefs of the couple who own the farm, Perry and Dex are pretending to be a married couple, sharing a room and everything. So yeah, tension! I find the potential for cheating problematic here and while they aren’t married, I still wish he would end things with his girlfriend or stop flirting with Perry.
Secondly, that couple? Well the wife is a bitch. Not going to sugar coat it, she’s a bitch and everyone – even her husband – knows it. So why do they put up with her? Well, she’s blind and maybe that gets her some sympathy? Anyway, their conversations and interactions are just creepy and tense.
Thirdly, the whole reason they’re investigating this case is an old band friend of Dex’s called him up. Turns out, they have a complicated and tense history. And, oh, Perry find him very attractive and Dex is taken so… flirting ensues there a bit too. Again, tension.
Finally, the actual case. HOLY SHIT things get creepy here. I don’t want to spoil, but there’s some scary moments, there’s some skinwalker action, and even an attempted rape (so trigger warning!). There’s this one scene that my skin literally crawled with goosebumps.
I should note, I am a horror WHIMP and some of y’all may laugh at the moments that freaked me out. But nothing has gotten too ghoulish or gross for me. And Karina Halle is just a really great author, so I decided to give this series a chance in light of the season. And now I’m hooked.
Also, I was on the fence about Jo Raylan’s narration of the first book. After listening to this one I think it’s fair to say it was me, not her, on that first book. I do still have to listen more carefully than I do other books, but that would be my only complaint.
Qualifies for COYER Scavenger Hunt item #45 – Step outside your comfort zone and read a book in a genre you have read less than 3 times this year. I’ve read Horror only 2 other times this year.
I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Dead Sky Morning by Karina Halle
Narrator: Jo Raylan
Series: Experiment in Terror #3
Published by Tantor Audio on June 20, 2017
Length: 9 hours 39 minutes
With the Experiment in Terror show finding some success, amateur ghost hunters Perry Palomino and Dex Foray embark on their most terrifying investigation yet. A tiny, fog-shrouded island in the rough strait between British Columbia and Washington State has held a dark secret for decades: it was a former leper colony where over forty souls were left to rot, die, and bury each other. Now a functioning campground, Perry and Dex spend an isolated weekend there to investigate potential hauntings-but as the duo quickly find out, there is more to fear on D'Arcy Island than just ghosts. The island quickly pits partner against partner, spiraling the pair into madness that serves to destroy their sanity, their relationship, and their very lives.
Did I say the last book was creepy? Yeah that had nothing on this. I’d say it ALMOST crossed my threshold for what I can handle. If it were the first book and I weren’t so invested in Perry and Dax already, I might not have made it. And if I didn’t have a toddler (meaning I’m EXHAUSTED), I’d be having trouble sleeping too.
So Dax and Perry are off to a basically abandoned island, part of Canada’s National Park system but no one is stationed there. Before they go, they are given all kinds of warnings about how treacherous it is, the challenges of contacting anyone for hlep, and how easy it is to loose your boat. But it was once a Chinese Leper Colony where people were basically sent to die so of course they HAVE to go because it’s great show material. I so wouldn’t have.
So in this book, you have not just the spooky, creepy stuff happening to add tension, but also the physical environment. They’re camping, the weather is SHIT (it’s November, so we’re talking fierce wind, rain and cold), and they have little to no cell signal, oh and did I mention their boat is LITTERALLY hanging on by a rope? Scary shit.
And then the spooky happens. This is ripe for spoilers, but I’ll just say it got gross (leper colony, remember?) and geez if there weren’t more books I would have really questioned if they would make it. And the way being there messes with their minds and has them turning on each other? Oh god. I do have to say… they go to these places looking for spooky and then there’s doubt and shock when they find it? Why?! They can be a little dumb, huh?
Side note: I still don’t understand the title. In the first two books, I got it. But this one, I’m puzzled. Just a thought.
As for the audio, I’ve gone from being not sure about Jo Raylan’s narration, to being okay with, to LOVING it in this book. There’s no doubt that the creep factor went way up due to her narration. So I’m sold and also so incredibly thankful that I’m not reading this before bed. And I’m already jumping into the next book because they are GOOD!
Qualifies for COYER Fall Scavenger Hunt Item #26 – Read a book with water/or the ocean on the cover.
I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Lying Season by Karina Halle
Narrator: Jo Raylan
Series: Experiment in Terror #4
Published by Tantor Audio on August 24, 2021
Length: 10 hours 48 minutes
Amateur ghost-hunter Perry Palomino has battled ghosts, fought off skinwalkers and skirted the fine line between life and death. But can she survive bunking down in Seattle for a week with her partner (and man she secretly loves) Dex and his perfect girlfriend, Jennifer? And can she do so while being tormented by a malicious spirit from Dex’s increasingly shady past? With love and life in the balance, Perry must discover the truth among the lies or risk losing everything she's ever cared about.
This one was actually less creepy than the previous books and more about the characters – Perry & Dex – and their relationship. Which was a nice change of pace for me, since the horror elements scare the crap out of me.
I’m not usually okay with relationships that involve cheating – so I will warn this book series has that – but I’m not bothered by it because it’s dating not marriage and, as this book proves, the partner being cheated on… well she’s already been cheating and she’s really a bitch. Let me back up – Perry has to go to Seattle for the company holiday party and to film the next episode of Experiment in Terror. Rather than stay in a hotel, they come up the with brilliant idea that she will stay with Dex and his girlfriend Jen. Cue tension and awkwardness. But also, let the light shine! We suspected Jen was awful and now we see it first hand. Oh, and Perry makes some new, pretty great friends while visiting.
As for the creepy – this has two layers. There’s the mental institute that their filming in and yes – there were some seriously tense moments there. Secondly, someone is haunting Dex/Dex’s apartment and Perry sees them. Oh and there’s a message left for Dex that raises all kinds of questions, but we don’t have any answers yet.
In some ways this was a transition book I think – things happen in their relationship that needed to happen but I’m not sure where that leaves them and the show. I feel like the next book will see some major changes for everyone involved and I’m curious to see what it will look like.
As I mentioned, I’ve really grown to enjoy Jo Rylan’s narration. She is most definitely the voice of the series for me now and she certainly knows how to up the creep factor! I’m glad I’m getting to listen to the series.
Qualifies for COYER Fall Scavenger Hunt Item #35 – read a book with a character that is GREEN with Envy. Most definitely accurate that both Perry and Jenn are envious of one another.