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review 2017-09-18 05:44
Savage Woods - Mary SanGiovanni
Savage Woods - Mary SanGiovanni

The woods are alive. At least that's what Mary SanGiovanni would like you to believe in her latest offering, Savage Woods. The Nilhollow section of New Jersey's Pine Barrens has had its history of weird happenings. People tend to go missing here. Think of it as New Jersey's answer to the Bermuda Triangle. This has dated back tens of thousands of years. The Native Americans knew this and avoided this area like the plague. But what causes it? SanGiovanni attempts to explain it by introducing us to a chasm in Nilhollow that is allowing the bad mojo to escape it and pollute the wood spirits like a plague. This causes the woods to constantly shift and trap anyone who enters and then the wood spirits form these little tree creatures to off their victims. If you suddenly went "Huh?", you're not alone. Savage Woods has a few good ideas surrounded by an absolute mess and that's the most frustrating part for me. SanGiovanni can write. I've read so-called authors who couldn't find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. She is not one of them. Unfortunately, the two stories of hers that I've read, she tries to take amazingly unrealistic material and breathe life into them. Instead, we get a laughable plot, uninteresting characters and pacing that makes a snail look like a top-fuel dragster. The possessed trees and vines in the Evil Dead. Now that was scary. Not so here. The tree creatures come off as hokie. Native American folklore can make for a great storyline, much like Brian Moreland did in The Devil's Woods and Dead of Winter. Again, not so here. She does throw in quite a bit of the red stuff, but you're beyond caring at this point and that makes the characters nothing more than cannon fodder. I simply found myself yawning through the whole thing eagerly anticipating the ending to come and put me out of my misery.



2 Killer Oaks out of 5



* this ARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.



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review 2016-11-18 11:32
Chills by Mary SanGiovanni
Chills - Mary SanGiovanni

“True Detective” meets H.P. Lovecraft in this chilling novel of murder, mystery, and slow-mounting dread from acclaimed author Mary SanGiovanni . . .

It begins with a freak snowstorm in May. Hit hardest is the rural town of Colby, Connecticut. Schools and businesses are closed, powerlines are down, and police detective Jack Glazier has found a body in the snow. It appears to be the victim of a bizarre ritual murder. It won't be the last. As the snow piles up, so do the sacrifices. Cut off from the rest of the world, Glazier teams up with an occult crime specialist to uncover a secret society hiding in their midst.

The gods they worship are unthinkable. The powers they summon are unstoppable. And the things they will do to the good people of Colby are utterly, horribly unspeakable…

It was the hope of reading something really chilling was what drove me to read this book. And, at first, I thought that it would turn out to be pleasant reading. I liked the feeling of a doomed city that is taken over by snow monsters and a little group of people trying to save the town, and the world. However, somewhere along the way the story just lost the appeal for me. I think one of the main reason was that the characters were not very memorable. In the end, I think Morris was the only one that was interesting reading about, the rest just lacked anything substantial. I had high hope for Kathy making the book interesting with her dark background, but in the end, she turned out to be spending most of the time trying to find a spell to reverse the opening of the door to the other world. And, thus the one character in the book that really appealed to me when I started to read the book faded into the background. Yes, I did find Kathy and Teagan in the beginning an interesting "couple", But, then I lost interesting in them both when they started to get cozy in the middle of danger.  
Also, I think the story should have been built up a bit better, with a slower start, then there would have been more anticipations for larger and frightening things to happened. Now it was just killing from the beginning to the end, and because of that, there was no thrill in reading the book because you hardly got to know any characters, more than the cops. The rest was just people waiting to be killed. No point in getting attached because most people they were killed as soon as they were introduced. Sure, one or two survived, but they were in the story for a page or two never to be heard of again.

And, another problem was that it was not frightening to read, not even a bit chilling. Hell, I was mostly bored towards the end of the book and just wanted the book to end so that I could read something else.

So, the book started promising, then the story started to get more and more uninteresting and the ending was quite dull. Not, a book for me.

I want to thank Kensington Books for providing me with a free copy for an honest review!  
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review 2016-09-30 20:03
Chills by Mary Sangiovanni (and soooo close to a Bingo!)
Chills - Mary SanGiovanni

*I received an ARC from Netgalley with an unspoken promise to pen a review. Here it is.


Investigators are attempting to figure out who left a dead body with a strange occult marking lying around just as an unseasonable snow storm starts moving in. This isn’t just any old winter storm either. This storm brings with it man-eating monsters!


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The writer had me at flesh eating monsters but I have to admit that she lost me a bit somewhere along the way and this book started to drag. It could simply be me and my aversion to books that feature all action at the expense of character building. In my opinion, only Kathy, the occult specialist, was fleshed out well in this story. Her back story and her brother’s past were interesting but the rest of the people were nothing more than fodder for the monsters or an interchangeable mix of men trying to figure out the cultish case. That made sticking to this material a very hard thing for me to do.


I’m not going to lie though. The whole scenario she sets up here is quite terrifying. The monsters don’t pick and choose their prey. They eat every living human in their path and some of the scenes are riveting early on. You’ve been warned!





photo snowmaneatingkid_zpsjru4jhec.jpg


(spoiler show)


This is a well written action-packed, gory monster tale and now that I’ve finished, I completely understand the mixed reviews. It’s going to come down to a matter of what you like and what you don’t. If action is your thing you are going to love this a lot more than I did.


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I read this for my dark & stormy square.



photo halloween BINGO update6_zpsxkkeqbmq.jpg


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review 2016-09-30 15:44
Chills by Mary SanGiovanni
Chills - Mary SanGiovanni

"Evil in a small town" is a trope that appeals to me very much, especially when it's well done. Combine it with a smidge of cosmic horror and a heaping helping of police procedural and voila! You have the recipe for Chills.


You might actually GET the chills while reading this book. Atmosphere is a favorite facet of dark storytelling for me and this book has it in spades. The snow is constantly falling over the small town of Colby, Connecticut. It's created drifts, because the wind is howling and sometimes you catch glimpses of things in the snow. Are they real, or is it just your eyes playing tricks? You'll have to read Chills to find out.


Another aspect of this story that I enjoyed was the the tightness of the prose. It's clean and precise. Not a lot of time is spent going on and on with descriptions of the town or the snow drifts. I thought just enough time was spent getting to know the characters and I developed a real feeling for the character of Kathy, due to her horror-show of a brother, Toby. I would have liked a bit more information on Toby's cult, the Hand of the Black Stars, though; mostly because I find that kind of thing fascinating. I also wouldn't have minded a little more of the cosmic horror aspect over the police procedural one and for these reasons, I've deducted 1 star.


Chills was a lot of fun, especially if you consider shivering while you're reading to be fun. I know I do. Recommended to fans of: atmospheric dark fiction, evil in a small town stories, and the always fascinating Old Gods and the people who serve them. (Just make sure you wear a warm sweater!)


*Thanks to the author, NetGalley, and Kensington/Lyrical Underground for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it.* 

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review 2016-09-10 20:00
Review: Chills by Mary SanGiovanni
Chills - Mary SanGiovanni

I feel like I've been in a bit of a slump with my horror reads of late, with the last few titles being more misses than hits, the bad outweighing the good. Chills is a title that I've been looking forward to, ever since it was previously released as a signed, limited edition hardcover from Thunderstorm under the title The Blue People. I secured a copy of that edition earlier this year, but opted to keep it pristine and instead read an advanced copy of the Kensington Books edition on Kindle.


I've openly admitted in the past to being a sucker for winter-based horror thrills, and am always on the lookout for titles in this niche. Many thanks to John Carpenter and The Thing for this particular affectation. There's something about blood-stained snow and monsters running wild that just really does it for me.


All of this is to say that I had certain hopes and expectations for Chills - it needed to satisfy some particular sweet spots I have for this corner of the horror genre, but it also needed to get me over that hump of disappointment I've been feeling lately after a couple less-than-stellar readings.


Well, Mary SanGiovanni delivered in spades. I flat-out loved Chills, and it grabbed me in a way that the last few horror books I've read failed to do. I did not want to put this book down, and I looked forward to my time with Colby, CT police detectives Jack Glazier, Reece Teagan, and occultist Kathy Ryan. Ryan in particular was an easy favorite in SanGiovanni's cast of characters, and I'm hoping we get more of her in the future.


Set in a small, isolated town blanketed in a furious storm of snow and ice, unearthly monsters lurk and strike out with surprising viciousness, and a handful of dead bodies turning up around town are branded with strange, occult markings. Suffice to say, there's a lot of bad stuff going on in Colby, and SanGiovanni not only crafts a wicked little creature feature, but one heck of a sharp cosmic horror thriller to boot. The Lovecraftian elements in Chills are very well rendered and help give a nice epic feel to this story of small-town terror. This is the type of stuff I good and truly dig.


Chills was my first title from SanGiovanni, and it most definitely will not be the last. I caught reference throughout the work to some of her other titles, most notably The Hollower, which has made its way onto my must-purchase list come payday.


[Note: I received an advanced copy of this title for review from the publisher via NetGalley.]

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