Blog Archives

Monster Literary Book Awards: February 2017

The Hungry Monster Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and The Hungry Monster is proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.

Gold Book AwardGold Award Winners

The Time Slipsters (The Dreadnought Collective Book 3) by [Tumbler, Terry]

Special Task Force: GREEN MAJIK #1 "Pretty Hate Machine": The Reader Feedback Dooms Day Edition by [Templeton, Don]

Silver Book AwardSilver Award Winners

The TVC Project by [Bridges, Tom]
The Nightmare From World's End by [Stava, Robert J.]Coffin Dodgers: A Sci Fi Horror Book by [Adams, Tom G.H.]

“Books are the linchpin of my existence. My earliest childhood memories revolve around the magic of reading, of being transported through time and space via a vivid story. Since I was old enough to know what a book was, I knew I was destined to write books as well.” – Don Templeton, author of Pretty Hate Machine

Visit the Hungry Monster Book Awards page to see award information and see all award winners.

The Lifeblood of Ill-Fated Women

The Lifeblood of Ill-Fated Women5 Stars

As you step back into the past, you enter the world of the Norse, a time when the Goddess Freyja and the God Odin influenced the world. Freyja commands the ranks of Valkyries, immortal women that bring those slain in battle to the afterlife of Valhalla. The Lifeblood of Ill-Fated Women revolves around the story of two of these Valkyries, sisters Astrid and Yrsa. The sisters are from a Nordic area called Birka, they raid and plumage for wealth and entertainment. One night their home is attacked and Astrid believes she has died. Astrid awakens in a strange land with no memory of how she arrived there. She is found by a farmer named Warren that is kind to her and goes out of his way to help her having no clue either about her past or what she really is. This novel tells the story of how Astrid finds her family and discovers a life can have more meaning than how many villages you conquer.

Kevin James Breaux brings readers into a distant world where people are stilled ruled by the Nordic Gods. Times of war are ending and settlements are turning more to farm towns and less militant. Astrid arrives in one of these small farming towns called Gromstad. She is convinced Warren is her captor and she must escape, frightened by her lack of memory, she cannot comprehend that her home Birka is long gone and far away. Breaux does an excellent job bringing the reader into Astrid’s mind and seeing her paranoia and fear, her confusion and inner struggles. Even once the secret of her past as a Valkyries is revealed through her sister, she is still faced with even deeper struggles and decisions. Like all great epic tales, this one delivers the deep character development and inner conflict to match the action that is going on outside of the character’s inner struggles. The relationship of Warren and Astrid is hot and cold. There are some graphic sex scenes but their love and passion is a contrast to Astrid’s warrior goddess nature. The world they live in is being sieged upon by demons and Astrid must use her powers as a Valkyrie to save herself, Yrsa and the town. Typical of hero’s in epic tales like this, things are not so easy. Astrid must make sacrifices and choices that will impact the rest of her life, and the lives of the people she cares for. Breaux shows this inner struggle and lets Astrid’s personality take over the story driving it forward. The other characters react to Astrid and further the plot along showing their own personality traits and allowing them to be dynamic characters not just filler for novel. The overall development of plot and characters is well balanced making it appealing to people looking for an adventure as well as a love story.

Astrid is the focus of the novel, but her interactions with the other characters brings forward additional stories for Kevin James Breaux to add to the series. He already has the next book in the works and I am sure it will continue this epic journey and bring more characters to life as he did for Astrid.

Pages: 409 | ASIN: B01MU9F5JX

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Witch Heart

Witch Heart: Leadership Always Requires Sacrifice5 Stars

West Point, the school for those that value honor and tradition. A group of elite students and soldiers that want nothing more than to continue the long-standing traditions and be the absolute best out there. It is also a school that has long been a boy’s only club, stuck in the mindset and traditions of the male gender. However now, women are there. They are changing things and not everyone likes these changes. When Jan, Kristi, and Pamela start leaving a trail of bad luck behind them they are branded as witches. Jan is convinced someone is out to kill her. It isn’t long though before Kristi and Pamela are also targets, someone wants them gone for good. Susan Spieth takes readers into the world of being a West Point cadet in her novel Witch Heart.

The novel starts out at Army Airborne School in Fort Benning GA. At first the novel is mildly humorous as you realize that Jan the main character is afraid of heights. Why is she at Airborne School? The simple answer is, she is a West Point Cadet and she will not fail at anything. We start getting some of the back story of her bad luck and how her old roommate Violet killed herself. The reason for why this happened lies deep into the novel and Spieth takes the reader on an emotional journey to get to the answers. Along the way you find romance with Jan and fellow Cadet Rick, and friendships so deep hazing and Honor Courts will not rip them apart.

The plot deepens and the witch hunt continues, all we know of the antagonist is that it is a male that wares a black ski mask. This mask holds a special meaning for him but you don’t know what that meaning is. After there are three deaths all from the time Jan, Kristi and Pamela arrive at West Point, they become known as the witches’ coven. The mystery intruder braking into rooms is only known as the man with the ski mask and he reveals his plans and hate for two of the women especially.

The author has given a lot of time into explaining the environment at West Point, it is a boy’s club atmosphere that is just tolerating women in the ranks. I feel this is still relevant today, that many feel West Point should still be an all-male environment. The author uses higher ranking officers to brush off hazing rituals as good old fun and traditions. It speaks of the hostility that women face when they are told “you want to be one of us deal with it” and are left with little options; all too real of a situation. Susan Spieth is able to tap into the fears and anger that these female cadets feel.

While not overly complex in plot lines, the social structure and interactions of the characters make this a complex novel. The reader is drawn into the stories of Jan, Kristi and Pamela and how they have survived to be 3rd year cows’s at West Point. This is not your mushy feel good novel, but it does speak to the strength of women cadets and their ability to overcome the odds against them.

Pages: 237 | ASIN: B01MCYSLQB

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Modern Day Cowboy: The Making of a Gunfighter

Modern Day Cowboy: The Making of a Gunfighter3 Stars

The novel Modern Day Cowboy: The Making of a Gunfighter depicts the life of Mattie, a young woman living in the middle of nowhere, Canada. Mattie struggles to recover from a painful incident which took the life of a mentally disabled boy that she cared for, and as a result, Mattie takes up employment at the local gun shop in town. It isn’t long before the owner senses Mattie’s need for revenge, and sends her to a boot camp in Arizona to train to become a gunfighter. She quickly becomes proficient at her newly acquired trade. But being rising talent comes with many disadvantages, as other female gunfighters come out to challenge Mattie. When she’s not off to a fight, she is conflicted with feelings for her contract and love interest, David. When his safety is threatened, unlikely friends come to Mattie’s defense, and old histories begin to reveal themselves.

What’s most interesting about this story is the idea of real life gun-fighting. The concept is very unique and Nathaniel Sheft really brings this hobby to life with his novel. The possibility of the organization, a multi-billion-dollar underground business, where women are trained for months at a time to go out and kill each other in a few brief seconds is fascinating. It’s even more empowering that the novel focuses on the sport as it is played by women. Sheft really challenges gender roles and introduces us to some of the most conniving, evil, clever, and entertaining female characters throughout this book, and it’s nice to read through a novel where the protagonist is a strong female character. Mattie’s transformation from depressed, isolated girl, to confident a, in your face, woman is what gives the story it’s flavor. She shows readers that you don’t have to be drop down beautiful or have any sort of history in etiquette. As long as you’re determined to accomplish your goals, you’ll be alright in the end.

The drawbacks to this novel however was that the writing style fluctuates between being great and just okay, especially when it came to dialogue or the inner monologue of characters. When any of the characters were joking or angry, their dialogue came through as more aggressive, however, the language was more colloquial – some slang words here, mispronunciations there, which is fine. However, it was unbelievable for every character to speak in that manner when they were angry. Also, throughout the book, we get a lot of David and Mattie’s inner monologues. These are so elegant, almost philosophical, especially with David. It’s such a strong contrast to the average, or less than polite language found throughout the rest of the novel. It seems that many characters in the novel have the same sort of inner monologue, so it doesn’t leave room for much originality in the words and thoughts of the characters. The language used to describe a scene was jumbled or vague at times which made it difficult to figure out the setting, who was talking, what action was going on, and what point in time the story was actually taking place.

Overall, the idea behind Modern Day Cowboy is intriguing and leads to fascinating possibilities.

Pages: 487 | ASIN: B01LXC2GTL

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Monster Literary Book Awards: January 2017

The Hungry Monster Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and The Hungry Monster is proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.

Gold Book AwardGold Award Winners

Recusant (The Brin Archives Book 2) by [Cronin, Jim]In His Way by [Duvall, Rebecca]

Stealing Magic (The Legacy of Androva Book 1) by [Vick, Alex C]The Inlooker: Full Length (The Dreadnought Collective Book 2) by [Tumbler, Terry]

Oliver and Jumpy - the Cat Series, Stories 10-12, Book 4: Bedtime stories for children in illustrated picture book with short stories for early readers. (Oliver and Jumpy, the cat Series) by [Stejskal, Werner]

REN: Awakened by [Brittany Quagan]Seed Me by [Lavery, Konn]Master Athina (The Books of Athina Book 4) by [Estes, Danny]

Zurga's Fire (The Orfeo Saga Book 3) by [Eiland Jr., Murray Lee]

Silver Book AwardSilver Award Winners

The Onryo by Rocco Ryg

Slippery Things by Lane Baker

The Great Scourge by C.A. MacLean

The Heart of Hannen by Fawn Bonning

Jesus and Magdalene by João Cerqueira

The Crown Princess Voyage by Dylan Madeley

 

“Books give me the freedom to step outside of myself. That words alone can transport the reader to a reality as believable as the one he or she actually lives in, should not logically be possible. It’s a kind of real life magic.” – Alex C. Vick, author of Stealing Magic

 

Visit the Hungry Monster Book Awards page to see award information and see all award winners.

 

Never a Choice but Always a Gift

Never a Choice but Always a GiftMax Kristoff, a man in his thirties who is living in New York, is about to come face to face with his past. When he walks into a house in Brooklyn, trying to connect with a person from that very past, he is plunged into a haunting situation. This situation sets him on a journey that will reveal—not only his character—but what lies in his heart and soul.

Will Max find what he is searching for?
Will he ever find closure?
Will he find himself along this journey?
Or will he die without every knowing the answers he’s always been seeking?

3 Stars

Never a Choice but Always A Gift By Adam Que is a book about change. Que takes you on a journey of Max’s life. Max was born and raised in the Bronx and currently living life with no real thought of tomorrow. After receiving some surprisingly unsurprising news, his life is bound to change.

Trials and tribulations surround Max and his long time friend, Bibby. Love, sacrifice and pride are challenged throughout the story. Memories are always with us. Can these two forgive and forget, or will they live the remainder of their lives holding a grudge?

Que’s use of vocabulary helps the reader relate to the different characters and really help you feel the emotions. The reader is lead along an easy to follow narrative that is sure to stimulate emotional response. That being said, there are times where the vocabulary becomes redundant and phrases are repeated which disrupts an otherwise sentimental novel.

Max is a well developed character and the story is gripping, but I felt that his thoughts in the beginning of the novel were constantly interrupted by tangents, side stories and information dumps which caused the story to lose focus. But when Max meets his love interest Celeste the background information is given in a less dense format and the novel flows easily and keeps the readers attention.

This novel is one of the more unique one’s I’ve read in 2016. Story detail is revealed through the use of double narrative. Things that Max is not willing to tell the reader is revealed through Bibby’s perspective. The switch of perspectives results in a change of language and tone which truly captures the feel of a new narrator. Few books I have read with a similar method of perspective change have lacked that quality.

I recommend this book to people going through hardships. Hope and unconditional love are cornerstones in the characters relationship. Never a Choice but Always A Gift is about a journey, but not the kind where characters trek through exotic locales. It’s a journey through life, to find love.

Pages: 266 | ASIN: B01EYS4Z9U

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The Agony Of My Own Life

Simon Rumney Author Interview

Simon Rumney Author Interview

Another Self throws us into the life of a girl who has been broken of all spirit and self-esteem, but by her wits and grit she becomes the richest person in ancient Rome. What was the inspiration behind this fascinating novel?

The sad truth is, this story is inspired by my own life. Because of undiagnosed dyslexia and ADHD I left school at a young age with no qualifications and, more importantly, ‘no’ self-esteem. Like Julia in Another Self I became successful while believing myself undeserving, even deceitful.

The writing in your story is creative and filled with twists. Was it a conscious effort to create a story in this fashion or is this style of writing reflective of your writing style in general?

From the age of 5 until a complete mental breakdown in my late 40’s, I was too ashamed to write anything down. After a psychiatrist diagnosed my dyslexia I started to write spontaneously. This story quite literally poured out of me and took its own course. The character may be a woman and the story set in ancient Rome, but Julia is experiencing the real agony of my own life.

Julia’s character is like none other I’ve read this year. What were some of the trials that you felt were important to highlight the Julia’s development?

Writing Another Self was like therapy for me. Searching for the words that sent Julia on her journey of discovery helped me understand how I could achieve so much while believing myself so completely worthless. Now, I’m a little in love with Julia because she and I have been through so much together.

Can you tell us more about what’s in store for Julia and the direction of the second book in the Our Eternal Curse series?

In book two, Another Tribe, Julia’s character is forced to confront racism in the southern states of America during the civil war. In book three, Another War, she must come to grips with her guileless part in causing The First World War. At the end of book three we learn why Julia has been Eternally Cursed, but I won’t spoil it for your readers.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook

Our Eternal Curse: Another Self by [Rumney, Simon]Julia, brilliant yet humbled by cruelty and abuse, overcomes great disadvantage to become the richest person in ancient Rome. Living a double life, she wields power from behind the scenes to bring vengeance down upon those who wronged her. When her schemes ensnare Rome’s two greatest generals, Lucius Cornelius Sulla and Gaius Marius, Julia provokes civil war and condemns herself to suffer for the sins of her past.

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A Fantastic, Erotic, Horrific Tale Like No Other

Fawn Bonning Author Interview

Fawn Bonning Author Interview

The Heart of Hannen follows Christine Clavin who is not a typical teenage girl, her past is marred by a violent attack. This tenacious teenager must survive a dark world where men own women like cattle. What was the inspiration for the idea behind this story?

I wanted to see if I could fuse all the genres that I love into one work. I’m a huge horror fan. I love the way it makes my heart race and my skin crawl. But I also enjoy a good fantasy, especially those set in dystopian worlds where it’s a constant battle just to stay alive. I guess I just love a good challenge. Add to that my love of a steamy romance and the result is what I like to call a fantastic, erotic, horrific tale like no other.

Christine could use her wits, temper, and sharp tongue to do great things, even under the control of an oppressive culture and evil men. What morals and obstacles did you feel were important to highlight the character’s development?

Christine’s primary obstacle is her violent temper. She quickly comes to realize that failing to control it could mean her demise in this new brutal world. She must win the battle against her own inner demons if she is to survive the monsters of Atriia.

The best part of this book was the invented language. How did you set about creating such a unique and interesting language?

I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed the Atriian language. Unfortunately, not everyone shares that sentiment. This is a series that takes a bit of extra work. It didn’t make sense to throw Christine into a completely foreign world where they spoke perfect English. At the same time, I didn’t want to make the Atriian language so difficult that it would detract from the reading experience. It’s primarily English, with a smattering of Atriian words, most of which have meanings that are easily deduced. Sola=sun, sol=day, luna=moon, lun=night, aya=yes, naya=no, and so forth. I tried to introduce the words slowly, a few per chapter, so the reader didn’t need to constantly turn to the dictionary. As the story progressed, the language grew word by word until it was more extensive than initially intended. By the end of book III, my readers are fabulously fluent in Atriian.

The Heart of Hannen is book one in the Atriian Trilogy. Where does the next book in the series take your characters?

Book II takes poor Christine to horrible places. Just horrible. And book III, oh my gosh, horrendous!

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website


The Heart of Hannen (Atriian Trilogy, #1)Christine, a troubled teen with a dark past, is miserable in her small town. Shadowed in shame, she feels destined to live her lonely life as an outcast. She has no idea that her true destiny lies in a different town, in a different world; a most brutal world called Atriia. There she learns the true meaning of misery, the true meaning of loneliness, the true meaning of shame. But she also learns that her bravery is boundless as she battles against a formidable foe, a dark shadow that tries to smother the land. And in the arms of a most unlikely candidate, she also learns the true meaning of love. He is Hannen Fallier, the one they call the foul fraigen dropper, revered by men for his fearless feats, but looked upon by women with open disdain. With a face horribly mauled, he hides behind a mask of shame, deeming himself unworthy of love. That he would seek acceptance from Christine is irony in its purest form. That he would seek her love . . . the ultimate betrayal.

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Master Athina

Master Athina (The Books of Athina Book 4)5 Stars

In a whirlwind of action and danger, peppered with instances of magic, Master Athina by Danny C. Estes comes to a gallant close. For four books we have followed the journey of Jim, construction manager from our world into the body of Athina; lady of another world. Jim’s evolution into Athina as a full human being has been carefully crafted and readers should be satisfied with how things have come to pass. Our poor Athina has lost the voice of Jim but retained his knowledge and parts of his personality. It is as if they have melded to become a new Athina. Unfortunately, as we have well learned, Athina does not have an easy life.

Our story picks up a short while from where it left off. Athina is happily married and is about to have twins. She has learned that her entire existence was not two souls switching occupation in her body, but one soul that has lived two lifetimes. This revelation is incredible in that it takes the struggles Jim had in being in a young woman’s body and feeling out of place and brings about the idea of reincarnation and multiple lives. Estes does a great job in slowly, but surely, melting the two into one throughout the course of the Athina series.

There is only one disappointment in this book and that is the very few spelling errors that pop up now and then. It doesn’t take away from the story, but it is a sharp distraction in a series that has obviously been crafted with care.

Athina has been born into a world where her greatest short coming is the fact that she is a woman. There is much she cannot do because of her gender and it shows in her frustration when the rebuilding of her home commences. She clearly has the knowledge to be a master builder, yet she is not allowed to. Athina does obtain her Master title, however, in a discipline that might come as a surprise to readers of the series. It is a title that she wears with confidence and brings about some unexpected conversations.

The action scenes in this novel are still well written and important to the tale. There is no action just for the sake of action which can be a downfall for many fantasy-adventure stories. Estes knows his craft and he has definitely had the time to hone it.

Master Athina opens with a helpful and refreshing prologue which considerably compresses the events in the previous books. This is great for those who have gone a long time between installments and need a refresher, or for those who are picking up Master Athina without reading the predecessors. This final installment in such a thrilling adventure  that wraps up the journey nicely and should satisfy all curiosity while leaving bits for the imagination to go wild over.

Pages: 316 | ASIN: B01FPDV1LS

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A Buried Desire

Loretta H. Marion Author Interview

Loretta H. Marion Author Interview

The Fool’s Truth follows Cordelia as she’s running from a dangerous marriage and finds herself wrapped up in a perilous mystery. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?

A great question and what’s most interesting is, the opening scene in which a young mother comforts her crying daughter while calmly stepping around a dead body, came to me long before I started writing The Fool’s Truth. I had this image of a woman escaping into her mind, blocking out the tragic scene before her and acting as if nothing had happened. I jotted down that first passage years before the idea for the book started to germinate. I knew it was the beginning of a good story, it just took a while for the right characters to develop for the telling.

Originally, I thought the story would be Rebekah’s because her witch-like hermit character came together in my mind first. I loved defining her complicated choice (or need?) to live a secluded life. But as the narrative began to form, it became clear that Cordelia had to be the book’s protagonist. As a desperate mother on the run, her storyline would tie together the other characters, each with their own dark secrets.

Cordelia is an intriguing character. Was her back story something you always had or did it develop as you were writing?

I’ve always wanted to write a character named Cordelia, but had to wait patiently for the right story. When I began pulling together the plot and characters for The Fool’s Truth, I felt Cordelia was a good fit for the protagonist’s name. Although I always start with a rough story outline and ideas about who the characters are, writing is such a fluid craft and it’s essential the characters remain adaptable. So Cordelia’s story had to evolve as the story developed. I’ve never personally known someone who has been in such a desperate situation, so I had to delve deep into my imagination.

What experience in your life has had the biggest impact on your writing?

Strangely enough, my passion for writing fiction sprang from the eye opening exercise of composing my own obituary. I was a hospice volunteer for many years, and the obituary assignment was part of the volunteer training program. And from that experience a buried desire to write a book surfaced. I tentatively ventured onto this new path by establishing a Legacy Story program to honor and preserve the heritage of some fascinating hospice patients who were soon to leave the world. It has been the most meaningful experience of my life thus far, and it both inspired and encouraged me to fulfill a newly perceived longing to create and shape unique fictional characters with their own remarkable stories to tell.

Cordelia ends up stranded in the backwoods of Maine, hidden by a hermit living off the grid who takes an obsessive interest in her daughter. How did this plot twist develop and why choose Maine as the backdrop?

So many threads had to be woven together to form the plotlines of the novel, however that development was pivotal to the story and came early in the drafting of the book. Because Rebekah emerged early as a significant character, her secluded farm became the ideal spot to strand the desperate Cordelia. I’ll stop there so as not to give away the motivations of either of these two central characters.

As for why Maine? It’s a beautiful and diverse state, both in its land and seascapes, but also in the people who call Maine home. It is also a state of many unique small communities and I thought it would be fun to create the fictional town of Murphy, Maine. But this question has caused me to pause and recall that the story was actually coming together on a road trip my husband and I were making through the state on our way to Prince Edward Island. I now have to think that trip may have influenced my decision to set the story in Maine, especially since it conveniently borders Canada, which is where Cordelia had hoped to find refuge.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will that book be published?

There are two books I can tell you about today. First is The Lighterman’s Curse, which is currently out on submission with my agent. The story follows overly trusting Cassandra Mitchell’s quest to save her beloved family home in the fictional Cap Cod coastal town of Whale Rock. The Bluffs is a stately Victorian and legacy from her great-grandparents whose shocking demise still haunts the town, and perhaps the house itself. While Cassie deals with the emotional and financial fallout of divorce from her dream-weaving husband, a young nomadic couple wander onto the property and into life, offering welcome companionship and the answer to her problems. Until they vanish, leaving behind no clues and rising evidence they were not who they said they were.

Finding herself in the middle of a battle for control of the investigation between the local police chief and the information-keeping FBI agent who suddenly shows up to investigate the missing couple, Cassie tries to unravel the mystery herself. But she becomes distracted by the eerie sounds and scents of The Bluffs, which have now reemerged with a heightened sense of warning. And she accidentally uncovers some long hidden details about the century old curse cast upon her great-grandparents. The Lighterman’s Curse blends mystery, romance and a touch of paranormal to tell two interwoven tales of the Mitchell family legacy, one taking place in present day time and the other beginning in the late nineteenth century.

Also in the works is a novel I’m collaborating on with my husband. It returns me to my Midwestern roots and begins with a stunning deathbed confession that leads to the convergence of a disparate trio: an apathetic middle-aged New Yorker, a Midwestern thirty-something journalist and a young woman eager to escape her mundane existence in rural Pennsylvania where recently discovered skeletal remains have rocked a community.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website | Pintrest

The Fool's TruthOn the run and desperate to flee the country with her toddler daughter, Cord Richmond can only turn to one person for help – lifelong friend and once lover, Ramon Alvarez. Their reunion reawakens long suppressed feelings, but once again their timing is off, as they must hastily chart a course for her escape.

A reckless detour in those carefully laid plans leaves Cord stranded in the backwoods of Maine, hidden by a hermit weaver living off the grid. With no means of communicating with the outside world, the need to craft a new plan intensifies when the peculiar woman takes an obsessive interest in her daughter.

Complicating matters further are the local sheriff and a nosy reporter, both with ambitions for uncovering the truth, each with his own private reason for taking refuge in the remote rural village of Murphy, Maine. She contemplates a risky strategy to flee her confinement, but is she desperate enough to enter the depraved world of a recently paroled convict with a long history of brutality?

Cord’s folly is the catalyst for dark secrets unraveling, placing her and her daughter in grave danger. She deeply regrets having lied to the one person who might be searching for her. Meanwhile, Ramon seeks to resolve the unsettling truths Cord has concealed from him. If only he could find her.

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