Especially when you stumble upon a cave and awaken two demons.”
Editor: Marisa Chenery
Booktrope, Forsaken Imprint (2015)
Emma Keller’s estranged grandmother has been missing for seven years. Emma journeys to her grandmother’s private island with the task of readying it for sale. Local rumors say it’s cursed, but she dismisses them as superstition. While there, she unearths a hidden cave, and is visited by two men soon after. Itu is well-spoken, though he hides his face in shadow. The other is more of a worry; with skin of alabaster, Thim’s feral presence sets her on edge. Emma discovers the island has a dark past. The two men aren’t human, but awakened demons…and they have their sights set on her.
A Bookaholic’s Fix Review:
Clarissa Johal has to be one of the most talented authors I have come across. This is the third book I have read by her and the diversity in her stories is just amazing.
This one is an incredible tale. A young woman goes to clear out her grandmother’s cabin on a private island and finds more than she bargained for. She knows the locals swear the place is cursed and though she doesn’t buy into superstition, even she has to admit there is some strange goings on on the island.
As I do from time to time, I went into this one blind. I didn’t bother reading the blurb, or anything beforehand, I received a request to review and as soon as I saw the author’s name, I turned into a two-year-old in a store “Gimme, gimme gimme!” I wasn’t disappointed for a second.
One of my favorite things about the paranormal genre is seeing how an author works legend and/or myth into their story. I don’t know if this story had any basis in existing tales or if the concept for the demons’ background came completely from the author’s mind, but it is simply brilliant and I can easily picture the story being shared around a campfire in order to frighten children.
I loved how the suspense built throughout the majority of the story. Everything would be going pretty normal then Emma would hear a strange noise or come home to find the door ajar or a window open. Then things would escalate only to be written off as a dream or cabin fever (De Nile isn’t just a river in Egypt). I liked the fact that I never knew what to expect next. If it had been a movie, I would have chewed my nails down to the quick. As it was, I couldn’t put my Kindle down.
I loved the characters- even the ones that I hated (with good reason). The majority of the story focuses on Emma but the others do play a significant role and they are well developed considering how little we see of them in the story. I will say that I have a bit of a soft spot for Ash- she’s someone I’d like to hang around!
I really enjoyed this 5-Star read and I can’t wait to read more from this wonderful author.
She was jarred awake by a cry. The vestiges of her nightmare dissipated as she orientated herself. Nightmare. Emma let out a sigh of relief. The cry sounded again. A distant sound, high and wailing. A baby’s cry. Her heart quickened. Good god, surely that can’t be a baby?
The fire in the stove had burned down, its embers lending a glow to the living room. Emma looked out the front window. The yard was still. She unlocked the door and opened it a crack. The cry drifted in with the breeze, faint but unmistakable. She ran through her mind what possible bird or animal could make the sound and came up with nothing. Characteristically, the island was blanketed with silence, almost like a vacuum. She stood, uncertain. After several minutes, the sound started again—the unmistakable high wail of a baby. She slipped on her boots and parka.
Fog trailed like cobwebs in her wake. The mournful cry threaded through the trees and came from the direction of the house ruins. In spite of a growing anxiety at what she’d find, she quickened her pace. If that is a baby, it’s still alive, and I need to get to it. If it’s not a baby… She blocked out the possibilities of what else it could be.
She approached the ruins and the sound stopped. Her heart raced. I know it was coming from here. The area held an unnatural heaviness. A branch cracked behind her and she turned with a start. Something dark darted through the trees.
“Hello?” Her voice sounded muffled in the fog. Emma’s attention snapped to the left. The dark figure ducked out of sight. She took one step backward, and fled.
Heavy footsteps echoed from behind as she plunged through the trees. They were catching up with her. Emma pushed herself to run faster, terrified she’d lose her footing on the uneven ground. The cabin loomed large, a haven in the thick fog. Stumbling across the cabin’s porch, she hurdled through the door and slammed it shut, locking it.
Emma rooted her feet to keep from running around in circles. Straining to hear, she was greeted with eerie silence. Several moments passed before the baby’s cry started again. And this time, it sounded from right outside the door.
The Unseen and Unknown
by Clarissa Johal
Have you experienced this? You’re trying to sleep, and suddenly get the feeling that someone…or something is under the bed. Try as you might, the feeling won’t go away. Your heart pounds in your chest, sweat breaks across your brow, and you feel cold all over. “Don’t be silly,” you tell yourself. “I’m a grown-up. Only children are afraid of what’s under the bed.” You close your eyes and try to block out the uncomfortable feeling…that you aren’t alone.
But it lingers. And lingers.
Did the bed just shake? Was that a whisper? Did something tug on the corner of the sheet? “That’s it,” you tell yourself. “If I don’t look, I’ll be awake all night long.” So you sit up, quietly swing your feet over the edge, drop to the floor…and you look.
“What’s under the bed?” is a similar to, “What’s in the closet?” A primal fear of the Unseen and Unknown; both waiting for opportunities, and lurking in the darkness. I love writing about the Unseen and the Unknown (and especially the darkness). There’s so much room for speculation. You never know what you’ll discover, and it always makes for an interesting story.
In THE ISLAND, Emma Keller discovers what lurks in the darkness while exploring her grandmother’s private island.
But she’ll wish she hadn’t.
larissa Johal is the author of paranormal novels, THE ISLAND, VOICES, STRUCK, and BETWEEN. When she’s not listening to the ghosts in her head, she’s dancing, taking pictures of gargoyles, or swinging from a trapeze. She shares her life with her husband, two daughters, and every stray animal that darkens their doorstep.
(2014) Musa Publishing
(2015) Clarissa Johal
*Second place in the Preditors and Editors Readers Poll 2014
*Winner of the Indie Book of the Day Award
(2012) Musa Publishing
(2015) Clarissa Johal
*Second place in the Preditors and Editors Readers Poll 2012
*Winner of the Indie Book of the Day Award
(2010) Clarissa Johal
*Second round finalist in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award Contest 2012Short stories:
PIGEONS (Susurrus Literary Journal)
THE ROPE (Susurrus Literary Journal)