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Red Fox - Karina Halle
I am always looking out for new and great book sets, and thus am part of the online book community; 'Goodreads.com' where people can share the books they have read for free. It was here that I originally came across a few people reading 'The Experiment in Terror' series by Karina Halle. I added it to my 'to-read' list and it was not long before actual friends of mine were recommending the books as well. I knew it was time to start the series in the hope that we had come across a great set, and so visited Amazon.co.uk. Here I found out that this very first book in the series was on Kindle for absolutely FREE! That is my type of word! Immediately I downloaded the book to my Kindle and began to read!
The first book was completely different to most books I have read in this type of genre, and the realness of the writing kept me hooked from beginning to end. I was eager for more, and luckily I had already got hold of the second book in the series, once again on the Kindle, though it is also available in paperback form.
My review on the first book can be found on Ciao.
Red Fox is the second book in the 'Experiment in Terror' series. To date, there are six main books in this series, with another one due out later this year (2013) and a further two books (at least) in the future. There are also a number of novellas which fall in between certain main books. These you do not have to read to enjoy and follow the series, though if you are like me and fall in love with this set then you will want to go back and fill in the blanks with these novellas. The main books so far include;
Dead Sky Morning
On Demon Wings
Into the Hollow
Come Alive (Expected out 2013)
Ashes to Ashes (Not yet published)
Dust to Dust (Not yet published)
At the time of writing this review, I have read up to the fifth book.
With all this said, I will now take you on to my review of the first book of the series...
WITH MADNESS COMES THE LIGHT
"I just hated to think I looked like crap around tall, handsome men. Even if they were gingers."
There are so many vampire, werewolf and faerie books out there, and I admit, I have read a large share of these, though after a while, supernatural and fantasy books along these lines can quite often look the same and make you become almost numb to all things in this genre.
The Experiment in Terror series takes the supernatural on to a whole new level in more ways than one. The main focus is upon ghosts and the supernatural, though this book reads so 'real' that you almost forget that you are reading fiction. The author throws in so many twists and turns and throughout the whole series as well as this book, the story takes it one step further and provides amazing entertainment.
In this second instalment, we return to Perry Palomino and Dex Foray as they trade in the stormy Oregon coast for the unforgiving deserts of New Mexico, to be more precise, a forgotten town of Red Fox.
Perry and Dex meet up with an old friend of Dex's as they are called in to investigate a Navajo couple who are being tortured by things unseen, and hopefully catch something supernatural for their first real screening on their internet show; 'Experiment in Terror'. Armed with their camera, they travel to the desolate location, though it is not only ghosts and the supernatural which is terrorizing them as Dex's history comes back to haunt him in the shape of his so called friend, and now that he is off his medication (a mystery to Perry which she intends to uncover), Perry does not know whether he can be trusted.
It is not long before wild animals are slinking through the house in the dead of night, attacking Perry and creating havoc. A barrage of stones pound their roof on a nightly basis and mutilated animal corpses begin to show up everywhere. Perry feels there is deception everywhere, and both she and Dex need to learn to trust one another is they are going to survive everything this little town and its inhabitants throw at them.
Will they be able to fight the most ancient of myths, or will they both die trying?
Although in the main this series focuses upon the more ghostly supernatural, we see less of this in the second book than the first, and instead fall into an in-depth story of history and myth of the Navajo which is not only interesting but also very scary in its own way. When I say scary, though, I do not mean to say that you will be hiding under the covers, fearful of what is in the shadows of your room. This is a more subtle creepiness which is written in such a 'real' way that you can almost see it happening in front of you. The story holds a lot in, only letting information out when necessary, and so you never get the full picture which creates a very spine-chilling feeling without giving you nightmares.
There is almost three stories involved in this second book, which is a continuation from 'Darkhouse'. The main story follows the two main characters into the desolate town whilst they investigate the unusual goings on, whilst both Dex and Perry have their own sub-plots going on throughout. The first book acted as an introduction to these sub-plot stories, and as we move through the second book, more comes out into the open, yet frustratingly, not enough! This is certainly no bad thing, though, and if anything, this is a mark of a fantastic writer as I am just left wanting more and more. Just enough information and back history is given to us at just the right times which feed the emotion and creepiness of the story, though leaves our minds and hearts wanting to know more. As for the main part of the story, this is written brilliantly and progresses at a perfect rate and flow, keeping with the mystery just long enough for us to be on the edge of our seats before it hits us with the twists and turns and almost throws our minds into turmoil (in a good way!).
Like the first book, I found the beginning of this book slightly too slow for my liking, though as soon as the two main characters came together, the story really took off and then I could barely put the book down. Unlike the first book, though, there were times in which the pace slowed down and the action and excitement was not as full-on as the majority of the book. This can be looked at in two ways; Firstly, it could feel like a breath of fresh air with a moment to collect your thoughts. Secondly, it could bring the story down too much that the reader almost falls asleep. For me, it was somewhere in the middle. Occasionally I found myself skimming certain areas to get to the action quicker, though I then had to go back and reread certain parts as everything in this book is there for a reason. These slower parts could have been written a little better with a more excited pace, though they are needed so I would seriously recommend NOT skimming the slower parts, no matter how much you may feel you want to!
This, I feel, is the only real negative point in this book. The rest, as I hope you will be able to see, is a fantastic read, if not as strong as the first, though exhilarating none-the-less.
As mentioned above, this book takes the supernatural onto a new level. Although there is still a strong element of the ghostly supernatural, we see the main characters deal with some myths of the area which is no less creepy. I loved the mythological history within this book, and feel that the author brought this into the story extremely well. Knowing that many of these mythical stories are based loosely on a truth, makes it even more chilling. It also incorporates a feeling of madness and a prominent question of what is real and what is imaginary, and it is all written in such a real way that it could be happening before your very eyes. I could almost feel the fear emanating from Perry. At many points, the fear radiating from Perry becomes almost manic which engages your full attention.
The main action takes place in the small desolate town; a setting which is perfect for a chilling story. The author also uses darkness as a tool for bringing in the fear factor, as well as the feeling that a small town holds its secrets close to its chest. All of which make for a perfect 'ghost' story, even without the ghosts!
The story did have a small sense of predictability, though enough twists and turns happened which were surprising that the aspects which I did predict did not matter in the slightest.
Even more prominent than the storytelling, is the characters in the story. All of the characters involved are written with such a real feel that a heightened sense of reality ensues, providing an even more stronger sense of fear when reading. Like with the first story, the two main characters are fantastically written from all different angles. We get to know Perry much more than the mysterious Dex, though both are written without any flaws and enough detail is provided to really appeal to the reader. Never before have I read a main character which I can relate to in many ways, and one which pleads for my full attention to completely. Neither one is fake in any way, and both seem to jump from the page with such perfection - I was absolutely amazed with their characterisations, personalities and the way that they are both written into the story. We also meet a number of different characters in this book which take on a larger part than those in the first. This acts to build upon Perry and Dex's characters by showing how they interact as well as prodding certain hidden feelings and emotions from Perry specifically. These other characters are also written to the highest degree, and like the two main characters, they feel so real. Only a couple of characters were not as well rounded as the others, and although this was very noticeable, it did not overly detract from the story.
The story probably best falls into the supernatural genre. The genre, though, is not that easy to place as there is aspects of amazingly funny humour, an undercurrent of a love story (though one which does not go anywhere in this story), a mystery, horror, thriller, action...you name it, this book has it all and everything is incorporated into the story in such an amazing way that you don't really concentrate on what genre this should rightfully fit it - you just fall in love with every part of it!
The story is written from the first person perspective as already mentioned, and this is from Perry's perspective. This is a fantastically written viewpoint and we learn just as much as the author wants us to about this character, with the story opening up before us as it does to Perry. We see and feel her insecurities about her life, her body and her thoughts and feelings. We feel her fear. We cry out in shock the moment she does. It is possibly one of the best third person points of view I have read as there is nothing unreal about this character, and although I can not relate to everything about her, there is bound to be something with this person that everyone will be able to relate to.
The following warning is written in the blub of the first book and still applies here;
"The Experiment in Terror series is a horror/romance for mature audiences only. Readers who are easily offended by harsh language should think twice about reading it."
This is something to take note of. I am not one to love reading harsh languages within a book and often feel that it is put there for no good reason other than the way younger readers tend to speak these days, though I do admit that most of this language within this book feels right to be there. Perhaps it is the 'real' feeling of the characters and storyline which makes these words seem in the right places? Perhaps it is something else, though either way, I was not offended by it in the slightest and it became as part of this story as the characters themselves were. There is a lot of this type of harsh language, though, so do be warned.
Other aspects to be aware of are such things as violence, sexual tension and mental health. All of these pop their heads in and out of the pages throughout the story. They are not paramount in the story, though they are constant, and the mental health aspect is a larger issue in this book than the first.
So what makes this book any different to other books along these lines?
Everything makes this book different from other books along the ghostly/supernatural lines. Yes, it does have elements from other books and films, a couple which spring to mind is the US television series of Supernatural and also X.Files, though still, I find that this book goes even further. I think it is the perfectly written reality of it all which keeps it grounded whilst allowing the mind to roam free which creates such an amazing read. The story is not overly unique in many ways, though there are a number of surprises, and again, the way it is written creates the feel of something until now, left undiscovered.
One thing which I find very important in a book is the ending. A story can be written perfectly, though if the ending is wrong, then it gives me a really terrible feel to the whole book, almost as though I feel my time was wasted reading it, even if I did enjoy the rest of the story.
So how does the ending of this book compare?
The ending to this book was much better thought out than the first book. It lost the rushed feel and rounded up everything perfectly in great timing. It held me right up to the last page, and threw in extra twists which act as brilliant cliffhangers to push you into wanting more.
"The truth is in the fire."
Like the first book in the series, I really enjoyed this. I was hooked from the very beginning and fell into the world created by the author with extreme ease. It was perhaps not as strong a story as 'Darkhouse', though it held its own strength in other ways, which was aided by the fantastic characters.
Will I read the next book?
I have already read the next book! I could not wait and have managed to get through three and a half books plus one sub-book in a matter of a couple of weeks as this series gets you so addicted, and it all began with this first book! The author certainly knows what she is doing!
The paperback version of the book is 324 pages.
The price of this book on Amazon is slightly more than many books of this kind at under £8 for the paperback form. The Kindle book is a lot cheaper at only 66p. That is my kind of price! Don't worry if you don't have a Kindle, simply go to Amazon.co.uk and download their Kindle app absolutely free to your PC and then download the Kindle book in seconds.
Do I recommend this book?
Without a Doubt!