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‘Chrysalis:’ Book Review

Nowhere, Kansas.  Even the name sounds innocuous.  A place you drive through without slowing and never think about again.  The biggest problem is an occasional squabble at the local bar, and long-time resident and Sheriff Peter Holbrook likes it that way.  In fact, the only thing that truly bothers him is his fear of the gray: the mysterious storms that plague Nowhere every year, blanketing the town in rain and fog.

But this year’s gray brings a new surprise: Kaylen, an tattoo-marked woman suffering from amnesia, found in an auto accident that Peter learns may not have been an accident.  And the deeper he probes into the mystery surrounding her, the more he realizes that she may not be what she seems, and the forces stalking her may be more of a threat to him than he can fathom… forces tied to Peter’s own past, the sleepy town of Nowhere, and even to the gray itself.

And then, the deaths start.

In Chrysalis, award-winning writer Angie Martin (Conduit, The Boys Club) crafts an intriguing blend of supernatural, thriller, and romantic elements into a gripping page-turner.  Starting with the stalwart Sheriff and a deft mash of prototypical small-town elements that would feel at home in a Norman Rockwell painting, she quickly introduces her wild card, the wildly-tattooed amnesiac Kaylen.  Martin ably handles the initial mystery and attraction that Peter feels for her, balancing it nicely with his never-acted-upon feelings for local girl Hannah who runs the local diner.  

But just when you think you have a handle on where this story is going, Martin pivots into the true story she wants to wrap you up in, dropping mutilations, murders, and suicides into this sleepy, little town at a dismaying rate.  Struggling to figure out what’s happening in his home, Peter must also deal with his growing attraction to the mysterious Kaylen and decide whether that attraction is an asset or a threat to him, as well as uncover the connection that she may have to everything spiraling out of control around him.

Part of a good horror story is to make it fantastic enough to be interesting and still remain rooted in a familiar world.  Martin excels here, painting her Saturday Evening Post town with just enough shadows to unnerve, and it’s a fine balance she strikes here. It’s the alarming normality of still-steaming food on the dining room table of a murder scene.  The splash of tell-tale paint on a crashed car.  The lone shaft of sunlight piercing the gray.  Again and again, I found myself holding back from peeking ahead in order to avoid ruining the delicious tension in Martin’s storytelling, feeling instantly at home in her world and still strangely unnerved by that very hominess.  

After reading this book, you may never look at fog banks or small towns the same way again.

“His mouth moved without thought.  ‘It’s the door.  It’s opened.’”
Her head snapped toward him.  “What?  What did you say?”
“The do-“
He stopped speaking, unable to complete his thought.
“Peter?  What about the door?”
Kaylen’s voice washed over him, but he could not force his mind to answer her or even focus on her face the floated in front of him.
Her panicked sound did not rouse him from his state.  A vile odor filled his nostrils, one he couldn’t immediately place.  Rotting food, rotten eggs… decay. No, not decay.  Something much worse.  The smell of malevolence living inside the gray.

VERDICT:    FOUR Down-Home Demons out of FIVE

Creative Team: Angie Martin (author)
Publisher:  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Click here to purchase.

Tony Caballero, Fanbase Press Contributor



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