Independent review: Deranged

Deranged coverLast July I announced a new novel called “Deranged: A Novel of Horror” by Lonni Lees, my wife. The book is her first novel. Her book has now received an independent review by Brendan Matley, editor of an online literary magazine called A Shot Of Ink in Britain.

Here is Brendan’s review:

When first sitting down and sinking my teeth into DERANGED I must admit that I was a little surprised. I was surprised at how good it is.

Now don’t get me wrong, Lonni Lees is a talented writer of short stories (check out her story ‘Desert Venus’ elsewhere on A Shot of Ink), but this was her first full length novel. As any writers out there will testify; creating a novel is a very different skill to writing a short. The plot has to be strong enough to interest the reader over a vastly longer word count, and the characters must be well developed and have suitable depth to carry the narrative. This is where Lonni Lees shines.

The plot involves a psycho named Charlie Blackhawk kidnaping a twelve year old Sabrina Stinson. Meanwhile, a girl named Amy is suffering terrible nightmares that possibly hold the key to saving Sabrina.

The book is beautifully plotted, with Lees leaving the actual kidnaping until relatively late in the story. This allows her to explore the characters and their various interactions with friends and family, leaving the reader with a true sense of caring about their fates. By the time the abduction happens the reader has gotten to know Sabrina quite well so you really feel for her and her family.

The protagonists in DERANGED read as real people as opposed to a cast whose sole purpose it is to forward the plot. I must also mention the secondary players, most notably; the Stinson’s friend Betty and Amy’s friend Freddy. Both of them ooze warmth and likeability tinged with a melancholy that is hard to describe without spoiling the plot. These peripheral characters fill the world nicely; adding extra layers to a relentlessly dark environment.

The story runs at a pitch-perfect pace with a special mention going to chapter fourteen which breathlessly switches between characters giving a wonderful sense of foreboding that only a great book can achieve.

The main players in DERANGED are very well written. Sabrina is a precocious little thing that you can’t help but love. Her grit and determination coupled with her obvious love for her mother make her a well rounded heroine.

Meg (Sabrina’s mother) and Charlie both share a history of sexual abuse, although both have grown into very different adults. Meg is still somewhat of a victim as an adult although she allows herself to commit sexual acts in order to further her career as an actress.

The star of the show, for this reviewer at least, is Charlie Blackhawk. He is a wonderfully creepy villain that exudes a sense of menace whenever he is on the page. Lees weaves his back-story throughout the novel and succeeds in making him both evil and slightly sympathetic; a very difficult trick to pull off.

DERANGED is a curious mix of both horror and crime fiction and fans of either genre will not be disappointed. It’s hard to believe that this is a debut novel as it is written with the confidence of a seasoned professional and reads as such.

A Shot of Ink heartily recommends DERANGED as a riveting read. It is available now from both Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Deranged is available from the publisher Wildside Press and from Amazon as a print book and as a Kindle ebook, or may be ordered through your favorite bookstore. It is also available from Barnes & Noble here.

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