I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.by Jeff Gunhus
Published by Seven Guns Press on November 10, 2015
Genres: Dark Fiction, Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Psychological Horror
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Suffering from writer’s block, novelist Rachel Ames escapes to a lake cabin to calm her mind and regain a sense of herself. The location is perfect. Isolated. Beautiful. Inspiring. It even comes with a good-looking landlord who shows an interest in her. But she can’t shake the sense that something terrible has followed her to the lake, something just beyond her consciousness, something out on the edge where the sounds of a raging fire and sirens linger whenever she slows down to listen. Determined to make the cabin work, she tries to settle in and give her new life a chance. But when strange things begin to happen around her and she wonders if she’s made a terrible mistake. As the darkness that’s followed her manifests itself in inexplicable ways, her concept of reality is stretched thin and she realizes nothing at the lake is what it seems. As she fights to survive with her sanity intact, she understands too late that the location she’s chosen for herself is far from perfect.
In THE TORMENT OF RACHEL AMES, you get the feeling that something is very wrong right from the first page. However, the beauty of it lies in the fact that we have to take the entire journey with Rachel before we can discover just “how” wrong things are.
We begin with Rachel Ames, a struggling writer, on her way to a secluded cottage–clearly battling some inner demons of her own. On her first night there, she meets a cantankerous old man, Granger, with a cottage across the lake from hers. His parting words to her that day are quite haunting, as they are echoed in reference to other subjects–from other people–nearly verbatim during her stay.
“Just one word of warning about the cabin, . . . When it tries to tell you something, just be careful. It won’t always be the truth.”
Another strange man Rachel encounters is in the woods–Ollie. He leaves her with some cryptic words of advice that, again, come back to haunt her from other sources.
“It’s just not how things work around here.”
Throughout this tale, we really get a feel for Rachel, and the mental torment she’s going through. Although never addressed in specifics, the visions, thoughts, and nightmares that haunt her days permeate into every aspect of her life. While some details I figured out for myself much earlier than I would have liked, there was still so much more that I couldn’t yet explain.
As far as Rachel’s character goes, author Jeff Gunhus does a fabulous job with her characterization. Her confusion, hallucinations, and half-remembered memories make her a most interesting, unforgettable personality. In fact, I was so “into” her mindset, that I read the last 85% through in a single sitting. I simply HAD to know the facts I was missing, as I was that invested in her story.
I was quite pleased with the turn the story took at the end. While in fact I had deduced much, there were still some details that had remained elusive up until the final page.
A great psychological study of a woman’s inner agony, cleverly layered between bits of fact and fabrication. I’m looking forward to reading more from this author in the future.