Published by Stuart Keane on October 30, 2015
Genres: Crime, Crime/Serial Killer, Dark Fiction, Fiction, Horror, Psychological Horror, Suspense, Thriller
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When a violent home invasion shatters Dani's teenage existence, the attacker leaves her for dead, mutilating her face with a Chelsea grin - a brutal act of gang warfare. With a low chance of survival, and her life in ruins, Dani becomes a mere statistic, just another innocent victim of the escalating mob crime in London.
However, Dani survives.
Haunted by that traumatic night, and unable to escape her own personal hell, Dani dedicates her life to a new vendetta; violent, bloody revenge on each of those who did her wrong. With nothing to lose, and a new desire for bloodshed, the teenager will stop at nothing to avenge her family.
GRIN, by Stuart Keane, is the first novel in what is projected to be a three book series (with the novella, “Dani“, following up GRIN, before the release of the second novel). This book brought all kinds of emotions to the surface: happiness, sorrow, disbelief, anger, and an intense hatred.
After the initial scene, we are given a glimpse of the contented, happy lives of Dani, her much younger brother, Teddy, and parents, Dennis and Carla. The love Dani feels for Teddy and her parents is heartwarming–at first. Dennis is clearly a man very much in love with his family, the focus here being how proud he is of his seventeen year old daughter. Dani is a caring, considerate girl. She’s in college and yet sticks to her moral values-something fairly unique in this day and age.
“Men are a distraction. You have to go through a lot of shit before you find a diamond . . .”
Their idyllic world is brought crashing down the next night when a man breaks in and begins, with precision, to gun down each member of the family. Through the slaughter, Dani’s first thought is to get her little brother to safety. With the man blocking the door, their only escape is to go up.
“. . . Between a rock and a black-clad psychopath . . .”
This is merely the first few chapters. The fate in store for Dani is far worse–the killer gives her a Chelsea Grin, beats her, and leaves her for dead.
In the aftermath, a permanently disfigured Dani abandons depression, and focuses her mind on fury and hatred for the person responsible for shattering her world. When hidden secrets are revealed, her anger and resolve are further fueled.
“She’d evolved. Into what, she still wasn’t sure yet.”
This novel really showcases Stuart Keane’s ability to get inside his readers’ heads and completely capture their minds for a time. While reading GRIN, I found myself only able to think about Dani and her feelings. The real world ceased to exist as I threw myself fully into her new world. In her self-appointed mission to avenge her family, Dani is able to accept the changes in herself without pity, only a steel-willed resolution.
“. . . No, I’m something more lethal, . . . productive . . . “
The greed and corruption in this world are sublimely illustrated by Keane’s words. Dani is merely an unfortunate statistic, one casualty among the many others running rampant in her city. Due to the extreme nature of some of this subject matter, it was impossible to NOT get emotionally involved in this tale. Each and every scene seemed real, and the feelings I was overcome with for his characters took over completely.
“You’re no longer Dani–you’re something else . . . Grin . . . I am Grin . . . “
In Dani’s battle against one horrible organization, Keane reveals so much more sorrow and hurt all around her. This is what stayed with me longer after I finished reading his novel.
“There’s so much wrong with this dark world, so much depravity in society.”
When an author is able to pull you into the world they created–and keep your mind returning there AFTER the book has ended–you have a very gifted author, indeed.
Stuart Keane is such an author.