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THE STREET BETWEEN THE PINES

A SOUTHERN NEW ENGLAND HORROR

From the Southern New England Horror series , Vol. 1

A page-turning horror exploring (and adding to) New England folklore and myth.

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A Gulf War veteran struggles to keep his family together—and his sanity intact—when faced with multiple crises in Alo’s horror novel.

Curtis Reynolds is not a happy man. An overworked third-shift laborer who spends weeks, sometimes months, away from his wife and child, Reynolds is summoned home when a hurricane traveling up the East Coast is predicted to travel dangerously near his family’s Connecticut house, which is located on a river. He dreads returning to an estranged wife and a crumbling marriage, a child with special needs, a pile of bills, a flooded basement, and a house that’s in the process of being lost to eminent domain due to a mysterious project funded by the government. Suffering from past war trauma (“The surrounding men, including himself, lay speckled in shrapnel, surrounded by a smoldering blur of twisted metal”) as well as nightmares associated with a woman he killed while driving drunk years earlier, Reynolds is not prepared for what he discovers on his street, already being battered by the storm: brutally murdered neighbors, destroyed houses, roaming colonies of feral cats, and a nightmarish beast stuck in his basement that simply can’t be real. With his sanity possibly slipping, Reynolds investigates and finds revelations in an abandoned neighborhood across the river. There’s a lot to like here: Alo’s writing is focused and fluid, creating a fast-paced and action-packed narrative that never flags. His adept ability to intertwine multiple threads of tension—the raging storm, PTSD-induced hallucinations, nightmarish creatures, marital conflict, and secret government installations—keeps the intensity impressively high throughout, weaving a thick tapestry of terror. One quibble: The overuse of description in places sometimes slows the narrative momentum. Still, the jaw-dropping plot twists will keep readers on the edges of their seats.

A page-turning horror exploring (and adding to) New England folklore and myth.

Pub Date: March 24, 2023

ISBN: 9781088097984

Page Count: 386

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2024

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HORROR MOVIE

A fever dream about despair and regret that will stay with you long after the credits have rolled.

When an unreleased cult movie is rebooted, the surviving member of the original film’s crew grapples with psychic whiplash.

Even though it’s not steeped in horror lore like the bangers being cranked out by Stephen Graham Jones or Grady Hendrix, this captivating take is tailor-made for fans of Stephen King and Jordan Peele alike. A cautionary tale with elements of indie movie darlings The Blair Witch Project, Blue Velvet, and River’s Edge, this chronicle of hometown kids trying to make a cheap slasher flick is shockingly memorable and deeply disturbing. Our unnamed narrator is the last survivor of the eponymous movie, filmed in the summer of 1993. Their Horror Movie concerns teens who torture one of their own—the narrator’s role is that of the Thin Kid, akin to the Slender Man of urban legend—and suffer the consequences. In the mix are the film’s obsessive director, Valentina; a handful of cast and crew; and the film’s ethereal screenwriter, Cleo, whose presence is most fully felt within the pages of her unusually personal screenplay. After a bewildering tragedy, the film was never released. Decades later, Valentina uploads a few scenes, some stills, and the screenplay to the internet, inspiring the modern-day reinvention. With his crewmates long dead by mostly natural causes, the narrator reluctantly agrees to capitalize on his infamy, eventually agreeing to participate in a hot horror reboot. Revolving between the original production and the big-budget reimagining, Tremblay deftly sidesteps genre tropes and easy laughs for a truly disturbing experience inside some very troubled heads. “Don’t get me wrong, it’s going to be a great movie,” cautions our Thin Kid. “You’re all going to see it. Most of you are really going to like it.…Will the movie be something you take with you, that stays with you, burrows into and lives in a corner inside you? That, I don’t know.”

A fever dream about despair and regret that will stay with you long after the credits have rolled.

Pub Date: June 11, 2024

ISBN: 9780063070011

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2024

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LAYLA

A unique story of transcendent love.

An aimless young musician meets the girl of his dreams only to have his newfound happiness threatened by several inexplicable—and possibly supernatural—events.

The story opens as Leeds Gabriel meets with a detective while his girlfriend, Layla, is restrained in a room one flight above them. Through the interview, readers learn that Leeds was wasting both his time and his musical talent playing backup for a small-town wedding troupe called Garrett’s Band when he spied Layla dancing her heart out to their mediocre music at a wedding. When Leeds approaches Layla, their connection is both instant and intense. A blissful courtship follows, but then Leeds makes the mistake of posting a picture of himself with Layla on social media. A former girlfriend–turned-stalker wastes no time in finding and attacking Layla. Layla spends months recovering in a hospital, and it seems the girl Leeds fell for might be forever changed. Gone is her special spark, her quirkiness, and the connection that had entranced Leeds months before. In a last-ditch effort to save their relationship, he brings Layla back to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. When they get there, though, Leeds meets Willow, another guest, and finds himself drawn to her in spite of himself. As events unfold, it becomes clear that Willow will either be the key to saving Leeds’ relationship with Layla or the catalyst that finally extinguishes the last shreds of their epic romance. Told entirely from Leeds’ point of view, the author’s first foray into paranormal romance does not disappoint. Peppered with elements of mystery, psychological thriller, and contemporary romance, the novel explores questions about how quickly true love can develop, as well as the conflicts that can imperil even the strongest connections. Despite a limited cast of characters and very few setting changes, the narrative manages to remain both fast-paced and engaging. The conclusion leaves a few too many loose ends, but the chemistry between the characters and unexpected twists throughout make for a satisfying read.

A unique story of transcendent love.

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-0017-8

Page Count: 301

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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