Thursday, January 19, 2017

ARC Review: Southern Gothic by Dale Wiley

Southern Gothic
Author: Dale Wiley
Publication: Vesuvian Books (January 24, 2017)

Description: Aspiring author Meredith Harper owns the hottest bookstore in Savannah.

Michael Black is her favorite writer—long thought dead—until he mysteriously approaches Meredith with a new manuscript, and a most unusual offer. Meredith can keep the manuscript to herself, or publish it under her own name.

Her decision results in a bestseller, but the novel contains a coded secret; one that will put her on trial for murder and in hiding from “the blood stalker,” proving too late that making a deal with the devil comes at a heavy price.

My Thoughts: This scary story is a novel within a novel. Meredith Harper has always wanted to be a writer like her hero Michael Black. She is divorced and has started a successful book store in Savannah. She has written a manuscript and sent it around to publishers but has had no offers to publish it.

Michael disappeared five years earlier under suspicion that he had killed his much younger girlfriend Quinn. Harassed by Quinn's father, he chooses to disappear. Meredith has started an online bulletin board to defend Michael.

One day she receives and email and some rather frightening phone calls that turn out to be from her home phone number. She brings her shop assistant home with her to check the place out. No one is there but a red ribbon - reminiscent of the book she wrote but could never find a publisher for - is hanging on a knob.

Soon Michael appears with her re-written novel which is told in alternate chapters in the first part of this story. Because he is in hiding, he offers to let her publish the book under her name. She accepts even though she knows it is wrong and begins an intense physical relationship with Michael.

The book becomes an instant best seller and Michael's behavior gets more and more strange. Personally, I think it was strange from the beginning. He stalked her, spied on her, make himself at home in her house when she wasn't there. When Meredith tries to break off with him, he threatens to expose her deception about the book.

Worse yet, the beginning of the newly rewritten book has clues that lead to Quinn's buried body. Meredith is accused of first degree murder but still refuses to tell what she knows about Michael for fear of being outed as a plagiarist and losing her new-found fame.

Things spiral deeper and deeper into the strange before the stunning conclusion. I thought this novel was intensely creepy. I thought Meredith made bad choice after bad choice in the story. Fans of scary stories will enjoy this one.

Favorite Quote:
They say that vertigo is not the fear of falling but the fear of jumping, and there was a minute when I was on that proverbial roof, almost ready to take the ride.
I got this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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