Publisher: Raw Dog Screaming Press
Publication Date: 24th June 2016
REVIEWED BY CHAD
One of the oldest pieces of advice I have gotten about my writing, is in regard to the infamous hook. You have to take hold of the reader and present something so compelling that they can’t help but carry on reading. Your opening pages should be memorable and the shorter the story, the less time you have to capture the reader’s attention.
And I’m not going to suggest that this isn’t important. Especially in the era of literature we find ourselves in. If anything, the prevalence of digital books easily bought and easily returned as well as other forms of entertainment make it that much harder for a book to stay engaging. There’s a lot more out there to compete with.
The point I’m taking this towards is that I think a lot of writers end up being way over the top in an effort to make their opening as bombastic as possible. It doesn’t feel like a part of a cohesive narrative as much as it feels like big flashing lights and pyrotechnics, employed to trick you into coming into the store. Sometimes you read the opening to a book and you can imagine that at some point, the author may have uttered the phrase, “Go big or go home” in reference to their plot.
But then, there are books that genuinely reach out from the pages and slap you in the face. And as you continue reading on through the narrative, you don’t feel like you were just hustled into reading a book because it keeps getting better and better.
This brings us to the outstanding offering from Kristin Dearborn. Stolen Away.
This book wastes no time immersing you fully into the narrative as the main character (Trisha) wakes one evening to discover her son has been taken from her by a dangerous stranger. And once this abduction happens, the narrative takes off and doesn’t let up. As a parent myself, anything having to do with kids is tough for me. Just the simple act of a child being taken, let alone actually walking in on the abduction in process.
And of course, there is more to this story than is initially clear. As it turns out, Trisha’s child may be different, with an absent father of a unique nature that has come calling to collect his son. The stakes of the story immediately go to the max and the adrenaline of the book doesn’t ease up until the last page.
I think this book is a perfect example of a story that incorporates elements of horror without really being a horror story. I would probably define this as a thriller story primarily that borrows various devices and mood from horror. And a simple reading of the description might leave you with the impression of a story that is overly simplistic. To be honest, when I read it, the description almost comes off as something more YA than dark adult fiction. This is not a book that pushes the envelope of taste and decency but there is definitely some content in there that should be considered before reading. Still, I feel like the book is balanced enough and that the more graphic content doesn’t detract from the overall story.
The primary characters are probably what I was drawn to the most here. The story was certainly scary but what really drove it was the people within the structure. This is a point I have made often in my reviews but I think it’s worth repeating. Anyone can create a character who is perfect, who can do no wrong and carries the book on the strength of their virtue. With Stolen Away, we are dealing with characters who are in various stages of trying to move on from their own poor decisions and behaviors.
In particular, addiction seems to be one issue that comes up frequently, presenting itself in several different forms for our characters. Again, I found that Dearborn dealt with these issues with compassion and understanding. This isn’t just tossing some hot-button topic into a story in a vain effort to make it seem controversial. The issues that the characters have with the booze and the drugs serves to make them authentic and sympathetic. It makes this a story that I feel compelled to read and I have to compliment Dearborn for taking a specific class of society that many would scoff at and place them at the center of this story.
Stolen Away is an exciting book that satisfies on pretty much every level. The ending didn’t necessarily knock me off my feet but I was still happy with it. From start to finish, this was a captivating book to read and it also managed to be just a little bit poignant and heartfelt, thanks to some phenomenal characters. If you are looking for a distracting read that will also challenge you a little in terms of your tolerance for graphic detail and emotional impact, check this out. It has pretty much everything I like to see in a book and I’m happy to recommend it to any readers out there.
If you would like to help support Confessions of a Reviewer, then please consider using the links below to buy Stolen Away or any other books from Kristin. This not only supports us but also lets us know how many people actually like to buy books after reading our reviews.
Trisha will admit she’s made a few mistakes in her life but that checkered past is behind her. She loves her kids, even if it’s tough being a single mom. But her loyalties are put to the test when her infant son disappears in the middle of the night, and his big sister says a monster took him.
Now Trisha has to face the full truth behind the one-night-stand that produced Brayden in all its scaly torridness—Brayden’s father wasn’t human and isn’t interested in sharing custody. However, even though DEMON has pulled this stunt many times before, he made a mistake when he chose Trisha. The one thing she won’t do is give up her son without a fight. Along with her ex-boyfriend, Joel, Trisha is dragged back into the seedy underworld in a desperate fight to reclaim her son, only this time she’s got a lot more to lose.
CONFESSIONS REVIEWS KRISTIN DEARBORN
If it screams, squelches, or bleeds, Kristin Dearborn has probably written about it. She revels in comments like “But you look so normal…how do you come up with that stuff?” A life-long New Englander, she aspires to the footsteps of the local masters, Messrs. King and Lovecraft. When not writing or rotting her brain with cheesy horror flicks (preferably creature features!) she can be found scaling rock cliffs, zipping around Vermont on a motorcycle, or gallivanting around the globe.
And for more about Kristin, visit her site or find her on social media: