Review: This Fallen Prey by Kelley Armstrong

This Fallen Prey by Kelley Armstrong

Published by: Doubleday Canada

Publication Date: January 30, 2018

Genre: Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Contemporary

Page Count: 400

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase

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When Casey Duncan first arrived at Rockton, the off-the-grid, isolated community built as a haven for people running from their pasts, she had no idea what to expect. There are no cell phones, no internet, no mail, and no way of getting in or out without the town council’s approval. She certainly didn’t expect to become the town homicide detective. But, the very last thing she expected was for the council to drop a dangerous criminal into their midst without a plan to keep him imprisoned. And she never thought that she’d have to be responsible for him.

The longer Oliver Brady stays in town, the more people seem to die around him. When evidence begins piling up that someone inside Rockton is working as his accomplice, Casey races to figure out who exactly Brady is and what crimes he’s truly responsible for committing.


I have always enjoyed Kelley’s decisions to explore other genres. Thriller seems to suit her almost as much as fantasy. And now, she ups the ante in this already nerve-wracking series. She doesn’t stray away from the vile side of our humanity. She somehow perfectly shows you what we humans are capable of inflicting onto others. And this unremorseful and daring storyline is why she is my favourite author.

Spring arrives to Rockton, a secluded town in the Yukon where people come to hide. Casey, her lover and sheriff Eric, and the residents believe they can finally move past the horrific events that rocked this community. But this hidden and often bought-for town comes with a price. The Council, a governing body who decides who enters and stays in Rockton, drops off a sadist murderer for safe keeping. Even though this man swears he’s innocent, people start dying, and Casey and Eric must find out why and who may be helping him.

The town is built on a corrupt concept. People buy their way into this community. They are either running from someone who will kill them or trying to escape authorities. You’d think the Council vets out the serial murderers or rapists, but money is its determining factor. This time, it may harm, not support Rockton.

I somewhat missed the slower pace from the two previous books. That atmospheric tone creates a complex and thrilling environment to read. In This Fallen Prey though, Kelley never stops the fast-paced action, which sets this book apart from the last installments. Her writing grips ahold of you and frightens you. She demonstrates how people revert back to their primal form when society no longer exists, and laws do not apply to them.

This Fallen Prey is an unnerving and suspenseful read that keeps you fearing what is next for these characters. You are on this gripping ride as much as the Rockton residents are. While I enjoyed how Kelley weaves in the tension, she excels at making this sequel a character-driven treat. Casey will be one of my favourite characters. Even though her past still haunts her, she doesn’t let the darkness win. And the relationship with Eric, who is finally opening up, just makes the storyline sweeter.

The Rockton Thriller is one series you shouldn’t miss. With murder, trickery, and plot twists, This Fallen Prey will keep you on the edge of suspense. I’m eagerly awaiting to see what’s next.

Do you like thrillers? What is your favourite series? Let’s talk in the comment’s section!

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Review: A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong

31338270A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong

Published by: Random House Canada

Publication Date: February 7, 2017

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense

Extent: 464 pages

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase


People disappear to Rockton so no-one can find them. But the trouble is people also disappear from Rockton. New York Times and Globe and Mail bestselling author and master of thrills Kelley Armstrong returns to Rockton for more page-turning suspense, following her #1 national bestseller, City of the Lost.

It’s winter in Rockton, a little town hidden deep in the wilds of the Yukon. The town exists for people who need to escape their pasts, though it’s not clear if those in hiding are victims or perpetrators. Or, when the lines gets blurred, maybe both. Ask Casey. She’s been used, betrayed, beaten. But she’s also killed someone. She moved to Rockton to help her best friend, Diana. Ex-best friend. Diana lied to get Casey to come with her; she used her and she almost got her killed. But Casey decided to stay anyway, to work as a detective alongside her new boyfriend and the town’s sheriff, Eric Dalton. Fresh off solving a series of grisly murders, Casey and Deputy Will Anders get stranded in a blizzard while they’re tracking a runner from the town. Seeking shelter in a cave, they stumble across a woman who’s been imprisoned in a deep well. Nicole Chavez–whom everybody thought had run away from town and died in the woods more than a year earlier–is alive. Barely. But she can’t identify her captor: she’s never seen his face.


Valentine’s Day seems like an appropriate time to post a review about a dark thriller. 😅

 

“I’ll die in this wasteland, buried under ice and snow.”

Welcome back to Rockton, a hidden town for people who need to escape their lives, whether or not they deserve that protection.

Four months have past, and, while tracking a resident who wants nothing more than to leave Rockton, Casey Butler, formerly Duncan, uncovers a woman trapped in a cave when she and Will Anders, Rockton’s deputy, seek shelter from a blizzard. What they unearth is far worse than a lost woman. She, Nicole, has been tortured and raped for fifteen months. The town’s people believed she died. Worst yet, Casey wonders if the captor is a Rockton resident. But how can she figure out who he is when some residents themselves are more than they claim to be?

This new instalment contains dark elements, like torture, rape, and murder. While City of the Lost also includes them, Kelley brings them to the forefront. She thrives in this setting. Yes, she’s a fantastic fantasy writer, but I see a hidden gem in her thriller series. I enjoyed this story. Each chapter layers on each other and builds up for an enthralling novel. But pay attention to each detail. I had to. I had my suspicions on who took Nicole, but Kelley surprised me with the level of detail in this story.

In City of the Lost, Kelley hints at probable corruption in Rockton. The town is flawed. Criminals buy sanctuary there. They’re vetted, but some slip through the cracks. Unfortunately the council creates more than just glaring loopholes; it opens up a dangerous environment for all residents. The problem with this scenario is that the Casey cannot determine if people are what say they are. And she, Will, and Eric, Casey’s boyfriend and town sheriff, try to protect their people when they’re often shackled by their environment. Basic forensics and policing are all they have.

Kelley throws a light on the council itself. You don’t see a lot of it in first novel. But the people involved in it are shady. Casey and Eric question if they can fully trust them or not. I hope to see more of these people in future books.

Kelley constructs a platform for each character to shine. Her writing pulls it off flawlessly. They’re the backbone of the book. She moulds the sequel into a character-driven treat for any reader. She also introduces intriguing new characters into the mix. But she also allows for her main characters to mature.

Casey has built her life in solitude. She finds no need to forge relationships with anyone. Having been gang raped, almost killed, and lied to by the only person she trusts, she believes living alone is safe. But in A Darkness Absolute, she gets the chance to plan for her future with Eric. She finally discovers what hope feels like. Will shows her that while darkness inhabits her, light still exists. Both characters redeem themselves in this secluded town and continue to do so every day. Redemption is a power drug.

I was rooting for her former lover in City of the Lost. But Eric and Casey grow into a strong couple. Hell, they’re bloody adorable. They offer a safe haven for each other. Eric hides his past because he doesn’t know how to confront it. Casey has run from hers since she killed her ex. But getting more backstory from the both of them is what makes me want to pick the book up again. They give each other balance in an already turbulent world. You get the opportunity to see them accept their past, or at least, learn to live with it.

Kelley offers you glimpses of humanity’s dark side, a place where you’d never want to venture. But she also shows you how people look for their redemption, how they struggle with their inner darkness, and how they ultimately fight back. She captures you from the first chapter and demands that you see the world in a new light. I can’t wait to head back to Rockton.

 

What do you look for in a thriller? Are you hesitant to pick up a thriller book if it contains dark elements? Let’s talk!

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Book Haul: January and February 2017

I’ve been waiting forever to buy these books. Ah! Okay, clearly I didn’t have a huge haul for these two months, but I’m giddy to see them in the mail.

January

27883214Caraval by Stephanie Garber

I’ve read a lot of raving reviews for this book. And each one just solidifies my need to buy Caraval. The story has intrigued me from the first day I heard about it. It is my first carnival-themed novel, so I wasn’t sure if I’d like. I was wrong. I love it. Caraval is one of my favourite books for 2017!

I’m tempted to buy a UK edition, too. The book designs are simply beautiful!

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February

91519King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard

Queen Victoria, you bless us with another enthralling story….And now I sound obsessed. Great.

I can’t wait for this book! I’ve been waiting for a good year or more. And while I saw the betrayal coming, Victoria’s debut novel just sparked something in me.

Victoria is an outspoken author, but that trait draws me to her books. And I hope that her views will translate into some interesting stories!

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24763621Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

I can’t get over that Sarah, aka JJ, expands on the Goblin King universe! And I’ve been drooling over this cover for months. I have huge hopes for Wintersong. And I love how she incorporates German folklore. She also draws a lot of inspiration from Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, which is one of my most beloved movies. It contains layers and undertones in each shot, so I expect nothing less for Sarah’s debut novel.

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31338270A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong

Not too long ago, I finished reading City of the Lost, but I can’t even enough of it. Kelley weaves in these dark and twisted arcs that just hook you from the very start. This series is a departure from her fantasy realm, but she has touched on mystery, thriller, and crime in her other series, though. So I have a feeling this book will ignite a new love. City of the Lost is definitely one of favourites!

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Review: City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong

26869354.jpegCity of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong

Published by: Random House Canada

Publication Date: January 2, 2016

Genre: Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Adult, Contemporary

Extent: 480 pages

Rating: 5/5

Source: Purchase


Casey Duncan once killed a man and got away with it. But that’s not why she’s on the run. Her best friend’s ex has found Diana again, despite all Casey has done to protect her. And Diana has decided the only way she’ll ever be safe is if she finds the mythical town she’s heard of where people like her can go to hide. Turns out the town really exists, and will take Diana, but only if Casey, a talented young police detective, comes too.

Imagine a hidden town, isolated in the Yukon wilderness, where everyone is pretending to be someone they’re not. Even good people can get up to some very bad stuff. The laconic town sheriff dispenses his own frontier justice, but he’s more accustomed to sobering up drunks in the horse trough, than attempting to solve the series of brutal murders that has rocked the town. As much as he hates it, he needs Casey. As for Casey, coming to the far North may have started out as a sacrifice she was willing to make for her best friend. But maybe, just maybe, she needs Rockton as much as the town needs her.


Kelley has ventured in the suspense, thriller, and mystery genres before, so I had a general idea of where she might go in City of the Lost. I was wrong. So wonderfully wrong. The first book in the new Rockton Thriller series strikes down any preconceived suspicions. It contains touches of her Nadia Stafford series, one which I enjoyed greatly.

After surviving a horrific attack, Casey Duncan, a detective, discovers her tumultuous past comes back seeking revenge. But she is not the only person facing former conflicts. Diana, a high school friend, desperately searches for a way to escape her abusive husband. When Diana proposes an idea for them to find a hidden town where people escape their lives, Casey agrees to disappear from society. The catch? She must destroy any record of their lives, cut ties with all loved ones, and find a possible serial killer among the town’s people within six months, when her time runs out.

Rockton, in the Yukon territory, morphs into a character of its own. It’s rough and brash yet quiet and watchful. One aspect I love about City of the Lost is how Kelley slowly and deliberately reveals this character. She builds off each layer. And, similar to Stonehaven in Women of the Otherworld series, I can’t help but fall in love with it. Kelley fleshes out the natural atmosphere of Rockton perfectly, showcasing the beauty of Canada’s rugged landscape. This psychological thriller shows the brutality of our society and the North. Animals will act out of fear or survival. Humans, on the other hand, act on savagery, hunger, drive, and desire. She encapsulates the difference between the two beasts in such an effortless way.

The characters, including the town, make the story. Each one opens up a new history and a new threat. People aren’t afraid to kill, and they certainly aren’t afraid to show their true side. Some may have run from abusive lovers, drug lords, or possible convictions. They aren’t the heroes. They may have even created the horrors we fear. However, each characters’ vulnerabilities break down the door to salvation and possible self-forgiveness.

One character who stands out is Casey. I identify with her. She’s driven, determined, yet separated from people. And with good reason. Throughout the book, she tries to come to terms with murdering her boyfriend, Blaine twelve years ago. While on a date with him, local gang members accuse him of trespassing on their territory. And while he says he’s the grandson of a Montreal mobster, he abandons Casey. Her action conflicts with her career path, though, and also forces her to build a wall between her and others. Her possible rape and her physical assault prevent her from doing so. And I relate to that decision. While there are many resources women and men have access to after sexual assault, sometimes they simply cannot move on. I instantly connect with Casey, who is, by far, my favourite character in the series.

Eric Dalton, Rockton’s sheriff, dedicates his life to protecting the town and its residents. His history fascinates me. The way he rules his town will surprise and may even anger you. But wait until you see why. Rockton isn’t in an urban environment. Controlling these residents requires Dalton to inflict police brutality at times. But he must stay harsh in this dangerous town.

I first gave this book a 4.5 rating, but I see nothing wrong with it, nothing to improve. Kelley creates a solid, refreshing, and invigorating psychological thriller that will resonate with many readers. It’ll take you on a intriguing journey highlighting the human condition. I warn you now: you might know who the serial killer is at certain stages of the book, but finding out who commits these crimes may stump you. Kelley tricked even me, and I’ve been reading her books since I was twelve. The character arcs move beyond that discovery, and they add more richness to the story. So I’ve bumped it up to a 5. 😉

Have you heard of these towns where people can escape? What would you do if you lived in one? Tell me in the comments.

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Book Haul: December 2016

This month’s haul certainly isn’t big. But I’ve been dying to get my hands on these books. I’m not sure if I should have, since I’ve bought seventeen for Christmas. Did I say seventeen? Yes. And I still can’t fathom the number.

I hope these are great!

 

City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong 26869354

Danya @ Fine Print (again!) got me into this series. I was a little hesitant with it, though. And at the time of buying, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But Kelley has travelled down this suspenseful road before with her Nadia Stafford series. I love that she’s set City of the Lost in Canada. Many of her stories take place in the States. But when she weaves in a little Canadiana, I feel right at home. I’m almost done the book, and I definitely love it!

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Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake 28374007.jpeg

I look forward to the sister dynamic in Three Dark Crowns. I’m also curious to see how the author plays off that and how it’ll affect each character. And I also love the fantasy part. How does the sisters’ ability change or hinder them?

I took a peek in the book, and I love the design! This book looks gorgeous. 😍

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0062421379Divergent Series Box Set by Veronica Roth

Thank you, Indigo Teen! I won this series through its giveaway. Yes, I haven’t read any of Roth’s work, since someone online decided to ruin the last book, but I’ve been hoping to tackle the series, though.

I’m starting to appreciate box sets more since I don’t have to wait until the next instalment. I hope this series is good!

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Wrap-up: December 2016

December 2016 Wrap Up.jpg

December was a quiet month. However, reading threw me for an emotional roller coaster. Aall I want to do is grab some Kleenex, curl up, and ball until I have nothing left inside, then repeat the process. THANK YOU, LEIGH. I love you and your books, but you’ll be the death of me.

 

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE THIS SERIES. My demon king is back and is hungry for more revenge. The gang has just lost its reward for breaking out a prisoner from the Ice Court. But how can Kaz outsmart the man who duped him? Dirtyhands with his scheming face always finds a way.

The ships! The ships have sailed, and I simply melted inside. 😍 How can I contain my squees? I can’t. Kaz killed it in this duology! And I can’t help but fall in love with Nina and Matthias. That ending destroyed me. I was a mess who couldn’t control her emotions. Why do you do this to me, Leigh? Why.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong

I’ve just started reading City of the Lost, but I love it already. For a long time, I’ve been waiting for a great Canadian thriller. And naturally, Kelley writes it. She builds off every scene, and the next chapter is just creating more suspense. Kelley’s newest thriller will definitely be one of my favourites of the year.

Wrap-Up: July 2016

roundup

In July, I found some memorable reads and some fantastic ones. I’m only eight books away from my Goodreads Reading Challenge! Woo!

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

A thought-provoking WWII story that explores the heart-breaking journey of two sisters who survive in occupied France. I haven’t cried so hard when I finished this book.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

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An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

A heart-pounding and character-driven fantasy that is sure to captivate any reader. Sabaa has a rare and upcoming talent that I hope will enchant me even more. I simply adore her debut novel. Her characters are one the best I’ve seen in years. I can live in her book for weeks!

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

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The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong

I can’t ask more from Kelley. She sure knows how to write a suspenseful and action-packed thriller. I love how Kelley brings out the psychologist in her. Her ability to address mental illness is superb.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐

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The Unquiet Past by Kelley Armstrong

A great Canadian read from my favourite author. This novel has a sprinkle of mystery, suspense, and supernatural. I love the banter between the two main characters.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐

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Betrayals by Kelley Armstrong

A heart-wrenching fantasy that will not let you go! Kelley excels in her fantasy worlds. She is a master in her craft. I’m in love with this Cainsville series. I was not expecting this ending. Wow, I’m blown away. I can’t wait until Rituals is out!

Kelley’s fourth book in the Cainsville series will be out on August 9. You can also find the first five chapters here.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ (4.5 actually)

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Mini Review: The Masked Truth and The Unquiet Past by Kelley Armstrong

IMG_0250

24733600The Unquiet Past by Kelley Armstrong

Published by: Orca Book Publishers

Publication Date: October 13, 2015

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Contemporary, Thriller

Extent: 352 pages

Rating: 3/5


Riley Vasquez is haunted by the brutal murder of the couple she was babysitting for. Max Cross is suffering under the shadow of a life-altering diagnosis he doesn’t dare reveal. The last thing either of them wants is to spend a weekend away at a therapy camp alongside five other teens with “issues.” But that’s exactly where they are when three masked men burst in to take the group hostage. The building has no windows. The exits are sealed shut. Their phones are gone. And their captors are on a killing spree. Riley and Max know that if they can’t get out, they’ll be next—but they’re about to discover that even escape doesn’t equal freedom.


Therapy camp, murder, and teen mental illness? Sign me up! Surprisingly, I enjoyed reading this novel. I had no high expectations, but I savoured the easy read and fast-paced action in The Masked Truth. It does take a foreign path I’m not accustomed to with Kelley, so I wasn’t expecting to be hooked so quickly.

With The Masked Truth, you get to see Kelley’s other side. She studied for a degree in psychology before she became an author, and her experience shows through in her writing. How Kelley addresses mental illness––especially schizophrenia and PTSD––in youth is what sparked my interest.

This book reminds me of Kelley’s Darkest Powers and Darkness Rising series, but without the fantasy. Riley is a relatable teen who witnesses a brutal crime that causes her to attend this deadly therapy retreat, and Max is a teenage boy who simply cannot accept his diagnosis (I know I couldn’t, especially with my family connection to his illness). Both work great as a team, and I enjoyed both POVs.

Two negatives are Max’s obsession to continuously make out and his tendency to wander. I get why he’s intrigued by Riley, but I believe your life has a higher priority than kissing her, even if she is cute. And now I sound old. Great. Anyways, Kelley took a chance with this standalone book, and while there were some rough edges, The Masked Truth is a fun read.

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003188_1163d3ae7b517100f7d7003e0c15cb18The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong

Published by: Doubleday Canada

Publication Date: September 29, 2015

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Supernatural, Mystery

Extent: 264 pages

Rating: 3/5


Tess has always been tormented by waking visions that make her question her sanity. When the orphanage she lives in burns down, she decides to face her fears and find out once and for all what is wrong with her. She believes the truth must lie with her parents, and so, armed with only an address and phone number, Tess travels to a crumbling mansion in rural Quebec, where she discovers evidence of mistreatment of mental patients. She also makes an unlikely ally and gradually unearths her family’s sad history—and finally accepts the truth about her paranormal powers.


When Kelley brings Canadiana to her work, especially setting her book in Canada, I am eager to get my hands on it. I don’t always see Canadian settings. Don’t get me wrong; I love other countries, but when I know which city or town authors write about, I’m thrilled to immerse myself in their work.

This book is a part of the Secrets series from Orca Book Publishers. I’m not intrigued by all the books in Secrets, but I’m interested in a few: Stones on a Grave by Kathy Kacer, My Life before Me by Norah McClintock, and Innocent by Eric Walters.

This book also deals with mental illness but is sprinkled with some suspense and supernatural undertones. At first, Tess annoyed me a little, especially when she doesn’t listen to her instincts. But I grew to like her, though. I enjoyed her character’s growth and the banter she has with Jackson. Both have an interesting bond. But I felt that the ending was rushed. The Unquiet Past is a quick and compelling read. I wish Kelley fleshed out the ending, though. The rating would be different. Overall, it was a nice read.

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