stygian-coverTitle and Author:  Stygian by Santino Hassell

Narrator:   Geoffrey Alan

Published by:  Dreamspinner Press

Format:  Audio

Genre:  paranormal, romance, horror

Order link: Audible

Reviewed by:  Alisa

What to expect:  A spooky Southern gothic that is perfect for a Halloween time read.

Jeremy has been isolated and adrift since the death of his brother. Most people just see him as the skinny emo kid who wears eyeliner and plays drums. No one gets him. Nobody tries. He thought the indie rock band Stygian would become his anchor, but—lost in their own problems—they’re far from the family he sought.

Still, hoping to get close to Kennedy, the band’s enigmatic guitarist, he follows Stygian to northern Louisiana for a summer retreat. They had planned to spend six weeks focusing on new music but things go awry as soon as they arrive at the long-deserted Caroway mansion. Tempers flare, sexual tension boils over into frustration, and Jeremy turns away from the band to find a friend in his eerily beautiful landlord Hunter Caroway.

Kennedy suspects there’s something off about the creepy mansion and its mysterious owners, but Jeremy thinks he’s finally found somewhere he fits. It isn’t until Kennedy forces the Caroway’s secrets into the light that Jeremy realizes belonging sometimes comes with a price. 

When I was a teenager I loved gothic romances. Loved them. I had to sneak them into my house (crazy religious family) and I would read them by the bag full. I haven’t read one in many a year but they still hold a special place in my heart. As a result I was really excited when I saw that this book was being released. Rocker boys and a gothic tale? Sign me up. The story starts with the four members of the band Stygian, Jeremy, Kennedy, Quince and Watts, arriving at a spooky old house they’ve rented for the summer. The band is having a hard time and they’ve decided they need some time away from real life to better connect and to get some new music done. They’re renting the house from a beautiful but odd brother/sister duo who live in a different house in the woods. Almost immediately things feel weird to Jeremy and he can’t shake the feeling that he’s being watched. The retreat quickly dissolves into fighting and paranoia. And just when things seem like they can’t get any worse…..they do.

The author did a great job creating the atmosphere in this story. There are all the things a gothic story should have. A creepy house, even more creepy woods, cold spots, seeing things move out of the corner of your eye, hidden passage ways, blood stains that won’t go away and of course, creatures of the night. There were quite a few scenes where I felt like I was right there with Jeremy feeling what he was feeling. There were a lot of good music references and a lot of rock & youth cultural references that show how smart this author writes.

I’m not going to say much more about the plot because no one wants their spooky story spoiled. There is a side love story between Jeremy and Kennedy which I enjoyed and some complicated relationship dynamics between all four of the band members which add to the overall plot. There was a little something at the end that made me wonder if there will be a follow up to this book. An unanswered question that was pretty big. (but is not a cliffhanger).

I had originally read this last year but wanted to try it on audio since I try to add in as many spooky stories as I can every October.  I had never listened to this narrator before so I had no idea what to expect.  I found that I liked him quite a lot.  I thought he did a great job on all of the voices.  I will definitely look for more work by him in the future.

Overall I really enjoyed this. It was a unique story and of course the timing of it coming out makes it a perfect Halloween read.

What you might not like:  I didn’t find it scary but I know a few people who did.  

What you’ll love:  This is a great blend of traditional gothic with a modern and update twist.

treeAlisa runs the audio review column, Alisa Listens, at Binge on Books. She loves getting stuff done while she reads which makes audio perfect for her!

You can connect with Alisa on Twitter: @bookgirl0702



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