Puzzle Box Horror

Puzzle Box Horror

Vendor Review

  1. 5 out of 5

    Grief addicts unite! This book should come with a free therapy session, or at the very least a box of tissues. What a heavy read. I could feel the sorrow and pain coming off the pages as I read, and after finishing it I was completely wrecked. The writing is excellent, tone and mood both handled with deft precision. The story begins with a consistently wistful/forlorn tone, before devolving into a mix of fearful desperation and calculated resolve. And all the while the grief (that's the keyword for this review) is palpable. It's in the power of the storytelling that from the very first unknowing sacrifice Chris makes you know exactly where this book is headed, but you also can't look away at the same time. I will say there's a dark ambiguity to the final act of the book, a wonderful building of dread, and a twist that left me cold fear I still can't shake. I loved the stripped down nature of the book, in that there are only a few characters and essentially two locations. I also liked the format of the plot, with its back and forth rotation between the place of Trey's death and and Chris's house. Every time Chris goes to the location of the accident you're anticipating with grim fascination what she's going to do, and every time she returns home you hold your breath to see if it worked. This is not a book of jump scares and over the top gore (although there are some very graphic scenes), but rather one of subtle horror and mounting dread. Overall this is an incredible novella, and one of my favorite reads of the year so far! It's certainly a different kind of horror, but I'm a big fan of stories that focus on the human emotions and relationships (think Haunting of Hill House or Hereditary). Go check it out!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Man, this book was a LOT of fun. It immediately sets us up with our two main characters and throws us into the action. I like how the story switches back and forth between the perspectives of Jack and Meg, giving us insight into their background and motivations. I definitely was rooting for Meg the whole time and, despite them both being serial killers, I felt more empathy for her character. Jack is also painted in broader strokes and not given the same character development, but I wasn't too bothered by for what this is. I love the whole killer vs killer premise, and when Meg and Jack finally meet you have no idea how the story is going to go. Sure they're attracted to one another, but they also want to kill each other. This makes for great underlying suspense as you never know when things are going to pop off. I also love the stripped down nature of the book, especially in the second half: two characters at odds in a confined setting using whatever objects are around them to survive. I think it allows for more creativity, dark comedy, and tension in the final act (which, without spoiling anything, is GREAT). There's plenty of violence, as to be expected, but there's also humorous moments I did not expect. I actually laughed out loud at the scene where Jack and Meg meet for the first time. I tried not to say "fun" too many times in this review, but that's my main take away. It's one of those stories that has some genre tropes but manages to elevate beyond with grim humor and shocking surprises. Based purely on feeling, and not actual plot details, it makes me think of cross between Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Green Room, or The Nice Guys and Don't Breath.

  3. 5 out of 5

    I had no idea what I was getting into with this story. The beginning seems fairly routine (couple suffers trauma, trying to move on but can’t, etc), and I was like okay...but then suddenly it hits a hard left out of nowhere and goes bonkers! I wish I could describe how much that surprised me, and how out of nowhere it was. I was completely hooked after that and it never let up. This novella is fantastic! It has many scenes and twists that I did not expect. Seriously so many crazy moments, but in the best way. It also hits multiple genres (gory horror, nightmarish fantasy, psychological thriller, etc). And the concept of the story is so neat! If you haven’t read this you need to check it out!

  4. 5 out of 5

    I don't think I will ever look at sour candy the same way again... This is a super fun and shocking ride. At just 74 pages I kept wondering if the story would have worked better cut down to short story length, but then I was like "why am I trying to find something wrong with this?". I loved every page as I was reading and I feel like it has the perfect pacing of events. Slightly slow build up in the first half, and then a flood of weird, unsettling terrors in the second half. It widens to a pretty epic scale by the end and on the whole is full of creepy cult horror shenanigans. I was truly enraptured as I read. I couldn't look away. I had to know what was going to happen next to Phil. The young boy is seriously creepy, and I was legitimately worried about what was going to happen. And speaking of, there are numerous twists and turns that I did not expect. In fact, it's the type of story that is best read with your expectations at the door. Just buckle in and enjoy the ride!