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 Caroways' secrets into the light that Jeremy realizes belonging sometimes comes with a price.
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I received a free copy of this audiobook to listen to and review for Wicked Reads.
I’m not entirely sure how to review Stygian. Having read the book’s description on the publisher’s website and knowing that it’s listed as a vampire novel, I still had a hard time wrapping my head around the vampires. Yes, I have read enough vampire romances to know that it’s the authors’ twists on the legend that can make or break a book and that there are a myriad of ways an author can make their vampires different. Yet I still had difficulty with Stygian, and as I write this review, trying to parse it out for myself, I think it’s because Hassell has pulled off an astounding feat of misdirection. Bear with me while I ramble.
Almost every vampire romance I’ve ever read involves the main character falling for the vampire – truth be told, I’d be hard pressed to name one that didn’t. As the story plays out and Jeremy spends more and more time with Hunter (even if we don’t see it actually occur), it would appear that Hassell is taking the reader in that direction, that Jeremy and Hunter will be a couple. That is, when the author isn’t distracting the reader with the ongoing strife between the band members. Misdirection. Even when the band members aren’t making any progress on their music, there is an abundance of personal drama between them. More misdirection. When Kennedy steps in and draws Jeremy’s attention away from Hunter, and then Hunter later convinces Jeremy that Kennedy’s sudden surge of attention is because Kennedy feels threatened by Hunter being the focus of Jeremy’s attention, we begin to see how Hunter is attempting to manipulate Jeremy. Even more misdirection. On top of that, we have secrets among the band members, secrets that affect Jeremy directly, as well as seemingly unstable personalities, especially Watts, who can be downright nasty at times, making them hard to like. Yet. Even. More. Misdirection.
But what is the reader being misdirected from? In short, everything. It’s almost ingenious how Hassell uses the various elements of the story to distract the reader from what they know from the blurb and then what is actually going on, which left me grasping at threads as the topics shifted, almost seamlessly. The events speed up and slow down to keep the reader off balance, and because the characters are off balance themselves. Just as Jeremy seems to be grasping at what’s occurring around him, something happens to distract him from the truth that is edging his consciousness, keeping him off balance. Even when the scenes play out to reveal what I knew from the blurb, I was still unsure of its truth because Hassell did such a good job of shoring up doubt, denial, and the need to come up with a more rational explanation. I should note that I felt as though the book ended rather abruptly, but that’s probably because I was caught up in the story and wasn’t yet prepared to breathe easily. With that said, Geoffrey Alan’s narration probably contributed to that as well because he kept me glued to my Kindle, immersing me in Jeremy’s emotions – fear, anxiety, loss, and love – and leaving me hanging on his every word, waiting to see how the story would play out. In short, I was utterly captivated by Stygian.
I received a free copy of this book to read and review for Wicked Reads.
I have to say that this book really was hard for me to get into at first. There were so many people and so much that was going on that it really did take me a bit to get into it. However, it was still good enough that even though I was confused with all the characters and the setting, I didn't want to put it down. The further into the story that I got, the more I didn't want to put it down.
I really enjoyed the way the author yanks the reader's emotions around and gets us so involved in the story. I really hope we get more stories like this from Santino Hassell. I enjoyed his Five Boroughs series, I liked this one just as much if not more.
I did get the opportunity to review the audiobook version of this book as well and I sadly have to say that I really didn't feel like the narrator did a great job. While he didn't do terrible, I really felt like he read entirely too fast and that may have contributed some of my confusion in the beginning.