Here are my reviews of two short stories written by Rhonda Hopkins, an avid reader and prolific reviewer as well as being a valued IASD member and contributor. Having already read and enjoyed ‘The Consuming’ I knew I was on safe ground taking advantage of the free download of ‘Survival’ (though it has now reverted to its original price. Having said that, both are free to read if you have Kindle Unlimited).
Amazon Description: Survival: Survival Series Prequel
When Sarah escapes from her brutal abductors, she promises to return to rescue her twin sister, but with the walking dead invading Fort Worth, TX, she is forced to rely on a competitive coworker who made her work life hell for years. With her coworker weakened by cancer treatments, her sister still imprisoned, and zombies looking for an easy meal, Sarah’s only plan, if she can pull it off, is Survival.
SURVIVAL is a 14,000 word (approx. 45 pages) short story and was originally published in the Let’s Scare Cancer to Death anthology.
I haven’t read all that much in the Zombie genre so I can’t say how this compares with similarly themed stories but it certainly sets off at a cracking pace with the fight for survival starting right from the opening sentence almost; it was a nice touch that the initial ‘survival’ efforts were quite unrelated to the Zombie apocalypse occurring. It’s probably premature to make comparisons but the opening scene could easily be one straight out of the hit tv series ‘The Walking Dead,’ though the cover does invite such comparisons, which given its current popularity, I’m not sure is such a good thing.
Although it would read quite well as a stand-alone story, I’m glad the author indicates there will be future instalments thus hopefully allowing the reader to explore the characters in greater depth. It’s impossible to tell what direction the story will take in the future but the story has been written in such a way as to leave open all manner of possibilities and a yearning to know the hows and whys of the current situation the characters have found themselves plunged into.
Amazon Description: The Consuming
Serena knows her late uncle wasn’t crazy. So when she inherits his sprawling Carolina mansion and leaves the big city to restore both his home and his name, she uncovers a mystery that could cost much more than her sanity. As the house slowly reveals its dark secrets, and the extent of her peril becomes evident, she’ll settle for escaping with her life—if it isn’t already too late.
A supposedly haunted dilapidated old house you’ve just inherited, the sudden death of an uncle you haven’t seen since childhood, rumours of madness, the locals refusing to go near the place, and a psychic best friend who warns you not to go near the place … It’s hard to say too much about a short story without giving too much away but here we have all the ingredients of a spooky little ghost story, the sort that would make for a great episode of Hammer’s House of Horror. I liked the author’s style of writing, hints of a modern Edgar Allen Poe but obviously more current and without overdoing the gothic atmosphere, striking just the right balance at the beginning between outward normality while feeling and knowing something’s not quite right. Sometimes a short story will leave too many unanswered questions but in one such as this, a bit of mystery left to the imagination just adds to its enjoyment.
Taking just under an hour to read, this is the perfect story if you like a little mystery and the supernatural in your reading but aren’t in the mood to take on the challenge of a full-length novel. Personally, I would have preferred this to be a little longer, perhaps with more involvement of the psychic friend but overall a fine short story that horror fans will appreciate.
“The Consuming by Rhonda Hopkins is the literary version of what films like Paranormal Activity tried to be. This has the bumps in the night flying off the page.” ~~ TW Brown, Author of the Dead, and the Zomblog series.
“The Consuming is a wonderful, chilling tale that leaves you listening too hard in the quiet of a dark night, and jumping at shadows in mirrors. Definitely looking forward to more from Ms. Hopkins.” ~~ Stacey Joy Netzel, USA Today Bestselling author of Beneath Still Waters and Lost in Italy.
“The Consuming by Rhonda Hopkins is the perfect example of gothic horror…” ~~ Jennette Marie Powell, Author of Hangar 18: Legacy and the Saturn Society series.
“…Rhonda Hopkins’ The Consuming had me turning on all the lights in the house and checking behind doors.” ~~ Stacy Green, Author of Into the Dark and Tin God (A Delta Crossroads Mystery).
“…This tale will give you shivers up your spine, make you take second glances in mirrors…Superb!” ~~ Penelope Anne Bartotto, The Library at the End of the Universe.
More about the author:
Award-winning romantic suspense and horror author, Rhonda Hopkins, has learned firsthand that truth is stranger than fiction. Her two decades of experience as an investigator for her state and family courts give her characters a depth and realism that gives truth a run for its money. In addition to stories published under her own name, Rhonda Hopkins has also contributed stories to a number of other multi-author anthologies. You can find out more about Rhonda at:
See also Rhonds Hopkins’ Amazon Author page for all the author’s books
This debut novel comes from fellow blogger, Jacqueline Smith (http://jackiesmith114.wordpress.com), with whom I’ve shared several interesting comments. As well as some excellent and very funny posts, you’ll also find some great photography there too. On another note, I’ve finally taken the trouble to start adding an actual book cover to my book reviews (can’t think why I never did this in the past), and have updated all my previous book reviews accordingly.
(Available in both print & via Amazon Kindle, and all other e-book formats)
The idea of being able to see and talk to ghosts is not a new one, but the way it manifests itself here most certainly is. This is a book that really hits the ground running. In the opening chapters the reader is introduced to the four main characters; Michael, who much to his own despair at times, can see and talk to ghosts, his two new neighbours, Kate and her brother Gavin, who both appear to be having problems of their own with the departed, and lastly, celebrity paranormal investigator, Luke, for whom ghosts are both his profession and a life-long interest. There are also a host other characters, namely the ghosts, one of whom is Michael’s friendly and often annoying flatmate.
The depth of characterization is as good as I’ve read in a very long time, and equally impressive is the crisp, sharp dialogue, the style of which reminds me very much of Hemmingway. Without giving too much away, there are some clever twists that effortlessly drive the story forward as Michael tries to use his largely unwanted ‘gift’ to help Kate and Gavin, as well as the slowly unfolding romance between Michael and Kate. Adding to the mix is the charismatic TV celebrity, Luke, with his expert knowledge of ghosts and the paranormal. But this is no simple story of some ‘medium’ trying to help a girl he ‘likes,’ to exorcise a few unwanted spirits; that Jacqueline Smith has skilfully provided all the hints and clues for all the twists and turns the take place, ensures that nothing ever feels contrived or laboured, instead leaving the reader thinking, ‘Ahh..I’d never have guessed that’, or, ‘wow, I never saw that coming,’ as all the pieces slowly fall into place to produce a truly thrilling and unexpected ending.
This is an ‘absolutely must read’ for all fans of the young adult and paranormal genres, as well as anyone who simply enjoys a great ghost story.