Publisher: Ghostwriter Publications/Haunted Computer Books
Publish Date: March 10, 2010
Paperback, 328 pages
Why I read this: I have seen Scott Nicholson's books around for several years, starting with The Farm and kept meaning to read him, then I got away from the horror or supernatural thriller genre for awhile. Then I saw this one and some of his other books reviewed on a blog and saw they were relatively inexpensive for the Kindle and I had to have it. Since then I was contacted by Scott to participate in his blog tour (see the interview and giveaway post) and he sent me some of his other books as well.
How is the novel driven: This is kind of interesting to think about. I think about suspense or horror type books as being mainly plot or event driven and while there is quite a bit of that in this book, I really think the characters, or really the character of Julia Stone is what the book is all about.
My thoughts: After interviewing Scott I think he refers to his genre as supernatural thriller. I think I agree. I always thought of him as horror but after reading The Skull Ring, I see more of the thriller aspect than the horror aspect.
Sure this is a book I am glad I did not start on Friday night when I was actually home alone. This is one of those read during the day books or read while others are home at night. It's scary in that thriller way - where the bad guys are real and really bad.
The Skull Ring focuses on Julia Stone who has moved to a small town in the mountains of NC to work on healing. When she was 4-years-old her father disappeared and she believes she was part of a Satan-Worshiping ceremony. She is seeing a therapist, working at the local newspaper and trying to make sense of her life and move on so she can marry her fiance back in Memphis. However unlocking Julia's mind is scary and she is never sure what to believe.
I loved this book - Julia's character development pushed this book along at a speedy clip. The other people she meets are put into question at every turn and I had a hard time figuring out who was good and who was bad and what exactly was going on with Julia. And in this type of book that is a great thing. Scott Nicholson writes a tightly plotted book with wonderful plot and character development. It's sufficiently frightening as well. Who is the bad guy, is Satan at work in Julia, is there God to help Julia, is Dr. Forrest helping her or hurting her and is Walter a friend or foe? These are all things that swirl around as Julia learns about herself and her past.
I loved the small mountain town setting. I could picture it so well. And everyone knows I am a sucker for a book set in my home state. It was also the perfect setting for this type of book.
If you like thrillers with a supernatural element then this is definitely the book for you. Well-written, perfectly paced and just an all-around exciting read, The Skull Ring scores high on my must-read scale. And I am really glad I have several more books by Scott on my Kindle ready to read as well.
Just a Note: I had several comments on the interview post say they like suspense, but not the blood and gore of horror. I can't speak for Scott's other books, but there really isn't much blood and gore in this one, it's mainly the suspense-type blood, not the horror type.
My Rating: 4.75/5.0
About the Book:
Dr. Pamela Forrest is determined to bring Julia's memories to the surface, hoping to heal Julia's panic disorder. The therapist keeps returning Julia to a night twenty-three years ago when Julia was four. A night of hooded figures, strange chants, pain, and blood. The night her father disappeared from the face of the earth.
Julia rebuilds the past a piece at a time during the mind-wrenching therapy sessions. But the line between the past and the present begins to blur. Julia finds a silver skull ring that bears the name "Judas Stone." The same ring had been worn by one of the hooded figures who scarred her both mentally and physically on that long-ago night.
Someone is leaving strange messages inside her house, even though the door is locked. The religious handyman, who has a key, spends a lot of time in the woods behind her house. Her boyfriend Mitchell becomes distant and violent. And the cop who investigated her father's disappearance has followed her to the small Appalachian town of Elkwood.
Now she has a head full of memories, but she doesn't know which are real and which are the creations of Dr. Forrest. The shadows of Julia's panic are growing larger and darker. But succumbing to madness seems safer than heeding the whispers of the master who claims ownership of her body and soul.
About the Author:
Scott Nicholson is the author of seven novels, including THE RED CHURCH, DRUMMER BOY, and THEY HUNGER. He's written more than 60 short stories and has released the collections ASHES, FLOWERS, and THE FIRST, as well as the comic series DIRT and DREAMBOAT. A member of International Thriller Writers, he works as a journalist and freelance editor in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
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FTC Information: I purchased this book for my Kindle at Amazon.com. I have Amazon links on my review pages but I do not make any money from these because of NC laws. I put them solely for people to check out the books on a retail site.