The Horror Honeys: The Hardcover Honey's Haunted Book Club ~ The Damned

The Hardcover Honey's Haunted Book Club ~ The Damned

A Hardcover Honey Book of the Week Review by Jocelyn 

The Damned – Andrew Pyper 

There are lots of advantages to being your Hardcover Honey, not the least of which is FREE BOOKS! If you had told me as a kid that I would get free books in the mail, I would have spun around with glee – and sometimes I still feel like doing that when the mailman rings my doorbell (not a euphemism!). This one came courtesy of a Canadian outlet to promote a recent horror author book tour which included another of my favorite authors, Nick Cutter.

This week brought Andrew Pyper’s terrific new book The Damned to my doorstep and it was a quick and intense read. I enjoyed the other Andrew Pyper book I read The Killing Circle and this one was even better.  I love it when that happens.

The Damned has a nice small cast of characters – unlike the chick lit book I also just finished.  It focuses on Danny Orchard, a keep-to-himself type who lost his twin sister Ashleigh (ugh that spelling) in a fire on their sixteenth birthday. He almost perished himself, but didn’t, and a few years after the tragic fire, he wrote a bestselling memoir about the experience and his view of the afterlife – sort of a “Heaven is for Real” thing talking about how his afterlife was re-living a treasured day forever. His story has a bit of a twist that makes it catch on with the public and brings him speaking engagements – when Danny awakened in the hospital, he was wearing his mother’s favorite watch, a watch she had in fact been buried wearing several years prior. It defies explanation – and nothing captures the public’s attention more than something that defies explanation, right?

Danny has a secret though – his sister Ashleigh, far from being the perfect golden girl everybody assumes her to be, is actually a twisted sociopath who holds their entire family hostage basically from birth onwards. Her craziness includes stabbing a family pet through the eye with an icicle after seeing a killer get away with it on Law & Order. Yes, you read that right. Sorry to our Revenge Honey Linnie who can’t stand any kind of animal violence!! She bullies her friends, dangles boys like playthings, and doesn’t want Danny talking to anybody but her, although she doesn’t seem to especially like him much.

And Ashleigh is back – in fact, almost immediately after her death, she begins appearing to Danny in a variety of unpleasant ways. Danny remains isolated and pretty much friendless throughout his adulthood, just the way Ashleigh likes it, and when he finally does meet someone he wants to be with, the adorable single mom Willa and her straight-out-of-central-casting son Eddie, Ashleigh ups the ante by doing fun stuff like making Willa drive herself into a river. Eventually Danny goes on a self-directed trip, searching for Ashleigh’s killer in the hopes that she will eventually leave him alone.

The early part of the book worked best for me – the idea of an entire family cowering beneath the iron fist of a sort of Jessica Wakefield gone super-evil. And while some of the afterlife dénouement was less effective, I loved the fluid notion of life and death and the open ending. Definitely recommending this to any reader of the scary stuff as it kept me turning the pages well into the night!

Hardcover Honey verdict – 4 out of 5 psycho teenage girls for this fun read!