Monday, November 23, 2015

ARC Review: Stygian by Santino Hassell

From the blurb:
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 Caroway’s secrets into the light that Jeremy realizes belonging sometimes comes with a price.

Heather's rating:

This was my second book by Santino Hassell, and though I gave both books 3-ish stars, which for me is a good rating, I'm just not sure if he is the author for me.

If I could describe Stygian in a couple of words it would be "intense" and "angsty". Damn, his books are bleak. It is like one bad, terrible thing happening after another to these characters. In fact, the more you get to know the characters, the more depressed you get.

I'll talk about the positives first. Santino Hassell is really good at creating atmosphere. This book had the creepy, Southern Gothic vibe down pat, and I was pretty skeeved out while reading this book in the dark. The whole dilapidated mansion with closed off rooms and some hot-headed musicians going through emotional trauma... you know that can't lead anywhere good. And it doesn't. The author nailed the setting for this book, and made the perfect storm for some messed up stuff to happen.

And while this book was much too creepy for my tastes, I would have still rated it highly if I liked certain other aspects about it more than I did. My biggest issue with this book is the romance. Try as I might, I simply didn't buy the romance between Jeremy and Kennedy. I just didn't. I wanted to see them working together, but maybe it was the single POV, but I just never felt like I understood Kennedy or his attraction to Jeremy. The romance was a really big hindrance to my enjoyment of the book (which, let's face it, wouldn't be really enjoyment because I'm too wimpy for a book this dark). I wanted a bright spot, something to cheer for in the story, and I don't think the romance was it.

I did really enjoy the writing. I had trouble putting the book down, and even with an ending that felt almost like a cliffhanger (what happens to Quince??), and Jeremy practically asking to die with his TSTL actions, I have to say that I liked it. I think... *shivers*

**Copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review**

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