Invitation to Death by Bryan Smith

Once upon a time they were the cool kids. The most popular by far in the class of 1999. Then in senior year something terrible happened, a tragedy brought about by their shameful behavior one drunken night. A solemn vow was made to never speak of it and never see each other again after graduation. Now, decades later, they’ve received invitations to an exclusive Christmas Day event at remote Raven’s Reach manor. The lure? A shot at winning a million dollars. Once they’re together again, bad things start happening. Is this the past finally catching up to them or something far more sinister?

The IndieMuse Review

Agatha Christie meets Ready or Not

Prolific horror and crime author Bryan Smith has delivered an uncharacteristically festive murder mystery tale, with all the debauched mayhem we’ve come to expect from the author of Depraved and The Killing Kind.

A mysterious invitation to the remote but luxurious Raven’s Reach Manor for an exclusive Christmas Day event promises the opportunity to walk away with a prize of one million dollars. What they will need to do to win the prize, nobody is sure, but it is too big an opportunity to pass up.

As a down and out former millionaire, a wealthy socialite, a drunk recluse, a middle-class family, and a pair of serial-killing sisters all attend the mysterious gathering, they soon realize they share a link to a tragic event from their pasts, and that the real prize may be escaping the Manor with their lives.

Invitation to Death is Bryan Smith’s own unique take on an Agatha Christie style murder mystery, complete with all the usual cliches of the genre (isolated location, mysterious death when the lights go out, everyone a suspect). It is a lot of fun to read a story in a typically fairly ‘safe’ and ‘cozy’ genre, written by one of horror’s most notorious splatter-punks. You can’t help but feel, had Poirot made an appearance in this book, he would have been one of the first to be violently done away within the bloodiest manner possible.

Fans of Bryan Smith know to expect two things from any book he writes; memorable characters and wildly unpredictable plots, and both of these things are front and center with Invitation to Death. Each of the ‘guests’ gets an introductory paragraph early on and every one is distinct and given their own rich backstory and reason for accepting the invitation. The set up is fantastic and the build-up is slow, setting up more questions than it answers until a suitably over the top and manic finale.

There is a fun red herring plot device that is equal part clever and amusing and twists galore to keep you engaged. I confess that this was one of those books where I was still reading in the early hours of the morning, unable to find a suitable jumping-off point. Each chapter ends with increasingly electrifying cliff-hangers so that it’s nigh on impossible to stop once you’ve picked the book up.

While the setup is intriguing, and the build-up is suitably tense, when things get dialled up to eleven the story can feel a little rushed at times. It would have been fun to spend a little more time with some of the characters once their true colors were revealed and I felt some of the characters were dispatched far too easily. These are minor quibbles though, that don’t really distract from the overall enjoyment.

Unpredictable and unputdownable, with lashings of the inventive and over the top violence you have come to expect from Bryan Smith. This is not your grandparents’ murder mystery story!

RICHARD MARTIN

Richard started reading horror books at a young age, starting with R L Stine’s ‘Goosebumps’ and ‘Point Horror’ series. He traumatised himself at the age of twelve when he read Stephen King’s ‘IT’, and never looked back. He is currently based in the UK, where he lives with his partner, and an inappropriate amount of books.

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2 reviews for Invitation to Death by Bryan Smith

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  1. Alba Liebsch  

    Very much enjoyed it. Great flow and I could not put the book down!

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  2. Nadia Winston

    Very much enjoyed it. Great flow and I could not put the book down!

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