She Who Rules the Dead

She Who Rules the Dead by Maria Abrams

Henry has received a message: he needs to sacrifice five people to the demon that’s been talking to him in his nightmares. He already has four, and number five, Claire, is currently bound in the back of his van.

Too bad Claire isn’t exactly human.

The IndieMuse Review

This debut novella from Maria Abrams is a horror story that defies both description and definition, but most certainly one that should be on genre fans radars and will no doubt mark its author as a talent to watch.

Claire has stopped at a rundown roadside bar as a respite on her journey, hoping to grab a quick drink and avoid unwanted conversation.

There she will meet Henry, a man on a mission from a higher power, one who is demanding great sacrifice in return for great power. It is a calling that Claire has a big part to play in, although she doesn’t know it yet…

I have kept my synopsis purposefully vague, as She Who Rules The Dead is one of those books where the less you know going in, the better. The opening chapter drops the reader right in on the action, being told from the perspective of an as-yet unnamed woman who is bound in the back of a moving van, held prisoner by an equally mysterious male driver. For somebody who appears to have been kidnapped, and is most certainly there against her will, the captive seems strangely blasé about her predicament. So begins a wildly unpredictable and wholly gripping story that never goes in the direction you expect, and is never less than completely absorbing and wholly entertaining.

Abrams isn’t content to simply focus on this, admittedly intriguing, opening story and the book then switches perspectives multiple times to a number of different characters, or to transcripts of police statements or news articles, each giving the reader a piece of the puzzle, many of which tease things to come, but don’t all come together as a cohesive whole until the end. Although the time spent with most of these characters is limited to a chapter, they all make a big impact, both in terms of the books narrative and as a well-developed and memorable person, not all of whom have a happy ending in store.

The book is a short one (95 pages) and moves along at a brisk pace and, once you have a good idea of the direction the story is going in, things begin to get a little tense. We know full well what Henry’s intentions are, as he has made them overtly clear, but there is more to Claire than meets the eye and you wonder whether she is going to turn the tables on him at some point. While I thought I knew the direction the book was going in, my expectations were subverted at every turn and although the answers we get are ultimately satisfying ones, they aren’t ones you can expect to be given until the final page.

She Who Rules The Dead is an electrifying book, packed with unpredictable characters and masterful misdirection, and is incredibly accomplished when you consider this is the author’s first book. I can’t wait to see what other horrors Maria Abrams has in store for us in the future.

 

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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