The Merciless by Danielle Vega

The Merciless by Danielle Vega

Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned

Brooklyn Stevens sits in a pool of her own blood, tied up and gagged. No one outside of these dank basement walls knows she’s here. No one can hear her scream.
Sofia Flores knows she shouldn’t have gotten involved. When she befriended Riley, Grace, and Alexis on her first day at school, she admired them, with their perfect hair and their good-girl ways. They said they wanted to save Brooklyn. They wanted to help her. Sofia didn’t realize they believed Brooklyn was possessed.
Now, Riley and the girls are performing an exorcism on Brooklyn—but their idea of an exorcism is closer to torture than salvation. All Sofia wants is to get out of this house. But there is no way out. Sofia can’t go against the other girls . . . unless she wants to be next. . . .
In this chilling debut, Danielle Vega delivers blood-curdling suspense and terror on every page. By the shockingly twisted end, readers will be faced with the most haunting question of all: Is there evil in all of us?

“More than anything in the world right now, I want to be pure. My dream echoes through my head. I hear the roaring train race down the tracks, and Karen’s distant voice. Why can’t you tell the truth?

This book messed me up on so many levels.

First of all, I wasn’t expecting such graphic violence to take place in this book. Yes, the cover did warn me and say that it was for mature audiences only, but I thought it was because it dealt with exorcism and religion and all that. Oh, no. That’s not what made it for mature audiences at all.

We are first introduced to the main character Sofia Flores, who happens to be an Army brat. This is just another duty station for her, and she has to once again go through the motions of making friends and losing them within six months. It’s typical for her, and while she hates it, she doesn’t have much of a choice. Apparently, her last school was hard on her since she had to deal with terrible bullies, which we don’t know the extent of until we get further into the story, and she doesn’t know if she will get the same experience here.

Well lucky for Sofia, she meets a few people that she gets along with, and gets indoctrinated into this group of girls that seem to be pretty popular but also really nice: Riley, Grace, and Alexis. She also meets another girl named Brooklyn who was really nice to Sofia as well, but according to Riley and her gang, she’s seriously disturbed and needs to be saved. It gets to the point that somehow, these girls end up kidnapping Brooklyn, keep her hostage in an abandoned house and perform an exorcism on her. This was definitely not what Sofia signed up for when she became friends with these girls, but she has no way of escaping this unless she goes along with Riley.

Anyone who has watched any scary movie that has an exorcism involved knows that things get really creepy and scary as hell. It’s bound to happen when one believes that they are dealing with a person who is supposedly possessed by a demon or the Devil himself. But the things that Riley does to Brooklyn is borderline torture, and honestly, Sofia doesn’t know if this is just a personal revenge agenda or what. There are things that happen in that short span of one night that makes us question if Riley is clinically insane, or if there really is something seriously wrong with Brooklyn.

The sad thing is that we don’t get that answer until the end of the book, and by that time we find out something even more shocking that we can’t believe the book just ends like that.

I personally do not like to read horror books, because I don’t like to be afraid for nights on end. I’m just a big scaredy cat like that. I got through this book though for two reasons: 1) because it was our next book for the Bookish Babes Book Club, and 2) because the premise just sounded so interesting that I wanted to know what it had in store for me. I’m also glad that this book is the first in a series because there is no way that Danielle Vega can write a book like that and end it so suddenly like that. When I was reading it and was maybe five pages to the ending, I was so worried. There was no way that it was going to have a happy ending, and I still had no idea what I was in store for. That’s how the book felt for me. I was constantly on the edge of my seat, trying to figure out exactly where the direction of this book was going, what was going to happen. I had to stay up one night past 2am just to make sure that I finished this damn book if it was the last thing I did! It sounds silly, but that’s exactly what I did to make sure I wasn’t left wondering by the time I went to bed.

I do not recommend this book if you do not like gore. It may not be as much as a Rated R movie like Underworld or others like that, but it’s enough that the imagery is one that is not pleasing to the eye. If you are also religious and don’t like to read books that deal with possession or the Devil, I wouldn’t read this either. Other than that, I recommend at least reading the first book like I did and see what you think of it. Who knows? You may learn something new about what it really means to be evil.

Rated 4/5 

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel – Book Review

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel – Book Review

Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.

After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between Lane’s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

“One summer is enough. Hell, sometimes one day is all it takes to change your life.” 

I should start off by saying that this is not a book that I would normally read, nor pick up from the library. Really the only reason I started reading this book was because it was my book club’s monthly pick, a brand new book club that I joined here in Norfolk, Virginia. Usually for books that I wouldn’t normally pick, I wouldn’t even pick it up. But here I go, trying something new in a place I’m not used to, so yay me! Oh, and I don’t regret finishing this book at all, but trust me when I say it was not a happy book whatsoever.

I don’t know if this counts as “cheating” but I got through this book by listening to the audiobook. Honestly, I feel like if I read it the normal way, I probably wouldn’t have felt the same emotions that I did while listening to it every time I went for a drive. I’m not sure if it was necessarily a good thing listening to this book before and after work, or even heading off to job interviews, since the subject of this book is anything but inspiring or positive, but it worked. I couldn’t get enough of it, and all I wanted to do was figure out what the heck was going to happen next.

This book was dirty. It was grimy. It was terrible in the sense that nothing good came out of this book. Nothing good happened to the characters, and the characters themselves weren’t people you really wanted to root for.

There is something extremely special about all of the Roanoke Girls, but being special in that way is not a good thing. Not by a long shot. Amy Engel hints at it throughout the entire book, with Lane’s story weaving between the past and the present almost seamlessly. Her past story is about her first time at Roanoke, that summer she was sent there after she lost her mother, back when she was 15 years old and thought she was completely alone. Her present, when she finally returns back to Roanoke after eleven years, to find out what happened to her cousin Allegra. It’s interesting to see how the events of the past end up tying into the present.

Is Lane a good person? Is Allegra a good person? Are any of the Roanoke girls “good”? Is anyone considered completely “good”?

I believe the answer is “no” for all of those questions, but the answer can also be “it depends”. Sure, they all have elements of good in them, but they are also cursed with something terrible, something that makes them both irresistible and hauntingly doomed. Dramatic, right? Well that’s how this book was, in such a raw and unapologetic type of way that made me say, “Well, damn.”

Not only do you get to hear from Lane, but there are some moments in between her story that you catch a glimpse into the minds of the other Roanoke girls. It’s so brief, and you may not get a full picture out of their little moments, but it may help explain what happened to them, whether they died or they just disappeared.

If it really was just a disappearance.

This is a book that you have to read to appreciate it. It’s not the kind of book that you want spoiled to you, because it will lose its desired effect. It’s a mystery after all, but I will say that if you are triggered by sexual abuse, suicide, or even drug abuse, I wouldn’t recommend reading it.

Rated: 4/5