Friday, December 6, 2013

Review & $25 Gift Card Giveaway - Night Chill by Jeff Gunhus

Title: Night Chill
Author: Jeff Gunhus
Release Date: May 31, 2013
Pages: 437, Paperback
Goodreads Rating: 4.07 stars
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars
My Content Rating: Adult (No sex, but violence and horror scenes)

Summary from Goodreads: From the author of Jack Templar Monster Hunter comes a supernatural thriller for adult audiences. 

Jack Tremont moves his family to the quiet mountains of Western Maryland hoping to leave behind a troubled past and restart his life. Instead, he finds himself caught up in a nightmare when his daughter Sarah is targeted by Nate Huckley, a mysterious and horrifying stranger driven by a dark power that will stop at nothing to possess Sarah. When Sarah goes missing, suspicion falls on Jack and he must uncover the secrets of the small mountain town of Prescott City and face the evil secret hidden there. As he digs further, he learns the conspiracy reaches more deeply than he could have imagined. Finally, he will have to face the question, What is a father willing to do to save his child? The answer? Anything. Anything at all.

As a fan of Gunhus' Jack Templar middle grade novels, I was really excited to read his adult debut.  Night Chill was a difficult book for me to rate because the second half of the book was SO much better than the first for me.  Honestly, if I was rating just the second half of the book, I would have given it at least 4.5 stars.  The problem was that, while I found the first half of the book interesting and enjoyable, I was so confused that I found it hard to truly love it until I got to about the 50% mark.  That's when the book got really good for me.  

The synopsis tells about everything that I can tell without spoiling the mysteries, so I'll just jump right into what I did and didn't love.

The negatives:
  • Way too many POV's.  This book is told from the following points of view: Nate Huckley (one of the "bad guys", Jack Tremont (the protagonist), Doreen (for one chapter - she's a kidnapping victim), Lauren Tremont (Jack's wife), the man (I'll mention him more in a second), Sheriff Janney, Cathy Moran (a high school girl), Lonetree (won't spoil exactly who he is), Sarah Tremont (Jack's daughter), Buddy (the dog - yep, you read that right - The. Dog. We see the world from his perspective for one chapter - or maybe it was a half of a chapter - whatever it was, it was too much. He's. The. Dog).  I might have missed someone, but I think that about covers it - this was all during the first 25% of the book.  I spent most of this time trying to figure out who the person was that I was reading about and what they had to do with the story.  Some of these POV's were necessary, but some could have easily been removed and we really wouldn't have lost anything (Doreen, the man, the dog, even Lonetree).  There's still one character (the man) that I never did quite figure out who he was or what his purpose was in the book.  I think he was supposed to be Huckley's brother and he went into Huckley's room and did some sort of magical ritual, but I don't know that we saw him ever again and I can't really tell you what it is he did or why.  I would not have missed his perspective!
  • Too many mysteries?  At first, I really appreciated that this book had a ton of mysteries that I was dying to uncover.  Who did Jack kill?  (This isn't a spoiler, he reveals it pretty early in the book) Who is Huckley and what are his powers and why is he kidnapping and killing people?  Who is The Boss that everyone seems to work for?  What's special about Sarah?  What's up with Jack's friends (Max and Kristi) and why are they so upset?  Who is this Lonetree guy and is he good or bad?  I could go on and on.  It was really tantalizing to get all of these tiny little tidbits and to have to try to figure out how the pieces all fit together.  The problem was that these were really tiny tidbits that we were being fed and I started to find myself getting frustrated when I wasn't getting any closer to understanding what was going on as I got further and further into the book.  It really took until almost midway through the book until I had enough of a handle on the basic mysteries to be able to truly appreciate the story and to savor the remaining unknowns.  By the 50% mark (or actually probably a bit earlier than that), I had a basic understanding of what was going on and knew who all of the characters were - and that's when I started really loving the book.
  • Heartbreaking story.  As a mom, this book totally tugged at my heartstrings.  I mean, here's this dad who wants nothing more than to protect his daughter from some really nasty people.  He is terrified for her and he feels completely helpless against this enemy that he doesn't understand.  It was also really interesting to see the dynamics between Jack and his wife and how she responded when he started sounding a bit crazy.  Top that off with Jack's guilt about an event in his past and you have a really sympathetic main character.  I was 100% invested in Jack's story.
  • Creepy suspenseful scenes.  There were some scenes in this book that were really creepy.  One scene that involved Jack going a bit out of his mind was especially freaky and also extremely suspenseful.  His daughter's abilities were also often creepy and gave me the chills several times.  The book was pretty action-packed, as Jack and his daughter went from one danger to another.  There were lots of points in the book where you were really just holding your breath, wondering when something was going to happen to her.  Gunhus did a great job of setting the scene for true horror suspense with plenty of creepy settings (who knew an elevator could be so scary?) and intriguingly scary characters.
  • Paranormal aspect.  I loved the paranormal aspect to this story - it's obvious that there are some characters with special "gifts" and I enjoyed learning more and more about them as the story went on.  I also really loved discovering who it was that was after Sarah and why - I thought that this central mystery was dealt with really well and came to a satisfying conclusion.
Overall, I would recommend Night Chill.  It's a really great story with excellent writing - just be prepared that it might take a little while before you start to unravel all the mysteries that Gunhus presents! 3.5/5 stars.

***Disclosure: This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given. All opinions are my own***


In addition to writing supernatural thrillers for adults, Jeff Gunhus is also the author of the Middle Grade/YA series The Templar Chronicles. ( The first book, Jack Templar Monster Hunter, was written in an effort to get his reluctant reader eleven-year old son excited about reading. It worked and a new series was born and recognized as a 2012 Forward Reviews Book of the Year Finalist. Jeff has been a Stephen King and Dean Koontz fan since he was a kid reading their novels under the covers at night. Seeing Night Chill next to King and Koontz on the Amazon Bestseller lists has been a surreal experience. He leads an active lifestyle in Maryland with his wife Nicole and five incredible kids. In rare moments of quiet, he can be found in the back of the City Dock Cafe in Annapolis working on his next novel.

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