Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Deepest Dark by Joan Hall Hovey A Taste of Gothic Horror in Contemporary Setting...

And then she was there. Her heart was beating hard as
if it too was grasping for some--some kind of--possibility.
Putting the car in park, she turned and sat listening to
the ticking of the motor cooling as she stared at the cabin.
It was just as she remembered. A cedar log cabin,
darkened with the years... Last summer had been such
a magical time. Ellie caught her first fish, a speckled
trout. Abby could still hear her squeals of delight.
And then Ellie had felt bad for the fish and made her
dad throw it back in the water. So like her.
Abby Miller had known who she was then. Beloved
wife, mother, successful author. Life was good. The
log cabin had been part of that good life.
"You have to move on," her sister had pleaded with her. "You have to carve out a different life now. Start a new novel, Abby."
She would give it a try. Abby had packed a stack of school scribblers in her suitcase. Just in case. Maybe she would get an idea. Since the cabin had no electricity, having no TV to watch or internet to surf (not that she'd done much surfing lately) she might be inspired enough to come up with something. Her other option would still be there, in her purse.
The rain had let up and she turned off the wipers. There it was. Relief washed through her. The sign was weather beaten, fading, but still legible. Loon Lake. 1.4 km. "It's our secret hideout," Corey had said, wrapping his arms around her and giving her that sexy sweet smile of his. "We won't tell anyone where it is." And they didn't. Something she would come to regret in the days ahead. Soon, she caught a glimmer of green water through the trees, and a short distance further on she saw her road, which was not much more than a path really, with the arrow pointing left up towards the cabin.

The Deepest Dark
By Joan Hall Hovey

When I read a new author for the first time and enjoy her book so much, I sometimes wish I could stop and read all of her books to catch up... Of course, that would prevent me from reading all the other wonderful authors, but still... Hovey has been called "Canada's Mistress of Suspense" and I can certainly see why! There was the welcoming touch of Gothic horror that I find so enticing and which became one of my favorite reads back before many of you were born! LOL.

The Deepest Dark takes readers into the life of a deeply grieving woman. She has lost her husband and daughter in an accident and has not yet been able to move on and attempt to continue living in a life that is no longer complete and fulfilling. Her loving sister has been trying to help, but it's still been a long time. Finally, however, Abby gained sufficient strength to pack up and go to a former place where her family went to hide away from the a log cabin far away and hidden...

She chose to go alone; she chose to tell nobody she was leaving except a short email, or where the cabin was, or even that that was where she was going...  Bad decisions all around, especially since there was no electricity at the cabin, nor phone service... Then she made the worst possible mistake, she had barely got there when somebody knocked on the door. He had no thought anybody would be there, so he faked car problems and asked to use the phone. Abby reluctantly let him in but quickly realized it was a bad idea and made it clear he should leave...

Did she really think that seeing him walk out the door was going to bring the peace she was seeking???

Water sighed against the shore. Close by, a flock
of teal ducks exploded into the air, their velvety
green feathers iridescent in the sunlight. She
must have frightened them. Her gaze followed
their ascent to the most splendid rainbow arching
itself across the blue sky. Was it a sign? A sign
of what, Abby?
wings flapping, the ducks settled themselves
father out on the calm lake.
"Mom, isn't it beautiful here?"
Her heart leapt. "Ellie?" She looked around.
But she was quite alone. But she had just heard
her daughter's voice. No. It was only wishful
thinking, Abby. No. I heard her. She envisioned
Ellie's face with the tiny dimple at the left
corner of her mouth, the mischievous glint in
those blue eyes. She could almost smell the
strawberry scent of shampoo in her
toffee-colored hair...
"Are you here, Ellie? Corey?"
But there was no answer.
Abby pictured the bottle of pills in her purse that Doctor Gregory had prescribed to help her sleep. It was just a matter of making the decision. One day she could be alive, the next, dead. Like Corey and Ellie. They could all be together again. Was that even possible? Or was death really the end? She didn't know. but she wanted to believe that we lived on at least in spirit.
Jazz music played on the car radio, some dark bluesy piece to accompany her mood. The brain-chatter went on: Or do you just go into the ground and that's it? Was it all some great cosmic joke? She didn't want to accept that; she'd been such a religious llittle girl. Back then there had been no question of a God, or of Heaven. She supposed much of that had to do with her very Christian grandmother Mina, her mother's mother, whom Abby had adored. After he mother died of breast cancer and her father left them (figuratively if not literally) she and her younger sister Karen went to live with Granny Mina. It took two years for their father to drink himself to death...
She pulled into the lot, to use the washroom, just in time to see a woman taping a Wanted poster up in the storefront window...
Gratefully, Abby poured the steaming coffee into a styrofoam cut, and stirred in a dab of real cream. "Thanks." She took a sip. "I needed that."
"You're welcome. Don't know about you, but this rain is getting me down. Awful about those three escapees, isn't it."

Considering suicide is not an easy thought for anybody. It seemed that Abby had gone back to the cabin hoping in some spiritual way to find her family. If not, then she could join them instead...

But before she even got beyond the few fleeting thoughts of longing for her loved ones and whether she should take this way to be with them again, she was faced with, instead, fighting for her life!

And the three prisoners who were now in Abby's cabin, had already brutally killed her neighbors...

It is the character development, the setting, and the suspense that drives readers to keep reading this edgy story. The three prisoners were each perfectly developed so that you could sympathize with one, hate another, but ultimately realize who was the most dangerous. At the same time, there are two women--the daughter of the murdered neighbors and Abby's sister that works constantly to try to stop those men who had invaded the peaceful woods at Loon Lake. Could this story end any other way than what was planned by the three escaped prisoners?

Whew! I have to say after finishing this book, that I had to agree that Joan Hovey just might be the mistress of suspense that's been proclaimed! From the dark, forbidding cover through to the last page when a healing buddha played a role...

The author also took the time to move 3 years ahead and let readers know all that had happened with her characters... Cool, right?! This one is certainly highly recommended, especially for suspense lovers!


   I've always been drawn to the dark side of humanity, and devoured everything from Edgar Allan Poe to Shirley Jackson growing up. It is no surprise to me I turned out to be a writer of psychological suspense, often with threads of paranormal, mystery and romance.
I like to write about ordinary women who are at a difficult time in their lives, and are suddenly faced with an external evil force. Women who are stronger than they think they are. I didn't think a whole lot about theme until I had written a couple of books, but I realized with the writing of my third novel 'Chill Waters' that my books generally have to do with betrayal and abandonment in some form, and learning to trust again. And more important, learning to trust oneself. Almost any good book will tell you something about the author herself. (Or himself.) You can't avoid it. But first and foremost I want to give readers a roller-coaster ride, one that keeps them on the edge of that proverbial seats and resonates in the imagination long after the last page is read.
In addition to my critically aclaimed and award-winning novels, my articles and short stories have appeared in any many publications including The Toronto Star, Atlantic Advocate, Seek, Home Life Magazine, Mystery Scene. My short story Dark Reunion was anthologized in investigating Women, Published by Simon & Pierre.
I've held workshops and given talks at various schools and libraries, including New Brunswick Community College, and the University of New Brunswick. I am also a tutor with Winghill School, a distance education school in Ottawa for aspiring writers.
I'm a member of the Writer's Federation of New Brunswick, past regional Vice-President of Crime Writers of Canada and International Thriller Writers.

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