I received this book for free from the TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Crossfades by William Todd Rose
Published by Hydra on May 19, 2015
Genres: Adult, Death & Dying, Dystopian, Horror, Horror & Ghost Stories, Paranormal
Source: TLC Book Tours
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In a dark horror novella for fans of Stephen King, Joe Hill, and Dean Koontz, one unsuspecting man faces a mass murderer who’s turned the afterlife into his own terrifying playground.
Some men fear their own deaths. Others dream of peace and heaven. But Albert knows exactly what he wants: to be the lord of his own private hell, where his eternal reward will be torturing the souls of his victims. And he knows how to get it.
While Chuck’s dream of a promotion may be ordinary, his career is anything but. As a Recon and Enforcement Technician, Level II, at a mysterious organization known only as the Institute, Chuck spends his days rescuing souls that get trapped between this life and the next, caught in mini-hells known as crossfades.
Lydia has no dreams—only nightmares. There will be no awakening from the impossible realm of terror and pain where she’s trapped . . . unless Chuck tracks her down. But this rescue will not be easy, not for a mere Level II technician. Because, in this place, Albert is god. And he’s determined that none shall escape his wrath.
Hydra has published solid horror titles this year, and after reading and loving Consumption by Heather Herrman, I dug right in to William Todd Rose’s novella, Crossfades. While novellas can sometimes leave you feeling like there’s something missing, or maybe story isn’t as well developed as it could be with characters that you don’t get to know that deeply, I never felt that way throughout Crossfades.
Chuck’s job is to astral project into the world between life and the afterlife where souls can get stuck before moving on, not realizing that they aren’t alive anymore. These areas are called crossfades, and Chuck helps these confused souls cross over. As a level II technician, he only deals with the more routine, benign souls cross over, but there’s a serial killer that was just put to death that uses a crossfade as his own personal afterlife playground, luring in these lost souls so he can continue his sick, twisted, torturous games in death. Chuck isn’t prepared for the danger and depravity that he will encounter when this routine crossfade morphs into a dangerous cut scene, and he’s even less prepared for the rescue mission ahead of him when he meets the lost soul Lydia inside this hell.
Crossfades is a perfect blend of dark atmosphere and emotional turmoil with horrific scenes that are vividly portrayed. Chuck’s isolation in his job with no outside life is palpable, and the struggle to contain his emotions–which is a necessary part of his job to keep him safe as a living person visiting the crossfades–is quite believable once he connects with Lydia. His entire life is his job as has been demanded by his employer, and that empty hole in him has never been filled by anything. Once he’s decided to go against protocol to help all of those poor souls stuck in the cut scene with serial killer, all bets are off and he’s left without a support system to yank him out by his silver cord if everything goes wrong.
Lydia’s not sure how she came to be in the crossfades or who she was, and she doesn’t even know what she looks like. But she knows that there’s something evil out to get her–and it knows her deepest fears. But when Chuck appears and tries to explain everything, Lydia allows herself to be a little bit optimistic, and maybe she’ll be able to move on from the hell she’s been stuck in for seemingly years.
I give Crossfades a 4.5 out of 5. A few minor things were left unresolved, but William Todd Rose does an excellent job of constructing a tight and well-drawn novella. The world building is excellent over the course of the 129 pages, and I loved how everything made scientific sense and was explained in the beginning. You weren’t left trying to figure it all out as you went along. The ending wasn’t too predictable and while the villian was formidable, Crossfades was more about going against ones own imagined constraints and limits to become stronger. This has definitely left me happy, and I’m eager to read the next novella, Bleedovers.
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