Book Review – Gothika by Eli Easton


Anthology
Publisher: Pinkerton Road, LLC
Pages: 302
Characters: Various
POV: 1st and 3rd
Genre: Paranormal, Romance

Blurb:
Immerse yourself in four tales of love and gothic horror in this anthology by Eli Easton. Each story is novella length.

“Reparation”
On the harsh planet of Kalan, weakness is not tolerated. When young spore farmer Edward suffers a carriage accident that kills his mail-order bride and his factory manager, Edward has little chance of survival, until Knox—an enormous “reconstitute” slave—plucks him from disaster.

Recons are part machine, part human remains from executed Federation prisoners. But Knox is different from other recons. He can read and has flashes of brilliance. With no one else to rely on over the bleak winter, Edward forms an alliance with Knox, and against social taboos, they become friends. Edward struggles against his growing lust for the large humanoid, and while Knox thrives in his new life, memories of his past torment him.

A twist of fate brought Knox and Edward together, but there will be a price to pay in blood when they learn how deeply their lives truly intersect

“The Bird”
Colin Hastings is sent to Jamaica in 1870 to save his father’s sugar cane plantation. If he succeeds, he can marry his fiancée back in London and take his place in proper English society. But Colin finds more than he bargained for on the island. His curiosity about Obeah, the native folk magic, leads him to agree to a dangerous ritual where he is offered his heart’s most secret desire—one he’s kept deeply buried all his life. What happens when a proper English gentleman has his true sensual nature revealed and freed by the Obeah spirits?

“Among the Dead”
Ever since his accident, Neil Gaven sees dead people. He’s isolated himself, unable to bear the constant barrage of sadness and grief. But a gentle ghost grabs his attention on the bus one day. He seems to understand, to have some secret to impart. Neil works to interpret the ghost’s clues. Then they lead him to Trist, a homeless young man who is also tormented by spirits. Are they two of a kind? Maybe together they can find a way to live among the dead.

“The Black Dog”
Constable Hayden MacLairty is used to life being dull around the tiny hamlet of Laide on the north Scottish coast. They get occasional tourists, “monster hunters” interested in the local legend of the Black Dog, but Hayden thinks that’s only a myth. A rash of sheep killings, a murdered hiker, huge footprints, and sightings of the Black Dog force Hayden to rethink the matter. With the help of Simon Corto, a writer from New York doing research for a book about the Black Dog, Hayden tries to figure out why the enormous hound is reappearing. Hayden finds himself strongly attracted to another person for the first time in his life. But between the danger stalking the hills, Simon’s inevitable return to New York, and Hayden’s mother’s illness, true love may be more of a phantom than the Black Dog.

Buy Link

Review

I loved all of the stories in this collection. The characters drew me in and kept me reading, and I loved the twist in the stories. Some I saw coming, but others left me thinking ‘wow.’ They’re all well worth the read.

Reparation
This story has fabulous world building, and vivid descriptions. I could easily visualise the barren rock of a planet. I loved the mixed vibe of old fashioned, yet SF. I felt for Edward hiding his desires and trying to keep the family farm going despite losing all his family. Poor Knox tries to make sense of his broken memories and figure out who he was, and is. This story is very emotionally raw, and has a powerful storyline with chilling reminder that the victors write history. I was worried that they wouldn’t get their happy ending, and relieved when they did. These two men deserve that and more.

The Bird
This story has a fantastic sense of atmosphere, not only with the historical setting, but also the ritual in which Colin need to choose whether to follow his heart’s desire. I liked that he had to be allow himself to work out what and who that was first, which was realistic for the time period. I loved the peek of his life later on, and that the Obeah spirit isn’t quite finished with him yet.

Among the Dead
Wow. This story led me down one path then totally flipped into something else, although looking back all the clues were there as to what was really going on. I loved Neil and Trist as characters, and their relationship which, although has its foundations in mutual desire and a shared ability to see the dead, soon grows into much more. I liked Edward too, and I’d love to read his story. I liked how this story started off without much hope of a future, then finished on a feel-good note. Nicely done.

The Black Dog
This was another story that turned the plot on its head. I loved the twist in the tale, and how it all fits into place. I loved Hayden and Simon, and the reference to Diana Gabaldon. The scenes where they’re tracking the dog and hunted by it are tense, as is when Simon gets into a situation way over his head. I loved the ending, which was perfect not only for the story, but for these two men.

5 out of 5 stars.

About Anne Barwell

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with a cat with “tortitude” who is convinced that the house is run to suit her; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date, it appears as though Kaylee may be winning. In 2008, Anne completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra. She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts and reviews for other authors, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes. She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance writers, and a member of RWNZ. Anne’s books have received honorable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner up in the Rainbow Awards. She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical. Anne can be found at https://annebarwell.wordpress.com
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