Wednesday 25 May 2016

REVIEW: Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason - Mayan Blue

Genre: Horror
Publisher: Sinister Grin Press
Publication Date: 25th May 2016
Pages: 278


A copy of Mayan Blue, by Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason, was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the publishers, Sinister Grin Press, in exchange for an honest review. This is said review.

I do enjoy getting ARCS from Sinister Grin Press. This one has been on my radar from before it was even written. Michelle and Melissa are twin sisters also known as The Sisters of Slaughter and I have been friends with them in the social media world for over a year now. I have been eagerly awaiting this, their first novel, with baited breath. Two girls who are an absolute pleasure to know, I have read a couple of short stories of theirs and couldn’t wait for this to come out.

So was the wait worth it?

Professor Lipton is searching through caves in a remote part of Georgia. He really believes that he can find a secret. A secret that will prove his theory that the Mayan’s made it this far north. Maybe the secret he is after should stay hidden.

Wes, Alissa, Kelly, Dennis and Tyler are on their way to meet up with Professor Lipton. They all have their own reasons for going on this expedition. Some legitimate and some foolish. Regardless of their reasons, like Professor Lipton, they may regret even having an interest in the Georgian Mayan’s.

Characters in this tale are as you see in the synopsis. I won’t give you a lot of detail on them because to be honest this is the type of story that you can never be sure if anyone is going to make it off page one alive. Professor Lipton seems to be the stereotypical, slightly mad archaeologist, who is convinced he knows where the find of the century is. Wes is his understudy. Totally mesmerised by his hero, Lipton, he is as keen as mustard to meet up with the professor and go hunting. Alissa is keen as well. Keen on Wes. To be fair though she is probably the only other one there for serious reasons. Kelly invited herself. Probably because she was bored. Dennis and Tyler tagged along for the extra credit and also because Kelly was going. They both have the same intent where Kelly is concerned.

The plot? It’s an old horror cliché. Ancient history dictates that something ancient be found and quite possibly it will unleash something evil into the world. But – the difference with this one is it isn’t the old old cliché of the evil being something the Catholic Church has been battling against and keeping secret for centuries. No my friends. It’s the Mayans. In Georgia! Surely not? Well there you go then. Horror needs uniqueness and these girls have pulled that part out of the bag.

This does make it fresh to the extent that we aren’t dealing with the aged alcoholic priest, and the Vatican sending in the heavies to stop all attempts at retrieving the ancient artefacts. It takes a slightly different direction in the evil that will be unleashed. At first I was a bit worried that it was too much like an Indiana Jones adventure type story rather than horror, but to be honest, I never seen Harrison Ford have to deal with some of the things that these people had to run from. And run they did.

The characters themselves felt a little bit flat to me at times. It almost showed that some of them were only there for the ride. You could say this is very effective writing but to me at times I think they could have been beefed up a bit more. Given a bit more oomph.

The plot itself was fairly simple and uncomplicated but this was tremendously enhanced by the array of evil characters and monsters and beasts that were involved. The girls really hit the nail on the head in giving you a sense of being in a different world. The colour aspects and the descriptive text about the world and the beasts and even the vegetation gave you a very true sense of being somewhere other than on planet Earth. I think the best way I can describe this is that visually, I imagined this world to be not unlike the landscape we saw in Avatar. Beautiful in one light but scary as hell in another.

This is a horror novel with a lot of adventure in it but I wanted more scares. I wanted more jump out of my seat moments. I wanted more nearly peeing myself moments. I wanted more reading with one eye closed moments.

It certainly has the blood and the guts that horror books should have. In fact, it has this in abundance. Some of the injuries that are inflicted on some of the characters are horrific and did have my skin crawling and tested the gag reflex.

It just didn’t scare me enough.

I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to write a book with someone else. Now given the fact these girls are twins, I would suspect it may be easier than some collaborations but that is one thing that I didn’t notice until I had finished. It flowed extremely well. I defy anyone reading this to be able to pinpoint when the writer changes. It is seamless in that respect.

To summarise: a horrific adventure bringing together some ancient evils and fantastical worlds to keep your blood pumping from start to finish. Could have been a bit scarier for me but these girls have proved with this that they have an eye for the details and a definite knack for completely removing you from your boring mundane life and transporting you to a completely different world. Bravo sisters!

General rating:

★★★.5 excellent for a debut novel with a difference.

Horror rating:

★★★.5 I wanted more scares.

If you would like to help support Confessions of a Reviewer, then please consider using the links below to buy Mayan Blue or any other books from Michelle and Melissa. This not only supports me but also lets me know how many people actually like to buy books after reading my reviews.


Book Synopsis:

Xibalba, home of torture and sacrifice, is the kingdom of the lord of death. He stalked the night in the guise of a putrefied corpse, with the head of an owl and adorned with a necklace of disembodied eyes that hung from nerve cords. He commanded legions of shape-shifting creatures, spectral shamans, and corpses hungry for the flesh of the living. The Mayans feared him and his realm of horror. He sat atop his pyramid temple surrounded by his demon kings and demanded sacrifices of blood and beating hearts as tribute to him and his ghostly world.

These legends, along with those that lived in fear of them, have been dead and gone for centuries. Yet now, a doorway has been opened in Georgia. A group of college students seek their missing professor, a man who has secretly uncovered the answer to one of history’s greatest mysteries. However, what they find is more than the evidence of a hidden civilization. It’s also a gateway to a world of living nightmares.

Melissa Lason and Michelle Garza have been writing together since they were little girls. Dubbed The Sisters of Slaughter by the editors of Fireside Press. They are constantly working together on new stories in the horror and dark fantasy genres. Their work has been included in FRESH MEAT published by Sinister Grin Press, WISHFUL THINKING by Fireside Press, WIDOWMAKERS a benefit anthology of dark fiction. Their novel MAYAN BLUE is being released May 25, 2016 by Sinister Grin Press

And for more about the sisters, you can find them on social media:

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