Friday, 12 August 2016

REVIEW: Stuart Keane & Matt Hickman - Gemini

Genre: Horror / Extreme
Publisher: Stuart Keane
Publication Date: 12th August 2016
Pages: 193


A copy of Gemini: A Psychological Horror was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the authors, Stuart Keane and Matt Hickman, in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is published by Stuart Keane.

So, Stuart Keane is a proven extremely talented author. Matt Hickman is really on the opening part of his journey as an author but from what I have seen, and from what others are saying, will shortly be a proven extremely talented author.

What happens when they collaborate on something though? Will it do either of them harm or will it fit together like an expertly cut jigsaw puzzle? Gemini is our chance to find out. Collaborations, from my experience, can be a hit or miss thing. I have read a few that have been superb but I have also read a few that, quite frankly, should never have been produced. I always get a bit nervous about reading them purely from the point of view that if the authors have two very distinct styles of writing, they may not gel. To me, reading a story where the styles are very prominent, and it is not too difficult to tell them apart, just ruins it for me.

So how do these two fare? Let’s find out.

Odette has managed to bag one of those all too rare afternoons off. Not through choice either which makes it even better. Time to go surprise her fella, Gavin, with a bottle of wine and some new lingerie.

As it turns out though, Gavin is the one who is going to be doing the surprising. Especially when he awkwardly introduces his new friend, Shay.

What looks like being the Battle Royale between two newly sworn enemies turns into a mutual respect and love of all things brutal.

A challenge has been set. There can be only one winner.

There are a few characters that come and go in this one but really only two that matter. Strange that a book written by two men has two female lead characters but they pull it off very well. Odette is, at first, a quiet and unassuming girl who just wants to go home and surprise her boyfriend with an afternoon of unexpected fun. This story shows though what can be lying just under the surface of someone’s personality, when she turns into a raging psychopath with an enormous lust for blood. Shay on the other hand has always been a psychopath. She has, in fact, just been released from a mental institute where she manged to con the doctors into believing she was fine to be released into the general public again. Nothing to hide here. She is a bone fide nutjob!

I can’t tell you the plot. From reading the synopsis you will know that Odette and Shay are both brutal, psychopathic killers, so when I tell you that a challenge has been laid down, it shouldn’t take you too long to figure out who the challenge is between. I won’t however tell you what the challenge is.

In terms of how it makes a story, initially I had a problem with this one sitting as believable in my head. When you come to the crucial part that sets the stall for the rest of the book, you will rub your hands together and shout bring it on! Then, when I thought about it, I just couldn’t picture this happening in real life. When the story starts to split and you follow Odette and Shay as individual killers, this is where you start to shift in your seat and think my god these two are absolutely off their trollies.

After finishing the story, I have to hold my hands high in the air and admit I have no idea which author wrote which character. It makes sense that they took one each but there is no way of telling who wrote who. This takes me back to my initial fear in the introduction where I highlight the fact that where two authors collaborate on something, if the styles are distinct then the story doesn’t flow well. I defy anyone to be able to tell me who wrote which bit in Gemini. It flows superbly well. Everything links together seamlessly. At no point throughout this will you need to flip back to refresh your memory on something or have to pause to try and figure out where the link is. This story reads like it was written by one person.

Now, another aspect of this book, and probably the one that is most frightening, is the level of depravity and the level of sheer mental instability in these two girls. With each character, you get a perfect insight into just how unstable they are. Again, without trying to tell you how it comes about, each character has their own internal arguments within their own minds. This gives you an even better understanding of just how insane they are. You will find yourself becoming very afraid that there may actually be people walking amongst us that are this unstable and do have these thoughts. This takes me back to my earlier problem of not being able to truly believe in the story. I found myself thinking, well hang on, if they are believable as individuals then why couldn’t this scenario be true? Who is to say that this has not happened before where two like-minded nut cases get together and go on a brutal rampage in the same way that two like-minded people who enjoy beer wouldn’t go on a pub crawl? It sounds very simplistic but the way this is written does eventually make you believe that anything is possible.

I do have to moan a bit though. If you have read my reviews before you will know I am not a fan of sex in a horror story. There is too much of it in this one for my liking. I will leave that part there. I know a lot of people couldn’t care less about it but it just irks me. No idea why. I just think it should be kept for romance books, not ones where you want to be scared out of your pants. Also, why does it have to be so extreme at times, as in the level of violence? I’m certainly not a prude and blood guts and gore are all part and parcel of the horror genre but sometimes, I think letting the reader’s imagination go into overdrive instead of describing it in detail on the page is more effective. Again, I will leave that part there.

All in all, this is a really good story. There are a couple of points that won’t let me give it full marks but if they weren’t there, it would come out as one of the best.

Stuart Keane and Matt Hickman have proven with Gemini that they make an extremely effective writing partnership. Their styles are very similar. So similar in fact that as I said earlier, I defy anyone to guess who wrote which bit. They both write horror very well. They both write their characters very well. They both have a very fluid writing style that keeps you gripped by the googlies until the very end of the tale.

I look forward to anything they put out in the future, be it in their own names or as a partnership. I reckon the Keane & Hickman show is going to have a long run.

To summarise: a brutal and harrowing examination of the instabilities of the human mind and the depths of depravity that some individuals will go to for gratification. Be prepared for plenty of blood and literal guts. If that is your bag, then you have no choice but to pick this up.

General rating:

★★★★ I'm afraid the nookie and some extreme stuff cost a star for me.

Horror rating:

★★★★★ it gets the full horror mark though.

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


Book Synopsis:

Given the afternoon off, Odette decides to take the rare time to romantically surprise her boyfriend, Gavin.

With flowers in arm and a smile on her face, she visits his home ... and is shocked at what she finds.

Gavin in bed with Shay, his other girlfriend.

Initially devastated, Odette channels her anger and accidentally unleashes the dormant beast within; a psychopathic brutality she has somehow managed to control for a decade.

But she's not alone.

Shay also harbours the same insanity, one a little closer to her apparently sane surface, and when the women realise Gavin has jilted them both, they take their violent urges out on their beau.

Which leaves only two...



People ask me why I enjoy books. Sometimes I remain speechless. I know many people who have never read a book - they do exist - and trying to explain this simple, yet amazing pastime to them is never easy. It's pretty difficult in fact.

I read my first adult book at age seven. This was years after seeing my first film but the experience, where new, was something else entirely. I remember being stuck on one page (for those who are curious, the book was Flesh by Richard Laymon, an excellent, yet under-appreciated horror writer) for half an hour because the detail in the scene was so vivid. I actually remember him describing an abandoned restaurant and I didn't want to continue. It was THAT real to me that I felt I was actually there. Continuing to read would take me into the restaurant and because of previous events in the book, you knew it was a very bad idea.

This was my first memory of the written word. It's remained with me since and probably always will. Many authors have that defining moment when they realised they wanted to write fiction for a living. This is mine and has shaped my life ever since.

So who is Stuart Keane?

Just an ordinary guy who likes to write thrilling, compelling stories. For thirty years, people have enthralled me, entertained me and provided me with many, many adventures. And inspiration. Now, I want to return the favour.

And for more about Stuart, visit his site or find him on social media:

Website  Facebook  Twitter  Goodreads – Amazon Page


Matt is an avid fan of horror fiction. He spends a majority of his free time reading books from both established and independent authors. With a diverse knowledge of the genre, he has now tried his hand at writing horror. With the support of his peers, some of which are established writers themselves, he now approaches a new career, one that will see him take horror by storm. His influences lead right back to traditional horror writers such as Edgar Allen Poe, Bram Stoker and William Hope Hodgson through to the more traditional horror writers such as Stephen King, Richard Laymon, Dean Koontz, James Herbert and Clive Barker to newer names such as Alex Kava, JA Konrath, Bryan Smith, Matt Shaw, Michael Bray, Iain Rob Wright, Graeme Reynolds, Tim Miller and Ian Woodhead right the way through to emerging writers who are currently starting out such as Stuart Keane, Jack Rollins, Kyle M Scott, Andrew Lennon and Shaun Hupp.

He currently resides in Tipton, a small town in the West Midlands with his partner and two children. He travels the width breadth of the UK on a regular basis as a Sales Manager for a construction company.

His writing debut, a collaboration with Andrew Lennon; Hexad, is available now as a digital download or paperback from Amazon.

He has since been featured in an anthology by Matt Shaw - Behind Closed Doors, which is available for digital download now from Amazon, to be followed by inclusion into an anthology from Dark Chapter Press - Kids, and The Dichotomy of Christmas, featuring such established names as Graham Masterson and Kealan Patrick Burke.

And for more about Matt, visit his site or find him on social media:

Website - Facebook – Twitter – Goodreads – Amazon Page

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