One thing that I think is being lost in recent years, and more significantly since the growth of ebooks, is the art of making a book. The story is the most important part of the book, obviously, but that does not mean that it is the only thing. The reason why I mention this is that there is one publisher that understands this and consistently delivers a high quality book as well as a quality story: DarkFuse. The reason why I mention this is the last of the three October releases by DarkFuse that I read is one that I have been looking forward to ever since I saw the cover for the book months ago. Even though I have not read anything by the author before and did not know what the book was about, I had been wanting to dive into “Sacrifice Island” by Kristin Dearborn even since I saw the cover. I finally had that chance now and hoped that the story would live up to another great cover on a DarkFuse book.
Jemma is a ghost hunter who is working on a book about haunted places around the world with the help of her assistant, Alex. When Jemma learns of an island off of the Philippines that used to be a type of holy place until the women that lived there began to commit suicide, she immediately decides that she wants to investigate it for the final chapter of her book. She convinces Alex to follow her and the two set off to discover the secret of the island that has come to be named Sacrifice Island by those that live in the area.
Even though they are experienced ghost hunters, they are not prepared for the evil that they find on the island or the human conspiracy that is in place to defend the island and its secret. They expect to come face-to-face with ghost and yet they find something much more sinister and real. Who will become the final sacrifice and will anyone even make it off of the island alive again?
As I have come to expect from a book published by DarkFuse, “Sacrifice Island” is a fresh and interesting take on a tried and true horror setup. Dearborn starts the story off with the simple premise of a ghost hunter, or paranormal investigator, heading off to investigate mysterious and seemingly supernatural occurrences and having to confront the evil forces that are causing the events. She does not, however, provide anything that would be easily expected by the reader or even by the characters themselves. In fact, it is difficult to say if the entity itself is evil or just a manifestation of past evils that have been inflicted by humans. Jemma has essentially had to withdraw from the world due to her secret past but is forced to face that past in order to act in the present. There is no doubt that there is something on Sacrifice Island that is murdering people. It is the motives behind the murders that are in question.
“Sacrifice Island” is a very good horror novella that kept me guessing until the end. I do think that the story would be better served had it been a longer story so that all aspects of the tale could have been explored as there are some loose ends that are never quite tied together and that I would have like to see explored a little further. That is nitpicking, however, as the challenge for the author in a shorter work is to give the readers enough details to allow their imaginations to fill in the gaps and Dearborn does this brilliantly. DarkFuse already has many of the horror genre’s best authors in its fold and Dearborn shows that she has the talent to hold company with the best. I look forward to reading more from her in the future to see what other thrills and chills she has in store.
I would like to give a special thank you to DarkFuse and NetGalley for this advanced reading copy. “Sacrifice Island” will be released by DarkFuse in October.