Hi guys, how have you been? Have you stumbled across any exciting new reads lately?
Luckily, I have, in the form of Mike Dineen’s supernatural horror novel, Latcher. Today, I’d like to share my review and get your thoughts on this dark and suspenseful tale.
So, if you’ve got your favourite drink to hand, let’s begin.
When Joanna’s estranged twin sister calls her to tell her their mother is missing, Joanna gets on a bus to their dreary home town, Squall’s Edge, where she promised herself she would never return. She is told she could inherit the land her family owns in Violet Stone, where an old mine resides but Joanna wants no part of it.
The two sisters haven’t seen eye to eye in years, which is evident from the first moment they encounter each other in the story. Separated by both distance and painful past memories, the two sisters begin their journey with little to no love for each-other. When Joanna reluctantly agrees to visit their old home with her sister Amanda, something dark begins to follow them, sabotaging their every step, as if it wants to keep them away.
Old family secrets lie in wait for Joanna, threatening to tear her world apart. Will she and Amanda make it to their childhood home, or will the dark and twisted force that stalks them be their end? Will Joanna learn what the dark presence wants? And can she and Amanda finally patch up the decades old sibling rivalry that has grown between them?
There were four main players within Latcher: Joanna Smith, her sister Amanda, their mother Diane, and the dark force that lurked throughout the story.
Joanna is a professional horror/mystery writer living in the city, far away from her childhood hometown and the traumatic memories of her youth. She is a very direct woman, who wards her emotions away or else channels them into her work, where they are easier to deal with. She seemed afraid to rely on other people, as if doing so would be her downfall. Despite this, her stubbornness and determined nature saw her battle through many obstacles. She never gave up, a trait which I found admirable. At no point did I dislike Joanna’s character: there was a rawness to her that spoke to me, that made her all the more human in my eyes. Her painful past was gradually laid bare for me as a reader and helped me to empathize with her further.
Amanda, Joanna’s twin sister, is far less bold as a character. Owing to their difficult past, Amanda became more quiet and introverted. She seemed emotionally fragile, as though she might break under the strain of the terrible journey she and Joanna found themselves part of. In contrast to Joanna’s more emotionally reserved façade, Amanda’s emotions were always easier to read, spilling out of her as though she couldn’t hold them in. In this way and others, the two sisters were complete opposites of each-other, which provided a good amount of interpersonal conflict throughout the book, in addition to the main story conflict.
Their mother, Diane, only came into the book in person toward the end, however, she is mentioned repeatedly throughout the first half. From the start, Joanna describes her as unstable, with her mood and personality shifting quickly. There is said to be a hollowness to their mother’s gaze, which Joanna describes as seeing through her, into her. Not only is their mother said to be unstable but she is also emotionally manipulative and deeply troubled, an impression which is further emphasized when we meet her character in person.
Finally, we come to the dark entity which stalks the land of Violet Stone. At first, it wasn’t clear what the entity was, or what shape it took. However, over the course of the story, more details began to appear, providing additional pieces to the mysterious puzzle of the entity’s nature. The entity appeared to be drawn to those who had undergone intense trauma, absorbing their misery, as though gaining power from it. It had a sadistic mind, possessing and murdering whoever it deemed to be a nuisance. That being said, the author crafted an unforgettable and unique supernatural being with a complex origin story, which is only revealed toward the end of the book.
Latcher was a well executed novel with a strong female protagonist and unique supernatural foe. Listed below are some of the main reasons I enjoyed it so thoroughly.
- The author describes the settings well, infusing various sensory impressions into every scene, which makes them feel more realistic, as if you – the reader – are witnessing each event yourself.
- The sibling rivalry between Joanna and Amanda was conveyed well, being both simultaneously realistic and possessing a dramatic flare that helped to move the story along.
- The author makes good use of vivid imagery and metaphors throughout, to pain a gory and terrifying picture of the sister’s horrific journey.
- The tension-building was good and made me feel Joanna’s fears on a primal level.
- The author has a unique voice when writing. I could really feel the person behind the words; their human qualities of fear, longing, pain, and regret. His writing style resonated with me on a deeper level, drawing me in at every turn.
- The unexpected twist at the half-way mark was one I’d never have seen coming. It was well executed, as were the various other twists, which made this story suspenseful and exciting.
Two quotes caught my attention while reading Latcher, both of which are included below.
1) ‘I’d believed that if I just focused on moving ahead, the demons lingering in the past would remain there.’
2) ‘I’d been running from something for so long, believing I could outrun it if I just kept going. But I couldn’t. It would always be there.’
Both of the above quotes discuss past pain and how running from it will do no good. It is facing the past and the painful memories associated with it that will make a person stronger and help them to resolve their issues. In essence, the more a problem is ignored, the more it festers in the human mind.
Overall, Latcher was a well written, suspenseful, and highly imaginative horror novel with a strong-willed and admirable protagonist. This was easily one of the best novels I have read all year, with themes of trauma, the supernatural, and long-kept but disturbing family secrets.
My Rating: 5 stars.
Recommended to: Those aged 18 + who enjoy dark and twisted horror novels with supernatural undertones and strong-willed protagonists.
A dark and twisted tale, with much blood and some truly disturbing mental images.
Would you like more information?
As always, thank you for joining me for today’s review.
If you enjoyed this post, why not share it over social media using the buttons below, or leave a comment to let us know what you thought.
Have a wonderful week,