I haven't actually done a book review on here in a while, so I think maybe it's time. And what a tale to break back into it with!
Full disclosure: I was given a pre-release copy of this, but that in no way affects this review.
I'd heard the names Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason before, but unfortunately hadn't had the privilege of reading any of their work until I got a hold of Mayan Blue, their first novel-length story coming May 25 from Sinister Grin Press. I knew they'd been given the appellation "The Sisters of Slaughter", but for some reason I still wasn't sure what to expect.
I definitely understand the nickname now.
Once the action begins, not far into the book, it just doesn't let up. These two show no quarter dragging the characters--and by extension, the reader--into the depths of the Mayan version of Hell. There's a vividness to the scenes they craft that made me want to make sure I was reading in full daylight, or at least with most of the lights on. Before long, I could swear I smelled the rot and decay, and kept remembering the old tagline for Last House on the Left, only modified for the format: it's only a story, it's only a story....
That they researched their subject matter fully is without question. The degree to which they brought this dead culture's beliefs and rituals to life was uncanny. Every writer worth their salt does research; it's just part of the crafting process, if you want to do it right. But there's a balance between using that research to flavor your story and using it to bludgeon your readers over the head with all the cool stuff you learned. These two have found that balance, and when they bludgeon you, it's with the story, not the background. That takes skill, and you'll find it here in abundance.
I'd love to go into more detail, but I'd rather keep this journey fresh and this review spoiler-free for anyone who picks it up. And I can't recommend enough that you do so. For the record: grab it in paperback once it's available. The wrap-around cover is one of the most beautiful I've seen in a very long time, if not THE most beautiful. Hell, buy two: one to read, one so you can frame the cover. It's that good.
This may have been my first exposure to the Sisters, but I'm positive it won't be my last. And if Mayan Blue is anything to gauge it from, I doubt I'll be disappointed!
Grab it from Amazon here. You will NOT regret it!