I have to admit that I’m not very familiar with Kristin Dearborn’s work, but after reading her latest effort, Stolen Away, I’m going to be taking more notice in the future.
The story’s familiar, especially if you’ve read Ira Levin’s book or seen the movie Rosemary’s Baby. That said, this isn't just a simple re-hash of the same old territory. Where Stolen Away differs is in how it blends the subtle creepiness of the old with the directness of modern horror. And while there are many out there who’ve attempted this and failed, Kristin Dearborn succeeds at the task admirably.
We’re introduced to Trisha, a former drug addict who is trying to get her life back on track for the sake of her two kids. When her infant boy is taken by a “monster” one night, she finds herself in a desperate race to save him from Hell itself. She brings her ex, Joel, along for the ride, after convincing him that she’s not crazy. Unfortunately, this also catches the attention of the men who’ve been after Joel to collect a debt they feel he owes them, adding to the danger.
Where this story really shines is in the character of Trisha herself. She is obviously a broken person when we meet her, despite her best intentions, and while she is in a better place by the end of the tale, the transition is not a fast one. It’s gradual, born from desperation and necessity, making it feel extremely natural and even subtle at times. I found myself smiling as she reached each milestone of her development, and mentally cheered her on as she worked toward the next. More telling, I think, is that while Trisha seems like the type of character to elicit pity or sadness, Dearborn has written her in such a way as to avoid those traps, leaving her a strong female lead in a genre that definitely needs more of them.
The supernatural element here is also played brilliantly, adding a creep factor that keeps you sucked in to see what happens next. From Trisha and Joel’s attempts to learn enough occultism to combat their foe, to the brutal scenes of possession and exorcism presented, it all felt firmly rooted in both reality and fantasy, a balance that is needed for the subject matter and is sometimes hard to find.
I had a harder time feeling that terror when the main villain, DEMON, was on stage, though. Rather than coming off as a powerful demonic force, he came across more as the jerk frat boy who stayed out of trouble because of his parent’s money and connections. Maybe this was the image he was trying to present to better lure his prey, but for me it fell a little flat. Still, his manipulations and the way he acted while getting into Trisha’s head made him a worthy opponent, at least when things left the real world for the supernatural one.
There were also a couple of spots near the end where it got a little jumbled, but not enough that I was pulled out of the story or felt it detracted too greatly. Overall, I would say this was a solid effort by Kristin Dearborn, and one that should put her on any horror fan’s radar for a long time to come.
Synopsis for Stolen Away
- Publication Date: June 24, 2016
- Publisher: Raw Dog Screaming Press
- Publication Length: 220 pages
Trisha will admit she's made a few mistakes in her life but that checkered past is behind her. She loves her kids, even if it's tough being a single mom. But her loyalties are put to the test when her infant son disappears in the middle of the night, and his big sister says a monster took him.
Now Trisha has to face the full truth behind the one-night-stand that produced Brayden in all its scaly torridness – Brayden's father wasn't human and isn't interested in sharing custody. However, even though DEMON has pulled this stunt many times before, he made a mistake when he chose Trisha. The one thing she won't do is give up her son without a fight. Along with her ex-boyfriend, Joel, Trisha is dragged back into the seedy underworld in a desperate fight to reclaim her son, only this time she's got a lot more to lose.
About the Cover
The cover was created by Italian artist Daniele Serra. He is a winner of the British Fantasy Award and has worked with companies such as DC Comics, Image Comics, Cemetery Dance, Weird Tales Magazine and PS Publishing. Recently his work was featured as interior art in a scene of Stephen King’s The Cell, with Samuel Jackson looking it over. Visit his web site to see more of his art: http://www.multigrade.it
If it screams, squelches, or bleeds, Kristin Dearborn has probably written about it. Kristin has written books such as Sacrifice Island (DarkFuse), Trinity (DarkFuse), and had fiction published in several magazines and anthologies. Stolen Away was recently a limited edition offered from Thunderstorm Books, which sold out.
She revels in comments like, “But you look so normal…how do you come up with that stuff?” A life-long New Englander, she aspires to the footsteps of the local masters, Messrs. King and Lovecraft. When not writing or rotting her brain with cheesy horror flicks (preferably creature features!) she can be found scaling rock cliffs or zipping around Vermont on a motorcycle, or gallivanting around the globe. Kristin’s latest DarkFuse release is Woman in White.
Find more about Kristin online at kristindearborn.com or Facebook.
Praise for Kristin Dearbon
“In Stolen Away, Kristin Dearborn writes with a confidence and ferocity that demands you keep turning pages. Where lesser writers would flinch and look away, Dearborn tells the tale the way it should be, with cruelty and fascination for both her characters and the story. Kristin Dearborn isn’t just a writer to watch, she’s a writer to watch out for. If she’s swinging, you might want to duck, because she hits hard!—Bracken MacLeod, author of Mountain and Stranded
“Kristin Dearborn’s fast-paced horror thriller, Stolen Away, will possess readers as they strap in for a demonic thrill ride of sin and redemption.”—Stephanie M. Wytovich, author of An Exorcism of Angels
“Gripping nonstop suspense and unsettling horror that blazes the pages from start to finish. You’ll swear Stolen Away was written by a seasoned veteran of best-selling novels. Expect to want more after reading the second novel by Kristin Dearborn, an author whose work will shoot her straight to the top of reading lists.”—Rena Mason, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Evolutionist
“Kristin Dearborn catapults readers into an intricately layered world that is bleak and terrifying but never so damned as to be without hope or redemption. If the devil, so to speak, is in the details, then this book raises hell, exploring not just demons internal as well as external, but also all the beautiful, heart-wrenching, contradictorily complex, powerful little things that define human experience. This book earns a prominent place of the bookshelf of any fan of demonic fiction.” —Mary SanGiovanni, author of The Hollower trilogy and Chills
“Horror born straight from a nor’easter, Dearborn’s Woman in White is a great read for a winter night—with a monster I’ll never forget.” —Christopher Irvin, author of Federales and Burn Cards
“Kristin Dearborn’s Woman in White is a rip-roaring monster tale with sharp-eyed characterization and something to say about the power dynamics between men and woman. Thought-provoking and entertaining as hell!” —Tim Waggoner, author of Eat the Night
“Great stuff! Suspenseful, quickly paced, unpredictable and wonderfully evil tale. Kristin Dearborn’s best yet!” —Jeff Strand, author of Pressure
“Dearborn has a wonderful sense of the macabre, along with the ability to balance the spookier aspects of her work with well-rendered, solid characterizations…Sacrifice Island is a blazing fast read, with engaging characters and a compelling narrative.” —The Maine Edge
“Sacrifice Island is a fresh and interesting take on a tried and true horror setup.” —Examiner
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