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A Family Parasite? (A Review of James Derry’s “Line of Descent”)

Goodreads.com Description: “Some women dread the idea of turning into their mothers. For Elise Gardener, that dread has twisted into an all-too-real nightmare. Elise has always been the spooky misfit of her wealthy family—and a disappointment to her overbearing mother. Elise’s problem is that she’s supernaturally sensitive. She’s an empath who can’t help seeing and feeling the intimate emotions—sometimes painful or shameful—of every person she meets. While her cousins are starting glamorous and lucrative careers, Elise is happy working as an unseen housekeeper at a camp for underprivileged children. But Elise’s cloistered life is shattered when her mother seemingly drowns herself. Elise invites her tenuous best friend—Mallory, a girl she’s only known for two months—to the memorial at the Gardeners’ private isle on the Georgia coast. Together, they discover that Elise’s family have a sinister secret that they’ve been keeping for generations. They are in the thrall of a dark spirit—a powerful, primordial ancestor who lives eternally by possessing the bodies of its descendants. Elise’s own mother was its last host…and the Gardeners’ inner circle have been raising Elise to be next. As the entity invades her mind, Elise is haunted by the memories of its past victims (including a Khmer princess and a mesmerist in pre-Revolution Paris). Through these visions she may find salvation, but her chances are slim. In 8,000 years no heir has ever broken free of the Gardener’s Line of Descent.”

About the Author:

“James Derry has been writing or drawing stories since the day his parents let him borrow a ballpoint pen. That’s when he created his first magnum opus in blue ink: a comic-book parody of Ghostbusters called ‘Roastbusters.’ Hey, he was ten.

He studied art in college (The University of Georgia), and eventually his aspirations shifted from being an illustrator to being a graphic designer. He returned to writing ten years ago after meeting his wife. He currently resides in Atlanta and spends large chunks of his free time working on (and reworking) a variety of fiction projects.” [Amazon bio]

I received an ARC from Goodreads First Reads program in exchange for an honest review.

My Review:

James Derry’s Line of Descent  is a dark, creepy horror story. I enjoyed the well-written suspenseful tale of Elise Gardener, a girl destined to become just like her mother, grandparents, etc.

I loved the characters Derry crafted. Elise moved me to sorrow. The poor girl lost her mother and was forced to carry out a strange, twisted family tradition. Mallory was someone in the wrong place at the wrong time. She was a courageous girl wanting to be a good friend. Unfortunately, I think she may have enjoyed being in the Gardener’s world. She may even have found it to be advantageous. The character of the Wise One was a classic creepy villain. It was a being only concerned about itself and its survival. Each character Derry created was fully developed and interesting.

I felt Line of Descent was the embodiment of the classic horror tale. Derry included all the right elements: foreshadowing (sprinkled throughout the tale), fear (evident in Mallory’s and Elise’s actions and thoughts), suspense (I couldn’t put the book down), mystery (what role did the ring, blood and all the artifacts play in the tale?), and imagination (Derry nailed it with a unique story). Derry’s tale included an overpowering evil persona, a strong protagonist, a cast of wannabe’s in a power struggle and the good friend who is supportive even in the face of danger.

The details were excellent in Line of Descent. I could easily slip inside Elise’s dreams and visualize everything. Even the setting of the story was easy to create in my mind.

I loved how Derry ended Elise’s story. Whether or not there’s a sequel, isn’t important. Classic horror tales don’t need one. Think back to Rod Serling’s “Night Gallery”. You didn’t have to know what happened next to the characters. Your mind created the conclusion or it left you with a thought. Derry’s Line of Descent left me a thought: Can something be called a parasite, if the host is willing?

Pick up a copy of Line of Descent. You will not be disappointed!

Rating: 5 hands up5 hands up5 hands up5 hands up5 hands up

(5 Hands=Excellent; 4 Hands=Pretty Good; 3 Hands=Good)

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