Book Thirty-Six of 2014: DEAD SOUL MARY by M.J. Winn

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DEAD SOUL MARY is a literary horror novel in the traditions of Richard Matheson, Clive Barker, and Stephen King.
(From the back of the book) Megan Bauer, a spirited seventeen-year-old high school student, didn’t know souls could become sick. She didn’t know souls could die while the host lives on, unaware. But she’s going to find out. Within M.J. Winn’s chilling horror novel, DEAD SOUL MARY, Megan must save good people from brutally turning against one another in unprovoked, bloodthirsty rages. But is there time? For she must first defeat her own demons before taking on the utterly terrifying one that is incubating an evil, supernatural virus. Can Megan stop the plague of violence before it becomes unstoppable?

I haven’t read much horror in a long time. Of course, I was excited to read this book. DEAD SOUL MARY is a book that deals with the evil in us all.

First off, I have no idea why there is MARY in the title. The “DEAD SOUL” part does come up, but later in the book. However, there is no one named Mary in the book. The only thing I could come up with is the spirituality or religious undertone this book has. It isn’t overly religious, there is no one shoving their beliefs down the reader’s throat, but there is the underlying thought of kindness is strength that is important. Being the loving and compassionate mother of God, the Virgin Mary could be the influence to the “MARY” part of the book, but this is purely speculation in my part.

The book is slow going at first. There is a lot of character development in the beginning and the writing doesn’t really change pace until about 14% in. It then changes again around 50% and again in 80%. Each change makes you excited to the point where you may be at the edge of your seat come 80%(which I was).

That said, I had no idea what was going on until the ending. What I mean by that, is that I had no idea where the book was going. Which can be a good or bad thing. In this case, I liked where it ended even though I wish it had some predictability. The absence could put off a reader, but with the changes of pacing, the reader should want to keep going.

The characters are not brilliant. I disliked Megan in the beginning and it wasn’t until the 80% that I really began liking her. She is selfish and thinks too much about sex and strange sexual fantasies for my taste. By the end though, I found great promise in her and am happy with who she becomes. Drew is another character I didn’t like nor really dislike. He just was. He seemed too much of a pushover and nothing to resemble a backbone. He is caring though and in a see of chaos and selfish characters, Drew is a beacon of hope.

And then there is Desmond. I LOVE Desmond. He was both sympathetic, but dangerous. I am scared of that man and wouldn’t want to cross paths with him at any time, but because of the flashbacks you get about his family background, you do end up having some sympathy for him. He is brutal though. Absolutely brutal and disturbing. The methods he kills people are far worse than the methods of the other crazy murders that happen in the book.

I would have liked this book better if there was less sexual thoughts. It makes sex look like a preverted expression of selfishness instead of something that could be wonderful. For certain scenes I understand why the sex or fantasies need to come up, but there was no need to delve into the sexual fantasies of Megan or the FBI agent. I think that less of their thoughts and keeping the perversions from the flashbacks and certain characters would have made a bigger impact at the evilness in us all. As such, by having the main characters’ fantasies displayed alongside the other sex stuff, the effect was downplayed.

That said, with all of that, I liked the book. It probably didn’t need to be as long as it was, but I really liked the ending and the underlying message that was brought up in the midst of the chaos.

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