#BookReview: Halcyon by Rio Youers @TitanBooks #Halcyon #damppebbles

Nightmarishly compelling and flawlessly told horror for fans of Paul Tremblay and Joe Hill.

Halcyon is the answer for all Americans who want to escape, but paradise isn’t what it seems. A beautiful self-sustaining community made up of people who want to live without fear, crime, or greed, Halcyon is run by Valerie Kemp, aka Mother Moon, benevolent and altruistic on the outside, but hiding an unimaginable darkness inside. She has dedicated her life to the pursuit of Glam Moon, a place of eternal beauty and healing. And she believes the pathway there can only be found at the end of pleasure.

On the heels of tragedy, Martin Lovegrove moves his family to Halcyon. A couple of months, he tells himself, to retreat from the chaos and grind. He soon begins to suspect there is something beneath Halcyon’s perfect veneer and sets out to discover the truth, however terrible it might be, behind the island and its mysterious founder.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of Halcyon by Rio Youers. Halcyon was published by Titan Books in paperback, digital and audio formats on 23rd October 2018. I received a free ARC of Halcyon but that has in no way influenced my review.

Oh wow, this book! I admit it, I’m bookish (shocker, I know!) but rarely do I take to the socials to talk about a book I’m reading (yes, I’m a terrible book blogger). Halcyon hooked me in so quickly and made me fall head over heels in love with the lead characters – a *fairly* average all-American family – that I had to share my concerns, that impending sense of doom, with other book nerds on Twitter. My anxiety was through the roof and by taking regular breaks, putting the book down and taking deep breaths, I had somehow convinced myself (in a completely ridiculous and deluded way) that I could delay whatever horrible things were coming their way. I couldn’t, of course, but I HAD to share how I felt. And if that isn’t the mark of a great book, I don’t know what is!

Martin Lovegrove has had enough. He watches as shocking events are reported almost daily on the news – plane hijackings, mass shootings, multiple car pile-ups, bombings, the list feels endless. Horror after blood-soaked horror. He finally reaches breaking point when tragedy comes knocking at his own door and so vows to do everything he can to protect his two daughters, ten year old Edith and fifteen year old Shirley, and prevent any further trauma. When a stranger in a bar suggests a haven away from the aggression of every day life, Martin is dubious but wants to find out more. How could he not after everything his family have been through? Martin decides to move the family to Halcyon for a few weeks, no more. Unless they really feel at home in their new safe haven. It’ll give them the break they need and hopefully give his eldest daughter, Shirley, something other than darkness to focus on. When they arrive on the island they meet the hypnotic Mother Moon, founder and leader of Halcyon (although no one would be so vulgar as to call her that). After a few days in paradise, Martin realises that not everything is as perfect as it first appears. To help settle his mind and clear up any doubts, he decides to address a few concerns he has with a spot of breaking and entering. The cause of his concern is a small locked box Mother Moon keeps in her cabin. What secrets does it hold? And can Martin handle the truth? Instead of being a haven, it looks like Halcyon could actually be hell on earth…

Halcyon is incredibly well-written and I would pick up another book by this author in a nano-second. What I found particularly enjoyable is how Youers has been extremely clever and gets his reader to fully invest in the Lovegrove family before he starts to tear their lives apart. I found myself enjoying spending time with them and I looked forward to picking up my copy of the book. I mentioned above that they are a *fairly* average family. Well, that’s not entirely true. This is a horror/thriller novel so it has a delightful drizzle of darkness from the opening chapters which comes courtesy of a gift (/curse) one of the Lovegrove clan have. Visions, premonitions, prophesies of great pain, terror and anguish. Horrific night terrors which consume their holder. This darker edge made me love the Lovegroves just that little bit more.

I adored the first third of this book. The pace changes a little for the second third and I found it’s grip loosening a little on me. I was still intrigued as to where the author was going to take the story but watching the happy and contented residents live their happy and contented lives on Halcyon didn’t have the same pull as meeting the Lovegroves (in the first section). Mother Moon is such a brilliantly written character and I found myself surprisingly sympathetic towards her at times. Her story is one of pure darkness and it pulsates with evil. A very memorable character who, despite trying, I probably won’t be able to get out of my head!

The last third is ohmhgoodness, edge-of-your-seat thrilling and I was glued to the book. I was completely in the story with the characters; watching the snow fall and feeling the terror build. It was magnificent.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Halcyon is not a short novel (528 pages) but it’s well worth investing the time in this excellent piece of storytelling. I loved the characters, the setting was beautifully presented, so much so that I can picture Halcyon clearly in my mind’s eye, and the plot took me on one hell of a ride. A thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable reading experience that I would recommend to all. And if the word ‘horror’ puts you off, don’t let it stop you from reading this fantastic book. I promise, you’ll be fine. Recommended.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Halcyon. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Halcyon by Rio Youers was published in the UK by Titan Books on 23rd October 2018 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook DepositoryGoodreadsBookshop.orgthe damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Rio Youers is the British Fantasy and Sunburst Award–nominated author of Westlake Soul and Halcyon. His 2017 thriller, The Forgotten Girl, was a finalist for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Crime Novel. He is the writer of Sleeping Beauties, a comic book series based on the bestselling novel by Stephen King and Owen King. Rio’s new novel, Lola on Fire, will be published by William Morrow in February 2021.

#BlogTour | #Extract: Halcyon by Rio Youers (@Rio_Youers) @TitanBooks #Halcyon

halcyon.jpg“Nightmarishly compelling and flawlessly told horror for fans of Paul Tremblay and Joe Hill.

Halcyon is the answer for all Americans who want to escape, but paradise isn’t what it seems. A beautiful self-sustaining community made up of people who want to live without fear, crime, or greed, Halcyon is run by Valerie Kemp, aka Mother Moon, benevolent and altruistic on the outside, but hiding an unimaginable darkness inside. She has dedicated her life to the pursuit of Glam Moon, a place of eternal beauty and healing. And she believes the pathway there can only be found at the end of pleasure.

On the heels of tragedy, Martin Lovegrove moves his family to Halcyon. A couple of months, he tells himself, to retreat from the chaos and grind. He soon begins to suspect there is something beneath Halcyon’s perfect veneer and sets out to discover the truth, however terrible it might be, behind the island and its mysterious founder.”

I am absolutely delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on the Halcyon blog tour. Halcyon is written by Rio Youers and was published in paperback by Titan Books on 23rd October 2018.

If you’ve been with me for a while now you will know that I am a massive fan of horror novels. Yes, I am primarily a crime reader, but horror will always have a very special place in my heart. If I’m suffering from a dreaded reading slump (we’ve all been there) then I can guarantee reading a horror novel will reinvigorate my love of books. I don’t read enough really and I would love to immerse myself in more. I first saw Halcyon mentioned on another blog; it was this review of Abby’s over on Anne Bonny Book Reviews and I knew I had to read it. So look out for a review coming your way soon!

In the meantime, I have an extract to share with you today.

Shirley stood up from the top stair, where she’d sat for the last fifteen minutes listening to her parents’ conversation. She didn’t have to strain her ears, either; when Mom and Dad had one of their powwows in the kitchen, their voices— even if they whispered—carried into the hallway and swirled around the ceiling above the stairway. A cool acoustic quirk. Her music teacher once told her there was an area inside Grand Central Station where you could whisper into a corner, and no matter how much noise and kerfuffle there was around (and Shirley figured there was always a good deal of noise and kerfuffle at Grand Central Station), the person standing in the opposite corner would hear your voice like you were standing next to them. This was similar to the way Edith sometimes communicated with her—a direct, secret method, bypassing traditional routes. It was fun to begin with, but it wasn’t normal, and Shirley knew it had to stop.

No good could come from it.

Shirley eavesdropped on her parents until they started smooching—totally gross—then snuck along the landing to Edith’s room. She inched the door open and crept inside.

“Edith? You awake?”

The bedclothes shuffled and Edith sat up, her eyes bright and owl-like in the glow of the nightlight. She clutched Paisley Rabbit to her breast. He squeaked companionably. She was too old for Paisley, but he made an appearance every now and then. A comfort thing.

“They’re talking about us again,” Shirley said, and perched on the edge of Edith’s bed. “About you, mostly.”

“What are they saying?”

“That thing in Buffalo. The bomb. They think you saw it in your mind before it happened in real life.”

“Oh. That doesn’t sound good.”

“How much do you remember?”

“Nothing really.” Several shallow lines crossed Edith’s brow. “Just . . . ashes. Like trying to remember a dream.” They sat in silence for a moment, the only sounds coming from the other side of the blinds: the traffic coursing along Melon Road, a radio playing some catchy nerd-rock song, older kids shooting hoops beneath the lights in Oval Park Court. Just another cool spring evening in Flint Wood, New York.

“They’re worried about us.” Shirley looked at the wall where Edith had scrawled her symbols. Nothing there now but the fresh-paint tracks Dad had made with the roller. “Mom’s bringing in help. A specialist.”

“The Star Wars guy?”

“Not this time. It’ll be someone different.” She recalled her mom’s description. “Someone sympathetic.

Edith gathered Paisley a little closer. She appeared to take all this on board, and accept it, then her brow furrowed more deeply and her upper lip quivered, and all at once her face scrunched. Tears jumped from her eyes and she used Paisley’s floppy ears to smudge them away.

“It’s not my fault,” she sniveled, trying to keep her voice down. “I didn’t ask for this.”

Shirley shuffled closer, threw an arm around her little sister, and kissed her clumsily on the cheek. “Shhh . . . hey, I never said it was your fault.”

“You’re mad at me. I can tell.”

“No, it’s just . . . I told you, Ede, I can’t hold your hand anymore. Not up here.” Shirley pressed a finger to her forehead. “I thought I was helping you, but I’m not. I’m making things worse.”

“I was scared,” Edith moaned, mopping more tears away. “I know you said not to, and I tried, but it was too big.”

“Yeah, but we freaked Mom and Dad the hell out. They’re bringing in a specialist. There’ll be questions, examinations. I’m worried it’ll lead to more questions—smelly old men in suits digging through your brain.”

Edith’s jaw fell. “You think?’

“Maybe,” Shirley said. “ This thing . . . it’s not natural, Ede. It scares people.”

“It scares me.

“Right, which is why you need to control it. And I’m going to help you.” Shirley touched her forehead again. “Just not up here.”

A barking dog joined the evening chorus. It was loud and insistent. Shirley listened for a moment, lost in thought.

“I’m going to take you somewhere over the weekend,” she said.

Edith looked at her curiously. “Where?”

“My special place.” Shirley leaned closer, lowering her voice. “But don’t tell Mom and Dad. We’re in enough trouble as it is.”

“Okay.”

Shirley smiled. Not a full smile, certainly not a happy one, but better than nothing. She kissed her sister on the cheek again, then stood up and started toward the door.

“Shirl?”

She stopped, turned around. Maybe it was the way Edith’s eyes shimmered in the nightlight’s bluish glow, or the stuffed toy secured faithfully in her arms, but she looked so young. Five years old, not ten.

“This place,” Edith said. “Is it bad?”

Shirley bristled. She tried to keep her voice even, but it quavered just a little. “You need to stay out of my mind, Ede.”

Edith shook her head. “I didn’t, Shirl. I promise. I . . .” The rabbit in her arms squeaked. “I didn’t.

“Do you trust me?”

I can’t wait to read this book! I may even cheat and move it to the top of the TBR, just don’t tell anyone 😉.

Halcyon by Rio Youers was published in the UK by Titan Books on 23rd October 2018 and is available in hardcover, paperback and eBook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

Halcyon blog tour banner

about-the-author3

rio youers.jpgRio Youers is the British Fantasy Award–nominated author of Old Man Scratch and Point Hollow. His short fiction has been published in many notable anthologies, and his novel, Westlake Soul, was nominated for Canada’s prestigious Sunburst Award. He has been favorably reviewed in such venues as Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and The National Post. His latest novel, The Forgotten Girl, was released by Macmillan/St. Martin’s Press in June 2017.

Rio lives in southwestern Ontario with his wife, Emily, and their children, Lily and Charlie.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter |