Mini Review – A Crooked Mark

Hello, everyone! It has been a while since I reviewed something that wasn’t an ARC. I enjoyed this one so much that I had to share it on the blog. Here’s my review of A Crooked Mark by Linda Kao, which is available now.

A dark and sinister debut YA novel about a teen boy who must hunt down those marked by the devil – including the girl he has fallen for.

Perfect for fans of Neal Shusterman and Kendare Blake.

Rae Winter should be dead.

Some say that walking away from the car crash that killed her dad is a miracle, but seventeen-year-old Matthew Watts knows that the forces of Good aren’t the only ones at work. The devil, Lucifer himself, can mark a soul about to pass on, sending it back to the land of the living to carry out his evil will.

Matt has grown up skipping from town to town alongside his father hunting anyone who has this mark. They have one Find these people, and exterminate them.

After helping his father for years, Matt takes on his own Rae Winter, miracle survivor. But when Matt starts to fall for Rae, to make friends for the first time in his life, he’s not sure who or what to believe anymore. How can someone like Rae, someone who is thoughtful and smart and kind, be an agent of the devil? With the lines of reality and fantasy, myth and paranoia blurred, Matt confronts an awful truth….

What if the devil’s mark doesn’t exist?

I enjoyed this book even more than I thought I would. The vibes felt like a mix of the TV shows Supernatural and You. Matt and his father have spent their lives investigating people with Lucifer’s mark and burning them alive if they show signs of carrying evil power. Now that he’s 17, it was time for Matt to strike out on an investigation of his own. Over the course of his time watching his “project,” Matt experienced what it was like to have a normal life, one with friends, a school routine, and possibly love. This left Matt questioning whether his lifelong quest to hunt evil was real or something his father’s friend made up to rationalize murdering people. The ease with which he slid into these people’s lives was creepy AF, and his paranoia about the entire process left me with goosebumps. There were some gut punch moments that had me super emotional, which I didn’t expect. Things did feel a little drawn out at times, but the writing was so good at maintaining the tension that I barely cared. The end went in directions I didn’t anticipate and was surprisingly heartfelt for a horror story. lol. I liked the message of it but was also a little disappointed in how things wrapped up. Overall, this was a good read, though, and I definitely recommend it. Therefore, I rate the book 4 out of 5 stars.

ARC Review – Dark Farm

Author: Dean Raven

Publication Date: May 5, 2021

Length: 443 pages

Read Date(s): May 10, 2021 – May 13, 2021


Goodreads Synopsis

Wizards, gods, monsters, reanimated dead things … and this is just the beginning.

A family of campers has been slaughtered and Sam Morgan from the government’s National Security Office is scouring the Six Hills for the killers.

In nearby Quorn, trainee fire officer Kane Gates struggles to come to terms with his own family tragedy. And now he has to battle the sinister sorcerer Wilfred Waite, who is bent on corrupting his brother and unleashing hell on earth.

When the headstrong Arika Livingston appears in Quorn to investigate reports of a dragon attack, Kane finds himself with a valuable ally. But what is Arika’s real agenda? And what is her connection to Sam Morgan and the Dark farm?

The horrors lurking beneath the Dark farm will bring the feuding brothers together and begin a chain of events that will threaten not only Dylan, not only our planet, but existence itself.

How deep into a world of horror will Kane descend to protect his family from evil?

Dark Farm is a supernatural adventure, a thrilling rollercoaster ride into a universe of wizardry, magic, horror, gods, cosmic terror and a looming apocalypse, that has at its heart the fragile relationship between two brothers.

Dark Farm Book One in the epic series, Bringer of the Dark

In the far reaches of the universe, the primordial Kragn Z’garh Khrl’ur plots its long-awaited return to Earth. It has help from ancient cults, opposed for centuries by the might of a supernatural society, and now new and unlikely heroes are emerging to lead the final battle.

My Review

***Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a copy of the book. The following review consists of my honest opinions and reactions to the book.***

This book was a roller-coaster ride of family tragedy, wizards, zombies, and destructive gods. The pacing was often pretty intense despite the book being over 400 pages. I kept wanting to turn the page to see what would happen next. The plot was interesting and left me with a lot of questions and excitement about the next book. The story was ambitious and attempted to cover a lot of ground in one book, but, overall, I thought the author did a great job weaving the parts of the story together to create a gripping, cohesive narrative with fascinating world-building and engaging twists that kept me on the edge of my seat. That being said, parts of the story were repetitive at times, and I think there may have been a less circuitous way to reach the same outcome by streamlining the story some. I also would have liked to see the events of the first third of the book have more of a direct tie-in to the ending given how long was devoted to the family tragedy faced by the main characters at the beginning of the book.

I loved so many of the characters. The two brothers, Kane and Dylan, were both well-developed, and their backstory was explored in great depth. I enjoyed seeing their distinct personalities at play as they both coped with family tragedy in different ways. They also both experienced tremendous character growth throughout the story, which felt organic and true to the nature of each boy’s characteristics, as well as the situations in which they found themselves. The wizards in this story were also some of my favorite characters simply because they were so deliciously evil. I enjoyed every part of the story that had them in it because their perspectives were just so outrageously villainous. There weren’t any characters I didn’t like, but there were some secondary characters who had what should have been impactful moments, if only they had been utilized and developed more before that point.

The level of horror and grotesque imagery utilized in this book was superb. The author was able to help me create truly repugnant pictures in my head of the zombies and monsters, and I had a lot of fun doing it. I’ve seen elsewhere that the gods and monsters in this book are based on Lovecraft’s writing, but I did not need to read any of his work to understand or enjoy this story. It stands well on its own, and the reader learns about the gods, magic, and history of the world alongside the main characters at a steady pace as the book progresses.

Overall, I enjoyed this book a lot. The characters and villains were fantastic, and the setting seems deep in lore, which is barely scratched by this first book. Therefore, I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars, and I cannot wait to get my hands on future installments.