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Books That Shine: The Foundation Era

Books That Shine: The Foundation Era

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SLASH-HER: A Women of Horror Anthology [BOOK REVIEW]

SLASH-HER: A Women of Horror Anthology [BOOK REVIEW]

Whether you fancy tales centered on revenge, horror, suspense, heartbreak, justice, mystery, drama, or the supernatural… you’re sure to find a number of stories here that’ll meet your specific needs and desires.

Children of Sin [Movie Review]

Children of Sin [Movie Review]

Inescapable circumstances, familial traps, and fear of eternal suffering combine with dark humor in writer-actor-director Christopher Wesley Moore’s independent horror-thriller “Children of Sin” (2022).

The Fear Sheets

The Fear Sheets

We are bringing the #HorrorCommunity together with bloggers, magazines, influencers, and more than 30 publishers. This is a true community effort with a lot of potential at absolutely no cost to anyone.

Sentinel by Drew Starling [Book Review]

Sentinel is Drew Starling’s novel debut, although he has a plethora of short stories and novellas under his belt. It is the start of a series, following a fictional family that has arrived in a small town – Aaron, Ellen, and Caleb. The story is told in multiple pov, Aaron and Ellen both get turns as the driving force behind the story, as does Cheryl, a local cop, on her way to becoming the sheriff in charge of the local police force. A strange creature impinges on their lives and brings with it a set of paranormal problems, which sets the stage for Caleb (Aaron and Ellen’s child) being kidnapped and a showdown with the creature. Ok. So that’s the synopsis, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.

Drew shows a great understanding of pace and flow, this was a breeze to read, so I can say that it feels very comfortable, and Drew has a really good understanding of both his characters and his audience – Female representation is outstanding, and honestly, is one of the forces that drive this book. I came across the book through Tik Tok, and drew has managed to make that media platform his safe place, his marketing, and promotion on that platform are a credit to him and his writing – he’s a nice guy, and this felt, right from the beginning, like I was reading a book from a friend – which is perfect marketing in my eyes. So – great job there, Drew.

book cover for Sentinel by Drew Starling

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Now, I’m a mean ol’ Austrian, so there are things in the book which set off my nerd radar and were thorns in the otherwise smooth exterior that is Sentinel. I’m an advocate of world-building, and a details nerd. So, there are things in here that were for me, obvious mood triggers, but which were not explained or examined. I get that there is a second book coming, but elements of the book were, in my eyes, non-sensical. I’ll go into detail about that below, but I want to say right up front here, that I get that’s because I’m such a nerd, no one else is going to notice those things, and the hope lives eternally that Drew will address those issues in the second book if someone like me raises them. So I’m the bad guy, but here’s some stuff I want to see explained in the next book (spoilers below):

  • The Sentinel creature sends them a signal through their house phone, a message of “Open the gate.”. There is no gate in the novel, either metaphysically or physically. It is a message he goes to great lengths to give them but is never revisited or examined in detail. Neither Aaron nor Ellen ever questions the message further.
  • Their neighbor is massacred (nice kill scene, Drew) by a violent creature. After he is dead, the Sentinel (one assumes) uses the telephone again to repeat the same message of “open the gate”, but uses this dead neighbor’s voice. How? He’s dead, and not killed by the sentinel, and therefore had nothing to do with the Sentinel. So how does his voice get used? And to what purpose? Why use the voice of a dead friend?
  • Upon investigating an area of the death of the neighbor, the Sentinel whispers (is not physically there but uses telepathy) that that person should leave the area. The person is spooked and leaves, so job done. But if the sentinel can “whisper” a message directly into their brains, why was he bothering to use the telephone in the first case? And why leave an obscure message instead of telling them straight up “Leave the light off, so I can do my job!” – If the driving force behind the sentinel is a human, and the sentinel has any human intelligence and can convey a message, the paradox of the message he leaves to begin with as opposed to the message he should be saying is a little hard to accept as anything other than mood setting.
  • This came across as the MC being primarily Aaron, but the pov MC switched halfway in the novel to be more about Ellen and Cheryl – and Aaron actually being more or less a floater, there but not there. It’s great to have two strong female MCs, this is playing to the audience’s wishes, so why wasn’t that set up from the get-go?

Ok. So those are things I’d love to see answered in the next novel. Now having said all of that, the story carried me through my qualms. The relationship work here between all of the characters is really well done, Starling knows his relationship building.

All said and done, this was entertainment, “popcorn horror” – if you will, and is a great start to the series. I’m giving this a 3.5 rounded up to 4 star‘s on Goodreads due to the great female representation here, and because it read so easily. I look forward to the sequel, Drew, and let’s see if you can answer some of those questions you left hanging!

Austrian Spencer

Austrian Spencer

Author

Austrian Spencer does not watch horror films, though enjoys horror books.  His influences include Alan Moore, Dave Sim, Neil Gaiman, Frank Miller, The family King, Iain M.Banks, from whom he wishes to learn. Be inspired. He owes them everything, despite their beards. The Sadeiest is Austrian’s debut novel. 

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