Pretty Maidens All In a Row – by J.M. Brown – Review

Could any human being ever write this? As I sat on my armchair, turning page after page, I marveled at the exceptional talent of the author J.M Brown and wondered if it was possible for a human being to weave such a dark tale of sheer horror. Truth to be told, this must be the darkest tale I have ever read. J.M. Brown sure knows how to intermingle a character’s feelings along with the atmosphere around into a harmonies combination (the question remains: did she ever have a secret admirer too?):

“Sweat, mixed with hot tears, made fresh tracks through the blood on her face. She bravely fought the hysteria that was crawling from her belly to her throat, leaving waves of nausea in its wake. The staleness of the room was overwhelming and the meager light wafting through the tiny windows did nothing to dispel the gloom. Dust filled her nostrils and her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth. She felt her body quaking from head to toe with shock and fear. She licked her lips frantically, and was horrified to taste blood. Her heart ached as the enormity of the loss shook her to the very core, but there was no time to mourn. The room reeked of the unique, heavy tang of sweat, blood and madness. She forced herself to look at the monster that had them.”

Or this:

“Liz stared and with shaking hands touched the faces of the girls. They were all so young, so vibrant, so full of life. She looked up and met Dylan’s eyes, not even feeling the pressure of Jack’s arms around her, and she knew why he was staring at her when she first walked in. On the desk were pictures of four girls who could all be sisters. Her sisters.”

Her characters are filed with true life force; they are not just words filled in a book. You can actually empathize with the feelings of each character. As I read this book, I not only had my sympathies for Beth, but at times even felt little bits of sympathy for the stalker. The book expends quite a large body of words on Beth, something which was needed given that this is a female-centric novel. The character of lover boy was conventional; nothing home to write about. The story quite hit home with me because I knew a girl like Beth who had to go exactly through this kind of mental torture before the stalker guy turned the gun on himself. The subplot about murders of Beth’s lookalikes is a unique twist in a slasher story. The dialogs are quite realistic, even when they seem repetitious at first sight:

“They’re dead.” She said. “She’s dead, he’s dead, she’s dead, he’s dead, she’s dead, he’s dead.”

Speaking of ‘dead’, although I liked much of the book, I particularly loved Chapter 77 because I have never read such elaborate description of a cemetery; it actually makes the cemetery appear in front of your eyes! In the end, I can only vouchsafe the author’s claim, “You will have to finished the book once you start reading it.”

The bad: it is a bit too dark for my tastes. I had to take breaks and close my eyes at intervals while reading it. The profanity was alright. There was no table of contents at the start which was a minor inconvenience. I won’t call it an entertaining novel but if you like dark and twisted stories with realistic backgrounds, then this novel is for you.

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