By: A. R. Wise
Alma Harper has been trying to forget what happened in Widowsfield 16 years ago. She has a good life as a music teacher now, and might rekindle her relationship with her one true love. However, the number 314 haunts her, and threatens to bring her back to the day that her brother disappeared. When a reporter shows up, just days before March 14th, Alma realizes that her past is coming back to haunt her. What happened on March 14th, at 3:14, 16 years ago? No one but The Skeleton Man can remember.
By J. Lincoln Fenn
Narrated by: Luke Daniels
It’s Halloween, and life is grim for 23-year-old Dimitri Petrov. It’s the one-year anniversary of his parents’ deaths, he’s stuck on page one thousand of his Rasputin zombie novel, and he makes his living writing obituaries.
But things turn from bleak to terrifying when Dimitri gets a last-minute assignment to cover a séance at the reputedly haunted Aspinwall Mansion.
There, Dimitri meets Lisa, a punk-rock drummer he falls hard for. But just as he’s about to ask her out, he unwittingly unleashes malevolent forces, throwing him into a deadly mystery. When Dimitri wakes up, he is in the morgue—icy cold and haunted by a cryptic warning given by a tantalizing female spirit.
As town residents begin to turn up gruesomely murdered, Dimitri must play detective in his own story and unravel the connections among his family, the Aspinwall Mansion, the female spirit, and the secrets held in a pair of crumbling antiquarian books. If he doesn’t, it’s quite possible Lisa will be the next victim.
I used to read at minimum 3 books a week. I used to have the time and peace to simply sit down and read. I have long forgotten how nice that was.
In the past couple of years, I have embraced technology, searching out inexpensive or free books without leaving the comfort of my jammies. I fell in love with Audible and Kindle First and Unlimited. So now, while not back to my previous amount, I can listen to books while I do the Mom and House cleaning thing and pull out my Kindle during the rare peace times that I find.
So, if you stalk and take a peek at my currently reading list, it is not small. It is rare that I finish two books at the same time. Today, I did. 314 by A. R. Wise and Poe by J. Lincoln Fenn. They are books from what I would consider the same genre, so I’ve decided to write a slightly comparative review for future readers. Maybe this is lazy, using one review for two books. But I wanted the lovers of 314 to have a suggestion for their to-read lists.
314: OMG, so tedious. I understand that it is only the beginning, but, in my opinion, the book, the characters, the readers should beg for another book, not be forced into it. I have no desire to read the next book.
Unlike Poe: This one is the example other writers should follow. Poe is a stand-alone book with the desire and material for more.
314: There is definitely a place in this world for passive voice. A book like this, with so much promise is not it. During the climax, every other sentence is so cringe-worthy I almost put it down. But I’d slogged through the rest of the book, and I could see the finish line and I had to find out what other reviewers were talking about.
Some people do not realize that not only does passive voice suck all the life from a sentence, but also changes the tense. In 314, it changes so much it doesn’t matter if you’re reading 1996 chapters or the 2012 chapters, the inconsistency is more terrifying than the beautiful premise of nasty evil.
Poe: I do agree that this is a softer horror story. It doesn’t need blood and gore to prove evil exists. And even during the first few chapters, knowing as a reader knows that the crazy is real and not dreamed up by a fake medium, you still question yourself because the characters aren’t acting like flat characters. The characters are responding as if they are real and just don’t believe. This is how real people act when faced with something that we take for granted as a farce. Seriously, even though tons of us would go into a “haunted” house and have a séance for the fun of it, who would really believe that the fake medium would actually channel something sinister?
314: Characters are so unbelievable it feels as if the 2012 story is just filler, a distraction from the creepiness. Don’t get me wrong, the first part of the book sent shivers through me. Just like other reviewers, I expected so much more. The characters fell so flat, I’m still stepping over them.
I just want to take a red pen to 314 and give it the proper editing it so richly deserves. The entire book feels like a first draft. It would be great given a good editing evolution. Right now, only the content carries it.
Poe: I found Dimitri so crazy believable, so human, he pretty much carries the story. Which is why, people, he is the main character. Secondary characters like Mac simply do not have to be so fleshed out. When writing a book, the writer doesn’t make the story happen in a certain way, the writer creates the character and just lets him run with it. The art is creating a setting, a history, a character and then letting the story flow. This is exactly how it feels Penn dealt with Poe. It is easy to read because every scene lends to the next scene and the story just keeps moving.
314 feels stilted, forced as if Wise is forcing a square piece into a round hole.
Therefore, my opinion (take it as it is meant, only an opinion):
Poe definitely deserves the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.
314 deserves a good editor.