The Rascal, Eric Arvin
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Tags: Horror (demons, ghosts, occult), Paranormal, Some Violence
Lana is a faded movie star who lives alone in a big house on a hill that overlooks the sea. She has lived this way since the death of her daughter and the disappearance of her husband.
Jeff and Chloe are a couple who live in a cabin below the big house. It was Chloe’s idea to strengthen their marriage; but she see’s now that it isn’t working. Jeff has become obsessed with the cabin and the old water well. Chloe only sees strangeness around her.
One night while talking on the computer with Ethan, Jeff’s brother, a feeling of dread comes to the fore. When Ethan sees a figure behind Chloe, he leaves his boyfriend and baby and sets out to save Jeff.
Chloe, Ethan and Lana come together to fight an evil that would destroy Jeff. Will they succeed or will all of them fall to the taste of a young cannibalistic ghost?
Every time I attempt to review an Eric Arvin book I get nervous because I know that there’s no way I’ll be able to tell the story in my review where it does it justice. I’ve been a fan of Eric’s since I discovered Woke Up In A Strange Place in 2011 and I’ve read everything of his I could get my hands on since. Three of his books will forever be considered three of the best books I’ve ever read, and trust me, I’ve read thousands of books. You can find some of my reviews of Eric’s books on this site here, and on Goodreads. I never read a book by this author that I didn’t love. Not many can suck me into new worlds like he’s always been able to do.
Another thing I have to mention is that this is not a gay romance. It is not a romance at all really. It is a horror book with a gay character in it. I hate even saying that, but I know that some people will go into it expecting it to be something it’s not. I watched it happen with a couple of his other books. I don’t want to see it happen with this one. If you’re looking for a romance or anything remotely like a lot of the books in the LGBT genre right now, do the author a favor and read another book. This, coming from a long time fan who feels that everyone should be reading Eric Arvin’s books.
Jeff and Chloe have just purchased a cottage in the middle of nowhere, sight unseen, in a place called Bad Luck Hill. Married, they’ve been having some pretty serious problems for over a year and this is their way of maybe finding their way back to each other. The problems in their marriage are made known to the reader little by little throughout the book. At first, they just seem like your typical young couple who are hoping to escape to work on their marriage without the interference of jobs and family, but it doesn’t take long before you realize that there are issues between them that might not be fixable.
When the couple arrives at the cottage in the woods, Chloe starts having these strange feelings… creepy feelings. She’s always felt that she was a little ‘sensitive’ so it doesn’t take long before she’s terrified of her new home. These feelings she gets aren’t just paranoia. One such feeling actually likely saved her and Jeff’s life once upon a time. In the cottage, there are shadows everywhere, sounds that aren’t the old house settling, and very strange dreams. She tries talking to Jeff about her fears, but she may as well be talking to the old well out back. He’s very bitter about something she did (what caused the riff in their relationship) and if it was up to him Chloe would be long gone. There are some things that can’t be forgiven and when you throw in the fact that Jeff isn’t a forgiving type on a good day, well there you go. Jeff and Chloe may live in the same house, but trust me, they are little more than roommates who don’t get along with each other. While Chloe hates the new place, Jeff absolutely loves it. There’s something about the old barn out back and the newly discovered (by him) well that makes him obsessed. He’s determined to see what’s at the bottom of the old well.
Then we have Lana Pruitt. Lana lives in a large house that overlooks the small cottage in the woods. Lana has her own problems and they too are centered around the property the cottage sits on. Lana, with good reason, hasn’t ventured down the hill for many, many years. Things.. happened.. there years before and she swore to never leave the safety of her own house again. Back in the day, Lana was a very famous actress. She had a wonderful husband and a precious little girl. All that is gone now, leaving only a bitter (and eccentric) old woman living in a much too large house on a hill.
With Jeff so obsessed with his new projects outside of the cottage, Chloe is forced to deal with the goings on inside it. Voices, the sounds of music at odd times, unexplained sightings, and horrific nightmares that feel as real to her as if she’s wide awake living them. Talking to Jeff is out. He won’t even look her in the eye, much less allow her to discuss her fears with him. When Jeff starts getting sick, Chloe knows there’s more to the place than just a little haunting. Something – or someone – is trying desperately to destroy her and Jeff, and if she doesn’t do something quick, there will be nothing left.
Chloe and Lana strike up a friendly relationship of sorts. It would never be called a friendship, as Chloe is (in my opinion) a little too self-centered to open her eyes to anything outside of her own little world. Jeff is still acting strangely and getting sicker by the day. This, on top of being horrible to Chloe for just being in his presence.
Perhaps I should enlighten you a little about Jeff. Jeff was the ‘Golden Child’ growing up. He had a younger brother, Ethan, but it was common knowledge to all that Jeff was the favorite of the parents. He was the athlete, the perfect child, the, well, everything. Poor Ethan was lucky if his mother and father even glanced his way. They had no problem letting Ethan know that he would never be as good as his older brother of two years. I won’t spoil it here, but I will say that I was not a fan of Jeff for a variety of reasons, one of which was his relationship with Ethan. Ethan is gay and it was fairly obvious that that was an issue for Jeff and Chloe.
Ethan is married to Kelton and they have an adopted child, affectionately dubbed ‘Bug’. While Kelton and Bug weren’t in the story much, they were in it enough for me to fall in love with them. Out of the blue Ethan starts getting a strange feeling in regards to his estranged brother. It’s something he can’t explain even to himself, but he knows he has to check on him, even if it means dealing with his sister-in-law, who he blames for the demise of his and Jeff’s relationship. While speaking with Chloe in a video chat, he sees something behind her in the cottage and (to be blunt) he kind of freaks out and knows beyond doubt that something is seriously wrong in his brother’s world. It doesn’t take long before he’s off on a trip to parts unknown in hopes of fixing whatever is going on. Does Jeff deserve his brother’s help? Probably not, but family is family and Ethan can’t go on without at least trying to help in any way he can.
I adored Ethan from the moment he was introduced… everything about him. As the sister of another ‘perfect’ child (believe me, I could relate in so many ways to Ethan’s childhood), I had a lot of sympathy for him. I think it’s pretty obvious that I didn’t like Jeff too much. I thought I liked Chloe but when I discovered what she’d done to Jeff way back when, any good feelings I had for her disappeared in a puff of smoke.
When Ethan arrives at the cottage is when everything really starts coming to a head. I could say a lot more, but I won’t because it would spoil the entire book. I will say that there’s more than one ‘ghost’ or ‘being’ involved in the hauntings on Bad Luck Hill. I will also say that this is one hell of a creepy book. I’m a huge horror fan, so I was all over those aspects of the story, but they might bother some readers.
Once again, Eric Arvin has blown me away. There is one part in the book where I had to sit my Kindle down and send my blog partner a message saying “Oh my gawd! I did not see what just happened coming.” It’s one of those things that I should’ve seen, but it never clicked until the author said it point blank. Suddenly every single thing that had happened in the book so far made sense in ways I never would’ve imagined. Not much can take me by surprise in books these days. It was refreshing to have that “A ha!” moment thrown at me unexpectedly.
If you’re already a fan of Eric Arvin’s books, you’ll be all over this book. If you’ve never read him and love horror, I can’t recommend it (or any of his books) enough. I feel like a broken record when I say that Eric Arvin’s writing is brilliant and that was proven yet again in The Rascal. I’ll admit that the ending kind of threw me for a little while and I had to walk away to collect my thoughts before attempting this review. Looking back I know that the ending was 100% perfect and it couldn’t have ended any other way.