Jeremy has been isolated and adrift since the death of his brother. Most people just see him as the skinny emo kid who wears eyeliner and plays drums. No one gets him. Nobody tries. He thought the indie rock band Stygian would become his anchor, but—lost in their own problems—they’re far from the family he sought.
Still, hoping to get close to Kennedy, the band's enigmatic guitarist, he follows Stygian to northern Louisiana for a summer retreat. They had planned to spend six weeks focusing on new music but things go awry as soon as they arrive at the long-deserted Caroway mansion. Tempers flare, sexual tension boils over into frustration, and Jeremy turns away from the band to find a friend in his eerily beautiful landlord Hunter Caroway.
Kennedy suspects there’s something off about the creepy mansion and its mysterious owners, but Jeremy thinks he's finally found somewhere he fits. It isn’t until Kennedy forces the Caroway’s secrets into the light that Jeremy realizes belonging sometimes comes with a price.
Buy links: Dreamspinner | Amazon Audio | Audible | iTunes
Tams gives this one 5 Stars...
"Creepy and frightening with sexy edge"
What did you love best about Stygian?
The flow of the story. Each piece of the puzzle is put in place at the exact, right moment and it left me on the edge of my seat throughout.
What was one of the most memorable moments of Stygian?
When Jeremy finally put all the ill fitting pieces together and figured out a key thing in the story. As I said above, this is a very creepy book. I mean, you know something is amiss pretty much from the start and as more secrets are revealed and more questionable things start to happen you're just drawn further into the web the Author has woven.
Have you listened to any of Geoffrey Alan’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
No, this was my first from him and I quite liked it. Definitely be on the lookout for more from this narrator.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
Oh yeah, when Kennedy finally opens up to Jeremy. Kennedy keeping his feelings buried is partly why Jeremy finds himself in.... danger. But then it takes Kennedy being honest for Jeremy to open his eyes and see the danger for what it truly is.
Any additional comments?
Stygian is an up and coming Indie Rock band that recently lost their drummer in a car accident. When Jeremy showed up to audition the guys hired him on for a few reasons. Not only was he a good drummer, he was the first one their ill tempered lead singer Watts could say anything nice about, and he just happens to be the littler brother of someone else that was close to Watts that died way too young. To stir things up and try to get the group to merge, Watts rents a run down, broken and mysteriously creepy plantation in Louisiana for the summer. Bad tempers, drugs, alcohol and a couple of landlords that redefine the term hovering all work against the group to ensure that they continue to disagree. In fact, the arguments and fights reach an all time high pretty much the minute they step foot on the tainted soil of the rental.
I was intrigued with this story from the start, perhaps because I'm from the deep south, but the way the book opened with Jeremy and Kennedy dragging everything out of the van, the stifling heat and the fact that the plantation home did not have air conditioning. It all rang very familiar to me, so I could kind of picture the four guys from the beginning. Watts is the ill tempered lead singer of the band. His favorite things in life are bitching, yelling, moaning, complaining and snorting coke up his nose every hour on the hour. Quince is the resident door mat, meaning that he willingly allows Watts to use and abuse him, in more ways than twenty. Kennedy is the enigmatic guitarist. He is very mellow and laid back for the majority of the story. And then there is Jeremy, the newest member of the band. Jeremy only wants three things in life. To play the drums, to have Kennedy return the love he feels for him, and to belong. So it is quite easy for the Caroway's to play off of Jeremy and Quince's insecurities and willingness to belong.
As the story progresses, more and more secrets are revealed, and they are all perfectly timed and placed to keep the flow steady and engrossing. While there were a few things I figured out early on, there were still some surprises. Hassell definitely left himself open to write another book for Stygian, especially fans of the Jeremy/Kennedy romance saga. I will admit, I wanted to choke Kennedy a couple times, but he finally pulled his head out of his ass by the end. There is mystery, suspense and out right terror involved as well as a few steamy encounters here and there. If you like scary stories with a paranormal type of edge, then I think you'll really enjoy this one. It is one of my top reads of 2015!
It wasn’t unreasonable, but Jeremy’s skin prickled at the idea of half the house remaining uninhabited and untouched. Maybe he wouldn’t be so freaked-out if it wasn’t for the chill he’d gotten in the hallway. It was a definite overreaction to what probably amounted to nothing more than the contrast of coolness after burning up all day, but Jeremy knew he’d recall the icy spike of dread every time he neared the other wing.
Why did the Caroways even bother renting the house, unless they were hard-up for cash?
“Listen, Jere, I’m really sorry. Watts is just stressed-out, you know? Like with the new material, and he’s tired of being indie and really wants to get signed, and the plan was always for Caroline to be here. I know you don’t get it, because of how he is now, but he really loved her.”
Jeremy couldn’t picture Watts loving anyone beyond his drug dealer and the vocalist from the Black Keys.
“Yeah, that’s great, Quince, but how he acted in the past isn’t changing how he is around me now. Which is the equivalent to how someone would react to a piece of shit.” Jeremy heaved a disgusted sigh. “I just don’t get it. He’s the one who said I was a good fit. If he thinks I’m annoying and I suck, why the hell did he let me join the band?”
Quince’s eyes darted to the door, and Jeremy closed it with an exasperated huff. He wasn’t sure why Quince was so afraid of Watts. His vitriol was never aimed at Quince, unless he’d already spent the day marinating in a tincture of booze and coke.
“He knew your brother in high school. Before he… you know. Died.”
“Oh.” Jeremy turned back to his bag, but instead of unpacking anything, he stared inside. Watts knowing about his brother’s suicide was a potential disaster. A slew of possibilities converged—all the new insults and snide comments Watts would make if he decided to stoop that low. “Were they friends?”
“I’m not sure how close they were. Watts could have just latched on because he knew you’d lost someone and we’d just lost Caroline.”
Quince sighed. “We never talk about it, but Caroline grew up in the same neighborhood as Kennedy—they’d known each other since they were tiny. They were like siblings. Whenever she had trouble at home, she would stay with him. And after Kennedy convinced her to join the band, well, she and Watts… they were inseparable.” Quince came closer, his hands hovering awkwardly over Jeremy’s arm. “Stygian wasn’t just a band. We were like a family, and we need that. All of us.”
“You’re comparing Watts’s situation to yours?” Jeremy scoffed. “He’s a trust fund baby. You’re a foster kid, and Kennedy’s folks are dead.”
“Just because there are some people who share his DNA doesn’t mean he has a family.”
Jeremy couldn’t argue with that. Especially considering how determinedly he avoided his own familial relations.
“Watts just doesn’t know how to be sad like normal people. He gets mean. So can you please try to take it easy on him?”
Jeremy’s jaw dropped. “You’re telling me to take it easy on him? Dude.”
“I know, I know.” Quince held up his hands. “But he’s not as strong as he pretends to be. I really want this trip to help you guys bond. Maybe it can be like it was before. Okay?”
It was unlikely, but in the face of Quince’s imploring gaze, Jeremy couldn’t say no. So he shrugged, offered a strained smile, and yanked out a hoodie that he definitely would not be needing.
“Okay, Q. I’ll try if he does.”
“He will. I’ll talk to him.”
“And he’ll listen?”
“I dunno. Maybe. But I’ll never know until I try, right?”
Jeremy watched Quince stride out of the room. He wasn’t optimistic about this plan.
At best, it would change nothing. At worst, the idea of Jeremy needing mollycoddling would turn their front man into an even bigger asshole. Slight suggestions sounded like an order to Brian Watts. Whether drunk or sober, he verbally eviscerated anyone stupid enough to tell him what to do. Eventually he would be put in his place, but not by Jeremy.
Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into an unlikely romance author.
Santino writes queer romance that is heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.
To learn more about Santino you can follow him on:
Facebook: theonlysonnyhassell | santinohassellbooks
And at his official website: http://bit.ly/16sgcSu
TWO ways to win! Leave a comment to be entered in the monthly giftcard giveaway and be sure to hit all the Rafflecopter options as well for a chance to win an Audiobook copy of Stygian. Leave your contact info with your comment!!