DAY TWO: Tainted by A. E. Rought book review and giveaway

Tainted-144dpiAt last, the follow-up to Broken has reached my eagerly grasping hands, and I can tell you, it was well worth the wait. (If you haven’t already read Broken by the way, then go away and do so NOW! With atmospheric opening scenes set in a deserted graveyard as the local town prepares for Halloween, it’s perfect reading for this time of year!)

When we last saw Emma Gentry and Alex Franks, it seemed they had reached safe harbour, with Ascension Labs (the shady corporation specialising in immoral experiments on animals and humans set up by Alex’s father) now under Alex’s control and the secret of his true nature kept under wraps. And so it would have remained, if it wasn’t for the appearance of Hailey Westmore, Alex’s ex, who is hell-bent on reclaiming Alex for herself. Blackmail is probably the least frightening of the methods that she uses in her quest! Whilst dealing with this psycho ex of the worst degree, Alex also has to try to stop Emma spiralling out of control and into insanity, all the while knowing that what’s happening to the one girl he truly loves could be his fault. The poor guy has his work cut out for him!

The shift of perspective from Emma to Alex in this second book was a brilliant decision. I always enjoy reading about a fictional world from different characters’ viewpoints, and here it’s done particularly well. Alex is direct, sincere and has a dry sense of humour that keeps up even when the shit hits the fan. You get to see from the inside how Alex deals with his connection to Emma’s lost first love, Daniel, whose heart keeps him alive (possibly THE most bizarre way to meet your girlfriend’s previous love ever imagined!), and just how much he truly loves Emma. Broken was so full of longing and grief, shadows that have by no means completely cleared, but with Alex in the driving seat you are in for a much more action-packed ride.

The Gothic theme was one of the aspects I liked most about Broken, and it returns in the sequel. Something about the genre seems to fit perfectly with the state of being a teenager, and many of the elements you might expect of a novel by Shelley – tortured souls, a morbid fascination with death, high emotional drama – are all readily found along the corridors of Shelley High, where Emma and Alex first met. But if Broken was a re-imagining of Frankenstein, then Tainted definitely has shades of Jekyll & Hyde, with Emma’s behaviour becoming more erratic – and worrying – by the page. There are plenty of scares in this book. Hailey is terrifying in a very real way, in her single-minded determination to get what she wants. But what I found trully chilling was the idea that Ascension Labs, which was started out with good intentions of reanimating loved ones, has become rotten to the core, and as more of its disturbing creations drift to the surface, that old sense of the uncanny that pervaded Broken comes flooding back.

It’s not all dark, though. There’s the romance between Emma and Alex, who grow ever closer and more besotted with each other. And Emma’s friends Bree and Jason, two very endearing characters, provide light relief, though this time they are much more fully developed, with troubles of their own. My favourite aspect, though, is still the writing: regardless of which character she is writing as, A. E. Rought has a real knack of getting straight to the heart of things, of delivering raw emotion and vivid physical descriptions that place the reader right in the thick of it.

So, will we see more of Emma and Alex? When the delightfully charming A. E. Rought stopped by my virtual office, she couldn’t confirm whether or not there will be a third book, but she did reveal the exciting news that there may soon be a televised series based on Broken!! She very generously let me read an exclusive short story set in the Broken world called ‘Doomed’, which will have to be enough to keep me going for now. But with so much left up in the air with the mystery surrounding Ascension Labs, I wonder if she’ll be able to resist continuing the story…

If you haven’t yet read Tainted, there is a chance to win a signed copy in this amazing giveaway. You’ll also get your paws on a signed copy of Broken if you win, and a CUSTOM-MADE ZOMBIE DEER ‘SOCK MONKEY’ STUFFY! Whatever the hell one of those is but I think I want one!!!

Thanks for visiting the Lil’ Bookshop of Horrors. Be sure to come back tomorrow, when I will be chatting to Emma Gentry, heroine of Broken and Tainted!!

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