I like my horror much the way I like my whisky – high quality, straight up, excellent from the beginning to the end, and leaving me wanting more. I can be all over the board when it comes to horror that I like. The biggest thing is suspension of disbelief. If I’m not buying into the story, it’s a struggle to get through. That’s why dark fantasy is a tough one for me to choke down. Most of the stuff that I encounter is so comic book-ish, it’s hard for me to swallow, like cheap whiskey. So, when I was asked to read and review Stephanie Wytovich’s dark fantasy tale, The Eighth, I was apprehensive, to say the least, eyeing it with the same kind of scrutiny as if someone poured me a glass of whiskey made in Cleveland. This may be Wytovich’s debut novel, but she’s no rookie in the writing world. Poetry seems to be her calling and she’s been nominated for Bram Stoker Awards in that area. You can see it in her writing which, by the way, is very good. Her descriptions are top shelf. The girl has quite the vocabulary and she’s not afraid to use it. She paints a landscape of hell with liberal strokes of Dante’s Inferno along with accents of Clive Barker and Neil Gaimon, for good measure. The tale itself centers around Paimon, Satan’s top soul collector. Paimon has been assigned to harvest Rhea’s soul. In an unusual lack of preparedness, Paimon goes about the task withouth reading her file first. Bad mistake. If he had, he would’ve learned that Rhea is a spitting image of Marissa, Paimon’s long lost love who he killed so many years ago. He struggles daily with this decision and, upon seeing Rhea, he immediately falls in love with her. There’s no way he can deliver her to Lucifer. He has to have Rhea for himself. Well, you can see how this can become problematic and to no surprise, it does.
Wytovich’s elegant writing style breathes life into the story. You can feel Paimon’s sadness and pain. She’s also no stranger to the red stuff, which this book has plenty. The “rules” of hell are a bit jumbled, but that may also be something that I missed on the initial reading. And that’s really my only complaint for the whole story. I feel like I was missing something to tie it all together. Now, that’s more of a problem for me and not the fault of the writer. If you’re a fan of dark fantasy, pour yourself a tall glass of The Eighth. The writing is excellent from start to finish.
4 1/2 Deadly Sins out of 5
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The Eighth, Synopsis
• Print Length: 135 pages
• Publisher: Dark Regions Press
After Paimon, Lucifer’s top soul collector, falls in love with a mortal girl whose soul he is supposed to claim, he desperately tries everything in his power to save her from the Devil’s grasp. But what happens when a demon has to confront his demons, when he has to turn to something darker, something more sinister for help? Can Paimon survive the consequences of working with the Seven Deadly Sins-sins who have their own agenda with the Devil—or will he fall into a deeper, darker kind of hell?
Stephanie M. Wytovich, Biography
Stephanie M. Wytovich is an instructor by day and a horror writer by night.
She is the Poetry Editor for Raw Dog Screaming Press, an adjunct at Western Connecticut State University, and a book reviewer for Nameless Magazine. She is a member of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, an active member of the Horror Writers Association, and a graduate of Seton Hill University’s MFA program for Writing Popular Fiction.
Her Bram Stoker Award-nominated poetry collections, Hysteria: A Collection of Madness, Mourning Jewelry, An Exorcism of Angels, and Brothel earned a home with Raw Dog Screaming Press, and her debut novel, The Eighth, is simmering in sin with Dark Regions Press.
Learn more about Stephanie at her website and follow her on twitter @JustAfterSunset.
Praise for The Eighth
“The Eighth is a stellar horror debut from Stephanie Wytovich. An intimate, painful map of personal and literal hells that would make Clive Barker proud.”- Christopher Golden, New York Times best-selling author
“Stephanie Wytovich’s The Eighth is a savage tale of betrayal, regret, and the dark side of love in its many forms. The poetic imagery she sprinkles throughout balances the brutality with beauty.” Chris Marrs, author of Wildwoman and Everything Leads Back to Alice
“A fierce and emotionally intense debut.”- Craig DiLouie, author of Suffer the Children
“A brilliant debut from a major new talent, full of darkness, fire, and devilry. Indeed, the sins in this novel are so well realized that I fear just a little for Ms. Wytovich’s soul.”- Rio Youers, author of Westlake Soul and Point Hollow
“The Eighth is one of the most exciting books to come along in 2016 and one of the best debuts of the last decade or so. Wytovich is at the top of her game and gaining momentum like a runaway freight train, and you’ll be doing yourself a great disservice if you miss out on this monumental and hugely entertaining read.” – This is Horror
You can pre-order this book through Dark Regions Press website in e-book, trade paperback, and hardcover deluxe signed collector’s edition. They will be shipped in November.
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